Blue Ridge Undergraduate Research Conference: Round 2

I have decided that I am the kind of person who always needs to be working on something big. That ‘something’ needs to keep me busy, but also needs to be something I want to dedicate many hours of my life to. This has been a recent discovery of mine, but it does make sense with what I have experienced in the past. Usually, I’ve always been happiest when I’ve been working towards a large goal, whether that be a science fair project, a huge presentation for an English class, or a quiz bowl competition. So far, I’ve had two big “somethings” in college that have provided me with the opportunity to pursue a large goal of mine. Last year, it was my first time ever doing research and presenting it at the Blue Ridge Undergraduate Research Conference (BRURC) which I wrote about in a previous post. This year, thus far, I participated in LMU’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which I described in my last post. Continue reading

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: It’s Showtime!

This is a huge week for a handful of students and even a few staff members at LMU! After weeks of set building, costume fittings, and scene rehearsals, midsummerwe are finally  in the middle of performing Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream! A few of us are particularly excited as it is our first time ever appearing on stage. Fellow blogger Alex and I decided to audition together back in September for the chance to be in a production and we both ended up getting parts. We both got more than one part each- we are responsible for learning the lines, blocking (the movement parts of acting), and different personalities for three characters each. I have three very different characters, so for my first time acting I have found it a little difficult. However, I love each of my characters and enjoy being able to switch back and forth from each of them depending on the scene. In one length of the play, I get to be a mechanical who is part of an acting troupe, a fairy, and a love interest! I’ve never acted, and let alone acted Shakespeare, so this is definitely a new experience for me. In a previous post, I described how I told myself I was going to try and do one thing every semester that scared me. This wasn’t because I necessarily wanted to be scared, but I wanted to expand my horizons and do things I never would do otherwise. In high school, I always wanted to be part of a play or musical but never had the time and, quite frankly, never even got the guts to go try out. I’ve enjoyed what Shakespeare I’ve read, and so many of my friends were trying out for the play. I needed to find a way to get out of my comfort zone anyway, so I had little excuse to not try out. Thankfully, the Bard has given me just the right way to complete my goal!

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Graduate School Part 1: It’s Never Too Early!

Anyone who knows me knows that I love planning for the future: planning for the weekend, planning for classes I will take in the future, planning for projects I want to complete, and especially for my future after I receive my bachelor’s degree from LMU. It has been a little unsettling before just recently since I was never quite sure exactly what I wanted to do. I decided long ago that I plan on always being a student in some way, so pursuing my education has been in my plans in one way or another. The rest, however, was a mystery: Should I get a job while completing a master’s degree? What would I study? Where would I study? What would I do after that?

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While I cannot lie and say I have the answers to all of the questions I have right now, I do feel like I have recently found a direction in which I would like to go. In a previous post, I talked about my unexpected passion for psychology and how I knew I wanted to do something with it, but was not quite sure what. Now I can confidently say that I have discovered that not only do I want to pursue psychology in some way after graduation, but I cannot imagine myself studying anything else. The vast amount of subjects I could study in graduate school made my future look hazy, but the thought of spending the rest of my academic life learning about anything I could about psychology made my future suddenly look less daunting.

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Give a Little

keep-calm-and-donate-blood-5A quick Google search is all that is needed to find out how much people dislike spiders, heights, the thought of public speaking, and even the idea of death. Another culprit of many people’s fears are needles: they hurt, and you are likely getting one because you are sick and need a shot or need to have blood drawn. I, too, dislike needles, but I have been able to mostly conquer my fear with the thought that having a tiny needle in my arm for about ten minutes can save up to three lives through blood donation.

My first time donating blood was my senior year of high school. I had tried to donate a few times before, but I was always just a little under the recommended weight limit, which I will explain a little later. I heard so many people enjoyed donating blood but I just didn’t get it. Why would anyone voluntarily get poked with a needle and get drained of blood? I thought we weren’t supposed to lose blood? Honestly, I ended up wandering to my high school gymnasium to donate blood in order to get out of my biology class. The thing is, we were learning about the cardiovascular system in class that day! While the rest of my class got to learn about blood, I was seeing first hand the benefits that donating blood has.

Blood donation is a quick, rewarding, and relatively painless process. There are many blood centers in most major cities with one of the most popular and well known being the American Red Cross. Both at my high school and at LMU, however, Medic Regional Blood Center is who facilitates blood donations throughout the year. Each center is a little different, but the process is usually very similar no matter where you go.

To ensure the safety of the donor and the recipient, those who are interested in donating blood need to meet certain requirements in order to donate. You must be at least 17 years old in most states, but in some states 16 -year-olds can donate with parental consent. You must weight at least 110 pounds if you are over 18 and 120 pounds if under 18. The most updated information can be obtained at this website. If you have ever had certain cancers or other medical conditions, have taken specific medications, or have recently traveled to certain countries, you may not be able to donate. A thorough list will be given to you in order to make the process easier. The most important requirement is that you must feel well. Donating with a cold is definitely not a good idea! If you meet the age, weight, and health requirements you are good to continue with the donation process!

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You Gotta Have Passion

College students are notoriously known for their continuous concern about the future: choosing the ‘right’ major, getting internships, studying for the GRE, volunteering, and, ultimately, looking marketable for whatever path they choose to take after graduation. The inspiration for this post came from staff at Webucator.com in which students are trained to be lifelong learners who return to essential skills time and again with free Microsoft training. Some students enter directly into the workforce while some look to go to graduate school. No matter the case, college students almost always have the future on their minds and I am certainly no exception!

There are all sorts of self-help books that are geared toward people my age, everything from books that help you get the best test scores and get into the right college all the way to what majors and careers to go for.  While these books are wonderful resources, simply having them will not help much. If you absolutely hate the subject you are studying, finding any motivation to try and study will be incredibly difficult. Being able to find what you are passionate about will help more than any book ever will.

With passion anything can become possible. If you want to do something badly enough, finding a way to accomplish it will be but a minor bump in the road.  The saying, “If there is a will, there is a way,” rings true especially when someone is passionate, as passionate people are dangerous beings. Passionate people will find a way to do what they want, no matter the cost or the difficulty.

Finding something that makes you react like this is the key to success.

Finding something that makes you react like this is the key to success.

Although there are many admirable qualities that can help lead people to success, my personal experience has shown that passion is the most marketable skill. In a previous post I wrote, I talked about my new found interest in psychology and my ultimate decision to major in it along with English. It never made sense to me until last year to major in such a field. I had always been interested in different areas of psychological research, including personality, intelligence, language learning, and others. I found myself researching and thinking about these things in my spare time.  In other words, I was passionate about it. Fortunately, I still am passionate and I am able to focus a large amount of my education to learn about it even more. Regarding my future, the idea of going to graduate school for research psychology is the road I wish to take. English will always be a passion of mine, but psychology is as much of a passion, if not even more so, as English is. I’ve been told a multitude of times to get paid to do something I would do for free.

As I research future graduate schools for psychology, I have this reaction with every school I look at!

As I research future graduate schools for psychology, I have this reaction with every school I look at!

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Body Image Series Part 3: Healthy Habits that Work

In my first body image post I talked about the issues I’ve faced with my body image, and in my second post I detailed my interest in karate as a form of exercise. For this post, here is my list of five easy tips and tricks that I personally use everyday at school to not only help maintain my weight, but make me feel wonderful in the process.

#1: Just because you can eat as much as you want in the cafeteria does not mean that you should eat everything you see.

I think this is the biggest challenge for every new college student. College students are stereotypically short on cash, and one of the best quick, cheap food choices for the average college student is eating anything and everything in the cafeteria. With as many food choices that are available, one might be tempted to get one (or two…or three…) of everything. However, do you really need to eat that much to get through to the next time you’ll eat? The answer is likely no. Pick one or two things you’d like to try, get appropriate portions, and enjoy! Continue reading

Body Image Series Part 2: Getting Down to Business

My last post detailed the issues I’ve faced in the past few years regarding my body image, and this week I wanted to focus on what I’ve done so far to improve how I perceive my appearance and general ways I’ve tried to be healthier. I had been tired about feeling terrible about how I looked, so I decided to do what I could. There are some things I have no control over, like my height, but I can always change my weight and certainly the way I perceive myself.

Over the summer when I decided to take control of my health I started using the treadmill we have at my house every day that I could. I’ve never particularly enjoy running, but having a treadmill right in my house to use made it difficult to make excuses not to use it. Many days I would run, walk, and jog for around an hour while, every now and then, I went as low as thirty minutes. All that time was a good time to think as I found it almost impossible to read while I was going any faster than a turtle’s speed. I usually just listened to music or TED talks to pass the time. After a few weeks of doing this, I started feeling better and had a lot more energy than I had when I first started. I had not only been exercising regularly, I had also been carefully watching what I ate. I ate more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, and going to bed at a decent time whenever I could. I was feeling wonderful! With as good as I was feeling I was starting to get curious to see how much weight I had lost. Surely I had lost a few pounds with as much as I was cutting back and exercising!

Once I actually got on a scale and saw the results, however, it turns out I had been mistaken. I was exactly the same weight doing so much work and it was honestly quite frustrating. I was determined to never be one of those people who checks the scale as often as I breathe, but I was upset that I hadn’t made a measurable difference. I didn’t even like running, so why should I continue to do it? I stopped spending so much time on the treadmill, but I really wanted to find another physical activity that I could enjoy both at home and back at LMU once I moved back in a few weeks later. I couldn’t handle another year of dreading the weight concerns that come with being a college student. I needed to guarantee that I would, in some way, be active at least once or twice a week outside of walking to and from class.

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By the time I moved back into school, I had yet to find another means of exercising that I could enjoy and easily do. I started to think that I was never going to find any form of exercise that I could get into, but I was quickly proven wrong yet again. Fellow blogger Ashley introduced me to Tri-State Free Style Martial Arts (TSFSMA) based in Middlesboro a few weeks ago, and since I’ve started I have absolutely loved it. I was skeptical at first; I thought all martial arts classes were super challenging and the instructors were always too demanding. It turns out that I was only half right. The classes are very challenging, but that is what I like most about them.

Classes always begin with stretches, warm-ups, and practicing of blocks, punches, and kicks. The second half of class works on sparring practice, developing new skills, and practicing old skills that students may be having trouble with mastering. The instructors are incredibly knowledgeable, kind, and helpful and are always there to help students improve in whatever way possible. I have only been to a handful of classes so far, but I am so thankful that I gave TSFSMA a chance.

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This is how I feel at the start of every class- always excited and ready to go!

I have not checked a scale in quite a while, but I don’t feel the need to. Although I am always sore for a few days after each class, I feel wonderful and look forward to every class. In fact, I see my soreness as a different but better way to check my progress instead of some number on a scale. I would not give up TSFSMA for anything!

Middlesboro classes are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9 p.m. at 2219 1/2 Cumberland Avenue (Old Firehouse Video, next to Family Dollar) and Pineville classes are held on Mondays and Thursdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the  New Heights Church next to Subway. For more information about TSFSMA, check out their Facebook page or their website! Classes are held in both Middlesboro and in Pineville, about fifteen minutes away from Middlesboro.

While what I’ve done to improve my overall health and body image has so far worked for me, not everyone enjoys and sees benefit in the forms of exercise  lifestyle choices I’ve made. Check back in a few weeks for a post on simple steps and easy lifestyle changes that everyone can take to feel better about themselves and improve their overall health!

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions feel free to email me or leave a comment on my blog. If you want to see more posts like this one, subscribe to my blog and receive a new post every other Thursday!