Archive for September, 2007

How to Do Your Laundry in 5 Easy Steps

You knew it was coming eventually—this is your lesson in Laundry 101.

A lot of kids don’t get their first taste of doing laundry until a week (or two… or three…) into college. Go into it unprepared, and you can end up with a load of white clothes that come out pink. Yeah, it can get pretty bad. Below I’ve compiled a few easy steps to help you successfully navigate your first laundry experience.

These directions just tell you how I do my laundry, and I’m more focused on ease than absolute perfection. So, if you want to spend a lot of time on your laundry, you should probably search out more detailed instructions. You can also consult your clothes’ tags for detailed instructions—remember that some fabrics need to be dry-cleaned or hand-washed. Also, don’t over-load your washer or dryer, as your clothes won’t get as clean or dry as fast.

  1. Gather What You Need
    Quarters or laundry room cash card, detergent, softener (if you want), dryer anti-static sheets, and of course, your laundry
  2. Separate Your Laundry by Color
    To keep colors from bleeding into each other, I recommend having three separate loads:
    Whites & Light Colors: white or very very light colored clothing
    Colors: any rich or bright colors (including jeans)
    Reds: red or dark pink ONLY!
    Some people do five loads—whites, light colors, bright colors, dark colors, and reds—but the above system should work okay if you don’t want to spend a lot of time on it. Just make sure you keep your reds separate! They can RUIN a load of laundry in no time!
  3. Start the Washer & Add Detergent
    Pay to start the washer, and select the cycle and temperature settings (but don’t put your clothes in yet):
    Whites & Light Colors: if you have delicates, put it on the delicate setting, otherwise use normal; “warm/cold” temperature setting
    Colors: normal or permanent press setting; “cold/cold” temperature setting
    Reds: same as colors
    When the water starts, add your detergent.
  4. Add Clothing to Wash
    Add your clothing and shut the lid. Check the timer to be sure you get back quickly (so no one steals your laundry!). Take a break until your laundry is done washing.
  5. Dry Clothes
    Put clothes in the dryer with an anti-static sheet (if desired). Dry delicates on low, and other fabrics on medium. Hang dry anything very delicate (like bras and certain sweaters).

That’s it!

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6 comments September 27th, 2007

How to Stay Awake During Class

My first quarter of college I didn’t know how to stay awake in class. I took an early morning psychology course with three girls I’d met in the dorms. Just before class, we rolled out of bed, stumbled to the lecture hall class with our eyes barely open, and settled into a row of squishy seats in the lecture hall. Then 3 out of 4 of us would fall asleep—whoever stayed awake would take notes.

Obviously, I did not get an A in that class–I was catching Z’s instead. So, how can YOU stay awake in class?

As a college student, I can almost guarantee that you need more sleep, so you should start there. You probably don’t want to go to bed earlier, but you should. Give yourself an extra hour every night, and see if that helps. You might need more. Even a nap can help!

If you live in the dorms, making the above changes still probably won’t get you to sleep enough. So just in case, here are some things that worked well for me when I wanted to stay awake through a lecture:

Take notes by hand

When you take notes on a laptop, you tend to be much less focused, because typing is much more automatic. You also finish faster and sometimes drift off (or start IMing people). Taking notes by hand is slower, so it makes you focus on keeping up with the lecture.

Eat healthy snacksHow to Stay Awake in Class

Eating a snack—especially carbs and proteins—can help energize you. I liked taking a bag of healthy cereal like Cheerios to my very early or very late classes. I would eat the cereal one piece at a time—the carbs plus the act of making myself take one at a time really helped me stay awake. If you need a burst of energy, try eating fruit like sliced apples or grapes instead of a candy bar. Junk food, obviously, is not a good option.

Drink water

Dehydration can really wipe you out, so bring a water bottle to class with you. Neither soda nor alcohol (which is very dehydrating) is a good substitute for water to keep your body hydrated.

Get interested in the lecture

A lot of your interest in a lecture is affected by your attitude. If you go in thinking it’s going to be boring, you’ll probably be bored. Even if you’re taking a required class, try to get interested in the lecture each day; it will help you stay alert. Try to learn at least three things you didn’t know, and tell someone about them after class. It might sound kind of lame, but it will help you stay awake and learn.

Good luck! And also, remember to check out my tips about how to stay awake & alert while studying (without coffee!).

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25 comments September 24th, 2007

Three Ways to Beat Homesickness

Feeling a little homesick? Yeah. That’s normal. Even if you’re really enjoying life on your own, there can still be days where you feel a bit down or out of place. My first year I had a couple bouts of homesickness. I wasn’t sure if my roommate liked me, and even though my best friend from high school lived one floor above me, she decided she wanted to make new friends and not hold on to high school relationships. So I felt pretty lonely at first.

Living away from home is definitely an adjustment—sometimes a hard one—but it gets easier as you get more involved with your new life. In the mean time, though, here are a few things that made me feel better:

  1. Pictures from Home
    In addition to having some framed photos on my desk, I plastered a huge collage of pictures of my friends, family, and even my dogs on the wall over my bed. I added to it magazine clippings, movie tickets, and anything else that made me happy to look at.
  2. Blogging with my Friends
    When we started college, I started a blog with a few of my closest friends from high school. It was easier than sending a bunch of personal emails, and it let us keep up with each others’ news. Over four years later, the blog is still alive and well. Start your own group blog at
  3. Calling Home
    Okay, I admit it. I called my mom every day until I got adjusted. I think it helped her adjust, too. If you’re not close to mom, you can still put in a call to your brother/aunt/grandma/best friend when you’re feeling down. Even texting, pix messaging, IMing, or a quick email can make a difference.

Hopefully these ideas help. (And if they don’t, don’t worry! I have more ideas that you’ll see later.) Just remember, though, that while it can be good to stay in touch with home, it’s important to get to know new people, too. (I posted some tips about how to meet new people a couple days ago.) If you’re having a hard time, stick with it—it gets easier!

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2 comments September 20th, 2007

Finally Be Who You Want to Be

If you’re like me, you didn’t get much of a chance to change your image during your high school years. So much of who you are seems to depend on how the people around you perceive you.

Then you go away to college, and everything is different. You get to start over.

No one knows you, and in most cases, people are a lot less judgmental. Those solid labels of “jock,” “geek,” “drama queen,” “prep,” and “band-o” are a lot more fluid. Like you can play intramural sports and be really good at calculus, and nobody thinks that’s a weird. So basically, you finally get to really be yourself.

I can’t say that I was any wilder or crazier in college than I was in high school—that’s really not what “finding yourself” is all about anyway. Partying can be tempting, but it can also really mess up your GPA if you get too into it (a mistake many freshman pay for in years to come). What I’m talking about is deciding for yourself what you value, what kind of people you want to be around, and what makes you happy. You finally get the opportunity to make your own decisions, and be the person you have always wanted to be.

My freshman year of college was a big deal for me. I took on a lot of responsibility, and made a lot of big decisions about my life and how I wanted to lead it. I also let go a little bit—I was a straight A student in high school, but I didn’t plan on going to grad school, so I didn’t beat myself up for getting B’s anymore. I decided a balance between work and play was more important than having a 4.0.

Here are a few of the things I decided on/did my freshman year:

Chose to major in a subject I loved (even though I knew it would pay less money)

  • Decided which church I wanted to go to (without Mom & Dad around to pressure me)
  • Pierced my ears for a second time (actually, my Mom thought this was pretty cool)
  • Changed my “look” (hair, clothes, etc) multiple times until I found something that felt like “me”
  • Started paying a lot of my own bills
  • Declined a large sum of college money from a verbally and emotionally abusive relative (I decided it was worth it to take out loans and get a job instead… but it was a very tough decision)

So this is your chance.

You’re out on your own. You’re in a new group of people. You have the opportunity to decide things for yourself.

Are you who you want to be?

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3 comments September 17th, 2007

Meeting New People in College

If you’re feeling lonely or out of place, I promise you, you aren’t the only one. In fact, pretty much every college freshman feels lonely at one time or another—you’re in a new place, probably pretty far away from your family and friends, and there are hundreds or thousands of people here that you don’t know.

Luckily for you, college is one of the best places to meet people, because everyone else is going through the same things. College friends are usually different than high school friends because you are so much more mature when your friendships start. You’ll probably meet people in these next couple years who will be your closest friends for years to come; you just need to know where to look.

Leave Your Door Open
One of the easiest ways to meet people is to leave your door open when you’re in your room. It’s a signal that you’re open to meeting people. Unless you have an unusually antisocial floor, your floormates will stop by to say hi, borrow stuff they’ve forgotten, or ask what song you’re listening to. Easy easy easy. (But remember to close and lock your door when you leave.)

Introduce Yourself
It can be hard to put yourself out there, but if you’re feeling shy, other people probably are, too. Try to introduce yourself to people on your floor, in your classes, and around campus.

Don’t Make Snap Judgments
Okay, I have to tell you not to do this, because I did it. There was a girl named Carrie a floor above me who seemed really cliquish and snobby. I never introduced myself to her because I completely pre-judged her. After a couple months of feeling like I hadn’t really made any good friends, she came up to me after a class and asked how I’d done on a hard paper we’d
just gotten back. We started talking, and she turned out to be really cool—in fact, she was the first close friend I made in college. So give everyone a fighting chance.

Get Involved
Because college is so big, and has so many people, you might notice that it is hard for a group to just form out of nowhere. You can’t meet anyone if you lock yourself up in your room surfing Facebook or playing video games all day, so make an effort to find likeminded
people. Go to activities and test out as many clubs as interest you. I know it’s hard to walk into a roomful of strangers and try to fit in, but if you don’t try you’ll miss out on meeting a lot of great people. My freshman year I attended meetings of a service club, a poetry club, and a crocheting/knitting club. I joined the backstage crew for an on-campus play, went to church, and joined a committee that helped choose the next year’s RAs. I only stuck with some of these, but they all gave me the opportunity to get to know a lot of really fun people, some of whom are still good friends.

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2 comments September 13th, 2007

Setting Roommate “Ground Rules”

Whether your new roommate is a friend from high school or a total stranger, you’ll probably find that living with someone is completely different from hanging out at night or on the weekends. Some roommates who start off well together end up not-so-friendly by the end of a year of living together, mostly because they don’t communicate well about what they want out of the living situation. If you want to keep (or start) a friendship with your roomie, it’s a good idea to get everything out on the table right from the beginning.

Setting Ground Rules
One thing that makes a big difference is talking to your roommate about “ground rules”—rules that you both agree to abide by.

It might sound like an awkward conversation, but it’s necessary for two reasons: First, you are both used to a certain lifestyle, so you will both have opinions about how your life goes (and your roommate will affect that). Second, you will want to set the rules before one of you does something that makes the other uncomfortable (or angry).

Keep in mind—this shouldn’t be an angry or accusatory conversation, just a calm discussion of what you are both okay with and what you would like to avoid.

When to Set the Rules
It’s best to set up the ground rules as early as possible, because they can act as a barrier against roommate problems.

You might even want to set rules before you even move in to your dorm room or apartment. If you don’t want to talk face-to-face, discussing rules beforehand is even better, because you can do it via IM, email, or over the phone.

What to Talk About
My roommate and I had rules about quite a few things—like giving each other advance notice if guests were going to crash on our floor. You don’t want to walk into your room and find a party raging on your last cramming night before a big final. Here are a few things you might want to talk about with your roommate:

  • Overnight guests
  • Guests of the opposite sex
  • Cell phone use (hours, in the room or in the hall, etc.)
  • Music (types, volume, headphones)
  • TV use
  • Study time
  • Borrowing clothes & other belongings (DVDs, CDs, etc.)
  • Sharing (or not sharing) food
  • Bedtime
  • Alarm settings (how many times can you hit snooze?)
  • Locking the door
  • Using each other’s things (microwave, fridge, TV, computer, stereo, etc.)

Basic rule of thumb: if there is anything you are worried about, you should bring it up now. You’re a lot more likely to get into a screaming match if your roommate has already been doing something obnoxious for weeks.

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1 comment September 10th, 2007

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