Category Archives: Community

How To De-stress: Burnout Edition

It’s that point in the semester where everything seems dreadful and mentally draining. So here’s a gentle reminder that it’s okay to take a break from schoolwork and relax. What are some ways to do that? You’ve come to the right place because I’ve got a list!

  1. Watch something you love: 

We’ve all got a comfort show that always puts us in a good mood. Having a good laugh can help relieve stress after tense study sessions. Even if it isn’t a comedy, watching something that makes you happy is what matters, whether that be true crime or cartoons. Pro tip: anything on Disney + is great for a pick-me-up, tbh.

  1. Read

Sometimes we’re so caught up in homework that we disregard the nine unread books that lie idly sitting on our shelf. Try reading one of them, or maybe finishing the one you already started. Reading books is a good way to pass time, and forget about everything else happening in the world. You’re stuck in someone else’s fantasy when you read, hopefully, a good one. And hey, at least it’s not your schoolwork! 

  1. Enjoy your favorite comfort foods

Just the other day, I made matcha-white chocolate chip cookies with my sister and instantly felt better after eating them. After hours of homework, eating something nice is rewarding. Treat yourself, even if that means ordering that expensive Uber Eats meal. Trust me; you deserve it

  1. Play a fun game

When I want a small break, I crack open the good ol’ Nintendo Switch and play a game. Lately, I’ve been playing “Kirby and the Forgotten Land” for a bit of fun before returning to homework. Of course, it doesn’t have just to console games but could be board games, cards, or whatever you find fun. Cool math games, anyone?

  1. Take a nap

Nothing feels better than a nice nap! Don’t force yourself to stay awake if you’re exhausted and haven’t gotten enough rest. Naps aren’t a waste of time if you use them wisely. Your work can wait till you’re in a better mental and physical state. Go rest!

  1. Let it out! 

When in doubt, scream, sigh or sing, as it will all relieve that pent-up stress. If you’re able, go ahead and just let out a good scream. If not, sighing works too, as it relieves tension in the upper body. Maybe, you feel the need to sing your favorite song, such as “As It Was” by Harry Styles or “Pied Piper” by BTS (my current favorites). Doing so helps release endorphins and hormones like oxytocin, putting you in a better mood.

When things get tough as finals approach, make sure to take a break. Burnout hits pretty hard and can take a toll on your mental health. Everything on this list has personally helped me feel better during burnout season, and I hope it helps you too. Remember, you’ve got this, and we’re almost there!

Featured Image By Morgan Scruggs

Top Snacks For College Students

Snacks are an essential component of the college experience. Whether you have a stash of  Oreos and popcorn or yogurt and almonds in your dorm, I can almost guarantee every college student has their favorite snacks on hand right now. I asked UT students to share their top snacks, and I got a multitude of responses. So, if you’re looking to add some variety to your snack collection, then this is a great place to start!

I was not surprised to discover Oreos, chips, gummy candy and goldfish were popular answers among the students I spoke to. All of these snacks have a wide range of flavors to choose from, which makes them appealing to a larger audience. In addition, these are the types of snacks that never get old because the second you get tired of one flavor, you can switch to the next one.

On the more nutritious side, many students said they keep a healthy supply of Greek yogurt, trail mix and granola bars. Greek yogurt can be more of a hassle to carry around, but trail mix and granola bars are great to take with you on the go. 

Again, depending on your preferences, you can choose different toppings for your yogurt, switch out raisins for m&ms in your trail mix or go for a fruit-filled granola bar instead of your usual chocolate chip and peanut butter combo.

There were definitely some outliers in the responses that are worth an honorable mention. Some people specifically mentioned lucky charms, peanut m&ms, Milano cookies and dried mango slices.

I can’t end the article without sharing some of my own picks for snacks. Of course, I always keep cashews, brookside chocolates and white cheddar popcorn. I’m definitely excited to use my research to diversify my snack selection the next time I’m at Target, though!

Featured Image By Matilda Herrera Ramirez

The Allistic Guide to Autism Acceptance Month

Take off the blue shirt. And put the puzzle piece away. You won’t need that here.

It’s April, officially making it Autism Awareness Acceptance Month (AAM). You see many events for “Light it up Blue” throughout the month with puzzle piece ribbons and blue-colored snacks of some sort. But what many don’t know is what the puzzle piece symbol means, where it comes from, and why it’s harmful to the Autistic community.

Autistic people exist wherever people exist. In your classes, at your job, and yes, even the person writing this article. AAM is your chance as an Allistic (non-Autistic) person to learn a little more about Autism, the history of common Autism symbols, and how you can be a better ally to the Autistic community.

What is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder, most commonly known as Autism or ASD, is classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate, behave and interact with the world. Autism manifests in each person differently, and some people require more support in certain areas than others. And that’s the beauty of a spectrum. It won’t look the same from person to person. 

What matters when it comes to Autism is getting to know the person and their support needs—generalizing all Autistic people to one stereotype does more harm than good when it comes to connecting with Autistic people. On that same note, Autism doesn’t fit a one-size-fits-all mold. Any person of any age, race, or gender can have Autism, so it isn’t right to stereotype us based on one person you may know. We are like any other person. We have interests, stories, likes, and dislikes. We are human, and we want to get to know you too.

History of Autism Acceptance Month

Autism Acceptance Month, then named National Autistic Children’s Week, was first started by The Autism Society in 1972 to promote Autism awareness and ignite change for Autistic people. 

While the origins of AAM seem relatively tame, perhaps even beneficial for Autistic people, many organizations involved in Autism awareness did not try to promote the well-being of Autistic people but instead tried to “cure” them of their Autism.

If you’ve ever seen Autism symbols or been to events for Autistic people (mostly aimed at children), you’ve most likely seen puzzle pieces. Ah yes, puzzle pieces. Because nothing screams Autism Acceptance like “my autistic brain doesn’t fit into your neurotypical puzzle!”

To understand why many Autistic people dislike the puzzle piece symbol so much, we have to take a step back into the history of the puzzle piece, who created it, and what role they have in the dark history of eugenics within the Autism community.

The puzzle piece symbol was initially created in 1963 by the National Autism Society. Created as a logo to represent Autistic children, the symbol was meant to say, “a puzzling condition handicaps our children.” Thus, the puzzle piece was born. However, the most recognized use of the puzzle piece symbol was co-opted by the organization Autism Speaks, another horrendous voice in Autistic lives.

Autism Speaks is a nonprofit organization that claims to support autism research and outreach activities for people with Autism. However, this can’t be farther from the truth. Autism Speaks has a dark history of eugenics and abuse towards the Autistic community. From siphoning donation money for personal gain to funding electroshock therapy for children, Autism Speaks doesn’t let Autistic people Speak. Through the lens of Autism Speaks, Autism is nothing more than a disease that needs a cure. A blemish on the world that needs fixing. But Autism is much more than that − we are people, artists and teachers and creators, and worthy of love and support. 

How to ~Actually~ Support Autistic People

Autistic people exist outside of AAM. Surprising, I know. If you care about supporting Autistic people outside of AAM, there are many ways to help out within your community and on a one-on-one basis to improve the lives of Autistic people.

  1. Support Autistic-run organizations! Nonprofits such as the Autism Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) and the Autistic Women & Non-Binary Network (AWN) are two organizations made for Autistic people by Autistic people! We deserve to have our voice heard, not through the filter of an allistic person. By supporting Autistic-lead nonprofits, you can help Autistic people get their voice into the world and get the resources they need to connect with their environment.
  • This AAM, consider going Red Instead and using the rainbow infinity symbol in your support of Autistic people! The rainbow infinity symbol is used as a better alternative to the puzzle piece. Autistic people create it for autistic people, is it used as a symbol of Autistic pride and neurodivergent solidarity.
  1. Support Autistic people in your community! There are thousands of autistic artists, musicians, and creators right in your area. If you want to help an Autistic person right at their front door, consider purchasing from their store, donating to their fundraisers, or participating in mutual aid.
  2. We are just people! Again, another shocker. Autistic people aren’t special charity cases or people who can’t fend for themselves. We are whole humans and should be treated as such. So the easiest way to support us is just to get to know us. 

When I went into this article, I was frankly worried about publishing it. But, for you, the reader, to learn about something that I am still learning about myself. So I ask you to come along on this journey with me as we get to learn a little bit more about Autism together. 

Featured Image By Talisa Trevino

How to Budget Your Dine-In Dollars

At this point in the semester, most of my friends are either dangerously close to running out of dine-in dollars or have more money than they know what to do with. I’m somewhere in the middle with around $150 dine-in dollars out of $300. 

Even though I drink copious amounts of coffee and have trouble resisting the urge to grab peanut M&M’s every time I pass Kins Market, I limit myself to a weekly budget.

Here are my tips for creating and sticking to a budget so you can ration your dine-in dollars to last all semester.

First things first: determine where you typically spend all of your money. For example, I spend most of my dine-in dollars at the different Starbucks locations around campus. 

I could easily see myself grabbing a coffee before classes in the morning and another one to keep me motivated during my afternoon study sessions. However, I try to limit myself to three coffees a week. That puts me at 15 dine-in dollars a week. With about 15 weeks of classes in the semester, I spend about $225 on coffee each semester. 

That leaves me with $75  of non-coffee money. I can use this to grab an energy drink from Kins Market or fries and lemonade from the Union Chick-Fil-A on my way to class. I can also usually sneak in an extra coffee every other week and the occasional chocolate croissant.

This budgeting tactic can apply to any amount of dine-in dollars you have left. So Whether you have $50  or $450, figure out one place where you do/can spend most of your money and budget it out every week. This’s the easiest way to both save your money if you’re running low or use it up if you’ve got cash to spend!

Featured Image By Liliana Garcia

The Ballroom at Spider House

Almost every day, I pass by The Ballroom at Spider House on 29th St. Under the light bulb-rimmed sign that reads “BALLROOM” are the words “Bar and Cafe; Come on in.” I was intrigued by the seeming randomness of the building, so I googled it a few times, but I still couldn’t really tell what this place was. Could you sit and do homework there? Is it more of a bar or a coffee shop? At what point in the day does it switch from a coffee shop to a bar? So, finally, my friends and I decided to venture in. 

As we walked into the bar area, sunlight flooded through the front door, lighting up a usually dimly lit room. Seeing a bar in broad daylight doesn’t seem right, but the atmosphere was pleasant nonetheless. We ordered our drinks and sat in the Ballroom to get some homework done. I definitely recommend the dirty horchata with cold brew if that’s your cup of coffee. If not, they have all the usual coffee drinks. My friends enjoyed their cold brew, both plain and with oat milk. The coffee and alcohol prices are reasonable, and I feel that it’s worth noting that when they said my coffee was five dollars, they charged me five dollars flat. That was just a nice bonus.  

The Ballroom is, first and foremost, not a study space. Most of the tables inside are small hightops meant for the night scene the area usually accommodates. There is a nice patio with picnic tables and Wi-Fi access, but it has no coverage. Instead, it’s an event venue meant to host comedians and bands. Inside  you’ll find a stage with a movie screen where they play cult classics all day and three arcade games in one of the room’s corners. Lights strung across the ceiling reflect off a spinning disco ball in the center, softly lighting up the room. This is a space meant to be seen at night, but you can absolutely enjoy it at any time. 

The Ballroom used to connect to Spider House Cafe, which opened in 1995. And sadly, it closed in March 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19. The cafe used to be a funky place to enjoy coffee, food trucks, and a nice patio, but now lives on through The Ballroom. You can still enjoy Arlo’s, a food truck on The Ballroom’s patio that serves plant-based burgers and tacos if you need some food with your coffee. For more information about upcoming events at The Ballroom, visit their website here.

Featured Image By Matilda Herrera Ramirez