11 Things To Look Forward To After Finals

11 Things To Look Forward To After Finals

Need some motivation to push through finals?
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It’s nearly that time when the library is packed and the stores are running out of coffee. That’s right, finals week is approaching! Finals are not fun, but finals week getting closer means that Summer break is also getting closer! Here are 10 things to look forward to after finals to help get you through them!

1. No more homework!

I know that one of the many stressful things about finals is the homework that’s assigned right before. Finals are stressful by themselves, so it’s never fun when professors assign homework that’s due the week before the final or even the week of sometimes. But, I remind myself that after that one last week of finals, I won’t have to worry about any homework at all.

2. Having time to eat

Days spent studying for finals are some of the longest days of the year in my opinion. Sometimes I’ll leave in the morning to go to class and the library to study, and I won’t get back home until late that night. By the time I get home, I don’t have a ton of energy to make anything extravagant for dinner. Just thinking about how I’ll actually have time to eat real meals after finals is a motivator to get them done!

3. Swimming

Besides the people who don’t like hot weather, who doesn’t look forward to Summer because of the outdoor activity-friendly weather? Swimming was always one of the main things that I looked forward to about summer when I was little, and it’s still something that I’m excited for. Whether I’m going on vacation or not, the end of finals means the beginning of being able to go swimming!


4. Getting more hours at work

I know working over the summer isn’t necessarily a highlight of the break, but finals being over with means no more having to work around your class schedule. No more finals means more hours, and more hours means more money to do other fun things over the summer!

5. Change of scenery

Living on campus is fun and exciting, but sometimes a change of scenery is nice. Especially if you live in dorms, getting finals done means no more living in a cube!


6. Seeing family

I don’t know anyone in college who hasn’t gotten even just a little bit homesick at least once. The sooner I’m done with finals, the sooner I get to see my mom and my dog!

7. Getting to see friends outside of college

I love my friends that I met at college, but I’m still close with a couple that I knew before college. Finals week coming to an end means a summer catching up and spending time with old friends is coming to a beginning!


8. Ice cream (and other frozen treats)

When I was younger and people would ask me what my favorite food was, I would say ice cream. Although it might not be my favorite food anymore, it’s definitely in my top 10. Second-semester finals being over with officially marks the beginning of nice enough weather to eat ice cream, or slushies/other frozen treats, without getting cold (or without it dripping onto the study guide you’re cramming the day before the final).

9. Time to travel

I don’t know how many people who have time to travel during the school year, but it’s probably not very high. Finals wrapping up means no more class, and no more class means more free time! Even if it’s just a weekend trip, not having to worry about a class on Monday can make it a lot more fun.


10. Watching Netflix without feeling guilty

I don’t know how many times that I watch Netflix and tell myself that I’ll stop to study after the episode I’m on, and then the next thing I know it’s multiple episodes later. After finals are done, no more feeling bad for binge-watching your favorite shows!


11. Actually having free time

One of the things that I'm looking forward to the most about being done with finals is actually having some free time. Finals week is full of cramming and studying, but just the thought of having some time to sit back and relax makes it all worth it!

Those are just some of the things to look forward to after finals!

Cover Image Credit: Karen Ketay

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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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She Can Laugh

How one phrase changed my out look.

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For as long as I can remember, I feared the future. I feared the unknown of what my future would be.

I never had a clear path to what I wanted to do in life and in high school that is the question you seem to get asked daily if not more. To me the dreaded questions "What are your plans for the future?" or "What do you want to do with your life?" would shake me to my core because as everyone around me was finding the answers to those questions I was not. I did not know what school I wanted to go to or what job I wanted or have a ten-year plan like some of my friends that were really well prepared.

I let that fear of the future consume my life for what feels like forever. I can recall times where I would break down crying, begging God or anybody for a sign or to guide me in a direction just to have one. I was to the point I just wanted to know what to do and did not really care what that direction was. I was just so sick of not knowing.

I can not pinpoint an exact time where the fear started to go away but I know it came close to the middle of my senior year. I began to realize I was wasting my time worrying about the future and tough the future would be here sooner than later I was never going to get my time in high school back.

My prayers were answered in a way. I slowly began to have answers to those once dreaded questions. I tried to live in the moment as much as I could. I rarely said no to hanging out with friends. And I can live to say the lack of sleep I got from staying up late and making memories was 100% worth it. I guess you could refer to it as a YOLO mentality even though I would never use such a cheesy term. ;)

So the point right, you are wondering where my point is and where the "She Can Laugh" comes in I'm assuming.

"She Can Laugh" comes from the bible verse Proverbs 31:25.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

I was introduced to this verse from a hometown brand "Identity in Christ." They created a line of jewelry that tells stories of peoples identity in Christ. They have four stories they share, "Not I But Christ," "Keep Pressing In," "Do Not Lose Heart," and "She Can Laugh." Each phrase has there own story explaining that identity in Christ.

"She Can Laugh" reads,

Every now and then we find ourselves at a breaking point. We have choices. One of which is a break down. Sometimes that seems a little easier doesn't it? Just let go for a bit. You can't keep up anyway. The other is a break through. This requires holding on for just a little bit longer. Holding on to hope because in us there lies a strength. A peculiar strength. It's not grown by our hard work and grit and resolve. But rather, it is simply to be known.
When we begin to see those great big burdens we are carrying in light of the enormity of God's strength and the sufficiency of His provision, something inside us shifts. Our perspective changes. We discover another route… she can laugh. No longer are we driven by fear, alone in our tears, and defined by our circumstances. "She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come." Proverbs 31:25 So come what may. If we can't laugh, then what can we do? Oh what beauty shines forth from the heart, though it has been broken, still emerges with a gentle smile. And what contagious joy is to be found as she discovers that she can laugh.

The first time, I read this I broke down. I hid the tears welling up in my eyes because well I was in public, with my mom and I was not about to lose it right there in the shop. But it hit me, it was my story. I related to every word, and it was also then that I realized I did not need to be fearful.

You see I was always told growing up to pray about what upset me but it was during that period of uncertainty that I started to have doubts of just how much my prayers were going to help with my fears. Reading that identity story I was reminded of the power of my prayers.

I still have uncertainty about my future, I still do not know exactly what I want to do with my life, but I now look forward to the uncertainty. Like it is a surprise rather than a scary unknown. And I can laugh knowing everything will work out the way it should.



Cover Image Credit:

Taylor Kirsch

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