10 Tips And Tricks To Hack Your Freshman Year

10 Tips And Tricks To Hack Your Freshman Year

Surefire ways to make your first year as a college student the best it can be.
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So, you’re about to enter your freshman year of college, and yes, everything is about to change. As intimidating as it may be, or rather, as intimidating as it is… welcome! You’re in the right place. Having just finished my freshman year, I’ve compiled a list of some tips and tricks that are guaranteed to help you hack your first year in your new home.

1. Be open to everyone.

Everyone you meet during your first few days is in exactly the same position you are! Everyone is looking to make friends, and numerous other students looking to mark down contenders will most likely approach you.

2. Get really good at reciting, “I’m ____________, I live in _____________, and I’m interested in ____________.”

This is your first-week-as-a-freshman conversation starter.

3. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

Don’t hesitate to shoot a text to one of your orientation buddies, for example, to make lunch plans. You may feel awkward, but both of you will probably be grateful for the company. This is a great way to build a stronger bond, too!

4. Don’t be afraid to brave dining spots alone.

You’re in college now; independence is a newfound treasure! Though intimidating, it is completely acceptable to go to the caf alone. In opposition to any preconceived notions high school may have placed in your brain, no one will be looking at you and whispering “what a loser”. In fact, you’ll find yourself surrounded by other diners who are also content with their own company.

5. Get ahead of the “Sunday Scaries”.

When Sunday rolls around, you’ll probably find yourself stressing about the busy week ahead of you. This will be the case even moreso if you leave the bulk of your work until the last minute. Start assignments as soon as they are assigned, even if you only do a little bit each day. Fight your procrastination before it starts. You’ll thank yourself when that due date rolls around.

6. Sleep.

Yes, you’ll be busy. Whether it is your academic life or your social life keeping your schedule packed (hint: a healthy mix of both, pls), don’t forget to take time for yourself and give your body the rest it needs! Sleep is essential to staying healthy, happy, and motivated, and if you aren’t getting those 6-8 hours every night… well, let’s just say your dining dollars (and heart rate) will certainly take the hit when you constantly find yourself with coffee in hand.

7. Fight Your FOMO.

College is full of fun, social opportunities, and yes, you will be tempted to join in on the fun. Every. Single. Time. Just remember where your priorities fall, and make sure you are keeping them where they should be. Keep in mind that you have a whole year full of fun weekends with your friends, and you really don’t need to go to every single party, concert, or whatever other plans may arise. The world will not end if you skip out on tonight’s party to finish your 25%-of-your-grade paper, and it also won’t end if you decline that brunch invite because you’re feeling under the weather. Life goes on.

8. STUDY!

Unlike high school, a good amount of college professors will not include grades for homework. What does this mean, exactly? Your grade rests on your exams, quizzes, and papers. Unlike high school again, college exams require hard work. You cannot roll up to your test without having studied and expect an A. You can’t just “wing it”. Study. No, seriously. Study. Your GPA will thank you for your cooperation.

9. When you need help, ask for it.

Whether you are struggling in a class or dealing with something personal, do not hesitate to get help. In terms of academics, professors love to see students take the initiative and reach out in order to achieve their desired grade.

This shows motivation and dedication to your studies. On another note, if you are going through something personal, don’t suffer in silence. Confide in someone you trust, whether it is a friend or trusted adult. There are services on campus specifically for this reason, and they are more than happy to help you in whatever way you need it. Explore your school’s resources and look into speaking with someone who can provide comfort and advice.

10. Have fun.


College can be stressful, emotionally taxing at times, and exhausting, but it is also one of the most exciting and fun experiences you’ll encounter. Make the most of your next four years. Freshman year will fly by and make you realize just how important it is to live in the moment.

Enjoy the ride :)

Cover Image Credit: Indefatigable2 at English Wikipedia

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4 reasons how Drake's New Album May Help Us Fight Mental Illness

Increasing Evidence Points to Music as a Potential Solution to the Mental Health Problem.

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Okay, You caught me!

I am NOT just talking about everybody's favorite actor-turned-rapper— or second, if you've seen Childish Gambino's "This is America" music video. Unfortunately, current research hasn't explored specific genres and artists. However, studies HAVE provided significant evidence in possibilities for music to treat mental health disorders. Now, before you say something that your parents would not be proud of, ask yourself if you can really blame me for wanting to get your attention. This is an urgent matter concerning each one of us. If we all face the truth, we could very well reach one step closer to solving one of society's biggest problems: Mental Health.

The Problem:

As our nation continues to bleed from tragedies like the horrific shooting that shattered the lives of 70 families whose loved ones just wanted to watch the "Dark Knight Rises" during its first hours of release, as well as the traumatic loss of seventeen misfortunate innocents to the complications of mental health disorders in the dear city of Parkland— a city mere hours from our very own community— it's impossible to deny the existence of mental illness. As many of us can already vouch, mental illness is much more common than what most would think: over 19 million adults in America suffer from a mental health disorder. Picture that: a population slightly less than that of Florida is plagued by hopelessness, isolation, and utter despair.

Disease in the form of depression holds millions of people prisoner, as anxieties instill crippling desperation and too many struggles with finding peace. This can be you. It could be your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your cousin, your aunt, your uncle, your friend, your roommate, your fraternity brother, your sorority sister, your lab partner, or just your classmate that sits in the corner of the lecture hall with a head buried into a notebook that camouflages all emotion.

I hope we— the UCF community— understand the gravity of the problem, but it's clear that some still see mental illness as a disease that affects only a handful of "misfits" who "terrorize" our streets, while the numbers reveal more to the issue. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans suffers from a mental health disorder. The problem is so serious that suicide has risen to become the second-leading cause of death among 20 to 24-year-olds. While many continue to ask for more antidepressants and even the occasional "proper spanking," recent studies indicate increases in occurrence, such as one in depression from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. So, clearly, none of that is working.

The Evidence:

If we really want to create a world where our children are free from the chains of mental illness, we need to think outside the box. Doctors and scientists won't really talk about this since it's still a growing field of research, but music has strong potential. We don't have any options at the moment, which means we need to change our mindset about music and to continue to explore its medicinal benefits. If you're still skeptical because of the title, then please consider these 4 pieces of solid evidence backed by scientific research:

1. Music has been proven to improve disorders like Parkinson's Disease.

Researchers sponsored by the National Institute of Health— the country's largest research agency— saw an improvement in the daily function of patients with Parkinson's Disease. This makes patients shake uncontrollably, which often prevents them from complete functionality. The disease is caused by a shortage of dopamine— a chemical your neurons, or brain cells, release; since music treats this shortage, there's an obvious ability to increase dopamine levels. As numerous studies connect dopamine shortages to mental illnesses like depression, addiction, and ADHD, someone could possibly use music's proven ability to increase dopamine levels to treat said problems.

2. Listening to the music has the potential to activate your brain's "reward center."

In 2013, Valorie Salimpoor and fellow researchers conducted a study that connected subjects' pleasure towards music to a specific part of the brain. This key structure, the nucleus accumbens, is the body's "reward center," which means all of you have experienced its magical powers. In fact, any time the brain detects a rewarding sensation— drinking ice-cold water after a five-mile run in sunny, humid Florida, eating that Taco Bell chalupa after a long happy hour at Knight's Library, and even consuming recreational drugs— this structure releases more of that fantastic dopamine. So, with further research into specifics, doctors may soon be prescribing your daily dose of tunes for your own health.

3. Listening to Music may be more effective than prescription anti-anxiety medication.

In 2013, Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel J. Levitin— two accomplished doctors in psychology— reviewed a study wherein patients waiting to undergo surgery were given either anti-anxiety medications or music to listen to. The study took into account cortisol levels, which are used daily by healthcare professionals to gauge patient levels. This "stress hormone" was actually found to be lower in patients who listened to classical music rather those who took the recommended dose of prescription drugs. Sit there and think about that for a second: these patients actually felt more relaxed with something as simple as MUSIC than with chemicals that are made specifically to force patients into relaxation before surgery. Why pop a Xanax when you can just listen to Beethoven?

4. Music may release the chemicals that help you naturally relax and feel love.

Further studies continue to justify music's place in the medical world as results demonstrate increases in substances such as prolactin— a hormone that produces a relaxing sensation— as well as oxytocin— the substance that promotes warmth and happiness during a hug between mother and child. So this study basically showed us that music has the potential to actually make you feel the way you did when Mom or Dad would embrace you with the warmest hug you've ever felt.

The Future:

The evidence I present you with today is ultimately just a collection of individual situations where specific people found specific results. There are a lot of variables when it comes to any research study; therefore, data is never truly certain. We should take these findings as strong suggestions to a possible solution, but we must remember the possibility of failure in our search.

The neurochemistry behind the music and its medicinal properties is just beginning to unfold before the scientific community. In fact, extremely qualified scientists from the National Institute of Health— the organization that basically runs any important medical study in the United States— continue to remind us of the subject's youth with the constant use of "potential" behind any and all of their findings. Therefore, it's our responsibility as a community to look into this— not just that of the scientists at the National Institute of Health.

We're all surrounded by music. It's at the bars. It's in our ears during all-night sessions at the UCF library. It's keeping us awake through East Colonial traffic at 7:00 AM while hordes of students focus on their cell phone screens instead of the paved roads ahead. It's in the shoes we wear, the actions we take, and the words we say. IF YOU'RE READING THIS: it's accessible to you. So, don't be shy, and try to play with your Spotify account, or even just on YouTube, and gauge the power of music. As more and more of us see the light, we can promote the movement and carry on as more research comes out to support us.

Drop the bars, drop those addictive pills that destroy your body slowly, and pick up your headphones and press PLAY.

Just relax, close your eyes, smile, and live.

Cover Image Credit:

@champagnepapi

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5 ways To Survive Trying to ace a summer class

It is like I am going insane.

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I mean, I am taking rigorous classes which allow me to devote a lot of my time towards them, but still...it is only two classes. By the time I get done, I have a whole half of the day full of nothing. I end up just sitting on my phone for most of the day instead of doing something practical.
So here I have compiled a list of how to keep yourself from not going crazy!


The whole point of summer is to enjoy your life, even if it does mean taking a couple of classes. Do I wish I was on a cruise heading towards some tropical island? Ugh, duh. Do I wish I was sitting on the beach with my dog? Yeah. Do I wish I just wasn't here taking classes? Um, of course. But it just didn't work out that way for me. Instead, I am trying to make the most of my time here this summer, because I only have a few more years until I hit the real world. Yay...can't wait to adult some more!

Cover Image Credit:

Pexels

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