Friday, March 30, 2012

Carolina Basketball On My Mind

QOTD: What's your favorite winning-game moment in basketball history? Share a Youtube video of that moment if it's available!

Yesterday, I had one of those surreal moments when something really exciting happens, but then after that moment passes you aren't sure if it happened at all. I was playing weiqi (围棋) with one of my friends in the Pit, which is the heart of UNC-Chapel Hill campus culture, after my last class of the day. A pomegranate Jamba Juice smoothie in hand, I was contemplating my next move when Kendall Marshall emerged from around the corner. 

It is not news that, following the Tar Heels' defeat in the Elite Eight and a short but intense period of fans waiting for an answer, Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall and John Henson all decided to enter the NBA draft. In fact, they announced their decisions yesterday, right before Marshall walked through the Pit, and I didn't even know the waiting game had been over until after he left and my friends told me. 

When I looked up and saw the tall, looming figure of Marshall walking in our direction clutching his own large Jamba Juice smoothie, I glanced at my friends with a sort of shocked, panic-stricken look on my face and then scrambled to my feet. 

I think I said something along the lines of, "I'd like to introduce myself. I'm Wendy," and then asked him how his day was after shaking his hand. There's no telling how often this happens to him on a daily basis, but Marshall introduced himself (I think? Again, it happened so quickly) and seemed pretty cool with all of this. And then, I told him that we were all extremely proud of him and what he had done for us this year. He thanked me with a smile, and I requested to take a photo with him. 

People of the world: This is Kendall Marshall, former point guard on the UNC-CH Basketball team! (Photo Credit: Marquis Peacock)

This was honestly the most exciting moment of the entire year for me so far. I never would have thought that I'd be lucky enough to meet one of the Tar Heels' best basketball players, much less get to talk to him and tell him how much he means to the Carolina community. Because even though there are a ton of local, state and national fans who are upset with Barnes', Marshall's, and Henson's decision to leave UNC-CH, I think inside all of us are proud of the way they have represented Carolina during their time here. 

Here is a confession: I didn't even know what Harrison Barnes looked like last year, or what our coach's name was (I know now, Roy). As a freshman, I still didn't really feel like I belonged at Carolina, much less care about UNC sports. It wasn't until this year, when I went to my very first basketball game and we won against Georgia Tech, that I learned my first lesson: Basketball isn't just about basketball. 

It's not just about how the crowd roars when Barnes catches a rebound or when Tyler Zeller makes a slam dunk. It's not just about the ominous cheers of Go to hell Dook! or I'm a Tar Heel born, I'm a Tar Heel bred, and when I die I'm a Tar Heel dead. And, believe it or not, it's not just about winning. It's about all of this taken together, and when the clock strikes 0:00 and the crowd rushes the court, it's about everything the team has done to get to that point. It's about how hard the Tar Heels have worked to get to where they are now.

We may not have won the NCAA tournament this year, but Carolina is still number one--and not just for the sports. I became hooked onto UNC Basketball this year after I realized how well our team members know each other--both on and off the court. Marshall was a good sport in deciding not to play in the Elite Eight due to his wrist injury, and I have seen the players be nothing but supportive of each other this entire season. In the end, it was the team's remarkably effective communication and clever strategies (aka Roy's coaching) that led us to beat Duke by 18 points earlier this month. And really, what else matters? 

Many--but not everyone--see this move by Barnes, Henson and Marshall as quitting, but I don't see it that way. Don't get me wrong--I am also pretty disappointed that I won't be able to see these big three lead us to incredible wins next year. And I may still be a newbie to UNC sports culture, but if there's anything I know it's this: If you have the determination to go for your dreams and do what you think is best for yourself even when everyone else is telling you otherwise, then that says something. Our team did the best it could with the time and resources given to the players and despite the injuries. We've won five NCAA championships, including the 2009 tourny, and this sounds blasphemous, but we don't need to win every single year. 

Barnes, Henson and Marshall are all moving on to bigger dreams. We should too. 

And anyhow, who says UNC-Chapel Hill can't win next year? If anything, their departure will give way to a brand new team with fresh, talented players ready to make 2012-2013 our year. I see you, McAdoo and Strickland. We're counting on y'all to make some Carolina blue magic happen on the court. No pressure or anything. 

Thanks to Barnes, Henson, Marshall and Zeller for making me truly feel like I belong here as a UNC student and as a Tar Heel fan this year. We will miss them, but I have a feeling we'll be seeing them a lot on television. Besides, they'll be back to visit--like Kendall Marshall said, he will always be a Tar Heel at heart. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Importance of Reading Sllloowlyyy

QOTD: Have you read The Hunger Games and/or seen the movie? If so, thoughts? If not, are you planning to join the hype? 

My reading and writing sanctuary this past summer at the Interfaith Chapel connected to the local hospital.

I used to pride myself on being a slow reader. When I was younger, I would read under the table during dinner and under the covers past bedtime, traveling across the world with nothing but my imagination to keep me satiated and my newly found friends to keep me company. I can't swim in an ocean or even a pool to save my life, but I love nothing more than to swim in a sea of words. 

It's been months since I last read for fun. It wasn't until I picked up my favorite magazine, Self,  a couple weeks ago and realized that my reading habits had completely changed. Instead of taking my time to read each page--from the Editor's Letter to the recipes to the stories of cancer survivors--like I always used to, my eyes darted from left to right and I finished the magazine in less than five minutes. What's more, I realized I didn't really enjoy what I just read. 

Truth is, it's difficult to take several reading-intensive classes and expect myself to soak in the textbooks like I would in a hot tub. Don't get me wrong - I find my psychology and journalism textbooks fascinating (really, I do). But when I'm on a deadline to take weekly quizzes on chapters of over 100 pages, it's not easy to find luxurious time for reading slowly. Instead, I resort to scanning the paragraphs, restating the main points to myself, and taking notes. 

And even then, I don't always fully understand what I am reading. 

I miss being able to take my time and really staying focused--not just when it comes to reading, but also when it comes to doing assignments or eating meals. The lack of time in a day puts a constraint on everything that needs to be done, so much that all the fun gets sucked out of whatever I am doing at the time. 

Yesterday, I picked up a psychology literature review on cognitive entrenchment** that a friend had passed on to me. I occasionally have to read literature reviews for my research methods class, but those are always for the purpose of research. This time, I read all the way through with no music on, no snacks, and no journal for note-taking. In short, Erik Dane (2010) suggests that evidence shows individuals of high expertise within a certain field leads to inflexibility, such as when it comes to instructing novices or adapting new ideas into their systems of already rigid values and methods. 

It took over half an hour for me to finish the article, but I was surprised by my level of interest in the article. It was so relevant to real world models, like company hierarchies. It was a little difficult to read given the sophisticated language, but the meat of Dane's article resonated with me and that was exciting--I really did understand what he was trying to say. I felt like I had learned. 

While comparing my past reading habits with my current conventions, I came up with three ways to merge them for the most affective reading experience (whether that be for reading textbooks or fantasy novels): 

1) Take notes and reflect after I read. If I am taking notes in between skims, it breaks my concentration. Plus, writing in between reading distracts me from actually absorbing the material. It's more effective to take in everything at once before pouring out any thoughts I may have on paper. 

2) Read all the way through, then go back and skim. That way, the first time around I am able to understand the content and its full context. Then, when I give the chapter a second glance, the main ideas will jump out at me and further anchor down what I just learned. 

3) Apply what I read to real examples. Do you remember back when you were little, what you did when you finished a book? If you were like me, you'd knot a cape around your neck and pretend you were the pirate or superhero in that book, ready to take on the adventures that the world had to offer--right in your own bedroom! That's essentially what I need to do, minus the cape. 

Whether you are reviewing the latest article on the Tar Heels' win against Ohio or staying up late to finish The Hunger Games, it's not about how fast you retain what you're reading (unless you're due for the 3 o'clock showing of THG). It's about what the information you are given means to you and how you use it to better understand your current outlook on life.

How do you make sure your reading experience is of high quality? What is the last thing (book, magazine, article) you read that really made you think?

**Source: DANE, E. (2010). Reconsidering the trade-off between expertise and flexibility: A cognitive entrenchment perspective. Academy Of Management Review35(4), 579-603. doi:10.5465/AMR.2010.53502832. 


Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Summer Plannin' Had Me a Blast"

QOTD: Who's ready for summer?? 
(Hint: Everyone's answer should be yes ;))

I meant to blog these past couple of weeks, but I literally haven't had time for anything other than school, sleep and meals! I am shocked--and, honestly, fearful--of the fact that March is almost over. I feel like I am floating. I wish time and space would stop moving so that I could find a way to get my feet back on the ground. Sadly, things don't work that way. Life moves so fast that it's easy to forget who I am--going to class after class, meeting new people and saying goodbye to those who will soon start a new chapter of their own lives. I have to remember not to be left behind. 

Lately, I have been writing my current literary project, researching internships and looking for other opportunities for the summer and next semester. Should I stay in Chapel Hill for summer school, or spend time in Boston? Would I benefit from another trip to China, and if so, how can I make it valuable and different from all my other previous trips? Ahh, there are so many factors to consider! 

My hair is getting really long :) 

I am also choosing my classes for the next two years and planning out how I want to live the rest of my college career. I tend to be rather detail-oriented, so it's been a challenge to think of the big picture. What decisions should I make right now in order for me to be prepared for the future? 

For instance, tomorrow my school is hosting Holi Moli, a wonderful Indian festival that celebrates the beauty of color and the coming of spring. Last year, I watched the whole thing and all I could think was, I want to be there in the crowd, painting. In the end, I chose not to buy a ticket for this year. 

I decided that, for me, Holi Moli should be a really special event meant for junior year-- which tends to be the year that epitomizes the best of college (like prom in high school junior year). If I went to Holi Moli the next three years, maybe it wouldn't seem as special. Instead I'll be watching, cheering and taking photographs at the event with friends and others. I can't wait! 

By the way, today in my Research Methods class our professor shared with us an excellent TED talk

Needless to say, I was motivated to start on my homework before opening Facebook when I got home! Watching this TED talk reminded me of what hard work will leave me, hopefully - an internship, hands-on experience in my field, a completed written book, knowledge about the way society works and, ultimately, lessons of a lifetime. 

How do you stay focused and keep your eye on the goal? What inspires you to stay motivated?

P.S. I went to the second annual Duke-UNC China Leadership Summit to learn more about the political and economic relationship between China and the US. I met so many intelligent, passionate students and learned so much about my culture! Did you know interpersonal relationships are one of the most valued things to Chinese people?


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Midterm Week and Awards Day

QOTD: When was the last time you had an unexpected surprise?

Well I have three tests this week and one paper due, but Miss Deanna Barnhart brightened me up by giving me some awesome awards: the Lucky Meme and the Sunshine Award! 

Thank you for tagging me! :) These were super fun to fill out. 

Here are the rules:
1. Go to page 77 of your current MS.
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy down the next 7 lines - sentences or paragraphs - and post them as they're written. No cheating.
4. Tag 7 authors. story was no worse than his, no less depressing or difficult to bear.

“You should write a book someday, Sophie.” James was grinning.

I blinked twice. What was that supposed to mean? I wasn’t sure if that was an insult, if he thought I was joking or lying about my story or if he was just trying to keep things light.

I went for my second guess.

“Ha, thanks for that, but writing isn’t exactly my thing,” I told him, trying to smile...

1. Favorite Color: Red--not orange red or blood red. Just deep, passionate red. 
2. Favorite Animal: Turtles and then monkeys! 
3. Favorite Number: 17
4. Favorite (non-alcoholic) drink: Water is my favorite drink...gotta' love nature's finest gift. 
5. Facebook or Twitter: Facebook, but I am getting more and more addicted to Twitter now too!
6. My passion: Writing and life
7. Getting or Giving presents: Honestly, I love giving presents more than anything else on holidays! I love going all out and surprising people with little things :) 
8. Favorite Pattern: I think plaid is such a cool, laid-back pattern.
9. Favorite Day of the Week: Tuesdays are my most relaxing days because I only have two short classes. 
10. Favorite Flower: Wow that's really hard. I'll go with azaleas. 

And the Awards go to...


Thursday, March 8, 2012

5 Creative Ways to Cut Back on Food Waste

QOTD: Share some tips with us on how you work to decrease the amount of food waste in the trashcan! 

One of my biggest pet peeves is food waste. Throwing away leftovers and sour milk makes me cringe, and I can't help but think about how this extra trash could have been minimized if only the food had been consumed perhaps a day or two earlier. That's a lot of money wasted. Not to mention the kids starving in third world countries and the damage being done to the environment. 

Obviously food waste can't be completely avoided, but there are several ways to make sure your trash can isn't smelling of rotten bananas and days-old chow mein at the end of the week. Here are some tips that I've learned during my one-and-a-half years as a college student so far: 

1. Look in the fridge every morning. Peer around to see if there are any leftovers or almost-empty cartons of milk that you could down for breakfast or pack up for a quick lunch. 

2. Actually use your fridge. I used to make the mistake of leaving leftovers or other food out, thinking that I would eat it later for a snack. Eight times out of ten, I didn't. I became too immersed in my homework (it happens) or something else came up or I just simply forgot--which left that sad Panera sandwich sitting all by itself for hours. Then when I came back from whatever I was doing, I had no choice but to throw it out. Now, I put food into the fridge no matter what I say I plan on doing. 

3. Only buy as much as you can eat. I have a bad habit of spending too much money on too much food. I listen to my stomach more than I reason, and in the end I'm not realistic about how big it (my stomach) really is. My goal for the next couple of months is learn how to estimate correctly the amount of food I can consume in one sitting and apply that to my food purchases. 

4. Split a meal with a friend. There's this great Indian eatery in our dining hall that serves the most delicious chicken curry combo. Only problem is, the serving is huge! It comes with two sides, naan and even rice; the price of each combo is a whopping $8.50. But these combos are just too good to pass. So I've made a habit of splitting the combo with a friend and it works out great--I get to save money and save food but still savor the spicy goodness of Sitar. 

5. Low on a lot of basic ingredients? Mix 'em all together! Yesterday, I was roaming around my kitchen for something to eat for lunch and decided on macaroni and cheese (my all-time favorite food, you know!). Normally I just melt some butter and Velveeta with the noodles, but it turned out I had a lot of random foods--like an almost-empty container of butter and three slices of honey ham left--that I needed to finish off. So I got creative. 

Ingredients: Butter, Velveeta cheese, Vermont white cheddar cheese, whole milk, Boar's Head honey ham, and macaroni noodles. 

The end result? A load of empty containers/boxes/bags and pure cheesy, buttery, ham-y heaven. 

Yes, I do eat macaroni and cheese with garlic salt!

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