Tag Archives: hobbies

The Curse of the Fun Fact: How those Little Talents Save you Major Anxiety

Mira Cooper

Mira Cooper,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 7 September 2016

The thing I dread most about the start of a new school year is that horribly, horribly uncomfortable first session of class, or first meeting of a club, when you’re forced to go around in a circle and introduce yourself. You give the basics: name, year, major, focus…then you’re asked to name a fun fact about yourself. Or you’re made to tell what you did over summer. Or you’re asked some other get-to-know-you question that you’ll answer, and immediately move on from.

Any normal person without a fleck of anxiety understands that what you say in that moment doesn’t really matter. It’s not like the group is going to dwell on it for more than five minutes anyway, right? But to anyone with social anxiety—which is most of us nowadays—that moment is the single most torturous event of the next fifty-five minutes and can leave you grasping at words, trying to find something interesting about yourself to share.

I’ve taken to being brutally honest about myself now in my “Fun Fact” sections. I don’t really have hobbies, at least none that I really consider hobbies. Sure, I enjoy reading, but most days I’m too tired to read when I come home. Yes, I like to hike, but I get woozy in the heat so I avoid spending too much time outside in the warmer months. I could say that I have a slight online shopping addiction (okay, not so slight, but my mom could be reading this so I don’t want to admit how bad it really is), but who doesn’t in this day of AmazonStudent?

None of these are particularly pleasant options, as they would lead to a room full of bored, blank faces, and frankly I like to garner a reaction from people. So, I’m blunt. “Yeah, I don’t really have hobbies,” I’ll say. “But, I can walk in seven-inch heels on brick roads.”

Usually, this confession leads to a few stunned faces, maybe a few chuckles, and sometimes even a “Uh, why do you have seven-inch heels?” However, it’s true! The best way out of an uncomfortable Fun Fact situation is to just have a collection of small, odd talents. Whenever I need to think of a factoid on the spot, I have enough to choose from to avoid the anxiety-ridden moment altogether.

And, I’m able to tailor my responses to my crowd. The heels answer is probably impressive to a group of cyclists, but not so much to a room of actors. Maybe, “I can do The Wave with my eyebrows” (demonstration included) is a bit more interesting. Engineers may find “I can make my tongue disappear in my mouth!” more exciting and weird than “I can balance a broom vertically on my pinkie while walking up stairs.”

Really, the moral of this story is that when I got to college, I realized that all of my weird little talents that I had spent my childhood perfecting were actually useful for something: overcoming anxiety! Learn thyself, know thyself, and you shall never have a truly uncomfortable time in the Fun Fact moments of life.

Steve Toth

Steve Toth,
Senior, Engineering Technology and Management

Athens, OH 7 February 2016

As I’m sitting in my apartment trying not to think of the cold outside, my mind wanders to summers past and the prospects of summers future. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned, in my free time, I enjoy restoring antique trucks and farm equipment. This past summer I restored a John Deere manure spreader for a client. Below is a before picture. At that point, most of the wood had significant rot and a significant amount of the metal had rust holes.

John Deere Manure Spreader Before Restoration

As the restoration process went on, replacement parts became a necessity and the search for 65 year old parts began. I was able to find a majority of the needed replacement parts from a salvage yard in South Dakota but one part eluded my search. The part was a sheet metal shield meant to prevent hands from being caught in the drive chains. These are often discarded to make maintenance easier. In the end, I was able to find a shield in a swamp in Illinois but it was in very poor shape:

Shield for Drive Chains

Through my experience in design, I was able draft a replacement in SolidWorks and send the file to a local fabricator to be CNC plasma cut and bent to shape.

Design of New Shield

In the end, this fabricated part brought the restoration together and was the crowning touch:

John Deere Manure Spreader After Restoration

Learning How to Crochet

Melinda Nelson

Melinda Nelson,
Senior, Industrial and ,p>Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 22 January 2016

I have found that early in the semester is when homework hasn’t hit full swing, there can be some real time to relax after class. This year I have managed to enjoy several relaxing activities in the afternoons and evenings when classes are finished. I have done some reading (that wasn’t in a textbook), listened to podcasts and taken time to work out. I have also expanded my hobbies, and have been able to unwind with my new favorite past time: crocheting!

Right before winter break, my roommate, Brittany, taught me how to crochet. I had watched her crocheting a lot since she had been making scarves and hats for others as Christmas presents. This is Brittany and some of her more recent projects.

Crocheting

She let me have a small ball of her extra yarn and, once I got the hang of the double crochet (that is a crocheting stitch) I went to town! I crocheted until the yarn was gone and had a nice scarf–my first project complete!

Brittany gave me “crochet starter kit” including several crochet hooks, yarn needles and a pair of scissors for my birthday. Shortly after that, I crocheted a hat that I gave to a cousin, and began looking for my next project. I went to Jo-Ann Fabric with Brittany over break to look for ideas and yarn. Here is the result of that trip:

Crocheting

Don’t worry, Brittany thought I looked pretty ridiculous as well! I went in with the idea of making a blanket because I have enough hats and scarves. Making a blanket takes a lot of yarn!

I began my blanket the week before coming back to classes here in Athens. I have been able to work on it here and there after class, which has been great. It is nice to be able to chill a little before homework starts coming in regularly. The following pictures show my progress on the blanket so far:

Crocheting
Crocheting
Crocheting

The cool thing about crocheting is that it is easy to find patterns and demo videos on the internet so you can learn new stitches and designs very easily. Crocheting wasn’t very hard to learn and it’s one of those things you can easily work on for a little while and come back to later. It has been a great way to relax and I am so glad that I picked it up as a hobby. These first few weeks of school have allowed me time to relax and unwind…many balls of yarn!

Taking Time Out to Cook

Alexa Hoynacke

Alexa Hoynacke,
Junior, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Athens, OH 13 January 2016

The start of the new semester is always a very fun and exciting time of the year. It’s a fresh start in classes and it’s nice to see everyone after being gone for about a month because of winter break.

One of my favorite things to do once it starts to get cold and snowy out is to cook. I love to cook all year round, but I absolutely love cooking in the winter because of the vegetables and foods that are in season in the winter. My mom loves to cook as well, so I was lucky to grow up in a household that valued the family time and creativity that always surrounded dinner time. Since being away at school I have tried to continue the same tradition of cooking at my house and sharing meals with friends.

A few of my favorite meals to make in this cold weather are soups, slow cooker meals, and hearty meals that I can keep during the week. Last week I made a very hearty black bean soup and chicken paella. It has been an adjustment figuring out how to fit cooking into my hectic schedule, but one of my favorite pastimes is taking a few hours once or twice a week to make a home cooked meal.

When it comes to cooking I am pretty lucky because in Athens we have an amazing farmers market that runs all year round. It’s on Wednesday and Saturday and definitely a thing to check out. They make it very easy for me to find fresh in-season foods such as root vegetables or locally grown foods.

When I don’t feel like cooking or just don’t have the time I love going uptown to places such as Zoe’s, Sol, or Jackie O’s. These are all amazing places to get great dishes, usually made from locally-grown foods.

Being a Basketball Coach

Jordan Sapp

Jordan Sapp,
Senior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 7 December 2015

As a senior in high school my thoughts about being an engineering student were quite clouded and pretty skewed. I could picture myself buried in the library with large books on the desk and not having any time for anything other than studying. I came to the realization that this is not an accurate picture of what college looks like as an engineering student nor is it healthy to be so focused on studies and not actually enjoying where you are in your life.

I do study often for my classes but not to the point where I don’t have time for anything else. As a senior in engineering I’ve found myself involved in many different things that I really enjoy doing outside of engineering.

Currently I am coaching a third- and fourth-grade coed basketball team through the local church I attend. I have practice on Monday evenings and games on Saturday mornings.

My team unfortunately is named the Wolverines (after the Marvel comic and not the college football team). There are two girls and five boys and coaching them is a blast.

I played basketball throughout my life and it is a passion of mine, so getting to share my passion with these kids is quite rewarding. The players come from vary different backgrounds and homes and it is often apparent in their behavior. Because of this, my favorite part of coaching arises, getting to love on the kids. It is two hours a week that I get to show the kids that they are valuable and awesome! I get to run around with them and be a kid all over again.

So, if you are coming into college, be ready to do some studying but also be ready to have some fun and really enjoy where you are!

Flying and Art

Drago Cvijetinovic

Drago Cvijetinovic,
Senior, Aviation

Athens, OH 14 September 2015

So it’s the start of week four of Fall Semester and everyone is still trying to get settled in here at OU. The streets and classrooms, bustling with students, radiate enthusiasm and excitement.

However, while everyone is just settling in, I’m going “full throttle” academically.

I decided to stay here in Athens over the summer to get ahead in my flight training. The start of the summer moved slowly by because of the rain, but once the sun came out, so did I. In the past 90 days, I’ve been able to log over 50 hours of flight time, 25 of which were solo flights. I spent most of my summer flying all over Ohio and her neighboring states.

Flying

My best flight had to be a solo flight to Smyrna, Tennessee, located approximately 10 miles southeast of Nashville. The whole flight took over 6 hours, but it challenged my aviation skills to the fullest extent.

Besides spending my time in the air, I spent a great amount of time on the ground working on small personal projects. I’ve always loved doodling, so I tried to branch out into the art scene. I studied some current artists and different styles. As a result, I did something that I wasn’t very familiar with: spray paint art.

The LeBron painting was the very first painting that I’ve ever done. I hand painted that about four years ago.

Lebron

The Yoda painting was the first full spray paint painting that I’ve done. That was this past summer.

Yoda Beats

I think that I mastered spraying on canvases, and I’m now considering painting the graffiti wall located on the top of the Richland Bridge.

This fall, I’m going to get an opportunity to fly a complex aircraft and complete my commercial license. Shortly after that, I’ll start my training to become a flight instructor here at OU and teach incoming aviators new skills that my past instructors once taught me.

What To Do When I’m Not Studying…

Ross Lowry

Ross Lowry,
Senior, Engineering Technology & Management

Athens, OH 10 December 2014

Finals week is in full swing, meaning sleep and motivation are at an all-time low, with stress at an all- time high. To be successful during finals week, you can’t burn yourself out. It is too easy to, and many students find themselves falling victim to this. My best advice, take breaks! It doesn’t matter if its two minutes or two hours, but you have to let your brain relax for a little bit.

Whenever I take a break, I always turn to music. If I am at either the ARC or the library I can put my headphones in and just zone out for a second and not have to worry about the exam I will be taking in a few hours.

If I am at home studying, I will go play guitar for a while. For me, playing guitar is my best escape; when I am playing I don’t focus on anything but the music, letting all the stresses of the day get droned out from my Marshall amplifier.

Guitar and Amp

Just the other night I learned the solo to the song “Hotel California” by the Eagles (great solo by the way for any guitarists out there). The first time I was able to play it all the way through without making any mistakes gave me a huge sense of accomplishment and satisfaction which is exactly the confidence boost everyone needs before finals week.

Playing Guitar

Don’t let finals week overshadow your passions in life, for they are exactly what your mind needs in order to relax, build confidence, and overall reduce stress. The less stressed out you are, the more successful you will most likely be on your finals. Don’t get me wrong, studying is very important, and a lot of time should be dedicated to it, but if you decide to take a break do something you enjoy doing to put your mind at ease.

Best of luck to everyone with finals this week!