Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Colleversity Tips: Stress Relievers

Life in college and university can be very stressful.  There's the pressure of work, homework, labs, projects, exams, relationships, and many other things.

If you push yourself and stress too much, you'll only end up hurting yourself.  Stress weakens one's immune system as well as lowering one's performance.  Stress messes with your mind and can cause an overall negative chain-reaction.

I'm not saying that all stress is bad.  Stress can be good - it can be used to motivate you to stop procrastinating and get your work done.  However, there is a limit on how much stress you can handle and once you approach or pass that limit, the things in your life start to deteriorate.

When you are negatively stressed, you just need to take a step back and reduce your stress levels.  Here are a few things that will definitely help reduce stress:

  • Exercise.  Run outside, play a sport, or work out at the gym. Whatever it is, exercise is one of the best stress relievers.  Exercise for at least 30 minutes to an hour.  You should exercise everyday but that may not be an option.  So make a schedule and follow it; you can exercise 5 days a week, on MWF, on days where schedule isn't busy, or whatever other days work for you.  While it's ok to exercise at night, it's best to exercise at noon and even better to exercise in the morning.  That way, you'll feel fresh the whole day!
  • Sleep.  Getting plenty of sleep is necessary.  If you're feeling stressed, maybe all you need is a little nap or a good night's sleep.  If you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep, time will wash your stress away.  If you take naps, don't make them too long - 30 minutes to an hour should suffice.
  • Walk outside.  Taking walks are an excellent way of clearing your mind.  If you're feeling stressed, you should leave your baggage behind and take a stroll outside.  You can walk in the morning or at night; in the city or in a more natural place.  I recommend talking walks in nature rather than the city because the city can still be very stressful.  The best nature places to walk are on trails, in a forest, in a garden, by a beach, or any place that enables you to escape the city.  Breathing in fresh air, hearing birds chirp, and feeling the breeze on your skin will definitely take away your stress.  
  • Take a break, do something you enjoy.  Sometimes you need to take your mind off whatever is stressing you out.  You can do this by engaging in your favorite hobbies.  It may include watching movies, watching TV shows, or watching Internet videos.  It may include reading, playing video games, or playing music.  It may even involve exercising, sleeping, or walking outside.  Whatever it is, make sure that don't spend too much time doing whatever it is your doing or else your 30 minute break may turn into a 3 hour break!
Being stressed can be good because it helps you to perform better under certain situations.  However, an excess of stress can be detrimental to your health.  If you are feeling over stressed, these are a couple tips that will definitely help you to relieve stress. #GreatImSoHappy


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Colleversity Tips: Email Yourself Reminders

This is a tip that comes in handy in nearly all situations, especially if you check your email often.

Emails aren't only used for communicating with others.  Emails are a handy way of planning things and staying organized.  You should use it as a supplement to post-it notes and planners.

The tip is simple: email yourself any reminders or to-do lists.  Don't open it right away or it defeats the purpose of being a reminder.

I find it helpful to email myself reminders before I sleep since I always check my iPad's notifications when I wake up.

The next time you check your email/iPhone/iPad/etc, you'll notice your unread-email notifications.  This should instantly remind you what your email was about...or if you forgot what you had to do, all you have to do is open the email to be reminded again.

It's that simple.  Whether it's important documents, reminders, or to-do lists, email yourself.  Just do it.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Colleversity Tips: Take Naps Often

This piece of advice is short and simple:

You should take naps often.  This may be very easy for some.
For others, you may have to find some time to take naps.  College/University will definitely keep you busy and it may be hard to find some time to rest.

At least 30 minutes of napping is sufficient; just don't go over an hour and a half.  Napping helps you to recharge and it also helps you to retain the information of what you recently learned in your mind.

There are many places where you can nap: libraries, desks, benches, your own room, and anywhere else that is quiet and safe enough to keep your belongings secure.

Just try not to nap during class!




Thursday, April 17, 2014

Colleversity Tips: Post-it Notes, Post-it Notes Everywhere

Post-it notes are nice.  They let you instantly write notes and attach them to almost any surface.  They are excellent for reminders.  No matter who you are or what level your education is, you should use Post-it notes.

Digital Post-it notes are excellent because they are shown to you every time you enter your computer.  You can easily edit and "discard" digital Post-it notes.  These are handy for typing up quick notes and reminders.

Physical Post-it notes are just as good and aren't restricted to your screen.  You can post these notes everywhere.  You have something of utter importance, post your notes in places where you'll always see them, such as on your computer screen (on top of your digital Post-it notes) or on your phone screen.  Post them on your room door or on your mirror.  Post them on your friend's walls and share them with everyone.  Use them as dividers in your textbooks and labels in your notebooks.  There are so many useful applications with Post-it notes.

Post-it notes can be used similar to planners.  The difference is that Post-it notes can be easily placed in various places and they can be easily discarded.

In conclusion, Post-it notes are an excellent way of making color-coded reminders and notes.  You should find ways to implement both digital and physical Post-it notes in your life.  They are extremely useful for succeeding in college, university, work, and everywhere else in life.


post-it toy story woody buzz lightyear

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Colleversity Tips: Transfer vs. Direct [My Point of View]

If you decide to further your education for another 4+ years after graduating from high school, you often have two main choices: Attend community college and transfer to university or go straight to university.

I took the path of attending community college first and then transferring after obtaining an Associates in Science and Engineering degree.  The following is my perspective about the pros and cons about becoming a transfer student.

  • The cost is cheaper.  In college, you must take prerequisite classes in order to obtain your Associates.  If you go straight to university, you must take the EXACT same prerequisites before you can officially declare/enter your major.  The difference between the two is that you pay thousands more for the university version.  Even if you are covered by financial aid, you still end up saving more if you start at college.  Additionally, book and housing are often cheaper if you start at community college.
  • Classes are easier. Some community college have good programs and some don't.  I was lucky enough to attend a college that was ranked #19 out of all community colleges in the nation by the time I graduated (Skagit Valley College).  Even after transferring and beginning my year at university, I discovered that classes at college are easier, no matter what rank they are in the nation.  I also heard stories from my classmates who went straight to university - they took the same classes I took at college but they had a more difficult time.  For example, for a linear algebra class they considered it to be one of the hardest classes they took as a pre-major student.  However, when I took linear algebra at college, I easily got 100% in two tests and I still learned the same things that the university students learned.  Please don't take this wrong way - that community college are inferior to university classes.  This isn't often the case.  It all depends on how much a student is willing to learn and the quality of education of the individual schools.  I think the reason that classes are easier in college is because the class sizes are smaller and teachers have a more personal one-to-one relationship with their students.  In university, this rarely happens with large classes.
  • It's easier to win scholarships.  This is a win-win.  By attending community college, you save on LOTS of money.  Also, if you are one of the top students of your class, you can easily win scholarships.  So not only do you spend less for your education, you actually gain more money by winning more scholarships!  Of course, you have to use these scholarships for education and they will especially become useful for paying off the high costs of tuition once you transfer to university.  The reason why scholarships are easier to win is because the applications are so much simpler and less strict, the community often sponsors the scholarships, and it's easy to stand out in college if you were an excellent high school student.
  • Convenience of transportation.  Transportation usually isn't a problem, especially if your community college is in your home community.  If it isn't, you may still have to travel a large distance to get to class (in this case it's better to dorm there or get an apartment).  However, whether transportation is an issue or not depends on how far your school is and if your are willing to travel everyday or live near campus.
  • Type of education.  This goes back to the bullet point I mentioned above.  College level classes are often easier than their university counterparts.  This doesn't mean that the college is inferior.  It may mean that the teachers aren't good or the students aren't trying hard enough.  There are definitely some colleges that are better than university.  However, as a general case, universities have better quality classes because they often have better quality professors.  There's a reason why universities are higher up on the academic hierarchy compared to community colleges.  This doesn't mean that you wont be a success if you become a transfer student.
  • Adjusting from college to university.  This is the most difficult thing I had to face when transferring from college to university.  At my college, I was at the top 10% of my class of over 200.  Everything was so easy.  I felt confident about starting university.  Perhaps I was a bit overconfident.  When I transferred and started university, I felt as if it had sucker punched me.  I was extremely humbled after my first quarter.  Teachers were very strict and classes and labs were more difficult.  A university-level class is in a whole different ball game compared to college.   I'm not saying that hard courses are bad - they aren't.  I'm just saying that you shouldn't be caught of guard with easy college class one moment and the difficult university class the next.  It took me a while to adjust to this completely different world and adapt to the university's strict but orderly process.  Take this as a warning if you decide to transfer to university: Don't be overconfident.  Learn the ways of your school and adapt quickly. 
Other Things to Consider
  •  The environment.  This is all based on one's perspective.  Some may find their college environment more friendly and less stressful then their university environment.  Others may find it the other way around.  That is why it is good to visit and tour campuses before attending them.  Regarding my school, Skagit Valley College, I personally liked the main campus over the one that was near my home city because it was more "isolated" in nature - it was right next to one of Washington's mountain ranges.  The view was nice and the air was always fresh.  This isn't to say I don't like my present campus at the University of Washington.  I actually like both since they are located in the less-polluted state of Washington.  My SVC campus had a more "nature" setting and my UW campus is in the city. 
  • Living.  This is the similar to the environment.  It all depends on what your area is like and what the school and its inhabitants are like.  Whether you like one campus over another depends on the type of setting you prefer.  I personally like both the nature and the city setting.  I also like how both SVC and UW are very multicultural.  I think both places are nice to live in.  Click here to see a post I made about my opinion about living in a dorm or an apartment.
All in all, starting at community college to complete your prerequisites before transferring to university is a great idea, especially if you need to save on money.  Just be warned that courses are harder at university - so don't take this as a surprise.  Remember, harder classes are good things because you get to learn a lot more.  I wonder if people who go straight to university have an academic advantage over people who transfer to university.  While I think it all depends on the individual and their learning experiences, I am also sure that your starting school plays a role in affecting how much you learn.  When considering if you want to transfer or go direct, research the type of school you want and their academic programs and factor that into how much you are willing to spend.

Verus Animus

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Walking Dead Zombie Apocalypse & Escapism [VerusAnimus' Reflection]

The following reflection is inspired by The Walking Dead.  In addition to being a form of escapism for me, I have contemplated on a world where zombie apocalypse is real.

While I enjoy horror movies, nothing stands out like the horror that zombies bring.  A couple of other zombie action-adventure movies I enjoy include the Resident Evil movie series and World War Z.  Additionally, while not a zombie genre movie, I enjoy the psychological horror-adventure presented by the Silent Hill movies.  A few months ago (October, 2013) I started watching The Walking Dead.  Ever since then, I've been attached to the show.

Other than being horror flicks, what do all the movies/shows I mentioned have in common?  While the characters and storyline are definitely important, there's something more.  They all have the thrill of adventure - a journey through a familiar yet unknown world.  There's the need for survival in a world where all odds are against you.  It may seem odd to others but I view the post-apocalyptic scenario as more than just survival.  It's also about adventure, making the best of what you are given.  This is my ideal view; who knows if it would change in a real life scenario.

Anyways, I like to immerse myself into this alternate horror world.  The people around you aren't human anymore.  The dead rise again - and not in a good way.  The places you used to see everyday and found comfort in are no longer inviting.  Wherever I go, I imagine how that area would be in a world overrun by zombies.  I imagine how different things would look.  I look at buildings that could potentially provide shelter and I mentally take stock of how much a group of survivors could live in a particular grocery store.  I imagine about the adventure I (and any survivors I pick up) would have in a post-apocalyptic zombie world.  It's a fun way to pass time.

I can trace my desire for adventure back to my childhood.  The three notable ones that fueled my spirit for adventure (whose symbols I have edited to create the background for my blog) are Pokémon, Bionicle, and Zelda.  When I was younger I would immerse myself in the innocent adventurous world of Pokémon.  I would let my imagination run free with the adventures of LEGO's Bionicles.  To pass my time, I loved adventuring through the The Legend of Zelda  universe while listening to its heroic tunes.  These aren't the only influences on my love for adventure.  The Ender's Series (both the main and parallel stories) as well as many other books and video games have played a role.  There's also the fact that I have always enjoyed traveling across North America.  The sense of adventure has followed me through the years and now it has seeped into the horror-style adventure that zombies bring.

Presently, watching The Walking Dead temporarily takes me away from all the stress and troubles in the real world and places me into a fictional world with its own set of problems.  Sometimes I wonder, if the world were given a choice, which would it prefer?  A new World War or a zombie apocalypse?  I have thought about this.  Neither is desirable.  Both would cause so much pain in their own ways.  Both would damage the world and society in a way that would be difficult (if not impossible) to reverse.  There are too many people living contently with their lives.  It would be selfish to wish for an event that will disrupt the lives of many.

Some may argue that a World War would improve various country's economies, help control the population, and maybe solve some status-quo conflicts around the world.  However, no one ever wins in these sort of conflicts.  Is it worth the destruction and pain to the environment and the generations of humans to come?  Nope.  Is it worth the tension that may build up between countries?  Hardly.  Peace is something everyone should strive for but unfortunately, there are always some people looking to incite hate.  Regardless, war is always undesirable.  It is unfair how the innocent, present and future, are almost always directly or indirectly affected.  Here's to that day when all types of wars, cold or hot, will cease to exist.

A zombie apocalypse would potentially prevent world wars.  If anything, it should unite humanity against a common foe.  However, this isn't bound to happen due to the disruption of all sorts of technology.  While there will be people who strive for good in a world without any order, there are just as many, if not more, evil-hearted people.  The psychological effects of being dropped into a world that was comforting one day and hostile the next can bring out the evil in people.  Is living in a world full of bandits and cannibals just to experience the joy of adventure worth it?  I don't think it's worth disrupting the lives of happy people to wish for something such as a zombie apocalypse.

Nevertheless, given the choice between only those two scenarios, which would better for the world?  I wonder...

To conclude (and back to the original topic), I am the type who enjoys adventure.  The type of fictional adventures I escape into has transformed over the years.  The Walking Dead is the latest and darkest world I have been introduced to.  Although I know that the existence of zombies is scientifically impossible (at least not in the way presented in the show), I still enjoy imagining what Earth and our society would be like if it were real.  While I focus on graduating with a degree in Electrical Engineering, so that I can positively contribute to society and the world, I find it nice to occasionally escape the stresses of reality.  Presently, the world of The Walking Dead has offered me a thrilling, new, adventurous world to escape into every once in a while.  I like it.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Colleversity Tips: Make An Organized Planner ASAP

The end of Spring Break is approaching and that means it's time to return to school soon.  For those of you in college or university, it may be the start of a new quarter.  This fresh start means you have a new opportunity to succeed.

Something that I found extremely helpful in all my years of college and university is to organize a planner ahead of time.  From my experience, I have discovered that there are three parts to making a successful planner.

The first part of making a successful planner is to write down all your classes for that quarter on each day you have that class.  Do this before the quarter begins.  For the first week or so in your planner, include the times and class room numbers as an aid for getting the times and locations of your classes ingrained into your mind.  
For example, if you have three classes: Math, Science, and Writing on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and labs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, then write "Math: (Time, Location)" followed by the rest of your classes in chronological order for each day.  Repeat this for your lab sections and any other important topics.

The next part to making a successful planner can be fulfilled once your teachers have provided their syllabus.  The class syllabus is very important - it is the key to success.  Once you have your syllabus, immediately write down each assignment start and end date, each project due date, and each exam location and time.  Don't delay doing this!  By writing out your schedule early in the quarter you will have a clearer visual plan of how to have a successful quarter.  You will gain a head start over students who aren't as organized as long as you constantly look ahead and refer to your planner.  Be sure to update your planner daily as necessary.

The last part of making a successful planner is to include any and all other important dates and notes.  Whether it's someone's birthday, a meeting, a concert you want to attend, or a reminder to purchase something or ask someone a question, put it in your planner!  Put every important note and detail you encounter  (or have plans to accomplish) in your planner.  Fit it on the sides, use different colored pens, use sticky notes; just do whatever you need to do in order to be successful.

You can follow this guideline or you can modify it to fit your personal taste.  Whatever you do, just make a planner.  Here are examples of the format I found helpful over my college/university years:

I don't recommend spending money on expensive planners; cheap ones suffice and free ones are even better. A personal story: My old college (Skagit Valley College) always gave away free planners, no matter what year you were in.  My university (University of Washington) only gives planners to freshmen and transfer students.  So after completing my year junior year (my transfer year), I reverted back to using SVC planners.  Oh, the nostalgia!

Some people prefer digital planners over physical ones.  I prefer physical ones because it's easier to modify (such as drawing arrows from one date to another) and it's neat looking back at my planner at the end of a successful school year.  You can hang onto your planner as if it were a long lost diary and look at it in your future years.  You'll revisit old memories; you'll be amazed at how your college/university life was, all the events you went to, and every other nuance you probably forgot about.  Not only are planners extremely useful for doing well in school, they are also an excellent way of documenting portions of your college/university life. 


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lent and Self-Discipline - [VerusAnimus' Reflection]

I enjoy lent.  I look forward to it every year.  I see Lent as a way to "restart."  It is a reset button for living a better life (similar to how New Year and its resolutions are a restart for a new year).  I personally think Lent's "restart" effect is more profound.  For those who don't know, the season of Lent is the forty days before Easter starting from Ash Wednesday and not including Sundays.

During Lent, you give up something earthly and personal.  It can be something you're addicted to or something you use a lot.  For example, you can give up candy, TV, video games, or even FaceBook. The point of giving things up is to build self-discipline.  By continuously rejecting things you "can't live without," you are building your self-discipline.  Your goal is to make it to Easter without failing.  If you make it, you will emerge a stronger person - both in will and in character.

I know this effect is real because I have been participating in Lent ever since I learned about it in my high school's youth group.  During my last few years of high school as an upperclassman, I gave up music.  To be specific, I gave up music from the radio, from iTunes, and from the Internet.  I am an individual who loves music and I wanted to challenge myself.  Giving up music was definitely a challenge!  To up the challenge, I included Sundays - so I effectively gave up music for about 6.5 weeks.

A side story: during my first year of giving up music (2009), I posted a song (Boom Boom Pow) from the Black Eyed Peas on my channel.  I have never listened to that song.  It was their first song since their last album in 2005.  I wanted to listen to that song but I stopped myself.  So I posted it on YouTube and left it alone.  Next thing I knew, I was getting millions of views on that video!  I finally listened to it after Lent and that song became one of my favorites by them. (((My YouTube Channel)))

Anyways, giving up music was literally muting my life.  Every single day I wanted to listen to music but every single day I had to resist the urge to play music.  I even asked my family to not play music so that I could accomplish this.  In retrospect, asking my family to give up music along with me was a bit selfish, which is why I don't give up music if the season of Lent falls during moments when I'm home for the majority of the season. Regardless, during Lent, my self-discipline grew.  I guess I can also attribute the growth in self-discipline to my family values, my church values, and growing up in a military town.  Nevertheless, by the time Easter arrived, I was so excited to listen to music.  However, since I was so used to not listening to music, I also didn't want to - I wanted to make a "new record" for not listening to music.  In the end, I ended up playing Boom Boom Pow and I got back into the music world.  I became more appreciative of music.  40+ days of being deprived of something you enjoy makes you appreciate it so much more.

This year I have given up different distractions: social networks such as Instagram and Twitter.  I find it really important to give those up because they are a complete distraction from school.  I'm in my last year of university and having constant access to these social networks brought my performance down.  That is why I couldn't wait for Lent to begin so that I would be forced to stop using those accounts.  Once Lent began, I hid my distracting apps using a Cydia app.  The app is available only on jailbroken iDevices.  In this case it is useful because it literally hides the app's existence from my iPad.  I could easily "unhide" the apps but I wont - the point of Lent is to have the self-discipline to avoid whatever I give up.

One may ask, "why do I have to wait for Lent?  Why can't I just stop sooner?"  Well, I could.  A lot of people could.  However, there's a psychological factor that comes along with Lent, something that makes things official.  It's easy to say you give up something and simply relapse back because it's not "official".
For example, consider this: an individual asks a roommate to pay rent for one semester because that individual can't afford it. The roommate agrees and they shake hands on it. However, a day before payment is due, the roommate backs out.  The individual argues that the roommate promised to pay.  The roommate says that it wasn't official and there's no proof because the agreement wasn't in writing.

There are probably better examples out there but this is an example I could come up with at the top of my head.  You can agree to giving something up but if it's not "official," you don't have a psychological obligation to follow through.  Yes, you may have your own code of honor, which would be nice.  Perhaps it's a side-effect of the society we live in but in some cases, people consider that things have to be "official" before any action is taken, or at least effort to take that action is made.

All in all, Lent is important because it builds self-discipline.  It helps individuals to build character.  It enables people to take their focus off their "addictions" and to turn their sights to other aspects of life, whether it's their family, school, or new hobbies. By making people realize that they don't know what they have until it's gone, Lent makes individuals more appreciative of the big and little things in life.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How To Make A Pet Rabbit

It's that time of the year!  Easter is also around the corner.  Here's a Throwback Tuesday to a video I made last year.  It features my pet: Rabbit the Osome Sage, who used up the last of his life force last October after living a great 10 years.

Enjoy the video!