Thursday, July 28, 2022

29 Days

The graduate school schedule can make it difficult to stay centered and balanced. For me the busier I get, the less time I take for self-care, which is ironic considering the busy and stressful times are when I need self-care the most. Recently, I have been really good about sustaining my health routines. I wanted to share some stuff that worked for me and some stuff that didn’t and how I tailored my self-care routine through trial and error.

This all started when I read an excerpt about habit formation; the author cited experiments that showed that it takes about 29 days of doing a new activity to solidify it as a habit. I had a lot of goals and positive habits that I wanted to integrate into my life and failed to do so in the past: working out, meditation, eating healthy, etc. But 29 days and then it's solidified? I can do that! That seemed really simple so I gave it a shot.

The first thing that I wanted to implement into my schedule, like many people, was going to the gym. So I started to go around 5 p.m. every day. Now, I won’t get into the nitty gritty, but there are many different challenges at the gym: ignorance, insecurity, fatigue, injury, etc. Although it was difficult to get to the gym most days, I found that after 20 days or so, I started looking forward to the gym; and after a month, I didn’t have that nagging feeling or anxiety about having to go to the gym and I just went to the gym without that game of self tug-of-war that I used to know so well. Interestingly, five months later, I feel anxiety when I can’t make it to the gym. So it is safe to say that I solidified this practice into my routine. 

However, I am injured at the moment so I had to change my gym routines to more physical therapy oriented workouts until I am healthy enough to get back to weight training. Figuring out the gym has been its own journey of learning, goal-setting, failure, success, and this repeated cycle. At this point in my gym regimen, I view the gym as a world in its own; a place where you can forget about the stressors of daily life and focus on the betterment of yourself, whatever that looks like for you. Moreover, physical goals are never ending and teach you to enjoy the process, which has helped me in other areas of my life. 

Having a morning routine that energizes me and kick-starts my day has long been a goal of mine considering how long it takes me to become a functioning human after waking up. And, because the gym is super crowded in the evening, I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and start going to the gym in the morning. At first this seemed like a great plan for me. I really enjoyed getting up early, getting the gym out of the way, and having the day ahead of me. But after about 35 days of this, I was truly exhausted and the quality of my morning workouts was diminishing. 

I have reaped great benefits from individual mediation sessions and heard such positive things about consistent, morning meditation. I tried implementing mediation into my morning routine before my workouts. Unfortunately, this didn’t work for me in the slightest; I would wake up at 5 a.m., sit down for a 10-minute meditation, and then wake up at 5:50 a.m. hunched over my lap or face down on the floor in my room. This was really messing with me because I was now missing my morning gym sessions and my routine was thrown off. 

I still really wanted to make meditation part of my routine because of the benefits I have received from it in the past. Ok, so back to the drawing board with meditation. While trying to figure out how to wake up with more energy and how meditation fits into my routine, I stumbled upon a podcast about the impact that pre-sleep routines have on your sleep. After listening to this podcast, it made sense to start meditating before bed. 

I couldn’t recommend this more. I feel well rested and energized in the morning; and my morning workouts have been amazing. I am sold on pre-sleep routines so I have been researching other ways to increase sleep quality. I found that blue light exposure before bed impacts sleep quality, and experts recommend avoiding blue light exposure for an hour before bed. Although it hasn’t been 29 days yet, this is a habit that I want to continue because of the positive impact it has made on my quality of sleep.

I am far from having a perfect routine and still have lapses here and there. But generally, over the past five months, I have implemented some great habits into my life and it shows in my school performance and relationships. I hope this little write-up can inspire someone to take 29 days and implement a new habit to enhance their life.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Philly Sports Talk

Keeping up with sports in Philadelphia is a must. We all know that Philly sports fans are notoriously passionate about their teams and that sports-talk is almost default here. However, it can be demanding to keep up with everything; the Phillies play 162 games during their season, the Flyers and Sixers have overlapping schedules; and Eagles games are usually during prime study hours. But if you want to stay engaged with Philly sports teams without having to watch every game, you’ve come to the right place. Every other week, I will give an easy-to-read overview of the Phillies, Eagles, Sixers, Flyers. These updates are intended to give you the numbers as well as a sense of the energy, momentum, and intangibles of the teams. 


Last 5 Games (3-2):

Nationals beat Phillies 3-2

Phillies beat Nationals 5-3

Phillies beat Cardinals 2-0

Phillies beat Cardinals 1-0

Cardinals beat Phillies 4-3


The Phillies had a very slow start to their season while the division rival Mets hit the ground running. This left the Phillies in a big deficit going into June. Led by Kyler Schwarber, Bryce Harper, and Rhys Hoskins, the Phillies went 21-8 in June and put themselves right back into the playoffs conversation after firing their head coach Joe Girardi on May 31. 

The main sore point for the Phillies during their slow start was their pitching. Specifically, the Phillies relief pitchers have been failing the organization to no surprise to the fans, who have seen this happen year after year. However, after moving some pitchers into different roles, the relief pitchers have seemingly found some sort of rhythm in the past two weeks and the team’s confidence has increased accordingly. 


Unfortunately, Bryce Harper, last year’s MVP, has been struggling with a ligament tear in his elbow from the start of the season and has been unable to play in the field yet. However, he was still able to bat in the designated hitter position and was having another MVP season from the plate. Last week though, he was hit by a pitch and had to undergo surgery on his hand. There is no timetable for his return. Phillies second-baseman Jean Segura is also out with a broken finger and has a 10-12 week timeline for return. However, in an interview last week, Jean said that he is not letting it go that long because he loves how the team is playing and really wants to get back out there with the boys. Zach Eflin, who has become a perennial starter for the Phillies, is dealing with knee soreness and is out for at least two weeks. 


Offseason Updates:

The Eagles made a splash on draft day by trading two picks for bonafide wide receiver A.J. Brown. This was huge news and reason for optimism for Eagles fans. The team followed that blockbuster trade with five draft picks that seemed to fill some needs. Specifically, keep your eyes out for defensive tackle Jordan Davis and linebacker Nakobe Dean, college teammates at the University of Georgia. The Eagles have made other acquisitions to look out for next season. Notably, Zach Pascal, who had a solid last few seasons as a wide receiver for the Colts. There is a real reason for excitement regarding this team. Stay tuned for more updates throughout the summer!


Offseason Updates: 

The NHL draft took place on July 7th and 8th in Montreal. The Flyer’s had the 5th overall pick in the 2022 draft and selected Cutter Gauthier. The 6”2’ 200-lb left winger has some excitement around him and has handled himself very well in the spotlight thus far. The Flyer’s certainly prioritized their offense this draft as they selected 5 offensive players and 1 defensive player. Most of the players selected will likely spend considerable time in the minor leagues before contributing to the Flyer’s in the NHL. However, it is always exciting to get young talent in the Flyer’s organization. 


Offseason Updates:

The Sixers have already had a pretty impressive offseason after picking up P.J. Tucker, Danuel House Jr., and Trevelin Queen. Tucker has been on a slew of great playoff teams and brings a level of toughness and grit that Philadelphia fans will fall in love with quickly. House had an awesome year from beyond the three-point line and is a good defensive player as well. Trevelin made a lot of noise in the G league, equivalent to minor league baseball, last year earning the league and finals MVP. Alongside an MVP caliber Joel Embiid, a maturing Tyrese Maxey, and a hopefully rejuvenated James Harden, these additions could be exactly what the sixers need to break out in the playoffs, something they haven’t been able to do.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Free Summer Concerts!

There are a lot of concerts that come to Philly each year. However, concerts at Lincoln Financial Field, Freedom Mortgage Pavilion, or other venues in the area can be very expensive. So I just wanted to share some cool spots that offer free outdoor concerts throughout the summer. 

Pastorius Park in Chestnut Hill is an easy 20-minute drive from campus and offers a free concert series on Wednesday nights throughout the summer. Enjoy a nice summer night under the string-lit greenery at Pastorius Park. Bring a blanket, chairs, food, and drinks and enjoy the show. If you make it to one of these concerts on Wednesday, odds are you will be craving another musical experience under the stars ASAP!

And if that’s the case, head to the Abington Arts Center the next night because they are offering a free concert series on Thursday nights throughout the summer. Bring your own food and drinks and dance the night away. Alternatively, they have some awesome food and drink options inside the venue that might peak your interest. Either way from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays at the Abington Arts Center is the place to be; this is less than a five-minute drive from campus and requires no cost for admission. 

If you don’t want to leave your dog alone after being alone all day, it is worth noting that all of these venues are dog friendly, but Woofstock at Seager Dog Park is dog encouraged. Seager Dog Park is a great place for you furry friends to play and mingle for a whole night without sacrificing social plans for yourself. Concerts every Tuesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. May through September. 

There are a ton of venues in Philadelphia and Montgomery County that offer free concerts throughout the summer. Here are some others to check out: Fishtown Music in the Park, Green Lane Park, Norristown Free Concert Series, and Summer Concert Series at Fischer Park. 

Spending time outside under the night sky, feeling the summer breeze on our skin and the grass under our feet, and letting the music resonate through our bodies is good for us. Make your way to one of these concerts this summer, they’re a great change of pace.

Friday, July 1, 2022

Sal's Pizza Review

Ever wonder what the best pizzerias around Salus are? Well, we tested it so you don’t have to! And don’t worry, of course we followed the most scientific procedures to ensure accurate and representative results. Here are the procedures and results from the 2022 Abington Pizza Awards. 

First, we randomized the pizza places that we ordered from to avoid bias in the sample. Our randomization process generated three pizza spots out of a list of 12: Mister P’s Pizza, Trio’s Tomato Pie, and Luigi’s Pizzarama II. We made sure to order the same size and kind of pizza to avoid any confounding variables; specifically, we ordered a 16-inch, plain pizza from each respective pizzeria. To avoid recency or any temporal bias, we ordered each pizza to be delivered at the same time. 

Once the pizzas were delivered, we first placed them all next to each other to compare the delivery medium or, as some say, the pizza box. The Trio’s box showed a pizzeria on what looked to be an Italian side street embodying its more traditional, non-commercialized vibe; they didn’t even display their name on the box, because, for them, it's not about marketing or selling more, it's just about the pizza! Luigi’s Pizzarama II box was quite the opposite as they opted to only display practical elements like their name, address, hours of operation, phone number, etc; this represents their transactional philosophy of pizza and pizza delivery. Mister P’s Pizza box showed a brick oven in which their name and logo were displayed as they boasted to be the “new Italian generation.” Although we loved Mister P’s logo and Luigi’s directness, the majority gave the coveted “Best Delivery Medium” award to Trio’s Tomato Pie. 

Then, we opened the boxes to see what we were working with. We had to exercise some discipline as we first had to rate each pizza on presentation before rating any of the taste factors. Mister P’s had a cheese distribution error for which we all had to dock some points. Trio’s and Luigi’s both gave good first impressions, but Luigi’s won the hearts of the judges. 

Then we each grabbed one piece from each box, grabbed a piece of paper and rated each pizza slice 1 to 10 on five taste factors: cheese, sauce, crust, cheese-to-sauce ratio, and eating experience. The eating experience metric includes factors like foldability of the pizza, how much of the pizza ends up on your plate instead of your mouth, need for napkins, etc. We all ate one slice at a time to fully process each pizza and rated them on these different metrics throughout the eating process. 

First and foremost we would like to thank Salus for providing the study room in which we conducted our experiment. And we would like to thank each delivery person as well. We all enjoyed the pizza as well as being overly analytical judges. Although Luigi’s had the worst first impression in terms of their box, they stole the show from that point on. Luigi’s pizza looked the best and their average taste rating was better on each metric compared to the others. Luigi’s Pizzarama II is the official winner of the 2022 Abington Pizza Awards.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Why You Should Make it Down to Citizens Bank Park This Summer

The Phillies are back in business and you have to get down to South Philly to catch a glimpse. Here are some reasons to go to Citizens Bank Park (CBP) this summer: 

  1. It's affordable. Phillies tickets are starting as low as $6 nowadays! 
  2. It’s a social activity. Get drinks, dance, yell, celebrate with the fans around you, heck maybe even get on the jumbotron. 
  3. Theme nights. Go on a specific theme night to get deals, free giveaways, or support a cause. Go to the last dollar dog night of the season on Sept. 21st, where hot dogs are only $1. 

  4. See a united city. Whether the Phillies are winning, losing, or in a close one, the fans will be cheering, booing, or biting their nails in unison. 
  5. They are on a winning streak. After firing their head coach, the Phillies have won 15 out of 18 and have a lot of energy and excitement around them. 
  6. Bryce Harper. See the 2021 MVP and Philly’s heartthrob live!

  7. Chickie’s and Pete’s crab fries. Enough said.
  8. Pass and Stow. Head to Pass and Stow, the stadium’s social hub, for a drink and a vibe. 
  9. Nightlife around the ballpark. After the game, make your way to Penn’s Landing, South Philly, or other cool areas that are a quick Uber from the ballpark.
  10. See the sunset. If you go to a night game this summer, you will see the sun set over left field as the sunny day makes way for a nice summer night.

Here are some of the best games to go to this summer:

  • July 1st or 3rd: St. Louis Cardinals at Phillies  (Fireworks Night) 
  • July 24th: Chicago Cubs at Phillies (Zach Wheeler jersey giveaway)
  • July 26th: Atlanta Braves at Phillies (Tote Bag Giveaway)
  • Aug 19th: New York Mets at Phillies (I Love the 90s Postgame Concert)
  • Aug 20th: New York Mets at Phillies (Hat Day) 
  • Aug 28th: Pittsburgh Pirates at Phillies (J.T Realmuto Cooler Bag Giveaway)
  • Sept. 21st: Toronto Blue Jays (Hatfield Phillies Franks Dollar Dog Night) 
  • Sept. 24th or 25th: Atlanta Braves at Phillies

Friday, June 10, 2022

Philly on a Budget

There’s a ton to do in Philly, that’s no secret. Having a fun day downtown without spending any money though, that’s a challenge. Well, I’m here to help. Below are some great ways to enjoy Philadelphia without spending a dime.

If you want to spend a relaxing day downtown, head to some of Philly’s parks and piers. Make your way down to Spruce Street Harbor Park, find a hammock and enjoy the breeze off the water. Take a stroll in Rail Park or Valley Forge National Historical park and enjoy the fresh air and abounding greenery. You can even meander your way to Rittenhouse Square Park with nothing more than a blanket and a good book. There are many more relaxing, public areas in the city including Cherry Street Pier, Bardascino Park, John F. Collins Park, and Race Street Pier.

I am sure you have seen some of Philly’s iconic murals, but did you know that there are nearly 4,000 pieces of public art in the city? Mural Arts Philadelphia (MAP) created a digital public arts map that makes it easy to plan out a self-guided tour of these public art pieces. This is a great way to check out different neighborhoods, get a feel for the city and connect deeper with the culture of Philadelphia, all without a cost of admission. 

If you’ve never done it, go and see the Liberty Bell. One of the most iconic symbols for the city of Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell is a must-see for any Philadelphia resident and is completely free. The museum grants access on a first-come, first-serve basis from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. It's a quick, free trip that will leave you feeling a little more connected to the history of the nation's first capital. And while you’re down in the historic district, take a stroll down America’s oldest continuously inhabited street, Elfreth’s Alley. There are many other historic sites to check out like The President’s House, Carpenter’s Hall, and Independence National Historic Park, to name a few. 

If your thirst for science is so great that a graduate degree in health sciences can’t even quench it, then you should visit a few of Philadelphia’s free science attractions this summer. The Franklin Institute offers highly interactive exhibits that are truly fun for the whole family. They have free admissions from 5 to 8 p.m. on community nights. The first hospital in the United States, The Pennsylvania Hospital has a 13,000-volume library, the nation's oldest surgical amphitheater, herb gardens, and more all for free. The Science History Institute and the Wagner Free Institute of Science both also have free admission and are worth a visit. 

The student schedule and budget can be very restricting so I hope that this will give you some ideas for free, fun things to do in your limited free time.

Monday, November 1, 2021

An Unconventional Occupational Therapy Student

I graduated from Temple University in 2017 with a major in Tourism and Hospitality Management. After graduation, I accepted a position with a company and moved to Washington D.C. to work at the Capital One Arena, home of the Washington Capitals (hockey) and Washington Wizards (basketball). I was quickly immersed in the business world as manager of premium clubs and suites, working long event-based hours, managing employees, writing contracts and selling different products.

In 2018, the Capitals were contenders for their first Stanley Cup, and work got increasingly busy. As exhilarating and invigorating as this experience was, I was quickly realizing that this was not a fulfilling career. Yes, it was exciting when I got to see the city come together and win its first Stanley Cup. Yes, it was exciting in the moment when fans were cheering, confetti was streaming down, people were crying, and when I was given my very own Stanley Cup ring from the team. But it wasn’t fulfilling.

I started looking for a new job, one that may feel more “like me.” I stumbled across an opportunity at a hotel in Philadelphia. My job was fun, I got to create relationships with clients, help plan events and create wonderful experiences, but something was still missing. While all of this was going on I was recovering from an injury. That past winter I had a skiing accident and tore my ACL and meniscus, and I had to undergo surgery. The surgery was unsuccessful, and after intense physical therapy, I underwent another surgery seven months later, and another four months after that. During my experience as a patient and seeing my own recovery process unfold, I was inspired and intrigued. I started doing research. I saw both Physical Therapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy (OT) at work and fell in love with the rehabilitation field. I began shadowing, talking to my own physical therapist, interviewing friends in OT school, and decided that OT was the career for me.

While still working at the hotel, I continued shadowing occupational therapists. I also started classes to complete the many missing science-based prerequisite courses that I needed. I researched schools that stood out to me and began filling out my applications. I had a long road ahead of me, and applications were due in a few months. Every night after work I was either in class, studying for the GRE, or shadowing.

In February I got the call from Salus, my top choice, that officials there wanted me to come in for an interview. I was over the moon! I showed up to my interview in a full knee brace and on crutches. The tour guides were wonderful, accommodating, and answered all of my questions. The campus was beautiful, intimate, and charming. I loved the small feel, especially in contrast to the large community at Temple. The staff and faculty who interviewed me were passionate, professional, and full of knowledge. I knew the moment I stepped (crutched) onto this campus that I belonged here.

The biggest draw to Salus is that it took a chance on me. I did not have a science background, my GRE score was average, and I was still taking my last anatomy class so my transcript was incomplete. I told them my story and promised that I would finish my last class in good standing and that I had an unmatchable drive. I received my acceptance letter weeks later.

Fast forward, and now I am in my last didactic semester of OT school. I am a member of the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association and was treasurer of the Student Occupational Therapy Association for four semesters. I am currently president of my class and am a work-study student for two different departments. I also had the opportunity to attend a healthcare service trip to Guatemala over this past summer as the only occupational therapy student, along with nine other Physician Assistant (PA) students from Salus. I have made wonderful, supportive, and caring friends and developed great relationships with my professors. I truly believe that this school is where I was meant to end up.

I am here to tell you that your past does not define your future, that you are capable of whatever you put your mind to. Just because you don’t have a science background does not mean that you cannot be successful in a healthcare graduate program. It is worth it to chase your dreams, no matter how scary the first step or road may seem.

- Robin is a second-year occupational therapy student at Salus University

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