6 Tips on How to Stay Productive During the Quarantine

First, I want to say that this circumstance is unfortunate. Although none of us could have predicted this, I am hopeful that a solution to COVID-19 is soon approaching. If you are anything like me, these have been stressful times. Whether you were unexpectedly uprooted from your residence hall, forced to move back home, lost your job, or were unsure how your academics would transfer with online classes, I can relate. I want to emphasize: you are NOT alone. As unfortunate as this situation is, there are ways to grasp a sense of “normal” during these abnormal times. Below are 6 tips I have to help you get through this unique time.

MAINTAIN A SCHEDULE

Although many classes have transitioned to online platform–and that includes voice-annotated PowerPoints–I encourage you to review the slides during your normal scheduled time for class. This will help create structure and routine in your schedule, which will aid in greater productivity.

FIND AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER

It can be challenging to stay on top of our academics when there is not a professor directly supervising our actions. For this reason, reach out to a close friend who you want to work with and keep each other accountable so that you both are staying on track academically.

REACH OUT TO PROFESSORS FOR HELP

Although we cannot go into office hours in person, instructors should still be holding virtual office hours. I encourage you to take advantage of this resource. It can be challenging to fully grasp a concept taught online and not every class can transfer as smoothly to the virtual platform, so reaching out to professors and taking advantage of virtual office hours will help you stay on course.

GET EXERCISE

Exercise is a great way at relieving stress, which would do us all well during these stressful and uncertain times. Even though the gyms are closed, that does not have to get in the way of our physical and mental well-being. The weather is getting nicer, so take advantage! Get outside and enjoy the fresh air. I also recommend finding some fitness videos that you can follow along in the comfort of your home.

PICK UP A NEW HOBBY

The days can go by slow during the quarantine. Although we have classes, there still seems to be lots of free time. To keep your brain stimulated and avoid too much time on social media, try picking up a new hobby. Whether that means teaching yourself a new language, learning a new skill, or reading a book you did not have time to in the past, just make sure it is something exciting for you!

HAVE ZOOM MEETINGS WITH YOUR FRIENDS

Since we all should be practicing social distancing, that limits what we can do for fun. Think about scheduling Zoom meetings with your friends where y’all can talk about your days and catch up. Talking to other people will help us all not feel so alone in this situation.

We all must do what we can to stay busy during these times. Stay healthy and safe and reach out to additional campus resources if need be.

Bella

STEP Shortcuts: Preparing for a Great Second-Year

Somehow we’re already in the third week of spring semester. These next two months of the semester are rather busy and can be a bit daunting. From figuring out housing, planning classes, choosing majors, it all comes at you fast. Along with housing, one thing you may have heard of, but may not know much about, is the STEP program. This program may just be the thing you need to give your second year at bit of an edge.

What is STEP?

STEP stands for Second-Year Transformational Experience Program. This program is all about focusing on your success and development. During autumn semester, you will meet with a faculty mentor and cohort of other sophomore students weekly where you’ll engage in discussions and activities about your strengths, values, as well as academic and career goals. In the following spring semester, you will develop a written proposal and budget about how you will use the STEP fellowship to support your goals. Fulfillment of the requirements of the STEP program means you’re eligible to receive a fellowship of up to $2,000 to use toward a STEP signature project.

What can I do with my fellowship?

Now here is where you receive your freedom with STEP! There are 6 areas of focus that you can choose for your fellowship:

  • Internships
  • Creative and Artistic Endeavors
  • Leadership
  • Service-Learning and Community Service
  • Education Abroad
  • Undergraduate Research

From my cohort of 18 students, we had a wide variety of focus for our STEP projects. Some used the STEP fellowship to pay for housing, groceries, and a new suit while they completed internships in Washington D.C., Atlanta, and Ontario, Canada. Others used the fellowship to help fund their research, a study abroad trip to Italy, or even to create and produce a short film. You can make this experience your own.

I didn’t know what project I wanted to do until February. There’s no rush to figure it out – your mentor is there to help you.

Off we go!

What did I do with the STEP fellowship? I packed my bags and flew off to Thailand. I chose to do a service-learning project with two of my close friends. With the assistance of my mentor, we were partnered with Global Vision International, a volunteer abroad program committed to conservation and community development. All three of us were signed up to be Global Health volunteers. It was a trip completely outside of my comfort zone, but one that has become a highlight of my sophomore year and helped me find my interest in public health. I actually added public health as a minor after this experience and I am hoping to continue this work in graduate school.

Within the 24 hours of finishing my second-year of college, I had landed in Bangkok, Thailand. My friends and I spent four days exploring the city, going to ornate temples, eating exquisite Pad Thai, drinking loads of mango juice, getting lost in the busy markets, and, of course, rocking elephant pants, before heading to Ban Naam Khem, Thailand to begin volunteering.

There were five other volunteers from Ohio State there as well, but we met volunteers from all over the world–Denmark, Wales, England, Norway, Australia, Hungary, and more. My days of volunteering involved early mornings teaching English at the local elementary school, followed by afternoons interacting with students at the local social center or teaching CPR to the local taxi, bus, and boat drivers. We got to interact with the community and learn some elementary Thai. My time in Thailand helped me gain a lot of independence, see a beautiful country, meet wonderful people, and I hope to be able to work abroad again, but this time for a lot longer.

So now you want to join?

To participate you have to live 1) on-campus, 2) in Greek-affiliated housing, OR 3) at home with a parent or close relative, for both autumn and spring semesters. Current first-year students will automatically be signed up for STEP when they participate in housing re-selection for the 2020-2021 academic year.

STEP gave me the chance to have an experience I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do. What will you do?

Spring Semester: New Year, New You! New Year’s Resolution Guide

After three weeks of family fun, gifts, and sleeping in late, it’s time to come on back to Ohio State. Spring semester is upon us and in my opinion, it’s fantastic! I know for some the lack of football games and cold weather can be a damper; however, for me, second semester has and always will be a time of growth and expanding friendship! For most of you, I assume that with the new year comes one thing: New Year’s resolutions. While cliché, resolutions have consistently kick-started my motivation and led to major growth. The reason for this is primarily centered around the approach I take not only to New Year’s resolutions, but also to spring semester in general, which I break down into four simple steps.

What are your goals?

This is the starting point, what are your goals, really? If it’s just to lose weight or to increase your GPA, that seems incredibly oversimplified. I would suggest getting a sheet of paper, and writing down specific goals you have in mind for this semester, and how you plan to achieve them. For example, instead of listing, “raise my GPA” as a goal, write instead the specific GPA you wish to achieve and the steps you are going to take to do so, such as going to tutoring on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3-4 and going to office hours. This will allow you to have a realistic expectation of the time commitment and work necessary for your goals.

Start right away!

Everyone wants to wait until tomorrow to do things. It’s logical–starting a new journey is hard, it’s full of fear, anxiety, and doubt. However,

It’s important to just do it! Go to office hours these first few weeks to get in the groove of going. Go to the gym at Monday morning 6 a.m. Whatever you have set as your specific goal, do it as soon as possible to avoid delay and quitting.

My motivation is fleeting

Everybody can go to the gym in the morning during this first week. However, as the weather gets colder, you have more and more work to do, and more and more of your clubs start to ramp up your time commitment. Your motivation may begin to diminish and it may seem really hard to get out of bed to do your workout, or go to office hours at 8 a.m. While motivation isn’t always there, discipline can be there. Routine is a magical thing, and if you can just push through the harder periods, you will reap the rewards tenfold. Remember to stay the course, and that hard times are only for a little while.

I missed one time…it’s over! (Nope.)

Let’s say you snoozed your alarm at 5:50 so you could get an extra 7 minutes of sleep after a really long night of studying. Then you wake up, your roommate’s gone, and its 1 p.m. You freak out, and it’s as though all your hard work has culminated into failure. You missed a day and that’s it, why bother continuing to go? Well, if we were all machines this would be a fair statement. However, life is difficult and mistakes happen. You didn’t go one day, THAT’S OKAY! Things come up, stuff happens; however, it’s important to stay the course. Get up just like you normally would the next day.

Overall these are my four steps to have a killer second semester! I hope this semester will be among the best times of your lives!

Peace and Love, Nick Pavelec

My First Time using the COTA

Coming to Ohio State and leaving everything familiar behind was daunting, especially as an out-of-state student. Not only did I have to get used to a new school, new academic rigor and new friends, I had to do it all in a city that was 12 hours away from my parents by plane. Whether you are moving to Ohio State from a different state or just a different city, getting off-campus and exploring the city is one of the best ways to make this place feel more like home. And how do you do that? By using the COTA, of course!

What is the COTA?

COTA stands for Central Ohio Transit Authority. It’s pretty much just the public transit system for Columbus. Now, if you’re anything like me when I was a first-year student, you may never have used public transportation before. That is OKAY! Using the COTA can be an adjustment, but here’s a short video about how to get started!

The first time I used the COTA was when a friend and I wanted to go check out the Short North. I had heard about the Short North from people in my residence hall and people who were more familiar in the area, but no one had explained much to me about what it was besides that I NEEDED to go there. So I looked it up on the maps app on my phone, talked to my RA about which buses were the best ones to use, and the following weekend we walked to High Street, got on the #2 COTA bus heading south, swiped our BuckIDs and sat down for the ride. Some quick pieces of advice:

Have your BuckID out and ready when you enter the bus. I didn’t and it took me way too long to both get it out of my wallet–hidden deep inside my purse–and figure out which way to swipe it in the machine sitting beside the bus driver.

Find your seat quickly. As soon as everyone is done swiping in, the bus driver is on the move again and if you’re still standing when the bus starts moving, you won’t be soon after. Generally scan the bus for seats to sit in as you’re swiping in, that way you head straight there after swiping. Even if the bus starts moving before you get there, you will have somewhere to land!

Use a maps app or download the COTA app on your phone. These will help you to see which buses are arriving soon, what routes they follow, and which ones to take to get to a designated place. The #1 and #2 bus are generally the best ones to get on if you are just wanting to stay on High Street.

Back to the story–it turned out that the Short North is a section of High Street that has many little shops, restaurants, mural art and more. We were a little confused about where to get off, so we got off as soon as we saw the arches over the street that say Short North. Also, you need to pull the yellow cord to stop–it isn’t like the CABS buses on campus that automatically stop at every stop.

At night, the arches are lit up and the Short North becomes a whole new place. We spent the day walking around, taking pictures, eating food and checking out fun shops–though we didn’t buy anything. We even travelled further downtown to check out more mural art and architecture. We came home feeling way more connected to the city and confident in our ability to continue exploring Columbus. I definitely recommend checking out the Short North when you get the chance. For more places to explore and a list of events around the city, visit the Experience Columbus website.

Identity struggles (A little inspiration from watching Super Bowl 52)

At the time I started writing this blog post, I was also getting ready to watch Super Bowl 52 (only the third Super Bowl I have ever watched) and that brings back memories for me. Watching the Super Bowl prompted me to think about how I spent the past 2 and a half years – what I’ve accomplished and whether I am proud of who I am after all this.

I’ve done a lot of things in my life. Some good, some bad, and some just straight up stupid. I decided to come to Ohio State (which turned out to be the best decision I have ever made). I decided to tell people that I’m from Cincinnati instead of Taiwan (which now I really regret). I decided to offer to buy this person behind me ice cream at Jeni’s. And I’ve decided to spend 10 hours watching 3 previous Ohio State football games on YouTube during finals week. I think you know which category those decisions go into.

To me, football isn’t just some sport that people watch. To me, football is what connected me with American culture. Before I came to Ohio State, all of my knowledge about football came from the movie, The Blind Side, and I had no idea that Ohio State even had a football team. During the first game of the 2015 season against Virginia Tech, some upperclassmen in my learning community hosted a watch party in their room. I went because I thought I wouldn’t have anything to talk about the next day if I didn’t go (I mean, I still had nothing to talk about even after I went because I couldn’t understand anything). My friend Alex Steitz was sitting next to me during that game and I told him that I knew nothing about football. He started explaining every single thing to me despite me understanding only about 2% of what he said. Little did he know, that was one of the first times I really felt welcomed here. We started to watch every OSU away game together and he would teach me more and more about football. I fell in love with the sport. I’ve been thinking about my identities and why I do certain things. It makes me think that the reason I love football so much is partly that it is where I found a friendship early on and partly that I think that it makes me more “American.”

Through my two and a half years at Ohio State, a lot has changed in my life and that caused me to constantly think about how my identity is changing. Yet, I was never able to really step back and say “Yeah, that is an accurate representation of me!” Even now I still don’t know what defines me and what I really identify with. In all the thinking I did, one thing really stood out to me: I’ve always been reluctant to tell people that I am an international student. Being an international student can have come negative connotations and it can mean certain restrictions for me legally and culturally. Every time when I have a conversation with someone and then they ask me where I am from, I have two choices: I can either be honest and say that I am from Taiwan, or I can “lie” and say I’m from Cincinnati because I’ve stayed with my Cousin in Cincinnati for a summer.

I’m proud of being a Taiwanese individual but all the “standard” follow-ups really exhaust me. The common response is usually “Wow, you speak English really well! I would’ve never guessed you’re not from the states.” And sometimes when the individual is interested in world politics, I would get asked “What do you think of the political struggle between China and Taiwan?” For the former, I understand that they are trying to give a genuine compliment but hearing it over and over again really frustrates me and made me not want to proactively say that I’m from Taiwan. For the latter, I’m a very non-confrontational and yet patriotic person, I will state my view and then try to steer the conversion away from that topic. But if I say that I’m from Cincinnati, the response I get is “Oh! This Ohio weather, right?” In this case, telling the alternative actually made my conversation a lot easier and a lot more “American”.

Most students at Ohio State don’t know that International students have a very different orientation than they did. Most students don’t know that international students are usually the last ones that schedule for classes for their first semester. Most students don’t know that international students are treated very differently than domestic students because of all the regulations and “initiatives.” I’d love to speak up for international students but there’s really not many ways of doing so. I’d love to help international students integrate with domestic students but there are not a whole lot of resources to make this possible. I’d love to see more international students represented in Ohio State community but I’ve only heard from domestic students that international students are part of the population that makes Ohio State more diverse. These constant downsides have made me not want to proactively identify myself as an international student. But now, I want to use this identity as an advantage.

Most of the time when we hear someone’s motivational story, when we hear how someone overcame their struggle, we think “Wow, that really inspires me” or “Wow, if they can overcome that, I think I can overcome my challenges, too!” It’s just like thinking “If the Eagles can win a Super Bowl with a backup QB, I can conquer this upcoming thing.” It’s not a bad thing to be inspired by a story, but we have to recognize that these stories are only being told because the struggle was overcome. How about those who are still struggling? How about those who are still having a tug-of-war with their destiny? I’ve met a lot of people and I’ve told a lot of story with an ending. But now, I want to start telling a story without an ending. I still struggle with acknowledging my identities, but I’m working on being proud of being an international student. I don’t want my identity to define me, but I don’t want to throw them in trash and ship it to landfill. Because even though I don’t think these things define me, they are a part of me. And it’s not about how these things make me who I am, it’s about how I want to use these things to empower me. I don’t know where this will take me or what this will bring me. But I know…

 

I am Willy.

Why Should I Care?

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

Although this poem was written over a century ago, the message translates through time.  Niemoller wrote this about the complicity of Germans and their silence towards the Nazi persecution of millions of people.  Take a moment to reflect on how the meaning of this poem might change if you replaced ‘socialist’, ‘trade unionist’ or ‘Jew’ with any marginalized identity in America.

Complicity can be just as bad as active action.  Recall those anti-bullying campaigns we all went through in elementary school.  There is the bully-the one taking action, the victim-the one negatively affected, and the bystander-the one who sees injustice, but stays silent.  We all know the consequences of the bystander affect: everyone thinks that someone else will do or say something, and in the end, nothing is done at all.  The bystander is complicit in the injustice by staying silent.  That affect goes much further than a high school bully, however.

Consider the ways in which not only people, but institutions, policies, and media bully and neglect people of marginalized identities. Just focusing on one identity isn’t enough though. All identities intersect. There’s race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, ability, language, citizenship, religion, and more. If you don’t recognize the affects of any of these, you may be complicit in your privilege.

Awareness of your own privileges are the first step in taking action.  For me, this means using my whiteness to advocate for people of color, using my economic status to advocate for low income populations, and my citizenship status to advocate for immigrants and refugees.  I recommend choosing to give up an easy, complicit life style for one of advocacy and speaking up for those who can’t.

Don’t know where to start? Start with a google search ‘inequality in America’, ‘problems facing diverse populations’, and ‘the affects of privilege’ are some good starting points.  Explore the Multicultural Center in the Ohio Union or Hale Hall on south campus.  Go to a Pride meeting and just listen. In a few days, Black History Month will begin and there are more than enough options for presentations, Ted Talks, and events focused on Black history and pride. Educate yo’self.

Eventually, if you don’t start to care and speak up, there will be no one left to speak for you.

 

Life Hacks: Ohio State Version

By this time of the school year we’ve figured out the basics of surviving college–but what about all those tips and tricks that make your life just a little easier? Peer Leaders provide their insights on the hacks they’ve discovered during their time at Ohio State. Feel free to comment with your own personal Ohio State hacks!

Academics

  • Canvas has an app that makes it significantly easier to access your grades and class information from your phone? The app is just called “Canvas” and can be downloaded for free from the App Store.
  • On a Canvas grade page, you can click on the check+ and see where your grade compares to the average, high and low scores for your class.
  • Lots of times you can get cheaper textbooks by buying them directly from older students–ask around or check social media pages to buy used textbooks from older students.
  • Tired of not finding a seat at Thompson? Check out another hidden gem on campus such as the Fine Arts Library or the Geology Library! Check out this link for the full list of library hours and locations.
  • You can reserve a study room at the library–check out this link!

Entertainment

  • Follow OUAB on Twitter or other social media to find out about events before all of the tickets are gone!
  • Take advantage of D-Tix! (Did you know you can get Gateway Movie d-Tix at the Union for $3?)!
  • Take advantage of FREE group fitness classes at the university recreation facilities (check out the full schedule here).
    • Be sure to get there a few minutes early to make sure you get a spot!
  • Venmo makes life easier for paying back friends/splitting costs.

 Transportation

  • When it comes to bikes: “cheap bike, expensive lock”
  • Don’t bike on the Oval.
  • Lots of off campus parking meters are free on the weekends—check the meters if you have friends or family coming into town!
  • Don’t jaywalk (especially on Woodruff) by Scott.
  • The COTA bus now provides real time updates of when they’re coming on Google Maps and the COTA transit app.
    • Sometimes it is quicker to ride the COTA around campus than a CABS bus (and it’s free with your BuckID)
  • Always carry an umbrella…at Ohio State you should be prepared for all 4 seasons in one day!

 Dining/Food

  • Get creative with the food in the dining halls to change things up. For example, you can build your own buffalo chicken wrap at Traditions at Scott (chicken from the breakfast station, buffalo sauce and lettuce from the grill station, and a tortilla from the Mexican station).
  • Having a Brita pitcher for water in your residence hall room will save you lots of walks to the water fountain on your floor!
  • Food apps (such as Hooked, Tapingo, PostMates, and UberEats) make getting food super easy and convenient!
    • You can even use your meal plan with Tapingo!

Trending Tuesday

What’s trending on campus this week?

1. Officially survived your first semester of college!

2. One week down of spring semester!

3. We can finally walk across campus without fear of slipping on ice!

4. Still looking to get involved with a student org? The Spring Involvement Fair is this Thursday (1/19) from 4-7 at the Union.

5. Students made their day off a day on by serving Columbus at the MLK Day of Service!

6. It’s time to register for spring intramural sports!

Trending Tuesday

What topics are trending with the class of 2020 this week?

 

1.Voting Time!

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2.  Waiting for spring semester scheduling windows to open!

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3. Thinking about changing majors (or have already done so!)

decisions

 

4. Trying to avoid the cold (and other sickness) that is plaguing campus

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5. Starting to think about whether to go Greek

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6. Halloween events across campus!

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7. Can’t complain about the beautiful weather on campus!

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Trending Tuesday

What’s trending with the Class of 2020 this week?

 

  1. Tapingo App is saving time with campus dining (check it out here!!)

food

 

2. Fall Break was much needed

relaxing

 

3. Time to start thinking about next semester’s schedule

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4. Classes are becoming increasingly difficult

cant-wait-to-learn

 

5. Major changes are scary…but you’ll figure it out!

major-unknown

 

 

6. Look outside and you’ll beLEAF fall is here

autumn-leaves

7. About that football game though…

osu-football