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May 5, 2013

Stress ^ 1000

I know it's been a long time since I've written, far too long in fact. Life has been extremely hectic for me and besides the usual college stress I've also been having some struggles in my personal life as well. But with four days left of this semester I can feel myself getting back on track. This semester has been a lot more difficult than the last one--not only do I have a bigger credit load than I did last semester but I've also had many other things on my plate this semester. Doing my taxes, filling out the FAFSA, figuring out where I'm going to live once my dorm experience is (finally) over, registering for next fall's classes. The list goes on and on but finally all of the aforementioned stressors are taken care of. All I have left to do is get through a few finals and presentations and then I can breathe again. I've been slowly moving out of the dorms for weeks now (because I am so anxious to get out) and by this Saturday the process will be complete. I was on the dean's list last semester, to my own surprise, and for that reason I feel obligated to get on it again this semester. However I don't know if that goal will be accomplished. As I said this semester I am taking more classes and in my opinion more difficult classes, and so even though I'm crossing my fingers and doing everything I can to make my final grades good ones, I'm trying to be come to terms with the idea that this semester I might not make it, (I'll let you know how that goes). I'm excited to go back to my hometown one last summer even though all I'll be doing is working, trying to save up the money necessary for my new place. I'll be living in a duplex above my brother with my boyfriend which will be awesome. We will be a happy little family all under one roof, not to mention I will be eating at my brother's place every night. Win! What I'm most excited for is moving into my own place, having all of my belongings organized and where I want them, painting and decorating to my heart's desire (I love HGTV), and finally having some sense of independence. I will also need to get a job which frankly I'm not looking forward to. I can hardly handle just going to school full time, but then work part-time too? I don't know how I'm going to do it but at least I'll have money. The other day I only had $4.00 on my debit card and it was mortifying. Also really looking forward to being able to go grocery shopping and cooking rather than eating out or eating junk food all day like I do now. I guess all I mean to say is that I am stressed as all holy hell but things are looking up. More on this soon but right now I need to study for finals... Best of luck to you in your end-of-the-semester struggles.

February 14, 2013

Belief Speech

In my public speaking course, our first big speech was due this week. It was a belief speech in which we talk about something we deeply believe in, why we believe it, and how the belief affects our life. I decided to write about organ donation because it is a topic that I have experience with and that is near and dear to my heart. So I wrote out my speech and I was feeling so good about it--it was heartfelt and personal just like I wanted. The best speeches are always delivered with emotion and my story was touching. However, when I got in front of that crowd, the emotion was overwhelming and I couldn't hold it together. I bawled in front of my entire class. I am not a huge fan of crying, especially with a live audience, so embarrassed doesn't even describe how I feel. My perfectly timed speech was then a minute and a half over, as I struggled to get out the words. I still feel terrible over it, but many of my classmates reassured me that it was still a very strong speech, and that crying was expected considering I was bearing my soul. Many of my classmate teared up with me. The worst part though, is that the entire speech was recorded on film. I had a microphone attached that caught every sniffle, and the camera caught my shaking hands wiping the tears away and struggling as my glasses slid down my face with my tears. Having to watch myself bawling and struggling through my speech is going to really SUCK. Here is the write out of my belief speech for those of you who are interested:

 

I believe that organ donation is something that is hugely important, not only for our society as a whole, but especially for me as an individual. Being an organ donor is something I identify myself with, and it is something that I am very passionate about. This topic is such a huge part of my life because if it wasn't for organ donors, my father would not be alive today. It's a scary thought, but it's completely true.

My father has been terminally ill my entire life, and when I was in the fourth grade, his liver began to fail due to hepatitis. He was on the donor list for over two years, and there were many names above his who had been waiting much longer than he had. My father told me that at the time, about sixty percent of the people on the waiting list to get a new liver would die before they ever got that life changing phone call saying that a liver had been found for them. The hope for my dad to get a new liver seemed very unlikely. As my father's illness worsened, he continued to move toward the top of the list, but it got to the point where the doctors sent him home to be comfortable--there was nothing left for us to do but hope. At a very young age, I was forced to come to terms with the fact that my father wouldn't be around much longer. It was just a looming fact that I had to figure out how to deal with--it seemed that there were no more miracles left in store for him. But on May third of 2002, we received that life changing phone call, and a miracle happened.

I remember being dragged out of bed to hurriedly pack my bags; I remember my mother's frantic phone calls to everyone in the family; and I remember my father growing anxious and afraid. It all happened so fast, but it was happening; everyone was feeling a mixture of happiness, relief, and panic. I remember my father being prepped for surgery and saying goodbye, hoping that it wasn't the last time. I remember waiting for over twenty hours in the family waiting room, listening to my grandmother weep and watching my mother's uncertain silence. I think I was too young to fully grasp how my father's life was hanging in the balance, but I was aware enough to have a sick feeling in my stomach the entire time, until the surgeons finally came out and told us--my dad came out of surgery ok. I wasn't allowed to see him for days; my mom didn't want us to see him like that--hooked up to life support with all sorts of tubes coming out of him. I didn't understand then why I couldn't see my dad, but I do now that I'm older and I have seen him like that. It's a scarring image. So I was forced to go home and be babysat by my frantic grandmother until I could see my father's cheeky grin a few days later.

It has now been almost 11 years since my dad's transplant and his body has accepted the liver remarkably well--he didn't even need anti-rejection medication after his surgery. Although he is still terminally ill with numerous health issues, he has had zero problems with his liver since the surgery. It is now HIS liver; his body has embraced it with open arms, the liver which gave him life.

That very liver that now works within my father's body had once belonged to a very old woman who was otherwise healthy until a brain aneurism took her life. Her being an organ donor changed my life forever; my potentially fatherless life was flipped, and I have no one to thank but her. Her death, a tragedy no doubt, had a positive impact on so many; through her death she gave my father life, and countless other people in need of organ transplants. I can't imagine anything more meaningful than that.

It is because of this, my father's miracle, that I decided to become an organ donor. My strong belief in organ donation affects my life in the sense that I know when I pass on, my precious organs will be given away. It's a weird thing to think about, but for me it is comforting. We all want to be remembered, to have our life mean something, to have an impact on the world. At the end of my life, however sad and unfortunate, I want to be able to give that gift of life through my own death, to someone who could potentially have many more years to come after receiving my organs. I believe that my death will then mean something, to someone, as that old lady's death did to me.

February 10, 2013

Another Study Spot Challenge

Again I've come across this through the tunnel system aka gopher way. This area is a little cafe but there is always a lot of seating for studying and it is always quiet, (it is in a type of building that is known for being very quiet, many doctors pass through here.) I've walked by many time and thought about sitting and studying but today is my first time actually doing it. LOVE IT. Especially after the cafe closes (at three) but the seating is still open, most people clear out and it's very peaceful.

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February 10, 2013

Birthday Princess

Last Thursday was my 19th birthday and on that day it just so happened that one of my favorite artists, Big Gigantic was playing in Madison at the Orpheum Theater. It was destiny. So Thursday I drove all the way to Madison, over five hours in the car, with my boyfriend Josh, his friend Cory, my roommate Jasmine, our mutual friend Rachael, and my best friend Holland who now lives in Madison. The roads were absolutely terrible; we saw nine cars in the ditch and one semi. Luckily we made it alive and made it to the show. The theater was beautiful and historic and Big G rocked it. I wore a birthday sash so everyone knew it was my birthday and I got so much love from the crowd, it was incredible. Even the drummer noticed me! The night ended at our hotel, where we finally went to sleep around 5 in the morning. It was the best night of my life by far and will probably be my most memorable birthday ever. I am so glad I got to spend my birthday with some of my all-time favorite people seeing one of my all-time favorite artists. So worth the drive!

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February 10, 2013

Proud Moment

This semester I made it on to the dean's list, which in all honesty was kind of surprising. I mean, I knew I got extremely good grades (I think all A's, I never actually looked to be honest), but I figured that there were enough people in my college with better grades than me that I wouldn't be on the list and I was pretty ok with that. But suddenly I started receiving all these emails saying congratulations and come to find out my name was on that list. Granted, I worked extremely hard for my grades and it feels so good to receive some acknowledgement for that. I've had to exchange most of my social life so that I can stay home and finish every reading assigned while other students are blowing it off and doing fun things instead. Which is ok to do sometimes but I figure that as long as I'm paying thousands and thousands of dollars to be here, I better make it worth it and get the grades. For most people college is where you discover yourself and being social and partying is a huge part of the college experience. However I already had that experience in high school and I am here to work hard, and that's what I've been doing. Now that I've been on the dean's list once, I'm making it my goal to be on it every semester for the rest of my college years. I don't want it to be a one-time thing. I think it is doable, but I know the effort it will take to accomplish and it won't be easy. But I know all of this hard work will pay off in my future, and yours will too!

February 10, 2013

Money Probs

As you may or may not know, the deadline for your FAFSA is once again quickly approaching. By now you should've received your W2's and should be getting your taxes done. If you are a freshman like me, you might be wondering whether or not your parents should claim you as a dependent. I personally went into OneStop and I asked them what would be best for me, and they said yes, my dad should claim me. Your parents will need your W2's to do your taxes as well as their own. I highly recommend having a professional do your taxes rather than attempting them yourself. Furthermore, the deadlines on Scholarships are also here and if you've been procrastinating like me, you better get in with your advisor and get on that. Looking for scholarships can be tough because although there is much out there, it is so hard to sort through them and figure out what you are or aren't applicable for. Apply for as many scholarships as you possibly can because although it's not fun and it takes time, free money is never a bad thing, especially when you're a broke college student. Next year when you are no longer in the dorms and you don't have to pay for the meal plan and all that other nonsense they charge you for, you should actually get money that will be left over. Once everything comes through and your tuition is paid, anything extra goes into your pocket. That's money to pay your first few month's rent while you look for a job, or to put back into your probably drained savings, or even to start paying back all those student loans we have building up. Like I said, money is never a bad thing when you're as broke as a college student. All those people weren't joking about the being broke part, huh? Moral of the story, get your crap together and apply for scholarships, do your taxes, and get next year's FAFSA done and get that money!

February 10, 2013

On-Campus or Off-Campus?

That is the question. Now that my first year is coming to a close, I am forced to figure out where on earth I'm going to live next year. It is no secret that the dorms are not cheap, and although they were alright for my freshman year, I am so over the dorm scene. Like most others, I am ready to get the heck out of here and get into an apartment. Most college students move into the apartments on campus such as 412 Lofts or Stadium View. These are exceptional choices because they are so conveniently close to everything and you will be able to room with all of your new college friends. However, I will be moving in with my boyfriend, not my college friends. Also, the wonderful, well-located apartments are even more spendy than the dorms. Living on campus is extremely competitive and considering the great location (right on campus, right next to the light rail, etc.) the rent gets increasingly expensive. So then there is living off-campus which seems like the route to take for someone as broke as me whose parents won't be paying for my college or rent or anything. There are numerous suitable off-campus apartments where you get much more bang for your buck. For example, one of my friends will be living in one of the on-campus apartments with three other girls. It is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment, and each girl will pay about $600 a month. In Whitebear, about a twenty minute drive from campus, you can get a two-bedroom, one-bathroom with amenities such as an indoor pool and sauna, where my boyfriend and I would each pay about $300 a month. Sounds much nicer, doesn't it? There are also many options in St. Paul or Roseville; all of these towns have decent and safe options. However then you must take into account the extra time it will take to get to classes every day, the cost of gas, the cost of parking, and so on. I still have absolutely no idea where I will be living still, (should probably get on that,) and there is much to consider. For any of you who are in the same crunch as me, I hope this helps a bit. Good luck to all of you trying to figure out your life.

February 9, 2013

Study Spaces

I posted about good study places at the beginning of my first semester here, and I did alright considering I had only been here a short time and had not explored nearly as much as I have now. Yet I did very little to shed light on specific places that are ideal for studying. This is somewhat of a paradox because good study spaces are quiet and uninhibited by people, so blogging about them could potentially turn them into the next Coffman or STSS (overcrowded and under-productive). So my idea is that I will give you pictures and hints to lead to a gem of a study place that I have found and if you know campus well enough you will likely be able to find them with ease and the study space will then not be ruined.

So I made the first one EXTREMELY easy:

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Hint: These are two different rooms that are great study places within the same building. I have one class in this building, and every time I come here I see all of my professors as well as my boss... It's like they're all ALWAYS here for some reason... Anyway, in the first room there is rarely anyone present but even when there is every now and then, it's still pretty dead quiet. To me it's a really inspiringly beautiful building which for some reason makes my studying easier because I feel like a scholar sitting in this gorgeous, artistic place, thinking about all the people who may have sat there before me. I'm hopelessly imaginative. The second room is even more deserted except for a few teacher assistants every now and then. This room has just as much seating as the first, maybe more, but it also has nifty white boards all over the room.

Here's the second one, almost as easy:

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Hint: I came across this little nook when I was making use of the Gopher Way underground tunnel system, so that narrows it down for you. I have been this building before but never noticed this room so it must be pretty incognito. This is another amazingly beautiful building but it is very popular for studying and is very crowded. People come here mostly because there are a lot of books here... That should give it away right there!

I will post more as I come across them; I have much to do over on the St. Paul and West Bank campuses. Best of luck to you in the never-ending search for lovely places to flourish in your academic excellence! (I'm sorry, I'm sitting in that inspiring room right now, feeling all scholarly.) 

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