Work in Progress…

As I drove back to campus this past Thanksgiving break, I caught myself reflecting on my first collegiate break freshman year: I had gone home, I listened to my friends brag about their awesome, new college lives, and I regretted going to Ohio State. That’s right, I hated it here during my first semester. Where some people had trouble adjusting to the academics or finding what they liked, it turned out that my biggest challenge during my first semester was making friends (not to say I didn’t have my hiccups with those other things too, but I digress). The largest contributor to this struggle was the fact that I had come here from Tennessee. I didn’t know a single person here at Ohio State and I was pretty shy. I’ve always had trouble making new friends since I’ve never been the most outgoing person and all. A large portion of my friends in high school had only come into my life due to some other mutual friend. But I didn’t have that here at Ohio State. I had to start over, completely new. However, here I am, now in my third year, and I can’t imagine how life anywhere else could have turned out as well as it did. So here are some tips if you’re also a(n) first year (out-of-state) student feeling just as defeated and out of place as I did my first semester:

  1. Stay Positive and don’t lose faith. Throughout my first semester I couldn’t shake my negative experiences, which ultimately altered my entire perception of Ohio State. This place just isn’t for me. I am never going to fit in and find friends. For so long I led myself to believe that there was no hope, and I should just transfer before it was too late. It took quite a bit of time, but eventually I made my first friend (shortly after I had convinced myself to give up hope, too), and that was the beginning of the turning point to my Ohio State experience.
  2. Keep trying. Don’t give up if you haven’t found your fit. I joined four different student orgs and tried my hardest to make friend in my classes and res hall. Unfortunately for my freshman self, all but one of these resulted in failure, and that one wasn’t even a success until a week or two before finals.
  3. Be patient with your transition. Being at Ohio State was such a different experience than anything I had expected or experienced at home. There was so much newness all around me and it made everything significantly harder for me. To add on to that, I was the only one in my friend group to go away for college. As I was trying to get used to all the newness here, I would often turn to my friends back home for support, but they could never quite comprehend just how hard of a transition I was going through. Like I said, they were thriving and loving their new lives. Our lives just weren’t the same anymore. OSU was rapidly changing me and this only made me feel more alone and disconnected, not just here at OSU, but also to the old life I once knew.

My first semester was pretty rough, but now, I have the best roommates, friends, and support system I could have ever have hoped for. Ohio State is my favorite place in the world and it’s impossible for me to fathom that one day I’ll have to leave. If you take away anything from this, remember that there are tens of thousands of students on this campus and over 1,300 student organizations on campus; there is a place here for you. You may not find it right away, but you will eventually. Because you belong here.

Just a Small Town Girl, Living in a Lonely World…Until 2nd Semester

I have lived on a farm my entire life. I come from generations of farmers and a family that hasn’t strayed too far from northwest Ohio until recently and because of that, I have a very different experience than most people. Coming to Ohio State, I realized this very quickly. I was on a floor where only one other person came from a small town/farm/rural area… this one person was my roommate who I went to high school with. Being different than everyone else, I quickly felt left out and like I had missed out on experiences in my life because I didn’t go to a larger public school or have the same experience as everyone else.

The feeling of being left out had me homesick for a while. I struggled trying to figure out who to hang out with and what clubs to join. I struggled navigating the bus systems (both COTA and CABS). This then led to me not venturing far from my dorm. I actually rarely left my dorm until a few people from my suite (I lived in good ‘ole Morrill Tower) convinced me to go out to eat with them on a random Friday night. Luckily because of them, I started to venture into campus more.Coming from a small town, I was not used to the idea of a city. I was in shock when I walked onto campus. I came from somewhere where I was literally surrounded by cornfields and bean fields. Campus was a city in and of itself! I then wondered how I would ever figure out Columbus if I couldn’t even figure out campus.

Luckily, even though my first semester was difficult and overwhelming, I was convinced to stay another semester. If you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed IT’S OKAY. Second semester I found a few clubs (with the help of my peer leader and advisor) that made me feel at home. Campus started to feel a lot smaller, and I started to feel like I had a bigger place on campus. I was able to navigate my way around both campus and parts of Columbus.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, out of place… Don’t worry. You’re not the only one and it’s okay to feel that way. First semester, I had no idea what could be accomplished in the spring semester, and little did I know I would also find my fit on campus.

The Majority Perspective

I am a white Christian in the middle class, and that’s ok.

I grew up with little diversity around me. When there was diversity, it wasn’t much of a difference for me. Needless to say, coming to OSU was like going from 0 to 100 miles per hour in my tiny Toyota Camry. My first year was filled with frustration, eye opening experiences, and a whole lot of learning.

Why do I celebrate diversity? There are many reasons, but here are three that I can clearly identify: being in such a diverse culture has opened my eyes to struggles and realities I had never noticed, it has made me stronger in my beliefs, and I have developed respect for not only the cultures around me, but my own culture as well!

Right away my eyes were opened to the different struggles regarding race and socioeconomic status. My family is not insanely “rich” by any means, but we live comfortably. My parents were blessed and in return they are paying for my college and providing for my needs. In my head I knew that there were people struggling to pay for their own college, but I had not met anyone doing so until I got to OSU. It wasn’t until I truly met people going through financial crises that I realized I should not take my situation for granted. The time they have to spend apply for loans, figuring out grants, working, and even worrying about finances was outstanding to me. If you are from the majority, like me, upper or middle class – don’t take for granted what you have been blessed with. And don’t be greedy with what you have been blessed either.

My beliefs as a Christian have been strengthened. Strengthened because I have had the opportunity to talk to so many people of different religions and backgrounds. I have learned A LOT from people about other religions, or simply not having a religion at all. I had to truly question if what I believe is true, and I had to figure out what I believe by researching and reading for myself rather than base what I believe off of what I have been taught growing up. The amazing thing, and what has made me stronger in my faith today, is that I still choose everyday to believe in Jesus Christ despite the new opportunities and ideas presented to me. This has made my faith grow more in the time I have been at OSU than in my whole life.

As far as diversity – like I mentioned, I have never experienced true diversity until coming to OSU. I have learned so much from my friends who are different from me. People of a different skin color, culture, sexual orientation, religion, and political beliefs are now my friends. We all have different perspectives and backgrounds, but that is what makes us stronger. There is not one narrow minded way of thinking around OSU – there are multiple perspectives representing everyone, not just people like me. Although we have our differences and disagreements, we are able to work together for a greater cause. In regards to my peer leader role, that greater cause is helping the class of 2021 at OSU. I love my team, I love our differences, and I love that our differences don’t discourage us from what is ultimately important in our lives.

I want to end with a quote I heard:

“Through each other’s diversity, we become more aware of our own. Not only do we become more aware, we gain a sense of pride for the diversity of our own culture.”

Am I ashamed to be apart of the majority perspective? Not at all. There was no way for me to control what has been given to me. Have I learned to celebrate and learn from other cultures – certainly. By doing that, I have deepened my respect for every culture and gained a sense of pride for my own.

Trending Tuesday

What are the trending topics with the class of 2020?

1. Election Results

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2. Trying to get that perfect class schedule for next semester

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 3. Balancing life and classes is hard…

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 4. Starting to think about roommates for next year

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 5. No school on Friday was much appreciated

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 6. Ready for Thanksgiving break!

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Trending Tuesday

Here’s whats happening this week with the class of 2020

1)  Counting down the days to Thanksgiving (and all of the food)

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 2) Indian fans had a rough week, but the Cub’s Curse of the Billy Goat is over!

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 3) Earlier Easier FAFSA is now open

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4) Hurrying to finish up First Year Success Series

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 5) Fireworks and football lit up the Shoe Saturday night

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Did Somebody Say Finals Week?

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the Oval is full of life. In the forefront of your mind, you are likely thinking about the summer plans taking place shortly. No matter what you will be doing, we all need some relaxation time! Amidst all of this happiness, you realize that the semester is almost over… meaning finals week is soon approaching us. Finals week this time of year can be a challenge for a few reasons:

  • The weather is beautiful and you want to spend every moment outside
  • This might be your last time on campus until the fall, so you want to take in every moment
  • You have to saying goodbye and see you later to the many friends you have made this year
  • You’re excited about summer plans and a long, much needed break

Keeping all of this in mind, here are some tips to tackle finals week and stay on top- even when you have spring fever.

Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize

The most precious thing that we have as college students is time. With only two weeks left and a lot to do, good time management is key. Make a list of things you have to get done each day. The key is to set small goals so you don’t get overwhelmed. For me, I make a to-do list for each day and set small, realistic tasks I know I can accomplish. Plus, it is so gratifying to finish a to-do list!

Use the outdoors to your advantage

The idea of being stuck inside the library for the next two weeks seems sad, but if you utilize the great spaces on campus you can enjoy the outdoors, too. Even if studying outside isn’t for you, try taking a a break by walking or tossing a Frisbee outside.

  • Study outside on a bench, picnic table, or grass
  • The courtyard in Hagerty Hall is a great place to study and relax
  • Try the nice grassy courtyard in between Park-Stradley and Siebert Halls

Take advantage of Reading Day

The Office of Student Life puts on an an entire day of free activities and events. Take a study break with some friends or even try a workout class to give your brain a rest. You can check out the schedule online for this year’s reading day, which is Tuesday, April 26.

Coordinate when you are moving out

With all of the assignments and studying, you might forget that you will need to make plans to move out of your residence hall if you live on campus. Talk to your RA or reach out to your Peer Leader if you need packing advice and travel tips, and review the information on the housing website to make sure you’re following move-out procedures correctly.

Make plans to stay in touch with your friends

All of your friends might be done with finals at different times, so it is important to stay on top of this. Plan ways to stay in touch with your friends over the summer, whether that be through Skype, texting, or even a trip! Having some trouble thinking of ways to stay in touch with your friends? Contact a Peer Leader!

Be thankful!

One of my most important values is gratitude, for a simple thank you goes a long way. I would not be at the place I am now without the professors, friends, and family who have guided me through my Ohio State journey. Make sure to thank those that made an impact on you before you leave for the summer. Here are a few ideas of people to thank:

  • The professor in the class you really enjoyed this semester, or the TA who helped you in your class
  • The cashier at the Ohio Union who always swiped your BuckID
  • The cleaning staff in your residence hall who made your building clean and safe
  • Your RA for building community and supporting you throughout your first year of college
  • The friends you have made at Ohio State
  • Your family for supporting you along this journey

With these tips, I hope you can tackle finals week. Take a deep breath and enter finals week organized, and of course thankful for a great first year.

Build a Better Body Image

Winter Blues

From being cooped up inside all of the time and practically living inside your parka, it is easy to feel the blues–especially when it comes to body image. Negative self-talk can be prominent in these winter months, especially as we approach spring break. I have heard all types of conversations in the dining halls, with the most popular tagline being,

I can’t eat this cookie because of my spring break bod.

I see people I know picking out parts of their bodies they do not like, exercising extreme amounts, and fantasizing over the sculpted and tan bodies of celebrities in magazines and on TV. With half of semester under your belt, I wanted to pose this question: How do you feel about yourself?

The real truth

It is easy to feel like you are the only one suffering from poor body image, but it is more prevalent than you thought–especially on college campuses. Here are some statistics from a body image campaign through dosomething.org:

  • About 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to measures to achieve the body size they desire
  • Only 5% of women are naturally born with the body type portrayed in media
  • Men feel just as pressured by media and can feel inadequate about their bodies

Steps you can take today to have a better body image

The National Eating Disorders Association website has many resources on how to develop a better self-body image. Here are a few steps that you can take today to feel better about yourself:

  1. View yourself as a whole person. You are one complete individual, not just separate parts. Refrain from picking out certain parts of your body and realize that you are one cohesive unit.
  2. Find joy in all that you can do, from having the best laugh, scoring an A on your last chemistry midterm, or being a good friend. Think about the areas where you shine and make others and yourself happy.
  3. Surround yourself with people who make you happy. Being around people who are negative can really bring you down. Take action and be with people who boost your mood and lift you up.
  4. Be critical of social media. Just by scrolling through Instagram, you might think that some of your followers have perfect lives based on their social media photos. Realize that people don’t typically post about their bad days, and that photos can often be distorted. Magazines and TV shows can also display perfection and distortion of real life. Interested in learning more about the feelings behind social media? Read a great blog post.
  5. Write down things you love about yourself on Post-it notes and stick them on your mirror or computer for a daily reminder that you have so much to offer.
  6. Wear clothes that you feel comfortable and happy in. Wear your favorite color, or those shoes you feel amazing in.
  7. Always remember that there is something to be thankful for–whether that is being a Buckeye, having supportive friends, and the opportunity to attend such a great university!

Resources for you

Be sure to know when it is important to work with a professional. Here are some campus resources if you would like to seek additional information and help.

Why Getting a B was the Best Thing that Happened to Me

By now (for better or for worse) fall semester grades are posted. You may be less than thrilled with how your courses turned out. You may be panicked that you did not achieve that perfect 4.0. This may be the first time in your life you have ever had to study, struggled academically, or even gotten a grade lower than an A.

A "Perfect" 4.0

A “Perfect” 4.0

This was me. Entering my first year at Ohio State I had never gotten anything less than an A- and I was bound and determined to make sure it stayed that way. Yes, I knew that college courses were more rigorous, but I had always succeeded academically…so why should anything be different once I got to college?

What I didn’t know was that on top of all of my course work, I had to teach myself how to study. This was a skill I had never truly developed in high school and I was finding it a difficult skill to acquire. I thought that spending all of my time reading and “studying” was what it would take to be a successful student. It took me a while–actually, my entire first year–to learn what worked best for me when it came to studying and that what works best for other people doesn’t necessarily work for me.

I spent an excessive amount of time my first year studying and focused mostly on my studies. And while I did achieve a 4.0 my first year at Ohio State, I didn’t feel as accomplished as I thought I would. My mother actually told me that she wished I would get a B because she thought it would take a lot of pressure off of me. I thought she was crazy, I was doing fine at Ohio State; I had a 4.0 for goodness sake!

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Fall semester of my second year I was enrolled in an Honors accounting class. It was the toughest class I had ever taken; the material was difficult and I was thoroughly confused. I spent many hours trying to decipher the information and went to office hours regularly. I had gotten a C on the first midterm and I was traumatized. I didn’t know how this had happened. I worked even harder, getting more and more stressed over this class. To this day, I remember taking the final exam and the joy I felt when I got my cash flow statement to balance.

How I felt the whole semester.

How I felt the whole semester.

I ended up with a B+ in that class and to be honest it is the grade I am most proud of. Yes, it may not have been the A I wanted, but I learned the most from that class and I worked the hardest for that grade. I not only learned the material for the exams, but I retained the information and still use the knowledge from that class in my accounting classes today.

As much as I hate to admit it, my mother was right: getting a B did take a lot of pressure off of me. I realized that the world didn’t end because I no longer had a 4.0 and that everything was okay. Looking back, I realize I had neglected a lot of relationships and missed a lot of opportunities because I was holed up in my room studying all of the time.  I now have a much more relaxed attitude toward my academics and spend more time on my relationships. I realize that ten years from now I am not going to remember those two extra hours I spent studying for my law exam, but I will remember that dinner I cooked with my friends and the conversations we had. This more relaxed attitude has actually helped me in my academics because it has reduced the stress and anxiety I often felt before exams.

Getting a B was the best thing that has ever happened to me. It made me realize there is more to my college experience than academics and that the relationships I build are just as important  as the grades I achieve.

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