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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Fall 2014
Peer Advisor Availability

Professional Development Peer:
Shawn Warner-Garcia
Tue: 10 a.m. to noon, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Thu: 10 a.m. to noon, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Diversity & Outreach Peer:

Funding Peer:
Kyle Crocco
Wed: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Thu: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Writing Peer:
Ryan Dippre
Mon: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Tue: 9 a.m. to noon, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Wed: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Communications Peer:
Melissa Rapp
Wed: 9:45 to 11:45 a.m.
Thu: 1 to 5 p.m.

The peers sometimes hold events or attend meetings during their regular office hours. To assure you connect with your Graduate Peer Advisor, we encourage you to contact them by email and make an appointment.



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5 Things You Should Know to Empathize with International Students 

UCSB international students and faculty who attended the 2014 International Lunch Discussion in January. Credit: George Yatchisin

Living in the U.S. as an international student can be tough. I know it’s tough, because I’ve been living as an international student in the U.S. for a little over a decade – one year of high school, four years of college, two years of graduate school (first master's degree), one year of work using OPT visa (student permit work visa), 1.5 years for another master's degree, and here I am now at UCSB, pursuing my doctoral studies in Education. Having gone through 10 years of life as an international student, I'd like to share some insights on what international students go through on a regular basis. These are reflections based on my story as well as stories of many other international students at UCSB.

1. International students sometimes struggle in establishing new friends and connections. Don’t get me wrong – it's not just the language barrier. Sometimes, they aren’t sure of the cultural discourse. They might wonder, “Is it appropriate to say it this way or that way?” And when people make sarcastic jokes, they might not understand it or not know how to respond to it (they’ll often just smile). Also, international students try to maintain their connections back home. To do so, they sometimes have to spend their weekends staying at home to chat with family and friends who are on the other side of the world. Weekday chatting can happen but they have to either stay up really late or get up really early due to time difference. Professors often wonder why international students are so tired all the time – well, this might be why.

2.  International students, almost all the time, experience homesickness and culture shock. When I first experienced culture shock, I didn’t realize I was experiencing it. My concept of “culture shock” was something more extreme, like a physical “shock.” However, I later realized that the beginning of my culture shock was when I constantly questioned and judged the ways people in America act, think, speak, and eat. I still remember how surprised I was when I saw my American friends eating the entire footlong Subway sandwich, and still had room for dessert. It took time for me to adjust and embrace everything in America. In addition, international students feel homesick – not all the time – but especially during holidays and vacations. What makes the homesickness worse is when they find out it costs more than $1,000 to fly back home.

3. International students have to deal with a lot of paperwork, jargon, and all kinds of legal “stuff.” International students always have to be mindful of dates. Students need to get their I-20 document (a two-page paper showing, “I go to this school. I’m legal.”) signed on time, before and after travel. Students need to make sure that their passport and visa are not expired. If the passport is expiring, they have to go to the nearest embassy of their country of origin to get it renewed (“nearest” is a two-hour drive to Los Angeles for UCSB students). If the visa is expiring, they have to leave the U.S. and get a new one from a U.S. embassy at any foreign country. Yes, it’s expensive to be an international student. In addition, students have to keep up with new immigration policies, make copies of all immigration documents, and be knowledgeable of immigration jargon words, such as OPT or CPT. OPT (Optional Practical Training) is a permit that allows students to work off-campus for a year after they graduate from college or graduate school. CPT (Curricular Practical Training) is a permit that allows students to work off-campus during the school year, as long as it is related to what they are studying. To apply for both of these permits, students have to have money, time (preparing all the paperwork), and patience (waiting for the permit to come in the mail for OPT).

4. International students have to be “extraordinary” or are of “national interest” to impress the government and potential employers especially those who are allergic to the words “visa” and “sponsorship.” No matter how awesome international students are, and no matter how much the employer wants to hire them, they (students and employers) have to go through the immigration process. This means more paperwork, more money (from the student and the employer), and more patience. So, when international students hear about college career fairs, sometimes they will not go. They might consider going if they know that there is a company present that has had a history of sponsoring visas. Even so, it is still not easy for international students to ask their potential employers, “Can you sponsor me for a visa?”

The W curve. Credit: Berkeley International Office

5. International students sometimes have a fear of going back to their “home” country, especially when they have lived in the U.S. for a long time. When international students apply for a visa to come to the U.S., they have to show evidence that they have an intent to go back to their home country after their education. However, after spending several years living in the U.S., it might not be easy to go back to their home country. Not because they don’t miss their family and friends back home, but probably because they have now been acclimated in the U.S. culture and lifestyle. Sometimes, they realize that they might want to live in the U.S. after visiting their home country over the break. All the changes that have gone through in their home country while they were gone might appear foreign to them. Often, these students experience a second wave of culture shock, comparing the ways of their home country to the U.S. Thus, they end up feeling more “at home” in this foreign country than their home country, because they know how to pay their bills, how to get around, and where to find the best wi-fi Internet connection.


Life as an international student is not easy, with all the culture shock and homesickness they have to go through, all the relationships they have to build and maintain, all the paperwork and deadlines they need to keep up to stay legal, and all the studying and professional development to be a star job candidate. So the next time you meet an international student, give them an empathy hug. But make sure it’s culturally appropriate.


Tips for Working Less and Doing More

Be ProductiveCredit: Funding PeerAccording to Time's article by Eric Barker, "Slacker's Guide to Productivity," there are six ways for you to goof off and get work done.

1) Work fewer hours

While you can pull the occasional all-nighter, working long hours all the time will eventually exhaust you and make you less productive.

Manage your time better this way.

2) Go home

You can be more creative working at home than at the office.

3) Take a nap (my favorite)

Some of the most successful people have been fans of the afternoon siesta. Naps also rejuvenate you and increase learning. However, side effects can include mussed hair and pillow face. Check out the GradPost article, "If You Snooze, You Don't Lose: The Art of Napping."

4) Procrastinate (efficiently)

If you procrastinate efficiently, you can complete other tasks while avoiding a particular one. For more advice how to procrastinate positively, check this article.

Personally, procrastination allows me time to think about a project before starting it.

5) Go on holiday

Studies have shown that you are more productive for a month after going on a holiday. Think about that the next time you have a paper or dissertation chapter due.

6) Hang out with friends

Apparently, having friends nearby can push you toward productivity. Who knew? They always push me toward eating out.


Dr. Trust's Tips: How to Do it All and Maintain Your Sanity (Part I)

UCSB Phinally Done sticker beachCredit: Torrey Trust

I still remember the capstone moment of my graduate program like it was yesterday (OK, it was only a few months ago…): I finished my dissertation defense and looked across the table to my faculty advisor, who extended his hand and said, “Congratulations, Dr. Trust.” It felt as though the weight of the world dropped off my shoulders.

Before I graduate and move across the country for a new job, I want to impart some of my doctoral wisdom in hopes that it will help you make the most of your graduate school experience.

This is the first of a two-part blog post. In this post, I will focus on the "How to Do it All" part of graduate school, which refers to the process of navigating the ups and downs of graduate school, completing your milestones, and achieving your goals.

For me, figuring out "how to do it all" was an ongoing process of learning. Learning was not something I did in a classroom. My learning experiences took place anytime, anywhere, and with anyone. For me, learning was a process of building relationships, asking questions, soliciting feedback, and reading.

Tip #1: Build Relationships

Learning is an inherently social process – you learn by talking with others, debating and exploring ideas, and sharing your knowledge. Therefore, building relationships with other students, staff, and faculty is an essential part of graduate school.

I recommend attending events (e.g., department and campus socials, workshops, conferences) and getting involved on campus (e.g., join a graduate student organization, become a GSA representative for your department, participate in an intramural or club sport, find an on-campus job). The more events you attend and the more that you get involved on campus, the better chance you have of building relationships with others who can help and support you in graduate school.

Tip #2: Ask Questions

Asking questions is a great way to learn the ins and outs of graduate school. Every time that I met with a student in our department, I would ask him or her for advice (e.g., What are the qualifying exams? How do I put together a reading list? When do I start my independent research project? What classes should I take? Where should I publish?). I also asked students in other departments, faculty, and staff questions about graduate school. These conversations have been invaluable in helping me figure out how to navigate and make the most of graduate school.

Of course, you don’t want to be that person who just walks around asking questions. You need to build relationships with others and be willing to share your knowledge as well (learning is not a one-way flow of information).

Tip #3: Get Feedback

Another essential part of my learning process was soliciting feedback from others. Throughout my dissertation writing process, I shared my results and interpretations with anyone who would listen (co-workers, family, students in various departments, faculty in various departments, conference attendees). The feedback that I received was invaluable and significantly helped improve my dissertation.

I recommend presenting your research whenever you get a chance (e.g., participate in the campus Grad Slam, submit proposals to conferences, share your research in class). Also, ask some friends, family members, or colleagues to be sounding boards for your research and ideas.

Tip #4: Read, Read, Read

GradPost Subscribe logoThe reading that I’m referring to is extracurricular reading. You’ll have plenty of reading in your courses. The trick is to find time to read additional books and articles. I subscribed to the GradPost, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and other university’s graduate student blogs, to learn more about life in graduate school. I read multiple books about dissertation writing and completing a Ph.D. The more I read, the more confident I felt in achieving my graduate school goals.

I also subscribed to various blogs based on my personal interests (e.g., wellness, travel, environment). Reading these blogs allowed me to gain a new perspective on my research.

Ultimately, the process of learning how to do it all is iterative – build relationships, ask questions, solicit feedback, read and gain new perspective, and repeat.

An important takeaway from this post is that it is extremely difficult to get through graduate school on your own. Start building relationships now and proactively take charge of your learning by asking questions, soliciting feedback, and reading.


GSA 2014 Election Results

GSA logoThe Graduate Students Association (GSA) Elections are finished and here are the 2014 results for candidates, fee initiatives, and constitutional amendments.

Overall, the final graduate student turnout for the election was 25.71 percent (682 total) compared with 37.16 percent for undergraduates (6,684 total).

All fee affirmations and initiatives passed, meaning graduate students will be paying a whopping $40.97 more per quarter.


2014 Results


GSA President: Zach Rentz

VP Budget and Finance: Sasha Coles

VP of Communication and Records: Quinn Mayers

VP of Academic Affairs: Alexander Pucher

VP of External Affairs: Yanira Rivas Pineda

VP of Student Affairs: Jason Hopkins

VP of Internal Affairs: Emma Levine

VP of Committees: Dusty Hoesly


Graduate Student Fee Initiatives

Most initiatives passed by more than a two-thirds' margin except for the MCC fee increase, which passed with only 51.85 percent of the vote.


Arts & Lectures (A&L) Events Fee: Passed

A mandatory fee of $5.68 per quarter, including summer, in order to support Arts & Lectures.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Support Fee Increase: Passed

A mandatory fee increase of $21.39 (including summer) per quarter, in order to support Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).

Disabled Students Program Fee Continuation: Passed

$1 per student per quarter compulsory fee.

Graduate Students Association (GSA) Food Bank Fund Continuation: Passed

85 cents per graduate student, per quarter (excluding summer) to help fund the operational and food expense costs of the Associated Students Food Bank.

GSA Conference Travel Grant Fund Fee: Passed

A mandatory fee of $4.28 (including summer) per quarter, in order to create a fund, available to all graduate students via application, for conference travel grants.

GSA Subsidized Summer MTD Buss Pass Fee: Passed

A mandatory fee of $2.85 (excluding summer) per quarter, in order to fund subsidized MTD one-month summer bus passes for non-registered continuing graduate students.

MultiCultural Center (MCC) Fee Continuation: Passed

A $1.75 per quarter compulsory fee ($1 during summer quarter) to fund the MultiCultural Center.

MultiCultural Center (MCC) Support Fee Increase: Passed

A mandatory fee increase of $6.77 ($6.06 in summer) per quarter, in order to further support the MultiCultural Center.

Amendments to the Graduate Students Association Constitution: Passed

For more details on the amendment change, see the 2014 Constitutional Amendment page.


Looking for a Roommate? Join the Graduate Student Roommate Search Facebook Group

FB group screenshot

If you are looking for a roommate or new housing, join the Graduate Student Roommate Search Facebook group.

Browse the group wall to see what types of housing are available. There are many graduate students looking to share a house with other graduate students.

You can also post a request for a roommate and share information about your housing (e.g., if you need to sub-lease your apartment). 

To join the group, visit:


Toastmasters @ UCSB Designates Materials Grad Student Christopher Proctor a Competent Communicator

Chris ProctorPresident Ian Lessing congratulates grad student Christopher Proctor for earning his Competent Communicator designation. Credit: Toastmasters @ UCSB

Toastmasters @ UCSB recently recognized Materials grad student and Grad Slam competitor Christopher Proctor as a Competent Communicator. He is the first among UCSB chapter members to achieve this.

To earn this designation, Christopher had to complete 10 speech projects in the approved Toastmasters Communication Manual. After achieving this level, he may now begin working with advanced manuals to earn more advanced designations in the Toastmasters program.


The mission of a Toastmasters Club is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every individual member has the opportunity to develop oral communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.


Meetings are open to all UCSB students, faculty, and staff, and are held from noon to 1 p.m. on the first, second, and fourth Thursdays of each month in the Chumash Room or Goleta Valley Room at the UCen.

You can also visit them on their Facebook Page.

Materials grad student Christopher Proctor competed this month in the 2014 UCSB Grad Slam, presenting his three-minute talk. Credit: Patricia Marroquin


Chancellor Yang Raises Concerns on Isla Vista Safety

On April 9, Chancellor Henry T. Yang sent a message to all UCSB students addressing the unfortunate incidents that happened in Isla Vista on April 6 during the Deltopia event. Chancellor Yang has spoken with many students, public safety officers, and visitors in regards to this event, and he has expressed deep concerns about the safety of our community.

Based on findings from the UCSB Police Department and Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, the vast majority of people arrested during the Deltopia celebration were not affiliated with UCSB (376 out of a total of 412). Although these people were unaffiliated with the university, Chancellor Yang reminded our community of the importance of ensuring that our campus and IV are both safe and welcoming places.

Currently, Chancellor Yang is working with representatives from Associated Students, Student Affairs, Administrative Services, Faculty Senate, Governmental Relations, and the Police Department to discuss this recent event, as well as other safety issues, to prevent such incidents in the future. Please send your thoughts and ideas to


Internet Makes Reading Boring

BookCredit: Funding PeerIf you're bored reading this, you can blame the Internet.

The Internet has changed our reading habits, inadvertently training us to skim for gist and scan for details. Right now, you're probably bored and looking for the point of this article and have skipped to the next paragraph.

So what's the point? People no longer have the patience to read novels, which, let's face it, are way too long.

For way more on this topic than you have the patience to read, check out The Washington Post article by Michael S. Rosenwald, "Serious reading takes a hit from online scanning and skimming, researchers say." 


Which Level of Bored Are You?

How Bored Am ICredit: Funding PeerYou may be bored and reading this right now, but do you know what level of bored you are?

If you're like me, you probably didn't know that researchers have studied this and catalogued five levels of boredom.

So which one are you?

Indifferent: calm and withdrawn from one's external world (aka, I'm not interested in what's going on).

Calibrating: characterized by wandering thoughts, not knowing what to do, and a "general openness" to activities unrelated to the present situation (aka, hey, what's going on outside that window).

Searching: a sense of unpleasant restlessness and an active search for ways out of the boredom mindset  (aka, idle hands are the devil's workshop).

Reactant: a strong motivation to escape one's boring situation and avoid those responsible for it, such as teachers or a boss (also known as blowing off class).

Apathetic: a feeling of helplessness or depression (aka, Grad School).

Strangely, none of these is "deathly bored." Perhaps more research needs to be done?

For more information on how to calibrate your boredom level, check out the Fast Company article by Jessica Leber, "There are 5 Types of Boredom. Which Are You Feeling?"

Or read the boring study, "Types of boredom: An experience sampling approach."


Research Reveals 12 Ounces of Coffee Will Boost Your Memory

Funding peer boosting his memory for science. Credit: Funding Peer.Researchers have discovered your morning coffee does more than wake you up: It also boosts your memory. 12 ounces, or about 200 mg of caffeine, seems to be the proper amount to enhance memory.

You can also get memory enhancing effects with as little as 100 mg but by 300 mg the effects start to reduce, so don't over do it.

The memory enhancement was only for information learned a day earlier, so while drinking coffee is great for exams, it probably won't help you recapture your childhood memories or what you did that weekend in Vegas.

This discovery was learned as part of a research project led by Daniel Borota at Johns Hopkins University and published in his article "Post-study caffeine administration enhances memory conslidation in humans" in the journal "Nature Neuroscience."  

Borota also noted that it is not known if the enhancing effect works for long-term memory.

To read more about this study, check out the Psychology Today article by Sian Beilock, "Caffeine Boosts Memory-Really."Coffee CoupleIn this simulation, a couple try to enhance their memory of things they learned yesterday. Credit: