Major Blues

choosing_major

“Be where you are, otherwise you will miss your life” – Buddha

by Natalie

When I started college a year and half ago here at Concordia, I was dead set on being a Music Major.  I wanted to study music and theatre and be become a talented musical theatre star because of it.

Then I started taking Music Theory. And I hated it.

After clawing my way through the first semester, dragging myself to that class every Monday and Wednesday at 8 am, and coercing my classmates to help me with the homework, I decided that I was no longer interested in studying music.

I called my dad, crying, the night before I was supposed to register for spring semester and he granted me wisdom I have since shared with many of my friends and classmates:  your major doesn’t matter.  What you do with your life is not predestined by what it says on your Bachelor’s degree.  So take a few classes in fields that have nothing to do with your major and see if you love something more than you love what you’re already doing.

So I signed up for a political science class, changed my major, and started making plans to go to law school and run for office.

I chose Political Science (“Poli-Sci”) because I knew I could make a living as a lawyer or politician. I knew politics were something I was passionate about (if you’re interested in reading some of my thoughts on politics, feel free to hit up my personal blog).

I figured it was a path that made sense for me.  I loved to read.  I loved to argue.  I was passionate about social and legal change and I was intent on making that change happen.  I decided that I would go forward and become a lawyer for the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and go on to run for office someday.

I would marry my significant other, a man who wants to go into theatre, and provide for my future family.

I convinced myself to go all in.  I spent afternoons looking up law schools I would want to go to and could get in to.  I got ahead of myself by about twenty years and, by doing so, I freaked myself out about being a Poli-Sci major.

I went to International Politics a total of 8 times that semester; I spent the other class periods in my bed, panicking about how hard that path was.  I didn’t love it.  I was scared of it. Terrified that I wouldn’t be successful at this and that my future would crumble because of it, I let it consume my life for three months.  My fear of potential failure and a lack of confidence in my abilities pushed me into a downwards spiral that took months to remedy.

I am here today to tell you, dear readers, that you should never let it get that bad.

Remember what I didn’t in my time of major turmoil and future planning: it matters less than you think.  Take the classes that you love.  Take the classes that seem fascinating and worthwhile – not just the ones you think are “necessary.”  Don’t be afraid to drop a class or ask for help; your academic advisor is there just for that.  Don’t be afraid of changing your major; you can change it as many or as few times as you like – you’ll still be successful if you’re willing to work hard.

Every school is different in how they handle the semantics and logistics of changing majors.  But every school will help you do it.  Some schools might be less helpful than others, but your education is yours and yours alone.  If you decide to change your direction, don’t let academic advisors or administrators tell you that you can’t.

It is your money and your time that you are investing in this education and you get to decide what you want to do with it.

This year, I am an English Writing and Theatre Arts double major and I love it.  I’m taking classes that I’m passionate about and not worrying about how much money I’m going to make or whether or not my grades are good enough for me to go to Stanford.

I am focusing on being happy and healthy and being successful here and now.

How to Win Over Freshmen and Influence People

Being a role model when you’re really not sure what you’re doing in your own life.

role model

by Natalie

Not to toot my own horn, but I am killing it in sophomore year.

In the past two months and seven days, I have started taking classes that I really, truly enjoy.  I have met some wonderful people.  I have written a handful of opinion columns that I’m very proud of (you can find the latest post here).  I started a club.  I finished a play and submitted it to a theatre competition.

But, most importantly, I have learned something new about myself: I’m pretty darn good at giving advice and being a support system.

At the beginning of this year, I began collecting freshman.  Not on purpose.  I didn’t go around with a butterfly net chasing the kids who still wore their high school state speech sweatshirts or letterman’s jackets.  I just, slowly but surely, became very close with a large network of first year students.  And, as I gained this new circle of friends, I gained a reputation for having the answers.  Which, if you’ve read any of my blogs from my freshman year, you’d know I don’t necessarily have.

Last year, I was an absolute disaster.

I spent my days panicking and not attending my classes.  This year, I have taken up the new habit of writing down exactly when I’m going to fulfill my responsibilities.  I’ve also taken to writing out To-Do lists.  Long story short, I’ve got my “poop in a group” this year.

As the year has progressed, I have become well-versed in taking people down, if you will. College is when a lot of people start to have mental health issues.  It’s stressful and challenging and there is a demand for a constant, shiny, happy attitude on college campuses.

It can become overwhelming.

Anxiety and depression are things I developed and learned to deal with last year.  My roommates have also struggled with mental health in their time in college.  So, because we have life experiences with not knowing how to deal, room 716 has become a popular hangout for first years who need help.

It’s fulfilling work, being a role model.  It brings me a lot of pride, knowing that I can help people because I’ve been in their shoes.  I have comforted these lost first years through times of self-doubt and it has strengthened my own ability to cope with overwhelming circumstances.  I have counseled a few of them through existential crises and “what if I hate my major” meltdowns and it has made clear to me that the struggles I faced last year were not unique.

Last year, when I began struggling with my schoolwork and mental health, my dad gave me an analogy that I have used on quite a few panicky freshmen this year:

When you forge friendships, you sign a contract for a shared emotional bank account.  We all have to withdraw sometimes when times get hard and the rent to live in our own heads goes up.  We all deposit into this account when we win the lottery and everything goes right.  Sometimes, you have to withdraw more than you deposit for a while.  But that’s fine because, eventually, you’ll be in a better place with a heavier emotional paycheck and you’ll be able to deposit back into the account when your friends need to withdraw.

There is a lot to be said for making it on your own, but there is more to be said for being able to ask for help.

When you arrive at college, a good thing to do is to seek out supportive friends.  It’s hard to see that at first glance but you’ll quickly learn who of your network of acquaintances is there for you.  Find and befriend your neighborhood know-it-all.  She/he knows where the counseling center is and how to study and how to lighten your load.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

There is no shame in being in over your head.  There is no shame in struggling with your mental health or your classwork.  There is no shame in crying in front of your friends.

There is only shame in being too proud to admit to yourself that you can’t do it alone.

College is hard and sometimes, you just need to withdraw from your shared emotional bank account.

Move-In Day Round II

moving in

By Natalie

I drove up alone this time.

Mom and Dad knew I’d make it just fine and so they stayed in Minneapolis to usher my younger siblings to their first day of school.  I sang along to The Lion King soundtrack and Boston’s greatest hits.

I rolled up in front of Brown Hall after four hours of driving, entirely ready to start my year and entirely dreading having to unpack.  My roommates, Katie and Rachel, and my boyfriend, Nick, all came to help me haul my eight plastic totes full of office supplies, winter clothes, bedding, dishes, and books into my first floor room.

Brown Hall

Brown Hall

I spent a good amount of that afternoon trying to decide where to start.  The floor of our living space (I live in a quad this year so my dorm has two rooms: one for sleeping and one for pretty much everything else) was covered with plastic totes and folded up butterfly chairs.  The three of us navigated an obstacle course of rolled up rugs and bags of pita chips in order to turn the linoleum floor and beige walls into a home.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was stressful.  I nearly cried approximately 90 times that first day back, both from anxiety and from just plain old homesickness – an ailment I managed to avoid on move in day last year.

As I unpacked over the following two days, it dawned on me that I’m probably never going to move home again.

I’m never going to pack up all my things and move back into my parents’ house and live in the basement with piles of my compartmentalized life pushed up against the wall.  I’m never going to have my makeup and hair product strewn across the bathroom counter.  I’m never going to store my dishes in the white faced cabinets in our kitchen.  I don’t live there anymore.

Moving back to college after having four months back in the comfort of my childhood home was hard.  It was a sudden jerk into the reality of laundry and dishes and budgeting when, all of a sudden, I didn’t have my parents to do those things for me.

I traded my parents for two of the best roommates and friends a girl could ask for.  We had a solid sleep schedule (in bed by midnight, out by nine), we spend more time than I could count laughing and talking and creating some of the most ridiculous Snapchat stories ever.  Moving away for good is hard, but it’s easier when you have a good place to land.

This summer was a hard transition for me.

I worried that I didn’t belong in the world of Academia.  I worried that I was going to fall flat on my face again like I did last year.  I spent a lot of my time second guessing my qualification to do anything but be a homebody.  I nearly convinced myself to not go back to school.  But I did go back and it hasn’t been bad at all.  I came back to Concordia with an arsenal of anecdotal advice I racked up last year.

One of the bigger lessons I learned from freshman year that I’ll be applying to my life from here on out is that it’s okay to fail.  There’s no shame in it.

It is okay to take a huge leap or have a hard fall and fail.  It’s okay to try again.  In fact, it’s mandatory.  Another thing I took away from my first eight months at Concordia is that one of the perks of a private education is that you can ask for as much help as you want and no one is going to think less of you for it.

My Desk!

My Desk!

It’s been four weeks since I moved in to my cozy little home and I’ve nestled in.  I got a job writing for my school newspaper, The Concordian (http://theconcordian.org/), I love my classes, and I landed a role playing Marta in this year’s musical, Steven Sondheim’s Company.

All in all, this year is shaping up to be pretty dang great.

Down to the Minute

A Beginner’s Guide to Time Management

clock

by Natalie

College, not unlike all other stages of life, requires amazing skills of patience, scheduling, finagling, and, most importantly, time management.  In my first semester at Concordia I was taking 18 academic credits and working 5 hours a week for a small stipend as an intern in the theatre department, as well as balancing a full-fledged romantic relationship and a role in the musical, Les Miserables.

This semester, however, is a little different.  First, I stopped working in the theatre department because it didn’t pay enough and it wasn’t a good fit for me as far as scheduling hours went.  Second, I’m only taking 15 credits this semester, as I started taking an elective class about lighting design that proved to be too much to chew.  Third, I picked up a job working at Target.  I work 10-20 hours a week, folding clothes and working the cash registers.  And, on top of all of that, this semester, a friend of mine was hospitalized and I spent a good chunk of time being there for her.

I like to think of everything in my life as a class with a credit number.

  • My boyfriend, Nick, is a 4-credit course.
  • My role in Les Mis was two 4-credit courses; it took up about as much time as 2 full academic classes and I put in extra work on show weekends.
  • My job in the theatre department was a 1-credit course.
  • My job at Target is a 4-credit course.
  • My friend in the hospital was a 2-credit course.
  • My Netflix habit is definitely a 2-credit course at least.
  • My social life at large is probably about a 2-credit course as well (if we don’t include Nick and my friend in the hospital).

Assuming I did my math correctly (which is not a safe assumption), I came out with 35 credits last semester and 29 this semester.  So why did last semester seem so much easier than this semester has been so far?

Well folks, it comes down to how well I’ve been managing my time.  Last semester, I kept myself to a strict schedule that documented what I had planned 24/7.  I would wake up, go to breakfast, go to class, do chores, go to my next 2 classes, do homework, go to choir, get dinner, watch an episode of whatever series I was working on in Netflix, go to rehearsal, do homework, hang out with Nick, go to bed.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

This semester I haven’t handled my time in the conservative fashion I did last semester.  I have been waking up, going to class, getting lunch with friends, dilly dallying all the way to my next two classes, going to choir, getting dinner, going to work, coming home and going to bed.  On the days that I don’t have classes (Tuesday and Thursday this semester), instead of getting up and taking care of business, I sleep in really late, waste a whole bunch of time on Buzzfeed, eventually do some homework, eat dinner, go to work, hang out with Nick, hang out with other friends, stay up really late doing the homework I’ve been putting off, and then, finally, getting to bed.

The moral of this story, dear readers, is to take care of your time in college.  Ration it, split it up, portion it, and schedule it.  Make it work for you, not against you.  Working out a routine might seem mundane and boring but it is so beneficial when you set aside an hour and a half here, 45 minutes there to get your homework done.

College isn’t just going to class, and working a job so you can pay your tuition.  College isn’t just parties and friends and good times.  College is hard.  It’s hard work, it’s a lot of work and it takes a lot of time.  Time management is the best way to handle the barrage of knowledge and experience you’ll get hit with in college.

You might seem a little crazy at first when you have your day planned down to the minute but you’ll feel less stressed, more motivated, and you’ll learn how to be accountable to yourself and to others.  Time is money and we’ll all need to pay off our student loans someday.

Home Alone 6: Lost in College

alone

by Natalie

As a child, I dreamed of living a life where I got to do whatever I wanted to all of the time.

In this ideal life, I would go to bed whenever I pleased and sleep in as late as I wanted and, when I woke up, whether it was 6 am (a time my mother deemed “far too early” for opening Christmas presents or watching Saturday morning cartoons) or 2 pm (a time my mother deemed “far too late” for an energetic young woman such as myself to be sleeping in to), I would go to my imaginary kitchen and eat chocolate cake and ice cream for breakfast.

I would never have to do chores in this dream world.  No dishes or laundry or bathrooms to clean.  No beds to make. A life of leisure and luxury was the life I would live when I went to college.  Or at least that’s what I thought would happen when I was a kid.

Well, that time has come and I am officially a college student.  I am living on my own.  I don’t answer to my mother.  I answer to my roommate, Courtney.  I choose when and what to eat.  I choose when I go to sleep and when I wake up.  I am independent.

And it’s hard.

Don’t get me wrong.  There are great things about not living with your parents:

  • You don’t have to apologize for coming home late.
  • You can dance naked in your room (if your roommate isn’t coming home for a while) and nobody questions it.
  • You can roll out of bed 10 minutes before class starts, brush your teeth, slap on some deodorant and wear your pajamas to class and your mom isn’t going to tell you to put on something presentable.
  • You can drink all the coffee you want without your dad telling you that it’ll stunt your growth.
  • You get full artistic liberties when it comes to what you wear, eat, drink, think, say, and do.

It’s liberating, really.  But with great power comes great responsibility.

For a girl like me, who never woke up to alarms, whose mother would gently wake her up with such sweet sayings as “Get yourself out of bed right now, young lady!” and “I am not driving you to school again if you miss your bus, girlfriend!” waking one’s self up every morning is a real struggle.

I have an 8:30 class every other day and I try so hard to wrestle myself out of bed to go to that class but, sometimes, the fact that I didn’t go to bed until 3 a.m. and the fact that I haven’t had a healthy, solid meal with all of my food groups in a week and half win and I roll back over and don’t go to that class.

On top of not being able to get out of bed, I have a basket full of the clean laundry I did last night sitting next to me that probably won’t get put away until I need the basket to bring my dirty clothes to the laundry room next week.  I have a pile of dirty dishes sitting on my desk that I need to take down to the kitchen and wash but that just seems like so much work.  I have a couple of shirts that I’ve ruined for life by washing in the wrong load or not using stain remover at the appropriate time.

Given all of these little tasks I struggle with, I’ve found that the hardest part of living on my own is treating my body the way it deserves to be treated.

I don’t take my vitamins regularly because I don’t have my mom to tell me to.

I don’t drink enough milk because the cafeteria has pop and that just sounds better to me.

I don’t eat enough vegetables or proteins because I no longer have my mother making me a well-rounded home cooked meal every night.

Instead, I have the school dining center offering me chicken strips and cream cheese wontons, along with some healthier options, but the chicken strips and the cream cheese wontons win out every time.  They’re just so tasty!

A tip for you, my dear readers: appreciate your parents and guardians who make sure you’re putting the right stuff in your body and reminding you to go to bed and wake up in the mornings.

Appreciate the nagging because, in a few months, you’ll be wishing you had someone other than yourself to drag your sorry butt out of bed.

Eat the hot dish that your mom worked really hard on because, in a few months, you’ll be wishing it was easier and more delicious to eat a solid, healthy meal that you don’t have to work for.

If you have one, appreciate the fact that you have a dish washer to put your dirty dishes into.  Love the fact that you don’t have to hand wash each one.

Be grateful for not having to do your own laundry.  If you already do your own laundry (good for you!) be grateful that you don’t have to wait for a machine to be free.  Be grateful that you don’t have to move that one jock’s clothes out of the dryer that’ve been sitting in for the past four hours in order to use that dryer.

Living on your own is fun.  Living on your own is freedom and it’s beautiful but don’t forget to be grateful for the people who provide for you now, while you don’t live on your own.  Soon enough, you’ll wish you had some of those comforts that come with living in your parents’ house.  I sure do.

Registration Nation

A brief history of how worried I was about signing up for classes

registration

by Natalie

A long time ago, at the very beginning of this summer, a mere 6 days after graduating from Southwest, I drove up to Moorhead, Minnesota with the ‘rents to register for classes at Concordia College.  I had been emailed a course catalogue a few weeks earlier that I scoured for five minutes, got stressed out about, and put away; never to be looked at again.  I started panicking a little.  Never a good idea.

When I arrived on campus, I was worried that the registration people would be mad at me for not knowing exactly what classes I wanted to take.

I was worried that I wouldn’t get into classes that I needed to take in order to get the degree I’m now working towards.

I was worried about getting all of my generals and a whole bunch of major-specific courses done in my first semester.

I was worried about signing up for a math, a science, a humanities, a language and all of the things I needed for my major.

I was just generally worried.

However, when I went into the Registrar’s Office to get signed up, all of my worry was washed away by the man helping me register.

This man was a theatre professor and I had met him before when I auditioned for a theatre scholarship that winter.  He told me, as I sat down hastily next to him in front of a computer, that I didn’t have to worry about anything at all.  He logged onto my account and looked at what I was already signed up for: a required speech course that I had automatically been assigned.

He signed me up for Intro to Theatre; Materials of Music 1, the music theory course that is currently kicking my butt; Cantabile (the freshman women’s choir); voice and piano lessons; and a history course that I picked out called, “Ancient Gender and Sexuality,” a course that has proven to be more interesting that any of the courses pertaining to my major.  But I digress…

The registration process was effortless and easy and I had to do very little.  I got into a lot of the courses I needed to take this semester and I’m really pleased with how things have been going.  My schedule is hectic, but I love it.  Here’s a snapshot of my schedule:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

  • 8:30-9:40: Materials of Music 1
  • 9:50-11:40: Work (I have a job as a Theatre Assistant in the scene shop of the theatre.  I build sets.  Or at least, I try to build sets.)
  • 11:50-1:00: Intro to Theatre
  • 1:20-2:30: Intro to Oral Communication
  • 2:30-4:00: Netflix.  Homework and study time
  • 4:00-5:00: Cantabile
  • 5:00-7:00 Dinner and a little down time
  • 7:00-10:00 Les Miserables Rehearsal

Tuesday, Thursday

  • 9:00-11:45: Work
  • 12:00-1:00: Piano and Voice Lessons
  • 1:20-2:30: Ancient Gender and Sexuality
  • 2:30-7:00: Time for Netflix homework and doing laundry and other productive things
  • 7:00-10:00: Les Miserables Rehearsal

It’s chaotic and there’s not a lot of down time but that’s what keeps me from spending hours and hours of my time on Buzzfeed or watching Netflix.  Here’s a little unsolicited advice for when you register for classes:

Don’t worry about getting every class you’ll need to take to graduate into your schedule first semester.  Most colleges sign you up for one semester and then, in four months, you have all new classes and all new credits to earn.  Don’t worry about fitting a math credit, a science credit, a language, three major specific classes, and a required English all into one semester.  You’ll get all of them done in good time.

College is a huge chunk of your life and the staff and faculty are there to help you get into the classes you need to take within that chunk of time.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t feel bad about changing your schedule first semester, either.

I personally didn’t change mine at all but a friend of mine, Rachel, did.  She was a pre-med major for a week and now she’s an English major and changing her classes and her major was, to quote her, “the smoothest process and the best decision.”

The people who work at the colleges are there to help you make it through.  They don’t want to see you fail and neither should you.

Moving In. Moving On. Moving Up.

Natalie

by Natalie

The major changes that are made a little easier by the things that stay the same.

On any given Saturday evening you might find me hanging with my homies, on Netflix, or eating exorbitant amounts of cheese popcorn.

On Saturday, August 24, on the other hand, I was doing none of these things as I was whirling around my house: a tornado of anxiety and sheer force leaving a path of folded clothes and empty shelves in my wake.

I was packing.

“Packing for what?” you might ask.

“A lovely tropical all-expense paid vacation to Fiji?”

“A skiing expedition in the Alps?”

“A cross-country tour opening for Katy Perry?”

Not for any of these things but for an adventure much more important by far: College.

The following Sunday morning, when the pickup truck that would become my mode of transportation and the crossover my parents were driving were both packed to the seams, we piled into our respective vehicles and set off for beautiful Concordia College in exotic Moorhead, Minnesota.

My new home.

It was a long four hours as the dusty light of the early morning sun broke through the fog of sleep deprivation and stress to bring me into a new frame of mind as we traversed the wild terrain of I-94.

Upon our arrival on campus, I felt no more doubt or fear or fretfulness. I felt only a tidal wave of excitement and giddiness wash over me as I hopped out of my truck to be greeted all at once by five very attractive young men.

I was guided around the awe-inspiring campus that I now call home to my dorm by one of those strapping lads, Josh. Josh wrangled up a friend of his, Peter, and the two of them set up the bunks for my roommate and me and swiftly departed to help other lost little freshman.

I was given my key and introduced to my Resident Assistant (RA), Jazzy. She explained where my resources would be here at Concordia and left me to my unpacking. Within a few hours, my room was decked out with a TV, a tower fan, a tiny little kitchenette and a lot of room for activities.

As I stood in the middle of my modest new home, a young lady and her parents walked in and plopped a few boxes down. This was my roommate, Courtney, a wonderful person who has proven to be the most understanding and marvelous living partner to ever walk the streets of Moorhead. After the niceties had been exchanged, the beds made, and the ethernet cables plugged in, my parents and I went off to Buffalo Wild Wings for a lovely meal of crispy barbeque chicken strips and Dr. Pepper.

After lunch, they drove me back to campus and we said our surprisingly tearless goodbyes.

My mom told me to make good choices.

My dad told me that these would be the best years of my life.

As they drove off, I turned and entered the auditorium where the next chapter in my life and, more importantly, my orientation week would begin.

Concordia does orientation like nobody else. It’s a nonstop barrage of pump up jams; high energy 20 year-olds; getting to know you games; heavy conversation about drugs, sex, and rock ‘n roll; pure exhaustion; and food.

There was a lot of food.

I think I gained my freshman fifteen in just those few days. That extra padding wasn’t all I gained in my first two weeks of my collegiate life. I’ve collected a few new friends, a few new habits, and a few new adventures in the past 14 days here at Concordia.

I’ve found that I am much more attentive to my classes and much more motivated to do my homework than I was in high school. I got into the fall musical, Les Misérables, and I’ve met some of the most extraordinary people with some of the most beautiful and the most horrific paths that have brought them into my life.

I’ve grown.

On any given Saturday evening, you might find me at a faculty concert, hanging with my new homies, doing my music theory homework, or eating exorbitant amounts of all you can eat cookie dough from the dining services here at Concordia.

Move-in day changed a lot about my day-to-day life. And I love it.

Introducing Natalie – Concordia College

NatalieI am a high energy, high maintenance kind of gal who regularly utilizes old fashioned lingo like “rad,” “groovy,” and “far out.” I enjoy the Oxford comma, 90’s rap, and people who wear watches. I spend most of my time on a stage singing and acting and trying to dance and spend what little time I have left with my closest friend, Flipper the Laptop, watching movies and listening to choral arrangements of bad pop songs from the 80’s. Living the life of a natural-born morning person, I drink abhorrent amounts of coffee and hate cereal for breakfast. I’m all about that waffle life, man. I have a strong “YOLO” outlook on life and truly enjoy arbitrary hashtags. #CanYouDigIt

I am entering my sophomore year at school and am excited to continue blogging!

  • High School: Southwest High
  • College: Concordia College, Moorhead
  • Major: Music and Theater
  • Dream Career: Performer; preferably on Broadway
  • Spirit Animal: Scar from Disney’s The Lion King
  • Favorite Food: Cheese Popcorn
  • Hobbies and Interests: Netflix