Student BlogsWelcome to Around the Grove, the official student blog of The Universities at Shady Grove! Students are able to blog about their college experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom. Read about their triumphs, trials and everyday lives that makes being a college student so uniquely life changing — and challenging. Feel free to connect with them by leaving a comment or asking them questions.

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Shows I Will Watch on My Break

I thought this week would never come, but it’s here! I actually have a week off with no classes (yay!). We took finals over the weekend, and we get a little break this week. I am extra excited because we didn’t have a break last year. We had finals on a Sunday and then class again on the Monday.

If you don’t already know, I am in the FlexMBA program at UMD. This means that I am a working professional and that I am also a graduate student. What does this mean for me? Very little time to fit in leisurely things into my schedule. So, for this week, I am going to catch up on things I have missed out on due to lack of available time. First thing’s first, television. Here is what I am looking forward to watching:

Squid Game

Either you live under a rock or you’ve heard about or have probably watched Squid Game. The Korean drama has quickly become one of Netflix’s most streamed shows. I can’t say that I’m super excited to be watching because I heard it’s pretty violent which isn’t really my thing. But my fiancé suggested we watch so at least I’ll have him as a buffer. That and I’ll finally be able to join in on the countless conversations and memes around this new cult phenomenon.

Grey’s Anatomy


Grey’s Anatomy has a very special place in my heart. The doctor-filled drama is on its 18th season. Normally I would have been counting down the days until the season premiere. But, being a grad student, I didn’t even realize that I have already missed three episodes. I am looking forward to catching up with my favorite surgeons, especially the main character, Meredith, who had a scare with Covid for most of season 17.

Ready to Love

Ready to Love is a breath of fresh air for reality TV. Think of your favorite dating shows that used to air on MTV back in the day, but with grown-ups who (seemingly) have their lives together. I love this show because it is a dating show where most of the contestants are ages 30 and up (like me). The current season was actually filmed in DC so I’m going to enjoy seeing familiar DC places in the backdrop of the scenes.

If I had more than a week’s break, I would add more shows to watch. But these three should keep me busy for this week. What shows are you currently watching?

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A Weekend in Washington DC

National Harbor, Washington DC
Image by Chelsea Little 10/17/2021

This weekend, I found myself driving down through the backroads of Maryland, passing the fields of yellowing corn and basking pumpkins, toward the capital of our country. The wind became a bit rough the closer I came to the National Harbor, but not even its harsh sting could pull away the excitement I felt blooming. You see, even though every week I currently find myself at the Universities of Shady Grove, perusing the nearby Starbucks and writing propped up on one of the local benches, I had not been inside the nearby district of Washington DC for years… even decades.

On Sunday, October 17th, I pulled myself out of the car, my bones heavy from the hour and a half drive, and looked out across the National Harbor, toward Virginia. The Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge chased the skyline, and small swells of bay water skipped through the marina, racing for the slowly turning Ferris Wheel. Small billows of cloud accented the sparkling white bridge, as they seemed to bound and hunt one another in the cool autumn wind. It all gleamed in bright blues and cool whites, and reminded me of so many places I had seen so very far from home.

The last time I found myself in the United States Capital was probably in middle school. Seldom during those trips did I find myself outside of the famous museums of DC, and while a beautiful area on its own, staring out at the harbor brought me a sense of adventure unique to any previous experiences in DC I had yet known. This view was new to me, and I quickly realized just how little of DC I knew.

I remembered that I was not at the National Harbor just for the view, and began to make my way to the day’s first adventure; The Taco, Beer, & Tequila Festival held on the large field and parking strip next to the Gaylord National Resort. A long walk down by the rocky beach line brought us up to the large field where food trucks and vendor tents created rows on the asphalt that bubbled with the smell of cooking beef, smoking brisket, and fresh churros. People waved as we entered, beckoning us toward their stands for tequila samplings or free margaritas. A band worked to set up on stage, while festival goers buzzed around laughing and eating and tasting. With four taco tickets in hand, I worked my way through the booths, trying the famous food truck fares DC had to offer. Of the various stands and stalls there, by favorite was the Virginia-based mocktail company, Bar Therapy. The local company makes cocktail mixes with fresh, locally sourced produce, that tastes just as amazing with alcohol as without. I couldn’t help picking up their “Queen Bee” lavender Apple Cider mix (the fall-obsessed white girl inside me insisted), which I found to be the most refreshing and smooth apple cider I had ever had. 

A few hours later, we made our way back down the pathway by the rocky harbor beaches, back toward our car. The few hours I spent in DC had reminded me of just how much world I was missing out on, so close to home. Had my mom not purchased tickets to the festival months before, I may never have seen the harbor in my lifetime, even though it was only an hour and a half away. Had I not said yes to going, I would have never been reminded of the beauty of the local areas I had been taking for granted. It is so easy, I realized, to get stuck inside your schedule of life, following the same patterns you always follow without deviation. But doing nothing but the same, never taking the time to leave home and take the risk, leaves you with nothing to remember or to look back on. An hour and a half is a lot of time, until you get to your destination and realize that hour won’t be what you remember; this place, these experiences, the time you have out in the world will be what you bring back home. What is the point of life but to live it, I think. To see all the things you thought you never would. 

The sun had already begun its descent down the sky as I peered out the window of our car. I wasn’t done exploring just yet, and with a quick look, I could tell my group wasn’t ready to go home either. With a smile and only a few words, instead of turning for the highway, we made our way deeper into DC, ready to see more of this world we seldom get to see.

My mom piped up from the front, “have you ever seen Georgetown?” And our next destination was set.

Georgetown, Washington DC
Image by Chelsea Little 10/17/2021
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Peace and Prosperity

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Procrastination: The #1 Worst Study Habit to Get Rid of!

Procrastination was a terrible study habit that I developed. When I first started getting a lot of work in high school, I used to think that I would still have enough time to accomplish this assignment or that it wouldn’t take too long. As a result, I postponed my task until the last minute. When I first started doing this, it didn’t bother me as much, but once I got to college, it started to bother me.

It wasn’t so great being a procrastinator in college as it was in high school. The assignments are much more difficult, they take much longer to complete, and must be completed in a short amount of time! Some professors, who are strict graders and demand work to be turned in on time, aren’t as flexible as high school teachers. All of this put me under a lot of stress, and I had to pull all-nighters to study or finish my work. My work would occasionally appear rushed as well. This did not result in good grades, which made me upset. I don’t know how many times I wished that I had started working on an assignment earlier instead of making the mistake of putting it off until last minute!

I wanted to stop procrastinating so badly, but it’s too late. Procrastination is like a mental drug! Once you had gotten into it you cannot stop cold turkey. That isn’t to say I figured to overcome it! I discovered a few strategies that have proven to be helpful in helping me stop procrastinating.

Get organized

If you don’t have a specific plan or idea for completing your work, you are more likely to procrastinate. Keeping a planner is a good idea. Begin keeping track of all your assignments and their due dates. When you’re organized, you have a more orderly way to work. I find it easy that once I’ve made a list on what I need to get done I try to complete the assignments that are due sooner and don’t take much time first. Then I have more space in my brain to concentrate on the bigger work.   

Eliminate distractions

Another way to avoid procrastination eliminating distractions. You are more likely to complete your tasks if you limit the number of distractions around you. You can always turn off your phone, or go to a quiet place.

Set goals and deadlines

One of the reasons you may procrastinate is that the amount of work you may have to do appears to be overwhelming. It’s much easier to get started on a project when you set small, reachable goals rather than a big plan. It’s also critical to establish a deadline for completing a project or assignment. Attempt to complete them a day or two ahead of time. That way, if something unexpected happens, you’ll have enough time to finish them. This has been very helpful for me since I tend to get sick a lot, and that makes me fall back behind my work.

Reward yourself

All those things you wanted to do when you’re procrastinating, such as watching a T.V show, eating a snack, or hanging out with friends. You use them as rewards you’d give yourself whenever you completed an assignment. Knowing that you’ll get these finished your work will actually make you want to do your work more and even do your work better.  

It will take some time, but once you get used to it, you will learn to be more productive and will be able to stop procrastinating completely!

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How to Land a Summer Job/Internship

Looking for a job, internship, or research experience and don’t know where to start? Believe it or not, recruitment for Summer 2022 has already begun! But right now is the perfect time to start preparing to land the perfect opportunity for you. Here is a step-by-step guide for how to get the experience you need to succeed:

Step 1: Know your resources – and use them!

USG has its very own Career & Internship Services Center that offers small group career coaching as well as a variety of online resources. Your home institution’s career center will also have tons of appointment types and free resources to help you explore your options and prepare your career readiness toolbelt. These offices exist solely to help you land the job, so don’t be afraid to use their help during every step of this process!

Step 2: Polish your documents.

Your professional documents – resume, cover letter, portfolio, etc. – are your frontline allies to getting you a summer experience. These documents are your first impression, and can make or break your chances. Here are some great online resources for getting started:

How to Write a Resume Employers Will Notice – from Indeed

7 Tips for Writing a Cover Letter with No Experience – from Firsthand

Step 3: Start Networking.

What does networking even mean anyway? As a college student, how are you supposed to know who to connect with, or how to do it? This is where those resources I mentioned come in handy. The USG Career & Internship Center as well as your home institution’s career centers will have many events that allow you to connect with employers. Go to these events early and often, create an amazing “Elevator Pitch“, get active on LinkedIn, and keep their contact information – that will help with the next step…

How Do I Create a Good LinkedIn Profile? – from LinkedIn Help

Source: The Balance

Step 4: Follow-up and prepare for an interview.

Once you’ve started growing your network, don’t be shy! You can call, email, or send a message on LinkedIn thanking recruiters for their time and asking about opportunities for an Informational Interview, or even a job interview. If you get an interview – congratulations! A few big tips for a job interview:

  • Do your research on the organization so you know exactly what’s important to them.
  • Bring copies of your resume so you can easily remember your skills and experiences.
  • Follow-up AGAIN after the interview thanking them and restating your interest.

If you thoroughly follow all of these steps, you should be well on your way to finding a fantastic summer experience to help you continue to succeed in the future. Good luck!

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Time Management

Studying for any major is tough work, but I congratulate all of you for making it this far!

Source Tenor.com

I have always been pretty studious, but I’ve also had a bad habit of keeping everything in order, especially when I take too much “me” time.

After years of studying, I realized how CRUCIAL it is to maintain a proper schedule and an updated calendar of events for class deadlines, exams, and personal matters. I am probably not the only one who has had issues with late-night studying or mismanaging time and it’s a hard habit to break.

Studying and cramming constantly may work for some, but the pressure and stress can take a toll on our physical and mental health.

Luckily one of our student services, the Macklin Center for Academic Success (MCAS), provides an excellent resource!

The MCAS, and I quote, “empowers undergraduate and graduate students to develop effective learning strategies…”

So why not grab a little bit of empowerment and take advantage of this service, found in the BSE Building 1st Floor, Suite 1322, and become successful students!

Let’s begin by using one of their handy worksheets for managing our time.

This sheet is the 24-hour scheduler. It’s a useful little sheet that can give you a broader sense of what to do every hour. Of course, meals and personal time SHOULD be scheduled!

Let’s take a look at the sheet, shall we?

This sheet is marked from 4 am – 3 am Monday through Sunday, of course, most of these times are for sleep (lets keep those 8 hours PLEASE) and much needed breaks. Though the schedule might not be followed to a T, it is still helpful to remember the start of a study session and when to stop to take a break.

So give it a try and fill in the sheet as you deem necessary, and let’s start some good habits and have a successful year!

Source Inc Magazine

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How to Avoid Burnout

I have been working from home since the beginning of the shutdown in March 2020. As of late, I have been feeling slightly burned out as an effect of continuously being in the same space. The days seem to just roll into one another, and the weekends go by much quicker than they come around. It can be challenging to cope with the effects of burnout while still being expected to put full effort into your professional work and schoolwork. Here are some ways to deal with burnout:

Take Regular Breaks

I recently discovered the Pomodoro Technique. This is a system where you work in intervals of your choice. I like to do 30-minute intervals of work followed by a 5-minute break. This method ensures that I get work done and still take small breaks to regroup. After four rounds of this you can take a longer break.

Work Out Regularly

I know we hear working out as the answer to a lot of life’s problems, but it really is helpful in improving your mood and boosting your energy. It also helps to improve sleep, which a lot of us don’t get enough of.

Practice Meditation and Mindful Breathing

Meditation allows you to clear your mind to focus on what’s important. If you are new to meditation, you can start out with guided meditation to help keep you focused. I love using the Calm app, or you can simply look for guided meditation videos on YouTube.

Spend Time with Loved Ones

This last and simple way to battle burnout is to spend time with those who make you happy and energize you. Go to brunch, play games, have a picnic while the weather is still nice, or do anything else that you like to do. Being around others will help boost your spirits.

I hope these tips help to put some ease to your burnout. With the middle of the fall semester approaching, things will unfortunately get a little harder before they get easier. What are some things that you have practiced to deal with burnout?

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What to do this Fall: Advice from an Autumn Addict

The best time of the year is among us. The air has finally reached that perfect sweatshirt temperature, the leaves are beginning to paint the skies in golden and amber, and the pumpkin patches are filling up with the favorite of festive vegetables. It’s time to get out and enjoy the change of season, and I have collected a list of the very best day trips in Maryland to do just that!

Image by http://www.clarklandfarm.com/index.html

Clark Elioak Farm:

The scene is set in 1955, where a storybook themed amusement park opened in Ellicott City. The Enchanted Forest was filled to the brim with references and nods to the fairy tales and nursery rhymes that everyone had grown up with; Cinderella, Humpty Dumpty, Goldilocks and more. For 30 years, The Enchanted Forest delighted thousands of children with its various rides and attractions, and yet, in 1995, the park shuttered its doors forever.

The good news is that this place of history and humor hasn’t been lost to the ages. In 2004, Clark Elioak Farm made a deal with the owners of the old Enchanted Forest to move many of the scenes and rides to its land for restoration. They are still there today. For a small entrance fee, anyone who wishes to walk into the old storybook world Ellicott City boasted for 30 years can still do so! And the best time of year to go is when the leaves change color and the scenes blend into the beauty of Fall.

  • Dates: open through October 31st
  • Price: $8 for entree, with additional activities (cow train,wagon ride, etc.) an additional $2.50 to $5 a person
  • Address: 10500 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21042

Image by Aaron Webb, 3rd Place Photo Contest Winner from 2019; https://rennfest.com/photos/

Maryland Renaissance Festival:

A staple of Maryland fall fun and fair, the Renaissance Festival is back in town. Explore the blacksmiths, artisans, and entertainers of the 14th century and on. Galavant through Ye Old Town, watch Shakespeare or a fight demo or even an old fashion joust. The Ren Fest offers days worth of fun throughout this October for all Marylanders to explore and enjoy!

  • Dates: Every weekend till October 24th
  • Price: from $13 to $28 a person, depending on age and date (MUST BUY ONLINE)
  • Address: 1821 Crownsville Road, Annapolis, MD 21401

An aerial view of the 2017 Corn Maze
Image from https://winterbrookfarms.com/

Winterbrook Fall Festival:

If you’re looking to fulfill everything on your Autumn bucket list in one day, Winterbook is your place to go. Corn maze, farm animals, mountain slides, apple canons, peddle carts, pumpkin patch; you name it, Winterbrook has it in surplus. With ten acres of farm fresh fun, as well as every fall comfort food you can think of, Winterbrook is your one-stop shop for getting the most out of the outdoorsy fun of Fall.

  • Dates Every weekend throughout October 31st
  • Price: $10 to $12 based on day of the week
  • Address: 13001 Creagerstown Rd, Thurmont, MD 21788

Image by BARCS, courtesy of APG News – https://apgnews.com/special-focus/all-things-maryland/barcstoberfest-annual-fall-event-in-baltimores-patterson-park-set-for-oct-27/


Anyone who is into the animal adoption scene has heard about BARCS and the amazing work they do to help home and care for the animals of Maryland. Knowing that the sole purpose of saving animals is at the heart of the non-profit, it’s hard for anyone to turn down the events BARCS hosts every year. Good news is that this October, BARCS nine separate events allow everyone the opportunity to help the homeless animals of Maryland, and have a good amount of fun too!

BARCStoberfest is a massive event running this year, spanning over 8 different days in October. For the first October event on the 9th, BARCS at the Beach is celebrating man’s best friend with pet costume contests, a beach photo booth, special cocktails, live music and more. MEOWtoberfest on the 23rd honors feline familiars with adoptable kitties, face painting, kids activity stations and a beer giveback from Manor Hill. After that, on the 30th is BARCStoberfest Annual Beer Garden with limited tickets and exciting animal themed times. If all that fun isn’t enough for your animal-obsessed soul, consider joining one of the four mini fun runs throughout October and receive a complimentary beer tasting at the end. There are virtual events as well, and all proceeds go towards helping BARCS support the dozens of animals it helps house, feed, care for, and home.

  • Dates: October 6th, 9th, 17th, 18th, 23rd, and 30th
  • Price: ranges depending on event and date.
  • Address: depends on the event and date

Image by https://www.goodbeerfestival.org/breweries

Good Beer Festival:

Nothing says Autumn like drinking an ice cold beer out in the crisp air, surrounded by friends, live music and fun. This year’s Good Beer Festival offers just that, with 38 different breweries in attendance to give you the best beer you can have on this side of the states. If beer isn’t really your thing, consider going for the chainsaw carvings, axe throwing, puppy petting, drunk spelling bee, relay contests, carnival games, or various vendors selling at the festival. Throughout the event, live music will help keep you tasting and trying, and various food booths will offer a snack if you get hungry. 

  • Dates: October 8th through 9th
  • Price: $10 to $35 depending on if you would like to do tastings or not
  • Address: 5561 Plantation Lane, Salisbury, Maryland 21801

Superheroes, super-villains and fans unite at the Baltimore Comic-Con, which in its 18th year, keeps the tradition going with comic booth booths, appearances by actors and writers, contests, panels, workshops and more.
Image by Amy Davis (Baltimore Sun)https://www.baltimoresun.com/features/bs-md-comic-con-20170923-story.html

Baltimore Comic Con:

It is once again time to pull on your tights and find your cape, as the Baltimore Comic Con makes its way back to Maryland for its 21st year. Grab your local superhero nerd, your favorite artist friend, and that guy you know who just likes a good story, and find your way down to Baltimore for one of the biggest conventions of artists that the city sees every year. With 98 different comic book writers in attendance, everyone will find something they can enjoy, superhero fan or not.

  • Dates: October 22nd to 24th
  • Price: $25 to $165 depending on date and VIP access
  • Address: Baltimore Convention Center, 1 West Pratt Street, Baltimore, Maryland

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The Big Come Back

Welcome to all and to all are welcome!

Source: Forward Focus Inc.

I cannot tell you all how long I have spent staring at this computer screen trying to come up with the perfect intro. This is my first post on my fist blog, and like many first times, I feel that overwhelming pressure to get everything just right. But you know what screw perfection, its overrated.  

I do not know about you all but coming back to school has been harder than I thought. I mean its one thing rolling out of bed and opening a laptop or tablet, but its something completely different walking through campus and finding your classroom. And for all my commuters out there, that drive is no joke either. It feels like I have to relearn how to be a regular student again, while still having to learn all the material in my classes. Heck, these first couple weeks felt like being back in high school.

I think for all of us, this is a season of transition. We are all going from this virtual reality to being immersed in the real world again. I am petitioning that we should all get one A just for that! But like the great American classic High School Musical taught us, “This Could be the Start of Something New” and “We’re All in This Together.”

Transition has never been easy for me. Personally, the hardest part about coming back to school and readjusting to society’s new norms is just trying to find that spark again. I think back to 2019, and I just remember feeling like the world was my playground. I could do anything and be anyone. Like with most people, my reality wasn’t just shaken, it was decimated by the events of last year. However, the darkest moments are when light shines the brightest. Last year taught me arguably the most important lesson of my life. BE THANKFUL. For so long, I had been caught up on who I could be and what I wanted, that I ignored who I am and what I have! That is a lesson that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

So, as I am transitioning to driving back and forth for an hour and taking the hardest classes that I’ve ever had, I remain thankful. I am thankful that I get to go to school and continue my education in a field that I love, I am thankful for my wonderful support system of family and friends, and most importantly, I am thankful that I woke up today and get to live my life. To anyone out there that has felt overwhelmed, sad, or worn-out recently, I encourage to reflect on the things that you are thankful for and spend time focusing on that.

If anyone would like to share, I would love to hear what the toughest part of this transition has been for you, and how you have beat it.

I am thankful for each and every one of you and remember to tell yourself:

Image taken by Chuck Garcia

I can overcome anything

I can achieve everything

I will stand for something

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A Fresh Start In Life With My New Cohort!

After a year of taking virtual classes and staying at home all the time, it felt so good to start my junior year in person. As an epileptic, I’m used to my family knowing everything that’s going to happen and being told what’s going to happen ahead of time, but this time I’m on my own. This is going to be a new life experience for me, and I was very excited about it. Still I felt the same way I’m sure that every student has during their first day. A feeling of excitement with a mix of frightened nervousness.

It felt like an adult version of the first day of elementary school. The campus is more like a maze, and I had to find my classes on my own?! On top of that, I’m taking all of my classes with the same people for the next two years, not just for one semester?! That was the most terrifying part for me, because I had wondered, “Will we all get along?”

I’m sure everyone else was thinking the same thing, because we were still in that awkward first week. We had already set up a group chat before the semester to get to know each other better, but when we met in person, we still had those awkward conversations. Nonetheless, communicating via an app brought us closer together and allowed us to learn more about each other. I know it was extremely beneficial to me! They progressed from school-related conversations to conversations about anything. Our question was answered…we’re doing great!

I wasn’t always a social person, but this cohort assisted me in breaking out of my shell and becoming more open. I had already decided to assist all of them in any way I could before even meeting them, but after meeting them in person and spending time with them, I knew that my classmates are people who truly deserve it! With six classes, we are given a truckload of assignments to complete, most of them being due the next time we have that class. Honestly, cooking a meal for the entire class would’ve been much easier! Despite this, we all manage to get everything done by helping each other out, whether it’s a simple question or a large project. Not only are we assisting in answering a question, but we are also reminding everyone of the tasks that must be completed.

It’s only been one month since I started my program, and I must say that I’ve witnessed some memorable events with my cohort that I’ve only heard about. I know I don’t have to worry about being alone on campus because my cohort is doing what we’re supposed to do: being there for each other. My cohort aren’t just my classmates; they’re my friends, and I can’t wait to get to know them better and work through this new life experience with them!

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