Getting through the semester ONE MEAL at a TIME

So, I’ve admitted before, one of my favorite things to do is cook. Sadly, finding enough time in a day, a week, a month, a semester to do everything we need to do as a graduate student seems impossible so finding time to cook everyday is just as impossible.

So here’s my proposal to you: Plan a week worth of meals over the weekend. We all need to find a balance that works for each of us so there is no master plan, just some handy suggestions.

  1. Make a list of your favorite foods to make! Be sure to include meals that you are familiar with making and that are almost second nature to you.
  2. Look for recipes online that you’d like to try. There are a great occasional treat.

What does a well planned out week look like for me?

  • Friday: Pick out SIX or SEVEN meals on  for the following week.Think healthy and abundant dinners. This should generate leftovers for lunch.
  • Saturday: Go grocery shopping!
  • Sunday: Crockpot Day! nice warm meals that takes care of itself while I plan lectures, grade, clean up around the house, and, the best part, there’s leftovers.
  • Monday: Burritos. My favorite meal ever.
  • Tuesday: Leftovers
  • Wednesday: Soup or pasta. Bacon Mac and Cheese? Or a more traditional. sopa de albondigas?
  • Thursday: Pizza
  • Friday: Leftovers

The two most important thing I’ve learned about meal prep and storage:

  1. Organize your refrigerator, your pantry, and your dishes! 
  2. Consider investing in three items: A SLOW COOKER, A PANINI PRESS, A WAFFLE MAKERS. These three kitchen gadgets are economical investments and my favorite acquisitions of the semester. I took WAY to long to get around to buying them.

Now, remember, I have a hound at home that requires me walking him at lunch time. I often make myself a turkey, bacon, and tomato panini sandwich for lunch or a fruit salad.

Everyone is happy on a full stomach! Helps me think and save money.

Find your balance but when the plan fails, Bloomington has a great selection of ethnic restaurants down the street from Sample Gates.

Taking Advantage of IUware

IU offers a vast amount of wonderful services to its student and IUware is one of them!

IUware is a software distribution service that offers a wide variety of software packages at no charge, including site-licensed products from Adobe, Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, and others. The university pays for the relevant licenses through agreements with vendors; this allows students, faculty, and staff to use the programs available through IUware, most free of charge.

I’ve turned to IUware to download software for both my academic and leisurely pursuits. I’ve always loved photography and a few months ago decided to download Adobe Photoshop CC and Lightroom. I’d never purchased the programs because I couldn’t justify paying such a high price for something I’d only use occasionally but as an IU student I was able to download both completely FREE of charge! It doesn’t get better than that! It’s been a good stress break during the semester.

IUware is constantly updated and new programs are added. Just last week, I downloaded Office 2016 for Mac and love the update. Microsoft has always been slow to release updates for Mac and having it available a few months after it’s official release is great.

IUware is a huge money saver and has something for everyone.

Check it out: https://iuware.iu.edu/

Wait, I can’t miss Christmas!!

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I swear some people must think I’m the Grinch! But, I really love Christmas, I do.

I’ve had my boyfriend ask me multiple times: when are we decorating for Christmas? Well, it’s halfway through the month and I still haven’t gotten back to it. I don’t have time. I designated the weekend after Thanksgiving to do it but it didn’t get finished and now it’s still not finished. I wanted it done then because December is hectic in graduate school. Sure, it’s the end of the semester so it will get better but before I can call it a day I have to finish writing a syllabus, a historiography paper, another book review, administer a final, and grade ALL of them. I’ve had something to do EVERY single day, I’ve stop taking my usual weekend breaks because my projects just won’t allow it. But the hardest part is not getting all this done; the hardest part is knowing I don’t have time to do all the fun stuff that comes with Christmas.

So what’s my point? As grad students we just need to learn to accept it’s going to be rough during the holidays. You might be away from family, you might be traveling, you might not. Whatever the case may be build in some time, even short bursts of time, to have a fun time and just feel like you’re not missing out.

For example, we did start decorating but didn’t finish. But I’m still glad there are some Christmas decorations at home. Instead of buying things online, I’ve incorporated my Christmas shopping to my errands because I don’t want to miss out on picking out a nice gift. I like wrapping presents so after writing two pages I take a break to wrap a present. I like having hot chocolate instead of coffee this time of year because my mom used to make me hot chocolate when I was a kid so once I day I do that. After finishing my historiography paper I promised myself I would watch one of my favorite Christmas movies before moving on to the next project. I watched Home Alone last night. Why haven’t I had a chance to finish decorating? Because I never built it in to my reward schedule, it was built in to the weekend after Thanksgiving. All that to say, do what works for you but don’t just let the end of the semester get to you. Plan ahead. Take time off in the morning/night. Have some fun. It’s Christmas after all.

 

I even took time one night to make this guy his own Christmas bow tie!

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So you know you want to go to graduate school, but where?

Once you’ve decided that you want to go to graduate school, it’s time to prepare you application packet. You need to draft and edit your personal statement (and edit it again, and again, and again—trust me), you need to ask your faculty for letters of recommendation, you need to take the GRE, you need to compile transcripts, and so on. Yes, it’s tedious and stressful process. Be proactive, get started now! The more time you give yourself, the more prepared you will feel when it is time to hit submit on your applications.

Let me add one thing to this list. Ask yourself where you want to go. I mean it, really consider were you want to go and compile your list of schools. Ask those same professors who will be writing letters of recommendation for you if they have any suggestions. Consider their suggestions. Research the schools and the programs. But keep in mind these are just suggestions. The list can and will change.

When I was applying to graduate school, I visited IU in October as part of the Getting You Into IU program and I knew IU was at the top of my list. But between October and December I often asked myself if I really wanted to move from California to the Midwest. I did. So my list of schools included 3 in California, 5 in the Midwest and 2 in the East Coast. Friends, family, and mentors often asked me if I was sure about my decision to leave California if I was not admitted to any of those schools, and I was. But, maybe you can’t see yourself living in the opposite coast or you don’t want to leave your home state.

Why is the list of schools so important?

  1. Application costs pile up quickly so it’s in your best interest to be selective.
  2. You need to apply to places you can see yourself living in. You’re about to spend at least 5 years in a program, you need to be happy where you are.

Grad school is challenging enough, pick a school in a city or town you really want to live in.

The Power of Words

This past week, I took a break from reading for class (procrastination is a must) and decided to read MARCH, a graphic novel by Congressman John Lewis and his co-creators Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. It’s a graphic novel like any other, it has a superhero and villains, but this one is based on real life characters.

On Monday September 21, 2015, Congressman Lewis, Aydin, and Powell came to the IU Auditorium to talk about MARCH.There is ALWAYS something going on in Bloomington! Not only was it great to hear them deliver an incredibly powerful message, it was fun to get to talk to them and have them sign my copies of the novel.

As a history nerd, I enjoyed hearing Congressman Lewis’ talk about his experience during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. In addition to that, he and his co-creators had a powerful and inspirational message to share that resonated with me, this generation is capable of doing as much as the generation of the 1960s did. Lewis had a challenge for us all, stand up, speak up, speak out, and find a way to get in the way…” “…get into good trouble!”

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