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Studying in motion – motivated studying

The student coordinators of the project “Studying in motion – motivated studying”. Clockwise: Sarah Wendland, Chris Elmi, Chris Preißner, Zaki Aguilar


April 3, 2018

Four students, all from a different background, were brought together by the common aim – to make our university a health-promoting place. Their roles may be different, but they certainly share commitment and passion for raising awareness about health in a similar fashion.

Their mission is to empower first-year students to make healthy choices in nutrition, to get physically active, to learn more about stress reduction and mental health.  These are the student coordinators of the project “Studying in motion – motivated studying”, established at Jacobs University in collaboration with the German organization for sports at universities (ADH - Allgemeiner Deutscher Hochschulsportverband) and the Techniker Health Insurance (TK).

Chris Preißner:
We’re all expected to show a high performance and to function well on a daily basis. With time-consuming classes, it’s often difficult to combine our social life with successful studying and a recreational sleeping pattern. Also, not everyone has been taught effective coping strategies or the importance of a balanced lifestyle. Hence, it’s extremely important to give them advice on how to function properly in stressful times.
Speaking from my own experience: I’m much more productive when I’m exercising regularly, sleeping enough, and eating healthy. This helps me not getting caught up in a vicious cycle of feeling stressed out and not getting anything done.
The course is not designed as a cookie-cutter recipe, but rather as a thought-provoking impulse to help you succeed in your studies and later life. The contents of the course suggest healthier (coping) behaviors and strategies to improve well-being. But it’s every participant’s own choice whether they want to integrate some, all, or none of the suggested aspects into their daily life.

Sarah Wendland:
I finished my bachelors in Psychology in Greensboro, North Carolina and was already involved in the fitness side of things on campus throughout my four years at the university. I worked in the recreation center as well as the pool and always saw stressed people come in and noticed how after their work out or swim their whole attitude had changed. Learning how to cope with stress, mental health struggles, what to eat, and how to stay active affects every single student, therefore I find this course so important. I am extremely motived in coordinating this program because I have seen first-hand what an impact it can have on students, what a little extra knowledge and guidance can do. The challenges are always in creating a program that stays interesting throughout the day and to create something that the students will actually take with them and use in the future. However, that remains the main goal, students should have fun during the day and feel like they learned something valuable by the end.

Chris Elmi:
I'm Chris, I'm originally from Los Angeles, California where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in psychology, and I'm currently a grad student at Jacobs involved in the same field. Fitness has been a part of my life since I was a child, from tennis with my father in elementary school, to track in high school, and finally bodybuilding and weightlifting during college. I believe fitness, as well as well-being, are important aspects in everyone's life and are often overlooked and this course is designed to integrate those aspects to give you a better start to your future.

Zaklina Aguilar:  
I am PhD candidate in Work Psychology at Bremen International School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS) at Jacobs University campus. Prior to coming to Bremen, I got my training as an occupational therapist from Canada. During the Success in Studies, Career, and Life course, I led the workshops on Mental Health. Given that there is still stigma surrounding mental health, this workshop provided an opportunity to talk about different topics in mental health within a safe environment and to learn about useful on and off-campus resources, which might be particularly useful to international Jacobs University students who might not be aware of the available resources.  Also, in the workshops, I tried to pass the message to be nurturing, appreciating and kind to each other and to ourselves which we might forget in daily lives. And above all to believe in ourselves and in the power of positivity.