Wednesday, November 26, 2014


       Hey guys!! The semester is almost over (finally). It has been a productive one I must say personally, and I hope you all share the same feeling too.

       As we go for Thanksgiving today, I want us all to relax, enjoy and celebrate our loved  ones. The season is also a time of reflection as we prepare for finals, and also a mental break for some.

I wish you all a wonderful thanksgiving season
(Photo taken from Flickr C.C. 2.0 under username Julie)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Support a Great Cause!!

Hi Everyone!

I know everyone is looking forward to Thanksgiving break and probably winter break as well. I personally can’t wait to have some days off so I can sleep all day!

As we all look forward to this festive period, I will like to share an opportunity everyone can support a great cause. During the next coming Spring Break, a group of about 48 UMBC students will be forfeiting their break to do service and learn about different social problems in Baltimore and neighboring communities at different sites and organizations that addresses those issues. There are four different ASB trips this year focused on Public Health, Homelessness, Alternative health care (Gesundheit), and Developmental Disabilities (Arc trip). I will be co-leading the public health trip with another student.

Your support is needed to help raise money that will go towards the cost of the trip. All donations collected will be used for supplies, lodging, food, and transportation during the week. Here is the direct links to donate money to the public health trip.

You can also choose to donate to any of the other trips that you are passionate about the issue being addressed.

Also please share this with family and friends this thanksgiving and invite them to support this great cause!

Neyo Adekoya

(Photo taken from Flickr C.C. 2.0 under username Imagemakercan-The Len...)

Monday, November 24, 2014

We're almost there!

Thanksgiving break is coming up fast and winter break is creeping up behind it. Next thing you know it'll be finals week and the semester will be done. Here are a few tips on how to get you back on track if your falling behind and how to stay on track during the final weeks of school.

1. Asses your progress for the semester. Doing this will give you a good idea of how well you're doing in your class and will also help you come up with a game plan for what you need to change to do better and what is working.
2. Start reviewing for you finals. Getting this done early will be the greatest benefit to you. This will give you more than enough time to review all of the material you have been taught in your classes that has the potential to be on the final. Getting this done earlier rather than later will also give you some extra down time when finals and study day come around.
3.Go to your professors office hours and ask them about the material that will be on the final and ask them to clarify any of the material you struggled with in class. You can also request a class study session with your professor or TA. This is a great way to prepare for finals and also potentially start a relationship with your professors. 

(Photo taken from Flickr C.C. 2.0 under username Evan)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Celebrating Thanksgiving with UMBC International Education Services!

Hey there Commuters!
This is Safa from the Off Campus Student Services!

I know all of us are tired,stressed and we cant wait to get done with the remaining mid terms so that we can start our thanksgiving break already.Trust me same here!

So to make your thanksgiving break a little more special UMBC International Education Services is working with the English Language Institute to celebrate an early thanksgiving today from 12-2 pm at the UC Second floor lobby!

So come out commuters and end the week by giving thanks around the world with the UMBC International Education Services!Trust me it will be a lot of fun.

And a big shout out to my fellow international students around campus and off campus and also to the UMBC IES for organizing such a wonderful International Education Week 2014!I am proud of all us for making UMBC such a diverse and beautiful place to call our second home!

Hope to see you all there!

Safa Zahangir.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Potential Parking Solution

-Is parking on campus still a problem for you?

-Are you sick of being a parking vulture* on campus?

-Do you always find yourself searching for parking at the most hectic times?

-Are you worried about tackling this obstacle again next semester and subsequent semesters for the rest of your time UMBC?

If you answered “Yes” to any of the questions above, then here is a solution for you! Introducing, the BASE APP, an app created by UMBC’s very own Mr. Yaffet Meshesha!

Yaffet is a Computer Engineering major here who is developing his very own app to address the issues with finding parking spaces. His idea involves creating a sensor that would transmit info from a parking space to an app on your smartphone. This lets you know if there are any open parking spots nearby. Such a device would definitely alleviate the stress associated with parking. Finding parking at UMBC has been the bane of existence for many commuter retrievers, including Yaffet and myself! Yaffet has spent a great deal of time researching sensor technology and applying the programming and hardware experience he has gained into creating this masterpiece, all while juggling his classes at the same time. Although he has a lot of work left to do, Yaffet is working hard to make his business legit as he meets with potential clients, who are interested in implementing his product in places like airport garages and even other universities!

So why not introduce this idea right here at UMBC?

Let us know in the comments below if you would be interested in seeing this potential solution carried out in the near future! Also, help support the ambition of one of our fellow retrievers by checking out this awesome video and info about the Base App from the website below:

Please let us know if you're interested in this program by clicking on the link below to take our poll!
*parking vulture –a driver who awkwardly follows other people to their cars to get their parking spot

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hello again... 
This is my third post to UMBC Off-Campus Student Services and hopefully your favorite. 

I have been very active this semester and would like to share my story:

Here's a few snipits from the garden club.

My Fridays consist of implementation of Raspberry Pi components. Below we are establishing communication between two computers via the GPIO ports.  We are documenting for a future workshop for students to understand error correcting codes using Hamming(7,3) matrices.

If you are still unimpressed...Here is a butterfly in a jar

Remember to look back on your life.  Personal reflections and assessments help me develop a better understanding of who I am along my journey and I encourage everyone to do the same.

Thanksgiving Break!

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all having a great semester! 
The semester is almost over and it's almost time for finals.
The weather hints for a brutal winter and stress is at an all time high 

But don't lose hope yet, we still have Thanksgiving Break!!!! 

A much needed break to get away from the worries of school and get refreshed for the final weeks of school.

Although thanksgiving break is just a few days long, its an opportunity to:
  • Spend time with family
  • Get back on track with school
  • Meet with old friends
  • and most importantly...Get Stuffed!!!

Happy Thanksgiving by ramy  

I know you all have different plans for this thanksgiving, so please feel free to share!

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Rainy days

The rain has come and it's a miserable day. You may say you hate the rain, but don't fret I have some great tips on how to turn a rainy day into the best day every and here is how you do it! Follow these steps and in no time you'll be having fun on the most miserable of rainy days.

1. Kickback and have a movie day. Having a movie day will ease your mind of the stress of the day and give you some time for you to enjoy yourself and enjoy the little things
2. Get crafty! Make crafts that you haven't made in a while. This is a great way to get lost in a rainy day and spark your creativity.
3. Wind down with a good book and some hot tea. This will not only relax you but can also help ease your mind so that you can be productive later. 

I hope you all enjoy this rainy day!


(Photo taken from Flickr C.C. 2.0 under username Louk de Leeuw)

Friday, November 14, 2014

What to do next!

Hey Everyone!!

I can't believe the end of the semester is approaching! Its already class registration..its crazy! I am sure everyone has a ton of work to do and I know my teachers are definitely pounding on all the work on us now because they realize the semester is almost over.

Since its registration time I wanted to share some helpful tips for signing up for classes!

First: If you have not yet made a meeting with your advisor, go and make a meeting with your advisor right now!! Close this blog and make an appointment because you can't sign up for classes with out having your advisor clear you.

Second: While your chatting with your advisor ask her any questions about classes and if you don't know what classes you have left, go to your degree audit which tells you what requirements you have filled and what you still need..It is under myUMBC then press start and academic advising and you click on degree audit. (It will tell you everything you need to know, its awesome!)

Third: Check out all the awesome classes UMBC has to offer. There are some really cool classes and incredible teachers.

Fourth: If your overwhelmed by all the classes and times make a schedule and calendar on a piece of paper. Lay it out and draw the week and see how everything fits! It really helps!

Fifth: If you want to see how awesome…or not so awesome a teacher may be go to Type your teacher in and see what students have to say! It can really help sometimes..but don't always believe whats on there.

Sixth: Don't forget to check out how many credits you have and what day and time you are able to sign up!

Seventh: Okay!! I think I am done talking but I hope this was helpful and GOOD LUCK!

Keep going strong guys! We are almost there and its almost thanksgiving =)

--Keep smiling!


(Photo taken from Flickr C.C. 2.0 under username Class Registration)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Keep active during the cold weather!

Hi everyone,

I hope you are all enjoying your semester! I know that I am excited for this semester to be over since I am graduating in December. It is an exciting, yet scary, feeling but I am ready for it!

With Thanksgiving and the end of the semester quickly approaching, it is important that you take the time to take care of yourself. We sometimes tend to overeat during the holidays or when we are stressed, but my blog for today focuses on how you can stay active -- physically and mentally -- during the cold weather!

Since many people enjoy going for walks or runs outside, it is very difficult to do so in the cold weather. Here are some tips on staying active during these cold months:

1. Take advantage of the fitness classes in the Retrievers Activities Center (RAC).

The RAC offers plenty of FREE classes for students, faculty, and staff to take. These classes take place throughout the day and evening, so there should be a time for you to make it! There are a variety of classes for all expertise levels, so do not fret! Some classes include: yoga, pilates, ab crunch, zumba, and many more!

2. Just go to the RAC!

The RAC is the perfect place to work out! With cardio machines, basketball hoops, an INDOOR POOL, and a weightlifting room, there is something for everyone! Do not be afraid to hop on in and get your workout on -- even if its only for 15 minutes! Staying physically healthy is not only good for your body, but your mind too!

3. Stay hydrated.

Keeping hydrated is very important. You need it to function! Keep drinking that water, and cut down on the caffeinated beverages because they only work for so long! Water is vital.

4. Just turn on some music and clean!

If you cannot make it to the gym, just turn on your iPod or Pandora and clean up your place! Although you are not getting a heavy duty workout session, you are moving around which IS important! You are also getting some cleaning done, which declutters your working space and makes you feel more organized!

5. And lastly, pull up some workout YouTube videos.

It is very easy to stay home and exercise. Find a workout video on YouTube and get moving! There are plenty of exercises and workout routines that you can do right in your own home!

I hope this list has helped you! Staying physically healthy will also help your mind stay focused and help you toward that finish line of the end of the semester, graduating, or any other obstacles you are facing!

Good luck and stay active!!

(Photo taken from Flickr C.C. 2.0 under username Alm Alzahrani)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Keep calm. It's almost winter break!

Hi, everyone!

It's amazing how fast time flies when there is so much to do! We have less than six weeks left until the fall semester ends, and winter break starts. I guess at this point in time, some students are starting to plan out what they will be doing over the long winter break.  Winter break is a little more than a month long, and it is the perfect opportunity to partake in many activities that are productive. I use the winter break as a time to recharge, volunteer, catch up with friends, spend time with my family, and get a head start on the spring semester. I enjoy the deadline free atmosphere winter break comes with, so I am doing things at my own pace.

In addition, winter break is the perfect opportunity  to submit your application to various internship sites for the summer. Many summer internships have deadlines that are around the first two months of the year, and completing your application near the deadline might be in conflict with your spring class schedule.

Other ideas for winter break productivity:
  • Travel Abroad
  • Make a super awesome music playlist
  • Read a book: Yes, they still exist!
  • Zoo, Museum, Symphony Orchestra, Theatre: Living near the capital is an advantage. Most museums are free in DC!
  • Watch old movies with friends: My all time favorite!  
  • Get a handle on your sleep schedule: readjust your sleep schedule, no more all nighters.
What will you be doing this winter break? Please share!

Megidelawit Yirefu
PACC leader

Commuter Connection

Hey, everyone! This Friday, November 14th, OCSS will be hosting our monthly Commuter Connection event, "Go to Baltimore, Hon!"  

When: This Friday! 11/14, 12:00-1:00pm

Where: The Commons, Sports Zone
Why to come: To find out about the new UMBC downtown lines, information on internship opportunities downtown, free food, giveaways, games, and more! 
Be sure to come out for a fun and informative afternoon! Hoping to see you there! :) 

- Sonny

Friday, November 7, 2014


Hello everyone.  I am not sure about you all, but this week has been incredibly busy for me.  I had two tests and a lab report due, as well as a few homework assignments.  I am glad that this week is finally over.  I really need some down time that does not involve school or homework, but I wont get much.  I have multiple projects due in the coming few weeks as well, but enough of that.  I am just glad that I am getting stuff done. 

This year has been very productive, despite being incredibly busy.  I would venture to say that I have never been busier in a semester.  However, I enjoy my major and would not want to be doing anything else.  I am really glad that I do not have to work full time. 

I have been doing the PACC leader program, and have had a good time helping students and meeting the new people.  Anyway, I hope that everyone has a good week, and anyone with midterms I wish luck.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

FINAL Carpool Social

OCSS will be hosting its final Carpool Social of the semester!

When: This Friday! 11/7, 12-1pm
Where: Lower Flat Tuesdays
Who: You and your potential carpooler(s)
What: In recognition of Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

Come join us for a FREE lunch (vegan options available) and find a driving buddy to help keep you awake! 

Not only will you get free food, giveaways, and a chance to save money/gas, but you will get a SNEAK PEEK at improved carpooling for   Spring 2015. 

More info!!!

Image Source: Flickr user George Kelly under CC BY 2.0

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Winter is coming!


The weather is changing quite rapidly and winter is quickly approaching, so here are a few tips on how to prepare for the upcoming Winter season!

If you're commuting to school, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to make the commute while driving safely. You should definitely have a mechanic look at your car and make sure everything is on point. If things need to be replaced, don't hesitate to have parts fixed/replaced/tuned. Windshield wipers are also important to replace to make sure that if a winter storm hits, you can adequately see out your window. When roads are covered in snow and ice, make sure to be cautious while driving and drive slower as well as trying to avoid slamming on your brakes.

As far as dressing for winter, make sure you check the weather everyday to look at what's in store. Definitely have a pair of well insulated boots to keep your toes warm and make sure you bundle up your neck with a warm scarf, your head with a beanie or hat, and also have a warm jacket and some gloves for the bitter and windy days.

(Photo taken from Flickr C.C. 2.0 under username classicrestoent)

Monday, November 3, 2014

UMBC Red Card Program

Hi everyone! I hope your Halloween went well. Time is flying by, next thing you know it'll be winter break. I come with great news today! Have you ever hear of the Red Card Program? The UMBC Service Outreach and Department for Student Government Association has launched a discount program where students can use their UMBC red cards to get discounts from multiple stores. This program actually has been around for a whole year but since many students don't know about it, hopefully this will get the word out. For more information about the program please visit the links below.

Have a great day everyone!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween from OCSS!

Hey, Retrievers! Do you have a sweet tooth? You can never have too much Halloween candy, so, make sure to come out to the Commuter Lounge between 12-4 today to take part in the Chocolate Factory! There will also be a Fondu Bar and Candy Bar at Upper & Lower Flat Tuesdays from 6:30-9:00 tonight.   

Commuter Week is coming to an end, but, here at OCSS, we'll still be working hard to make sure you have a great rest of the semester! Be sure to keep an eye out for our November events, such as Commuter Connections on the 14th, as well as GMC, which is every Tuesday from 8:30-10:00 on Main Street!

Have a great, safe, fun-filled Halloween weekend, and remember to set your clocks back an hour on November 2 at 2 A.M. for Daylights Savings Time!

- Sonny

Thursday, October 30, 2014


I hope that everyone is having a good semester.  I can't say I have any free time, but I can say that I have learned quite a few new things this fall.  I didn't really know what to expect for my first full time semester here at UMBC, but I did anticipate that I would be pretty busy.  I imagine it is probably like that for most of us, as we progress in our degree plans. 

I can say that I have enjoyed this semester so far.  Other than that, I have also helped start a club for volunteers at local animal shelters.  I have taken on the responsibility of treasurer, and haven't regretted it.  I do really enjoy helping animals when I can.  I  have a few of my own as a result of this. 

I have learned that time management is essential to being successful, both in and out of school.  This semester seems to be one big validation of that.  

(Photo taken from Flickr C.C. 2.0 under username woodleywonderworks)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Happy, Healthy Halloween

How’s it going Retrievers?

I hope everyone is enjoying all the awesome events OCSS has offered this Commuter week!
It has been especially fun for us CAs to meet and interact with you all this week, and we look forward to seeing you at more events throughout the Fall.

I particularly want to spread the news about our event on Thursday, October 30th. In anticipation for getting you all ready for a great Halloween weekend, OCSS is hosting a Smart Decisions aboutAlcohol information session on Commons Main Street from 12 pm-1pm. At this event, nice folks with OCSS will provide students safety tips should they choose to drink, while also providing alternative choices to those who do not plan to consume alcohol.

Alcohol at parties on any holiday can lead to the possibility of drunk driving, but this problem is especially amplified since all kinds of people: college students, teens, children, and adults will be out and about this Halloween weekend. Did you know that 44% of all fatal crashes during Halloween weekend involved a drunk driver and that 23% of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween night did so as well?

UMBC wants to do its part in lowering these statistics for this coming weekend. These statistics stress the importance of emphasizing responsible drinking so that everyone can celebrate the best Halloween.

I strongly encourage you guys to check out this event in order to make the right choices as you enjoy responsible Halloween fun, whether at the Boo Bash this Thursday or at your own Halloween shenanigans.

Have a Happy and Healthy Halloween Retrievers!


(Photo taken from Flickr C.C. 2.0 under username Janna Banna)
Statistics from:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Commuter Week Events!

Hello Commuter Retrievers!

I hope you enjoyed Commuter Week Kick Off yesterday! There are many more events going on throughout this week along with lots and lots of giveaways! (So don't feel discouraged if you did not get a shirt yet)

Here is a quick run through for 10/28 events:
  • Good Morning Commuters
    From: 8:30-10:00am
    Where: Commons Main Street
    Why to Come: To get FREE breakfast with your COMMUTER GOLD CARD!
  • Chili Cook-Off for a CAUSE
    From: 12-1pm
    Where: Commons Main Street
    Why to Come: Donate for a cause and maybe you will be able to try some chili [:
  • Karaoke Night!!!
    From: 6pm
    Where: Flat Tuesdays
    Why to Come: Sing your heart out with other fellow commuters!
Be sure to come out and have fun! I hope to see you there!

-Angela [:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Remember to breath and relax

Hello fellow UMBC students,

This semester seems to have flown by with many challenging moments. When you think you have all the time in the world, you really don't! Most of you are looking forward to a break and relief from the daily stresses of school. It's important to remember that no matter how many things are going on in your life, you must take time to breathe and relax. I know that is easier said than done. I myself struggle with this daily but remember if you don't take that moment, you won't be of any use to anyone else or more importantly yourself!! Yes, diligence and persistence is the key to being successful. In those free moments relax and release. I wish everyone a great and productive second half of the semester.

(Photo taken from Flickr C.C. 2.0 under username George Sharp)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ants Marching

Take an hour out of your week and reflect. Do it!
*Remember your end goals for school...
    -Have you incorporated these hopes with the current curriculum?

I have been swamped with school, utilizing the programmable coffee maker set 4 hours from the moment I am hitting the sheets.  However, it is ok to deviate from personal dreams,  in fact it's often required of students to earn the A's.  I have yet to meet someone that knows everything.  That said, who am I to say that one subject has nothing to do with my aspirations?  I don't. So I want to keep my options viable and strive for excellence in each and every class. One long-term goal for every student should be to get a job. Remember that employers take GPA seriously, and so I should too!  

      Check this awesome app that tells you when to set your alarm:
                     -this website tells you the time to set your alarm so that you don't wake up groggy!

This table should help you understand where the times provided by the app are coming from.

(Photo taken from

Synopsis of my personal reflection:
My personal reflection identified that I feel like an ant, marching to the beat of academia.  The struggle is real, and IT IS OK to be fragile, but in the tussles, I needed to recollect WHY I was committing every waking moment to my classes. (See above) I needed motivation, and I needed it then and there to finalize a project, paper, or the study session.  Motivation is pivotal for every college student, and is sourced from the battle between the id and the ego. My id requires me to sleep, while my ego says to finish the work regardless of the state of my current happiness.  A great way to satisfy the inner id is to attend the weekly transfer student network workshops.  Food, socializing, and pertinent information about student life are all bundled up in one hour to maximize time(a must when under the pressure of deadlines).  Keep the id happy and let the ego prevail!

A few pictures of yesterdays(10/22/2014) TSN event:
*There are so many support structures at UMBC, in particular, the transfer student network (TSN)
TSN Retriever Ready Event
Sam and Patrick enjoying the food & fun!!!

These are two pictures taken at the 9th and final TSN workshop, held in COMMONS 331 on Wednesdays during free hour.

These events are held at the beginning of each semester and include topics such as:
-Clubs and Orgs 101
-Involvement Fest
-Undergraduate Research
-Study Skills
-Academic Advising

The food provided included pizza, wings, chips and salsa, water, tea and, desert. personal diet restrictions can also be provided!

By Patrick McElvaney
All rights reserved

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sir Prizé

ALCON (military for "to whom it may concern"),

If you are reading this, I would like to start out by thanking you for taking the time out of your day to read my thoughts. My name is Melvin Green Jr. (though I sometimes answer to Marvin or Malvin). I work at OCSS. In one sentence, my job is to serve those who served in the military. What does that look like? Something like the following:


Mondays are for musings in my book. My day begins with a poem by Kipling, a little Sun Tzu, and "Beach Chair" by S dot Carter.  Next, I brain storm ways to encourage student veterans to participate. I send emails, walk around and introduce myself to people I have yet to meet and try to build rapport. I sometimes fail at building report because sometimes I like to lead with a joke. For example, I wanted one person to adopt the moniker "Calc 3", but he was not fond of this nickname. However, I still feel like this is a good name that is deserving of a home. Any takers? I've also been told never to ask another person "How much a polar bear weighs". I am currently working on new introductions.


TastyKake Tuesdays are for raising awareness about Vets 2 Vets. Typically I can be found in the commuter lounge with UMBC veteran tee shirts and some sort of snack for veteran students. I look forward to Tuesdays because of the interesting conversations that I have with student population. So far, two of the most interesting things I have learned came from a USMC veteran is teaching in Baltimore who had much to say about how respect universally understood across cultures and a Navy veteran who described to me how underwater searches are conducted.


Wednesday is my favorite day of the week for two reasons: I once lost a spelling bee for misspelling this word and because of our office camel. At this point in the week I am making sure that I have met my weekly obligations as well as planned out the week ahead. This day is used for learning about those around me (time permitting). I believe it was on a Wednesday that I received a crash course on Calcutta from one of the CAs.


Thursday is my second favorite day of the week because the year after I lost in the spelling bee for misspelling Wednesday, I lost because I misspelled Thursday (True story!). Thursday is also the end of my work week in OCSS and is used to ensure I have tied up all loose ends. My week is deemed a success if I have met 1 new student veteran, responded to all emails, learned one thing from a co-worker, and managed to smile the entire time!

Thank you for reading!

(Photo taken from Flickr C.C. 2.0 under username arbyreed)