First Impressions: Freshman Year of College

I’ve been in college for over a week and think it’s high time I updated my blog. After all, I am finally actually Katy IN College. To begin with, I’d like to give an overview of my experience so far, or all of my first impression here.

Dorm Life/Roommate

I am extremely lucky. My dorm seems to be twice as large as everyone else’s in this residence hall, since I’m on the far end of the hallway next to the stairs. There is enough space for all of our things, plus a nice little seating area for lounging around. My roommate and I both have our beds lofted (the height is similar to us having bunk beds – except without a bottom bunk) with our desks underneath. This gives us that much more space to work with!
The downside would be that I’m on the fifth floor and I tend to take the stairs (it seems that every time I decide to use the elevator on my trip up to my room, it’s out of service – what are the chances?!). Also, the lofted bunk beds definitely required an adjustment. Have I mentioned I’m terrified of heights?

But I’m also extremely lucky in the roommate department. I can be pretty awkward and as an introvert, I’m slow to reveal my sense of humor, etc. immediately. So the first couple of days were like a delicate, polite but awkward dance around each other. Now I can honestly call her my friend. We’ve had the weirdest, funniest conversations. At some point, we clicked. And that’s a great feeling, since we have to live together for the next several months at least.

Food

Not bad. There are enough options to keep me content. If nothing else, I can opt for a nice salad or a slice of pizza. One night a few of us just had pizza delivered. And I have a fridge stocked with fridge, of course. There are plenty of options. (Freshman Fifteen is a definite possibility, honestly)

Freshman Week

Terrible! It was exhausting and stressful and Saturday-Wednesday of scheduled Freshman activities was entirely too much. I’m so glad classes have started. After years and years of yearning for college, that week made me doubt my decision to even go to college. I thought it was too much. I thought I should’ve at least taken a gap year. And then it ended and I realized this is exactly where I want to be.

Classes

  • Spanish Grammar and Composition – I like the professor (which is good, since he’s also my academic adviser) and I made a really great friend in that class! Except I’ve debated going down a level. After having my own internal struggle, discussing it with nearly everyone around me willing to listen, and even going to meet with my professor/adviser to discuss taking a placement exam, I’ve finally decided to just stick it out. So far I’m keeping pace and I have a good friend to stick with and study with and be silly with – so I’m certain I want to stay.
  • Intro to Linguistics – FASCINATING! Actually, I’m not even sure if the subject is truly interesting (I think it is…?) but the instructor is amusing and his infatuation with the subject shows and it makes the class more interesting. Plus, I have a sassy text book. I’ve laughed out loud doing reading assignments – multiple times. I think it’s going well.
  • Exploring Religions – I’m excited to delve deeper into the class and learn about the religions because it’s something that has always interested me…but so far, I’m not too impressed. I dread taking reading quizzes every day- I read and annotated the assigned chapter and still didn’t do too hot on the practice quiz we took in class. Wow. Still, I really like the professor and think once we get into the real business it will be a great class.
  • Jazz – I have no idea what the full, long name of this class is. It’s about jazz, though. I’ve only had this class once so far and I’ll have it again tomorrow. It’s a large lecture, which I didn’t expect because my school is fairly small and typically prides itself in having small classes and also because I didn’t think so many people would want to choose jazz over the other options. I don’t have much of an opinion formed of this class, honestly. I think it could be interesting. I do love music. It could also be boring. It’s not just a class where we listen to music for an hour. I guess we’ll find out what I think of it later.
  • College Algebra – I had the wise idea to not try very hard on my placement exam for math. I’m terrible at math anyway, I thought. I should start at a lower level so I can re-fortify my knowledge, I thought. Little did I know that this class is online. There was no option. I have to take it online. I’ve spent a sum of probably six hours working on math so far and have only passed a single lesson (that’s 1.1a, by the way. I’m not even done with 1.1!) This is the worst. It’s horrendous, terrible, dreadful, icky, stressful, frustrating, infuriating, boring, and pointless. 0/10, would not recommend, down with math!

General opinion

I love it. I had high expectations of college. And it is exactly what I knew it would be. I’ve been fairly productive, I’ve been filling my noggin with knowledge, I’ve been making great friends, I’ve been having fun, and I’ve just really been so happy here. It’s only been a week – I’m sure the semester will bring about many trials and tribulations, a rollercoaster of emotions, etc… but I’m content. I really am.

Thank you for reading! I apologize for my tardiness in updating and I promise I have plans for the near future.

Captain’s Log: 8/15/14

Move In Day is tomorrow! (As in, Katy In College is truly about to be In College!)

I foresee lots of bickering in a hot car, quarreling in a hot parking lot, snark in congested elevators, and utter confusion in a tiny and crowded (and not air conditioned) dorm room. Plus lots of silliness, laughable awkwardness, hugging, and bittersweet goodbyes. It’s all inevitable with my family, truthfully. That’s all the more reason to miss them for me (even though I’ll be home again in just two weeks).

Anyway, it’s unknown how all of this will actually go down and it’s also unknown how soon I will be able to update my blog as I settle in.

But you should expect to see me report back within the next few days.

Thanks for reading, as always! Have any advice for move-in or dorm life? I’d love to hear all about it!

On How I Have (and Have Not) Studied for Spanish this Summer

As my senior year was winding down, I knew one thing for sure: my summer was going to be fun and it was going to be productive. But in all honesty, it was perhaps a little underwhelming in both of those departments.

Don’t get me wrong – I had fun! (You can read all about the best shenanigans and my favorite memories here!) I truly enjoyed myself all summer long, even if I didn’t have all the adventures I had envisioned in May while I forced myself to cram for AP exams and finals. Actually, I had my fair share of unexpected adventures as well – spontaneous plans with friends, random concert tickets falling in one’s lap, and spur-of-the-moment weekend trips will do that to a person!

And I was pretty productive, too. However, I didn’t live up to my own high expectations from the beginning of summer. I was excited to prepare myself for freshman year of college and to strengthen my Spanish skills, seeing as I will be starting in an advanced level course and am majoring in the subject! Anyway, I had extremely high expectations – as in, studying every day and teaching myself lots and all that jazz.

I didn’t reach those expectations. But I didn’t totally fail.

You see, through four years of taking high school Spanish (AKA three summers) I never once studied over breaks, despite the recommendations and reminders to do so and even my own guilt about never breaking out the books to brush up on the language.

And this summer had higher stakes, at least in my mind. I’m nervous about being in such an advanced level course. I’m sure it will be difficult and challenging in many ways on its own, but I’m also worried that I don’t belong in such a high level yet or that my pool of Spanish knowledge will be so different from all the other students’ pools of knowledge or the expected pool of knowledge (I know career vocabulary, not hobby vocabulary – woe is me!) that I won’t be able to handle it.

So at the very least, I wanted to brush up on my skills and understanding of my pool of knowledge so that I will be ready to take on more information as necessary when class starts, rather than trying to settle back into Spanish and review what I know during the first couple of weeks, like I successfully did in high school each year. I wanted to prepare myself.

Needless to say, I’m a little disappointed with myself for not following through with my expectations better. I wish I were more comfortable with my Spanish – but then again, I always wish that because I’m not fluent and I have a long way to go yet.

However, I can’t say I failed or truly let myself down, even if I do feel disappointment. I did better than I have during past summer. Here’s the progress I did make:

  • I compiled all of my Spanish notes and important work from the last four years into a nifty binder – it is complete with my home-made visual study tools, Spanish I-IV notes, a sparse-but-still-there section for new and self-taught notes, various reading materials, and my own writing that I am particularly proud of.
  • I reviewed over two years of vocab and grammar notes.
  • I’ve spent a decent sum of time reading Spanish labels and directions of household products for practice, or simply thinking about how to translate random phrases in my head (“Tengo hambre, pero no tenemos mucha comida en la casa. Puedo ir a la tienda luego.”) I also like to narrate my own life in Spanish from time to time, eavesdrop on Spanish-speakers’ conversations in public, and try to avoid all English subtitles on TV or in movies. These things are only occasionally successful, but I’m proud of my constant efforts.
  • This is lame, but I think it’s worth mentioning: I’ve had a couple of dreams that have incorporated some Spanish and my dream-self at least attempted to translate. At least once, Dream-Katy tried to translate a language that was very much not Spanish and felt horror and shame at my failure – even though, you know, it wasn’t even a language so of course I didn’t understand. Silly Dream-Katy…
  • I’ve used the Duolingo app quite a bit this summer, as well. It’s very easy to use, fun, and helpful! I recommend it for anyone trying to brush up on vocabulary – it even offers quite a few other languages if you’re not interested in learning Spanish. (I apologize for the plug, I’m not even sponsored or anything – I’m sure I had you fooled into thinking that…though I wouldn’t be against it, if you catch my drift, marketers of Duolingo.)

So you could technically describe my summer as underwhelming, but just because it didn’t meet my expectations doesn’t mean I didn’t have a great summer. If you combine the times where I was suddenly swept off to hang out with my best friends, to go to an awesome concert, to explore Nashville, or to enjoy any other time I had with my friends and family with the the amount of times I felt productive, fulfilled, or successful…well, then I’d have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my “underwhelming summer”.

Thank you for tuning in! Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Summer Highlights

Summer is winding down for me – I’ll be moving into my dorm and starting the adventure that is college very soon! So I wanted to take a moment to share with you my five favorite moments of this summer.

1. Grad Party/End-of-Year Bonfire. Every year, my sister and I host a bonfire to bid farewell to another school year gone by. In other words – we burn all the notes and homework that stressed us out for the whole year and roast marshmallows over it with a group of our best friends. It’s glorious. This year was especially fantastic – it was finally my last year of high school, and my friends and I were able to enjoy one last full-blown shindig before going our separate ways. In addition, relatives came over earlier that day to help me celebrate and the entire day was simply a success!

2. Back-to-school/Dorm Shopping. Because I’m a total dweeb, I’ve always loved back-to-school shopping! By now, I’m a little shopped-out (after getting all the necessary school supplies, text books, clothes, and dorm furnishings and supplies) but I had a weird amount of fun doing this shopping. It makes me excited for what’s coming, I get to stand in the midst of organization/office supplies for long periods of time, and it just gives me a feeling of productivity to get prepared. Who doesn’t like all of that?

3. Trip to Nashville. I love to travel and when I got the chance to cling to my sister (who had legitimate, professional obligations in Nashville) and roam around Nashville for a couple of days with my mother (as my sister was fulfilling said legitimate, professional obligations), well what can I say? I seized the day! We visited Cheekwood Botanical Garden (AKA: the most fascinating place ever, the most beautiful estate ever, my dream house), the Tennessee State Museum (where we spent a VERY long time on just one very interesting exhibit, leaving little time for much else!), and various yummy restaurants! And fear not – my mom and I were true to our dweeby selves, sitting in Centennial Park enjoying the weather and a few books for quite some time! I had lots of fun!

4. Concerts. Don’t tell the others, but I think this is actually my favorite! In one week, I had the pleasure of going to TWO concerts! I couldn’t help but think ‘this is what it feels like to be a cool person‘ constantly. First, was the long-anticipated Gary Clark Jr concert (he gets his own tag on this post because seriously this meant so much to me). It was fantastic. The concert exceeded my already impossibly high expectations. My ears were still ringing when one of my best friends offered her extra ticket to the Walk the Moon/Fitz and the Tantrums/Twenty-One Pilots/Panic! at the Disco concert. That, too, was a total blast. I’m so glad I got to go to both of these concerts and I will never, ever forget these memories!

5. Cardinals game. Every summer, my family goes to Cardinals games. We’re big baseball fans and I always look forward to spending an afternoon or evening at Busch Stadium watching the greatest team play the greatest game. This will always go on any list of summer highlights or favorite memories – it’s a classic!

Although I have spent a good portion of my summer around the house, watching Netflix or oversleeping, I am pretty pleased with how I’ve spent my break. I like relaxing and staying in sometimes. And I like going out with friends and family, listening to great music, watching a great game, or just hanging out. All of it was worth my time, honestly. I can’t think of a better way to say goodbye to the same ol’, same ol’ and hello to whatever is heading my way.

Thanks for reading. Tell me about your summer in the comments below!

Double-check Your Packing List

A common nightmare is going to school and realizing you forgot to do your homework, forgot to study, or forgot to change out of your pajamas. The horror! Now imagine doing that on a larger, very realistic scale – forgetting to bring something to college could be disastrous. It would be especially horrific for the people going to school far from home (although it’s advised to do dorm shopping after travelling there, rather than packing everything and loading it into a car for the road trip or lugging it through security at an airport somehow) and certainly if that forgotten object is a freshly purchased text book needed for class or something of the sort.

So it’s time to double-check your packing list. Make sure you have everything you’ll need in college. I’m here to lend a hand.

Reminder: This is not an exhaustive list (although I have included very helpful resources that will cover basically everything you’ll need anyway). Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Office/school supplies – it’s good to have a variety of things you’ll need. I’m big on these things and could happily spend hours in the office supply aisle of any store. Notebooks, paper, binders, folders, Post-It notes, pens, pencils, Sharpies, highlighters – whatever you will use. A reminder I keep giving myself is not to go over board. As much as I’d love to just shove an entire shelf-worth of Post-It notes into a cart and pile it into my luggage, understand that there are opportunities to get more supplies at any time on campus, near campus, or on trips back home!
  • Technology – never forget your laptop, printer, all chargers, USB/flash drives, or whatever you’ll be needing. You don’t want to get all the way to school and realize you’ve left your phone charger at home!
  • Clothes – know what kind of weather to prepare for and prepare for it! Have plenty of clothing possibilities to get you through – and keep in mind the laundry situation. Maybe you want to bring enough to last for more than a week to limit laundry trips, or maybe you’d prefer to pack light and do laundry often. Know what you’ll wear and be sure to pack for anything – including formal-wear! Shorts, pants, shirts, sweaters, coat, various footwear, etc.
  • Personal items – once again, know yourself. You know what you need to survive. Makeup, toiletries, laundry detergent, tissues, towels, first aid kit, a simple tools kit, basic dishes and cooking appliances, cleaning supplies, etc.
  • Furniture items – bring a futon if you believe you’ll have room, a mattress pad if you think you’ll want extra cushioning on the dorm bed, a mini fridge if it’s allowed, your bedspread, extra shelving, and whatever else you know you’ll need to make your living space for the next 10 months comfortable. If you’re into it, try to make a bit more room in your luggage for some decorations.

*Major tips:
1. Go through your typical daily routine making note of everything you touch to ensure you have everything you’ll require in day-to-day life.
2. Remember that you’ll be living on your own for what’s likely to be the first time ever. Things you often overlook are important – even things as simple as coat hangers and can openers. Make sure your basic living functions are accounted for.

Here are some additional resources you may find helpful:
An excellent, exhaustive-as-far-as-I-can-tell list aimed mostly at humans of the female variety.
An entire website dedicated to what you’ll need!
Another checklist that I found especially helpful.
And a list of what NOT to bring, just in case.

Thanks for reading, I hope this has helped! Please feel free to share any suggestions of your own in the comments below!

[Featured Image Source: hiddensparkles.wordpress.com]

July Favorites

Every month, I will share some links to websites that I find interesting. Anything from articles to videos is fair game! These are this month’s favorites:


 Foreign Language (lengua extranjera)

Happen to be working towards an MBA? Might want to brush up on your foreign language skills.

Anyone else a fan of foreign language films? I have to admit I was hoping to see more Spanish movies on this list of must-see foreign language films, but I’m still interested in seeing so many of these!

How amazing is this?! A new Swiss study suggests sleeping can improve foreign language studies.

I think this title sufficiently sums it up (though it’s definitely still worth the read): How We Kill Languages and Fail Our Cleverest Children.

Education

Always important: teaching kids to give back.

Gee, even top-ranked teachers are calling BS on tests and rankings – probably because there are BETTER reasons for teaching.

Here’s another look at the special education field and all the more reason to be excited for my goals!

Re-emphasizing the benefits of hands-on learning, this article discusses active citizenship.

Picture books + Satire = How to ensure future generations won’t share articles from The Onion on social media as though it’s real news. 

Miscellaneous

I thought this Forbes article pointed out very interesting differences between millennials and baby boomers, specifically how we define success and how we approach our goals.

 The Boston Globe reports on how video games affect our moral code – the results are surprising (but not shocking).

Wondering how to stay inspired? This awesome infographic gives tips that will definitely help keep inspiration, motivation, and productivity levels up!

For fellow soon-to-be college freshmen, here’s a list of 8 things to do before college starts. I found it helpful – not only to know what I should be doing, but to find out I’m nearly set to go!

Dorm-Warming Gifts for My Roommates

Move In Day is nearly upon us! If you’re anything like me, you’re scrambling to pull yourself together to make sure you’ll have everything you’ll need for classes and dorm life ready to go (or you actually have your life together, for which I applaud you). But it’s also a good idea to take a breather and think of someone other than yourself: your roommate.

My Roommates
I opted to be randomly placed with a roommate, rather than applying to be with my friend who is going to the same school as me. This was for a couple of reasons: (1) I had applied for a dorm well before she got to that process, (2) I’ve been told it’s a great experience to put yourself out of your comfort zone in college to meet others, and (3) I’m super scared of the Roommate Curse where even the best of friends will outgrow and turn on one another after being caged into a dorm room. But that’s just me. (I might be paranoid…)
Anyway, Facebook has basically been the only means of communication with my roommate and two suite-mates (our rooms are connected by a shared bathroom; for future reference, they’ll probably just be referred to as “roommates”). But Facebook isn’t the ideal way to get to know someone, of course. So far, I must say that all three roommates have been nothing less than great to talk to (and I certainly do not foresee any issues or drama or anything unpleasant going down!) but I’d love to have a terrific experience and possibly a great friendship with my roommates. So I’ve got an idea!
How about a dorm-warming gift? Just a simple gift, a nice gesture, and a lovely ice-breaker. I can do that!

Dorm

Because this dorm needs to be warmed.

The Gifts
I spent just over $5 at Target for everything. I filled three little bucket tins with mini notepads, post-it notes, and various candies and gum. Admittedly, this would be a better idea if I knew their predilections or preferences for both colors and candy. But in the end, the gifts are small, easily contained, cute, inexpensive, practical, yummy, and very simple ice-breakers. How could I not?

That’s all I got, folks!

Thank you for reading and please share your thoughts in the comments below to join the conversation!