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.

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]

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!

10 Great Gifts for Grads (Including DIYs)

Looking for the best gift for your favorite graduate? Well, look no further, my friends! I’ve got ten great gift ideas to make any graduate grin!
The first five are store-bought and the last five are DIY ideas.
Here we go:

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1. Oh the Places You’ll Go (Dr. Seuss) – This is such a classic gift! It’s cute, quirky, and meaningful. Write your own message in the front cover to personalize it for your special grad, or stick a few bills between the pages to make it a treasure in more ways than one!

A selection of gift cards in a store in New York on Wednesday, November 2, 2011. (© Richard B. Levine)

2. Gift Cards – You can’t go wrong with any form of money, truthfully. College students need money and lots of different supplies for dormlife, as well. Best Buy, WalMart, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond are all good places to start. Other helpful gift cards would be for food (check out what local restaurants will be in the area of the grad’s school), gas cards (great for commuters and people who are going to school farther from home), and bookstores (textbooks and recreational reading are nurtured with this gift!)

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3. Camera, picture frames, photo album, etc – For recording memories of home and capturing new memories at college!

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4. School supplies – a practical gift is a good gift, and you will need school supplies at college! Pens, pencils, notebooks, binders, paper, paperclips, rubberbands, thumbtacks, etc – all of these will come in handy in college! Pack it all up in a nice, sturdy backpack that the grad can take with them to college in order to complete this fantastic gift.

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5. A laptop or a printer – This is the priciest gift on this list by far, but it also has immense practical value. I couldn’t imagine facing college without a laptop of my own. Even when computers are available in labs and libraries across campus, a laptop is still almost a necessity for pulling all-nighters to study, taking notes during class, or finding a new setting for studying like a nice spot under a tree. Having a personal printer is also very important.


DIY stuff:

 

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6. Quilt – If you have the time, make a quilt with old T-shirts or cute fabric to keep a person warm in their dorm at night!

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7. Candy Gram – Give him or her the sweetest gift imaginable – a personalized letter featuring all sorts of goodies! Tell them they’re a SMARTIE[S], tell them you’ll miss them to [REESE’S] PIECES when they’re in college, or mention that they deserve to have lots of FUN [DIP] there. Who wouldn’t love that?

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8. College survival kit – A gift personalized just for your friend! It could be a laundry basket or a backpack filled with things like a first-aid kit, snacks, office supplies, cookbooks, a blanket, laundry detergent, dorm dishes, games, movies, etc. Anything that will help them through their college experience will be perfect!

Pill Quotes

9. Homesickness Pills – This is my favorite idea, and I did it for my friends this year. All you need is an empty pill bottle, a bunch of little strips of paper, and a touch of inspiration. You can choose to type up and cut out your “pills” or hand write them. You can write some meaningful quotes from authors you like, jokes, little personal messages or reminders that you’re there for them or hope to see them soon, or cute doodles to cheer them up. Or you could do a mix of all of these things, like I did. When you’re done, you can crumple or fold the strips of paper to look like pills and fill the bottle. Then, label the bottle with their name and whatever you want, really. (I put: Take as needed when feeling homesick, discouraged, or otherwise upset. Do not overdose; do not take more than one pill at a time. Medication may take a little while to take effect; take your time to consider each one.) As cheesy and nerdy as it sounds, my friends absolutely adored it!

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10. Contact Kit – Give your friend your contact information (including email, phone number, dorm mailing address, etc) envelopes, stamps, cute stationery, and maybe a schedule of your school year so they can make plans for your breaks! This will show that even when life takes you separate directions, you want to stay connected. That’s a very important thing to keep in mind when you’re facing something as intimidating and unknown as college or the full-time workforce.

*One last tip: It’s always nice to top off any gift with a nice, hand-written, heartfelt letter to express whatever excitement or pride or appreciation you might feel for your recent grad. As you can probably tell, I’m a fan of cheesiness, so I’m biased, but cheesiness is totally okay! Graduation is something to be excited about and proud of! It’s okay to be sappy when you’re that happy! Basically, don’t live with regrets and don’t let anything go unsaid – let graduation be the excuse to say everything your cheesy heart desires!

I hope this list came as some help to you.

So…what are you waiting for? Go on a shopping spree or bunker down for some DIY projects before that graduation party!