It’s during times like the end of shopping period when we become aware of the linearity of time. Our schedules unsettled, the trajectories of our semesters were yet to be determined. But we’re no longer rootless, no longer engaging in a hobby that our parents often attribute to our Attention Deficit Disorder, and we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel (i.e., vacation): Our color-coded iCals lay out our engagements, assignments, and exams to take place from now until finals period. The process repeats itself, but in the short run, it’s full speed ahead until December; we rinse and repeat come January.
Here’s the great thing about the linearity of a semester: we can wipe the slate clean and start anew. Whether you have four semesters under your belt at Brown or zero, you’re given the chance to strike a balance and get it right. We are grounded in our course selection, and we begin to construct routines that work with our busy lives. It’s in our downtime that we can think about what we want to accomplish and how we want to grow as college students and ~20-somethings. As we come out of the gates and put our noses to the grindstone, here are some things (some trivial, some more significant) to strive for this semester to shake things up, and to keep our Brown experiences interesting and all the more enjoyable.
Take risks. In the generic way, sure, but consider actively shaking it up. Do things that the “old” __(insert your name here)___ wouldn’t have even dreamed of doing last semester, or maybe even in a lifetime. Join a new club or student group. Give yourself a break from your work and go out on a weeknight; alternatively, give yourself “you” time and stay in one night during the weekend. Talk to that guy or girl you’ve been admiring from afar. The opportunities are endless—give yourself the opportunity to change the game. You’ll never know unless you try.
Call Mom and Dad. We all may be 18–22, but we all still need some reassurance that our ‘rents are our biggest fans. Have something on your mind? Talk it out with the people who know you best. As long as you’re in college—somewhat on your own, but not completely cut off—it’s still completely acceptable to check in and take advantage of your parents’ age and desire to live vicariously through you. As annoying as it may be, let them impart their wisdom; they’re seasoned individuals who at one point in their lives had the same problems and questions as you do now.
Go to the gym. When the going gets rough and the work piles on, don’t freak out—work off your stress. The more you think about your work, the more miserable, unhappy, and zombie-like you’ll become. Think of the gym as a respite from your various academic woes: Swim some laps, run a few miles, do some crunches. Endorphins make people happy (…and happy people don’t shoot their husbands). Come for the confidence boost, stay for the awesome water pressure in the showers in the Nelson Fitness Center. Spoiler alert: It’s better than the pressure in your dorms. You’re welcome.
Build a new relationship with a professor. You’re enrolled in new classes with different focuses across several different departments. You’ve solicited advice from a professor in the past… and that’s great. But the more advice you can get about classes and academics, your concentration, internships and research from the best and the brightest across various academic disciplines, the more you’ll be able to make well-informed decisions and engage in activities and pursuits you’ll enjoy.
Make smart late-night food choices. Seemingly minor in the grand scheme of things, but often underrated, the late-night binge has the potential to really ruin the rest of your night (and the day that follows). When the clock strikes 1:55 a.m. and you’re rushing into Jo’s before the lights go out, be conscious of what you’re ordering: Specifically, last Friday night, this writer convinced herself that a “salad” (is it really a salad if there’s no lettuce?) comprised of only cucumbers, and feta, parmesan, and mozzarella cheeses was a healthy and satisfactory late-night meal. Yet she was not a happy camper in the morning—she couldn’t eat anything the next day (not to mention, her cholesterol probably shot up 10 points). Key takeaway: if think you’re about to eat something and envision that you will hate yourself in the morning for doing so, opt for something else.
Do laundry more. We all have to do it, but we don’t do it often enough. Anything—even our homework—often takes precedence over the trek down X flights of stairs to access the laundry machines in the dank basement that reeks of…fraternity. But the more clean clothes you have, the more options you have when you’re getting dressed in the morning. You’ll stay fashionable among your other fashionable peers. Look good, feel good.
Find a new anthem. You’ve always had that song that gets you out of bed in the morning: the one that you blast as you get ready to seize the day and makes you feel like a complete winner. It may be hardcore rap, EDM, perhaps even the Biebs’ finest. But try to find a new song lets you jam to a new rhythm and puts even more swag in your step: one that makes you excited to be doing what you’re doing right now or what you’re about to be doing. Own it and make it your very own theme song.
Go downtown more. This falls in the “#shitbrownstudentssay” category. Many have tried; most have failed. Prove me wrong.
Instagram. Just kidding.