1. Find a new study space
As a first-year student with absolutely zero sense of direction, I still find myself getting
occasionally lost around Grounds. The bright side is, my terrible navigation skills often
lead me to stumble upon new and unique study spots. Where are these hidden nooks of solitude, you ask? Simply give away the coordinates to my secret silent spots? I don’t think so. Instead, I send you forth on a quest to discover your own alcove to occupy. May it be quiet, cozy and remote enough that no one can see those tears of frustration that will flow as second semester studying begins.
2. Shake up your playlist
Music — along with coffee — is one of the most crucial components of my daily routine. For me, walking to class, working out at the gym and relaxing before bed all require listening to the familiar notes of my favorite songs that help me get through the day. However, a new semester calls for a break from the traditional routine. Switching up your tunes is one of the easiest ways to shake up your daily cycle, as new genres with great music to be heard are only a click a away. I guess this means that I will have to sample some country every now and then … yikes.
3. Read ... for fun!
This one may give you flashbacks to library time in elementary school, but bear with me.
If you have not noticed already, college involves a lot of reading. This is fantastic if you
— like myself — enjoy reading. However, if you do not, I feel terribly sorry for you. Bookworm or not, make it one of your semester goals to pick up a leisure book. Give your eyes a break from tiny textbook font and scribbled, highlighted notebooks. Indulge in an interesting biography about your hero of history, enjoy an advanced text on a physics concept that sparked your interest or simply immerse yourself in the fictional world of a fantasy novel. Whatever your preferred genre, get reading!
“Next semester, I’m making a commitment to go to gym every week,” you said during finals week last December as you raided the ice cream section at Croads to feed your cramming-induced cravings. Well friend, it’s January now, and the new year is well under way — how’s that exercise plan coming? Don’t worry, I am not here to judge. Classes, clubs and homework all make it difficult to keep up with the ridiculously high expectations we University students set for ourselves. According to my sources — thanks mom — just 30 minutes of exercise a day can help improve your mood, sleep quality and productivity. So, consider this a friendly reminder from a peer who could also use some motivation herself to get out there and crank out some cardio.
5. Attend a new event
One of the great aspects about the University is that there is always so much going on. With over 700 clubs and organizations, and a multitude of sports teams — both D1 and intramural — there is no excuse to be bored on a weekend night. Try out for a team or join a unique club to interact with a whole new group of people. Not up for commitment? Try going to one sporting event you’ve never seen before or attending an open club function that supports a cause that interests you. Be open to meeting new people and finding new ways to integrate yourself in the University community. Sure, you may be the only fan or member who shows up, but at least you’re trying new things, right?
6. Try some new food
As you most likely have already discovered, Charlottesville is overflowing with good restaurants. It’s time to get out of the dining hall and head towards the Downtown Mall, the Corner or basically any other main road where there are signs that indicate “food.” Growing up in a relatively touristy town, quality restaurant food was hard to come by and good local places were few and far between. Thus, I wholeheartedly appreciate the diverse selection of cuisine available so close to Grounds. I encourage you to put aside your meal swipes for one night, and try an eatery that is new to you. And of course, as a fellow food lover, please send me your reviews!
With the beginning of the new semester, focus on self often becomes a top priority. Self-care is a necessity in order to stay healthy, be happy and succeed at reaching our goals. However, excessive self-focus can lead to thinking that causes stress and anxiety. This is why getting involved in volunteer work is a great goal to have this semester. Willingly setting aside a portion of your day to serve those who need it gives you an escape from pressures of college life. Not only does volunteering benefit the community, but it also benefits you, as being a helpful presence for others boosts your self esteem. Find a service that best works with your schedule and allows you to share your unique talents with others so that you can simultaneously give and receive joy.
8. Start taking notes now
Type A people, you can probably skip this one, but for those of you readers that struggle to keep your notes in line with lectures — this one's for you. A couple missed slides, a skipped class and a few minutes of zoning out can lead to more than a couple blank notebook pages. If this is already you in the first week of second semester, please pull yourself together. Save yourself from midterm stress and catch up on what you missed. Those notes are not going to color code themselves.
9. Call someone
Calling is quite honestly the most underrated form of communication. Texting? Spellcheck is faulty. FaceTime? Umm, I haven’t showered yet today. Email? Much too slow. Calling? I can have a regular conversation with you, but without the commitment of actually meeting in person? Yes, please. Calling someone on the phone is bold, classy and ultimately shows that you care. So switch it up this semester and give someone a ring — but you should probably stick to email for your professors.
Cliché? Maybe, but honestly it is a second semester essential. Spring break is a long way away, so you are going to be around Grounds for a while. So get comfortable and find some people, activities and places around you that bring you joy. Share a smile and spread some happiness — it’s a brand new semester, let’s kill it with kindness.