What To Do With an Impossible Class

Last night, I did something I’ve never done at UMBC before. It was unexpected, and to be honest, a little scary.

I dropped a class. WHOA. Now, I’ve dropped classes before. But I’ve never dropped after the official add/drop date, which is about 2 weeks into the semester. Here at UMBC, you can still drop a class after the add/drop day, but the class stays listed on your transcript with a “W” grade (for withdraw). I’ve always been worried about dropping classes, since I’ve heard a “W” can be bad for you. However, this class, Statistical Computing, was too much for me. I needed a much stronger foundation in statistics than I currently have, and I simply did not have the time to teach myself the background knowledge I need to succeed.

So, I talked to my friends and professors that I know, particularly Dr. Kelber-Kaye in the Honors College. They said I shouldn’t be scared of a “W” (it actually doesn’t affect much at all), but more importantly, they said struggling in a class because you don’t have the knowledge for it isn’t worth it.

They said there is a different between struggling to learn and struggling because you don’t know what the professor is writing on the board. If you are in a hard class now, I am not saying you should just drop it and get out. Learning is challenging, and sometimes you have to struggle. But if you are struggling to comprehend topics that are taken for granted as common knowledge, that may be too much.

I’m glad have a support network I was able to ask for advice, and I’m glad I did eventually drop. It was a little scary, but now I know I’ll be able to succeed in all my other classes, without constantly worrying about one class in particular. :)

You Can’t Eat Poundcake

This past weekend, I got a rabbit. Now, don’t fret, I don’t live on campus where such pets are quite illegal. I live in an apartment that is about 5 minutes from campus and is pet friendly.

My roommate and I had been thinking about getting a pet for a good while. Did you know that rabbits are super cheap? I was expecting to have to drop a solid 50 dollars for just the rabbit, but instead I only paid 20 dollars.

The bunny’s name is Poundcake and he is a fuzzy lop rabbit. He lives in a good-sized cage in our hallway, he loves to stretch out like a cat under our couch, and he drinks an insane amount of water. He also is extremely fluffy. We gave him a haircut–a pretty choppy haircut–and we threw away another rabbit worth of hair.

I do really like Poundcake. He is lovable and mostly litterbox trained and he doesn’t make an insane amount of noise at night. However, I was that child that felt bad for my stuffed animals when I didn’t pay enough attention to them. So although I really love the bunny, I keep having to tell myself that he is okay to live in a cage. He doesn’t really want to have to cuddle with me for hours on end, and I don’t need to leave the TV on for him.

Luckily, my roommate is a bit more rational than I am about the rabbit. She doesn’t have quite as much anxiety about the rabbit as I do. Maybe having the bunny this year will teach me to relax a little bit and worry about the things that are a little more important–like all my papers that are due soon.

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Una Extranjera en Espana

A “foreigner” in Spain. This is a term very commonly used for people studying abroad in Spain, like me!

This is my first blog post from Spain! I am currently in Sevilla, Spain. I have been in Spain for a little over a week. Most of this first week, I traveled to two different cities. I first landed in Madrid and was there for about 2 days. Madrid, the capital of Spain, is a very busy and lively city. It is there I learned my first new spanish word – boda. I don’t know the actual translation for the word but I know One boda is one scoop of ice cream and two bodas is two scoops of ice cream at an ice cream shop. This is important terminology for living abroad in Spain and surely there will be more to come. Anyway, I did enjoy Madrid very much. It has a very beautiful city park with a rose garden that has all types of roses from around the world! It smelled amazing!

After experiencing the bustling city of Madrid, I went with my study abroad program to Toledo. It is one of the most beautiful cities I have every seen. It is absolutely adorable with it’s tiny and winding roads. It is a place where everyone will get lost, but it will be enjoyable. I experienced my first barbecue there, under the moon and stars, whilst listening to spanish poetry readings performed in the same plaza. Toledo is definitely a must-see in Spain. The city is older than the entire country that is the United States of America, and the antiquity of the place is plainly seen.

Finally, after living out of a suitcase and hotels for a few days I made it to my homestay in Sevilla! I will be living in Sevilla for four months with my homestay ‘mother’. She is a 40ish woman with wonderful cooking skills! Today she made me paella, and it was delicious! My new home is cozy and my new city is amazing! There is so much to do and explore. Look forward to some of my mistakes and adventures while I learn Spanish in Sevilla, Spain!

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If you have any questions about the study abroad process at UMBC, please feel free to ask:)

Study Buddy/Groups

I will start by stating a quote from anonymous – “We do what we have to do so we can do what we want to do.” And the most important thing that we have to do in college is form a study group or find a really good study buddy in all of our classes.

UMBC is a university that strives in giving students the best academic experience ever. Therefore, there are some excellent professors that make their classes challenging in order to give their students a chance to apply what they have learned. Now, for those of us who are not accustomed to this type of learning style, it is in our best interest to find a study buddy or group.

My very first biology class on campus was BIOL 141 with Dr. Sokolove, and the advice that he gave us on day one was to form a study group because he was not going to give us answers to anything on the practice exams or the study guides. I, like most other people in the class was pretty pissed because I didn’t really enjoy working in groups. However, after getting a really bad score on the first exam, I decided to give this group studying a try. And to my amazement I learned so much more than I would have if I were to study by myself. We helped each other become aware of tiny details we were missing. But to make long story short, I was able to pass BIOL 141 with an A because I choose to study with a group.

It doesn’t matter if you are shy or intimidated to approach others, just do it!!! Many people in my biology and chemistry classes sent out emails to all the students in class to see who was interested in starting a study group.

Just because you are in a study group doesn’t mean you can’t study by yourself. You surely can!!! Study groups are there to enhance your learning and allow you to look at different perspectives. But the best part of have a study buddy or group is that you form long lasting relationships, and we all know that we need to have a lot resources in order to over come college.

So try a study group today. I assure you it’s completely FREE (at least I hope it will be :P)!!!!!!

Give a Little and Save a Life

If you’ve ever been on myUMBC throughout the year, I’m sure you’ve seen notices for blood drives on campus.

Not only is there a student organization completely dedicated to solely promoting the work of the American Red Cross’s Blood Drives, but Student Life also works really hard to have successful blood drives on campus.

Let me give you a rundown of the process:
1. Student Life sets up all the logistical details, such as the place, time, getting the American Red Cross here, etc.
2. Student organizations tell Student Life that they want to host one of the blood drives that has been set up.
3. Student organizations recruit their members to volunteer for the event, and all of the UMBC Student Body to donate blood.
4. UMBC students donate blood and save lives.

Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, besides the mass of logistical paperwork, it is easy!

Any student organization can decide to host a blood drive a save some lives. Greek life, club sports, and various cultural organizations are some of the frequenters who host a blood drive, but Student Life is always looking for new hosts.

So even if you aren’t in a student organization that would like to host a blood drive, look out for the events and the tabling in the Breezeway to advertise for the drive. Give blood and save a life.

Its a great time to be in Maryland

As I’m sure you have heard, the last week has been a big deal for Maryland. Baltimore hosted the Star-Spangled 200 celebration over the weekend in honor of the 200th anniversary of the writing of our National Anthem by Francis Scott Key. There was a lot of history downtown, such as 18th and 19th century wooden ships, in addition to festivities at Ft. McHenry. The Blue Angels, the US Navy’s flight demonstration team (which is a fancy way of saying they do really awesome tricks in planes while flying within 20 feet of each other), performed above the Inner Harbor, and even flew over UMBC!

The Kalmer Nyckel, one of the ships in Baltimore Harbor

The Kalmer Nyckel, one of the ships in Baltimore Harbor

Now you and I know that every day is a good day to be in Maryland. We have crabs, we have Old Bay, we have Thrasher’s fries on the OC Boardwalk (and if you’re doing Maryland right, you have all three at once). What makes this Star-Spangled 200 celebration special to me, however, is the fact that I wasn’t in Maryland all summer. I spent the summer in Madison, Wisconsin, working at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

It was a fantastic time (there will be posts about Wisconsin soon!), but I missed my home state. I brought Old Bay with me to the Midwest, and even did the stereotypical Maryland college thing and bought a state flag for my apartment, and told everyone who walked in how awesome it was. I tried to bring Maryland to Wisconsin, and while I partly succeeded, it is weekends like the Star-Spangled 200 that make me realize how special my state really is. It was a fantastic weekend to be in Baltimore and to be a part of Maryland!

Capt. Brandon Cordill, left wingman of the U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, flies an F/A-18 Hornet over Baltimore during the Star Spangled Sailabration, which coincides with Baltimore Fleet Week 2012 and commemorates the War of 1812 and the writing of the “Star Spangled Banner.” (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrew Johnson)

Capt. Brandon Cordill, left wingman of the U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, flies an F/A-18 Hornet over Baltimore during the Star Spangled Sailabration, which coincides with Baltimore Fleet Week 2012 and commemorates the War of 1812 and the writing of the “Star Spangled Banner.” (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrew Johnson)

UMBC: Fútbol

My name is Kiara Alexander and I am a UMBC student.

This is probably assumed since this is a blog of UMBC students but just in case I am in fact a student at UMBC. Specifically I’m a sophomore. More specifically I am a Global Studies and Media & Communications studies double major. Even more specifically, I am a sports fan. And to be the most specific a gal can be, I am a UMBC soccer fan.  I love the soccer team to the point that I sometimes call them the “football” team just to emphasize my love and acceptance of the sport.

Other than owning a UMBC version of every article of clothing it’s hard to show pride and spirit for this campus. My parents raised me not to shout my passions from the roof tops nor to quietly whisper them into stranger’s ears so when I go to a soccer game with my friends I am finally free to do all the whispering and shouting till my heart is content. The message in my words can be summed up as: I love me some UMBC. And a soccer game is the perfect place to get out all your UMBC love because it can be argued that the soccer team is the perfect representation of UMBC as a whole.

UMBC and UMBC Soccer: A comparison

  • Sweat. The teams (men and women) sweat. So does the UMBC collective as we walk vigorously to class.
  • Cutie pies. Both teams are cute. UMBC is cute.
  • Sweetie pies. I’ve interviewed some soccer players for my radio show with WMBC, the campus radio. The players were pretty sweet and nice. This is a general trait at UMBC.
  • Teamwork. Soccer is about kicking the ball around to your teammates to get that goal. UMBC is literally the same thing. We all kick that ball around to make that goal. GO UMBC (Soccer)(but mostly UMBC)

UMBC <3

(An image that encompasses all my feelings.)

Putting the Word out for Service

Each year, BreakingGround supplies a number of grants to graduate and undergraduate students to implement some kind of social program. The Shriver Living Learning Community, in Erickson Hall, submits a grant each year that some its residents develop and write.

My freshman year, I was able to receive a BreakingGround grant with the support of the Shriver Living Learning Community. This year one of my mentees, Rosa, Rada, receive a grant for her project. Rosa, as well as Shriver Floor members, Michael Allen and Jaelyn Bos, planned Service Fest with the grant that they received.

Involvement Fest always hosts service organizations, but the point of Involvement Fest isn’t just to get students connected with service and volunteerism activities. Service Fest was designed to fill that need.

Very similar to Involvement Fest, with people tabling on the Quad, people could talk and visit with various service sites throughout the community that students can volunteer weekly at.

The event was held on September 8, from 10 am to 2 pm, and was extremely successful. My own service site, RICA, received at least 30 names and emails of people that were interested in volunteering. As an organization that usually receives no more than 7 volunteers for a semester, that is huge!

The Shriver Center, Service and Volunteerism in Student Life, and BreakingGround all helped to fund and support the event.

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Involvement Fest 2014!! (My very first blog post!!)

Hey guys! I am Asma Husna, a sophomore, double majoring in Biology and Psychology. This is my very first blog post ever!! I am super thrilled to be part of the Admissions-Team and blog about all my wonderful experiences and adventures at UMBC!!

For my first blog post, I will be writing about one of the most important events that UMBC holds each year, the Involvement Fest, which took place on September 3rd, in the Quad!

Despite the scorching summer heat, the Involvement Fest allows UMBC and its students to showcase more than 250 clubs and organizations throughout campus. This gives prospective students, and current students, especially the freshmen, an opportunity to find various ways to get involved on campus. Once there, students are given a chance to go to all the tables, get a quick overview of what the organization or club is all about, and put down there information to receive emails about meetings and events.

This year, the Quad was divided into sections, making the event more organized, and convenient for those walking around. There were clubs ranging from Fraternities and Sororities to Humans vs. Zombies!!! Furthermore, there were academic clubs such as the Pre-Med Society, cultural clubs such as the South Asian Student Association, governance clubs such as the Resident Student Association, religious clubs such as Agape, sports clubs such as Club Tennis, and much much more!!

With so much variety and diversity, there truly is a club for everyone!!!

One particular organization I am really passionate about is the Resident Student Association. RSA is an organization that provides students living on campus a platform to voice there concerns, comments, questions, and feedback. However, most importantly, RSA throws big events throughout the semester such as Dogpalooza (a friendly battle of the residence halls), Midnight Breakfast, and Midnight Dessert. Being part of RSA is the best way to get involved with RESLife and the residential community, and great experience for becoming a Resident Assistant, Desk Staffer, or Desk Manager.

In conclusion, Involvement Fest is the single most effective way to become involved with campus activities, to show your dedication and commitment, and to enhance your education.

So please come out to Involvement Fest next year and GET INVOLVED!!!!

Resident to Commuter

It’s another school year! This will be my junior year, and I was pretty excited to start school again. There are a couple changes though. Of course my schedule is different, I have some new jobs..oh, and I’m also commuting.

Pretty much everyone at UMBC has heard about the struggles that commuters can sometimes face–the biggest one being parking. Well after my first two weeks of commuting, I can say that I’m much more familiar with a commuter’s life now.

I’m living off-campus in the College Gardens apartments. I have my own bedroom, pay under $400 for rent every month, and only find the occasional spider. I also park right outside my apartment, which is much different from parking in the Walker Garage and trying to trek my groceries down to Hillside.

One of the biggest differences in being a commuter: I focus so much more. Now, when I go home, I actually do my homework! What a concept. I can even have netflix running and it still gets done. I also have a regular sleeping schedule during the week. I’m normally in bed before midnight and up by 8 am to get to school.

It’s true, I don’t park in the Commons Garage often, but if I leave at 8:50 am on the dot, I can get a parking spot near the Public Policy building.

So yes, I have to get up earlier to park, and it is annoying carrying everything I need for the day in my backpack, and I don’t get to nap as much as I would like to. But I am much more focused, I have a great sleeping schedule, and I’m still just as involved on campus–socially, academically, and professionally.

Things have changed this year, but I think they are changing for the better–even if it means having to be more of an adult.