Surviving your first year of college

Leaving for college can be a really tough thing for some people. On the other hand, some people LOVE it. Unfortunately, I was not one of those people that immediately loved college. I have made some changes to make college bearable for me, but if it wasn’t for me understanding the importance of having a degree (and having my family encourage me to stay), I would have probably dropped out that first year. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t drop out and I think college is very important for you to be successful in adult life. I’m going to tell you my story with Freshman year of college, and some tips to get through your first year.

First, let me give you some background on myself.

I have never been a school person. I didn’t like kindergarten, and I didn’t like high school. It’s just not my cup of tea. I was hoping that college would change my mentality. I tried to be positive about it, but my first semester of college was one of the worst experiences of my life.

When I went to Freshman orientation, I signed up to be a Communication major with a concentration in Journalism. I have a passion for writing, so I thought that Journalism would be the perfect thing for me. I signed up for all of my classes and was super nervous, but pretty excited about it.

When I went back home from orientation, I had a lot of time to think. I have always loved children and have been babysitting since I can remember. When I was eight years old, I became an aunt. Thinking about all of this made me second guess myself on majoring in Journalism. After talking to some people, they all agreed with me that I should change my major to Early Education.

The following week, I drove back up to campus and changed my major to Early Education (yes, I was that person that changed my major before school even began). I signed up for all of my classes and felt good about my decision. I still loved writing, but I thought I could write as a hobby on the side of being a teacher.

When the fall rolled around, school started. I went to all of my classes, and I enjoyed them the first two weeks. After that, everything went down hill.

Nothing in me wanted to be a teacher, but I had to finish out my first semester as an Education major. The majority of my classes were Education classes (which is awful when you decide you do not want to be a teacher). In my math class, I was learning what seemed like a totally new language (welcome to common core Ashley).

I knew that I had made the wrong choice, and all I wanted to do was go back to Journalism. I went ahead and changed my major back to Journalism and signed up for my Spring classes.

I was lucky, and most of my Education credits transferred.

My first piece of advice is listen to your instinct when deciding on a major. If you have no clue what you want to do, sign up for only gen. ed classes. I’m 100% positive that if I stayed in Journalism, my first semester would have been so much better.

My school requires Freshman to stay in dorms. I did not like staying in a dorm at all. I like to be by myself sometimes to wind down. I like to have a lot of personal space. I also like to constantly have music on, and when you have a roommate, that can’t always happen.

Dorms are great for people who like to party, but I’d rather be reading a book than partying. Whether or not your going to enjoy living in a dorm completely depends on your personality.

If you like quietness and you are not a partier, I recommend not staying in a dorm.

My second semester of my Freshman year was so much better than the first. Doing the simple thing of changing my major back to Journalism changed everything.

Now I’m in my second semester of my Sophomore year and college isn’t that bad. I live in an apartment where I can cook and have silence when I’m sleeping! Remember that just because this was my experience with Freshman year of college, your’s could be totally different. Always make sure you’re working toward a degree in something you love, and you will always be happy!

Tips for Staying on Task

Distractions are EVERYWHERE. These make it almost impossible to get things done. I don’t know about you, but my refrigerator is one of my biggest distractions when it comes to staying on task. If food is in sight, I can’t get anything done because it’s all I can think about! Luckily, I have found some things that really help when I’m trying to stay on task.

To start this off, let’s talk about what I was doing wrong.

So basically, my office was my couch. Anything I had to do was done on my couch. Do you know what sits directly in front of the couch? My TV. Obviously I am not going to get anything done when Netflix is calling my name. Doing my work on the couch not only led to distractions, it also led to back pain! Slumping over is not good for anyone, and we should always try to have good posture so we can age gracefully.

Another thing I was doing wrong was leaving my cat out. He is a HUGE distraction. He gets into everything and I’m constantly having to get him out of cabinets and chase him around. He also has a strange obsession with ink pens. If you have a cat, you probably already know this, but anytime I would write anything, he would attack my pen. This not only made my work look messy, but it also slowed me down!

My third mistake was not writing things down. I’m the type of person that is constantly thinking. I swear my brain never stops plotting things. This can be a good thing, but also super annoying when I’m trying to work. I would start thinking of all these random ideas, then just completely forget about the work I was supposed to be getting done.

Now let’s get into what I’ve changed to make my life productive.

I would say the change that I’ve made that has helped the most is definitely moving my couch office to an actual office room with a desk. A desk and a chair make a huge difference. I now have a location that is considered my workspace. The goal is to keep this space very organized and have minimal things surrounding it. Make sure your desk is stocked with pens and pencils, paper and a spot for your laptop. Good lighting is a must for this space!

If you have an animal, try to put them up while you’re working. At least get them to a location that will be less distracting for you. I’m not saying neglect your animal at all! Just make sure they are somewhere that allows you to get your work done. Don’t forget to take breaks so you can let them out to run!

My third change helped me with focusing. As I said above, I think all of the time. Once I start thinking, I don’t want to stop because I don’t want to forget the idea I’ve had. To make this distraction go away, I have started writing down my thoughts before I start working. I keep a spare notebook next to me (yes, I have an idea notebook), and anytime something pops into my head that starts distracting me, I write it down. This way I know that I won’t forget my idea and I can come back to it at a later time when I’m not busy.

Additionally to the tips mentioned, I also make sure to plan my week out on Sunday so I know exactly what to expect for the upcoming week, and I try to keep my cell phone on silent when I’m working on projects.

Hopefully these tips work for you like they did for me!

 

Does music really help?

Music. One of my absolute favorite things to talk about. Some people are complete music enthusiasts, while others just listen because it’s on. But did you know that music can really help with a number of things?

The most important thing I would say music helps with is focussing. Yes, some people say they need complete silence in order to focus, but this is not always the case. If you are anything like me, silence drives you insane, especially when you start to focus on something. I get into my head way too much and my imagination starts going crazy. I start thinking of billions of other things I’d rather be doing than the task I’m supposed to be working on.

I used to fall into the cliche of thinking that music would only add to this annoying voice in my head, but it actually helps it go away! I will admit that it’s so much easier to focus when I have INSTRUMENTAL music on in the background. Music with vocals sometimes distracts me because I find myself singing along and then end up writing lyrics as the answer to a math problem, you know how that goes. One song I love listening to when I’m doing homework, reading or anything in general that involves deep focusing is “Frederica” by Do Make Say Think.

So aside from helping you focus, music is a great stress reliever. Every time I want to calm down and give myself a pamper night, I put on Tycho, specifically the Awake album. These songs are instrumental, but they take you somewhere out of this world. All of the songs are very calming, but strangely enough, they have an upbeat sound. You would think  since they are calming, the songs themselves would be calm, but they definitely have a  sound like no other. Next time you are trying to lift all of that stress off of you shoulders, put on some Tycho and get ready to be transported somewhere you’ve never been!

Okay, okay, let’s take a break from the instrumental music and go into something a little harder. Have you ever had a really bad day that just made you want to beat someone up? If you have, you are in luck. Music is to the rescue…again! I’ll admit that I have a tiny (okay, maybe a little larger than tiny) temper. I’m trying to work on this, so I’ve turned to music to get my anger out for me. Don’t try to listen to the songs mentioned above when you’re super angry. This will only make you think about your anger, and you’ll end up getting way more angry than you were in the first place. Instead, listen to something like Korn if you are into that kind of thing, or you could go for a little softer vibe and listen to something by Senses Fail (they are one of my all time favorites).

Last but not least, when you are sad, there is music out there to help cure your pain. There’s two ways you can go about this. The first is by listening to sad music that you can cry to, the second is by listening to happy music that will cheer you up! I do both of these. Sometimes I just feel like crying and I need music to help me push that cry out. Other times, I just want to stop feeling sad so I put on the most uplifting song I can think of. I’m sure you know a lot of depressing songs that will make you cry, but I suggest “The Funeral” by Band of Horses. If you want to go the cheerful route, you can never go wrong with Vampire Weekend!

We are all human beings which means whether we like it or not, we are emotional, and that’s totally okay (and normal). Instead of keeping your emotions in, let them out by getting comforted with music. Instead of listening to mainstream music that society tells you to listen to, find your own music that helps heal you from within. Your music should speak to you directly, that’s why it’s YOUR music.

 

Mindful Speaking

We go through life being unmindful of the people around us. How many times have you gone to a store and the cashier asked how you were doing? Too many to count, right!

The normal response to this is “good, how about you?”

We do this response so automatically that when they ask something else, we sometimes respond with the wrong answer.

I just did this yesterday at the movies. By the way, I went to go see Zootopia, which is hilarious and will definitely have you laughing.

When I went up to the counter to get drinks, the cashier said enjoy your movie. In my head I thought he asked how I was doing. My automatic response was, “good, how about you?”

Talk about awkward! He didn’t ask me how I was, he said “enjoy your movie.”

When things like that happen, we get a little embarrassed, but it’s actually a really big problem.

We live in a society that is so fast paced that we don’t even take time to listen to those around us.

Simply listening to others and thinking about our response before we respond could change the outcome of your whole day. What went from a simple interaction at a grocery store, could turn into changing someone’s life.

Although we do this a lot with strangers, we do it with those we love the most.

I love you starts to become just a thing you say, be careful becomes a gesture of kindness instead of a genuinely caring statement, good luck starts being said when you don’t know anything else to say.

Have you ever wondered why friendships end and why relationships stop becoming relational? I believe a lot of it has to do with mindfulness.

When you stop paying attention to the details, when you stop genuinely caring about conversations, things come to an end.

Next time you tell anyone you love them, be mindful about it. Don’t just say this strong word to say it. Next time someone asks you how you are doing, take time to try and really open up a conversation.

Maybe that person has no-one to talk to and they need some encouragement for that day. Don’t just say “good, how about you?” Ask them questions about business.

Be a mindful listener, a mindful thinker and a mindful talker.

We need to stop going through the motions day-to-day like robots.

Once you become more mindful of your surroundings and who you are talking to, your relationships will grow into something you never thought possible.

It’s the little things

This semester of college has been a really tough one for me; tough in the sense I keep a calendar to count down how many more days of suffering I have.

I took an online history class, and the class ended earlier this week.

When I woke up the day after, I immediately felt relief.  It literally felt like a ton of bricks was lifted off of my shoulders; like I could breath again.

It’s easy to get caught up in life and forget to breath.

When you feel like you’re drowning in life, remember there is always a light at the end.  When you die, the little things you stress over won’t matter.

My new goal: Go through life without caring so much about the little things.

DIY Lip Scrub

If you struggle with peeling, dry lips, you know the pain that comes along with it.

This DIY lip scrub will help you get through the cold months when your lips need a little extra help!

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What you’ll need:

-Coconut Oil

-Cane Sugar (you can just use the sugar you have at home)

-Container

How to make:

-In a microwaveable bowl, scoop out enough coconut oil to almost fill your container.

-Microwave this for 20 seconds and stir.

-Add in sugar. (make sure you add enough so that it can exfoliate your lips)

-Pour mixture into your container.

How to use:

-Gently rub mixture on lips for 20 seconds.

-Rinse, and apply chapstick (or more coconut oil)!

 

P.S.

This mixture is also great to use on chapped hands!