Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Learning Lessons in College: Money.

Money is an all-powerful substance, which, although we (I) may not like to admit it, is really important and has a huge impact on many of the decisions we (I) make in life. Taking myself for example, there's a lot of stuff that I like to do which requires money (eating, studying, travel, eating), and I've had to learn to accept that, despite my rebellious-stick-it-to-the-man-teenager-angstiness.

The problem is, I'm a spender. I'm not saying I have some type of dude-version confessions of a shopaholic thing going on, it's just that sometimes, when I have 20 dollars to buy 19 dollars worth of stuff, I may forget that I really need that stuff and I'll go on and spend 10 of those dollars on cheese fries and a milkshake instead.

My point is that it's been a battle. I've had jobs and saved for stuff in the past, but when I first came to college, having not worked for a year, and my dad put a few hundred in my People's United Account for my first few months at college, most of that few hundred was spent in a few weeks.

I'm real bad.

So I said to myself; "Thats enough. You don't have enough  money on your knight card to do laundry and you just bought a large order of fries with the 12 quarters you found in your desk. Time for a change."

So, in the lame way that I do things, I organized myself a budget. I looked at what I had spent so far, made some cuts, decided what would be most appropriate for necessities as well as money for spending, and then I called my dad and said "sorry I suck at money; so here's the deal", and we figured something out.

For sure, everyone doesn't have to resort to a budget, but it helped me out a lot. I know what I can spend on this or that, and unfortunately it requires more thought and planning, but that's the best way I can do it!

There are tons of lessons-learned to be had in college, and if anyone wants to hear advice/stories about certain adjustments upon starting freshman year, I'd be happy to do what I can! Shoot me an email at brosbrook@mail.smcvt.edu, or find me on facebooktwitter or formspring!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Manejando Juntos (Driving together)

This past Wednesday night, I went on my first drive with Juntos.

Juntos (meaning "together" in Spanish) is a UVM-SMC coalition group that works closely with the VT Migrant Farmworker Solidarity Project (VTMFSP), and basically, the goal of the group is to reach out to migrant farm workers in this area of Vermont. We do this by providing them with a transportation network of volunteer drivers, promoting human/civil rights in the community and, eventually, we hope to provide ESL lessons for the workers.

So Wednesday night, I met with Keelia, a fellow SMC student and Blogger, to go on our first drive. She'd gone on Study Abroad last semester, and we talked about living in Europe and the Spanish language on the drive over to the Vermont Worker's Center. Once we finally figured out the directions (it took a minute), we got to the Center towards the end of a meeting about the Secure Communities Act. The meeting, held by the VTMFSP, was to promote community activism, with the goal of making sure that worker's rights are respected. The meeting was all in Spanish, which rocked.

At the end of the meeting, we introduced ourselves to everyone there. Then we met Over, the guy we were driving. He's from Chiapas, Mexico. The ride started out pretty well, we introduced ourselves in Spanish and made some small talk, and then it was quiet for a little while. We weren't really sure what to talk about. Then, when Keelia was about to ask whether to turn or not, Over said, "you can take a left here", in what sounded like really good English.

The rest of the ride was on-and-off conversation, in Spanish and English, but it was clear that Over spoke decent English. And it made me feel like he was the one doing us a favor, speaking in Spanish with us.

So there is something to our name. I've just gotten involved, but that drive the other night and having been at that meeting makes me feel a sense of solidarity or togetherness (juntos-ness? ;p). It's an awesome organization, I'm really excited to be a part of it during my time here!

For any SMC kids who are interested, shoot me an email at brosbrook@mail.smcvt.edu, and I can help get you involved! Or if anyone has questions about the group feel free to ask!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mt. Mansfield with the Wilderness Program!

As I mentioned in my last post, today I got to hike Vermont's Mt. Mansfield with SMC's Wilderness Program! It was a great day of hiking, there were 6 of us plus 2 leaders, and we got to roll up in what our fearless leader, Nelly, liked to call the "greased whale". It was a church van.

We left a little after 8, got there at 9, and summited in pretty good time. I don't remember when we got to the top, but we made it up and down by 1:30.

Here are some photos of the view!

View to the south...

View to the west (Lake Champlain and NY)...

I definitely recommend one of these hikes (if you're into hiking and outdoorsy-type stuff), cause the people going with you will probably rock; everyone on my trip today was pretty cool! I'd already known a few of them  from my floor, but it's a great way to meet new people and get fresh mountain air, and all those other hippie things that VT students are into!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

SMC Culture Pass Program.

So, being an SMC student rocks in many ways. And one of the reasons why life here is so sweet, is because any Saint Mikes student "in good academic and social standing" (according to the website) can see any event and the Flynn Center, for 10 bucks. Not a bad deal, right?!

 For example, tonight I went to see the Alfredo Rodriguez jazz trio with my friend Tarah, and the performance was in this really cool, underground black-box theater; an awesome setting for jazz tunes (which isn't even my favorite type of music, but it was still cool).

So check it out, my friends, its an awesome deal! Tomorrow I'm off to hike Mt. Mansfield with the Wilderness Program; more on that later!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tips on Productivity.

I'm a very social person. I love being around people, listening to people, talking to people and meeting new people. So what happens when, instead of having a "study session" (sitting around, watching Glozell on youtube, and listening to music with my friends, while my lonely history book lies open 5 feet away) like I want to, I actually have to get down and do some serious work?

My friends and I procrastinating...

During these first two weeks I've been able to toe the line between being social and being productive, and I've worked out a few things that help me to concentrate and get my work done. First of all, though, I'll point out that I really enjoy all the classes I'm taking. I even like Calc! That may be mostly because I'm impressed with my new-found abiliy in the subject, or because there are cool people in my class, but what's important is that I look forward to going; and as a result, the homework isn't so bad. So I'll make that my first tip:

1. Find a way to look forward to class

Like I said, I'm lucky enough to like all my classes, but from what I hear, it would be pretty rare to go through 4 years of college and not have at least one bad class. So how to be productive in a class you don't like? The way I do it may be kind of lame, but I'll think that class as the weak link. And since you're only as strong as your weakest point, work your butt off in that crappy class so that it doesn't affect the rest of your awesome college education!

Too lame? ...nah.

2. Use the library

The library is an awesome place to get stuff done. A; because it's an environment designed specifically for the purpose of learning (unlike your dorm room, where there is facebook and a mini fridge and friends 2 doors down). B; because it's so quiet, and there are fewer distractions (most cell phones don't get service in the basement of Durick Library, and your floormates aren't bumping dubstep while you're trying to do derivatives). Finally, C; because at Saint Mikes, there are confining study cabins in the library basement that will hold you until you're done with every assignment you've ever been given. No I'm totally kidding, you can enter and leave the study cabins as you please, but can we address for a second my awesome ability at run-on sentences?!

Watch a video about Durick Library here!

And I can honestly attest to the awesome power of the study cabin, my friend Tarah and I use them all the time! We've even unofficially claimed the two most hidden study cabins we could find... in the farthest corner of the basement... hidden by moving bookshelves. We like our concentration.

3. Don't be afraid to be productive and social... at the same time

Yes, this might be strange, since I just said that friends and dorm rooms are terrible distractions, but here's how this works. Some things (for me; History and Anthropology), require a lot of reading and writing and take loads of time to finish because it's all thought, little practice. Others (like French and Calc), require some thought, and more practice. In the case of the latter, I've found that it's actually possible to do this type of "practice" homework in a low-key social setting. For example, last night, a bunch of my friends and I were sitting in a room, "studying". Some of us actually were, but there was definitely a lot of youtube and talk going on. So, knowing that I had to study French, I started making flash-cards. It's easy to stop and go while making flash cards; all you're doing is copying words. Also, I could ask my french-speaking friends (again, Tarah) how best to say something. And when I finished the cards, my mind was in study-French mode, so it was easy for me to transition into my small amount of assigned reading and questions which were due the next day. See, productive and social at the same time!

(The thing about this tip is that homework takes longer, but it's not as bad cause you're with friends!)

4. Drink a lot of water

My 4th and final tip; when studying, drink water, and lots of it. I'm definitely a coffee-lover, but when I study, I always drink tons of water. Why? Because it hydrates you, makes your brain work better, it's good for you, and because bathroom breaks are a natural and excusable way to get a 2-minute breather during long study-cabin sessions. It's simple, but it works.

So there you have it, this is how I get stuff done! Feedback is always welcome, and anyone can comment below!

Happy learning!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Freshman, week one.

As one might expect, I'll gladly report that the first week of school has been awesome. The people on my floor are great, really social but also academic-oriented, the classes are engaging (if not really hard, like Calc), and I don't have to cook my own food! Some of the things I've gotten into include the Alpine Ski Team (doing dryland training and then trying out this November), the Wilderness Program (signed up for a Mt. Mansfield hike), as well as some Calc tutoring (which isn't bad).

Also, a fun first-week-of-classes story... I got locked out of my room while I was in the shower. I was in the bathroom, my door was unlocked, my roommate takes off for class, locking the door and not realizing that I was still in the shower... yeah. Thank God I happened to bring a pair of shorts to the shower, cause I ended up having to walk to Alliot (the main hall on campus, which is actually really close to my dorm hall) to get my door unlocked. And as I was approaching, I could tell that I wasn't the first to do this and I certainly wont be the last. There were some faculty standing outside the entrance to Alliot who looked at me, started laughing, and said "We know exactly what happened, come with us."

So as far as the first week goes, that's pretty much it, and I'll just say one more time that I love SMC!!!