Welcome Back to School!
Sincere Advice from a Senior
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Here we are again. Do you already feel the grind beginning to creep in? For some of you, this is your first semester in college and you’re bright, excited, and nervous for all the new experiences ahead of you. For others, like me, this is your very last semester and you can already taste the end in the distance. Or you can be somewhere in the middle, maybe halfway finished, maybe six or seven semesters away, and perhaps this spring is looking to be uneventful and nondescript.
Whatever your situation is, this is the first semester of the new year. Not sure how you feel about them, but coming from someone who’s experienced enough “first” terms, I always see them as a way to restart from the trash person I was from the one previous. Last semester I was lazy. I procrastinated. I took on many responsibilities yet worked on none of them for the time they deserved. I worried too much. I was pessimistic, and I didn’t get enough sleep.
Now the year is new, and I’m confident that I can change all of that and then some. I’ll meal prep like a champion and stop grabbing Kikka Sushi from the food court every day. I’ll work on homework during my class breaks, and not scramble to finish them the night they’re due when I’m starved for sleep. Easy, right?
Even after nearly four years of going to Cal State LA, I find it hard to keep up with all of that. So instead, I’ll take some steps that I know from my experience to survive this semester relatively unscathed and stress-free.
One thing I try to do, since I’m currently a commuter, is try to leave fifteen minutes early in order to get to my first classes on time. LA traffic, as we all know, is crazy and unpredictable, and all it takes is a little fender-bender to gum up the works and make it harder for me to find a parking spot. Fifteen minutes are golden, and they haven’t failed me once. If you do find yourself driving around parking lots, I suggest always going for Lot 7. It’s the farthest one from campus, and for that reason it always seems to have a spot available. Plus, you can get a healthy walk in if your class happens to be in Salazar.
Another thing I’ve found to be helpful when it comes to preparing food for the week is cooking something extremely quick and easy. You might think that frozen vegetables and pasta are not exactly the healthiest thing to eat for the week, but you’re gonna feel a lot better (and a little richer!) every time you skip out at the food court because you’re starving and you’ve been sitting through six straight hours of class. Most big name grocery stores, like Ralph’s and Food 4 Less, have 5/$5, even 10/$10 sales on their one pound bags of frozen veggies. Steam in a bag or quickly saute, boil some pasta, mix in some pre-made sauce, and you’re set for the week with carbs, protein, and good-for-you vitamins that’ll keep you full for hours. Mix it up with different vegetables or an extra protein so that you don’t get bored. Can’t seem to find the time to cook? Whenever that happens to me, I try to prep by buying the occasional microwave meal during my grocery trips to bring to school for later. They’re way cheaper than buying anything at the food court or bookstore, and you get to treat yourself to a little junk to satisfy your cravings.
And if you find yourself already giving in to the procrastination monster, take a deep breath, pause, and walk around a little bit. You’ll wake up your tired muscles, especially if you’ve been sitting for a while, and the physical activity will give your mind a little boost of focus. If that little break doesn’t work, try this hack typically used for exercise. Work for thirty minutes, then drop everything you’re doing and relax for thirty minutes. While you’re working you’ll feel as though you’re working toward a goal that you’re excited about (break time!), then when you’re on your break you can let out all your frantic energy and have enough time to cool down and get focused near the end. Thirty minutes sounds like a long time to take a break, but it really works!
Ultimately, you know yourself more than anyone else. The way you set your goals this semester should reflect on the person you know yourself to be. I know that it’s hard for me to feel like cooking after ten hours of being at school, and how tempting sushi is. I know when I’m starting to get bored doing homework and when I start getting the itch to surf the internet. The change that should come in, the one that would work best for you, comes in when you choose to be more conscious about what you’re doing. And it’s easy to see the signs of when you’re getting out of control. My one goal this year, rather than focusing on completely getting rid of my bad habits, is to be more mindful about my choices. This year, and this semester, I’m going to stop feeling bad for being human, and start being an active listener to my body and mind. Need to take a break? Take one! Need to treat yourself? Do it! Just stay calm, try your best to handle everything, and by the time something comes up that throws a wrench in the system, you’ll be better prepared to endure it.
So here we are again. Are you ready to reach your goals? More realistically, are you ready to pick yourself back up when it’s getting hard? I’m going to be. I hope you are too.