“How is it February already?” asked my friend on Wednesday. I was fairly incredulous also. In just three months, we will have completed our sophomore year at UT. From this fact, we learn two things – 1) time flies by very quickly, and 2) we must appreciate the time we do have in college. Though February is the shortest month, it also tends to be the most productive one (yes, the theme continues). We perform a full month’s work in 29 days. Does having one or two less days really make your output more efficient? Yes, yes it does. The small difference in numbers would indicate so. Therefore, I will look to maximize my time in this slightly truncated month and continue to strive for success in my classes, my extracurriculars, and my other activities. More on these and other aspects of my life below.
- Classes: My schedule is busy and challenging this semester. My classes are definitely more rigorous, but I have found them to be enjoyable and interesting. I am enrolled in many biology courses this semester, and I love to see how material I learn in one class is related to or connects to the information in another class. To have exposure to many different areas of biology is a dynamic way to learn about the field and its multiple career opportunities. It is especially interesting to observe how the macroscopic specializations of biology overlap with the microscopic and how both inform us with a better understanding of life as whole. Because my schedule is so dense with my favorite subject, this has probably been my most exciting semester and one I continue to feel excited about.
- Professors: Not only do I have interesting courses this semester, I also have excellent professors who are more than willing to help out and ensure that their students understand every fact, every concept of the lesson. Sometimes sitting through lecture may feel tedious, but when the professor is engaging and demonstrates his or her passion for the topic, I generally have a much more positive and beneficial experience in the course, something I have already noticed myself having in the first three weeks of the spring semester.
- Events on campus: We are only a few weeks into the spring, but campus has been nothing short of lively and spirited. From showings or events on Gregory Plaza to concerts at the Bass Concert Hall, there is plenty to see and do on the Forty Acres. There are also additional lectures to attend and exhibits to visit. A lecture series that I am particularly energized about is the new Science for Change speaker series hosted by the College of Natural Sciences. The lectures will bring top minds to UT to speak about how scientists can contribute to advancements in the public sector and the nation’s need for citizen scientists to step outside of research labs or doctors’ offices and into public policy or education, for example. As a student wanting to possibly pursue a career in science policy, I am looking forward to seeing these speakers and learning how they are changing the world.
- Volunteering opportunity: A huge volunteer event coming up in a couple of weeks is Project 2012. The Project is an annual event event that began in 1999 and has since become one of the largest single-day student-run service events in Texas. UT students and the community come together to assist an Austin neighborhood in need. This year the event will take place at the Dove Springs/Onion Creek communities.
- Student organizations: In addition to classes and volunteering, I have been occupied with my student organizations and extracurricular activities, mainly Senate of College Councils and undergraduate research. In Senate, the Undergraduate Research Committee, which I chair, has recently formed the Research Student Advisory Council (RSAC) to serve as the official student advisory group within the Office of Undergraduate Research, and we are administering the $1000 Undergraduate Research Grant, planning for April’s Research Week, finalizing our Research Reception, and following up on legislation calling for the creation of a research certificate program. Nominations for the three elected positions are also taking place this week, and leadership transitions are set to occur in less than a couple of months. Our committee’s motto for this fast and furious semester is “make it count.”
Not only will my committee try to live this out, but I aim to apply the motto to my personal undertakings. So, join me in making February count. Let’s make the shortest month the most memorable. As always, thank you for reading, and hook ‘em horns!
For those of you readers who have not stepped foot on the 40 Acres and for those of you who may have graduated “back in the day” I would first like to take a second to explain to you all where The West Mall is located. The West Mall is located on the western side of the tower between the Co-op (coop, CO-OP, I’m not sure on how they prefer) and the tower itself. It starts Guadalupe Street at the enormous crosswalk and splits into two branches at the empty fountain (by the way, for the older Exes that are reading this, was that EVER a working fountain?). The boundaries are the Texas Union, Flawn Academic Center, Architecture Building, and Battle Hall.
The West Mall is where everything happens, it seems. At varying points throughout the year it is so packed full of people, you would think somebody was giving out gold coins and diamonds. The sidewalks become completely packed with various organizations begging students to join, or people so passionate about a cause that they are prepared to rob you. It becomes an area, where in the spring, Student Government, has more people yelling than a sale barn (for those of you that do not know what a sale barn is… I will tell you nothing more than you should experience it at least once). Some days it appears to be The UN, where people from all over the world come together and want to share their opinions and ideas.
For the experienced UT student, there are numerous ways to avoid being heckled, stampeded, bombarded, and lightly attacked in The West Mall. The following tactics are as follows:
1) Walk through The West Mall collecting flyers from every table and organization. Staying polite and calm. Then once you have braved the waters and made it safely across to the other side, simply throw every flyer in a recycling container. Heaven forbid you throw them all into the trash… That could cause rioting in the streets and Marshall Law to be enforced.
2) You can also politely reject the organizations opportunities. Now mind you, this may draw some strange looks from the organization members but sometimes you are just late for class. Often time, people are successful at simply rejecting the flyers with no consequence. However, it has been in my experience that some people become too passionate and will yell things back at you… My personal favorite is: “You promote the spread of HIV/AIDS?” I mean… Seriously?
3) Some people, usually the upper class men, know what they are getting themselves into and before entering The West Mall will gear up like they are heading into battle… 21st Century style. People put their headphones in (thus to simply ignore the requests), put their hands in their pockets (to avoid the flyers) and zip straight through, running over any grandma in the way.
4) Then you have people like me… who simply avoid the area in general. I mean, I know it is important when you are shopping around for an organization but once you have your fit in the puzzle… Avoid the area at all cost.
This leads me into my brief soap box. You know those pollution maps? The ones that show read areas over congested, crowded, and dirty places? Those places where you have a coal mine or I-35 at 5:00 rush hour? Well I feel as though, if you were to make a map of where paper was wasted the most… They would have to invent a color for The West Mall. Seriously. I have walked through before and literally received paper cuts from all of the flyers that are thrown at me. It is completely ridiculous. If you force a flyer on me, then I am still not going to come. Further, you just wasted how ever much money it costs to make a flyer.
Okay, I am off my soap box. Not to totally down the area… I mean, sometimes it is a very artistic area. Some of those flyers look better than anything I have ever seen in a mall. I don’t know how some people do it. One time I saw one that opened into a pop-up, where a person was holding a flyer that popped-up again, into a little flyer. Okay, maybe I made that up. Or did I? You’ll just have to go through the West Mall and see for yourself. But I must give props to those people that make the flyers, you do a great job.
With that, I feel like if you cannot find an organization on campus, then you simply aren’t looking or don’t want to join anything. I mean, I am pretty sure we have an organization for everything. I don’t understand those people that say, “there’s just not anything for me?” Excuse me? I am pretty sure we have an organization called “The Matching Socks Society”
Okay, so I made that organization up… However, just to prove my point, it is really easy to start an organization. So if you are wanting to start “The Matching Socks Society” then just let me know and I will help you.
I am not sure what point I wanted to make with this blog. I feel as though it doesn’t really have a point. I guess I just wanted to inform people on the amazement that is… THE WEST MALL. Yeah, I will go with that. It is a truly amazing experience at certain points of the year. My personal recommendations on when to visit is at the beginning of the Fall Semester and whenever Student Government decides to have elections. Those are the prime times.
I feel like there is something missing… I’m not completely sure. I am sitting in the West Mall in the time I am writing this and feel as though I am very distracted. I apologize if this blog is strangely written… Then again, I feel accomplished to know that I was able to get anything accomplished in such an energetic area.
Well, I am fixing to go look at some flyer art…
Ciao and Hook’em!