I’m Moving Out

(Sing the title like Elton John sings it in ”Goodbye Yellow Brickroad” by Elton John to give it some drama.)

It blows my mind to realize that I’m already a year into my college experience. They say time flies, but this is crazy. I remember how scared I was during move-in, wondering all the things freshmen do. Would I fit in, miss home too much, get my head devoured by Big Red? So much has happened, and I could give advice for days, but I’ll try to keep it short and sweet.

There are so many opportunities here if you take advantage of them. Don’t get so caught up in making perfect grades that you forget to have fun. This is especially important for you Honors College freshmen. Earning a 4.0 would be great, but if you stay holed up in your room studying 24/7, you’re wasting the chance to meet people and experience life away from home. You will meet people in the first few weeks of class who you think will be your “group” for the rest of the year. Some of these people stay and some fade away, and that’s ok because there are more friends to be made. Also, remember less is more. Especially when you’re trying to move everything out and wondering how in the world you’ll be able to fit a microwave, half the clothes you own, and all the other junk that’s accumulated into your two-seat car, and procrastinating doing it by writing about it. This is a true story about me, by the way.

I’ve been so blessed this year to find friends I now consider family. WKU feels like home to me now, at least for the next few years. The best way to sum it up is to quote Douglas Adams, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

I know, I know, you’re so inspired, right? It’s been fun posting my thoughts on the internet like it’s my job, so a big thanks to all my readers (here’s looking at you, Mom). I hope everyone has a great summer and, to all you freshmen out there, good luck next year!

 

Surviving Finals

It’s every college student’s favorite time of year! Okay, maybe not. But, like it or not, finals week is upon us. Here are my top 5 tips on surviving this extremely stressful time:

1. Sleep! It may be tempting to pull all-nighters all week to maximize your study time, but unless your body is superhuman, all of that exhaustion will take a negative toll on you. Your brain will function optimally if you get the same amount of sleep that you normally do. Finals week is the worst week to try out anything new, so stick to what you know.

2. Make a study schedule…and stick to it. You’re not going to want to wait until the last minute to study for finals, so make a schedule ahead of time. Starting about two weeks before finals week, take about a half hour out of your day to review your class notes. All the study time adds up, so you won’t be cramming as much the night before your final.

3. Take a break! My personal rule is to give myself a 5-10 minute break per hour of studying. I use this time to grab a snack, check Facebook, or send a few text messages. If you reward yourself with free time, you’ll be more willing to study longer.

4. Save the parties for the weekend. The worst time to party is during finals week. Think of all the time and energy you’ll spend out with your friends that you could be spending hitting the books! I don’t mean to sound motherly, but school comes first. Use your “off” days to study for upcoming exams, then go all out Friday night!

5. Don’t panic. When you sit down with your exams, start by answering the questions you’re most comfortable with, then work your way to the more difficult questions. That way, you won’t spend all your time stressing over something you’re not quite sure of. If someone finishes way before you do, don’t worry about it. Just focus on your exam and your progress. Everyone works differently.

If you have any other tips, be sure to leave us a comment! Good luck, everyone!

 

What I Learned in College…

As I approach the end of my freshman year of college here at Western Kentucky University, I think about this past year and what I’ve learned through this experience. I moved three hours away from the only home I’d ever known to a brand new place with brand new people. I came in knowing no one well and had only a few acquaintances. I think back to MASTER Plan and shudder. It was a great experience, and I highly recommend it. I just remember how scared I was to finally be on my own. It was exhilarating and nerve-wracking at the same time. I still hang out with some of the friends I made during that first week, but I’ve also picked up many more friends along the way. And I feel like I’ve learned a little bit more about life in general. Here’s a list of some lessons I learned as a freshman.

1. Everyone else is nervous, too.

I came to college scared to death. I worried about who I’d hang out with, who I’d go places with, who I’d have class with, and who I’d eat lunch with (heaven forbid I eat alone in the cafeteria). Within a few weeks of coming here I realized that everyone is scared. At least a little bit. I worry about them not liking me, and they worry about me not liking them. We all worry about being the odd man out in a group of friends or having to eat by ourselves. So don’t be afraid to reach out! The vast majority of people will be so happy you did.

2. I won’t fail.

My social life wasn’t the only source of my worry this past year. I was also scared I’d flunk. Everyone told me how much harder college was than high school; that no matter how well I did in high school I’d struggle now. Well, let me offer you some encouragement. I have done just as well in college as I did in high school. It may require that you spend more time study and learn better study skills, but you can do it. With a little hard work, you’ll be just fine.

3. Different can be cool.

I grew up in a situation where I was mostly around people like me. I might meet people from different backgrounds, but my close friends were very similar to me. One of the best things about college is getting to meet people with different opinions, knowledge, and interests. You’re classmates can sometimes teach you as much as your professor if you’re willing to learn from people who are different than you. Along with this I also learned that I don’t always have to be right. I learned to listen to others and work with them even if I their opinions differed from mine. And I realized I don’t have to have the last word in an argument or even argue at all.

4. Independence is awesome!

I don’t mean the do-whatever-you-want independence; I mean the this-is-the-real-world kind of independence. The independence that teaches you how to stand on your own two feet and take care of yourself. Independence is great as long as you are responsible with it. College is kind of like a training ground for the real world; you have to get yourself to class, buy your own food, and do your own laundry. There’s no one waiting to just bail you out when you get in trouble. This has probably been my favorite part of my college experience so far.

5. Do stuff!

When I first started college my list of interests was quiet small. I studied through the week, ran when I had time, and watched movies with friends when I got a chance. Over the year I’ve attended a few different events and become interested in different things. A class got me interested in community involvement. A lot of the temporary events are a blast to attend, too. An illusionist came to campus a few weeks ago, and that was a blast. There are often concerts or plays going on—even carnivals (complete with rides and funnel cakes)!

Looking back over the past year, I remember so many good times. Movie nights, doughnut runs, and walks downtown to the Square for ice cream. There were some hard times, too. I was homesick the first few weeks here, but I’m so glad I stayed. It was worth it ten times over. I have had a fabulous freshman experience, and I hope yours will be as good as mine.

Quartermania

Never has a roll of quarters looked so beautiful to be than they did last night.

In a town like Bowling Green, which is often referred to as a “college town,” you would think businesses would be prepared for students needing quarters for laundry. In fact, they are prepared. Prepared to say, “Sorry, no, we can’t give change.” Usually I use my WKU ID and pay for laundry with Big Red Dollars. Minton’s card swiper decided to go on summer vacation a few weeks early, however, and took the laundry room’s change machine with it.

On Wednesday, I realized there were more clothes in my laundry basket than in my closet, so I figured it was about laundry time. Unfortunately this realization didn’t come until around 9:30 that night. Normally this would have been a reasonable time, except that I couldn’t find my ID and didn’t know the card swiper wasn’t working. An hour later, I found the floor under my bed and my ID and dragged my clothes basket downstairs.

Again, both the card machine and the change machine were broken, but I didn’t figure that out until after I’d put my clothes and detergent in three different washers. Of course the bank wasn’t open, so I tried Wal-Mart and three different gas stations before I found one whose cashier didn’t look at me like I’d just asked to borrow his right kidney when I asked for a roll of quarters.

There was no great life lesson learned from this, just a simple one: Even if you use your ID and Big Red dollars for laundry, keep quarters in your room, just in case.

Procrastination at it’s Finest

“Paper airplanes?! Let’s make paper airplanes!” My roommate jumped up from working on a huge presentation for a psychology class, grabbed a sheet of paper, and started folding. I laughed from the top bunk, where I was lying thinking about the Anatomy Test I should be studying for. Soon she had a plane finished. “Watch this!” She pulled it back and threw it forward. After a quick rise to the ceiling, it nosedived into the floor. She looked so disappointed, but I couldn’t help but laugh. She refolded it and tried again, with the same results. Three tries later, I was almost falling off the bed I was laughing so hard. She finally gave up, and I decided it was on me to continue the procrastination streak. So I grabbed my computer and we spent the next 15 minutes looking up slam poetry videos. And song lyrics. And videos about procrastination. Anything! My roommate decided to be responsible and go back to work, so now I’m left procrastinating by myself. I’ve already done my laundry and gone to the gym. I’ve eaten my three meals for the day, and I’m too stuffed to snack. Looks like the only thing left to do is blog. And as I’m running low on words, I can see Anatomy leering at me from a distance. Well, it looks like it just caught up to me… Wish me luck! (Ooh, I wonder who’s on Facebook.)

Winding Down

The end of the semester is always the worst part. On one hand, you are drooling with excitement at the upcoming vacation. Chances are you have tons of plans, even if they involve (as mine often do), laying on the couch for a week in a semi-vegetative state. On the other, if you’re anything like me, you’ve unintentionally put off your semester projects and they’re all due the same week. Then, there’s the looming threat of finals week and all the glorious sleepless nights it has to offer. Then there are the goodbyes. Many of us will have friends who are graduating, transferring, or leaving school to pursue other goals. Of course, there are some friends that you will be sure to see in the fall, even if you don’t make plans to meet up over the summer.

The end of the semester can also be the best part. There’s all kinds of campus events going on. Since everyone is so worried about not seeing their friends for three months, there are always people hanging out. Also, it’s a great time to make last minute friends in your classes, since everyone will be scrambling to bring their grades up at the end of the semester. And no matter what anyone says, study groups are fun.

So, no matter how you feel about the end of the semester, remember to enjoy it. You only have about four years here, so it’s important to make the most of them. But, don’t forget: exams don’t pass themselves!

All Night Long

Besides the foreign languages I took in high school, I’ve never had to study a day in my life. Classes were so easy, and most things covered in high school were just expanding on basic ideas. Staying up all night to study sounded like the most ridiculous thing in the world.

Then I came to college.

Last night/this morning/today was my first all-nighter, and it’s been a rough day. Usually all-nighters mean last minute cramming, but in this case, I stayed up all night to finish a multimedia project for my photo class.

It just so happened that priority registration for classes for Honors College students was also this morning at 5 am. I got the brilliant idea to take my time on my piece and stay up to schedule, and then go to my classes a few hours later. I mean, come on. Sleep? Who needs it?

This kid, apparently. I scheduled classes, finished my piece (sort of), and left the Mass Media building feeling like a champ. So much so that I said a cheery “Good morning!” to every single person I saw, stayed outside in the 30 degree weather to watch the sunrise, and decided to give up an hour of sleep so I could make muffins for breakfast. Honestly, if there’d been an epic looking set of stairs around, I probably would’ve run up them Rocky-style, humming Eye of the Tiger all the way.

Around 11, the sleepiness hit. Unfortunately, my Spanish test hit around the same time. Yikes. By the time I made it to my Multimedia class, I was a sore sight for eyes. Yeah, you read that right. Apparently I forgot everything I knew about numbers during the night. My final piece was only a minute and sixteen seconds long, when the minimum for the project was two minutes. I refused to show it in class and get critiques because I was delirious and embarrassed by it. So mature, right?

Somehow last minute cramming the night before a test has become a college “tradition” kind of thing, but the constant caffeine intake and lack of sleep involved leaves you in a bad state of mind for any kind of test-taking or, in my case, to function as a normal person. I realize it sounds cliché and mom-like, but seriously, try to get things done before the night before they’re due, even the night before the night before. That way you won’t do a ‘Jessie Spano on caffeine pills’ breakdown. That’s just bad business.

 

 

 

 

My Study Abroad

This spring break I was fortunate enough to go on a study abroad trip to Ecuador. It was my first time ever travelling outside the US, and I will definitely be back!

We spent 10 days travelling through a few of the country’s major cities, such as Quito, Ambato, and Puyo. While there, our group toured several farms learning about the different types of agriculture in the Amazon. We also got to see the Middle of the World, the Throat of the Devil waterfalls, and several active volcanoes. As a part of our class, we participated in a service learning project with the local schools. Most of the families in Ecuador can’t afford proper dental care, so we applied dental sealant that would protect their teeth for 6 months! Together we helped more than 2,000 children!

Studying abroad was the best decision I’ve ever made. During your time at WKU, please take the time to explore Study Abroad and Study Away programs. With a little guidance, you can find the program best suited for you. Whether you want to spend a week, a month, a semester, or a year abroad, the staff at WKU can help you get where you want to go. There are lots of scholarships you can apply for, which helped me tremendously. Trust me, it’s worth it! There is nothing better than getting to discover a whole new world you never knew existed.

I’ll leave you with this picture of our group and some of the children we helped in Quito. What an amazing trip!

Growing Up

I thought I gained my independence when I got my graduated permit and Chevy Impala; I was wrong. Coming to college acts as the springboard for young adults. Aside from MASTER Plan and the Honors College students who choose to attend H4, no transition period exists between high school and college. Diving into college is scary and exciting, but how are people expected to acclimate to life on the hill?

Take a deep breath –remember to eventually begin breathing again– because everyone will be OK. You won’t die of starvation, forget to attend a class for an entire semester, or suffer a heart attack while walking up the hill –we have busses.

Admittedly, I was one of the sheltered, awkward freshmen who didn’t know the ins and outs of Western Kentucky University. Coming from a high school graduating class of 43 with no one from my school ever attending WKU, the shock of living in a small town –as compared to Louisville– and surrounded by 20,000 people who I didn’t know hit me pretty fast. Of course I went to H4 and met a lot of fellow Honors College students, and I attended my MASTER Plan sessions in fear of being kicked out of my residence hall, but it took more than that week and a half for me to feel like a real college student.

Constantly busy as a three season athlete, free time was a far and distance myth while I was in high school. However upon my arrival to WKU, I found myself not involved and completely bored. Aside from Honors College, I encourage everyone to join a club. Whether it be a Greek organization, majors club, book club, intramurals team, etc, make useful time as a student. During my short-lived idle time, I found myself less productive than when I was over-programmed. I’m not suggesting that you run for office in every club on campus, but find what you like early. Joining the organizations aided my search for defining who I wanted to be when I graduate from WKU.

OK, so you joined four clubs and logged 50 community service hours. Your resume stands out, but your college experience is void. Have fun your freshman year. No matter how hard you believe your classes to be your freshman year, I promise they will only get more difficult. Not to mention, the clubs that you joined when you are a freshman will become more time consuming as you get older and more involved. Take your freshman year to make as many friends as humanly possible! Keep your high GPA, but don’t be afraid to have lazy movie and junk food days. My high school friends are great,  but I’ve been able to welcome so many more people into my life than I could have ever imagined in just three years at WKU.

resume… check! bridesmaides… check! What is the next step in feeling like a real college student? Learn how to live by yourself. Living will last as one of my favorite college memories, but no one in the real world sleeps in a cinder block room with another person’s mattress 3 feet away. I still need to work on learning how to take care of myself –luckily I have 15 roommates who are more than happy to help me clean the microwave when my food catches on fire. Though microwave-independcy is a valuable skill set, learning to take of your physical and mental health are skills that too many people ignore when coming to college. This issue is not WKU specific; I know plenty of brilliant people from home who had to drop out of excellent schools because of stress, illness, etc. Ask for help if you think you may need it. College is stressful, and sometimes having a second opinion is imperative to working through a tough spot.

I’m not close to being independent, but I’m waiting for the real world in a year for that shock. Wading through this undefined period in my life has proven to be a lot harder than I expected. However, I have a decent sense of who I am and who I want to be when I graduate from WKU. I suggest that incoming freshman sincerely think about their goals before coming to college. Moreover, think about how to achieve these goals –ex: will getting arrested during MASTER Plan aid in your goal of becoming a brain surgeon? After carefully considering my goals and desired life path, making decisions became a lot easier, and I felt more adult than I ever had before.

Mythbusters: WKU Edition

Maybe I watched Revenge of the Nerds one too many times or took Seventeen magazine’s “College Life” section (whose writers assume that every college student is either in a Greek organization or wants to be) too seriously, but by the time I got to WKU, I had a pretty weird and inaccurate idea of what college life would really be like. And of course, there are those friends of your parents whose friend of a friend’s sister’s husband’s cousin was involved in a situation exactly like The Roommate… Scary. With all these crazy rumors going around, what’s a freshman to do? You can check out this blog post, that’s what. And you’re already doing that, so 10 points to Gryffindor! (That’s you). After a series of highly scientific experiments, aka personal experiences, I’m basically an expert and a certified college mythbuster. Let’s begin.

1) Freshman 15 - Plausible (but mostly busted)
First up, the dreaded weight gain that supposedly comes free with tuition for every poor freshman who constantly pulls all-nighters and shovels fast food for every meal. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but no one I’ve known since the beginning of the year has done a reverse ‘Monica Geller’ aka gained a bunch of weight.

People also claim that walking the hills will keep you thin, but I don’t think it helps all that much. Instead, view it as extra exercise and hit the gym every now and then. The Preston Center is free and has an indoor pool and lots of workout classes at different times of the day, so it’s easy to find a class that fits into your schedule.

2) You get A’s in all your classes if your roommate dies – So busted
Whoever told you this, just… no.

3) The 15 minute rule – Busted
What is it about the number 15 in college? For those who don’t know, the rule says that if the professor doesn’t show up, class is cancelled and you’re free to leave after 15 minutes. None of my professors have ever been that late, but from what I hear, if you stick around and they do finally show up, you’ll probably a few get extra credit points.

4) If you get hit by a car at a crosswalk, you get free tuition – Busted
Someone recently posted something about this on the WKU Class of 2015 Facebook group. Seriously? After consulting with a fellow college mythbusting expert (my roommate), we came to the conclusion that this person is ridiculous.

5) The Random Roommate - Plausible
After the movie The Roommate came out, people started thinking situations like that happened in real life, kind of like this:
Random roommate = crazy girl who steals your life, AND your snacks (I know, I know, anything but the Oreos!)

I’m sure there are random roommates who get pretty cray cray, but there are so many more people who have problems with roommates they were friends with than a random. A girl I met from another dorm roomed with a friend who would take her socks while she was gone, wear them to the gym to work out in, and put them back in the drawer. True story. You can’t make this stuff up.

I chose to get a random roommate, and after we became roommates, we officially signed a friendship contract and have RBT (roomie bonding time) when we watch movies and color. It’s lovely, really.

If you haven’t noticed by now, there’s a pattern going on here. The pattern is that most of these college myths are not true. Whatever you’re nervous about, whether it’s making friends or using community showers, don’t just “get by.” Make the best of it and enjoy your time here! Unless your roommate really is stealing your snacks… In that case, let your RA know, because that’s just wrong.