Tag: Student Life (page 2 of 4)

The Sprint to the Finish Line

Hannah Lougheed, MA SID/MS-GHPM’22

I see the end. I am in the last half (or Module 2 as Heller lovingly refers to it), of my final year of grad school.  I have less than 6 weeks left, wrapping up a 2 year process in the pursuit of my MS in Global Health Policy and Management, and my MA in Sustainable International Development.

I had this rose-colored ideal of what my final month at graduate school would look like: dancing through a field of spring flowers while socializing with friends and having enough time each day for a midday nap. In this ideal, however, I was not accounting for the triad of a 20 hour a week internship, courses (and a capstone paper), and job applications. Oh, how the mind deceives.

So, in the midst of this chaos – with acute senioritis kicking in – it can feel like you are slowly being lowered into a bubbling vat of assignments with no way to slow the speed at which you descend… a bit dramatic?  Okay, maybe just a bit.

BUT, I am here to tell you – with time management and small goals, you can work to overcome this  impending sense of doom when you too are at this point in your graduate career. Today I present to you (to take or leave as you’d like), some ways in which you can work to proactively stay on top of assignments, especially when lengthy papers are all due the same week.

  1. Do a little each day – even weeks before it’s due. I have found that when I have time, I like to bite off small pieces of monster papers. So, when I wake up early I may work on a paper for just 30 minutes to write even a paragraph or two. For me, the hardest part of doing an assignment can actually be starting it, so this helps with that roadblock. It does not seem like much, but you will thank yourself later when almost half of the paper is written before the time crunch sets in. It also allows you to brainstorm when not working on the paper over a couple of weeks, instead of days.
  2. Set a time for your mind to rest. If you have read my other blogs, or know me at all, you will know I am a morning person, which means that bt the end of the day I am hardly capable of following a recipe. In undergrad, I used to think that I should not have the luxury of relaxing until I had everything done on my list. Now, however, I have learned that it is okay to set a “no-homework” threshold. For me, that is 7pm (keeping in mind I wake up around 5am, so adjust that time as you see fit in your schedule). When I hit that time, I allow myself to watch tv, go for a walk, call a friend, take a bath, whatever I need to do to relax. I do not think about the assignments due, nor do I allow myself to stress about them. This has really helped me in this season.
  3. Set manageable weekly goals. I have, in total, around 50 pages (at least) of writing I need to complete in the next 6 weeks for various classes and projects. If I opted to put them off until the last two weeks of school, I would not only be stressed out of my mind, but the work quality would surely suffer. So, I have listed out all – that’s right, every single assignment due from this point until the end of the semester and broken down how I can work on them each week. For some, I give loose guidelines like “general outlines” or “begin research and start listing sources” for this week. For others, I give hard guidelines like “at least 2 pages written each week”. This helps me because I am slowly working through a project, and doing various ones on rotation so it keeps my interest levels high; also, I am a list-maker so having the ability to cross things off each week really keeps my motivation level soaring. I make the tasks doable as well, so I don’t get discouraged.

As a graduate student, assignments are such an important part of the learning process, but sometimes – it feels like just too much. I hope my  little tips help – I have found them to help me. Keep reminding yourself why you began this process in the first place, you can do it! We can do it!

 

How to Entertain Yourself While in Quarantine

Hannah Plumb headshot

Hannah Plumb, MA SID’22

We’re now two years into the pandemic, even though almost feels like it’s been a lifetime for me. While the mask mandates have started to come down and it definitely is starting to feel a bit more like normal life again, unfortunately, people are still getting sick with Covid sometimes. And yes, I was one of those people; I got sick with Covid three weeks ago. Thankfully, it was a mild case, and I mostly felt okay for the majority of the time. Honestly, what I feel like I learned the most was how to entertain myself (the extrovert) while being completely by myself. I got sick right around when most of my midterms were, sadly, but when I finished those, I just found myself very bored. So, here are my best tips for entertaining yourself during quarantine:

  1. Watch some mindless reality tv

We all see the popular reality tv shows on Netflix (Too Hot to Handle, Love is Blind, etc), but have you ever sat down and actually taken the time to delve into them? While I had Covid, I found that I wanted to watch something I could get into, but that also was a little mindless. Silly reality tv shows? The perfect solution to this craving I had. Once you get over how ridiculous they are sometimes, they honestly can be really entertaining and make you laugh a lot, even when you’re not feeling so good.

2. Try out a new hobby

At the beginning of the semester, I got really into the show Euphoria. I think one of the coolest parts of this show is the costume and makeup design. To set the record straight, I am not a makeup person whatsoever, but I couldn’t help but admire all of the cool designs all of the makeup artists had come up with on that show. So, in my peak Covid boredom, I got my old makeup palettes out and tried to recreate some of their looks on my face. Did it work? Definitely not. Was it really fun? Absolutely!

3. Make a call to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while

One of the great things about grad school is getting the chance to meet so many amazing people. However, with how busy I am, I definitely don’t have as much time to talk to my friends at home. So, during quarantine, it was the perfect time for me to make a call to some of my friends back home and catch up. It was great to hear from them and also made me feel better when I was getting lonely in quarantine.

4. Read a book for pleasure

Graduate school has a lot of reading; some of which I really enjoy. However, school reading often takes up so much of your time that it’s hard to take time away to read for pleasure. So, during quarantine I took the time to finish up reading Anita Hill’s Book Our Thirty Year Journey to End Gender-Based Violence. Shameless plug- read it! It’s amazing and such an important discussion of the epidemic that is sexual violence in American society. Also, I started reading Eat, Pray, Love, which is a very different book, but one I enjoyed nonetheless.

5. Color your worries away!

Finally, I got out my adult coloring book that a friend had given me when I was feeling a little stressed, and started coloring away! It honestly is a great thing to focus on, especially when you’re feeling down, stressed or anxious. I could not recommend it enough!

There you go! There are Hannah’s tips for keeping yourself entertained during quarantine. Hopefully you won’t need them, but just in case, here they are 🙂

Looking at a New Year Ahead

Hannah Plumb headshot

Hannah Plumb, MA SID’22

Hello Admissions blog reader! I’m a little late to the game, but a happy new year to all! The start of the New Year is always one of my favorite times; everyone seems so happy and excited for all the new things to come. Even though this year looked a little different because of the covid spike, it still was a great New Year and New Year’s Eve to be had. Even though covid running rampant meant that I couldn’t spend New Years Eve with my significant other, I was thankful because it gave me the opportunity to spend the night with my sister. We watched the ball drop, ate lots of cookies and blasted our favorite songs on repeat.

Once the New Year officially began, I began reflecting on 2021 for a bit and thinking what I wanted to bring with me to make 2022 great. 2021 was a year of firsts for me: my first time getting into graduate school, my first time travelling to Massachusetts (and moving here!), and my first time learning about topics like data analysis, survey design, project management and more. I want 2022 to be as great (if not even more so) as 2021 was for me. I think part of doing that is bringing the same sentiments with me from the last year. I want to go into 2022 with a positive mindset and achievable resolutions.

My two resolutions for this year are to practice more self care and to read more. While these may sound simple, I think they’re really important to my mental health, especially while in grad school. While in grad school, it’s easy to get so caught up in your assignments that you don’t take time for yourself. This year, I want to make more time for self-care. For me, that specifically means taking time to cook, bake, work out, and just relax for a while. In regards to my second resolution, I love reading but it’s not something I always make time for either. I think reading is such a great way to explore new worlds and cultures without even leaving your home! This year, I also want to make more time for pleasure reading. I’ve already started off by reading Red, White and Royal Blue, a very fun romance book everyone should check out (Editor’s note: I also recently read this book and co-sign it as a fun read)!

Whether you make resolutions or not, I wish to everyone a happy and prosperous 2022.

Dealing with COVID-19 as a Graduate Student

Ronunique Clark headshot

Ronunique Clark, MPP’23

As we enter our third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can feel never-ending and draining. If you have experienced COVID personally, in your family, or close friends group, here is a list of ways on how I have tried to stay safe versus sorry during this time.

First, if you test positive for COVID or come in close contact with someone who has, you should communicate this to others in your academic and professional settings. What we have been seeing a lot during this pandemic is people not wanting to disclose their status but in order to keep the numbers low and everyone safe, it is important to communicate. I recommend that you reach out to anyone you have been in close contact with, communicate to your professors so that they can better assist you with help on assignments or deadlines, and speak to your supervisor so that they can assist you in rescheduling hours and work-related tasks.

Second, make sure to wear your mask, wash your hands with soap and water, and disinfectant high-touch surfaced areas such as doorknobs, light switches, dishes etc. These steps will keep the spread of COVID at a minimum so that you and others are protected against the virus.  If you’ve been exposed to someone who has tested positive, make sure to self-isolate; it can be confusing on how long to self isolate for, especially if you received a COVID-19 vaccine but make sure to follow CDC recommendations.

Third, isolation and self-quarantine can be very difficult, having to sit in one space staring at the walls. Begin to find hobbies or things that interest you. Work out or do yoga for 15-20 minutes to keep your body up and running if you are able, start a new book, meditate or begin a self-journaling journey; anything that will keep your mind or body stimulated without causing too much stress on yourself.

This pandemic has been a hard and long one, but by following these simple steps, we can help keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

Broccoli and Potatoes

Hannah Lougheed, MA SID/MS-GHPM’22

Yes, you read that right: broccoli and potatoes. We have all been there: dinnertime, standing in the kitchen looking for what you are going to eat to refuel yourself, exhausted, low energy, and just ready to call it a day and turn off your brain. You reach for the sad bag of ramen that has sat in the back of your cupboard for a questionable amount of time then reconsider… Well, my friends, let me fill you in on a secret – you too can enjoy the luxurious taste of broccoli and potatoes to break up your dinner time dilemma.

Here’s what you need:

1 head of broccoli

1 medium/large potato of your choosing (I prefer yellow potatoes)

Olive oil

Salt

Parmesan Cheese

Honey

Cut and coat the veggies in olive oil and salt then put in the air fryer (or oven, if no air fryer) for 10 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. After 10 minutes, move the veggies around then let sit in the fryer for another 6-8 minutes. When done, sprinkle with cheese and put some honey on top and voila! you’ve done it!

So, why am I telling you about this absurdly simple meal I make almost every night (not even kidding, ask my roommates – E V E R Y  N I G H T)? Well, in the midst of crazy grad school schedules, work schedules, and just general life craziness, having one less thing to think about each night has made my life much easier. Additionally, when you’re on a tight budget, this is a very wallet-friendly and healthy meal. Yes, it can be boring to eat the same dinner most nights, but for me, the trade-off is worth it.

I hope this grad school hack is helpful, or you may just think I’m a bit eccentric for eating the same meal each night. Regardless, the bottom line is, when life gets crazy busy during your time in grad school (which it inevitably will), having one thing that is constant and routine can be a nice way to reground yourself at the end of a long day. For me, that one thing is dinner as I keep it easy, quick, healthy and mindless. If you have a favorite dinner go-to please let me know, I – clearly – could always add a bit of variety to my dinner time routine.

*I have to throw an acknowledgement to my roommate Andy Mendez, as she inspired me to write this post!

A Self-Care Weekend Away

Hannah Plumb headshot

Hannah Plumb, MA SID’22

It’s now officially December and we’re getting close to the end of my first semester at Heller. It has been such a whirlwind, and honestly, I can’t believe that I’m so close to the end. It simultaneously feels like it’s been a really long time, and also no time at all. However, the deeper into the semester you get, the easier it can be to feel some major burnout. I personally am working two jobs and have been taking 5 classes each module, which is a lot mentally and emotionally. So, it’s important not to forget to take care of yourself and give yourself some time away from school.

When I’m experiencing burnout, I like to have a change of scenery to clear my head. The great thing about living in a place like New England is there are so many beautiful and fun-filled places to visit that are only a short drive or train ride away. Luckily, my friends had already planned a trip up to Vermont to celebrate one of our birthdays. It ended up being at the perfect time because that was right when I was feeling some peak burnout and definitely needing some self-care time. We rented a mountain cabin up in Vermont, specifically on Okemo Mountain. It is gorgeous in New England in the fall, and Vermont was especially beautiful. All the trees were covered in deep red, yellow, and orange leaves.

We drove up to the mountains on Friday and got to the house around midday. As soon as we got out of the car, I felt like I was at peace. Being in nature, seeing the beauty of the trees and the mountains around me, and feeling the mountain air… it all made me feel relaxed. For me specifically, I really feel like being in nature is essential for me to reset after being stressed out. There’s something about being in the mountains during autumn that just feels right. 

And it was a fun-filled weekend! We got the opportunity to go hiking in the nearby mountains and see the beautiful lake. We also made some delicious meals like tortellini soup and pork tacos. We also got the opportunity to play some board games, like Uno and codenames. Also, one of the main highlights of the cabin is that it had a gaming console from the 80s that let you play older games like Pacman, Donkey Kong and Frogger on it. Needless to say, I got very into Frogger very easily, and now am a world-class champ (just kidding, haha).

All in all, it was a great, relaxing weekend getting to celebrate one of the first friends I made at Heller. I came back feeling rejuvenated, refreshed and incredibly thankful. Graduate school is an amazing experience, but it can easily feel overwhelming and stressful sometimes. Taking some time to take care of yourself is essential. Make sure to take some time to relax and get a change of scenery even amidst all the projects and events going on. I personally would recommend doing it in the mountains, but that part is up to you.

Housing in Waltham: Sharing a Space with Others

Hannah Lougheed, MA SID/MS-GHPM’22

One of my biggest stressors when planning to move to Waltham (just outside of Boston) was finding housing. I think most felt this similar roller-coaster ride of emotions:

Emotion 1,  excitement: “Wow! Living in Boston will be just like in the movies. I want a nice 1 bedroom studio near the water, I’m sure my $800 a month will go a long way!”

Emotion 2, inquisitive: “Look at all these options… wait, when I enter my budget I can’t seem to find my dream apartment, what is going on?!”

Emotion 3, rational: “Ahh, okay I guess I will just have to opt for a nice big shared house with a roommate or two.”

Emotion 4, confused: “Wow, that’s not going to work either. Okay, smaller house with a few more roommates it is.”

Emotion 5, accepting: “Okay, looks like a small townhouse with 4 roommates will have to work!”

Emotion 6, nervous: “But what will living with 4 other people be like, how will I find them, how will they find me?”

I bring you to today. Real talk: I was not excited about having to live with 4 other people (who I did not know) in a small place when moving here; and, for many, their situation is like mine in which they are working on a tight budget and need to make every penny count. But let me tell you, IT WILL BE OKAY!

In fact, if you’re looking to build community, living with others is great. In my mind, I worried that I would have super messy, loud, rude roommates who made every moment home unbearable. But, my experience has not looked like that. Instead, I now live with 4 other Brandeis students who are wonderful. My roommates include another Heller graduate student (in the MBA/SID program), a PhD student in History, a graduate student in Business Analytics, and a graduate student in Finance. If I had opted to spend (A LOT) more money to live by myself, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to enjoy casual dinner conversations while I make my usual dinner of broccoli and potatoes. I wouldn’t have enjoyed the yummy smells that come with foods from Pakistan and Afghanistan, and I wouldn’t have had others to commiserate with after a long day of classes.

If you are like me and feeling a bit apprehensive about finding housing in this area as a graduate student, let me tell you: odds are you will encounter some pretty smart, talented, kind and caring individuals in your pursuits because Brandeis seems to pull those types of people in.  There are also plenty of resources provided to graduate students to help you on your housing search. So, don’t worry and just trust and enjoy the process. Hey, you may even make some awesome new friends because of it!

Getting Involved through Extracurriculars

Ronunique Clark headshot

Ronunique Clark, MPP’23

Believe it or not, I had planned not to join any extracurricular actives in my first semester here at Heller.  I felt that I was somewhat overly involved in my undergraduate career and I wanted to go with the flow of school before I began to commit my time to other activities. Yet as the semester got underway, I felt I didn’t have many connections outside of my cohort and I wanted to get to know more students across Heller.  I opened my email one day and saw that the Heller Student Association (HSA) was looking to fill some positions. From my experience in my undergraduate program, I didn’t really want to join a student association as I felt they were never really for the students and there were always problems, so I wasn’t eager to apply.

But after reading the previous executive-boards’ (also called E-board) bios and the HSA mission statement, Heller’s HSA seemed like a team that wanted to serve the students of Heller wholeheartedly without any gimmicks. It seemed like a good fit so I took my chance and applied for the Administrative Coordinator position, note-taking for meetings and events while also serving on the Graduate Student Association (GSA) Senate as a Heller representative. I did not know what to expect joining HSA, I just hoped that everyone was open-minded, driven to meet the needs of Heller students, and friendly. To my surprise, the HSA team embodied all these qualities and many more. Even though it is only the beginning of our journey together as the HSA 2021-2022 E-board, so far we have been able to host a successful first Town Hall/ Meet the Board and also a Halloween Event where we provided games, arts and crafts, music, and good conversation amongst the students. In addition to our events, we have also begun petitions in support of Heller student parking and to re-open our favorite coffee shop in Heller, Starbucks.

At the moment, I don’t think I will be joining any other E-boards, but I hope to be able to make a lasting impact for the students at Heller with my team. Joining extracurricular activities in graduate school can be difficult when juggling academics, work-life balance, and home, but even if you do not join organizations’ executive boards, it is always good to remain connected with what organizations on campus are doing to enhance your graduate school experience.

Boundaries Help Me Have It All

Daniella Levine, MPP ’21

Over the last few weeks, I have been feeling a lot more fatigued than I expected. With the Jewish holidays coinciding with the start of school (read: two days off from class each week for the month of September), I did not really feel like I got into a rhythm until a month and a half into the semester. But even so, the workload was nothing new: last year, I decided to continue to work throughout my first year at Heller, I maintained about 15-20 hours a week of work for the organization I worked for prior to my return to school, as well as 4-6 hours a week with Heller admissions. Between that work, school assignments, and class time, I still found hours in the day to spend outside with my dog or even fit in a nap. So why does this semester feel different?

Being in person has afforded me many positive experiences. I focus better in a classroom. I enjoy the small talk class breaks and walks to and from Heller that being on campus provides. Yet, all of that on time is something I have not had to engage with in a year and a half. A luxury of starting school during a pandemic was there were much fewer social expectations and distractions to get in the way of work. I was able to do 20-25 hours of work a week because I did not have plans on weeknights. I could finish school assignments in a timely fashion because I did not have any scheduling conflicts.  I did not spend most of my days out and active but instead had to only be presentable for one three hour class a day.

I am delighted to be back in person and by the opportunities to engage socially, both with my peers and my friends in the Boston area. But I needed to find the right balance.  I spend some nights prepping for class the next day, where others, I am happy to grab a meal with friends. Graduate school is about compromise.  It is about doing what makes you feel more comfortable at any given moment. Trying to fit it all in is not ideal. The overload can be exhaustive and destructive.  There are times where I award myself a night off because I am at capacity for the day and need to listen to my body and my mind. There are other days where I  know pushing myself to finish a reading or paper is the best choice. The pandemic helped me feel comfortable setting boundaries and now I am finding ways to employ that skill in my everyday life and I cannot be my best self without the word “no.”

When It All Starts to Make Sense

Daniella Levine, MPP ’21

*This may be true of other graduate school programs, but as I am enrolled at Heller, I write under the assumption that this is special to the Heller curriculum.*

People who go back to school must have an affinity for learning. Or at least those who choose to go back to school for a higher degree in social sciences. To take time off from income-earning to invest in education is not a lightly made decision.  And yes, in many cases the degree is beneficial and necessary to excel in the workforce. Yet, it is not guaranteed that higher education equates to higher pay. So that loops us back to – people who go back to school must have an affinity for learning.

For me, the return to school full-time brought some fear and anxiety, but overall I felt comfort and joy. Previously, when I would engage in study groups or one-off lectures, I always left feeling inspired with a yearning for more. I missed being intellectually challenged. I missed the debate and dialogue that sometimes only an academic event evokes. So my return almost felt imminent.

In undergrad, my academic path felt scattered. I enrolled in a slew of courses that seemed interesting that also fulfilled my core curriculum. However, there did not seem to be a congruent theme each year, let alone every semester that linked all of my areas of study.  So when I started to experience deja vu in my Heller courses, I was at first shocked. My course readings seemed to blend together. The lectures started to feel familiar.  I began to recognize components of my studies in my everyday life.  The work I was doing in my applied regression class helped clarify my readings in research methods. The theories discussed in my policy analysis class underpinned the teachings in my contemporary issues in gender policy course. Instead of accepting this fluidity at face value, I questioned and doubted it. It did not seem possible that I could actually identify core concepts in different classes let alone find ways to coherently employ them through interdisciplinary action. And then when I realized this was not a fluke or some construed imposter syndrome, it all started to click.

The Heller MPP program‘s curriculum design fosters accessible education, which promotes applicable learning. Each course structure enables the student to build upon the course material not just within the designated class, but throughout their time at Heller. No class, concept, or curriculum exists in a chasm. This cohesion reinforces each new idea and on a personal note, helps me to feel more confident in my skills, aptitude, and intellect. I am proud of my academic growth and I am indebted to Heller for pushing me to see beyond the class schedule binary.

« Older posts Newer posts »

Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)