I’m currently in my third year of college, so you would think that I have taking finals and exams down to a science. Well, your wrong.
You see, I suffer from a disorder called Chronic Procrastination. Whenever I have something that’s due (homework, an exam to study for, etc.) I always find a way to occupy my time with other things. Suddenly I have to clean my room, reorganize my wardrobe, paint my nails, watch an entire series on Netflix, read five books, take three naps… you name it. I’ll avoid getting any real school work done until the last minute, and then I’m rushing, stressed, and overwhelmed.
And let me tell you, Stressed Chekara is not the friendliest person to be around…
The other day a good friend of mine totally called me out on this. (What are friends for, if not to tell you how it really is.) She said that I’m great at giving advice about this stuff, but not so great at taking my own advice.
I’ll have to say that this year it was my New Year’s Resolution to stop with the procrastination and I’ve been making baby steps toward accomplishing that goal. Remember: “Rome was not built in a day!” I’ll get there eventually, but for now I’ll just be happy with my small accomplishments and continue taking it one step at a time.
Here are some tips that I came up with for surviving finals week.
BEFORE EXAM WEEK
Know where you stand in the course.
My friend Gabii made a joke the other day: “You know it’s the end of the semester when you become a math wizard at calculating your final grade in you classes.” I’ll have to admit, I got a little knee-slapper out of that one hehe. This is definitely something that I have been guilty of.But it’s not necessarily a bad thing! Knowing what your final grade in your classes will be gives you an opportunity to seek extra help before classes end to get that extra push and lets your know where you should allocate your time for your other classes.
I think that knowing where I stand in a class helps me budget my studying time wisely. I know that I struggle with math, so I will be spending the next three days before the final studying every chance I get. I know that I’m doing awesome in my political science class, so I’ll probably devote only a few hours to reviewing the study guide.
Get Help Early
Speaking of math, that is definitely one of the hardest classes that I am taking this semester. That being said, since I knew ahead of time that I would likely be having a hard time, I knew that the Help Center was where I would be spending a majority of my time.
Get help for your classes as early as you can to beat the finals rush. Meet with your Professors, TAs, Help Centers etc. They’re all paid/volunteer their time just tohelp you. This is something that I definitely wish that I had taken advantage of my freshmen and sophomore years. I was too nervous to go speak with my TAs or my professors because I didn’t want to seem dumb or be annoying. Part of it was also because I felt somewhat intimidated being in such large classes. I wish I had the confidence level that I do now. Seriously, if I’m in lecture and I don’t understand a topic, at the end of class I will walk right up to the professor and make a time to meet so that they can explain it again. It has helped me tremendously this semester.
Take it from me and learn from my mistakes. These people are there for you and they all want you to succeed. So nag them all you want, send them 50 million e-mails and ask them lots of questions. It’s better to say that you tried and failed then that you didn’t try at all. Your GPA will thank you 😉
DURING EXAM WEEK
I believe there are several important things that determine a good study session: Time of Day
It took me two and a half years in college to figure it out, but I just discovered that I am a morning person! (Shocking, I know…) But for some odd reason, it seems that I work best and accomplish more in the wee early hours of the day. I would rather wake up at 5 am and study for an exam as opposed to staying up all night. Of course not everyone is like this. Maybe you like the idea of staying up all night to study, that’s cool too. It’s always helpful to know what works best for you so that you can maximize your productivity.
In my case, it always depends on what I’m studying for. One thing for sure about me: I cannot study in my bed. I will fall asleep instantly no matter the time of day, no matter if I’m tired or not. Studying in my bed always ends in a disaster for me. So during exam times I avoid my bed like the plague. I’ll study at my desk, in a lounge, at the library, or at the Barnes and Nobles near my school. Individual vs. Group Study
I’ll have to admit that I quite enjoy studying by myself most of the time. However sometimes it helps to have a friend who will go over flashcards with you or help you do out math problems. Personally, I can’t study in groups of more that 3 people. It just gets too distracting for me and I get lost in all the side conversations!
Do you like studying in groups? One tip that can help you next semester is to form a study group with some students from your class early on. Get together and go over the study guide and the material. This is a good way to bounce ideas off each other as well.
Do you like studying by yourself? Find a nice quiet place to clear your mind and get some work done.
I can’t listen to music with lyrics when I study. I just get way too into the song and end up accomplishing zip. (AKA, I become the artist and my desk becomes my stage: concert time…)
For the longest time I would just study in silence but when I would work in the library I would get distracted by the conversations of the students around me. So I came up with a solution! I recently discovered the Classical Music for Studying Pandora Station. Having the music playing is helpful to drown out the sounds around you. Plus the classical music part of it makes me feel smart while I’m studying hehe. I always get very distracted by technology. My phone beeps while I’m writing a paper and suddenly I’m responding to texts, and scrolling through Instagram and Twitter for the next two hours instead of doing actual work. Oops. To help with this, I put my iPhone on Do Not Disturb when I know that I’m doing something really important. For my computer, I downloaded the SelfControlApp. This lets me block distracting websites while I’m doing things like writing a paper. Basically I have to block everything but Google… I might as well just shut down my wifi… but so far it’s helped me a lot. Give it a try!
THINGS THAT YOU FORGET TO DO DURING FINALS WEEK THAT ARE ACTUALLY HELPFUL
False Myth: Finals week? Sleep? Impossible.
But the truth is, if you don’t sleep you will die. (Slight exaggeration) As wonderful as staying up for 72 hours straight to study for your hardest exam sounds, after a while with no sleep you no longer retain any of the things your are studying. Your body needs time to refresh and rejuvenate. If you have to be up for long periods of time, take a few naps throughout the day and get some rest! A 20 – 30 minute nap can help with your alertness!
Finals Myth: I don’t have time to cook or eat healthy so I’m just not going to eat or only eat fast food.
Do you ever get so busy studying that you forget to eat or skip meals? This is not only bad for your metabolism, but also for your health! If you know ahead of time that you are going to be studying for a long time, stay stocked up on a few snacks so you don’t forget to eat something.
Do you ever hear people say that they’re so busy during finals week that they’re just going to pig out? I know I’ve heard it and I’ve been guilty of saying it… Try to avoid eating lots of unhealthy and heavily processed foods if you can. These foods have a tendency to make you feel more sluggish after eating them and you’ll need all your energy to study! Snacks like fruit and veggies are good options! Try something high in protein like peanut butter and apples. Healthy and yummy so its a win-win! Please note that this doesn’t mean you should have to eat like a rabbit during finals week. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are great for your brain function. Make sure to fill up on those types of foods! And if you wanna eat that cheeseburger, go for it! Just so long as you’re having well balanced meals throughout the day.
Finals Myth: I’m too busy studying and working, I don’t have to time to take a shower.
You, my friend are suffering from the Finals Funk. This one is for you… Taking a shower may seem like a chore that you can just skip over for a day to clear up some time in your schedule, but taking a shower can actually help you feel more alert during studying.
TIP: Make it fun by switching your body wash or soap to a new interesting smell. No time to wash your hair? Keep it up while you shower (you can always rock a fabulous shower cap) and then use dry shampoo to get rid of any greasiness. This will hold you over for a few more days until you have the time to wash your lovely locks. Make sure to moisturize your skin afterwards too!
I’m not telling you to hop into a warm bath and soak for hours… (Although this is not possible to do if your living in the dorms like I am, it can be very relaxing and can help release that pesky finals tension.) But showering daily is an important part of your personal hygiene. Take it from me, your friends, and the person sitting next to you at the exam, take a shower. Even if it’s a quick 10 minutes, hop in there, get cleaned up, and save us all from your finals funkiness. Exercise
Finals Myth: There’s absolutely no time for me to exercise.
It’s finals week so I understand if you can’t spend 2 hours at the gym working out and lifting and admiring your fine physique in the mirror. Instead try and move your body for short amounts of time. Aim to at least move around for 30 minutes a day (psst. this doesn’t have to be consecutive!) Go for a walk around your building to clear your head, or do a quick at home circuit workout on one of your breaks. Moving around and exercising, even if it’s only for a few minutes can help rejuvenate your body. BONUS: All those endorphins released afterwords will give you a great big boost of energy that you can use to help you study your life away! Socialize
Finals Myth: I have no time for my friends.Are you a finals recluse? So busy studying that you don’t have time to see any of your friends? I know for sure that I have been guilty of this… In past finals weeks I’ve cut everyone off and locked myself away studying. Granted you may not have the time to go clubbing or bar hopping with your friends all night long. Try and make time to grab lunch or coffee together. It can give your mind a break and when you come back to your work, you will feel so relaxed and refreshed!
WHEN TAKING YOUR FINALS:
Don’t panic, Don’t rush, & Relax
Sometimes I get so nervous that I psych myself out. Have you ever had a panic attack right before/in the middle/at the end of your exam? I have, and let me tell you it’s no walk on the beach. Take a deep breath, take your time, and relax. Make like a polar bear and chill out.Hehe. This one test does not define you and all of your accomplishments or your potential in life.
Did I miss anything? Comment if you can think of more tips to help you survive finals week!
I thought that I would write about an amazing volunteering experience that I had this past week.
Last monday, my co-ed community service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega volunteered at the Boston Marathon.
The Boston Marathon has been a long standing service project for our chapter, and due to the unfortunate events that occurred during last years marathon, we didn’t know if we would be able to volunteer again this year. This however was not the case and over 30 of our Brothers were able to participate. It was honestly a very special opportunity, especially since this year they had to turn away volunteers since there were so many that applied!
As a new Brother, this was my first time volunteering at the race, and I was so excited. I had to be up at the start area by 6:30 in the morning, so it was quite an early start for me. I was placed in the Athlete’s Village and we were responsible for picking up donated clothing for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Boston.
Volunteering is one of my favorite things to do and this service project provided us with an awesome opportunity to hang out with some of the runners. I actually got to spend some time with a few and hearing their stories was so amazing. There was 36, 000 runners who participated in the race this year, the second largest race in the history of the marathon. They all had to pass through the Athlete’s Village before heading to the stat corrals.
A few shots of some of the runners in the Athlete’s Village:
Me + My APO Brothers
Outfit details (in case you were wondering): I wore my black Nike Free Runs, Yoga Pants, a T-Shirt with my fraternity letters, a jean jacket type cardigan underneath the blue 2014 Marathon Adidas windbreakers that were gifted to all the volunteers by the Boston Athletic Association. I also rocked a purple fanny pack as no bags were allowed. In the morning it was really cold but it warmed up later on in the day so I wanted to make sure that I had lots of layers on just in case.
My Big Cindy + Me
My best friend + APO Brother Jazmine!
My APO Brothers
Serving Others With My Brothers <3
Together with a bunch of other volunteers we were able to collected 11 trucks worth of donated clothing for the Boys & Girls Club.
Overall it was a long, hard, tiring, but wonderful and rewarding day. I can’t wait to go back again next year!
This post is a little overdue. I know I promised a lot of people that I would write about my spring break experience, but school and homework and friends and life got the best of me. But I am finally taking a moment to sit down type up a reflection on my experience!!!
SOME SNAPSHOTS FROM MY TRIP
I’ve never been anywhere for spring break before. I’ve always just stayed home and vegged out to Netflix or worked the entire week. This year, I decided on a whim to spend my spring break in Haiti! I was dealing with a lot of stress from school and I needed to just get away. My dad is a professor and his spring break is usually scheduled around the same time as mine. He was going to be in Haiti around that time anyways and I figured it would be a great opportunity to go, get away from everything and visit with my wonderful grandmother Jackie who I had not seen in three years.
I left for my trip on Thursday March 13. I flew from Boston to New York. Then I had an overnight layover, and from New York I flew to Port-Au-Prince first thing on Friday morning. In order for me to get the cheapest plane tickets possible (on my college student budget) I had to have long layovers. My layover going there was 12 hours and my layover coming back was 16 hours.
Let me tell you…
This was the WORST.IDEA.EVER.
If you are going on a trip and you are short the funds: cry, beg, borrow, or steal for that extra money for the ticket that doesn’t involve you chillin’ at the airport for 10+ hours. To tell you that I was beyond exhausted in a complete understatement. I spend my entire first day in Haiti taking naps to catch up on the sleep that I barely got at the airport. I guess you could say that the one good thing about my long layovers was that I met the kindest flight attendant/airport employee ever. She gifted me with two warm blankets, a pillow, and a mini travel kit when she saw that I would be spending the night there. She was so completely helpful and I’m grateful to have met her. But I still would not recommend traveling like that, if you can avoid it.
Here’s an overview of my trip!
Friday March 14, 2014
My first day in Haiti. I landed at about Noon and by the time I cleared customs and got my luggage it was close to 1PM. I had my family pick me up from the airport. I visited my grandmother’s home (on my father’s side) briefly before going to my other grandma Jackie’s (on my mother’s side) home where I would be staying. I spent the day taking naps and catching up with Jackie. Jackie lives in the city in Pétionville.
Saturday March 15, 2014
I spent the day running errands with my Dad. Later in the evening before sunset my dad, two of my cousins and I went to Fort Jacques in the mountains.
The drive there was beautiful. We drove through Pélerin and Kenskoff. From the street you can literally look over and look at the view of the mountains. The view was incredible and breathtaking. My dad actually pulled over a few times so that I could get out of the car and take some pictures. Believe me, these photos do not do it justice.
My Dad was explaining to me that these views actually used to look so much better… In my head I was thinking how could it possibly get any better than this… But he said that Haiti right now has less than 3% of vegetation on the island. He told me that when he was growing up here, these mountains used to be filled with trees and brush but they’ve all since been cut down.
Candid shot of my two cousins Murielle (L) and Manoue (C) + my Daddy (R)
An emblem on the British cannons outside of Fort Jacques. After the earthquake in 2010, they had to remove all of the cannons from the structure because they were too heavy.
Outside of a door at Fort Jacques.
Me with my cousins
The view from the top of the fort! The fort was built during the time of the Haitian Revolution by hand in the 1800’s. It was built along with Fort Alexandre (on the other side of the mountains, didn’t get to visit it) to see any attack from the French on land or by sea. From this spot you can see the ocean and all of the city.
These are some shots of the actual structure. To me, this was so amazing to see! This whole thing was built by hand at the top of a mountain. A lot of the structure was destroyed in the earthquake. If you want to see what it looked like before and what some of the immediate damage was following the earthquake, check out this YouTube link (below).
I can actually jump and touch the top of this tunnel!
Our tour guide, Jean-Pierre. His story is incredibly amazing to me. He has been giving tour of Fort Jacques since he was 6 years old. Now he’s 24 and can give the tour in four different languages, Haitian Creole, French, Spanish, and English. His linguistic capabilities are amazing for someone who learned English as a second language. He was really self conscious about his speaking and pronunciations but he was able to hold a conversation with me. The most surprising thing of all: he’s illiterate. He can’t read or write in any language.
It was great to meet him and spend some time with him at the fort. He was so knowledgable in the history of the fort and of the country.
Sunday March 16, 2014
I spent this day at a private beach in Trou Baguette, Haiti. I had tons of fun playing in the sand, soaking up some sun, and we even had a picnic. It was so much fun, until a goat came by and ate the rest of our bread. Didn’t manage to get any shots of that, though!
Monday March 17, 2014
On this day, my Dad and I headed to my mother’s Guesthouse in Leogane, Haiti. It is about 2 hours from the capital.
On the road there I managed to catch a couple of pictures of the street views from the car.
This is a Tap-Tap. Tap-Taps are the equivalent of public transportation in Haiti. However they do not run on any type of schedule. They are basically pick-up trucks converted into something like this. But they can also be actual buses, school buses (think big yellow bus), or any other type of large vehicle, like a mini-van or van. They paint them and put roofs on them as well as seating. You pay the driver a couple of dollars and get on and jump off when you’re close to your destination.
One thing I will definitely not miss: the traffic. Traffic in the city is terrible. There are stop lights in some areas, but for the most part the roads are kind of a “free-for-all.” If a car gets a flat in the middle of the road, they stop the car and change it right there in the middle of the road. If you’re turning left and someone wants to cut you off, they will, and it will cause a huge traffic jam. If you’re driving too slowly, the other drivers beep at you and then speed up in the opposite lane to cut you off. I told my Dad that I will never complain about traffic in the States again after sitting in traffic in Haiti for hours.
Lesson learned from this: if you have to be somewhere, leave extra early to assure that you arrive on time.
Here’s a joke about Tap-Taps: How many people can you fit on a tap-tap? There’s always room for one more.This is so true. They will always find room for you, your child, your chicken, your goat, your shopping bag etc. It’s not unusual to see people hanging of the back or sitting on the roof of Tap-Taps, just like in this picture.
We drove past an outdoor market. I don’t think that I have enough skill to balance anything on my head like these merchants can.
Arrived in Leogane!
My Mom’s Guest House in Leogane. Click on the link below to check out their Facebook page!
On this day I helped out a bit at the Guest House and visited the clinic on the other side of the farm.
This is Miglese. She is the nurse at the clinic. She got married this past December!
I didn’t get to take any pictures of the structure and the clinic building because there were patients in the waiting area and I wanted to respect their privacy.
This is Jenna! She’s the dog on the farm. She just had NINE puppies. They’re about a month old now.
Her puppies were hidden under here to keep them protected. They’re so tiny for one month!
They haven’t been named yet, but I was able to hold one of the puppies. This picture is before he tried to jump out of my hands.
On our drive back we went back through the capital.
This is where the capital building used to be. After the earthquake, the building was completely destroyed. When I first visited Haiti in 2011, this area was filled with the rubble of the building. Now it is all cleared away and they now have the Haitian flag standing in the middle.
We drove by this building which used to be some military barracks. I thought that it looked like the White House.
I thought that this building was damaged in the earthquake, but my Dad told me that the government forced the owners (think “imminent domain”) to demolish part of their buildings because they built too close to the streets. The plan for the future is to build and overpass to the airport in the future.
After we stopped briefly at my grandma Jackie’s house, my Dad and I headed to Montrouis, Haiti to spend two days and one night at a hotel called Club Indigo.
This is a street view on the road to the hotel. This was so interesting to me because normally the streets look really dry and dusty and there isn’t much vegetation. But this entire road was lined with trees. My Dad said that this road reminded him of the Haiti that he grew up in.
The sunset at night in Montrouis, Haiti at Club Indigo.
The pool didn’t have a closing time, so I went for a late night swim!
Wednesday March 19, 2014
I spent the entire day relaxing at the hotel. I woke up super early and had a delicious breakfast. I relaxed by the pool. I had fresh coconuts by the ocean. I met some wonderful people at the hotel who I still keep in touch with now. It was definitely relaxing. At the end of the day, my Dad and I drove back home to spend the night at my grandma Jackie’s house.
The hotel was really nice. The amenities were updated and the different facilities were very clean. I would definitely go back. My one complaint would be that it was so expensive. We paid for two days + one night which came with 3 meals and drinks during meal times only. We had to pay for all of our drinks separately. They also charged an hourly rate of $5 to rent out things like basketballs, goggles, kayaking etc. I thought that was bit excessive, but I guess that’s where they make their extra money.
Taking this photo was so bittersweet. I was chatting with some people by the pool and and I looked up and realized that this would be my last sunset in Haiti until my next visit.
Thursday March 20, 2014
This was my last day in Haiti. I didn’t want to leave! If I had my way I would still be there now… I spent the day with my grandma Jackie, I packed up my suitcase, and then I headed to the airport. Before I left, I got her to take a picture with me. She hates having her photo taken but I promised to send her some spending money and she agreed haha! I love her so much and I miss her dearly.
My flight left Haiti on Thursday afternoon for New York. I spend Thursday night at JFK then I was back in Boston by Friday morning.
I had an amazing time in Haiti. The weather was so great! The coldest day was 79° and a little breezy. But besides that it was pretty much high 80° and low 90°.
There were a couple of places that I did not get a chance to visit since I was only there for 6 days. But I am planning a trip back sometime in December or January.
When people think of Haiti, they always think about the negatives. They think about the earthquake in 2010 and about the poverty. I’ve spoken with some people who said they would never go back or go visit out of fear of getting kidnapped or being robbed. Honestly, I think that having those fears will limit you from fully experiencing and enjoying life.
Actually, while I was at Club Indigo in Montrouis, I met a couple from New York that were visiting Haiti for the first time in fifteen years. She said that her fear of being kidnapped is what kept her from coming back, and she was so happy that she did.To these people that are too afraid of going to visit or to go back, I say: yes, Haiti is a third world country. Yes, there is poverty, and there is still some destruction from the earthquake. You should always be cautious when traveling abroad anywhere to prevent from becoming a victim of a crime. Besides all of that I think that Haiti is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Tourism in Haiti is on the rise. Despite everything that has happened in the country, the poorest of people still have smiles on their faces every day because the blessing of life is enough to bring them happiness. There’s a sense of community when you are there, that I feel you can’t get anywhere else.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit Haiti, jump on it. If you go with the right people, I guarantee you will have the best time of your life. I know I had a blast. I can’t wait to be back.