The Powers of Reflection

Congratulations! You have successfully made it to your second semester here at Ohio State. And now that syllabus week is over, the work begins.

I had a rough first semester at OSU. I didn’t have many friends, I didn’t want to admit to my parents that I was having a hard time, and I didn’t do well in classes. I ended up skipping classes to watch Netflix and sleep in and rarely left my residence hall. I ate a ton, did no homework and didn’t study and I ended up coming home for winter break 20 pounds heavier with a terrible GPA. Luckily, I had wonderful parents who, although disappointed, did their best to help me move forward instead of dwelling on the past. We spent a lot of time that winter break trying to figure out what went wrong and how to help me get back on track; and through that experience I learned how amazingly powerful reflection could be. I went into my second semester with a new outlook and ended it with a 3.5 semester GPA.

You have all more or less successfully completed a full semester at OSU and believe it or not you are now a veteran! You now have a pretty good idea of the in’s and out’s of college so why not put some of that knowledge to use? You will do so much better this semester if you take the time and space to reflect on what went right and what went wrong.

I have a little reflection activity (it takes about 30 minutes) that I want to share with you. I’ve started, weekly, going out by myself to eat or putting on some background music and lighting a candle in my room and just thinking. Below I’ve written out a way that you can engage in a similar activity that helps with mindfulness and goal-setting.

Reflection Activity:

Think back to the first days on the Ohio State campus: moving into the dorm rooms, meeting new faces, your parents moving your stuff into your dorm room. Remember how your room looked when you first stepped in. And how it looked when you were done with it. Remember saying goodbye to your parents, and spending the night with your new friends and roommates.

Fast forward through Welcome Week: all of the activities, the whirlwind of people, the cheers, the crowds, getting used to campus.

Now it’s the first days of classes: remember rushing to find your first class, pulling out the Maps app on your phone to find Arps Hall. Remember returning to your room at the end of the day exhausted but satisfied because at least you now know where your classes are.

Keep going fast-forwarding through your semester, letting your mind snag on the important parts, dwell on them a little before moving on. Try writing some of those moments down to remember them. Remember the good things and the bad things. Continue until you finally get to winter break. Imagine all of the things that went right last semester. What did you do well? When was your first success? How can you keep that up this semester? Write this stuff down.

What went wrong? What did you improve? What could you have done better in? What do you need to change? What can you do to improve? Write. It. Down.

Now look and think about everything you just wrote and thought about. What goals do you have for this semester that could hit on those points you just wrote down? Write those down and put them on your phone or hang them in your room.

Those are your goals for this semester.

The reason you may want to limit your Netflix binging over winter break

If your Thanksgiving break was anything like mine, you probably made your way to the fridge, overwhelmed with the amount of food fresh for the taking. You hunkered down on the couch in front of the TV or maybe turned to Netflix and binge-watched whatever Netflix suggested for you. You stayed up late and then slept in until you were too restless to flop around in your bed any longer, only to start your day of pursuing technology and comfort. Maybe you fell into the trap of video gaming until the wee hours of the morn, only taking breaks to refuel or use the facilities. You essentially did a lot of things that were relaxing, comforting, and fulfilling for a short time, but when those things lost their luster you moved on to the next thing. By the end of it, I felt like I was ready to get back to school but I was not fulfilled by my time off. I wished I could do it over again; I put off responsibilities to the very end and headed back to campus feeling dissatisfied.

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Unfortunately, truly resting is a struggle for many of us. We are used to constant stimulation and entertainment, whether that’s through social media, Snapchat, texting, or any other ways we use technology to stay “busy.” If you don’t come into this longer break with somewhat of a game plan, your winter break could leave you feeling unfulfilled anxious rather than well rested.

How do we do this? I think it starts with recognizing the difference between true rest and being entertained. It is easy to find yourself seeking to be preoccupied when you get home. We probably have many things we look to to keep busy and entertained whether that is TV, movies, Netflix, shopping, eating, frequent naps, or browsing social media. Though they do not involve much effort or physical exertion, I would not say that these things make me feel rested and refreshed.

What I find truly restful is to unplug from the constant brain stimulation that I am so used to during school, and focus on being more present. I personally try to find rest during breaks in going for a walk or run outside, reflecting over the semester, reading my Bible, spending time in prayer over my life and for people in my life, or even going on a spontaneous adventure (your local grocery store can be an adventure). I think the key is to find things that are enriching to your life and leave you feeling more alive and refreshed which can look like a lot of different things for different people. Another way that I like to do this is by spending quality time with my friends and family, catching up on what has been going on in life, or doing something that goes beyond just “hanging out.” Winter break can be a great time to sort through the direction you are currently headed in life and to reflect on ways you have grown.

I am not trying to say that you shouldn’t watch movies, Netflix, or plop down and watch some TV at all over break. The new Star Wars movie is coming out and I will be all over that. However, I don’t think these things bring much refreshment or rest to my life and so it is important to devote time to doing the things that truly offer rest rather than vainly hoping to find that rest in binge watching “Orange is the New Black.”

May the Force be with you this finals week and over break.

Reflections of A First Year Out-Of-State Student

Where are you from?

Long Island, New York

What is your major?

Speech and Hearing Science

Why did you choose to come to Ohio State?

I chose to come Kiley Nolan Pictureto Ohio State because after looking at 19 schools, I knew I wanted to go to a large university where everyone was able to be themselves. I really loved the athletic atmosphere and traditions. I felt like I was very welcomed here.

What has been the best part about coming to Ohio State?

The best part about coming to Ohio State has been getting to learn so many different things from so many different people, faculty and experiences. I have learned so much outside of my realm of knowledge, my major, my prior experiences and places I have been.

What’s been your funniest moment as an out-of-state student?

The first week of school we were trying to order a pizza and I kept asking if we were going to order a pie. My friends looked at me and kept telling me they were ordering a “large.” I kept asking if we were getting a “pie,” and then someone said, “We’re not going to a bakery Kiley, we’re getting pizza!” At that moment I realized they don’t call “large pizzas” a “pie” here. I still to this day do not understand why these crazy Ohioans don’t call it a pie. All I know is I’m not in New York anymore!

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What has been the most surprising part about coming to Ohio State?

The most surprising part about coming to Ohio State has definitely been that you are MUCH more than just a number. Coming to a large school, I was kind of excited to be just a number because I came from such a small high school. However, now that I am here I realize that I am WAY more than just a number. I can walk anywhere on campus and know at least one person.

What’s the best piece of advice you were given coming into college?

I was given two really good pieces of advice:

1. Make every day an adventure

2. Sleep is for when you are dead.

Both of those have held true this past year!

What are you most looking forward to for the rest of your college experience?

So much! I’m excited to have the opportunity to leave my mark on the university. I have seen how the people above me have accomplished so much in the Ohio State community and I would love to be able to do the same by the time I graduate.

If you could give one piece of advice to other out-of-state students what would it be?

I would tell them to say “YES!” Say yes to things people who live in Ohio tell you to do, to taking a random class, to having lunch with a family member, to going to a new state. Just say “Yes!”

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My First Year Was Successful Because…

So, the end of your first year at Ohio State is winding down and there are only three weeks left to go before you are no longer considered a first year student. What do you have to show for it? What have you learned? My first year was a year of growth and development. I learned more about myself in that one year than I had in all of my four years of high school and I am thankful for what I learned. After I finished my last exam of spring semester, I took some time to reflect and realized that my year was wildly successful because…

I knew my professors’ names and had personally conversed with them. Approaching professors can be intimidating and in the midst of your busy semester you wonder if it is really worth your time to get to know your professors. It is. Your professors are some of the best resources on campus. They have a wealth of knowledge and are so excited to share their ideas! Professors are here to fill our minds with more knowledge than we can imagine and want to help us grow as students.

I could go the RPAC alone. In my first semester I was afraid to go most places on campus alone because, frankly, I thought I would get lost and because I never wanted to be lonely. However, there came a time when I was ready to go places on my own time. Being confident in my ability to navigate the campus effectively and take time for myself is a skill that I am thankful I learned.

I found a major that helped me find my passion. During my first semester I changed my major, and it was one of the best decisions I made at Ohio State. Not only did I find a major that I enjoyed, but I also found a major that helped me discover ways to further develop my interests and find my true niche.

I learned how to manage my time. It was always a sad day to realize that I had 60 pages of a textbook that needed to be read before my next class. With a packed schedule of going to class, student organization meetings, papers, midterms, and napping, it is difficult to find time to accomplish everything in one day. By the end of my first year I had developed a way to schedule time to study, go to class, and nap. Figuring out how to use my time wisely made my goals attainable.

I was exhausted. By the end of my first year, I was mentally and physically exhausted. My brain hurt from the amount of knowledge I obtained and I was too tired to function from all of the late nights study sessions and life talks with my roommates. I never got much sleep, but I never regretted an extra minute of studying or conversing with people on my floor.

I found my inner Buckeye. By the end of my first year I had finally learned all of the words to Carmen Ohio and the Buckeye Battle Cry. After sitting with thousands of my friends at football games, I learned the words to the point where I could participate for each song. Cheering on the Buckeyes is a top priority and learning how to sing along made me feel more connected to other students and the University.

I wanted to come back. When my parents came to pick me up after my last final, the first thing I wanted to do was go straight back to Ohio State. My first year was so much more than I thought it would ever be and I was so thankful for the great year Ohio State gave me. Before I returned home for the summer, I already could not wait to get back to Ohio State to learn more, meet more people, and further develop the amazing friendships I had made. I fell in love with Ohio State my first year and I could not wait to return the following year to have another amazing year.                                                                                                                                                                              

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