Sep

23

*THAT* Point

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Hey Hawkeyes,

We have officially reached *that* point in the semester. The point where everyone has either taken their first test of the semester or getting ready to take their first test of the semester and the homework is really hitting. Lab reports deadlines are approaching, the homework is getting harder, organizations are trying to plan events, and unfortunately for a lot of people, most people are sick.

Typically, the first couple of weeks aren’t too bad. Some of the material may be review and project deadlines seem far away. Everyone wants to hang out with friends and “study” (aka watch youtube videos, listen to 90s playlists, go get ice cream, and talk about their weekend plans). Now everyone is realizing they need to buckle down and actually start studying (aka secluded in a quiet corner with their best study music). It’s also been just enough time for slight sleep deprivation, poor diet, and the high concentration of students in small spaces to weaken the immune system and it seems like everyone is coughing and sneezing.

My friends know this as the point where they barely see me. I enjoy talking and hanging out with everyone on my floor in the early evenings for the first few weeks. And then the homework really starts and the lab reports need more focus. I’m also busy with organizations and work responsibilities. I usually pack my backpack at 8 a.m. (7 a.m. on Thursdays), and don’t return to my room until 8 or 9 p.m. It definitely results in creative packing and prioritizing exactly what I’ll work on during free time. From now on, I will pretty much only have real free time (like to watch movies and hang out with friends for more than 30 minutes) on the weekends. It’s kinda sad, but it’s also really nice to be in a routine where there’s a strict structure to each day. I think it helps keep me focused and more productive.

I hope everyone is staying healthy and feeling ready for *that* point in the semester!

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Sep

13

You’re Taking How Many Credits?!

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Hey Hawkeyes!

I hope everyone is enjoying the wonderful start to the 4th week of classes!

Obviously, as the focus of college, classes are pretty important (go figure!), but sometimes it can be confusing to try to figure out what you need to take and how many credits you should be taking. So how do you figure that out?

Most majors have a sample course load online where you can see what the required classes are, but as far as how many credits you should be taking, well that’s up to you! The indicated credits are a suggestion. Depending on what classes you enjoy, how difficult the classes are, and how involved you want to be can all affect how many credit hours you take. Sometimes people are able to learn better when they’re focusing on a smaller class load while others learn better by constantly changing their focus between several classes.

I figured out that I am much happier somewhere around 15 credit hours. I don’t feel as overwhelmed by homework and I still have enough time to be involved with activities as well as work an on-campus job part-time. Even though it meant staying an extra semester, I know that this is what was best for me and will be better for my success.

The biggest difference between high school and college is that although you still have to meet certain requirements, you ultimately get to make the decision of how you meet the requirements. You don’t need to take 18 credit hours every semester if it’s going to make you stressed out and drop your GPA. Everyone learns differently and it’s ok to take things at your own pace. College is about finding what’s best for you and what will help you succeed, whether that means finding the right major or the right balance of classes.

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Sep

09

Last First Day

category icon Posted in Campus Life, General, Photos

Hey Hawkeyes,

The start of this school year was kind of a big moment. Since I am graduating in December, this was my last first day of school. It seems weird to think about. Every fall for as long as I can remember I’ve picked out an outfit, put on a new pair of shoes, and headed out with my backpack. I don’t think it has quite hit me yet; I think that will come in the middle of January when everyone else is headed back to school and I am (hopefully) working.

View while walking to class

View while walking to class

We were lucky this year to have an absolutely beautiful first week of classes. No rain and cool temperatures. I was able to grab this picture walking across campus; the sky was absolutely perfect.

I was talking with a friend who graduated this past May and is now in grad school at another Big 10 school. She mentioned how different it is to not see the Old Capitol Building on her walk to classes. You never realize exactly what you’ll miss until you don’t have it anymore (kind of like your first home-cooked meal after being at college for a few weeks). So I guess my focus this semester is to appreciate everything and make sure I’m living in the moment and doing what makes me happy.

Last first day picture with Chester.

Last first day picture with Chester.

Part of that is having my fish at college. I know it seems weird, but it’s really nice. Over the summer at my internship, I would go back to an empty apartment after work. I desperately wanted a pet, and fish are a fairly cheap pet that don’t take up much space. I named him Chester and fed him every day when I got home from work. Turns out you can train fish through repetitive processes, so now he swims back and forth really fast and becomes much more active when I walk into the room; it’s almost like having a dog greet you when you get home. On my ‘last first day’ of high school I took a picture with my dog; so it seemed fitting on my ‘last first day’ of college to take a picture with my fish. Lesson learned: find what makes you happy and do whatever you can to achieve it; even if it’s just the little things in life.

 

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Sep

01

On Iowa! One More Time

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Hey Hawkeyes!

I hope everyone is having a great start to their school year! It’s been a busy first few weeks. The week before classes started I had the amazing opportunity to be an OnLeader for the lean, mean Green Squad (not really mean). We fit in better with the VeggieTales rather than the green beans (long story involving a roll call we could never remember).

Tractor Tippers!

Tractor Tippers!

I absolutely love the On Iowa! program. When I came as a first-year, the program was only two years old. I have really enjoyed watching the program evolve and improve over the four years of being a leader. I have grown so much as a leader and made amazing friends through this program. I have gained skills in speaking in front of a group, planning a group discussion, time management, thinking on my feet, leading a group of people, handling unexpected situations, and working as part of a team (a very large team, as shown below). Along with all the fun and awesome friendships from On Iowa!, all of these experiences also look fantastic on a resumé. I have actually talked with many people at the career fair about On Iowa! and they are always impressed by what I’ve learned.

OnIowa Leaders ready for the first day of the program

On Iowa! Leaders ready for the first day of the program

The leaders put so much effort and time into making sure we’re ready to welcome the first year students into the Hawkeye family. We want them to realize the importance of academic success and the weight of their choices as well as experience all the amazing opportunities and fun here. That’s a lot to accomplish in two days; luckily we have a whole team of captains and directors to support us. I highly encourage anyone who is looking for a great community and resumé builder to apply to be a leader.

Highlights from my past several years as a leader:

I already posted a picture of my cast from this year but here is my last small group picture. I hope I’ve had some impact on their lives, or at least made their first week a little bit better by explaining the bus system.

My last group of first years on Kinnick. They were a great group and I hope I was able to help them a little bit.

My last group of first years on Kinnick. They were a great group and I hope I was able to answer all of their questions.

 

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Aug

05

Hidden Gems of Iowa City

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As a student, finding key places to study or even just escape from stress is really important for being successful. Luckily, Iowa City has tons of great places to study and/or hang out with friends. Here are some of my favorite places to enjoy:

Coffee and Snacks

First up is one of my favorite places to get coffee. Locally owned, the Java House is filled with tables, couches, and arm chairs perfect for studying, reading, or meeting up with friends. Their menu includes a wide variety of coffees, teas, cocoa, and sweet treats. 13534115_1699113703671645_144530513_nI love their mochas in the winter and frappes in the summer. Not into coffee? Try their amazing apple cider or flavored Italian sodas. They also have live music every so often, which is fun to listen to and creates an even more relaxing environment.

Conveniently attached to Java House, Heirloom Salad Company offers a wide selection of breakfast and lunch options. Known for using fresh produce and made-from-scratch soups, Heirloom is a great place to stop for lunch or breakfast. Another great feature? You can order online and schedule the time you want to pick it up, which is perfect for those busy days when you don’t have enough time between classes to go somewhere to eat.12725173_790584864408147_398816593_n

If you’re looking for snacks to take back to your room, try going to Bread Garden Market or New Pioneer Co-Op. Both of these places offer locally grown produce and fresh-baked treats. Bread Garden also has a café where you can grab freshly made lunch or dinner before picking up groceries. Their menu is updated every day, so there’s always something new to try.

Campus Study Spaces

Now that you’ve had your coffee and some great lunch from Heirloom, you’re all set to study. If you’re not in the mood to study around people in the Java House, try to find a library to study in. 12362527_204030236603781_1538852901_nWhile the main library has a ton of study space and a lot of group study rooms, other libraries on campus are usually less busy. Many of the programs on campus have their own libraries such as the Engineering Library, Biology Library, Law Library, and Medical Library. These are typically quieter since there aren’t as many people there on a regular basis. Just remember to be respectful of other students, keep talking to a minimum, and bring earbuds if you want to listen to music.

Other great places to study can be found all over Iowa City. On nice days, the multiple parks throughout town are the perfect place to put down a towel or blanket and get some reading done. You’ll also find that the Old Capitol and Pentacrest are filled with students at the beginning and end of the school year.

Exercise and Relaxation

If you’re looking to get active, the Campus Wellness and Recreational Center has a lot of great opportunities for signing up for free fitness classes like Zumba, yoga, and more. 13423411_1737596456526084_273277609_nThere’s a large rock climbing wall and a leisure pool complete with a spa and sauna. You can also get a group together to play basketball on one of their several courts. If it’s super nice out, head over to the basketball courts behind Burge Hall with some friends. The Field House has racquet ball courts and equipment for several other sports, too.

Coral Ridge Mall in nearby Coralville has an ice skating rink that offers daily public skate as well as figure skating and hockey lessons. This is a great way to get off campus for a bit to relax and learn a new skill. 13422999_1760883737487949_1620070775_nOffered throughout both semesters, lessons are a great way to stay active in the winter when it’s cold outside.

If you’re in need of an escape to nature, head over to Hickory Hill Park!Whether you want to have a picnic, study in a peaceful environment, practice yoga, or try out one of the
park’s walk-run trail routes or hiking paths, Hickory Hill is the perfect place for relaxing and enjoying the outdoors.

 

Iowa City if full of places to discover and there’s always new places to try. So grab a few friends, head out, and have fun exploring!

 

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Mar

11

Staying Motivated for Spring Break

category icon Posted in Academics, General

Hey Hawkeyes!

Wow, I think the weather has finally decided to start heading towards spring. It’s amazing how many people you start seeing around campus when it warms up and how many different activities you can watch. The most recent thing I’ve noticed is the number of hammocks that people have brought to the Pentacrest for relaxation (I may have added a hammock to my wish list after seeing this).

The improvement in weather has mixed effects on people. For some people, they’d rather be outside playing frisbee or basketball rather than studying for midterms, especially with the building anticipation for spring break. For others, having nice weather has picked up their mood and motivated them to keep studying and finish out this last stretch of midterms before spring break.

Mine has been a combination of both of these. For my non-major classes, I’ve been struggling with motivation, but for my major-related classes, I spent a ton of time making a notecard and reviewing material. I’m so glad to be so close to Spring Break, though. It will be so nice to take a break and not worry about my schedule for a few days. However, when we come back it’s going to be a whirlwind. I’m actually taking some stuff home with me so I can attempt to get ahead so that first week back isn’t as chaotic.

My last midterm went really well and, after a chaotic 20 minutes, my senior design meeting went pretty well, too. My group is in the process of learning how important communication is. In case you were wondering, communication is extremely important. But now I’m one class away from being on spring break. I hope all my fellow Hawkeyes have a fun and safe spring break and that everyone has a chance to de-stress.

Talk to you after break!

 

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Mar

09

Bunny Suits in the Nanolab

category icon Posted in Academics, General, Photos

Hey Hawkeyes,

I hope everyone has been staying warm the past couple of weeks! The wind has been particularly strong the last few weeks. It’s nice that it’s finally warming up a bit. We had some weird weather things where it would be 40˚ during the week and then 60˚ on the weekends. Fortunately, I have a lab class this semester that is plenty warm. I’m taking a Nanofabrication class that has a lab component which happens to be in a cleanroom. Apparently the dictionary definition of a cleanroom is a room that is clean. While this doesn’t mean much to people outside the “nano” world, it means a lot as far as nanofabrication. The nano-scale is so tiny that particles like dust can ruin the thing that you’re making. To prevent particles from contaminating all the projects, we get to wear these:

Ready for lab!

Ready for lab!

These cleanroom gowns, also called bunny suits, reduce the amount of particles that we produce. It has been a new experience going through the gowning procedure before lab as well as being in a lab where you can’t have anything with you. There is special clean room paper that is supposed to reduce particle formation. Due to the small space to help control airflow and the double layer of clothing, it gets plenty warm in the lab.

Most of what we’re learning about is done on industrial levels for manufacturing circuit boards and electronics so it’s cool to be able to do some of these processes. I think one of my favorite parts of my major has been getting to be in so many lab classes where we get to do the things we’re learning about. Although I may complain about the lab reports, I really like the actual lab portion. 

Talk to you guys soon!

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Jan

25

Spring? Winter?

category icon Posted in General

Hey Hawkeyes!

We’re finally into the “spring” semester, even if it doesn’t feel like it outside. To be fair it is like 31 degrees today, so you know, a heat wave. Last week was the first week of class and I was super enthusiastic about all my classes until the second day. My last class on my second day gave me the first three assignments and the first project for the first month of the class. I guess that’s one of the fun ‘perks’ of being a senior, the professors are super excited about all of our classes.

I decided to be adventurous and take a ballroom dancing class this semester. We’ve only had one class, but I’m really loving it. I think it will be a fun way to relax in the middle of the week. As for my other classes, I’m taking a couple of advanced engineering classes, Analytical Chemistry II, and a core engineering class. There are a couple classes that I’m cautiously optimistic about, but I’m pretty hopeful about them.

I also had the opportunity to go to the women’s gymnastics meet this past weekend, and it was fantastic. It was so cool to watch all the events! I definitely plan on going to more of them! I’m excited for the basketball games too. The Hawkeyes are doing really well this year which is really exciting!

I hope everyone else is having a fantastic start to the semester!

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Sep

11

Hey There!

category icon Posted in General

Hey Hawkeyes!

I hope everyone is having a great start to their school year! I was more or less catapulted into mine!

As I had mentioned in a previous post, I had an internship this past summer. I worked with the research and development team of a plastic compounding company in Minnesota. As a native Iowan it was really cool to live in a different state for a few months. I was able to go kayaking and even learned paddle-boarding. I also enjoyed taking a few trips to the Twin Cities to see the Mall of America and a nearby zoo. I got involved in the community that I lived in by volunteering on stage crew for a community theatre and attending a Shakespeare festival. Between people I met through volunteering and people I met at my internship, I definitely made new friends and had plenty of activities to keep me busy.

 

The internship itself was absolutely fantastic. I was incredibly nervous on my first day (and first week), until I got used to the work dynamic, managed to find my way around the building, and met some awesome people who patiently answered all my questions. Switching from the school dynamic to the work dynamic was definitely a shock, but a very welcome one. It was so nice to be super focused/productive for 8 hours and then have free time to relax and take a mental break. The common theme throughout my internship was ‘Learn something new everyday’. There wasn’t a single day where I didn’t learn a new process, test, or a more efficient method. This fast-paced learning made every day at work interesting and presented enjoyable challenges. I had my own project that I worked on, which allowed me to develop my own organization and plan of attack for accomplishing as much as possible. I learned a lot about research methods and how to set up a study. Learning to balance all my project work with helping engineers with their projects gave me a lot of organization skills along with learning how engineers structure projects.

I also have to say something about the people I worked with. Everyone that I worked with was awesome! I met so many great people with interesting stories, a willingness to share their knowledge, and the patience to help me learn. I learned a lot about how an industrial business works and the diversity of skill sets in a workplace. I know that I messed up a few different times, but everyone was extremely patient and turned all of my mishaps into a great learning experience. I also really enjoyed getting to know everyone personally. So many of the people I worked with had a lot of great life experience to share and I really appreciated the advice they gave me.

 

Overall, the internship was a great experience. It really helped give me direction for what I want to do as well as give me motivation for the semesters I have left. I’m excited for the next few semesters now that I’ve seen the end goal and how our classes apply to the workplace.

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Apr

02

Time Flies When…

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Hey Hawkeyes!

I hope everyone is enjoying the warmer temperatures! It’s been a crazy spring semester. I haven’t felt much like writing when I’ve been turning in at least one lab report every week. I have learned that taking three lab classes at once was not a good idea, especially when two of them require 40 page lab reports. I’m so glad we’re almost done with the semester. I have 9 lab reports until I’m done so the countdown has started!

So a few quick things about my semester so far:

  1. 1. At the beginning of the semester, I began working in a research lab in the pharmacy department where they study droplet spreading behavior. I really like what I’m doing and the cool shapes make it fun. The one below is a yellow solution that fluoresces green under a blue light. The solution we’ve moved onto is purple (which I absolutely love), and fluoresces red under green light. I’ve really enjoyed getting to learn some new techniques and be involved with the project.
    Droplet Spreading
    Droplet Spreading
  2. I got an internship! I had actually interviewed for the position last year, but they were looking for someone a little more long term than just the summer. This year, the company decided to start a project-based internship program and offered me a position over the summer based on my interview last year. I’m really excited to get some industry experiences and learn more about the polymer process. I will also be in Minnesota for the summer and get to explore a new area. This will be my first time living away from home and not at college as well as having to make an entirely new group of friends.
  3. I am on Orange Squad this year! I interviewed for On Iowa! Leader again and was placed on Orange Squad. The spring leader training days are basically just a time for the squads to get to know each other. My cast is the Flaming Not Cheetos and the other Orange cast is the Goldfish. One of the first-year students on my dorm floor is in my cast and I’m super excited to watch her experience all the awesome parts of On Iowa! from a leader’s perspective. Being an On Iowa! leader has really improved my leadership skills. I’ve started noticing how much more conscious I am about what I say and how I respond to questions.

I think those are the main updates of the semester; hopefully I can blog some more over the next few weeks as the lab reports wind down. I really miss writing for fun; it’s been a while since I’ve had the time for that. Talk to you again soon!

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