WHY READING OVER THE SUMMER MATTERS

If you are reading this post in May of 2018, you’ve no doubt seen the Jimmy Kimmel video “Can You Name A Book?” in which people can’t name a book.

This got us to thinking…

Not only can we name actual books here in the Writing Center, but we have a few to recommend for your summer reading.  We’ve listed those at the bottom of this article.

Then, this got us to thinking even further…

WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING THIS SUMMER?  Use the comment section below to chime in.  (And if you don’t have a reading plan for the summer, perhaps our lists at the bottom, and the following blog post from Jesse Britt may encourage you to do so.  He talks about reading and a lot of other other valuable ideas you can consider over the summer.)

 

Summer and School Skills

by Jesse Britt

 

I know a title with the words “summer” and “school” sounds as if I’m talking to nerds. Whenever my teachers or parents told me I needed to “keep up my skills through the summer” back in elementary school, they meant “practice some math problems.” For the majority of us, doing math problems is something we never want to do, let alone during our summer vacations. Good news! I’m not going to tell you to do math problems over this break for which we’ve waited so long. Instead, here are a couple suggestions for things you can do to keep your brain in shape over the summer.

Reading something! This can be pretty much anything, it does not need to be a collection of scholarly articles. Reading in general keeps you thinking and analyzing. This way, you won’t feel like you’re being punched in the face when you get back for the fall semester, at least not as hard. So read! You can read an older classic like This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald, or you could pick up a modern novel like David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. If you’re unsure what to read, ask an employee at the bookstore or look at some charts online. If you’re apprehensive about starting a new book, bookstore employees can help you find a shorter one that’s easier to finish. And remember not to feel pressured to completely finish a summer book, because reading it is your choice and not that of one of your instructors.

You can also look at articles in newspapers or journals. This is especially convenient since there are so many online articles, many of which are online only. Additionally, you can listen to something. There are many podcasts and audiobooks available that can make you think. The advantage to these is that you can use them while doing something else, whether you’re driving or mowing the lawn.

Finally, you can take a summer class. I know many people hate the idea of this, both because school can be boring and online courses are relatively expensive. However, if you have a little extra time and money, summer courses are a fantastic investment. In addition to keeping your mind fresh, they help you get ahead on your credits at the university. Be careful though—you may want to save important courses, such as those for your major(s), for in-person classes.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’re doing something. Going back to school after a long break can feel like trying to run a marathon when you haven’t ran in a month. Keep your mind strong and have fun!

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SUMMER READING SUGGESTIONS FROM THE WRITING CENTER

Samantha Schroeder recommends:  On Writing by Stephen King, Atonement by Ian McEwan, and Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown.

Shohei Downing recommends:  Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson, Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami, and The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac.

Jon Meyers recommends: Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne, Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan, and The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession by Mark Obmascik.       (Personal Note from Jon Meyers:  All adults should read Winnie-the-Pooh at least once a year.  I personally reread it every January to start out my year on the right track.  Each time you read it, the one-year-older you will see things you had not noticed a year prior.  To explore this train-of-thought further, consider:  “A bear of very little brain:
Positive psychology themes in the stories of Winnie the Pooh” by Lizette Dohmen.)

 

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End of the Semester Coping Skills

By Ashley Gilliam

I have a personal tendency as a pedestrian to walk directly into the pathway of cars. My friends often joke that it will be the literal death of me. I simply lack the fear necessary to keep me out of harm’s way. Stress, like fear, is a necessary part of life to some extent.

Without it, we would never meet our deadlines, but with it we can experience great distress. If we constantly feel as if cars are speeding towards us, it can become hard to prioritize more immediate concerns and react in the appropriate way.

The last few weeks of the semester can be an especially difficult and stress-inducing time. As a student who struggles with anxiety, I know this feeling all too well. In the same vein, I also have gained an intimate knowledge of coping skills to help with particularly trying times. There are a multitude of coping mechanisms you can employ to keep yourself from falling prey to negative thoughts and downward spirals.

The phrase “coping skills” may seem intimidating at first, but they don’t have to require a huge time investment. Often I will take a three minute break to breathe deeply. This is a period of time in the day to not do any work for others and allows my brain to sort of reset.

In the small moments, you can:

  • Listen to a song that you love or that relaxes you and just focus on it. I recommend this.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly.
  • Journal for five minutes. Write down all the emotions you’re feeling to get them out.
  • Take a walk outside. Come back to your work afterwards with a fresh perspective.
  • Clean your workspace or room to let out the nervous energy and promote a better mood.
  • Watch an episode of a cartoon you loved as a kid.

Sometimes it’s the long stretches of time where we can’t stop thinking about our deadlines or procrastinating with Netflix that are particularly stress-inducing. If you need a longer break, you can do a number of relaxing activities.

Fun activities for the weekend:

  • Have a self-care night with friends.
  • If you carry stress in your body, get a massage at Preston. Students get a discount!
  • Volunteer at the humane society to walk dogs and/or pet cats.
  • Have a date night where you cook a healthy meal (or comfort food).
  • What did you do to cope with stress in the past? Did you draw, write poetry, play music? Try doing that now.

Sometimes these activities can feel like putting a band-aid on a larger problem. I often struggle with reaching out to those around me when I’m having a rough time, but your support system is vital to maintaining good mental health.

Don’t forget to ask for help:

  • Let your friends know when you’re emotionally or mentally taxed
  •  Schedule an appointment with the writing center
  • Go to professor’s office hours and ask them questions you have
  •  Request an extension in advance of the due date
  •  Find a mentor within your field who can help you with academic stresses and obstacles
  • Let a professor know if your mental or physical health is affecting your performance
  • Organize a study group. You can support each other and it makes studying more fun

Some of these may be relevant to you and your preferences, others not so much. The goal is for you to understand what changes in your behavior and feelings signal that you are becoming too stressed and to figure out what coping strategies are best for you to employ. For habits promoting self-care you can employ throughout the semester, check out another of our blog posts here.

If you have a tendency to feel overwhelmed and think you may have anxiety, do not be afraid to seek help. Talk to the Counseling and Testing Center. You can even request an emotional support animal attend your appointment. Star is a darling poodle and deserves all the love in the world.

 

Counseling

and Testing Center

Potter

Hall, 409

1906

College Heights Blvd #11024

Bowling

Green, Kentucky 42101

Phone:

270-745-3159

Fax:

270-745-6976

Email:

ctc@wku.edu

The Writing Center’s Halloween Party and Open House

by Abby Ponder

Happy (belated) Halloween and Happy (almost) Thanksgiving, folks!

It is officially November now, and that means we’re beginning to enter the season of final research papers and looming projects. But it’s still early November, so don’t sweat just yet. (Though maybe start looking at those assignments now instead of later…)

However, before we move full-force into November, let’s first take a look back on our final days of October. Or, more aptly put, Halloween!

As you all might’ve known, the WKU Writing Center hosted its first Costume Contest and Open House on Halloween this year. The festivities were open to all who were interested in attending, and we had an excellent turnout!

This photo and all the ones following it are courtesy of Jacky Killian.
Our costume contest included a variety of fantastic costumes that ranged from the elusive Carmen San Diego to a dead priest. The sky was the limit for these party-goers!
Callie Compton as Carmen San Diego, here to bring your childhood front and center.
Zach Puckett as Roxas from Kingdom Hearts.
Lauren Witty as the Ram Zodiac from Fairy Tail.
Sol Govin as the devil herself!
Sasha Hardin as Misa from Death Note.
Travis Lewis as a dead priest.
Chris Nealis as a stop sign, with his trusty dog… who pees on the stop sign.
Our photographer, Jacky Killian, as Link from Legend of Zelda.
Brittany Moster, one of our very own tutors, as the fabulous Hermione Granger.
Marissa Tompkins as our second, but equally fabulous, Hermione Granger.
Dori Norman as the face of the rebellion, Miss Katniss Everdeen.
Brianna Stewart and Andi Nealis (your wonderful coordinator of the day’s festivities) as the in-conquerable Dynamic Duo.

The judging panel was composed of Dr. Jane Fife, Megan Siers, and myself. We definitely had our work cut out for us when it was time to pick our winners! Though we had winners in various categories, first place overall went to Jacky Killian (Link), second place to Callie Compton (Carmen San Diego), and third place to Dori Norman (Katniss Everdeen).

In addition to the costume contest, we also had a Two-Sentence Horror Story contest. First and second place went to Andi Nealis and Brittany Moster respectively!

Overall, the Writing Center’s Costume Contest was an overwhelming success. For more pictures of the festivities, be sure to check out our album on Facebook (and maybe give us a “like” while you’re there)!

Above all else, we hope you all had a wonderful (and safe) Halloween! Feel free to share your own costume designs in the comments section, or tell us what you hope to do next Halloween. (Stopping by the 2015 Costume Contest better be on your agenda, too!)

And, as always, don’t forget that as we move into this admittedly stressful season, the Writing Center is here to help! You can start by scheduling an appointment by clicking here and selecting a time that works well for you. We are also available for drop-in appointments, but those function under a first come, first serve basis.

Happy Writing!

This post was originally published on November 4, 2014.

Valentine’s day

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and whether you love the love or take a more cynical approach to the holiday, you cannot deny that it is an important part of our culture.

Before Valentine’s Day became quite the commercial success it is today, it was very popular–and expected–to create hand-written sentiments, cards, or letters for your loved one(s). Today, it is leass common, so stick out to your valentine and do something unexpected–make a hand-written card.

When trying to come up with an original valentine, it can be easy to fall into the cliches of “roses are red, violets are blue.” You can stay away from this by creating an original rhyme of your own or by expressing a specific reason you love or care about the recipient: “I love the way you are obsessed with Harry Potter” or “Your laugh when you’re embarrassed is what first drew me to you.” The more specific the better. Show your loved one that you really pay attention to what makes them who they are.

After you create a rough draft of your valentine, show it around to some of your friends and get feedback. Does this sound too cheesy? Does this sound too cliche? Getting feedback on your work can give you a sense of how your loved one will react to their card, while also giving you the benefit of an extra pair of eyes to catch any mistakes.

Editing and revision are very important elements in any part of writing, but especially in a love letter or card. If you leave an obvious grammatical error in such a personal piece of writing, it can give the impression that you don’t care enough about the card’s recipient to edit and look over your work. On the other hand, by editing and revising your card–no matter how short–you prove that you are willing to spend the extra time on making sure your gift is perfect for you loved one.

After editing, create the final version of your card or letter and give it to your loved one. They will more than appreciate the thought, time, and effort put into your gift.

Have a lovely Valentine’s Day, everyone.

–Sarah

This post was originally published on February 13, 2014.