Welcome Sophomore Fords!

The Year After was created in the summer of 2013 in response to all we learned about the sophomore experience that spring!

We’re so excited to journey through this year with you! Any question you want answered, let us know! And be sure to review our “What Now?” section regularly. We’d hate for you to miss something!

Regular posts every MONDAY. And sometimes on Wednesday. Enjoy!


In Celebration of Self Care Week!

This week Fords on campus will be pausing and reflecting on the importance of taking care of themselves in the midst of their busy everyday lives. I asked some of our Year After editors and their friends to personally define self-care and share some strategies they employ to prioritize themselves in the midst of the semester. Enjoy!

What are the challenges to finding time or prioritizing self-care?

Vanessa Morales ‘19: The challenges in my life to prioritize self-care mainly stem from cultural differences and a busy schedule. Self-care was never introduced to me before Haverford. Coming from a Mexican family, machismo was valued – sticking out the pain, discomfort of situations was preferable to hearing complaints, whining, and tears. However, since I’m a very emotional person, those things were my outlet. I’m starting to learn how to use those outlets just be, and how to turn my anxiety, sadness, and/or even anger into something productive. I make sure to let myself be around other people, to treat myself every now and then with a new lipstick or a trip into Philly, or even a night-in with Netflix. I recognized the importance in doing these things because they helped reduce the negative feelings I had, they made life feel more manageable and made me feel like I was in control when I set time aside for myself.

Tania Ortega ‘19: Not considering self-care is important because you have all these other responsibilities that seem much more important because they’re more important – but in retrospect, they’re not worth sacrificing self-care.  

Elom Tettey-Temaklo ‘19: Sometimes the pursuit of our goals seem to be the most important aspects of our lives as students therefore we do not even focus on caring for ourselves. In many instances, “self-care” may seem to be a waste of time especially as you have many deadlines to meet. The issue of meeting family expectations is also a challenge that diminishes the importance of self care.

How do you personally define self-care? What is a work-life balance?

Vanessa Morales ‘19: To me, self-care is taking the time to be honest with yourself, and by doing so, you then know yourself better, and how to make yourself feel better from everything going in your life. Self-care then for me is taking the time to treat myself the way I would want others to treat me – with kindness, respect, concern when it all hits the fan, and with love. Ways I do this is reconnecting with my family and friends, reading a book I always meant to but college readings took priority, going to watch that new movie by myself because I wanted to treat myself and learn to be okay with being alone (a very hard lesson I’m still working through, that will pay off in the long run.) A work-life balance to me seems to be a fine line between working hard and playing hard. It’s making sure you’re putting in your all, 100%, into classes and work, but also making sure to relax and have fun when you’re not grinding out homework sets, reflections, papers, and everything else you have going on.

Karen Mondaca ‘20: Self-care is a mix of being alone and also being with people. But I make sure to set time aside for myself, even 30 minutes, but everyday and recognizing that you’re wonderful on your own.

Elom Tettey-Temaklo ‘17: Personally, I feel self-care is a holistic, intentional treatment of the human person which is meant to relive, restore and rejuvenate oneself. Self care can take many forms, the traditional being activities suited to an individual which improves an individual’s mood and makes them feel better. However, self care also has another dimension which is often times underexplored. The other dimension involves making key decisions and, or changes which will have far reaching implications in the future. Some of these decisions include but are not limited to, how one studies, prioritizing work when one needs to etc. A work-life balance is the maintenance of a healthy relationship between school work and social life. When one outweighs the other, its disastrous effects are often experienced by no one but the individual. This includes but is not limited to mental, emotional and psychological breakdowns, non-achievement of goals etc. This dimension of self-care is more active and involves the human person intentionally seeking opportunities that would shape their futures.

Alejandro Wences ‘17: I personally define self-care as doing the things that you feel that you need to do in order to have a healthy mind and body. For a work-life balance, it is where you’re able to not have one trump the other. While work is definitely important and it involves things that will earn you money in the future, having moments where you prioritize yourself or put your life first are important as well. This is to ensure that you grow to enjoy your life and not have it completely swamped with stress.

 Many, many times I consider just stopping because the world seems like it’s never going to change. But there are those beautiful moments that remind me that work I’m doing is important, and it does matter

What do you personally specifically need to do in order to find balance between your work and life at Haverford?

Vanessa Morales ‘19: I use a google calendar to help define that line between work and life here at Haverford. I schedule in sleep, meals, classes, professors’ office hours, question center hours, study time, work schedule, rugby practices, and time for friends, Netflix. This can seem a bit restrictive, but in many ways it’s fluid because nothing is set in stone – it’s just a calendar and things can be canceled or rescheduled because that’s simply the way life is really. It also reminds me of what’s already going on in my life, so I can say no – which is something I’m still “learning” to do without feeling bad/guilty. It is okay to say no, and yes FOMO (fear of missing out is real) but taking care of yourself is also real and important.

Elom Tettey-Temaklo ‘17: I think the key to this is scheduling. Because of the secluded nature of Haverford, you can easily get lost in the Haverbubble and end up in the routine of seeing the same people and doing the same thing on repeat. When one is able to do academic work at the appropriate/ scheduled times you get time to involve yourself in other non-academic activities. Therefore, in getting that good work and life balance at Haverford, schedule, schedule, schedule! (oh and stick to it)

To me, self-care is taking the time to be honest with yourself, and by doing so, you then know yourself better, and how to make yourself feel better from everything going in your life.

If you’re involved in social justice work how do you manage self-care in work that is emotionally demanding and often very distressing?

Vanessa Morales ‘19: Being involved in social justice work is consuming, it’s draining and exhausting in ways that classwork and work schedules aren’t. Many, many times I consider just stopping because the world seems like it’s never going to change. But there are those beautiful moments that remind me that work I’m doing is important, and it does matter – it can be a conversation with a peer, it can be seeing how your work empowers the people around you, it can also be as simple as someone telling you that you matter. However, it’s also important to recognize your limits and learning to be okay with taking a step back. In doing so, you can channel your energies into other aspects of your life for the meanwhile.

Elom Tettey-Temaklo ‘17: With such work, it’s essential to know yourself and what gets you back in focus. From management strategies such as seeing someone at CAPS to drinking hot chocolate over a romantic comedy, you need to know what works for you. For me, my faith and prayer is one of my main grounding factors, therefore when the emotional demands of school life or other work are at my neck, I turn to God in prayer and reading of scripture. Basically, find what works for you and never be afraid to turn to it!

Alejandro Wences ‘17: “My friends are one of the best ways that I am able to channel my stress. They are understand people who often know what I need to hear. So after dealing with a stressful environment, I then message our Latinx group in the hopes of meeting up.” 

Finding Balance (even when it all hits the fan)

Almost exactly a year ago my wife and I welcomed our son, our first child, into the world. It’s been a roller coaster of an experience, filled with moments of sheer joy and absolute exhaustion. Having a child has helped me empathize better with college students. Now please hear me out, I am not being paternalistic or patronizing—what I mean is that having a child has reminded me how easy it is to sacrifice taking care of yourself in times of stress and extreme demands.

In my role in the OAR I’m constantly imparting (ok sometimes preaching) the virtues of self-care and balance. However after my child was born many of the things I typically need for balance or taking care of myself suddenly took a backseat to the immediate demands of our newborn and my wife. So many sleep-deprived, frozen pizza and gym-less months later I am realizing I need to be more intentional in prioritizing some more healthy habits and practices in my daily life; however, that’s easier said than done!

As a college student you know that there are a multitude of unexpected events, assignments, and problems that arise during a given semester (or week!) and finding a work-life balance can sometimes seem impossible, especially when it seems there is always work to be done.

In my personal experience and from years working with students I’ve noticed the first thing we sacrifice when it hits the fan is sleep, eating habits, exercise and/or our healthy mental or spiritual practices. This creates a vicious cycle that can be really hard to break. Often we don’t realize how unsustainable or damaging this cycle is until we pause, and realize something doesn’t seem right. Possibly during the break you had one of these moments (I did!). The first step to finding balance is identifying the stressors or any underlining reasons we’re sacrificing what we need to feel whole. Pressure to get the grade? Desire to please a family member, faculty or another person you value and find important. Or does self-care normally take a backseat every semester? Question the legitimacy of that pressure. Is it causing you undue stress? Is there someone you can talk to about it?

Once you have addressed a cause you can begin trying to find a better balance. Here are a few things that have helped me kick the cycle.

Don’t compare yourself to others listen to what you need. Reflect on what gives you energy. Make a list of things you enjoy doing and prioritize doing one or two of them every week of the semester.

Prioritize YOU, even at the expense of other things
How? This can often be the most difficult first step because it involves saying “no”. But it’s OK to say no, you can’t do everything and feeling burnt out is your body’s way of saying, “slow down”. It might be painful to back down from a commitment at first but in the end you will be grateful—trust me. It’s better to do two things with a whole heart than five with a third of your passion. If it’s sleep you need, draw a black line on your schedule and do not study or schedule anything past that line. Maybe your problem-set or essay doesn’t get done but the sleep you gain will help you be more productive in the long run. If it’s finding more time to be social or hit the gym, prioritize those things in your planner before scheduling  time to study.

It’s better to do two things with a whole heart than five with a third of your passion.

Balance is different for everyone, we all gain and expend energy in different ways:
What I need to do find balance (listen to music, go for a walk in nature, cook, spend quality time with my wife) is what I need to do, not necessarily what you need to do—everyone is wired differently. Some people need to be alone, maybe, with a comfy chair, a good book or their favorite record. While others need a night out on the town with friends or a good conversation over coffee. Don’t compare yourself to others listen to what you need. Reflect on what gives you energy. Make a list of things you enjoy doing and prioritize doing one or two of them every week of the semester.

Make a plan: Journal your progress
What is your goal? What are the challenges you face? Take time to put your goals in writing. Take time at the end of the day to reflect on what is working or what barriers are keeping you from achieving a better balance, maybe even develop a plan or strategy to attempt tomorrow to address difficulties you experience today.

But it’s OK to say no, you can’t do everything and feeling burnt out is your body’s way of saying, “slow down”.

Accountability: Find a wellness partner!
You are not alone. Ask your fellow Fords, including your professors or Dean, how they balance everything. You might find their still learning too. Feel free to borrow from their good ideas on how they find time for themselves. Find other classmates with similar interests and hobbies and make time to do those things together. Find someone you trust to ask you honest questions or check in on you.

Expect the unexpected
Julia Child, a personal hero of mine, once quipped “Do everything in moderation, including moderation”. The semester is comprised of peaks and valleys and there will be challenges. Some weeks might force you to buckle down, but make sure you follow it up with a break and some fun.  Anticipate the unexpected but pace yourself. You can’t and are not expected to do everything. You can’t sprint the whole marathon. An outcome of establishing a work-life balance is knowing when to slow down in order to finish the race and finish strong.

Here is pic of the little guy that threw me off my game… totally worth it!

Attend the Course and Major Fair for Sophomores & First Years/Student-Led Academic Tea with Chicken Tenders and Rice Krispie Treats

Sunday, October 16 from 7pm-8:30pm in Founders Great Hall

Undecided about your major? Trying to decide which courses to take in the spring or how to plan ahead to fit in a semester abroad? Whether you have your heart set on a particular major, are having trouble deciding between two or three, or really aren’t sure which majors interest you most, the Course and Major Fair will be a great chance for you to explore your options and ask upperclassmen candid or clarifying questions in an informal setting.

Student representatives from academic departments will be available to answer questions about their major, present information about interesting classes in their field, and generally talk about their own experiences choosing a major. Remember, many majors require specific pre-requisites so the more informed you are about departments and courses, the better prepared you’ll be to take full advantage of your time at Haverford.


And did we mention there will be free chicken tenders and rice krispie treats?

For more information and advice about choosing a major visit the Academic Departments & Programs page and the Choosing a Major section of The Year After sophomore blog. 

Please Pardon Our Appearance


You may have noticed things are pretty quiet around here…. a little too quiet. We’re in the process of revamping and revising so please be patient as we use the fall break to work on the new blog.

In the meantime…

We need writers! Have an insight or advice you would like to share with the Sophomore class? Are you a sophomore willing to chronicle or share your experience this coming year? Want to share tips on how to balance between academic demands and nonacademic deadlines? Need a space to share the best food cart in Philly? Want to build an argument on why The Get Down is hands down the best thing to drop in 2016?

We are looking for guest bloggers and committed students to serve on the Year After Editorial Board. Please contact your interest to serve in either capacity to bcuzzolina@haverford.edu. We look forward to hearing from you!