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Meatballs - looks gross but was really yummy

Sunday was Mart’s second day living in his new apartment, and we decided to cook our first meal together. We are both newbies to cooking since we’ve always been lucky enough to have home-cooked food. However, this is Mart’s first time living away from home without a meal plan, so I really wanted to have frequent cooking dates together in order to prevent his starvation and to improve our cooking skills.

The picture of our efforts is to the left, and it doesn’t look too appetizing, especially with the horrible lighting (I actually had to brighten up the picture…the original picture was so dark it looked like a plate of poo!). But I swear, it looked and tasted way better than it seems in the picture!

A long while back I remember visiting this website for beginner cooks, and I really loved it. It has simple recipes and quick videos that showed even the most simple techniques (which are new to rookies like me). Today Mart and I decided we would have an adventure today by going out to buy the ingredients and cooking up a meal, and I was the one who looked for a recipe. I tried so hard finding that website I previously mentioned but I couldn’t find it saved anywhere on my computer. Finally after some hard thinking the name popped into my head: “Start Cooking!” The website is startcooking.com.

I did a little browsing and when I saw the Sweet and Sour Meatballs, I knew that one had to be our first meal. It was simple enough and had a bit of fun in it (rolling the meat into balls)!

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of minced onions
  • 1 pound of ground veal*
  • 1 pound of ground pork*
  • 1 cup of seasoned, dry bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter, melted
  • One 10-12 ounce jar of apricot jam
  • 1/2 cup of barbeque sauce

*We substituted 2 lbs of ground beef for the pork and veal.
Original recipe found at Startcooking.com! Video is here as well.

We went to the supermarket at around 8:30pm (pretty late dinner…) to gather up all the ingredients. It was the first time either of us went shopping by ourselves for real food besides junkfood, too. :D It was kind of fun. Hell, anything I do with my boyfriend is fun. With the addition of a few other food items (like cereal, bananas, frozen food, etc) and measuring cups/spoons, the total came out to be around $50. $_$ Of course, that’s because we started from scratch and pretty much had to buy everything since his apartment kitchen is empty. Grocery shopping is always such a wallet killer. Every time I would go to the market with my mom, around $100-300 would go down the drain in food to feed our 4-person family.

And here is the recipe:

Preheat Oven to 350.

Break 2 eggs into bowl and gently beat. Cut one onion: slice off the top, keep root in tact and cut in half and peel off the outer skin. Make 1/8 inch cuts perpendicular to the root. Then make 1/8 inch cut parallel to the root. The result is minced onions.

Mix the onions in with the eggs and add the 2 lbs of ground beef, 1 cup bread crumbs, and 2 tsp salt.

Form into 1 inch balls.

Melt 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan with medium heat and brown the meatballs. That’s about 2 min and 30 seconds for one side of the meatball. If pan is not large enough to fry all meatballs, do in separate batches. Blot away grease/oil with paper towels after each new batch and add new butter/oil.

In a large bowl, mix together melted butter (2 tbsp in the microwave), 12 oz apricot jam and 1/2 cup barbeque sauce. Add the browned meatballs into the bowl and gently coat the meatballs with the sauce.

Pour the meatballs and sauce into a large, flat, baking dish and bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Makes 5-6 dozen Meatballs.

Original recipe found at Startcooking.com! Video is here as well.

It’s such a nice and simple recipe! It was perfect for beginners like us. It tasted delicious too. The sauce sounds rather strange, but the mix of bbq sauce and apricot jam was perfect! We ate the meatballs by themselves, but I can picture eating it with some steamed rice or maybe some type of chipotle pasta. Perhaps we will try that next time, because I think there will definitely a lot of “next times” for this recipe. ^_^

NOTE TO SELF AND MART: Do not pour used olive oil or cooking grease down the sink… it will cause it to clog… learned that the hard way… good thing I decided to Google this after doing it only once. Grease and water do not mix, DUH. Of course it will clog the sink. And it’s bad for our water system!!! Where the hell did my common sense go? If you ever make the same dumb mistake I did, boil some hot water, mix in a lot of dishwashing soap, and pour this down the drain for at least 3 minutes to wash away the grease you accidentally poured down… Update: apparently while using the boiling water trick to clear up the sink, Mart also found a plastic cap in the sink that probably helped contribute a little to the sink clogging…wth? lol -_-

All in all, it was still a success and I really enjoyed more bonding time with my S.O. ^3^

How can I save money on textbooks for college? They’re more expensive than you imagined; I think that’s the first thing that hits most college freshmen. Well read on, and your efforts shall be rewarded. I didn’t find out about textbook rentals until my sophomore year in college, and I definitely wish I had found out about it earlier. Renting textbooks is a great way to save money and  save yourself some trouble. Here you will learn more about textbook rental and why I use it. There are other tips to saving money on textbooks as well.

Here are some quick links to jump around throughout this long article if you’re looking for something in particular. The Bookstore Is Evil, Buying From Other Students, Search Online, Why Textbook Rentals?Don’t Buy At All, Final Tips

 

The Bookstore is Evil

Whatever you do, don’t go to the bookstore. As a freshman, you will have enough stress to deal with as it is, so it may be really tempting to just head on over to the bookstore with a list of books, and simply buy all of them then and there. If you do that, you are in for a big surprise. Books are super expensive. A thin, pathetic-looking paperback textbook will cost you a lot and an impressive, massive hardcover textbook is going to cost you a fortune.

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Buying from Other Students

The next best route that students go along with is buying from other students. It’s a great idea. Recycle books, get them for cheaper. It’s pretty good if you can strike a deal. I did that too, and I still do it sometimes. Although, now that I have found textbook rentals I don’t think I’m going back to that. Why? I have a few issues with buying from past students.

First of all, it is somewhat difficult to go through this whole process. You need to find out what type of book your professor wants and then go hunting for a student who took the class. Friends, FaceBook groups, online classified ads, etc. I’ve had experience with the FB groups and online classified ads. 80% of the time, whenever I contacted someone about buying a book from them, they would contact me back and say they already sold it to someone else, or better yet they would tell me it’s available and then a week later tell me they already sold it to someone else who was willing to pay more money. Yeah, you can guess that I was really unhappy about that.

Second of all, you must make sure that it is the same textbook and edition needed for class. One time I got really excited about buying my math book cheap from a student, only to learn later on that my math class changed textbooks and they were no longer using the one I was about to buy from the student. So don’t always assume that a past student will have the same textbook you will need for class. Always make sure because sometimes professors switch textbooks. The past students selling you their books aren’t going to know whether their book is relevant for your class or not. They just want to get rid of their books, so be careful.

Thirdly, you need to set up a time and place to meet the person so that you can actually buy the book. Sometimes it’s painless, but sometimes it’s really difficult to settle on a time especially, for example, if the other student does not live near campus and your schedules conflict.

And lastly, I hated having to deal with my textbooks once I was done with them. Okay, so you got a decent deal on an older edition textbook, but now the bookstore’s buyback will either 1) not accept older editions or 2) rip you off and give you barely any money for your textbooks. Now you have to go through the cycle and be the one to sell it to another student, but marketing it is going to be harder because your edition will be at least 2 years old now (remember, publishers love to make new editions every year). So then you either sell it off for super cheap or it gathers dust in the corner of your room. So take extra care of all the consequences when you go down this route.
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Search Online

Sometimes you can find a much cheaper price for your book if you search online. The best example is Amazon because they usually sell everything with a great discount, free shipping over $25, and no tax (at least for now).

Also, if you’re not going to buy used books from other students but you still want a cheap and used book, you can still buy used books online for super cheap. Shop around online and you might find some really good deals. Here are some sites to help you get started: DealOz, CampusBooks, Half.com. You should also take a look at the used books on Amazon as well.

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Why Textbook Rentals?

Okay, so now that you know why I’m not a fan of obtaining my textbooks through that method, what are textbook rentals and why am I so in love with them?

Textbook rentals are just that. You pay to rent a textbook for a certain amount of time. Prices will vary depending on what book it is and how long you need it. However, rental prices are usually drastically lower than buying the textbook from the bookstore, online websites, and even from past students. You may ask yourself, why would I pay to rent the book when I can just buy the book and sell it back? In the end, renting the book may save you more money and trouble than buying the book would have been. Let me show you what I mean with my own experience!

I had to take a genetics class. The required textbook was called Essential Genetics A Genomics Perspective and it sold for $95.30 at my college bookstore and $74.09 at amazon.com. This was a paperback cover and it is about an inch thick. A little pricey, yeah.

I rented it instead for about $20. I paid twenty dollars to rent the textbook, but let’s do the math. If I bought the book for about $75 on Amazon (this is with free shipping, and remember free shipping can take weeks) and sold the book back to a student for about $55 (I checked a FaceBook group for prices students were offering for this book), you will have spent a total of $20. This is the exact same price as renting the book, except you had to go through the trouble of waiting for shipping and then selling it back. Keep in mind, you might have to reduce your selling prices even more to stay competitive with other students who are selling. Although I paid twenty dollars just to rent a book, the amount of money spent on books is final; twenty dollars for immediate use of the book (it is shipped straight to your home in a timely fashion) and I don’t have to worry about selling the book back. Very fast, and very easy. Don’t be afraid to rent some books.

Remember though, always do the calculations & math before you rent the book. If the rental price is close to retail price, you’re better off buying a new book. If you can find a used version for very cheap, do that instead of renting.

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Don’t Buy At All

This tip is best reserved for upperclassmen. Upperclassmen tend to have a better feel of how to succeed in their classes while freshman are still getting used to the system.

Once you have figured out the ropes and are doing well in your classes, it’s time to evaluate how you did it. Was there heavy usage of the textbook? Or did you only have to focus on lecture notes/recordings? For me it was the latter, and once I skipped the unnecessary textbook for most of my classes, I saved money and started getting A’s in some classes. Obviously it depends on the professor and the individual, so make sure you know what’s best before you take the risk of not using the book at all.

However, if it turns out that you do need to read the textbook in order to succeed in your class, you can still avoid buying the book and yet still read the book. If your professor has put the textbook “on reserve” at the library, this means you can probably check out the book for about two hours before you have to return it. Relying on “reserve” books is a great way to make yourself responsible with studying rather than waiting till last minute to start studying. It’s important to study ahead with this method since last-minute-crams won’t be successful with just two hour limits and lots of other people fighting to use the same book.

And lastly, if you have a good friend taking the same class, you could always borrow their book if they are kind enough. Otherwise, you should split the price or at least take them out to a nice dinner. :p
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Final Tips

Don’t rent too early or else you won’t have all of that cushion time in case you need to return it. However, you don’t want to rent too late, either. I noticed that some rentals lowers or raises their prices, depending on their supply. If you rent early the textbooks might be a lot cheaper. If you rent later, more people will start renting the same books you need, there will be less books in stock, and the price will go up. It’s best to choose a time that balances out between late and early in that case. If you’re buying then it’s best to do it early before the cheapest ones run out first.

If possible, avoid buying the latest edition possible. Chances are, the newer edition barely has made any new changes, except maybe some chapter rearrangements and an extra fact or two. Really! Publishers keep pumping out new editions so that you will have to keep buying the newest one! You can check with your professor to see if it’s okay to use an older edition. If you want to correlate chapters, page differences, and any new information between the old and new edition, see if you can compare your book with a new version at the library or from a friend.

There you have it. That’s how I save hundreds of dollars a year on textbooks. Now you can use your saved money on a nice trip to Las Vegas. Just kidding. You should probably use that money for school.

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One of my biggest fears is being stuck inside of an elevator. I am not claustrophobic and I ride elevators on an almost-daily basis when I’m at school, but I have always had a fear of being stuck in one. Every time I step into an elevator alone, I have this unconscious thought: I hope this elevator doesn’t get stuck or have any accidents. Each time my fears are proven wrong because the elevator runs smoothly and I feel a little silly. BUT NOT THIS TIME.

On Friday I was at the library as usual, studying during my gap before class. Since I was on the fourth floor, I got into the elevator to go down. I had the typical thoughts in the back of my head, but I wasn’t expecting much. Press button. Doors close. Go down. Should be simple. But nooooo. The metal doors slowly came together and closed. I thought the elevator sounded a little off today, but I thought it was just me being paranoid like usual. The button for the bottom floor was pressed and it was lit up, so the only thing left to do was wait.

And wait.

And wait.

I kept waiting, and it didn’t seem like the elevator was going anywhere!!! No movement, no elevator noises, and the digital sign at the top of the elevator displayed that I was still on the same floor. This was exactly what I had been fearing all my life, so you can imagine how freaked out I was getting. Additional mashing of buttons didn’t help, naturally.

You should have seen my face. It was totally panicked and my eyes were crazily dashing left to right, alternating from looking at the digital display to looking at the lit up buttons to see if anything changed at all. It was my longest 40 seconds (or however long it was) in an elevator, ever. My phobia was getting to me and my heartrate was shooting up, so I finally pressed the “CALL” button, which is supposed to phone someone. Right below the button it said, “Button will flash when call is answered.” But of course, nothing ever flashed and no one ever answered. So I was really freaking out by then, but the door finally released its grip of death and slid open. Phewwww.

It also revealed that I was ON THE SAME FLOOR. The guy sitting at a computer nearby must have thought I was weird because I had just gone into the elevator and come back out on the same floor looking disgruntled. What the heck?!?!? I had a quiz in less than ten minutes and I still needed to go to the bottom floor to get the heck out of this library. I was like, “Hell no, I’m not using the same elevator again.” I went to the other side and used a different elevator, which had someone else riding the elevator with me, so I felt a little safer. Everything from then on went smoothly and soon enough I was greeted cheerfully with bright, bright sunlight blinding my eyes outside. FREEDOM. haha. And this is exactly why I have an irrational fear of elevators in the back of my mind! I wonder if anyone finally picked up my call inside of the elevator. I hope they did, because if they didn’t that means no one will ever answer a call in the event of a real emergency. -.-

By the way, it doesn’t help at all that I read this article in the past: Up and Then Down. Sure, it’s a seriously more extreme case of being stuck in an elevator (41 hours stuck on the 13th floor), but after reading that (while already having a bit of an elevator phobia) one cannot help but feel a little extra paranoid in an elevator. *shivers* I wouldn’t want to work in a 50+ floor building…

The last time I updated was in the middle-ish of July, so I’m always a bit sad whenever I am not able to post at least one blog entry a week. But here I am, and hopefully I can fill in the gaps!

Sometime between then and now, my boyfriend and I went to the county fair! I had gone a few times in my lifetime before, but I never went with him before. As expected, it was a really special day for the both of us. You know those typical movies where a couple goes on a date at the carnival? Well, It felt something like that (without the drama) and it was really sweet. I actually took two final exams earlier in the day, and as a wonderful reward, my boyfriend took me to the fair right after I was done. It was on a Wednesday, where there was a children’s book drive taking place. If you donate one new book, you get a free ticket! So I brought in two books and we got in for free.

We visited the little farm and animal barns. I love animals, so that never fails to keep me entertained. We saw lots of goats, a huge mama pig with piglets, sheep, bunnies, llamas, and all types of birds (one of my favorite animals!). I think my favorite bird that we saw was the quail. They are SO cute! They’re like these round little fluffballs running around on the floor. *blush* The peacock was very impressive too, and his female mate was sitting on some eggs!

Afterwards we pretty much just walked around checking out the fairgrounds. Once we started getting hungry we got ourselves a blooming onion. It was really good! But for just two people we got tired of it 2/3 of the way, and I ended up just eating the fried batter part on the outside of the onion slices. We were also going to try some sort of crazy fair food, like deep fried snickers or something really bizarre, but after eating that greasy blooming onion, I don’t think we felt like going through with our plan anymore. :p

After walking around some more, we checked out the game booths! We had already gone around the entire place seeing which stuffed animal prizes were the cutest. My boyfriend had this cute goal of winning me something. He was really dead set upon winning me something nice. *love* He played at a few booths, but the one that was most memorable was this one game where you can purchase a bucket of rings and in order to win you have to toss the ring so that it goes through the top of a glass soda bottle. There were a bunch of soda bottles lined up. It was really hard because the rings are pretty small and from a distance it’s more like a game of luck rather than skill with the rings bouncing all over the place. He spent so much money on that game because the GIGANTIC penguin (I think it was even taller than me!) was sooooo cute and he really wanted to win it for me! After a few buckets (and I helped him a bit) of rings, we gave up (and even then I had to convince him to not spend all his money! T_T ).

But he DID end up winning me two stuffed animals which you saw in a photo at the top of this post! The penguin was sooo lucky! After we finally gave up on the ring toss game I mentioned above, I told him to just play something for fun and not think about the prize. He decided to play this shooting game where you shoot a watergun at a small hole, and whoever gets the most water in within a minute or something wins! Well, he won! It was against a bunch of people too, so he got to pick one of the nicer stuffed animals as the winner, which was the penguin I wanted. Sooo cute!

The gorilla was won with a little “help” from a friend who was working at the fair. It was a game of pool and you had to shoot at least 1 ball into the hole each time but our friend just pushed the balls in every time he missed. :D haha, such a dirty way to win, but my friend said it was okay, since they make a lot of money ripping people off (people who waste hundreds of dollars on these games and win a stuffed animal worth a few dollars).

We checked out the art gallery they had, too. It had displays of winning things that people made. Like woodwork, quilts, paintings, food art, etc. Some of the things were really nice.

When we got hungry for “real” food, we shared a chicken kabob which was really tender and good. And for our last bit of fair food, we got a funnel cake with fresh strawberries. It was THE most delicious funnel cake I had ever eaten in my life! It was very crispy and soft in the middle, and it was actually possible to cut it with a knife! In the past all the funnel cakes I ate were too hard to be cut apart. We pretty much devoured it. Yum.

We also got one free carnival ride with our tickets, so we went on the ferris wheel. It was my boyfriend’s first time riding one, and he is deathly scared of heights and rides, so he was breaking out in a cold sweat and shaking while we were on it, lol. I tried my best to calm him and hold him, but he didn’t calm down until the end of our ride, haha. Oh well, but he still thought it was romantic and kind of got over his fear of the ferris wheel, so goal accomplished! That was our last event of the day, so afterwards we went home all tired and satisfied. *_*

These tips are not limited to just dorming college freshmen, but a few tips might be more relevant to dorming students than commuters. I dormed my freshman year, and I don’t regret it. I recommend it to anyone who considers dorming. Here are some (aka tons) of tips I have written. Some things are obvious, but are good reminders, and some are things I wish someone told me before I started my dorm life.

Studying

  • Never ever study in your dorm. Don’t be like me; for almost a whole quarter I believed I would be able to study in my room. That’s a joke…you’ll never get anything done unless you have good discipline and you can study with noise. There are, of course, exceptions with oddly quiet dorms or dorms during the last half of the year where people shape up and realize they actually have to study or else they’re going to fail out of college. :p
  • Therefore, go somewhere quiet to study. It’s probably good to change it up to keep yourself from getting tired and bored. Study room, library, etc. Explore new places.
  • Meet up with a study group only if you’re caught up in your individual studying. Being in a study group is less efficient if you don’t know your stuff already. Think of it as more of a reinforcement. This means you’ll have to make sure you’re caught up if you ever want to have a study group. Study groups usually mean a good excuse to get together and procrastinate if no one actually knows any of the material yet.
  • Make sure you complete any extra worksheets given and then go to office hours for any help or clarification. It will probably help a lot for your exams.
  • Don’t delude yourself by just saying “I need to study more” because will you really? If you find yourself having trouble with getting things done or managing time, take some time out of your day to plan out a schedule for at least an entire week. Plan every hour. Then make sure you follow it. Try not to stray too much or else you’ll be back to your old ways very soon.
  • If the study areas tend to fill up before and during finals week, that will be a problem. At my college for example, sometimes our study area fills up really quickly. So make sure you use the rest of your day as efficiently as possible because you might not be able to find a quiet place to study at night. If you find that you’ve got nowhere quiet to go, try to go to bed instead. Then you can wake up early in the morning. Or, if you definitely need to find a place to study at night, go explore and find new areas that have less people.
  • The truth is, most people don’t go to office hours (especially online schools students). I didn’t. I think the best way to motivate yourself into going is to take one day where you visit all of your office hour locations. Now that you know where they are, you have a better chance of going to them. In some cases, I would plan to go to office hours, but I didn’t even know where they were, so I got lazy and didn’t bother going.
  • Find a way of writing down your due dates and assignments. I personally used a small dry-erase board on my wall. Others use sticky notes on their bookshelves. Recently I tried using this website to keep myself organized: CollegeRuled. Some people use agendas. Some people put them into their laptops or cell phones. If you’re lucky, you’ll have an email reminder or a reminder from a classmate. Otherwise, you’re pretty much responsible for remembering and if you don’t, it really sucks when you find out later that you got zero points because you forgot.
  • Go to free tutoring and get a paid tutor if you need to. If anything, at least go to free review sessions. They are usually very helpful for the exam.
  • When you’re reviewing all of your material for an exam, it helps to write down important things or things you’re unclear about on a huge white board. Writing it down helps, and then having all of the information in front of you on the white board is a great review when you read over it again.
  • When you’re feeling really sleepy and unproductive at the library, take a 15 minute nap. If you feel weird napping where people might see you, get a cubicle. It’s less noticeable and no one can see you anyway. The nap usually helps and you’ll be able to focus much better afterward. If you’re with a friend, have them wake you up, or set an alarm on your phone just in case.

Classes

  • Use Rate My Professors to look at any possible reviews of professors. In college, unless you know an upperclassman, it is difficult to know which professor and which classes to take. Rate My Professors can help in deciding, depending on who is more difficult, etc. Remember, take each review with a grain of salt because professor can change their ways and students might write bogus reviews to throw you off.
  • Choose a time slot that will work for you. Don’t choose an 8 AM class if you were never able to wake up past 1 PM. Weigh out your options. Is the really awesome teacher worth taking at 8 in the morning if you never wake up to go to class?
  • Figure out whether gaps in classes will work with you or against you. Some people use them efficiently to study and then have the rest of the day to themselves. Others only waste this time and a back-to-back schedule would be better for them.
  • Start off your first quarter with an easy load. You don’t want to feel overwhelmed the minute you start college and you will want to have time to get settled into college life.
  • PAY YOUR FEES ON TIME. This is extremely important. No one (well, for most colleges) is going to call you up and baby you to pay for your fees. If you don’t pay on time you can risk having to pay for extra fees, getting your classes dropped, and even expulsion.

Meal Plans

  • Make use of your meal plan and “steal” (technically you probably paid thousands for that meal plan) some food from the dining commons! If you’re a girl, it’s much easier: bring your purse and a couple of ziploc or plastic baggies. Or if anything, bring back some fruit and EAT IT (a lot of the time they end up being thrown away).
  • The first week or so of dorm food is usually awesome. But after a while it might get tiring. To keep yourself from growing utterly sick of dining commons, try to stick to only one entree per meal. Since everything is buffet-style, you’ll want to get a little bit of everything, but you’ll get tired of everything really fast if you do that since most dining commons end up reusing their dishes for other days. Just get one entree per meal and change it up each time.
  • Sometimes you get sick of dorm food and it’s nice to eat out. It’s also a great way to spend time with your friends. But don’t forget you also paid for a meal plan, if you have one. Plan out how much you have to eat at the dining hall so that you won’t be left with 30 unused meals at the end of the year.

Your Dorm Room

  • Clean up after yourself frequently. Tidy things up. Most dorm spaces are small, and it can get messy really fast. Just keep up with keeping things clean and it won’t be a chore at all. A lot of people let their rooms go until there is a huge mass of doom, slowly swallowing up the entire room.
  • When you receive your room assignment, contact your roommate(s) and figure out who is bringing what, general sleeping habits, etc. You don’t want to all move in and find out there are three televisions and no fridge.
  • Try to set up some rules beforehand. Don’t always leave things up to “common courtesy” because when you live with someone, things don’t always work out the way you expect. When can guests be brought over? Is there any borrowing allowed? Study with or without noise? etc.
  • Sometimes beds can be raised to have more space underneath. Especially handy to put drawers, mini-fridges, and the like.
  • A microfridge is very handy. You can store food/drinks and heat up anything any time you’re hungry. There is usually a common kitchen for the entire building to use, but it’s a hassle sometimes to have to go there just to get a glass of milk. Shared fridge might also be a problem because your stuff might be used without permission or could be messed with.
  • If the bed turns out to be really hard and uncomfortable, buy a memory foam pad or something similar to put on top of the mattress. It will make a huge difference.
  • Closet space is usually very minimal. Make use of hanging more than one clothing item on one hanger. Put in some organizers or extra shelves/drawers.
  • Always have plastic utensils, cups, and plates.
  • Have a good desk lamp if one is not provided. You’re going to be using it a lot for studying or when your roommate decides to sleep earlier than you. If you like to study on your bed, it might be a good idea to get a clamp-on lamp and stick it on the headboard.
  • Shower caddys are usually a must-have, whether you store it in the bathroom or your room. It will make it a lot easier to transport and it keeps all of your toiletries together.
  • If your bathroom doesn’t have a changing area, it might be helpful to change in your room or in a bathroom stall before and after your showers. Some like to use robes and others are fine with a towel.
  • Use shower shoes. They can be simple flip flops. You have no idea what goes on in showers and walking barefoot in the bathroom is kind of gross.
  • Beds are usually “extra-long twin” beds. They do that in case anyone is super tall. It’s a pain, though, because you’ll have to buy bed sheets specifically for your dorm unless your bed at home is extra-long. If you don’t want to spend too much money, use some temporary sheets for a little bit, and wait till after school starts. That is when all of the popular dorm items will go on sale.
  • Putting up photographs, decorating and personalizing your room will make it feel much more like home. Also, they will make great conversation starters when you invite people over to your room.
  • If you have a choice in choosing your bed and moving the furniture around, I would suggest having your bed in such a way so that your head will not be the first thing seen when the door is open. You might be sleeping and your head will be the first thing that people will see when your roommate opens the door, or light might shine directly into your face.

Electronics

  • Keep your laptop fully charged as often as possible. You never know when you might want to go to the library and find that there are no outlets open, or you might just feel like hanging out in someone else’s dorm room with no open outlets.
  • If possible, get TWO chargers for your laptop. One to leave at home and one for your dorm. If you ever visit home frequently or at all, it will be very handy. I’ve had too many friends who ended up in trouble because they forgot to bring their charger. If you’re lucky you’ll have a friend who will let you borrow theirs for a bit. Or, you can just make sure one of the top items on your list is a laptop charger when you are about to leave for home or for the dorms. Same goes with cell phone chargers.
  • Invest in some good earphones. You’re gonna need them when you don’t feel like listening to your roommate complaining about how bad of a hair day they’re having.
  • You might want to have an external harddrive to back up all of your files on. It is not pretty when someone loses all of their notes and files during finals week.
  • Keep a USB stick handy all the time for when you need to save school work or even just transfer files with a friend. You never know when you need to save something. Additionally, make use of your email and make it a habit to send copies of your documents to your email. It might save your rear end in the event that you’re away from your computer and need to access or print one of your assignments.
  • Invest in a camera or camera phone to capture all your memories.

Campus

  • Check your email and keep your eyes open for any free campus events. Gotta take advantage of FREE events, the possibility of getting FREE stuff, and having a great time with your friends!
  • Do some research on good places to eat around campus. When you’re tired of the cafeteria food, you’ll want a change. Take note of places open late too – midnight runs are really fun with some friends.
  • Explore your campus. You might find some nice places to study, great photo opportunities, places you never knew existed, a peaceful place to relax, etc…who knows what you’ll find.
  • Check out the locations of your classes beforehand, so you’re not as nervous in being able to find your class. Being early will also keep you feeling relaxed, and you can use that time to chat with some new people.

Making Friends

  • The first few weeks of college will be prime time. You need to make your best efforts to put yourself out there and meet new people. Everybody is new and the friendly factor is extremely high. It is best to make friends before people start getting comfortable and form groups, since those are harder to break into.
  • Don’t be afraid. Everyone is just as nervous as you are. If you are open and friendly, you will have no problem making new friends.
  • During the first few days, grab a friend or roommate and go around the entire building, greeting each room. It’s a great way to see who you’ll be living with and you’ll be off on a good start in making new friends.
  • Join a club! Check out a couple and see if you like any. It’s best to find one you like and focus on that. Don’t worry if you can’t find a club you’re interested in. Despite trying a few clubs my freshman year, it took me almost two years to finally find one I really liked.
  • Leave the door to your room open if you want people to pop in. People are usually attracted to open doors when they’re bored and it’s really easy to meet people that way.
  • If you are thinking about dorming with a friend, rethink that. Sometimes it’s best to separate friends and roommates because being friends with someone is entirely different from living with someone. You don’t want to end up hating your bestfriend because you found out he/she is a terrible roommate. Also, if you room with a stranger, that’s automatically a new friend and someone new to meet. The next best solution would be to request to live in the same building as your friend. That way you will still have the comfort of each other if you ever need it.
  • Dating people in the same building. In my opinion? DON’T DO IT. It spells trouble. It gets super awkward if it doesn’t work out, and you’re going to hate seeing your ex every time you go to the bathroom or hang out with your friends in the common room. It works out for some people, but use your judgment and be aware of the consequences.
  • Be friends with your Resident Advisor (RA). He or she will be really knowledgeable and sociable. Remember, they are usually not that much older than you, only by a couple of years.

Last but not least, you may want to check out my List of Things to Bring to College.

College seems like a whole new place, and that’s because … it usually is! That’s not a bad thing at all. You just need to transition into a new life and it will be an awesome experience. As you can see, this list is seriously comprehensive. See how much I care about incoming freshies? ^_^ Now that you have these tips in mind, your transition to college life might be a little easier.

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