Category Archives: Community

10 Tips to not go insane during zoom university

As fall rolls in and schools all across America open their virtual doors to students, frustration and uncertainty begin to set in. Going from an in-person learning environment where the teacher is five feet away to answer questions, to the isolation of virtual learning is physically draining and emotionally exhausting. Staying on task is a challenge in itself with the dog barking in the background, or mom walking in the room to ask a question while the professor struggles to figure out how to unmute themself.

Online classes are overwhelming at best, and panic-inducing at worse. So, as we all struggle to enter the correct zoom codes by the time class starts or figure out what’s due tomorrow, here are some tips to help get you through the insanity of Zoom University.

Illustration by Serena Rodriguez

1. Put Yourself on a Sleep Schedule

With most classes online for the fall semester, professors have given up on attendance policies and resorted to recording lectures to be viewed at any time. While the course usually isn’t self-paced, there’s not always a requirement to wake up on time for that 8 a.m. This could definitely lead to thinking ‘why not just sleep till noon?’ — It’s tempting, definitely, but keeping your body on a schedule will help you in the long run. Not only will your internal clock thank you, but you’ll spend more days waking up refreshed than groggy and ready to go back to bed.

2. Separate Your Work Area from Your Sleep Area

The mind is capable of a lot, but if you’re constantly curled up under your covers in bed while flipping through powerpoints and taking notes, it’s not going to be able to differentiate sleep time from work time. This could have a major effect on your sleeping patterns, especially if the place you’re supposed to be sleeping becomes a source of stress instead of relaxation. Work at the kitchen table instead, or at a desk, to help keep the spaces separate and the mindsets in each space separate too.

3. Make Time to go Outside

While it might seem pretty cool at first to not have to go out and do things, it can also be detrimental to your physical health. The sun provides natural vitamin D, and even if you can’t be out partying with friends all the time anymore, you should still make time to go for a walk or even just sit outside for a bit. If nothing else you could always sit at a Starbucks patio and do some homework (or scroll through tiktok, whatever keeps you out in the sunshine for a little longer).

4. Plan at Least One Full Week at a Time

While classes seem less organized this semester as everyone struggles to get a handle on online learning, it’s important to do your best to plan ahead. I personally always try to plan two weeks out in order to make sure I’m keeping up with assignments, but planning a weekly schedule is probably the perfect time frame. Make a note of all the important due dates that week, when to do those more passive assignments like readings, and try to think about how much time you’re willing to spend on school work each day. Block out a specific amount of time instead of going back and forth with the work all day to continue to help differentiate relaxation from work.

5. Do Your Chores

Sitting around the house all day without having to worry about looking decent can make chores like laundry seem daunting and unnecessary. Make time for this stuff too. Don’t let the dishes get out of hand or the clothes take over the floor. Cleaner environments can actually reduce anxiety and depression levels, while being cooped up all day could definitely exacerbate those problems, so do what you can to help keep your environment looking good — your brain will thank you.

6. Make Time for Friends

Whether it’s a Zoom party, a socially distant coffee date, or a day at the park, make time for the people you care about. Isolation has a lot of negative effects on human health, and while it might seem harder to spend time with people, be sure to put in the effort to get in some quality time with them. The serotonin will start pumping again, I promise, and it will be a nice break from all the extra online schoolwork.

7. Use GroupMe (Or Some Other Alternative)

Now more than ever it’s important to create spaces to contact your classmates. It’s not like you can reach over and tap someone to ask for their number, so the best thing to do is to talk to the professor about getting a GroupMe link sent out to the class so you can have a one-stop-shop to talk due dates, get some help in the class, or even just complain to someone who understands the struggle.

8. Don’t Slack on Hygiene

Just like you need to clean your house, you need to clean your body. Just because nobody is around to smell your bad breath doesn’t mean you shouldn’t brush your teeth. Sometimes, when there’s not a daily structure that in-person classes provide, things like hygiene can be  forgotten. It’s important to remind yourself to keep up with the things you would normally do. A nice shower is the perfect getaway from all things Zoom University, and will  leave you feeling refreshed and ready for whatever the day may bring.

9. Organize Your School Space

Since you’re separating your sleep and workspaces, make sure you take the time to organize that workspace. Having papers everywhere and pens sprawled across the area can lead to confusion and frustration, and sometimes when things get too messy it can make you feel like giving up. Don’t let your school space get disorganized, instead follow some tips from a fellow BurntX writer to help keep your space organized.

10. Actually Go To Class

Okay, so it’s not mandatory. Attendance policies are a thing of the past and all the lectures are recorded for whenever you want to watch them, so, why even bother? Getting that live zoom lecture is the closest to an in-person feel you’re going to get. You can ask questions in real time and talk about points you need clarified up front. Beyond that, you can meet classmates and use breakout rooms to your advantage to get names and numbers of people who can help you get through the course. As much as I’m sure we all wish it was, this is not a semester off from hard work. So whether it’s an 8 a.m. or an 8 p.m., make sure you’re logged into zoom and ready to participate for the majority of the semester.

Ishida Dance Company Launches “New Beginnings” with Dancers from Across the Nation

What are your New Year’s resolutions? Attending an upcoming performance put on by the Ishida Dance Company, with all proceeds from ticket sales fund future performances and their mission as a nonprofit to serve marginalized and at-risk communities in the Austin area, could be a good way to include “giving back” in your resolutions.  Ishida Dance Company plans to launch their first performance, “Beginnings/αρχή,” with an incredible cast of professional dancers from companies across the United States. This event takes place at the Long Center on January 3rd and 4th at 7:30 PMwith a complimentary buffet of snack bites from some of Austin’s finest restaurants prior to the performance at 8:30 PM. 

Brett Ishida founded Ishida Dance Company in 2019 after realizing that her passion for dance and teaching underprivileged youth formed a powerful niche that she wanted to expand upon. Ishida came from humble beginnings in a California valley town, earned scholarships for dance at age 15, and went on to study at the renowned School of American Ballet in New York City. After leading a full, professional dance career in her prime, she returned to school to study English, Educational Administration, and Montessori Education. Through Ishida Dance Company, Ms. Ishida hopes to share the expressive power of dance with marginalized and at-risk communities via workshops and improv sessions, while simultaneously addressing universal themes such as trauma, fear, belonging, loss and love through her choreography.

Ishida Dance Company has already hosted improvisation and movement workshops at St. Edward’s University with Con Mi Madre, at the ARC of the Capital Area, the Mary Lee Foundation, and the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. With the funds received through ticket sales, Ms. Ishida strives to broaden Ishida Dance Company’s reach and leave a resounding impact on Austin’s diverse, though often marginalized, populations. As a yonsei (fourth generation) Japanese American, Ms. Ishida understands the importance of celebrating otherness in an ever-diversifying society.

Photo courtesy of Ishida Dance Company

“Beginnings/αρχή” will feature contemporary dance, which combines experimental and expressive elements from classical ballet with theatrical more contemporary movement. Through her choreography of these contemporary pieces, Ms. Ishida strives to tell immersive stories, with characters and dreamscapes that draw in her audience and prompt them to reflect on their perceptions of selfhood and society. In Ms. Ishida’s stories, movement and expression form the dialogue from which onlookers will derive meaning.

Whether you’re a fan of all things dance or simply curious about the arts, I encourage you to check out this event for yourself! Students can use the code “Gift20” to save $20 off tickets on Friday night only. Plus, VIP ticket holders will also have access to complimentary desserts and meet the dancers following the performance.

For more information about Ishida Dance Company, visit

Tickets for Beginnings/αρχή can be purchased at

Featured image courtesy of Ishida Dance Company.


*Sponsored Content*


Every Saturday night is the SPIN House Party. Wild games of ping pong are center stage, and we have everything else you love about a party here. There’s music pumped through great speakers by a professional DJ, other communal games, drinking, laughter and a bunch of people having a great time.


Fridays are also a blast at SPIN because that’s when we have our Interactive Ping Pong Show. Ever challenge a ping pong professional to a match where they use their iPhone as a paddle? How about witnessing two top professionals battle it out for glory? SPIN’s signature Friday nights include this and everything else you’d expect from a SPIN party.


When you want to juice the last drops of fun out of the weekend you should check out Unlimited Sundays. Call it an extended study break, ping pong therapy or good-times basement nostalgia… whatever you like. For $8 on Sundays you get unlimited table activity. Every hour we rotate a new round of people, but you only have to pay once! Music, fantastic food and drinks are always available.

At SPIN, we come together to socialize and celebrate play. At our core is the drive to connect through ping pong—a game that transcends age, gender and boundaries. This is the original ping pong social club. Think of it as an offline social network… even a place to call home. We welcome diversity and embrace the unconventional.

Check out the SPIN events calendar, make a reservation or see other great perks of a social club at Austin’s SPIN website.

Texas guadaloop hopes to hover above competition at spacex

Ever since it first started about four years ago, Texas Guadaloop is a student organization that continues to make strides in both the scientific and technological communities. Each year the organization competes in Elon Musk’s SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition after putting in over five thousand hours of work into their own design, assembly, and testing. The competition traces back to Musk’s 2013 white paper publication on the theoretical idea of hyperloop.

“The basic idea behind hyperloop is you want to reduce resistance and normally on this planet we have two main points of resistance with something like a train or a car. One is friction against the ground because of gravity and mass and the other is air resistance because you’re breaking through, you’re trying to occupy the space that air is currently occupying,” Javier Bonilla, Head of Business for Texas Guadaloop, said. “The idea behind it was to remove both of those restrictions.”

Texas Guadaloop Hyperpod. All images courtesy of Texas Guadaloop.

In order to remove the restrictions that people face when using traditional modes of travel, such as planes or cars, is to levitate using air. Texas Guadaloop’s pod features four air bearings underneath to help it do exactly that.

“You can imagine it [an air bearing] is kind of like air hockey, but instead of the table pushing air out it is the ‘puck’ itself pushing air down onto the table. So we have four ‘pucks’ underneath the pod which produces a very thin layer of air which reduces the friction significantly. If you want to get very technical, we’re actually powered by an electric motor, so that’s what actually makes us move forwards,” Bonilla said. 

The concept of a hyperloop transit system is backed by multiple theoretical benefits.

“The benefits to this type of transportation that, one, you can reach significantly higher speeds with significantly less energy required to reach those speeds,” Bonilla said. “It takes significantly less energy and, because of the high speeds, it will take significantly less time which will really reinvent the way we move and we commute.” 

According to Texas Guadaloop, traveling from Austin to Dallas would take about thirty minutes versus the usual travel time of about three hours.

“You reduce a lot of the cost that you would have with things like an airplane. So it takes around the same time to actually fly there but you need to arrive early to the airport. It has a lesser cost on society. Finally, if you want to take it incredibly theoretical, what you could do is, in order to have the pod inside a vacuum you need a tube, and you could cover all of the tube with solar panels. So the system itself would be an energy producer rather than user. So you could be producing more electric energy than you’re using to move people around,” Bonilla said.

In order to better gauge the impacts of hyperloop transportation, Texas Guadaloop is dedicating a portion of its team dedicated to impact analysis.

“We’re looking at economic impact, disability, [and] environmental impact,” Bonilla said. “To be completely honest there’s a lot of physical impediments to having a true hyperloop system. I think what’s going to end up happening is we’re going to have an adaptation of the theory into real terms, especially because of the risk involved. Going at such high speeds, it’s very hard to turn. So you really need a fairly straight line from point a to point b, which obviously makes it incredibly complicated given our current infrastructure and land rights.”

The next SpaceX competition, taking place in 2020 in Hawthorne, California, will be the fourth SpaceX that Texas Guadaloop attends. 

“For the past few years we have made it to the finals round and that is what we are expecting for this year. So hopefully we’ll be at the finalist’s round this summer in California,” Yile Cen, who goes by Jireh and is the Public Relations Chair, said. 

Along with two innovation awards from the SpaceX competition, they have also received numerous other honors, including the Global Students’ Design Showcase Award and the Longhorn Startup. Still, according to Bonilla, the ultimate goal is to get into the finals round for SpaceX, which is a process that begins when school starts. 

“It’s a grilling,” Bonilla said. “Project cycle begins in August. The August of every year it starts, you come up with a design. Around late November you submit a preliminary design to SpaceX. So spaceX engineers will review your designs and they’ll review the feasibility of you getting the funding necessary to build that prototype. If they think your design is worth it then you advance to the next round….once you finalize your prototype, and this should be around July, then you go to Hawthorne, California, SpaceX headquarters, where they have their own 1 mile hyperloop tube, and you have one  week of testing.”

The testing done at the SpaceX headquarters includes thirty to forty tests. Three to four teams are selected to be in the final round, where they have the chance to raise their pod in the vacuum sealed tube.

“We haven’t been able to do that yet so this year, with MIT, we ended up placing 5th out of the world. We’re the best out of all US universities but it was still not enough. The main goal for this project cycle, for the 2020 competition, is to actually get inside of the vacuum tube, so place in the top three to four teams in the world and then, if we do that, get a chance to race at full speed,” Bonilla said.

To create a hyperloop pod, the cost is about fifty thousand dollars. According to Bonilla this large sum would be impossible without their sponsors, which include companies such as Vrbo and AeroGo. 

“[Sponsors are] incredibly important. Nothing would happen without them, from many fronts. From monetary terms, it takes a lot of money to complete a project cycle,” Bonilla said. “From the school we don’t get any funding but they give us access to a lot of other things…we have access to all of the resources student organizations get access to, we have access to advisors, we have a workspace up at the JJ Pickle Research campus where we keep our prototypes and equipments. They also let us built a 150 foot track there where we can do all of our basic testing so we know things  are going according to plan.”

Sponsors have their branded stickers placed on the pod and become a sponsor by purchasing a package, according to Cen.

“The offer in return that we give them is, one, access to very capable and motivated group of students. We end up committing between 5,000 and 10,000 hours every year to complete the whole cycle,” Bonilla said. “So they [sponsors] know they have a very dedicated group. We have engineers, computer sciences, finance majors, we have graphic designers, we have web developers- so we have a very wide variety of students. It’s a very interdisciplinary endeavor.”

Those looking to join the team usually have to wait and apply in the fall because it is a year long commitment due to the project cycle. A little under fifty percent of applicants are usually accepted. The organization recently adopted a new incentive for students to commit to the entire cycle.

“We have a deposit system so instead of charging dues like most student organizations do. We charge a deposit, so you deposit $30 at the beginning of the project cycle and if you complete the project cycle you get $40 in return. So you make a little interest. If they can put their money where their mouth is, it’s more likely we can count on them. We just started [it], so let’s see how it goes,” Bonilla said.

Bonilla was a pivotal part of the effort to increase the awareness, funding, and the size of the organization. Texas Guadaloop is aiming to keep his efforts alive and attract new students from all majors and backgrounds. 

Yile Jiren Cen, Public Relations Chair

“Me as a freshman coming in, Javier really has done a lot of Texas Guadaloop,” Cen said. “I really agree with what he said, especially with other seniors leaving who have stayed with Guadaloop for a long time, I would really like to…learn to take on those roles as quickly as we could and to solidify the org and to bring new blood into it,”

While Texas Guadaloop strives to do well in competitions, the overall goal is to empower the students involved in it. Bonilla will be graduating this winter, leaving the organization in the hands of the younger students. 

“It’s been a phenomenal experience for me personally. It’s taken a lot of work to get it to where it is today…I can definitely see the returns. I’m certainly a different person from when I started the organization. I just wish we could do as much for as many people as possible as this has done for me,” Bonilla said.

Halloween Meets Día de Los Muertos at the Pioneer Farms

Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms, a living history museum located in northeast Austin, opened its gates to the public last Friday and Saturday night for its 23rd Annual Halloween Haunted Trails Festival. The historic farm served as a spooky setting for storytelling, live music, and a “haunted” trail dark enough to make an adult nervous. It’s a perfect family setting (if your plan is to make your kids face their fears).

         However, the part of the festival that seemed to stick out from the rest of it was the Día de Los Muertos section where visitors would come in and learn about the Mexican holiday as they drew on sugar skulls, hearts, and, oddly, potatoes provided by the volunteers. The activity seemed very elementary, but as one volunteer put it, “adults love this stuff too.” Volunteers spoke of their experiences with the holiday and elaborated on the ofrenda set up in the room.

The ‘ofrenda’ set up at the Halloween Haunted Trails Festival. All photos courtesy of Richard Lopez

         Evangelina Mangino, the volunteer coordinator at Pioneer Farms, explained how she became in charge of the Día de Los Muertos bymentioning her disdain for the usual Halloween traditions. “I hate Halloween… a day where everyone tries to frighten each other for no reason.” She mentions that the usual Halloween festivities includes a view of death that is very different from the Día de Los Muertos perspective. “When you even mention death, people don’t want to talk about it or they’re scared of it,” she elaborates. “but Día de Los Muertos is about celebrating the life lived.”

         Mangino wasn’t previously very interested in the Día de Los Muertos traditions, such as the ofrenda, “I used to never set one up.” She said that her not celebrating the holidaywas a point her sister-in-law would tease her about. “She asked to put up a picture of my mother on her ofrenda instead,” Mangino recounted. It wasn’t until she watched Coco last year that she started to appreciate the holiday more. “When I watched that movie, I cried,” she said as she laughed. Mangino even mentions that she cried even more as she watched it again, “it was an exponential thing,” she joked. She mentions that the sister-in-law who teased her about not celebrating the holiday happened to be traveling last year so she couldn’t set up an altar. “I told her I’d put up her mother’s picture up on an ofrenda for her.”  This meant Mangino was excited when the festival came around this year. “When they [Pioneer Farms] said we were doing something for Día de Los Muertos this year I immediately said I’d do it.”

Mangino also expanded on how she stepped up to be a volunteer coordinator when the farm lacked someone in the position. She had first volunteered fifteen years ago where her job was to hand out pamphlets. “I never got called back.” Mangino says that without anyone coordinating, others had the same experience as she did. She recounts that when she came back ten years after her first time volunteering “there was like no one around.” This was when she had a realization. “They [Pioneer Farms] had no volunteer coordinator!” She then took on the position of volunteer coordinator and began to make some changes to how the place was operating. She explained how one of these changes was that she started the practice of repurposing Goodwill clothing to be appropriate to use by the volunteers on the late 19th century farm. “Costumes can’t have front pockets,” she explains due to them not being invented until the early 20th century.

In fact, the farm’s operations seemed to have improved, according to Mangino, due to Claire Steffen coming in as the new Director of Experiences. “She has a background where she worked with museums,” Mangino explains. She said the person in charge before Steffen was an individual who had more of a farming background. “He did the best he could,” noted Mangino while recounting shortcomings. In comparison, Steffen has a master’s degree in Museum and Field Studies from the University of Colorado Boulder. “She’s helped a lot,” notes Mangino before returning to her job tending to the Día de Los Muertos activities.  

The Halloween Haunted Trails Festival will return for four more nights: October 25th-27th and Halloween night.

My personal Día de Los Muertos creations.