Learning How To Swim: A Queen’s Guide

My name is Kiara Alexander and I am the assistant station manager for WMBC, UMBC’s freeform radio station.You may know me from my (kind of) unsettling bubbliness towards life, soccer, Christmas and my extreme, but totally justified, adoration of Mr. Bublé. And even if you don’t know me, that’s how I know myself.

I’m kind of old when it comes to being a young person and since I could remember I have seen problems as challenges. And not even in the challenging way when you’re like “Aww man. I am so challenged and I wanna quit” but more in the, “I’m Ash Ketchum and these (Pokémon battles) challenges are my destiny”. So imagine my surprise when I found my life unfolding in a manner very different from Ash’s life. I am currently in between two states: stressed and very stressed. But do not fear for I am learning, as the title suggests, how to swim in this ocean of stress(with the help of Squirtle and other fictional characters).

squirtle

HOW TO SWIM: (figuratively.) (I don’t know how to actually swim.)

  1. Look at the Stress ocean. Scoff at the Stress ocean
  2. Take a deep breath. Take several deep breaths
  3. Remember that people value your existence and want you to do well
  4. Make a to-do list. Really congratulate yourself when you complete something. It’s really cool that you did that one thing you planned to do!
  5. Cry to your mom. I love doing this and I recommend crying to anyone in your life who will see your tears and tell you how to fix your life.
  6. Get a hobby that you maintain. For example my main hobby right now is envisioning how my life would be if I met Kendrick Lamar. You may not see it as a hobby but for the amount of time I spend on it, I gotta call it something.
  7. Vent to your friends. Say, “Hey friend, I’m going through the struggle”. Hopefully your friend will say,”Sorry friend. Stay strong”.
  8. The most important of all: Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. I love WMBC. I love doing radio. I love showing up to meetings and being our station manager’s hype man. I love hyping people up. So no matter how stressed I become I remember why I decided to run for an officer position.
  9. Start swimming in that Stress ocean and continue on towards Living My Life Like It’s Golden shore

Stay pimpin,

-Kiara

In my last 4 years…

I recently had the opportunity to read the application essay I submitted when I applied to UMBC. I was embarrassed for myself. Now, you need to understand when I started college Twitter and Instagram had not become ‘a thing’. A lot has changed since I started college for myself and for the world.

Now, I am in my senior year of college, about to turn 22 and I look back on my Freshmen year as a very different person. Not for worse, I think, but for better. In my four years here I have grown and learned so much and realized sometimes I don’t know anything at all. Being at this stage in my life sometimes makes me feel so old, and at other times so young. So I’ve decided to make a list of things that have happened to me during my 4 years of college that are shared experiences with many other seniors I know. These things may or may not happen to you in college, but if they do this is a good reminder that you are not alone.

In my last 4 years at UMBC I have…

walked into the wrong classroom

made the dean’s list

sat next to someone in class who turned out to be a really good friend

been a part of a student organization that is very dear to my heart

been a part of a student organization that another person finds ‘lame’

waved hello to people I don’t remember meeting, but pretended I remembered meeting them anyway

been in a group project that went horribly wrong

debated as a class assignment and kicked butt

eaten lunch alone

gone to many free pizza dinner events with friends

tried registering for a class and was not successful

used my student discount a lot

studied abroad

failed a test

All of these things have been a part of my college experience, for better or for worse, but definitely have shaped me into the person I am right now. All of these things, I tried to laugh about and hope you do too (even the failed test, you gotta remember what’s most important in life). I just received an 90% on my first quiz of my last semester at University, and it was a really difficult quiz that most people did not do so well. I’m feeling pretty good right now about this semester, but I know mistakes can happen at any time and my schooling is not over yet! Bring it on.

Valentine’s Day

Since Valentine’s Day has come to an end, and everyone is done indulging in chocolates, candle lit dinners, and romantic conversations, I just thought it would be a good time to share my thoughts.

Today, I have seen various things, that have made me reevaluate Valentine’s Day. The first situation that I saw was this woman buying flowers for herself. As she approached my register at work, she was telling me that I should buy flowers and a gift for myself. Then I started to think “Okay. That might not be a bad idea after all.” Even though I didn’t end up buying anything for myself, I learned that Valentine’s day could be about loving yourself. If you don’t love your self, then you won’t be able to love the world around you. Only when you believe in yourself, and keep yourself happy, will you be able to keep others happy.

The second situation I saw was one of my coworkers buy chocolates. I asked her who her valentine was, and she said it was for her mother. I started to think once again. Valentine’s day doesn’t have to be about a romantic relation where only couples are allowed to celebrate, instead Valentine’s day could be about any loving relationships in our lives. We can use this day to remind our family and friends how much we love them, and how much they mean to us.

Society portrays Valentine’s Day as something only individuals in relationships can celebrate. Also, society has made it so significant others have to get expensive gifts for each other, or else things might go wrong. People stress about Valentine’s Day so much that they forget about the most important thing on this day, and that’s love.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about fancy presents, or eating at expensive restaurants, it can just be a simple gesture or word of kindness, appreciation, and love. For example, you could go to your parents, or your siblings and tell them that you love them and will always be there for them. Also, you could gather up with a few of your friends and enjoy a nice movie. Even though you could do that on a normal day, having a shared experience on a day to commemorate love, makes it all the more special. Furthermore, for those of you who are in a relationship, you guys could chose to do something new and out of the ordinary, like bake together.It will be enjoyable as well as spice up your relationship.

On another thought, how cool would it be to go up to a random homeless person on the street, give them some chocolate, and let them know that there is someone out there that loves them for who they are and all that they have done and do. Wouldn’t that be really amazing? Maybe, I should do that next time?!

Anyways, the point of this post is to say that please don’t stress about Valentine’s Day, because it is (in all honesty) a normal day, where you can enjoy normal experiences with your loved ones. And remember, experiences create memories, and memories last for ever!

Nonetheless, HAPPY LATE VALENTINE’S DAY and I hope everyone had a blast!!

FINAL FOUR BABY

For the first time EVER, a team from UMBC has made it to the Final Four of a Division 1 NCAA tournament!! The men’s soccer team beat Creighton last week in penalty kicks (at Creighton) to move on to the NCAA semifinals. The game was amazing – it ended in a 0-0 tie before penalty kicks, but both teams had chances to score. UMBC managed to hang on, however, and now the soccer team going to Cary, North Carolina to face the University of Virginia.

Before facing Creighton, UMBC beat three other ranked teams in the tournament. In the first round, they beat Wake Forest, also in penalty kicks. The second round game is the one I remember the best, because we beat that school from College Park, at College Park! We won 1-0, and after the game was over, we all stormed the field. So far, that’s been the highlight of this tournament for me. The next weekend, we also beat Louisville, at Louisville, 1-0, behind an early penalty kick.

UMBC's men's soccer team, on their way to the NCAA Final Four!

UMBC’s men’s soccer team, on their way to the NCAA Final Four!

After all this, the season is down to one game. The University of Virginia is one of the top college soccer teams in the nation, but we’ve beaten top teams before. There are many viewing parties throughout campus, and I’m going to watch the game on a big screen at the Commons. If we win and make it to the final, my friend Nick and I are driving five hours to North Carolina to watch the final on Sunday afternoon. I can’t wait to cheer my team on tonight, and hopefully we can bring a trophy back home to UMBC!

A Queen’s Guide to the Season Finale of Fall 2014

It’s study day here at UMBC, which means I was able to find an excellent parking space during peak parking hours because a lot of other commuters stayed home. I am currently in a study room in the library with headphones on to signal to my friends the message, “Do no engage in conversation with me”. I am stressed out, but this I think is good stress because it’s the type of stress that brings motivation and hopefully excellence (even if it doesn’t feel like it right now). I am a tad sleepy but I know that in two weeks I can sleep all I want. So here it is, without further ado, A Queen’s Guide to finals.

How To Get Through Finals:

Step 1: Make a to-do list. Like I put this post on my to do list and now I am to-doing it.

Step 2: Surround yourself with only bad (as in good) friends. Remember that one line from that one Iggy Azalea song, “You should want a bad gal like this”. She’s not lying, you should. These bad (as in good) friends will cheer you up when you’re down and when you see them studying, it makes you want to study too.

Step 3: Stay away from bad (as in bad) friends. These friends will suggest a game of scattergories instead of suggesting you go over that study guide one more time. This friend is bad.

Step 4: Sit down and get comfy. You going be in your study place for a while. Kick off your shoes, bring a blanket.

Step 5: Stay away from distracting websites. Like buzzfeed or…wordpress.

Step 6: Stay strong. I say this daily and it counts the most during finals week. Remember that all of this will be over soon.

That’s all I got. Hope you do well. See ya later!

Stress Free Zone

This is my fifth semester at UMBC, which means my fifth finals season. However, this is the first time that I’ve gone to the stress free zone in the Commons. Strange, huh?

Normally on study day I’m huddled in my room, refusing to talk to anyone and trying to study. However, this is the first year that I’m not living on campus, which means that I’m living in the Student Involvement Center for the next week.

As a side note, I work in Student Life as the Service and Volunteerism Intern so it’s not strange that I’m living in the Student Involvement Center.

As I was walking to the office, I thought I’d stop by the Stress Free Zone for the first time. Although it might seem like an easy event, it’s nice to grab a juice box and some fruit snacks before I go back to studying vigorous.

Therefore, stop by the Stress Free Zone today! Grab something to eat and maybe a coloring book, and then go back to the finals struggle.

My friend just texted me…

My friend just texted me that she is “leaving [her] casa”. This is a common text message I receive from her, and it’s an important one too! Please let me explain to you why. She does not have any data or phone service here in Spain. She strictly uses wifi at her house and in other free places. When we make plans to meet at a certain place and at a certain time, it is important to be at that certain place on time. If no one sticks to the plan, then there is the possibility of confusion, and people getting lost, or something worse. She sends me a text when we have plans to meet to let me know she is leaving her house, and to expect her at a certain time. Once she leaves her house, there will be no way for me to be in contact with her. This is a habit I practice quite often and have only now realized it something I have become accustomed to.

There are many small things I have become accustomed to here in Spain – everything from carrying my own toilet paper around, to texts, to Spanish greetings, to the lifestyle. Most people discuss the culture shock that happens when going abroad, but there is also a kind of culture shock I expect when returning home to the states. I will have to adapt again, but it is a skill that I believe is good not only for my life, but for my career as well.

UMBC Debates

Yesterday, I was able to attend my first debate hosted by the Biology Council of Majors. I am not a part of BioCoM, as they’re known, but I am very interested in what they do. In addition to having meetings for Biology students, one of their most popular events is a B-ethical debate series. They bring in faculty speakers, and sometimes speakers from outside UMBC, to debate interesting topics that have some relation to Biology. They hosted a debate on Euthanasia earlier in this semester, as well as debates on genetic modification and cloning in previous semesters.

However, the debate yesterday was by far the most interesting to me. It considered the question of “Are Humanoids Inevitable in the Universe?” That is, given life on another Earth-like planet, somewhere in the universe, would something with human-like intelligence eventually appear? Two of my favorite professors at UMBC, Dr. Kevin Omland (whose lab I currently work in) and Dr. Stephen Freeland (the Director of the Interdisciplinary Studies program) argued this point, and while there was no clear winner, there were many interesting and thought-provoking points provided by both speakers.

There were over 100 people at the talk, and since I am very interested in these topics of evolution and astrobiology, I was excited that such a large number of people would come and show their interest in this subject. On an even deeper note, this debate series is something unique to college life. Here on campus, we truly do have the unique opportunity to listen to world-class experts, such as Dr. Freeland and Dr. Omland, talk about the subjects they are most passionate about. While this talk may come across as a stuffy academia presentation by two professors, I believe that debates such as these are important because they spread ideas and allow us, as students, to think about these questions. Not everyone has that chance, so I am grateful to have it here at UMBC.

Is it December yet?

“These are the years when you learn what type of person you’ll be for the rest of your life”         -my mama (I think. Some relative. Somebody somewhere ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )

I am not the person I was five years ago. For one, I’m *kind of* an adult now and I’m in college. However, when I was 14 (five years ago) I had those two things in my five-year plan. Yes, 14-year-old me had it all figured out. I would be in college with As and Bs and have a car and cool friends and speak fluent spanish and bring all the boys to the yard. (Some of these things are still in development but I still have time. I don’t turn 20 until May). The newest development in my character though is something that old me would have never guessed.

My name is Kiara Alexander and I’ve become a holiday season junkie.

That’s right UMBC. You’re gonna see a girl on campus in a santa suit on November 24th and you’ll think, “who is this fool getting their santa on before December 1st?” and it’ll be me.

I wasn’t always like this. I used to be a holiday shamer. I would shake my head at people who put lights up outside during the month of November. I would like to take this time now to apologize to all those people I judged before. I understand now. You may ask what brought me to this new jolly state-of-mind. Do not worry. I, as usual, have made a list to explain this new character.

Kiara’s gone Krazy: Christmas Edition ;)

  • MichaelBublé
    • I’ve known about Michael but have I known about Michael? Obviously not. Thanks to his angelic voice, I see snow and hot cocoa every time I close my eyes.
  • Starbucks, particularly the one of campus
    • They bust out the red cups. They bring out the peppermint mocha. Everyone is studying harder with the semester coming to a close. The togetherness of it all makes me feel very warm and cozy and festive, just like a caramel brulée (Bublé to make a connection) latte.
  • Target
    • The sunday after halloween Target puts up their wintery holiday signage. How can I not be swayed to follow Target’s holiday schedule when upon entering their store I am greeted with a quirky santa sign.
  • Money
    • This is the first year of my life I’ve had disposable income. I can’t wait to buy cool things for my squad/crew/loved ones. Yay!
  • MichaelBublé
    • He needs to be on here twice. That’s his impact.

So this is who I am now, but I am not ashamed. Here’s a Michael Bublé Christmas playlist for the road:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4ZbFTApBws&list=PLVZFts556G9lhlADeVLL0Vn9339M4a2VO

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

–Your Girl, Kiki

College is Real Life

I’ve heard many times that college is not “real life”. People say that college is completely different from the rest of your life, so treasure it!

Well yes, there may not be another time in my life where I’ll choose to stay up all night after making the bad decision to procrastinate on a paper. Yes, you may not ever choose to eat at the same five place for three times a day for a year again. And yes, you may not ever wear pajamas in public all the time again.

However, the skills applied and learned while in college are very “real life”. Contrary to the portrayal of media, college is much more than just endless studying and partying. Students are changing the world, right now, even if they don’t realize it.

Not only are students participating in internships and jobs that will help them realize what they do for the rest of their life, but students are changing things in the world right now. Maybe there is more of a culture of this at UMBC, but I would like to think that students everywhere are working hard on life skills right now.

That’s really why I love to be at UMBC. Students are not afraid to make change right now. They don’t feel like they need to wait for professors. They don’t feel like they need to join something that has already started. They start programs and initiatives and research on their own.

Being at UMBC is really pretty empowering. You learn what you’d like to do for the rest of your life. You learn soft job skills to be successful. And finally, you learn that you have the power to be an agent of change now.