March into Midterms

It’s that time again. I know a lot of people have had midterms already, but for those who haven’t, I have some tips I’ve provided my residents with as well. They are what helps me with studying the most. Hopefully you’ll try at least one of them out- I guarantee it’ll help you get higher scores!

1. Get plenty of sleep! Studies show that it is more effective to go to bed at a reasonable hour the night before a test than it is to stay up late or even all night to cram. If it isn’t possible for you to get a good night’s sleep, try to fit in a nap somewhere so you can get a boost of energy!

2. Manage your time. If you’re able to find time to prepare for your exams ahead of time, you won’t feel the need to stay up late the night before and study. Time management and avoiding procrastination is done in a unique way by everyone, but I highly recommend keeping a calendar in your room as well as a planner that you carry around with you. Some are even broken down into hourly time slots, which is extremely beneficial for those who need a highly disciplined schedule, whether due to procrastination or an insanely busy schedule. By writing down all things that need to be accomplished in a day or in a set amount of time, you are holding yourself accountable and are more likely to complete the tasks. Additionally, you will feel less anxiety about trying to remember what you need to do.

3. Alternate study areas and find places that are conducive study atmospheres. It’s great when you find somewhere that you are able to study and focus really well. Even better is when you find multiple places where you can study. By studying in different places, you will be less likely to become quickly bored or distracted, and since memory is colored by location, you will be able to recall what you studied more quickly when you can also recall where you studied. Try to study one subject per location so that you are able to associate that space with studying that topic. Generally speaking, make sure that the spaces you are choosing to study in are effective. Look for some place that is quiet and free of distractions. Make sure to silence or turn off that phone, too. Every time you are distracted from your work, it takes even longer to get back on track again.

4. Study in groups/with someone. Nothing like accountability to make you do your work (since self-control isn’t always there…) By studying with someone, you are able to keep one another on track. Also, the most effective way to learn something is by teaching it to someone else. Make sure you aren’t studying with people who are slacking or not interested in studying; this will only slow you down. It’s a great idea to assign topics that will be on the exam to each person in the study group and later reconvene and teach one another the topic.

5. Take breaks. I know this is the most obvious of all tips, but I have always struggled with this. Breaks can turn into hours of pointless Facebook use, television watching, or just plain laying around. It has been proven that you can only fully concentrate for 45 minutes at a time, and for me, that is already too long. I like to work hard for about a half of an hour and then take a 5-10 minute break. The break does not involve the computer or tv; instead, try working out for those 5-10 minutes. Take a walk around the building. Do push ups. This is a great way to stay awake, energized, and will actually make you want to get back to studying when it’s all said and done.

6. Avoid music. So many people always say music or background noise helps them study. More often than not, I have seen this go awry, and quickly. Instead of pulling up Pandora or putting on MTV, try going over your notes or reading the chapter aloud to yourself. This may be more effective to you. If you absolutely need music, avoid anything with lyrics. This can be distracting and difficult for your brain to ignore.

7. Go to class. This is my biggest and most important tip. There’s no point to pay for school if you aren’t going to go to class, and there really is no point in taking the exam if you haven’t been showing up to class. Going to class is like a review session every time. It kick starts your studying since the teacher is talking about topics that will be on the test. It also gives you a chance to talk with other people who will be taking the same exams, and you can form study groups with them.

Good luck to all those during the midterms mayhem. Keep my tips in mind! Study hard.

 

 

The aortic arch in March

It’s March.

Not only that, but it’s the eighth week! The semester is halfway gone, and even though I predicted it’d come as fast as it always does, the pressure with a gazillion exams circulating my brain is kind of overwhelming. Just kind of.

To be specific, there are a ton of crazy structures we need to know on the cadavers for anatomy and physiology. The last class we had was difficult to see anything because there were 50 people crowding 3 instructors (1 TA, 2 UT’s) and there’s only so much crowding you can do around a normal person’s height (the “tanks,” they call them). I couldn’t see anything really, and neither could my lab partner who was standing on a high chair! The exam is the week of my MCAT, and I also have a Polish exam coming up (they come every 2 weeks, and did I mention I had to prepare a presentation?).

Luckily my brain is being exercised left and right, up and down, so no need to worry about Alzheimer’s (the occasional brain fart is warranted, however). Gah, and then those 5pm-2am shifts! I sacrificed working the weekends 9am-6pm for the 5pm-2am shifts Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings so that I can get more studying during the day (because at night, it just ain’t gonna happen after those tiring shifts). I can’t imagine what doctors go through because they have to work AND study all the time, even throughout their residency (and beyond that, they have to take tests every 7-10 years to keep up their certification or whatnot). I’m glad I’m conditioning myself to prepare for such a future! As much as I complain about all the things I do, I am relieved to at least know that I can handle very stressful situations and manage my time appropriately to do well in all academic areas.

But, alas, the semester is not over. I have half a semester to still prove my worth as a candidate for medical school, and while my grades are doing pretty good so far, the MCAT is a mystery (until the end of April when I know how I did for real). Until then, I need to buckle down and ignore everyone (not happening, but I try) until it’s all done with. THREE WEEKS! Then, slightly more freedom.

Know Your Student Representatives

As some of you may know, I am an active member of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG). I have been with the organization since I first started at UIC as a freshman. I currently serve as the chairman of the communications & recruitment committee. Today, I wanted to talk a little about USG and what we do.
USG serves as the voice of the undergraduate student body – we are the connection between student and administration. We are a student organization that is funded by the university to work on student issues at UIC.  Through the various internal committees we have, we work on student issues regarding: physical space improvements, university infrastructure, administrative structures, student status concerns, governmental relations regarding financial aid, academics, and more. To learn more about our committees please visit here.
How does one become a member of USG? There are several ways! If you have about six free hours a week, you can become a full-fledged assembly or executive board member by running in the March Student Elections. Space permitting, you can become an interim-assembly member by visiting our membership page on our website. If you’re running low on time, you can become an associate member by attending an hour-long meeting once a week. If you just want to help out here and there, you can become a volunteer. For more information regarding membership, please visit this page.
USG has coordinated and partook in many different initiatives on campus. Many of these collaborations and projects are done with various administrative departments, since we meet with administration weekly. Some of these initiatives include: making sure WiFi is in every building, building a UIC mobile app, planning the UIC smoking ban, implementing the UIC “green” fee, lobbying in Springfield for university money and student financial aid, planning the annual “RECESS” event, organizing a student organization social, and much much more.
All students should be informed about USG and how we serve YOU. Keep up with us or reach out to us in the following ways below – we love hearing from you!
http://www.uic-usg.org
https://www.facebook.com/UICUSG
https://twitter.com/uicusg
usguic@gmail.com
Until next time…
Mike

A eulogy for my uncle

John Lawrence Muellner wore many hats.  Literally.  I mean, he has a hat on in half of those pictures.  He was stylish like that.  But I’m pretty sure that was partially thanks to my Aunt Maggie.  Jokes aside, he was indeed, a jack of all trades. Actor. Director. Musician. Loving husband and father. Uncle and brother.  Cousin and Son.  Vietnam Veteran. Woodworker.  He had a sweet tooth (which must be some sort of Muellner gene because I have it too).  Co-inventor of the pain game.  Oregon Duck fan. Chicago Cubs fan. Creator of the name Pie-Eyed Pizzeria. Someone who will be truly missed by many.  

 A few weeks ago, someone sent me this quote from an unknown author; “Sometimes I wish I were a little kid again, skinned knees are easier to fix than broken hearts.” Ain’t that the truth?

 I’d like to thank all of you for coming today to celebrate the life of John Lawrence Muellner. He was my uncle, my mentor, and my friend.

 A couple years ago for Christmas, my parents gave me a big container just filled with things they had collected as I grew up. Pictures, report cards, art projects. So, a little over a year ago, I felt the urge to go through everything, piece by piece.  I found a note that I must have missed before, that my Uncle Larry sent me in 1989, when we lived in our old house on Lamon.  Little did I know that at 3 years old, that little piece of paper with a few words written on it would mean so much to me as an adult.  I don’t remember what it came with, but I am so thankful I have that little piece of paper now.  It says, “To Lauren of Lamon.  With Deepest Admiration, Your fan and uncle, Larry Da Mule.”  That piece of paper is something I will treasure the rest of my life.

 I mentioned that my uncle Larry was the co-inventor of the Pain Game.  Let me explain a bit what that was.  The object of the game was to come up with the most creative way to inflict a small amount of physical pain and/or annoyance on another player.  There were specific rules to follow.  Obviously, it had to be creative and original. It couldn’t be mean spirited because it was all in good fun.  For example, a good 20 seconds of pinching someone’s cheeks. It actually sounds sort of barbaric, now that I actually explain it.  But man, it was hilarious.  I would rarely participate but I ALWAYS liked to watch and laugh.  In the beginning, the rule was if you were in the room, you had to participate.  But who could say no to this face.  It was a tradition every time he was here. Eventually, no one could come up with anything new and original.

 A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to go to Eugene.  My uncle Larry and Zoe picked me up from the Eugene airport.  I remember Zoe had school and rehearsal for CATS, and aunt Mag was working all day.  So, we dropped Zoe off at school and he showed me around Eugene.  It was really great actually because we got to spend the whole day together, just him and me.  He brought me to Mount Pisgah, and we went hiking.  We took a couple breaks, enjoyed the view while trucking up the trail, and we talked a lot.  About life, love, and he told me how happy he was that I was there.  When we got to the top, I asked someone to take a picture of us with beautiful Eugene in the background. That is how I will remember him.

 On that same trip, I was reading different scripts a theatre company was sending me.  I was trying to decide which one I wanted to direct.   I didn’t think any of them were that good, to be honest, but I was getting pressured to make a decision.  So I asked for his help and he was more than willing to read whatever I gave him.  There was one script in particular; Let me put it this way; it was the least lousy of the dozens I had read. It was about these rebel nuns that would swear and smoke cigarettes.  I brought it with me to Eugene so he could read it.  That night when I went to bed, he stayed up to read it.  The next morning, I was eager to find out what he thought.  I walked in the kitchen the next morning and asked, “So Uncle Lar, what did you think?” and he said, with no hesitation, “I thought it STUNK!”  I laughed and felt relieved that he said what I had been feeling.  That was definitely the end of the nun play. “Don’t settle,” he said.  “Wait until they send you something great that you deserve to work on.”

 A few months ago when his health was ailing, I sent him a letter telling him how important and influential he was to me.  I was afraid for his health and I needed him to know how much I cared about him.  I wrote “Hey old man, I heard you weren’t feeling the greatest and I wanted to write you for 3 reasons. 1) No one writes letters anymore 2) It feels good to get something in the mail that isn’t a bill, and 3) I want you to know how important you are to me.  You know, you are my favorite uncle (shh don’t tell the others) and you always encouraged me to explore my passions in life. I always hoped you’d move back to Chicago so we could see each other more than once a year.” I ended it “With love, your favorite niece (shh don’t worry, I wont tell the others). Be well and I’ll be seeing you.”

 With all the pain and suffering in the world, I went through a time when I wasn’t sure what I believed anymore.  Monday, December 30, was the day we received the news that he didn’t have much time left.  My father, my aunt Donna, aunt Marilyn, and my grandmother and grandfather were able to skype with him one last time.  He said to my grandmother, “I’ll meet up with you. I love you.” Today, with every fiber of my being, I believe he is up in heaven, and we will all meet up with him one day. 

 Many of you know 2013 was a very difficult year for this entire family.  We lost Dorothy Borta, Anne Fritz, Dave Luttmer, and Bob Borta.  And we all questioned, why?  Why so many in one year? And I don’t know if everyone knows this but, the moment my Uncle Larry left us, he had a smile on his face.  And I think that smile came upon his face because he saw Dorothy, Bob, Anne and Dave, all waiting for him. And he knew it was ok to let go.

 I’d like to share with you quote from the children’s book “Peter and Wendy,” also known as “The boy who wouldn’t grow up.”

 “You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”

 I’ve been having a reoccurring dream with my uncle.  Every time, the environment is different but the circumstances remain the same.  Everyone around me is crying and he says “It’s my time, please don’t be sad anymore.” 

Dear Uncle Larry, we may not be able to extinguish our sadness over your loss, but we are gathered here today to celebrate your life, a life that will never be forgotten.

 With deepest admiration, your fan and niece, Lauren Da Mule.

 Thank you.

The Phantom Returns!

Masquerade, paper faces on parade / Masquerade, hide your face so the world will never find you

On Valentine’s Day weekend, I got the chance to go see my favorite musical of all time The Phantom of the Opera again! My family can vouch for how insane I am about this musical – I once dragged them all to New York City with me to see it on Broadway! Since middle school, my mom and I have gone to see it each time it has come to Chicago as well. To be honest, I think I have lost track of the number of times I have seen it…I believe that this time was my fourth or my fifth! When I was small and saw the film (with Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler), I simply fell in love with the music. I know the film is heavily criticized for its lackluster singing performances, but I personally thought it was beautiful and a lovely rendition. It’s of course a little different from the musical…it’s a movie after all. And it is what first introduced me to the musical and my love of all things Broadway in the first place!

Because my mom was still in Taiwan, I doubted that I would go see it this time – but then my best friend Brandon surprised me with tickets! I was so elated that I would get to see it again. We went the Saturday after Valentine’s Day, so it was a full house! And I was pleasantly surprised because I heard from Brandon that this rendition was especially differently directed than before. I noticed that quickly after the performance began. There were small changes to the way that the music was sung – crescendos at different places with climaxes on different notes while other words that I was used to hear being belted out by the singer were less emphasized. While the dialogue remained the same, I noticed the delivery was markedly different. It really seemed to be a testament to how actors and actresses play such a huge role in the performance. The way a note is sung or a line is spoken can completely change the connotation behind the scene.

I had an amazing time, and because of the little nuanced differences, it was like I was watching the musical for the first time again! And of course, now I’m going to be singing Angel of Music for the next week and a half again…

Masquerade, every face a different shade / Look around, there’s another mask behind you

That’s what it’s all about

I was having dinner with a few of my coworkers earlier this week. After a couple minutes of conversation, one of my coworkers pointed out that the only things I had spoken about were in regards to work (being an RA). Even after he pointed this out, it happened a handful more times during that same meal until I had to leave. While it he was joking around, it really stuck out to me.

So what does it mean if you talk or think about something constantly? That’s not a difficult question to answer- obviously, you are very invested in the subject, or you spend much of your time on the topic, or you have strong emotions about it. For me, all of those statements apply when thinking about how I feel about being an RA.

Everyone has their own reason for being an RA. When new RA interviews roll around, we hear a lot of the same answer when that very question is posed: “I just want to help people.” One of the professional staff members told an applicant who had said this that that statement was the most cliche response possible and to dig deeper to answer the question.

I know exactly why I am doing this job, and the desire to help people is certainly a huge factor, but it’s even more specific. In my nearly 2 years as an RA, I have discovered how amazing it feels to know you have made a significant difference in the lives of residents. During my first year, I was incredibly discouraged because I came in expecting every one of my 60 residents to want to interact with me and come to me for anything. I quickly learned just how unrealistic this was, but I was still disappointed. I came into my second year with the same goal in mind, and while I feel so much closer to this accomplishment than I did last year (I only have less than 30 residents now), I also feel a sense of peace. By building the intentional relationships that I have with my current residents, they know they can come to me when they need me (or when they don’t NEED me) and that I will be there for them no matter what. Granted, there are still individuals who prefer to talk things out with their friends, family, or someone else, I would say that I notice a much greater relationship with my floor this year.

So when someone asks me why I choose to be an RA and live in a mostly freshman building as a junior going on senior, I have the most truthful response possible; at the end of the day, when all is said and done, if I feel like I have given someone hope, a push in the right direction, or a shoulder to cry on, then I’ve done what I set out to do and can feel no greater form of happiness. My passion for residents goes beyond a need to satisfy the urge to help people, because it is more than just helping people. It’s about facilitating growth as leaders. It’s about making residents’ time at UIC and in Campus Housing the best possible experience. It’s about forming relationships that last beyond this year. It’s about making an impact. And it’s about doing these things on a frequent basis, not once.

I received two great forms of good news in coordination with being an RA. This weekend, I will join a few of my coworkers and head to Illinois State University for a leadership conference attended solely by other RAs. Even more exciting to me is the fact that I was given a Senior RA position for the upcoming academic year- something I have wanted to do since I started as an RA. In this role, I will not only get to continue to better the building as well as the lives of the residents, but I will have an official role in acting as a source of information and assistance to the other RAs.

And that’s why my job was the only thing I was talking about during dinner. Because I love my job, I love helping my staff, I love changing the attitudes and lives of residents, I love working to better the residence halls, and I love telling you about why I love it. Next year will be a huge change for me, but I am eagerly awaiting the change. Until then, I will spend my last few months as an RA attempting to strengthen the relationships with my residents and create unforgettable memories with them.

One more month until the MCAT, the second time around

I lied on my last post. I ended up not cramming the physical sciences sections that weekend. Working at Rush and coming home around 7 PM on those evenings is almost as bad as working the 5 PM – 2 AM shifts because I’m just dead tired and unable to complete anything. Let’s hear it for super cramming!

UIC Strike

I was working at the Writing Center during the Tuesday Strike. It was pretty awesome watching the union come together to do this, even though I didn't get a direct benefit as most of my peers did (none of my classes got cancelled, lol!). I haven't followed up on the progress of their negotiations, but if anyone knows feel free to chime in!

I wrote a post similarly titled to this one when it was a month prior to my test. Can’t recall the details, but I am feeling the anxiety, stress and freaking out that I wasn’t feeling as much before (and to a scale that is not that bad compared to 2 years ago with being sick and upset all the time; glad that’s over!). I am surprisingly still calm, just disappointed I didn’t push myself more during the semester as planned. I think it’s because of where I am studying…I find myself getting the most work done during the day in those few hours I have before classes or before the Writing Center closes (that’s my designated hang out spot to study and converse with awesome people). When I’m at home back in my residence hall, I just can’t focus. It shouldn’t be that hard, but I get up every 10 minutes to move around and go to the refrigerator, or use the restroom, or check my email, or rub my eyes because I just can’t think anymore (thereby irritating my eczema…).

Supporting the Strike

The Jane Addams Hull House was where the union's headquarters were. I grabbed a button, a blue sleeve and a ribbon to show my support! (:

I should probably use the study rooms in MRH because they’re super awesome and quiet, but the nice, comforting and warm bedroom is too good to resist! Sometimes I even dayrdream about sleeping in my bed because I haven’t had a good sleep in awhile (always have to wake up around 7 AM or 8 AM…go to bed by 12 AM or 12:30 AM, repeat). I really hope these next few weeks pass and I’m fully prepared for what’s coming. I’m going to focus on taking the AAMC practice tests and review them as much as possible. I have lots of other exams to worry about in the meantime, like Polish (1 exam every 2 weeks) and genetics. My anatomy and physiology exam is the week of my MCAT…so that kind of sucks, haha! At least my mind will be MCAT free for a bit, if that’s at all a good thing (test prep companies recommend a break so I guess that will have the count). The nice thing I can look forward to is spring break. I purposely chose this date so that I could enjoy my spring break by working and not thinking about the MCAT (but rather the other parts of my application). If it doesn’t go well, it’s not a bad thing. I will just have to restudy and try again.

Snowy days

While the snow is transiently melting (hopefully will be gone for good), the brisk cold still stays here. I took this photo maybe 2-3 weeks ago. It's amazing how drastic the weather changes here. Nothing like Chicago.

Don’t give up on your dreams! It doesn’t hurt to give something a few tries before evaluating if you want to change your path. I think persistence goes a long way to achieving what it is you want to so. Motivation helps along the way as well, especially personal motivation. If you really want to do something, well, you’ll do it.

Keep alive and well UIC!

A Healthy Balance

Let’s face it – being healthy and being a full-time college student is hard. Life gets super busy with school, internship, and other activities – therefore, it’s really easy to just grab a quick fried snack from a restaurant and want to stay in after a long day. During the summer, when the only obligation I had is to work part-time, I worked out everyday and ate healthy. I was feeling great — I really miss that! That’s why this week I implemented a new lifestyle change.
Part of my lifestyle change was influenced by the human nutrition class I am in. This class wasn’t required – I took it because it teaches all about human eating habits and overall health. I have not regretted taking this class at all so far! Each day I go to class I learn something new – about what foods I should eat more of, what to limit, how my body absorbs nutrients, and the like. It truly has inspired me to eat better and have an overall better lifestyle.
So, starting last Monday, I started working out again and eating better. I have managed to squeeze in about an hour during the day to get a good workout in. I’m already feeling a greater sense of happiness strangely enough. I feel proud that I’m taking an extra step to be healthy. Whenever I’m stationary and just plain lazy, I feel disappointed in myself. It hasn’t been easy at all though – my body is so sore and I’m really craving a donut. But I know that in the grander scheme of things it’s going to be worth it. My health is important. I can be a healthy college student – it doesn’t have to be one thing or the other.
So join me on this journey to improved health! I’m really dedicated right now and could use some mutual encouragement. Are you in?
Until next time…
Mike

Teachers

As a future teacher, I have a great respect for current teachers everywhere.  It breaks my heart that teachers need to go on strike to get fair pay.  The Chicago Teacher’s Union seems like they have a never-ending battle for fair pay, better teaching environments, and valuable resources.

At UIC, I feel I have received the best education and have had some of the best teachers that I have ever had in my life of academics.  I have not had a professor yet who would not go out of their way to help me.  Graduate school was very daunting at first.  I had some issues with the logistics of everything.  But I can say that every single teacher I have had at UIC has made my beliefs and love for educating much stronger.  They have helped develop my teaching philosophies.  When I first started, I had no idea what a teaching philosophy even was!  Never did I think I would have a 4.0 GPA in graduate school because I have never gotten straight A’s my whole life.  These teachers have challenged me and made me leave class with a headache from thinking so much (which is a good thing!).  How many times can you say someone has challenged what you think and made you think even harder to defend it?

Sometimes with all the work, long days and nights, and hours put in, you can get frustrated.  Sometimes you ask  “Why is this relevant?” “Why do I need to write a paper on my reaction to an article that I read that didn’t mean anything to me?”  I get frustrated and I sigh when people ask me when I’ll be done (I answer “Probably never!”).  But honestly, I love school.  I love this school.  And I owe so much to my teachers who have made me feel that way. And I am almost done!

It scares me that teachers have to fight so much for what they and their students deserve.  Why isn’t the education #1 priority in this country?

All I am saying is teachers, the ones who are educating our future, deserve more.  More respect, more pay, more resources for their students.  And I am not just saying that because I am going to be a teacher one day.  I say that because the education I have received from my professors at UIC has been of the highest quality and I am proud to say I am a UIC student.

Maybe a resolution to the UIC teacher’s strike will be resolved by the time this blog is posted.  But I stand by my teachers.  UIC is a great institution! Let’s make it better!

Looking ahead for Campus Housing

♪♫♪ I love losing myself, talking to myself in the dark / When my body starts to work like a machine, I can feel the pulse of my heavy metal heart…

After being on Campus Housing staff as a Peer Mentor for Courtyard for just over a semester now, I got the chance to be involved in the rehire process. It’s a little strange for me to think that just a year ago, I was applying myself without really knowing what I was getting myself into. Of course I had some conception of what it meant to be a RA or PM from watching my own, but it was very different once I had settled into training and realized all that the job entailed. I have little hesitation about returning again next year, as this by far the most fun job I’ve had. Being on staff makes it so easy to socialize and get to know anyone in the building or on campus, and there’s never a dearth of programs or activities to attend.

I was a little nervous for my own rehire interview at first, but it went very well (just as the older staff had assured me). Once I started talking about my programs, my residents, and thing I had learned throughout the year, it was much easier to relax and just have a conversation about my experiences. I surprised myself by becoming more introspective than reflective during the actual interview than I was when trying to make my rehire portfolio! Creating the portfolio actually turned out to be the more difficult part, as I kept changing my mind between writing a thoughtful paper or making a Powerpoint. I ended up making a Powerpoint in the end, which was just as good because I was able to run through my presentation and talk about my programs, community, and leadership on each slide.

And now comes the waiting! I am so excited to see my assignments for next year – it feels a little like I’m back in high school waiting for my schedule to come out. When I was asked during my interview about which residence hall I might prefer, I realized that I could be happy in any of them. I would love to return to Courtyard, where I live now, because then I would feel like I gathered some  experience this year in how to build community in the cluster-style living. I also love the huge staff that Courtyard has!

Since I lived in Commons West as a freshman, I came in this year not too certain of how living in Courtyard would feel like; but now I would be happy to be assigned in either one. I loved Commons West as a freshman because everyone kept their doors open and it was so effortless to get to know people. My best friends here come from the people met inside the halls of Commons West, and it’s amazing to actually see in action how all the community-building we learn about during staff training lasts well beyond a mere academic year. I would love to return to Commons West for that open-door environment – I might also just be biased because I always think of it as my first home on campus! There’s also a good chance that I might be switched to south campus at JST, which would be wonderful as well since I have never heard a bad word about JST from anyone who lives there! It would take a while to become accustomed to the 10-15 minute walk to east campus for classes (to someone who fears cold like me, that seems like a lot) but I think it wouldn’t be too hard with all the buses and shuttles that run. Beside the nice, new amenities, I would also be able to be in cluster-style living again. Finding out is still about a month away, and I can’t wait! It’ll be wonderful to finally see the list of staff members that I’ll be making memories with next year.

I also got to contribute to the new applicant interviews. I finally had the chance to see from the other persepctive of how the group interview looks. Residents who apply to be a RA or PM go through two stages of interviews which includes a group interview and an individual interview. I was able to be one of the “judges” for the group interview, in which I gave a group of about 8-10 applicants a task to complete and they needed to collaborate to come up with a solution through discussion and dialogue. It was very interesting for me to watch, because I imagine that my interview last year must have looked and sounded very similar. For the most part, everyone was very respectful to each other and listened to all ideas. Sometimes, though, there will be an applicant who tries a little to hard to stand out and talks over other people without saying anything with real substance…definitely not a wise thing to do in group interviews! I was surprised that the housing supervisor even asked my opinion on which applicants stood out to me. I realized that I was potentially picking my own co-workers and staff for next year, and it really made me think about just what I would look for in a RA or PM to work with. I only saw three groups out of many of the groups of applicants, but a few of them really stood out to me. In any case, I wish the best of luck to everyone! It’s always exciting for me to envision my near future, so I keep wondering what my staff might look like next year.

You make my heavy metal heart beat, beat / My heavy metal heart ♪♫♪

(Heavy Metal Heart – Sky Ferreira)

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