Well my first seminar SAGEs teacher would be a little upset over the use of an “absolute” in my title but here I think it’s fitting. I’m sure someone you know has told you something along the lines of “When you go to college you should do this…” or “Make sure you try this…” As relevant or crazy as the idea or statement may have seemed it may have some merit. The point I’m trying to get at is to get the most out of college it’s absolutely necessary to travel outside of your own personal comfort zone. I may sound like a broken record, especially to someone that’s considering Case Western. But whether we are talking about academics or extracurricular you’re going to have to try something new. I actually refute that statement, you’re going to have to try something new if you’re going to enjoy yourself and/or be successful. I have four personal examples from my experience so far that really stick out when I look back on the last semester and a half.
The first one is quite basic. Coming into Case Western I can safely say I rarely or maybe never studied or prepared for anything outside of the classroom. And no, I’m not saying it even because I think I’m more intelligent than everyone else, far from that. The pace of high school and the recitation of concepts was enough for me to handle myself just fine. College is different. In order to be successful you either have to be an absolute genius (not me) or you have to really put in the effort to learn outside of lecture. I’m not trying to scare anybody; if you don’t plan on doing any extra work then you’re not planning on doing well. Therefore I taught/am teaching myself how to actually study.
The second example that I have done was deciding to take a chair position in SigEp. It didn’t take long for me to know I wanted to give back to the chapter in some way; it’s pretty natural when you really take a liking to something. I really wanted a position with visibility, and a position that involved a lot of work and planning. Throughout high school, I had never really held much of any position with responsibility. I’m not saying I have no responsibility; I just spent most of my time on school and sports. I thought taking the position of service chair was perfect for me. To sum things up, I’m responsible for getting our chapter out for at least a certain number of service hours for the year. That involves planning events with charities and documenting every member’s specific hour count. It’s not an easy job, especially when it comes to getting everyone out to events, but I have been enjoying it the whole way.
The third way I’ve ventured out of my basic comfort zone is funny to write about, especially here. About halfway through my fall semester I got an email asking if I was interested in blogging for undergraduate admissions. See the thing is I never ever, ever, enjoyed English class in high school. It just wasn’t my thing. Just writing for no reason was never appealing. But don’t take offense if you like it, I just never did! Anyway, this position just seemed different and something more I could enjoy. At the same time, I viewed it as expanding my horizons and taking advantage of another opportunity thrown my way. It’s been everything I thought it would be and just another example trying something I never would in high school.
Lastly, I stepped into something completely new to me last semester when I applied for a volunteer lab position in one of many of Case Western’s research labs. When I applied, I figured I would have little to no chance of ever getting chosen. Mostly because I’ve never worked in a real lab before; it was just something unheard of from where I came from. The only thing I had ever done was complete the labs for AP chemistry; which I figured didn’t translate very well under the category of “experience.” Long story short I must have interviewed well or something but I was chosen from a pool of 10 or so applicants. Naturally, I was very excited and quite nervous on what I had to actually do. I’m usually in the lab 10 or so hours a week, which may seem like a lot, but in lab time that’s nothing. I barely know what I’m doing yet; I’m pretty much learning everything on the fly, but I’m loving it. I feel like I could go on and on about this but I don’t know where to start. So as a prospective student, or just a curious reader, feel free to leave any questions or comments. I would love to answer them.
I feel like Case has opened up doors for me to try new things in all facets of life. The tour guides really mean it when they say there is a way to get involved in pretty much anything, even as a freshman. It only takes a little risk taking, and obviously a willingness to learn (something you should have if you’re coming to Case). And it all comes back to my original point; try something you’re not used to doing. The first one I did was chose to come here.
When I said last week that I thought that the mixer with Sigma Nu wouldn’t be lame, I was drastically underestimating its awesomeness. Everyone looked spectacularly ridiculous (costume elements included zebra print, parachute pants, plaid…you get the idea), and there was all kinds of crazy dance circles going on at any given time. Not to mention that we watched the US men’s curling team in their victory. I got to explain to a lot of people a lot of things about curling, which apparently I have become some sort of resident expert on (I love curling, probably too much).
Post-mixer was a lot of hanging around munching on leftovers and then IMPROV, which was a great way to finish the evening. They hit the nail right on the head when they mentioned in a skit that 40 degrees Fahrenheit now feels like 85. It’s true. After seven weeks or so of below-20 temperatures, I feel like I’ve been walking around in the middle of June.
Sunday was my first experience with chapter at Sigma Psi. It was pretty intense; I arrived at the house at about 3:45 so I could pick my room for next year (I’m living in the house! It’s really exciting to me) before our pledge class meeting. Afterwards, I stuck around the house for a while, caught dinner in Fribley with some of the sisters, and went back for chapter. It’s really cool to get a feel for what’s going on with everyone and some of the events and opportunities with Greek Life on campus, even if they had to kick all of the un-initiated pledges out for super secret ritual stuff. After all of that, I ended up staying even later for a Study Jam in the basement. All told, I think I spent 6 hours or so at the house on Sunday. A long day, but really fun.
This week, though, has been pushing through all of the papers and midterms and craziness until spring break next week. I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Meanwhile, I’ve got to wonder if you guys – the readers – have any burning questions you want to get answered. Anything from "what could I do with a history major?" to "where can I eat when I’m sick of cafeteria food?" It’s all fair game. So I challenge you: come up with some killer questions and I might feature them in a post sometime! Until then, I have a paper to write.
You hear about all the economic woes in our country. The stimulus package that really isn't stimulating. The layoffs, the closures, the downturns. The reality is, there aren’t a lot of jobs out in the nebulous "real world." Yet, the fact that I'm posting on this very blog says something about Case and the amount of jobs offered to students. The fact is, a lot of students are in need of money to cover tuition and other learning expenses. Getting a campus job is a perfect way to close that gap.
I never thought about job availability when I applied here. All I worried about was my tuition and how much money from scholarships I would get. Yet, towards the end of the first semester, I found myself staring at a poster in the common room advertising this very job. An email later, I dug out my resume from high school, threw together a writing sample, went for a quick informal interview, and got the job. For a lot of jobs on campus, it's really that easy. Wages are extremely generous too, often ranging from $9.50 to upwards of $10.00. Unlike a typical job; however, campus jobs offer more than just a paycheck.
With a meeting I had with the other bloggers and our bosses the other day, I realized that this job meant a lot more to me than turning a few hours of free time into money. This job was a way for me to acclimate myself to the professional world. You can be late to class, but you can't be late to a job meeting. You can fall asleep in class without any outstanding consequences, but to do that in a job meeting? You're just asking to get fired. A job differs from class in that you can't get away with those things any more. Yet, at the same time, jobs connect you with people and resources that are extremely valuable as your concentration moves from getting good grades to developing a good resume.
I remember walking out of that meeting feeling really happy with myself… happy that I knew that my work and time went to accomplish something in the real world instead of a letter on my transcript.
In somewhat related news: Browsing jobbss.case.edu, I found yet another job that I was interested in-- one regarding using Adobe InDesign (a graphic layout software) to design a annual program book for the Office of Research and Technology Management. In my case, it's not whether I can find a job or not, it's whether I have the time to balance all my commitments… something that you'll rarely hear nowadays.
Last weekend I decided that I needed a break. A well deserved one, if I do say so myself. It kind of resulted in Sunday being a crash-homework day, but I feel like it was worth it.
Friday night was the busiest, as Sigma Psi had a mixer with Phi Kappa Theta. It was 90s themed, which mostly meant that we consumed a lot of sugar and salt and watched Saved By the Bell. Since I’m a pledge, I’d never been to a mixer before, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. What was great about it was that it was low pressure; you get to hang out and meet people you probably wouldn’t know otherwise, and in the process you get to have fun and (obviously most importantly) eat a bunch of food.
I am super pumped for this weekend, because Sig Psi has a mixer with Sigma Nu (my boyfriend’s fraternity). I’ve met a lot of them and think they’re cool guys, so I’m sure this mixer won’t be lame. That’s not to mention that we have the greatest theme ever: Tacky Formal. Let’s just say that my dress involves a lot of red satin and tulle. Oh, and polka dots. Yep.
The CWRU Film Society also continues to be a giant sinkhole for all of my money. Last Friday they played Inglourious Basterds, and my love for Quentin Tarantino meant that it was pretty much obligatory that I go. I was not disappointed. Tonight they’re showing Food, Inc., and once again I think I’ll end up going. The fact that I love movies and the fact that I’m super interested in food production, humane practices, and consumer awareness combine to equal another $3 spent at Strosacker. I don’t regret it.
Lastly, and this is probably the most entertaining part of my weekend, I attended my first IMPROVment show. Ever. For those who aren’t aware, Case has an improv comedy group who perform at the Black Box near Eldred Theater every couple weeks or so. I’d heard about them often, I knew that people were going without me, but for some reason I had just never dragged myself all the way over to Eldred to see them perform. It was pretty hilarious, I must admit. For those of you who were (are?) fans of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, you’ll love IMPROV. They play a lot of the same games, and you get to interact as audience members in really entertaining ways. Plus they gave us candy. By now I’m sure you know that that means that I will love them forever. Definitely on the list of things I need to do again, and soon.
One of the best email subjects I ever read. No that does not mean I live an uninteresting life nor does it mean I don’t get a lot of emails. I just really enjoy getting a package when I’m away at college. It doesn’t matter if it’s a surprise or not, nothing can clean up a long day of school like a care package from home.
I mean what’s not to like about it? It’s like opening up a present on Christmas. You have a general idea of what you’re going to get, but the specifics are uncertain. So as I fight through the well taped box I can’t help but get excited. Hmm, first there are two containers of Campbell’s Soup at Hand, not bad, not bad. Next, some half and half; I guess my parents were paying attention when I told them I was turning into an avid coffee drinker. Sports Illustrated; always a great package stuffer, if only I had more time to read it. Freeze and Eat tubes of fruit? Very interesting, but hey, I’ll give them a shot. Finally some Juicy Juice individual juice boxes; Mom you know me all too well.
And of course Mom and Dad or Grandma (My two prominent suppliers of packages) always include a note or card. Even without the enclosed card, the message is quite clear. Although I’m over a hundred miles away from home my family still hasn’t forgotten about me, not that they ever would. Whether it is a box full of useful things you love or stuff you don’t want, it reminds you of home.
I really like being away at school, even though I was very happy with everything in Buffalo. I just wanted to try something new for myself. And it’s things as simple as a package from home that remind me of the home I’m missing. And on an ending note, I don’t think anybody really knows who or what “HARLD” is.
So last week, I blogged about how I was the only person that enjoyed snow. I kind of take that back. This Tuesday morning, I slipped on ice and landed on my knee when I was trying to catch a greenie to the hospital. What resulted were two torn pant legs, a bloody pair of irreparable scrub bottoms, and a knee that would refuse to bend more than 30 degrees. I decided to tough it out and finish my clinicals (and rewarded myself by not going to my other classes for the rest of the day). Basically, this event ruined my day. Not only did I have to limp everywhere, but I also could not climb the stairs to my room. What's even more disappointing was the fact that I couldn't dance until my knee healed. I had been practicing almost every night for a dance my friends and I would be performing for AAA night.
I've been told I had a very interesting mindset about these "bad days." After recovering from my earlier spill, I told myself that, yeah, tearing up your pants and screwing up your knee sucks, but I'd rather this happen to me now than in the future, say, before an important interview. Basically, I believe that there is only so much bad luck in your life, and by "getting it out of the way," you reduce the chance that something bad will happen to something important (like... taking your NCLEX exam, or on the day of your wedding). Thus, I promptly continued with my life, acing an anatomy exam, and kidnapping one of my best friends for a belated birthday celebration.
If I had learned anything that day, they would be: 1) mornings are extra icy-- running with a bagel in hand is not a good idea… for the bagel, and for yourself and 2) bad days come and go. It's how you deal with and learn from them that matters.
In other news:
-We (as in the members of Phi Psi) had a mixer with AXO (Alpha Chi Omega). We enjoyed light refreshments, warm conversations, and an epic display of curling skills demonstrated by the USA and Switzerland curling teams.
-I got a C+ on my nutrition exam. I guess my decision to not study didn't produce the ideal results.
-During clinicals, I met a former sailor for the U.S. Navy who shared with me his experiences at school and while sailing. The smile he gave me during the conversation reminded me of why I wanted to be a nurse.
-I decided to give up hamburgers along with all the other oh-so-delicious-fatty-fried-foods at the grill in attempt to be a healthier individual.
Yet another week of having no breaks. I am currently typing this on my computer at work, because my personal computer is in an unresponsive coma. Awesome.
I’ve had a lot of fun this week with service events, a couple of new member events with the Sigs, and a bunch of other stuff, but for some reason I want to write a whiny blog. Yep. Whiny. I’m not feelin’ the cheer right now. The grievances I’m airing here have primarily to do with the weather. Anyone in Northeast Ohio (or pretty much any part of the east coast) will understand why I say this. It’s been disgusting.
Now, as a native Clevelander, I am well aware that I have no right to complain. I knew exactly what I was in for when I decided to stay here for school and there were no illusions of a mild, pleasant winter with happy snowfall and cute winter attire. None of that. However, like most Clevelanders, I have become very good at holding onto hope well past the acceptable point of no return. I still believe every year that it won’t be nearly as bad as it was the previous year, and consequently every year winter breaks my spirit a little more.
A good friend of mine lived here, went to Case, graduated, and got the heck out. Since then he’s lived such toasty places and Arizona and California. When he came into town recently I was very defensive about Cleveland, because he’s of the firm belief that I should move to California when this is all over and enjoy the sunshine and rainbows and all that jazz. As much as I don’t want to admit it (and I certainly won’t to his face), some part of me has been secretly thinking that he’s right. California sounds great right about now.
I love Cleveland, don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of reasons that I understand for people wanting to leave, but I’ve always had this pride in my hometown that I could never explain. Something about it makes me happy, regardless of how heartbreaking our baseball team is (I’m not even going to address the Browns, since I really don’t care) or how many houses are boarded up every year. However, now that I have to walk in this weather every single day for at least half an hour, stumbling through slush and muck, practically running into people, and thinking mostly in expletives and some variation of “Why me?”, it’s getting a little tiring.
I don’t want this to be all whine, though, so here are my friendly tips for surviving Cleveland winter. I’m sure some of you will need this:
1. There may be some part of you that wants to look “presentable”, “cool”, or “attractive” when you leave in the morning and consequently will carefully prepare an outfit that looks good even if it’s not practical. Abandon this part of you immediately. Winter in Cleveland for the stubborn becomes a battle between your pretty leather boots and the four-foot mound of slush you end up climbing to cross the street or get to your door. Dress practically, even if that means you look like a giant neon marshmallow.
2. Give yourself plenty of time to get to where you need to be. You will (hopefully) be a total champ at getting to class in under ten minutes by the second semester of your freshman year. I can make it from Storrs to the quad in about that amount of time, without running, if I happen to be late. Seriously, it’s an art form. That period of time does not account for a) people who don’t know how to walk, b) the aforementioned horrible mounds of slush and goo, or c) the horrible morale-breaker that is snow plowing into your face. Make sure to give yourself enough time to get to class without jogging through the snow and slush. That’s like trying to climb a sand dune at a full sprint. It does not end well.
3. Don’t be a jerk. Everyone is as miserable as you. Really, they are. So be nice to people and understand that their walk is probably equally as crappy. It will keep you from going insane.
Okay, "snow" is an extremely hard word to rhyme with, so forgive me for my fail play-off of the "Mad? Get Glad" tagline. If you couldn't figure out the topic of this entry by my oh-so-very clever title, I'm going to cut you some slack and tell you that it's about the wonderful things that are available to you during the lovely winter months at Case!
It's snowing for about the 4th time this semester (surprise). I just came back from taking a Nutrition Exam. Walking there, the snow was blowing in my face. Walking back, the snow was… yes blowing in my face. Even when you make a turn, the wind some how manages to redirect the snow… into your face. It's like the weather is punishing you for living in Cleveland (We did get rated the #1 city with the worst weather). But to be honest, I think I'm the only one disappointed when there's no snow in the forecast. For one, snow is a change in scenery from sunny California (which, might I mention, is a toasty 80 degrees right now). Yet, snow creates a serene atmosphere, especially in the morning when the fields are undisturbed by people's footsteps. I've also begun to enjoy taking deep, refreshing breaths of cold air after long study hours. Other people, however, tend to stay in their dorms either too lazy to deal with the snow, or too affected by the weather to care about anything other than their bed. Case, however, has a remedy for these bed/room potatoes.
When I came back to begin from winter break, the snow had already blanketed the sidewalks. Walking to class soon became messy as your shoes would often splash in the mixture of ice, water, snow, and slush. Thankfully, Case/University Circle (the area that Case is situated in) provides a free shuttle service that conveniently takes you from your dorm to class. The blue-colored shuttles (called greenies-- they used to be green) not only run throughout the year, but are linked to the internet so that you can see where they are at a given time and a prediction on how much longer till they reach your stop. The downside to this? 1) The predictions sometimes don't show up/are faulty 2) They get pretty crowded during the winter months.
Since getting around is taken care of, all you need is a place to go… No problem! Campus events during this time of month include cultural nights held by clubs like KSA (Korean Student Association) and AAA (Asian-American Alliance). These events usually expose the student body to cultural foods and performances by members and other organizations on campus. It's a great way to get out, be entertained, and even learn something new during these semi-depressing winter months. Saying that there's "nothing to do" is no excuse to stay in during these months. There's always somewhere to be, people to meet, things to eat… you get the point.
Previously, in Sara’s blog:
In my last post I talked about formal recruitment, my experiences of the first weekend, and my optimism regarding Greek Life at Case. I left you with a super-suspenseful cliffhanger as to what second weekend would be like, if I would get a bid, and ultimately where I would end up at the end of it all.
So here’s the exciting finish.
Day 3 of recruitment: All week I’d been waiting to find out what parties I got invited back to. All week I had been doing homework and other things that suck with the knowledge that Saturday would at least be fun. I found out that I’ve been invited back to my #1, #2, and #4 choices. The parties were fun, but I ended up reordering my choices almost completely. #4 soared to #1, #1 got bumped to #2, and #3 hovered in the same region it had before. I was intrigued.
Day 4 of recruitment: The suspense was hardcore. I was invited back to all three for the pledge parties. #1 was first, and it was awesome. The day 4 theme is ritual, and they went through one with us to give us a feel for what they’re like. They warned us that people might get emotional, and now I can see why. It was intense. I came out of #1 feeling really good about it and was totally pumped for #3, which was next. The party was fun, I liked the people I was with, but I just didn’t get that same excitement that I had in #1. #2 was the last one. I must say, that party was really fun. I enjoyed myself a ton and was sorry to leave.
I had been under the impression all weekend that this would be an agonizing decision. I’m pretty much the least decisive person, ever. My recruitment counselor had told us that people sometimes spend hours on these cards, weighing the pros and cons and sign still unsure of the decision. I, for once in my life, knew exactly what I wanted and was gone within five minutes of the last party.
Bid Day: My morning classes were agonizing. I would really have liked to fast-forward to noon when I could pick up my bid. It eventually got to that point and when all is said and done…
I received and accepted a bid from my first choice, ΣΨ. I can’t explain the good mood I was in all day; something about knowing that you picked the right place for you is just amazing.
The bid acceptance dinner only reinforced that feeling. My pledge class and the sisters are all amazing and I’m truly proud to be one of them. I could never have imagined myself where I am now a year ago, or even six months ago. Regardless, I’m happier with this decision than I would ever have known and am really excited to get to know all the incredible people who I can now call sisters.
All of this said, it has been the busiest week ever and consequently I am putting off writing two papers in the process of updating you with the conclusion to my tale (I just couldn’t leave you hanging, you know). Even so, know that I can already tell you’re going to hear a lot about my experiences as a Sig, because it’s going to be epic.
To say the least I’m having a long week. See the thing is I have this tendency to be interested in almost everything; I can’t help it, I like being busy. I’m trying to be as unconceited as possible when I say I pride myself at having halfway decent time management skills. It’s probably what helped me get into Case (It’s definitely not a prerequisite; I know a fair share of people here that show little to none at all). Regardless, the fact is simple, if you wake up early, fill your day with classes and extracurricular activities then stay up late doing homework, you’re going to get worn down. It’s a fact of life and part of what makes college what it is. This semester I tried my best to take advantage of everything Case has to offer. Between undergraduate research, SigEp, service opportunities, education (of course) and just trying to have a social life, it’s been a trying week and it’s only very, very early Wednesday morning. I’m not trying to intimidate you into thinking that Case or any other college is not fun, I’m just trying to say overextending yourself can catch up with you. It depends on what kind of person you are. If you’re student at Case or even someone considering Case, more often than not you’re a person that enjoys doing more than the bare minimum. Case accommodates that perfectly. They have something for just about everybody. There’s little merit to the statement that your 19-credit course load is weighing you down and you just don’t have time for anything else. You have the time; you just don’t know how to find it. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t plan on going to college two or three times in my life. This is my time here and I’m going to make the most of it, even if it involves a little lack of sleep and a few extra cups of coffee during the day. I can always sleep when I’m older.
Today was the Gluttony Gauntlet, our (annual?) eating contest sponsored by UPB, held at the Jolly Scholar (yes, I know… lots of vocabulary. UPB is the university planning board, which plans campus-wide events like concerts (Kid-Cudi came this fall) and trips to amusement parks like Cedar Point. Jolly Scholar is an on-campus diner that serves… relatively delicious food for a single meal swipe). I decided to enter with a few of my brothers from Phi Kappa Psi. Even through I'm still a pledge, I thought this was a good opportunity to get to know them, and get my interviews done (as a pledge, you have to interview the whole fraternity before you can actually become a brother). I guess I got so caught up in the event that I never really got my interviews done.
Anywho, this event tested a team's capability to eat as much food as possible, as fast as possible, while keeping it down. Yes, I said “keeping it down.” We were even asked to sign health waivers before we went to participate. Case EMS was also present to make sure stuffing ourselves with food wouldn't cause adverse health problems. It was clear that we would be dealing with A LOT of food.
Here's the run down of the competition. Of the 14 entering teams, only 10 would advance after having a member eat as much salad as possible in a 3-minute period (The 4 teams that ate the least would not go on in the competition). The remaining teams would have a member eat as many quesadillas as possible in another 3-minute period. 2 more teams would get ousted, and soon, 8 teams remained to undergo the relay race. Teams would have members eat 5 sliders, 5 hot dogs, 5 chicken fingers, and a whole pie (without hands of course). Teams were competing for a $20 Qdoba (a chipotle-esque restaurant that's on campus) gift card, and most of all, bragging rights.
The brothers and I fasted for this event. I reduced my usual lunch of 3-4 plates of food to a simple sandwich and a measly granola bar for a snack. We were so pumped up for this event. Yet, much to our dismay, we got eliminated in the first round. Some of the brothers and I stayed back to cheer on some of our close friends who entered as another team. Soon, the room was filled with crazy college kids standing on chairs to see their friends, who were on their knees, scarfing down a blueberry pie. If you know anything about frantically eating super-sweet pie with nothing but water and your face, you know it's not going to be pretty. Aside from the remnants of pie plastered all over their faces, we were blessed with the sight of a few "weak souls" whose recently consumed pie ended all over the table/in specially placed buckets in the form of barf. Gross? Yes. Exciting? Extremely!
This is one of the many events that take place on campus each week. It’s a great way to get involved on campus, and you'll never be disappointed by the experience. Chances are, you'll walk away with a free T-shirt.