Surviving the Weather

Maryland has some crazy weather. One day it will be -32 degrees and the next day will be a bright sunny day with 80 degree weather. I’ve seen it rain on one side of the parking lot, but not on the other. One day it will snow and the next day you’ll be at risk of sunburn.

So this is how you survive Maryland weather without losing your mind:

Step 1: Wear layers. It may be really cold in the morning and night, but pretty warm in the afternoon. Be prepared to take those layers on and off throughout the day.
Step 2: Carry a small umbrella with you at all times. Just leave in it your backpack for those times when the skies suddenly open up for no reason.
Step 3: Wear sunscrean–EVERY DAY. Just use a lotion with a bit of sunscreen in it every day. It’s better than being burnt.
Step 4: Have all kinds of clothes on hand. You don’t need to wear your whole wardrobe, but keep a hat and gloves around. Keep a pair of shorts handy. Be prepared.
Step 5: Look out for wind. UMBC is a really windy place so just try to account for the wind when thinking about weather.
Step 6: ACTUALLY CHECK THE WEATHER. This will help your life a ton.

My biggest piece of advice is to just go with the flow, enjoy all types of weather, and enjoy the variations in seasons. In fact, you may see the different seasons in one week! Welcome to Maryland.

Praising on Campus

When I first heard people talking about Cru, I imagined the boys in boats straining to row–which is known as crew. Cru, a nondenominational Christian organization on campus, is very different from the sport teams of crew.

Cru used to be called Campus Crusade for Christ, but now every member just refers to this large organization as Cru. Cru has various bible study meetings throughout the week, as well as a general body meeting every Thursday.

There are tons of ways to get involved with Cru, from holding an officer position to planning bible studies to just going to regular body meetings. Cru also holds retreats each semester. On spring break they go to Panama City Beach to talk to spring breakers about religion.

There are tons of other religious groups on campus too. For instance, there’s the Muslim Student Association, Jewish Student Union, or the Pagan Student Union. If you’re interested in any religious on campus visit for more information or check out the interfaith center on campus.

What Does the Library Do Again?

Over the last three years, I’ve used the UMBC library A LOT. I’ve used it to lock myself away from the world and study, to study with friends in the RLC, to take classes in, to eat pizza (thank you Honors College!), to fall asleep, and even to watch the airplanes take off from Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

View from the 7th floor - BWI is just out of the picture, on the far right

View from the 7th floor – BWI is just out of the picture, on the far right

So I’ve used the library a lot…but I’ve never done one thing. Its insanely obvious too – I’ve never actually borrowed a book! As bad as this sounds, I didn’t even realize I could do that. I think of the library as a place to study, not like a regular public library where I could walk in and check out a book. It never crossed my mind to take one of the books on the shelves and bring it home with me.

But today, I needed a certain book (I have to learn Perl, a programming language, for my summer internship and I need a guide book) and I was looking for places to buy it. Again, I wasn’t even thinking of the library, but my amazing girlfriend Lisa did. She asked, “Why don’t you check the library??”. She even looked it up for me, and it was there! I was extremely impressed with her, and really grateful too.

Ten minutes later, I had the book in my hands, and I have it for the next 4 weeks. I’m saving $40, which I’m spending on a dinner date for Lisa since she deserves it, and now I know where to go if I ever need a book. Even though most people don’t think of it, there’s a real library on campus, and it is very helpful.

Saving Lives at UMBC

Fun Fact: UMBC has a Paramedic Program at UMBC. It’s a fairly small program, with only ten people currently in the program, but these cool people are learning to save lives.

Most people go to a community college to become certified to become a paramedic in their county, however, when a student comes here to UMBC the process is quite different. Sophomore must apply through a rigorous process in order to be accepted into the program, which includes 5 interviews, a test, and at least 100 calls as an EMT.

When these hard working individuals graduate, they’ll have their National Registry Paramedic Certification and a Bachelor’s Degree in Emergency Health Services. That means these students will be able to work anywhere in the United States and will easily move up within a firehouse

I work with a paramedic student at the Susquehanna Desk, and I know that she works really hard for her degree. Not only do they take really rigorous courses, but they also have to work in a hospital for so many hours.

What I’ve learned about the program is that it is very intensive, but very rewarding. Plus, they all get a bunch of cool stories out of it.


Tips for Studying Effectively

Finals are fast approaching. Which is terrifying to me, but they will come whether I want them to or not. Since this will be my fourth session of finals at UMBC, I’ve developed a couple methods for success. Here’s what I use to stay awake, stay successful, and stay sane.

1. Buy peppermints. So many peppermints. They will you stay awake and make it easier to focus during late night study sessions
2. Drink lots of water. Water will also keep you awake, hydrated, and feeling a lot better about your life in general.
3. Eat healthy food; much on lots of fruits and veggies. Eating healthy will make you feel better about everything. Imagine your training for a marathon, a marathon of the mind. You’ll need healthy food for that.
4. Study for 40 minutes and then take a 10 minute break. On every third break, make it 30 minutes. That way you won’t procrastinate when you’re actually working and you’ll be able to get a lot more done.
5. Make a finals schedule. Set what you’re going to do each day and have set goals for each study session to make sure that you get everything done at one time.
6. Get a good amount of sleep. Eight hours a night of sleep can make the utmost difference in your life. Of course, this applies for un-finals life, but especially for finals.
7. Schedule at least 30 minutes a day for you to take a walk or run around campus. The fresh air will keep you more awake, and make you feel better about your life.
8. Talk to someone who will not ask how finals is going. Sometimes it’s nice to complain about your finals life, but it’s also nice to reflect on other things. There is a life outside all your papers and tests, and it is fast approaching. Remember that one day you will have to talk about real life one day.
9. Finally, just keep calm and DON’T PROCRASTINATE. If you have a whole week of doing nothing now, then do that term paper now. Just get it over with while you have time.

Good luck on finals! Let all the memes begin.

URCAD – Behind the Scenes

Next Wednesday, UMBC will literally be taken over by science. Nearly every undergraduate researcher will descend on the UC Ballroom to present their research at URCAD, UMBC’s annual Undergraduate Research Fair. Now, this is really cool! There’s not just confusing chemical names and cancer research and rocket science – there are music performances, an entire wall taken up by video game researchers, and even birds!

Okay, the last one is what I’m excited about. I am presenting my research on the evolutionary history of Australian Red Robins (which are amazingly cute little birds), and two other undergraduates in the lab I work with are presenting about Puerto Rican Orioles and Baltimore Orioles. This will be my first time presenting at URCAD, and even though I’ve presented at  conferences before, I’m still excited to share what I do with the UMBC community as a whole.

That’s what you are going to see at URCAD – lots of interesting research, some cute pictures of birds, and a lot of students who are really into their research.

However, behind the pictures and the posters, every project involves countless hours of hard work. Setting up experiments, analyzing data, re-setting experiments, analyzing more data, turning results into coherent conclusions – all are extremely hard and make research challenging. I know for my project, I have spent at least 10 hours a week for the last semester on it, and I am nowhere near done with it. It is hard work and sometimes can be frustrating, but it is ultimately rewarding because I get to share what I am working on with the UMBC community.

That’s what URCAD is – the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work. Its extremely exciting to see and I honestly can’t wait to be a part of it.

Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.

I don’t consider myself particularly “wicked”, unless it has the slang definition of suave, or cool. Then yes, I do consider myself extremely wicked/cool. However, this song has been stuck in my head for some time now, particularly this line, because really there “ain’t no rest for” me.

It’s good to have a balanced life, especially in college when so much is at stake, but it is definitely hard. I have to balance, ALL my homework, paperwork for going abroad, personal relationships, having a social life, work, having enough money, meeting with groups for our group projects, meetings with professors, meetings for my student organization, applications for Summer internships, interviews for Summer internships, eating and sleeping.

The truth is, there really is not enough time to allow me to give my 100% effort to each of these things, so I am having to prioritize what is really important and that is really difficult for me. I am so used to doing the absolute best at everything I commit to, but it seems that is just not possible at this point in my life. And, I have to accept that. The nice thing about going to college is that many other students are in the same kind of position. Many students have many responsibilities, are just trying to make it through a class and are still trying to find time to sleep! So, when it seems like too much, it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

The other important thing to remember when it all seems like so much work, and all professor seem to plan due dates at the exact same time, is that going to a University is a great privilege and opportunity that not everyone is afforded. Going to a school with many international and 1st generation students helps to make this point a reminder quite often. Many people know how fortunate they are to be here and have this opportunity. I have the wonderful opportunity of working as hard as I can to be successful this semester and show the world what I can do.

ITS SUMMER! Well, almost…


Wait, what? Its only been three weeks since its snowed, and I’m writing something about summer?! I know, its early. But there’s something about the beginning of spring that makes me look forward to summer. There is really a lot to look forward to! First, its NOT GOING TO SNOW. AT ALL. It’ll be possible to go to a body of water and be able to swim in it!



Second, there are so many new and exciting things I’m looking forward to. Everyone has their own jobs or family events that are happening and they’re looking forward to. In my case, I’m going to be a STRiVE coach for the FIRST EVER summer STRiVE! I’m so excited to work with an amazing group of students and UMBC faculty to promote a culture of social change on campus. STRiVE is truly a life-changing experience, and I’m beyond ecstatic to introduce a new group of students to the culture that it creates. Directly after that, I’ll be heading off to Madison, Wisconsin, for a summer internship in Biostatistics and Computational Biology! This is my absolute dream internship, and I can’t wait to work on cutting-edge research on the forefront of biology, statistics, and computer science (I know that sounds crazy hard, but it makes me excited).

Third, summer is a chance to recharge yourself. I’ve always been a summer child – my birthday is in July, and I’ve always loved going to the beach and swimming in my local pool. Summer is a time to sit back, relax, eat/drink some Rita’s, and take back control of your life that you may have lost during the crazy last semester. Even though its two-ish months away, its not too early to start looking forward to it.

Just have some Rita's and relax :)

Just have some Rita’s and relax :)


The Apple Project

I wrote a couple blogs early titled “Light in a Dark Cave”. I have updated everyone in a while with what is going on with that project, but it now has a name and it’s ready to launch. The Apple Project will be allowing Susquehanna Hall’s residents to impact students of the Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents (RICA) in just a few short weeks.

Although I’ve been in charge of the committee for UMBC students going to RICA on April 25th and helping the RICA students with preparing for college, I am really proud of the other committees.

We don’t have a huge group planning this project, and the other two committees–Marketing/Education and a committee for RICA students coming to UMBC for a day–have worked so hard to assure that this project comes to fruition.

The Marketing/Education committee has made an adorable video based on Frozen’s, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” to advertise for the event.They are taking care of all the educational posters and ads that will go around SUS. They’re also taking care of all the sign-ups for the event. Basically, the Marketing/Education committee is ensuring that SUS residents will actually participate in this project.

The other committee, for RICA students coming to UMBC, has an amazing day for RICA students. They’ve planned an interaction scavenger hunt and tour, a mock lecture with an awesome professor, and an activities fair.

I’m a shameless plugger for RICA and I know in part that’s why we’re doing this project. But despite all my blathering on about this Level 5 Special Education school that I love, this project would never have been able to happen without all the hard work of the SUS staff.

I know that I’m sometimes a very bossy, loud, and I stick my nose in other peoples’ committees constantly, I could not be more proud of the SUS staff. I know that when we finish the project we’ll all have affected the kids at RICA and allow them to change us as well. I couldn’t ask to work with a better bunch of people.

Summer of OPAs

Last semester I was an orientation peer advisor. In case you don’t know what that is, an orientation peer advisor–OPA for short–are students who lead all the orientation sessions for freshman and transfer students during the summer.

Honestly, it’s a really good job. They pay for summer housing for us to live in an apartment on campus. We get a stipend starting at $1200.00, depending on how many times you return as an OPA. And then we get free meals. Plus we really only work about 25 days for the whole summer, so you can still have another life.

The best part is that you really gain some fantastic friends. You go through training with these people, you work with them for long hours at a time, and then you live with them. So either you become really good friends or you become completely sick of each other. Despite all the time spent together though, the OPAs are like a small family.

This summer I’ll be returning as a 2nd year OPA. Last year, there was only 18 OPAS all living together, but for this summer coming up there will be 24 OPAs. That is a whole lot of new friends considering that there are only 4 returning OPAs.

We’ll also have the opportunity this year to go to bonding activities. That really means that our job will allow for us to go to fun things together like Orioles games. So this summer should be the same amount of work, but some more fun.

The new OPAs have been hired, but I haven’t met all of them yet. However, I’m super excited for the summer to come and the new friends I’ll get to make.