5 Reasons Why I Actually Accomplished (Most Of) The Goals On My Summer 2016 Bucket List

summer 2016 bucket listLast week, I told you all about my summer 2016 bucket list. At the end of the post I noted that, unlike in previous years, I actually accomplished most of the things I set out to do at the beginning of the season – I have a nasty habit of setting ALL OF THE GOALS and then achieving, like, three of them. What made this summer different from any other? I have a few ideas.

1. Manually writing out my list on paper made it feel more concrete

In years gone by I’ve usually written my summer bucket lists in the form of blog posts. That was fun because I got almost immediate feedback in the form of comments, but creating a list using a massive piece of paper and a dozen different markers made the whole process seem more real. Like it truly mattered. What’s more, at the end of the summer I had a cool keepsake that chronicled my adventures from the past few months – much better than a static blog post that had no physical equivalent!

2. Hanging the list in a central location ensured that I saw it every single day

Posting my bucket list online, and online only, came with a drawback, one that I think outweighed any benefit to putting it there: It was extremely easy to forget about my goals! Each summer the list would become buried in an avalanche of other blog posts, and over time I would no longer remember what I wanted to do. Which books had I set out to read? Where was it that I’d wanted to go at the beginning of the summer?

This time around, I hung my list on the wall – and not just any wall, but the one right next to the door in my dorm room. Every time I entered or left, I caught a glimpse of my goals, which reminded me to stay busy!

3. Checking items off lists is immensely satisfying to me

Who doesn’t love lists? Making a paper list not only helped the project to feel more concrete, but allowed me to mark my progress by scribbling a little X in the box beside each goal as I accomplished it. Placing a strike-through over text in a blog post isn’t nearly as much fun!

4. I selected only goals that I knew I stood a good chance of achieving

I hope I’m not the only one who has a problem with setting reasonable goals! Most summers I add way more activities than I know I will be able to accomplish – and that is SO not fun. It’s just stressful. This year I pared my bucket list down to only the books, movies, events, et cetera that I actually had time for. And it made all the difference! I no longer felt overwhelmed about my summer goals.

5. I purposely sought out other people to join me

Because adventures are always more fun when your friends are there! I asked all sorts of people to do bucket list activities with me – my roommate, my best friend, et cetera. In fact, I actually became closer to some of my newest friends precisely because we spent an afternoon (or however long) hiking, or watching the Pride parade, or whatever.


So there you have it: I think I figured out why this summer’s plans went so much more smoothly than usual! While I may not have done every single thing on my bucket list, I did make significant progress. My old roommate told me just the other day that she was surprised to see me accomplish so much and proud of me as well, and all I have to say is… SAME.

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My First Week Back At School | Syllabi Are Stressing Me Out But I (Surprisingly) Don’t Mind Having An 8 AM Class

At the end of the first week of both semesters of freshman year, I posted a quick update concerning my initial impressions about my classes… so I’ve decided to continue that tradition this year! It’s fun to look back on my first thoughts about these classes and see how they compare to the opinions I have at the end of all those weeks.

You can read more about this semester’s classes here.

Prose Style

This is the first 8 AM class I’ve had here at college! I’m feeling surprisingly OK about it, though – it helps that the classroom has an east-facing window, so at least the morning sunlight streams in. I’d hate it if we were stuck in a dull, gloomy room that early! This first week we talked about our favorite sentences and why they work as sentences. It was a lot of fun to see the diversity of sentences in that room – people listed favorites from books, movies, TV, video games, and more!

Foundations of the English Major

Two of my friends have already told me that I’m working too hard in this class, but THE SYLLABUS LOOKS KINDA INTIMIDATING. We have to know a bunch of vocabulary for quizzes and tests, and it should come in handy for discussions and papers as well. So I’ve been laboriously researching and then writing definitions for each and every word. Right now my vocab notes are longer than my in-class notes!

Media Shift

I did about half of the readings for this course before the semester even started and now I’m SO happy that I did that! We’re currently reading Ben Franklin’s autobiography, which is rather dense, so I’m glad that I did the accompanying readings during the week I was home from school so I can really hit the ground running.

Journalistic Reporting & Writing

So this course is taken in conjunction with Intro to Multimedia Storytelling, and I am already Officially Confused by the syllabus because both classes have soooo many projects and many of the deadlines match up. Clearly I need to spend more time reading it this weekend?! I don’t think learning to write like a journalist will be difficult, but I’m super worried that I’ll miss an assignment here or there because there’s just SO MUCH on the schedule(s) that something may slip under my radar. Time to pull out my planner and start scribbling down dates!

Introduction to Multimedia Storytelling

I can’t wait until we move on to more complex assignments in this class! The first one we did (in discussion section) was all about setting up a WordPress site and I was just like… I could totally walk everyone through this tutorial in my sleep. I could CREATE a better tutorial in my sleep.

I probably shouldn’t feel too superior, though, because pretty soon we’ll move on to stuff like editing audio and video, which I have never done before. OH WAIT I JUST HAD A THOUGHT. Once I know how to do those things I can finally start making my own vlogs! Yessss!


What classes are you taking this fall? What are your initial impressions about them? (And of your teachers?!)

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August NaNoWriMo Planning: Brainstorming & The Girl Next Door

It’s late August, which means… it’s time to start planning this year’s NaNoWriMo novel?!


I skipped National Novel Writing Month in 2015 because I was way too busy with school to write an entire book in one month, but now that things have somewhat quieted down – AKA I got over that freshman year stress – I’m going to attempt NaNo this fall. Over the next few months my biggest non-academic goal will revolve around planning out my story in the hope that it will make the actual writing process go a bit more smoothly than usual.

I’m normally a pantser, not a plotter, so I guess we’ll just have to see how well this all works come November – will I abandon my elaborate notes and charts the very first week? – but in the meantime I’m going to go ahead and start drawing up plans because my schedule is already packed with classes, tutoring, a possible internship, et cetera. By November I won’t have time to sit around and figure out what I want to write about, so I figured that I had better start working on that now!

I designated August as the introductory stage of my NaNo planning. It was purposely meant to be a lowkey month in that respect, with no goals other than printing out the teen NaNoWriMo workbook and beginning to brainstorm ideas. I stuck the workbook in a binder full of other writing stuff and will begin to fill that out in earnest next month.

Writing this post counts as planning, too. For once I’m not procrastinating – I’m actually multitasking by writing a blog post AND recording my novel ideas all in one place before I forget them. HERE IS WHAT I HAVE SO FAR.

My novel, as it stands currently, will be a YA LGBTQ+ contemporary about two girls, best friends who grew up next door to each other, who fall in love over the course of a summer.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve never written anything in the contemporary genre before, and that I’m not generally a huge fan of reading anything from it either. But… gah, my story idea was so cute that I just couldn’t pass it up.

since you've been gonelola and the boy next doorI drew inspiration from Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson and the Anna and the French Kiss series by Stephanie Perkins. I’m a big fan of Since You’ve Been Gone for its portrayal of female friendship and all-around SUMMERINESS. Summery adventures, yay!

I didn’t love the Anna books quite as much but I do adore subverting Generic YA Novels about Straight PeopleTM by making the characters and plot gay as hell, so… they’re good for something, I guess. The concept for my novel is similar to that of Lola and the Boy Next Door, which is really funny because that was actually my least favorite book of the series. I love the “girl/boy next door” trope so I really wanted to use it in this novel!

I still have no clue where the conflict in my novel will come from… but I have soooo many months left to figure that out, don’t I? I do know that no matter the cause of the conflict, I don’t want it to be tragic because this novel is partially a response to the endless parade of shitty Bury Your Gays stories. This spring I began to surround myself with as much positive LGBTQ+ media representation as possible, and it’s done wonders for my mental health – I feel much happier and more self-assured about who I am as a result of this, so I’d like to continue this habit of SUPER GAY SELF-CARE by writing stories that are in line with this principle.

Other than that, I know that I want at least one of the main characters to be a POC, and the more I think about it the more likely it seems that both of them will be. A couple of months ago I read some really great writing advice – unfortunately, I can’t remember where I saw it – about how important it is for non-minority writers to write stories WITH minority characters while being careful not to write stories ABOUT minority characters, because the people who can best tell you about the minority experience are the minorities themselves. So I’m going to keep that in mind!

Aaaand that pretty much sums up my NaNoWriMo planning thus far. In September and October I’m sure I’ll have much more to say – about naming my characters and structuring my plot and all that fun stuff – but for now I’m happy just to start brainstorming ideas and doodle lots of cute stick figure images of two girls holding hands. #inspiration #morelikeinspirGAYtion

Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month this year? Do you normally start planning this early or do you think I’m really weird for doing so?! If you’ve already started you should totally tell me all about what you’ve thought up so far because I’d love to hear about what you’ll be working on this November!

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Summer 2016 Bucket List

summer 2016 bucket listAt the beginning of this summer, I created a bucket list full of things to read, watch, eat, do, et cetera over the next few months. I’ve mentioned it quite a few times on this blog but haven’t discussed it in depth until now. Now that school is back in session it seemed like a great time to tell you all about how I spent my summer when not in class!

1. Eat an ice cream cone

Accomplished: Yes, multiple times… (oops!)

CLEARLY the best part of summer. I still haven’t decided whether I like Oreo- or cotton candy-flavored ice cream, though. Maybe I’ll just have to try some again.

2. Watch The BFG

Accomplished: Yes

I was super excited for this movie because it’s based on one of my favorite books from childhood, so my roommate Luísa and I went to go see it. It was OK… not the worst book-to-movie adaptation I’ve ever seen, but definitely not the best either. I’m glad we went on a student discount day!

3. Buy some cute clothes 

Accomplished: Yes

I have a hard time finding tank tops that A) fit me and B) I like, so I was so happy to find a style I liked that I bought four of them. Also, my friend Jill gave me a super swooshy blue dress that she had outgrown, so I now have that too!

4. Go to the farmers’ market 

Accomplished: Yes

Luísa and I bought some sweet corn and tried to cook it in the microwave – “tried” being the operative word here, because the ears were a little too dry and chewy from being in the microwave for too long. And then we accidentally put way too much salt on them. OH WELL. WE TRIED. #adulting

5. Go to Studio 13

Accomplished: No

Studio 13 is Iowa City’s gay bar! I meant to go by myself because I don’t drink but a lot of my friends do, regardless of whether or not they’re of legal age to do so, and I didn’t feel like getting pressured into anything. (I was literally just going to get a soda or something and meet people.) Buuuuut I ended up being too tired from my summer classes and the accompanying homework to do much of anything in the evenings.

johnson county fair 20166. Go to the Johnson County Fair

Accomplished: Yes

This was one of the last things Luísa and I did together before she left! We looked at the animals, ate a funnel cake, watched the fireworks, et cetera… it was a really fun night and I’m glad that we decided to go because it was the very last day of the fair!

if i was your girl + cat7. Participate in #ReadProud

Accomplished: Halfway

I signed up for this challenge with the goal of reading one book a week, or four books total, during the month of June. But – you guessed it – I was too busy with my classes to continue it. After reading sometimes an entire book in a day just to stay on track with my busy schedule, the last thing I wanted to do was read yet MORE books. I did read two of the four books I selected, though – If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo and Gay & Lesbian History for Kids by Jerome Pohlen.

8. Make a summery playlist

Accomplished: Kind of?

I started this, but never finished it. It kind of turned into a much more massive project in which I make a playlist for each season themed around music by and about LGBTQ+ people? So I have a half-finished playlist titled “Summery Gays” on Spotify that I clearly need to finish so I can share the link here!

9. Make art

Accomplished: No

I had all these cool ideas for art, and then no motivation. TYPICAL. Why am I like this? GET IT TOGETHER, ME.

boy erased10. Attend a reading at Prairie Lights

Accomplished: Yes

I attended a reading from the memoir Boy Erased by Gerrard Conley, which is about his experience in conversion therapy. I still haven’t gotten around to actually reading his book yet, but I really really want to!

11. Go out for breakfast

Accomplished: Yes

When a few of my friends who spent the summer in another town and/or several states away came to visit Iowa City for a few days, we decided to get breakfast together one morning. It felt weirdly adult, not eating at the dining hall or being chaperoned by anyone’s parents or something like that.

12. Explore Hickory Hill Park

Accomplished: Yes

AHHH THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN. My friend Merric and I spent a lovely Saturday afternoon hiking, and getting there was half the adventure because we got lost on the way! We took a ton of pictures and talked a lot, too – it was nice to get to know each other more, because we’d only been friends since about halfway through the preceding semester.

13. Have a picnic

Accomplished: Yes

The evening before the Pride parade, Iowa City hosted an LGBTQ+ picnic! The food wasn’t that great, but I met some older LGBTQ+ adults and it was neat to talk to them. Also, someone brought a puppy with a rainbow bandanna tied around its neck, which is THE CUTEST THING EVER, CLEARLY.

14. Go swimming

Accomplished: No

There were SO many mornings when I told myself that I would put on my swimsuit and go for a swim after class that afternoon, but somehow it never ended up happening. Oh well… I’m going to try to exercise more often this semester than I have in the past, so I’ll just have to make sure I get to the pool sometime this fall before it gets too cold! (Because walking back to the dorm with cold, wet hair sucks.)

15. Blow bubbles 

Accomplished: Yes

Luísa and some of her other friends and I did this at night after watching Aladdin! (See below.) We both had a bunch of bubble stuff and I’m sure people were amused by the antics of the young adults running around the Pentacrest chasing after bubbles at almost midnight.

nimona16. Participate in the Iowa City Public Library adult summer reading program

Accomplished: Yes

Unfortunately I can’t seem to find my list of the books I read to complete the program, but I can assure you that I had a lot of fun! Most of the books I read this summer were for school, but the ICPL summer reading program did motivate me to seek out some books just for fun. And I won a free book as a prize, too – Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, which is amazing. YOU SHOULD READ IT.

2016 iowa city pride17. Watch the Iowa City Pride parade

Accomplished: Yes

YESSSSSSSSSSS. I went with a bunch of my friends who were still here for the summer and we had a blast. I had my face painted with rainbow hearts and sapphic symbols! I bought a Pride flag! I got a sunburn!

aladdin genie gif18. Watch a movie on the Pentacrest

Accomplished: Yes, twice!

The evening after the Pride parade, Luísa and I went to a screening of Rent on the Pentacrest, which is this big open grassy area in the middle of campus. Neither of us had seen the movie before! A few weeks later we also watched Aladdin there and consumed a prodigious amount of snacks. As one does.

19. Listen to Alice Isn’t Dead

Accomplished: No

I really need to listen to this podcast! It’s by the same people who created Welcome to Night Vale (which I have yet to finish) and is about a woman who’s searching for her missing wife. But it’s supposed to have a happy ending? IDK, all I know is that I heard the creators reassured people that it wasn’t going to have yet another Bury Your Gays ending, so I added it to my ever-growing list of STORIES I NEED TO READ/WATCH/LISTEN TO.

20. Watch the fireworks on the 4th of July 

Accomplished: Yes – well, close enough

So apparently Iowa City has their fireworks show on the 3rd of July? I’M SO CONFUSED. Anyway, I went to that and took a ton of pictures because I’m trying to get better at nighttime photography.

haircut 7-18-1621. Donate my hair

Accomplished: HECK YES

I donated eight inches to Pantene Beautiful Locks, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I’ve been thinking about cutting my hair for the past few years, but never had the guts to do so before. This summer, though, I decided to chop it all off and see what happened. AHHH I LOVE IT SO MUCH IT’S SO FLOOFY AND AWESOME.

22. Watch Steven Universe

Accomplished: Unfortunately, no

I’ve lost track of the number of people who have told me that I need to watch this show! It’s a super gay children’s cartoon, which is very ME. So I don’t know why I didn’t get around to watching it? Maybe because there are soooo many episodes.

23. Have a sleepover

Accomplished: No

I ended up being too busy to do this! I talked about doing this with a few friends, but all our plans gradually fell through because either I had something to do all of a sudden, or something came up in their schedules, or whatever.

24. Spend a day reading and writing in a coffeeshop

Accomplished: Yes

I went to High Ground, which is a cafe near my dorm. This was part of a mini project in which I scouted out new places to study, since I’d become bored of the (very few) places I studied last school year. I read four (!!!) books, then wrote and scheduled some blog posts in advance while I was there.


So as you can see, I didn’t accomplish everything on my bucket list… and I’m trying to make peace with that. I love making lists and crossing/checking things off as I go, so at times it really bothered me that I wasn’t able to get everything done.

But I’m trying to look on the bright side: I strengthened my friendships with various people because I invited them to accomplish my bucket list goals with me. I explored my surroundings and took advantages of all the fun activities Iowa City offers during the summer. I stayed amused and busy and creative and curious.

All in all, I made some incredible memories this summer. The bucket list motivated me to DO something with my time these past few months. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t stuck in a rut of classes, homework, and more classes and more homework. I gave myself something concrete to do so that I wouldn’t wake up on a day off from school and not know what to do with myself. I’m really proud of what I accomplished this summer, and can’t wait to make a list like this next summer!

P.S. Stay tuned for a follow-up post in which I discuss why and how I was able to do almost everything on my list! I may not have finished everything I set out to do but I’ve made a list of Things To Do each and every summer for the past few years, and it’s not at all uncommon for me to do two, one, or even zero of the activities on those lists! Things were different this time around, so I’d like to go into more detail on that shortly.

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Fall 2016 Classes | English Major Existential Despair, How To Write A Sentence, & More

Hey, everyone! So as you may remember, I gave monthly updates on my classes last school year and since people seemed to really like that, I’ve decided to continue doing so. The first day of classes is tomorrow, so this seemed like as good a time as any to post this introduction to the classes I’ll be taking this semester.

Prose Style

In this course, we will invade the space of the sentence and demand explanation. No intimate word-gathering will be left unmolested. Which word-assemblies place us most capably inside a consciousness? What is to be gained and lost from a clipped, clean style? Which sentence-level stylistic choices affect pace, and which tend toward humor? What does it mean for a sentence to “move,” and what qualities earn a sentence the honor of ending a paragraph? Expect to accrue a vocabulary for discussing the sentence, moves for manipulating the sentence, and well wrought sentences of your own.

Word-assemblers of interest to us will include Marianne Moore, Vladimir Nabokov, Herman Melville, Denis Johnson, Anne Carson, Wayne Koestenbaum, Mary Ruefle, Sam Lipsyte, and Joan Didion, among many others. During each class, we will play with sentences of our own, riffing off those we have encountered in other works. Students will leave the class with a portfolio of workshopped, syntactically varied sentences that may be enjoyed on their own or incorporated into larger pieces.

This class has, like, the least descriptive course title ever – I didn’t even realize what it was about when I signed up for it and just added it because my adviser told me I would need it to graduate – but it sounds really cool! I love having the opportunity to focus so narrowly and in-depth.

Foundations of the English Major

At some point, your parents and friends are going to ask: What does an English major do? This course introduces the history and practice of English as a discipline. In it, we develop the skills to read and write critically across subjects ranging from medieval poetry to digital media. The course teaches three central aspects of literary study: The techniques of literary criticism, including close reading and the analysis of form and genre; the periods of literary history that constitute the English major at Iowa, such as medieval, early modern, modern, postcolonial, et cetera; and knowledge of the research, critical thinking, and writing skills that are essential in the English major and beyond.

What DOES an English major do? They cry and sleep and have existential despair about whether they’re ever going to have a job, that’s what. I’M KIDDING. Mostly. Anyway, in addition to all that crying, they take courses such as this one and feel excited because they’ve taken a class with this professor before and appreciated that he didn’t take himself so seriously. THAT is what English majors do. Sometimes.

Media Shift

Why did Benjamin Franklin prefer the Spanish print-house custom of inverting a question mark at the beginning of a query? Why did Edgar Allan Poe attempt an early form of photocopying, known as “anastatic printing”? Why did Dave Eggers make Garamond 3 the typeface of choice for McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern? These questions illustrate the kinds of inquiry and appreciation pursued in the field known as book studies.

The subject of this course will be the dynamics of literary expression in the context of information revolutions. Class members explore three extended moments of media shift, by which is meant a change in how words and images are delivered to audiences.

So this is an honors seminar in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American lit… slowly but surely fulfilling all those requirements for graduation based on time period and/or place. I’m super excited for this course because we’ll be learning not only about literature but about the actual physical process of designing and producing a book!

Journalistic Reporting & Writing

Students examine and practice journalistic reporting and writing. Students complete both in-class and out-of-class reporting and writing assignments. Out-of-class assignments include covering campus and city events, as well as reporting and writing enterprise stories.

I’m so excited to finally take more demanding journalism courses! My previous classes were all about media history and media’s effects on us, which was fun to learn about, buuuuut… I’ve really been looking forward to courses that get us out of the classroom and into the real world so we can start applying our skills.

Introduction to Multimedia Storytelling

Introduction to Multimedia Storytelling teaches basic skills to create multimedia journalism projects. Multimedia stories will incorporate text, images, audio, video, data, and social media. You will learn reporting and writing skills in Journalistic Reporting and Writing, the co-requisite for this course, and you will be expected to apply those skills in this course. Introduction to Multimedia Storytelling will teach skills that are relevant to a variety of communication professions and prepare you for advanced work in upper-level courses.

As stated in the course description, this course must be taken concurrently with Journalistic Reporting & Writing, so I’ll have the same classmates in both classes. Hopefully that will help me to make new friends more quickly and find people to work on group projects with!


SO. Now it’s your turn! What classes are you taking this fall… or if you’ve already graduated, then what was your favorite and/or weirdest class you’ve ever taken?!

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Freshman Orientation Advice (From An Upperclassman Who Hated It)

It’s orientation time at many colleges, so I thought this would be a good time to talk about my orientation experience and maybe give some advice. I hated orientation, you see. Like… it’s just a weird couple of days, isn’t it?

You’re away from home and you know very few people and you don’t know the area very well, so you’re perpetually confused and probably a little anxious too. (And sick of icebreakers. OH THE ENDLESS ICEBREAKERS.) You just want school to start already and move on with the rest of your college life.

So this is a post about how to survive orientation if you, like me, are an introvert or just really hate icebreakers. At first I was like, “Maybe I WAS the only one who disliked orientation,” but then I talked to a few of my friends and they said it was stressful too, so… yeah.

This isn’t meant to be a poor reflection on either the staff or the activities of my university’s orientation program – I’m just easily overwhelmed (and exhausted) by large, enthusiastic groups of people. And since orientation primarily consists of large, enthusiastic groups of people, I wanted to run away most of the time.

Anyway, here’s my advice.

First of all, all those icebreakers aren’t very likely to help you make friends. I’M NOT SAYING THAT YOU’LL REMAIN FRIENDLESS FOREVER, THOUGH. Absolutely not. But chances are that you’re not going to meet your new best friend because you sat across from them in the circle and smiled at them when they told everyone their name and their favorite color.

I talked to a bunch of people in my orientation group because I was lonely, and I haven’t talked to most of those people since. In a few months you will perfect the art of nodding awkwardly at people you interacted with that first week of school only. It’s OK.

There were literally only two people from my orientation group who I continued to talk to as the year went on: One doesn’t count because she was my roommate so we would’ve seen each other every single day no matter what, and the other was a guy from the LGBTQ+ group on campus.

The icebreakers are there to help you open up to people and feel less overwhelmed. Orientation tends to smush together a bunch of people who may or may not have similar interests/passions, which is why you end up awkwardly nodding at people you sort-of-kind-of know all throughout the year. The vast majority of my friends were from my classes, my Living-Learning Community, extracurriculars I signed up for, et cetera. The first few days at college I was so sure that I would never make any friends, but I just had to be patient.

On a completely different note, don’t befriend anyone who already has a large amount of drugs and/or alcohol on them before orientation is even over. Like, it’s a fact of life that people will party in college but it really isn’t worth it to get in trouble for underage drinking and/or possession of drugs and alcohol DURING THE FIRST WEEK. At least leave the res halls to do it. I lived right next to the party dorm last year and some people’s parents were called that very first week because their child did something stupid.

My next piece of advice is twofold: Don’t feel that you have to participate in everything, but don’t lock yourself in your room and refuse to socialize 24/7 either. Orientation week is packed full of fun things to do but if you’re super introverted like me, the thought of spending ALL DAY EVERY DAY surrounded by tons of other people is, well… not fun.

As the week drew on, I found myself spending more and more time back at my dorm room, either reading or just sitting quietly and stressing out thinking. And that’s OK! You don’t have to do everything, especially if it’s optional. Take a nap. Go for a walk. Check out a building on campus that wasn’t on the tour.

But at the same time, please please PLEASE don’t avoid everyone. This ties in neatly with my fifth and final piece of advice: Enjoy this time as much as you can, because pretty soon school will be in high gear and you’ll wish that you had as much fun and free time as you did during orientation. You get a bunch of free shirts, and the the food in the dining hall is at its best, and best of all there are no papers to write. What’s not to love?

I see things differently now, though, which is why this post was so much fun to write. I honestly wanted to go home at this time last year because I was feeling so lonely and worried. I was miserable and beginning to second-guess my decision to come here because I am a small bundle of anxiety at the best of times, and orientation was a stressful experience for me.

But those feelings passed soon enough for me, and they will for you too, if you’re feeling that way right now. Once school kicks off you’ll be too busy to think about anything else, and you won’t have to participate in endless “teambuilding” activities, and it’ll be wonderful. Trust me.

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My New/Old Dorm

So I’ve been back at school for less than a week – I moved in on Saturday – and have really enjoyed noticing all the differences between the dorm I lived in last year and the one I’m in this year. I do kind of miss my old dorm, and the people who lived there with me even more so, but I’m trying to look on the bright side by focusing on exploring my new dorm.

I mean… I laughed when I typed “my new dorm,” because I’m actually living in the oldest dorm on campus: It’s one hundred and two years old, whereas my previous dorm was built in the sixties. The style of architecture is a lot different – this building is prettier both inside and our – and the floor plan is so different, too! My previous dorm didn’t have wings, but this one does.

I’ve spent the past few days multitasking: Wandering around the building, discovering student lounges and study spaces I didn’t even know existed, and trying to open doors that turn out to be locked while listening to The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. (I’m trying to get a head start on the semester by doing some of my assigned reading early while I still have the time and motivation.)

I absolutely loved being in the honors dorm last year, but there are so many cool things in this building as well: Massive lounges, an sizable exercise room, a courtyard (!!!) with tons of trees (!!!)  and picnic tables (!!!), and even a baby grand piano.

I’ve always adored boarding school stories and I have to say that that’s one of my favorite parts of college so far. I mean, obviously there are many other things I love about being here, but I’m going to be honest and say that I always thought it would be SO COOL to live at school. Well, now I do – and since I live in an older, bigger dorm this year, it means it’s even easier to pretend that I’m actually at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters or Hogwarts or something. WHICH IS THE DREAM, OBVIOUSLY.

Other than that, one big difference I’ve noticed is that all my neighbors in this wing, and almost all of them on this floor, are girls. The honors dorm is coed, and so is this one, but the key difference is that there are definitely all-girl or all-boy sections of each floor. That’ll take some getting used to.

I do like that everyone on my floor is older. I’m in the Hawks Up LLC (short for Living-Learning Community), which is for returning students who would like to continue living in the dorms. So everyone is at least a sophomore – and very relaxed. There’s none of that freshman year anxiety. Even if they’ve never lived in this particular building before, or even if they’d never been inside it prior to moving in, they know how things are at college and it’s just so much less awkward than it was last year when no one knew what they were doing.

The one thing that will take some getting used to is that the bathrooms are locked and I need to bring my room key if I want to get in. You have no idea how many times I’ve gone over there and stared at the door before realizing OH MY GOD WHERE IS MY KEY I NEED MY KEY TO PEE. #thestruggleisreal

Have you ever lived in a cool old dorm? I love history, so I think it’ll be fun to live here and learn more about the building as the year goes on, and I’d love to hear where you’ve lived in the past. If you have creepy and/or gross stories about the dorm, that’s even better… supposedly the third floor is haunted and I’m just like WELL THAT’S GOING TO MAKE HALLOWEEN FUN I CAN ALREADY THINK OF 3059712059715 PRANKS TO PULL THEN.

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