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New Year, New You!

It’s officially 2018, Rochester Institute of Technology! Along with the new year comes new year resolutions. While some of us have set goals to study more and procrastinate less, some of us have set goals to be the healthiest version of ourselves in 2018. Our team here at Behind the Bricks is here to support your health goals, and provide you with a guide to help keep you on track!

Student Life Center

The Hale-Andrews Student Life Center (SLC) is available to all RIT students. The building offers a wide range of facilities, so everyone can find something they enjoy. While the Wiedman Fitness Center is packed with cardio machines, weight training equipment, and friendly staff to help you, going to the gym isn’t the only option for getting healthy. The Judson/Hale Aquatics Center hosts open swim times in which the RIT community is welcome to enjoy the lap pool, hot tub, and whirlpool. The Gordon Field House (attached the the SLC) has three large courts available for student use if prior reservations haven’t been made. You can rent various kinds of equipment from the cage for whatever you want to play! There are also racquetball courts, squash courts, outdoor tennis courts, and an outdoor turf available for use. Is it too cold for you to run the loop of campus outside? Don’t worry. The SLC has an elevated running track above the basketball courts for you to take advantage of! As you can see, there are countless options available to RIT students when it comes to getting active. Make your 2018 New Years Resolution to get up, and get active! For facility hours and more information, please visit the Hale-Andrews Student Life Center website.

Dining Services

When it comes to being healthy, the food you put into your body is just as important as getting active. RIT Dining Services offers healthy alternatives at all dining locations for students who have made being healthy their 2018 New Years resolution. Gracie’s offers “Simply Eats” which is allergen friendly, and gluten free. Aside from the meat, all other options are vegan. Moving onto Brick City Cafe (located in the Student Alumni Union), the salad bar located in the middle is always available to students. In the mornings it is filled with fresh fruit and yogurt options, and in the afternoon it is filled with endless salad toppings. After filling your container, just bring it to the cashier to be weighed. Crossroads (located in Global Village) offers pre-packed salads for students who are on the go, but still want a healthy option. The sub line also offers wheat options for all subs. Across the courtyard from Crossroads in Salsaritas. Now before you think, “How can you eat healthy at Salsaritas?” just remember that anything is possible! When ordering, skip the burrito and tortilla chips and opt for a salad. The base of your meal will be lettuce instead of rice, and you can pass on the cheese and sour cream. Voila! Now you have a healthy burrito bowl alternative. Lastly, many people don’t realize how much added sugar and calories are in many specialty coffee drinks. All coffee shops on campus offer almond milk and soy milk alternatives for those who do not want dairy.

Open Skate

One last way to get active this new year is by attending Public Open Skate and the Frank Ritter Ice Arena. It’s only $2.00 for RIT students to attend, and $3.00 to rent skates. Open Skate is the perfect place to grab some friends (from on or off RIT campus)  and have some fun, while being active! Check out https://www.rit.edu/fa/arenas/ritter-arena/public-skate for more information regarding pricing, hours, and rink location.

RIT offers all of the support you need to be healthy this year. From countless ways to get your body moving, and endless healthy alternatives at dining locations across campus, it’s up to you to make a healthy lifestyle change! Use the new year as an excuse to get back on track, and conquer your 2018 health goals!

What’s the Deal with Handwriting?

You walk into a new lecture class for the semester. You take out your laptop, open up a brand new Google Doc and you get ready to take notes. Then the professor walks in and tells everyone to put their devices away – in this class all notes have to be handwritten. Yes, it sucks, and we’ve all been there. But are there any actual benefits to handwriting?

In honor of National Handwriting Day we decided to look at two of the most common areas in which college students might be debating whether to use paper or electronics: note-taking and to-do lists, and see whether there is any merit in keeping it “old school” with pen and paper.

Note-taking

Let’s talk about notes first. There are a plethora of studies on the internet about how handwritten (or longhand) notes help students retain more information. In fact, a study of 300 students at Princeton and UCLA suggested that the group of students who took longhand notes, as opposed to those who took notes on their laptops, were better able to answer questions about the lecture. Why, you ask?

The researchers claim that the students who worked on paper scored higher because they were forced to rephrase the information they heard, which required them to undergo a preliminary process of summarizing and comprehension of the material. This put them a step ahead of those who worked on their laptops, as most of them wrote a literal transcript of the lecture.

“But typing is just so much faster.”

Yes, yes, we know – and often students are worried that by handwriting their notes in class, they won’t be able to get down all the information they need (particularly if the professor goes very fast) or that their notes won’t be legible (and then you will have to ask that guy sitting next to you in your lecture for his notes and it will be all awkward because he will think you’re trying to ask him out and it won’t be cute like the movies). Well instead, maybe try to take handwritten notes of your typed notes when you are reviewing, which could illustrate the power and effectiveness of engaging with the material in more than one way.

To-do lists

And what about the beloved to-do list? As college students, we are all too familiar with the seemingly never-ending to-do list. But writing your tasks down can actually make it easier on your memory – rather than thinking about remembering to do something – you can just focus on the task at hand.

It has been found that the act of planning and writing things down makes you turn your thoughts into much more achievable tasks and once you write them down, you’re that much more likely to do them. In fact, numerous studies that show that people who write down their goals and to-dos are almost a third more likely to actually do them than people who do not.

Additionally, writing your to-do lists can allow you to better fill gaps in your time. Sometimes, when you have just finished a task, you might think “Ok, I’m done for now,” and you proceed to log onto Netflix because you don’t know what the next thing you should do is. But – if you have a running list going, you can always reference it and look at what still needs to be done.

But so what? We often find ourselves in situations where it’s just not convenient to carry around another notebook. Yet, indisputably, the very act of writing things down with our hands has been shown to increase retention and comprehension because when we hand write, we engage so many other parts of our brain than when we simply press a button on a keyboard. Additionally, because handwriting for most people is inherently slower, it can be especially useful when you are goal setting, brainstorming, or engaged in the retrieval phase of studying, i.e. when you are trying to remember everything that was said in class when studying for an upcoming exam. All these tasks require more time and greater deliberation.

However, we can’t deny the fact that typed lists and notes can give you more flexibility in terms of deleting, organizing, and searching for exactly what you need. On the other hand, handwriting can give you more flexibility when you create spreads such as mind maps.

Clearly, there is no perfect answer. Maybe the solution lies with new technology that focuses on touch screens and styluses? The tradition of handwriting is not dead just yet.

So let us know – are you a loyal supporter of the fail-safe pen and paper or an advocate for the endless possibilities of e-ink? If you’re looking to venture into the realm of handwriting, check out the RIT bookstore or Shop One for some beautiful notebooks!

 

Back to School with Barnes and Noble

The spring semester has officially started, and if you’re anything like myself, you aren’t quite prepared to conquer the semester…yet. No fear! Our bookstore at Barnes and Noble has everything we need. Here are the various ways that Barnes and Noble can help you come back to school:

Books: The bookstore has a wide array of textbooks that you may need for your classes. On the RIT Barnes and Noble website, you can type in the class you are taking, and it will tell you what materials you may need for that course. You don’t have to buy textbooks; you can rent them, purchase digital copies, and sell back your old ones to the store. The bookstore also will price match with Amazon, BN.com, and other local bookstores.

Winter Apparel: It’s going to be very cold walking to class. Stay warm with some RIT winter apparel. As of now, there is 25% off on all sweats and cold weather gear, so get shopping while this deal still lasts. Additionally if you download the bookstore app, you can get 25% off of one apparel item. Stock up on sweatshirts, jackets, and hats: you’ll be glad you did!

Supplies: There is a wide range of supplies at our campus bookstore. Purchase a mug for your morning coffee, or a water bottle to take to class. Stock up on binders, folders, and calculators in order to have everything you need to be organized in your classes. Get a fresh backpack to hold everything you need when you’re walking to class. Decorate your dorm with some school spirit swag. Or, get any makeup and skincare products you may need at the Clinique bar in the store. Basically, any supply you might need during your semester is probably offered at the bookstore.

Electronics: Located on the second floor of the Barnes and Noble, is our RIT tech store, Digital Den. There, you can find a lot of accessories you may be missing for your technology: cases, chargers, headphones, etc. Or, if you’re in desperate need of a technology upgrade before class starts, you can buy laptops, tablets, Apple Watches, and more. You can trade in your old smartphones, tablets, or MacBook’s to get a discount on your next purchase!

Hidden Homework Spot: Our RIT Barnes and Noble has a café. You’ll especially like it if you like Starbucks. But, if you’re simply looking to get off of our main campus, it is a nice alternative homework spot to sit down and get a head start on all the work you’ll have this semester.

Check out the Barnes and Noble @ RIT Facebook page for updates on the latest store promotions. Stock up on what you need and have a great semester, Tigers!

4 Essential Tips to be Prepared to Come Back to School

With winter break coming to an end, most RIT students are ready to come back from their month off. Some may believe it went by too fast, but ready or not the new semester is here! Whether it’s the second semester of your first year at RIT or possibly your last, preparing for another semester of college can still be a little taxing and time consuming. Here are a few tips on how to best prepare for coming back to campus!

  1. Make sure you’re getting yourself as organized as you possibly can. That doesn’t mean start color coding everything and creating an intensely documented planner, but more so making sure you have everything you need and in order for the next few months of school. When you get back, clean out your room and take inventory on what you still need. Being organized can help lower stress, which affects a large majority of college students. If you happen to get your syllabus before class has started (some professors may post theirs on MyCourses), try to go over what you will need from the class. Barnes and Noble @ RIT has a good way of keeping track of what books may cost, what materials you need, and so on. Many students put off buying or renting books before the first day of class, but by reading the syllabus, you may figure out quicker which textbooks will be utilized.
  2. Start marking your calendar. Also in the syllabus, to stay organized be sure to mark dates of importance to see what projects, exams, or papers may overlap since those are the times when college can be at its most stressful – when you have three papers due on the same day and a midterm the next.  Being able to plan beforehand may help you figure out how to keep track of your work and keep you from getting too stressed.
  3. Adjust to a new schedule and have a plan to stick to. Your classes last semester may be completely different this time around. You may have to suffer from eight o’clock classes or be stuck in a lab until late at night because there was no other way to schedule your courses. This may be a little overwhelming at first, but time management is something all students learn to get better at. Don’t stay up studying all night or drink loads of caffeine to try and balance out your work – rather take time to adjust to the new schedule and try and establish a good routine for juggling your workload and social life. Set some goals for yourself to try to accomplish this semester to help keep yourself focused.
  4. Research ways to get involved. Lastly, whether it’s your first year or last, coming back to RIT is always fun because our campus is full of activities, clubs, events, and so on. There’s always something happening here and it’s never too late to get involved! Whether it’s a club, a sport, something local, and so on – college is your time to do what you want to do! Look into opportunities on campus to be involved at the campus events calendar, check out The Link to find all of RIT’s amazing clubs and organizations, and try to remember that these are your college years – don’t be afraid to get involved and try something new!

Enjoy your last few days of break, you’ll definitely miss it in a couple weeks. However, also start to get excited to come back to school, because spring semester, we are ready for you!

How to Set Realistic Goals for a College Lifestyle

It’s finally 2018! With the turn of a New Year, just about everyone is thinking it might be time for a change in their life. Unfortunately, New Years resolutions can be tricky. Although it is good to be ambitious, many people set their goals too high. Setting realistic goals can be particularly hard for college students; we already have a hefty academic workload and many of us participate in extracurricular activities as well. But don’t let your new aspirations fail: here is how to set realistic goals for a college lifestyle.

Take a Step Back and Define Your Goal

Before you set a goal, take a step back and evaluate what you’re satisfied and dissatisfied with in your life. Although this may sound silly, actually write down what you hope to change: define it. Without writing it down, your goal may not be as clear and defined, therefore, making it harder to achieve.

Don’t Be in Such a Rush

You won’t be able to achieve your goal overnight. Come to terms with the fact that your goal is going to take effort, time, and attention. If you truly are committed, you won’t want to rush.

Don’t Procrastinate

On the other hand, none of your goals will be reached if you don’t take action. Don’t waste any time! Set a goal and stick to it. If you’re not ready to work for it, you won’t reach it.

Ask a Professional for Advice

Whatever your goal may be, there is an expert willing to help. They may be able to help you set a realistic time frame for your goal, and talk about what roadblocks you may have to overcome along the way.

Decide on How Much You Want to Do Each Day

Organization is key. Evaluate how much you have on your plate already, and see how much free time you have to squeeze something else in. Then, set a realistic amount time to commit to your goal each day.

Mark it on the Calendar, but Be Generous

Set a timeframe for achieving your goal based on what you want to get done each day. However, it is important to give yourself a generous amount of time. Life can be tough. If anything sets you back from your goal, you will have some leeway.

Find a Goal Buddy

Everything is always easier if you have someone to motivate you. If you are able, try to find someone else that will work towards this journey with you and can celebrate with you at the end.

Take Advantage of Helpful RIT Resources

If your goal is to lose weight, RIT has great recreational facilities such as the Gordon Field House. If your goal is to get better grades, we have a great Academic Support Center and amazing professors. RIT has an infinite number of different resources. You find almost anything you need to help you with whatever goal you are trying to achieve.

Don’t be afraid to set goals. With the proper planning and attention, anything is possible. Happy New Year, Tigers! Let’s make 2018 a great one.

Embracing Winter: Winter Activities to Check Out Around ROC

Winter is upon us. Whether you’re a Rochester native, sitting around knowing it’s only going to get colder and snowier, or whether this is your first time seeing snow, the winter can be a time where going outside feels like the most daunting task in the world. It’s cold, it’s wet, it’s dark – bleh – we get it, not exactly shorts and tshirt weather.

However, cabin fever can be a real thing, so if you’re feeling cooped up or you actually love being outside, winter snow sports and activities are your answer. Rather than trying to hide away from the winter (it’s not going anywhere anytime soon) – embrace it. What better way to do so, than to take advantage of the cold and snow and participate in activities that require those conditions.

Ice Skating

Ice skating is probably your quintessential winter sport, the first thing that comes to your mind. It’s a great option for most people because even if you have never ice skated before, it’s not too expensive to try and you can usually figure it out before too long.

Your easiest option, if you don’t want to leave campus, is our very own Frank Ritter Ice Arena. You can visit their website for public skate hours as they change weekly. If you decide to go – the arena is only $2 for students and $3 for rental if you need them – what a steal! Make sure you also keep your eyes peeled because they sometimes offer free skate during the year. If, however, you are feeling more adventurous, you can go downtown to skate at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park outdoor ice rink. It’s located in the East End District of Downtown Rochester and adjacent to the Strong Museum. You can get there by bus 24 that runs from RIT, so you can get there even if you don’t have a car. An ice skating pass is $5 and skate rental is only $3, so the trip won’t break your bank and it’s a great opportunity to get to know the city better. Bonus points if you get to ice skate while it’s snowing outside – it really starts to then look like a scene straight out of a Hallmark movie. The park also does special events like free skate on NYE with live music.

Snow Tubing

Finding this activity was such a great surprise! Glacier Ridge Sports Park in Spencerport offers Glacier Hill Snow Tubing. It’s only about 20 minutes away from RIT and you can get 1 hour passes starting at $12. The hill is open mostly on the weekends only, but it seems like a fantastic way to spend a Saturday afternoon with some friends, gliding down snow-covered hills. It’s also a great option if you’re not feeling particularly sporty that day but still want to experience some great winter snow fun. You can visit their website to book your adventure.

Downhill Skiing

This list would not be complete if we didn’t mention skiing. Would winter even be complete without skiing? Whether you’re a seasoned skiier or you’re just looking to dip your toes in for the first time, Bristol Mountain is probably your best bet for skiing close to Rochester. It is only about a 50 minute drive from RIT. They currently even have a Friends & Family Night special where a group of 3 can ski or ride for $75 from 4pm-close on Saturday & Sunday nights ($25/person). That also includes discounted rentals and an advertised free 5pm lesson which is based on terrain and instructor availability – so while we cannot vouch that they are always available, it still seems like a very good deal. 

Cross Country Skiing

If the thought of downhill skiing terrifies you or if you’re simply looking for a more low-key outing, you could consider cross country skiing. It’s way less intimidating and the boots are way more comfortable. Cross country skiing is also a lot easier and faster to pick up. This sport can be tricky, however, because not all places have ski rentals.

Mendon Pond trails are highly regarded because they get groomed for the Pittsford-Mendon high school team. However, they don’t provide any rentals. The Genesee Country Village & Museum also has cross country skiing on Sunday afternoons and although they encourage to bring one’s own equipment, they usually have some on hand. For a full list of places to cross country ski in ROC visit this website.

Winter Running

Winter is often the time when even those of us who love to run tend to fall off the bandwagon because it’s just so cold and dark. On top of it, the gym is stuffy; there are numerous excuses. So if you’re looking for some mid-winter running motivation, you should check out Yellow Jacket Racking. This year, they have organized the Snow Cheap Winter Trail Series, a series of short mid-week races that happen through January and beginning of February. Each trail race is 2-4 miles each,  and locations alternate between Seneca and Webster Park. The races occur in the dark (headlamp required), snow or no snow, so come prepared. You can sign up for all the races at once or just a few individual ones on their website.

Mendon Ponds Winterfest

Now if the thought of winter sports just makes you shudder and you can’t think of anything worse than winter running, fear not – we have an activity for you too! On January 14th, Mendon Ponds Park is holding their annual Mendon Ponds Winterfest. The event is FREE – always great for college students and you can go to learn about and try out winter activities such as ice fishing, snowshoeing and ice boating. You can always just go for the nice winter walk too.

Those are our recommendations for winter activities – have you visited any of these places? What are your favorite winter activities? Let us know in the comments on our Facebook page! 

Ways to be Productive During Winter Break

Somehow, it’s the end of the semester and just like that, four months just passed us by. Whether it’s your first year as a freshman at RIT or you’re one semester away from graduating, you’re going to wonder where all that time went. But right now, you’re looking at a month of time away from brick city and even though many of us feel like sleeping for the next few weeks, it’s good to be as productive as possible! Use your time wisely while you still have it because being in college is something you’ll definitely look back on one day and think about everything you used to do or could have done. It’s important to be productive over break and to use your time off to be as constructive as you can!

Now, you may just want to take a break and relax – and that’s perfectly fine! Everyone needs a break and having just taken a plethora of final exams, presented a ton of projects, and written countless pages of papers, you definitely deserve a few days to sleep in and put the stress behind you. However, the more productive over break you are, the more prepared you will be for the next semester.

Something most students are beginning to focus on is their resume. Whether you’re trying to find a co-op/internship for a semester or the summer or are just looking to find a part time job, a good way to use your time over break is to focus on your resume! Begin to build it, start to find examples of how to make it stand out, email your advisor for their advice because they want to help and watch you succeed! RIT’s Office of Career Services and Cooperation Education has amazing information on how to help as well!

College students are known to (stereotypically, of course) live off of ramen and load up on caffeine. A good way to use your month off would be to find a part-time or seasonal job where you can save up some money for your own funds during the new semester! Like time management, managing your money can be hard when you’re an undergraduate and learning how to save up over break can do you wonders when you return in the spring.

Another option for how to be productive over spring break is to look into travel options. Maybe you already have a vacation planned with your family, but that may not be enough. After college, it’s unlikely you will ever have a break as long as you do now and so you should take this winter to go out into the world, or at least research how to do it! If travelling is something you really want to do, you can start looking into study abroad or work abroad – RIT provides a lot of information to students on how to either study or work in different countries around the world and encourages students to go! This break may be a good opportunity to start looking at that information and take some time to go over it with your family to see if there’s something that is right for you!

Winter break may be a bit shorter this year, but you still have a month to take some time off. Though a good number of students will most likely just want to get rid of all of their alarms and stay in bed for a few days, it’s not a bad thing to get a head start on what’s coming next. It’s almost 2018 and time doesn’t seem to be slowing down! So, be as productive as possible, make sure to relax, and have an amazing, well-deserved time off, Tigers!