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Whenever I tell people that I don't drink coffeeor anything caffeinated for that matterI am typically met with a few odd looks and some questions about how I manage to function at a school with high academic rigor and where things are seemingly happening 24/7.  To me, coffee has never been part of my daily routine and I did not want college to change that. So, here are the top four ways that I stay awake and alert without caffeine pulsing through my veins. 

1. Sleep

Perhaps this is a given, but I was a little worried about sticking to a healthy sleep schedule once classes and exams picked up in college. Thankfully, I have learned to prioritize my time and truly embrace the diminishing returns of studying once I've reached a certain hour of the night. For the past three years, I have been able to average 7 or 8 hours of sleep per night and have a queen-size bed to make sure I get a wonderful night's rest (side note: yes, most dorm rooms are big enough for a queen and you can even rent them from on-campus student-run businesses). Maintaining a good sleep schedule has taught me how to most effectively schedule my days, but I appreciate project teams that respect my desire to not meet late at night and friends who also love and prioritize sleep as much as I do!

2. Zumba classes

As a former high school athlete, I had no idea how I would continue to motivate myself to work out without the encouragement of my teammates or the structure of daily soccer practices. Since coming to Dartmouth, I've realized that the best way to make sure I get my butt to the gym is to sign up for a PE class. Over the past few years, I have taken everything from Insanity to Racquetball, kickboxing to self-defense. Right now, one of my best friends and I are taking Zumba, a high-energy, super fun dance workout class that holds us accountable for working out. I find myself ten times more energized after a good Zumba class than I was before it, giving me that extra boost that I need to power myself through the rest of a hectic day.

3. Gluten-free, dairy-free food @ the dining halls

If I've learned anything from my health-conscious parents, it's that the food you eat makes a huge difference when it comes to your energy level and making it through day engaged and alert. As someone who is gluten AND lactose intolerant, I have gotten in the habit of eating veggie stir-fry from Collis or fresh fruit smoothies, things that taste good and are also good for you. During my internships and terms away from campus, one of the things I missed the most was the ability to go to Collis, pick out my own vegetables, and have them stir-fried for me in a gluten-free pan with brown rice.

4. Group work

Dartmouth has shown me that if you enjoy the work that you're doing and the people you're doing it with, that passion alone will provide more energy than you'd need from a cup of coffee. Collaborating on projects with my peers has really surprised me as being one of my favorite aspects of the academics here. The laughter is undying but the work quality is still top-notch, making for a wonderful experience with teammates who usually quickly turn into friends. Who needs coffee when you're belly-laughing in the library or engaging in a rapid-fire, adrenaline-inducing brainstorming session with a whiteboard and multi-colored sticky notes?!

So, that's how I'm surviving college without coffee. This is certainly not to say that it is bad to drink coffee, but rather to show that you don't need caffeine or bags under your eyes to do well at Dartmouth. To me, proper time management and really finding the things that give me energy and make me excited have been the key!

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