How to Survive Multiple Identity Crises 101

It’s not a surprise to most people that college is a great time to really find out who you are. And usually that’s viewed as a very exciting and positive opportunity for personal growth. But what people don’t really think about (or maybe it’s just me, I was kind of naive like that) is how scary it can be when that person is completely different than who you were.

 

From high school I was used to being extremely involved and pretty well known publicly in my small town. I had centered my entire identity around being the cheerleading captain, a leader in the drumline, and key member of the drama club. I put so much focus on being the best at all these aspects and becoming a representative for these organizations, that I never stopped to work on who I was outside of them. But I was a big fish in a small pond, so when I came to campus these roles that I had known and embodied for so long were no longer a part of my life. It was really hard for me to find my fit on campus and I made it even harder on myself because I came into Ohio State with the mindset that I needed to focus on my academics first (because I was also going through and academic identity crisis but we’ll get to that in a little bit) and to do that I couldn’t waste time trying to find new organizations to join (**Spoiler alert** this was a bad decision, would not recommend).

 

 

But you know, I made the decision and I was going to commit to it gosh darn it. So instead, I worked on my personal identity crisis. Like I mentioned earlier, I came from a very small town and pretty much everybody held the same beliefs. My political views, religious beliefs, and outlook on life were all basically shaped based on the thoughts and opinions of everyone I was raised with. Now I was left on campus on my own because, despite being from central Ohio, I only knew a few people on campus and it was really up to me to make decisions for my life. It was especially hard to be going through this identity crisis with it being such a big political year because of the Presidential election. It’s a weird thing to have to rethink everything you’ve grown up believing.

So instead of taking the scary step to do that on my own, I took the easy way out and used the relationship I recently entered as a distraction. The problem with that was I put so much focus and effort into that relationship that I was used to be introduced as my boyfriend’s girlfriend. And unfortunately, when that relationship ended, I didn’t have that safety net anymore.

Now we’ll get to that academic identity crisis I promised earlier. When I applied to Ohio State senior year, I decided on a major in a very rough and pretty uninformed way. I basically floated through high school. And that’s not to say I skated by academically (I actually graduated top of my class) but I wasn’t passionate about anything. I went to school, took tests, and earned good grades. But there was never a moment that I thought “Hey, this is something I want to do for my whole life.” So I picked a major and pretty quickly figured out I was miserable in it. So here I was in my first year on my own: I didn’t have any extra curricular things I was involved in to take my mind off the fact that I didn’t like my major classes, I didn’t know what I stood for, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.

With all that being said, the thing that I found helped me most was doing some personal research — specifically with political issues. I had to research both sides and decided where I stood as opposed to listening to those around me. But you don’t have to do that research alone. My hall director was super helpful in helping me find organizations and get involved on campus. And I turned to my academic advisor and my mom for advice when picking a new major. Now I’m not going to lie, it’s not something you deal with once and you’re done with it forever. I’m still pinning down who I am, I mean, just last week I dyed all my hair. But we don’t have to do it on our own!

Making the Most of Your Dining Plan

Oh The Ohio State Meal plan. Whether you have the Gray 10, Scarlet 14, or Unlimited, you need to know how to use it wisely. Here are my pro- tips for using your meal plan to its full potential!  

USE ALL YOUR SWIPES 

For the Gray 10 and Scarlet 14 folks, you should never let your swipes go to waste because they don’t roll over from week to week. (Dining Dollars and BuckId cash DO roll over from week to week) If you find yourself with multiple swipes left over on Sundays, you can spend them on campus. My favorite places to spend swipes are the Ohio Union Market, where swipes are worth $8, and the C-Stores, where swipes are worth $5. At the Union I love getting a panini or two because they hold up well in the refrigerator. Another great place to spend your swipes at the end of the week is Sloopy’s in the Union!

The three C-Stores, or convenience stores on campus are at Morrill, Scott, and Market Place. C-Stores sell frozen meals, snacks, essentials like bread and milk, and my personal favorite PINTS OF JENI’S ICE CREAM. Also, you can use your Swipes and Dining Dollars in combination at on campus locations other than Traditions. Again, swipes are worth $8 everywhere on campus except the C-Stores where they are worth $5.

Try something new! 

There are almost 30 places on campus to eat that offer a wide range of options. If you’re feelin’ pizza but also feelin’ lazy it’s okay because The PAD delivers! I’d also recommend Heirloom Café in the Wexner Center for the Arts. Don’t have time to sit and dine? No worries! At any Traditions location you can get a to-go box when you swipe in to grab food and go! It is still worth a swipe. For locations other than Traditions you can order your food ahead of time on the app Tapingo. The app alerts you when your food is ready; all you have to do is pick it up! If you have BuckId Cash, you can use it at restaurants in Columbus like Buffalo Wild Wings, Qdoba, Chop Shop, Bibibop, and more. BuckId cash can also be used on campus locations.  

The Unlimited Plan 

The beauty of the unlimited plan is that it’s just that, unlimited! You don’t have to eat a meal every time you swipe in; you can make it a grab and go! People may complain about having the unlimited plan because all they have to eat is Traditions. But, there are ways to get creative. My favorite dining hall creations are as follows:  

Milk Shakes= cup+ice cream+milk and stir 

Root beer floats= cup+ice cream+root beer and float 

Ice cream sandwich= cookie+ice cream+cookie and squish 

Hopefully now you’re feeling more like a pro at using you dining plan. Keep an eye out for a First Year Success Series (FYSS) session dedicated to nutrition on campus!

Go Bucks!

Taking Back Your Time: How to Manage Your Time in Your First Semester

Hey everyone! 

 As the beginning of your first year at Ohio State starts to come around in full swing, everything might start to feel very overwhelming. This rang true for me, as my first year didn’t result in academic success. I think the main reason behind my failure to succeed in my major (Zoology/Pre-Medicine) was that I did not manage my time well AT ALL. I had no system to keep track of my events and homework, and I didn’t make a responsible schedule for myself that balanced my free-time and what should have been study time. After finally making a thorough schedule the summer before my second-year, I realized how important it is to stay organized and manage the time I have responsibly. I can’t imagine what I’d be doing now without one. Below are some quick Why’s and How’s of organizing a busy schedule. 

 Why? 

I used to think that I wasn’t the type of person who benefited from a planner (or note-taking for that matter) but as the year rolled around, I quickly became overwhelmed in a futile attempt to keep up with everything. The fact of the matter is, you can’t remember everything on your own. In college, your schedule is almost entirely up to you and having some sort of event-organizing device is simply crucial to keeping sanity AND a balanced scheduled.     

 How? 

Okay, I might sound like a broken record, so how do you go about this practically? For those of you who’ve never needed to use a calendar or planner, it might be hard to start (it was for me). These are some ideas that might work for you: 

 Online Calendars: 

Google Calendar, iCloud Calendar, and Outlook Calendar are all great examples of free online calendars. This my personal first choice (I love Google Calendar). This offers an easy and simple way to color-code, have high accessibility (your phone is probably always on you), and I personally think it’s the least tedious option. Here’s an example of what one of my weeks looks like in Google Calendar: 

 

Physical Planner:  

For some, this is the best choice. Having a planner you can customize and hand-write in is a very appealing option (some studies show that handwriting improves memory). The only stipulation about these is that the nicer versions cost money, you have to write, and you’re not always going to have it.

 At the very least, a reminders app: 

Just having something to jot down quick reminders will improve your quality of life tenfold. 

I hope these few quick tips help get your first year off in an organized way!

 

Unpack your bags: Settling down at Ohio State

Spring break is over and finals are in sight, which means your first year is almost over. So, now what? About this same time during my first year I had the opportunity to attend a retreat with a student organization I am involved in on campus. At the end of the retreat the director gave a very powerful message about how as the first year was coming to a close and it was time for first years to settle down and “unpack their bags.” After spending a year exploring various options for involvement, if they had felt they had found their place in this group it was now time to settle down and dive deeper into the organization to provide the next generation of leadership for the group.

Bags

It’s no secret that the success of a student organization is often due to strong leadership from upper class students. Thus, it is crucial for the next group of students to step up to take on leadership roles and dive deeper into the organization. That’s not to say that you should take on leadership roles in every organization; instead, you should think about stepping up to lead in areas where you feel passionate. I am a firm believer that stepping up to lead does not necessarily mean that you have to have an official leadership title or position, but that you lead by example. For me, there were two juniors that I met during my first year who did not have any official position of leadership in our student organization, but to me they were two of the strongest leaders because they led by their examples. They went above and beyond to make me feel welcome and a part of the group. As a result of their example, I have worked to do the same for the students who are coming after me. Being devoted and a consistent member who is fully present is sometimes the most significant way to contribute.

As you think about areas where you may want to dive deeper and “unpack your bags” make sure that you evaluate WHY you are doing it. As a college student, I understand the temptation to take on a positional leadership role simply so you can list it on your resume. If that is your motivation to take on a leadership role, I urge you to think twice about the role. Work to find something you are truly passionate about, you believe in, and that excites you. If you are passionate about what you are doing, it will be easier to be motivated to do a good job. If you don’t care about the organization or your position, you will likely struggle to stay motivated in the role.

While some may have found a niche on campus where they feel they belong and can call home, it’s alright if you haven’t! As my first year came to a close I still wasn’t 100 percent sure where I belonged and I continued to explore a few involvement opportunities at the start of my second year. I think it is much more important to find meaningful involvement than just any involvement, so if it takes a little longer to find the perfect place, that is okay!

Best Friends or Roommates: Same Thing?

It’s that time of year: time to decide who you will spend the entirety of next year sharing your precious personal space with and calling your roommate. For some, the decision may come easy. But for many, the decision feels dreadful. Day in and day out I see friends posting Buzzfeed articles on Facebook entitled, “20 Reasons How You Know Your Roommate is Your Best Friend” or “8 Reasons Why Living with Your Best Friend is the Greatest Thing Ever.” Living with your best friend could be a great decision. But I have also seen the opposite be true; many friendships fall apart after deciding to live together. Some people, regardless of how close of a relationship, will not make good roommates and that is okay! As it comes time to make your decision, I recommend having an honest conversation with your potential roommate about living preferences. What matters is that you will be good roommates and do not necessarily have to be best friends.

Roommate Picture

Two years ago I struggled immensely with the decision of who would be my sophomore year roommate. There were at least four different contenders, and I was closer with some than others. However, I ultimately decided to live with a friend that I was not nearly as close with (at the time) but I knew for a fact we would be phenomenal roommates. We lived next door to each other during our first year, and it was very clear when you walked into either room which desks were ours based on the level of organization and cleanliness. Also, I knew I would feel comfortable talking with her if an issue were ever to arise (which fortunately didn’t end up happening!). While some may not believe me, I can honestly say I don’t think we had a single disagreement all year.

Being able to come home at the end of a long day to a room that I knew would be clean and drama free was a major reason I found my groove during my second year. Living with a fellow introvert, I knew that I could come home and just stick headphones in if I needed alone time. She wouldn’t misunderstand my need for quiet, thinking I was mad or upset. She recognized that we both sometimes just needed quiet time and that was not a reflection on her. Other days, we had great times together just hanging out and being silly. It was through this mutual respect and understanding, that we became great friends over the course of the year and ended up traveling across the United States together. I am so thankful that I picked my roommate based on someone who I knew would make a compatible roommate because that created the foundation for a wonderful friendship.

While I was fortunate to have made a great decision, some of my other friends found their friendships deteriorate because living with a best friend ended up being harder than they thought. I was so thankful day after day that I could confidently say that I had such a stress-free living environment. After all, there are plenty of other stresses that come with being a college student. Do you want to add the stress of incessant roommate disagreements and arguments? Think through your preferences and communicate with your potential roommate before you sign the housing contact. Don’t forget to submit your housing and roommate preferences by Feb. 26!

5 Tips for Getting Through the Winter

Some people have their own favorite tips and tricks to make life a little more manageable in the winter. Most people know the simple ones: wear a winter coat, a hat will keep your ears warm, drink hot chocolate, etc. Here are some tips based on lessons I learned the hard way during my first year!

Strategically plan your walk.

Did you know that University Hall and Dulles Hall are connected through their basements? Walking from your North Campus residence hall to Scott Lab? Cut through the lobby of the Physics Research Building to let your nose warm up a bit.

University Hall Snow

Toes still cold even with doubled up socks? 

Another pair of socks won’t typically help. Invest in some winter boots, and look for ones with traction on the soles so you don’t slip. If they aren’t waterproof, look into buying some waterproofing spray to keep your toes extra toasty.

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Find yourself repeatedly applying Chapstick?

Put it on right before you walk outside. It will create a protective barrier between your cracked lips and that pesky cold. But keep in mind that overdoing it with the Chapstick may just lead to you needing it more! I find that applying it before going outside, rather than after, is a good, happy medium.

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Invest in warm gloves.

Think heavy-duty gloves. Mittens just won’t cut it unless you keep your hands in your coat pockets the entire time. I have never found a good pair of smartphone-friendly gloves that are both warm enough for the walk across campus and allow me to reply to a text message. Keep me posted if you find an efficient pair. (:

kitten mittens

 

Check the weather and your email before you go to class!

Sometimes, the weather may be especially bad and you will need to double up on your clothes. Other times, your professor may have difficulty getting to class and cancel it or the university may be closed completely. Trust me, you will not want to walk all the way to class to find out no one else is there.

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If you have any helpful tips for getting through the winter, be a pal and share them in the comments!

8 Things I am Doing While Home for Winter Break

Check over grades

Before I completely check out for the semester, I will definitely log into my Buckeye Link or Ohio State Mobile App to make sure my official grades look alright. You should do the same! Double check them with what is in Carmen. If you think there is a mistake don’t hesitate to email your professors to clarify.

OSU Mobile App

File the FAFSA

Since the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is due Feb. 15, I will definitely take some time to fill it out over break! Complete the form for free through the FAFSA website. The application opens Jan. 1, so the last week of winter break is the perfect time to get it done. You will need information from your parents from last year so completing it while all together is ideal. I know I will be glad to have it done by the time February rolls around and I am swamped with spring semester midterms!

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Apply for scholarships

There are so many scholarships out there and I definitely will take the time to fill out a few applications over break. Keep in mind that some of these applications require you to fill out the FAFSA, so make sure you do that as well! A few easy ones to apply for are the:

Pay fees for spring semester

Since the fee payment deadline is Monday, Jan. 4, I definitely will make sure I have all my fees paid on time so I don’t risk being dropped from my classes.

Review schedule for spring semester

I plan to go over my schedule to make sure everything looks good before the semester starts. I will check on any classes I was waitlisted for to see if I have been placed in the class or if I need to make any changes to my schedule. I want to make sure I start second semester off on the right foot!

Class Schedule

Purchase books for spring semester!

Since the books I need will likely be posted before break is over, I’ll check this over to make sure I have all the necessary books. You can find the books you need in your course syllabi (if your professors post them on Carmen before the semester starts) or on Buckeye Link. On Buckeye Link, click on “My Class Schedule” then select “Spring 2016 Semester” and then the “Buy Books” button is a blue hyperlink in the top right corner. This will take you directly to the Barnes and Noble website. I usually look at this list and then check out other book sources (such as used bookstores and Amazon) to find the cheapest place to purchase or rent those textbooks.

Doctor’s appointments!

Take advantage of this extended break to take care of any necessary doctor’s appointments. I know I personally have multiple appointments set up for over break so I don’t have to worry about them during the semester.

Doctors Appointment

Relax!

We’ve worked hard this semester and deserve a break! I definitely plan on taking some time to enjoy some holiday movies by the fireplace!

Winterbreak

Stand Up to Peer Pressure: College Edition

MYTH: Peer pressure only exists in high school

When we graduate from high school, we don’t graduate from peer pressure. I remember thinking that if I could just make it out of high school, I would finally escape the peer pressure to drink, smoke, and hook up that was ever present, especially on weekends. The reality is that peer pressure is a class from which few of us ever graduate. I had such high expectations for college that it was a rude awakening to realize that peer pressure was stronger than ever.

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In college, peer pressure is heightened because–unlike high school, where we could escape to our bedrooms to avoid some of what was going on–we can’t separate ourselves so easily from our peer groups. Instead of a sanctuary to which we can retreat, our residence hall rooms can be the scene of the peer pressure. For many Ohio State freshmen–away from home for the first time–the physical presence and the emotional and spiritual support of parents and siblings is greatly diminished. The friends who shaped our experiences have gone off in different directions and some have radically changed. These alterations to our support systems can be confusing, and challenge our ability to distinguish among the morals and values we thought we packed and brought along to college.

Why is it so hard to say no?

We all want to make friends, fit in, and be liked. The desire to feel like we are part of a group is completely normal, and most people feel this way their entire lives! We want to appear cool to a potential new friend, so we go along with our ‘friend’s’ request despite knowing that it is not the right choice. I know from experience that sometimes my values can be compromised, especially when I’m trying to escape the loneliness that comes from being with others who don’t share the same values and morals.

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How can we effectively deal with peer pressure?

I’m a senior in college and I still struggle with peer pressure. From the glimpses I’ve gotten of the working world, I’ve learned that peer pressure isn’t going away any time soon. Developing the skills to effectively deal with peer pressure will be a lifelong benefit to us. I have gathered some of the strategies that I and my fellow Peer Leaders use to cope with peer pressure:

  • Educate yourself with the facts. Not everyone is drinking or having sex!
  • Have honest conversations before you are put in a situation where peer pressure may arise. Peer Leader Lauren has found that when she is up front with her friends about her decision not to consume alcohol, her friends respect her choice and don’t pressure her to compromise her values. Don’t be afraid to communicate your perspective with your roommates and friends and be open to listening to others’ perspectives. Good communication on your part about your values helps others know where you stand, and others will be less apt to pressure you to do things you don’t want to do.
  • Try not to rely too heavily on the approval of brand new friends. This is easier said than done. Give more weight to the opinions of those you hold dear than to the opinions of new acquaintances. When stuck on a decision, consult those who embody your values instead of someone who doesn’t.
  • Surround yourself with people who share similar values, especially when you’re still developing a sense of self. I didn’t know myself well enough in my first year to know that I needed friends who didn’t go out and party. I wish I would have realized that there is always someone who wants to watch Gossip Girl or go to Jeni’s for ice cream instead of go out to a bar.
  • Have an exit plan. If you are in a situation where you feel pressured to do something you don’t want to do, it’s perfectly okay to say you’re not feeling well or you have to go. You don’t owe anyone a long-winded explanation.
  • Find someone you trust to talk to when you have felt peer pressured. Debriefing is a good way to understand more about yourself. Perhaps you might have these conversations with your Peer Leader or RA 🙂

Six Snacking Tips for the Hungry College Student

It is certainly that time of the semester where my planner is chock-full of assignments, exams, and student organization meetings. In the midst of a busy semester, it is easy to take short cuts when it comes to your health and nutritional needs. If you are anything like me, I am constantly hungry. Three o’clock rolls around and I am ready for a boost of energy to get me through the day. Here are some tips and tools to arm you with the knowledge you need when hunger strikes.

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Be Proactive

My best piece of advice would be to be proactive. It is easy to grab unhealthy snacks such as chips, cookies, and other processed foods because they are convenient and prepackaged. However, there are alternatives that are more health conscious and will keep you fuller.

When I lived on campus, I would go to one of the campus market locations (Union Market, Curl Market, and Marketplace) and stock my Microfridge with containers of fresh cut berries, yogurt parfaits, and small salads. When a craving would strike, I would already be prepared with healthy options in my own room.

Watch Your Portion Size

Always remember, a snack is NOT a meal. A snack should be something to keep you focused throughout the day–not a meal replacement.

Keep portions small and pay attention to serving sizes. Check out the nutrition label on the back and estimate what a serving would be. It is so easy to mindlessly eat and all of the sudden the whole bag is gone. Oops!

Pack with Care

You might be on-the-go like me or a commuter student who brings your lunch and snacks to school. It is important to pack your snacks safely to avoid food spoilage.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, perishable items such as cheese, meats, and yogurts should not be left out for more than two hours. Make sure you pack snacks with a cold pack and in an insulated container to ensure safe snacking on the go.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is so important, especially since we’re hiking around campus all day. It is a great idea to carry a water bottle in your backpack–there are many convenient water bottle filling stations all around campus and in residence halls.

Stick to water instead of surgery sweetened beverages. If you crave fizz, try flavored sparkling water.

Look Out for Sugar Bombs

You might be surprised to learn that your favorite granola and protein bars might have as much sugar as a candy bar. The food industry is really sneaky at adding extra sugar to foods and advertising them as “healthy.”

A great alternative would be to snack on fresh fruit with natural sugar and nut butters to give you the boost you need. For example, apples and peanut butter is a delicious snack.

When in Doubt, Consult an Expert

If you are unsure of your specific caloric needs or need help navigating campus dining, it is always best to consult an expert. A Registered Dietitian (RD) is a nutrition expert that can help you with your specific dietary needs.

Fortunately at Ohio State, there are many resources here to help you. Check out the Student Wellness Center located inside the RPAC for nutrition coaching.

From one food lover to another, happy snacking!

5 Tips for Navigating the Awkwardness of College

Dear Awkward College Students,

As a fellow awkward student now in my third year at Ohio State, I’ve had my share of awkward situations and look forward to many more in years to come. In the meantime, I hope to share a few pieces of wisdom on how to embrace your own awkwardness and make the most of the precariously awkward situations you may find yourself in throughout your time at Ohio State. Although you may not be able to change your awkward nature, you can still thrive in a world that hates awkwardness.

1. Improper and Destructive Ways of Dealing with Awkwardness

Let’s start off with a few things that feed the insatiable creature that is awkwardness.

Texting or tweeting at people in your life who deserve a real conversation. Technology allows us the ability to say things to people that maybe would be awkward or uncomfortable in person. Although it may be easier and feel safer to tweet a passive-aggressive comment about your roommate and the dishes that have been piling up for weeks, don’t expect anything to change by you offending the roommate in front of your Twitter followers. Other situations that deserve at least a phone call if not a face to face interaction include: roommate disputes, asking someone on a date, breaking up with someone, and apologizing if you have hurt someone.

Avoiding awkwardness by turning to alcohol in social situations. This is an extremely unhealthy way to treat alcohol and college is a time where you have ample opportunities to LEARN how to talk to people. Alcohol should not be necessary to “have a good time” or meet other human beings.

2. “Roomie, We Need to Talk”

Living with people is hard, no matter how long you have known them. Wherever you find yourself living during your time at Ohio State, if you have roommates/housemates, you will find awkward situations. However, to successfully live with someone–and in any healthy relationship in life–communication is key. Sometimes that means you must have awkward and uncomfortable conversations where you address the things that your roommate does that bothers you or makes you uncomfortable. Many times they do not realize what they do makes you uncomfortable because you never told them, so be direct but also patient and gracious.

3. Traveling Around Campus

You can easily find the students that are glued to their phones, earbuds in, and therefore closed to any social interaction on their way to class, maybe a head nod for the guy that lived on their floor freshman year or creepy wink for the girl in their Biology class as they pass them on the Oval. Rather than escaping into your music as you head to Chemistry lecture, LOOK UP, and enjoy the beautiful campus full of really awesome people! Also, it’s good practice to say “Hi” to the people you recognize (or even strangers, if you are feeling extra friendly), even if you don’t know their name; the alternative of looking down at your phone to avoid eye contact is far worse and far more awkward for everyone. The same goes for buses–you can talk to the people on the bus, it’s allowed!

4. Making Conversation

As you are meeting loads of people, this means you actually have to hold conversations…I know, scary, right? Luckily, everyone in college is in similar phases of life; we are all trying to figure out our own lives and endure similar struggles. This makes conversation easy, so introduce yourself, ask people about their lives, and don’t be afraid to take it deeper than the “Hi, how are you?” “Good, how are you?” interaction that plagues college campuses. The answer “good” really means anything from great to absolutely awful. Ask questions, get to know people, and listen to their stories, because the surface level conversations get pretty old after awhile.

5. Awkwardness in Class

College classrooms are also an awkward hot spot. Many college students use the time before class, or even during class, to scroll through social media, text their friends, or swipe left and right on the latest dating app. College is a unique experience in our lives where we are surrounded by tons of people with very diverse perspectives on life, so take advantage of it! Meeting people in class is an awesome way to form study groups, make new friends who are interested in similar things you are, and make those 8 a.m. classes even more enjoyable as you get to learn about neat things and see your friends, too!

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May this picture of me in a very awkward stage of my life (that arguably is still ongoing) encourage you in your pursuit of fully embracing the awkward to make your Ohio State experience a little more pleasant and free from avoidable awkwardness.