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24 October 2005

It’s a bleak day. The sky is overcast, heavy with the anticipation of a monotonous drizzly morning. And I lay in my bed thinking about my calculus class at 10 a.m., and how I should probably get out of bed and get ready.

I look at my alarm clock.

It’s 10:20 a.m.

I overslept.

Again.

I think about it, and I mentally calculate the time it would take me to get out of bed, get ready for class and walk across campus to get to my class.

Too long.

I turn over and resume sleeping.

I wake up and my alarm clock tells me that it’s 12:06 p.m., which is wrong, because that would mean I slept through two of my classes.

I rub the sleep from my eyes and look at my alarm clock again.

12:07 p.m.

OK, now it’s time for me to wake up.

Unfortunately, it seemed that recently, mornings like these were becoming all too frequent. Last Friday I found myself sleeping in instead of going to my classes and it hit me that I was heading in the wrong direction. Don’t get my wrong, I’m not trying to be melodramatic and say that sleeping in is leading me on a path of sin and delinquency. Rather my actions were contrary to my goals of getting a good grade in class. I was fatigued as a result of a lack of sleep and ironically enough, because I wasn’t getting enough sleep, my immune system also became compromised. In other words, I was stuck in bed, too weary to get up, my sinuses flowing copiously like the Niagara Falls. (OK, so this comparison is a bit exaggerated, but you get the point.)

In my seemingly neverending cycle of sickness, I came to the realization that this is not how I wanted to continue my freshman year at UT. I wanted to run free and frolic on the sidewalks like the squirrels on campus. (Again another hyperbolic comparison…I hope people don’t take me too seriously.)

Speaking of squirrels, had “UT Squirrels” sounded menacing enough I would have seriously considered changing our team mascot from the Longhorns to the Squirrels because they are just so cute. Not to mention, I could swear that there are more squirrels on campus than there are students. The sight of their fluffy tails waving frantically in the air is seriously the funniest thing I have seen in my entire life. I want to catch a squirrel, put it on a leash and keep it as a pet, where I will train it to fetch and learn martial arts so it can crack a pecan with one quick swipe of its tiny paws. But there are probably animal cruelty laws against it.

I seriously need to find better things to do with my time, which is exactly what this entry is about. You see, being in college is a lot different than being in high school. Classes in college are more challenging and involve a lot more effort and commitment. You can’t sit there and wait for the professor to tell you what to do, when to do your homework and when to study. Classes actually require some initiative. Shocking as this may sound to you, professors expect you to know the material.

Recently, I’ve found myself seriously reevaluating my study habits and my goals, and I find myself thinking about a time management seminar that my FIG attended. To clarify, a FIG, otherwise known as a Freshman Interest Group, is the product of UT’s efforts to create a more intimate atmosphere for freshman students to learn by grouping the same students in similar classes. For instance, students in my FIG share the same calculus and Introduction to Microeconomics classes as I do. This does not mean that these are the only students in the class, rather that the small group will share the same core classes.

Anyway, I was reminded of the time management seminar where I was surprised to learn that I should actually have a lot more free time than I actually do. This realization made me wonder where all this lost time disappeared to. It took me a while to understand that I spend more time thinking about what I should be doing than actually doing it. I think my brain is still stuck in “summer mode,” refusing to accept that I actually have to start thinking and focusing.

Recent test grades, which I choose not to divulge, have really shocked me back into focus. I look at the academic challenges ahead of me, not with apprehension, but with a renewed sense of focus I understand now that there is a time for play and a time for work, but I have also gained a deeper understanding of the importance of maintaining my health by getting some sleep. With the weather changing (by the way, I love the cold weather), I am more susceptible to disease, and a lack of sleep doesn’t help me in any way. My advice to incoming freshmen: have a goal, stick with it, focus and get some rest. Take it from someone who’s learned his lesson.

If you have any questions, comments, concerns or you just want to say hi, e-mail me at emmanuel.winston@gmail.com.

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