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Managing that thing called FINALS WEEK

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As we are moving closer towards the final stage of this semester, I am sure many of you find yourself among the masses of students for whom the end can't come soon enough. Many of you are in the process of finishing final group work, papers, quizzes and undergoing exams soon. And maybe you are in the same boat as me and are experiencing the occasional Homer Simpson Freak-out mode.

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But don't you worry, y'all, in times like these it's always good to remember that it will be over soon and when that day comes you can look at the gigantic hill you climbed through your persistence. And on that day, you can pat yourself on the shoulder and be proud of yourself for making it through another semester and one step closer to your degree.

As someone who has gone through it all in this academic system for the past 5.5 years, I have always found it useful to develop different strategies to get myself through the final stage of every semester and its accompanying madness.

1)Take some time out while studying to do a few breathing exercises to regain composure and get your thoughts back in order. Sit down in a comfortable position or lie down for a few minutes, if needed.
2) If you are the type of person that doesn't like be distracted, find a quiet environment to complete your studies and final projects. If your apartment or dorm isn't the ideal type, university libraries are usually a good place to start at.
3) If however, you are sick of being stuck in your residence cut off from the rest of the world and crave being around people, follow my friend and fellow ambassador Angela Castro's advice and find a coffee shop. Apart from the amiable atmospheres you find in the Twin Cities' coffee shops, you also have an accessible supply of caffeine and other delicacies.
4) Have some chocolate (highly recommend the German ones simply out of personal bias ;) )-Always a sweet stress reliever. Even research has proven it time and again.
5) If time permits, engage in some exercise to get the stress out of your system. Even a short walk and some fresh air can do you good.
6) Remember the funny health insurance guy from your international student orientation? Yes, massages are great and indeed a good resource to contemplate for some relaxing quality time before you take on your finals.
7) And my personal favorite: Set up a reward system for yourself to keep yourself motivated. B.F. Skinner once demonstrated it so well with his pigeons that positive reinforcement reinforces positive behavior. Reward your endeavors with something you like and enjoy, say a favorite activity. I know that laughter can be one of the best medicines to get the endorphins going. So, after long hours of studying, finishing up a paper or group project I usually like to treat myself to an episode of Family Guy, Community or Scrubs.
8) And of course, feel free to expand on this list by leaving some comments on this blog. I am always eager to learn new strategies to manage the challenges of finals week
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That's all from me tonight, my friends. I would like to finish this blog with a suitable quote from the great German poet Rainer Maria Rilke:

"Dass etwas schwer ist, muss ein Grund mehr sein, es zu tun."

Good luck with your finals and all other projects. Take care and see you all soon.

Useful resources to consider before applying for internships or jobs

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For some of you it may be the time of the year that you are looking for internship opportunities or are preparing for job interviews. You may have already gotten some work done on your cover letter or resume. Some of you may be doing these things for the first time which is why it can always be beneficial to get a second opinion to better prepare yourselves. Last year I did an internship at an employment service of a non-profit agency and thus learned a lot about the benefits of having a marketable resume, cover letter and good interviewing skills; all of which you can obtain through job counseling.

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Luckily, the university has many useful resources to help prepare students for the job market once they graduate or if they look for some work experiences while still in school. For international students in particular, the International Student Scholar Service offers useful resources. Appointments can be made with a counselor where students can learn how to write a resume, receive feedback on their resumes, learn how to prepare for an interview or schedule a mock interview in order to prepare for the actual one and much more. In addition, special career services for the students' college departments are also available that provide the same type of services and help prepare them for starting careers in their field of interest.
But even before you access these services you can prepare a lot on your own as well, such as by accessing resume and cover letter writing tips, reviewing interviewing strategies and looking through suggestions on how to prepare for interviews; all of which can be found online. What's more is that the university also hosts a job and internship fair where students can meet employers of interest for job or internship opportunities. For more information on the fair, potential employers that will attend, or how you can prepare yourself for the fair itself, please consult the following link.

Other useful lessons that I learned from my internship is that it never hurts to look for opportunities to expand your resume and working experience. As you are well aware by now, the university and the Twin Cities offer numerous opportunities for students to be involved. Never hesitate to join a student organization or get some volunteer experience that can later benefit the outline of your resume. These can provide you with new skills and experiences that you can later bring into a position you are applying for. In addition, finding out what makes you unique and what your strengths are never hurts to know when you think about how you are going to present yourself in the actual job interview.

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Good luck with the applications, interviews and make sure you use some of the resources available here for you. Until next time, my friends and have a happy Thanksgiving.

Need a Place to Study outside Home?

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Hello every one! How's your semester going? Isn't this semester went by soooooo quick? It is midterm time already. I cannot believe it!!! All papers deadlines and midterm exams are approaching. Are you ready yet? Do you need to find a place to study?

Hmmm....regarding to the pie chart I posted above, I have to admit that my routine of working from home would look not that much different. After thousands attempts, I finally gave up studying at home and started to seek study spaces on campus. Here is what I have came up with!

+++++they are all great on campus locations, which mean, free wireless internet, easy access to computer labs and printers, friendly staff members on site who might be able to give you a hand any time during your stay, and etc+++++

1.Deep quiet study areas in Wilson Library: they are my all time favorites!!!
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2.Coffee shops in Walter Library (basement) and Wilson Library (basement): Sadly they do not open on weekends but it would be great choice for those who need food and beverage refreshment close by on weekdays.

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3.Group study rooms with whiteboards in Walter, Wilson, Bio-Med, etc: great place for study groups and team projects!!!
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4. TechStop in 90 Blegan Hall on westbank: super close to Blegan connivence store and lunch place.
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5. Small breakout room in Jones Hall: you will need to check out keys from CLA language Center in the same building. Here is the small room calendar
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Happy Midterms & Studying everyone!!!

Managing stress and what does that have to do with your roommates

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Have you ever had a feeling like you can't keep up with your crazy life anymore, as if somebody stole every happy thought from your brain and there are almost nothing (even babies and poppies) that can make you smile again. Perhaps you don't even want to walk outside you room... or bed. You feel so overwhelmed, responsible, stressed, and mad for the whole world's problems laying on your shoulders (really, there are just the midterms, papers, and job you are juggling with but it feels like there is the whole world involved in making your life miserable). And your social life... just sucks! Oh wait. It doesn't suck, because... you just don't have a social life at all. So imagine you are sitting in your room all by yourself and not even trying to keep track of the Sneakers bars you ate while embracing your misery, when the magic super hero in the image of your roommate appears at your door to rescue you from the mythical Dragon Life you created. Sounds familiar? Well, may be not so much of the dragons and the super heroes part :) But, seriously, how often we all get so much caught up by our everyday business with all of the activities and responsibilities that eventually leads us to an awful stress and even depression. Student life might be difficult and stressful. Think of your ways or tools to manage stress? How do you handle difficulties?

I found for myself the best way to reconcile with my crazy life is to have happy roommates around. Seriously, I love my roommates. And I don't know what exactly keeps them happy: the Ukrainian food that I cook from time to time, or the fact that we live in a beautiful house right by the lake, or a desire to support and accept each other as we are and create a little "family" away from the family? Anyway, on that "rainy" day of mine, my roommate Bitsy yelled me from the kitchen to "get on the couch right now!" to see some uTube video. What happen next... 15 minutes of a crazy laughter and 15 more of a discussion about how some people can produce joy and pure happiness within themselves and how we sometimes forget that we can really notice simple things and the joy they can bring: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQSNhk5ICTI
My Dragon Life flew away scared and embarrassed and I felt how my cheerfulness comes back to me. After all, this is my choice to be happy or not. I choose to smile or not. I decide to keep myself above the stress and self pity. I love my roommates for reminding me about simple things that bring you joy and for encouraging me to bring joy to others whatever that means (an unexpected gift, or a sandwich, or a hug)


But even if you don't have awesome happy roommates or friends around, or you don't feel comfortable to talk to your friends about what you are going through, there are always services for you at the U of M to help you get where you want to get (I mean finishing up your midterms, or getting your dissertation done, or graduate, or whatever else it might be (I seriously can not think of anything not study related now :) Some of my friends checked out the U of M Boynton Mental Health Services (the word "mental" here doesn't mean you might not necessarily have to have mental disorder or disability to be eligible for the services. You might simply feel homesick or suffer a heartbreak after breaking up with your boyfriend/girlfriend.) The experienced professional will be glad to help you there: http://www.bhs.umn.edu/east-bank-clinic/mental-health-services.htm You just need to ask.


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How To Keep Healthy And Calm At The U of M

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Being calm and healthy while living Grad Student's life can be really tough just to think about it. If I see myself I can tell you that I haven't been at the Gym three months ago. But I think I found the formula to be healthy and calm at the U of M. There is no magical theory. For me there are just three different activities and actions that you can follow and your life would be more enjoyable. Of course if you feel that you don't need any of this advices just keep siting in your desk, writing, reading and calculating. For those how forgot about these fours things, just keep reading:

1. Schedule time, weekly, being active: you can go to the Rec Center at the U of M. It is FREE, unless you want to pay for classes such as Yoga and personal training and so on. Here's the link http://www.recsports.umn.edu/. Don't make excuses; you can go at least once per week.

2. Eat well and not too much junk: There are so many temptations to eat food that we find delicious. I know we have McDonalds close to Minneapolis campus and we also have Starbucks at Coffman. However, I can give you some tips. Have you thought of bringing or getting fruits, yogurt and oatmeal, at these places? Turn your eyes and you'll be able to see other options in the same menu. Do you know there is a website where you can get a lot of information on healthy food at the U of M? You should use it sometimes; it might help you to find interesting resources http://www.hfhl.umn.edu/

And now... how to keep calm. You might think I'm crazy and probably you don't see the link between being healthy and calm at the same time. However, whenever you have an extra time, try to use it smartly:

3. Balance your studies and social life: You definitely need time for your body. It also has to do with the happiness of your mind/body. I will recommend you to go to dance with your friends, (I can tell for the aspect of my colleagues friends if they go to dance or not); get some friends if you don't have any, I wont tell you how (that would be cover in another 'entretenido' blog). Try to communicate with people outside of your department because your mind and body will get a remarkable rest by talking about different aspects that are not related you're your academic field.

Here's a video that somebody special made for you:



Credits: Danny Dietl and http://advice.lovedetour.com

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