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Dear First Year Student: The DOs and DONTs of University

StFX Blog - June 8, 2018 - 09:49

I graduated from university a few years ago and am now pursuing higher education. While I’m definitely not the perfect student (is there even such a thing), I have learned a bit about the DOs and DONTs of university that I want to share with you.

1. Taking regular breaks is so important! Don’t try to power through five hours of reading in one sitting – university is a marathon, not a sprint. Try the 50-10 rule. Set a timer for 50 minutes and spend that time working towards a goal with no interruptions, then set another timer for 10 minutes and use this to take a break and recharge.

2. Take advantage of the little breaks you find between classes. Use this time to catch up on work, review course notes or preview slides for the next lecture. It can be easy to go back to your residence during an hour gap and convince yourself that you’ll be productive, but it turns out that is usually a guilt-filled journey into the depths of Instagram every time.

3. The library isn’t the only place to study on campus. You might like empty classrooms. Coffee shops in town might also provide some inspiration, and get you out of the campus bubble for a bit when you’re working on daunting papers.

4. It’s OK to say ‘no’ sometimes. When you’re surrounded by other students, it can be tempting to accept every invitation and spread yourself too thin. Know your limits and learn to politely decline some invitations. Your friends will understand. They are probably in the same boat and often wish they had the courage to say the same thing. Catch up with them next time, it’ll be much more enjoyable if you spend time with friends as a reward after you’ve finished your work.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many people who are so willing to help you (it’s their job!) – your CAs, professors, StFX Student Success Centre, StFX Health and Counselling Centre, Student Life and so many more. It will make your journey at StFX so much smoother!

 

Dear First Year Student: The DOs and DONTs of University

StFX Blog - June 8, 2018 - 09:49

I graduated from university a few years ago and am now pursuing higher education. While I’m definitely not the perfect student (is there even such a thing), I have learned a bit about the DOs and DONTs of university that I want to share with you.

1. Taking regular breaks is so important! Don’t try to power through five hours of reading in one sitting – university is a marathon, not a sprint. Try the 50-10 rule. Set a timer for 50 minutes and spend that time working towards a goal with no interruptions, then set another timer for 10 minutes and use this to take a break and recharge.

2. Take advantage of the little breaks you find between classes. Use this time to catch up on work, review course notes or preview slides for the next lecture. It can be easy to go back to your residence during an hour gap and convince yourself that you’ll be productive, but it turns out that is usually a guilt-filled journey into the depths of Instagram every time.

3. The library isn’t the only place to study on campus. You might like empty classrooms. Coffee shops in town might also provide some inspiration, and get you out of the campus bubble for a bit when you’re working on daunting papers.

4. It’s OK to say ‘no’ sometimes. When you’re surrounded by other students, it can be tempting to accept every invitation and spread yourself too thin. Know your limits and learn to politely decline some invitations. Your friends will understand. They are probably in the same boat and often wish they had the courage to say the same thing. Catch up with them next time, it’ll be much more enjoyable if you spend time with friends as a reward after you’ve finished your work.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many people who are so willing to help you (it’s their job!) – your CAs, professors, StFX Student Success Centre, StFX Health and Counselling Centre, Student Life and so many more. It will make your journey at StFX so much smoother!

 

Learning Strategies That Can Save You: Weekly Review

StFX Blog - June 4, 2018 - 10:04

Something that I found astounding in my first year was the amount of information that professors give in each class. In High school, teachers would give you days and even weeks to grasp a concept. In University, you have 60 minutes. How are you supposed to remember all of this information, and apply it?! It took me until second semester to figure this out… and I haven’t looked back since.

The first step to managing what you learned in lectures is making sure to ask questions. If you are confused about what your professor said, ASK! If you don’t want to ask in front of the whole class, visit your professor’s office hours. By clarifying concepts right away, future lectures will make more sense and it will help you immensely when you start studying for exams.

What happens when you get to midterms and finals? How do you remember everything that you learned? Do you try to memorize it all? This was my approach in my first year. Unfortunately, information seemed to be flowing out of my head just as quickly as it was flowing in – no matter how much I tried to cram it into my memory.

To overcome this, I gave myself about an hour and a half every Sunday afternoon to review all the concepts I learned over the previous week. By week five of classes, I was reviewing week one, two, three, four, and five. You are probably thinking, “Whoa! That must have taken forever!” But, since I had previously reviewed week one four times already, it only took a few minutes to look over the material since I already knew it so well. As you can imagine, by exams, what I had learned throughout the semester was relatively fresh in my mind. During exams, I could focus on studying instead of learning the material over again.

Creating a weekly review routine ensures that you are keeping up with what you learn throughout the semester. It also alleviates some of the stress around exams. Instead of trying to shove everything into my short-term memory, what I was learning was engrained into my long-term memory. I was starting to make connections with the material. So when exams rolled around I felt more prepared and was able to recall the information more easily.

It’s never too late to start a new review routine – try it out for the first few weeks on campus, and see how much time it saves you during finals!

Learning to not be afraid to ask questions and reviewing what I had learned weekly definitely decreased my exam stress levels and prepared me for greater academic success in upper years.

         

Learning Strategies That Can Save You: Weekly Review

StFX Blog - June 4, 2018 - 10:04

Something that I found astounding in my first year was the amount of information that professors give in each class. In High school, teachers would give you days and even weeks to grasp a concept. In University, you have 60 minutes. How are you supposed to remember all of this information, and apply it?! It took me until second semester to figure this out… and I haven’t looked back since.

The first step to managing what you learned in lectures is making sure to ask questions. If you are confused about what your professor said, ASK! If you don’t want to ask in front of the whole class, visit your professor’s office hours. By clarifying concepts right away, future lectures will make more sense and it will help you immensely when you start studying for exams.

What happens when you get to midterms and finals? How do you remember everything that you learned? Do you try to memorize it all? This was my approach in my first year. Unfortunately, information seemed to be flowing out of my head just as quickly as it was flowing in – no matter how much I tried to cram it into my memory.

To overcome this, I gave myself about an hour and a half every Sunday afternoon to review all the concepts I learned over the previous week. By week five of classes, I was reviewing week one, two, three, four, and five. You are probably thinking, “Whoa! That must have taken forever!” But, since I had previously reviewed week one four times already, it only took a few minutes to look over the material since I already knew it so well. As you can imagine, by exams, what I had learned throughout the semester was relatively fresh in my mind. During exams, I could focus on studying instead of learning the material over again.

Creating a weekly review routine ensures that you are keeping up with what you learn throughout the semester. It also alleviates some of the stress around exams. Instead of trying to shove everything into my short-term memory, what I was learning was engrained into my long-term memory. I was starting to make connections with the material. So when exams rolled around I felt more prepared and was able to recall the information more easily.

It’s never too late to start a new review routine – try it out for the first few weeks on campus, and see how much time it saves you during finals!

Learning to not be afraid to ask questions and reviewing what I had learned weekly definitely decreased my exam stress levels and prepared me for greater academic success in upper years.

         

Balling on a Budget: 5 Saving Tips for the Frugal Student

StFX Blog - June 1, 2018 - 14:11

OK. So let’s be real here: adapting to the student life isn’t one of the easiest shifts in anyone’s lifestyle. I mean, you’re no longer living under your parent’s roof, which is great for some because this means more freedom and more independence. But with independence comes great responsibility, and you find yourself suddenly having to pay for things which never even used to cross your mind in your daily life at home – like gas, food, and maybe even electricity and heat for those living off campus! This blog is all about how you can save some extra dollars, and find alternative, cheaper options for the items you will want and need during your time at X. Thank me later!

1. 10% Discount Tuesdays

Yeap, with nothing but your student ID, you can get 10% off of your total groceries bill in Superstore and Sobeys on Tuesdays! It’s easy to see why most students take advantage of this and only shop on Tuesdays, because 10% can go a long way in reducing the amount that you have to pay at the till. Do make sure to go shopping either in the early afternoon, or late evening to beat the rush, as most people generally go to Superstore after classes are done at 5pm. Pro Tip: Lawtons Drugstore offers a 10% discount to students EVERY DAY! So if you miss the Tuesday deals for one reason or the next, you always have Lawtons as your back up plan (at least for snacks and other essentials).

2. Antigonish Transit

The Antigonish transit is a local bus service which not many students seem to know about or make use of, but should! This bus has various pick up locations around campus, including the Keating Center and the Bloomfield Center (Students’ Union Building, AKA the SUB). The most popular pick up place would be the one outside of the SUB, and the bus usually arrives here at six minutes past every hour. All it will cost you is a Toonie for a return trip to Walmart/Superstore, and the bus drivers are even kind enough to drop you off right outside of your building on the way back, if you live on campus! If it isn’t a busy night, they may even take you to your apartment if you live off-campus at a reasonable distance from their regular route, so just ask! This will save you a whole $10, versus taking a cab, which would cost you $6 each way – definitely a great deal. The bus also makes its way to the mall at some point during the day, so don’t hesitate to ask for a printed schedule of the times and routes for the transit at the front desk in the Bloomfield.

3. StFX Carpool Facebook Group

So one of the less exciting things about living in Antigonish is the fact that it is so far from the city. The bus ride to Halifax is not only pricey, it’s lengthy too ( it takes about 3 hours to get into the city). But worry not, because students have figured out a way around this! Some genius created the Facebook page above (if you type in those exact words it should show up) and anyone driving up to Halifax will typically post on the group if they are willing to drive a bunch of other people up too. It’s also easy to find rides by simply posting the date and time that you are seeking a ride yourself! It can also be a great opportunity for you meet new people each time you travel up with a different carpool (most drivers like it when you bring snacks and good music/conversation) but this isn’t forced. Also, don’t forget to chip in for gas! Whatever amount you and the driver agree on will most likely still be cheaper than going on the bus.

4. StFX Buy & Sell Facebook Group

You MUST MUST join this group! Not only will you be saving money, you can make some back too! All throughout the year, students will post whatever items they no longer have need for, or brand new items that do not fit (including brand name items) on this page, at a very decent price. The page becomes most popular at the end of the school year when students are leaving and want to get rid of a lot of the things they can’t take home with them, so if you have the time and energy, definitely surf the page for some amazing deals! It is easy to find furniture, gently worn clothing and shoes, and textbooks at great prices through this group. Perhaps consider waiting at least two weeks into the semester before buying your textbooks from the bookstore, because there are always upper year students looking to sell off their books at much lower prices than you would pay for them if you bought them brand new. This will literally save you hundreds of dollars – who wouldn’t want that?? Pro-tip: Some textbooks on the group may be an edition or two behind the one being used in your class – if this is the case, check with your professor if there are any major differences between the editions and if you will still have a chance to perform well using an older edition. Trust me though, once you get to fourth year you’ll be willing to use a textbook even 4 editions back if it means not spending $200 on it; by this time it won’t make much of a difference to you!

5. Thrift Stores

Thrift stores are some of the most underrated facilities ever! Basically, people go to thrift stores and donate all kinds of items which they no longer fit, need, or desire. If you go in on the right day, you could pick up a bag of fantastic clothing for literally $5! Thrift stores are also great for those times when you need a low-cost, one-time outfit for Halloween, for example. In Antigonish, there are three such kinds of stores (see down below for specific location details): The Opportunity shop (along Main Street, behind the gas station), Encore Consignment Emporium (also along Main St, across from Dream Catchers)  and Fashion Frenzies, which is along the highway across from Superstore. If you are feeling bored one day, take a walk to either one of these stores and hey, you might just surprise yourself with a whole new wardrobe change.

Locations:

If you have any more tips on how to save in the Nish, comment down below!! Thanks for tuning in!

6 Tips for Surviving Winter From An International Student

StFX Blog - May 15, 2018 - 16:55

So you’ve just arrived in Canada for the first time. You aren’t quite sure what to expect from Mother Nature on your first day – from what you’ve heard about Canada you’ve pictured igloos and a bunch of students skiing their way to classes. Well, never worry! This blog is all about helping you to prepare and adjust to the cold wintry weather that will quickly creep up come December.

1. LAYERS, LAYERS, LAYERS

I cannot emphasize how important it is to layer up for the winter! Unfortunately for us, there are no underground tunnels connecting the different buildings around campus, so we are all forced to trudge through the cold weather and pray we don’t get frost bite in the process. It is always advisable to wear at least two pairs of pants to protect yourself when the winter conditions worsen. I personally always have on a pair of thick leggings underneath my jeans, and also a thick sweater under my winter jacket. Pro-Tip: Avoid wearing jeans in the winter if you’re not a fan of layering up. They absorb the cold temperatures fast and can make walking outside a nightmare for you!

 

 

2. INVEST IN A GOOD WINTER JACKET AND WINTER BOOTS

If you were confused about what you should bring to Canada from your home and what you can purchase when you arrive, a winter jacket and boots are definitely on the top of the list of things you should hold off on buying until you arrive. Most retailers carry winter jackets that are tailored to meet the weather extremes of that particular province, so, depending on where you are travelling from, don’t bother trying to purchase a ‘thick’ jacket for the winter months, as it probably wouldn’t suffice. A reliable brand of winter jackets is the Canada Goose, which are very full-proof and warm, but also on the pricier end of brands (expect to pay up to $500 for one). If that price is too steep for you, that’s okay! You could save some money and still keep warm by shopping for your coat in local stores such as Rossy, Eclipse, and Canadian Tire. I would suggest that you budget up to $150 for a good coat, as you don’t want to cheap out and shiver your way through the entire winter period. As for winter boots, there are multiple kinds which you can buy. If Antigonish doesn’t have enough options suitable for you, it would be a good idea to make a trip up to Halifax where there are several malls and shopping outlets from which you can choose.

If funds are a little tight for you, speak with an International student advisor. The advisors are very resourceful and usually have some winter clothing donated by upper year students which is in good condition, that you can make use of. Pro-Tip: You can also buy waterproof spray from Canadian Tire to protect your shoes from wet conditions and leave them relatively unaffected by the snow.

 

 

3. LOCK YOUR WINDOWS

 

Yeah. This might sound strange, but it’s something that significantly helped me out during my first couple of winters! Most windows in residence will have the option to lock them by twisting two knobs at the top of the window slider, so as soon as winter hits, don’t hesitate to get that lock secured. I will, however, highlight that a good number of them will move as though to lock, but actually won’t. If this happens, you can email or call Facilities Management and they will come over and lock it down for you. This simply helps to keep the strong draft out of your room, and is especially helpful for students living in residences like Bishops Hall, where beds are mostly placed right by the window. If you really hate the cold like I do, I would advise keeping your windows locked all through winter. Trust me, you’ll appreciate this when there are snow storms and the wind is howling outside your window at 3 o’clock in the morning!

 

 

4. STOCK UP ON HOT CHOCOLATE AND SNACKS

Even for those who are not huge fans of the winter and all of the snow that comes with it, there is a light at the end of the tunnel: SNOW DAYS. You will love these! Snow days are days when the weather conditions are too harsh and unsafe for both students and professors to make it to classes. Thus, most classes are cancelled (sometimes it’s only the morning ones, and then campus reopens at noon), but the essential services on campus remain open: Morrison Hall and Campus Security. The storms tend to come at random, but are most common around the months of January and February.

Snow days are great for catching up on assignments and overdue notes, or, more likely, binge-watching movies and TV-series with your friends! It’s a good idea to stay well-stocked throughout winter, as you always want to be prepared when a snow-day rolls in, especially if you are not keen on stepping outside, even for food! You also want to keep your fingers crossed, though, that the snow days do not happen around final exam season, as this can lead to some exams being deferred or cancelled, and all you really want at this time of the year is to be done and go home in peace, sigh.

5. GET SOME VITAMIN-D

  

With the sunshine being replaced by grey clouds for a couple of months, your supply of Vitamin D (also known as the happiness vitamin) will be quite low! This is why it is common for levels of depression and sadness to increase during winter periods. As very few foods contain Vitamin D,  it will be important to supplement your supply with some vitamins from the local pharmacy. Luckily for us, Shoppers Drugmart has flavored chewy candy supplements as an alternative to a tasteless pill – so taking your Vitamin D daily can actually be something you look forward to! Be careful to limit yourself and not enjoy them too much though, haha.

6. GO OUTSIDE!

I know, this is easier said than done. I mean, the snow is pretty gorgeous to appreciate from indoors when wrapped in a warm blanket with a hot mug of something – but playing in it is a whole other story. Think of it this way though: when else would you get the opportunity to make snow angels in the ground, throw snow balls at your friends, or use meal-hall trays as a sledge?? Exactly! So allow yourself the opportunity, even if for just one winter out of the four+ that you will experience at X, to have some fun in the snow. It will create good memories for you and your friends and will also make for great pictures to send home on your postcards. Being outside and embracing the winter can also help to relieve those feelings of depression and lowness that usually arise with being homesick in a far-away country, feelings typically worsened when the dreaded winter time comes around. Canadians are very friendly and will delight in taking you on your first ski-trip or first sledge experience, so why not give it a shot?

 

Your Guide to Welcome Day

StFX Blog - August 29, 2017 - 10:07

So August is winding down and your countdown has almost reached 0. As you finish your preparations for travelling to StFX, you may be trying to imagine what Saturday, September 2nd will look like. If you have an older sibling who went to StFX, you may have already experienced part of Welcome Day already. You would know how energetic campus is on this day, especially due to the presence of O-Crew members. For those of you who aren’t sure what to expect, here is a rundown of your first day as new students at StFX.

7:30 am: Doors open at the Keating Centre

Your first stop of the day will be at the Keating Centre (KMC), where you will be greeted outside by the wonderful and energetic Orientation Crew. Inside the Keating Centre, there will be a number of stations for you to visit. You will receive your StFX student ID, and will be able to meet with university departments such as the Residence Services office and the Financial Services office. You will also have the opportunity to shake hands with the President of StFX, Kent MacDonald!

Once you have made your way through the main arena, you will head to the AUX rink, where there will be a showcase of campus services. Here, you will pick up your frosh kit & your Orientation Week shirt. There is also a photo booth where parents and students can get their picture taken.

9 am: Residence opens for new arrivals

After you are finished at the Keating Centre, you can head to your residence building to begin moving into your residence room. Before you start moving your belongings, you will check in with Residence Life to gain access to your room and receive your residence shirt. A Community Advisor will escort you to your room, and you will be given a room checklist and residence contract.

Now that you’ve been formally checked into residence, you can begin moving your belongings into your new room. One thing you should take into consideration is parking and traffic in and out of the residence building. Depending on which residence you are in, there will likely be temporary parking in place to manage vehicle flow. An example of temporary parking is outside of Bishops Hall. You will be permitted to park in a temporary parking zone for a certain amount of time in order to allow others to be able to park near the building. Another thing to consider is that elevators will be operated almost nonstop from 9am to 2pm. If you are carrying heavy items, prepare to wait a few minutes for an elevator. Take the stairs as much as possible when moving in, it will save you time.

Once you are situated in residence, put on your house shirt and gather with other first year students in residence for a welcome and a short introduction of residence leaders. You will meet the Community Advisors in residence, as well as your House President & Vice President. You’re now ready to attend the first event of Welcome Day with your residence house.

2 pm: President’s Welcome

You and your residence house will head over to the Keating Centre main arena for the President’s Welcome. At this event, StFX President Kent MacDonald will address the audience of new students and their parents.

3:30 pm: Community meeting

Following the President’s Welcome, you will return to residence for the first formal community meeting of the day. The meeting will be hosted by community advisors and will allow residents to meet each other in small groups. The purpose of this meeting is to get to know your residence and your neighbours in a small community setting. Residents will also be given campus tours to familiarize themselves with their new surroundings.

5:30 pm: BBQ/Guinness World Record

Following the first meeting period, there will be a BBQ for all new students taking place on the lawn outside of Bishops Hall. There will also be a fun event where students will attempt to set the Guinness World Record for the largest game of freeze tag.

7:30 pm: Community meeting

After the BBQ and freeze tag, students will return to residence for another community meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to expand on the first meeting and introduce residence topics for all residents in the building.

9 pm: Carnival

Welcome Day will come to an end at the Oland Stadium, where there will be a carnival from 9pm to 12am. The football field will be full of inflatable games, interactive lights, and dance music. There will be a variety of activities to suit many different tastes, so whether you want to actively participate in inflatable sports or relax on the LED furniture and in the inflatable lounges, you won’t want to miss this exciting ending to a great first day at StFX!

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