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January 28, 2010

If you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention.

Let me start this off with a disclaimer. Actually, a couple of disclaimers.

Disclaimer #1: I did not have any intention of becoming Greek in college, basically ever (Ever seen “The House Bunny”? Yeah, that’s pretty much why).
Disclaimer #2: That being said, Greek life at CWRU is totally different from anything you’ll find elsewhere; the dedication to friendship and scholarship are totally not what I expected. I remained unconvinced until my boyfriend rushed ƩN in the fall. The fun he had, the people I met, and the atmosphere of the fraternity convinced me that I should give Greek life another look.

I’m really excited for Greek life. But there is, as always, a catch. For those who don’t know, rushing a fraternity at CWRU is totally different from rushing a sorority. The guys get to do the fun stuff. Fraternities typically create a two-week calendar of informal rush events that include game nights, dinner with the brothers, something called Whirlyball (it involves bumper cars and lacrosse sticks…I don’t know either, but it sounds awesome), and other crazy shenanigans that boys do. After that period, the brothers get together to extend bids, and the people who get bids decide if they want to pledge. Girls, on the other hand, kind of get the shaft.

Most sororities are run by something known as the Panhellenic Council, a national organization that does sorority stuff (I’m not entirely sure what it does, exactly, I just know that it makes a bunch of rules). The Panhellenic Council came up with a system for sororities to follow that involves a series of “parties” that girls attend in order to get to know the different sororities on campus. They’re formal, you have to attend parties to which you are invited, and there’s a whole slew of ridiculous rules that you have to follow (“Strict Silence”? Don’t give or accept gifts from sisters?? Only one tablecloth per table???).

Formal recruitment does one thing well, at least. Because you get to see each sorority, you can get a feel for what each one might be like. My aunt is big into the whole sorority deal. As an alumna, she’s still really involved, and she definitely knows what she’s talking about when it comes to sororities. She told me to keep an open mind, and I said “Sure” without even really thinking about it. I kind of had my mind made up already and wasn’t really sure why I had to go through this whole “formal” business. Then I actually WENT, and two things became extremely clear:
#1: I needed to go to formal recruitment. It was a lot of fun and it opened my eyes to sororities I hadn’t thought about.
#2: I am more confused than ever.

The first day of formal recruitment was basically the Greek equivalent of speed dating. Without really knowing what you’re doing, where you’re going, or why you’re surrounded by a myriad of singing, clapping people, you get shuttled from place to place and quickly latched onto by a sister who barrages you with a bunch of questions (What’s your major? Why did you decide to rush? Do YOU have any questions?!). It’s super overwhelming and a little bit frightening, but it’s actually a really great time. People are extremely sympathetic to your deer-in-the-headlights look, and they really make an effort to make sure that you’re having fun.

After day 1, I was feeling pretty good. I was VERY tired (it’s about a 6-hour day for rush), but I was pretty confident. Then came day 2. This time around, it was a little more leisurely. You know the game already, so you’re a lot more comfortable. You get to know the sisters a little bit better. But, if you’re like me, it only makes the decision that much harder. See, I thought everyone I met was really nice. I clicked with at least three different groups of girls, having great conversation and meeting an awesome group that I totally didn’t expect.

At the end of day 2, you rank all eight sororities in order of your preference. I ended up putting total surprises in my first two spots – sororities I hadn’t even considered before Sunday. Three and four were ones I had already liked and still felt pretty comfortable with. The ones I didn’t like were a little easier to pick. In general, though, my thoughts as I turned in the pref card were “I have no idea what I’m doing”. Day 3 of recruitment is on Saturday, when I find out which sororities invited me back for another party to get to know them better. I guess we’ll see. The suspense is killing me.

I guess this is a “To Be Continued???” (Props to anyone who gets that super-obscure reference.)

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Independence, People, and Dorms

I always wondered what it would be like to not see my parents everyday. How it would be like to eat whatever, whenever. How it would be like to not have a parental alarm clock to tell you when to get up and go to class. How it would be like to do anything I want without the supervision of my parents…

Then I came to college. I loved the freedom that came with moving out of state. I was finally completely independent (relatively speaking… there was of course the occasional phone call from me to them to ask for money, and from my parents to me to check up on my grades, health, etc.). The decisions I made finally shaped me the way I wanted. The freedom was at first hard to grasp. I found myself often calling home for permission to buy books and such, but with time, I started depending on my own judgment to secure the best deals and save money. I guess I realized the extent of my freedom when I received a bid (invitation) this week from Phi Kappa Psi, one of the fraternities on campus. I would never have thought that I would be able to make such a big decision on my own. But I did, and I feel like I've grown so much since the beginning of the school year. I guess that's what college did to me.

Anywho… this post was originally supposed to be about the residential life in college. At my bid dinner, I sat across a brother and we had a nice conversation. When we headed back, I discovered he lived two doors down from me. That's what I love about res life. You get to meet new people everyday, even half way through the school year.

Yet, one of the few things I regret was not choosing to live in the Mistletoe Residential College. Consisting of Hitchcock, Storrs, and Pierce dorms, Mistletoe is the unique residential college, primarily due to the living arrangements. Floors are co-ed, yet separated by sexes so that the boys live on one side of the floor, while the girls live on the other. Rooms are arranged in quads, with 5 rooms to a quad. Two common rooms branch the quads to promote interaction among floormates. The rest of the residential colleges (Juniper and Cedar) have living arrangements much like that of a hotel, in which rooms are side by side, surrounding a communal bathroom (for a more detailed floor plan, visit http://studentaffairs.case.edu/living/facilities/tour/). Because of the ways rooms are structured, people in Mistletoe always seem to be a lot closer than those living in Juniper or Cedar. One thing that I wanted when I came to Case was to meet as many different people as possible. I felt that living in Mistletoe would've facilitated my goal much more than living in the other residential colleges. So learn from me… finish your paperwork as soon as possible, find a roommate that's compatible (much more important than living in mistletoe), and get crakin' on your new student checklist (which is quite fun.. seeing all those checkmarks makes me feel productive during the summer, which rarely happens).

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January 24, 2010

The College Survival Guide: Case Edition

1. There is a difference between going to class and actually paying attention in class. Yes, the games on my iPod touch are much more interesting than anything that’s being taught in Statics. Of course I think we are still learning about vectors but I’m not all that positive. And forgive me, I have calculus 3 right before Statics and both classes have had the exact same lesson plan for the first 2 weeks. Learning the same thing twice in a row, each for about 50 minutes, is not as fun as it sounds.

My Advice: Go to class and actually pay attention. No matter how much you may think you know the material, when you get to the homework you will regret not paying attention.

2. As tempting as it seems to sleep that extra 10-15 minutes in the morning before your first class, it is worth getting up and making it to class before the scheduled time. At the time 10-15 minutes more of extra sleep sounds amazing. But looking at the big picture, the extra stress from practically running to class and walking in late are not worth those 10 minutes.

My Advice: Plan ahead, get to class early. Being late to one or two classes can really ruin your day. (Plus its embarrassing walking in late)

3. On that note, I tend to take advantage of the snooze button on my alarm clock. Therefore, I developed the strategy way back in high school of setting my alarm a good 45 minutes before I actually need to be awake. This gives me the opportunity of multiple snoozes and coincidently tricking myself into believing I actually got to sleep in. It may sound stupid but I’m not a morning person. I can’t function completely in the morning, let alone understand simple concepts such as time.

My Advice: If you have trouble getting up in the morning, try setting your alarm much earlier than you need to be up. If it doesn’t make a difference you can switch back to your old methods.

4. Going to Leutner, Fribley, Grab-it or L3 for every meal can get repetitive after a few weeks. The temptation to spend Case cash or money elsewhere to get something different and “better” becomes extremely tempting (especially when there is a Subway right on the main quad). “I’ll only go elsewhere once or twice a week,” adds up to 3 or 4 times and sooner or later you are spending $20-$30 a week off the meal plan.

My Advice: Stay away from outside food sources because they can be costly and freshmen are required to be on the 17 or 19 meals per week plan. Someone is paying a lot of money for that meal plan (Something like $12 a meal). So take advantage of that. As a student, money unfortunately does not grow on trees.


That’s only a few of the tips I’ve quickly picked up in only one semester. I hope that they can be helpful for you in the transition from high school to college. I have no problem giving more advice as well.

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January 23, 2010

Decisions Decisions...

A lot of my friends, who are seniors in high school, have just finished applying to colleges and universities throughout the nation. However, during the few months before the application deadline, a lot of them came to me for advice about choosing their majors. Most of them were worried about this decision that they perceived would determine their future. I told them to think about what they like to do the most… they didn’t have a clue. Still wanting to help them, I told them how I decided to become a nursing major.

Originally I wanted to become a doctor. Whenever someone would get sick I would always ask the question why. Why did we sweat when we had a fever? Why were we encouraged to gurgle salt water when we had a sore throat? During my sophomore year in high school, a lot of these questions were answered in AP Biology class. This course got me hooked onto the idea that, after college and med school, I could be out there helping friends, family, and patients become healthier individuals.

Then my mom became a nurse. She would come home and tell me about all these interesting things she saw during her clinicals and how much she loved the profession. I, being open-minded, decided to experience just exactly what she was raving about. Over the summer of junior year, I applied for a volunteer position at a local hospital. I shared my purpose with the volunteer coordinator and was assigned to work in the Emergency Room twice a week. To be honest, all I did in the ER was read my English book so I could get a head start on the assigned pages. I didn’t really get to see what nurses did as the ER was extremely fast-paced and the rooms were closed when the nurses were interacting with patients. Nonetheless, I decided to become a nurse during the first semester of senior year.

I applied to Case, got in, and came here because of its unique nursing program (the clinical experience at Case starts freshmen year, whereas other schools' start junior year). I wanted to make sure that, if I didn’t want to become a nursing major, I would know right away so I could switch majors as soon as possible. At first nursing was okay. I didn’t fall in love with it as much as my mother did, but I didn’t hate it. I did despise waking up at 5:55AM for clinical, but once I was in the hospital, time easily passed by (a good sign). I still wasn’t completely convinced I wanted to be a nurse… I was really just biding my time and hoping for something that would push me over the top.

That push came one Thursday morning during lab. My lab instructor was talking about how nursing helps you overcome your fears of public speaking, fears of doing things you never thought you could do before. With those few words, I realized that this was everything I wanted from a profession. I realized that nursing was what I wanted to do all along. And with this realization, I learned that I really didn't have that much information to go off of when I checked that box under the list of majors when I was applying here. Frankly, my intention of pleasing my mother outweighed the confidence that nursing was the major for me. And yet, I did it without knowing what would happen when I actually started learning and experiencing nursing. People are scared when they apply to college. A lot don't know what they want to dedicate their lives to, and that's perfectly natural. It was in class, halfway through the school year, on a Thursday morning after a tough week that I got the confirmation I needed.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s perfectly okay to not know what you want to do when you’re applying to college. Why else would colleges make “undecided” a choice for a major. Sure you’ll meet plenty of people who tell you what major they are and what they want to do in their future, but the chances of them changing their majors in the next week, month, year are extremely high. The funny thing is, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s perfectly normal! There are so many opportunities (frats, events, organizations, classes, faculty, peers, etc.) that you have access to that will help open your eyes and let you determine where your interests lie.

I was the lucky case (haha.. case… CWRU.. okay never mind). I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do, and my inkling was confirmed relatively early on in the year. But, hey, you never know. Next thing you know, I might be blogging about how I got struck by lightening and decided to become a European literature major (god forbid… I despise English). If you leave with anything from reading this absurdly long post today, just know that 1) it’s okay to not know what you’re going to major in and 2) you never know when that moment will hit you

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January 21, 2010

Wednesdays Aren’t Totally Lame Anymore!

I don’t know how y’all feel about Wednesdays, but they’ve never been a good day for me. I feel stuck in the quagmire that has become my week; I’ve forgotten already how relaxing Sunday was, and Friday is so far away I might as well not bother. HOWEVER, for some reason, college has given Wednesday a makeover. Instead of feeling stuck in the middle of a crappy week, I’m actually optimistic about the fact that it’s Wednesday. I neither have any clue why that is, nor why I’m writing about it, but I find it an interesting trend. More on this later?

Anyway, this Wednesday was pretty cool. I get out of classes on Wednesdays at 12:30pm. This is a golden time of day, in my esteemed opinion. It’s lunchtime. I might actually (probably not) get some work done, as the floor is pretty deserted. But on this particular Wednesday, it was kind of dead. Like, super dead. Boring as the day is long. So I sat around and did pretty much nothing for a large part of it (lame).

Then some folks from the floor decided to get food from L3, the grill-ish-thing (I’m eloquent) that sits snugly underneath Leutner Dining Hall (and also a giant construction site, at the moment). After some issues with their touch screen menu doodad (I’m also really competent) I received a delicious piadini which I definitely did not think I was ordering when I ordered, but mmmmboy. L3 is definitely a nice break from Leutner. Not to mention the jukebox.

After this, I was convinced to go along to a rush event for Alpha Phi Omega. For those who are unaware, APO is a Boy Scouts of America-affiliated co-ed service fraternity, which does service-y things like helping old folks and raising money and clipping dogs’ toenails, etc etc. I’ve been considering APO for a while, but I was kind of planning to not rush APO this semester, as I’m already participating in sorority rush which starts this weekend. But someone told me that APO was going to Tommy’s in Coventry (and also that it was free for potential pledges) and I was sold.

Tommy’s is pretty much a vegetarian Mecca, or Heaven, or freakin’ Valhalla. Either way, it’s delicious. I love Coventry already, because it’s such a fun place and it’s only a Greenie or RTA trip away, but I am pretty sure that if Tommy from Tommy’s proposed to me, I would have to seriously consider it before saying no (sorry Tommy, I’m taken. But I love your milkshakes).

So I was suckered into going to a rush event I hadn’t planned on for milkshakes. But it ended up being really fun. The APO people that I met were nice, we were accosted in Tommy’s by some very proud mother whose son apparently had a gig at the Grog Shop (I don’t know either, I suspect boozing may have been involved), and I got a ~delicioussssss~ cookie dough milkshake. Yum. The jury is still out on whether or not I will pledge APO this semester. We’ll give it some time, but they definitely have given me reason to think about it.

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Free Red Bull Anyone?

Personally as a college student, I feel like I constantly have a shortage of the thing I need most, energy to get everything I need to get done, well done. That’s why when I see a small Mini Cooper with what appears to be some type of can built into the structure of the car driving around, I get pretty excited. What a great marketing idea, let’s put two women in charge of driving around a college campus giving out a can of Red Bull, or several, to every person that crosses their path.

I know from experience that I cannot make it through a full day at Case without a dose of caffeine or a nap to rejuvenate myself. So what a pleasant surprise it is when on your way to class, or on your way back to your room to study, you're handed a nice cold case of Red Bull. How could you say no, it’s free. Even if you don’t drink energy drinks, you could always give them to a friend or strike a deal with someone that wasn’t fortunate enough to run across these girls.

So take it from me, it doesn’t hurt to always be on the lookout for the Red Bull girls, they might just make your day. What else would have prompted me to write about it? I just couldn't resist the two Red Bulls.

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January 19, 2010

What’s the Rush?

So I’m sure most Case guys have experienced a fraternity brother forcing a calendar upon them during the first few days of school, I did. I’ve never been a huge fan of flyers that are handed out to me when I’m going somewhere, usually because I have grown accustomed to ads that have little to no importance to my life. But of course, naturally, I took one, probably because I’ve always had a hard time saying no. I really didn’t think much of it, especially since I was given 6 or 7 different ones filled with events that all seemed pretty similar. And why did I care? I didn’t come to Case just to join a fraternity, I came for academics and other opportunities. Clearly it’s a little different for me now.


Fraternities, to me at least, have always been something depicted in movies or on television. Most people my age have seen the movie Animal House or a similar rendition sometime in their lifetime. These representations show fraternities as a group of people who focus their college experience around alcohol and creating trouble in every way, shape and form.


At Case, the first 2-3 weeks of each semester are known as Rush Week. As an incoming freshman I had not the slightest idea of what that meant. It was soon clear that nearly every fraternity on campus was trying to get to know me. At the same time, each particular one was trying to sell the idea of Greek life, specifically, their individual chapter. Pretty much every fraternity has a specific rush calendar packed with a variety of events catered to what they were looking for in the new students. For example, a fraternity that emphasizes competition and sports holds events pertaining to, well, sports. Those focused around social activities hold dances and trips to restaurants with the existing brothers. Whatever way they do it, each fraternity attempts to show others why they think their specific chapter is the best on campus and why the prospective student should join.


The problem is, the majority of freshmen have little to no idea what these fraternities do coming into college. The idea of fraternities having a party first philosophy is a myth, especially at Case. Yes, parents have gone to other institutions where fraternities have little respect for others and themselves but Case is a different scene. The Greek organizations on campus are made completely of Case undergraduates. Clearly they are here for a great education and to take advantage of opportunities they can get nowhere else. If anything, some Greek students may have a stronger incentive to do better in the classroom because at Case especially, GPA rank is important to fraternities and sororities. Clearly each chapter on campus is a little different, but at Case, academic importance should not be the reason not to join a Greek community.


Personally, I feel that even if a student has no interest whatsoever in Greek life they should rush regardless. I had no interest until I started going to events and meeting brothers that shared the same goals in life and the same values that I have been brought up with. Even if you rush one fraternity or several and don’t end up joining, chances are you went to a fun event and got to spend time with old friends and meet new ones (This was very important to me in the fall because I’ve never been that naturally outgoing). During rush I met friends that I will know for a very long time, even some that didn’t join SigEp. Even for those that enjoy being antisocial, I believe rush is a great time to leave your room, even if it’s just to get free food from the events.


I feel very strongly about rush because it allowed me to be convinced to join a fraternity (which is one of the best decisions since coming to Case). Even to those that don’t join or girls that have friends that rush, I think that rush week is a great opportunity for the Greek community to dispel any myths created by movies or TV shows. Fraternity brothers are proud people. They are proud of themselves, their education and their fraternity.


So if you haven’t gone Greek already take the calendar next time it’s offered to you. Even if you don’t have the slightest interest, take one and see what happens. I believe that there is a fraternity to fit anyone, especially at Case. If you’re looking to get something more out of college than just the 20 minute walk to and from class I think exploring Greek life is the way to go.

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January 15, 2010

I suppose it’s time

I suppose it’s time for awkward introductions. I’m not great at the whole “this is my life” bit, Oh Great Blogosphere, but I will make my best attempt to not come off as bumbling and tongue-tied (finger-tied?).

I’m a freshman, a History/Education major, and hopelessly enamored with the world of debate and political discourse. I coach high school debate, I play the trumpet and speak French, I’ve got the two best friends on the face of the Earth (think Harry, Ron, and Hermione – also, get used to ridiculous pop culture references), and I’ve got a weird fascination with chronicling my own life. I plan on making the world of speech and debate my life, teaching history to high school students and humbly aspiring to inspire students the way my coaches inspired me. Anything else you need to know is in the bio. It’s far more succinct for a reason.

Now that that’s overrr, on to the more interesting stuff!

----

Monday was the first day of the spring semester at Good Ol’ CWRU, and I could not be more pumped about my schedule this semester. As per usual, I’m taking an ambitious 19 credit hours (the maximum number without an override) so I will soon be swamped with papers and reading and all sorts of yucky homework junk that is supposed to better my education, etc. But! At the moment, the coming 16 weeks are just endless possibility and for that reason, I’m feeling really awesome. Here’s a breakdown of my classes and how I feel about them, and then you can move along to something more entertaining, like the Munchkin Cat video on YouTube or something.

Weight Training: Pretty self-explanatory. The females in the class are pretty seriously outnumbered though.

Intro to Modern World History: So far way less boring than most other world history courses I’ve taken. I’m reeeeaaaallllyyyy hoping that it continues to not be boring, because the amount of work we have is so immense that I will be rather upset if it’s boring too.

Spanish 101: Taco! Queso! Burrito! I can speak about 25 words of Spanish, but after seven years of French, it’s really difficult to not respond to the question “Como te llamas?” with “Je m’appelle Sara.”

Educational Psychology: BEST. CLASS. EVER. Seriously, I adore it. It’s probably just my incredibly nerdy inner passion for teaching and a teeny bit of desire to fast-forward to my post-college career, but I honestly couldn’t be more excited. Pinch me. No joke.

Principles of Microeconomics: Let it be known that I despise economics with every fiber of my being. However, this professor is witty and entertaining and his speech is sprinkled with profanity – all characteristics which I admire. Anyone who references Scrooge McDuck in a lecture is pretty awesome. We’ll see if he can make opportunity cost and the study of scarcity interesting.

SAGES: Spin, PR, and America Today: A really interesting class that will probably fascinate me, but so far it’s just made me very suspicious about product placement, subliminal messages, and what Dick Cheney really meant.

Intro to American History: This class reminds me why I decided to become a history major in the first place. ‘Nuff said.

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January 14, 2010

On Missing Classes... during the first week of school

You know how your older siblings/friends/parents tell you that, in college, you don't have to go to class every day, and that professors don't care if you show up or not? Well, they lied. I hate to break it to you, but the majority of classes require you to actually attend class. If you decide to sleep through your classes, like me, you either have to make them up (on the weekends), or hound your friends for notes because not all classes are videotaped for your convenience. I, requiring at least 10 hours of sleep on a daily basis, drew the short end of the stick by deciding to attend college, as this amount of sleep is virtually impossible to obtain on a weekday.

Anyway, today was the first time I slept through one of my mandatory labs. Knowing my pathetic ability to wake up in the mornings, I set four alarms for myself. One alarm would give me the option to wake up in time to grab a bite to eat before lab (This alarm is usually the most neglected as I would opt to sleep rather than eat). The other three are designed to make me so annoyed that I would soon realize that I have lab in less than 30 minutes (the time it takes to get dressed and walk to the nursing building).

Apparently I trust my morning-self more than evening-self, which after missing lab today, is obviously not the right choice. Last semester, nursing labs started at 8:30 and lasted until 9:30. THIS semester, labs started at 8:00 and end at 10:00. My evening-self decided 30 minutes was ample time to prepare myself for the day and walk to the nursing building, and thus, set the alarm to 7:30. My morning-self, on the other hand, decided that nursing lab started at 8:30, and therefore, thought that the 1 hour allocated to getting to class was much too long. With this thought, I quickly fell back asleep only to wake up at 8:15 to realize that lab started a good 15 minutes ago. ASDJF;LKASDLFAHG;LADFJ.

Yeah. I hate myself. Anywho, with this experience, I never really realized how dependent we are on alarms. When I say we, I really mean me and assume the majority of college kids experience the same thing. Without this alarm, I would've slept straight through lunch and probably ended up arriving late to Stats which begins at 1:15PM. I've tried going to sleep early, hoping I would naturally wake up refreshed and ready to overcome the challenges of the day, but it's just too hard to sleep before 2AM. I don't know if it's the cloudy weather, or my hormones, or just my study habits, BUT THIS … missing classes… and being late to classes… and feeling tired…HAS GOT TO STOP! (Yesterday I slept right through Nutrition. At least I made it to class on time-- mind you, classes started this Monday).

Walking back from classes today, I decided that every morning, I'm going to sleep by 1:00AM and wake up by at 8:00AM, class or no class. That way, I not only will be able to have more energy throughout the day, but I will also be able to finish more work, and thus, better grades. Theoretically, this intervention should prove to increase my quality of life. I shall update the blog on how this goes. Wish me luck!

On a very, very small side note… I've been crying from my left eye since I started writing this post, not because of the sadness of missing class, but because of a small foreign object lodged somewhere underneath one of my left eyelids. I hope it'll go away sometime today. *crosses fingers*

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