Archives for December 2021
With almost a full semester completed here at Vanderbilt, it can be easy to forget the things that made our first few months so great. So let’s stop and take a look back at the Top 5 Best Parts of the Fall Semester.
5. Football Games
In spite of the fact that the Commodores went 2-10 this season, going to the football games was a highlight of the semester. Spending a Saturday cheering on my team with my friends was something I thoroughly enjoyed, and I look forward to doing it again for the winter and spring sports.
4. The Scenery
We live on a beautiful campus, and I hope to never stop appreciating it. Whether it was the lush greenery of the summer or the vibrant colors of the fall, I always felt in touch with nature. Even many of the beautiful buildings like the Wyatt Center, Kirkland Hall, and Furman Hall (known by many as “the castle”) further accentuate the visual appeal of campus.
3. $50 Meal Money
Although it may have been a brief six days, we all remember this time well. Receiving $50 per day to buy food was a great way to start off the semester. On top of that, many of us got to know the people who are now our closest friends over those meals which, I think, is even better than the food itself.
2. My Commons Life
This one might be a little specific to me, but I still wanted to put it on the list. It has been an amazing experience working with this amazing staff and writing for you every week. I truly hope the content we publish has been a enjoyable part of your semester, and I look forward to writing more pieces in the spring.
1. New Lives
Whether you just graduated high school or were coming off a gap year, whether you came from across the country or just outside of Nashville, whether you walked in knowing exactly what you wanted to do or you were undecided, we all arrived in August ready to start our new lives. This has been a semester of defining and redefining our identities, our paths, our stories. I love where my journey has taken me in the last four months, and I know that I am nowhere near my final destination. I hope the same is true for you.
These last few months have not always been easy. As we approach the last challenge of our first semester at Vanderbilt – finals week – let’s take a moment to remember all the things that made the transition to college life a bit more difficult. So here are the Top 5 Worst Parts of the Fall Semester: may we leave them in the past where they belong.
5. Campus Dining
You knew this was going to make the list. We were told Vanderbilt had some of the best dinging in the country, but our experience during the first semester did not live up to the hype. Between long lines and limited options, this is a part of my experience I would rather move on from.
4. The T-Shirt Line
I am going all the way back to our first weekend here for this one but, I think it is still worth noting. Waiting in line in the hot, humid air for over an hour on a weekend when we were all extremely busy was not the best use of time. The worst part was that after standing there for that long period of time, all we did was pull some ink across a shirt and watch it dry. Yes, we stood in the heat for hours just so we could literally watch paint dry. It is no wonder why this activity made it on this list.
3. The Squirrels
I do not care how cute you think the squirrels are, they are little monsters. At first I thought they were adorable and harmless, but I was wrong. They are aggressive and vicious and arrogant. Just the other day, one of them looked me dead in the eyes and started yelling at me from inside a recycling bin. They have no fear, and I am confident they are plotting something terrible.
2. Laundry Wars
No matter what side of this conflict you were on, you suffered. Whether someone removed your laundry from the dryer while it was still wet, or you had to wait a half hour to put your clothes in the wash because someone else had not taken them out yet, we all paid the price for a limited number of washers and dryers. Even those of us who washed our clothes at non-peak times still dealt with the weekly passive-aggressive laundry-related messages in the house group chats that defined Sunday afternoons. None of us came out clean on the other side of this one.
Many of us grew up in a very different climate than that of Tennessee. Combine that with Nashville’s constant oscillation between 40 and 70 degree days and you have a perfect storm for a lot of bad allergies. Many of us spent much of the semester feeling under the weather which detracted from our school and social lives. If feeling a little bit sick is not enough, thanks to COVID there was always an extra moment of panic every time you sneezed with the thought crossing your mind: “Will I be locked in quarantine for two weeks?” It is sad enough when someone gets sick; they should not have to worry about their academic and social lives too.
So here’s to a healthier semester, a semester with more choices and less lines in our dining halls, and a semester without aggressive laundry messages and even more aggressive rodents. So let us celebrate the end of the Fall Semester and the beginning of something better. I look forward to seeing y’all in the new year.
The end of the semester is fast approaching. Buckle up! Do not crash and burn because of procrastination and lack of planning. No, you made it too far to throw the white flag. What you need is a short, comprehensive guide to aid you to the finish line. These few tips will keep your eyes on the road to victory here at Vanderbilt and even help you develop a strategy for finishing the semester as a champion.
1. Prioritize Self-Care
With finals already among us, it can be easy to overwhelm ourselves with hours of studying and reading over notes. While a social detox is an easy quick-fix, make sure you take care of yourself too. Maybe it has been a few weeks since you hit the gym; you can start good habits today. Or you miss being part of the community; treat yourself to a sports game with friends or investigate what organizations are doing for the final days of the semester. Also, don’t shy away from eating all day. We all need food, and a sufficient amount of it, to fuel our bodies throughout the day.
2. Talk to Your Professors
If you have not yet scheduled office hours with your instructor or barely made small talk all this time, now is your final chance to connect with them. Taking their course means having access to them, and connections will help guide your career path and secure a job when you graduate. Especially if you are unsatisfied with your course grade, you will be surprised how helpful and understanding instructors can be. Even better, professors are (likely) not going anywhere! Do not miss this great opportunity!
3. Time Crunch like a Champ
Maybe you have a Google calendar with some of your to-dos already, or you’ve managed to get by all semester without reminding yourself what there is to do. Despite where you fit, you should consider maximizing your use of time. Doing this does not entail stressing yourself out with all-nighters. Maximizing time means completing work, maintaining good habits, and having fun! Along with improving self-care, good time management profoundly reduces stress and enables you to live life prepared for what’s to come. (And if your time management is above and beyond, you might even decide to sacrifice some study time for social hour and will still be fine!)
4. Study Smart
Some people can study for hours straight with superb productivity. But for most people, this way of studying does not work very well. (Keep in mind that our attention span is in the seconds too!) Research has proven that studying in increments is the most successful strategy. This way of studying does not mean you can work on calculus for one minute then scroll through Instagram for five. You will still need to commit a considerable amount of time to navigate through your work pile. A plus to this method (called Pomodoro, by the way) is that you can alternate subjects to reduce stress. Ideally, you can focus on an intensive course for an hour and then switch to something less demanding for thirty minutes. From personal experience, I almost enjoy studying now because of how manageable it is!
5. Experience Vanderbilt (Literally!)
It’s easy to forget the profusion of resources available to us commodores. Need help in STEM? Tutoring spots are waiting for you. Want to plan your professional portfolio for your dream career? The career center will happily guide you to the necessary steps. Above all, the students sitting next to you in class, and the ones roaming the halls, have a galore of student organizations and action groups to match your interests and keep you well-socialized. And if you haven’t snapped a LinkedIn-ready headshot with our splendid campus as the background, the time to act is now! All that said, do not blind yourself to what Vanderbilt can offer you.
These five tips will not magically do wonders, but they can lead to success, winning in both academia and life. Furthermore, nothing works unless you do. Even if you do not faithfully follow these suggestions, commit to doing things that will aid your future self. Good luck with the finals, and enjoy the break!
On the last episode before the winter break Dean Melissa Gresalfi reflects upon achievements during the fall semester in her Dean’s Minute, Tait has the details on upcoming events in the Commons Calendar, and Richard sits down for a great interview with David Gao, a first-year student from Denver, Colorado who is studying Computer Science and living in Crawford.
Devin wraps up the semester with some fun events that provide a break from finals, including the Pre-Exam Study Jam, the Commons End of Semester Study Break, and the Swingin’ Dores fall concert.
Stephan and Maria review Vanderbilt’s current initiatives for diversity and inclusion and theorize what else can be done to maintain equity.
‘Tis the season to break out the tinsel and those textbooks, amirite?!?!?! While you are seeking the motivation to start studying for finals next week, maybe get the ball rolling with some festive jingles. In fact, I have some song suggestions. Some of you may have heard of these bangers before and some of you haven’t. I want to promote the talents of some lesser-known singers and the lesser-known songs of some relatively-famous people, so STEP ASIDE MARIAH CAREY!
- Feliz Navidad by Walk Off the Earth
This Canadian indie pop band released an acoustic version of this Spanish classic! The music video is quirky, cute, and one-of-a-kind. The five of them are gathered around a guitar, either plucking strings, drumming on the base of the guitar, tuning the instrument, or holding it up. The absence of electrical amplification, the harmonies, and snappiness make the tune something to salsa to!
2. Winter Wonderland by Blanca
Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Blanca showcases her pipes and playfulness with this R&B spin on the Christmas classic. She really gets your shoulders rolling and feet shuffling. Go show this girl some love and check out this song!
3. Thank God It’s Christmas by Queen
The famous rock band Queen has a lot of hits, but not many know about their one Christmas song. Freddie Mercury’s ever-so-iconic dramatic flair and the slow pace of the instrumentals make this song a classic. I haven’t the slightest idea why this track isn’t more popular.
4. The Very First Christmas by Spongebob Squarepants (and the rest of the Bikini Bottom gang)
If you don’t know this song, I am concerned for your mental and emotional well-being. The classic cartoon characters from our favorite underwater fictional world sing a silly, yet catchy Christmas carol, complete with Spongebob and Patrick’s cheer, Squidward’s pessimism, and Mr. Krabs’s falsetto.
5. Cheetah-licious Christmas by the Cheetah Girls
The *arguably* greatest girl group of the twenty-first century dropped one Christmas album and dipped. This track is sooooo GOOD. After reading this article, it is absolutely necessary that you listen to this song. My words alone can not even begin to even introduce the reasoning behind this tune’s greatness. You’re just going to have to listen to it yourself.
I am so honored to have been able to introduce all the My Commons Life fans to these slept-on masterpieces of Christmas music. I hope that by adding these five songs to your Christmas playlist that THIS CHRISTMAS, will be, a very special CHRISTMAS, for meeeeeeee (and you)!