A Letter To Discouraged College Students

A Letter To Discouraged College Students

A letter to every college student out there with final exams in two weeks


To my dear, suffering college friend,

Good afternoon! You're probably procrastinating your last few projects and your study session while you're reading this post or you might be lying in your bed ready to go to sleep. You're also probably worried that you're going to fail the final exams that are within a month from today. You're scared, tired, and just done with all this college stuff and wish winter break would just roll around so you could enjoy your time without deadlines and exams knocking on your door. You're sure that the final exam would bring your grades down to a failing grade and make you have to retake the course all over again or even worse, being kicked out of college and landing in the middle of nowhere with no degree and no job.

Unfortunately, there's nothing I could do to help you other than some words of encouragement and a pat on the back that would serve no purpose other than spreading germs everywhere; the is the cruel side of college, exams. However, there is something you could do to reduce the stress you have on yourself. By now you're down in the dumps and super down on yourself, probably thinking that you'll achieve nothing other than failing and the self-confidence in you is completely non-existent. Unfortunately, there is no time for you to be upset over yourself because exams are rolling over and if you couldn't pick yourself up right now you're going to get run over again and get down on yourself over and over again, creating an endless cycle of minimal self-worth.

Start by just taking a deep breath right now and take a few more afterward. Not only can it help clear your mind but you could also intake more oxygen which is good stuff. Now get yourself in the most comfortable before you even start to think or do anything. Studies have shown that a relaxed setting could help the mind relax and work efficiently. Drink some water or eating something if you need to, make yourself at home and forget everything else. Now that we're nice and comfortable we could start to think and plan. So many people just jump straight into working without knowing what steps to take and where to start causing more confusion, less confidence, and overall just wasting valuable time. We start out with what you need to improve on specifically. If you don't know where to start or what to improve on, look at past tests, quizzes, homework problems, exams, etc. to see where you messed up on. If you don't understand the class material email the TA's or professor or go into office hours for explanation and help. Now that we've located where your problem is we start planning: when are you able to study, what setting is best for you to study in, are you more of a group study person or solo study person. All these are questions you should ask yourself and once you've answered those questions start by doing practice problems. Practice is the key here, and the whole point of practice is to learn and become experienced, so don't be afraid to ask others for help or googling some ideas. Textbooks and notes help a lot here. One of the most important factors here is to not overload yourself. Do not go into studying spree and sleep for only 3 hours a day. The most important things to keep in mind is that a healthy lifestyle means a better study mindset, an energetic person with sufficient hours to sleep and eat can be ten times more productive than a tired person. Put down the phone and put your mind to studying; ignore any unnecessary distractions because once your attention is directed elsewhere, it takes about 15 minutes for your mind to readjust to a learning setting. Remember that you will always have people to talk to if you need help, academically or emotionally or spiritually.

When you dedicate your mind to studying you'll soon learn that you don't have time to be down on yourself and actually doing something productive. It's time to end this endless cycle of being down on yourself by not doing anything and then come back to being down on yourself for not doing anything. Think, plan, and do, don't hesitate or direct your attention to things that only hinder what needs to be done. Good luck and hopefully you'll come through.

Best wishes,

Johnny Chiu

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Avatar: The Last Airbender Is Still Iconic, And Here's Why

Although it's a children's cartoon from the 2000s, ATLA remains one of the greatest shows ever made.


Avatar: The Last Airbender ended in 2008, but I've watched the full series at least ten other times since then. I was a big fan of ATLA when it was first airing, but sometimes I marvel at how lasting it's impact is over a decade later. I've seen ATLA bumper stickers and tattoos depicting the four elements, not mention that I myself have a "Jasmine Dragon" sticker on my laptop resembling the Starbucks logo. ATLA was incredible. It's witty, fun, emotionally impactful, interesting in plot, and filled with relatable characters. "Korra" was a nice attempt to follow up on a passionate fanbase, but it ultimately didn't resonate with viewers to the same degree. That said, sometimes people wonder why I'm still so invested in a kid's cartoon from the 2000s. Here's why.

The show referenced a variety of cultures from around the world

If you've watched the show, you've probably realized that there aren't actually any "white" characters in the Avatar-verse. Not that European cultures aren't valid, but it is notable that the show was created as an appreciation of cultures that often go overlooked. The art and music were heavily influenced by East and South Asia, and the different nations clearly reference Asian and indigenous traditions. Earth Kingdom cities were based off of real cities in East Asia, and the culture depicted drew from various East Asian nations as well. The same applies to the fire nation, which was originally modeled off of Japan and China. The water tribes have their foundations in Inuit and Sireniki cultures, and the air nomads are based on Tibetans, Sri Lankan Buddhists, and Shaolin Monks. There are many other historical references throughout "Avatar," including a nod to ancient Mesopotamia in the Sun Warriors.

The characters were complex and relatable

"ATLA" didn't just give us a typical group of teenage heroes, with each one fitting into a typical mold. They were complex and realistic, and that's what made them relatable. We saw Aang balance his role as Avatar with his personal moral philosophy, all while experiencing the onset of puberty and young adulthood. We watched Katara struggle with responsibility as the main female role model in her family after her mother's death. We observed and related to Toph and Zuko's complex relationships with their families, including the influence that an abusive parent can have on a young life. We experienced the struggles of inferiority to "better" friends with Sokka, and even learned about toxic friendships with Mai and Ty Lee. These were all growing kids and teenagers, and nothing could have been more genuine.

"ATLA" gave us some incredible, strong female leads to look up to

Katara was truly the first feminist I ever encountered on television. Not only did she become a master waterbender in the span of weeks, she also taught the Avatar! And the whole time, she reminded us that strong fighters can be feminine too. Meanwhile, Toph showed us that just because a person has a disability, doesn't mean that they are defined by it. In fact, Toph's blindness only enhances her abilities, rather than holding her back. We also encounter powerful female characters like Azula (I know, she's evil, but that doesn't make her any less of a prodigy), Ty Lee, Mai, Suki (and all the Kyoshi warriors for that matter), Smellerbee, and even Princess Yue (who literally died for her people, mind you).

It made a deep, dramatic topic witty and fun

It occurred to me recently that "Avatar" is basically about imperialism and genocide. The Fire Nation decides to take over the world through military force, and it does so by exterminating an entire people and occupying and colonizing everyone else. For such a deep topic, you wouldn't think the show would be quite as fun as it is, but it is. I've restarted watching, and I find myself constantly laughing. With Sokka's sarcastic comments, Iroh's oddities, and everybody else's regular quips, "ATLA" is regularly lighthearted and never takes itself too seriously.

There's some real wise advice throughout

Finally, what "ATLA" is really known for, is its heart. Uncle Iroh provides us with a regular understanding of the world around us, encouraging us to see the world in balance and look for our true selves. His wise words ring true throughout childhood and adulthood. The underlying themes and messages of the show, including balance, friendship, love, and loyalty, all serve the greater purpose of advising the audience.

In summary, "Avatar" was amazing. If you haven't, I highly recommend you do. If you have, maybe go rewatch!

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