Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Post Graduation Musings

Me... and my brother's arm
           I graduated from college one month ago. It was fabulous and wonderful and even a little sad. Suddenly I’m not a student anymore. And that’s a bit jarring.
         I’ve been trying to adjust to this new life; even though it’s really not any different that last summer or the summer before, it feels different. The dynamic with my parents is changing, I’m suddenly worrying about money all the time, I feel so stuck because I’m once again working at the deli and living at home when I really want to move away and start my dream career - or really any career. And now that I can no longer identify as a student, I’m more confused about who I am than ever before. I’m not even sure I know who I want to be anymore! But then again, did I ever know?

            I’m once again thinking about law school. If I’m still stuck a year from now, I will choose law school over deli work in a heartbeat. But s that really what I want to base my future career path on? I think not.

            I would love to go into publishing or marketing, but all of the jobs I apply for seem like long shots and I don’t know how to break into the field. It makes me sad to know that I wont get to take classes in the fall, there is so much that I still want to learn. I'm especially wishing that I could take a computer class or a business class (but no, I do not regret majoring in English and I do not think that my degree can be blamed for my current deli-girl status. I should have done internships and gotten more work experience before graduating.)
Walking into the unknown!
It looks like a bright future!
(Was that too cheesy?)

            I just want to know what I’m meant to do with my life so I can get on with it! Is that too much to ask for?! I guess so.

            For the first time in my life I’m no longer a student. So it’s time to figure out what I want to be next! That should be exciting, even if it is a little scary.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Jury Duty For Beginners

When will you know you've become an adult? Maybe it's when you walk through the court house doors to serve your very first jury duty! Probably not, but you never know.

Not everyone gets as excited about jury duty as me, but it's really not that bad.

Here's What Happens:
1.  You'll get your jury summons (I believe this starts happening after you register to vote) with instructions to call a number the night before your court date. I had three cancelled jury summons before I finally got to go to court, and even that one had been postponed by two days.

 2.  Your jury summons will probably come with a parking permit, be sure to place it on your dashboard where it will be seen so you don’t get a ticket. Then make your way into the courthouse! Be sure you're on time.

3.  You’ll go through security. Your bag may be checked or sent through a scanner just like at the airport, and you’ll go through a metal detector. One sign said “Leave Your Knives in the Car”, so if you didn't already know that, there you go.

4.  Then begins the waiting and standing in lines. There were about 50 other jurors on the day when I went in, and it was a little disorganized. We had to fill out a brief form to make sure our contact information was current and to sign something I probably should have read more thoroughly because I don’t remember what it said. Then we moved into the courtroom.

5.  We were sworn in as one giant group and the judged introduced the lawyers and the defendant and briefed us on the bare basics of the case. After that we filled out a questionnaire. I can’t tell you about anything after that from personal experience, but for most cases you may get a break (maybe an hour for lunch, or just some time to kill in the courthouse) and then the jury will be chosen and the case will begin.
I always recommend some John Green!

1.  Bring a book (or something small and entertaining). Your first instinct might be to play Angry Birds on your phone (if you have one of those fancy phones, I don’t) but it might be a good idea to bring something non-electronic because you shouldn’t be on your phone in the court room. Pay attention when the judge is speaking or the Bailiff is giving instruction, but in my case there was about 15 minutes of downtime while we were waiting for the other jurors to file into the room and sit down.

2.  Bring a small purse or bag with just the essentials. If the security guards have to search it manually you don’t want them to have to wade through a sea of lipstick, tampons, and old receipts.

3. Pay attention. The Bailiff had to repeat herself far too many times and people asked some really stupid questions. Don’t be that juror that everyone rolls their eyes at. Listen when you’re being given information, and write it down if you need to.

4. Dress comfortably. I wore black slacks and a nice blouse, and I was the best dressed juror there. This may be different in the city than in my little mountain town, but people looked very casual. And it makes sense to dress comfortably; you may be sitting for a very long time. Wear layers so you’ll be comfortable whether it’s over air conditioned or hot and stuffy. The only dress code I noticed was a sign that said “NO SHORTS or HATS in the Jury Room”.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Freshman Flashbacks - A Look Back Before Graduation

This is just a heads up that this is a more personal post rather than an informative post. I shared my knowledge, now it's time to share some of my experiences! Expect more personal posts in the future (with more Tips and Tricks as well!)

I will graduate from college in 2 days. Among the many things on my mind right now (essays, finals, finding a job) is freshman year. Who I was, how I felt, what I expected.

I remember standing in the hall of my dorm after moving in and watching my parents walk down the hall and leave. They did not cry, like in the movies. Instead, they hugged me goodbye and walked away. I watched them disappear around the corner and the tears that had been collecting on the rims of my eyes spilled over. I stared at the wall where they had been for just a second, then I walked back into my room, closed the door, and just stared at my new room with its blank white walls and unmade bed. Just like that, I was alone and my life was different.

I was a different person then than I am now. I was so shy, even though I’d already made so much progress the year before. I was closed off, without even realizing it. And I was scared, but brave.

I’m still shy, but it’s nowhere near the same as it was then. Social situations still make me nervous, but it’s not paralyzing anymore. I can still be very awkward and it can still be embarrassing, but I’m more aware of it now and willing to push past it. I never thought I could be as outgoing and friendly as I am now. There is still progress to be made, but past me would be proud.

Back then I wanted to make friends more than anything. I’ve never had more friends than I have now. I still struggle to form close friendships, but it’s something I’m working on. I have a best friend and a tight group of friends that I have grown to love – and that makes me SO happy.

I’m still scared of all sorts of things (talking to professors, asking for favors, going to large social events). But last year I hopped on a plane – for the first time ever – and flew to England where I studied abroad for 5 months and faced so many fears. I always thought that being scared and being brave were the opposite, but now I know that you can’t have one without the other. It wouldn’t be an act of bravery if there wasn’t something to fear.

It took me a long time to see that I had been brave all along: In high school I went to homecoming freshman year by myself with no plans of meeting up with friends (brave or lame?); I applied for college even though my parents told me we couldn’t afford it (I also applied for the FAFSA); I moved to a city where I knew no one and I started over. It was one of the bravest, and one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I’m proud of who I am now, but I’m also proud of who I was then. I was shy and awkward and scared, but I was also strong and smart and brave. And, most important of all, I was willing to change. And I still am.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Good Luck on Finals! And an Update!

Hey there college students! Or future college students! This is just a blog update to let you know I haven't fallen off the face of the planet, it's just that time of year when college students everywhere substitute caffeine for sleep, bang their heads against their desks in anguish, and curse the essay gods for unreasonable page requirements.

Yes, it's finals time!!! But it's not all bad because there's only one week of classes left, one week of exams, and then... GRADUATION!!! Well, graduation for us seniors anyway <insert evil laugh>.

But, to all my lovely blog readers, I would like to wish you all a Merry Finals and a Happy New Semester (that did not work as I planned). Good Luck on Finals!!

I also just want to briefly say that this blog is going to be changing. But don't fret, all things must change. Hopefully it is a change for the better. The tone may become more casual, the posts may become more personal, and I might end up doing more late-night blogging (which results in the odd sort of writing I'm doing now!). The next two weeks are super busy, but I will hopefully find time to post at least once. After that, the content of my blog will transition from all college themed to college and post-college themed! Because I'm graduating (in case you missed that before)!

I'm excited for this new chapter of my life and I'm excited to share what I learn with you!

Thank you for reading! Now, go show those finals who's boss!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Find Time To Read In College (For Fun!)

My stack of books to read just
keeps getting bigger!
This week my friend Mary Jo is going to tell you how she finds time to read (for fun!) in college. I'm excited to be getting another prospective on my blog and this is a great topic for anyone who misses reading books that aren't going to be torn to shreds by your professor! You can find a link to her awesome ya book review blog below, so be sure to check it out!
Hey there, readers! I’m Mary Jo, and Allison has been kind enough to offer me the chance to do guest post. You can normally find me at where I review quality books intended for teen and young adult readers, because teen readers are capable of critical thought, too. Head on over to read Allison’s guest post on The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson, and hopefully you’ll stick around! J

So, fellow almost-adults, I have a confession. As an English major (especially one who runs a book review blog), I am terrible at keeping up with reading. Not reading for classes (Although, yeah, that is also a thing…) but reading for fun. Since enrolling in 2010, I’ve maybe read about… 15 books for pleasure. In high school, I read that much in a month.

But between classes, papers, and assigned reading for class there isn’t much time. I remember a professor asking my critical theory class what the last novel we had read in our spare time was, and everyone was silent. It had been so long since anyone had picked up a book in their spare time, we had to wrack our brains and it was still difficult to remember the last book we had read.

And that is the trouble. What is “spare time”, and I where can I get some? Waiting until you are free to read means waiting until classes are out. That’s what happened to me, and by the time break rolled around, I had gotten out of habit. Which was terrifying.

It sounds silly, but bear with me for a second. Reading was always a big part of my life. Until college, I was always reading, the gaps between books was practically nonexistent. And, yeah, I will probably pay heavily for this escapist behavior in therapy bills later in life, but reading was second nature.

The fact that something so fundamentally “me” had changed because college got in the way.
Cue mental breakdown.

I needed to change this. I discovered one of the best ways to combat not reading was… not reading. Try listening instead. Go to your local library and pick up an audio book. I currently have a ton of John Green books (er… CDs?) sitting on my desk right now. Put them on in your car to listen as you drive to class or run errands, to make sure you get your literary fix.

Or go to to download free audio books. This is a great site. The audio books are strictly books that are in the public domain, so while they may not be recent bestsellers, there is probably crossover from you required reading for classes. Personally, I listened to Jane Eyre at the gym when I was taking Brit Lit. Running on the treadmill really put her aimless wandering in the countryside into perspective. The files show up in iTunes as podcasts to you can take them with you wherever: the gym, the walk to school, to work, or as my roommate does, listen to it before you go to sleep as a way to help wind down your night and get ready to rest.

Something that I’ve missed most is reading right before bed. What happens instead is I will end up doing homework till 2 am and then crash. So, treat it like the reward it is. Finish your allotted homework quota for the night- that way you can savor your book with a steaming mug of tea. Or Cocoa. Or… whatever you like to drink while you read, no judgment here.

Cheers! And thanks again to Allison for letting me take over for a day J
Mary Jo

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Celebrate Holidays Even If You Can't Go Home - College Quick Tip #2

You may not be able to go home for every holiday that you celebrate, but that doesn't mean that you can't make the day special! Celebrate with friends! Try to do something tradtional, and something not-so-traditional.

Your univerisity might even host some sort of holiday-themed event. My college is usually deserted during holiday breaks and weekends, but for Thanksgiving they organize a very nice dinner for students who can't be with family.

Neither my roomate or I went home for Easter this year, instead we dyed a dozen eggs (not sure how we're going to eat that many!), baked cookies, and watched a movie! It was an easy, fun, and affordable way to make the day festive!

HAPPY EASTER! (And if you're not reading this on Easter, then, happy whatever day it is!)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Top 5 College Tips

Here are my top 5 college tips for soon-to-be college freshmen (or current students). I'll be writing more in-depth posts about each of these in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Tip #1: Don't resist change

College is not high school (Halleluya!) and within a few weeks of starting - maybe even before that - you will not be the same person you were in high school. Let's be honest, it's probably for the best.

Call your parents, but don't let them make your decisions and fight your battles.

Keep in touch with friends back home and friends who went to other universities, but don't spend every weekend driving back to visit them (this goes for boyfriends and girlfriends too!).

If there's something about yourself that you want to change (it was shyness for me) this is the best time to start working on that. Don't be frustrated if it doesn't happen over night, but gradually you will come to understand yourself more and to, hopefully, like yourself more.

Tip #2 : Try to make friends wherever you go

I'm not going to say college doesn't have cliques, but all sorts of people become friends, especially in the first few weeks. You could find your best friend in the cafeteria, the university library, your classes, your residence hall, or sleeping right next to you in your dorm room (that was not meant to sound so creepy!).

And don't worry about not fitting in, there is a place for litterally everyone at college and eventually you will find where you belong. Here's a link to my full post about making friends in college

I studied abroad in Chester, England.
A beautiful and lively little city that I will always love.

Tip #3. Study Abroad if you can.

I never thought this would be an option for me becuase of money, but don't be so quick to write it off! A large portion of your financial aid could transfer if you go through the right program and you can try to find additional scholarships to help you pay for the costs. Talk to the study abroad advisor at your university to learn about your financial options.

I did have to take out additional loans but in the grand scheme of things it's not that much more than I would have paid for a semester at home (I'll be honest and tell you that by the time I graduate I'll have taken out $50,000 in loans, by studying abroad I only added about $2,000 to that total.)

Tip #4. Start making connections with your professors as soon as possible

A time will come when you will need to ask at least one of them for a letter of recomendation and you don't want to spend a month hyperventalating about choosing one to ask and fearing that they will reject you (not that I know anything about that).

Try to ask a question on the first day (maybe about the syllabus), if it's a discussion-based class try to add to the conversation at least once per class period, and go to see them during office hours in the first few weeks.

Forming a relationship with your professors will certainly be harder at some schools than others (I'm lucky to have gone to a small university with professors who are really easy to get in touch with). But no matter where you go it will be easier developing that relationship over several semesters than in your final year.

My university organized a trip to San Francisco for incoming
freshman. We had fun, bonded, and did community service!

Tip #5. Take advantage of the services your university offers

This can include a career resource center, counciling services, a gym, knowledgable and helpful librarians, free events (with free food and free shirts!), guest lecturers, a nutritionist, sporting events, opportunities to make connections with alumni, and partially sponsored travel opportunites (and those are just the ones off the top of my head!).

You're paying A LOT to study at that university, so get you money's worth!

Oh, and go to class! Seriously! You're paying somewhere near $100 per hour for your classes, so sleeping through a class is a very expensive nap.
Those are my top 5 college tips, but you never can be too prepared, so if you need more college tips check out these other posts:

What are your top 5 college tips (or tips for high school, life, whatever!)? Leave a comment, I'd love to know! Also let me know if there's anything you'd like me to see me blog about!