Saturday, May 21, 2011

Greetings from Iowa!

Hey, remember me? I'm that girl who writes a post once every two months saying that I need to post more often. Well, here I am again ;).

It's hard to find a balance with all of the things you love to do, and all of the obligations you know you have. One thing I am happy with myself for has been achieving my academic goal for this semester. Actually, I out-did it. In the fall I ended with a meek 2.8 gpa, and I was determined to push myself a little harder than that in the spring, setting a goal of 3.6, and last week grades were posted, and I was thrilled to see a 3.8 as my score. Hard work pays off sometimes, and now I just need to make sure I don't let it go to my head and start slacking again when I go back. With college fresh on my brain, I'll share some pretty basic things I learned from my freshman year:

* GO.TO.CLASS. This sounds pretty basic, like DUH, you have to go to class if you want to do well.. but sometimes people actually let this slip. "The class doesn't have attendance, the notes are posted on blackboard, the professor is boring, ect.ect." While you can afford to miss a day here and there, it's really in your best interest to just suck it up and go. You're paying for these classes and your professor's time, so you might as well utilize it and soak up every thing that you can. It will help, I can almost guarentee it. Sometimes attendance doesn't count for much according to the syllabus, but do you really want to miss out on freebie points for just sitting down in the classroom? You might not fare so well on your next test, and some professor actually use attendance to determine a curve on your exams. Don't screw yourself over :P.

* Find your zone. Atleast for me, it's really important that I have the right environment when I'm trying to study. For me it went like this: reading and note-taking was done sitting all comfy and lazy on my bed. (Unless my ghetto-fabulous neighbors decided to put on the Lil Wayne full blast, then I went to plan B) My second study spot was at my desk in the common room, that's where I'd usually work on my papers, provided my suitemates weren't out there listening to their music and getting prettied up for whatever middle-of-the-week party they were going to.. but after the 11:00 mark my desk was usually a safe bet. For papers I'd sacrifice the comfort of my bed so I could be forced to actually sit upright and be far enough away from my bed to do my work and not just doze off. Then for projects, or papers I just couldn't concentrate well enough in my room to do, I'd go to the library. I only went a few times, but from my experience, it forces you to get your shit done. So my advice is to just know the places you feel like you get the most accomplished, and make a habit of using those areas to get you in the zone to get your work done so you can have time to do things that are, well, fun ;).

* Take whatever extra-credit you can get! Think of it as counting, write it down in your planner as an assignment so you won't think of it as just being optional. The more points, the better, unless you're really overloaded.

*Expand your social circle. When I first got to college, I reallly kept a small circle. Like I mean it would just be me and my roommate, and our other good friend eating together every day. I love those girls, and sometimes I like it when it's just the three of us catching up, but this second semester we finally made some more friends to add to the group. We were never against making friends, we just somehow weren't meeting anyone, it was frustrating. It's nice to know more people, so if your roommate can't make it to the gym or dinner, you can text so and so, and spend time with them instead of having to go by yourself. We even made some guy friends in the end who let us hang out and smoke their hookah tobacco a couple of times towards the end of the semester. It's just cool getting to know people, and the more people you meet, the more they'll introduce you to over time. I still feel like I have a relatively small network of college friends, but meeting more people is a goal of mine, and my roommate's next year.

* Don't drink in your room. atleast not in your common room. Just don't, if you get caught and your resident director isn't feeling particularly generous, you could wind up on probation for the rest of your college career. Sometimes they WILL randomly knock on your door and do a "suite check" so be forewarned. This usually only occurs on notorious "drinking holidays" like Halloween, St. Patty's, whenever they catch wind that they should be suspiscious. Atleast have a quick plan for in case someone comes, a designated hiding spot for bottles/shot glasses, a concealed trashcan for cups and cans.. Have fun, but be smart ;).

* If you go out partying, stick with friends. It's a given, but try not to even wander off for a little bit, try to always stick by/within view of someone. I personally know a girl who wandered out of the pizza parlor or something she was at with her friends late one night, a guy started running his mouth to her, and she's not one to just sit quiet and take it, so she dished it back, and his "girls" attacked her, and the GUY kicked her in the face! It happens... It's a very sad, sickening thing, but some guys are just bottom-of-the-sewer-scum.. Luckily her friends and the police were able to break it up, but some people won't get that lucky. Some people will attack in groups, and some won't care what your gender is.. Not even if you're beautiful like this girl was, and I've had another close friend get threatened by a random guy who thought she "took his seat." Yeah, there's some real gentlemen out there.. My roommate carries pepper spray, I'm pretty happy for that.

* Buy books ahead of time! I always screw myself over this way. I wait too long to figure out what books my classes need, and thus am stuck spending an arm and a leg at the University bookstore. Amazon and are two of the sites alot of students use to buy or rent their textbooks. We also have a cool used bookstore downtown from my campus, so check into things in the area like that. And if you feel like the textbook is something you're never going to find use for again, sell it back to the bookstore after! I've made $60+ back in a semester for returning a few of my books.

* Don't be afraid.. to take classes outside of your requirements if they interest you. It's all about learning, don't just think of your education as a checklist. Don't be afraid to change your major either, I went from Journalism to Psychology already in my first year. Don't be afraid to exchange contact info with someone in your class; it's really nice to have someone to text if you miss a day and want to know what happened while you were gone, or to double-check about something the professor said. I've had to do this more than once, and it was nice having the convenience of asking another student rather than emailing the professor and waiting days, or possibly never getting a response, depending on the professor... Some are good about getting back to you, others aren't.

So, what exactly am I doing out in Middle of Nowhere, USA? Truthfully not very much. Which can be pretty nice for awhile. Some days have been busier than others with visiting with my mom's friends, this is where she grew up afterall. We went to a couple of really nice shopping areas in Nebraska the other day, where surprisingly, I didn't buy any clothes! Instead I scored a couple of nice deals on accessories including wooden and gold bangles, a good hairwrap, a couple of books at B&N (Catcher in the Rye, Sarah's Key), and I really went crazy for this one place called The Body Shop. I've never been to one in New York, but they had pretty environmentally friendly products and they advocated for creating jobs in poor economic countires. They just seemed to have a lot of good messages behind their company and were reasonably priced, so I bought a few seaweed based face products, hoping they'll help keep me looking clean and fresh for summer. I'm trying to do a lot for my health overall lately. Trying to remember sunscreen, and getting in the routine of a morning and/or evening run along with a little abs and arms workout. And trying to eat healthy. It's easy here at the house because when we went grocery shopping I was very particular about what I chose.. wheat thins, whole grain bread, strawberries, v8 strawberry banana juice, special k, ect. But it's harder when we have lunch at the diner, there aren't really any "healthy options" to speak of, so that's my indulgence, I usually have a grilled cheese and fries, but I atleast skip the salt. I'm not really trying to lose weight although if a few pounds shed I won't complain ;), but I'm really just trying to give my body the best, get somewhere close to "optimal health" although I doubt I'll ever get quite that far. I'm just trying to be more conscientious about what I'm putting into my body and how I'm keeping my body in shape and preventing health problems I don't need to have. I definitely need to tone up, my arm strength is pathetic hahah. I'd like to be a lot more active than previous summers. Tom sent me a text the other night that we're going to go running in the woods when I get home, so now that really motivates me to shape up while I'm in Iowa. I don't want to be huffing and puffing 20 ft behind him, feeling like a burden holding him up. I want it to be a good experience where I can keep up with him and we can push eachother to keep going.

So in Iowa I've been practicing my endurance running on the gravel roads. The unstable ground seems like decent preparation for the woods, although the woods are going to be much steeper. I really just want to be outside and do a lot while I'm off from college and free from the confines of my dorm room. How do you guys keep active in the summer?

I'm not really sure what I want to do about employment this summer either. Lately I've been working with my old art teacher, flipping a house. I find stuff like that to be so much more fun than sitting inside a store all day. I like doing work that you can actually see yourself getting things done, you witness the progress. At my retail job, I feel like I'm just folding clothes that are going to be messed up again 20 minutes later, bugging customers who don't want to be talked to, and sweating in the limited number of work-approved outfits I own.. the same ones I wear through the winter. I guess I'm weighing my options.. but if I can work on the house flipping deal all summer, I might not have the time for a secondary job, and the house work actually pays better too with alot more flexibility. I appreciate that my previous job has kept a spot open for me while I went to college, but I want to spend my summer having fun and doing things I want to do.. If I can get away with just working for my teacher, and working enough to get by for the summer, that's what I'll do, although the idea of quitting makes me nervous. Then there's also the prospect of working at this nice hotel in the restaurant part which is what my friend is doing. She's pretty sure she can get me in, and it sounds like a good job, paying better than the one I have now, plus the opportunity for tips.. so that's an option too. I just don't want to overwhelm myself with work this summer, it passes too quickly to not enjoy it.

I kind of like doing work that gets my hands dirty. I like scraping wallpaper and getting paint splatters on my sloppy clothes. I like feeding calves, but I like it more when Tom does it along with me. I want to go hiking this summer. I want to plant a vegetable garden. I want to go to bed smelling like bonfire smoke 75% of the time and wake up atleast one morning to take a drive to the ocean on a day that just seems right. I want pictures, and pictures, and pictures so I never forget the fun and the youth I once had.

I'm so ready for summer, how about you?