Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Things Worth Doing

So I've been at college for over 3 months now (okay, I went home for a long weekend in October, but that's it!). In that time, I've done a lot of things. Some of them, I never thought I'd do, or at least I never thought they'd be worth it. I'd like to share with you some things that I've done (some since I've been at college; some from before then) that I think are completely, 100% worth doing.
  1. Volunteering for a non-profit charity/ organization that means something to you. Volunteering for any non-profit is rewarding. Knowing that you're helping people- whether you're helping to organize a 5K to raise money for cancer research, or giving food to people that don't have any, or anything else- is amazing. You might not be doing everything, but you could be doing a lot, and you're making a difference. Really. But if you want to get the MOST out of volunteering, then try volunteering for an organization that means something to YOU, personally. What does that mean? That means that you find a cause or an issue that strikes YOU as something that needs to be "changed" or "fixed", and find an organization that does something to change or fix the issue. For me, one of the issues that strikes me as something important is the stigma of seeking help for mental illness, and the fact that because of that, many people don't seek help when they really need it. So that's why I'm getting involved with organizations like To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), The Jed Foundation, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE), and MTV's social campaign Half of Us. Knowing that I'm helping a cause that means so much to me is such a good feeling.
  2. Going to class. Seriously. Once you're in college, especially if it's a big lecture (introductory math and science classes usually are), it's pretty easy to skip class. You can tell yourself it doesn't matter- you'll get the notes from a friend, or do the reading "later". But you (probably) won't. And your grades will, therefore, suffer. I know a lot of people in my introductory chemistry class that skip class a lot. A lot of people are also not doing well in the class- many are failing. Not surprisingly, a lot of the people that aren't doing well (not all, but a lot) are the ones not going to class. I go to class. I'm not doing spectacular, but I go to class, pay attention, take notes, and do the homework, and my grades are better than a lot of people's are. I'm thinking there might be a correlation. Seriously, if you go to class, you're forced to, you know, learn. Which is kind of the whole point of school.
  3. Doing your homework. In correlation with the above post, if you don't do your homework, you won't learn the material. It's true. Look at it this week- you might have piano lessons a few times a week, but in order to really get anywhere, you need to practice on your own outside of that. Math class may be a few times a week, and going to class is necessary, but you have to practice math outside of class- that is, do your homework- in order to really learn it.
  4. Taking Computer programming. Unless you're a computer science or engineering major, it probably has nothing to do with your actual major. However, computer programming really does teach you to think. A huge part of knowing how to program a computer is being able to think logically and come up with an algorithm to solve a problem. My computer programming class may or may not be related to my major, but I'm glad I'm taking it. An introductory class really doesn't involve much math (knowing some algebra is helpful- in most cases that's a prerequisite- but for "Java 101" or the like, advanced math shouldn't be necessary). For my computer programming class, our assignments consist of a "problem" or question- for example, write a program that takes a list of 100 randomly generated numbers between 10 and 100, and print out a numerically-ordered list of all even numbers. In order to do that, you have to break the problem down in to steps- first, determine which numbers are even, and then save them into a separate sub-list; then, determine the lowest number and place it at the beginning of the sub-list; then, determine the next-lowest number, etc. Or maybe it makes more sense to sort the list (determine the lowest number and place it first, then determine the next-lowest number, etc.) first, and after that take out the numbers that aren't even. Get the idea?
  5. Not tearing your ACL. I know, tearing your ACL sounds like fun (everyone's doing it these days... haha), but it's really not. First, the injury is painful, and you might not be able to walk afterwards (the first time I tore my ACL, I was able to walk- carefully- a few hours later, but the second time, I was on crutches for 19 days, on doctor's orders). Second, there's a good chance that if you tear your ACL, you'll get other injuries too (such as a torn PCL, MCL, LCL, medial or lateral meniscus, or a bruised bone)- most people get some kind of secondary injury with the torn ACL. Third, the recovery is pretty long- it's usually at least a month wait until surgery (you have to see an orthopedist to diagnose the injury, usually get an MRI to confirm, and wait for the swelling to go down and range of motion to come back)- often more; then you've got several months of physical therapy; and even after that, it's awhile until you're 100% back to the way you were before the injury. Seriously. Don't tear your ACL. Or your achilles tendon. Don't break a bone either. Injuries suck.
  6. Going to that toga/theme party. Just do it. Why? Because it's a toga party, and there might be more, but heck- why not? Go with a group of people (and stay with a group of people- it's just common sense; don't drink/eat anything that you didn't see opened and poured; you know the drill). Theme parties- any kind where you dress up, whether it be toga, luau, or a specific decade- are fun. Plus, even if the party isn't great, dressing up (at least for girls) is a lot of fun.
  7. Driving 3 hours to see a band that had previously been broken up for 4 years and which you had never seen live before. By this, I'm referring to the fact that I drove 3 hours with one of my best friends to see Blink-182 this summer. The tickets weren't cheap, and on top of that we had to pay for a hotel and gas and food. But every single cent was worth it. I had never seen Blink-182 pre-break-up, so getting to see them live this summer? Yeah. Amazing. They played all of their best songs, and Tom, Mark, and Travis are seriously awesome performers. They know how to work an audience. It rained pretty much the whole time they were on stage, but it was possibly the best concert I had ever been to.
  8. Learning how to cook and bake. Seriously. Once you can drive, if you can cook for yourself, then you're practically there on the way to independence. You don't have to be an expert chef, but if you can read and follow a recipe, you're good. Extra points if you can "throw something together" without a specific recipe, or write your own recipe. I've done it, and it's not as hard as you might think. Learn how to wash, peel, and chop fruits and vegetables. Learn how to make grilled cheese, pancakes, and scrambled eggs. Learn how to make cookies, brownies, and cupcakes (from mix; kudos if you can do it from scratch). I've been cooking for as long as I could remember, and it's so awesome to be able to not have to rely on someone else to do that for me.
Of course, there are other things that I've done that I think are worth doing. But more later.

1 comment:

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