What do you call a fake noodle?

Q: What do you call a fake noodle?

A: An Impasta

I student taught first grade this semester, and I quickly learned that a six year old’s sense of humor is very different from my fellow Barnard students.  They loved it when I did the unexpected.  If I said the month was July instead of December it would cause an uproar.  At first I was puzzled at what they found so funny about going against expectations, but then it hit me.  Little kids have just figured out the system.  A little kid has just figured out that December follows November.  When I kid and say the new month is July they laugh because they are finally in on the joke.

College humor is a bit different.  There are definitely some things that never change, as the dick that is often drawn in the snow outside the Quad shows.  But for more “highbrow” humor, adults love biting illuminations of the system.  Shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report thrive on showing the ridiculousness of government.  Topical humor is based on the idea of bringing a new light to common experiences.  Adults, and especially college students, crave this humor because we’ve realized that we don’t know the rules of the system.  We may know the months of the year, but we don’t know what we are doing a year from now. We love it when it seems like someone else knows what’s going on.

It’s hard to know the rules of the system when the system is always changing.  Once you’ve mastered high school you get thrown into college where a whole new host of expectations await.  Once you’ve finally understood all the campus jokes and explored the tunnels it’s time to graduate into the “real world”.  It’s scary and daunting.  But unlike a six-year old, you have experience that proves your strength.  It’s hard to tell a child that everything is going to be all right because they don’t have any empirical data to back it up.  “How do you know my friends will still love me if I don’t sit at the same table as them, even if there’s no room?  I’ve never experienced that before.”

But as college students we have.  We have been faced with challenges and have proven our mettle.  Even if it may seem like we haven’t done much, just the sheer fact that we have made it to where we are, wherever that may be, shows our worth.  We may not know all the rules, but we have the experience to know we can figure it out.

As I graduate and move onto the next chapter of my life I want to leave a few parting words.  Laugh at the elucidation of the system.  But also laugh at the unexpected; the mistakes you should have stopped making years ago.  Like trying to balance hot coffee and a full stack of papers.  Or believing that a 9 AM lab on a Friday will encourage you to go to bed early.  We are all still figuring it out.  Some of us are just better at faking it than others.

Just remember to be well and always look on the bright side of life.

So long Barnard, and thanks for all the feminism,



Ways to Reset

As we approach the last few days of this finals week, hanging onto calm can sometimes begin to feel more difficult. When I feel myself beginning to sink into a pattern of anxiety and bad feelings, finding a way to “reset,” or break out of the spiral, helps enormously. Whether it’s taking a quick fun video break or getting up and moving around a little bit (even if you feel you don’t have time for a full-fledged walk) a little bit of variety can help. Here are some other strategies for breaking out of the rut:

1. A quick breathing exercise: A simple one is inhaling through your nose for 2 counts, exhaling through your mouth for 4; pause, and repeat. (You can also use any rhythm of slow breathing that feels comfortable for you).

2. Drinking water: Even mild dehydration (which can happen even before you feel thirsty) has the ability to affect mood, focusing ability, and feelings of fatigue, so drinking cool water or tea (available in the Well-Woman office!) can offer both a little break and a feeling of relief.

3. Doing a simple chore: If you have a quick chore that could use doing – wiping down your desk, maybe, or washing your dishes – completing the chore and focusing your attention on it – the spots on the desk, the feeling of water running over your hands – can help relieve some stress and leave you feeling more balanced.

4. “Bzzt” reset: A friend swears by doing a “physical” reset to help snap out of a distracted, negative, or unproductive way of thinking – making a “bzzt” noise with your mouth and shivering, as if you’re a kitchen timer that’s just gone off. The physical absurdness of the gesture is often enough to make you laugh, and it’s supposed to symbolize a physical reset. Afterward, it can be helpful to ask yourself “Okay, where do I go from here?”

And that kids is the story of how I met…. Part 3!

We now continue our quest to learn how to make friends in college, in life, and beyond with a few more words of wisdom from some Barnard staff and administrators, including Well Woman’s own Jessica!

Natalie J. Friedman,Dean of Studies

Right after graduation, I moved back in with my parents in order to save money while attending graduate school. I thought that would be the end of my social life! I was happily wrong: I met some of my closest friends in graduate school, and they saw me through the ups and downs of graduate study, my first real love, and my first job post-Ph.D. Much to my delight and surprise, amazing friends came along when I became a mom — other moms I met through schools and daycares, or even at my workplaces, became close friends who taught me about parenting, working, and womanhood. Just the other night, I spent an evening talking with a woman I met through my son’s friend, and although we started out talking about our kids, we ended up talking about what it means to be a woman in the 21st century and how different it is from the experience our mothers and grandmothers had. Sharing a conversation and a glass of wine with this woman made me realize that you never stop making new friends along your path, and these new people are important for seeing you through life’s transitions and direction-shifts.

Abigail Sara Lewis, Athena Center for Leadership Studies

My first job was in a new city, where I knew two people.  I got off to a rocky start with one staff member, who encouraged the rest of the staff not to be friendly with me. I was pretty lonely the first month.  So, I threw myself into my work and I soon impressed my boss – who was very vocal on the good work I was doing.  This lead to a serious thaw at the office, and I soon made friends with all of my co-workers.  Eighteen years later, two of them are still my best friends.

Heather Van Volkinburg, Associate Director of Learning Initiatives and Data Services 

Most of my friends I’ve met through work and the networks I’ve developed as a part of my work. For example, I used to teach English as a Second Language in Madrid, Spain. I met one of my best friends while we were both teaching English. Even after we both left Madrid and we never lived in the same city again and sometimes we didn’t live in the same country, we still managed to remain very close. We travel to see each other and sometimes meet at places in between. She’s a closer friend than some of the friends I made in college!

Jessica Cannon, Program Director, Health Promotion and Education

Graduating from Barnard and staying in NYC, I was lucky enough to have a number of my college friends close by in my first post grad years. But after a bit, many of those folks moved farther away. And when they did, I made new friends through…a book club! I found the book club in an interesting way–I wrote a fan email to a Brooklyn-based blogger I thought was fantastic, telling her that her posts had helped me feel cheerful in a tough time. She wrote back to say thank you, and after a few more emails back and forth she asked if I would like to join the book club she was forming. There were eight of us–all total strangers–at the first meeting, and we met every month for almost four years. I still remember walking out of the very first meeting, feeling so excited about the people I had just met. We’ve stopped having official book club meetings (a few folks moved and a few others had babies!), but three of the women I met, including the original blogger, have become some of my closest friends. So I definitely recommend book clubs, and just taking the plunge and introducing yourself to people who seem like they’d be fun to know.