Tips on dealing with homesickness

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by Maddi

1. Get out of your room:

It’s so easy to spend hours watching netflix or reading in bed, eating the boxes of thin mints that the strategically-placed girl scout stands guilted you into buying and drinking your day’s worth of nutrients in Emergen-C’s.

It’s so tempting to change into pajamas after class at 2pm and procrastinate your schoolwork by hibernating until dinner. But this temptation, especially towards the beginning of the year, is one of the biggest catalysts of homesickness. Homesickness is normal and often prevalent no matter how far away from home you go. That being said, going out of state or across the country really limits the opportunity to go home, so it’s best to find methods to deal with feeling homesick.

I’ve found that one of the best ways to deal with homesickness is to occupy yourself with something outside of your room. Whether it’s going on a run, going to get ice cream, or finding a pretty view to draw a picture of, forcing yourself to leave your room helps you adapt and get used to your surroundings.

2. Join a sport team or club similar to what you did at home

Although I’ve met the majority of my friends through clubs or teams that are different from what I participated in in High school, I’ve found that playing soccer here has been a great way to still feel connected to home. Whether it’s an Intramural, club, or varsity sport, doesn’t really matter as long as it isn’t adding extra stress.

Playing a sport or joining a club similar to what you did before college is comforting yet allows you to individualize that experience even more for yourself – which i have found to be really rewarding.

3. Join a group that is outside of your comfort zone:

While joining a familiar activity can be comforting, becoming a part of a group outside of your comfort zone differentiates life at college from life at home – which really helps the adaptation process.

For me, my unfamiliar experience was joining the Cal quidditch team. While yes it is nerdy and weird, it is the activity that compiles many of my different interests into one and has thoroughly changed my experience here at Cal. Little did I know that quidditch is a highly physical and competitive sport that takes part in the United States Quidditch association and has the close team atmosphere that I had always loved about soccer. Combining this competitive team atmosphere and my love for Harry Potter, quidditch turned out to be the perfect place for me to meet the people who I had most in common with – now my best friends.

Staying ACTIVE!

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by Lulu

I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard about gaining the “Freshman 15”, so what can you do to prevent that from happening?

Well it’s definitely a lot easier said than done. As someone who participated in sports throughout high school, it was easy to stay active because practices were mandatory exercise in my schedule. If not for the obligatory conditioning and training, I’d consider myself quite unmotivated to get ready and go to the gym.

Like many college students, continuing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle in college is a priority for me. Because college is such a crazy, busy time for balancing numerous aspects of your life, that is just another reason to stay active: to relieve stress. Balancing a social life and academic course load can be really challenging, so you may ask yourself ‘how can I find time to stay active during college?’

There are several ways to integrate exercise into other parts of your life to make new friends and have fun while being healthy! Depending on the college you attend, the options may vary due to the resources and facilities available at your school, but a workout option for anyone is to go running or biking on a trail around campus.

I personally love going on a run on the East River Parkway down by the Mississippi River or by the Stone Arch Bridge. On warmer days, I like to bike to the Walker Art Center for a longer workout. Sometimes running alone can be dreadful, so to make working out a social activity and something to look forward to, I figured out weekly running sessions with friends .

For those students whose college is located in an area that is affected by the arctic tundra of winter, like the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, running year-round may not be an option. But chances are the college has invested in an indoor recreational facility or gym for student-use!

The words “I’m going to the gym” may prompt a negative connotation in your mind, but working out is a must to stay active and has many benefits. There are stationary machines like cycling or elliptical machines that hold books, so it’s possible to combine studying and working out to make it a win-win situation. By carving out time to workout in my weekly schedule, it becomes easier to be motivated to go to the gym and makes me less stressed about other time commitments. Another positive aspect of making exercise routine, is that it relieves stress and may become an outlet or distraction from other stressors.

Another great option for those interested in a competitive workout atmosphere is intramural or club sports. At the U, there are the official Division I sports teams with the highest level of competition, club sports for competitive athletes still interested in a structured schedule with serious coaching, and then there are intramurals which are similar to competing in sports at the Park & Rec level.

I’m a part of the University Running Club and we have weekly practice with coaches and compete against other Division II and III schools in the National Intramural Running Club Association on the weekends. On the other hand, intramurals are extremely fun and there are varying levels of competitiveness as well. I’m on the coed flag football team and we have very minimal time commitments throughout the week. We have tons of fun but still enjoy the thrill of winning on game days!

There are numerous ways to be as competitive or active as you wish in college. For individuals who really enjoyed being part of a team in high school or even for those with minimal experience, I encourage you to take a chance and try out for a club or intramural team sport. It may be frightening and scary at first, but others have gone through the process before and it is definitely worth it. Your future teammates and friends will love you as an additional benefit.

I can guarantee you won’t regret it!

 

Studying Abroad – The Process

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By Ariana

I think studying abroad is something almost every college student, if asked or surveyed, would say they would be interested in. Actually partaking in studying abroad is something only about 10 percent of college students do, depending on where you search on the web.

It is important to be active in your plans to study abroad.

In my case I knew I wanted to do it, I figured out a time when I could go (with my academics, and how long I wanted to go for) and then did some research on where to go. It doesn’t have to be as extensive as you would think, as along as you’ve narrowed down some countries, and chosen a time frame (year, semester, summer or winter program) it becomes possible to sit down and compare the ins and outs of programs.

My college has a study abroad website with a list of all the programs offered, as well as some affiliated programs, which is where I found my programs. As far as choosing the time frame, I worked with my academic counselor to formulate a plan for going abroad and still graduating on time.

I had a tough time deciding between two programs – one in Greece and another in Spain. I have always wanted to go to Greece, but the Greek programs that I looked at were more expensive and offered less within the program. When I looked at Spain they offered so many more excursions and it had a better price tag!

So now I am here!

The next step after deciding where you want to go is going through the application process. I would recommend applying early.

Learn from my experience – I waited till the last minute to apply,  even though I was well aware of the deadline, I just had a little self-doubt. In the end it worked out, but it added stress to the process.

I think having doubts or fear is a normal part of the process, traveling to new country by yourself and then living there for three months or maybe even longer is a scary thought, but I knew I was going to do it, even if it was the last day I could apply.

Side Note: You can’t ever let fear take over your life and it’s important to be aware of it, and not let it stand in your way of opportunity, knowledge and growth. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to take your life somewhere else for a bit, take advantage of it!

The reason why I also think you should apply early is because getting a visa is not exactly easy and the process can be long.

I would advise you to try to be as proactive as you can with filling out all your paper work or anything that’s needed from your program, getting letters of recommendation, filing out financial forms, getting your passport (if you don’t have one already, or getting an old one renewed) and getting classes reviewed by your college to ensure the credits will transfer (if they aren’t already in the system).

But I promise, all this work will pay off, because the world is waiting for you!

Until next time!

-Ariana

January Q: What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about college for high school students?

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This year we’ve launched a monthly question feature, where our bloggers respond to questions from current high school students. Our January question is: What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about college for high school students?

Maddi (Cal-Berkeley): The biggest misconception is that everyone drinks or parties and that a social stigma exists surrounding those who don’t go crazy; the party scene can be a lot more controlled and is definitely a choice.

Julie (U of MN – TC):  College will be easy. (It isn’t impossble! But it’s also hard work!)

Ariana (UMN Duluth):  That everyone likes to party and you have to drink otherwise it’s not a fun time. But now I think it’s the kind of people who you spend your time with… Get to know people that can have a good time all the time, without drinking.

Ellie (McGill):   That making friends will be difficult like it might have been in high school. Being in college gives so many opportunities to meet people, your friends will find you. Trust me.

Home for the Holidays

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By Guanani

Coming home for winter break after being away for college can be unexpectedly disorienting.

This was especially the case for me, having chosen a school more than a thousand miles away from Minneapolis in Portland, Oregon. Even though I’m close to and on good terms with my family, suddenly being surrounded by them after months of figuring out how to live on my own was more of a challenge than I expected. I immediately missed the personal freedoms college offers; being able to go anywhere without having to tell anyone, the privacy of making my own decisions, and the spontaneous socializing opportunities I had gotten used to at Reed.

After the ridiculously busy last few weeks of the semester, I was looking forward to spending time with my family and having nothing to do for several days. But once I had finally turned in my last final exam, packed up my warm clothes and gotten off the plane into the chilly Minneapolis air, I mostly felt lost and confused.

I have two homes now: the familiar Minneapolis I grew up in and Portland, whose streets are full of memories and new friends and freedom to explore all kinds of new challenges. After weeks of going full throttle, always having some kind of assignment to work on or outing to participate in, being home almost felt stifling.

With free time to spare, I suddenly didn’t know what to do with myself.

Eventually the feeling subsided. I found projects to work on, spent the holidays with family and friends from high school, and came to feel much better about being home. But I know that initial shock of returning will only get stronger the more time I spend away. My new life at college that I worried so much about the summer after high school has become my normal life, and I can’t help but be a little sad that I don’t feel as at home here in Minneapolis as I used to.

Curious, I asked my friends who go to different colleges how they felt about coming home. Everyone had their version of similar feelings, which boiled down to wanting to stay connected to their childhood home and family but also not wanting to spend too much time there. My parents also noticed that I was talking much more about Portland this year, and that I seemed bored at home. My dad said he understood, but was clearly sad. “I’m not as important in your life anymore,” he lamented. “But make sure to keep visiting. We miss you over here.”

After some reflection, I’ve decided I probably won’t stay home during all of winter break next year. But I would at least like to visit for the holidays, when everyone else comes together. Even though I feel increasingly separate from them, there are still many unique things I love about my family and Minneapolis.

I know it’s important to spend time here, at least for short visits, and stay connected.

4-year Universities vs. Community Colleges

 CC
By Alia

Let’s start by playing a little true or false.

1. Universities are big while community colleges are puny.

Answer: FALSE; there is such a thing as a small university and community colleges are plenty big.

2. You get a better education going to 4-year universities versus community colleges.

Answer: FALSE; you get equal education in my opinion (but some universities are picky and might not take credits from elsewhere).

3. Community colleges are for people who weren’t successful the first time around or are behind and need to play catch up.

Answer: FALSE; plenty of people go to community colleges – it’s easier on the wallet, not because they lack the ability to go somewhere else.

4. You need to be super rich or take out a student loan to afford college.

Answer: FALSE; you can get scholarships and grants (free money) to go to college and there are even programs like Power of You (POY) that pay for everything.

5. The system is corrupt and if I’m not the right color I won’t make it.

Answer: FALSE; anyone can make it and you’d be surprised how many people want to see you succeed.

Conclusion – Much of what you hear relating to who goes to community colleges and who goes to 4-year universities is false.

So what’s true?

The difference between going to a community college or university is where you plan to go and how you plan to get there.

Universities are great for their high reputations, they offer more classes, they offer high degrees.

Community colleges are for everyone, they are cheaper than universities, they can be the start or finish.

My advice to you, someone who is in high school right now, is go to a community college and then university if you so desire. Starting out at a big university could be everything you dreamed of, but more than likely you will have more debt. You might end up changing your major and realize you wasted not only your time, but a lot of someone else’s money.

If you want a path where you pay less and get more, I say take my advice. I say go somewhere where people come in all shapes, colors, sizes, and ages with all different backgrounds. I say go somewhere where you can get the same education for less hassle and less out of your pocket. I say go somewhere where you can stumble and get back up with little to no repercussions.

Take it or leave it, but that’s my advice.

When I was deciding where I wanted to go to college, my first choice was the U of M: Twin Cities Campus. I used to work there in the multicultural center in Appleby Hall. I got to learn the layout of the campus by giving tours to children in grades K-8.

I loved it there. I loved the art, I loved the science, I loved the tree full of shoes.

That long bridge was the coolest canvas every club had claim to. I felt alive every day I went to work there and sometimes it was a painful reminder being alive. I didn’t even want to look at other schools, that’s where I wanted to go, but the college and career center at my high school wouldn’t let me pick just one place. They said I needed to apply to at least three schools and I was so bummed, I didn’t care about anyplace else.

I finally gave in and “looked” at some other places. I didn’t want to leave the city, so that narrowed my search fast. I found the Arts Institute and Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) both were in the right place and offered majors I liked. Then I compared costs and saw something surprising – the tuition at MCTC was nowhere near the tuition for the other two options.

I thought, “well they must be so cheap for a reason,” and decided to check out what exactly they were lacking. I took a visit to the school and it didn’t take long before I heard about the Power Of You program. It also didn’t take long before I realized there was nothing missing. There were so many paths for me to take at MCTC for a fraction of the cost, excuse me, for no cost.

I was baffled.

I didn’t know you could go to college for free. The Power Of You program at MCTC took me in and I was surrounded by a group of hard working staff ready to pay for my tuition. All they asked was that I say “hello” every so often, go full-time, have a decent GPA, give back to the community and graduate from a Minneapolis high school.

My parents were sold, and even though I loved the U of M to death, I was too. I did my big exams in high school, sent out my applications, etc. Both the U of M and MCTC accepted me, but at the end of the day, I chose to go to MCTC after doing all my research on the two choices.

MCTC is everything I wanted in a college, even more so than the U of M was. I go to MCTC now as a full time student and I work for the school as a tutor helping other students. I have never been more at home on a campus, they have everything I want/need.

Best of all, I can still continue on to finish a 4-year degree at the U of M, if that’s what I decide to do, and I will have spent a lot less on earning credits my initial years out of high school!

It’s not really a secret, but I never liked school. I did well, but middle school and high school were not only zoos, they were claustrophobic to me. After seeing students trying to jump out of windows on the 3rd floor and dancing on tables and bullying left and right, I was so sick.

In middle school my bullying experiences weren’t from other students, they were from the dean. So you can see, I thought school was a joke. A very messed up joke. I wasn’t even proud of myself when I graduated. I thought college would be as lame if not MORE lame, but college has been awesome. It sometimes doesn’t even feel like school to me, I have too much fun.

Maybe you like school already, that’s cool. I just know too many of us go through it unhappy. I even mentioned before, I have depression. Why am I being so personal? Because I want you to hear my story and maybe it will help you.

My real point is don’t give up. Don’t give up even if things look bad and you feel gross. Don’t give up even if it seems you have no place to go, you always do. Like I’ve said, college isn’t for everyone, but what’s important is that anyone can go to college.

Whether you pick a community college or university, it doesn’t matter as long as you’re a step closer to your dreams and you aren’t being worn down. Make the healthy choice, make the smart choice.

I know you can succeed.

Creating a Home in College

home

by Guanani

There’s plenty of college advice floating around about leaving home and transitioning to college, but very little about what it means to create a home for yourself once you’re there.

One of the most valuable things I’ve come to learn is the importance of creating a home; without a solid place to come back to, physically and emotionally, it’s easy to feel lost, confused, and not sure how to ground all the hard work and exploration that a college experience involves. Home isn’t just something you find, but something you actively create according to your needs and values.

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Here are a few things that make a home feel like home for me:

  1. A space where you feel comfortable and relaxed.

This can be tricky if you find yourself in a loud, cramped dorm situation, but home doesn’t necessarily have to be where you’ve been assigned to live.

Look for a place where you feel calm and can unwind from the day. If you have a friend who lives in a quieter area, spend time in their dorm. Maybe there’s a pleasant spot on campus with a cool tree, or a corner in the library you can return to on a regular basis that can serve as a home away from home.

  1. Headquarters for your life.

Home is the axis that supports the rest of your life, whether that means a pit stop for snacks or a nap, a cozy corner where you can reflect, or just a place where you keep your things. Ideally home in college is conveniently near your classes, friends, and sources of food and other necessities.

The important thing is for it to be close enough that you feel connected to the greater college community while still having your own personal space.

  1. People or a community to come home to.

This has been by far the most important part of creating a home in college for me. Feeling like I belong and having people to talk to, study, and go on adventures with became easier as time went on and new friendships were formed. Living in a distinct community without your family offers you the unique opportunity to build a family of friends to support each other when things get difficult, do homework with, or just spend time together on a regular basis.

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Making a home takes time and effort.

It doesn’t happen overnight, and finding the right circumstances and strong relationships to make it happen can be hard or even frustrating in the midst of all the various challenges college brings. Home should be a focal point in the constellation of your life, something you can rely on, feel safe in, and come back to over and over again.

As you move on from living with families and discover the possibilities offered by independent living, don’t forget to consider what creating a good home means to you.

November Q: What do you miss most about being a High School student?

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This year we’ve launched a monthly question feature, where our bloggers respond to questions from current high school students. Our November question is: What do you miss most about being a High School student?

Julie (U of MN – TC): Being surrounded by a close group of friends.

Lydia (MCAD): The ability to miss a class if you are ill and being able to make it up the next day. There is a zero absence policy at MCAD.

Ariana (UMN Duluth): I miss not having to do so much work. And being debt free!

Alia (MCTC): What I miss most from high school is having a school locker. There are lockers at my college, but not everyone gets one and they are super small. I miss having a locker to put my stuff in.

Maddi (Cal-Berkeley): The free time to do leisure activities; painting, working out, reading for pleasure etc.

Lucillia (St. Thomas): The thing I miss most about being a high school student is the amount of responsibility. Now that I am in college as an adult, I have many more responsibilities and sometimes it is too much.

Sleep Challenge!

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by Lucillia 

People are not lying when they talk about a lack of sleep in college.

Pulling all-nighters to study, 8 am classes and chatting with your roommate until 2am are all contributing factors. Getting a good night’s rest can be really challenging.

For me, I have always put sleep first because I have found that I am never productive when I am tired. But there is a difference between getting sleep and getting quality sleep. The latter is not something that I have been so good at prioritizing.

When I saw that the Wellness Center at my school was hosting a sleep challenge, I thought it would be a good thing to try. For this 21-day challenge, we were told to download a sleeping app that tracks the quality of your sleep. Basically, you keep your phone next to you all night and it measures your movement while you sleep.

Besides this, we were also given a calendar with different tips to help us sleep better. For the first week, our goal was to develop a routine before we go to bed. For this, they recommended doing things like brushing your teeth, putting away your phone 20 minutes before you fall asleep, getting your backpack ready for the next day and doing a light exercise before turning the lights out!

The goal for the second week was to try and wake up at the same time every morning. No matter if you have to be to work by 7 am or don’t have class until 1 pm – the consistency adds value. I have heard that this will eventually train your body to wake up at that time, even without an alarm.

Can you imagine?!

Finally, the goal for the third week was to try and get a sufficient amount of quality sleep each night.

Anyways, six days into the sleep challenge and my sleep app had calculated that my sleep quality was only 60%. I didn’t even know it was that bad. All of my graphs throughout the night told me that I was waking up about every hour, even without knowing it.

I usually go to bed at a decent time every night, so my goals going forward are to put my phone away 20 minutes before I lay down and to see what I can do to stay in a deeper sleep throughout the night.

Any other ideas for a good night’s sleep? Feel free to comment and let me know!

Also, the app is called Sleep Cycle (for iPhone), for anyone interested in tracking how well they sleep and joining the challenge!

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.

October Q: What is your favorite non-class activity/event/club so far in your college career and what did you like so much about it?

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This year we’ve launched a monthly question feature, where our bloggers respond to questions from current high school students. Our October question is: What is your favorite non-class activity/event/club so far in your college career and what did you like so much about it?

Julie (U of MN – TC): The Hmong Minnesota Student Association Club because I will be an actor in one of their biggest events this year, Heritage Day! I can’t wait to act!

Maddi (Cal-Berkeley): I joined the Berkeley quidditch team the second week of school and it was the best decision I’ve made so far. It’s so fun not only because it incorporates Harry Potter and it is an actual workout, but the team atmosphere and the players are the type of people I get along best with

Ellie (McGill): I’m on the Varsity Track and Field team here at McGill so that’s definitely my favorite! I have made some great friends who love to run as much as I do, and I’ve becomes a much better competitor as well. Another big plus is that it keeps me in shape.

Alia (MCTC): I’m a co-leader of the writing club at my school and we have had awesome turn outs and really interesting people come to our meetings. We have students write from a prompt we provide and then they share their writing with the group. I enjoy being a co-leader because I get to decide stuff and make colorful crazy posters. We’re having a halloween party soon, the school gives us money to do this kind of stuff and it’s going to be so awesome.

Lucillia (St. Thomas): My favorite non-class activity so far would have to be Art club. Before I came to college, I was never really interested in art, but after going to a couple of meetings with my friend, I really began to really enjoy it! Though I am terrible at painting, I look forward to going each week!

Natalie (Concordia): I founded a Feminism Club on campus and it has been such a wonderful experience.  It has been so inspiring to hear messages from people who don’t know much about feminism thanking us for creating a safe space to learn about equality.

Midwest to West Coast

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by Maddi

Flying from Minneapolis to San Francisco International Airport, the first sign I saw when I stepped off the plane had directions to a yoga room. Needless to say, I had arrived in California! Too many suitcases and boxes in hand, my mom and I made our way through three-hour traffic over to the East Bay and our hotel right near my new school, the University of California at Berkeley.

yoga room

Move-in day was relatively smooth. My mom seemed to die a little inside each time she saw the size of my room, but I got the bottom bunk, which had been my main focus. To all future college dorm residents: the bottom bunk is essential to your overall happiness, so sacrifice other battles to win this one.

Along with the great bed situation, my randomly selected roommates turned out to be awesome. Picking random is a risk, but it also allows for the chance for you to meet people you might not normally reach out to, which is something that I definitely recommend.

So far, during the one month that I have lived here, Berkeley and life in California have lived up to almost every positive stereotype and expectation that I’d had coming from Minnesota.

It wasn’t just California’s weather that drew me here, but the stereotype that the people are generally open minded and progressive. The atmosphere of the student body and the type of people living in Berkeley were really important to me, and I think that these are factors that can greatly affect your adaptation to college, especially if you’re going far from home. I was able to bond with my floor-mates and most people I met quickly due to our similar values and mindsets. My Spanish class bonded right away through our discussions on Donald Trump and immigration, for example.

Another enticing feature of Berkeley for me was the stereotype that students were not only socially aware and passionate about creating change, but that they were less mainstream and a little weirder than most student bodies. This is something that I found to be true as soon as I moved in, and is one of my favorite parts of being here.

Anything and everything goes here – whether that concerns clothing or recreational activity or whatever else. I joined the Berkeley Quidditch team and am currently enrolled in a Harry Potter class called “UC Hogwarts.” These were two of the best decisions I have ever made. The unique personality of the student body largely corresponds to the cultural diversity of the campus, and this is another factor that I have found to be really important.

Over half of my floor is international and thus racially and culturally diverse. In the one month I’ve lived here I have already learned more about east Asian and Indian culture than in my whole life up until now!

school board

Just as Berkeley exceeded my social expectations, the rigor of the academics was by no means exaggerated!

I walked into my first day of chemistry class with 400 very intelligent students to find a rotating blackboard filled with foreign concepts entitled, “A review of the fundamentals.” That being said, don’t be discouraged from applying or attending a prestigious school. I soon realized that most people were in the same boat as I was and I’ve developed good study habits that benefit my schedule.

I look forward to providing more Berkeley updates throughout the coming year!

Apartment Living – Freshman Year

apartment

by Lulu

“I’m actually living in an apartment with three other girls!”

“Wait, so are you a freshman?”

I completely understand the reasons people may assume I’m not a freshman due to my living circumstances; however, I indeed am a freshman. The reason I’m living in an apartment is because there was a huge number of incoming first year students who wanted to live on campus.

There are only nine residence halls and over 5,700 seeking housing at the U of M – Twin Cities.

Although I applied for housing in early April, I didn’t receive my housing assignment until late August. Even then, I was assigned to expanded living with students much older than me. My family and I felt like the situation wasn’t ideal and would not have been a great match. I was initially bummed about the situation because I was hoping to gain the freshman experience in the dorms and live in “Superblock” where all freshmen live; however, I’m extremely grateful to be living in an apartment in Dinkytown with three amazing roommates.

During the first week on campus, I was reminded of the few disadvantages of being in an apartment. Even though I live right in the heart of Dinkytown, I was placed in a Welcome Week group with commuter students. It wasn’t the best situation, because I was looking forward to meeting other freshmen nearby and this week was designed for that opportunity exactly.

Afterwards, it just wasn’t as easy to meet other freshman friends as it would have been living in the dorms. However, I have definitely found a lot of great friends through various connections as a result of making an effort to meet new people and willingly putting myself out there.

In general, the main difference is being even more independent than living in a dorm. In addition to finding a balance, transitioning into college life, and settling in, I have more responsibilities such as paying for monthly rent and utilities. At first, it was a bit of a foreign concept to have to buy everyday living items like paper towels, toiletries, kitchen appliances, and other similar things; however, in being able to say that I hadn’t had to purchase those items prior is pure privilege. I’m very fortunate to have a meal plan, because I don’t have to worry about cooking and buying groceries.

Don’t get me wrong, though, because living in an apartment has numerous perks that I’m very grateful for.

There is a lot more space, so there wasn’t as much of a concern for packing items and worrying about it all fitting into a cramped dorm room. I have the privilege of having a bathroom with a tub and shower rather than a communal bathroom for the entire floor. Additionally, there is a laundry machine and dryer in my unit, so I don’t have to stress about stolen clothes or waiting my turn.

Overall, I’m living in a great apartment with gorgeous views of the downtown skyline and Dinkytown. I couldn’t be more thankful.