Archive for the 'Life Management' Category

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Study Abroad – Be Prepared for the Journey Ahead

By: Bianca Phelps

More and more young people want to get out to explore the world. They want to learn about different countries and cultures. It is tempting to leave the comfort zone and explore something new.

One way to do so, are the study abroad programs offered at many  colleges and universities.

It is a good opportunity to satisfy the travel bug, while earning credits at the same time. Students can either take a few classes or even earn a degree while staying in a different country. However, as anything else new, there can be some bumps and curves on the way.

A couple of years ago I was ready for a change.

In 2010, I decided to move from Germany to the United States of America. The main reason for my move was to visit my American family. While here, I also wanted to further my education and get some exposure to a different environment all together.

I am lucky by having family in the US to support and encourage me. When I first arrived, I left with family members for about a year. Many of the international students do not have families in their country of choice. That means it is very important to find a place where they feel comfortable.

Once I attended Burlington County College, it was hard to find a connection to other people at first. As a community college, BCC has many local students. What that means is that most of the students know each other from a very early age. They either went to school together or attended the same high school. That means that there is a strong bond inside those groups. As a newbie, it can be hard to break into these groups.

One main thing you should do once you are in a college or university is get involved in activities as quick as possible.

I accidently found the International Office around my second week at BCC. I signed up for a membership and support it ever since. The Office of the International Club in particular helped me a lot to adjust to the school environment.

There I found people with a similar background. With that, I do not mean the country of origin but the struggle of adjusting to a new environment, and while mentally still trying to concentrate my studies.  It can be your home away from home. Students have the chance to talk about their personal experience and get advice and understanding from others.

 For further information on how to get started as an International Student at Burlington County College go visit: www.bcc.edu/international. This website gives you information about all aspects concerning your visit to the United States of America and BCC.

A journey like this is not always easy but worth the effort. It made me a bigger person. I am much more independent and am not scared of new challenges as quickly as I was before. My goal for the near future is to earn my Bachelor’s Degree and grow as a global citizen.

 

 

Life Skills in Education

About one month ago I went to go present to a board of education as to how important life skills are to be taught in the classrooms. Although many students learn life skills at home, many students do not. The select few of the board that showed up at the meeting told me not to use the words “life skills,” as it relates to education because it has a negative connotation. As an educator, it is my opinion that avoiding life skills in the way we act in the classroom and in the way in the way that we teach is unavoidable. Students, whether in the classroom or outside of it, will encounter changes, decisions, LIFE. Yes, I know wholeheartedly that skills need to be taught. I have had too many college students come into the classroom without basic reading and writing skills. But we cannot just point fingers as to whose responsibility it is to teach what. It takes all of us – parents, educators, mentors, life coaches, guidance counselors, neighbors, etc. The list can go on and on. Instead of pointing fingers, jump in and lend a helping hand to anyone – including yourself. We are all lifetime students.

Making Tough Decisions

I once taught a student who was being evicted from her house, knew she was going to miss a lot of school, and still wanted to remained enrolled in the class. She ended up dropping out because she realized that it was too much to remain in school at the moment and that the overwhelming priority was to find a place to live for herself, her disabled mother, and her toddler. I also had another student whose infant daughter died in the beginning of the semester. He completed the semester through until the very last day.

As the famous saying goes, “life happens.” And when it does, sometimes we feel forced into a decision we do not want to make. But as individuals, we always have a choice, even if  the decision in front of you is a tough one. And when you listen to your inner self, you realize that you know the decision that is best for you.

One of the activities I do with my clients when they have a tough decision in front of them is to write out the pros and cons of each decision. I have a particular format in which I set up all of the choices in front of them. We go through a series of questions as we fill out the exercise. Not once, in my three years of coaching, has anyone been unsure about their decision once we’re done with the exercise.

The exercise is really not that complicated. All the client is doing is writing down the assets and liabilities of each decision. But what makes the activity so effective? When faced with a tough decision, many people panic and convince themselves that they don’t know what to choose. They don’t realize that if they choose something that doesn’t work for them, there is always an opportunity to make another decision that works better.

The questioning I do as a Collegiate Career Coach simply makes people conscious of their feelings towards the options they have in front of them, and the resulting impact of choosing each option. In panic mode, people are not able to think clearly and therefore make their choice out of fear.

Choices out of fear never work. Why? Fear-based decisions are based off of what you do not want to attract in your life. But making a decision from that mind frame will only bring what you do not desire into your life.

Choices made with a clear and centered mind always work, because you can see all of your options and evaluate the risks you are or are not willing to take in making a tough decision.

Tackling The Negative Voices in Your Mind

Thousands of people wake up in the morning and dread getting out of bed. Automatically, the mind is filled with all the things that “have” to be done and dread of completing it all. This starts the day off with negative energy that continues throughout the day. We then get bent out of shape about every little annoyance we encounter throughout our day: the car that cuts us off, the rude person or people at work, teachers who may seem like they are trying to mound a ton of work onto your already busy schedule, etc.

These negative thoughts completely cancel out the thoughts of the good stuff that’s happening in our lives. So, when I’m faced with a challenge, I have learned to practice a gratefulness exercise.

Just recently, my laptop crashed and my hard drive was completely corrupted. As a writer, this was my worst nightmare. One of the things that made it even worse is that I always planned to back my information up, as all tech professionals suggest, but I just kept putting it off because I felt I was always too busy to just stop by the store and get it.

The day after I found out that I would have to pay $1,095 to get my data recovered and purchase a new laptop, which was another $1,000, I noticed my thoughts were only focusing how upset about the entire situation. As I was walking into school the next day, I acknowledged my thoughts and chose to turn them into something different. I started thinking of all the things I am grateful for in my life: my family, my friends, my recent move to Florida, my new job at Seminole State College, etc. All of a sudden I could feel my face brighten up and feel at ease. The positive energy transferred into my classroom. My students were upbeat and ready to learn.
If we are not conscious of our negative thoughts, we can easily fall into a bad mood. When we encounter other people with our bad mood, what’s the likelihood they will want to be nice to us or even be around us?

Sometimes the voices in our head are implanted by other people telling us what we can and cannot accomplish. But remember that you and only you can control the limits you set on your abilities. If someone else is telling you what you are not capable, that has nothing to do with you. It is only a reflection of the limits that person has in their own mind.

Always remember the principle that being happy does not come from having a perfect life and things always going our way. It’s focusing on what is going well in your our lives and building off of that. If we truly believe, accept and practice this principle, our challenges will be resolved with ease.

Time Management for Geniuses

There are twenty four hours in everyone’s day, but often it seems as if we can’t get everything we want to get completed in that time period. To really live a balanced life, which is what many of us strive for, we make time for work, make time to care for our bodies through eating and fitness, make time to rest, and make time to socialize with our family and friends. With all of those activities, it seems like twenty four hours is not enough time. But even if we had more time in a day we would still rush around doing the same habits. So time is not really what we need to focus our attention on. Our attention needs to be focused on the activities we do throughout the day.

As a professor, business owner, writer, daughter, sister, aunt and friend, I want to get everything done, sometimes all in one day. Yet, I have learned that when I overload my list of activities, I run myself down—physically and mentally. When I run myself down, I’m unable to perform my activities on the level to which I would prefer.

So each week I make myself a list of priorities, which I call, “My List of Dreams to Fulfill.” Knowing what my overall goals are, I list all the activities I would like to complete in order to fulfill them. I then rank the list in order of priorities. I almost never complete the entire list by the end of each week, but the most important activities that I’ve identified as important are always done. And the activities that I have ranked and not finished are either removed from my list due to its lack of importance or move up in rank for the following week. Allow yourself to be okay completing the top three. That’s an accomplishment wroth of celebration.

Another key to managing your activities is asking for help. You’ll be surprised at how your family and friends really want to be a part of helping you fulfill your dreams. And for my professional business activities, I hire others who specialize in activities they complete far quicker than I would, especially with my busy schedule.
Hiring someone to do your work in college is definitely not a wise idea because, in addition to cheating, you will never know the information yourself. However, seeking extra help from your professor or your school’s tutoring center will allow you to complete your work with more confidence and in a timely manner. If there is someone in your class who seems to understand the material that you may be struggling with, get their contact information and arrange a study session together.

People explain things in different ways. Hearing the information from someone else might give you some clarity and allow you to complete your work in a timely manner. The more you understand, the easier it will be for you to complete your work.

So go ahead and create your own personal “Dreams to Fulfill” list, and seek help from others around you.