Monday Motivation #93 — Student Takeover! (03/07/2022)
Hey there! (or Happy Monday, as Katy would say)
My name is Augusto Gil and I’m a PhD student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Today I’m taking over Katy’s newsletter to share some information about myself and a project that I’ve been developing as a fellow of the College of Engineering Graduate Leadership Program since the beginning of this semester.
For me, like probably for many other students in our college, the corona-virus pandemic created some difficulties in getting to know and connecting with people around campus. There aren’t as many people around the hallways as there used to be and social distancing (as well as masks) can create barriers to start a conversation with someone else. Besides, it hasn’t been easy for many people living away from their families (sometimes with a different background) to deal with isolation and create a support group, which is really important for one’s mental health.
Based on that we decided to create a project to help people connect with each other around our college. Starting this month (with me), we are going to feature a different graduate student in Katy’s first newsletter of each month. The idea is to share a more personal side of each student as well as give ideas of good places to go and things to do. And of course, if you see a student from our emails around campus, don’t hesitate to stop them and start a conversation. You may make a good friend! 😉
To get the ball rolling, I was selected to be featured in this first edition. For those who don’t know me, I come from a small town in the South of Brazil called Taquara. I guess one fun fact about it is that in this region of Brazil there are a lot of families descendant from European immigrants and they’re kind of grouped according to their origins. For example, you can have a “German” town right next to an “Italian” town, and you can see differences in the way people speak, their food, traditions, and even on business. Some of them still speak these original languages at home today.
In my case, my father’s family migrated from Spain, but my mom’s family is descended from Italians, while my wife’s family is of German descent. We love to celebrate traditions like cooking a Spanish Paella on weekends, go to German events in nearby towns during October (sometimes wearing traditional clothes) and experience delicious pastas and wine tasting from Italian ristoranti and wineries in the mountain areas of our state. It’s a lot of traditions to keep track of, but we love all of them!
What amazes me is that despite these differences, there is a very strong and unique culture from native Brazilians that connects all people in our state. One of them is to drink chimarrão, which is a kind of green tea that tastes like matcha. This is similar to Yerba Mate 🧉 (from Argentina) that you can find in some grocery stores around here in tea bags or canned. People drink it using a special cup (usually made from a fruit called porongo, but it can also be made of wood, glass, or ceramic) with a metallic straw that has a filter on the bottom. They carry a thermal bottle to pour hot water inside of this “cup” with ground tea, so you pour and drink it several times. Even though this setup looks strange (and some even think this is a drug), people love to drink it together while chatting with friends or family. You can see a lot of people set in front of their houses or in parks drinking chimarrão on weekends. It is also very common to see this drink around office tables in the South of Brazil. Personally, I think the most strange thing is to see people drinking this hot drink at the beach in the summer, but I love it too. 😂
We have many other traditions like having rice and beans (feijoada) every weekday for lunch and cooking barbecue (churrasco) for lunch every Sunday with your family. If you want to learn a little bit more about me, check out the attached profile. I hope you enjoyed our project idea and I really hope to encourage other students across our college to participate. Feel free to reach out if you’re interested in being featured in a future newsletter or if you know someone who can be a good fit. Also, feel free to reach out if you have any questions about the project or about me!
I wish you all a great week!
Three Things to Try This Week
Live longer — Studies have shown that people who feel more connected to other people have lower levels of anxiety and depression. Besides, they are more trusting and open to collaboration. Having a social life can be challenging for some people, but maintaining a sense of community and support can make you live longer and better (not only for you, but also for the people around you). Check out the benefits and how you can do that.
Be self-compassionate — Discomfort is a natural part of the human experience. We try to avoid it at all costs, but setting goals is very important to help us meet our (and maybe other’s) expectations. Being compassionate about the way you set goals for yourself can help normalize negative feelings about it and allow you to let go of paralyzing perfectionism. Here are a few strategies to have more self-compassion in goal setting.
Manage your energy — To meet our goals, we need to manage well our time so we can find a good balance between our personal and professional lives. Managing your time based on your energy levels can help you be more productive while living a more health and balanced life. Check out Matt D’Avella’s video with tips on how to manage your schedule based on your energy.
- Chimarrão and churrasco are big traditions from the state of Rio Grande do Sul, in the South of Brazil. It is famous worldwide and there are a few restaurants in Detroit where you can try churrasco and feijoada, like Fogo de Chão, Gaucho Steakhouse, and Texas de Brazil.
- Throughout the course of my PhD I had to deal with anxiety and depression, which was even harder during the pandemic. Getting appropriate support was essential for me to get through difficult times and continue pursuing my goals. If you feel tired all the time, you are constantly afraid something bad will happen to you and don’t feel joy about anything, you might be experiencing that. I recommend that you talk with someone and get appropriate support. You may get support from MSU Employee Assistance Program (I did and it helped me a lot).