Weekly Featured Article

Welcome back to The New York-er! (Finally, I know.)

After a long, long break, I’m finally back and blogging again. A lot has happened since my last post (which, funny enough, was from the summer last year): 7 courses; trips to Kingston, Montréal, and Quebec; an award at the research fair; a CUPE strike; being offered a position as a House Don next year in residence; and tons more. Truly, it’s been quite a year.

But I’m back at Media & Communications for the summer until Vanessa takes over for me in the fall when I transition into donship. And, overall, I’m super excited – not only will I have the opportunity to work with a fantastic new team (all of whom will be introduced on our website very soon!), but I am also going to have the opportunity to be creative, to learn & grow, and to share through a number of really awesome things that we’re doing this summer. The creativity piece should come naturally through all the creative work we’ll be doing throughout the summer at MediaComm; however, returning team member Jeff has also come up with an awesome activity that we’ll be doing as a team throughout the year called the Creativity Challenge, in which we draw a theme at random from a hat, and each team member chooses a medium with which to feature that theme. For example, for our first week our theme is Pastime and the medium I chose was drawing. I’m really looking forward to pushing my creativity to new limits, and I think participating in these challenges will do that.

The learning and growth might be tougher, however; I will be doing summer school throughout the summer, so I will have to manage my time well in order to make the most out of my job, my education, and (last but not least) these warm summer months. Time management is something I’ve always struggled with, and so I am aiming to hone this skill throughout my time at MediaComm this summer, maybe with the help of some cool apps, like WunderlistGoogle Calendar, and Self Control (to put a damper on my addiction to skimming my Facebook newsfeed). I also plan on reading a ton this summer (my goal is to read about a book a week), listening to podcasts during my morning commute, and completing a few MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) on Coursera, Edx, and iTunesU.

Finally, for sharing, I decided to start writing again! For nearly a year, this blog was a pretty big part of my life, and I missed sharing my knowledge and experiences with you, my followers. I want to do start sharing like that again – only this time, it will be bigger & BETTER than ever before!

Let me tell you a little bit about what I have in store:

  • This summer, I plan on publishing an article a week – count on it being released every Tuesday or Wednesday
  • I’ll be sticking to three of my main interests: (1) student life (particularly at York), (2) technology & social media, and (3) social justice
  • From time to time, I may also stray from these three main interested, but rest assured: I promise to keep it relatively connected
  • Although I haven’t completely made up my mind yet, I think The New York-er might soon acquire a new design – and possibly a new name! Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks for updates!

It’s going to be an exciting year, and I look forward to sharing it with all of you!

~ Christopher Ford

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Need to Know, Weekly Featured Article

The Best Apps To Have As A Commuter

It certainly is no secret – commuting to school and/or work comes with its own set of unique problems and challenges.

Luckily, here at SCLD Media & Communications, we’re all about using technology to overcome challenges. And so, on that note, let me share with you a few apps that can (hopefully) improve your daily commute! If it’s marked with a star✬, it’s one of my favourites!

✬GO Transit Mobile

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Developer:  GO Transit & Ryerson University

Cost: Free

Available on: Blackberry, iPhone (+ iTouch & iPad), Android, Windows

For anyone who takes the GO Bus or Train to York, this is a simply fantastic app. It allows you to search upcoming bus and train schedules, as well as plan trips for later on. You can save your most frequently-used routes in your favourites for easy access. It also tracks bus locations in real time using location services, so you are able to see just how far away your bus is (and you can set an alarm for when it’s getting close)! A word of warning however – the real-time bus tracking can sometimes be unreliable with older buses!

✬Transit

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Developer:

Cost: Free

Available on: iPhone, Android

This is definitely one of my favourite apps, particularly because of how simple it is to use. Transit uses location services to allow you to see where the closest bus and subway stops are to your current location. It also tells you the different route options there are at each stop, and gives you real-time updates on when the next bus/train arrives! It also has a trip planning function, which can be extremely useful when you are in an unfamiliar area.

RocketMan

Developer:  RocketMan Inc

Cost: 
Free

Available on: Blackberry, iPhone (+ iTouch & iPad), Android

RocketMan, much like transit, shows bus and subway stops nearest you, as well as a list of all upcoming trains and busses at each stop. However,  RocketMan outperforms transit in one way – it displays important news updates and alerts  straight from the transit companies. If there is a TTC stoppage, you’ll know about it via RocketMan.

Waze

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Developer: Maplet

Cost: Free

Available on: iPhone, Android, Windows

I wish I had a whole post to talk about this app, since there are so many features to talk about. However, in a nutshell, Waze is described as a “free community-based traffic and navigation app.” You basically just type in your destination before you leave and keep the app open while driving and the app automatically sends traffic and other data to its servers. It keeps you updated (hands-free, of course) with traffic data, road closures, police traps, and much more in real-time. Once you’re stopped, you can also use the app to report incidents/irregularities on the road, such as fallen trees or telephone lines, accidents or collisions, and more. There really is just so much you can do with it, and it’s an awesome app for any commuter who drives to York.

Oh, and also the maps are extremely interactive and customizable, and use cool little cartoon dudes to mark important locations/locations to avoid.

✬MapMyRide

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Developer: MapMyFitness

Cost: Free

Available on: iPhone, Android, Blackberry*

*Limited support on Blackberry App

MapMyRide is an interesting app, because its primary function is for fitness. So, if you are someone who bikes to your bus stop or to school, you not only can use this app’s mapping and trip planning functions to find your way, but you can also keep track of your fitness along the way – a great addition to any rider’s app library.

✬Kindle

Kindle

Developer: Amazon

Cost: Free

Available on: All apple products (including Mac computers), Android, Windows

The Kindle app is not a transit-related app – but if you’re like me, you love using your time on the bus or subway to dive into a good book. The kindle app allows you to do just that, using the Amazon online store as your own personal library. Although books on the Amazon store do unfortunately cost money, they are usually cheaper than books at your local bookstore, and can be opened up on any one of your devices with the kindle app (as well as your kindle e-reader, if you have one). As well, there are many books – much like on iBooks – which are offered for free, and you can even load e-books and PDFs (yes, like for school readings and lecture notes) that you already own from your computer onto your device.

Metro

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Developer: Metro News

Cost: Free

Available on: iPhone, Android, Windows

This is another great reading app – however, rather than books, it features up-to-date news from Metro News.

Have your own app suggestions? Comment below, and let me know! 

Hey, that rhymes! :p

Au revoir! ‘Til next time!

~ Christopher Ford

Morgan and I all dressed up for Retro Day at SCLD! You can find Morgan on twitter @Wildly_Fit!

Morgan and I all dressed up for Retro Day at SCLD! You can find Morgan on twitter @Wildly_Fit!


UPDATE

Here’s an article for you to check out on the ACMAPS (Atkinson Centre for Mature and Part-time Students) blog – it mentions a couple more really useful apps for TTC commuters!

 

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Weekly Featured Article

My (Not-in-Canada) Canada Day!

I did a bit of a bad thing this weekend…I left the country during Canada Day. I know what you’re thinking – Why, Chris? Why leave this beautiful country on the most important day of the year? Whyyyy? Relax, folks – I promise I had a good reason. For my family and I, July 1st has never just been Canada Day. In addition to being the birthday of our great Nation in the North, July 1st is also the birthdate of my brother, Justin!

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There he is – what a beauty, eh?

And so, for my brother’s birthday (and, you know, just ’cause), we hopped in the car and drove out to NYC for a weekend. None of us had ever been to New York City, and so it was a wonderful opportunity to go away for a weekend as a family and discover a new part of North America. I had only been to the United States once before (I was in a hockey tournament in Rochester many years ago), and so it was pretty exciting for me, although I did not know a whole lot about New York City going into the trip. We left early Saturday morning and arrived there in the early afternoon, and we stayed until noon on Tuesday (Canada Day). Continue reading

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Need to Know

May and June at the New York-er

There are a lot of exciting things in store for the New York-er over the next month.

First of all, through the month of May and part of June, I will be studying French at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. It’s a five-week French immersion program that I applied to through EXPLORE, a bursary program sponsored by the Canadian government to help students in high school and post-secondary institutions to improve in their conversational French. The program at USask is accredited by the Council of Ministers of Education Canada and it is looking to be a lot of fun – on the trip, I’ll actually get the opportunity to go camping in Banff, Alberta, which I am particularly excited for.

PHOTO: ccde.usask.ca

What that means for my blog is that for the duration of my time in Saskatchewan, all of my blog posts will be in french! I am going to practice my french as much as possible while I’m there, so I plan on updating my blog daily (or as much as possible), writing completely en français. Expect lots of photos as well!

When I return on June 12, my blog may also be undergoing a significant overhaul. I was recently hired for a new job within Student Community and Leadership Development as a Media & Communications Ambassador, and so I may need to begin tailoring my posts to more SCLD-related content. However, if I will not be using my blog as a part of my job, I will continue keeping up with it, and running it on my own time.

Regardless however, The New York-er will still be around – and this past year for my blog could not have been as successful without the help of all of my readers and followers. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

What do you have in store for May & June? Comment below, or tweet me and let me know!

~ Christopher Ford

Watching the Berlin Eisbären play (and win) at O2 World in Berlin, Germany.

Watching the Berlin Eisbären play (and win) at O2 World in Berlin, Germany.

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Weekly Featured Article

A Year in Review: What Have I Learned This Year? (**Warning: Long Read**)

Another year (almost) gone by.

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Well, like I said, almost

It truly was a great one – very different from first year, in that it was much more challenging than ever, however everything that I have learned this year truly made it all worthwhile.

So what have I learned this year?

Stay organized

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Every time that I had felt organized this year, I felt in control. I wrote a post about staying organized earlier in the year, and one of my goals for the year was to try to practice what I had preached – that is, utilize some of the methods I mentioned in the post to stay organized.

Although I certainly had times this year where I was not at all organized, the times that I was, I truly felt on top of the world. And certainly I have only become more organized since getting a new smartphone!

Take sufficient breaks

I’ve always been told to take breaks while studying. But no one ever really told me how to take breaks, or for how long. 

One of the things that has helped me this year has been understanding when I need to take a break – essentially, rather than just creating a schedule and factoring a couple breaks into it, I found it most efficient to take a break when need a break. I started to learn a bit more about myself and my own work limits, and I found that when I begin to get distracted, less focused on work, or when my eyes start to tire (usually after about an hour and a half or so of solid working), that is when I need to take a break.

Not only that, but I learned to take breaks that work for me, and that will have me fresh and ready to go by their end! My average break is between 5-30 min long, and I try to pick an activity to do that will reward me for my work, but that will have me ready to go by the time it’s done. If it’s a quick break, I often use that as a snack or tea/coffee break – sometimes, a quick bite is just enough to get me ready to go for my next round of hardcore studying. If it’s a longer break, I try to go for a walk, go spend a bit of time with my sister or my parents (or my brother, if he’s in the neighbourhood), do some cleaning up, or read a book. I try my best to stay away from watching TV or playing video games, because I find that I may get too distracted (and then that 30 min break turns into a 3 hour and 30 min break!). Regardless, I learned to find the break activities that helped me most in being refreshed and prepared to start working again.

TIME MANAGEMENT

THIS. Seriously, procrastination is not fun. And in times of crisis (such as when your hard drive crashes), you’ll wish that you had finished that paper and handed it in weeks in advance (so that you won’t have to ask for an extension when you lose all of your work a week or so before it’s due)!

Time management shouldn’t be a one day event. It should be an ongoing process, which means you should constantly be trying to stay on top of your stuff, and then setting aside time to go out and have fun once you’re all done. However, you should also be realistic – don’t pretend like you’ll actually get that 15 page paper done in two days when you also have class and work. Be realistic about your abilities, and don’t overwork yourself.

Eventually, managing your time will become easy – but don’t get discouraged if you’re not at that stage yet (I know I’m not)!

Back up your work

Buy a USB or a portable hard drive (preferably the latter) or an online cloud service and back up your work. That means saving it in more than one spot, just in the case of, say, your Mac crashing twice in one year, forcing you to pay over $800 in repairs and subsequently scrambling to re-do two papers that you had already completed.

Don’t think it can’t happen to you. Because as soon as you least expect it…BAM! You’re hit with a surpass heavy work load and an even heavier receipt from Apple.

**NOTE: Just as an aside, this really did happen, and I have two words for you if you are planning on buying an Apple computer: Apple. Care. There’s nothing more frustrating than losing the entire content of your computer and then having some ‘genius’ tell you that he is “now going to educate you about why you should have bought Apple Care.” I strongly encourage you to either purchase the insurance with the computer or don’t purchase the computer at all. They are great machines, however things can and do go wrong, like with any other computer.

Scattered Desk, Scattered Mind

The cleaner my desk and/or room, the better I seem to work and feel. Weird, eh? Now, whenever I’m about to sit down to work, I try to clean up my desk, and it really helps!

Review right after class

I have found that reviewing right after class/as soon as I can following my class, the better I can remember concepts at the end of the semester. It really helps things become ingrained in my mind. Not to mention that it helps me come up with some questions to ask during tutorial.

If you’re behind, don’t get discouraged

Let’s face it – I’m not perfect. I get behind in school sometimes. And unless you are perfect (and if you are, please tell me how you do it), you probably get behind on your readings or studying sometimes, just like me.

But fear not, my friends – if you are behind, it’s not the end of the world. What’s more, I have found an easy trick that you can use when you’re behind in your studies, and it works great:

  • Just like you can skip a question if you’re stuck and then return to it on an exam for the sake of time, you can put aside a reading or put aside reviewing your notes if you fall behind. If you don’t get a chance to study one week for whatever reason, just skip it and move on to the next week so that you are moving in time with the course – this way, you can keep up with the course as it moves along without falling behind more and more each week by trying to catch up. Try and use any extra time you have along the way to go over this old stuff, and spend extra time on it later on before your exam to be sure that you know it well.

Just remember that you can get caught up. However, trying to get caught up right away can often lead to you getting even more behind. Keep this in mind, going forward.

Travel Lots

Noula & I in front of Nikolaikirche, Germany's oldest church, in Berlin

My girlfriend & I in front of Nikolaikirche, Germany’s oldest church, in Berlin

Going to Germany this year has truly opened my mind up to the fact that they are places all across the world that I still have yet to explore – whole worlds and ways of life that I have yet to experience and appreciate. The trip this year has sparked my interest in traveling, and I now have a thirst for world experience that I hope to quench in the near future!

Be unsure – But don’t be unprepared

I had a really great conversation with a TA of mine this year about the future. I told him how I, like many students, am genuinely concerned about what I’m going to do after graduating. Not only that, I told him about how I am concerned that I am not in the right program, and that was adding to my stress about what my life would be like post-university.

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So what do you do when you are unsure? What do you do when you are unsure of your program, and unsure of yourself?

What he told me was simple, and yet I had never really thought of it before. It’s okay to be unsure, he told me. Being unsure is about of growing and learning about yourself. However, make sure that, by the time you are done, you will have a direction.

What do you mean by that? I asked him. What he had meant was to use my time in university to explore my academic interests, and to learn what I like. But, in cases like my own where I have found almost everything I have learned interesting, I should choose a general direction for my schooling – with a specific goal in mind – in order to avoid being lost later. Therefore, as the title states, it is certainly okay to be unsure of yourself – however, come up with a goal and a plan to reach it, and this can provide you with a bit of security in case you can’t figure yourself out in time.

There’s lots more that I have learned this year, so stay tuned for Part 2 later on – I will publish it post exams!

Best of luck to all of you on your exams!

~ Christopher Ford

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Just a couple of beauties out for a day on the town…Little sunny out, though!

 

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Summer School – Is It For You? You NEED TO KNOW!

The summer school schedule is now up and ready for you to check out.

Yes, I know you all must be mentally jumping for joy right now.

In all seriousness though, there are a wide variety of courses offered from all faculties. So you’re bound to find one that you can take, if you’re up for it!

But should you take summer school?

Before you decide, there are a couple of questions that you really need to ask yourself. Read on, and find out what they are!

Continue reading

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Weekly Featured Article

The Best. Reading Week. Ever.

I am bursting with excitement about my reading week plans this year. Last year, I studied hard and used the time to get caught up in my courses (sort of, at least); however, this year, my reading week is going to be a lot different.

For those of you who I have not already told, I will be taking a trip across the world this reading week to the wonderful country of GERMANY. 

Germany borders France, Poland, Netherlands, Belgium, and a couple other countries, and it is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world!

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Why am I going there, you ask? 

Well, why not? 

I’ll be visiting my cousins, Daniel & Kris, who live and play hockey in Germany. I’ll be heading first to Munich (München), and then to Berlin, and some of the landmarks that I will check out along the way are…

Hofbraühaus

“The Hofbräuhaus am Platzl, Munich’s famous “hofbrauhaus” was founded in 1589 by the Duke of Bavaria, Wilhelm V. It is one of Munich’s oldest beer halls.” (Wikipedia)

Checkpoint Charlie

“Checkpoint Charlie (or “Checkpoint C”) was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War.” (Wikipedia)
Today, it is a tourist attraction, and the original booth is located in a museum not far from the original checkpoint.

Brandenburg Gate

“The Brandenburg Gate is a former city gate, rebuilt in the late 18th century as a neoclassical triumphal arch, and now one of the most well-known landmarks of Germany”

And, Of Course, HOCKEY GAMES!

My cousin Daniel plays for the Munich Red Bull…

And Kris plays for the Berlin Bears

Nice Mo there, bud

Needless to say, there will be lots of things to see – expect a full report after I return on February 23rd!

~ Christopher Ford

P.s. Make sure to comment below if you know of any other great places to see in Berlin and Munich!

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Looking For Jobs? Get Online!

Finding a job, whether it’s a summer job or a full-time job, can be tough. You have to make a resume, get a few references, get all dressed up, and then walk around every store or restaurant you know of to find your future employer (because, let’s face it, you are the best potential employee ever).

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All in all, it’s tough work.

But what if I told you that there was an easier way? Sure, you’ll still have to make a resume, but what if I told you that can go on a job hunt from the comfort of your own home?

Well, the truth is, YOU CAN! Probably one of the best ways to find a job today as a student is via the web. You can connect with different employers (including different departments at York University who offer work/study positions) through social media and through their websites – you simply have to know where to look!

  1. Before you begin, have a look at York’s Career Centre’s My Career Plan Checklist
    Set yourself up for success – whether looking for a summer job or looking to jumpstart your career, make sure that you’re ready! 
  2. Create accounts on Facebook & Twitter
    It’s amazing how many companies today – and how many departments at York – post about available positions on their social media accounts. Furthermore, social media (when used correctly) is a great tool to find information and network with people – including your future employer(s)! 
  3. Create a Linkedin profile
    If you are going to choose one social media platform to use, choose Linkedin. Your Linkedin Profile is essentially your online resume (with some awesome extra features, of course), and many employers have been known to hire their employees exclusively off of Linkedin!
  4. Watch some Job searching and Career Exploration videos from the Career Centre
  5. Use an online job posting site, including the Career Centre’s Online Job Posting System
    The Career Centre’s Job Posting system has many available positions ON CAMPUS! Check it out!
  6. Check out the Career Exploration & Job Search Tools, as well as the many other online resources from York’s Career Centre

So get on the web – your dream career/summer job awaits!

Photo on 11-27-2013 at 10.07 PM #2

~ Christopher

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Need a Break From Studying, But Still Need To Study? WATCH A DOCUMENTARY!

Let’s be honest – after a couple hours straight, studying sucks. It could be some of the most interesting content in the world, however continually attempting to pound it into your brain becomes exhausting very quickly.

So, outside of catching up on sleep at 2 in the afternoon, what’s a good way to take a break from studying while still being productive?

There are lots of things you could do! You could clean, go workout, or something else to get your mind off of your studies. However, I have found during this exam period that a great way to take a break while still keeping your mind in it is by finding a film, usually a documentary, related to what you’re studying!

Need some ideas for documentaries to watch? Here are a few for you to check out if you’d like!

Science & Environmental Studies Documentaries

The Incredible Human Journey (2009 TV Documentary Series)

*The Blue Planet (2001 Mini-Series)

Being Caribou (2005 Documentary)

March of the Penguins (2005 Documentary)

*Charles Darwin – The Nature Of Things [Season 2009-10 | Episode 1-3] (2009 3-Part Mini-Series)

History, Humanities, & Social Sciences Documentaries

*Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

Bulgaria’s Abandoned Children (2007)

*Hot Coffee (2011)

*Blue Gold: World Water Wars

Lasseter’s Bones (2012 Documentary)

We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân (2010 Documentary)

Ruins of the Reich: Rise to Power (2000 Documentary)

Hawaii: A Voice for Sovereignty (2009 Documentary)

Mystic Journey (2009 Documentary)

Leonardo (2003 Documentary)

In the Shadow of the Palms – Iraq (2005 Documentary)

Creating Freedom: The Lottery of Birth (2013 Documentary)

For lots of other documentaries, definitely check out the History Channel, BBC, TVO, or Discovery Channel!

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*I have seen these ones, I can attest to how amazing they are!

 

 

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ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE 2013: Don’t Get Infected

The ultimate goal of living during a zombie apocalypse is simple – DO NOT BECOME INFECTED.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be from a bite, although that is a pretty obvious way to get infected. Any sort of contact can lead to infection if you’re not careful.

The same goes during exam time. Often, it’s not just the assignment deadlines or the exams that will turn you into a study zombie – your attitude alone has the ability to decide your fate during this time of year.

Truly, attitude can be the difference between success and living a nightmare during the months of November and December. So here are some tips to keep it positive, and un-infected by the negative.

1) Break Down Your Work

Looking at a list that’s a mile long of things you need to review or finish off for a day can be pretty stressful.

So break it down into smaller tasks. Instead of saying that you have to read the whole textbook by the end of the day, maybe say that during this hour, you’ll read chapter one. By breaking it down, you can get much more done, and you’ll gain a better and more realistic idea as to how much work you can get done in a day – this could help you plan for the next day’s study sesh!

Then take a break and reward yourself. Chocolate usually works well for me.

Yeah, I basically study math

2) Take a Rest

Believe it or not, you aren’t a machine – Everyone needs breaks from time to time. So work for a set amount of time and then take a break and rest up. You’ll be glad you did!

3) Get some sleep

Sleep can affect your mood a great deal. Scientists say that more sleep = more positive thinking, and better retention of information. So more sleep means less collapsing on your desk from exhaustion.

Or the floor…

Despite popular belief, the floor at Scott library is not that comfortable. #DontBeThatGuy

Scientists also say that 100% of science is awesome.  And that 12.5% of statistics are made up. And that an undisclosed percentage of this sentence may or may not be an actual quote. Or something like that.

However, most of all…

4) Surround yourself with positive people

This is key during exams. It’s hard enough to stay motivated to study when you’re anxious and worrying, and I’m sure you don’t need any extra anxiety and nervousness from friends or classmates.

During this tough time, although it is certainly okay to support and help out people who might be going through a rough time and need support, don’t be responsible for trying to cure someone else’s exam blues. It might be contagious.

So maybe, if you can help it, try to steer clear of that guy from your psych class who complains everyday about how hard psych is. Or maybe tell that Negative Nancy from your 9am tutorial that you probably should just study alone this week.

Remember, for all intensive purposes, the glass is always half-full during exam time.

Keep it positive, and stay safe out there!

~ Christopher Ford

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