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On Stress and Stressing

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I feel like I’m always stressed. I don’t know what about though. I feel like I am sort of passive aggressive. I do get stressed but I don’t think it wears on me heavily because I’m just not that driven to compete . . . kind of. It just doesn’t seem worth it in any kind of term. Money sure would be nice and a boon lately, but I need personal satisfaction too. . . sometimes that just comes from sleeping in; sleeping in late and often.
Working in an office full time this semester I am surrounded by so many type A personalities. Sure type A’s might get a lot of good respect as go-getters and achievers but jeeze, some of these people seem like they’re always looking over their shoulders or one beat away from a coronary. Is it really worth it, stress, selling yourself out. Who wants to be a middle level administrative cog. To get yelled at and to have to come to the point of screaming at other adults over what should be a streamlined process . . . We’re all adults!
Dude, just slow down . . . Before it’s too late.
I clearly have no interest in being captain of anything. Low expectations will likely be the device of my undoing.
Sure I get stresses about the little things in my little life but I truly very often
can’t be bothered to lose sleep. Perhaps I just treasure my shuteye. Maybe its all relative, but that’s how’s its got to stay.
Success would be grand, but maybe like all things even success should be had in
moderation. The mind and body can’t be put on the backseat for the whims of
ego forever.


Handling Stress While Being A Student

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 Time goes by really fast and before we know it, the semester will be coming to an end. The midterm exams are fast approaching too. One thing that accompanies this fast pace of activities is stress. As I mentioned in my profile, I am involved in some activities on Campus and during the weekends too. This makes my weeks to go really fast because I am always doing something. Most of friends always wonder how I “do it all” and I must say it is not easy. Let me give you a rundown of how my week goes by;

 

For now I have three classes which are about 7 to 8 hours a week including all the labs.

I have an On RAMP To STEM seminar at Rockville once a week.

I need to be at the Student senate office to carry out my duties and also preside over the senate meetings.

Every Friday I have my school club activities.

I work about 10 hours at the writing center.

I need time to STUDY!!!

It may sound crazy to some people but I enjoy doing all of this. It gets stressful when I have a lot on my plate, but what makes the situation better is that (as Sarah mentioned in her blog) I try to find meaning in all what I do. My acceptance into the STEM program and the senate means that people saw what I had to offer and it is only up to me to unleash that potential, and learn from them. It might be too much now, but I know that learning how to be proactive and handling these situations will be beneficial to me in the future. Plus I get to blog about them hoping that it could inspire someone.

Before I got my job as a tutor, I complained to a counselor that I did not have a job, but he told that I did have a job; a student.  Everything I do now in my life is to carry out my job of being a student, a learner. When I read the book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, I took a picture of this quote.

Student

I hope to be excellent in my job of being a student.

 

On Appreciating the Red Mark Makers

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This past week has been an interesting one for me. In addition to my studies here at MC, I hold several jobs – one of which is an assistant teaching position at a private school. Besides supporting the head teacher in the classroom, I have my own group of students for whom I’m responsible. One of those “teacher-ly” duties is grading papers. Having been on the receiving end of those dreaded red marks, I was eager to grade my own little bunch of writers.  

My enthusiasm waned as soon as I started reading the first essay. Misplaced comma after redundant word filled its pages, and I felt overwhelmed. How would I even begin? My overwrought mind flitted between finding the mistakes of college-bound students, and perhaps not finding them. What if I’d forgotten too much grammar to be an effective grader? I had to force myself to calm down and go through each composition methodically. I thought that the worst was over when I graded the last one on Wednesday morning. But my former anxieties about my inadequacy gave rise in new form this afternoon as I drove down to the school, papers in tow. What if I couldn’t explain what needed to be corrected? What if I made a mistake when I was grading? Trepidation filled my soul as I handed back nearly a dozen papers bleeding red ink to anxious-looking 12th graders. A trembling voice inquired, “Ms. Green? What did you mean when you wrote…?” and I tried to mask my nervousness. But as I divulged my reasoning, instead of the confused brow knitting that I expected, my student smiled and nodded understandingly. A ray of hope! My grammatical logic wasn’t the jumbled box of thoughts that I thought it had been. 

As I left class, I breathed a sigh of relief. All of the extra time I had put into reviewing my grammar, checking and rechecking those papers, and creating a handout for the students actually paid off! Pondering this thought longer, I realized that I now appreciated my MC professors much more. Though the small group of pupils I’m working with is nowhere near the amount of 50+ students my professors have, I can finally see all of the hard work they put into instructing my classmates and me. The many hours they spend putting together syllabi, PowerPoint slides, assignments, quizzes, exams, readings, etc. are untold. Yet many times, we students (I’m guilty of this, as well) complain about our professors – they’re too strict, too lenient, too disorganized, OCD beyond belief, assign no work, drown us in assignments, or any number of other behaviors. Yet as much as we gripe, how many of us actually take the time to be thankful for our professors? Many of the ones that I have had during my time at MC could’ve pursued scholarly research or contributed to their field in a more prestigious way. Instead, they chose to exert their energy at this college to teach. 

I guiltily thought about how many millions of people my age would’ve gladly welcomed the chance to attend college at all. That doesn’t mean that I’ll just excuse everything my professors do, but the next time I’m ready to give my friends an oral dissertation on why I can’t stand an instructor, I’ll think a bit more before I speak.


Since I seem to habitually choose music that doesn't go with the theme of my posts, I shall continue the trend. This almost weekend, I've been in a playful mood. Here's to relaxation almost being here!


Meaning in the Moment: Exercising the (Fill-In-The-Blank) Spirit(2)

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by Greg

 

      Yesterday Sarah posted a very nice message encouraging us to  “make things meaningful.”  She discussed meaning from the peaceful, tranquil world of yoga; but is there universal truth there?  Does the concept still apply to the opposite end of the spectrum – even the violent, bloody arena of mixed martial arts?  I believe it does, and also to everything in between, including college academics.

 

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Yoga     

 

Similarities?

 

     Whether you believe the Ultimate Fighting Championship is the epitome of martial artistry comprising a complete challenge to human capabilities – athleticism, heart, and wits, or it is a cruel, barbaric, and gladiatorial endeavor profiting from the bloodlust of a decaying culture, there was wisdom in the post-fight commentary from the winner of Saturday’s championship fight, Jon Jones.  To those unfamiliar, Jones is a fighting phenom who has dominated every opponent (until Saturday) and is widely regarded as the best in the world.  However, Saturday he was so pushed during his victory that he had to be carried from the ring to the hospital, where he spent the night.  Despite the beating he took, after the fight Jones said the fight “was a blessing” and “it was a beautiful night.”  Is it because he likely made millions from the fight, or because he kept his championship?  Actually, on two occasions he says what meant more to him than winning was “exercising his warrior spirit.”  In other words, he got more meaning out of the moment – the fighting itself, than he did from it’s rewards and outcomes: the ego boosting money and honor.      

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JonesBloody

Jones: Blessed on a Beautiful Night


     These words were exactly what I needed to hear.  Just last week, I was wondering what I am doing at Montgomery College.  I was taking a beating too – not a physical one, but a mental one in the form of a paper, boring lectures, and difficult math problems.  Then the negative thinking began – there’s a chance that I won’t live long enough to get any material reward or honor from my hard work.  Things begin to seem pointless -  no bigger paycheck, no dream job, no fancy degree to put on the wall.  Fortunately, Jones reminded me that there is value in the moment.  For him Saturday night’s moment was about exercising his warrior spirit – becoming fully immersed in battle, taking in every sensation, emotion, and thought (pleasant or otherwise) and growing from it.  Regardless of outcome, he becomes a champion and winner.  I need to remember that at MC I win just from the experience itself.  My classes here allow me to exercise my learning spirit, philosophical spirit, mathematical spirit, and yes, even my suffering spirit.  Many times, we only believe something is valuable if it’s useful to achieving some goal or if the experience itself is pleasurable. However if we do what Jones did Saturday night and detach outcomes from experience, we see value in all we do.  Everything – even getting punched in the face, doing calculus homework, or fighting cancer – becomes a blessing and is beautiful.  

 

 


A classic rock tune about the moment:  Van Halen Right Now 
Try to pay attention to the lyrics, which are about living in the moment, rather than the political message of the video.

 

Make Things Meaningful

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Hello Friends!

As I sat thinking about what to write about this week, I found myself drawing a blank for the first time since I started this endeavor about a month ago. This past week has seemed like nothing but tests and studying and reviewing and nothing particularly noteworthy to share. There was, however, one class that was the bright spot of my week.

This past week, in the yoga class that I decided to take on a whim (and am really enjoying), we learned about some of the “living principles” of yoga. These are the sort of guidelines that enhance your practice outside of simply performing the exercises themselves. Last Wednesday’s lesson focused on niyamas, which are the ways you treat yourself and think about the things around you. One of these niyamas (and seriously, prepare yourself; it’s a mouthful) is called “Ishvarapranidhana”. A very rough translation of this word is to “make things meaningful”.  

For some reason, this really struck something in me. The idea that the things we do, the words we say, the million little everyday happenstances of our lives don’t inherently carry any meaning, that we have to make them mean something is incredible. Instead of causing me to feel like things don’t matter, this approach makes me feel powerful. My Psychology professor likes to say that people can’t make you feel anything, only you can allow yourself to feel any particular way about something. This always seemed to be a very abstract concept to me until this idea of making things meaningful came into the picture. 

Only I can choose what is important to me and what is not. Only I can let things bother me or choose not to be worried over them. No one else can tell me how to feel, or what to do, or what's important

And that, to me, just feels liberating.

Until next time,

Sarah


In honor of the amazing concert I went to last weekend, here’s an uplifting and liberating song for those of you who might need it:

Imagine Dragons- On Top of the World

Mommy Monday

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Do you ever have those days when you absolutely positively need your Mom? You know the ones I’m talking about—the “mommy days”. When you want to call her up to brag to her about that test you aced? Or to cry to her because all it’ll take is her calling you her brown-eyed girl to make it all better? Or when you just want to tell her you love her because no one makes mashed sweet potatoes the way she does?

Well, I’ve been having a lot of those lately.

See my mom and I have never really gotten along that well—partly because of my innate teenage stupidity and partly because of that annoyingly maternal instinct that forces moms to smother their children. And when I say smother I mean suffocate, strangle, and asphyxiate to the point of social leprosy.

I could never go out with my friends late at night because of “safety”. I had to secretly date because I was always “too young”. And no way was I going to a sleepover “without meeting the parents first”. Yes, these were my mom’s grounding weapons of choice. Defy them and you weren’t leaving the house for at least a week. Protest and she’d threaten a decade. Argue the likelihood and she’d make it a century.

But, all jokes aside, I got tired of it. 

So at the rose colored age of seventeen I picked up my stuff and ventured out into the real world—motherless and alone. I didn’t speak to her or call her. She missed my high school graduation, my senior prom, and my first year of college. Family holidays made my palms sweat and every encounter was awkward and short. I basically ignored her for an entire year.

And yet here I am almost two years later waiting for that same crazy, hair-brained, lovable mother to pick me up from school (late as always). Because despite all of my disrespectful, deplorable, and downright hurtful behavior… she’s still here.

And she always will be. I’m sure there’s someone in your life like that. It may not be your mom. Maybe it’s your dad or your aunt or your brother. Maybe it’s even your teacher or your best friend. But the thing is—they won’t be here forever and we’ve got to take advantage of the time we have.  

 So thanks mom for always putting up with my crap. Thanks mom for being the only single parent on the street. And thanks mom for working so hard. Yes, your religious rants, your Obama conspiracy theories, and your hatred of tattoos still irk my nerves. But that’s all right. You’re my perfectly imperfect mother and it’s about time that I’ve made a conscious effort to appreciate you.

 Until that fatal day, of course, when you get a little too worked up about the people across the street parking behind your driveway. We tried to warn you.  ;)

Happy Monday!

Tiff:)

 

P.S. No pictures today because they don’t show up anyway. :P

P.P.S. Tell me about your special someone in the comments section.

 

Tiffany’s Monday Music Selection:

Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqXSBe-qMGo

 

Sometimes Life Makes you Feel Drunk

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      Sometimes, things look pretty clear for a little while. It’s funny though how often and radically the world can make you take a hard left without expecting it. You think you’re making plans, only to have the base fall out from under them. It usually gets harder and harder to stick to the plan. They aren’t the best laid of plans.

      You have to know yourself if you hope to be successful in life. I thought I could get it together and balance school, full time work and attempt to have a personal life. It is proving harder than expected. It used to be easy to do the things that excited me. Find a few people, get together, play some music, start a band, band fails and falls apart in six months. The ride was fun. Lately I can’t even get myself together to meet with people to discuss music. It’s Pathetic. I want to blame everything else, but my own self . . .

      Ok this is (more than) a little melodramatic, but sometimes life makes you feel like you’re drunk and it’s a just a test to see if you can make it home alright. Most likely we all go our own ways and hope for the best. Life is funny like that. If you don’t make, or take time then time is only taken from you. It ends up being such a joke that time is so easy to waste. Blogging on a Sunday before (more than) forty hours of workweek ahead is a great way to let out the melancholy. Sap.

    

Preparing for the Transition

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This has been a very thoughtful week for me apart from studying, and thinking about my exams. One thing that has been troubling me this semester is beginning the transfer process. I will be getting my Associate Degree and transferring next fall. I can’t believe it’s finally here! I have been waiting for the moment when I could start choosing schools to apply to but the closer it gets, the more anxious I become. I try not to make it obvious but deep inside I am asking questions like: What school will be a good fit for me? Big or small? Public or Private? I know I have great counselors to guide me but at the end of the day I will be the one to make the final decision. One question that may surprise others that I am asking myself is; what will I major in? For me, I am happy that I am asking myself this question after taking classes in different disciplines and going through experiences that have helped me to discover what I am really passionate about. One thing that I have learned over the course of my two years at Montgomery College is that I have a passion for Biology and Psychology. I enjoy learning about the biological and emotional aspect of living things. This is something I did not know about two years ago and it is helping me to discover things that spark an interest in me. If I can find and get accepted into a school that will allow me to do an interdisciplinary study of these two subjects then I will be satisfied.

Obviously when we start talking about transfer, we must also mention scholarships. This week, the information sessions started for the Jack Kent Cook scholarship. It is one of the largest transfer scholarships for Community college students with up to $30,000 a year. I had a class at the time for the session but with the permission of my professor, I attended a different time period of the class and made it to the session. It is a competitive scholarship but you never know if can get it until you apply. It might be a long process but you will learn a lot about yourself while doing it. I hope many students do the application and who knows; you could afford your dream college.

This is the link http://www.jkcf.org/scholarships/undergraduate-transfer-scholarships/

On the Pivots of Society

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The day before the 12th anniversary of 9/11, I was sitting next to a stranger in the cold auditorium in the HT building (Globe Hall) on the Germantown campus, half-listening to the speaker behind the podium. Frank Islam, after whom this year’s Athenaeum Symposia was named, stood in front of dozens of students and faculty members and discussed parts of his new book – appropriately titled 'Working the Pivot Points: To Make America Work Again.' His definition of a “pivot point” was the following: “An area that can be leveraged and addressed in order to effectuate change and achieve outcomes or results.” He went on to discuss how America is facing several pivot points with regard to the economy, education, global competition, and innovation. Additionally, part of his talk was dedicated to “the American dream” and how we can all work together to renew it. I think that as somebody who was born in the United States, I often take this dream for granted. So often I forget that individuals from other countries come to the U.S. for better opportunities and brighter futures for their families. As an immigrant who fulfilled this so-called “dream,” Mr. Islam had a unique take on America, and it fascinated me. With his winsome words, it is no wonder that he stayed in my mind all this week.

I thought back to his speech when, in horror and disbelief, I heard the news bulletins about the Navy yard shooting in D.C. on 16 September. Whenever mass shootings like that occur, the hot issue of gun control inevitably comes up. Generally, it leads to nothing but vying, angry voices on either side. I expect no less this go around. Taking a cue from Mr. Islam, however, I certainly hope that instead of merely debating the problem of gun laws into the ground, policymakers will see this as a small sort of pivot point, and use it to better the nation’s capital and the country as a whole.

What are your thoughts on the shooting in D.C.? Do you think it'll further effect the current policies on firearms in the DMV area? Leave your comments below :-)


I'm still on my music kick...here's two of my favorite selections this almost-weekend day



Is F For Failure, Favor, or Something Else?

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by Greg

F

 

            Last Thursday, my classmates and I listened intently to the professor as he discussed our first paper.  This professor has a reputation for being a tough grader.  He addressed his reputation, saying “It used to bother me that I gave a lot of F’s in my classes, but it doesn’t anymore because I realized I was doing these people a favor.”  I looked around the room and saw a couple reactions similar to   
            This reaction is understandable.  Most of us grew up knowing that bringing an F home would result in some sort of punishment.  Plus, we use the letter F, instead of the logical choice E, because F stands for failure.  By extension, receiving an F means we are failures, the epitome of worthlessness.  How can a professor believe that this pain-inducing, ego-demolishing act is doing us a favor?  Note to professor: Most of us aren’t into S&M. 

             However, I mostly agree with his statement, which he explained further after his not exactly confidence-inspiring remark.  In his mind, he is doing failing students a favor because he is being honest with them.  Specifically, he is telling them that their chosen career path (for which his class is required) does not reflect their talents or temperament.  By failing them, he is forcing them off the path into something they can succeed at, and thus be happier.  Furthermore, if he did not fail students, or even gave B students A’s because they gave great effort, he does an injustice to the students who really did pass or earn an A.  Their degrees and GPA are thus more meaningful. 

            My experience as an instructor in the Air Force backs up this position.  I have failed several trainees, and initially it was difficult for me and I questioned if I was being fair or a good teacher.  But consider this:  One “failure” became an excellent intelligence officer and another became a leading cyber warfare expert.  I really did these people a favor, and I did society a favor by denying the trainees career options in which they could endanger themselves and others. 

            Notice I said that I mostly agree that failure is a favor.  Sometimes the teachers can’t teach or aren’t good judges of talent (maybe because they weren’t failed at the appropriate time).  However, failure can also be something else more than a favor – the key to success!  Two weeks ago, I wrote about how Diana Nyad overcame her failures and her “Never quit” message.  Here is a list of notable failures.  Included on the list are Bill Gates and Michael Jordan, who was cut from his high school basketball team – cue Stewie again.  In analyzing these “failures” two things stand out to me: first, these people have talent – Nyad is a natural endurance athlete, Gates scored  1590/1600 on the SAT, and Jordan put up 40 pts a game on JV.  Second, they reflected on their mistakes, pinpointed the problems, and corrected them.  Perhaps the best example of this reflection is Thomas Edison, who “failed” inventing the light bulb 1000 times before he got it to work.           

Bill Gates   JordanDunk   TEdison
              
                                                     Worthless Failures Or Talents That Learned From Mistakes?


            So when we get our next F, or not quite the grade we wanted, we should never self-inflict the mental pain of believing ourselves worthless.  At a minimum, we have been done a favor and our gifts and happiness lie in other pursuits.  At best, we ask ourselves the questions: “Am I really talented at this?” “Can I find and fix my mistakes?”  If your answer is a brutally honest yes, you have done yourself a favor by finding a key to success.  


On College Dorms vs. Commuting

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Hello again Friends!

Well things are just starting to get pretty serious now, aren’t they? As I’m writing this, I’m also preparing for the two exams I have in as many days, as well as the homework assignments and quizzes I have coming up. I’d imagine it’s roughly the same for the rest you. 

Despite all that, I’ve been contemplating something quite different. I have found myself (mostly during my hour-long commute) thinking about one of the unfounded worries I had when making the decision to transfer here from the University of Maryland. After spending several semesters living on campus in the dorms, I can honestly say that (as lame as it might sound) I was worried about how difficult it would be to get to know people and make friends. In traditional dorm-style living, it’s nearly impossible to avoid getting to know the people you live around. As such, it’s also very easy to make friends, seeing as you live mere feet away from an entire hallway full of people. It honestly takes the difficulty out of the initial awkward introductory stage in which, in a campus of nearly 40,000 undergrads, it’s surprisingly easy to feel like you don’t know anyone.

Without that safety net of living in such close quarters, I will admit that I was worried about getting to know people, especially as a student who lives so far away from campus. I am happy to say that if this is one of your hang-ups in your decision as to whether or not a school like Montgomery College is right for you, your worries are unfounded. In just a few short weeks, I have managed to find several kind and extremely interesting people, and have managed to make quite a few friends. I actually find myself excited to see them whenever I am on my way to campus. 

Long story short, dorm-style living was a great experience and it made it very easy to make friends (and quite easy to find out what reeeaaallly bugs you as well). Having said that, I have now had the opportunity to experience both living on campus and commuting, and I really do prefer returning to my own home every night. My only hang-up has been resolved and I’ve discovered that it’s really not any more difficult to make friends at a small commuter school than it was to make them at a huge dorm-style campus.

Good luck as the semester really picks up and here’s hoping you find yourself some good people to lean on when the going gets tough!

Until next time,

Sarah


For this week's music selection, a  mutual interest shared between myself and a new friend of mine:
"The Wind" by Zac Brown Band- Zac Brown Band- The Wind

Moped Monday?

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mondayheading4

Hey guys! Unfortunately this week I’m having a bit of writer’s block. Well that’s not quite right. I have plenty of things to say... they’re just not fun.  Or silly. That being said here is a quick look into my not-so-fun and not-so-silly (latest) first world crisis.

 

I have a car. Cars are expensive and bad for the environment and I hate them but they’re pretty much necessary for the lifestyle I live. When you work full time and go to school full time its nice to get some sleep every once in a while. I’m sure most of you know that the bus makes that very difficult.

But I just found out that for one reason or another I need about two hundred extra dollars a month to pay a new bill that I hadn’t been paying before. Working more is not an option. If I do I will fail school.

So the only thing I can think of is letting one of my other bills go. I don’t have a landline so my phone is necessary. I need food and I don’t spend a lot on it anyway. Rent? There’s no debating that one. All that’s really left is my car insurance and gas. Together they cost me a little over three hundred dollars a month. That’s more than enough to pay this new bill… but is it worth it?

 

So that got me thinking. My friend has a moped/motor scooter thingy. She absolutely loves it and I know it has a few pluses that make it ideal for the average college student.

They are wayyy cheaper than cars. Anywhere from $500-3000 (mostly) versus god knows what.

Repairs are cheaper and if you make a good investment much less likely.

They’re better on gas (better for your wallet and better for the environment).

Insurance is cheaper (are you starting to see a pattern?)

The 50cc engine doesn’t require a motorcycle license and that’s all I need to get to school, work, and back home.

They are small and agile. You can even ride them on the sidewalk. FUNNN!

 

Of course with every positive there is a negative. Or in this case many negatives.

In the winter it’s cold as popsicles.

Mopeds are small and don’t have a lot of storage space. You can carry one passenger—and that’s only if they lay off the cake.

You can’t drive it on the highway or super long distances (at least I wouldn’t want to).

In the summer it’s hot as melted popsicles.

You can’t listen to music. That is a dire situation.

My brother/mother would absolutely freak out. They may be just a tad hung up on the issue of safety. At least I know they love me. <3

 

Either way I have to sell my car. I just feel like I’m stuck between an annoyingly hard rock and an equally annoying hard place—like maybe a concrete wall or a tractor-trailer or a mountain. Do any of you have motor scooters/mopeds? Other forms of transportation? Any ideas at all? Comment below. Pleaseeeeeeee.

 

Happy Monday!

Tiff :)

moped love

If i buy a moped can this be my life? haha


Tiffany's Monday Music Selection:

Young, Wild, and Free

Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wa5B22KAkEk

and for those of you who might be offended by the lyrics here's the edited version. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeARCa4waYo


Shared

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Loved

     You know, sometimes it’s just nice to be reminded and just as often it’s so easy to forget what that means. We tend to brush of a lot of the important things in our lives as a given but in all honesty nothing in life is a given. I saw this in the halls of the art building at the Takoma campus. It was a solitary note, a random act of artful kindness in a world that often moves too fast for us to feel like we can share anything with anybody. This wasn’t put up for pinteresting or instagramming, it was just a random, scribbled note for anyone to find, but for me and to me it did its job. Sometimes we have bad weeks, bad months, or hell what can feel like bad years.

     Despite this we all have people who care about us and we’d do well to let them know that we care too. Sometimes they need to know that there is someone on the other side of that line; sometimes, they need to know that you care too. So if anyone anywhere in the annals of the interverse happens upon this posting (especially at a time when it’s most needed), just remember to look above take a breath and a little time remember that there are people out there.

     S#*t, yes sometimes things are hard, and life feels like it sucks sometimes just remember that the worst thing you could do is waste it. Life holds the potential for greatness, good, or at the very least the chance to bring love and understanding to others.

  

Being a Peer Tutor

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It is only three weeks into the semester but I feel like I need a break right now. I had an Anatomy exam which I though went well and I am happy about that. I now have to think about my Physics exam next week. Apart from worrying about exams, I also have a job that I need to attend to. A year ago when I got a job at the writing center as a peer tutor, it was my first job in America and I was happy that I was going to be doing something very valuable to other students. I have the opportunity to sit down with students and assist them with their papers not only in English but also other classes, and scholarship or transfer application essays. Most of the students I have tutored have now become acquaintances that I know well and discuss with them about the different opportunities that the school has and how they can take advantage of them. My job gets challenging a few times when some students do not appreciate working with another student or are not willing to work together with me during the tutoring sessions. Instead of letting that put me down, I try to learn from those experiences and find out if I had a role to play in their attitudes. However, these cases constitute about 1% of the students I meet. I wish that many students know about these services available for them for free on campus in almost every discipline ranging from science to accounting and take advantage of them.

mado

Me tutoring a student

 

On Thursday, the Office of student life, organized the first leadership conference of the semester titled Project Lead and I was happy that many students showed up. I learned that in everything we do, we need to find a meaning in it. This makes me to think about my job and how much joy I get from helping other students, and how it also helps to become a better writer.

The school needs more peer tutors and I am actually looking for another peer tutor for writing, so if you know anyone who can do it or if you want to do it; let me know.    

 

On Being the "Acceptable" One

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I have always been a little abnormal. As a child, I was quite precocious; I asked dozens of questions of my parents, grandparents, older cousins, and older friends; and I always seemed to enjoy doing what I wanted to do in the order that I wanted to do it. All the way through my elementary, middle and high school years, I knew that I was different from many of my friends. It wasn't until I started attending MC that I realized how abnormal I actually was.

A conversation I had with two other students recently summarized the way that many people have, in general, reacted to my quirkiness. Last week, I was talking to a couple of guys that I’d met several hours earlier. We’d been laughing and conversing for a good bit, and I thought that all was going well until one of them suddenly asked me, “You’re not black, are you?”

My face instantly contorted. “Yes, I am!” I protested.

Unconvinced, he turned to the other member of the group and remarked, “She doesn’t seem black, does she? She doesn’t act ratchet, she talks like a white person, and her hair is wavy.”

Incredulous, I contested his comments once more, but to no avail. To him and so many other people, I don’t fit into the mental box that they label “Black/African-American.”

My ethnicity has been called into question because of the oddest things – my name, the languages I’m currently focusing on, my hobbies, the TV shows and movies I watch, the music to which I listen, the way I dress and carry myself, the way I speak, and even the way I wear my hair! Most of the time when people make comments like, “Oh, you can’t be black” or something similar, they mean it in a complimentary way. I’ve never been able to interpret it as such, however.

To my ears, it sounds like they’re telling me that I’m somehow more deserving of a higher title or label than the one I already wear. For so long, comments like that bothered me. And I still have my moments. But that guy’s out-of-the-blue commentary last Thursday helped me realize something: me being black has nothing to do with the entertainment I enjoy, or any other such superficial stereotypical racial “measurement” placed on me by society. I’ll continue to be a fan of Kpop, country/bluegrass and indie music. I’ll snuggle in for a night of TV Land reruns of The Andy Griffith Show, The Golden Girls, and Three’s Company. I’ll keep scribbling my class notes in multiple languages and talk to myself in Korean. And I’ll continue to enjoy going to the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian museums – all without caring whose “box” I fit into.

My "Friday's-Almost-Here" Musical Selections:

Preparing For Tomorrow

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by Greg

          On September 10, 2001 I sat outside a café overlooking the beach in Favignana, a beautiful island just off the coast of Sicily.  Some European air force colleagues and I were scarfing down some delicious paninis while debating the differences between our air forces.  My position was that the US Air Force was offensive rather than defensive, and this was fine because the US did not need to fear air attacks…  Obviously, the next day I was proven very wrong.  Just a few months later, I was doing something I never imagined or trained for: flying air defense over New York and DC.   
 

  Favignana                   OpSanta
                        Favignana                                                               Operation Santa Claus
                                                                                            NATO colleagues and I after a mission                                                                                                     over DC on Christmas Eve, 2001  
    
       In 2004, I attended the US Air Force Weapons School, which is similar (but superior wink) to what the Navy calls “Top Gun.”  Insurgency was still heating up in Iraq, so the training focused on destroying hardened targets and tank divisions amidst advanced enemy fighters and complex surface-to-air missile webs. Again, afterwards I went off to fight a completely different war.  Instead of fighting a modern, uniformed force in open terrain, we struggled against shadowy, urban figures that wore flip-flops and armed themselves only with shovels and makeshift bombs.  

Patch       GreaterThanTop Gun        

          Certainly, one of my main lessons since 9/11 has been to expect the unexpected.  I could also cynically state that my military education was a waste of time and taxpayer money.  Indeed, there are many critics who claim that the military “trains to fight the last war” and that the training that is done is therefore useless.  Similarly, doctors use a small portion of the medicine learned in medical school, computer programmers use new languages, and engineers forget many of the equations they memorized.  The world changes so quickly, and many professionals would agree that the real world seldom reflects the ivory towers.  So what is the point of formal education?            

          If we take what we learn at MC at direct face value, there really is little.  However, education is valuable for two reasons.  First, yesterday’s solutions provide the foundation of knowledge to solve tomorrow’s problems.  For example, identifying an enemy aircraft on an offensive mission has striking similarities to finding the hijacked plane among hundreds of airliners; skills developed finding tank columns help in finding the home of the undercover insurgent leader.  Second, and most important, education teaches us the thought process of our professions.  Medical professionals learn to heal, educators learn to teach, businesspeople learn to create value, programmers learn logic, scientists learn a method, engineers learn to build with purpose, and warriors learn to fight.  More than anything, the Weapons School taught me to develop and teach solutions to problems of warfare, regardless of their specific nature. Every profession has a common thread that is timeless and essential.  In our education, we should learn the building blocks of knowledge and grasp the essential thread that drives critical thought.  As a corollary, I believe this why sometimes people with low GPAs outperform those with better grades as professionals.  Academic testing usually tests only our understanding of the building blocks, but not of thought process (or people skills).  Strive to learn both, and you will be better prepared for whatever tomorrow brings.

Don't Worry, Be Happy

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Do you ever stop to think about how you really feel about something? Or why you feel that way?

Surface emotions are easy. Someone cuts you off in traffic and you get angry. When you have an upcoming test, your worry or even feel anxiety. We focus on these situations because they are what is most pressing on our minds. More often than not, however, they are not worthy of the amount of attention we give them and we don’t even bother to look any closer than “I’m so worried about this”.

Let’s say, for example, that I have a presentation due in class, like I did yesterday. Sunday night, I found myself worried and unable to sleep. With nothing else to do, I sat and really worked out what exactly I was faced with, piece by piece. The rubric was split into 5 categories with 5 possible points for each. The more I broke it down, the more I realized that I was causing myself to lose sleep over a very minor aspect of a relatively minor project, points-wise. I was worried about the actual speech giving, while the professor was much more interested in creativity and understanding of the material. 

I couldn’t sleep over 5 points. Once I realized this, I was able to let so much stress go.

Combating stress and anxiety is key to success. In school, simply avoiding what stresses us out isn’t an option. You have to take that test. You can’t not ask the professor for help just because you’re embarrassed or too shy. Simply being a college student places an inherent amount of stress on our daily lives. Really thinking about how we are feeling beyond those easy surface emotions will take some of the stress out of the experience. 

Understanding exactly what it is that’s bothering us will help us to see, in the big picture, how much it’s really worth worrying over. Sometimes just analyzing something and determining it’s relative importance is the best way to avoid excess stress. That is not to say that schoolwork isn’t important; definitely not. But some things are not worthy of the amount of stress we cause ourselves because we haven’t really thought through them.

Like fish in the ocean, colorful and prolific, some worries will be bigger than others. The trick is learning to distinguish which of the ominous approaching fins are sharks and which are dolphins.

Best Wishes,

Sarah


This week's music: 
"Don't Worry, Be Happy" By Bobby McFerrin Don't Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin
And the cover by Bob Marley: Don't Worry, Be Happy by Bob Marley

More Than Monday

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monday header three


 I would like to take a few minutes to complain about a certain somebody that sits behind me in my art class. Every single time I see him there is undoubtedly a gigantic ugly scowl of frustration on my face. His blood shot eyes are perpetually half closed, he supplements every other word with “dude”, and he wears loafers. Plus, he went to Churchill. Need I say more? Point is, this kid is most definitely a my-momma-gives-me-everything-I-want-nothing-but-my-sweet-old-mary-jane kind of guy. 

Believe it or not, I pride myself on being non-judgmental. But I am starting to think that that is simply not true. I don’t think anyone really is. Let me give you an example:

 

This is me.

me with oig

This is also me (and my friend Tina, haha) 

emome

 

What are your impressions?

 

I have a neck tattoo, half a shaved head, and seven piercings. I also really enjoy wearing the color black. When I walk into a tattoo shop they give me that looks that says, “Oh no! Not another little girl getting a belly button ring.” But, when I walk into Hollister they watch me as if I’m going to steal half the store.

That is not fair. Let me give you another example. I was at the library of congress tonight and the librarian on duty showed us how to use the resources by showing us a video. The video is called Trapeze Disrobing Act. Yes, a sixty some year old professional librarian in a denim dress with glasses hanging off a chain around her neck used this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e02YvacskJ4) to demonstrate the benefits of the Library of Congress’ media collection.

People will surprise you. So yes pothead preppie kid, you annoy the crap out of me. But do your constant munchies and your 50-dollar polo define who you are? No. So I am sorry for judging you. Don’t let what you look like or how you are perceived define who you are. Just let the haters hate (and try not to be one of them).

Happy Monday!

Tiff:)

 

Tiffany’s Monday music selection:

Don't Judge Me by Chris Brown

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z29nI8RQV0U

 


Such a Shame

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You say you want to live again

But when time comes you’re nowhere to be found

It’s such a shame

 

You always sing a borrowed song

Because it’s easier to trace along

The dotted lines, to mine the lies

Of other people’s lives

 

Borrow someone else’s words

and vet the ones, the one you’ve heard

because it keeps yourself from getting harmed

 

Take a step before a chance

Mistakes are hard to live out loud

But in the past they move too fast

faceless bodies in a crowd

 

Instead of singing borrowed songs

Traveling worn out rungs

Never look down or out or just for fun

just looking back along your tracks

Just watching out for your own back

thiniing time is what you lack. . .

Oh such a shame.

 

 

 

Learning and Passing It On To Others

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 It is my second week now and I thought that I could not continue writing without acknowledging the professor who molded me into became a good writer. A year ago, I took Professor Saundra Maley for my English 101 and 102 classes and since then, not only have I become a better writer, she has guided me in achieving a lot including providing letters of recommendations with one that helped me get  a job as a writing tutor at the Montgomery College Takoma Park Writing Center. Every semester since my last class with her, she always requests for me to come speak in her classes and explain to the students my experience in her classes especially doing research at the Library of Congress. It is always an honor for me to do that and last Tuesday I had another opportunity to speak in one of her classes. At the beginning it was quite nerve cracking but I think I now have the hang of it. She is one of the many professors in this college who really care about the success of their students.

Throughout the course of the week, so many things happened including Clubs sign up day. As a member of the student senate, I had to be present to encourage students to sign up for clubs and participate in different activities. It was actually easier than I thought, there were many students who expressed a desire to join a club or even create one and they were ready to provide me with their contact information (I think we have about 150 emails now). 

The problem now is how we keep them engaged. That is my job and as someone who has been a member of a number of clubs, I can testify that getting engaged in student activities makes you grow into a better student and person. 

First exams begin next week and this is crucial. Over the course of two years I have learned that beginning well does sets the pace for the subsequent exams. So, study hard and I wish you success. 

The Block of the Blogger

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I’m ashamed at myself. Only my second blog post in, and already my brain is all a muddle. All this week, I kept walking into the wrong classrooms, mixing up dates and times – a state of befuddlement which I believed was incapable of breaching a 19 year old mind.

According to the brains at Purdue University, stress is one of the many reasons that writer’s block rears its ugly head. As a perpetually stressed out student, I can attest to stress’s effect on my normally hyperactive little grey cells.

Writing inspiration is always the first to go during these weeks of inundation of projects, tests and papers. As I sat down to write this post after class, I was hit by that all-too-familiar panicked feeling as the bright white Word page glared back at my scrunched up face. Haltingly, my fingers typed out a few words – then they were chased back into the recesses of my mind.

Oh, what to do? Say? Write? O, words, lovers of my soul, I bid thee to come hither! And yet, no amount of begging, pleading, imploring or harassing will spark a match in my mind. And so, dear readers, the fruits of my (non-) labor are before you. Perhaps if I’d seen this video sooner, this post would be on a different topic.

"Dream Until Your Dreams Come True"

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by Greg

 

          Many of us find that the trek from the student lots of Montgomery College to our classrooms can leave us breathless, especially if we’re late and have to rush to class.  Imagine if it were swimming… in the ocean with three-foot waves… for 53 hours and 110 miles… surrounded by sharks and jellyfish!  While most of America loafed away the last days of summer, someone actually spent their Labor Day weekend accomplishing this feat, becoming the first person to swim without a shark cage from Havana to Key West.  It was not Michael Phelps, some other Olympic swimmer, a Navy SEAL, or even a person in their physical prime.  It was Diana Nyad, a 64 year-old woman!

            Ms. Nyad’s accomplishment is a testament to many things: transcending the limits of human endurance, redefining of gender roles, toughing it in the face of Mother Nature, and defying Father Time.  However, what I find most incredible is her perseverance.  This was not her first attempt.  In fact, she has failed four times before: the first time in 1978 when she was 29.  For 35 years she has ferociously hung on to her goal, and despite serious obstacles, she finally made it.  After finishing, she had sage advice:

/uploadedImages/EDU/Student_Blogs/Student_Bloggers_test/diana-nyad.jpg

“I’ve got three messages.  One is we should never give up.  Two is you’re never too old to chase your dreams.  Three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team.”           

            Her story is deeply inspiring to me.  As a 36-year-old student, I have doubts about my ability to achieve my academic and professional goals.  I struggled with academics when I was in my “learning prime” – how can I succeed now?  I sit in class with 19-year-olds and wonder if I can keep up.  I worry that by the time I finish a graduate degree, employers won’t prefer a near-40-year-old who they may think isn’t as energetic and mentally agile as similarly educated twenty-somethings.

            Then I look around MC and realize that I am not alone and that I don’t even need Ms. Nyad to motivate me.  There are thousands of Diana Nyads here I can emulate – people who have failed or are maybe “over-the-hill”, yet continue to persevere and reach their goals.  There are many “old” students, many who didn’t gain admission to their dream university, and many who have to deal with English as a second language, poverty, domestic issues, or some other challenge. Yet, they are not giving up.  Everywhere at MC, someone is overcoming an obstacle and chasing a dream.  When you face adversity again, try to remember Diana Nyad, but even better, look at the students next to you and find some inspiration there.

            The title of this post came from today's song: Dream On by Aerosmith.  The video is just the lyrics, but they are very appropriate to Diana Nyad's message.  Plus, the alternative is a gyrating, shirtless Steven Tyler.

Finally, here's a link to  Diana Nyad's Website 

 

Until the Race is Run

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Hello Friends!

I hope that everyone had a nice relaxing Labor Day weekend and that today doesn’t find you too stressed out over your return to classes.

I only have classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. As such, not too much of note has happened between my last post and now. I am, however, very excited about something that is going to be happening tomorrow. After classes tomorrow night, I will be headed into Baltimore City for the NFL Back to Football Run at M&T Bank Stadium. Since the NFL football season kicks off this Thursday, the stadium and certain surrounding roads will be shut down and, beginning at 7pm, a 5k race will be held for people of all ages and genders. This promises to be a fun way to get some great exercise and support my favorite football team all at the same time!

The reason I’m sharing this with you (aside from the fact that I’m suuuuper excited about it) is because I have recently been made more aware of the specific benefits of exercise in reducing stress levels and improving concentration. Long story short, exercising even just a little every day releases endorphins to your brain, which energizes it and makes it easier for us to focus. So, with the school year just barely underway, it would be a great idea to get into the habit of hitting the gym or going for a brisk walk now, before the time crunch starts really kicking in. This may seriously come in handy later in the year when classes are getting stressful and homework is piling up. Sometimes, taking a break from studying to get some exercise will be much more efficient in helping you to get your work done than simply trying to power through with a tired and fuzzy brain. You’ll come back much more energized and will be able to grasp what you are working on much more quickly.

So, next time you are feeling stressed or unable to focus, try going out and getting just a few minutes of exercise. It’s good for your body and your brain, and it can be a lot of fun!

Until next time,

Sarah


Here’s a (very) short article on the brain benefits of exercise:

Physical Activity Reduces Stress

And my music selection for the day!

Me Time Monday

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mondayheader2
 

Hey guys and Happy Labor Day! There’s no school, for a lot of people there’s no work, and everyone is soaking up the last rays of summer. Every first Monday in September for the past hundred years we’ve been celebrating it. But why? There’s got to be more to it than just an overabundance of clothing sales and eating burgers.

So I did some research and, according to the US department of labor, Labor Day was created as a memorial to hard working individuals who “contribute to the strength, prosperity, and well being of our country. […] It is appropriate,” the DOL argues, “that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.” Check out their site here (http://www.dol.gov/laborday/history.htm).

Strong(ish). Free. American. Sounds like… me? Well thank you someone for finally recognizing all the hard work we blue-collar workers are doing! I don’t know about you guys, but I’m beginning to feel mighty unappreciated in the work place—and, now that I know the true meaning of Labor Day, I am going to take serious advantage of it. Lucky for me I have neither work nor school, so here are my top five Labor Day activities (in order of likelihood).

 

Number One: Veg the heck out. Me, my mac, and Uncle Eddie’s cookies—ALL DAY LONG. Can we say Aladdin marathon?

Number Two: Hang out with friends. Eat food. Talk a little. Eat more food. Why do I feel like that’s all we do?!

Number Three: Fix my car. Ugh. I hate automobiles.

Number Four: Finish my perpetual to do list. Ehem. Clean house. Um, Check? Clean bathroom. It’s clean enough. Do laundry. Doesn’t smell too bad. Do—Is that a squirrel? I love squirrels!

Number Five: Catch up on homework. Nuff said.

 

So, lets be real, those probably are not my TOP things to do on Labor Day. I’d much rather be doing something fun like out-running dust storms in the Sahara or cliff diving on the Quileute Indian Reservation. If you want some real ideas for cool Labor Day activities check out this site, 10 things to do in DC on Labor Day. If you have better plans, leave them in the comments section.

Remember, if you are a hard worker, today is your day. It was created for you. So schedule some me-time.

Happy Monday!

tiff:)

 

monday2


Tiffany’s Monday Music Selection:

Hard Days Night by The Beatles.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlDdcCzKjsc

 

 

And Such, and such.

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    There are those days when even getting out of bed feels futile. For myself they usually don't come so early in a semester, but perhaps this is a positive sign...

Early to depress early to rise..? Or something like that.
      My most insightful lessons in life from being a student come from budgeting. Work school, and let's face it, relationships can force a student to really understand what it means to budget. Day to day we end up budgeting ourselves; our money, our time, our sanity... All of it exists to be meted out, however obsessively or haphazardly, and we succeed or fail miserably by our ability to grasp these concepts.
     Money, time, and sanity end up akin to a secular trinity of success, or lack thereof; the art of balancing the three lay the bedrock for future life achievement.
I of course say this as a person who has no concept of balance... In fact, as I type I'm sitting In a chair that is tilting at some slighted angle... I will say it lends a nice shift in perspective to my evening and couldn't we all stand to have a change in perspective every once in awhile....

Song o’ the moment: Miles Davis “Pharaoh’s Dance”

 

Favorite cliché non-english platitude : C’est la vie

 

Would also be accepted : Obla Di Obla Da   

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