Health, Opinion

Surprise, You Have Anemia

I’ve been lucky for most of my college career to not be the stereotypical “broke college student,” because I worked a lot more than I wished I had, looking back. However, after I spent all my money in Europe last spring, I was met with more bills, my sometimes impulsive spending habits, and no savings. Thankfully, I lived at home, but I was paying hundreds of dollars a month for school without any help.

My organizational skills are awful, and that includes budgeting. I decided the best way to save money was on food. Done right, this would have been a great idea, except I didn’t limit the food I bought at restaurants going out, I limited what I ate for my daily meals. I rarely packed a lunch, and between work and school, I’d be out of the house more than 12 hours most days. I think I lived an entire semester on yogurt and bananas from my office and muffins or bagels from Dunkin Donuts.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

I felt fine at first. I finally lost weight, so I was really happy about that. But then, I started feeling worse. The first thing that hit me was the exhaustion. I was so tired all the time, and sometimes I even found it hard to stand. I was dizzy and lightheaded often, especially when I stood up. My heart would suddenly start beating fast and sometimes I had unexplained chest pain. I was rarely hungry, and when I was, the thought of eating made me nauseous. I was short of breath for no reason at all, and was beginning to be horrified at just how out of shape I thought I was. (I’m sitting on my couch writing this now and I still can’t seem to get enough downloadoxygen breathing regularly.) It took a long time for me to make a doctor’s appointment, because I never thought to put all those symptoms together. I didn’t think I was sick enough to go to the doctor’s and I thought I’d be wasting everyone’s time.

My mom finally forced me to go and even the doctor was puzzled. She told me she couldn’t see anything wrong, but there must be something. After a bunch of blood tests, we finally figured out that I have iron deficiency anemia. I didn’t even know that was a thing. It’s not serious, and I’m so glad for that, but even after taking iron pills for a month, I don’t feel much better. Apparently, it takes a long time for your body to recover from such a severe lack of iron.

Eating Well in College is Important

Now that my senior year is coming and I need to get an internship, I will be even shorter on cash and anemia is the last thing I have the time or attention to worry about.  We’ve all seen those news stories on Facebook telling us that we can’t eat right on a minimum wage budget. Even though this is sort of true, health problems down the road can cost even more than you could imagine. Eating right is so important, especially in college, when we are pushing our bodies to the max with work, schoolwork, partying, extra curriculars and all-nighters.

There are other ways aside from expensive take out to eat well and be a responsible adult.. My sister (somehow) wakes up early every morning to give herself enough time to pack a lunch and eat breakfast. I’m lucky If I can wake up early enough to put on makeup before rushing out to catch my bus. However, I can’t just take my health for granted even in college, because it could affect me for the rest of my life. I’m so thankful that my anemia is nothing serious and it won’t be so long-term, but I realize now the freshman fifteen isn’t the only unhealthy side effect I need to worry about when eating in college.

Campus, Opinion

Getting Ahead: The College Catch 22

Sleep: a college urban myth. The ever elusive act of sleeping can only be witnessed on the Emerson College campus if you wander into a History of Media Arts 1 class where you will surely find a room full of sleeping college students. You may think it would be more common to find students asleep at night, however, you’re more likely to find a bunch of Emerson students wandering around campus at 11 p.m. having just finished up their nightly org meetings, red bulls in hand, as they migrate back to the dorms for another homework-filled all-nighter. Not exactly the college life that most of us envisioned growing up and certainly not the college experience that we are bombarded with in the media. However, in recent years, it has become both an expectation and a commonplace that college students maintain balance among the pressure to succeed in all aspects of their lives.

Today college students are expected to maintain stellar grades, work a part-time job, intern, be involved in (if not lead) clubs, volunteer and have a social life that rivals that of the Gossip Girl cast.  The result of all of this is to prove that they are a well-rounded person, whatever that means. Students who do not measure up to these qualities, or choose to not follow this format, are labeled slackers, or even worse, deemed failures. While college students have always been busy, in past generations students who did everything listed above would have been considered highly ambitious or successful. Now doing all of these things is simply average, and in order to be ambitious or a success, the minimum criteria is you need to have your own start-up. It’s no longer enough to simply go to school and perform well, expecting to find a job upon graduation. Today students are encouraged to constantly be building a resume with relevant experience before even graduating. With the job market more competitive than ever and the lack of weight a college degree carries anymore; students often push themselves past their limits in order to just keep up with their peers.

But are we really getting ahead or are we simply getting by? There is only a certain point to which a person can stretch themselves before their work starts to suffer. At some point the constant busy way of life will lead to an eventually burning out. Yet, it seems our society has grown accustomed to expecting quantity on a resume rather than quality.

Personally, I’m one of the biggest offenders of this lifestyle. I go to class and work during the day and once I get back to the dorms at night, I do homework and work on projects, leaving around four hours for sleeping. Naturally, 20 hours a day, six to seven days a week can lead to being burnt out and I find that I will often crash sleep for 12-15 hours increments every few weeks. Then, there are times where there are literally not enough hours in the day to get everything done, so I have to find ways to cut corners. I’ve heard multiple times from friends and peers that they feel class is a waste of their time, because there are other things they could be working on. It’s not uncommon at Emerson, and I’m sure colleges around the country, to see students in class on their laptops, doing other class work or applying for jobs and internships. Even though classes are the purpose of attending college, the actual class time seems to take a back seat to students’ other commitments.

While it’s not about fleeing from commitments and responsibilities and longing for the simpler days of high school, it’s important to find a wholistic college experience, where students can be engaged in everything they are doing, rather than simply going through the motions. It can be tempting to try to seize every opportunity that your college or university has to offer, and in doing so bulk up your resume. However, come graduation you may feel like you never experienced any aspect of college to the fullest. That’s the college Catch 22; either gain experience or have a college experience.