Advice from Freshmen Who Survived Their First Month at College

In honor of my one month anniversary away at school, I’ve reached out to some friends to gather some pieces of advice on our college experiences so far, and what we’ve learned during the first month on our own.  Without further ado, let’s get down to it!

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Addy Roberts, Klaus Griesemer 

First, please tell us your major, what university you are attending, and one of the things you looked for in a school that you found in your current college!

Inès: I am attending the Université de Strasbourg in France, where I’m double majoring in History and Civilization of the Muslim world and History of Art. I had known for years that I wanted to study the islamic world (which means both religious and non religious aspect of the Maghreb and the Middle East), but as I started History of Art in high school I knew I couldn’t drop it after three years. So when I discovered that I could study both subjects at the Université de Strasbourg I made the decision to stay and study here. I don’t regret this decisions at all and have enjoyed all my different classes so far!

Addy: I am attending Columbia College Chicago, where I’m majoring in Musical Theatre and minoring in Stage Combat!  I was looking for was a liberal arts school in a big theatre town so I could build my career.

Klaus: I am at Indiana University, studying Entrepreneurship & Corporate Innovation and Global Business within the Kelley School of Business, along with a minor in Music Studies within the Jacob’s School of Music.  

Rachel: I’m attending Miami University where I am double majoring in Professional Writing and Journalism with a minor in Political Science. One of the things I looked for when visiting college was a beautiful campus, and I definitely found that at Miami. Also, I think I want to work as an editor, and they have an editing track as a part of the professional writing major, which is something I didn’t find at any other school.

What’s been the most difficult thing about college so far?

Inès: I had first planned on studying either abroad (in the UK) or at least in another city and changed my mind the day before the final choice. Many of my friends are now studying in different cities and it’s pretty hard for me not to see them as often as before. Funnily enough, it’s also difficult for me to stay home in my comfort zone, while they fully experience the student life in a new place!

Addy: I feel like the most difficult thing about college so far is being away from my family. My family is going through quite a lot of medical issues at this time and something that I keep reflecting upon is that I cannot be there to support them, as I’ve been constantly busy in college.

Klaus: I am lucky to be close enough to home where I have the ability to go home upon short notice. I also don’t feel as nostalgic as I thought I would. This being said, the social dynamic of coming from a school of 150 High School students to a school of 40000 is a bit daunting. There is a constant pressure to perform in front of strangers that I didn’t necessarily feel in High School.

Rachel: I think the hardest thing for me was leaving my family and friends. I’m six hours from home without a car, so going home on the weekends isn’t really an option. I’ve gotten used to it though, and I still call them pretty frequently. Some of my friends I even talk to more now than I did before I left.

What’s been the thing you’ve loved most?

Inès: The building I’m studying in and the setting in general. Although it’s only 5min away from my high school, it looks so different and it reminds me quite a lot of Paris, which is beautiful! It feels like I’m in another city for a few hours every day! Besides that, I’ve already made some friends (uni only started on the 11th of September here) and I’m loving all my classes.

Addy: The people and the city. I’ve made so many friends here, each different from the other and it’s great to be able to go over to someone’s dorm at 2 in the morning and just spend all night there hanging out and talking. I also love being in the city, and I’m getting very used to using public transportation to take me to just about any museum I need to go to for class!!

Klaus: My Business Presentations class is currently my favorite thing here at IU. It’s an 8AM on Monday and Wednesday, but I love the atmosphere, my teammates, and the professor so much that I am motivated to get up early and go. There is also something about presenting that really invigorates me. Outside of school, the city of Bloomington is the cutest, most vibrant place (outside of a big city) that I have ever been. So many cultures and customs are represented here, you’d never get bored!

Rachel: I love so many things. I love all of the people I’ve met here. I love most of my classes, especially my writing scholars class which has only 9 people in it, so that’s really fun. I love how unstructured the classes are, as opposed to high school with 7 periods straight every day.  Overall, I would just say I love college in general.

What’s some advice you have for next year’s freshmen?

Inès: My first choice was to study in the UK, but because of the financial aspect I had to cancel my application. It was really hard for me, but then I realized I had just postponed my studies in the UK. You need to know that not everything will work as planned but it doesn’t mean it will never happen. You can always find solutions to get you where you want to go. Besides having a goal is super motivating both for your studies and personal life. Since I know that I want to study abroad for my master’s degree, I’m ready to save as much money as possible! Just remember that you’re only 18 and even if it feels like you’re all grown up, you still have your whole life ahead of you!

Addy: You don’t need to grow up just yet. As I went through my journey to find the right school for me, I found that I was focusing a lot on the financial aspect of the different colleges, and I was basing a lot of my judgements based on affordability. Just don’t be afraid to step back from that aspect and look at it in a way in which you benefit the most. Pick the school you’re most comfortable at and the one where you fit in the best.

Klaus: Don’t ever settle. IU wasn’t my first choice, but it was definitely the most reasonable and affordable. Because of these I originally felt like I was settling. But as soon as I got here and found like minded motivated individuals, I was pushed to get involved. Already in the first month of being here, I have been elected by my peers to represent my floor on student council, been accepted to the Kelley Institute for Social Impact, and will be travelling to Chicago for Model United Nations in November. Even then, I am still waiting to hear back from more opportunities I applied for. Make sure not to spread yourself thin, but getting involved has great long term and short term effects on your academia, persona and image. Take advantage of the great resources that your university has to offer! They’re endless!

Rachel: I think when picking a college, it is easy to become overwhelmed because there are so many options. Figure out what is the most important to you, whether it be a good program for your major or the size or the distance from home. What really helped me to decide on Miami was visiting the campus, and as soon as I saw the school, I knew it was the place for me. As far as advice for once you get to college, don’t be afraid to try new things and put yourself out there a little.

What do you miss most from home (aside family, friends, and pets)?

Inès: Since I’m still living at home, my answer is a little different. Strasbourg feels absolutely new to me now that I’m studying in another place and that all my friends are gone, so I somehow miss the city I used to know so well. Also, because I’m 18 now, there are a lot of administrative documents that I have to fill in. Sometimes I’m really nostalgic for the time when my mum took care of everything and when I didn’t have to worry if I was registered at the student social security and if I had given back all the documents needed for my inscription at uni, etc.!

Addy: I miss privacy. I would definitely recommend getting a curtain or partition if  you are sharing a room with someone else, ESPECIALLY if your roommate is constantly bringing people home, coming in late at night, or just working and making noise after quiet hours. It would really be a good investment to make if you want some ‘me’ time. I also miss good and cheap Mexican food (and pizza) because that was something my family would always have together, and I haven’t really found a suitable replacement for it here in Chicago yet!

Klaus: I miss my favorite restaurant Yats! I wish they had one down here. I also really miss my car. I think I took the liberty of being able to escape to another place for granted.

Rachel: I miss actual food. I eat at the dining hall almost every single meal, and while the food here isn’t as bad as I was expecting, I do miss all my favorite restaurants from home. I also miss my car, because although I don’t need it to get around campus, it would be nice to have the option to go home or go visit my friends.

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Inès, Rachel, and Mady

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I’ve really enjoyed everything that friends (old and new) have had to say about college- it’s a big transition in anyone’s life and I believe it makes all the difference to have people like these in my life to help me out along the way!  Check back at Bibliophilia soon for more content on stumbling along in college life and beyond!

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5 College Hacks for a Stress-Free Move-In Day

While I’ve got to admit up front that there is no way I’m even close to someone you would consider a move-in expert, I certainly learned a few things while moving in to my dorm room.

  1. Stay Patient.  This may be a given, but I’d just like to stress that move-in days are not meant to be efficient.  At Miami, I got lucky with a very flowing and organized process, with a lot of volunteers who helped people take their things to their room quickly and keep it moving.  But, even so, it would be easy to get frustrated with the sheer number of people all trying to accomplish the same thing.
  2. Take your time.  Again, the same sort of advice, but I think it needs to be said.  You are moving into your home away from home, and so its important to set things up the way you like it, no matter how long it takes you to do so.
  3. Storage is key.  This may go without saying, and this is technically a pre-move in day necessity, but I’m going to reiterate it here.  From hanging hooks, to caddies that snap onto either side of the mini fridge to hold your things, even to storage units for snacks, it all is important!
  4. Bring more…you can always take it back!  As long as it fits in the car, I say- bring it along!  Remember, your parents can always take it back, but its better to have too much and send some home, then regret leaving something behind and not having the option to go get it for a while!
  5. Last but not least- let your parents help!  Moving in is just as hard for parents as for kids (if not harder), so always remember to include them in the process whenever you can.

 

There you have it!  Here are just a few suggestions that I learned from my own move in experiences!

Meeting My Roommate

Welcome back to Bibliophilia!

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 2.18.40 PMToday, I’m sitting down with my fabulous roommate Rachel, to interview her about what it’s really like to live with me.  Rachel dishes on the nitty gritty, from my most annoying habits, to how clean I actually am.

Rachel is a freshman at Miami, studying journalism and professional writing.  She’s from St. Louis and has a 16 year old sister.  For fun she likes to read and write.

 

Mady: Hey Rachel!  Thank for letting me interview you today.  How have you liked life at Miami so far? 

Rachel: I love it! All of the people here are so friendly, and I love all of my classes, especially my journalism ones.

Mady: On a scale from 1-10, how good of a roommate am I?  You can be honest…but maybe not too honest…

Rachel: Probably a 9. 

Mady: That’s a lot higher than I thought it would be!  What’s my most annoying habit?

Rachel: You don’t have any super annoying habits, but you do forget to take out the trash.

Mady:  True, but at least I’m only responsible for it half of the time…On a scale of 1-5, how clean do you think I am?

Rachel: 4…you’re definitely a lot cleaner than me.

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Mady:   I’m sure that will come as a surprise to my parents or anyone who’s seen my room back home!  What’s something that you’ve learned about me that you wouldn’t have known if you didn’t live with me?

Rachel: You think literally everything is recyclable.  Like empty popcorn containers. And plastic bags. And soup containers dripping tomato sauce. Also, you change outfits a lot throughout the day (although you have been doing that less).

Mady: Thanks so much for being a guest on my blog!  Let’s end with this- what piece of advice would you offer freshmen when they move in with a roommate possibly for the first time?

Rachel: I would say just to listen and be open to the other person’s opinions. Sharing a room possibly for the first time ever can be hard, and I think discussing potential problems that might arise before they happen is a good way to prevent conflict.

Mady: I agree- it definitely makes a difference if you set expectations from the beginning.  Thanks again!

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Thanks so much for reading everyone!  What did you think of what Rachel had to say about living with me?  Leave it in the comments below!  And don’t forget to check here often for more posts about college, life, books, and more!  See you soon!

Dorm Room Reveal

Thanks for clicking!  Today’s post is one I’ve been looking forward to for a long time- today is my dorm room reveal!

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I went with a black, silver, and gold color scheme for my comforter and storage spaces, to better set off the colors of my pictures, posters, pillows, and other decorations.

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I learned very quickly that college prep is all about maximizing and creating extra storage, which is what I tried to do here.  I really love this ivory colored library cart that is both cute and functional, and of course my other storage units that matched the color of my bedspread.

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You’ll notice I also went with a kind of literary theme, including pillows and posters of some of my favorite books.  And of course, college wouldn’t be complete without bring a few new reads with me!

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It was also really important for me to surround myself with not only posters of my favorite movies and books, but also with pictures of the people I love.  I printed out TONS of pictures at CVS that I’ve tacked them all around my walls and a few collages on my desk.  Since I’m not living at home this year, I thought I’d bring the most important elements of home with me!

I’m so excited to start my freshman year at Miami, and this has room is a great start! I love all of my decorations and my pictures especially- I was able to create a patch of home that will keep me sane and happy while I go on new adventures!

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Thanks for reading!  I’ll see you next time here at Bibliophilia!  If you haven’t, please follow for email reminders to check back for updated blog posts!

College Countdown: Holistic Life = Happy Life

With my college move literally a few days away, I’ve decided to share a few of my thoughts about the importance of taking care of myself holistically.  For a long time, I only devoted myself to more ‘intellectual’ pursuits; meaning I worked hard in school, read all the time, and that was the extent of which I took care of myself.  In short, in the equation ‘mind, body, soul’, I was caught up in the ‘mind’ category only.

But what started as a decision to lose weight soon became the understanding that I can’t completely be my best self unless I also take care of my body.  Now, I’m not perfect; I certainly have my fair share of cheat days and I don’t always eat what I should (I’m a work in progress when it comes to trying new foods- especially when they are green, leafy, and look like they could be growing in my back yard), BUT I’ve come to appreciate the efforts that I do make to monitor what and how much goes in my body.

And that’s why, while transitioning to school, I’ve made a series of small goals and challenges for myself, to try and give myself a head start to becoming the best version of me.  While I can honestly say I’m the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been, in all facets of my life, I know that it’s all about getting better and better.

I try little tips and tricks every day that seem to help me, which I’ll share here:

  1. Meditating; a few quick minutes every morning and evening can completely bring the focus inward and change my whole outlook for the day.
  2. Read more, Netflix less; I’ll admit, this is an incredibly tall order.  I often throw this practice out of the window in favor of watching another episode of the Office or of Gilmore Girls, but what’s important for me to realize is I always feel my best when I’ve read right before bed the night before.  Reading has always been a soothing activity and gives me the chance to prepare myself for the next day.
  3. Finding exercise that I like; I HATE exercising.  A lot of people talk about the mid-exercise glow, but I have never found it.  So, I’ve been looking for more creative ways of burning calories.  My two favorites are Zumba, which mom and I have been doing every Wednesday, and swimming laps in the pool (regardless of my horrible form and technique).  I try not to pay attention to how I look while doing it, or get embarrassed about how I look while dancing in public (it’s not great to say the least…), because as long as I’m being active and having fun, that’s all that counts.

Those are just a few of my lifestyle goals that I try to stick by in order to live a better life.  If you have any other tips for how to live a more holistic life, please pass them along in the comments below!

College Countdown: What I’ve Learned So Far

The lessons I’ve learned throughout the application and pre-college process have been many to say the least.  But one of the things I think is important (and often undiscussed) is that of decorating your dorm room.

Maybe this is something unexpected (or completely expected of a superficial teenage girl), but hear me out.  We college freshmen are entering a life that is totally unknown to us; filled with challenges in every form.  From going to new classes, to having to make all new friends, to cooking for ourselves, to  cleaning up after ourselves, and to holding ourselves accountable (maybe for the first time), college is a scary place.  And, what I’ve learned from the really fun experience of dorm room shopping, is that in a world of unknown variables and unlimited uncertainties (how about that alliteration), your dorm room ought to be the one place you feel at home and comfortable.

Your dorm room is where you can bring the best parts of your home with you, and feel at peace in your own energy- every space filled with your tastes, comforts, and decorations that project YOU.

I, like many others I’m sure, went into it with the tendency of choosing decorations and supplies to impress others (I found myself picking things out because I imagined that’s what people would find most modern, whether or not it was my favorite), but what I realized along the way, is that the necessary collegiate journey of self discovery begins with your home away from home, and that every pillow, blanket, and even the silverware you pick out, are the starting points for that change.

Aside from our first houses and first apartments, this underrated but also essential home is our first chance to identify our individuality and create a environment that supports and promotes it.

So, when you do go dorm room shopping, I’d just like to say, you aren’t superficial or silly for wanting things ‘just so’, or for picking a color scheme- these steps are incredibly important in giving you a SECURE and COMFORTABLE haven to rest your head at night, while you discover more about the person you want be, and the person you will endeavor to grow into over four years.

 

 

To see my dorm room reveal in a couple weeks, follow Bibliophilia to get updates on new blog posts!