Everything, Grad School, Organization

Grad School: Event Organizing

Grad School: Event OrganizingEveryone has their own way of keeping track of upcoming events.

My husband didn’t use any sort of calendar, planner, agenda, etc. at all during his time at university. How he managed that, search me…

All truth be told, I didn’t even have a planner until around my junior year of university. But as I got more involved on campus, my brain suddenly lost its capacity to keep track of events, homework, meetings, classes, and more, so I found myself in need of a planner.

And just to be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping a planner, nor is it always necessary. It’s not a sign of weakness by any means, and, for me, it helps relieve a lot of nerves and keeps me from panicking in the middle of the night about an event I may have missed.

As I am always interested to see how other people keep their lives organized, I thought I would share how I make sure I don’t miss an event or overbook myself.

Here’s how I keep track of my events:

– Google Calendar

Though it took me a long time to adopt, I find that Google Calendar is really convenient, especially because it’s synced to my iPhone’s calendar application.

Click here to see how I color-code my Google Calendar.

Google Calendar Example

– Physical Planner / Weekly & Monthly Agenda

The best way for me to be sure I remember something is to write it down. Filling in my Google Calendar is a good way for me to know what’s happening if my planner isn’t handy, but I always find I remember my schedule a lot easier if I write it down.

I currently have a Sugar Paper brand of planner, purchased at Target. In the past, my favorite planners have been from Blue Sky, also purchased at Target. However, when I went planner shopping this year, no Blue Sky planners were available, but my current planner works just fine.

This planner was thicker than I usually like my planners because of the large “Notes” section in the back. However, I have made it work by removing months as time goes on.

Sugar Paper 2015 Planner CoverFor the monthly section of my planner, I will usually assign repeated events (jobs, square dance lessons, Delta Zeta events, etc.) a shorthand code–such as “UL” for my work at the University Library–so I don’t have to keep writing a long phrase over and over.

April 2015 Monthly Planner

For the weekly part of my planner, I usually try to add any extra details, such as locations, phone numbers, email addresses, etc. Also, at the beginning of the school year, I will write down all test and homework due dates in the planner and update them as needed.
July 2015 Weekly Planner

– Mounted Wall Calendar

The calendar on my wall is laid out the same as in the monthly planner, but I like to keep it whether or not I write in it because it’s always good for an at-a-glance check during a phone call or when drafting an email.

And that’s how I try and keep my events organized. At some point, I’ll write about how I keep track of my homework assignments.

Next week, I’ll chat about a bag I take with me nearly everywhere, but until then, let me know what you think of my event-organizing system and what you do to keep track of your events!

Current Events, Everything

On Making Change

Every person has the ability to make change in their own way.

Many people choose to use their voice. Some voices are louder than others. Some are more articulate and thought-through. Some are emotional. Some are timid.

I know people who use their ability to captivate an audience to their advantage. They are able to inform others online and in person with facts at the drop of a hat, and they know it. I have a friend who can express everything I’m feeling long before I’ve ever figured out the right words. Those people are inspiring.

I also know people who may not be so good at coming up with what to say, so they “share” or refer to those who use their words well. That’s okay. I’m one of those people a lot of the time.

My friend does a lot to make change. She uses her voice, her right to vote, her influence on social media, and so much more to make change. It’s in her blood.

Like her, some people make change by using their voice. Some use media (social and otherwise). Some look to politics. Some look to education (for themselves and others). Some prefer to team up and work with people. Some choose to hold demonstrations and protests. Some take a strong and public stand against injustices in our world. Some are terrified, for reasons that don’t have to be known, to express their opinions publicly.

There are so many ways to make change; you just have to pick one. You don’t have to be like my friend and take a strong public stance, but you have to do something. If you don’t want to be in the public eye, reach out to those who do speak up loudly and ask how you can make change. They’ll have ideas. The only thing you can’t do is nothing.

I’m a fan of the band Rush, and they have a lyric that goes “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Though they aren’t talking about making change, the lyric still rings true for me.

My biggest point is that, no matter how you choose to make change, understand that everyone has their own way of making a difference. No one facing the same goal should criticize one another on how they choose to make change. We all need to stand together and use our strengths to our advantage. Not everyone can stand up and be a strong-voiced leader, but we all have our own way of making change; we just have to start doing it.

And we all have to stand together and support one another.

No goal gets accomplished if we all bicker over how to best make change. We all make change differently, and we all have to support each other. So if you would rather demonstrate with a group, do it. If you would rather be a loud voice on social media, do it. If you would rather make a movie about injustices, do it. If you would rather be a supporting voice rather than the main voice, do it. If you don’t know what to do, ask someone.

Working as a team gets more done than fighting with one another about who’s making the best change and why. We all just have to work together and do it.

So whether you want people to know how what’s happening in Ferguson affects us and that #BlackLivesMatter; or whether you want to make your community stronger; or whether you want to fight racial (or any other) injustices; or whether you want to make any other kind of change, find your way and do it.

Every person has the ability to make change in their own way.

Now you just have to find your way and do it.


Physical Books Might Be Better For Students

While on Facebook earlier this week, I came across this article. It says that “our brains were not designed for reading, but have adapted and created new circuits to understand letters and texts. The brain reads by constructing a mental representation of the text based on the placement of the page in the book and the word on the page. The tactile experience of a book aids this process, from the thickness of the pages in your hands as you progress through the story to the placement of a word on the page.”

Basically, it confirms what I’ve always believed. I remember more when I read from a physical book.

Now I’m not completely against e-readers. But I think that being able to balance both electronic and paper reading is key. I have a Barnes and Noble Nook (which I LOVE), but I also read plenty of books on paper. Ebooks are definitely convenient (mine has a built in book light; hello late night road trips!), but I’ve found paper books are much better for remembering details, especially as a student. Whenever my professors would assign readings that are online, I would usually go to my university library to find a paper copy, or I would print the reading if I couldn’t find the book. Sometimes I would just suck it up and read it online, but like I said, my comprehension and memory of the material was definitely lower than it would have been if I just printed it out.

I know, it’s not good for the environment. However, I can’t let my education suffer because I want to save trees. I do try and recycle heavily, so I hope that makes up for some of it. I also try and use less paper by using my public and university libraries (whenever possible) rather than purchasing books. If I do purchase a book, it’s because I felt a major connection to it and I would love to reread it long into the future. Mainly, I use my Nook to reread books I love on long road trips or during an airplane ride and to read book series only available in ebook format (new authors, mainly).

As a student, ebooks might seem more practical, but I have no problem carrying one or two (or five) books with me everyday. My Education > Convenience. I learn best by reading from physical books. I make marks in them. I highlight important statements. I learn best by reading from physical books. 

The article thinks so too. “While e-readers try to recreate the sensation of turning pages and pagination, the screen is limited to one ephemeral virtual page. Surveys about the use of e-readers suggest that this affects a reader’s serendipity and sense of control. The inability to flip back to previous pages or control the text physically, either through making written notes or bending pages, limits one’s sensory experience and thus reduces long-term memory of the text.”

Of course everyone learns differently. Everyone has their own right to choose ebooks over physical books, but now science has given us one argument for the benefits physical books. Perhaps science will also tell us why ebooks might be better in other ways.

Read on.

Everything, Theatre

On Following Your Heart and Not Your Education System

This comic and blog post on zenpencils.com started out on the On My Radar post for Week 3. However, as I started talking about it, I found a bit of passion that I hadn’t been able to express in writing, and it became a bit long for an On My Radar post. So, I decided to give the topic it’s very own post.

Our education system (especially in the US) seems to stamp out all things that are creative, especially dance. I spent thirteen years of my life dancing in the evenings after school. I learned how to work with a team, work on my own, a bit of French, and an appreciation for the art. I learned that the more work you put into something, the more you see and are satisfied with your results (aka, dance taught me work ethic).

That's me on the high school dance team!
That’s me!

I was able to keep active and healthy, especially in a time where kids never went outside to play. I gained the confidence to go on stage in front of thousands of people. I learned memorization skills, and I have more of an awareness of my body in space (I think dance improved my spacial development as a child).

However, none of that seems to matter to those in charge of the educational system. We are discouraged from doing things such as drama and dance in favor of more “practical” things. We are told that we won’t ever get a job doing something in the arts, so why even try? Well, there are about seven billion people on this earth. Does every single one of them have to fit into a box of careers?

Surely not everyone can or should be in the same career fields. With so many people (and many of which are quite content with sticking to the “traditional” careers), I think we should encourage more people to follow their dreams in the arts. I’ve seen so many people have fulfilling lives and careers in dance and drama that I can’t imagine them doing anything else.

With so many people who all have their own thoughts, wants, and dreams, why do we try to fit them into a box? Why extinguish creativity? Why not let them decide what they want to pursue? After all, we all should choose what to do with our lives, not let someone else dictate it.


Why Do Opinions Matter?

In my fairly brief lifetime, I’ve come across some fairly abysmal and horrifying opinions. I’ve been told to ignore the opinions that don’t align with mine, and I’ve also been told to listen to each opinion. I know people with who believe that listening to other opinions is akin to poison, but I’ve never understood why. To me, differing opinions can open doors to new and insightful conversation. And just because a new opinion is given audience, it doesn’t mean that the listener must agree with it…or else.

Also, the person giving the new opinion should be just as interested in your opinion as their own. Too many times have I seen arguments break out where it’s clear that only one person truly cares about listening to the other person. All too often, the other person just spouts their opinion in a way that makes it seem they didn’t even hear (or read) the other person’s comment. What is accomplished by this? It seems that these conversations just run around in circles. The people who don’t listen to other opinions could be missing out on a great learning opportunity. They could also be missing out on an opportunity to state their opinion in a way that will be beneficial to the listener.

At my university, I helped run a student organization that asked difficult questions to open discussion. Some of these discussions were written down publicly and anonymously (unless you were seen writing your comment, of course) and some of them were in person. The opinions represented were generally varied and made for an interesting conversation. However, we always had critics. They generally thought that we were either wasting our time (no change would come from the little people like us), or they expressed that talking about things only makes them worse. But I don’t think so. I think that discussion is necessary–especially on a university campus. Sometimes, the discussions were great examples of how to present an opinion and value that of the other person. That is what discussions should be like. Valued. They should never end with hard feelings, but they should get you and the other person thinking.

If everyone agreed on the same thing or if no one stood up for what they believed in (unless the world was perfect, but it isn’t now), the world would probably fall into some sort of scary dystopian bandwagon where differing opinions were few and far between. It would be easier for people to be taken advantage of, and intellectual growth would be slim. I’m not saying that’s going to happen (or is even realistic), but I do believe that opinions matter. More than that, I believe that the ability to not only have your opinion matters, but I believe that the ability to state and have a dialogue where both opinions are valued is essential.

But of course, this is just my opinion. I’m not an expert, and I would be hypocritical not to welcome discussion. So feel free to comment with your opinions.



A Case for Writing by Hand

Can you imagine trying to make it through university without being able to write by hand to take notes? I sure can’t. I thought administrators in education might’ve been going too far with suggesting cursive should be removed from formal education. However, the possible removal of an emphasis on handwriting seems ridiculous. I doubt I’m alone in saying this, but I always find that I learn material better after I’ve written it out by hand. Handwriting shouldn’t become a “lost art” known to the few who pursue it. It almost makes me think of the not-so-recent past where people didn’t learn how to write and paid others to write for them. That should not become the norm again. Writing has been the best tool for my education and mental health. Without the ability to write (and write clearly at that), I don’t think I would have done as well in my time at school.

Also, what of writing in journals? Blogging is one thing, but I don’t think it does the same thing for me as writing in a journal. Personally, I write in a journal to catalog my life experiences (many of them too personal for the internet), and I don’t believe it would provide the same mental relief for me if I were to type out my entries.

There is nothing more stress-relieving for me than writing in my journal.
There is nothing more stress-relieving for me than writing in my journal.

Here are some things I find rewarding and useful about writing by hand:

  1. The accomplishment of filling a notebook or journal (I wrote my first book in eighth grade by hand in notebooks).
  2. Similarly, I can see the physical amount of the pages I’ve written and the notes I’ve taken.
  3. It helps me remember the material of which I write (I memorize lines for plays much easier after I write them out by hand).
  4. It can look pretty, and I can feel accomplished about its aesthetic appearance.
  5. My notes and journals aren’t at risk of deletion by way of computer or internet (though I will admit fires and water damage come close).
  6. Notebooks and diaries can be passed down, which can be special moments.
  7. I feel much more relieved after ranting through handwriting than I do when typing or texting my feelings.

Of course, these are just my feelings on the benefits of handwriting. There are probably many more that have a much more scientific basis. Regardless, as someone who frequently chooses handwriting over typing, I feel that a loss of an emphasis on handwriting would be a loss to future generations.

“Man builds no structure that outlives a book” — Carl Elliot