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You First

22 Nov

The first semester of college can be a daunting experience. Maybe you went through this first part of the year with such ease, even seniors in high school would be jealous. Or, maybe you had a really difficult time navigating through your first semester, and you came out with a couple of bumps and bruises. Whatever the case may be, hopefully, I can lend you a little insight as I reflect on my first semester of my sophomore year.

Let me give you some background about what my freshman year was like.  After I left college at the end of the year, I went back to my friends in my hometown and told them this…

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Now, I realize the immense gift it was to have a pretty easy and successful freshman year. Luckily my high school was really tough on academics, and it made my freshman year in college quite easy. I had no morning classes either semester, I lived on a great spot in campus, I had zero roommate issues, I had made tons of friends – it was a great start to my college experience.

Now coming around for my sophomore year, I did not expect it to be as easy as my freshman year since right from the gate my schedule was way more intense. But man-O-man, let me tell you, I could have never imagined the difficulty I was going to face this first semester. Hopefully, with these tips on my experiences, some of you can make peace with any issues

If you have roommate problems:

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Look. Whether you lived at home, in an apartment, or on campus, chances are you ran into a couple of issues with floor mates, roommates, or family members. The only thing I can say is, try you best to meet people in the middle, but always remember to speak up if you are feeling neglected or mistreated. This is a good life lesson, because at the end of the day there are just going to be people you don’t like, and there are just going to be people who don’t like you. You can’t control anyone but yourself.

If you had a busy schedule:

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Having to work alongside a full class schedule for the first time in my life was exhausting this year. I did not realize the meaning of time management until I had to frantically create a system to help organize my messy life. As you progress through college, you will find it is probably going to get more difficult over time. Especially if you decide to work along with your studies, being busy can seem like a struggle. The only way to get through this,in my opinion, is to stay positive and organized. Sometimes we are going to have to sacrifice time with our friends to study, or vice versa, maybe this quiz is not as important as something with your family or friends. This semester has taught me that not all decisions are clear, but they are important for you mental health and overall happiness.

If you got a bad grade (or a couple):

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Getting a bad grade is bound to happen at least once in your college career, if not more than once. For some of you, like myself, getting a less than stellar grade your first semester might be your first time. Honestly, it sucks, a lot. Sometimes you just have to accept that you aren’t a superhero and that you can’t succeed in everything. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t options out there for you to try! Maybe you can GRO the class or work hard next semester to balance out the grade. Just try and remember to tell yourself one grade does not define your worth!

If you didn’t make as many friends as you thought:

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Now for some people, maybe this wasn’t a problem. Last year I had a really easy time making friends. But I know a lot of people who perhaps didn’t make as many as they thought and that’s ok! It’s ok for two simple reasons. 1. Even if you make friends, it doesn’t mean they will be around forever, or even past one semester. I definitely made friends last year that I don’t talk to now, and that’s ok, not everyone is supposed to stick around forever. And 2. It’s never too late to get out there and try! Try going to events on campus, joining clubs, or talking to more people in your classes if you can! I still find myself meeting new and interesting people and we are almost done with this semester!

If you had some Ups and Downs:

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Maybe you were told that college was going to be this fun party 24/7 and that you would have a nearly amazing time. The reality is, though, you are going to go through some struggles, some people more than others. College can be fun, and at times it can be a breeze. But like the wind, it can turn into a raging Haboob (Arizona dust storm reference ;)) in 2.5 seconds. Next thing you know you are living off ramen, writing your 5-page essay due in 2 hours while trying to keep  your life from falling apart. Just know that we all go through those trying times and that if you keep working hard and asking for help when you need it, you can get through it!

At the end of the day,the first semester is a trial run for the rest of your college career. We all learn from our mistakes, and we keep growing as we look towards the future. Reach out when you need it and help out when you can, because at the end of the day. We are all in this together. 😉

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~Mandi

College Expectations vs. Reality

2 Sep

There are many things that first-year students expect college to be like. A bit of work, some fun, and some new challenges. But there are things that you just can’t expect to come across when you first start school. So I have compiled a list of my favorite scenarios that college has gifted us at some time or another! Enjoy and I hope you have a couple of laughs too!

  1. You will be best friends with your roommate
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Expectation: Instant Best Friends

The reality and likelihood that you and your roommate or suitemates (whether random or not) are going to be best friends ’til the end of the year isn’t very plausible. This is not to say that you can’t or won’t be good friends with them, there are plenty of people who have great relationships with their roomies. But sharing a space for a whole year can cause issues between anyone. Whether it’s a dispute about sleep, space, or food, you will probably have at least one issue come up with your roommate/s, and know that you will survive it. After the first couple of months of college you will hopefully start to develop your friend group, and whether that includes your room or floor-mates, just remember that living with another person can be challenging at times, and make sure you communicate anything you need to your roommate. It should be added for those of you who will continue to live at home might have an easier time with this one, but still keep in mind, Communication is Key.  

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Reality: Not So Much

2. You will be healthy and go the gym every day

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Expectation: You Every Morning

Let’s be honest, now that you are out of high school and are in total control of your schedule, most people believe that they will go to all their classes, finish their homework, go to the gym, and sleep at an “acceptable time” every day. That is until two weeks in and you are rolling to classes in sweats and eating Doritos and gummy worms at 3 am while trying to finish homework for your 8am lecture. What people don’t realize is that regardless of your class schedule or your ambition, you probably won’t be able to do all those things in one day. My advice? Shoot for more tangible goals, maybe meal prep a little in your living space, try to hit the gym 2 or 3 times a week instead of setting yourself up to be overwhelmed. Trust me. You will be way more likely to succeed and still have a social life if you realistically set yourself up for what you are capable of.

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Reality: You Once A Month (If You’re Lucky)

3. You can skip that lecture class and still pass

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Expectation: Once A Week

As students, sometimes we are a bit overwhelmed or trying to catch up on an important project so we don’t go to class. Ok cool. I get it. We’ve all been there. But if you think about it, you are probably spending a good amount of chunk change to attend the U of A. Do you really want to be that one student at the end of the semester going into your teacher’s office hours 1 week before finals with a bad grade in the class? So my advice, just show up to class consistently and even try to make a couple of friends in the class to hook you up with notes when you can’t come. Trust me, you’ll be way less stressed around finals time.

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Reality: Three Hours In

4. You will get enough sleep

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Expectation: Perfect Sleep

It’s. going. to. Get. Crazy. Whether you are taking naps in between your classes or getting 3 hours of sleep a day, you are going to have some rough days. The good news is that most people will be right there with you. So prepare to fill your coffee cups high and blast your classical music to keep you awake while writing that 7-page paper. In the end, just try to get as much sleep as you can, your body with thank you.

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Reality: Sleep Whenever Possible

5. Doing your laundry every week

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Expectation: Amazing Cleaning Machine

Ok. So everyone thinks since the laundry rooms are in the same building that you will have plenty of time to do your laundry on Sunday night. WRONG. Remember that you are an intelligent driven student, but that most people around you are having the same thought processes. So unless you want to awkwardly have someone move your clothes from the washer to on top of the dryer, try to plan accordingly when you will do your laundry, your whole floor will thank you. For those of you lucky enough to have your washer and dryer in your house or apartment, just remember not to leave your clothes in the washer for a week without moving them into the dryer. I am definitely guilty of this one

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Reality: Cleaning In Your 5 Minutes of Free Time

-Mandi

#FearlessFebruary: Awkward Conversations

1 Mar

Sometimes relationships get tough, and that’s when things get awkward. I have been living with my roommates for 6 months now, and a constant aggravation has been their cleaning habits. One of my roommates doesn’t use our common space, except to cook her meals. This wouldn’t be a problem if she didn’t take my dishes to her room and leave them there for months on end. My other roommate is the opposite. She uses the common space more than anyone, is messier than all of us, and doesn’t clean unless I pester her for a week.

This is the 6 month point in our relationships and I am fed up with it all. In handling my issues with my first roommate, I have gotten my dishes back and decided to try and nurture a more amiable relationship with her by doing things together.

My second roommate proven to be much more difficult to talk to. It doesn’t help that I have been sick and overly emotional as of late. My issues with this roommate run much deeper, as we have become close friends. Over the last month I have realized that our friendship is very uneven. I drop everything to help her when she is in need, yet she can’t find the time to keep her word and follow through with the favors I ask of her, like bringing me medicine when I’m in the middle of having food poisoning. I am tired of cleaning up after her and limiting my time in my own apartment because I don’t want to be around the mess. Its unfair to me and it needs to stop.

At this point in our conflict, she is staying at her boyfriend’s house until we can find a time to discuss things. My plan of action is to write her a letter detailing all the things that are bothering me that way we can talk things through. I plan on waiting until I feel better so that I can approach things calmly and with a clear head. Tackling awkward conversations can be painful, but we have already taken the first step by admitting that things are broken.

 

#JumpStartJanuary: Organizational Tools Galore

29 Jan

There are a lot of different ways people organize their life. As a college student, finding the way that works best for you can be quite challenging, but it is essential to college success. I am going to go over a few different kinds of organizational tools and how they could potentially be used.

The Planner

  • This is one of the most commonly used organizational tools in college. Students go through and write down assignments that are due each day. Ideally, the student will carry it with them everyday and add to it as more assignments get added. This tool is great for students that are on the go; it allows them to double check assignment due dates on the drop of a hat.

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The Post-It Notes

  • These tools are less common. Many times students will use these to make lists. This is more of a short term tool, meaning most students will use them for day to day lists, but they will not have their entire semester planned out on one. This tool is useful for a student trying to stay focused. Having a to-do list right on their desk often helps students remember what they need to do immediately.

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The White Board/ Mirror

  • Much like the Post-It Note, the white board is often used for lists, but on a much bigger scale. Obviously, there is a lot more room on a white board or mirror compared to that of a Post-It. Often times students will utilize this tool when they have large projects, or many assignments in various classes. This helps organize assignments into a bigger picture.

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The Teacher’s Calendar

  • Personally, I find this tool to be the most useful. I have used a teacher’s calendar every year I have been at school and it has helped me tremendously. The teacher’s calendar or desk calendar as some refer to it is a larger than normal calendar that one can hang up on the wall or put on their desk. Many times, students will go through their syllabus and write down important dates (such as exams), assignments (including but not limited to readings and essays) and note important dates for the class. Using this tool can be helpful because it allows students to see upcoming assignments well in advance and can aid in planning for projects.

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The Carrier

  • While this might sound like a contagious disease, the carrier is actually just a name for a person who carries (get it?) around their syllabus to their classes. While most people don’t use this tool, those that do have an added benefit of always having access to assignments. Most people do not carry physical copies of their syllabus to class, instead they have them saved on their phone or other electronic devices.

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Now, of course these are only a few of the many many many different kinds of tools that students use to become more organized. While I strongly promote the use of a calendar, that might not be the best tool for you, but it is important to find what does work and to utilize it; there is no point in having a planner if it sits at home collecting dust. So go out there and get organized!

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-Chrissy Ellis

#MiddlingMarch: Tidy Room, Tidy Life

11 Mar

Every Spring Break I do the same thing: I clean. I know, I know duh spring cleaning, everyone does that. The difference between me and everyone else is 1: the level of cleaning I do surpasses that of most people, and 2: the cathartic release my cleanings give to me.

As a child, I was always taught that dirtiness is directly connected to how you feel inside. If you are willing to live in filth, you must be going through a lot of angst in your life. Over the years, I have taken this life lesson and made it into my own release of emotions. As I clean, I am letting out all of the stress I have built up, like my throwing out old papers will also throw out the angst and emotions I felt when writing them. That is why Spring Break is an ideal time to do this because boy have I built up a lot of emotions this semester.

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The key to this cleaning is devoting 2 whole days to it; after all, I have had a whole year to bottle up these emotions, it will take a while to get rid of them. Once I have my time set out, I start with my desk. It is both the best and most emotionally draining part of the process so I get it out of the way when I have the most energy. I go through every paper and notebook keeping only the things I absolutely need or things that I am particularly proud of. At this point I usually start a pile to take home (in this pile will be books I no longer need, useless stuff I have accumulated over the school year and other things I might use at home). Once I finish my desk I move onto my closet, donating clothes I haven’t worn in more than a month or that I don’t think I can salvage with sewing.

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The bathroom comes next and I deep clean that throwing away almost empty bottles that I keep for absolutely no reason. Then I dust everything.. That usually ends the first day of cleaning. The next day is filled with laundry, the kitchen, living room, and the patio. After all of this I am physically drained, but emotionally rested.

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Now, I don’t want you people reading this to think I don’t clean except on these two days. I definitely do, but those cleanings aren’t nearly as thorough or emotionally cleansing as these two days which is the point of doing it. I know that after these two days are over, I will be ready to come back to school and finish on a high note.

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-Christine

The Top 5 Lessons I Learned my Sophomore Year of College

27 Feb

The transition between freshman and sophomore year may not seem like that big of a jump, but the changes that it entails are definitely worth mentioning. Here are the 5 lessons that I took away from my sophomore year in college:

1. Cooking is a thing!

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Living in a dorm my freshman year, my food choices consisted of the campus food court and any meal that had the word “instant” in its title. However, finally having an apartment with a kitchen opened a whole new world of food for me. It was like stepping through the wardrobe and into Narnia, if Narnia was full of delicious food.

2. Friday nights are best spent with the Bae

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I feel like freshman year was surrounded by the misconception that in order to have a good time in college, you need to go to parties and paint the town red. What I learned my sophomore year is that having a good time does not depend where you go, but rather who you spend your time with. I found that some of my favorite college memories have been spent with my close friends, some pizza, and Netflix. There is no need to feel pressured to go out every night just to say you are living your college years to the fullest.

3. It’s okay to let go of some of your high school pals

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Freshman year of college, I felt almost obligated to keep in touch with the friends that I had from high school. At the time it made sense not to let go of the friendships considering we had seen each other every day for the past four years. However, I had to come to the realization that people change and it is perfectly normal if you go onto a different path than some of your friends. To this day, I only really keep in touch with a handful of people from high school, and even that is occasional.

4. Study what your passionate about

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All too often it becomes easy to forget why you are in college in the first place. I was lost my freshman year, and found myself stuck in a major that I was not enjoying. It wasn’t until my best friend asked me “if you could go into any field of study and money was not an issue, what would you study?” that I began to realize that I wasn’t happy in my major. Now, after changing my major, I look forward to my classes and the career that lies ahead!

5. Explore! 

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College is such a great time to explore, not only what kind of person you want to be, but the world too. Sophomore year is a perfect time to begin looking into study abroad opportunity and opportunities that simple let you travel within the nation. Take advantage of your time as a student, especially before you begin taking those upper division courses. Get to know the world we live in!

-Zuri

Finding Your Niche: Arbol de la Friendship

22 Jan

I had a pretty tough freshman year. A lot of stressful things happened to me with relationships and adjusting to college. I had a good group of guy friends who helped me through, but after attending Xavier (an all-girls Catholic school), life was not the same without girl friends.

Because I had not made any girl friends during my time in college, I decided to live on campus again Sophomore year to have a second shot at making those life long friendship you hear about in college.” And it worked–I have made life long friends.

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These pictures were taken at the end of my Sophomore year during a photoshoot that our floor had. The only thing that stinks about the whole situation is that I’m graduating in May without all these girls, because they are currently Juniors. They truly transformed my college experience, but at the same time, I transformed my own college experience. At the beginning of the year, I decided that I needed to be outgoing and attempt to make new friendships. I put myself in a vulnerable state and made myself more social.

We called ourselves “Beta Cinco,” a made up sorority of sorts because we lived in Arbol de la Vida on the floor “B5.” This name became notorious around the dorm, as we had such a large, close knit group of girls. We would eat lunch together, study together in Arbol’s study rooms, and go to UA events together. More importantly, we grew up together. Hard things happened to everyone that year, but they were all easier because we had each other along the way.

Every Wednesday, I get lunch with a few of my B5 friends. I asked them to give me a quote describing what they thought of our dorm experience–or our niche:

Sam: “I never really expected to meet some of my closest friends in the dorm, and three years later we are still friends.”

Vicki: “My very best friends lived in the dorm and I still live with them today.”

Megan: “It was cool that we always did things together, and in this picture (see below) everyone wore my shirts. We went on a hike, studied, ate food, cried about school, pulled all nighters, and I was captain of our hall’s dodgeball team during a tournament.”

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I have lived with 5 of the girls in this picture below. It’s nice because almost everyone from our close knit floor are still living together, just in small groups. And these are some of the girls I will be inviting to my wedding and making my Bridesmaids.

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These 4 below are my roommates today and will be again next year before I start Nursing School. I found my niche through friendship. Friendship showed me good places to eat, as well as learning from one another’s circumstances and crises, helping each other through stressful or sad times, introducing one another to even more friends, attempting new feats together, and most importantly, bearing down together. My experience at the U of A would not have been the same at all without them.

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So, don’t fret if you haven’t found your people. Step outside of yourself and try to meet new people. Meet your friend’s friends. Join clubs. Work on campus. Live in a dorm. Whatever it takes, find that social support system that can be such an imperative part of your undergraduate experience. You find yourself through your experiences and your interactions, so have some awesome people help shape you and the way you see our beautiful world.

-Sarah

Bear Down and Clean Up: Move-out Cleaning Checklist

8 Dec

We are approaching the end of the semester and with finals, grades, and winter break on our minds we tend to forget one small task… CLEANING. Many dorms and apartments require spotless rooms, so better get a head start and avoid any outrageous fees!

Cleaning GifI remember cleaning up my dorm before winter break, and let me say cleaning that room was no joke! I was aware that we had to dust and vacuum, you know the basics. There were other sections of the room that needed extra attention like our trash cans and recycle bins. Fees ranged to $40-150! Uhh, no. Cleaning a room can get serious people! But it’s better to see it in a positive light. Once you come back from break you’ll come back to a spotless living space.

Cleaning a room or area can have its therapeutic advantages. If you need a break from studying try sorting out your closet, or dusting your shelves. Think of it this way, you will give your brain a break and two save yourself from having to clean an entire space all at once.

1) Sort Out your Closet 

You would be surprise by all the things one can accumulate in just one semester. Sort through your closet and see what really needs to stay and what really needs to go. Props from Halloween are always a laugh, until you have a collection of sailor, cowboy, and cop hats. BUY. SELL. TRADE. Let’s all admit… extra cash is nice and so is more space. Check out: Buffalo Exchange on Speedway for some assistance in that department. 

2) Dust, Dust, It’s a Must! 

The Arizona heat is great, but behind that greatness is a bundle of dust and dirt! Remember to dust and wipe down your counters and shelves. For desks and other wood surfaces, use a damp wash cloth or an old t-shirt you found after sorting through your closet!

3) Vacuum

I find that everyone suddenly becomes on vacuum patrol once cleaning for winter break begins. If you live in one of the dorms, claiming the vacuum for those 30-minutes is like trying to get to Starbucks before the morning rush: A MISSION. Take advantage of early mornings and late afternoons to check out a vacuum and save yourself the wait. As for you apartment and house dwellers, sharing is caring.

4)  Scrub SCRUB your Trash Cans?

I mentioned earlier how even the smallest of objects, like a trash can, requires a wipe down or two. I am scared from the fact that I had to scrub my trash and recycle bins at the dorms to avoid a fee. Although it was already clean, I did not want to take my chances. This goes for any object. Mirror? Windows? Door Knob? Desk and drawers? SCRUB and wipe down! You can use any damp wash cloth, I prefer using disposable cloths. Just add some soap and water and you are good!

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5) Recycle 

We all know we tend to put papers and other things here and there throughout the semester. Don’t forget to recycle, donate, or throw away miscellaneous things before you leave. Save yourself from the clutter and more importantly save the planet!

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Here is another checklist from Apartment Therapy that will hopefully remind you of other important cleaning tasks! Best of luck during finals, remember a clean space is a happy space, my friends. May the Swiffer be ever in your favor.

-Maddie

Finding My Home at UA

31 Oct

The University of Arizona felt like home to me the instant my feet touched the pavement. During my senior year of high school, we toured the three major universities, Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, and the University of Arizona. NAU was nice, ASU felt all wrong, and UA was perfect. There are only two moments in my life when peace has completely overwhelmed me; setting foot on UA territory that first time was one of them. I knew, without a doubt, that UA was going to be my home away from home.

Freshman year is always confusing and exhausting, but finding my niche helped relieve some of the stress. I lived in the Blue Chip living community in the Pima residence hall my fist year. Pima was perfect for me. It was small, quiet, conveniently located, and it had a yard to play in. It was comfortable, it had everything I needed at the time (including an awesome roommate). My roommate was randomly assigned, but she turned out to be another version of myself. We were both introverts, loved to read, had the same sense of humor, and shared similar opinions on almost every subject. Finding a close friend right away made me feel accepted and loved.

Since moving off campus, it has been a bit more difficult to enjoy the little things taken for granted my freshman year, but holding on to some of those habits has helped me stay connected. I visit my favorite reading spot at least once a week. Before moving off campus, countless hours were spent on my favorite bench reading, eating lunch, studying, and watching Netflix. Most mornings are too busy to grab breakfast at Cactus Grill, but every once in a while I will treat myself. It is fulfilling to continue some of the traditions that were started my freshman year, but creating new ones is just as nice. Every morning I walk down University Boulevard into campus. Old Main early in the morning is a great sight. It reminds me of my first time stepping onto campus and feeling completely at home. It is not the same for everyone. Some people take more time to find their place on campus. I am thankful that the University and everyone on campus have been so welcoming to me and have helped me find my way. This is where I belong, this is my home.

Old Main in the morning:

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The yard at Pima:

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My favorite bench to sit and read:

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-Erika

#OutrageousOctober: Finding My Person

20 Oct

 

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Being an introvert can be complicated because there are so many little quirks about my personality that others just don’t understand. As an introvert, I prefer to interact in small groups or in one-on-one situations because spending time in large groups for more than an hour makes me feel lost. I’m very intuitive about other people’s emotions and larger groups overwhelm me if I don’t find one or two people to pay attention to. This is the main reason that I decline offers to go out with lots of people – I would rather stay home to read and watch TV instead of getting stuck somewhere I don’t want to be with people that don’t really get me. As soon as I feel comfortable enough to speak, connections are usually made. These connections make me bold enough to share pieces of myself with others. This is what has begun to happen with my roommate Bree.

Bree is an extrovert. She loves meeting new people, socializing, and being the life of the party. I am more of a wall flower. She prefers spending time with others – even if nothing is going on. These are all reasons why we get along so well. She is very different from me, but we are both very much the same…just like Meredith Grey and Christina Yang from Grey’s Anatomy (which is one of our favorite TV shows). We laugh at the same jokes, watch the same TV shows, get each other’s obscure movie references, and understand each other’s values. We both come from the same hometown and place our families first. Because of all our commonalities, we have become practically inseparable. We walk home together, do homework together, make dinner for each other, watch movies together, laugh together, cry together, make friends together, spend our free time together, and share our deepest secrets with each other. The foundation of our relationship is being there for each other no matter what.

Bree Constantly pushes me outside my comfort zone by taking me to group activities, and I always force her to slow down and recharge her batteries. We are good for each other because we are different. At first it was really unusual for me to have this high energy person throwing off my groove, but then I realized how good it could be for me. She makes me open up and listens to what I have to say instead of blowing me off or making our time together all about her. She asks for my advice and I ask for hers. We have developed a give and take relationship that has benefited us in the past few weeks because it has forced us to grow. She is the Meredith Grey to my Christina Yang. Even though we do so much together,  there are still times when I need to be alone and she respects that, but she also makes sure to check in with me so that  I am not lonely or sad. In one instance, I watched a really sad movie that reduced me to tears, so she made me go to her room and re-watch the movie with me so that I would not be sad alone. It’s the little things like this that show me how much she cares for me. She reminds me that I’m not alone. My #OutrageousOctober was not too extreme, but I learned how to open up to new people and put myself out there. Taking on Bree as my roommate has (somewhat forcefully) taught me how rewarding it can be to bond with someone. Though it is very early in our friendship, I am her person and she is mine.

Here are some of the times we have shared together in the past month:

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We made taco salad for dinner…

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We watched The Walking Dead…

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She helped dye my hair…

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 She helped fix my hair for a picture…

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She did a pretty good job!

-Erika