Sunday, December 9, 2012

The BEST Studying Tools For Students ( my opinion...)

I've decided to take a quick study break and showcase what I call my assistive study devices. Husband just wrote about how much he loves his noise-canceling headphones when he studies, so I figured I could jump on the bandwagon and talk about how I use certain tools get studying done most effectively. 

To say that I'm a bit obsessive with how I study would be an understatement. 
I'm very particular about what I use to study, where I study, and how I study. 
However, I didn't always used to be this way...

You see, when I was going through undergrad the first time around, pursuing my degree in Spanish with a minor in sociology, I did not have the best or most effective of study skills. Sure, I received good grades, but then again, I had purposely chosen a major and minor at which I excelled and did not require the most demanding of work from me. Now, when I had to take a biology 100-level course or statistics for my general education requirements? I struggled. Science does not come naturally to me. Thus, when I chose to pursue my bachelor's in nursing, I knew my habits of studying would have to change.

Being married to Husband, who possess a bachelor's in chemistry, physics, and Spanish (…yes, that's three majors…) and minored in mathematics and currently is a med student, was very helpful to say the least in developing these new study habits. 

First, he introduced me to Mental Case, an app that I use on my computer, iPad, and iPhone to create and review digital notecards. I was never a big notecard person until I started using this program, and I will say it has helped immensely, especially in basic introductory classes where a lot of the learning involves definitions and rote memorization. Husband actually wrote a post about Mental Case on his blog reviewing the program and how much the notecards helped him study for the MCAT. The post has very detailed instructions about how Mental Case works, so if you're interested in trying out the app you should check this post out to learn more about it! 

Second, he bought me a Clover Book Stand, which he surprised me with this semester and I briefly wrote about here. I can't tell you how much better my neck feels now that I'm not hunching over to read my big textbooks on the flat table surface. I have the 13.3" x 10.2" size and I couldn't be happier with how easily it transports once it's all folded up. I slip it in the laptop sleeve portion of my backpack and can still fit my large binder of notes and a textbook in the main pocket with room to spare. The clips to secure pages and vast array of angling possibilities allows you to work in so many different environments with various sized books. It's a bit pricier than some of the other versions on the market, but I truly think this is worth the money and will last much longer than the plastic competitors. Once I'm done with school, I plan to use it more in the kitchen to hold my cookbooks!


Third, Husband got me hooked on these crazy awesome Pilot Hi-Tec C Gel Pens, specifically in the 0.3 mm size. How did he come across these gems? When preparing for med school, he began looking around the blogging world for people writing about their experiences as medical students. He came across this blog in particular, where the author of which wrote about these amazing writing devices and how much they help her get through note-taking and studying. Husband decided to give them a try and almost as soon as they arrived at our doorstep and he'd written but one sentence, he was hooked. I, on the other hand, was wary. I was very much a pencil snob, using only these specific pencils solely due to their eraser refill capability (I tended to erase a lot if I didn't like the way a sentence looked on my notes…weird, I know… soI used up the erasers like nobody's business). Anyway, after getting incredibly frustrated with how I couldn't fit all my notes on the page because the lead size was just too big and got all smeared, I gave the pens a whirl. And then I was hooked. Since then, I've gathered a large collection of various colors, but my absolute favorites, both size 0.3 mm, are this blue one for taking notes in class and this red one for adding supplemental notes when I review the lecture notes with the textbook. The best part is, now that I've bought the whole pen, I can easily purchase refills when I run out! Also, because of the 0.3 mm size, I can easily fit three lines' worth of words in between PowerPoint handouts with the 3-slide note-taking format. These pens write like a dream - quick drying, no smudging, no bleeding, and fine lines.

This last tool actually was not introduced to me by Husband. You know how I said I only used pencils because I needed the eraser? Well, once I switched to pens, I started to get frustrated with how I couldn't erase misspelled words or re-format sentences in my notes. So, I started using whiteout. However, it took me a while to find a particular whiteout that I liked. I tried cheapo brands that just cracked and wouldn't stick and I tried more expensive types that were either too bulky in my pencil case or just didn't transfer well onto paper. However, I finally discovered the perfect whiteout for me -  the BiC Wite-Out Mini rolls incredibly smoothly onto paper, sticks amazingly well enough for the Hi-Tec C gel pens to write over without scratching through, and are small enough for my case without running out too quickly. They also come in bright and fun colors and are sold at Meijer in two-packs, while allows me to keep one at home on my desk and the other in my pencil case in my backpack at all times. 

So there you have it, my tools for (at least striving) educational success. I highly recommend any and all of these products for students, whether they are in high school, college, or graduate school. We all know anything that makes studying a little bit easier and more bearable makes a big difference! 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

5 years ago & so close...

First, can we just take a second and look at this precious photo of Husband and me?

This was taken almost exactly five years ago, when we first started officially dating. 
Who knew we'd be where we are today? Not me, that's for sure. Or Husband. But we've grown so much, individually and with each other, and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

I love you, Husband. 
Here's many more "five years" together. 

Anyway, enough of the mushy stuff...

A weekend in review!

1. Friday night = date night

Husband and I checked out a new restaurant in town and LOVED it. It actually was the restaurant where we had our rehearsal dinner, but that closed down a few years ago and someone decided to pretty much re-open it but with a different name. The interior looks almost exactly the same with a few structural changes, but the same Italian atmosphere is still there just now with better lighting and an actual bar. Afterward, we headed out to the best grocery store ever to pick up some sweets and munchies and headed over to the movie theater for the new Bond movie. To both of our surprise, I ended up liking it nearly just as much as Husband! My great dislike for action movies is slowly but surely fading, I guess

2. Saturday = honors & laziness

Bright and early Saturday morning I was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, the national nursing honor society. There was a nice big breakfast and then students from area schools were inducted and several professors were honored. Unfortunately, I didn't really prepare very well so Husband only snapped a few low-quality-thanks-to-the-poor-lighting shots with his phone. Thus, you will not be seeing any documentation of my five seconds onstage shaking my professor's hand or receiving my honor cords. Sorry, Mom. Just kidding, I guess. Husband decided to include some edited ones in this post.

Once we got back home, Husband flopped onto the bed and promptly fell asleep for the next four or so hours. I, on the other hand, settled in with some dark chocolate-covered pomegranate bits and enjoyed two full episodes of my new favorite television series. It's so crazily addicting. I'm not even kidding you. Husband and I have even taken to referring to one another as m'lord and m'lady. Well, not really, but that would be fun… In fact, it is so addicting that after finishing up some actually very little…oops…homework, Husband convinced me to settle in on the couch with a big blanket, a bunch of pillows, a snack, and the remote controls and finish out the first season. So relaxing. So irresponsible. So worth it. 

3. Sunday = sad day

Really, Sundays are always sad days because that's when Husband and I have to part ways and get back to the grind of the academic week. These days are always a little more tense (not between us, just in the atmosphere because of the impending farewells), a little quieter, and definitely always a bit more gloomy. 

HOWEVER, with this week we are entering the final week of classes for this semester. Final. Week. And next week? Next week is final exams week. And then? FREEDOM. I never thought this last stretch would come. I know when January rolls around, I'll have the same attitude with the end of the year itself being so far away (which is when Husband and I will be reunited FOR GOOD [hallelujah] ), but at least with the end of this semester we have our super-amazingly-awesomeness of a vacation to look forward to. 

Burnin' out
Good thing we have less than two weeks left.