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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Eliana’s Advice

Published: April 4, 2014
Section: Opinions

Dear Eliana,
My French professor assigned a group project as the final for my class, and we weren’t allowed to pick the groups. That’s fine with me, but I’m not so sure that I can trust the other people in the group to contribute their fair share of the workload. I don’t know any of them personally, so I don’t know exactly how to establish any sort of trust. I understand that this isn’t high school anymore and that everyone here probably cares a great deal about their grade and won’t slack off, but I’m still nervous about it. How do I go about working with these strangers?
-Isolate Me, Cap’n

Dear Isolate Me,
Group projects can be hard. You are not alone in disliking them, but you can make the experience easier for yourself and the others in the group. It can be hard working with people you don’t know, but use the fact that you don’t know these people well to your advantage. You don’t have to be as worried about favoring or insulting people. Just be straightforward. First, get everyone to meet and assign everyone even parts of the work. Then establish a deadline a little bit before the due date to finish your sections by. That way you can all look over each other’s work and discuss possible ways to change it. Have another meeting with the entire group, and review the work to make sure everyone is happy with everything. Be honest, but nice, when telling people what you want, and hope everyone else will be as courteous. Just remember, you can’t control others, but you can control yourself.

Dear Eliana,
I usually drive a friend of mine to her dance class off campus. This one time when I get there to pick her up, I find her making out with a guy I’ve never seen before. I was concerned because I didn’t want to step out of bounds and encroach on their personal space while it was is going on, but I would like to get on with my day. How do I approach this sort of situation if it happens in the future? Because I’m sure it will.

Dear Wide-Eyed,
That is one of the most awkward situations to be in. “Waiting around while my friend hooks up with this random dude” is a setting we all try to avoid. You could have been blunt by honking or calling out to her, but I understand your decision not to do something like that. You could text her or call her, and hope she takes a break to answer the phone. When you get a moment to talk to her, tell her what you told me. Say nicely, but firmly, “I’m doing you a favor by picking you up, the it would really be nice if you could be ready to go when I get there.” Hopefully, she’ll understand and the problem will not persist.

Dear Eliana,
There’s this new game that’s been making the rounds on the Internet—2048—and it’s pretty addictive. I find myself turning to it during any slight period of boredom, even if I’m supposed to be studying or taking notes in class. It is extremely distracting and so easy to get hooked on. How do I refrain myself from wasting my time adding two plus two (literally), and how do I go about making sure I stay focused on the task at hand?
-Carpal Tunnel Man

Dear Carpal Tunnel Man,
I too have fallen prey to the addictiveness of 2048 and understand your difficulties. For me, the hardest part is stopping. The first step is to resist the urge. When you get bored, find a different activity to do. Do some reading for class, review your notes or even just talk to a friend instead. It’s hard to resist, but try to wean yourself off of it by just playing less and less every day. Something else to try is deleting the app off your phone or just putting your phone away when there is something important to do. Don’t just always have it with you, asking to be used and played with. I believe that you can do this!

Dear Eliana,
So the line-up for Springfest was recently announced, and I would have to say I am a bit disappointed with it. I’m sure Icona Pop tries hard, but they just aren’t my sort of jam. I probably wouldn’t go and instead spend the time working on papers due the last week of class, but all my friends are really excited about it. I don’t want to let them down and not go, but I just can’t see myself enjoying anything about Springfest this year. How should I approach this?
-Deaf Ears

Dear Deaf Ears,
Even if Icona Pop is not quite your jam, it doesn’t mean going to a concert and hanging out with all your friends would be any less fun. It’s just like when you go to a party and there is a song you don’t like playing in the background. Also, there will be other bands, so you won’t have to listen to music you dislike the whole time. If you tell yourself that you don’t like the band and that this couldn’t possibly be fun, then you will just be a downer and not enjoy yourself. Focus on the parts that will be fun, like partying with all your friends and going to a free concert.

Dear Readers,
If you can’t already tell, this is an advice column and I’m here to help you with any questions that you might have! If you want more exciting questions, send them in and I will do my best to answer them. Whether it’s relationships, social problems, or just life in general—send them here. I can’t wait to start hearing about everyone’s problems (how often do you hear people say that? Oh yeah, never). Send questions to Thanks!