Stirring the Pot: Stayin’ Studious Without Losing a Screw

Trying to survive in college is stressful in and of itself; add exams, lack of sleep, and anxiety to the mix and you’re in for a rough time. Here are some helpful tips to stay sane yet studious.

Typically, I like to do investigative pieces — this is a bit of a deviation from my normal style but I found it quite fitting as we’re finishing off midterms and on the cusp of finals season. Yep, the exams and deadlines are here and we’re all in a frenzy of stress, anxiety, and a lack of sleep (which we all know we desperately need). The eyebags are forming, and so is the long, expensive list of Venti Starbucks Nitro Cold Brews, Monsters, and Guayaki Yerba Mates. But to be honest, I just hope you’re all doing okay. Or at least surviving. Anyways, I just thought I’d share some ways to not go completely batshit crazy from all the damn stress you’re probably facing right now. (And trust me, I’m  quite knowledgeable on the subject, as I’m a literal human ball of worry.)

ORGANIZE!

I know this isn’t a fresh, new idea, but it’s honestly the best way to assure you don’t feel as if you’re literally drowning in an ocean of papers, projects, and deadlines. And it’s a lot simpler than it seems — you don’t need to buy an expensive planner or be a bullet journaling master to tackle time management. Simply get a piece of paper (or use your phone notes app if you prefer) and just write out everything that’s stressing you out — all the things you have to do, and when they need to be done by. Literally just spill your brains out onto the page.

By releasing everything from your head to a documented place allows your mind to be relieved from all the pressure of remembering these tasks. Then plug them into your calendar! Plan out the week day-by-day and suddenly your tasks will seem much less daunting: as long as they’re spread out into time chunks — cramming is not the move! 

PRIORITIZE YOURSELF!

Assure you’re keeping your best interests in mind when making decisions. If you know you have a fat paper to write in TWO days that you have yet to start, then it’s probably in your best interest to take up your friend’s last-minute, yet extremely enticing offer to go to that party. Let yourself have enough time to complete your task without the pressure of the deadline waving over your head — pulling an all-nighter while chugging two sour apple reigns from the 7-eleven across the street is not the best situation to be in (coming from personal experience!). Not only can this lead to a mental breakdown (guilty), but it means you’re not doing your best work. But I know you’re still going to procrastinate, so to assure your all-night cram/work session won’t completely destroy your health, make sure you’re taking short breaks in which you leave your workspace and take a stretch or stroll. If you’re going to consume high quantities of caffeine, make sure to balance your water intake with the caffeine (not only will hydrating keep your mind sharp, but it will make the caffeine much more effective and long-lasting). Also, assure you’re eating healthy snacks — some of these could include nuts, berries, granola bars, or yogurt. NO TAKIS. PLEASE.

SLEEP!

Sleep is a precious gift. I know us college kids cherish (and I mean CHERISH) our sleep despite sacrificing it constantly. I know all the doctors tell us we need roughly 8 hours of sleep but honestly, I know I’m not getting it and it’s completely MY FAULT. Sleep is extremely crucial if we want our mental health to be in tip-top shape — one way to combat the lack of sleep I know we all have is by taking power naps. No, not four-hour naps that send us into another dimension of time, I’m talking about 15-20 minute naps in between classes. This short bit of sleep can give you the power to push through the day and be productive when you’re feeling like you can’t keep goin’ anymore. But make sure to be self-disciplined: don’t keep hitting snooze, but give yourself an incentive to get up, such as a good ol’ cuppa joe.

BALANCE YOUR TIME!

One of the most important tips I can give you is to just be self-aware of your productivity. If you know you’re overworking yourself, make sure to give yourself time to relax, let loose, and have fun! Reward yourself for your hard work when you know you deserve it. Make plans with friends or just let yourself sit back and veg on the couch! But this goes both ways: if you know you’ve been slacking a bit and you’re stressed from your lack of productivity in the face of a million daunting tasks, don’t be too hard on yourself.

Beating yourself up and calling yourself a failure isn’t going to do you any good. Remind yourself that you are capable of doing great things, pull your bootstraps on, and get your shit done! Take it little by little, assuring you’re not trying to get too much done in a short period of time. Honestly, the hardest part of doing anything is just starting. Type out that title page, start that outline, pull out that textbook, and break out those highlighters. Tell yourself that the task is NOT bigger than you and that you can take it.

Make sure to stay focused though — as I said before: if you know you haven’t been too productive lately, make sure to be intentional about how you’re spending your time. Don’t lay in bed for six hours if you know you have things to do, even if they’re stressing you out. In the end, your lack of productivity will make yourself feel MORE stressed in the end, and can affect the way you view yourself, which has a direct correlation to the quality of your mental health!

LOVE YOURSELF!

I hope some of these tips help you out. But honestly, give yourself a damn break. You’ve got this! You’re doing great. I know all these things are easier said than done, but just make sure you’re taking it all little by little. It’s not the end of the world if you mess up. We all do it – none of us are perfect students – or perfect people at that. Just try your best, plan as much as you can, and make sure you’re doing everything that’s in your best interest. You’ve made it this far, and honestly, that’s a huge achievement in itself! And as I’m sure you don’t hear this enough, I’m proud of you.

Written by: Olivia Flores
Featured Image: Prescence.io

Indecision Starts (And Ends)…Here

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A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Paul Justice in the Division of Undergraduate Studies: Undeclared Students here at SDSU. He shed some light on one of the more misunderstood, but ever important parts of our academic programming and advising.

In our interview, Paul informed me that at any given time there is anywhere from 800-1300 students who fall under his jurisdiction of “undeclared.” Majority of these students are freshmen, however there are instances where students change their mind or fail to meet the requirements for a major and rescind into undeclared. This is far from a negative thing. Paul reiterated that being undeclared opens students up to resources that would not be as readily or easily available to the average student set in their respective departments. He revealed the best tool for undecided students that he developed and updates regularly…an Excel spreadsheet. This sheet cannot be found elsewhere and includes: every department’s unit requirements, advisor contact information, trial courses to take if interested in the major (before having to declare), GPA requirements, and more. This is a living, breathing document that he plans to never perfect, but continuously grow and adapt.

For those who are unaware, San Diego State University offers a degree program that is rather unique and coveted by other universities. This was designed to assist students who are unable to meet course requirements for a particular major, or who have decided upon a major that SDSU does not offer. Interdisciplinary Studies allows students to work with three different major departments to craft a personalized field of study. Paul oversees this program within Undeclared. He understands that students may become discouraged or want to transfer schools when they cannot seem to find a department or major that is right for them, Interdisciplinary Studies is the answer.

Lastly, Paul wanted to make sure that I let everyone know (especially parents of incoming students) that it is okay to be unsure. He insists that not having your mind made up at 18 is far from radical, and his department will offer the tools needed to get you where you (eventually) want to be. More than that, he has started a program for students who were once Undeclared, but found their home at SDSU. These students now have the opportunity to mentor current undecided students. Paul leads workshops with the assistance of these mentors. Each month has a different theme and they are open to all students interested (undeclared, or not). The purpose of these is to build and maintain a sense of comaradarie. or a “cohort” as he likes to call it, where students can develop a connection to each other and the university. Feeling connected to the university is something that, previously, these students were lacking. Sometimes this led them to transfer schools, or have a diminished Aztec experience. The hope is that this program will alleviate both. It is for these reasons that Paul is confident that indecision may start in the Office of Undeclared, but it will end there also.

The 1975 are still way out, and their fans can’t get enough

The four musicians who graced SDSU’s Cal Coast Open Air Theater this past Saturday call themselves The 1975, but those who have experienced the band’s live performances are likely to leave the concert venue in a daze, enamored and convinced that Matty Healy, Adam Hann, George Daniel and Ross MacDonald are more than just pretty men who hold instruments in pretty lighting — they’re modern demigods who deserve every ounce of recognition received. This amount of attention has immeasurably exploded over the past year, and the February 2016 release of the band’s second album, I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it, has secured The 1975 a well-earned spot in the mainstream. Three years ago, the act was best known for their quirky name, song titles (e.g. “Chocolate” and “Milk”) and heroin chic frontman, Healy. They assumed the roles of indie rockers, the guys who’d been jamming together since their grade school days back in ‘02, the ones whose first three EPs went uncharted and undetected by popular music radars. The aesthetic of the older 1975 — thematically black, white and experimental — was an acquired taste, and nothing like the band’s current sound or image.

Today, The 1975 paints themselves in shades of blush and berry; their newer material is candy-like — bright, addictive and ready for mass consumption. But this fact doesn’t lessen the band’s artistic excellence. To the delight of veteran followers, 2016 has confirmed that The 1975’s talent for creating meaningful, infectious pop is well and alive. And since there’s no denying that passionate listeners are the driving force behind a musical act’s success, we’ve spoken to a couple of longtime ’75 fans, Nadine and Lauren, about their personal relationships with the band, their music, and how spiritual a 1975 show can really be. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

How long have you been listening to The 1975 for?

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Nadine (@nd.jl on Instagram) is a third year st SDSU.

NADINE: Honestly, I can’t even remember how I found The 1975. It’s kind of like trying to remember how you met your best friend. I think I started listening to them about 3 or 4 years ago, when the original self-titled album came out.

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Lauren (@lauuurren on Instagram) is a first year at Grossmont College.

LAUREN: I started listening to The 1975 in 2013, after their first album had already been released and they were a bit more popular. It was during my sophomore year of high school when I, like most people my age, was trying to figure myself out, so I felt drawn to their particular style and sound.

Interpret this question however you’d like, but what makes The 1975 uniquely them?

LAUREN: I think what makes The 1975 different is the amount of creativity and artistry that they invest into their videos and sets at concerts. The music represents the band members more than current popular sounds, and it’s a reflection of their ideas and beliefs. For example, they’ll have completely instrumental sets, and the music, in an odd way, characterizes their persona along with the videos and lighting that plays hand in hand with the track.

NADINE: It’s funny, because The 1975 are pretty different from what I usually listen to, but I love them so much. But I mostly look for artists that stand out amongst other artists that are doing and saying the same things. Musically speaking, they’re them because they have that kind of edge with their lyrics and sound. Like, when I listened to the first album, it just kind of clicked, like “yes, I am pleased by this,” and just the sounds from the bass, guitar, piano, drums, voice — it all just goes together so well. “Girls,” a track from their first album, pretty much shows all that, at least to me. I really like the song because it’s upbeat and fun, but then it’s also like, “No, this is not a cute, love story. Get out with that bubblegum pop princess sh**.”

Okay, here’s a toughie — you can only listen to one of their songs for the rest of your life. What track do you choose, and why?

NADINE: I think I would have to go with “Sex,” which is also from their first album. I’m pretty sure that was the song that led me to them so it only makes sense that it’d be the song that I would listen to the rest of my life. I don’t know, I think it’s a cool song to hear with the tempo, drum beats, and guitar riffs. Not to mention the lyrics make up like a cool, short story. I think overall it’s a song I could use for anything, like, “yeah, I’m a badass,” or “yes, I have so much energy, I can head bang and air guitar to this.” Plus, for me, it’s nice to imagine myself as the “person in the song” because in high school I was the goody-two-shoes — I always left parties around midnight because my mom set my curfew and I didn’t date. So to break that image, it’s pretty empowering and thrilling. Like I said, badass vibes.

LAUREN: Okay, that is a toughie. I usually can’t stick with one song for long, but if I had to, it would probably be “If I Believe You” from their most recent album, I like it when you sleep…. From the lyrics to the way the song is performed, I feel as if it characterizes a lot of emotions, and each time it plays, I can’t ever skip it. It really emphasizes the writer’s disassociation with God and the struggle to believe (in something), which strikes me as inspiring and is something I can really identify with.

Between 2013’s The 1975 and today’s I like it when you sleep…, longtime fans have witnessed the band’s sound and aesthetic evolve and even contradict itself. How would you personally describe these changes?

NADINE: The changes from the first to second album remind me of something I saw on Tumblr. It’s a text post about how there was a depressed boy who only painted in black and grey, but after he found his girlfriend, he started to paint in color. That’s pretty much what these changes are to me; the sound and aesthetic went from “I don’t care” to “I do care.” I don’t know if I would call it enlightenment, though, because there are still some of the same references to drugs and depression, etc. But it is growth and new inspiration. At the concert, Matty had a short monologue introducing “Loving Someone,” where he talked about Brexit and how people should be thinking of others instead of themselves. And I get it — sometimes you have to go through sh** to get through sh**, if that makes any sense. I think with anything, change is always inevitable, especially for creative artists. So I’m not like, “What the hell are these changes?” I think if you really love an artist, you support them through everything. It’s like when your crush gets a haircut and you either convince yourself they’re still cute or fall for them even harder.

LAUREN: While I agree the 1975’s sound has changed a little bit, I think it’s just a reflection of changes the band members are going through. There is a lot of continuity from last album and this one, like the video parallels from “Robbers” and “Somebody Else,” but their sound has definitely evolved. As time goes on music trends change — for instance, popular alternative music changed from rugged sounds like Stone Temple Pilots and Creed to pop-y sounding artists like Fitz and the Tantrums. I think change is good, and love the direction The 1975 are headed in.

Which is your favorite album of the two, and why?

LAUREN: If I had to choose, my favorite album of the two is their debut, The 1975, mainly because it’s what attracted me to their style and aesthetic and represents a major part of my youth in high school. It has a lot of memories attached to it. But both are amazing.

NADINE: Hands down, it has got to be the first. You ever hear that sequels kill movies? That’s how I feel about albums sometimes. It might be because I’m emotionally invested in the first album and can relate more to the whole “I don’t need anyone, I’m (emotionally) dead inside” vibe. Like “Haunt // Bed” and “Robbers” are songs that I loved so much, and those are technically dark, cynical songs, but the album is more emotionally raw. I can’t really relate to the love songs of I like it when you sleep…, mostly because I’ve never been in serious relationships. Plus, I’d rather worry about myself and figuring out who I am instead of like, dying from the feels. I have an ongoing crush that’s like 3 years old now. I can’t handle love songs that make my heart ache from all these scenarios. “Somebody Else” pretty much had me reevaluating my love life.

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The 1975 at Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theater on October 15, courtesy of Nadine.

In five words, describe The 1975 concert experience.

NADINE: Sensory, feels, and aesthetic overload. If the “and” doesn’t count, mind-blowing. Like, have you seen that meme where it’s like, “When your favorite band is living and breathing in the same space as you, like they’re really here?” That’s how it feels. It’s like the Second Coming of Jesus, like I’m seeing them in the flesh — the hair is real, the beard is real, the clothes are real, everything is real. I’m pretty sure I saw God in the strobe lights during “Sex.”

LAUREN: Emotional, exhilarating, thought-provoking, satisfying and unifying. The music is performed passionately, and the show’s lighting and image effects create an amazing, exhilarating experience. Matty’s political commentary regarding the importance of young voters is enlightening, too. Unlike some concerts, The 1975’s set didn’t feel like it dragged on forever. There was a sense of unity among the audience members, and I felt like there were a lot of people that think the way I think, and believe what I believe.

Last question: what does The 1975’s music mean to you? 

NADINE: It pretty much means that you’re not the only one feeling like this, whatever “this” is. When I heard the first album, I think it clicked for me because I was going through a rough patch at that time, like a mini mid-life crisis, if that makes sense. And obviously life is just like this long-ass lesson, so we’re always trying to find out who we are and where we stand, both intrapersonal and interpersonal, and that’s what both albums are about. Their music is emotionally raw and true and that’s why it’s so easy to relate and connect to. Even if you haven’t been put in those type of situations, you kind of put yourself in those shoes and see how it feels. And from that, especially with the music, it’s kind of calming.

LAUREN: The 1975’s music means so much to me because it’s a reflection of myself: it’s different, yet filled with plenty of emotion and layers of meaning. It doesn’t adhere to standard pop culture trends and it stands as itself. It’s distinct in its own right. While I wouldn’t call myself a super-fan, I appreciate the artistry they bring to their music and am incredibly excited to see what’s next!

For more information about The 1975, visit their website, Twitter, or Spotify page. Their upcoming tour dates can be found here.