No Joke: Busting the Finals Stress with Comedy

Minions from Despicable Me laughing

Enjoy a good laugh this week!

It’s heeeeerrreeee.  It’s the week before finals week and, as I write this, I can feel the campus slowly descending deeper into insanity. The weight of the semester has finally come down on us at once and everyone’s stress levels couldn’t be higher. We’ve lived in denial over mounting to-do list for too long and now it’s time to start replacing homework with vital components of daily life like eating, showering, or breathing.  Now it’s time to roll out a mat on the second floor library and fight off the mounds of papers as theyinnevitablytrytoCONSUMEUSALIVE….

Whoa… Let’s just slow down for a second and take a breath. Finals can take a lot out of you, but they don’t need to take your sanity.  I think we need to spin the dial to the safe where we’ve locked away our joy, and I when stress from my daily life keeps dragging me down I have always turned to comedy for relief.

It’s no joke when people say, “laughter is the best medicine.” In the short term, comedy can lighten the load mentally and actually lead to physical benefits by increasing endorphins, lowering blood pressure and acting as a muscle relaxant.  But you didn’t come here for a biology lecture.  All of these facts that I ripped off from the Mayo Clinic are here to make it clear that comedy simply makes you feel better.

Comedy has always been something I have been passionate about, and I feel there is no better outlet for stress relief than laughter.  Below are my personal favorites of every comedy medium I could think of that can act as an easy resource for you.  If the stress from exams is starting to bring you down, I encourage you to take 20 minutes away from your work and rifle through the lists. These albums, books, movies and websites have never failed to make me laugh, even in the toughest times.  Feel free to disagree with me and get your own list going! You are by no means bound to what I think. There are thousands of others that I wish I could put down, but I would take up the whole week that you should be studying.

Note: Most contain some explicit material, but we’re all adults. Please listen to what you feel comfortable with.

Caleb’s Top Comedy Albums (Free on Spotify)

Favorite Comedy Websites:

Caleb’s Funniest Movies

Books/Audiobooks:

Good luck and don’t forget to laugh every once in a while!

–Caleb Bednarski

Disconnect to Reconnect

a cord being unplugged from an outlet and a family hugging

Take the time to reconnect with your family and disconnect from your devices.

Disconnect. A word that’s meaning has changed drastically with our generation. It has become a very scary word to some people. There are so many questions around the action of disconnecting: How will people reach me? How will I know what’s going on in the world? What if something important happens?

We are the digital generation; our devices have become a way that we define ourselves. In a way they have become how we see ourselves as well. We view ourselves through the lenses of our cameras and we soak up information through screens of tablets, computers and phones.

In our free time what are we doing besides uploading, scrolling through posts or “liking” things? Most people document their lives through status updates, tweets or Instagram photos. We feel that posting things will help us connect to people and help them connect to their lives.

But what would happen if we all disconnected? Even for a week? Nothing. You would not die from lack of information. People would still be able to reach you. The world would not end.

When you disconnect from technology it gives you a chance to see your life in a new light. You can’t edit real life, there are no filters to make things seem better. You can always delete or edit posts or pictures on the internet, but in the real world you don’t get those privileges to rewrite and edit what you do or say.

With the holidays coming up what better chance is there to disconnect and reconnect with your family and friends? There is nothing wrong with creating memories with photos or posts, but when you just take a picture to take a picture what substance does that have?

Technology doesn’t hurt us and in so many ways it brings us together and helps us stay close to people. But it also doesn’t hurt to step away and take a break to remind ourselves that life is moving by so quickly–things are happening here and now and we need to pay attention.

Stepping away and disconnecting to reconnect with our family and friends can give you opportunities to create new memories with no filters.

So over this holiday break I challenge you to disconnect from your devices and reconnect with those around you.​

–Emily McCaleb

When Working in College, Balance is Key

a college student balances on a slack line

This isn’t exactly the type of balance I had in mind…

Most college students go to school full time–meaning they take at least 12 credits each semester–and fill their time with homework, projects and classes. Others, however, decide to get a job or more than one job. The reasons people get jobs vary: needing to pay for college, wanting personal spending money, getting job experience or for some other reason. Now, balancing college and a job can quite challenging and takes some planning. But I’m here to tell you that it can be done.

If you are considering get a job while taking a full course load of classes, the first thing you need to understand is that school should always come before work. And then you need to make sure that your employer understands that and that they respect that. On-campus jobs will accommodate your class schedule but off-campus jobs can be a bit trickier. However, most businesses in college towns are pretty flexible with the college students who for them.

Another thing you need to think about is your time management. You should not let your grades slip because you are working too many hours. What’s the point in making a lot of money while in college, failing your classes and not getting a degree? Try to limit yourself to working 10-15 hours per weeks to give yourself time to go to class and do your homework. When you get up to 25 hours per week or more, you’ll have to really push yourself to get your school work done.

I personally work two jobs, as a receptionist at the WSU Admissions Office and as a CNA at Lake Winona Manor with Winona Health. They are both flexible with my classes, allowing me to create my own work schedule rather getting assigned certain shifts, which is a pretty sweet deal. Both of my employers understand that my school work comes before my work for them. School is more important, but I’ll readily admit that it is nice to work to get some spending cash. Everyone deserves to splurge every once in a while.

Working during college is not for everyone, but it is a good way to get some extra money. You can always get a job with only a couple of hours a week to start with and then increase your hours from there if you find you have extra time in your week.  But if you discover working in college isn’t for you, then you just explain that to your boss. It is hard work balancing school and a part-time job, but worth it in the end.

–Liz Peterson

The City of Winona: It's Not All About WSU

an aerial view of WSU and Winona

While WSU students are a big part of Winona, we’re not the only ones who live in this town.

Sometimes it seems like Winona State is its own mini-city. We’re all part of WSU in some way, whether we just go to class, visit the gym regularly or are super involved in campus organizations. It’s quite the little community we’ve got growing between Mark and Wabasha streets. But as busy students, we often forget that we’re also part of a larger community—the Winona community. And guess what? That community is pretty frickin’ cool.

Even though most of us are here for a few years at most while we finish our degrees, I think it’s important to make Winona your home away from home. Here are few ways you can start getting more involved in the Winona community outside of WSU.

When you need to study, give your boyfriend (a.k.a. the Darrell Krueger Library) a little space for a bit. Don’t worry, he’ll understand. Hey, maybe the space will even strengthen your relationship.

There are plenty of other places to study that are both college-student friendly and involve members of the community outside of Winona State. The Acoustic Café, the Blue Heron and Blooming Grounds are all great places to study. If you’re the type that needs somewhere really quiet to study, you can always use the Winona Public Library. Plus the public library is actually a beautiful, historic building, so if you haven’t been there I recommend you check it out.

Another way to be more involved in the Winona community is to volunteer. I volunteer at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum once a month and the last time I was there, one of the docents (that is, people who give tours of the art) remarked to me that it was so nice to see a younger face volunteering at the museum. To me, this says that Winona residents are excited about students from WSU being more involved in the community. Especially since campus is smack dab in the middle of town, I think we should really work to foster a stronger relationship between the students and the Winona community.

You could also search for jobs outside of campus. I have two jobs, one on-campus and one off-campus. I am the editor of the Wellzine with a shared office in the IWC, and I also write for the Winona Post. While jobs on campus are really convenient and flexible, I’ve met a lot of cool people of the Winona community through my job with the Winona Post. For instance, I was at the last Live at the Levee music night and saw one of the artists I’d interviewed this summer. He remembered me and we ended up having a nice conversation about his art.

Just because most of us are in Winona temporarily for school doesn’t mean that we can’t make it as much of a home as the towns we grew up in. By getting outside of our little campus community, we have greater opportunities to meet new people and make connections. Even if it’s just someone you share a passing wave with, becoming more connected in this beautiful community we live in is really fulfilling.

–Kim Schneider

Major Reasons to Join a Club for Your Major

As students, we are pushed to join clubs and, let’s be honest, we’re all probably sick of hearing about them. But I’m begging you—just listen up for a second. This is valuable information! Most majors and minors on campus have a club specifically for that major and if you’re not all ready a part of that club, make a point to attend a meeting this semester. In addition to resume building, you’ll find many valuable experiences buried like little hidden treasures when you are involved with your major’s club.

As a Journalism major, I joined the Society for Collegiate Journalists (SCJ) almost two years ago when it was just getting started on campus. Now I am both a regular member and the Projects chair, which makes me sound like a glorified crafts-maker, but actually entails quite a bit of work. I’m also an administrator of our Facebook page.

For me, the most rewarding part about my journalism club is how well I’ve come to know some of my classmates. Many of the other people in my club are also in my classes or have taken the classes I’m taking so if I ever need help on an assignment, I can lean on them. It’s also great to spend time with people who share my passion for journalism even though we only meet for an hour once a week.

Through SCJ I’ve met two people who’ve become my best friends, Kayle and Kayla. Since the three of us have been so involved in organizing club activities, it was almost impossible for us not to become friends. Not only are they helpful when I have questions about class, but we also have so much fun together. If we hadn’t been in SCJ, I don’t know if the three of us would be as close as we are.

three women pose together

Kayla, Kayle and I attended the SCJ Spring Initiation in the Winona Daily Newsroom last year.

It sounds cliché, but as a student, you should be involved in as many campus activities as you can. Besides the fact that most campus events are either a great opportunity to expand your knowledge or are just plain fun, campus club activities are also a good opportunity to hang out with your fellow club members outside of a meeting or classroom setting. SCJ did a Walking Waffle fundraiser earlier this semester so I got to hang out with the club and make waffles for people. When your majors club does an event, it’s a fun opportunity to tell other people about your major and share your passions with others.

two college girls make waffles

Kayla and I getting all domestic making waffles for our fundraiser this fall.

Being in your major club comes with benefits outside of campus too. Many times, clubs have opportunities for members to create personal ties with other professionals in the business. For example, last year SCJ went to the Minnesota Newspaper Convention. We sat in on panel talks, one of which included the editor of the Winona Post. I went up to her afterward, introduced myself and she gave me her card. At the end of last semester, I contacted her and have been writing for them ever since. This is an opportunity I probably wouldn’t have gotten if I hadn’t gone to this convention with my club.

Aside from all the benefits of simply being in your major’s club, it is also a prime opportunity to have a leadership role. I am the Projects Chair for SCJ, which sounds like some sort of obscure title for someone who does a lot of crafts, but it is so much more than making posters for events. With the election this November, I decided I wanted to do something to educate voters. Through discussions with our club advisor, Professor John Vivian, I decided to host a Sheriff’s Forum in which I would invite both Sheriff candidates in and grill them on how they plan to cooperate with the press if they are elected sheriff. I contacted the candidates, came up with questions, reserved a space, did the PR and moderated the event. Although doing all of that on my own was kind of stressful, the end result was really rewarding.

As you can see, there are so many benefits–both socially and professionally–to being involved in your major’s club, so stop making excuses for not joining!

–Kim Schneider

Think Before You Tattoo

College is the time for trying new things and, for some, going a little bit wild. We are all 18 or older so we have more freedom in our choices for how to live our lives. One of the first things I thought of on my 18th birthday was that I could now get tattoos without my parents’ permission.

I had wanted to get a tattoo for so long, but I didn’t want to get it right away– mostly because I wanted to make sure it was what I really wanted and my parents are completely against tattoos. I waited until second semester of my freshman year to get it, almost a full year from when I turned 18. My first tattoo was the word “strength” in an infinity sign  on my hip. I now have a second tattoos (a cross near my heel) and plans for more in the future.

a newly finished tattoo

I was so excited to get my first tattoo!

Because they are so permanent, tattoos are not something to take lightly. Like I said earlier, I deliberated for months before I went down to Red Wing Tattoo here in Winona. Before you get your first tattoo, here are some things you really need to consider:

  • Think about it for at least 5 months. If you haven’t changed the spot or the tattoo in that time, then it is safe to get it. Don’t ever get a tattoo on a spur of the moment or when you are intoxicated because it NEVER ends well
  • Talk to your friends and family about your ideas for a tattoo and get their opinions
  • Think about your future career and whether a tattoo will hurt you professionally. I am going to be a nurse and visible tattoos are not allowed. My tattoos, however, can be hidden under scrubs. A few other professions that might require the tattoo to be covered are: doctor, veterinarian, teacher, retail salesperson, day care provider and many office jobs
  • Research the business where you are going to get it done. Several of my friends have gotten tattoos at Red Wing Tattoo, like I have. But I also know one person someone who had gotten his tattoos at Third Eye Tattoo, also in downtown Winona.
  • Research prices and make sure you can afford to get the tattoo. The price depends on where you go, the size of the design and how much color there is. Both of my tattoos cost me $40 because they are small, one-color student discount tattoos.
  • Make sure the tattoo means something to you, something important. If you have ever watched the tv show “Bad Ink” on A&E or have seen those Buzzfeed listicles, you know what I’m talking about.

Hopefully, these tips can help some of you to figure out whether or not to get a tattoo. The major thing to remember is that tattoos are permanent! If you do want to get one taken off, it is extremely expensive and painful so make the right decision the first time around.

–Liz Peterson

Homecoming is #StillCoolSober

success kid meme

Homecoming is upon us, people! Whether you’re an alum or a current student, it’s a time show your school spirit and have fun.  Unfortunately, Homecoming—and not just at WSU but most colleges in general— has gotten a reputation as a weekend of all-out partying that overshadows the focus of celebrating our WSU community.

Rachel is a freshman and I, Elizabeth, am a senior, and we can both attest that there is an expectation to get wasted on Homecoming weekend, no matter if you are legal to drink or not. We’re sure you’ve all seen the unauthorized Homecoming t-shirts and tanks with bad puns about drinking. But just because you feel the pressure to drink doesn’t mean that you must get hammered to count yourself as a “true” Warrior.

Personally, I, Rachel, am not going to drink this Homecoming and I am a strong advocate for anti-drinking. I’ve never really seen the point, especially if your goal is to stay drunk all weekend. Why would you need to be drunk all day? It just wastes your money and your time.  Plus, you won’t remember any of the “good times” you’re having!

family guy characters

Also, excessive drinking does not make you cool or attractive—it just makes you a target for laughter. If you’re passed out by 9pm, people will likely draw on your face and take pictures. If you’re vomiting in the bathroom at a house party or behind the bleachers at the football game, people will be making fun of you, not cheering you on. If you are super drunk and have good friends, they will simply get annoyed by having to take care of you and will call 911 if they suspect you have alcohol poisoning. If you have really bad friends, they might just make sure you’re turned on your side.

Additionally, there will be extra police patrols out on Homecoming weekend so if you’re underage there is an increased chance of getting a minor consumption ticket. If you are 21+, you could get tickets for drunken disorderliness, noise violations or providing alcohol to minors if your house party gets busted.

Now, what part of that wasted homecoming experience sounds fun? (Sorry for our own bad pun.)

We both want to be able to remember WSU HoCo14 and am sure you do too. In fact, all the Homecoming events like the comedy show, the parade and the football game will be way more enjoyable if you can see and stand up straight. For those of you who know that drinking is not for you, go to  with friends who share this view Instead of going out at night, host a Netflix party, play games and have fun your own way. As you celebrate Homecoming, tag your tweets, Instagram posts and Facebook pics with the hashtag #StillCoolSober to show that other students that you don’t need to be drunk to have fun.

All that being said, we’re not telling you that you can’t go out and party on Homecoming. We understand that partying isn’t all bad–I, Elizabeth, do enjoy going downtown on the occasional weekend–just do it responsibly. If you are going to drink, know that there is a limit to much alcohol your body can take in a given timeframe. Pace yourself to about one drink per hour and drink a glass of water every so often as well. This way you can still enjoy your time with your friends but avoid the hangover the next morning.

In fact of the matter is that, WSU’s reputation as a “turn up school” is pushed by a small section of the student population, not the majority, and Homecoming seems to bring out the worst. Together, we can work to change that obnoxious, cirrhosis-inducing culture to a culture of responsible drinking and sober fun.

–Rachel Adam & Elizabeth Meinders

Protect Yourself on Social Media

caution tape around social media icons

You need to be careful when using social media.  Photo Credit

In my last post I warned you about some of the dangers of social media. So, now I am going to tell you how avoid such embarrassing, future-ruining and potentially law-breaking activity?

1. Follow Codes of Conduct

Just do it. Yes, most of it is common sense and your gut should tell you when something might be against a code of conduct, but it’s best to know what your social media platforms deem acceptable, and more importantly, what they deem as unacceptable. It’s especially important to know the WSU’s definition of appropriate conduct because we’re using their wifi, their laptops and their iPads.

2. Think About Where Your Posts End Up

That is, remember that they are being sent into the infinity of the cyber-world. Is it something that others could use for something you never intended? Is it something you feel good about putting out into the great abyss of the internet? Will you still be proud thirty, forty, fifty years down the road? Be conscious of who can find your posts, and how they could use them.

3. WWYFET?

Write it on your planner, braid it into a bracelet, tattoo it to your bicep, but whatever you do, keep it in mind: WHAT WOULD YOUR FUTURE EMPLOYER THINK? Remember that they likely didn’t grow up in an age where sharing a pic of all your tattoos was a normal thing to do. So keep it appropriate for employer eyes.

4. Keep Your Private Matters Private

The world of social media doesn’t need to know everything about you. No, seriously…it doesn’t. The world doesn’t need to know when you last went to the bathroom, and it doesn’t need to know what underwear you chose to wear that day. Trust me, all that stuff is better kept to yourself.

6. Don’t be Hurtful

This is the rule that really gets to me and the one that I think is far more important than anything else I’ve said above. One of the worst things to come from social media is the way people think that hiding behind a computer screen is an excuse for being mean, nasty or hurtful. Why do we think that anonymity gives us the right to hurt other human beings? Think about the person on the other side of the screen before you post. What if those hurtful words were being said about your sister, your brother? Your best friend? YOU?? Let’s be better humans online and take a deep look at why you want to post hurtful comments in the first place.

Social media is a place where anything can happen. Screenshots can be taken, job opportunities can be lost, a reputation can be tarnished and posts can be reported. It’s also a place of fun—a place for memories, friendships, and even education.

So here’s the moral of the story: BE CONSCIOUS of what you post, because it’s a reflection of the person staring into the screen.

–Leah Dobihal

Social Media's Hidden Dangers

How many days could you go without checking social media? Maybe two, tops? It seems we live in a world where social media runs our lives. We check Instagram while walking to class, take Facebook breaks during study sessions and tweet while out to dinner with friends. But how much do we think about what we write? What we share? What we post? Because as you and I both know, it’s not always pretty.

Let’s be honest–we’ve probably all posted something we shouldn’t have on social media. And we’ve regretted it. Since sharing our entire lives on the web seems to be so commonplace to our generation, I’m going to dissect that habit and see what’s inside.

First, let’s talk about the dangers of social media. (And there are plenty.)

1. Screenshots

We all know what these are. Snap a pic of your screen and you can have it forever. Or another way to look at it is that other people can save your posts forever. The other day I was scrolling through Twitter and I saw one of my Instagram pictures being featured in a random organization’s tweet. I had no idea that something I’d posted on Instagram would end up on a different media platform and in the hands of someone I have never met. Scary? Definitely.

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2. Un-impress Employers

Probably the most important person to think about when posting to social media is your future employer. Picture him or her—powerful, professional, maybe sporting glasses or a polished mustache. Now picture them looking at what you posted yesterday, or last week or last year. Would they hire you? I’m not talking about goofy photos with your friends. Those won’t get your résumé thrown into the trash, but posts featuring alcohol, drugs, nudity or other illegal activities will seriously hurt your chances of an employer taking you seriously.

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3. You can Never Un-Post

One of the most dangerous things about the internet is that it’s forever. A mean comment, a racy photo, an embarrassing video or an inappropriate status—you’re never getting them back. They’ll be floating around in the cyber-universe until you’re bouncing your grandchildren on your knees. So think twice before you send something into the blackhole, because you’re never getting it back.

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4. Wreck a Good Reputation

Let’s face it, our generation judges people based on their social media presence. Post too much and you’ll be labeled annoying, post too little and you’ll be labeled mysterious. But these aren’t the labels we need to worry about. How about being labeled as mean? Or being labeled a bully? The way we talk on social media reflects on us, even when we don’t realize it.

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5. Breaking Codes of Conduct

You may know that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all have their own codes of conduct. They’ll tell you what you can post, what you can’t and everything in between. What you might not know is that Winona State has it’s own code of conduct regarding how students use the internet. So as much as you want to post that racy meme, is it really worth the embarrassment of being reported to the university and possibly getting suspended or expelled? Whether you realize it or not, there are consequences for breaking the rules.

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So, there is a little more to social media than you thought, huh?

–Leah Dobihal

Take a Break: Kim’s Guide to Meditation

stacked rocks and fall leaves

Let the world–and your worries–just fall away…

Contrary to popular belief, healthy stress exists—the kind that motivates you to get your reading done, work on your paper or go to the gym. However, for many of us, our mounting to-do lists result in the bad kind of stress—the kind that wears on you physically and mentally. After last semester, I was burnt out from an over-busy schedule and finals so I embarked on a journey this summer to find ways to reduce my stress levels.

I started meditating in June and, while it hasn’t been the easiest thing I’ve ever done, it’s been the most rewarding and beneficial. Here’s my how-to guide for you to start meditating too, and join me in a less-stressed world. :)

Before You Begin:

1. Posture: Find a place where you can sit comfortably. You can choose your posture ,whether it’s sitting on the ground on a cushion with your legs crossed or straight up in a chair with the soles of your feet on the ground. Pick the one that’s more comfortable. I don’t recommend lying down because you’ll be tempted to fall asleep.

2. Duration: Start with just 10 minutes of meditation and slowly work your way up from there. The best way to do this is to set a timer on your phone. Once you notice the 10-minute meditation getting easier, add five minutes and keep going in this pattern until you reach 30 minutes of meditation or more. The app Headspace is good for beginner meditators. The app gives you a “Take Ten” process in which a suave British male voice leads you through ten minutes of meditation for 10 days. After the initial 10 day trial, you need to subscribe and it’s a bit pricey for a student on a budget. The free trial is a great introduction though if you’re having trouble on your own.

3. Location and Time of Day: In order to meditate properly and successfully, you’ll need to pick a location and time of day in which you won’t be disturbed. A couple times I’ve tried to meditate in the middle of the afternoon but one of my roommates would knock on my door. Such interruptions throw off your concentration and it’s hard to get back on track–especially when you’re just starting out. I suggest setting your morning alarm 10 minutes earlier and meditating first thing when you get out of bed. Bringing awareness to your body in that way is a great way to start your day as well.

How to Meditate:

So you’ve found a time of day and posture that works for you. What next?

Start by taking deep breaths, really focusing on the air as it moves in and out of your lungs and diaphragm. Gently close your eyes. Mentally scan your body from head to toe. Is there any area that feels particularly tight? Take note of that, but don’t try to change anything. Take a moment to assess an underlying mood or feeling you might have, whether it’s exhaustion, frustration or joy. Start becoming aware of the sounds around you, both near and far away.

After a few breaths, bring your awareness back to your breath. Many people who meditate like to focus on a mantra. I like to meditate on “I am;” I breathe in on “I” and breathe out on “am.” Another helpful way to focus on your breath if you’re having trouble is to count your breaths in cycles of 10. Each inhale or exhale counts as one. Once you reach 10, start over again at one.

Especially when you first start meditating, your mind will tend to wander a lot. Without all the distractions you’re used to, you might even feel a bit uncomfortable as mindfulness may dredge up unpleasant feelings. Don’t get discouraged if you are having a lot of trouble focusing or if your mind wanders uncontrollably.You might

Like any skill, meditation takes practice and you won’t be able to master it in one or even a few tries. Just keep at it and it will eventually get easier. Trust me! Your body will thank you for it.

–Kim Schneider