Tips for planning semesters

Hello and welcome back to Sigma Nu Zeta Omicron! I hope you are all having a great week.

So this week was registration week and I’m pretty happy with the schedule I got for next semester. As I’ve said before, I’m a morning person so I really like to have all my classes in the morning, which I managed to do. My classes will start at 8:30 and end 12:20. So I will have evenings free to focus on homework, work or just chill. The only exception are Thursdays, those are going to be my busiest day ever since I started my studies here. I will have five classes and a lab. But it is all right because on Tuesdays and Fridays I only have two classes. So it is all pretty balanced.

One thing that really helped me to get this schedule was the new schedule builder that the University made available for students last semester. Before I had to search every single class and draw a schedule table on a paper and try to fit all of it. Now the Schedule builder just do that in seconds, all I had to do was put in the classes I wanted and create some filters for preferred times. Still, there’s only one case in which I would recommend searching for classes the old fashioned-way. The schedule builder is amazing for when you already know the classes you are going to take, but if you are looking for some cool or easy general education courses or electives, the old search box works better. So my suggestion is: just browse through the course pages searching for the courses you are considering taking, without worrying too much about their times. Then, once you decide them, just throw them at the schedule builder to get the best times for you.

I can’t believe I’m already going for my third year here. It’s been so fast that I can remember my first semester like it was yesterday. However, what I found very interesting while thinking back on previous semesters is that I had no class that was just a random pick. That is, I don’t feel like any of the classes I’ve taken don’t fit if each other and my degree. Everything I learn on a class I eventually use on a future class. This just gives me more of a feeling of going through the right path and not making wrong choices. As I think of this, I can’t help but recognize that this wouldn’t be possible without the help of my advisor.

I have to be honest, before coming to college I never really understood what exactly an advisor was. I thought he would be kind of like a parent/mentor, just seeing how you are doing in classes and tell you what you have been doing good and bad. But its real importance is in helping you choose classes. I remember that when I first met my advisor he showed me what I needed to get to the College of Engineering. And I wanted to take chemistry and physics in the same semester as I wanted to get rid of those as soon as possible. He didn’t let me do so and only now I can see how much trouble he saved me. I took both classes in different semesters, and I can for sure say that had I taken both together my grade would be at least a mark down on both, as I wouldn’t have that much time to study for both.

That being said, I think it’s most important to be honest with your advisor. Not only because of UI’s academic honesty code, (which professors can really make you fear), but because he or she can help you choose classes that will aggregate to each other and help you succeed in college. At first I was afraid that my advisor would judge me as a student, mostly because my high school grades and GPA were far from the best. But being honest with him was the first step towards improving.

That’s all I had to say about planning for future semesters. In fact, I think that is all I had to say. See you soon!

Welcome Back from Spring Break!

Hello and welcome back to Sigma Nu Zeta Omicron! It has been a while right? I’m sorry I have been very busy with homework and midterms as we were getting close to spring break. Speaking of which, this Spring Break was amazing as I went to Liverpool for an alternative spring break with the university.

On my second semester here I took a class about the Beatles and this semester my professor organized a trip to Liverpool so we could learn more about the place the Beatles came from and how they are seen there now days.

The entire journey lasted for a week; we got there on a Sunday and came back on the next one. Mostly we just visited places related to the Beatles and historical sites of the city. Of everything we have seen, what I enjoyed the most was going to John’s and Paul’s childhood homes. I really like to visit other houses to see how they live. I felt like a house tells a lot about the people living in it. So, to see these two houses and how John and Paul grew up was really a great experience. Apart from the normal touristic places, our professor arranged some meetings with people that could tell us a lot more about the Beatles and their relationship with their home town. One of them being the president and CEO of LIPA (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts) which is a university that is in the place of the former Liverpool Institute, the school that both Paul and George went.

It was the first time my professor organized this trip. And two weeks from now I will give a five minute presentation with the people that went with me. The presentation is going to be to the students currently taking the Beatles class, so we can share our findings with them and maybe encourage some students that also would like to go, so my professor can find another group to take to Liverpool during another spring break.

I don’t know about you guys, but I always come back from breaks full of energy to give my best in classes and work. However, the Monday after I came back was a little too tough for me to give my best. I arrived on Iowa (Go Hawks!) at midnight, and had to wake up somewhat early for classes. So I had to face an entire day with little sleep, the tiredness of the trip back to Iowa and a jet lag of six hours. Anyway, I managed to survive and I recovered my sleep throughout the week. So, now I’m sure I’m ready to give my best in classes.

One thing that really helped me was that I planned a “homework schedule” for the break. I had some homework due the week after break, so I took a little time every day to take care of this homework and it turned out to be a great idea. I don’t think I would’ve been able to turn in all my homework in time had I not done it on break. I have some friends that didn’t do anything related to school during break and they just rushed with their homework when they got back. Maybe I would normally have been able to do that too, but since I was very tired from the trip I doubt I would have gotten anything done.

One of the things I also enjoy about coming back from breaks is that there’s not so much work to do. So I ended up having some more free time than usual.

That’s all I had for today, I hope you all had a good come back week from break. See you soon!


Exams are here!

Hi!  Welcome back to Sigma Nu Zeta Omicron! It’s been a while since my last post hasn’t it? The last few weeks have been busy with midterms.

I can’t believe we are already halfway through the semester, it has been so fast. Maybe I was so busy I couldn’t really keep track of how fast the semester was going. But that’s a good thing because I feel like I have been productive every single day. It’s always good to have some free time every once in a while, everybody needs a break. But if I had too much time I would feel like I was procrastinating. Anyway, this semester is going so fast that anytime soon it will be finals week.

Speaking of which, this semester I’m going to have the most finals I’ve had in a semester since I started studying at the University of Iowa. My first two semesters I had three finals, then, on my third semester, four. Now I’m going to have five finals. However, I feel it won’t be as much of a tough finals week. That’s because my finals are well distributed throughout the week. I have the first two on Tuesday, one before noon and the other towards the end of the day. Then one for each remaining day of the week, so I won’t have any day filled with exams. In addition, I won’t have any exams that are very early nor will I have exams very late at night. I feel like the time of an exam can cause a meaningful change in a grade, because if you don’t prepare your body to be at its 100% early in the morning or at night, you may make some mistakes or forget some things (I know I do). My only concern about finals week is that my last final, physics, on Friday, ends at 2:30 p.m. and I have a flight back home at 5:30 p.m. on the same day. So, I will have to rush a little after this last exam. Apart from that, all I really have to worry is how I’m going to study for finals.

So far the tutoring center in the College of Engineering has been of great help, every weekend they can help you with questions and homework. Still, they also hold reviews the Sunday before the week of exams for that class. I just came back from a statics review and it really helped me understand the course better. The tutor for the class went over everything and walked us through some questions. I don’t know how confident about my classes I will be by the time of the final, but I for sure will be going to the tutoring center.

In another note, this semester I fell into a trap that I set for myself and so I write so you won’t make the same mistake. It all began with my Intro to Engineering Computing course. I was very worried about this class, as I’ve never done any kind of programming before. So I gave all my focus and studying almost entirely for this class, but this just made other courses more hard than they would be. That being said, my advice is that, if you can, try to avoid putting all the studying and attention you have into one class only. To fix this I now study equivalent amounts for all my classes, sort of like an equilibrium, and then I use the extra time I have to study whatever subject is being more difficult for me at that time.

I think that’s all I had for today. Have a great week!


Adapting to a new semester.

  • Hello! And Welcome back to Sigma Nu Zeta Omicron! I hope you are all having a great beginning this semester!

The start of the semester is always a surprise. It may be very calm, a desirable “syllabus week” or it may come at full speed with all it’s got. Now that I’m not a freshman anymore the semesters seem very busy at first.

It took me a while to adjust to this semester and, in the meantime, I had a lot of homework and even my first midterm. But I think everything should go steady now.  Overall I’m enjoying my classes more, now that I have a clearer notion of how they are and what to expect for the future. Sometimes I get stuck with a new subject being taught, but luckily I have places I can go to help me. I’ve already been to my professor’s office hours and to tutoring centers more times than I have all previous semesters put together. I really like to sit down, open the book and try to figure out all by myself. But sometimes, there’s nothing like having someone pointing out what you are doing wrong or showing how to solve a problem by a new point of view.

Although I’m adapting pretty well to this semester, there are still things that you can never be ready or adapt for. In my case, that’s the winter. Sure it’s always cold, but even winter has its warm days. Those are the days when the Sun decides to show its face to us and the wind is tired from running around the city. Still, some days are so cold that I really can’t take it. However, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost, there’s always something new to learn. This week a friend showed me this amazing underground pathway that connects The Blank Honors Center and the Pomerantz Center. Most people are better than me at facing the cold weather, so they don’t really need this shortcut. But I really appreciate I can walk some warm meters. So, if you are bothered by the cold the same way I am, know that there are always new paths you can learn to get to classes warm.

I just remembered that the Bijou after hours restart this weekend. Which means me and my friends are going to keep our tradition of going to film scene every Saturday night. I just feel bad because Bijou gave this tradition to us and I’ve never done anything to give them in return. I don’t think I would do well being part of their club, but I sure am looking for an interesting student org to join. I’ve tried some in the past, like the EPX studio, but they weren’t exactly what I was looking for. But there’s so much I can still look into. For example, I’ve heard of this org named Eats and Treats, which gathers their members weekly to cook meals. Since I’ve been learning and cooking more the past few years, that’s a club I could enjoy going to. Still, this week I learned that U of I has a fencing club and that’s just incredible! I have always wanted to practice fencing, but never had the chance to. Unfortunately that’s not something I can do this semester, since I have class conflicts with their meetings. But I will for sure be aware of their meeting times for next semester, so I can plan in advance.

Well, that’s all I had for today, see you next week!


First Week!!! (Spring 2018)

Hello!!! And welcome to the first Sigma Nu Zeta Omicron post for the 2018 spring semester! I hope you all had great breaks!

My break was divided in half. First, I went back home and saw all my family and friends. I stayed there until January first. Then I went to Florida with my family. While there, I ran a half marathon with my father and sister, and visited some of the theme parks. Overall it was a good time to relax and really get a break from college life. But it was only preparation for the tough semester I would have ahead of me, now that I’ve been admitted to the College of Engineering.

This semester I don’t have as many semester hours as I’ve had previously. However, my impression after the first week is that they are going to be as hard as the classes I’ve had before, and require a lot of hard work. Starting with introductory physics, (because it’s the easiest one so far), my professor seemed very good and he really takes his time to explain things. The hard part about this course is the labs I will have on Wednesdays from 7-9:50 p.m. I hope I will really be alright doing experiments by the end of a busy day, because I have four classes before the lab this day.

Now we go to Static. The things being taught in this course are very interesting, but my professor said he will be giving surprise quizzes in both the lectures and discussions, so I will really have to keep my studies up-to-date with what is being taught in the course if I want to do well. Then I have two mathematics classes. One is calculus II, and the other is a class all about matrices. I feel like these courses should go OK if I focus the right amount of time on them. What is a little funny about both these courses and statics, is that I have to turn in my homework by hand, and that’s something I haven’t done since high school. I guess my professors really want to start focusing on how I’m solving the problems, now that I’m done with general education courses.

Finally, my hardest course is Intro to Computing. I’ve been afraid to take this class because it’s all about programming and I don’t know anything about programming. Things got worse after the first class, because everyone else seemed to have some experience with programming in the past. I’m fine with being the student with the least experience in the class, but my worry is that the professor is just going to assume we all knew a little bit about it. In addition, we all have classroom laptops that can only (and have to) be used in the class. That was an additional challenge for me because I’m not used to using laptops during classes at all. I always use only my notebook and the textbook at most. So, because I was very worried, I went to my professor’s office hours to express my worries about the course. I’ve learned that this was a very useful thing to do, as he helped me calm down and told me that I didn’t need any previous experience with programming. I left his office much more calm and more happy to be taking his course. So I’ve learned that office hours are not only for students to ask things about what is being taught or help with homework, you can always go there to express your feelings toward the course to the professor and he will clarify all you uncertainties for you and most certainly put you in the right way.

So, that is all I’ve learned about my classes this week. I really hope we all can keep up  the good work this semester. See you soon!!!


Oh, I almost forgot, that’s a picture of downtown’s Christmas decorations:

Thanksgiving break 2017!

Hello! Welcome back to Sigma Nu Zeta Omicron! I hope you all had a nice break!

Thanksgiving break was amazing. I managed to divide it so I got done with all my homework by Wednesday and had some days to enjoy and relax a little from school life. After all it’s not called a “break” for nothing.

Just like last year, I stayed in my dorm during the break. I wasn’t alone, as my roommate is also a international student and stayed here. Until Thursday nothing much happened in the city, but that’s ok because I was working on homework, so I had very few distractions to procrastinate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the whole city and university shut down because everyone is on break. Usually some staff that stay here during break provide us with events related to thanksgiving, like a special lunch/dinner or even the ISSS bus trip to Tangler outlet on black Friday, (Which I signed up but didn’t went). What I’m trying to say is that usually these events occur towards the end of break. As an example, I went to the barbershop to get a haircut the Friday before break and the place was closed. I guess the owner didn’t expect a lot of clients with most of the students going back home.

My Thursday was very funny. Last year I went to the house of a friend’s grandparents and this year they invited me and my roommate to go again.  They were very kind and friendly to us and we all had a great time and ate tons of foods. By the night, a friend of mine said she wanted to go to the Coral Ridge mall because she herd stores would be open by midnight for black Friday. So I, my roommate, another friend and she, went to the mall. When it was nine something we decided to go to the movies to wait until midnight. So all four of us got to see Thor: Ragnarok. The movie was great, but, when it was over, at midnight something, the mall was closed. So our friend was mistaken that the stores were going to open at midnight. So we called a day and went back to our places.

Friday I went back to the mall to search something for my brother but I didn’t find what I was looking for. The mall was very crowded, I never saw it like that before. I guess everyone was after a good black Friday deal. It was just like I see on movies and news. Crowds of people going from store to store full of bags and some stores announcing their deals through a speaker. Thankfully I didn’t saw anyone fighting over a product like they show on the media. For the rest of the day and the weekend I just relaxed and enjoyed my time. Although on Sunday I studied for an Calculus exam that I had yesterday.

So, this was my break, I hope you all had a great time too and had some time to restore your selves for this last couple of weeks and finals. I know I did.

See you soon!

A great week!

Hello and welcome back to Sigma Nu Zeta Omicron! I hope everything is going great for you!

Last week was really fun. I’m biased because it was my birthday, but it was pretty calm.

The same way my professors assigned me a lot of readings and homework for the same week, last week all of my classes were more relaxed. I still maintain that there’s a secret professor meeting, where they meet and decide what to do with their students in certain weeks. That’s the only explanation I have for the rhythm in which my classes flows always being the same.

For my literature class, we started reading some Derek Walcott poems, which are very simple and in addition, all our readings got lighter. In my history class, we had a week for presentations, but they were optional. Like, we had to write a paper and then we could decide to present or not our thesis to the class, and only two students presented, (I feel bad for not presenting, but my thesis was neither important nor interesting, so I didn’t feel like wasting anyone time). So, after the presentations we only watched some movies. We also had no readings for this week. Philosophy only had a 20 page essay we had to read and we discussed it the entire week. Microeconomics and Calculus kept the same pace, nothing much changed in these two classes.

It was nice to have this extra free time because I could start working on papers. Again the secret professor meeting attacked. This time they decided to assign papers for the end of November. So I have three papers to complete, all due on the 28th. Because of this extra time I was able to get my thoughts together and prepare an outline for my papers and start working on them. This really helped me because I was planning on working on this papers during thanksgiving break. But thanksgiving is meant for you to relax, so I’m pretty sure I would spend my break procrastinating and leave the papers for the last second. Now that I got them started, I can either get done with them in the very beginning of the break or leave it for the last time without being worried about running out of time.

So, because my week was very relaxed, my weekend was pretty easy too, which was nice it gave me a calm atmosphere to enjoy my birthday on Sunday. Beginning with Friday, I went to the library to search for a book of poetry for a assignment I have for my literature class. We have to find a book of modern poetry, choose a poem, write an small paper about it and recite it for the class. I found these book by John Hegley and his poems are very simple and funny, so this should help me memorize it. I also went with a friend to get some Ice cream, which, despite of the cold weather, was nice. Saturday was very calm, I just did one reading for my class and went to the mall, to buy my birthday present, a photo camera, which I’ve been wanting for a long time now. At night I went to Oasis’s Space Odyssey cultural ball. They had a lot of great food and dance performances, it was great. Then on Sunday I just spoke with my family and saw some of my friends. It was a nice weekend.

Well, that’s all I had for today. Hope you all enjoyed your weekend as much as I did. See you!


Halloween is here!

Hello and welcome back to Sigma Nu Zeta Omicron. I hope everything is going fine for you.

Well, Halloween is almost here and everybody is getting into the spirit. I don’t know about you, but I used to be more excited about Halloween when I was younger. I’m not saying that Halloween isn’t exciting anymore, it still is, but it used to be much more fun when I was a child.

I guess that’s because it was fun to just wear a costume and go around the neighborhood asking for candy. I don’t know how to explain, but I always felt great when I were a costume and getting free candy is also great! After an age, however, we just stop doing that and change our attention to parties. You can still wear a costume and get free candy in parties, but it’s not the same. The spirit of the thing was about walking around in costumes. I wish we could all just wear a costume on October 31st and go to classes like that. I mean, I can, but if I do it alone it’s going to be awkward and embarrassing, we should be promoting this idea so everybody will be customized on Halloween day and doing all their daily duties in costumes.

Halloween also made me notice that we have so much more holidays during fall semester. This is kind of funny, because I felt my spring semester was shorter. Maybe because we are waiting for holidays to come, like Halloween, thanksgiving and Christmas it fells like time passes slower and, on spring break when we don’t have that many holidays we are fully focused on classes and deadlines that time just flies.

I think that’s all I had in my mind, I’ve been really focused on my midterms and papers that I really can’t think of other things to talk about. My classes are going about the same and nothing changed that much. This week I made the schedule for my classes next semester and I was very happy to see that I will probably have no papers to do! But my semester is going to be very busy and I will have a lab, which I’m not exactly the biggest fan. But if everything was easy ther would be no fun in it right?

See you all next time. Have a great week.

Homecoming and weekends

Hello everybody, welcome back to Sigma Nu Zeta Omicron. I hope you have enjoyed your Homecoming.

Although this is my second year here I still didn’t know why we celebrate homecoming. I had the same question last year but I don’t remember having achieved any conclusions at all. I just accepted that homecomings happened and there’s nothing more to it. However, I was faced with the same dilemma this year. So, determined to find an answer I went on a quest, asking some of my American friends what is the meaning of homecoming and why we celebrate it.

I felt a little disappointed when the majority of them said they didn’t quite know what it meant. They weren’t exactly sure when it originated either. Like me, they had just accepted the celebrations the way they are. However, one of my friends did come up with a very good answer of why is that we can’t find a meaning for it. He said that we can’t mistake homecoming for holidays such as Christmas or Thanksgiving,  that is, homecoming is not a holiday that actually have a historical event or reason for it to be celebrated. According to him, Homecoming is just a week in which we celebrate that the football season have started by praising our football team and being happy about its achievements. And this answer seemed good enough for me.

Homecoming wasn’t the only good thing happening this weekend. This past weekend the play The Crucible, inspired by Arthur’s Miller book, started to be shown and will be playing until the end of this coming weekend. I already have my tickets for this Friday’s presentation. I don’t actually know how it is going to be, but If they stay true to the original story it should be awesome. I remember when I read the book back in High school and it was one of the few books that school required me to read that I actually enjoyed. So I got that going, which is kind of exciting.

Speaking of weekends, I believe this weekend is the deadline to submit a work to Earthwoods magazine. The oldest magazine we have here in University of Iowa. I already submitted two short stories and wanted to submit a photograph. I haven’t submitted the photo because I still haven’t given it a good title. I just hope I can think of one before I run out of time. I also realize that I’m not the best writer, I wouldn’t even say I’m in the rank to be honest. But it is always worth a try, you never know right? I mean, I already have the “No”, so if they don’t like my work they will just be reaffirming the no, and there’s no harm about it.

Nevertheless, my biggest concern right now is the history exam I have this Thursday. I have to know a lot of information for it and I’m afraid I won’t be able to remember everything for it. My professor was kind enough to create a study guide for it, so we know what we should be focusing on for the exam. But even that is a lot. I’m so worried that I even started studying for it two weeks in advance, hoping I will know everything I need by Thursday. But there’s nothing I can do except to wait for it and try and be ready when it arrives.

Well, I guess that was all I had for this week. Thank you and see you next week (Or probably in two weeks).

Exams, papers and fun.

Hey there! Welcome back to Sigma Nu Zeta Omicron. I hope you all had a great week.

Last week I was super busy as I had to prepare myself and face three Midterms, which were for my Calculus, Philosophy and Microeconomics classes. I think I did fairly well on the first two, but I really have no idea how I did on my microeconomics exam. But what would be the fun in life is if everything was easy, right? Still, the thing with exams is that I always feel super nervous before, during, and after them.

Before, because I don’t know what it is going to be like and don’t know if I studied everything that is going to be covered on the test. Fortunately some of my professors relieve the pressure by either posting some practice or old exams on ICON, which really helps a lot, but this semester only my Calculus professor was kind enough to do that, (he posted all previous exams since 2012). During the exam I feel nervous because I am the master of getting a question wrong by making a detailed mistake. For example, in this exam I was reviewing my answers before giving it to my T.A, and I saw that in one of the problems I wrote that the square root of four was four, (And that’s not even one of the dumbest mistakes I’ve made in my life). The problem is time is never on my side, I’m always one of the last to finish the exam, so I try to rush and make those ridiculous mistakes. Finally, after the exam I feel nervous while waiting for my grade.

What is funny is that all my classes that I have midterms had midterms on the same week. However, there’s only one thing that gets me more tense than exams, papers. It appears that all the classes I have to write papers, decided to give them all for the same week too. Until today I never believed in, (or I just wasn’t capable of), multitasking. But now I have hope that I will be able to simultaneously write three different papers, do all my required readings and stay mentally sane.

Now, of course not everything is tense. I have my moments of relaxation and if it wasn’t for them I don’t think I would survive the college experience. Breaks from study are very important, never forget them. I just recently started watching “Parks and Rec” so whenever I feel like I have too much homework, or did a lot of study; I watch one episode just to refresh my mind. Last Saturday I went to the mall to buy groceries and just do some window shopping. Of course I also kept the tradition of going to the movies at Film Scene (a local independent theater) every Saturday night. This coming weekend we will have the SCOPE Battle of the Bands, and it seems it’s going to be amazing. Unfortunately I won’t be able to go, but if you can, I totally recommend you go. The Local things we have here in Iowa, like the farmers market, and Film Scene are pretty awesome, and it’s a unique experience to see them. I’m pretty sure the bands playing there will be amazing too.

Well, that’s all I had for today, thank you and see you next week!