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!


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!


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!


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!

First impressions

Hello and welcome back to Sigma Nu Zeta Omicron! My first week went just fine and I hope yours did too.

So, now that I have already managed to survive the first week of classes I have a pretty good view of how my courses are going to be. I’m happy with all of them and I just hope that I don’t get too much overwhelmed with homework. I mean, I do recognize that homework really help me learn the course material, but sometimes all my classes have homework due to the same deadline that I just get exhausted with them. However, let’s go back to the classes.

Beginning with my Calculus class, the most interesting thing about the course is the professor. He is a nice guy that has some funny things, like a orange sun glasses, but his lectures are easy to follow, as he literally writes down everything he says, so there is no chance for you to lose anything. Then, for my Microeconomics class, everything is doing great, I don’t think I ever enjoyed learning something more than what I’m learning in this class, it makes the economy seem so simple and also present some very interesting points. Tomorrow I have a meeting with my advisor, which I scheduled to see if I can get a minor in economics.

Third, my literature class. I’ve been doing some readings and analyzing symbols, historical context and the authors intention. This class is mostly funny because you can see how different other students interpret the same text you read. I think students talk more on honors section classes, so if you have the chance to, take one. The involvement of the class really can be an extra to help you. Following we have philosophy, which I think is going to be great to be exposed to new ideas and to argue with others about your own ideas. It’s been only one week but we already had some very funny arguments. Finally, for my history class, it’s pretty much just going to be history, I still haven’t seen anything else apart from that. What is interesting though is that there is no history majors in this class, so our professor is slightly trying to inspire someone to either pursue a degree or a minor in history.

Apart from that everything has been normal. The only thing I’m still trying to figure out is my relationship with one of my suitemates. So, I don’t really know how they are supposed to be, but last year I knew my suitemates as well as I knew my roommate. But this year I only actually know one of them, and that’s because he used to be my roommate. The other one I’ve only seen during move in day and only spoke for about five minutes. I’ve never seen him ever since. So I hope I get the chance to know him more, but my other suitemate, the one I know, said he goes out a lot with his girlfriend, so maybe that’s why I don’t see him much around.

Well, that was all I had for today. Thank you and see you next week.

Here we are for another semester!

Hello and welcome back to the first post of Sigma Nu Zeta Omicron for the 2017’s fall semester. I hope you all had a great summer and just like me are excited with the beginning of classes.

Well, starting with the summer, I went back home and saw my family and friends. I also volunteered on a school that helps people with mental disorders, traveled a little bit, and drove my siblings to their school. I enjoyed driving again, since I still haven’t got my American driver’s license, I will try to get this done this semester. Overall, my summer was really funny and I had plenty of time to relax.

I already feel a little bit strange coming back, because now I’m a sophomore. Just like my age, it took a little time for me to realize it. The other day I thought I was 18 instead of 19. Hopefully it won’t be long till I can stop telling people I’m a freshman and then correct myself. Another major change was at my work, I’ve been promoted to Student Lead, which is kind of a sub-manager position on the dining halls.

I’m pretty happy with all of my classes. I mean, we have just gone through the syllabus, but I really liked the descriptions my professors gave me and what we are expected to learn. Coincidently, I noticed that most of my classes, that is: Introduction to microeconomics, Interpretation of literature and introduction to philosophy; have pretty similar themes and I think I will be able to apply things I will learn on one class to another. I think it is a great experience when you can connect the subjects you are learning, because it gives you a feeling that what you are learning is going to be useful throughout your life. My only real worry is the amount of homework and readings that I expect I will have, but I guess this is all part of the college experience right?

Well, I know it is too soon to be thinking about the end of the semester, but I’ve already made a list of things I want to accomplish by the end of it. What I want, as follows, is:

  • To be ready to run a half marathon with my father and sister in the beginning of the next year. (For that I will wake up early and go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday before classes).
  • To keep my grades as good as last semester. (So I will have to keep the hard work, or work harder. Either way, I know it’s not going to be easy.)
  • Get my driver’s license. (This one is pretty straightforward).

I will probably add more to the list as time goes by, if anything changes I will let you know.

This first week I also had the chance to see the solar eclipse! I admit that I wasn’t that excited at first but when my Calculus professor canceled our lecture so just we could see the eclipse. At its finest moment I started to realize that something amazing was going to happen. It was a little bit cloudy so sometimes you couldn’t really see that much. Some students started to distribute dark glasses so we all could see it, and it really was beautiful. I could put the glass on my phone and take a decent picture, which I will try to post.

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

I will try my best to post on a weekly basis, either Tuesdays or Fridays. See you soon!





The end. (only of the freshman year, there will be more after summer break)

We have reached the last blog of the Sigma Nu Zeta Omicron, spring 2017 series. I hope you all had a great time this semester and that you enjoy your summer.

When the end of the semester arrives, you see two kinds of people, the ones that are celebrating that there are no more classes and the ones that are sad that a class is over. As for myself, I am a little bit of both, depending on the class I’m talking about. For example, I’m more than glad that my chemistry class is over, I really prefer small classrooms classes over lectures and the labs just terrified me. The last attempt that my chemistry class made to try to put my energies down is that they decided my exam is going to be on Monday at 7:30 a.m. I don’t even have classes at 7:30 and I’m afraid my mind won’t be at its finest at an early hour like this. Looking at the bright side, this is going to be the first final of them all, I guess, so I have that going for me.

Apart from chemistry, I felt a little sad with the end of my classes. On math I am sad because the instructor was amazing and I wish he could keep teaching me for all my other future math classes. For Fiction Writing I felt sad because I really enjoyed reading the stories of other students and discussing them. For my Beatles class I felt sad because I really like the Beatles and I wish there was more to learn, but my professor got my spirit up by inviting us to go to Liverpool as an alternative spring break in spring 2018, so I look forward to that.

However, of all my classes the one I felt sad the most by its end, was rhetoric. I admit that I kind of underrated rhetoric at the beginning of this semester because it is an obligatory course, so I had to take this class and I didn’t know why. But this course changed many things about my life, the books we read made me realize many problems that our society is facing that I never realized or never thought of doing something about before. I got to understand that there is always a purpose behind things, like somebody doing anything with a reason behind it, so I started to analyze things I see and read and I became more critical about it. I actually enjoy watching commercials whenever they pop up before my videos begin or on the TV, because now I can “judge” them.

People say that your experience with rhetoric, and your grade, depends on the professor you have. I think that’s kind of true, because the feeling that I have, (based on my experience with this course and from what my friends told me about their classes), is that you can either have an instructor that knows you are there because it is an obligatory course and who only seems to grade you and others that don’t care about why you are there and whose purpose is to teach you all you can. Luckily, I had the second professor, and I learned a lot of important things that for sure changed the course of my life.  She also created the classroom environment that I like: A small classroom where everyone seems to know one another. I also learned some strength and some things I need to improve that I have. I’m glad I had the chance to have the class I registered to.

So, even though I registered to and went to my first class thinking that this class wasn’t going to add up too much in my life, I now realize that this was the most important class I had this semester, and my second favorite one too, (the favorite one being the Beatles class, because unfortunately we don’t have the chance to listen to Beatles songs on Rhetoric). To sum up, if you are a going to be a freshman here at the University of Iowa, I want to say that the Rhetoric course can be very important for your future life, don’t make the mistake I made of not giving importance to the class because it is obligatory, have in mind that you can take an awesome experience out of it. I was fortunate enough to be on a great class, it all depends on how your instructor treats the course. So, if you really look forward to it, I encourage you to choose your Rhetoric class by searching the instructor of the class and seeing if you identify with him/her and how do you think they will guide the course. That being said, I strongly recommend Professor Margaret Murray, be warned that to do well on her class you need to be dedicated to it, and that sometimes it can be hard, but she changed my life and I hope she can do good for you too.

I guess that’s all I had for this semester. Thank you all, and see you after summer.

Life goes on

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

This week nothing much happened, I just prepared myself for a couple of papers I have due next week and a midterm. So I guess the stress came back, but I’m still doing ok since I could organize everything. Nevertheless, I can’t help but think that final exams and the end of the semester are almost here. I look forward to next semester, but I’m more excited about summer. I will go back home and relax, maybe find a summer job if I can.

Oh, right! This week I had my job interview for student lead on Hillcrest Marketplace. I think it went pretty well. They basically had some questions about how I would react in certain scenarios or what was my opinion about something in the workplace. Still, I have no idea how it went, because it was my first job interview ever! I was pretty nervous because I was at a table with 5 other people, all asking questions and taking notes whenever I spoke. It was pretty intimidating. The hardest question they asked was: “Do you have any questions or concerns?”. I immediately thought of answering, “yes, when do I start?” But I decided that it was not the time for jokes and didn’t want to appear to be arrogant, so I just said I had no questions.

Going completely off topic, last week I got a haircut. I went to this barbershop near downtown called Friday’s. I think there’s only one person that works there, probably the owner of the place. I forgot to ask his name, so I refer to him as “Mr. Friday” on my mind. Mr. F has owned the place since 1968 and the place still looks like it’s from that time, except for the big colored TV he has for his waiting customers and a big apple computer. He did a pretty good job and I really like my haircut. I will most surely go back there when I need to cut my hair again and I totally recommend it. The only thing is that it’s first come first serve, so you might as well take a book or something else to distract yourself while you wait. But he also has some magazines for his customers.

Man, it’s almost the end of the semester and I didn’t have much time to do things I like. I mean, I did a bunch of fun stuff, mostly on weekends, but because I had a lot of homework and study to do, I couldn’t keep a hobby on a regular basis. I guess I can count both my Beatles and Fiction Writing class as hobbies since I took them because it’s something I like, but when you are being graded for it it’s a little bit different. It gets more serious than just a hobby.

My classes for next semester are mostly “serious” classes. By serious I mean they don’t involve any kind of hobby of mine. The closest is Interpretation of Literature, because I like to read. However, I like to read just for entertainment, I really don’t make any deep analyzes on my readings. But there’s still hope that I will keep a hobby, because all my classes are in the morning. Only on Tuesdays and Thursdays I have Western Civilization III shortly after lunch. So I might have time for some drawing, writing or reading. We will see how it goes right?

Well, that’s all for today folks. See you next week.