Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Life as a UT Dallas Commuter

By Thuy Trinh, Guest Blogger

When I was in high school, I always thought my life in college would be easy and fun. I would live in a dorm with my best friends and easily walk across campus to go to my classes every day. I would have water fights with the students in my dorm building and have the perfect college experience. So you must understand my surprise when I discovered that I had to commute since the school I chose to attend  (UT Dallas obviously) was too close to home to live on campus, and it would save my parents and me a lot of money.

As I commute to UT Dallas this semester, I have learned that along with some benefits there were many challenges that a commuter must face. Parking for one is such a pain! I usually arrive at school around 9:45 a.m. and the best parking that I can get is around the Clark Center, but every time I get to school, it is always taken. Every single slot! So I have to park all the way in the back next to the soccer fields, and the walk to my class is about 15 minutes if I speed walk. I have to arrive before nine just to get  decent parking.

The next challenge is traffic, which is partially my fault. My first class is at 10 a.m., and as we all know the traffic on I-635 is chaotic. It usually takes me 30 minutes to get to school and only 15 to 20 minutes to get home. I now know to choose my class times wisely where there won’t be as much traffic on I-635.

The biggest obstacle I face as a commuter is that I don’t get to participate in as many school events as students who live on campus. I usually don’t feel like driving so far just for an event whereas if I were living on campus, I could just walk across the street. I feel like I am missing out on the college experience.

With all my complaining about the difficulty of being a commuter, you probably think that it is the worst thing in the world, and you’re glad to be living on campus. But there are actually a lot of benefits as well.

I never, and I repeat never, have to cook. I always have a good home-cooked meal. My parents fill my gas for me. I’m not in any college debt. And the best thing about commuting is that I never get home sick. I know that once college is over, I have to venture out into the world and make my own living, so I actually am not in a rush to move out yet.

I appreciate the time I have at home with my parents for I know that many kids are in a rush to move out without knowing that in the future they won’t get the opportunity to spend more time with their family. In my EPPS class, I have learned that a lot of students miss being at home and get taken care of by their parents, which makes me even more appreciative of the time I have with them. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

You Think I'm Apathetic? I Don't Care

By Colton Hattersley, EPPS Blogger

Upon going home over winter break, I was faced with several very interesting questions: have you gotten drunk yet? How are the drugs up in Dallas? Why do you even care? It caught me off guard, to be honest – it was as if people back home had forgotten who I was and what I stood for. This presents an interesting and very serious question for us to evaluate. Why do college students have such a poor reputation, and what can we do to change that?

First, let’s look at drinking. The common perception of the college kid includes someone who goes to parties every night and is caught up in underage drinking. At many universities across America, this perception holds a degree of truth to the matter. One of the great things about being at UT Dallas, however, is that this atmosphere of partying and alcohol isn’t as prominent. Because of the degree of academic prowess our student body holds, there is a minimum of underage drinking and partying that is going on.

Second, let’s evaluate the issue of drugs. With the debate on marijuana legalization jumping in and out of the national spotlight, it is hardly surprising that many college students are experimenting both with marijuana and other illegal drugs. Though it is close to a metropolitan area, which by its very nature would be perceived to promote the use of drugs, UT Dallas manages to deflect or at least minimize the impact that drugs can have. With a student body that cares about what they are doing, and who generally don’t want to jeopardize their education, the drug problem that is seen across both the state and nation has not been able to achieve fruition.

Third, and finally, let’s look at apathy. The college student is perceived to be this creature that exemplifies apathy through the way he or she dresses, speaks, and acts. Public opinion would dictate that we all wear pajamas to classes everyday, speak in slow and very simplistic vocabulary, and move sluggishly with everything we do. Apathy is expected to lead us to procrastination, failure, and ultimately this status of dropping out.

As seen with the other two examples, UT Dallas students aren’t like most students. While there is always going to be that one guy who shows up in a dinosaur suit to your government class, people generally care about how they present themselves and therefore make an effort to at dress appropriately.

With classes at UT Dallas being both rigorous and insightful, students are constantly discussing the things covered in lecture to better understand the material. This allows for an intellectual and scholarly discussion that conflicts with the expectation society has placed on college students.

So next time I go back home, and get asked the same questions, I won’t be caught off guard. With public perception of college kids at a dangerously low level, we must work to fight against this label. Being at UT Dallas, we have been provided an environment capable of not only keeping us safe, but also of revolutionizing perceptions and making positive changes in the world. Next time I’m asked about my “lazy college life,” I will have one simple response – Not me, and not at UT Dallas. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Alaskan Shares Advice for Surviving Next "Arctic Blast"

By Hope Steffensen, EPPS Blogger

Winter is very common where I am from. In Alaska, winter is actually an annual occurrence! However, my understanding as the new kid on the block here at UT Dallas is that winter in north Texas is not quite so common. I guess that explains all the doomsday headlines on the news when the ice storm broke out last month.

Words like “Icepocalypse” and “Frigid Arctic Blast Hits North Texas” were scrawled across the screen. It made me wonder, “If this is an ‘Arctic Blast,’ what does that make winter in Alaska?”
So, in case Jack Frost rears his ugly head and ices us in again, here are some “Winter Tips” from a self-proclaimed winter expert.

Tip # 1—Winter is not the time to make a fashion statement
This one is mostly for the women out there. Ladies, resist the urge to wear those adorable felt-bottomed boots. They may look amazing, but one won’t look amazing slipping and falling because of lack of traction on one’s footwear. Stick with comfortable walking shoes to avoid those embarrassing falls.
Tip # 2—Dress warmly
Now, while this may seem obvious, there seems to always be a slew of people who want to prove how cool they are by not wearing a jacket when it’s thirty degrees outside. Indeed, doing that will make a person so cool he/she will probably catch a cold. Besides, even Alaskans wear jackets in that type of weather. Rest assured, there is no shame in wearing a jacket.
Tip # 3—Avoid couch potato syndrome
It is important to stay active, even if one can’t go outside. Walking up and down stairs in the Residence Halls, doing push-ups in one’s room, or even doing some simple stretches are ways to make sure one doesn’t go dormant like a Kodiak Brown Bear on those chilly days. It will help one not only be healthier physically, but it will refresh one mentally as well.
Tip # 4—Keep doing schoolwork
Just because classes are shut down for a few days does not mean they won’t re-open. Homework and studying will still be due when the weather warms up. Tests do not melt away with the ice. By being diligent and studious with the extra free time one has from not having classes, one will have a lot less stress when regular class schedules resume. Just like any day, studying and being prepared will help ensure success in the days ahead.