The Importance of Organization

The other day, an acquaintance told me that I should use a Google calendar. He had good intentions, but I already have an excellent system. I keep a 2.5 ft x 3.5 ft wall calendar for events outside of class and a planner for coursework and assignments. When I am not in class or participating in something on my calendar, I look to my planner so I can do assignments in between. (Note: the assignments take a fairly long time – Rice is a challenging university)

My calendar is color-coded: black is labs, class cancellations, and office hours; dark blue is dance team; light brown is non-dance team exercise; light blue is interviews/job stuff; light green is vacation days, dark pink is social events; red is exams, and orange is impending deadlines (with the intention of being erased upon completion, preceded by a checkbox).

A benefit to using a non-technological calendar is privacy. I like knowing that I have full control of my time to allocate as I see fit. There are gaps in my schedule, but those are necessary breaks to eat, sleep, and be human. These intentional gaps prevent burnout and keep me motivated to continue pursuing whatever I am doing. Many people over-schedule and over-commit themselves to extracurricular activities, which causes them to become more stressed.

You may use a Google calendar or electronic alternative, and that is great if it works for you. You may think my system is old-fashioned or outdated, but then again, I still talk to people on the phone, instead of DM’ing or tweeting on Twitter, so it’s really personal preference. (Note: many people still prefer phone calls!)

The main reason I haven’t gone electronic? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” My calendar system is a well-oiled machine, and I don’t see things changing any time in the near future.

Why I Became an Economics Major

Back in high school, I toyed with the idea of being an Economics major, but I wasn’t 100% certain. I took AP Micro- and Macroeconomics in my senior year, but I did not ‘fall in love’ with the subject immediately. While I enjoyed my Economics classes, I liked others more. I seriously considered my choice of major while I was working at my first summer internship at American Business TV. I was producing news segments that provided insight about different companies’ financial news. I was surprised to learn that I liked reading about stock prices and company mergers. With this newfound appreciation for business and my affinity toward economics, I decided to major in it.

In AP Microeconomics, my group made a video about Credit Score Mingle, a dating website that pairs people together with similar, high credit scores.

I realized I wanted to major in Economics in the third week of my sophomore year. Why is this important? It was one week after the add deadline, a university imposed deadline to make sure people don’t add classes too late and get behind. I was unable to add my introductory economics class, the class I needed in order to take any other economics class at Rice. I spent the semester taking almost all electives, ranging from Naval Engineering to Introductory Russian. This was actually a good thing, as I had some time to think about my future, in addition to adjusting to my first semester living in an apartment off-campus.

 

In the spring of my sophomore year, I was able to enroll in my first economics class, Principles of Economics. I was also very motivated, as I had been trying for months to enter my chosen field. The introductory class was engaging and entertaining – I never wanted to miss it. At this point, I was excited to finally take classes in my major.

 

Aside from the academic aspect of the major, there’s something more important: the people! People play a huge factor in one’s education. For instance, in my World Economic History class, I am writing a group paper. In Energy Economics and Macroeconomics, I formed study groups with undergraduate and graduate students to do the homework. I gained so much from learning from my peers, and they have learned from me as well. The people who tend to major in economics are outgoing and friendly – sometimes they even introduce themselves to me. I’ve made some great friends in my major that I plan on keeping in touch with even after I graduate.

Seohee Kim, a friend in my major, and I at the 2016 Dance Team Christmas Party

Going forward, I do not know what the future holds. I could be creating regression analyses using econometrics knowledge or creating long-run market price trends for energy sources. I could be tabulating finances or predicting the next market crash. The best part about being an Economics major is that it opens doors; I could enter nearly any industry in some capacity. There is a lot of flexibility in choosing classes, you could go heavy on the quantitative, law, or finance classes, or you can take a more generalized approach and take a smattering of each. I did not expect to like my major as much as I do. I am glad I took a chance to pursue what I love, and I hope to incorporate my economics knowledge in my work in the future.

Beyond the Hedges

When I have free time at Rice, I try to go out and explore the city. Houston is the third largest city in the country and we have an unparalleled number of leisure activities to partake in. Here is my list of the top places to visit:

  • The Galleria: The Galleria has everything – stores range from basic shoe stores to the more unusual stores, such as a Tesla store complete with model cars. In addition to hundreds of stores, there are a variety of restaurants and even an ice skating rink (with rental skates available).
  • Wild West: If you aren’t from Texas, you may not be familiar with the dance form called “two-stepping.” Even if you are from Texas, and maybe even Houston, you may still have never heard of two-stepping. That’s okay. Two-stepping is easy to pick up and it’s really fun to go with friends. Most people go at night, usually during the week.
  • Edwards Greenway Grand Palace Stadium 24 & RPX: It’s the movie theater. I always enjoy taking in a good film once in a while, and this theater is conveniently located near Rice, has lots of show times, and comfortable seats.
  • The Fine Arts District (Downtown): Once in a while, Rice will have ticket giveaways and discounts to shows via Passport to Houston. I’ve been lucky enough to see an opera (Marriage of Figaro) and a symphony (Mahler Symphony No. 5). Other fun parts in Downtown include Discovery Green, a park filled with festivals almost every weekend.
  • Rice Village: The Rice Village is the nearest mall to Rice (a short walk, and the Rice bus has a weekend route to the Village as well). There are tons of restaurants and niche stores that are great to check out, especially a boba tea store (your newest favorite drink once you arrive at Rice).

This concludes my short list of places to visit; the majority of places are very close to Rice and are within the 610 loop. Next time you have a free evening or weekend, go out and see some of the best places that Houston has to offer!

Creating the Perfect Schedule: Freshman Edition

For all you entering freshmen out there, congratulations on choosing Rice! Now that you are going to be a Class of 2020 Rice Owl, I’d like to give you some advice about choosing classes based on my freshman year experience.

 

1) Don’t overload yourself! This is crucial to ensuring that you do not get overwhelmed in the first few weeks. You have a lot of learning to do outside of the classroom, in addition to your classes. You will learn how to balance your social life, homework schedule, and any extracurricular activities that you take on, in addition to trying to get enough sleep. Taking six full classes with one lab and an LPAP may be tempting, but you’d probably appreciate having some downtime, too. In my free time, I picked up the Rice Owls Dance Team as an extracurricular activity.

2015_04_10 Spring RODT Team Photo

Before Rice Owl Dance Team’s Spring Show 2015 – I had only joined that semester!

2) Try a class outside of your major. Rice is unique because there are many departments that you probably haven’t been exposed to yet. For instance, my freshman fall semester I took a Sociology and Environmental Studies class called “Environmental Issues: Rice Into the Future” that I really liked. I learned about green living practices and worked on a group research paper, which was a nice break from my more technical classes. Taking classes outside of your major is important because you can try new subjects at the introductory level, and you might even major or minor in something that you tried for fun. If you aren’t sure about which class(es) to take, try talking with a peer academic advisor or any upperclassmen for suggestions.

3) Learn a new language. I took Spanish every semester in high school. When I got to Rice, I wanted a change of pace. I decided to take Russian last fall. The class had a large speaking component so we could practice our conversation in class and I learned how to read Cyrillic. My class was small with about 14 people, so we got to know each other well. Rice has 12 languages to choose from, so take advantage of these numerous options.

4) Take UNIV 110. At some point during your freshman year, take this class. It’s called “First Year Foundations.” UNIV 110 covers so many topics, including Rice’s Resources, Health, Identity, and Academics to name a few. There are also guest speakers and panelists, such as Dean Hutchinson, the Dean of Undergraduates. You see performances on campus, go to sporting events, or even to the Career Center to learn about different companies. You get to meet a small group of other freshmen and have an open space to reflect on life. You also have a peer advisor, an upperclassman who gives advice and co-teaches the class. I looked forward to going every week.

Me at the Vagina Monologues to support my Peer Advisor, Christa!

Me at the Vagina Monologues to support my Peer Advisor, Christa!

You may not be able to follow every piece of advice here. Maybe you want to be a Chemical Engineer, which has a 132-hour degree requirement and you don’t have time to cut back on your hours. That’s okay. Maybe you are double majoring and you don’t have time to take classes outside of your majors. That’s okay too. At the very least, try to follow at least one item listed above, to broaden your horizons.

I have a feeling you might be curious to know what I took my freshman year. Well, I’ve attached my old schedules below. Enjoy, and happy planning!

Freshman Fall Schedule

Fall Semester – 14 hours

Spring Schedule

Spring Semester – 16 hours

Food Trucks: The Hidden Gem of Rice University Public Dining

Last week, as I was browsing the Rice dining website, I stumbled upon the food trucks section. As a non-engineering major, I never wandered over by Mudd Labs or the OEDK (Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen), which is where the food trucks park from 5:30 PM until 9:00 PM.

Since I had never tried the food trucks, I challenged myself to eat at one everyday of the week (most likely at a detriment to my health). So, here’s where I ate:

Monday: Anna’s Gourmet Greek: I was daring and I ordered the chicken souvlaki. For those of you who have never had Greek food before, the chicken souvlaki is an excellent place to start. There are four to five pieces of chicken, topped with lettuce and tomatoes, and wrapped in pita bread. There’s also an indescribable sauce that coats the chicken. For the wallet-conscious, this item was on the higher end of food truck cuisine, costing $10.

Tuesday: Yummy Dog: I didn’t know what to expect from Tuesday night’s food truck offering. According to the dining website, I thought that both the Bonjour Creperie and the Yummy Dog would have trucks present. As it turns out, they alternate Tuesday nights, so only the Yummy Dog was there. TBH, I was feeling like crepes, especially on Crepe Day, but I decided to try something new: a “Texan” hotdog. Most of the time, I am a hotdog purist, meaning that I only eat the hotdog on a bun, sans condiments. Occasionally, I will put chili on top (is my Texan-ness showing?). The Texan hotdog was a beef hotdog on a pretzel bun, topped with jalapenos, onions, and barbecue sauce. In terms of pricing, this item was average, weighing in at about $8.

Wednesday: Bubba Burger: I was a bit rushed this night because I didn’t have a ton of time between my Law and Economics class and Dance Team practice, but I still ran over to the food trucks regardless. The food truck specialized in buffalo burgers, but I ordered a plain burger with lettuce and tomato only (this combination will forever be known as “The Hailey”). The 1/3-pound of beef on a bready bun with an excellent lettuce/tomato/meat ratio was stellar. My wallet smiled since this was the cheapest item from a food truck all week, priced at $5 (before tax).

Thursday: Foreign Policy: “American food with an International Flavor.” This food truck specialized in Korean, Mexican, Greek, and American cuisine. I decided to go with the Korean burger, even though it seemed spicy. This burger was huge – I could only eat about half before filling up. However, that could have been my fault, as I also had to get one of their stuffed donuts. There’s a complex process associated with making these donuts, but here’s the gist of it: They fry a tortilla and cover it in caramel and stick it between a sweet, succulent donut. This burger cost $9, in the middle in terms of pricing. The donut was $5 (probably the best food truck item I had all week – would strongly recommend!).

Friday: Off-campus dinner with my parents: I don’t have class on Friday this semester, so I usually don’t come on campus. I’ll probably try The Waffle Bus later, as the name “Waffle Bus” is impossible to pass up.

 

Overall, there are so many dining options on-campus, and even more off-campus. So far, I have been at Rice 3 semesters and still continue to discover new places to eat.

Are you ready for the food truck challenge?