Things No One Tells You About College.

My younger brother is starting college this fall, an he and his friends have been asking for a list of things they should have in their dorms aside from the obvious, and of course I can’t help but attempt imparting knowledge at his face. THINGS TO TAKE TO A DORM THAT NOBODY MENTIONS

Small vacuum cleaner: Either a stick vac or a little hand held. You WILL drop things, and eventually you’ll have crumbs everywhere. You’ll make more than a few friends if you’re the only one on the hall with a vacuum cleaner.

Swiffer (if you have a tiled floor): In the winter, you’ll somehow manage to track mud, dirt, and salt in. And if you spill something sticky on your floor (you will), this is loads easier than wiping things down with water and tissues.

Lysol spray/wipes: Someone in your hall will get sick, and that will start a chain reaction of EVERYONE IN THE HALL GETTING THE PLAGUE. There is no avoiding it. But when your roommate gets sick, or the guy two doors down starts sniffling, whip out the germ killer and try to contain the epidemic. You will be hailed as a hero. Also good for if you leave for the weekend and your roommate doesn’t. You never know what’s going on all over you shit when you’re gone.

Lockbox: This is especially important if you don’t take your computer to class and everywhere you go. It’s not hard to break into a dorm room. People steal shit. Put your shit in a lockbox and hide the lockbox (or else that will get stolen too).

Pyrex containers: You know the Tupperware-esque containers made of glass instead of plastic? Get a few of those. They can be microwaved, and then you can store your leftovers in one go. And they’re easy to clean.

Dish soap: Get a small bottle to wash out the Pyrex containers, plus the bowls/mugs/cups you’ve got.

Small fan: If you can’t control the room temperature of have a rude roommate who won’t compromise and insists on having the room feel like the Sahara desert. Also good for drowning out noises from that one person in the hall who comes home at 2am and insists on chatting on their phone on the top of their lungs all the way down the hall.

Brita pitcher/extra filter: Dorm water is disgusting. Filter it before you use it to cook, make coffee, or drink. May also help to have a reusable water bottle because buying bottled water on campus is a ripoff and college towns don’t always have the best water. Also, some dorms have free filtered water machines in the lobby (mine did. It was awesome) and you can fill up before class.

THINGS ABOUT FIRST YEAR THAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

-For things like cans of pop, ramen, and other snack that you and your friends all tend to eat, make friends with someone who has a wholesale club membership, and go buy them in bulk and split the cost. But take advantage of your meal plan. Find out if you weekly allowance rolls over (mine didn’t and I never used it all) or if it has to be used up in the week. If that’s the case, find out where on campus you can use your meal plan, sometimes you can buy a few boxes of juice or other food for one meal exchange.

Set a bedtime for yourself. The first few months in the dorms is really weird and it feels like you’re supposed to stay up late and either study all the time or party all the time. Don’t be afraid to be the first person to go to bed. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.

Set homework time. Come back from class and relax, and then sit down and work, or go straight to the library or another quiet place to get things done. Since you live and study at the same place, unless you’ve been to boarding school, it’s gonna be hard to make yourself follow any sort of schedule.

Do laundry once a week. Doesn’t matter how much stuff you have to do. Pick a day and time, and treat it like any other commitment. It gives you some regularity, and dorms are small, so if it starts to pile up it’s gonna overwhelm the room fast.

Make friends with your roommate, but don’t push it. If they don’t want to be friends, keep it civil. Just keep up some sort of relationship so that you can somewhat depend on them. In case you get locked out, or run out of something important, or desperately need a ride somewhere. Also set some ground rules, like no overnight guests (trust me, make this a rule at the very beginning. Aside from the potential awkwardness, a lot of times it just isn’t allowed and you can get penalized if the RA finds out.) or no loud music/audio after 10pm.

-Get to know your RA. They’re not just an enforcer. They’re a student too, and can offer some pretty helpful advice about the building, and the school. My freshman year RA is still a good friend of mine, and was super helpful when we had an issue with someone on our hall.

Get to know a few people in your hall, especially if they’re outside your major. My best friends now all lived on my hall freshman year. I lived off campus with one of those girls each year of college, and the others joined us for my last year. The people you live with will know you better than anyone else. And if they’re outside your major, the temptation to constantly talk about school is gone, and you have other things to talk about. This is the main reason I don’t like Honors Dorms or major specific dorms. That leads people down a rabbit hole of self-doubt and worry because they’re all taking the same classes and are in some form of competition with each other.

-Don’t call home at first. You’ll be homesick, that’s a given. But give yourself a few days before you call or Skype. You’ll be able to handle it better. And don’t go home every single weekend your freshman year. That’s when everyone is making friends and going out and bonding, and you really don’t want to miss out. If you absolutely have to be home, go either once a month or every other. My freshman year I didn’t go home at all, because I was across the country. If you’re feeling homesick, text a sibling. Your parents’ first impulse will be to coddle and baby you and offer to come get you, your sibling will remind you that you that you can handle this shit, so get over yourself.

Keep in touch with your high school friends. You’ll find that soon you’re only really in touch with one or two. And they’re the ones making an effort to talk to you.  A lot of high school friendships end spring semester of your first year in college. Be prepared for that, and don’t be too upset. You don’t need them anymore, and the friends you’re making now, some of them are going to be your friends for the rest of your life. When I was going to a really rough time the year after I finished college, it was my freshman dorm mates getting me through it, not my high school best friend, who had stopped talking to me.

Join a club that has nothing to do with your academic major. It brings you close to people who are interested in the same thing as you, but who you may not have met otherwise.

Don’t be afraid to eat dinner alone. Sure, there are always groups of people going to the dining hall in swarms, chattering about banal bullshit like frat parties and chapter meetings, but don’t be afraid to be there alone. There’s no shame in having different eating schedules with your friends. Bring a book, sit with someone new (this is only okay in the first two weeks of the semester, otherwise it’s a little weird), do your thing.

Register your bike with campus police. It will likely get stolen. A friend of mine got his bike stolen seven times in one semester. Registering it with campus police may not get it back, but it will help if you have it insured or if it’s found and someone is claiming it’s theirs (happened to my friend).

Make friends with older students. They’ll subliminally help you get your study habit straightened out, can offer advice on professors, and can just generally be there for you. Since I got into a lot of upper level classes freshman year thanks to my AP credits, I made friends with a lot of older students and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

Get to know your professors. If you’re planning on needing recommendation letters for jobs, grad school, or internships, find a few professors within your major department that you like, and take every class they offer. Get to know them, raise your hand in class, keep it professional and courteous, go to office hours, and when you ask for a rec in three years, they’ll jump your request up to the top of the pile.

Have fun. It’s school, you have to study, yes, but remember that how you feel now will affect how you feel about your career path. If you’re miserable doing it now, you won’t want to do it for a living when you have to. Take care of yourself. If that means changing your major or picking up a minor, carefully consider it and then go for it. It sounds cliché, but you really need to find what you’re passionate about.

The Marvelous Adventures of Team Indecisive: Battle of the Duckies.

For Christmas of 2012, my then-stepmother’s mom gave me a very large rubber duck. When I say “very large,” I don’t mean average. This motherfucker would not be chilling in the bathtub with Ernie and Rubber Ducky. He would eat RD and make Ernie watch. I looked it up on Amazon (god save me that’s where all my money goes), and they would classify it as a “jumbo” duckie. It’s a big duck.

Here he is next to a normal-sized fancy tea cup.
Here he is next to a normal-sized fancy tea cup.

So I took this duckie back to Oklahoma after break, with a plan formulating in my head. Kat was the only one who knew about the duckie so far, because she had texted me just as I was opening the duckie so I sent that picture as a reply. She and I were the first ones back after the break, and as such had the apartment to ourselves to wreak havoc. We unpacked our shit and tried to figure out what to do with the duckie.

Kelly was due back the next day and Anna the day after that, so since neither one of us is very patient, we decided Kelly should be the one to stumble upon the duckie. But where? Her bedroom was locked, and there weren’t many hiding places in the apartment. And then we knew: the bath tub. It was practically fate.The day she was due home, I filled the bath tub partially, set the duckie afloat, and drew the shower curtain. Then proceeded to giggle and text Kelly incessantly about when she would be home. A few flight delays and a pair of ripped jeans later (long, really funny story), she was dragging her suitcase up the stairs. She went into the bathroom a few times without noticing the floating duckie, but I guess she would have no reason to at that point.

Finally, when Kat and I were hanging out in the living room later that evening, Kelly came out and announced she was going to shower. Kat and I nodded as we tried containing our giggles, and waited with baited breath for Kelly’s reaction. Which wasn’t as spectacular as I would have hoped, but it was something. We heard her pulling back the curtain, and then uttering a simple, “What in the world?”

And that started a war.

For the rest of the semester, we found more and more creative ways of hiding the duck around the apartment to surprise each other. From setting it right in the middle of the entryway when we knew someone was bringing over a guest to hiding it in the freezer (so Anna could find it when she got ice water in the middle of the night), that duck was everywhere. Anna even slipped it into my backpack, and I didn’t notice all week (in my defense, it was the pocket I never used). My favorite place to hide it was in the corner of Kelly’s bed, so when she woke up the duck would be staring her in the face.

In February, Anna was leaving for her study abroad in Germany, so she went out an found a tiny yellow duckie to take with her, and would send us pictures of the duck having fun in Germany. Closer to spring break, Kat and I were out running errands, and we found small (normal-sized) duckies to take on our vacation. I named mine Peep Peep, and she named hers Ryan Gosling.

This is Peep Peep day drinking while on vacation at Disney World.
This is Peep Peep day drinking while on vacation at Disney World.

When I was going to Magic Kingdom, the security guy who was checking bags was wondering why a 21-year-old college kid was bringing a rubber duckie into the park. Because the duckie wanted a pictur with Donald Duck, that’s why!

After spring break, when we realized that we didn’t take as many duckie pictures as we thought we would and that our hopes of running a super popular blog of our duckies was not going to work out, we focused on hiding the big duck.

Here he is in front of the TARDIS. Which I should probably tell you about.
Here he is in front of the TARDIS. Which I should probably tell you about.

As I posted that particular picture, I felt the urge to tell you why there is a seven-foot-tall paper TARDIS on the wall. It’s a fun story, but can be summarized in one word: Anna.

More that later.

When I graduated, I took the duck home with me, and for the majority of this past fall semester, the girls were duckless. However, Kat’s sister Victoria had moved in with them, and for Kelly and Anna’s birthdays (they’re one day apart), Vic and I orchestrated an elaborate plan (not really. It was super easy.), and I ordered a jumbo duckie off Amazon and had it shipped to Vic. She hid it, and on the midnight between their birthdays, they found it (I think it might have been during the day on one of their birthdays, but the midnight thing sounds so much more magical.). So the duckie thing continues, and now poor Vic has been sucked into the abyss that is duck-hiding.

The Marvelous Adventures of Team Indecisive, Part 1 of How Ever Many I Want Because This is My Blog

While I was doing my undergrad, I had the opportunity to meet [more than] two of the most incredible girls in the world. I’ve never really had super close female friends, because I grew up in a super judgy small town and apparently fat girls don’t look cute in prom pictures. But the first day I moved into the dorms at the University of Oklahoma, all of that changed. Literally within hours.

I lived on the international floor, or as they called it, the “Global Community.” The premise was that they would pair one international student into a dorm room with one American student, and they would teach each other about their cultures and traditions and all that happy camp nonsense. Really what happened was that half the girls were Chinese and half the boys were Saudi, and they all hung out in their own cliques because they all went to high school together. The first semester I didn’t have a roommate, which was awesome because I got my own room without paying for a single and I had never shared a room before in my life.

Okay. Where was I? Right. Move in day. My mom and I had shipped as much of my stuff as I could to a family friend’s house in Edmond, and flew to Oklahoma, so on move in day we loaded up the rental car and headed down to Norman. We found a parking spot in the buttcrack of nowhere because it was move in day for ALL the freshman and there were about eleven billion of us. It was also a thousand and a half degrees out because it was Oklahoma in August, and as my mom and I contemplated exactly how  we were getting all of my things from the car (in the buttcrack of nowhere) to my fourth floor dorm, I just grabbed a bag and dragged it across the parking lot. Some time later, as I was able to squeeze into an elevator to get upstairs, I was standing in my empty dorm room, a blonde head popped through my door way and chirped “Do you need help?”

That blonde head was attached to Caitlin, one of the sweetest girls in the world. She was a sophomore, so had already moved in, and she and her friends from the Baptist Student Union (more on that later) were going down the hall asking if the freshmen needed help. I blearily nodded yes, and she and her friends followed me and my mom back out to the car (in the buttcrack of nowhere), and managed to bring all my things into the dorms in one trip. It was awesome. As I was unpacking, another little (I say little, but really she’s my height. We’re all little.) blonde girl wandered down the hall to shyly say hello. This was Anna, and we have been talking on Facebook for the past few weeks in the group our RAs had made for us to get to know each other. We quietly said hello, and went back to unpacking.

Later that evening, Anna messaged me and asked if I wanted to go get dinner at the caf, since neither of us knew how our meal plans worked. I said sure, and then she asked if her roommate, Kat, could come. I said sure again, and the three of us wandered off in search of food.

We spent three hours in the caf that evening, because we could not stop talking. Kat told us about the years she had lived in the Philippines, and then about her four younger sisters. I’m pretty sure we were all best friends by the time we were shooed out by the staff.

Even though our majors were different, we were ALWAYS together. To the point where if someone saw two of us, they’d look around for the third. Anna and I ended up living together the next year, in an apartment, and then Kat joined us the next year, along with Kelly, who lived across from Kat and Anna in the dorms. The four of us went on marvelous adventures, and then I graduated. Even after graduation, I’m still close to these girls. Kat is one of the first people I turn to when I have rough decisions to make, and as a result I’ve been setting off her phone to an obnoxious extent these past few weeks. I couldn’t imagine my life without them, and even though we’ve only known each other for three and a half years, I know I’m going to be friends with them for life.

ps: Caitlin initially called us Team Indecisive because we could never make decisions about what we wanted to do. And we ran with it. I made a Facebook group and everything.