Surviving Your Midterms: Part 1

“Midterms:” the word evokes fear, stress, disgust, even confusion.  All are fair reactions!  Why are we subjected to this torture?  Is it even the middle of the semester?  I only wish I knew, and no it isn’t.  That’s why there are multiple rounds of midterms, and this week marks the real beginning of the first round for Notre Dame students.  Having gone through some wildly unsuccessful and some amazing midterm seasons, I thought I would share what I’ve learned so far!

My first tip on the journey to surviving midterms something that you’ve heard a million times; start studying earlier rather than later.  We all always plan to do this, but sometimes it feels impossible.  Especially with the load of four other courses, putting aside time from assignments to study for exams in the distant future often seems impractical.  However, if you can’t make time to start studying a couple weeks in advance, there are two important things you need to be doing: keeping up with readings, and going to office hours.

If you actually master all of the material as the class progresses instead of cheating on the homework and pretending you did the readings, studying for the exam will be a breeze.  Additionally, if you get to know your professor through office hours, only good will come of the relationship.

During my freshman year, I was in three intensive science/math classes that were too much to handle with my other classes as well.  I had a hard time staying on top of assignments, let alone studying and mastering material, so I fell behind.  Before each exam, I relied on my friends to completely teach me the material.  Sometimes this worked out for me and sometimes it didn’t, but the bottom line was that I was completely dependent and unprepared.

Now I go to office hours the second I don’t understand somethings, I sit down on Sunday/Monday and take all my notes for the week, and I put actual thought into the homework before asking for help.  The difference has been exponential, and everything feels easier too because I genuinely understand it!

My next tip is another seemingly obvious one: allocate your time wisely.  This applies more than you would think originally; I’m not just talking about studying on the Sundays after football games.

Oftentimes during midterm weeks, you will have more than one, or even several exams clustered together.  There were a few times last year that I had four exams in a week, and I swear I almost didn’t make it out.  Consistently, I found that when this would happen, I would do very well on the first test, well on the second, okay on the third, and mediocre on the fourth.

This was because I put aside time to study for them in the order they were occurring, and I lost time and steam as the week went on.  Although you may be most stressed for the first exam of the week by the nature of its order, it is absolutely essential that you first evaluate everything you have to do and prioritize those that you know you will have the most trouble with.  (This is very challenging for perfectionists like the students of Notre Dame!)

I could go on and on about how to study, what to do on the day of the exam, and more.  Hopefully I will in Part 2 in the near future.  Until then, please use my advice and the Luck of the Irish to guide you to straight A’s!

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Doing Well in McWell!

Are you feeling stressed? Do you need a quiet space for a group project, homework, or maybe just for a moment to yourself? Do you want to learn about safe alcohol use, mindfulness, the power of sleep, or countless other aspects of health? Walk straight past the dome, into St. Liam’s, up the stairs, and into the McDonald Center for Student Well-Being!

Commonly known as the McWell Center, this place is an amazing health resource on our campus that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. It has countless valuable services including an alcohol education program, wellness workshops, restorative spaces, and much more.

Their mission is to “foster a culture of well-being and empower students to maximize their potential through the synergistic cultivation of heart and mind,” and they aspire to do so “through strategic innovation and intentional focus on the intersecting dynamics of well-being, because living well has the transformational power to create a better future for all.” I was very impressed to see that they even have a strategic plan for well-being at Notre Dame as well as assessments and data showing their progress!

They have a dedicated staff with an array of impressive degrees to help our progress towards physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being. For example, Dr. Jessica Payne is addressed as “ND’s own renowned sleep expert” and has initiated a program to improve cognitive performance, emotional well-being, and physical health through sleep. The website attests to positive results including an average gain of an entire extra hour of sleep per night as well as improved sleep hygiene habits and an increase in naps (which are actually the best thing ever for you!).

Another great program in McWell is the Koru Mindfulness Series, which consists of a 75-minute session every week for four weeks during which you will partake in the nationally-known, evidence-based mindfulness program that is Koru. They have tons of different times and days as options and the best part is that along with everything else in McWell, it’s free!

One aspect of McWell that I think might be the most valuable of all is their workshops. They have sessions on everything from stress to redefining Notre Dame’s drinking culture, and if there’s a workshop you want but don’t see, students are encouraged to request workshops or even to lead their own!

So why doesn’t every student take advantage of McWell? I learned about McWell when we took a field trip there in my Moreau class freshman year. We all know Moreau was a joke, but I can confidently and unironically say that I got something valuable out of the class on the day we went to McWell.

Besides everything I already mentioned, they have tons of free snacks, coffee, all kinds of tea, and sometimes even fresh berries!!! On the day I first visited, they were having an event for essential oils and had a table covered in different types. We were encouraged to read what each was used for and make our own little vial with a combination of different oils, and my energizing mix of orange and peppermint went everywhere with me for the rest of the year.

Now when I’m at the pharmacy in St. Liam’s picking up my skincare prescription (Derma-E) every month, I refuse to leave without taking a moment in one of McWell’s Restorative Rooms to drink a cup of tea. Even if that’s all you ever use it for, a moment to relax in a quiet place will improve your whole day!

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How to Survive Irish Gameday!

It’s football season again.  This phrase incites emotion in everyone who doesn’t live under a rock; whether it be excitement for the best part of the year, nostalgia about some of the most iconic memories with friends and family, or even dread about losing control of the TV (and Saturdays in general) to your dad, brother, or friends for months on end.

 

For a student at the University of Notre Dame, the reaction is the same, if not magnified by 20. It’s iconic, legendary, and a plus for anyone considering the school (even those who don’t particularly understand or appreciate the details of football, like myself!).

 

Of course, if you’re a student at Notre Dame, you are already well aware of this. At the end of last week, campus (and all of South Bend) was stormed by an insane amount of people.  College Gameday chose to station at Notre Dame and by Thursday morning they were already all set up in front of Touchdown Jesus.

 

As soon as classes were over on Friday, the excitement was bound to boil over and all anyone could think of was what the next day would bring. Regardless of the outcome of the game, it was a legendary day, and certainly an overwhelming one. After September 1, you surely understand why this post is necessary.  There is a right and a wrong way to do Irish gameday; there were already some casualties on Saturday, and I hope you weren’t one of them!

 

As an incoming freshman, I didn’t understand what gameday was all about.  I had heard that there were always tailgates to go to, that the games themselves were magical, and that it’s an all-day ordeal. I found this all to be true.  

 

Gameday starts at 8 in the morning for those who are especially daring—I am not, but I still make it a goal to be out of my room by 10 a.m.  The usual routine is to go off-campus to a boys dorm house for what is commonly called Kegs and Eggs, and sometimes there will literally be a full breakfast sitting out for the taking!  However, seeing as boys are gross and unorganized, counting on this would be foolish. The most important rule of a good gameday is that it starts before you reach the party. It is essential that you eat a good breakfast before you do anything.  I recommend an Einstein’s breakfast sandwich—not only is it delectable, but did you know they deliver?!

 

Another essential part of your morning routine is water, and with that water, vitamins and supplements.  This is an important part of every day, and taking them can help give you the stamina and nutrients necessary to withstand the most taxing of gamedays.  A few of my favorites are my general multivitamin, my hair and nail vitamins, a vitamin D supplement (crucial for this California girl when Indiana lacks sunshine for months on end—more on that later!), and my tumeric supplement.  Although it’s not one of the first supplements that comes to mind, you’ve probably had turmeric in foods, and you probably aren’t aware of its extensive benefits.  I encourage you to visit the link provided to learn why I swear by it. Regardless, armed with your bagel, water, and vitamins, you’re ready to cheer on your team.

 

So you’ve had an energetic morning or day of parties, tailgates, friends, and family, now what?  It’s time for the actual game!

 

Because the entire thing will fly by in a blur of fight songs, leprechauns, and blue and gold, I’ve included a few bullet points:

 

  • Make sure you’re in the stadium in time to sing along to “Here Come the Irish” and watch the team storm the field.  It’s incredibly emotional and gives me goosebumps every time.
  • If you’re a freshman, make it a goal to sit in the seats right behind the band at least once.  While occasionally deafening, the excitement is magnified with the sound and the proximity to the field.
  • Stay for the entire game while it’s still warm out!  I made the mistake of leaving the initial games early and then was unable to stay for the entirety of the later ones because it got too cold.
  • Another word on weather; the first games might be hot to the point where you feel like you’re going to faint, and the later ones are the opposite and can induce hypothermia.  Solutions for both: when it’s hot, do
    n’t be afraid to sit out the cheers and take a break, and chug something from concessions like a Powerade; in the cold, hot chocolate is essential and the heaters in the bathrooms make it an absolute sanctuary.
  • Onto the topic of food and drinks, they don’t tell you that you get a student discount.  Even though it’s clear that you’re a student, they will try to charge you full price unless you show your ID.  We pay far too much for tuition to lose another dollar to this school.

 

Lastly, enjoy these moments.  Although I’m only a sophomore, I’m absolutely dreading the time when I won’t be able to cheer on my Irish every weekend.  Utilize the tips I’ve included here, and you too will be marching onward to victory!

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