Major Changes

Having trouble finding a major that’s right for you? Don’t get too worked up about it, it happens to a lot of students here at Oswego. Personally, I’ve changed my major twice. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been pretty stressful trying to figure out what I really wanted to major in, but the only way to find out what you really want to do is to test out a bunch of alternative options. I came into Oswego as a declared economics major, and after a few weeks, I decided that it definitely wasn’t for me. Looking back at it, I have no clue why I chose that major in the first place–I wasn’t even very interested in the subject to be honest. Needless to say, I changed my major after my first year of college. From economics, I went to Electrical and Computer Engineering. I love computers, so I decided to give it a shot. After a semester of  taking the ECE prerequisites and some core requirements, I found that engineering wasn’t something that I could put my heart into–I just wasn’t into it at all. Just goes to show how you can be interested in something one minute, and then after testing the waters, you decide that it doesn’t suit you at all. From my experience, I gained knowledge of a variety of things, ranging from the Economics of Gender, to Calculus. I also got all of my general education requirements out of the way by sophomore year. After my decision to change my major for the second time, I took a lot of time to really think my next major change through and weigh my options. I finally opted for the Public Justice major here at SUNY Oswego, and I couldn’t be more satisfied so far. It took me almost 2 years to figure out what I wanted to major in, but that’s what college is all about. In order to figure out what you want to achieve, you absolutely need to search for something that you can enjoy doing. It may take a while, but you WILL find something  that interests you. I hope my post here will help those who are unsure of what they would like to major in put themselves out there and take a variety of courses that may point them in the right direction.

Winter Break

Winter Break

                I hope everyone is as happy as I am that Finals week is over. I know some feel even more accomplished for going through their first semester at SUNY Oswego. It’s a great feeling to get to know people and also get to know some who live around the same area as you do. Everyone should spend time with friends, but most importantly your families. Spend the holidays with care and I hope everyone gets home and arrive back to the campus safely in January. I’m happy to figure out how huge of a break we have; even though I sometimes worry if I’ll forget certain course material needed for those classes requiring knowledge from previous classes. I think it would help for everyone to not get too carried away by doing nothing related to studying. The more information we keep stored in our minds the better our performance. Good luck to everyone and I hope you all have a great vacation. Enjoy!

Q & A with SUNY Oswego Sustainability

“We cannot hope to create a sustainable culture with any but sustainable souls.”

-Derrick Jensen

 

Hi Readers,

Recently I had the pleasure of talking the school’s sustainability department, and I learned a lot about their role on campus, and why it is important to know what they do, as well as a few tidbits of information on the new science building and how students (just like you!) can contribute and get involved with these really cool guys on campus.

 

Q: First off, a little background info for the readers. Who/what all does the sustainability department comprise?

A:  The sustainability department basically is comprised of 4 people.
  • Jamie Adams        - Sustainability Programs Coordinator
  • Mike Lotito           – Sustainability Engineering Coordinator
  • Jason MacLeod      - Graduate Assistant
  • Stephanie Chytalo  - Intern
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Q: What exactly is the scope of your organization’s activities?
A:  The sustainability office is responsible for facilitating the implementation of academic and engineering sustainability-related initiatives throughout the SUNY Oswego Campus. Additionally, the sustainability department is responsible for calculating greenhouse gas emissions, compiling the annual campus carbon footprint, and completing all mandatory reporting (e.g., Executive Order 4 & 88).
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Q: What were the things your department was responsible for in the design and implementation of the Shineman Center?
A:  Currently, the way the sustainability department has been structured by the college, Mike Lotito works both for sustainability and the facilities planning and design team. Therefore, we cannot solely claim responsibility for any of the sustainable features of the building, because we have always collaborated with the larger planning, design, and construction team. So, we had say in many of sustainability features, such as, the energy dashboard system, solar array, and geothermal system just to name a few. However, we were also a part of the larger discussion of heating and ventilation systems, lighting, plumbing, and controls which are not commonly thought of as sustainable features, but do contribute substantially to why the building is efficient.
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Q: How much of Shineman’s energy is produced through renewable means (i.e. wind, solar, geothermal, etc.) and can you provide a breakdown of how much each source contributes?
A:  This is a tough question, and honestly the building is so new that we haven’t received enough data to provide a comprehensive breakdown of individual energy contributions. Typically, those types of statistics cannot be accurately projected until there has been at least one complete year of post-occupancy commissioning. However, I can accurately give you the specifications of the systems. We have installed a 36 kW solar array on the roof, and the geothermal system is comprised of 240 wells which are all 499 feet deep. The plan is to use the geothermal system to both supplement heating and cooling of the building throughout the year. Furthermore, there are two experimental areas of green roof installed on the east connector and south side of the building totally more than 2,000 sq. ft. In the future, we are hoping to have a few electric vehicle charging stations and a small vertical axis wind turbine installed as well. 
 
Since I can’t provide you with the exact data you are requesting, here are some additional statistics we have estimated in contrast to the previously occupied buildings.
  • Shineman is designed as a LEED Gold Building
  • Estimated to use 40% of the energy required to operate the old Piez and existing Snygg building, while Shineman is actually larger than the two buildings combined.
  • Designed to generate 38% less waste water than Piez and Snygg combined.
  • Designed to use 64% of the natural gas and 23% less electricity than the existing science buildings.
  • The geothermal system utilizes approximately 44 miles of piping.
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Q: What is/are the best way(s) for students to get involved with the sustainability department?
A:  The best way to get involved is to visit our website, do-one-thing a day, and make suggestions for improving campus-wide sustainability awareness. Additionally, if you are a student that wants to contribute for sustainability initiatives on campus, you can get credit for doing so by enrolling in SUS101-ECO Reps. 
 
Here is more information on becoming an Eco Rep at SUNY Oswego.
Or, visit our website:

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So, there you have it. If you ever have any questions for them concerning projects on campus or the like, you can also give the department a visit over in 165 Wilber Hall (located within the facilities design and construction office). They’re all very friendly people and are always happy to have a chat with a student!

 

 

Stay Clean

Stay clean

handwashing

                Hello Oswegonians, I’m here to request a favor to ourselves to always keep our hands clean. We are all paying for our classes, and it would really be a problem to get sick if it’s due to someone else’s spreading of the sickness. On that note, we all are respectful enough on a daily basis, so why not be slightly more respectful by being considerate of everyone especially yourself. You could get yourself sick rubbing your eyes, even though we all know that from our past, and it would be horrible to figure that you happen to have gotten sick from shaking hands with someone after a hello or after you meet someone new and shake on it. Be considerate, make sure you always tell the friend you’re communicating with that you are sick or feel like you’re getting sick.

Personally I’m still slipping through from getting sick by sticking to my workout, which really helps nullify a stuffy nose. Also any time that I feel a cold really trying to affect me, I would stay in my room and take a night time medicine and sleep early on it. It is super effective to me, and it could be as effective for you. I suggest finding a cardio workout to do that keeps you breathing in and out your nose then mouth to feel better breathing normal afterwards without the runny nose. The medicine should be the last thing on your mind if you live in this campus full of so much space to run and so much time to spend in the gym!

Go out there and be clean and help yourself while respecting others. You will be loved by yours truly and make sure to feel good about keeping yourself clean. Make it a habit! It’s going to be a long winter with occasional temperature changes. Let’s enjoy the experience we have always wanted and expected out of moving out here to Oswego.

Insanity

The Insanity workout

insanity

This workout has been previously known to be one of the hardest workouts to ever been put out on DVD. Although this deems to have been true, it is still possible to do and accept this challenge. We should feel comfortable with challenging our bodies as long as it’s safe and we can get a positive outcome out of it. Who wouldn’t want to feel good and be fit? We all do, but some of us choose many different options to get the same outcome. This option in particular, the Insanity workout, is an option where the work you put in is exactly what you get without the use of special equipment. Better yet, there are no sit ups or crunches!

Shaun Thompson or “Shaun T” is the choreographer and fitness specialist who made this workout follow a certain routine that is designed to help you get the maxed results in a short period of time. His routine is the opposite of the traditional interval training routine. In interval training, you work out for 30 seconds and rest for 3 to 4 minutes. Shaun’s Insanity workout instead has you working out for 3 to 4 minutes and resting for a water break for 30 seconds. The results are amazing and every person that I know of who has done this workout for a considerable amount of time have all seen a convenient change in their bodies. The workout is indeed helpful since it gives you the maximum results in only 60 days (give or take 3 or 4 days).

I asked some friends about their experience with Insanity whether they lasted from a day to 5 Insanity cycles (1 Cycle = 2 months):

“It’s repetitive, tiring, and there’s a lot of sweat involved” –Erin Fanini

“Well after ten minutes I was already sweating bullets. Then all my muscles started burning, but at the same time, I was energized. Overall, I think it’s a very good workout and it’s very effective.”

–Marcileni Baldera

“I really enjoyed it! I felt like it worked every muscle in my body and made me feel better about myself! It didn’t take up too much time so I was able to do other things either before or after! Most of the time I did it right when I woke up so it was a great way for me to start my day on a good note!”

-Rachel Treiling

In my opinion, Insanity feels like it nullifies the chances of getting nose congestion/getting sick from flu-like symptoms. It’s probably because you are only so busy breathing within the workout that your body maybe listens to that over whatever causes you to get sick. The fact of the matter is, I’m still not sick after just seeing so many friends get sick for days while my workout buddy and I endure the challenge that is Insanity. A great thing to think about is that it fights the myth of “freshman 15”.

 

 

Procrastination!

Don’t Procrastinate

              Procrastination is something all of us have a habit of. I have a personal interest in the word only because I know from Latin what the word actually means. When you break it apart you have the word “cras” which means tomorrow. So when you think about it, is tomorrow worth delaying your work for? When you’re in college, we are almost forced to wake up and speed up on getting our work done. We are obviously paying for our studies, so why do we slow down to the very last minute of crunch time or maybe even not do the work at all? Simple, it’s easier. Procrastinating is so easy and it is because we love pursuing the easiness.

Our lives shouldn’t be delayed, but only you can decide the factor of procrastinating. It’s either do the hard work or take the lazier approach and not do the work. Although it helps to be under pressure with a shorter allotted time, it’s still a risky decision to go about that. The workload can only get harder the longer you wait, so you can only thank your professors for probably giving you more time than you should have to complete your papers/projects. There are techniques out there that may sound cheesy but could really help. One of which is one I learned from my Principles of Programming class: The Pomodoro Technique.

-          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cH-z5kmVhzU

There is also the ability to keep a time schedule by actually writing one down rather than keeping one in your head. You have a higher chance of forgetting things you don’t write down than things you do write down. Our brains are very distracted as I learned from Psychology where we can remember what we just learned, but if we were to get tested for it a few hours later, we won’t remember it as well without really studying it over time. Also don’t assume you have the time for everything in a whole day when it comes to hanging with friends, playing tennis for a few hours with your roommate, or spending time on your phone playing games or texting. You shouldn’t assume you’ll have enough time to study after so many activities crunched in a single day before a quiz, exam, or when a paper is due! Be realistic and know what you need to do to change your plans and make space for studying for a good amount of time in your day.

Prepare for the Finals!

Prepare for the Finals!

                Finals week may be a while away, however, I hope everyone starts studying now. I’m a little nervous myself to how my first semester finals would be like. Before and after the Thanksgiving break should be a time everyone should support studying for those finals. It may be a pain, I’m sure, but you can seriously thank yourself later by having that course material stuck in your head. All the time put into studying will be worth it. I completely support people who give the effort early and not so much those who don’t care and rather drink the day before the final.

Thankfully the dorms have quiet hours extended throughout the whole week and everyone should take great advantage of that. I’d rather stay in my room and study than walk to the library because of a noisy hallway. I hope everyone who tries and puts in the effort does a really great job in the finals! Studying is certainly better than procrastinating even though some people work better under pressure. I personally don’t think that’s good for anyone but whatever helps you to pass is alright in my book. There’s lots of stress that can be placed on you because of how many tests there are, but I believe we can take 5 hour energies and live through it. Just kidding, study and you’ll do great.

I hope to manage these exams even though I’m severely struggling with one course. I will find a friend to study with since I found out it really helped boost my score on the last exam. Everyone should try to do the same if you haven’t already. Forming study groups or just studying with a good friend/note taker does help your chances of getting through to your classes. The General Education classes may not be in our favor, but that’s what our friends are here to help with. Friends help build bonds and they become lifetime friends of whom could even help build great connections to the outside world. Everything builds up from studying when you think of it. This is pretty optimistic and it keeps a person feeling better since stress only seems to make you age faster. Hope you guys all study and wish you the best of luck! Don’t procrastinate!

My Journey in Japan, Part 2

(This is part 2 of an ongoing series about my adventures while studying at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Osaka, Japan, along with the lessons I’ve learned along the way. You can read the first part here.)

 

Hello again. Sorry for the wait; so many things have happened in the past few weeks, which is why this post is as late as it is. But the important thing is that I’m back and ready to regale more of the story of my time here in Japan.

As I said last time, my decision to study abroad like this came with a great deal of criticism from those around me for any number of reasons. I also said that choosing not to listen to them was one of (if not the) best decisions I’ve ever made in my entire life. It’s shown me how important it is to sometimes throw caution to the wind and take amazing opportunities as they surface, even if they cause some setbacks.

But wait. What setbacks?

Well, for one thing, taking this semester abroad has cost me a lot of money. Not a fortune per se, but a significant amount. I know I’m going to have some student debt for quite some time, and I shouldn’t plan on living beyond meager means for the next few years.

Also, I’m going to have to take an extra semester as a result of this journey. I’ll have to sit on the sidelines and watch as most of my friends walk across the stage to get their diplomas at graduation, ready to (hopefully) set sail on some new chapter in their lives.

And I won’t be able to get that $300 rebate, regrettably. Egads, the horror, what an outrage.

But it’ll have been worth it in the end. No, it HAS been worth it so far. And we’ve still got a couple of weeks left (and maybe two or three more entries, including a post-mortem of sorts).

This was shot on the plane ride over here, a little before landing at Kansai International Airport. See? Already started paying dividends before I even set foot on Japanese land.

 

This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and for me it’s come at exactly the right time in my life. I’ve needed this adventure. It’s made me see the world from a completely different perspective, one that has shown me that most of the things I thought I hated about myself have actually been my greatest strengths.

Take, for example, my deep knowledge of pop culture, as seen in this picture with two Persona 4 cosplayers at TGS. To the Japanese, I’m not really a “nerd” because I like this stuff; I’m just cultured.

I’ve met so many people, some of whom are like me, and plenty of others who are not, and I’d like to think that I’ve learned at least something from each of them.

Pictured: East meeting West with Michael Jackson costumes at Halloween. The dude on the right, my friend Miio, actually did teach me a step or two. My moonwalk’s still pretty sloppy, though.

And I’ve gone to places where I’d only dreamed of going before, particularly during my two trips to Tokyo.

Places like Akihabara.

This is a Club Sega arcade. Two doors down from here, there’s another, bigger Club Sega. I was in heaven here.

 

 

And Shibuya.

 

This is me next to the statue of Hachiko, a dog who was so loyal to his owner that he waited for him at Shibuya Station every day for many years after the man had died. It has a minor role to play in the Nintendo DS game “The World Ends With You.”

 

 

This is the “scramble crosswalk” that pretty much sums up everyone’s mental image of Tokyo. It’s the place you always seem to see in movies that are set in modern day Japan.

 

And of course, Tokyo Disney.

Cinderella’s Castle at night. It, like everything else in the park, was decked out for the Christmas season.

 

I figured I had to pay tribute to the King of Pop somehow, so that’s me, doing an extremely poor impression of one of Michael Jackson’s dance moves in front of Captain Eo, which is best described as a “4-D” version of a really stupid Michael Jackson video. (Though for the record, the song in the video, “We Are Here to Change the World,” is pretty dope.)

All of the Disney cast members at Tokyo Disney spoke Japanese, and very few knew a lot of English. Still, I was able to practice my Japanese in one of the best possible ways: “Watashi to watashi no otou-san wa, Goofy-san ga suki desu.” (“My Dad and I really like you, Goofy!”) It’s a pretty simple sentence, all things considered, but the cast members were all pretty impressed. Consider that as proof that I’ve learned some Japanese while here, if nothing else…

These are the things that money can’t buy, whose value transcends monetary value. In the long run, this trip will pay dividends for the rest of my life, because it’s allowed me to see the world from a completely different perspective. Forgotten lessons from the past have popped up once again, particularly in the wake of my Disney trip (which we’ll delve a bit more into next time).

All that being said, I must say that studying abroad is not for everyone. It’s not for those who want to go to another country just to have a vacation; you have to work hard both in and out of the classroom to properly adjust to the cultural and academic stylings of your country of choice. Furthermore, you have to be willing to accept that your country’s values will often clash with others’, and be willing to reconcile those differences when they emerge. You can party and have fun (and believe me when I say, I totally have), but you’ve also got to remember that, like it or not, you represent your country in one way or another, and depending on the culture, your actions serve as representations of your culture as a whole. If you’re rude, then everyone in America is rude. And if you think that’s unfair, tough luck; just because it goes against your values doesn’t mean it isn’t right.

In summation, here’s a quote from Pokemon X (which, convieniently enough, was released in the middle of this semester, so I got to see its impact in Japan directly). One of the characters, Professor Sycamore, says a quote that is hands down the most relevant and insightful thing I’ve heard and/or read this entire semester (I’ve bolded the important bits):

“Now listen. If you visit many different places to complete the Pokedex, you will probably see Pokemon with many ways of living and meet people with many ways of thinking. First, accept the ways of living and thinking that sometimes conflict with your own. And think about what’s really important—this will truly broaden your horizons.”

Couldn’t have put it better myself, Professor.

Anyway, that’s all for now. As I said above, I’ll talk a bit more about my adventures at Tokyo Disney next time. Until then, sayonara!