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Student BlogsWelcome to Around the Grove, the official student blog of The Universities at Shady Grove!

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New Beginnings!

Last week was full of exciting news at USG. It was the inauguration of new ‘Bio-Science and Engineering (BSE)’ building. Apart from providing various new majors in STEM field the building is one of the most sustainability sourced building of the region. while passing from the bridge one can easily spout out the water feature, which is actually an artwork by Michael Singer, who is an award winning artist. I came to know that the water feature is going to harvest rainwater.

Upon entering the main floor one can spot various classrooms and labs. The center of the main building have a beautiful lounge area and one can almost feel like walking into a high end hotel lobby. I also, came to know the student’s ‘Career and Internship center’ is also now located in the new BSE building. Student’s can now have access to even more efficient career and internship center which would enable them to unlock their perspective jobs.

Students can visit the inauguration proceedings on USG YouTube channel  and view photos here

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Photos by the author

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Making University Affordable

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As students, seeing tuition fees can be daunting. Added to that, there are textbook fees, online application fees, and so much more that can accumulate before you know it. Coming into classes on the first day of fall semester, you might not have been prepared. But coming spring semester, you can reduce the surprise that comes with fees by applying for scholarships that USG offers.

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Every semester, USG offers scholarships for all students from the scholarship website. The deadline to apply for spring scholarships is November 30th, so be sure to start applying now! The Center for Student Engagement and Financial Resources in Building III can help you through the process if you have any questions, so don’t hesitate – USG is here to help!

I encourage this so much because when I first arrived to USG, I had been so fortunate to receive grants that helped incredibly. The grants had lessened the overall fees and let me breathe, to take courses on without a worry from day one. No matter the background, scholarships can help students succeed in their path to education and career success. USG as a smaller campus has a smaller pool of students to give scholarships to, and thus students have a greater chance. No matter the result, I definitely recommend applying for scholarships. Good luck students!

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Why is Mental Health so Important?

Have you had thoughts where you just didn’t “feel right” and aren’t sure why or your thoughts, feelings or behaviors are starting to affect your life at home, school or friends? Or maybe you are unable to cope with the stresses in your life. I know as a student, school can also be daunting, especially when you are overwhelmed with assignments, exams, work and social obligations. Sometimes overworking and not taking care of your mental health can land you in a hospital. I just recently had to admit myself in the hospital for a week because I could no longer function and my body and mind had shut down from the stress of overworking and severity of my depression. Not to say that being in the hospital is a bad thing because sometimes we do need help and talk to the right professionals.

What is Mental Health?

According to MentalHealth.gov, “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”

Factors that contribute to mental health problems include:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

Warning Signs of Mental Health Problems

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school

The Importance of Talking About Mental Health

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illnesses, “approximately 1 in 5 adults, 43.8 million Americans, experience some form of mental illness in a given year”(  https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers ). Conversations on mental health and mental illness “has been difficult to openly discuss and approach over the years and many people view mental health with a negative stigma. With these issues becoming increasingly prevalent, it’s imperative that we move mental health to the forefront of conversation topics and have transparent discussions about how we are truly feeling” says Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing & Technology at Banyan Mental Health. Therefore it is important to openly talk about mental health because it removes stigma, mental health and mental illness is more common than you think, and it promotes healthy treatment and decreases the rate of suicide.

(Source: https://www.banyanmentalhealth.com/2018/08/01/why-talking-about-mental-health-is-so-important/)

Tips For Talking About Mental Health

  • Write a letter if you are afraid to talk face-to-face.
  • Talk to someone who doesn’t know you such as a therapist or psychologist if you don’t feel comfortable talking to a loved one.
  • Start by journaling and then transition to speaking.
  • Practice speaking in the mirror before you talk to someone if you are struggling to do so.
  • Remember that you will probably feel a great sense of relief after talking with someone.
  • Remember that you are not alone.

Source: https://www.banyanmentalhealth.com/2018/08/01/why-talking-about-mental-health-is-so-important/)

Ways to maintain positive mental health include:

  • Getting professional help if you need it
  • Connecting with others
  • Staying positive
  • Getting physically active
  • Helping others
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Developing coping skills

Source: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health

For Universities at Shady Grove (USG) students who are seeking help, you can also visit the Center for Counseling and Consultation (CCC). Here is the link: https://shadygrove.umd.edu/student-services/center-for-counseling-and-consultation. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and remember that your mental health matters.

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Fall Harvest!

As the midterm approaches the weather starts to cool, the wind blows on our faces while walking to class, and the leaves starts to fall. I could not help but think, that this will be my last fall season at USG.

I have started working part time as a marketing and communications intern and I am already missing my student life. Many significant changes in my routine have made me more thankful of the school years I have spent. Things I will miss are from my usual student messy sweaters, hoodies and messy bun to more sophisticated, corporate clothing. From eating my favorite junk food at the Green Grove cafe and hanging out in the cafeteria to now packing lunch and eating at my desk while at work. I must say, just like the season, the transition has started.

The other day I took aside some time before my 9:30 a.m.  class  and went to the library to just sit and study.  As I passed through the boardwalk, I got excited for the new Biomedical Sciences and Engineering (BSE) building. I never had a chance to study in there, but I am sure the incoming students will enjoy it. It looks like a sparkling jewelry box right now. I envy the new students who would get to study there. As the end of the semester approaches, I am looking forward to spending as much quality time with my classmates and professors as possible. These connections will last for years. It will be sad to leave USG in December when I graduate. So for now I will enjoy every last minute I have here on campus.

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Photo Courtesy : Internet

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Around the World…Or a Little Corner

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Now that I’m in my senior year, nearing the end, it’s made me think about the years preceding, and how my life has changed for the better even if everything hadn’t been according to plan. Strange almost, to look back at myself and realize yes, my major and career, and every meeting in between had been different than what I imagined, but there are no regrets. In fact, I’m happy to be here where I am, and happy to be able to write about my thoughts and experiences.

Being an accounting major, my personality had always been one where I had to plan everything out to the time and date, and anything deviating from it seemed uneasy. I imagined myself studying abroad and seeing new countries and sights, photos to record every moment, and growing from the experience. Perhaps I had been naive, but I thought that was the way to truly expand and grow during college. Raised in Frederick, it seemed so small compared to the world, and I hadn’t given much thought to the little details that made up my hometown, always looking outwards and to the beyond, to places unfamiliar and dreamt of.

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Instead of studying abroad, I was able to realize through my college career that no, not everything to be learned is outside of one’s home, outside of what is familiar and nostalgic. The USG campus in particular, in a little corner of the world, subtle in a way you might miss it for the larger campuses, is a wonderful example. After exams, it’s the hours at the Green Grove Cafe with the new friends you’ve made on campus, the shared rooms at the Priddy Library with doodles on the whiteboard when procrastination settles in like an old friend. Maybe it was growing older, or the experiences of transitioning from community college, but I’ve realized it was the little things that matter in the end, that stick with us in the form of memories. USG encompasses that more than larger campuses I believe, my junior year having been a spectacular one with so many memories. Though this campus may feel small, it’s dense with excitement and events in store for all students. Good luck to everyone!

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The Benefits of Getting Involved on Campus

What are the benefits of getting involved on your campus, you say? Being a leader and role model to your peers, making a difference in your community, discovering your strengths and passion, and a bonus to building your resume. You must be wondering, so what or I don’t need these experiences, I work full time and I just don’t have the time. As students, we know that attending a program at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) is a place where you can get an affordable education while being committed to your other obligations such as personal life, family and work. But school is much more than sitting in class and listening to professors lecture! “What you may not know is that getting involved on campus comes with its own set of major perks. It’s not just about meeting other students, although that’s definitely one appeal of joining college clubs and organizations. But that’s not the only benefit of getting involved.” (Source: http://www.css.edu/the-sentinel-blog/the-importance-of-community-participation-why-college-clubs-and-organizations-matter.html )

Studies have shown that getting involved in student organizations and student life:

1. Have higher graduation rates.
2. Report higher levels of satisfaction with their college experience.
3. Are more effective in their educational involvement, career planning, lifestyle planning, cultural participation and academic autonomy.
4. Develop effective interpersonal relationship skills.
5. Develop increased self-confidence and tolerance of and acceptance for other

Source: https://shadygrove.umd.edu/student-services/csef/student-organizations

“The importance of community participation: Why college clubs & organizations matter,” provides 7 reasons as to why you should get involved on campus:

1. It’s a chance to build your skillset

2. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate your time management

3. It helps you become more collaborative

4. It can lead to great friendships and new networking opportunities

5. It can build your self-confidence

6. It can provide you with a well-rounded college experience

7. It can increase your marketability

Source: http://www.css.edu/the-sentinel-blog/the-importance-of-community-participation-why-college-clubs-and-organizations-matter.html

Get out there and get involved

When you get involved, employers will see that you have the required experiences while not having to worry about acquiring those resume items. Having been involved on my campus, I know that my impressive skills and hands-on experience will catch the eye of hiring managers.

Based on the many benefits listed above, it’s clear that getting involved on your campus matters to your personal growth and to your future employers. The next time you plan on arriving to USG, remind yourself to get out and explore all of the opportunities USG has to offer! It also helps when you attend a college that offers a robust assortment of on-campus opportunities. Be sure to check out all the clubs and organizations.

Here is the link on how to join an organization at USG and what USG offers for leadership opportunities:

https://shadygrove.umd.edu/student-services/csef/student-

organizationshttps://shadygrove.umd.edu/student-services/csef/leadership-opportunities

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Movie Magic at USG

After a much busy summer, it was refreshing to come back to USG. With many missing faces among my class mates (they graduated last May) I looked forward to spending time with some old and some new faces. As expected the Communication program brings an array of talented students among us and so far I am enjoying, working on various projects with some new and some old faces. It’s going to be my last semester and the feelings are mixed, I am going to miss this place, but somehow the idea of this being my last semester is making me feel inspired. I feel like it’s a now or never moment. I among many of my classes that I am taking two film classes that are teaching me to think about movies in a different way. From class lectures, I get to learn a much detail history of what techniques were used historically and how are things done now in the moving making business. As I am learning I can’t help but learn about the filming style of the famous movie directors and producers. I have seen movies from the 90s, some 2000s but not many before them. I had seen my share of rom-coms, drama action and sci-fi, and comedies. I would see great movies accepting Oscars and various awards and would always think of my experience while watching them. Now as I am studying about them and learning what actually was to them to make them Oscar worthy? In our class we would talk about the great works of Steven Spielberg, Martian Scorsese, Alfred Hitchcock, James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino and many more. Our professor would talk about the kind of shots they would take to create more drama, or the usage of Camera work or how much of a game changer they were in their times. This semester I decided that I am going to watch movies of one of the directors and see what they did. So I decided to go with Quentin Tarantino. What made me choose him was that he recently released “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” with Oscar winning Leonardo Di Caprio  and Brad Pitt. Audience were able to see world’s famous actors in their element and they sure outdid themselves. I was able to see class Tarantino style Camera work and the quirks of his stories, which would enhance his characters. The fun of it all was that it was based on a true story.

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After watching the scene from when (spoiler alert!) Leo roasted one of the characters with a blow torch and I could not help but un-see the whole scene I understood why Tarantino was the king of nonlinear story lines and satirical drama. I wanted more of this and decided to go to good old Netflix. I found out few of more of his movies and decided to go with the classic “Pulp Fiction’.  There’s wasn’t a moment in the movie that was not thought about in detail. From the costumes to dialogues and story line, it was Tarantino’s masterpiece. I have a few more inline but time is the essence these days with semester.

Sharing a favorite scene from the movie

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Welcome Back!

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How has everyone’s summer been? The summer can be a great time to do so much. Many of my peers had successfully completed internships at accounting firms, while others had taken classes to get ahead. How you manage a vacation is up to you, but definitely remember to check in with your respective advisors to plan ahead. At the same time however, a break is a break, a time to relax and enjoy life to the fullest. I hope everyone has enjoyed their summer, and is ready to tackle on the new semester! 

Before anything, I would like to give a warm welcome to the new students here at USG as well as a welcome back to returning students! It has already been a month since the fall semester has begun, and already exams are approaching, papers are due, and the library will be full of students working their hardest to succeed. When you stop by the Priddy Library, take a look to your left and see what fellow students have written and drawn on the board. For instance, when I was walking to the quiet area to study for the week, there was a question on why you like USG. Answers varied from saving money to the close-knit community you can find unique to a smaller campus. The questions change frequently, so make sure to take a look. You’ll be pleasantly surprised each time! 

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As my second year has started at USG, it is so incredible to see faces that had once been unknown become familiar, people who had once been strangers become the closest of friends who I can depend on. I still remember vividly how nervous I had been during my first day at USG as a junior, the transition straight from community college one that seemed too frightening. Looking back on it now, it has become a fond memory, and almost feels a little silly too! Because the USG campus and all the people in it have become a home, every little corner one that I know and have passed by countless of times already. There’s a comfort to the familiar, and it has made me love USG all the more. 

But remember as well, that while you are primarily a student at USG, you are also a student of your respective main campus. Last week I had been at the University of Maryland, College Park campus to take senior portraits, and it’s always such a change of environment. Exciting as it had been, USG is always my home to return to. Whether you have just transferred to USG or are returning to continue your studies, you have a home here. Good luck, students!

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The Vessel

I did not wanted my NYC trip to be a cliche’! Which is to visit Times Square, see the Brooklyn Bridge, and visit Statue of Liberty. They are what NY stands for; but I want to see lots of places which are newer and less heard of. I had always wanted to vist Soho area;so we decided to do a little but of that, and I got a glimpse of it! We walked alot…Soho was cute, and we knew there was more to it and this weekend trip isn’t gonna cut it! So its “until next time for Soho”. As we proceeded to lunch and were discussing what to do next. A lady sitting with her daughter next to our table advised us to visit Hudson Yards and “the Vessel”. One of my friend had heard of it and with the quick google search, we made up our mind to go there. We had our cars with us that day and had to pass through the midtown. The traffic we encountered and of course to find ‘a street parking’ was an achievement for us. As we arrived we were quickly got a glimps of the structure. Nestled between the skyscrapers of Hudson Yards area, it’s the most intricately designed building, which is also considered as a piece of art. Facing the Hudson River, it consists of 154 flight of stairs which are connected with each other with the help of a honeycomb structure. The whole building is shaped like a Vessel. We reached there in the evening and by the time we got on top of the building we had enough time to see the sunset. There are tickets to enter the building which can be bought with the quick scan of the “QR” code which will lead you to the Vessel website, near the building.

After visit one can grab a quick bite from the shops and restaurants inside the mall near the building.

For more pictures of “NYC” follow me on my Instagram @bnb4life.

I’m on Instagram as @bnb4life. Install the app to follow my photos and videos. https://www.instagram.com/invites/contact/?i=1jtlq7jfg3yx5&utm_content=3negdm

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A taste of home, in NYC

Every summer a must thing that I do with my family is plan a weekend visit to NYC. Its a little escape from DMV area. Okay…. Yes I AM one of those people who love the urban jungle and the city vibes. What can I tell you? I grew up in the biggest city of Pakistan, called Karachi which is the 7th largest city and urban population in the world, currently bustling with 16.62 million people. So the quiet suburbs of Maryland sometimes become… well too quite. This time the plan was a little different. My best friend who is originally from New York and now lives in Maryland was visiting her parents in New York and so we decided to meet up with her and then another friend of mine also decided to join us. So with this spontaneous program we decided to meet each other and have a crazy fun filled weekend in NYC. I always go to the same places; The Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and ofcourse Times Square. So this time, my idea was to visit places that we have not been to. My friend suggested we should hit Soho area in lower Manhattan and check out this cute little Pakistani tea place called ‘The Chai Spot’ . Upon looking up and finding more about the spot with a quick Instagram search, we were all game for it. Just like in United States no one works and sustain without coffee, Pakistanis do not work and sustain without tea. I am not talking about the usual chamomile tea, which is intended to put one to sleep. The south asian ‘Chai’ is actually black tea, as strong as coffee and full of caffeine, prepared in different ways in different parts of Pakistan.

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Photos by the author: Entrance

As we enjoyed our walk in lower Manhattan area, we were not disappointed when we arrived at ‘The Chai Spot’ nestled among other restaurants. The truck art is familiar to me as I grew up seeing this kind of truck art all over the public transportation, i.e. trucks, lorries, rickshaws and public buses in Karachi. Those eyes that were drawn on the spot are usually drawn at the back of the truck with a funny couplets, or an important message written which would never failed to amuse anyone who is driving and is stuck behind those trucks in a traffic jam. The colorful sitting bamboo stools and the vibe reminded me of home. As we entered we were greeted by even more truck art.

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Truck Art by PhoolPatti

The place is owned by a Balochi woman Khalida Barohi and her husband David Barron. I think I spotted David at the front desk with some other people who work there, as we ordered our chai(tea) and got busy taking more pictures. The chai menu had some unusual choices. The Chais made here are like the one I am accustomed to drinking, but with some interesting twists. I ordered for myself a coconut rose chai. As we went inside we were welcomed by the traditional floor seating arrangement. Ofcourse, we had to take off our shoes, just like any other Pakistani household, the place has the tradition; and we sat on the corner. The room was not that lit, but there was enough light to create a cool ambiance, with beautiful cushions on the floor and on the wall. The place was very easy going and eclectic. It was like a Starbucks with more Pakistani touch! One can sit at any corner with the laptop and a cup of chai with some cookies to go with it and work away, or curl up in the corner to read a book. I also spotted a basket of yoga mats and assumed that they might also have yoga classes as well. There were 2 bookshelves with books and board games. Our group consisted of atleast 15 people and we took a whole corner of the chai spot. As my chai arrived I could not help but notice a little extra touch as the cups were beautifully decorated with handcrafted ribbons.

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Yummmm…chai

As it was out first visit, the server provided us with brochures about the place. As I read more about the philanthropic work that was done by Khalida, with the profite from this place, and could not help but feel pride to know about her courage and her perseverance.

There is a small shop setup inside the Chai Spot with traditional handicraft work that one can easily buy and support her cause. I bought her book , which had her inspirational story. If anyone ever have a chance to visit them in NYC its a must see place. You will always leave after vising with some ‘peace, love and ofCourse some chai’

You can find out more about ‘The Chai Spot’ here

To find out and see who did the gorgeous truck art click here

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The author with Flying Queen

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Yummm

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