Concordia Blogs-Lawrence

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Waves

It’s no secret that college isn’t always easy. Sometimes, you may get a semester that’s not too challenging, when I look back, my entire freshman year wasn’t too bad. But usually at some point in every semester (even the easy ones) you will find short periods of time where EVERYTHING comes at you at once.

It’s almost like the professors get together and say, “how could we really make this guy miserable?” Of course, they don’t (I hope), but it feels that way.

For example, the reason I haven’t been on the spot with my blogs lately is because I had 4 midterms and 2 papers to write, all in the space of 1 week. And being a history major means that I have an unholy amount of reading due almost every day. Although this lets up slightly when I have midterms, I usually fall behind during the non-midterm periods, and so I have to catch up for the midterms, which means the reading never really goes away.

I survived midterms. Thankfully it was my last ever set, so I’m pretty happy with the fact that they’re done and they didn’t go too badly. At least to the best of my knowledge. But the funny thing is despite the intensive schedule that included two back-to-back 4am nights, after Wednesday I had nothing to do. I had minimal reading to do over midterm break, no papers, no studying for tests, no stress.

It was amazing.

This wasn’t the first time that I experienced these waves. I seem to remember them happening every semester. It’s strangely satisfying coming out on the other side of a seemingly impossible wall of stuff you have to get done. You get a sense of accomplishment, pride, relief and joy when you realize you can take your foot off the pedal for a brief moment. Of course, you know that you can’t take it off completely, you’re only half way through the semester, but to me the second half of things never seemed as long as the first. Before you know it there’s only a few weeks to go, and the mad rush at finals week starts all over again.

For me though, this time will be the last. And I can’t wait!

 

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Staying Healthy in College Part 3: Get the Right Fuel

Let’s be honest, if you’re feeling run down, tired, and just have no motivation to do anything, it’s probably because you’re not eating right. I know that’s certainly true for me; when I eat terrible food, I feel terrible (no matter how good it tastes!).

It is my belief that living a healthy lifestyle consists of three equal parts: physical exercise, mental strength, and good nutrition. They are all equally important, to neglect one is to neglect them all.

It’s a well known and accepted fact that you get out what you put in. At college,it can defintitely be challenging to eat the right food all the time. Someimes you might miss a meal, or maybe you’re in a rush and so you have to stuff whatever you can in a to go box. Maybe you ate an early lunch and by 3pm you’re so hungry you can’t concentrate in class and your belly is grumbling so loudly everyone’s looking at you and judging you.

I get it, it’s not easy. But, that’s not to say it’s not impossible to eat well.

There are a million different theories and diets out there. A quick Google search and you will be bombarded with diets telling you to only eat what cavemen could have got their hands on to diets that tell you to eat no carbs to diets telling you to eat a huge breakfast and a smaller lunch and dinner to diets telling you to eat little and often.

I’m not going to tell you how you should and shouldn’t eat. I’m not qualified to do that anyway. However, I am going to tell you that if what you’re going to eat came from a deep fat frier, it’s not good. Eating an axcessive amount of anything and neglecting other things is not good. Skipping breakfast is not good (besides, breakfast at the Caf is the best meal of the day!).

The key is balance. Don’t skimp out on fruits and vegetables. Make sure you eat at least 3 meals a day. If you get hungry, grab some fruit, some trail mix or a protein bar or shake. Be sensible with your nutrition choices. I know it might be more appealing to hit In n Out, or order a pizza (which I am guilty of!), but even if you feel no worse, your back account will!

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Staying Healthy in College Part 2: Forging a Mind of Steel

College is tough. It’s no secret, and that’s why not everyone can hack it. If you’re reading this, you’re probably either in college or about to go to it. Preparation is key. You don’t necessarily have to know exactly what you’re going into, but you have to be mentally ready to take one whatever is coming your way.

There are a number of ways you can forge this mental toughness. You probably won’t like any of them, but if you make a point to do at least one of the ideas, you will come to love them! Why? Mental toughness only comes from pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. You HAVE to do things you don’t want to do, otherwise you can never progress forwards.

You can do simple things like a challenging crossword puzzle, or some other mental task that helps build vocabulary, math skills, memorization, logic or problem solving. Not giving up until the task is done is key here though.

My personal favorite, and in my opinion the only true way to gain mental strength is to get off the couch and start working out. If you’ve never worked out in your life, the simple act of starting with 30 minutes of exercise per day is the best way to start yourself on the path to a healthier body and mind.

If you already work out, push yourself a little harder. If you’re done with a workout, do a mini set to finish with, like 20 burpees or a sprint up a hill. However, that said, you don’t have to kill yourself every day; that’s actually counter-productive. On rest days make sure you give your body and mind the chance to relax so the next day you can get back to it!

Beating stress is a major concern for most college students. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to do this: from finding time for yourself to do the things you enjoy, to getting more sleep, to readjusting your boundaries by doing something especially hard. If you’re feeling the stress though, don’t be afraid to take your foot off the pedal. In doing so you may find that you give yourself the break needed and all of a sudden you’re doing twice as much in half the time.

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Staying Healthy In College: Part 1

This week I will be doing a 3 part blog on staying healthy in college. A lot of people struggle to stay in shape, succumb to stress or just don’t eat right while in college. After my dad saw me at the end of my freshman year he said, “you certainly have a layer you can lose.” Thanks, Dad.

I’m here to help you stay in good shape and even get into the best shape of your life! Just don’t be afraid to sweat a little.

Fight the Freshman Fifteen

Yesterday, I walked around campus carrying a large rock, simply because it was more interesting that walking around campus not carrying a large rock. I received some strange looks, and I’m sure people were wondering what on earth a sweaty dude covered in dirt/dust and carrying a stone was doing up near Grimm Hall.

Since I don’t swim any more, I have to get a little creative with my workouts. Personally, I’m a big fan of unconventional strongman training, which involves flipping tires, bear crawling up French Hill and, of course, carrying rocks around campus.

Staying fit and healthy at college is just like staying fit and healthy outside of college. First it starts with a conscious decision to change and actually drag yourself out of your comfort zone and work out. Secondly it requires putting action behind thoughts, words or intent.

At Concordia, we have CU Active, which is a compact area where students can work out for free; either running on treadmills, hitting an elliptical or using the state-of-the-art weight machines that are available. What we lack in free weights can be made up for in imagination.

Concordia also boasts its greatest workout asset: French Hill. While it is only a mere 250 meters (800 feet) from the bottom to the top, there’s an elevation gain of about 55 meters (180 feet). That equates to about a 22% gradient, which is pretty steep. If you don’t believe me, go run up it and see how long you last.

We are also lucky to live in a gorgeous part of Orange county. There are no shortage of running and cycling routes around; you can stick to the roads or you can hit the trails, run around lakes or up hills. There is certainly no excuse for running the same route so many times you get bored!

Despite what you may hear and see, exercise is essential to a healthy lifestyle. You may look good if you don’t eat anything, but are you really “healthy” if you do that? In my opinion, no. What keeps you alive and feeling good is a healthy heart and set of lungs, and some healthy blood vessels and efficient blood cells within them. Exercise is THE only way to get these things functioning at peak capacity.

If you would like to follow some workouts that I do (with a buddy, of course!), stay tuned, because I will be starting a fitness blog/instagram feed soon.

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A September Revelation Part III: Righting the Wrongs

So, at the risk of sounding cliche, how do we go about making this world “a better place”? It can be done in any number of ways, and everyone can help. Indeed, it is my personal belief that everyone should help; there is no reason why we shouldn’t all contribute something to the global community that is getting smaller by the day.

Some, myself included, feel the need to fight for those less fortunate for ourselves. While pacifism is a nice ideal, it’s nothing more than that. It’s a dream that, unfortunately, due to the inherent evil of man, will never come true. However, that is not to say we should just not even bother trying. Again, at the risk of sounding cliche, “all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” There are people in parts of the world who need the help of people who can give it. Currently, IS (Islamic State) is butchering thousands of Christians and Muslims across Iraq and Syria. Should we stand by and say, “It’s not our problem?” That’s up to you.

Others feel the need to go to places in need and help improve their standard of living. This is invaluable to those receiving the upgrades; you see stories of African villages who have running water, which means they no longer have to walk 6 miles or more every day to get the water they need to live.

Another way to help would be to improve medicine and health care. In America, the Ebola crisis will never be able to take off; our health care is just too advanced for the virus to break out in a significant way. However, in West Africa the virus has already claimed the lives of thousands. If you’re a medical student or in the medical field, I strongly encourage you to go out to places like West Africa and try to save lives.

Although some may overlook it, the spreading of the Gospel saves lives. Faith gives people hope; it gives them direction and a new perspective on life. It inspires people to share the good news with others; it changes old laws, gives direction and guidance for those ruling, and also those following. I believe that, while other religions also preach peace, Christianity is truly a fundamental piece to the puzzle of building a sure foundation from which a new and prosperous community can grow.

If you are unable to travel to a place in need, there are things you can do from home. Although you may think you’re a poor college student, take a look around. You probably have more possessions in your dorm room than some entire families may have. That said, I’m sure you could find a few dollars each month to send somewhere you think needs the help.

Like I said earlier, a perfect world is something of a fantasy. I don’t think there is much of a chance that we will all one day live in peace and harmony, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to right the wrongs that stand before us.

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A September Revelation Part II: First World Problems

Although the lights were out, the power outage did enlighten me. We had been without power for barely more than a day. In that time the school was struggling to cope logistically in terms of food (although sandwiches and BBQ were provided quickly), productivity in the administration offices ground to a halt, the lack of communication caused confusion amongst students and faculty alike, and everyone was fairly bored.

We as a society today are totally, completely and undeniably dependant on electricity, and the technology it powers. While we are still able to go out and do things; play games with friends, basketball, go on walks, read… we find ourselves a little bit lost without out phone or laptop.

It got me thinking, this is a real first world problem! Oh no, your iPhone 5c won’t work? Your top of the range Samsung Ultrabook ran out of batteries? Your lights won’t even turn on?! How shocking and horrendous!

At least we still had running water and plumbing! Could you imagine what we would have had to deal with if that had gone down for 26 hours too?!

But wait… aren’t there people living somewhere else in the world right now who don’t have electricity? Aren’t there people living somewhere else in the world right now who don’t have running water or flushing toilets?

As bad as our little episode was, when you put it in perspective, it wasn’t that bad! We often forget how fortunate we are; we take for granted all these things like electricity and running water, our iPhones and tablets and laptops and tv’s and games consoles. At the end of the day, we were without electricity for a little over 24 hours. One single day.

Just imagine what it must have been like for the people in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, when they weren’t just without electricity, but they were without water, plumbing, and most of all their possessions. In some cases, even family members and loved ones were lost.

Their electricity was out for months. They were without running water and toilets for much longer than 24 hours. Those who lost loved ones will have to live with that loss for the rest of their lives.

When you think about it in those terms, we really have nothing to complain about. I had plenty of time to think about it on Thursday/Friday, and I realised how I really have very little right to complain.

We are all incredibly lucky. We have fans to cool us down, internet to speed communication and give us knowledge, phones act as personal assistants that run our lives and connect us to friends and family. We don’t have to walk miles every day to reach clean drinking water. We have toilets when we need to use them.

For me, I’m a little disappointed that I took it all for granted, and that it took 24 hours without just electricity to realise it.

As the people who are going to build the world of tomorrow, let’s not forget what we have. Let’s come together and help out those who need our help, and share with them the luxuries we take for granted every day.

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Power Outage Part I

A September Revelation

 

On Thursday, September 11, at around 11.20 AM, the power went out.

Simultaneously, my fan stopped, my computer monitor went black, my clock stopped telling me the time, the fridge stopped whirring, my speakers went silent, and I was plunged back into medieval times.

At first, I didn’t think much of it. “Oh, just another silly power trip. It’ll be back on in a second.” Seconds passed into minutes, minutes into hours. The wifi took about 30 minutes to stop wifi-ing. Once that happened, I knew that things were going to get real.

My phone battery didn’t look good. It has a tendency to only last a few hours at best on a full charge, but as I looked at the little battery icon, it showed about 33% power.  

Panic.

I still went to my afternoon class. No power outage was going to stop me from being a good student. At 3 pm, right after my class ended, those with a phone received an email telling students (and faculty/staff) that classes and the campus was to be shut down for the day.

Although I was in a bad mood because the power outage caused the caf to close, and so meant I didn’t get lunch, that little message did cheer me up for about 32 seconds, at which point I remembered I was hungry.

With no food in the foreseeable future, my girlfriend outdid herself and ordered me a pizza. Happy Lawrence.

As I sat on my bed inhaling a large hawaiian pizza and reading a book, it came to me that we pathetically, hopelessly reliant on electricity in today’s day and age. Just 6 hours of power outage had shut down the school, stopped me from eating, made me extremely bored, and I’m fairly positive I experienced withdrawal from Netflix.

I ended up spending the rest of the day with a friend. My offline entertainment consisted of a tennis ball and a pack of playing cards. We didn’t play with the tennis ball, and we didn’t know any card games that held out interest for more than an hour. We decided to walk up french hill to see Irvine and Orange County at night, then walked over to the gas station to buy some food. By this time, the power had been out for about 12 hours. 

Since it was dark and my only source of light was a tiny LED flashlight taped to a water bottle, I decided there was nothing better to do so went to bed.

When I awoke, I looked over at my clock. Still blank. Darn. I looked at my watch. 9.30am. The power should be on by now! My roommate told me there was a power station where people could charge their phones outside. Of course, there were about 5 power strips, all of them packed with phones.

With the miserable nature of being without power taking its toll on me, I decided to charge my phone just enough to call the girlfriend, who had already texted me asking me if she wanted me for her to come down and rescue me. Silly question. Yes.

I decided to go to the beach for a couple of hours while she was coming down, and by the time I got back to campus, the power was back. Concordia had been down for about 26 hours.

Our nightmare was over.

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How to Beat Homesickness in College

I didn’t plan on writing this blog; it wasn’t a topic that was on my list. I suppose that’s because I overlooked it, because I’ve been in boarding school since age 11, so am pretty used to being away from home and having to be independent. But during work the other day I had a girl crying because she missed being at home. It’s nothing to be ashamed of; quite often college students have never been away from home for an extended period of time, and the adjustment that needs to be made is quite significant.

There are ways to help yourself overcome the learning curve. For example, developing strong friendships with like-minded people is a great place to start. If you had a routine at home, try to incorporate it into your everyday life at college. So if you used to work out every day at home, make a point to work out every day when you get into college.

College is about learning at the end of the day, so class/studying should take up the bulk of your time. If it isn’t, you’re probably not going to last long! However, that being said, it’s essential you find time for yourself; do what you like to do. If you need time for yourself, take it. If you need time to hang out with friends, take it. If you need time to talk to your parents because you miss them… take it!

Here’s one thing that I would say though; while you do want to make sure you talk to your parents/friends back home when you feel like you need to, try to make sure you don’t call them on a daily basis. I think a lot of people out here are surprised when I tell them I can go for months at a time without talking to my parents; but I’ve learnt over a long period of time to make my own calls and deal with my own problems. That, to me, is what college is all about. Making that transition from having your parents to help you out to dealing with things on your own. It sounds brutish and a little unfeeling, but being able to think decisions through and make your own choices is what being an adult is all about.

So here’s my final piece of advice. If you’re feeling homesick, you’ve probably only been away from home for about 3-4 weeks. After that, it gets easier, so stick it out. Don’t give up and move back home, because you’ll be missing out on one of the most useful lessons college has to offer.

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Surviving College: Time Management

In college, if you decide to get involved in more than just your school work, your time can seem to simply disappear. This isn’t fair; all too often we, as college students, have to choose between a social life, good grades, sleep and extra curricular activities. You may choose 3.

Balancing all of your responsibilities isn’t as hard as it sounds though. During my sophomore year, I was on the swim team (partially, I was injured for most of the season), commuting from off campus without a car, on Senate, LEAD and of course taking classes. I was about as busy as a college student can get. Even though I wasn’t swimming, I still had to spend time trying to rehab to get my injury back under control.

Sophomore year was a big learning curve for me, and it taught me a lot about time management. I learnt the fairly basic rules by trial and error; sometimes things worked out, and sometimes they didn’t. Here’s some tips that I picked up during my insanely busy year.

1. Be wherever you need to be five minutes early. This allows for a buffer time in case something goes wrong, you forget something, or simply get held up. It also means you will rarely be late.

2. Have structure to your day. Know what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it, and then get into a routine.

3. Remain disciplined. It’s no good having a timeline if you’re not going to stick to it, or go and do other things!

4. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Know your limitations; if you have too much going on, drop the least important thing.

5. Find time for yourself. Do what you love to do, whether that be work out, hang out with friends, or simply relaxing in your dorm room. Doing what you enjoy will help you destress, and make you feel better about everything!

6. Don’t procrastinate. Seriously. Get it done. Now.

7. Eat the ugliest frog first. Don’t literally go around eating amphibians, this is a metaphor. Do the thing you really don’t want to do first. That way it’s out of the way, and you don’t have to worry about it anymore.

8. Prioritise. It’s a good idea to write a list of things you need to get done in the morning, and then prioritise that list in order of most important to least important, and the thing you’re not looking forward to further up than the things you are looking forward to.

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Delay Gratification

Over the summer I read a book called “Spartan Up!”, by Spartan Race creator Joe De Sena. It’s a relatively short book, and I managed to finish it fairly quickly. Most of it was simply advertisement for Spartan Race, but there were some very good points in there. The main one that is really worth taking away is the concept of delayed gratification.

The idea behind delayed gratification is that you put off something that you want initially in order to get more later on. De Sena brings up the Cookie Test, which was a test run by a Stanford University researcher. He offered a  number of children 1 cookie to have an eat now, or instead wait 15 minutes and have 2 cookies. He then tracked the children’s progress in life and found that the children who took the 2 cookies ended up generally more successful than the children who took 1 cookie right away.

Now, unfortunately, since you just read about the test, you can’t really perform it to see what you would do! However, you can take the principle behind the test and apply it to your everyday life. How do you go about doing that? It’s simple.

Delaying gratification basically means you put off something that you want and sucking up in order to have extra later down the road. You can apply this to school work as college or high school students; doing that homework before you hang out with your friends will pay dividends down the road when you don’t have to stay up until 2 AM the night before the project is due, desperately trying to finish it on time. If you’re an athlete, staying focused and training will lead to greater success down the road.

My favourite example De Sena brings up in his book is likening the first cookie test of your day to waking up and getting out of bed. He says that decided to “snooze” and stay in bed is taking the cookie now, but waking up and getting out of bed and starting a productive day is taking the 2 cookies later on.

I’ll let you in on a secret; going to bed earlier makes getting up earlier about 15 times easier. If you get up early and start productivity, it helps you remain productive throughout the day and if you get everything you need to get done done, you’re free to relax the rest of the day! And it’ll be so much sweeter because you’ll have nothing hanging over your head, lingering at the back of your mind nagging you and reminding you that you have stuff to do.

So deny the cookie now, and take two later.