FIVE THINGS I WISH I HAD KNOWN TO PREVENT NERVOUS BREAKDOWNS.
— Alejandra Montserrat Gonzalez Romo
1. Weather alert. We all know Chicago’s weather is nasty, but at SAIC, you also have to watch the weather inside the school classrooms. The summer heat is agonizing and it isn’t over yet, so the a/c in most classrooms (especially ones with computers) is set to freezing. No matter how many students complain about it, that will probably never change. So my advice is to dress with the cruel indoor weather in mind, to avoid spending three hour (or more)-long classes begging for the time to go faster so you can be warm again, instead of focusing on learning at least a little something.
2. Elevator madness alert. Elevators during rush hour at SAIC can be a nightmare, especially when you are running late for class. On my first days of class last year, I showed up at the MacLean building at 8:59 a.m., hoping that the elevator would be ready to shuttle me up to the 9th floor to make it in time for 9:00 a.m. class. Trust me, that will never happen — make sure to save an extra ten minutes on your rushed morning schedule to spend on overly crowded elevators, which will make a stop on each and every floor before getting to your final destination. And believe it or not, that would be an ideal scenario — the other option consists of you running up thousands of stairs and getting to class not only late, but absolutely breathless and sweaty.
3. Starvation alert. Food will definitely be one of the main reasons for your wallet’s emptiness during the school year. Ms. Szremski is right (see number 4 on her list); in the end we all end up surrendering to Cosi, but my advice is to try to spend as little money as possible buying expensive, ready-to-eat food. Bringing food from home can be a great option. If you, like me, are a terrible cook, ask your mom for easy recipes and start practicing. Microwaves are available at school to heat up your homemade meals . This will save you lots of dollars, which you might end up spending on Friday beers anyway — but believe me, those will make you much happier, and are often a lot more necessary.
4. Don’t wait until finals alert. Please don’t! I don’t want to should motherly, but that might be the best tip I could ever give you. Syllabi are annoying and boring, but if you give them a chance and try to stick to them as work schedules, you might be surprised on how less dramatic your student life can be. Don’t leave those piles of reading until the last minute or you will regret it. Oh, you will.
5. Watch your partying habits alert. I’m sorry to be a pooper, but this alert is devoted to have you think twice before spending more than half of your monthly budget on club covers, concert tickets, drinks and late-night cab rides. Chicago is a great city to party — options for fun nights out are endless — but the average student’s budget isn’t. Hangovers and too many sleepless nights turning you into a zombie might not be as much of a problem as empty pockets when it’s time to pay the rent.