Advice on Surviving Your First Semester

collegeHere are the Do’s and Don’ts of how to survive your first semester of college. This semester matters. You’re building the ground work, you’re building your blueprint for the rest of your college experience. Hey! Remember – if you want to start building your resume now, e-mail me to be a college blogger – it’s easy and will look great on your resume! 😉

1. Don’t go home every weekend. This is tempting, especially if you live close, or you have a significant other at home, but you will make absolutely no friends on campus this way and you will be miserable. You will also be known as “the one who always goes home.”

2. DO communicate with your roommate. This is crucial! One of the biggest causes of roommate conflicts is a failure to communicate, especially at the beginning of the year. If you don’t start early, it just gets harder and harder. If your school doesn’t require it, I recommend you and your roommate create a contract discussing your expectations of each other involving guests, cleanliness, alarm clocks, TV etc. It may seem silly, but it will come in handy later!

3. Don’t sit in the library every weekend. You will burn yourself out fast if you study all the time. You need to take social breaks. I understand that for some of you it’s easier to sit and read a book or stare are your computer screen than it is to go out and converse with new people. Socializing is important to your mental health and it will help you in the long run when you need to interview for internships, jobs, meet with professors, and work with new people.

 4. DO explore the different majors are your school. You will probably not end college doing the same thing you think you will do when you start. This is more than likely because when you start college, all you really know is law, medicine, and business, but there are so many more great options, so don’t be afraid to explore them and to change your mind! One trick I tell student is to go into the admissions office at their school and pick up the newest viewbook or list of majors. This will list all of the majors. When you see one that’s interesting you can then find a professor in that department and e-mail them. You’re on the campus now, use your resources!!!

5. Don’t spend every second with your new boyfriend or girlfriend. This is a topic that needs its own blog post and I very well may write one in the near future. It’s so easy to totally consume your time with your new boyfriend or girlfriend. It will take energy and effort to force yourself to spend time with your roommate and other friends. Force yourself to do that! Your bf/gf will still love you even if they don’t see you for a night or a weekend and if they don’t, then you need to get rid of them because that’s not healthy.

6. DO get to know your RA. Your RA is not out to get you. Remember, they’re students too, and writing you up just means hours of unwanted paperwork for them on a Saturday night. They hate doing it but they will if they have to, because it’s their job, and because they want you to be safe. Which brings me to my next point –

7. Don’t do stupid things. You cannot get away with anything. I know that you get away with a lot, now that you are out of your house and on your own. Yes, you can get away with staying up all night. Yes, you’re allowed to walk around campus whenever you want. But no, you can’t break the rules. No, you’re not invisible. I’ve seen the stupidest things done – I’ve seen students get caught for smoking weed with their dorm room door open. Seriously? What makes people think they can do that? Remember your morals. Keep in mind that college is not a guarantee and you very well can get kicked out of school. Don’t be dumb!

8. DO ask for help. I really mean this. If you are struggling with homesickness, depression, if you can’t sleep, if you are having trouble finding a good study habit, if you find yourself experimenting with substances, if you got too drunk one night and scared yourself, if you’re just not feeling like yourself ….find help and ask for help. Talk to your RA, go to health services, talk to a faculty member. If you have no idea who to go to, e-mail me and I will help navigate you to the right person -> gabbriel.simone@gmail.com

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You’ve Been Talking to Your New Roommate and You Already Don’t Like Them

RoommatesYou received your roommate assignment for freshman year. You’ve jumped on Facebook and sent a friend request, maybe sent a message or an e-mail. Thankfully you heard back from them quickly and started to talk. It all seemed great at first – you’re both excited about going to college, the conversation seems to be running smoothly and then the more you talk, the more you realize that this is probably the worst roommate match up of all time. You think, “I filled out the roommate survey online, did res life even look at it!?….There is no way we are going to work out as roommates.”

The more you look at their pictures online the more you realize how different you are from them. You can’t wait for the college nightlife and they said that they like to be in bed by 10:00pm every night. Or maybe, you’re that person who likes to be in bed early and your roommates Facebook is covered with pictures of drunken nights and posts about being so excited to go to college and get to their first frat party. You talk about having friends from come visit and they say they don’t like when random people sleep in their room. The issues go on and on and now you’re freaking out because you haven’t even started your freshman year and you are worried that you and your roommate are NOT going to get along.

Don’t jump to conclusions! Living with someone and talking to them face to face is very different than communicating through facebook and e-mail. People change in college, even after the first weekend! Your roommate is talking to you as a High School student, most likely living with their parents. As soon as you more in with them they will be talking to you as a college student. Your mind, your imagination, your worries, are your biggest challenges…. not him or her. You need to give it time. You need to change your mindset. You’ve heard the horror stories about awful roommates but have you heard about the roommates who were complete opposites and became the best of friends? It happens all the time. Don’t compare your roommate to your friends from home. I did this all the time and I think it hurt the potential for some great friendships. I thought I knew what ‘type’ of person would be a good fit as a friend however, it turned out that the best friend I made in college was the complete opposite of my friends from home.

If you have concerns, keep your communication minimal until you actually get to college and experience living in a dorm. Think about some of the ground rules you will want to set and when you get to college have this discussion with your roommate. If you are your roommate really don’t get along once school starts this is something you will discuss with your RA.

Man up!

Man up!  Woman up!  Whichever you want.

This is a good time for this post because about now is when the first set up aggravations start to arise and the problems with you friends or roommates are about to boil over.  First off, the issues you have will probably only affect your daily life, not your life in 5 years so keep in mind that it’s not worth it to let your issues cause a truck load of stress.  Second, your daily life is the only life you have right now so you should address problems before they get bigger.

Working things out between friends is the best done in person.  Don’t send an e-mail, stop texting, don’t facebook chat.  Peoples reactions, facial expressions and non-verbal ques say a lot more than the words they use.  So (wom)man up and go talk it out with your friends.

On another note, if you are having major issues – emotional, physical, depression, eating disorders, harmful relationships just to name a few do not ignore them!  Go seek out help, start with health services at your school, talk to your RA, if you are close enough with a professor at this point send them an e-mail or stay after class to ask for advice.  If you really don’t know who to go to you can e-mail me.  You don’t know me, I don’t know you but I will listen if you ask for help.  gabbriel.simone@gmail.com

It’s a great day!

{G}

 

Surviving The First Month

How is everyone?  I assume you are all in full swing at this point.  Classes and professors have loaded up the work, late night study dates have begun, and a new level of stress you didn’t know existed has now taken over your body.  This first month is critical for setting up the rest of your semester.  Don’t let bad habits take over.  Start to take control of your responsibilities.  Have you done to the gym yet?  Don’t let late night snacks and increased ‘liquid’ calories mess up your health.  Need a quick check up to make sure you’re doing the right things?  Read below on some Month One survival tips.  Are you doing them?  Did you remember to do them?  Have you even thought about them yet?  Enjoy!

1. Get to know your roommates – sit with them and really get to know them.  These are the people you are going to spend the most amount of time with. You don’t have to be their best friend but you do have to live with them (and they have to live with you).

2. Get Organized!  Your professor may have assigned work and projects and told you about them on day 1.  Don’t expect them to remind you everyday about it and if you forget to hand it in when it’s due you will not get away with the excuse ‘i didnt know it was due.’  Get a planner and fill in the dates when assignments are due.

3. Go to class – Sleeping in and skipping your morning class may seem tempting, who’s making you go anyway?  Get up and go!  You are paying to be there, don’t waste your money.

4. Meet with your professors.  Take the extra minute to show up before class or stay after class and meet your professor.  Ask them a question, or tell them that you are enjoying their class so far.  They’re human (everyone likes to be given complements) and they’ll appreciate the positive feedback.

5. Let go of the pressure of having to know exactly what you want to study – You’ve probably met a number of people who say they know exactly what they want to do when they graduate (i’d bet money that majority of those people have no idea what they want to do).  College is a time to discover what you want to do.  Let those people do what they want to do and be excited that you aren’t locked into one track right now, you are exploring!

6. Stay healthy! Go to the gym, eat your fruit and veggies, listen to music and go for a walk by yourself.

7. Take a deep breath – right now!….ahhh feel better?

8. Don’t cut corner – nobody got placed on the top of the mountain, they all had to climb it.

9. Seek help when you need it – are you really stressed?  Are your eating habits getting out of hand?  Are you drinking more than you expected?  Dont be afraid to ask for help.  Walk to health services (trust me they’ve seen and heard it all) and tell them what is going on.  Are you confused on an assignment?  E-mail your professor, reach out to a classmate or go to the tutoring center.  People want to help you.

1o. Call home to your family – they miss you, they want to hear from you.  Do you love your family?  Tell them.

 

First Night Alone

You’ve moved in, said your goodbyes (lots of tears?  it’s okay!) and it’s your first night alone at college.  What do you do?  Many of you may sit in bed with your laptop and click through facebook, you’ll probably text your friends or talk to your parents.  Hopefully your roommate has moved in too so that you have someone to talk to.  What are you feeling?  Scared, alone, unfamiliar, sad, awkward?  I promise you the nights get better!  If you’re in bed and thinking, ‘omg i can’t do this, this is so uncomfortable i just want to be home’ my response to you (in the nicest way) is stop complaining, suck it up, you’re a grown up now and you CAN do this!  Don’t let loneliness defeat you, you need to give yourself time before you make any drastic moves and pack up and go home.  Some of you may actually be bored.  No worries, once school starts you will have enough work to keep you busy.  Once everyone moves in you will have plenty of people to meet and hang out with.  In fact, enjoy the first few awkward nights when the dorms are quiet and nobody knows what to do because soon you’ll have nights where you are itching for a quiet night.  Like I said… you CAN do this!  There are thousands of freshman who are feeling the same way as you so stop reading this post, close your laptop and go meet other freshman.  Finally, if you are really lonely and you’re still having a hard time connecting to your environment, go buy a fish.  Strange?  NO!  Having a fish will give you something to take care of and look forward to seeing when you come back to your room. Name it Gabby!

Talk to you soon,

G

Packing For College

Has anyone started yet?  If I remember correctly I think I started packing or at least thinking about what to pack as soon as I graduated high school.  It can seem like a daunting task, having to pack up your life and bring it to your new home.  What do you bring?  How do you actually pack? Will it all fit?  Natural concerns of course.  In this post I am going to give you some ideas to keep in mind when packing and then at the end i’ll give you a list of what to pack.

First thing to keep in mind – You can and will buy stuff when you are at school.  This includes clothes, food, toiletries, etc.  If you forget something, if you need something, you can buy it when you’re at school. You will not be living in a bubble, you can leave and go shopping.

Make a list.  This is probably the best thing to do at first in order to keep you sane and organize your thoughts.  Get a pen and paper and start writing.  Otherwise you’ll start packing stuff and then forget what you packed and then double pack and you’ll end up with so much sh*t you don’t need.

Garbage bags are an easy way to pack clothes, they also make it each to pack the car because you can squish them and stuff them to fit better in the trunk.  If you don’t want to buy boxes to pack everything else just go to a liquor store and ask for cardboard boxes, they always have extras and they’ll give them to you for free.  Make sure to label the boxes with your name, dorm building and room number in case they get lost while you’re moving in on hectic move in day.

Here’s some of the stuff to add to your list and things to keep in mind that people sometimes forget:

  1. Clothes – there is no need to pack for the entire year.  When the season’s change you’ll bring home your summer clothes and get your winter clothes.  More times than none you’ll be wearing sweats, t-shirts, and comfy hang out clothes.  As you pack, if you lift up a shirt that you’ve never worn and say ‘i should bring this i’m sure i’ll wear it at some point’  put it back in your drawer, you still will never wear it.  If you’re concerned about whether you should bring your ball gown for an event that might happen, don’t bring it.  You can either buy a new one (which you’ll probably want to do) or get it  from home when you come back to visit.
  2. Toiletries – get a bathroom travel caddie, or basket, or bucket to carry your shower stuff  (shampoo, conditioner, loofah, body wash, shave gel, razor, etc.) to the shower.  Don’t forget towels, shower flip flops (the showers can get gross), deodorant, perfume
  3. School Supplies – pens, highlighters, stapler, tape, scissors.  I usually brought 1 binder for each course… don’t forget loose leaf paper.
  4.  Laundry basket – you will definitely want one of these to keep all your dirty clothes in one spot instead of scattered around your room.  Get one that is easy to carry that way when it get’s full you can easily transport it down to the washers and dryers.
  5. Laundry Detergent – while costco or BJ’s brand will save you money it is not wise to get the bulk box because you will not enjoy carrying it down to the washers and dryers, buy the extra concentrated detergent, one little cap full will wash an entire load of laundry.
  6. Small tool kit – if you can find one, pick it up.  A small hammer or screw driver comes in handy often.
  7. iPod dock – music, music, music
  8. Hangers – you can never have enough hangers
  9. One set of cup, bowl, plate, fork, knife, and spoon – also think about a can opener and bottle opener
  10. Clorox wipes – life savers
  11. Power strip with surge protector – you will have lots to plug in from laptops, printers, desk lamps, etc.
  12. Extension cord – in case the spot where you put you TV doesn’t have a close enough outlet
  13. Fan – it gets warm
  14. Umbrella and rain jacket – you will not enjoy walking to class if you are soaking wet, this is a necessity
  15. Bedding – get an egg crate or mattress pad for your extra long twin and put the down before you put your sheets on, my bed at college was like a marshmallow
  16. DO NOT BRING – really expensive things (clothes, bags, jewelry, etc.) things can get easily ruined at college and unfortunately people aren’t always honest and things get stolen more times than you’d think.
  17. DO NOT BUY – all the college gadgets and add on’s on that are in the stores.  Some of them are good and worth the money but wait until you move into your dorm room before you buy them.  Once you know what it’s like to live in a dorm room you can visit those sections in the store and see if you really need the extra things.

COLLEGE PHOTO – Freshman year dorm room – moving in

 

Roommates

Difference #2 – Roommates

Many high school students have their own room.  You don’t have to share space with somebody else, you don’t have to worry about sharing clothes with anyone else, and you don’t have to worry about hiding your stuff so that nobody ruins it or steals it.  If you do share a room with somebody it is usually a sibling and not a total stranger or you are coming from boarding school and lucky for you, this new transition won’t be such a shocker.

Of course everyone hears the roommate horror stories – you’re complete opposites, your roommate loves to be naked, they’re a complete mess, they are up every night until 4am, they come home drunk every night, they don’t shower (yes this happens), they steal your stuff…. and the list goes on… so with this concern high school students always like to ask if there are single rooms for freshman.  WHY??? Why in the world would you want to come to college, knowing nobody and sit in a room by yourself?  Trust me – you don’t want a single your freshman year.  The first few weeks can be lonely at college and a roommate is an easy (and forced upon) friend to keep you company and help you adjust to college because guess what, they’re adjusting too.  Right away you have somebody to hang out with, eat meals with, go to the gym with, and hang out and watch TV with.

Of course this will all be an adjust, different from sharing a room with your stuffed animal.  Here are some things to keep in mind and a few pieces of advice for your new roommate experience:

1. Contact your roommate prior to move-in.  Once you get your roommates information reach out to him/her through facebook or send an e-mail.  Introduce yourself, you don’t need to share your secrets or becomes BFF’s right away, this isn’t online dating, just an introduction.  Talk about what you will be bringing (TV, futon, couch, microwave, etc.)

2. Be nice and talk.  This may seem obvious but this is probably a new experience for both of you and it is much easier to keep your mouth shut then it is to start a conversation (a real one, not just texting) and talk to each other about the roommate experience.

3. Don’t bring valuable items.  People steal.  It happens more times than you think.  Don’t bring anything to college that is valuable and if you do, don’t flash is around for the world to see.  “Oh cool, you have a designer necklace (you must be rich) that you let hang from your desk lamp, well….when there are 10 people in your room i’ll just snag that cause you’ll have no idea it was me”  Hide your shit!  Trust me, things will go missing.

4. Things that you think may bother you, actually don’t.  Keep an open mind when you move in to your dorm and meet your roommate.  You might think a messy roommate would drive you crazy but when you actually move in they may not bother you.  You might think, based on their facebook pictures, that you are going to hate them but when you meet them they may open you mind to a new way of thinking or new activities that you never knew about.

5. You’re not livin’ in the penthouse at the Ritz-Carlton, you’re livin’ in a college dorm. Compromise!  Too often people think they deserve the best living environment.  If their roommate does something they don’t like, automatically it becomes an issue and neeeeeds to be fixed.  No!  Having to adjust to a weird environment and learning how to live with people’s differences is part of college.  It’s not going to be perfect.  You will get aggravated, you will blow up and yell at each other, it may get physical, you may even throw something across the room, you will call you parents crying… it happens to everyone, at every college.  Get ready!

Oh boy, love the roommate topic.  I will definitely be revisiting it in the future… so much to talk about!

Cheers!

Gab