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…


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)

What you don’t know…

By this point, you’re pretty much reading my diary. Not that I have one, but if I did, I presume it’d be something along these lines. So we’ll just go with you’re reading it every week. If you’re reading my diary, though, there’s probably more to me that you should know…

I only sneeze in sets of threes.

I really, really enjoy temporary tattoos…much more than the average 21 year old.

Pomegranate is easily the best scent/flavor in life, even though I’ve pretty much never consumed an actual pomegranate.

I cried hysterically the first time I saw a spider in my room and realized I had to kill it myself.

It makes me really angry when people make fun of other people’s majors; you don’t know what their courseload is like…and it’s horrible to make fun of someone’s passion.

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for almost 7 years, but my relationship with chocolate is going on 22 years. Sorry, Kev…

I’ll always have room for fro yo.

I only like comedy movies, and it’s quite possible that I’m the only human being who is instantaneously lulled to sleep by an action/thriller movie.

On a similar note, if I am forced into watching a horror movie, I will actually be scarred for life. My friends and I sneaked into The Strangers when I was 15…biggest mistake of my life. Every day I am convinced they’re watching me.

I fell down the stairs to the Atrium Halloween 2012. To this day I feel like every time I’m using them, it’s my Web Redemption.

Spicy things are the best thing ever. I can eat any type of pepper for days.

If the water is warm enough, I will never get out of my swimming pool, until I start imagining scary animals inside of it.

I am petrified of killer whales. I have always had the strangest phobia of them, and they terrify me unlike anything else. Yes, I did watch Blackfish.

I talk to myself far more than I’d like to admit. Especially in public while running errands.

Shopping is by far the most relaxing thing to me, even more so than resting.

I talk in my sleep all the time, and from what I’ve heard, it’s usually some pretty weird stuff.

Dinosaurs are still the coolest thing ever.

I know every line in Mean Girls and can apply each one to real life. Don’t watch it with me.

I’m born on my dad’s birthday, and that is pretty much always my fun fact for every ice breaker/team builder I have ever done.

I think Valentine’s Day and Easter are the best holidays.

One time in kindergarten, I correctly guessed the exact number of some item in a jar. It was 512. I won a giant stuffed bumble bee that was bigger than me. I don’t know what he’s doing with his life these days…

My favorite place to be is waveside at the beach or ocean at any time of day.

I will only ever watch baseball or hockey, and that will never change. I’ll play any sport, though.

I am considering buying stock in Campbell’s because I spend so much on their vegan vegetarian soup. It’s so good. Try it.

I am most definitely a meat eater, but I only like seafood and chicken. And will always appreciate a good burger/hot dog.

I never get enough sleep and do the most work late at night.

I need to go to sleep………………………………………………………………………………………..







Cram Party

The rush is over (for a limited time only)! I won’t have another anatomy and physiology exam until 5 weeks from now so I can lay off studying intensely for that. Polish is getting a wee bit harder since I got a B on my second exam (I wonder who got an A because it was really tricky!). If I paid attention more to the plural/singular nominative cases I probably could have done better, but oh well I’ll just have to study and do better on the next one. The next thing looming over me now is my first genetics lab exam (next week!). The quizzes have been stupendously easy, but our TA tells us the exam is more like the problem sets in our textbook, which we have not needed to show we’ve done (and I doubt anyone else has done them except for maybe the first week of class). Well, time to pull out that syllabus and go through every question over and over because if that’s what is going to be on the test, I better study ASAP!

MCAT studying is getting better. I finally motivated myself to stop looking at my calendar and look at my progress in terms of how many sections I still have to review (and it’s a lot). So, I crammed 10 sections of physical sciences this past weekend while scribing 9am-6pm at Rush both Saturday and Sunday. I wanted to take another practice MCAT, but I felt that I should save it for when it is closer to my exam date (it’s coming so soon!). I’m studying little by little each day and hoping for the best. I have a lot to review, but I badly want to rush through the material so that I can focus more on taking tests and all that jazz. I am REALLY determined not to move my test to a later date. However, if my second practice exam is not near what I got on the previous one, I may need to rethink my plans.

Who knew cramming would be so helpful during these stressful months? I mean, I know I crammed for the majority of my exams in college — but somehow I made it out all right. I suppose I just feel more comfortable this way now, and at this time it suits my needs. If I can make it out with straight A’s this semester (and get the Fulbright ETA position in Taiwan!), I’d say nothing is truly impossible.

New experiences as an intern

Recently, I started working as a communications and public relations intern for the Shedd Aquarium. It’s kind of a dream job for me — it combines my love for sea animals and my love for public relations. So you can imagine how excited I was when I found out I received the position!

Even though I have had quite a few internships before, I knew that I wanted my (hopefully) last internship to be a type of capstone for all of the experiences I have gained in the field of communications. I want to graduate in May with the most experience I can get. I’m glad that I found an organization that has already helped me get closer to that goal.

I intern at the Shedd office three times a week. So far, I have made several media coverage reports and a press release. I was also recently able to attend a Publicity Club of Chicago luncheon with the public relations team. The luncheon was very informative — I truly learned so much about public relations and media during the luncheon that I am already noticing the business mentality on me! Even though I’ve only been at the Shedd for two weeks, I have enjoyed all of the practical work I have done so far and already know that it’s going to be a great, enriching experience.

I’m also loving the workplace at the Shedd Aquarium. Everyone is quite friendly at the Shedd and the corporate culture is so nice and formal. I truly feel like a good fit at the organization. Also, it’s pretty awesome that from my cubicle area I can view an aquatic show featuring beautiful and extraordinary animals!

All around, the internship has so far fulfilled all of my desires and more. I look forward to going to the office every day and have enjoyed all of the work I have done thus far. Sometimes, when beginning new experiences you can get a feeling about whether or not you’ll enjoy the experience. I honestly have never been more confident than I am now — as each day goes on, I am starting to love my position even more. And it feels great to know that I have a few more months of experiences awaiting me.

Until next time…


In Limbo

Grief is a funny thing.  It’s something I think everyone has whether it’s the symptoms of a recent loss or a loss that happened a long time ago.  Everyone faces it at some point.  Everyone learns to live with it.  It’s not a hurdle you need to jump over.  It’s a burden you carry with you.  But this is life.  Constantly moving.  Constantly changing.  Life can be great at times.  It could be painful at times.  We’re human.  We feel joy.  We feel pain.

One of my favorite lyrics from an Ingrid Michealson song is “All I know is I’m breathing.  All I can do is keep breathing. All we can do is keep breathing.” That is how you continue on, you just keep breathing.  Sometimes, It’s not as easy as it sounds.

At the end of this month we are having a Celebration of Life for my uncle.  It’s something we’ve been planning for what seems like months.  It has only been a little over a month since he passed.  I am looking forward to this event.  I will be able to spend time with my family.  Family and friends will gather and show support and love, share memories and condolences. There will be laughing and crying, and we will come upon some kind of closure that everyone wishes to seek after a loss.  Usually after a death of a loved one, you have the services almost immediately.  That can give you a sense of closure quickly but it also doesn’t give you a chance to breathe.  My family and I have been busy the last 6 weeks preparing for this celebration.  It’s going to be so incredibly difficult.  But a much needed gathering of friends and family.  When it’s over, then what?

I just kind of feel like I’m in limbo. I think part of it really has to do with the weather being so bad and being stuck inside a lot.  I’ve been working really hard on my school work, I try to give the best care to the kids I nanny, and I’m trying to learn as much as I can in Practicum.  All welcome distractions.

I sometimes still can’t believe it happened.  Since I am in charge of the slideshow for the memorial, I have been forced to look at pictures.  When I look at them, sometimes I laugh, sometimes I cry.  But I think in doing that, it has helped me remember him how he should be remembered.  Most importantly though, I often see him in my dreams.  And that is most special to me whether it makes me happy or sad.  I still get to see him that way.

“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.”-Peter and Wendy




Resisting the lull

♪♫♪ Hey, don’t write yourself off yet, it’s only in your head that you feel left out or looked down on…

As a sophomore looking back on my freshmen year, I would say that the lull between early February and late March was easily the most challenging time period for me last spring semester. And recently it seems like that awful lull is trying to make a reappearance this year as I begin to struggle to stay focused and mentally sharp for all of my classes. When I’m really doubting myself, I think that my ability of a student used to be sharper when I was back in high school when I was somehow able to juggle what seems like a countless APs, clubs, badminton team, and applying to college all at the same time; if high school Sarah was able to do all that back then, what’s wrong with college Sarah that she can’t keep up? And then I beat myself with the irony of how everything I do now bears much heavier significance on my future than it ever did before.

In those times of doubt, I struggle to re-motivate myself and reorient my goals so that I can remain steadfast in my work. I have a few strategies to do so, but I actually find some of my strongest motivation might be a little strange–I find it from the people around me and the people I see or think about. This is from my family, friends, or even just acquaintances I know in passing. I am so easily inspired by many of the people I see day to day in my classes. I see hard workers who voraciously take notes and push themselves day and night to be the best student that they can be in hopes of being a physician, pharmacist, lawyer, engineer, etc, etc…leaving nearly no time at all for themselves because they are always busy with school, or a job, or another activity with duties to take care of. Thinking of them — even though I might not talk to them– inspires me to work harder. It helps that many of my friends are just such amazing, accomplished people. All I have to do is step into the Honors College lounge to see that. I find motivation from thinking about their hard work, and it makes me want to persevere so I can do something I’m proud of as well.

Finally, I think about my family. I think about all that they have given me and how much they believe in me. I am really lucky to have such caring parents who have instilled a strong value in me for learning because it has always driven me to try to do better and better. In the end, I think that it is this strength and gratitude toward them that becomes one of the prime motivating factors for me to resist the lull that comes from being mentally weary from all that goes on around me. Although it seems most prominent around this time of year, the lull seems to be able to reemerge at any other time as well. It’s easy to become overwhelemed with all the thoughts to balance, but I am reassured through my strategies to reorient myself and combat those feelings with motivation.

It just takes some time, little girl you’re in the middle of the ride ♪♫♪

(The Middle – Jimmy Eat World)

It’s so cold!

Is anyone else as freezing as I am?! When is it going to warm up?

I officially have the winter blues and am absolutely over this. Walking to BSB twice a day from my room is getting really old really fast, and I’ve been staying inside the building for entire days at a time when I don’t have class. The weekends have been filled with wasting time and feeling my cabin fever get worse and worse. I don’t know about you, but I need to do something about this before I go crazy…I need to be more productive so that when the time actually comes for us to go outside and enjoy the weather, I can. Here are my goals/ideas for making the most out of being stuck inside:

-read books (not just textbooks…good books, too!)

-redecorate your room by moving furniture around/add small accents

-go through your closet and look for clothes to donate

-craft! There’s nothing like a good old DIY

-watch a new tv series or movie genre

-make Valentines for your friends/family

-plan spring/summer trips or vacations

-learn a new instrument

-get completely caught up with your homework and studying

-get ahead on your studying ;)

-deep clean/spring clean your room in the winter!

-drink tea or hot chocolate or coffee- and lots of it! At some point later in the year, these hot drinks will sound gross.

-work out in your room! There are lots of household spaces and items that are great for a workout.

-try on your bathing suit

-cook/bake new recipes and try them out on me!

-learn to do something productive with your computer

-apply for jobs/internships online

-enjoy a nap under a nice, warm blanket

Stay warm! Until next week…

Too many meetings, exams and quizzes

Normally, I’d look forward to my weekends. For one, I wouldn’t have to work. Two, I could catch up on studying and homework that I badly need to do for each of my classes and MCAT. And three, I can effectively plan for the future during this time (like if I need to plan an event for my pre-medical club, etc).

Well, unfortunately, I haven’t been able to enjoy the weekends, especially this month. I mean, it should have been worst last semester when I started the ER scribe job (those 5pm-2am shifts were definitely something to get used to and I can’t afford to do those at this time), but after hording almost all of the weekend 9am-6pm shifts just to meet my minimum of 8 shifts per month…I’m kind of toast with managing my time to fit every need that I hold. I have only been able to go to research once a week for only like 4-6 hours…barely going to my campus housing job as I am doing only as needed basis (they’re so amazing with flexibility, thank you Campus Housing)…I consistently go tutor and work at the desk at the Writing Center, which has provided me relief and stress at times (the stress comes from me lolly-gagging during my few moments of free time with colleagues when I could spend it locked up in a cubicle studying for MCAT and my other classes)…and here I am trying to blog so that I can rant and still stay sane throughout all of this.

Well, looks like my break will truly come post-MCAT. I took a practice test this past Sunday and I told myself if I get the same score or lower than what I did on the real thing, I’d move my test to April or May. Well, to my surprise I scored 4 points higher than what I got on the real thing…so I decided to keep the date! I can’t tell if I scored high because I took the test before (it was one time and in May or June 2013…and I only went over the test once) or if my brain was actually thinking in the correct manner to help me score well. Perhaps it was both that contributed…but we’ll see how I do on my next practice test! It definitely gave me a HUGE boost of confidence and showed me what areas I desperately need to improve on (physics and chemistry…math is not my thing). So, instead of studying a different subject each day like I was doing, I’m just cramming all the physics and general chemistry topics this week and the next and then hopefully  once I hit biology and organic chemistry it’ll be easier (verbal is a crapshoot so I’m not even going to bother even though it was my lowest score on the real thing…but only by one point compared to the other subjects…).

Ah, well I am hoping for the best. It’s difficult to study for the MCAT when you’ve got to attend a gazillion, million meetings and study for anatomy and physiology or Polish (if only I was a native speaker I could sleep through the class…but I’m totally not!!!). I have weekly quizzes for anatomy and physiology and 2 quizzes a week for genetics lab. Let me tell you, they’re easy, but super annoying to study for! I don’t mind doing all the homework and quizzes, but with the MCAT looming over my head and all this pressure of needing to be in a million places at once has got me in pieces.

Luckily, my brain and heart are still keeping me alive, one day at a time. That is really the key to keeping your sanity. When I open my Google calendar and see my schedule, it makes me want to bang my head against the table. But instead of moving around stuff and pushing things back even more like I normally do in my scary panic mode of trying to make things work out, I just use the time I would normally spend panicking with actually doing what I planned! Whether it’s studying, attending meetings or writing this blog…the work gets done efficiently with this pressure.

Too bad my skin isn’t cooperating very well, especially around my eyes…but I’ll save that for another time because all I want to do is sleep and dream MCAT success at this point (but I have an exam in anatomy and physiology looming so I better dream about that too).

And this cold weather isn’t helping the mood…ah well what do you expect? Struggles are here for a purpose and you just got to keep moving forward.



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