Prepping for finals season

The F word. No, probably not what you’re thinking. Finals. Yes, it’s true. The most dreaded time of the year, for college studentsat least, is finally upon us. And whether you’re refusing to leave bed in denial of what is to come, or you have already made color-coded flash cards for all your exams, we can all use a few extra helpful tips to make finals season that slightly bit less painful and we can feel more ready when those blue booklets land on our desks.

Make a game plan

Sometimes the sheer fact that our brains are so consumed by the endless to-do lists of the pre-finals season, it becomes hard to get down to work and actually start to prep. Therefore, before you even open that first textbook, take a look at all the subjects you need to review and how much time you have and create yourself a realistic timeline.

 Not only will this work to ensure you don’t forget about anything, but it will likely help to keep you on track as the simple act of giving our brains artificial deadlines, works to keep them working in line and on time that much more effectively. Additionally, this can help you prioritize the things that are most important and impactful on your final grades so that you don’t find yourself studying for 10 hours for a question that might be worth only 1% of your total grade. Also, if you find yourself at loss for time, this can be a great tool in understand where you need to consolidate your time and place your greatest focus.

Understand how you study best

If you google “exam study tips,” you will likely become overwhelmed by the plethora of advice for the absolute most effective way of studying. Things get dicey when so many different opinions and studies all claim to be the perfect solution. Rather than 
struggling through that one studying technique that you learned about from a friend couple years ago that you just can’t seem to get to work for you, try out a few tips and techniques you find and see which ones work best for you.

Each person is different and it’s no secret that we all learn in different ways. So rather than exerting unbelieve amounts of time and energy on techniques that don’t work for you, find the ones that you feel will help you achieve your studying goals.

We find that studying through associating new material with things we already know, creating mind maps and diagrams, and taking a mental break every so often works best for us – but as we said, don’t take our word for it – find out what works best for you. If you’re stuck for ideas, be sure to visit the Academic Support Center on RIT’s campus to find the help and resources you need.

Music

Alright, so we’re well aware of the ongoing debate between no music versus music when it comes to studying. However, according to recent studies, author and researcher, Chris Bailey, who published a book entitled A Year of Productivity, concludes that we’re least distracted by listening to music that we know very well. Listening to familiar songs can actually work to block out external noise and can often allow us to focus on our current tasks much better than playing unknown tunes as then our brain will be distracted trying to listen and understand this new sound its processing.

Although this may not work for everyone, and definitely goes back to the find-what-works-for-you point, we couldn’t help but mention that sometimes, writing song lyrics to try to remember some course material can be a very effective and fun way of prepping for your exams.

Snack on brain food

Okay, so like, we know – with finals just around the corner, food is usually the last thing on our mind. It can be so tempting to just pick up some fast junk food to eat during your midnight study session or eat a tub of ice cream because you feel like you really deserve a treat after you reviewed those five chapters for your upcoming final.

What you put in your body will have a huge effect on your energy level and focus, so try to keep away from junk food. Don’t you want to give yourself at least that small advantage by keeping your body in its best shape in order to retain all the information you will be scarfing down? Try to keep around healthy snacks and choose foods that have been proven to aid concentration and memory such as fish, nuts, seeds, yogurts, or even blueberries.

Remember to also take care of yourself on the actual exam day and eat a meal beforehand that has a slow release energy. The last thing you want is to be distracted during your final by the gnawing feeling of hunger and guilt you have from skipping breakfast.

So while this is in no way an exhaustive list of finals prep that will magically work to ensure you an A in every class, hopefully you can take at least something away from it to make this finals season just a little bit less stressful and a little bit more manageable. Good luck (bonus tip: don’t rely on luck – that is never a good studying or test taking strategy) and happy studying!

3 reasons why Shop One is cooler than you think

So if you have spent any time around RIT’s campus or ventured into Global Village, it’s likely that you have heard about or seen Shop One. Let’s be honest though, how many times have you just walked right past it thinking it’s probably not your type of store. Here are our top three reasons why Shop One is just so much cooler than you ever expected:

1. It’s the revival of the original Shop One, which began the Craft Movement.

So unless you are an art history aficionado, those words will mean very little to you and you might even be looking forward to reason number two of this list. But just wait – it’s actually a neat story.

Shop One, here on RIT’s campus, is actually a revival of the downtown Rochester Shop One which opened in 1953 as the first retail gallery outside of New York City that exclusively sold hand-made, one-of-a-kind pieces of craft and art. Alongside Manhattan’s America House, Shop One in Rochester was vital in starting the Craft Art Movement in America.

Today, we have the revival shop, right here on our campus. Now isn’t that just a cool living piece of history? It’s definitely not something most universities can brag about.

2. It’s not your typical retail gallery.

Walking into a museum gift shop, you often find huge areas labeled “local artist.” Try asking one of the store employees about the artist, and you’ll often hear that yes, indeed, this piece was made by a local artist. Try asking more. That question is usually met with awkward silence. Now this isn’t a point to harp on museum gift shops around the country as surely there are many very well educated employees, however, Shop One makes this a priority.

Wendy Marks, director of Shop One, says that what really sets RIT’s Shop One apart is their constant effort to “highlight RIT talent and familiarize people with the work and the artists.” The store currently has four student and one adult sales associate who can gladly answer any and all question about the work they sell. Additionally, as you can see in the photo below, all around the shop, you can find plaques that give you more information about the artist/designer and their work.

3. It’s focused on the RIT family and network.

As mentioned above, when you walk around Shop One, you will find many information plaques. If you stop to read them, you might be surprised to find out that most of the artists are RIT alums. In fact, about 90% of the products are made by RIT alumni from programs such as industrial design, fine art, and jewelry making (just to name a few). It’s such a great experience to go into the store and think “Wow, I didn’t know that was made by a former RIT student!” – it truly makes you see just how influential RIT graduates become in their respective industries.

In fact, Shop One continually assists in bridging the gap between student and alumni. Just this past month, Shop One set up a table featuring RIT Industrial Design alumni work sold at the store during the program’s annual Design Autopsy show in Bevier Gallery which featured the work on notable alumni.

Shop One also participates in the “Length of Service Program” which rewards significant anniversaries of tenured professors by allowing them to select certain goods from Shop One. Rather than a pen with their name printed on them or a plaque that will get shoved to the back of an office, RIT professors get to receive beautifully designed and crafted products that support the RIT alumni.

To find out more about Shop One, you can view their website here, or just stop by in person!

National Espresso Day

It’s getting colder outside. Exams are just around the corner. Staying under the covers with a great book or movie and a warm beverage sounds like just about the perfect escape from all the end-of-semester worries. And since this year Thanksgiving shared the date with National Espresso Day, we thought it would be the perfect time to scope out Rochester’s best coffee shops.

Using recommendations from our friends and Yelp reviewers, we set out to try third wave coffee shops in the surrounding area to see if any of them could be the perfect solution for keeping you warm, awake, and productive in the upcoming weeks. Here are our five top picks:

  1. Fuego Coffee Roasters

Coming in with the highest Yelp ratings, Fuego was a definite can’t miss location. Located in Downtown Rochester right off East Ave, Fuego has an interesting and unique vibe that mixes the lives of downtown corporate workers and the city’s Eastman School of Music students.

Fuego was started by high school sweethearts, and they continue to take pride in the fact that they put so much care in every step of the coffee roasting process – from finding the best coffee beans to using the best artisanal brewing techniques to achieve the best tasting cup of coffee. Upon walking into the cafe, you will feel at home as you can order straight at the bar, sit down and your coffee will be brought straight to you. In our top five, Fuego was the only coffee shop with the unique aspect that you paid at the end of your visit.

It was easily to tell that Fuego is obviously very involved in its neighborhood as there was a wide array of flyers about upcoming shows, events and even ones announcing that Rochester’s own Petit Poutine truck would be stopping by the following Wednesday.

For their smooth and sweet espresso, Fuego earns a spot on our list, however – due to it’s distance away from RIT and longer wait times than the other coffee shops we visited, it doesn’t quite earn the top marks.

  1. Java’s

We couldn’t make a round-up list of the best coffee shops in town without including Java’s, right here on campus. Not only is their espresso delicious but they use some of the best milk – from Rochester’s Pittsford Dairy and their pastries are baked locally in their bakeshop. Now, that might not sounds all too unusual for a third wave coffee shop, but having it right in the heart of our campus is truly a privilege.

As far as finding the perfect balance between school work and a coffee date, or grabbing a quick coffee on the way to class and sitting down for a long study session, Java’s has got it figured out, even down to details such as separating the cafe area and bar which allows you to not be distracted by every new customer as they walk in.

Java’s also boasts the largest and most diverse drink menu out of all the coffee shops we visited. If you have yet to visit this campus gem, make sure you stop by soon (you can even pay with Tiger Bucks at the RIT location) especially if you’re feeling in a rut as the walls are lined with all kinds of great artwork to inspire you.

  1. Boxcar

Boxcar prides itself in it’s great coffee and a love for fried things. If that isn’t enough to have you getting straight into your car and driving over, then how about the fact that with it’s beautifully decorated donuts, latte art, and industrial chic, white brick interior, it’s utter #instagoals?

In its location right next to the Rochester Public Market, Boxcar is the perfect destination for a brunch date or refreshments after a morning at the market. Their espresso has a much bolder taste than the other ones we tried, but it pairs quite well with one of their artisan donuts or southern-inspired chicken and waffles on a stick. It’s definitely a place you could take a friend who doesn’t like coffee as they have so many other things to choose from.

The modern industrial chic interior of Boxcar has a surprisingly light and airy feel to it and it’s the perfect place to brunch and people watch.

While you definitely could go there to do some work, it has more of a feeling of a restaurant cafe, so it wouldn’t be our first choice for exam studying – but still a great place to go if you need a coffee and great food break or if you’re in dire need of a new Instagram photo after your feed has been dead since that one time you posted at the beginning of this semester.

  1. Ugly Duck Coffee

When we were doing our research for this coffee shop round up, Ugly Duck immediately jumped on our radar when we found out that their hashtag is #getugly. How could we not check it out?!

Ugly Duck Coffee actually started as a multi-roaster pop-up espresso bar around the city of Rochester and after a year, they finally settled down in Rochester’s East End. Right when you walk in, you can immediately tell that they take their coffee very seriously.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room, Ugly Duck does not have free wi-fi for the customers. *gasp* Why is it so high on the list then, you ask? The simple answer is that their coffee is just that good.

One of the Ugly Duck barista’s won the title of ROC’s favorite barista and we can clearly see why. After walking in, the barista promptly asked us if we needed any assistance. Pleasantly taken slightly off guard, we asked them for their recommendation, which ended in us trying The Snug  (espresso, maple syrup, Fee Brothers Molasses Bitters, steamed milk). It was by far the best espresso we had all day.

Ugly Duck’s commitment to their coffee, the peace-inducing greenery that fills the whole cafe and the fact that they have no upcharge for non-dairy milk brings them to number two on our list – truly a can’t miss location for any coffee aficionado or anyone else looking for an adventure.  

  1. Glen Edith Coffee Roasters

At top of our list is a coffee shop that we feel truly ticked every box in our expectations. Glen Edith offers coffee, Boxcar donuts (read above), lunch options, and a selection of local wine and beer.

As a third wave coffee shop it, Glen Edith seeks out direct trade (farmer to roaster) relationships to ensure the farmers are paid fair wages which then correlates with a higher quality product. Additionally, all their coffee is roasted in Rochester.

So even though you can tell they take their coffee very seriously, the environment makes it feel very inviting and not at all intimidating, like some coffee shops can seem at first glance.

On the walls, you can find beautifully hand-drawn chalk signs that clearly articulate all the differences between a latte, cappuccino, and cortado to make sure anyone can understand what they’re ordering without feeling too intimidated to ask.

The cafe is filled with people from all walks of life – mothers with kids in strollers, young professionals hustling, and friends meeting each other for their weekly catch up – everything about it makes you feel like it’s THE neighborhood hang out spot. What tops it all off is it’s great location in the Park Avenue Neighborhood – you can get coffee then walk around the beautiful streets surrounding the cafe and pop into local craft stores or other restaurants.

So whether you’re looking to find a quaint spot to study, catch up with friends, or just have delicious coffee and food, Glen Edith Coffee is your go-to.

5 Tips for Dealing with your Roommate

So you’re living away at college now and you have this person living with you. Whether you grew up sharing a room with your siblings or you’re used to having your own room, if you’re like most people, this is the first time you have shared such close quarters with someone who is essentially a stranger. And whether you chose your roommate or had one assigned to you, you’re bound to encounter a roommate issue at some point. Here are our five best tips for managing life with your cohabitors.

  1. Express your needs and expectations.

If you live in on-campus housing then at the beginning of the semester you filled out a contract with your roommates about general expectations you had about your living arrangements. However, it’s important to remember that the contract shouldn’t remain that one thing you did at the beginning of the year that you now forgot about.

Your roommates can’t read your mind. Crazy, right? That means that if you need to study for a big midterm coming up, you shouldn’t expect your roommate to just know that you’re going to be needing quiet time in the room. They might think you’re studying in the library and invite a bunch of friends over. How were they supposed to know?

So as a good starting point, establish a good method of preventative communication. You can have a whiteboard with your schedule for the week, write in when you need time to study, assign chores, etc. Just don’t expect your roommate to be on the same page as you if you don’t lay it out for them.

  1. If conflict arises, first TALK to your roommate.

So you laid out all your expectations. You agreed to have the trash taken out every three days, and yet it’s been a week and now bottles are starting to spill out

of your roommate’s bin and your room is developing a weird smell. Even though it seems like the most obvious thing in the world, most people will really struggle with simply confronting their roommates about issues they may have. The good thing is, if you’ve established those ground rules (see point 1), then you bringing up that your roommate should take out the trash shouldn’t hit them out of left field.

However, even when the issues at hand are more severe than smelly trash and they may be things you never talked about before,

It’s important that you at least make some sort of effort to talk things over with your roommate. The RA’s at RIT are here to support you but they will also encourage you to try to sort out the issue yourself before involving a third party. Dealing with conflict is an important life skill to acquire, so why not start now?

  1. Visit the Ombuds office.

RIT has a plethora of resources available to its student body, one of them being the Ombuds office. If you’ve never heard of it, the Ombuds office provides students and

staff with a confidential, safe, and unbiased space for conflict resolution. You can bring to them any issue that you may be experiencing and they will listen, coach you through conflict resolution tactics, or provide you with any other relevant resources.

It’s important to remember that because the Ombuds office is 100% confidential, if you’re having a very serious conflict that the university needs to made aware of, visiting the Ombuds office does not count as filing a formal notice to the school.

For more information on the Ombuds office, you can visit their website.

  1. Your roommate doesn’t have to be your best friend.

A lot of people come into college expecting that their roommates are going to be their automatic, built-in best friends, or even yet, they choose to room with their best friends. However, it’s more important that you and your roommate have similar living habits (cleaning, sleeping) and as emphasized in the points above, that the two of you can communicate well.

The dynamics of close friendship can often get in the way of efficient communication, and also – as much as you love your best friend, you might not want to see them 24/7. If your roommate is not your best friend and yet you are able to share a space, you’re on a path to success. Everyone can use their own space and privacy and a place without judgement or clinginess.

  1. Contact your RA.

If you feel like you have tried everything and your conflicts with your roommates persist, your next avenue should be contacting your RA. They will often try to mediate your conflict and if you come to the conclusion that your living situation is not working, as a last resort , they will be able to get you in contact with resources in order to see if alternate housing is a possible option. Keep in mind that these change requests will eventually have to go through RIT Housing and will be honored based on availability of rooms.

 

Breaking your routine | Writer’s Cut

I love planning. No, really – nothing makes me feel more accomplished, more safe, than the feeling of having my schedule completely filled out, so that I know what to do every hour of every day. Does that make me a bit of a control freak? Yes, it probably does.

Now if all of that is true, you might be confused as to why you’re reading an article on taking a break from your planned routine. Well, just stick with me here.

The weeks leading up to college move-in were grueling for me. Though I suppose it’s not uncommon for upcoming freshmen to be worried about this new chapter of their lives (some will show it more than others), I was utterly terrified. I was moving halfway across the country (22 hours by car to be exact) to a school that none of my friends had even heard of, and to make matters even worse, move-in day was going to be the very first time I set foot on campus. Although I had been away from home for significant periods of time before, nothing was never quite as permanent as this move.

After unpacking and setting up my room, it was almost as if someone had pressed a “GO” button on my life. Throughout orientation, I was only in my room when I needed sleep, and it’s safe to say that this pattern continued well into the beginning of that semester. Now before you jump to conclusions here – no, I was not out partying every night, and no, I was not trying to drink away my worries. Instead, I began to fall in a strict routine of school, work, and friends that I helped myself to and upheld to a T. I had found my own way to forget, my own way to not allow myself to stop for long enough to think about just how far out of my comfort zone I really was.

My routine engulfed me. I was so focused on always doing something that I didn’t even notice. For a solid three months, I was constantly doing, doing, and going. I did everything to establish RIT as my home and my environment, and I didn’t think twice about it. Unknowingly, keeping myself busy became my method of not allowing myself the time to feel homesick, to cope with how big of a life-change college was. I was always looking forward to my next assignment, club meeting, or dinner with new friends.  

The problem was that none of these things alone were inherently bad in nature. I was doing very well in school, I had a solid group of new friends, and I was involved in clubs. As far as I knew, this was the perfect execution of the perfect recipe of the perfect college experience. Sense the sarcasm yet?

I was so in love with the routine I created for myself that it became even more important than the individual tasks and events within it.

Then Thanksgiving week rolled around.

Everything around me was slowing down as professors and students looked forward to the promise of three blissful days off work with their friends and family. My world was not getting any slower though. I pushed on with my tight schedule and added even more tasks for myself. Soon enough, my brain was making plans faster than my body could even begin to complete them.

So, I crashed. Now, I know what you’re thinking, this must be the great climax that I have been building up to, and using the word “crash,” you will think I’m referring to some unfortunate car accident on my way home. Well, that’s just the thing, I didn’t get to go home and take that break, and that realization was precisely what brought me into a flood of tears.

Our bodies have a unique ability to tell us to stop and slow down. This was my body telling me precisely that. I spent the whole semester making myself so busy that I wouldn’t have time to internalize the huge life-change that college really is. I tried my very best to follow everything I had read about what makes a successful college student. Yet somehow, that wasn’t enough.

No self-help article could actually prepare me for the unique challenges that college had for me. As I sat down to write this, I realized that I, too, could never successfully address all the struggles a college student could face, but that’s just it. College will hit each individual person with a personalized set of challenges that can all be equally overwhelming and all feel equally isolating. So my advice here is simple.  

Take a break.

For me, that meant changing my environment by taking a trip to Highland Park and for just a day, being away from RIT. It meant allowing myself the headspace to process my new reality of life in college. Whatever taking a break means to you, do it. Get coffee at the cafe you have been meaning to visit or maybe just take a walk around campus to process and take in everything that is happening around you.

Facing your reality will work much better than trying to run from it.

Top 5 reasons to take RIT tunnels

RIT tunnels have developed quite the reputation over the years. One RIT user made a subreddit for our tunnel system stating, “They’re infamous, but I’ve never…seen one. As a commuter, do they: A) Serve a purpose for me, B) Are they accessible to me, C) Are they laughing at me from underground”.

Although the concept of tunnels laughing from underneath our campus is quite enjoyable, that seems just a bit far fetched. So instead, we’re here to help dissolve some of the mystery that surrounds the RIT tunnel system and give you practical tips as to why you should take the time to figure it out.

  1. Avoid inclement weather
Giphy

Though this one might seem like a no-brainer, it turns out that snowisn’t the only weather pattern that RIT students need an escape from. Don’t get us wrong, the tunnels are great when there are three feet of snow on the ground and you don’t want to put on three layers of coats to get to Gracie’s. However, last year, we learned that wind can be just as powerful of an enemy as snow. When last March a windstorm hit Rochester with winds of almost 80 mph, wind tunnels really became a thing on campus. The gusts were so strong that the Quarter Mile had to be closed down between the SAU building and Eastman. So for those student who decided they didn’t want to walk to class halfway bent over due to wind resistance, the tunnels became a great escape.

  1. Protect yourself from HzV

Whether you are a HvZ human who needs asylum from the zombies and a way to get to class, or you are just a normal RIT human who want to hide from the madness that HvZ can become, the tunnels can become your best friends during each semester’s game. Taking the tunnels, you are much less likely to get impaled by a NERF dart or sock, especially if getting up for your 8 a.m. makes you look like zombie, but you don’t actually want to be mistaken for one in the game.

  1. Get your daily dose of nerd humor
Behind the Bricks Map

Let’s be honest, we go to a school where bad puns and nerdy jokes get you major brownie points. So if you’re lacking inspiration or if you just need a funny pick me up, the tunnels can be a great resource to you. In particular, the tunnel that runs between the Liberal Arts Hall and Gleason College of Engineering has some fantastic treasures and nuggets of sarcastic wisdom presented inthe form of clever math puns.

SUPER IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: If you’re really confused as to how to find this glorious tunnel, check out the FMS website where they have maps of all three tunnel systems. And yes, there are THREE, you heard right, two tunnel systems on academic side and one on the dorm side. Despite RIT urban legends, we regret to inform you that a super secret passageway does not exist nor connect dorm and academic side tunnels. If anything, the existence of such clever graffiti sprinkled all throughout our tunnel system is a good reminder to look up from your screens, at least once in awhile, and appreciate the creativity of your peers.

  1. Learn about RIT clubs

You might be confused about why we list this as a reason to take the tunnels. Well, let’s say that you missed the annual RIT club fair during orientation, and now you are just so desperate for friends that you will join any club that is still taking members, but you’re overwhelmed and you don’t know where to start. The tradition of clubs painting murals in the dorm side tunnels began in 1980 and since then, numerous organizations have taken advantage of this PR method. The passageways are filled with countless murals and flyers, to the point that you will be overwhelmed with all your options, which in that case you might just be right back where you started. If you find a mural you like, make sure you take note of the club name and find them in the RIT Clubs website.

  1. Avoid the crowds on the Quarter Mile
RIT Quarter Mile

Sure, taking the tunnels might require you to be slightly more creative than if you resort to the straight path, Quarter Mile approach; however, you might just find that extra effort worth it. If you find a way to get to class using the tunnels, your journey will be a lot less boring and monotonous as you will not have to stare at the hoards of people on either side on you. Who knows, you might even find a new study nook in one of your tunnel adventures. Besides, if there is that one person whom you promised to text and you just never got around to it, it’s almost guaranteed that fate will have you bump into them on the Quarter Mile. So save yourself the awkwardness and take the tunnels instead.

 

If you want more information on route how-to’s and general tunnel spatial awareness, check out our Ultimate RIT tunnel guide.

To access the full size RIT Tunnel System maps, check out the Facilities Management Services website.