Reflections on Another Semester Past

The semester isn’t entirely over – I still have three more finals to take (Curse you, finals schedule, for making me have two finals on Friday). Yet it pretty much is done, and with the minimal time that I have not spent studying, I’ve been sitting around and thinking about how much has changed since I was an itty-bitty freshman, and even how different I am than when I arrived earlier this year in August.

[I’ve added a ton of links to this post. Most of them are links to my own prior blog posts in which I discussed something I mention here, others are links to Hope pages for more information on an organization or program!]

My semester began very positively. I was an Orientation leader, and saw it as a great opportunity to try to make our group of freshmen feel welcome and at home. I’d say that it helped me kickstart a pretty good year.

I went into classes, and have done pretty well in them. I’ve strengthened relationships with people I knew before, and have made new ones as well. I went to, most likely, every SAC event held, reunited with the beautiful women in my bible study, and went apple AND pumpkin picking, among other things.

I came into this year thinking I wanted to continue with the education program, but toward the end of the semester I decided that it wasn’t for me. I wrote a novel in November, got accepted to the Vienna study-abroad program for this May, got offered to do research in June, got a new job, and now I’m just ready to go home.

But if I were to reflect on one major change in my life, despite everything that has happened semester, it would be the change in my faith. All of my life I have gone to church and been a Christian, but I was never challenged or pushed forward in my faith. Freshman year, I attended Chapel occasionally and only went to the Gathering a couple of times the entire year. This year, I decided to be intentional with my faith, and that choice has caused me to grow a massive amount in this area of my life. I’ve kept a journal to take notes in during Chapel and the Gathering, which has really helped.

I’m not done growing in my faith, not nearly to that point (And I wonder, do we ever reach that point?), but I’m much more satisfied with my relationship with God this semester than I have been all of my life. I owe that to Hope’s lovely Campus Ministries, and the freedom to have the choice in my religious practices here at Hope. Without the ability to decide for myself that my faith was something I wanted to pursue more deeply, I don’t think I would have come as far.

A lot has happened this semester. I’m sure a lot will happen next semester as well. All I know is that we keep on keeping on here at Hope; That train, blaring it’s horn outside your window, is still going, even in the dead of the night, at two in the morning when all you want is a little bit of decent shut-eye. Next semester, and the four more semesters after that, will be the same way.

Here’s a slideshow of some photos from my semester:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m hoping to write more blog posts over break while I’m at home, but if things get busy or I forget, then I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and/or Happy Holidays.

Thanks for reading,

Brooke

Finals Week For Dummies (or college students)

It’s that time of the year again, FINALS WEEK! Firstly, I would like to welcome all of the freshmen to finals week. I just want to share some tips with all of you on how to survive this week. For those of you in high school, read this to prepare yourself! It’s never too early to start getting ready! Freshmen, you might find this useful as this is your first set of finals. Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors, I know you have been through finals at Hope before, but maybe you can learn something new. Well, here we go!

SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP:

Ok, so you might think I’m crazy, but sleep is so important during finals week. Without it, you won’t be able to retain anything you learned, and you will lose your focus easily. Not to mention you’ll be fatigued, then that could lead to less studying. Research shows that for optimal learning, you need a minimum of 9.25 hours of sleep each night. So, this means that if you sleep this long, the neuronal connections in your brain strengthen, which causes a retainment in learning! Cool, huh? Anyway, you should make sleep your priority. With enough sleep, you won’t need that coffee because you will have all the energy you need!

PRIORITIZE!

Obviously, we all have more than one exam (with the exception of a fewer people…). Prioritize your studying in accordance to difficulty, date, or both! In order to do this, you have to manage your time. Plan out your week, and in doing so, you’re setting it in stone (for yourself). If you follow your plan, you’d be surprised how effective it can be! For example, if you have a cumulative exam on Tuesday, but just an exam on new material on Monday, make sure you have been studying your exam for Tuesday, but make room for the new stuff too. Remember, you can’t remember an entire semester in a couple of days. Planning ahead and prioritizing work is KEY!

DE-STRESSING 

Stress is super common during finals week. If you haven’t read about my stress blog post here! I’m just going to summarize a few points here. If you’re stressed, there is no way that what you are studying will retain. It is so important to give yourself breaks while studying. Splitting your study sessions are effective, and give your brain time to process the new information! EXERCISING is a great way to de-stress. You literally kill two birds with one stone in doing so. You are doing something healthy for your body, and you’ll feel great afterwards, so studying will be easier because you’ll have motivation! And exercising prevents you from getting sick, and this is something that happens to so many of us.

STAY HEALTHY!

Make sure you don’t compromise your health during finals week. If anything, you should be eating healthier! You’ll get more energy and you’re helping your body out. Eating healthy and staying active reduce your chances of getting sick, which will keep you focused for your studying and your exams!

In Conclusion…

I can guarantee you that if you take at least some of my advice, your finals week will get a little better. For those of you at Hope, or who have finals this week, GOOD LUCK! We can all get through this week. Study hard and take care of yourselves. Try your best, but remember, grades don’t define who YOU are! It’s your effort, dedication, and work ethic that define you! God bless, and I will post again soon! If you haven’t already, make sure to read some of my other posts during your study break and follow me on twitter!

P.S. If you are a student who applied to Hope and was accepted, CONGRATULATIONS! All of your hard work has paid off, and everyone at Hope is ready for you 🙂 I wish you luck in your college decision-making process!

Finals Week: I’ve been mugged! (Coffee style)

For the past week, I’ve been consuming the life of study, study, studying, with a side of sleep and food. But because the quantities of sleep and food are more limited than I would like, I’ve had to turn to the “typical” college student’s go-to: caffeine. The more I can find it in coffee form, the better.

I’m not a typical caffeine consumer on a regular basis — I usually stick with tea. But I’ve found that once I start to feel a little bit burned-out on studying or a little bit drowsy, a tiny bit of caffeine refocuses my attention on my work and I find myself significantly more productive.

I do have to say, the “week before finals week” hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be. With my class load this semester, I haven’t pull an “all-nighter,” as my classes do not call for that (we’ll see how it goes in the future, though!). As long as you study little by little each day the week before the test, you’ll be good to go by the final.

With only a few days left until the final exams begin, I do have to say I’m feeling prepared. I just keep my coffee mug at hand and my notebooks close beside me.

Where's all the coffee? We were mugged!
This has been my side motivation to make me giggle throughout the week.:) My study breaks typically contain Pinterest-related motivational quotes and jokes.

What’s your favorite caffeinated drink? Comment below or tweet at me @hopesophie17! Or, if you have questions or comments, please feel free to send me an email at sophie.guetzko@hope.edu.

CHRISTmas Gathering!

Wahoo I’m done with my finals!!!!! Now all I have left is one paper then I’m home free. People are starting to pack their bags and head home. I am staying until Friday because I work, and I just want to hang out with my friends on campus and not have to worry about schoolwork. I have put in quite a bit of studying these past few days, and I am worn out! I cannot wait to go home and catch up on sleep. Coffee has become my best friend this week! During break, I am going to try and cut back on my caffeine intake. People told me I would start to like coffee in college, but I never believed them. Now, I do not even remember what it feels like to not enjoy drinking coffee. What was I thinking? Now one of my favorite things to do in college is grab coffee with my friends.

My friends at Hope are incredible, and I could not be more thankful. I legitimately have met quality nice people. On Sunday night we attended Hope’s Christmas gathering, which consisted of classic Christmas carols and scripture readings. The chapel looked beautiful with its classy Christmas decorations and lights. It was a lot of fun to dress up with my friends, and after we had a little photo shoot in the Voorhees lobby. Here are some of the pictures from the last gathering.

Funny Christmas Picture

Amy, Colleen, Monique, and Grace

Ryan and Monique are so cute together!

In front of the tree in the Chapel

Grace and I