Psychotic

The past three weeks have been crazy. Not even crazy, psychotic. For some reason, this semester has me feeling swamped already. I’m doing work every free moment and I still feel like I’m barely keeping my head above the water.

It’s going to be a looooong few months. While I’m enjoying and even understanding (most of) my classes, they all require an unfortunate amount of homework and I’m definitely staying busy.

My least favorite class is definitely Partial Differential Equations. I don’t even have to think about whether or not I like it: I don’t. If I didn’t need it to graduate with my major, I would drop that class and never even think about looking back. Whether it’s that the material is difficult or the professor is not teaching it in a way that I would best understand or a combination of both, it’s awful. This past weekend I spent ten hours (TEN HOURS PEOPLE) doing the homework for that class. I’m not even done yet.

Okay, so enough with the whining. It’s been pretty tough so far but there are plenty of good things going on as well. Cooking for myself is going well, although I didn’t do much of that last week due to homework overload issues.

These are pictures of chicken parmesan that Tristan and I made together! It was amazing if I do say so myself.

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When I’m not cooking, I have an excel spreadsheet to keep track of the Meal Swipes and Dining Dollars I spend on campus (it’s awesome).

I’m starting to look at applying for internships for next summer… I know that’s still crazy far away, but believe it or not, now is the time to snag a great opportunity.

I am really enjoying my coding class… I was a little nervous about learning a new programming language because of how Computer Science went my freshman year, but I’m loving it and the way the professor is introducing us to the concepts. We have weekly mini-projects and he asked me if he could show my first report to the other students in my class as an example! I’m super proud and excited about that.

Hopefully now I’m more in the swing of things and I can make more time to write than I have in the past few weeks! I am sending lots of love.

Maggie

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One Week Down (Fourteen to Go)

Hellooooo from beautiful and muggy UB!

It’s the Friday of week 1, which means everyone’s gleefully skipping home to their dorms to relax and celebrate the three-day weekend. But not Maggie. I have the wonderful honor of having a 6 o’clock class hanging over my head tonight, but freedom will be mine by seven.

Thankfully, that class is Physics, which I don’t dread, making the “evening class” experience a bit more bearable. I’m uploading this picture of my schedule for your viewing pleasure, because it’s quite unlike any schedule I’ve ever had before.

F15 schedule

You can see that 6 pm Physics is something that plagues me not only on Fridays but Monday and Wednesdays as well. Don’t even get me started on the recitation after Wednesday Physics. I have yet to determine how I’m gonna roll with that (a personal hype “you can do this” playlist may be necessary).

To make matters even worse: 8 am. 8 am. And last but not least, 8 am. THREE 8 AM CLASSES. Why have I done this to myself? (I’ll tell you why: it’s because the professor for MTH 443—Applied Math—has AMAZING reviews. I think he tries to weed out the weak students by making the class early, so only those who really want it will take it, and he doesn’t have to put up with lazies. Anyway, he’s great and so far, the early wake-ups have been bearable and worth it.)

Finally we can focus on the two bright points of this schedule. First things first: Monday and Wednesday, I can either (1) sleep in like a boss, or (2) wake up early and be productive, or (3) wake up normal time and just have a relaxing morning with plenty of time to sit my coffee and casually read before class. Also: Tuesday and Thursday, that early wakeup means an early finish-up, and I’m FREE for the day around noon, which is a Godsend.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the way this semester is turning out –1 week down, 14 to go!—and enjoying my classes. I’m still looking forward to when I will eventually get into the swing of things (waiting for this readjustment period to wrap itself up please).

I’m sending lots of love and more updates soon.

Maggie

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Now That I’m Home

Unfortunately, due to recurring computer issues, we are again experiencing blogging delays… Hopefully by the end of this week, those issues will be completely solved and never going to happen again (because if my computer crashes at school, I’m basically ruined).

I’m afraid I can’t say that I’ve been up to anything extremely intriguing or have any particularly insightful college thoughts at the moment but I will tell y’all what I’ve been up to for the past few weeks. A whole month off is such a luxury.

  1. Writing! I am working on some actual school-related homework already, but it’s just an essay about my experience in Kansas (for which I’ll get a whopping six credits toward my Honors Experiences). I’ve also applied for a position as a (volunteer) student writer for College Xpress, so I’m working on submitting my first piece for them, hopefully to be submitted before classes start on the 31st.
  2. Spending a lot of time with family. Immediate family gets a lot of my time (especially the little one who is constantly asking for a play buddy), lots of aunts and uncles and cousins from out of town, and of course my wonderful grandparents.
  3. Packing. Unfortunately, due to time constraints (a little bit) and a lack of motivation (a lot of a bit), my packing this year has been continuing the yearly trend of becoming less and less organized. My freshman year, every box and bin was neatly labeled with a list of its exact contents, days before I had to leave. Sophomore year, I had the neat boxes minus the obsessive labels. So far this year, packing has consisted of me walking around my room, picking up various items, thinking “hmm, I want to bring this,” and bringing said items downstairs to the living room to be added to a giant pile of other unorganized stuff. I’ll put them in boxes later.
  4. Being SUPER CRAFTY. I decided that, with a whole month off, I needed some projects to occupy my time and so I dedicated myself to learning how awesome hot glue guns are.

First, I made a magnetic frame board for holding my makeup bottles (which all got special magnet attachment treatment as well).

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This is an earring holder made with an empty frame and some fabric stretched across. Last year, I laid all my earrings out on my dresser, which resulted in them being knocked around a lot, lost occasionally, and also they just took up way too much precious surface space.

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I also cut up magnetic labels for a weekly whiteboard calendar, which I aim to use to plan out my meals as I begin to cook for myself this semester. Which I am super excited about doing, even if it is a bit intimidating. Now I know this type of organization (and also amount of cooking) is wishful thinking, but this board is just an example. I’m hoping that the whiteboard and magnets are something that I can use to motivate myself to plan more, cook more, and do both in the healthiest way possible.

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Finally, I took some old ripped pajama pants (you heard me, pajama pants) and made a cozy flannel scarf that will definitely come in handy during those cold Buffalo winters. (Bonus: the waist/upper leg area was still salvageable to be used as sleep shorts.)

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Hopefully, my next update will be from my own good old computer, from the good old U at B… Move-in is Thursday!

Lots of love,

Maggie

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Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore

Hey there, blogosphere!

I am very sorry to say that I’ve been slacking with the updates to due the fact that my dear computer crashed (and crashed hard) about a week ago. Although the timing was extremely unfortunate, I made it through the last week of the REU without my own laptop, and it has been fixed since I got home just this past Friday.

So you guys can have an idea of the work I’ve been doing for the past two months, I am attaching the link to my K-State research web page! Each of us was required to describe our research in website form, so this is a pretty detailed explanation of the nitty-gritty of my research project. It is by no means a super fancy website, but it’s straightforward and it gets the job done (we were all given a template to build off, so most of our sites look pretty similar).

That last week of the REU experience was pretty hectic but also a lot of fun. The squad all worked together to prepare for our final poster presentations; Wednesday afternoon, we all met up in the common area and practiced our mini-speeches for each other, giving pointers and making sure that we could all summarize our ten weeks of research within the allotted time limit (a mere five minutes).

Presentation!

I was SUPER nervous during the presentations Thursday morning but most of the judges who passed by my poster were very friendly and understanding. Overall, it went very well, and I felt proud of my work. Plus, I really enjoyed the feeling of comradery I felt with my peers as we all shared the same nervousness (and then relief when we were finally done!) and chatted about our presentation experiences.

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We were rewarded with an absolutely HUGE and delicious lunch at a Mexican restaurant. Later Thursday afternoon, I was able to join my faculty mentor for dinner at Harry’s, which was probably just about the fanciest place I’ve ever been. I had so much food thrust upon me on Thursday that I’m amazed my Friday flights were able to make it off the ground!

Luckily, all of those flights went smoothly, and even though it was a pretty long day (travelling from 5:30 am to 7 pm, from Manhattan through Dallas and Philadelphia and finally home to Syracuse!), I held up pretty well.

Flight

I got picked up at the airport by my wonderful boyfriend, and I enjoyed a real home-cooked meal and an evening around the fire—an amazing way to spend the first night back in New York. (Weird moment: Friday night, I had a dream that I was still in Kansas, working on my project, and when I woke up, I thought I was still there for a minute!) It is so good to be home, and to know that I’ll be here to relax and recover for the next month.

Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.

Lots of love,

Maggie

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Konza Prairie

Sitting in the office all day (even if I’m not overly stressed out or working too hard) can be a drag and leave me worn out, and all I want to do on the weekends is hide in bed and relax. Not to brag or anything, but I’ve done a great job of pushing past that feeling and taking every opportunity to appreciate the experiences and opportunities that Kansas has to offer. I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’ve gotten better at getting “out there” and “doing things.”

So, you guessed it. Yesterday was another Adventure Day! A handful of us decided on a whim to drive out to the Konza Prairie and hike the public trails. It was semi-warm when we left the dorm, but by the time we got a mile or two into the hike, it was hot. Not to mention that Konza is pretty hilly, and, it being a prairie and all, there aren’t as many trees as I’m used to having for shade. It was a great workout though: we trekked about five miles overall. I don’t think I’ve sweated so much in my life, and I’m feeling the ache a bit today!

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It was a million times worth it, as the views were gorgeous, and it was a great way to spend time with some of the squad. After the fact, we rewarded ourselves with spaghetti and garlic bread for Sunday dinner, followed by ice cream.

Even though I was initially tempted to just stay inside and skip the adventure, it was well worth it, and far more fulfilling than an afternoon in would have been. After all, I only have one more weekend here!

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I’m super pumped to be home. I’m sending lots of love!

Maggie

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Progress

When I sat down at my computer in the office on Monday morning, I signed in to my email and was greeted with the beautiful sight of a message from my mentor… Over the weekend, he had not only made multiple pages of edits on my paper, but he had also run the regression on our data, meaning that I finally had some results!

This week, I have been a writing-and-working machine. I’ve made so much progress and I feel really good about where we are in the research process. I have 18 pages of 1.5-spaced goodness and I’m so so close to being done. In the meantime, I’ve been working on developing a poster and also coding a webpage (which, obviously, I will share with you guys when it’s done), both of which are basically just two different formats of the paper I’ve already written.

Wednesday, we took the day off to visit Lee Scheufler Farm and Kansas Ethanol (a biorefinery plant in the Hutchinson area).

The farm tour was basically what you’d expect, but it was definitely the highlight of the day. We were led around by a tall guy in jeans and a big belt, and we got to run around between stalks of corn and sit on really big tractors. It was beautiful.

Barn Corn

At Kansas Ethanol, we took a tour with the president of the company, which was cool, but I didn’t really understand much of what was going on because it was pretty chemistry-heavy! I’m here for the economics… I stayed near the back of the group with another Econ friend and a Sociology major, and we joked with each other about how confused we were.

Other than that, not much has been going on here! I’ll be home in two weeks, which I know will fly by. I’m a little sad that the program will be over, but mostly happy to be home with the people I love (and relaxing).

I’m sending lots of love,

Maggie

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My Favorite Weekend

This past weekend was probably overall one of the most fun we’ve had so far, and definitely my favorite.

Friday night, we celebrated a squad member’s birthday by throwing a mini-birthday party after work. Birthday parties are great, but it wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime experience like the one I had the next day.

Marie and I in our party hats

Saturday afternoon, the whole squad went on a field trip to the Konza Prairie Biological Station, a research-based nature preserve of over 8,000 acres. It’s a gorgeous section of a larger Midwestern prairie region, the Flint Hills. The Konza is home to numerous research projects (including one of the oldest and largest prairie-data-collecting projects in the U.S.), an abundance of tallgrass species, and a herd of approximately 300 bison.

Grass Profile

Once we got to the biological station, we (as well as members of the other K-State REU groups) boarded a school bus and drove out to the prairie, which is off-limits to the general public. We had two docents at the front of the bus to tell us about the history of the Konza, explain their research, and tell us about what I felt was the main attraction of the prairie: the bison.

Konza

We were only about 20 minutes into the drive when we made a turn and came face-to-face with part of the herd (thankfully, we were separated from them by a wire fence). We were able to all climb off the bus and take pictures of the bison from only about 10 yards away. It was absolutely amazing to get to see these huge wild animals up so close.

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(All this talk about bison, aka buffaloes, makes me miss my school!)

After the bus tour ended (we didn’t see any more bison after that), we actually had the opportunity to have bison burgers for dinner. The bison burger tasted a lot like a regular hamburger, except a bit leaner and more flavorful.

Sunday was also full of fun activities: I went to church with Abbie (my roommate), and then we went to the pool for the afternoon with a handful of friends in tow. It was incredibly hot outside (it has been this whole week) but that just made the water feel that much better.

After the pool, we went straight to our usual Sunday dinner out (thanks to the dining hall being closed Sunday nights) at a local taco place in Aggieville, Taco Lucha. We each bought two of three tacos individually, which was great because it gave me the chance to try a few different ones! I had a buffalo chicken taco (obviously), a pork tinga taco, and a “black and blue” taco (I put up a picture of the menu for reference and so y’all can see all the cool options).

Taco Lucha Menu

I was starving, and I ate so fast that I wish I could have savored them more, but they were still amazing. You can tell how hungry I was by the fact that I ate a whole taco before I remembered to take a photo of them!

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I can’t wait to tell you about what’s going on this week but it’s late and I think I’ve blabbered on enough for one post.

I’m sending lots of love!

Maggie

P.S. Tornado update: There was a tornado in Kansas this evening, but it was two hours southwest of here, in Hutchinson. I am not worried because: (1) it was far away, and (2) despite the tornado being rated an EF-3 (which is on the high end of a scale from 0 to 5), not a single person in Hutchinson was hurt. I didn’t even know it had happened until Mom texted me to check in!

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