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!

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!

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.