Beginning of Semester Favorites

Now that I am taking a “study break” by writing this blog post, and my to-do list has expanded to about three pages in my assignment notebook, I can safely say that I miss winter break.

I knew that going into this semester, I’d have to keep my game face on 24/7—really difficult classes, hyper-extracurricular activity involvement, graduate school testing, upcoming research deadlines, and an off-campus shadowing opportunity will do that to you. Before I gear up to take three exams next week and one the following week, I wanted to review some of my “Beginning of Semester Favorites” that have been saving my life so far.

  1. Favorite way to get food  Let me introduce you to the Hooked app! Hooked, which is only around at about five colleges (we’re so lucky that we’re one of them!), is a food app based on finding timed deals at restaurants on campus. Using your location, the app finds the closest restaurants to you (which differs from Urbana to Champaign), and will even tell you how far away they are. To use the app, enter the restaurant with the deal and just show the cashier your phone, and get “Hooked”! It’s pretty bad for me—I think I’m addicted to this app! It’s so useful, and the savings from the deals are significant. I just have to make sure I don’t spend too much money on outside food with this app, but I’m really appreciating the variety.
  2. Favorite way to take notes  In the past, I’ve written posts about various software systems that I would use to take notes, including Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, and PowerPoint. However, this semester, I decided to throw it way back to my high school days and stick to the classic pen-and-paper method.
    I had several reasons for reverting to this strategy. First, I’m in lecture a significant portion of the week = 3 hours biochemistry + 3 hours psychopharmacology + 3 hours advanced composition + 1 hour microbiology lab lecture (not including my testing preparation). In particular, my psychopharmacology lectures are 1.5 hours long. I really didn’t want to distract myself with my laptop, because no matter how hard I try, there will be days where Facebook and Instagram would be more appealing than neuroscience (SHOCKER right?).
    I’m not saying I’m the perfect student now, because I will scroll through Twitter from time to time when I need a mini-break in a lecture. However, using my clipboard and printing out the notes keeps me focused and distraction-free 98% of the time. I’m really able to utilize my time spent in lecture wisely, instead of trying to type every single article of speech my professors say. Secondly, I want to preserve my laptop and not ruin the semi-new one I have currently. This includes not lugging it around with me all day in potentially damaging winter weather conditions. You never know when you’re going to wipe out on some black ice and have your laptop-containing backpack break your fall! Plus, I save myself the back pain from the bulk of the laptop and charger!
  3. Favorite way to snack smart — What can I say? I love KIND bars! Besides the incredible taste, the health benefits are really out of this world. KIND bars were founded on the principle of having consumers being able to pronounce every ingredient and have no artificial ingredients or flavors. I bought a pack at Costco before the start of the semester, and I’m worried that I’ll run out next week! These bars are so easy to throw in my backpack to eat as breakfast before morning lectures, as afternoon snacks while I’m studying at the Union trying to get some more work done, and while I’m at the library. I lose interest in granola bars really quickly (I have a whole Costco pack of Kashi ones that I’m not even halfway finished with yet, and I bought those in August!), so I’m glad to have the variety of KIND flavors to keep me happy with pre-packaged foods!


I’m trying to make it through my first round of exams, so I apologize for not being around and updating the blogosphere! Don’t worry, I’ll make it out okay. (I think…)

Happy 50-degree day today (BECAUSE YES, THAT HAPPENED!)

– Sivani


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