Saturday, July 1, 2017

End of Freshman Year: A Reflection


Hello Friends!!

I have been back home for a while now and over these past few weeks I've been getting asked the same question over and over again: "So, how was college?" My first instinct to this questions is to sit the person down and have an hour long conversation all about my thoughts and emotions on my first year but I usually just settle with "good" as a response. As a first generation student there were A LOT of things that I needed to adjust to in college that I never really thought about before hand. To be truthful it was very overwhelming. My anxiety was bad, my daily schedule was always full and I was completely on my own for the first time in 18 years. Not to mention I was in another state 4 hours away from home. Here are some of the things I dealt with and learned from in my first year at college.

Homesickness

Throughout my first year I experienced a lot of homesickness. Before college I had never been away from home for more than a few weeks. I had always considered myself to be very resillient but college is a bigger adjustment than I had anticipated. To be honest the first couple of weeks of college I was in denial of being homesick. I thought that if I dwelled on being away from home that I would miss out on all the fun. But something I wish I could've told myself was that it was ok to feel homesick; it's totally normal to want to be back in a familiar place.

Roommates

Typically during your first year of college you will have one roommate but unlike most people I had two roommates. My first roommate and I met online through my school's website. We were both random strangers that had a lot of things in common with each other and thought it would be great to room together. Turns out that we didn't sync up very well in person as we did online. Mid-fall semester she moved out but we kept in touch (we has the same friend group, it was inevitable).

My second semester roommate, I coincidentally also met online. I met her on my class Facebook page. We originally had plans to become roommates but at the time I wasn't sure if I was going to attend my college. Throughout the first semester we became close friends, so when we became roommates it was a smooth transition.

My advice when going into the dorming process is that you make sure you know exactly what you need in a living situation. Make sure that you and your roommate have a clear understanding of whatever agreement that you guys have.

Friends

Depending on whether or not you are going to a college with other people you know, or whether you are introverted or extroverted, making friends can be quick & simple or slow & difficult. For me I am an introverted extrovert. This means that at heart I enjoy my alone time and quiet spaces but when the enviornment is inviting and the time is right, I can be expressive and outgoing.

A pivotal moment of making friends, for me, was orientation. This typically happens at some point in the summer where you visit your school, become familiar with the campus, get a feel of how campus life is and have an introduction to what you'll be doing. During my orientation I was able to sign up for my first semester classes and meet a bunch of people in my graduating class and major.

I kept in touch with people from orientation through GroupMe, a messaging app. Also the Facebook page for my class. Through these different social media outlets I was able to keep in contact with some people, which helped during the first week of school.

I also made friends with people in my classes by asking them out to the dining hall after lunch or introducing myself to someone after a meeting. Although introductions and spontaneous invitations to the dining hall may be awkward, everyone is awkward the first few weeks so it won't be that bad if you just put yourself out there.

Academics/Balance

Not to sound like a pompous prick (which I am not) but the academics weren't really that difficult. In high school I took a bunch of college-level courses and even took a class at my community college during my senior year of high school. Needless to say, I had some practice in being dealt a lot of work. Although it was a lot of reading and many, many, many papers. The actual work itself wasn't so hard.

What I really didn't have a good grasp on was the amount of work mixed in with the adjustment to a new enviornment. Being able to juggle a new life, new friends, new job (if you get one) and everrything else under the sun - is a lot.

But being able to create a healthy balance in your life is one of the hardest and most rewarding things you can do. Especially when in college when FOMO (fear of missing out) hits. Over the past year I've learned that it's ok to say no to things, but that it's also ok to say yes. Passing up on a good time may mean that you mis sout on some things but there is always something happening and I gurantee that you'll have plenty of time to make memories.

Mental Health

Throughout my first year of college my mental health was put through the wringer. I was challenged in so many ways; mental, emotional, spiritual and even physical. When struggling to find time to hang out with friends, go to the gym, eat a full meal, and do homework I forgot that I needed to take time for me. I needed to relax and breathe.

Something that really helped me was seeking help. I stated going to the on-campus counselors. Although I was reluctant at first I figured "Why not?" There were times that I didn't leave my room because I was too stressed to face seeing people. There were also times where I felt that I was being consumed with work and my only solution was to watch tv and neglect all responsibility.

These things were not helpful to me as a person and student. Going to the counselor allowed me to have a space to think clearly and filter my thoughts out and relax. Most of the times my feelings were validated. Often times with my anxiety, I drove myself into a whole. Comparing myself to others saying "Well, they can get all their assignments done so why can't I?" This type of attitude did more harm than good. And talking out my thoughts with someone helped me to realize that I am not like other people. I work at a different pace than they do, and that's ok.

Culture Shock

I won't go too deep into this subject in this post but I will briefly talk about my experience as a person of color at a predominatly white school. Where I am from, there is a good mix of different backgrounds and where I go to school - there is not. This I knew going into my first year of college. What I didn't expect was this feeling of a void inside me, because I wasn't enveloped in an enviornment of people like me. I stuck out like a chocolate chip in a sugar cookie. Not just because I was brown, but my experiences and point of view in life were very different from the rest of my peers.

It was truly a unique experience, something that takes some getting used to. And quite frankly, after a year. I'm still not used to it....

But overall my time away at college was a year that taught me a lot about myself as a person and the world around me. I appreciate all the lessons I learned and the people I've met.

Let me know about your college experiences and if they were anything similar or different to mine.

Friday, June 16, 2017

STORYTIME: You're Not Photogenic


Wow, it's been a while since I've written anything. College was interesting ride and I'm so grateful for the experience and opportunity to be around amazing people and learn so many new things. But today I am not here to talk about that. I want to write about something that happened to me during college...

"So I have a friend that is a Documentary studies major, which means she wants to make documentaries for her career. For her Intro to Photography class she has to take pictures of people in their natural habitats aka dorms.

So after lunch my friend, another friend and I headed to his dorm for our photo shoot. My guy friend pulled out his guitar and started playing a song, my Doc Studies friend was quick to whip out her camera and start snapping pictures.

Once she starts clicking she can't stop, she calls it being 'shutter happy'. Like trigger happy but with taking photos. Anyway we all get to singing a song and she turns the camera to me and starts taking pictures, I immediately am uncomfortable, just in general I don't like taking pictures of myself, I'm very insecure about the way I look.

I tried my best to ignore the camera and act as normal as possible to create the best shot but I was just super insecure. I think there was a mutual understanding, she wasn't getting the right shots she needed and I was acting camera shy.

She turned back to our guy friend and coninued to take pictures of him strumming his guitar. After about an hour-ish of singing, talking and taking photos we looked back on all the photos. Some of the ones of me were great but most were just weird, caught at the wrong time or wrong angle or simply captured my uneasiness with the camera.

Either way my Doc Studies friend thought it would be a great idea to point out that it was because I wasn't photogenic, after I had made a quip about the amount of photos taken of our guy friend. This comment took my by surprise. I wasn't sure if I heard her right, but surely as I turned to my guy friend he had made a concerning face and a short remark on the cocmment, but after a brief moment it was as if it was never said."

**************************************

The above was written right after the event happened. As I re-read my words I can't help but feel uneasy all over again. I'm not uneasy because of what was said but of how I acted and felt. I allowed myself to be a subject of a normalized social standard. I viewed myself in a way that didn't fit into the mold of convential beauty.

I allowed my fears of not being portrayed within this mold to effect my demeanor. I allowed it shut me down and make me feal a sense of uncomfortability with myself. Although I have struggled with self-confidence my whole life, I have started to become comfortable with who I am. And even though the comment was uncalled for, and even if those were her true thoughts, there was an ingrained truth that rang true in all of us because of the social norms embedded in all of us.

Please let me know if you've ever fallen subject of not being "photogenic".

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Expolitation & Appropriation: How I Make Theory Walk

Spring semester 2017 I took a course called Literature and Cultural Studies. Our last day of class (today) we were asked to bring in a "speech" summarizing our thoughts about the content and learning that happened over the course of the semester. This course helped to reshape my thinking and how I interact with the world around me. This is a revised version of my "speech" on how I incorporate the different theories into my life.





Before taking this course, I always paired theory with science, and science with intellectuals. Before this course, theory’s only purpose was to deliver to me an overly complicated jargon-filled explanation that confused me rather than simplifying the idea at hand. Before this course, I never thought of theory as something practical or something that could be applied to literature or social situations.

When exploring different theories in class like; deconstruction, liberal humanism and critical race theory, I started to experience a sense of enlightenment. These theories were things that I have practiced and witnessed in life without even knowing. With a change of spirit towards how I viewed theory, my outlook on life also changed.

After this course, I find that my sense of truth has been forever changed. When I read books, watch movies or look at advertisements, I deconstruct the tone and ask myself if there is a hidden message that I am not aware of. I now realize that anything in life can be viewed as problematic if put into the right context with supporting facts.

Although the way I think and perceive things will forever be fucked up (in a good way) I appreciate the beauty of literary theory. Being stuck in a state of ignorance or stagnant growth does not challenge the mind nor does it create space for critical and analytical thinking.

In which case, when revisiting the reading Intellectuals and Power, a transcribed conversation between Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze, I realized that I started to think critically and analyze what they were saying instead of accepting their words at face value.

Foucault said something interesting regarding exploitation during his discussion with Deleuze. He said “After all, we had to wait until the 19th century before we began to understand the nature of exploitation.”

This immediately redirected my attention to the word exploitation. I began to look at this comment through critical race theory. With the use of the word exploitation and the reference to the 19th century I naturally thought of Sarah Baartman.

In the early 19th century Sarah Baartman was an African woman who had an encounter with European colonialists. Her encounter with colonials resulted in being transported to London where her unusual coloring and large butt were intriguing. After being reduced to a scientific anomaly Baartman spent her life on display. She was put up as an attraction, something for people to look at, something to be bewildered by. She was not human.

Thinking back to the word exploitation led me to the word appropriation. We are currently in the 21st century where people are still obsessed with the features of black women. They want to act black and look black but they don’t want to be black.

We see this so often, especially within social media. People who want a big butt or big lips; something that is not natural to them. Inspite of that they still strive to attain these features. Then the appropriation comes when culture is being copied, being mass produced and misused.

The blatant disregard of black women's beauty and the appropriation of their culture has been so normalized to the point that speaking out against such acts will make you appear as someone who is counter cultural. Ironic, isn’t it? Someone speaking out to someone else about how not to appropriate another culture is deemed as a person who is “overreacting” or the “angry person of color”.

I make theory walk when I counter ignorance with knowledge.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

How To Study Smarter

In college, turning in your assignments on time and studying are essential for a quality educational experience. But while you are trying to be a productive bean, you need to be in the right productive enviornment.

 Check out this website for more tips to being productive!

There are many things that you can do to create a producitve and efficcent working enviornment. Here are some of the things that I use and that are useful to help increase productivity.

Cold Turkey

There is a website, getcoldturkey.com, that will help you block out distracting websites. There are timers that you can adjust to your liking to block websites like Facebook, Pinterest, and even Netflix!

Comfort Space not Comfort Place


Seperating your home life and school life, especially in college is super important and essential for being your most productive self. Find a place that is comfortable to do homework that isn't your bedroom. Most times in a comfortable place people tend to be lesiurely and laid back. In a comfortable space there is a comfort factor that still allows you to do work without being too stressed or distracted.

Organize & Prioritize


By using lists to prioritize assignments and tasks you can visualy see what needs to get done. If you chose to do so you can seperate the list into different catagories using colored pens to distinguish importanace or type of task. As you go through the list and complete things you can see what is left to do and what has already been done.

These are just some of my tips and tricks that have helped be more productive in my journey of higher education. Hope you enjoyed :)

Live ~Laugh~Love 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

New Year, New Semester

I just started my second semester of college on monday and though it would be great to use reflect on my first semester. Despite my desire to have a smooth transition from high school & living with my parents to college & being independent, my first semester of college was rough. But you live and you learn so here are 10 things I learned from my first semester in college.



1. Adjusting to a new environment takes time

After weeks of being in denial and telling myself I wasn't homesick and being miserable at school, I finally assessed my life situation and realized that I was missing many aspects of home life that hadn't transferred to college. Oddly enough I missed being in a house full of people and all the noise that came with it. My roommate was very quiet and kept to herself, which wasn't a problem. It was just that I yearned to be social in my living enviornment. Even when I would have an hour break in between classes my dorm was so quiet it drove me insane. Also after a while the dinning hall food tasted the same. It was the same menu on roatation, day after day, week after week. I then realized that being homesick didn't mean that you were depressed, antisocial and always complaining that you missed home. It meant that you just felt uncomfortable in a place that is new, which is totally normal!


2. Making friends is easy if you just talk to people


The week before moving into college I was overcome with anxiety. Anytime I was approahed with the question "Are you ready to leave yet?" I would physically become ill, I felt sweaty and nervous and had a strong urge to vomit. I was so nervous about moving so far away from home and from my friends. I got into my own head and scared myself. Once I stepped onto my college campus all my fears disappeared. I soon found that making friends wasn't as hard as I though, although it took time, it was simple. I made friends with my floormmates and talked to people in my classes and all I had to do was say hi! I am very much an introvert. I don't usually start a conversation but I figured why not it's college, what's the worst that could happen? One of my closest friends sat next to me in english class and I asked her to dinner after class and she said yes and we've been friends ever since! The saying "you never know until you try" is true.


3. Dinning hall food sucks 99% of the time 


After being at home for a month of come to realize that my acquired taste includes eating food that has been cooked with love and care. Not to say the chefs at school don't care about their job but - cooking for thousands of people can leave you feeling uninspired, especially when you are following a recpie or certain restrictions. BUT it isn't all that bad, the dinning hall suprises me every once-in-a-while.

4. Procrastination is REAL


Although it's only day two I've admitidly already fallen behind but not for long! I am keeping my head held high and actively using my planner. Honestly procrastination gets the best of us at times. It creeps up on you, telling you that you have enough time to do the assignment later, when in reality you only have 45 minutes until class starts! I would recommend having a system that works for you and that keeps you accountable.


5. Having fun does not always equate to getting drunk and partying


I am not a partier per se, it honestly is draining to get dressed go out. Some people love it other don't. And although the legal drinking age in the US is 21 underge drinking is a thing. BUT you don't have to take part in it to have fun! I've had my fair share of movie nights with friends watching Zootopia eating popcorn and enjoying eachothers company. I've also gone bowling and baked cookies. There are a pethora of options other than partying to occupy yout time.


6. Doing your homework and hour before class/time it's due, isn't the best idea


Remember that procrastination thing I was talking about? Not the best idea. Doing my homework and hour before class was HORRIBLE. I rushed my assignment which meant the quality of work was poor and I was getting myself into a panicky sweat trying to finish and submit the assignment on time.


7. Self-care is essential to being sane


Within the first few months college can be a very big shift change from highschool. Just the fact that you are in a new place, living on your own (maybe for the first time) can be overwhelming. Making friends, living on your own, homework, clubs, actual work (if you have a job) can all be pretty stressful and it's OK. The only thing that is important is that you manage your stress level and understand what's best for you. Sometimes it's good to take a break from schoolwork and just relax, it's also good to talk to someone you trust if you need it.

8. If you are a person of color going to college your campus will most likely NOT have many people of color


Unless you are attending a school that is an HBCU (Historically Black College/University) or known for having a very diverse student body there probably won't be many people who look like you walking around campus. This is purely factual and important to understand as you look for colleges or if you are currently at college. Not having people around you that you can connect with is very disheartening. There is something about having common ground with someone, someone who shares similar experiences or cultural understanding, that puts a person at ease


9. Textbooks are cheaper online vs the bookstore


I am a big contender of NOT buying your books at the bookstore for many reasons. Although the bookstore is convenient, you will save so much money ordering them online. I use slugbooks.com to look for all my books. It's a great website that allows me to look at all my buying options across multiple websites to choose the best deal for me. Highly recommend.


Pro tip: Wait until the first week of classes to buy your books unless instructed otherwise, some professors will say that books on the syllabus aren't required.


10. Having a great group of people around me has proven to make college a 100% great experience


Any situation where you are in a new enviornment can always have a rocky start but you have to try to make the most of it. As of now I have met so many amazing people at college through friends, clubs and classes. Putting yourself out there and just saying "HI" can never hurt.

Hope you enjoyed reading my little bits about what I learned first semester of freshman year :)

Live ~Laugh~Love