i am so very confused, a prose by me

August 31, 2015

Why do I get up so early?
Why do I subject myself to late nights?
Why does my head hurt?
Why do my eyes feel like they're bulging out of my eye sockets? 

This all feels too much.
Things are happening too soon.
Holy cow! Wait! You're speaking too fast.
What did I just say?
That made no sense. 
Lawd! I can't keep up...
And if I do--keep up-- I end up getting too comfortable
And falling behind!
Again!
Oy vey.

Why did I study so hard?
I barely remember a thing!
What?! We're already on chapter three?
How?
We were on chapter one just four days ago!
I'm confused.
I am so very confused.

I better ace this test.
Oops. So much for being positive.
Failure is only an option?
Well, what about the teacher...
He seems to have no appreciation for my diversified thinking and originality.
Failure is only an option...
Tell that to the teacher who lowered my final grade one letter because I missed a class!

Please, tell me when college is over.
Hopefully I will be wiser when I'm older.
But if not, I'll be okay.
My plans are to be a stay-at-home mom, anyway. 

first week // day 4 // remember me as I was

August 27, 2015

Please. Remember me as I was: a happy, energetic, and enthusiastic dreamer with goals and aspirations far exceeding the wants of ascertaining a passing grade. Right now - that's all that seems to matter. A passing grade. Granted, it's only Week One. It's only the 4th day. But getting a good, firm foundational start to the college semester is crucial to learning and developing as a student. And...to getting those stellar grades!

...considering this as a new study technique. 
Needless to say, I have been studying non-stop - save for sleeping - in order to get ahead of schedule. I have, in all honesty, never read so many different books on a variety of subjects in my entire existence. At least, not all at the same time! Nor have I ever been able to say that I "have walked to school up hill both ways". Although - I can now. 

And with all of this major studying (which is likely to continue without pause), I feel as though my head should explode at any point during the semester. If not by the end of today! I read the textbooks half confused, half prepared. Some words I know. Some words I have to use a dictionary and thesaurus to discern it's actual meaning within the context of the passage. 


Part of me feels so under-prepared intellectually. Inferior to these broad-minded individuals who seems to have a vast knowledge of the subjects at hand. More so than I could ever hope to attain. Maybe it is just that I didn't create within my own little universe a liberal identity, point of view, and anti-religious slant. Apparently those liberal views seem to be the correct way of thinking in terms of classes such as Geography and Psychology. If that's the case...I am doomed! I am sure my education class has a liberal slant to it, as well. I understand that the majority of college students feel that they must express their individuality through liberalism. But at least make the lessons and class work applicable to those who have more conservative views on society, education, and the such. While I hate catering to the liberal slant, I will do it to ensure my grade and ability to graduate. Although I will not condone certain topics, concerns, and political correctness


Alright then, I guess I should finish reading Act I of Brother to Dragons. Not sure yet of what I think of this novel-like prose, but it may yet grow on me. Only time will tell. Right now, though, it has much to be desired. The use of vocabulary, though, is quite intriguing and refreshing. 

HAVE A GOOD SEMESTER Y'ALL!
MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOR. :)

College 101: Helpful Apps

August 23, 2015

It was my first year of college. And believe it or not, I was one of the few and the proud who still had a flip phone. In the age of iPones and Androids, I had a flip phone. I bright blue flip phone, complete with a selection of six ringtones, and an impossible navigation system. I didn't even have texting capabilities on the darn thing!

Aside from not having a phone until age 18, and then not even having a "cool" phone until age 21, I didn't miss much in terms of technology--except for those cute little icons they call apps. When I finally got my smart phone, I had no clue I was missing until I found the usefulness of certain apps. Mostly college related apps. Seldom do I download games. Distracting!

Scheduling has always been my number one priority and greatest struggle: keeping track of classes, dates and times of tests/due dates/exams. Having the ability to find apps to help with me college life, as well as help with my anxiety, was perfect for this Type-A personality. I went through a slew of apps trying to find the ones that worked best for what I had in mind.

Most of the apps--after digging for the diamonds in the rough--I use are FREE. Of course, everyone has his/her own preference. These just happen to work the best. 
  • EasyBib--If you're new to the college arena, you're going to need to consult this app/website more often that you think. So keep it handy! Easybib is an app (and a website) where you can put in the information of the book, magazine, etc., you're citing and have it put into MLA, APA, or Chicago Style format. 
  • Dictionary.com--This one is pretty self explanatory. I use this one all the time. Especially if I am unsure of how to differentiate between dessert & desert. 
  • Google Docs--I keep this one handy if I need to edit a paper on the go. I just upload my paper to my google docs account on my computer after it's been saved, and check it on my phone without ever having to pull out my laptop. 
  • My Study Life--A most recent discovery. With this app, I am able to input all the information I need about my class (location, time, etc.), and my professor. The app also allows you to color-code your classes so there is less confusion. Plus, you are able to add tasks according to each class; they'll appear on your calendar and remind before it's due.
I, personally, don't like to overload my phone with a slew of apps. I mean, I have enough, that's for sure! But I prefer to have all my apps located on one screen, even if in groups. If you're not sure that some of these will work, do some more searching. These apps are only the tip of the ice burg. However, don't spend too much time searching...remember to study!
PC: @megankmadison

i tried to be normal

August 17, 2015

I was home schooled all the way up to the day I graduated. Ever since the beginning, my family and myself have lived differently. We chose to go against the grain and throw out this idea that in order to be socialized individuals, we have to do things a certain way. That in order to become civilized citizens, we had to follow a set of man-made rules, laws, and ideas that were sure to produce the perfect socialized genius. 

My mom and dad wanted a different life for my brother, sister, and myself. They wanted to cultivate dreamers, thinkers, doers, independent individuals; and ultimately...God followers. Even if they were to fail at everything else, their main goal was to lead us towards the one true God. And, well, I think they did a pretty good job at instilling in us all of the above. 

So, yeah, my siblings and I are labeled unconventional and anti-social based on the mere fact that we were home schooled since age 4. But, the people that have placed us inside the confounds of these four walls--based on the way we were raised and educated--fail to realize that because of our chosen lifestyle--and our mom and dad's sacrifice--we have the drive, motivation, courage, and perseverance to go the distance.

Yeah, we usually have to study harder than most. We pay for our own phone, gas, and insurance...plus, car repairs. But we know the value of hard work, as well as how easy the money you make can leave your hands. We may not be the coolest people to hang out with because we tend to think before we act. And, yeah, we tend to take our work and personal lives very seriously. So what?

There's more to life than living by the playbook. Life is not a game of Football! Life doesn't have a manual that gives you different plays that'll allow you to skim by life without having to do hard things...or suffer consequences. Playing it safe and waiting for things to happen rarely ever gets you where you want to go in life. For me, personally, I see life as being more like a game of Risk. While you don't take your safety for granted, you allow yourself to take risks (a new job, renting your first apartment, etc.)--knowing that you might fail--so that you allow yourself to grow.   

Life is harder being a home-schooler who doesn't go by the rules or play the game of life as though I have forever to live. Thanks to the prayers and guidance of my parents, I am a born-again believer in the Lord, Jesus Christ! And being a girl born and raised to think beyond the confines of how the world tells me I should be, act, and think, I do worry (at times) about stepping out on my own--taking that risk--and entering into a world of concrete walls. To a University...a place that feels like it's main goal it to put a round pegs into a square hole. Where they say they encourage individualism, but try to mold or remold your way of thinking (i.e. your beliefs, morals, ethics, etc.) to fit this mold of being a politically-correct pawn of societal upbringing. 

I have been in college for 6+ years. I have heard it all before. If you don't "think" a certain way, or believe certain things, or act a certain way...you're unconventional. You don't fit into this idealistic expectation that you feel society expects of you. 

So, during my first couple years of college, I tried to be normal. I tried to cater to the professors beliefs and convictions. Granted, it worked. I got good grades, that's for sure. But, I felt like I was writing about things I didn't identify with or believe. 

After trying to be someone I wasn't I decided that I would try being myself for a change. No, I didn't write papers bashing homosexuality, or abortion, or why I am a Republican vs. Democrat. But when I was myself, I found that I wrote essays with more conviction. Looked forward to going to college more than I ever had before. Left behind this need to fit in; to be accepted; to be normal. And I had fun!

 
I am scared to death of going to a University. Not because I am afraid I will loose myself. But, because I am outside my comfort zone. On a liberal campus. And will--probably for the first time--have to defend my beliefs. But hat is life without risk and individuality, right? In order to see where life will take you, you kind of have to step out in faith. I just thank God I don't have to put my faith in society during the course of this new and strange adventure; instead, I will cast my cares on the Lord. 

And when He leads, I will follow. Because, to me, that's the most sincerest form of individualism and self-expression--to walk the path that the Lord has put before me. To place all that I am at the feet of Jesus and wholly trust that His plans are to "prosper [me] and not to harm [me]", and that He has "plans to give [me] hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11). 

Note: My beliefs reflect solely on my own convictions and experienced. I am entitled to my opinion.

College 101: Be Happy, Be Healthy


Balancing your education and your health is easier said than done. Trust me, I know this all-too-well! I had an eating disorder during my' first" year of college (outside of duel enrollment). So, yeah, I know how hard it is to maintain good grades and try and maintain a healthy life. Unfortunately, I did a terrible job. At first, it didn't effect my grades, just my weight. But, then, the dominoes started to fall and everything got out of hand, and eventually my grades slipped, and I ended up having to take a full year off just to tackle the problem causing my problems!

Long story short, I have learned a thing or two since my first official year in college (thank God I was home during that time...still am, though. It's cheaper). Along the way--on into recovery, even--there were several tips I learned to keep focused, fueled, healthy, energetic, and happy. 

Tip #1: Eat

Okay, so--first thing I learned was that food is an essential part of your brain's ability to function. Who knew, right?! (That was a joke). In order to maintain a healthy, balanced brain & body function throughout your college career, you'll need to eat. Eating isn't the enemy here! In fact, your lack of attention to what you eat, and even the meals you're skipping have more of an effect on your weight and metabolism than you realize. 

The advice here is that you don't skip a meal. By all means, eat the foods you like, but make sure they're nutrient dense and have plenty of fiber. For breakfast (always eat breakfast...the best way to start your day!), I tend to eat plain cheerios with milk and a banana. Sometimes, I even do peanut butter on toast or oatmeal if I am not crunched for time. 

Tip #2: Drink Plenty of Water

Ditch the coffee. Sure, it'll keep you awake. But after a while it'll leave you feeling drained. Another thing I learned that I was doing wrong was that I wasn't drinking enough water. TOO MUCH COFFEE. Therefore, my energy was zapped, my focus was hazy, and my motivation practically zilch. 

My rule of thumb (at least for what my body seems to want and be able to handle) is about a gallon of water per day. Seems like a LOT! It was for the first week. But after my system was flushed, that amount of water was something my body actually craved. Thus, as soon as I get up in the morning I fill my 32 oz. water bottle up with ice water (I do ice water because I prefer cold over lukewarm) and sip on it while getting myself ready and my things together for school. And then, after round one is done, I fill it up 2 more times during the day. And then some! You can get a 32 oz. water bottle at Walmart and Target

Sometimes I get tired of just plain water. However, I refuse to use flavorings for my water that are not natural because of the chemicals and coloring. Doesn't scream healthy to me. To get around those flavorings, I have been trying different ways to naturally flavor my water. Something that will do dual purpose as a pick-me-up, help to detox, and refresh. My family and I have tried several recipes: Strawberry & Basil, Lemon & Mint, Orange & Clove, and Lemon & Lime. Now, of course, not all of these are going to be something you'll readily have on hand. That's why I always revert to my favorite: Lemon & Lime. The lemon and lime squeeze bottles in the produce section of the grocery store always have the juices in stock. Plus, they're small enough to be able to store them in your backpack or purse. I never leave home without them!

Tip #3: Move More

Until college, I was always on the move. I had Karate classes 5 times a week...and that was usually at night, after teaching 2-3 classes before hand. So, once I got into college, being constantly on the move was almost impossible because I felt that I had to always be studying. Not the case! If you're not moving, you're not learning! This is why I like taking a 30 minute study break--almost every day--to workout. I choose to do a mixture of low-impact cardio (because of ankle injuries) and lots of weights. 

If you have access to a gym at school, take advantage of it! It's usually a small fee for the whole semester. My fee is $15 if I would choose to use the school gym. However, it you're like me--living at home--and prefer to workout alone where you can look horrifically sweaty, make loud grunting noises, and move in unnatural ways without people staring at you, go to the garage or your room. Hop on to YouTube and search for workout videos that are at least 30 minutes long. I like the low-impact HIIT workouts. As well as combining several of Denise Austen's 10-15 minute videos for a full-body boot camp. Some videos have weights as an option. You can always find routines that use body weight instead. 

Don't forget to have at least a 1-day rest period. Sometimes I take a 2-to-3-day rest. But, it just depends on how stressful my week has been, what I have eaten, and how much I have to study before the following week begins. 

Tip #4: Get Sleep

Don't put off getting sleep. You're textbooks and notes will be there tomorrow. But, just like eating, drinking water, and exercising, your body and brain will thank you for the beauty rest. Not only does it help your body to get the sleep it needs, your brain needs the sleep in order to repair itself. And if you're not sleeping because you need to study, how much are you actually learning if your brain is not being given the chance to repair and recharge?!

Tip #5: Revamp Your Snacking

I am one that has to always have a snack. And I am guilty, like most, of choosing the wrong thing to snack on. Sometimes it's because I am hungry, and sometimes it's because of my low blood-sugar. Because of this, I try to have a snack on hand at ALL times. However, I have had to revamp the way I snack. That's why I try and keep a zip lock sandwich baggie of healthy snack options in my backpack/purse. Usually simple ones, though; I like carrots, nuts, blueberries, grapes (any fruit, really), cheese sticks, and pretzels. 

College 101: Save on Textbooks

August 14, 2015


Two out of the of thirteen textbooks (six of them being novels) ordered for classes this semester have arrived. Basically, that means I will have little to no life once the 24th of August rolls around. I am going to save myself the disappointment now and just go ahead and plan on not having a life. At all. Period.

I think I am going to be sick. What makes me sick more than anything else is the astronomical cost accumulated by the thirteen textbooks. Why do textbooks have to cost so much if we're only going to use them for 3 1/2 months? And what's worse is having to purchase a $100-$200 textbook that you'll only use once during the whole semester! (Trust me, this totally happens!). In other words, don't ever trust the word required or optional. If in doubt, contact your Professor directly. They'll be your best source of information on what textbooks are essential and which ones you can do without. 

Getting all of my textbooks would have cost me somewhere close to $600 if I were to purchase them straight from the campus bookstore. Thankfully, I don't like to settle for full price on my books, so I am always looking to either rent or buy them as cheaply as possible. (If you have a scholarship(s) or a student loan(s), be sure to check on the stipulations first. Sometimes there's no way around buying straight from the campus bookstore). 

While I did have to purchase my Geography textbooks from the campus bookstore, I looked elsewhere for everything else. By doing so I saved a pretty penny. (Eh, I saved my mom a pretty penny!).  So what are some places I have ventured to in order to save a buck? Quite a few, actually!

There are so many great websites to rent and buy new/used textbooks for your classes.

// Buying //

Buying means that these books are yours to keep, highlight, underline...all the things most college students tend to do when studying. However, if you're wanting to try to sell the textbook(s) back, try to keep it to a minimum. 

Amazon

Believe it or not, I actually bought all--but one--of my books from Amazon for this semester. The end total was around $200, give or take. Not only did it save me money on my books, but I saved my gas and time searching for my books online!

eBay

Sometimes you can get lucky on eBay. I have purchased books from this site on several occasions at 50% off the retail cost.

// Renting// 

These are not yours to keep or abuse with highlighting and underlining. Renting sites will charge you for "damages" if they see there are excessive notes, torn pages, etc., to the textbook. 

Textbook Rentals

I have used it on a few occasions. It's legit and the books are reasonable.

Book Renter

This one I have used consistently. With this site, renting textbooks (if they carry them) are extremely cheap!

Amazon 

I have heard good things about them; although I have never tried them myself.

You don't have to pay full price for textbooks. There are ways to go about purchasing your books without breaking the bank. So, before you head to that campus bookstore, check out other sources. You might be surprised at how much you can save by going off campus and spending some time comparing prices.

Note: It is important that you know all the details about the books you're looking to purchase (e.g. edition, ISBN number, author, title, etc.). Missing a crucial detail could spell disaster and possibly cost you more money in the long run. Always read twice, buy once. 

College 101: Backpack Essentials

August 8, 2015


Nervous about your first day of college? So was I! Even though it's been six years since I began my college journey, I still get nervous at the beginning of each semester. I guess it's the fear of the unknown. Not knowing what to expect, who you'll meet, and whether or not your professors are going to have the soul of natural teacher.

If you're wanting to stay away from the bad professors, my suggestion is head to ratemyprofessor. This is a nifty website I have been using since Freshman year. I have gotten great teachers by using this site! However, there are always a few that get good ratings, but cannot teach to save their life. So, use it objectively. And consult those who have gone before you. 

Now is not the time to panic, though. Especially over the little things. Undue stress rarely makes for an enjoyable semester, especially on the first day. Without the things you need, you'll be "up a creek without a paddle", as my mom likes to say. And that's putting it lightly. 

Being a 6th year college student majoring in History, there are certain things I have found that are essential in helping to get a good grade. Having the essentials for success in college is essential. No. Really. It is! It's imperative that you have a goal, a plan, stay focused & organized, and have fun. Most most of all, have fun!

Be Prepared--There's nothing worse than going into a class unprepared. It's better to be overly prepared than under prepared. You NEVER know what the day will hold and you want to do everything you can to ensure success! The good thing is this: it's really not that hard. (I'll go into detail in another post). But first, we need to talk about the essentials that need to have a permanent home in your backpack

Writing Utensils-- This part is a no brainer. Pens, pencils, and highlighters are good to have on hand throughout the semester and during study sessions (you'll be reading a LOT). I usually keep mechanical pencils, retractable pens, and an assortment of highlighters in my pencil bag. After all, you'll be taking notes, needing to highlight things in your textbooks....and syllabus. 


Notebooks--This is pretty obvious, but another must have on your checklist. I find it best to have at least one notebook per class. I have also found that having a folder for each class is helpful in staying organized, and for keeping assignments stored neatly. As the semester progresses, you'll get a better understanding of what materials you will need for each class. Although, it doesn't hurt to have extra! In addition to notebooks, I often keep a pack of loose leaf paper in case the professor gives an impromptu assignment (e.g. essay, quiz, etc) in class. 

Student ID Card--Always have this little baby on hand. Put it in your backpack or your wallet. Just always have it! Sometimes professors will require your student ID for tests and papers and you might need your student ID (if you have one). I will advise that when you get your student ID number that you memorize it, like, now! You'll also need it if you're going to advising, signing up for classes, switching majors, as well as getting in and out of your dorm (and if you have a key...remember that, too!).

Laptop--Even though I have used it for every class thus far, some of you may not need to use it as much as others. Plus, it's a pain to have to carry around and remember to keep charged. But, if you're like me, I usually have a couple hours between my classes, which is a great time to finish an assignment or do some research for a class (or two); sometimes I take a mental break and watch cat videos before my next lecture. Most college libraries have computer labs that students can access for free, but there's no guarantee they'll have enough. 

Chargers-- If you're going to bring your laptop and/or phone with you to class, don't forget to bring the chargers to the devices! Keep them in your backpack at all times. There's nothing worse than being in class or studying during a break and having one or both die on you. 

Headphones--Always have a pair in your backpack. Music has been a life saver for me! Especially when studying. When I am stressed out. Or when I need a moment to just "zone out" before a test. 

Snacks--If you're like me and have to have snacks on hand because of low blood sugar, or because you like to eat, pack healthy snacks. I usually pack my snacks. I like to use a plastic sandwich bag to put my snacks in because it's easy to store in my purse or backpack. The snacks I normally take if I am wanting to be cheap usually end up being: tortilla chips, carrots, pretzels, sliced fruit, or cheese & crackers. However, if wanting something less ordinary, grab snack bar. I usually go for KIND Dark Chocolate Nuts and Sea Salt,most CLIF bars, and if I want to splurge I'll treat myself to a Larabar Uber Dark Chocolate Turtle. If you choose to take a snack into class, make sure the snack you bring doesn't make a mess and isn't distracting. Be mindful of others, especially your professor, as he may not allow food or drinks in class (especially in Lab). 


Makeup & Hair--It could be that I don't have the time or because my skin only allows me to do it ever-so-often (which is almost never). And I almost always wad my hair up into a bun. But for those of you that find this a MUST in order to make a public appearance, don't go overboard. Pack a few beauty essentials and a compact mirror. Also, you might want to pack facial cleansing wipes for a mid-day pick-me-up or if you're heading to the gym after class. 

Clothing--If you have room. I usually leave my extra set of clothes in the trunk of my car. However, if your packing an extra set of clothes, pack according to schedule, freak accidents and/or weather. And make sure to have a retractable umbrella on hand! You never want to get caught in bad weather unprepared. 

This seems like a lot hitting all at once. It's not as bad as it seems, thought. I have carried more than that in my backpack before; so trust me, you can handle this. Just make sure your backpack is sturdy enough to handle the bulk of a minimum of 2 books, 2-3 notebooks, a laptop, water bottle, snack bars, and whatever else you might need! Oh...and if you can fit it in there, bring with you a pinch of perseverance, a dash of patience, and a heaping spoonful of focus