Monday, October 25, 2010

Patience is a Virtue

A couple of weeks ago I was wondering if I was going to be able to graduate on time. Changing my minor in my last year of school seems to have been a bit of a reckless decision, especially when that minor is brand new and doesn't have all the bugs worked out yet. I feel like a guinea pig. However, I thought that since I want to get my Master's in Environmental History, a minor in Environmental Science would be a better choice than a minor in Geology, even though I still love Geology and will always be a geonerd.

Two weeks ago, I was informed I would need to take yet another history course. No biggie since it is my major. Yes biggie since it is a three hour once-a-week research seminar. (Exasperated sigh) I am hoping to be able to petition out of it, but in the event that I can't, well . . . it will give me an extra bump for grad school. Last week, I was informed the economics class I wanted to take had a pre-requisite that I could not get out of taking, even though I have taken two economics class without it. The alternative economics class conflicted with another class I need. I spoke to my Geo prof, who is the head of the Environmental Sciences program. He offered another option that we are going to petition to be included in the minor - an Anthropology class, "The Politics of Oil". So far, I am petitioning one sociology class for another (due to the original class not being offered in the spring), the anthro class for an econ class and History 407 (Senior Thesis) for History 499 (Senior Research Seminar).

Come to think of it, I ought to petition for a General Studies minor since I will have 50 more credits than I need to in order to graduate. I wonder if that is even a possibility? By the time I graduate, I will be soo well-rounded. Wow. Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Safety on the College Campus

As the amount of available daylight begins to wane, more students are walking around campus in the dark. Most college campuses are aware of their responsibility to keep their students safe. Here at the University of Tennessee, the administration has been installing more “blue light” security towers in places that could be a security risk, for example, places that aren’t as well lighted as others (between buildings, behind buildings, etc.).

However, it is not only the responsibility of the university administration to keep the students safe. It is up to the students to take responsibility for their personal safety as well. Here are some general safety tips for college students as they walk around on campus.

1. Be aware of your surroundings. Turning up your iPod and zoning out to the music makes you less aware of your surroundings because your hearing is compromised. If you are going to walk through campus at night, ditch the iPod and stay off your phone. Listen to what is going on around you.
2. There is safety in numbers. Never walk across campus alone. Most campus police departments will gladly provide you an escort if you call and ask them to. Walk with friends. If one friend is parked far away, take them to their car. Don’t let them go alone.
3. Stay on well-lit routes. Don’t go between or behind buildings if you can help it. A “shortcut’ is not worth compromising your safety over.
4. When in doubt, head to the library or another open, occupied building. If you feel you are being followed, head to the library. Your dorm or apartment may be further away. Go to an occupied building, most often the library, and call the campus police for an escort once you are secure inside the building.
5. Lock your doors. Lock your car door as soon as you get inside the car. Don’t stand with your car door open and fumble around for something. Wait until you are in your car and the door is locked before you fumble around. Also, always lock your dorm door, your apartment door, etc.
6. Keys in hand. Make sure your keys are in your hand before you reach your destination (car, dorm, apartment, etc.). You will spend less time fumbling around for your keys and will be less of a target.
7. Put 9-1-1 on your cell phone speed dial. Always be one call away from help. If you are being threatened, call 9-1-1 immediately. Even if you are not directly speaking to the dispatcher, they should be able to track your call.
8. Make yourself conspicuous. Be loud, be obnoxious, scream – whatever it takes to draw attention to you when you feel you are being threatened. People pay attention to someone making a scene and a would-be attacker will be scared away.
9. Do not keep valuables out in the open. Secure your laptop, iPod etc. in an inconspicuous place in your car (the trunk, under a seat, etc.). Ladies, don’t carry around a huge purse and a backpack. Keep it simple – use the backpack only. Make yourself less of a target.
10. If something does happen to you, report it immediately. The police will have a better chance of catching the attacker/thief if you report the incident immediately. Yes, it’s frightening to be the victim of a crime, but being a victim doesn’t mean you are helpless.

Many people carry pepper spray with them. Some even carry tazers. Find out what your campus policy is as far as having items for self protection. Be sure you know how to use the items. Do whatever you can to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of a crime. Take responsibility for your own safety. Be empowered, be safe. Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, October 7, 2010

And Now In the Center Ring . . .

Wow. I feel like I am juggling 50 running chainsaws! Hope I don't drop one! I finished with three out of the four mid-terms this week. I have an essay mid-term in History due next Thursday (10/14). Fall break is today and tomorrow. I am in the office today working on conference things for an Electrical Engineering professor. He asked yesterday if I could help him and has given me a week to pull it all together. Well . . . . It will happen. I am taking tomorrow off as a mental health day. Going with a friend to the Museum of Appalachia's Fall Homecoming and the Greekfest! Great food, great music, great friend! :)

My chainsaws? Three have been removed, thank God. Got a 91 on my Spanish oral exam. Not sure about Sociology and Geology. Another running chainsaw is that I may have to take History 499 next semester, which would bring my total hours to 15. The class is a research/writing intensive class that is now required for History majors. Add to that the fact that I have to take another Sociology class and petition it in to replace one I need for my minor that is not being taught next semester - running chainsaw #2.

The conference, the annual report and other department projects, and the addition of History 499 (like I have nothing better to do with my life) - all are running chainsaws. Am I talented and coordinated enough to keep all these running chainsaws in the air??? If I don't pass Spanish, I will have to take an intensive Intermediate Spanish class which will bring my load to 18 hours. It could be raining chainsaws by mid-February next semester. I just want to graduate and get on with life in grad school!!! Waaaaa!!!

Okay, so what can I learn from all this? There is always a lesson in every life experience.
1. Take a deep breath and don't sweat the small stuff. If I can't petition away History 499, that's okay. It will make me a better researcher.
2. Take it one day at a time. Make a list of what to accomplish today and celebrate the little victories.
3. Remember that this, too, shall pass.
4. Celebrate the fact that I am in school, that my children love me, that I have a job I love, that I have great profs and classmates and friends. Celebrate life!

And hope that it doesn't ever rain running chainsaws! Stay tuned . . .

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mid-Term Mania

It's that time of the semester again - mid-terms; those wonderful exams, projects, etc. that are precursors to your semester finals. I guess it's good that three out of my four profs are giving mid-terms prior to fall break. The lone hold-out, Dr. Hutton from history, is giving us a take home exam. (Groan!) I really wanted to enjoy my fall break!

This is what my fall break looks like: work on History exam, visit to Appalachian State University to talk about grad school, work on History exam, mental health day with a friend and Greekfest, DON'T work on History exam, travel to LaGrange to watch Megan play volleyball, work on History exam. It would be a great fall break if I didn't have to work on my History exam. Such is life.

How does one survive mid-terms, especially when one has more than one mid-term in one day? Take a deep cleansing breath and try these tips:
1. Get a good night's sleep. You don't want to face plant into your desk mid-exam.
2. Eat a good breakfast. The exam-induced stillness of the classroom only acts as an amplifier to your growling stomach.
3. Make sure you get your green book, Scantron or other test paraphernalia the day BEFORE the exam, not the day of. Don't be a Last Minute Lucy and risk being late for the exam by standing in line at the bookstore with all the other Last Minute Lucys purchasing the needed items for the exam that your prof told you about two weeks ago. (roll eyes here)
4. Make sure you visit the restroom prior to the exam. No explanation needed.
5. Relax and just let all the stuff crammed into your head flow out of your head, down your arm, into your hand and onto the paper. Hopefully, it will be right stuff for the right exam!

You can also calm your nerves by singing simple songs like, "The Itsy Bisty Spider" or "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star". I need to learn "The Itsy, Bitsy Spider" in Spanish so I can sing that on the way to Spanish class next Wednesday.

Tell yourself, "This will be over soon and then I am on to bigger and better things . . . like the holidays." I have some survival tips for that, too - surviving the end of the semester while faced head-on with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Another blog. Good luck! May we all get A's!! Stay tuned . . .