Tuesday, March 25, 2008

College Stress

Wishing I Could Dream It All Away
By Roya Yazhari

It’s 2:59 p.m. and I have a flight to catch in a few short hours. Carrying my huge suitcase down my fifth-floor apartment will be a challenge. The bus costs 14 dollars so I might as well walk through Times Square carrying all my belongings instead of paying for a taxi.

I hope I am not late and miss my flight. What if I don’t make it on time and am forced to sleep in the airport overnight? What if my flight is delayed and I am unable to finish my midterm? I want to go back to bed! This inner monologue is the result of our loyal and caring friend, STRESS.

Going to college is stressful within itself. Add living in New York City and dealing with the crowds and hectic lifestyle while trying to balance six classes and maintain a 3.5 GPA to the mix. Yes, life does get a bit trickier. Stress can be helpful at times because it challenges us as human beings to run on a schedule and meet deadlines and goals.

If we did not feel any stress, who’s to say we would have the motivation to finish assignments on time or learn a script by the opening night of a play. Stress is positive when it is managed. However, the problems occur when it enters a person’s life in large amounts.

According to the University of Florida Counseling Center, although some stress reactions are part of deep and serious emotional problems, many are manageable and can be handled by a few different relaxation techniques. These include recognizing your role in stress reactions, developing a balanced life-style, learning specific relaxation techniques like yoga and meditating, gaining perspective on your problems, and clarifying your values and beliefs in order to get in touch with your inner-self.

Now, these techniques are easier said than done. However, there are many support groups and individuals that deal with stress management as a job and would be willing to help you.

Stress can come in many different forms. Some people eat a lot of food when they get stressed or overly exercise. Others loose their appetite and fall into a spiral toward depression. Many people get physical reactions like nausea, headache, and difficulty sleeping as a result of stress.

There is nothing worse than knowing you have a test at 9 a.m. and not being able to fall asleep. You are tossing and turning in your bed wishing and hoping you could pass out. You want to take a sleeping pill but fear you may miss your test. You check your alarm 10 times to make sure it is set for 7 a.m.

Stress creates these obsessive behaviors and feelings of fear and anxiety. Many take medication to manage their stress in the form of anti-anxiety pills. I am not recommending everyone medicate himself or herself. However, individuals with serious chemical imbalance do well with a simple dose of medication in order to enable them to overcome their anxiety and stress. A little stress is okay, but the minute stress is disabling your ability to do simple tasks and live a normal life, there is a serious problem.

I am a senior in college and have found myself in many situations where I thought finals week was the end of the world. A term paper seemed like hell on earth and the end of the road seemed so distant and unattainable. In this situation, what I needed to have kept in mind is that these stresses will go away. However, more stresses loom later in life in the form of children, work, and other adult responsibilities. Due to this reality, it is important to learn how to manage stress before it surfaces again.

Life is more than one bad test grade in the course of a semester. Life is more than the loud noises on the street that keep you up one night. Life is more than your parents pressuring you to do better in school.

On the contrary, life is the memories you make every day and how you learn from them. Life is love. Life is freedom. Life is truth. Life is worth living if you have something or someone to live for. Value your life, and take control of it.

College Stress

Listening To Your Own Voice Can Often Relieve Stress
By Chris Mariarchi

“The library is closing is fifteen minutes!” those seven words are the cause of my stress right now. Being a full time college student, there really isn’t enough time in the day, to sometimes even finish a midterm. When you are working everyday, going to class everyday and have papers and tests and an unfriendly living environment, there is a lot on your plate.

According to University of Florida Counseling Center, the challenges of life tend to be stressful and an attempt to avoid stress completely would lead to a rather boring existence. This is true in my life right now. The first semester was pretty much a breeze, I had my classes and internship that I enjoyed and somewhat of a social life. This semester I decided to get a job, my classes got harder and my environment got stressful.

Now that I have that job, I will say that I also feel like I have more of a reason to exist. That may sound a little extreme because it is just a clothing store, but the fact that now I am on a daily schedule, I am not as bored. I now am learning how to use time management, and getting to bed at a decent hour and not staying up to 5 a.m., because by the time I get home I am exhausted after a fulfilling day.

My thoughts are also a big cause for my stress; I tend to take the smallest situation and analyze it to the point that it does not make sense anymore. I am now learning that this is somewhat stressful, but also it is a way that I can cope with the stress as well. When I am most stressed I realize that this is when I look back on my life and wonder if I made the right decisions, or if I am on the right path. This kind of thinking of course can sometimes lead to more stress, and that is when it is best to talk to someone about your issues.

I always find it great to be able to vent to someone about what is going on in my life. A lot of the time you don’t even need them to respond, just to listen to what you have to say. I can also do this by myself in a room. I think that sometimes just to talk to yourself about what you are stressed about helps as well. Just the fact that you are letting your voice be heard is soothing enough sometimes.

Spirituality is also a great way to ease the pain. It doesn’t matter what you believe in or what your religion may be, just to let yourself go and be one with your mind and share your thoughts. For me, I tend to have a conversation with my self and hopefully God is listening. Just that reassurance can help me get good nights’ sleep.

College Stress

Managing Stress And Anxiety One Day At A Time
By Ali Kolbeck

My senior year of high school I developed a severe anxiety disorder. The stress of making good grades, managing two jobs, maintaining relationships and figuring out where I would go to college began to take a serious toll on me. The stress I felt was physical, emotional and cognitive. Even in my second year of college I still experience high amounts of stress and anxiety, but I have managed to figure out some solutions to manage it.

When I first began experiencing intense amounts of stress it came in the physical form of difficulty sleeping, backaches, headaches and fatigue. As my anxiety levels rose, I began to experience more emotional symptoms such as irritability, mood swings, feeling overwhelmed, and eventually depression. It wasn’t until the summer after I graduated high school that I began to do research to try and understand why I was having these symptoms so often. After speaking with numerous physicians, therapists and psychologists, it was determined that I was suffering from an anxiety disorder.

Over the next two years I began to notice cognitive symptoms associated with the physical and emotional feelings. I had become forgetful and I was easily distracted, often having great difficulty concentrating. According to the University of Florida counseling center, all of these physical, emotional and cognitive symptoms are signs of stress. Things like one’s environment, thoughts, physiology or social surroundings can trigger stress. When I began to pinpoint which of these sources might be triggering my stress, I was able to find ways to help me manage my stress.

I discovered that my stress and anxiety was triggered by inadequate sleep and nutrition, negative self talk, financial situations, managing two jobs and trying to balance relationships, all of which the study at the Counseling Center confirmed to be linked to the sources of stress. When I understood where all of this anxiety was coming from, I began to take steps towards managing it.

By making sure that I go to bed at the same time every weeknight, or at least within half of an hour, my body became used to getting a full night’s rest. In turn, this helped me not to binge on junk foods when I needed an energy boost and my diet began to become much healthier. Getting a full night’s rest also helped me to fight fatigue and gave me more energy.

I became much more conscious about my spending and made a plan where I would save a certain amount each month so that if anything unexpected came up I would not stress out about not having enough money to pay for it. Knowing that I had money in the bank gave me peace of mind and allowed me to sleep at night. I learned not to become stressed at my job by making sure I didn’t overwork myself, and I did my best to relax and make work fun while I was there. I worked especially hard on cutting out negative self-talk and that helped me to become more confident in my relationships.

One way in which I targeted my mind, body and spirit was by taking up yoga. I began practicing Bikrim yoga three to five times a week for 90 minutes. Not only did it raise my self-esteem by getting me into shape, but it also opened my mind in a way that I had never experienced. It helped me to become more in tune with my body and it’s needs and helped to relieve stress both physically and emotionally. Having that hour and a half to myself, just a couple times a week, allowed me to let everything else go and just focus on myself for a little while.

Having experienced the change that yoga made in my life, I believe that it is very important to make time for your self, no matter what age you are. It is important to sit back and relax every once in a while because if you don’t, you might get so caught up in everything going on in your life that you cause stress related health issues like I did. Now, I’m not saying that yoga was the answer to my problems, or that I have stayed 100% true to any of the steps I have taken to manage my anxiety, but I try my hardest everyday to keep what is best for me in mind so that I can reduce the amount of stress I feel.

Monday, March 24, 2008

College Stress

When Stress Gets “Dirty”
By Amber Gray

No, No, No. No way. I am not stressed. I am only on my third midterm today, getting it done with no food in my stomach and two hours of sleep. Also, thanks to our flawless Marymount Manhattan residential life, I turned on the shower this morning to a heavy beating of ice cold water on my back.

I am un-showered, sitting here, pondering why my roommate just told me our room smells bad. I guess it could be me, since on top of being un-showered, my laundry is sprawled all over the floor and may be the source because I haven’t done it in almost two weeks.

I want to know who has time in their day to do laundry anyway? I’ll put my stress and my lack of clean hygiene aside. I’m also freaking out because my ex-boyfriend, who I am still hopelessly in love with, is away partying all weekend, surrounded by tons of girls. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here, Miss Stinky, typing about how stressed I am.

I do want to assure you that I normally do shower, brush my teeth twice a day, wear deodorant, and wear clean clothes so don’t fear sitting behind me in class or feel obligated to whip out a stick of gum in my direction anytime soon. Yet, with the stress of midterms and finding time to study for them when I have to be at work until 10 p.m. every night makes the everyday routine too much to handle. The University of Florida Counseling Center states that “the right balance of sleep, food, exercise, work, school, and recreation is crucial.”

Balance between work and school? At my last job in retail, I was kept there until 3 a.m. some nights. I believe there is some unwritten rule that your job isn’t supposed to take precedence over school work. Oh, but mine did. Exercising would be a dream for me, but I’m too busy exercising my eyelids to stay open at 4 a.m. when I’m reading 50 pages for some pointless class I will never remember anyway.

And what college student has the time to sit down and eat a meal? We can’t even afford a meal, nor do we have time. I have three classes in a row from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. with measly 10 minute breaks in-between to get food. Unfortunately, I don’t even bother just to save myself from the bitching and moaning from my teachers for being a minute late. My common catchphrase in recent days has become “Eh, I guess I don’t need to eat today.”

Yet, keeping a positive attitude is important according to the Counseling Center. “The way you think affects how you respond. Negative self-talk, catastrophizing, and perfectionism all contribute to increased stress.” Well I guess I don’t contribute to the cause then. I have become the biggest Debby Downer ever.

Yet, when I try to be positive, even more stress just strolls along my way. For example, not being able to get into my dorm because the room key has stopped working, or getting an angry phone call from Mom yelling at me to come home on Easter, but my job needs me to work. Or finding that I have $6 dollars in my checking account and a $900 dollar credit card balance from all of the expenses of living in this love-to- hate; hate-to-love city.

I’m hoping the stress I have will eventually move onto someone else. Right now, I’m just too stuck in the routine of life and just focusing on getting everything done. At this stage in life, I have yet to find that inspiration that drives me. The Counseling Center says “clarifying your values and deciding what you really want out of your life, can help you feel better about yourself and have that sense of satisfaction and centeredness that helps you deal with the stresses of life.”

I am hoping this will become true in the near future. For now, I will just stick to worrying about when my next shower will be.

College Stress

It’s Just Too Hard?
By Jeni Carbonara

Lately, it seems that college has been painted as less of an idyllic time in adolescent life and more like some Zimbardo prison experiment in which the students’ dorms and responsibilities are veritable breeding grounds for stress-induced insanity.

The University of Florida Counseling Center cites numerous physical and mental maladies associated with stress, including insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, ulcers, and forgetfulness and relates them to the stresses associated with college. This correlation makes college seem like a tried-and-true formula for the physical and mental deterioration of the youth of America. But is it really?

The picture of college is painted so that it appears that before unloading their books and risqué posters in their dorm rooms, college students lived in a bubble that was stress-free and pleasant. This is not the case. For many students, the pressure of high school was just as great, if not greater, than the stresses from college. (Let us not forget the dreaded SAT examinations, applying to schools, and parental rebellion each student suffers through in his or her pre-college years!)

Students are pressured in college; students are pushed to achieve excellence, but what would be the point of college if a student was not seeking to achieve academic results worth earning? It seems ridiculous to assume that attaining a degree should be stress-free. Stress, also according to the Counseling Center is what motivates people and what keeps life from being boring.

Furthermore, it is unrealistic to assume that all students are locked away in the library or studying until the sun comes up every single night. Fraternity parties, bars, student activities, sporting events, weekends, and even simply homework-free nights are also frequent happenings in the typical life of a college student. So while the academic pressures may have been amped-up, the activities to relieve stress are also right at hand, readily available to those who choose to partake.

In addition to these recreational activities, counseling centers offer tips to manage stress and to relieve the negative effects of stress induced by college, such as taking breaks, going for walks, calling friends to talk about issues, and even developing a personal sense of meaning to give students the motivation to deal with the stresses of work.

What it comes down to is not just the amount of stress that college life and work that is unloaded on students, but how these students choose to deal with the stress. Students should remember that no part of life is stress free—not before nor after college life—and that developing healthy coping mechanisms will be of more benefit than demanding a less rigorous academic experience.

College Stress

While Stress Can’t Always Be Escaped, It Can Be Managed
By Sara Bauknecht

The muscles in my neck are tightening. My heart is palpitating, and my hands are as clammy as moist sponges. I want to bury myself under my bed sheets and drift into a deep sleep. Are these feelings signs of the flu? No—they are symptoms of college stress.

College stress has grown as familiar to me as the assignments and professors that continually contribute to these surges of anxiety. During the past two years of college, taking tests, writing papers, and finding internships have become my life’s main sources of stress. But it is not merely the thought of tackling these tasks that makes my heart pound like a drum. Instead, it is my determination to complete every assignment according to the high academic standards I have set for myself that causes stress to regularly flood my mind with worries.

According to the University of Florida Counseling Center, my stress and frustration are common characteristics of college life and are experienced by numerous college students. The Counseling Center considers career choices, relationship worries, and the competition with other students for top grades to be some of the causes that can lead to college stress. Although the center suggests the stress I am experiencing is normal, academic stress did not just begin for me when I started college.

School-related stress has been a part of my life for many years. Since the first grade, I have always pressured myself to pour 110% of my energy into every assignment. My relationship with stress can therefore be traced back to elementary school.

Based on my long history with stress, I doubt I will stop experiencing stress once I graduate from college. While graduation day may mark the end of college stress, graduate school stress or career stress will simply take the place of college-related anxiety. Since many potential sources of additional stress loom in the future, stress is not something that can always be escaped. As a result, the physical and emotional effects of stress must be managed before they become roadblocks on people’s paths to success.

Learning to handle stress is a skill I have struggled to master over the years. Sometimes I succeed in not letting stress burden me. Other times I place so much pressure on myself to do well on a test or a paper that the stress of striving for perfection causes me to doubt myself and to poorly execute an assignment. T

hese experiences have helped me recognize that college stress, or any other form of anxiety I may encounter in the future, can prevent me from living to my fullest potential and achieving my goals. To avoid letting stress keep me from fulfilling my dreams, I have made learning to deal with stress properly a goal for my life.

The Counseling Center outlines four ways people like me who have difficulty handling stress can try to manage frustration and anxiety. Living a healthy lifestyle through eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep is one way people can minimize stress.

The center suggests discussing problems with others and using relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and self-hypnosis as two other tips people can use to help prevent stress from becoming harmful to their physical and mental wellbeing. Being aware of goals and values can also aid people in eliminating the stress often tied to unhappiness and self-doubt. Through using these four tips, the goal of striving to deal with stress more appropriately does not seem unrealistic after all.

With the future filled with unknown opportunities, the role stress will play in the years ahead remains unknown. We all like to think we will be successful at defeating stress before it defeats us, but future types of anxiety will likely bring their shares of struggles.

So the next time you feel your neck muscles start to feel as constricted as newly tuned piano strings, strive to cope with these feelings by using the tips suggested by the Counseling Center and by remembering the message my English teacher wrote in my fifth grade yearbook-—“Relax, and try to enjoy life a little bit.”

College Stress

The Best Years Of Your Life
By Alexa Breslin

I’ve heard it said many times before, enjoy high school – those are the best four years of your life. I can remember standing on stage as I received my diploma knowing all those people were wrong. I read in my cards marked “Congratulations,” good luck in college, they would say, enjoy it while it lasts, those are the best four years of your life. I’m only a junior, but I’m still not so sure.

As a 20 year-old, I may be a little biased; however I would have to state with reason that the high school and college years have to be the most stressful of our lives. As a young adult you’re out there, you’re on your own trying as hard as you can to just hang on. You’re hoping for the best and preparing for the worst but nothing ever seems to go as you want it to.

For the rest of our lives we will encounter many situations that will stress us out more than we believe we can handle. Although it may frequently seem there is nothing worse than getting a 70 on a test we studied hours for, or spilling coffee you’re drinking to keep you awake to study all over a brand new sweater you worked hours to buy, there are much worse things. For us, this is only the beginning.

Nonetheless, no matter how many times I tell myself this is only the beginning of stress to come, it doesn’t appear to ease my mind. As I lay down every night to go to sleep, not only do I have the list of the following day’s tasks running though my head, I have the never-ending list of the coming years tasks in there as well.

Those of us in college will eventually graduate; we will eventually live on our own, if we aren’t already. Some of us will move on and get married and have children and as exciting as it is, the anticipation doesn’t make it any less stressful, in fact it may make us feel more stress as we sit at the margin of a comfortable past and an unpredictable future waiting.

I’ve seen stress come in all forms. I’ve seen it in my mother as she popped two Advil after a long day at work. I’ve seen it in my friends as we were juniors and seniors in high school, vigorously visiting different colleges trying to decide which one would be best for us to embark our journey toward adulthood.

Wondering all the while if we were good enough to be accepted, and if we weren’t – then what? I’ve seen it in myself when I moved to New York City at the ripe age of 17. I’ve seen it more times than I would like to recall.

It comes in small sizes, such as math tests, essays, a never-ending pile of homework. And sometimes it grows larger when a simple part of daily life such as eating becomes a chore, when getting out of bed in the morning is the hardest part of your day. These things come in the form of an eating disorder, depression, and anxiety. Something young adults go through everyday, and some of them never say a word to anyone about the daily battle they are facing within themselves.

As human beings, stress is something we will most likely have to deal with for the entirety of our existence. Maybe the best any of us can do is not quit, keep on going, and tell ourselves the best years of our life are yet to come.

Decision 2008

Hillary Clinton: From Tears To Fierce
By Jeni Carbonara

Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, proclaimed “Winning! Winning! Winning!” as the measure of her success in the primary elections held in Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and Vermont, provided her audience with a shocking transition from the teary-eyed woman begging for popularity, to a candidate who is strong and determined.

In the absence of her water-works, Hillary proved she does not have to squeeze out a few tears to win the support of her voters. In fact, her emphatic declaration of power proved to be a success, winning her Ohio, Rhode Island, and the much-coveted Texas in the primaries held on March 4.

The transition from weepy woman to commanding candidate appears to be part of an ongoing process to transcend the gender barrier in her campaign. “She cut it out with the female card and started looking up her sleeve for something else,” says Justine Harold, 29, of Hillary’s new tactic.

It seems to be a bit pre-emptive to assume that Clinton could ever really avoid the stigma that accompanies her gender just because she stopped the waterworks, however. As long as she is in a dress, (shoulder-pads or not), she will still be a female. Should it even matter that she is a woman?

From a political standpoint, no. Does it matter to the voters? Yes. It cannot be denied that the people who do or do not vote for Clinton consider, at least in part, the fact that she is a woman—it would be impossible not to, just as it would be impossible for a voter to divorce oneself from the fact that Obama is an African-American or that McCain is bordering on ancient.

People vote for the candidate to represent himself or herself—not just a political stance, but as a figure who will represent the entire nation. Take George Bush, for example. There have to be people out there who agree with his politics, but his inability to articulate them make people groan at the mention of his name. He’s dumb! they’ll cry, because despite what he is saying to the country, having a man who can barely get through a question-and-answer session makes him an embarrassing representative of all Americans.

Do we want to be seen as people who cannot enunciate the simplest of phrases? No. So, while it’s nice to see that Hillary can win over some states without breaking out the tissues, it is only half of the battle to winning over the approval of the voters.

Could this explain her campy performance on Saturday Night Live? Her self-depreciating fashion blurbs in US Weekly? Her appearance on the Ellen Degeneres Show? In addition to wiping her tears, Clinton’s focus has been on becoming the “funny” candidate—the likeable one! Strong and likable? Mrs. Clinton, you’re packing one hell of a punch!

Her tactics seem to be working, however. I must admit a quick browse on Yahoo! Answers for the question of her likeability do not bode well. Of course, let us not forget, the Internet is not the voting booth, and that is where Hillary Clinton is gaining ground at last.

Decision 2008

Optimism And Action: Ingredients For Change In America
By Sara Bauknecht

In middle class America, the American dream feels like it is becoming out of reach. The country people once flocked to with the hope of beginning a prosperous life is now forcing some individuals to start anew as homes are foreclosed, vehicles are repossessed, and soldiers are sent to war. For many, the economy’s declining state seems like a bad dream showing no sign of ending until someone sparks a revolution of change in America.

With the 2008 presidential election less than nine months away, many people are hoping its candidates will be the catalysts needed to ignite change throughout the country. In response to America’s cry for change, presidential candidates are promising to implement fresh ideas and policies if elected in order to breathe life back into the country’s crippled state of affairs. Although these promises are not guarantees for action, they are glimmers of hope for those individuals feeling the financial and emotional strains of a weakening America.

While many are finding refuge in these promises for change, others remain leery they are just empty statements. When the election is over, some predict politics will continue as usual. Others fear the fervor that made these promises once seem possible will vanish and leave them lifeless like balloons slowly drained of the helium that once kept them afloat. For Americans with these mindsets, both the present and the future look bleak.

Although America is in the midst of a rocky time, the months leading up to a presidential election should be a season of hope. While the next presidential administration could fail to improve the country, it could also end up being the source of change America needs. However, change cannot happen if people do not believe it is possible.

Change can also fail unfold if there is no action to propel it. If people let their pessimistic perceptions of government prevent them from engaging in the political process, Americans will never see their country reach its fullest potential. But, through taking time to learn about the candidates and to vote, Americans can participate in healing the country’s government rather than just criticizing it.

Even though America’s future is uncertain, it is affected by its citizens’ attitudes and behaviors. If people are not willing to contribute to mending the country, it is not fair for them to criticize it or its leaders. So, instead of dwelling on the areas where change is needed in America, Americans should strive to become a part of the change through maintaining an optimistic perspective and voting next November. Through incorporating these ingredients for change into people’s daily lives, it may be possible to restore the American dream and to place it back into the reach of middle class Americans.

Decision 2008

Staying Away From The Obama Hype
By Amber Gray

The election has gotten my attention, and I guess I have no other choice but to comply. As it is, I can’t go anywhere without seeing an Obama pin on the back pack of some nerdy white boy on campus, or see an angry feminist nailing a Hilary sign on a telephone pole, each nail digging deeper as if the pole is the body of a man. It may be just be me, but aren’t we going a little bit overboard?

In particular, I am mostly bitter about the countless young adults who crave Barack Obama perhaps more than they desire the new “iPod Touch” or Blackberry. You may wonder, why do I think this is so bad? Isn’t it spectacular that adults ages 18-24 are finally taking part in a decision that is not “what shoes go with this outfit?” or “do I want the MacBook or MacBook Pro?”

It’s true, it’s great that young adults are finally letting their voices be heard, but do they really know what they are fighting for? I know many people my age, who in the past, flicked right by a political debate on TV or barely knew the differences between being a Democrat or a Republican. Who are they now standing strong for now? Barack Obama.

Obama supporters have created a cult, which according to Webster’s New World Dictionary is defined as “devoted attachment to, or extravagant admiration for, a person, principle or lifestyle, especially when regarded as a fad.” In my experience, if I say one word to a friend opposing her devout love for Obama, she could stop talking to me for days. People identify him as a savior. "Hardball" host Chris Matthews told viewers that when he heard Obama speak, "I felt this thrill going up my leg." At six of his rallies, people have fainted, according to theconservativevoice.com.

I can see where they are coming from, don’t get me wrong; Obama has a very specific charm. He’s a young guy with good looks, a stunning smile and a voice that I always mistaken for the highly inspirational Martin Luther King Jr. I guess it’s not hard to get sucked in. The motto “Yes We Can” has been incredibly touching for some, but it doesn’t speak any depth to me. Featuring the “clever” slogan in Hip Hop star “Will.i.am’s” music video that highlights Obama, is belittling to young adults who already buy into everything they see in the media..

And don’t get me started on the term “change.” I see change as something that occurs no matter what. When something is being indeed changed, like a new president, change is not a choice. Buying into these catch phrases and ideas are what makes me wonder when people my age going to see through the B.S we are receiving.

Obama is becoming a brand, and unfortunately, most are people my age are being scammed. We are being sold this dream of hope, but why on earth does Obama, who just recently got a seat on the U.S. Senate in 2004, think he can solve all our problems?

It’s a double-edged sword. It’s great that younger people are ready to finally get out and vote. I just hope that those who do vote for Barack Obama, know what they are voting for.

Decision 2008

Are Personal Politics The New “Trendy” Concern?
By Chris Mirarchi

Politics is not the topic I am most familiar with. I have never been that interested in it, maybe because I found it boring when I was younger, or maybe because none of the issues have really hit home to me. As I am getting older, I realize how important it is to get involved and believe in something. I also feel that this is a lot easier said than done.

I come to school and I see people wearing their pin of their favorite politician, and holding up signs and debating, and I think, do these people really care about this person and what they stand for? Or are they just doing it to be part of the crowd, or to feel like they have a voice, or just because it’s the cool thing to do right now?

The reason I ask all these questions is because I personally don’t have a 100% decision or opinion on who or what I support. The reasons for this is I am not as involved with politics as I should be, and I don’t know everything about each candidate, so I’m not going to just put on a pin and hold up a sign, just because everyone else does.

There are certain things I believe in and some I do not. I need to look further into everything before I open my mouth and judge someone else for who they support. When I look around this school, I notice many people that say how much they love a certain candidate and hate another, but very few can actually give a solid answer for why they feel this way. I do not want to be one of those people.

When I interviewed people for my first article on politics, I got a lot of interesting information. Some I believe to be solid opinions based on facts, but others I thought were just plain ignorant. One young woman I interviewed said she was voting for Obama. When I asked her why, I was looking for a scholarly answer. What I got was, “I want change, and there have been too many old white men as President.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I gave a little chuckle when I heard this. But what I was actually thinking was, does she really support Obama, or is she just saying it, because he reaches out to the younger crowd and he’s hip and trendy? This was not the same answer I got from everyone.

When I interviewed a young man who is supporting Hilary Clinton, his biggest concern was gay and lesbian rights. I too agree with this as well. I believe that we are all Americans and no one should be treated like a second-class citizen. Just three weeks ago, in California, a student killed his 15 year-old classmate because he was gay.

This story also appeared on Ellen, and she had a lot to say about the crime. One thing that stuck in my head was when she said, “A boy has been killed and a number of lives have been ruined. And, somewhere along the line the killer, Brandon, got the message that it's so threatening, so awful, and so horrific that Larry would want to be his Valentine -- that killing Larry seemed to be the right thing to do.

When the message out there is so horrible that to be gay, you can get killed for it, we need to change the message. Larry was not a second-class citizen. I am not a second-class citizen. It's OK if you're gay.”

When I heard her say this, I truly felt the pain in her voice. This is one issue that is not okay. This is one issue that I am aware of and think that something should be done.

Now even though that is one concern of mine, it doesn’t mean that the others I may have or any more or less important. When interviewing my dad, who has very different views than the young man I interviewed, I got a lot of information that I too agreed with. I, like my father, am a registered Republican. When he expressed his opinion on taxes and Social Security, I agreed with what he had to say.

My father pays for my whole college tuition and I don’t get any grant money because of his income. Then the government wants to take more money from him. I do not find this to be right at all. He also has to pay for his own health insurance because he earns “too much” money. How is this justified?

So when it comes to my opinion, I have issues that I believe are right or wrong, and I don’t preach my beliefs just because it’s the trendy thing to do right now. I keep my opinion to myself, and that’s how I feel it should be.

Decision 2008

The Time For Change Is Now
By Roya Yazhari

Never in my 20 years have I taken an interest in politics. The government system in the United States always seemed unusual and corrupt and deterred me from wanting to participate.

This all changed when the candidates for the 2008 election were announced. Not only is there a woman running for President, but an African American man. In all of history, Americans have put white, Christian men in office to run our country. It is now possible for change.

I have no doubt that the Democrats will pull through and win the election this year. Too many people are fed up with what is happening in our country and want a change. The Republican candidates want to continue the war in Iraq, while the Democratic candidates feel as though it is time to put an end to it.

Hillary Clinton voted in 2002 to authorize the Iraqi invasion, however she is now opposed to is and said as President, she will withdraw the troops from Iraq. Her competitor, Barack Obama, was opposed to invasion from the beginning. As President, he has promised to withdraw one or two brigades a month to finish the pull out within 16 months.

Although both candidates have the same intention, I feel Obama’s plan is a lot more appropriate for the current situation in Iraq. If we took troops out too soon and left Iraq without a government, there would be chaos. Therefore, phasing our troops out of Iraq seems like the only reasonable way to do it.

All candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul, support a path to legalization for illegal immigrants. This includes learning English as well as paying fines. When it comes to health care however, many of the candidates have differing opinions. The Republican candidates are in favor of a free market, while the Democrats think quite differently.

If elected President, Clinton would require everyone to get health insurance subsidized by the government and employers. Obama however, would require that all children have health insurance first, paid for by President Bush’s tax cuts.

Clinton seems more inclusive of all people receiving health care, however Obama’s ultimate aim is for universal coverage as well. He is just choosing to put children first, which I agree with fully. Children are the future, and we must keep them healthy and strong for they will be our country’s future leaders.

It is time for a change. For too long has America taken pride in being the land of opportunity and freedom, when in actuality the current unemployment rates are skyrocketing. We need a President who will demand change. We need a President who will stand up for what is right and help America become a better country. A country that is respected by other countries and held to a certain standard of justice and integrity.

I believe Barack Obama is this man. He has fresh ideas and is ready to fight for this country. He is unique and on fire with a desire for change.

Decision 2008

The Electoral College Has To Go!
By Alexandra Kolbeck

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t support George W. Bush in his first run for President. He seemed like the lesser of two evils and I was not very educated at the time. I think after his first term in office, it was apparent that things were not going so well for America. However, that did not keep him from winning a second consecutive term.

Looking back, I see what an idiot I was.

The war on terrorism, tax breaks for the rich, a near economic recession, no health care for every American and a President who can barely spell his own name. These are just a few of the lovely products of America’s choice to re-elect George W. Bush. Obviously there is a disconnect between the candidates we see and the President we get. When I tried to nail down the reason for this, I came up with one simple conclusion.

The Electoral College has to go. Briefly, the Electoral College describes the 538 Presidential electors who meet every four years to cast the official votes for President and Vice President of the United States.

With the turnout of the last election, it’s no longer reputable to say that anyone chosen to lead this country is truly wanted or even qualified. This presidential race has lost much esteem due to one thing, a representative democracy. We live in a world where the technology exists to become the exact thing that this country prides itself upon being.

Now we have a chance to be a true democracy, but we’re still waiting in the polling place lines on our lunch breaks. All so that we that we can haul ourselves half way across town to the high school gymnasium or local Methodist church, where we wait in line to punch a ballot and get a sticker for voting for someone else to speak for us?

I’m pretty sure that isn’t what Abraham Lincoln meant when he described a government “Of the people, by the people, for the people.”

When speaking with my mother about her feelings on voting, she admitted that she couldn’t even explain how it worked. All she knows is that she votes for a delegate to speak for her. That in and of itself is enough to make her, and many Americans, feel that their vote does not count.

As important as the 2008 presidential election is, it is time for our country to listen to the people. Relying on a representative democracy has not proven to be effective in recent elections. What is it going to take for people to see that something needs to change? Do you need to be the one to get laid off because an immigrant is willing to do your job for a fraction of the pay? What about when you, the single parent who can’t afford health insurance for your children is suddenly stuck with a pile of medical bills you can’t afford? Will you see a need for change then?

If this country listened to the people when Bush ran the first time, there is a very good chance Al Gore would have taken the country in a different direction. The same goes for Bush’s second run for presidency. If everyone’s voice mattered, John Kerry might be leading this country right now. At any rate, there is no time to waste when our country is in the horrible shape it is.

No one knows for sure who will be successful in running this country. Whether change comes in the form of Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Barack Obama, or any other candidate, it should be because the people have chosen them to lead us through that change. With the Electoral College still in force, there is no way for every American to have a voice. And, with every American without a voice, the foundation of this country is weakened that much more.

Decision 2008

Are Obama And Clinton Dividing The Democrats?
By Kat Piracha

Last year, when the democratic candidates came announced their intention to run for President, I wondered, as a Democrat, if I would vote for Senator Obama or Senator Clinton. My roommate brought it to my attention that it’s not really a matter of would I vote for Clinton or Obama, because they’re not both going to make it to the presidential candidacy. The more relevant question is will you automatically vote Democrat despite which one of them wins.

Reluctantly I thought, yes, I would vote for either Obama or Clinton as opposed to a Republican. It’s not that I’m an extreme Democrat or liberal. It’s just that after the Bush administration, I have no faith in the Republican Party, or any current Republicans that may carry stains of Bush’s corruption. Maybe years from now when the Republicans running don’t carry baggage from the manipulative Bush cult, then I will consider voting for a Republican. But not now.

My first choice would be Obama, because I agree with his stance on immigration, Iraq, the environment, and other issues. If I had to, I would vote for Clinton for the same reasons I would vote for Obama, except I do not agree with her stance on partial birth abortion.

According to www.BarackObama.com, Obama’s official candidacy website, if
Obama wins the presidency he plans to tighten the borders but keep the immigrants the country needs to fill specific jobs. He also plans to bring home our troops by the brigade monthly. On the environment, Obama has a very constructive and practical approach on breaking down our use of fuel. He hopes to attack the problem at the root, by giving factories the appropriate tools to make cars that burn less gasoline.

In the case of Clinton, she feels almost exactly the same way as Obama on immigration, according to www.HillaryClinton.com. Clinton wants to bring our troops home, and it seems that her plan on improving the environment is an adamant and effective one.

I assumed that most voters felt more or less the same way I did, but I was surprised that a few people feel so strongly about their candidate that if that candidate doesn’t make it to the presidency, they’re not voting at all, or they would vote for another party.

Erika Kolloori, a 21 year-old justice major at John Jay College, and an adamant Clinton supporter, says that if Obama makes it to November she will vote for Nader because, “Nader is an independent candidate, and he is extremely liberal. Even though Nader has no chance of winning, I would vote for him just to express my views. I could not vote for McCain because he's conservative, and my views are opposite of his.”

I found it an interesting to vote for another party if your candidate doesn’t make it, but I thought it seemed vengeful. But Kolloori replied, “If I didn’t vote because I don’t like either candidate (which I don’t) then I have no right to complain about the state of the country after one of them becomes President. So, voting for Nader would be my way of saying that I vote for issues, not popularity.”

It seems radical, but at least she is exercising her right to vote. Better to vote to make a statement than to do nothing at all.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

College Stress

Stressful College Life?
By Brian Batista

The alarm disrupted my sleep one morning and I realized that I was dreading yet another grueling day in the life of a college student living in an urban campus. As I rose from bed, my mind was suddenly flooded with a multitude of things that needed my immediate attention. Essays, papers, projects-and suddenly remembering midterms are next week, all while running late for your internship, can send even the most calm and collected person to the brink of meltdown.

This is the kind of life many college students live daily. For those living on an urban campus, like New York City, the task of being a student can be even more daunting as you disappear into the crowded streets and face city life, as opposed to hanging out on the sprawling green lawns of a university in a much warmer climate. Juggling multiple tasks is no easy trick, especially when a student does not know how to handle with care.

As a student, I was overwhelmed with college life, attending school and working full time. In the very beginning, it was extremely hard to find the time to do anything, sleep included. With a full time job taking up most of my freedom during the day, and enough homework to overlap my bedtime for a week, I suddenly realized that in order for me to survive this endless chain of work and no social time, I needed to evaluate my lifestyle.

The number one culprit in student stress is time management. With various assignments being thrown at you at once, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start first. Students should tackle assignments one at a time, assigning each project its own time-frame to be completed on, moving the most urgent and difficult assignment to the front of the line.

Working on the most difficult assignment first eliminates stress, and provides peace of mind for completing other pending assignments. Knowing that the worst is over from the beginning gives you a more optimistic view on other projects, and those can be done more efficiently and faster with this new-found sense of confidence.

Another surprising element of student stress that I discovered is eating habits. We all know that eating three balanced meals a day is important, but it is crucial for a college student. Eating regularly gives you more energy without ever feeling drained or sluggish. The body needs to be nourished constantly, especially if you are knowingly about to face another 14-hour day.

Lastly, and probably the most important piece to freeing yourself from student stress, is being able to give yourself mental freedom. It is important for a student to sit down alone and analyze if this is the kind of life they want for themselves after graduation. Being a college student takes on a great amount of responsibilities: responsibilities that carry over into your life in different forms after graduation.

Envision yourself at the career and family stage of your life. Would you like it to be this way? Or would prefer to have things run as smoothly as possible? The best suggestion is to practice living the orderly life you desire after graduation, during college. It will help you analyze your organizational skills and personal attributes you can tailor within yourself to function the way you desire to be in life.

Once you organize your schedule to work around your life, and your needs, you will suddenly realize how much free time you have to do things you would like. You may finally explore the city you study in with depth at your leisure, spend some time with much-needed friends, or finally catch up on sleep to rid of the bags under your eyes.

Using time management, eating correctly and exercising mental freedom are key components to achieving and sustaining the healthy, productive and free-spirited college life you envisioned yourself in as you stared out of the window in high school.

College Stress

The Silent Predator That Destroys College Life Fantasies
By Kristen Pesature

Upon graduating high school, there is a sense of hope that settles over every senior who throws their cap high into the air; a sense of freedom, a sense of accomplishment, a sense that now, their lives can finally begin. Visions of parties, of impending adulthood, and of plenty of free time are dancing through the heads of these young adults.

College, however, is a rather different experience than the images painted on our brains by movies such as Animal House. There is a silent predator lurking in the background, waiting to suck the life out of these fantasies: Stress.

As a student attending Marymount Manhattan College, the experience of college life cannot be farther from the daydreams the average high school students find themselves immersed in. Manhattan is one of the most expensive cities in the world, and emerging from a suburban environment where your days are routine into the literal Real World is an absolute and total culture shock.

The general cost of living for a student at Marymount is extensive, coupled with the cost of tuition, books, dorms, and other expenses that it takes to actually attend Marymount successfully is an astronomical monetary figure. The looming specter of college loans that appear in the guise of FAFSA and Sally Mae forms do not disappear from the mind no matter how far out of sight they are.

This usually causes most college students to get a part time job in order to cover the general cost of living as well as savings for the impending loan payback. A full time student takes 15 credits a semester, which equals five classes each semester. Classes, jobs, never being able to make the budget, fearing the day that six month grace period expires….these thoughts alone can cause stress.

But the daily routine is the biggest and most dangerous accumulation of stress that appears on the list. In order to be financially stable to a certain degree, a person must attend a job in a timely fashion and perform in a manner that enables the job to be kept. After this, classes must be attended or else the attendance policy kicks in, and then there is the homework that needs to be done in order to progress. This is a basic day-to-day for an average Marymount student.

According to a study by the University of Florida Counseling Center, one of the leading ways to combat stress is to develop a balanced lifestyle. With all the commotion of the daily grind, where is there time to find a balance? The balance entails an unhealthy lack of food and sleep, which go far beyond the realm of basic stressors. This is in the realm of general physical unhealthy. An unhealthy body is incapable of dealing with stress in an effective manner.

The cost of living, the overall environment that New York provides, and the college experience that one still searches for is nowhere to be found.