College Essentials That Are NOT Essential

Overwhelmed with excitement and overtaken by media content where excess is better, most people bring too much stuff into their college dorm–me included. Online sources make it seem as if all the items in their halls and on college shopping lists are necessary, affordable, and worth-it. I knew when watching these videos a year ago that many of the items I would not need/did not want. However, it was hard to question those items when college students and article writers all told me I needed them or would want them. Luckily, the excess items I brought were small and negligible. Others crowd their room with all the recommended junk. Keeping in mind that I am speaking from my one year of experience living in a traditional double, here are a list of items people say you need for your college dorm that you do not:

  1. Coffee Maker
    1. I am a believer that if you take care of yourself, coffee is unnecessary. However, if you feel that you need it, your dining hall probably has a coffee machine. Or, if you are willing to pay the money to save space in your dorm room, your campus may have a Dunkin’ Donuts or something of the sort.
  2. Brita Water Filter
    1. This depends on where you go to school, but in Connecticut I had no problems drinking from the tap. If you can drink without a filter, do yourself a favor and do not buy one.
  3. Plastic Plates & Silverware (or really any kitchen supplies)
    1. If you eat at the dining hall, this should not be a problem. Obviously if you choose to live differently, plates and silverware might be a necessity for you; but if you are looking to keep your dorm items to a minimum, consider eliminating these items.
  4. Microwave and/or Fridge
    1. Rent, buy, whatever. Unless you need a brita water filter, leave these off of your shopping list. On my campus I could buy pre-popped popcorn. Also, none of my snacks needed to be refrigerated. I got eight fairly-healthy packaged snacks each week from a snack subscription company: I definitely recommend this if you are looking for healthier, easily-storable, easily-transportable snacks for your dorm room.
  5. Printer
    1. First semester, I had to print a lot. However, there were printers all around my campus I could use–and I did. I was nervous I would have to wait in a line, but I almost never did (when I did I was quick to make it to the front). At UConn (my college), I had to pay to print. However, I only had to pay for the paper I used. If I bought I printer, I would have had to pay for the printer, the ink, and paper I would never use. Flash forward to second semester, I literally printed once. Any lab reports, essays, etc. I had to turn in were turned in online. So lace up your tennis shoes and walk to the library to print.
  6. Flashlight
    1. This is literally the dumbest item ever and I cannot believe I actually brought it to college. Sure, it is small, but I ended up bringing it back to CA from CT at the end of the year because I never used it–not once! The only way I can understand my thought process is maybe I thought if I walked to my dorm late at night I would need it. However, my campus had lampposts lighting the walkways, so a flashlight was unnecessary.
  7. Sleeping Bag/Weekender Bag
    1. I have never heard of anybody having sleepovers or going on trips over the weekend, so these items are laughable. Besides, at my campus, most of the students were in-state, so they went home on the weekends and did not need a bag or anything for that. If you sleep in your own room and stay on campus on the weekends (except if you live by the school), the problem is solved.
  8. Extra/Decorative Pillows 
    1. I am not going to deny that I have three decorative pillows at home and even have one in my dorm room; however, the numbers correspond to the amount of space I had to store them while I was sleeping. Sure, you can buy seven decorative pillows and they will fit on your dorm bed. But what about when you are sleeping? Where are they going to go? Chances are you are probably not going to make your bed immediately when you wake up, and it will be difficult to walk around your room if it is covered in pillows. My one decorative pillow fit in between my bed and the wall and that is where it was when I was sleeping/when my bed was not made. Keep this in mind when you are fawning over pillows in Target.
  9. Headboard
    1. Seriously? I am not even going to explain why this is unnecessary.
  10. Floor-length Mirror
    1. I have one of these in my room at home and I use it a lot. At college, I did not buy a floor-length mirror because it was big, breakable, and I was moving across the country. When I arrived at my dorm, there was a small rectangular mirror. I was surprised to find I did not miss my floor-length mirror. Usually, I had no interest in looking at myself in a mirror, but if I did, there was a whole mirror wall in my bathroom. That definitely sufficed.
  11. Fan
    1. Okay, I was sweating the first month of college. But it was just the first month. One month out of nine. Of course, I lived in Connecticut, but even in California (where I lived for 17 years), the weather gets comfortable as time goes on. I see nothing wrong with buying a small clip-on fan, but a huge one that stands three feet off the floor is ridiculous. You really can survive without one.
  12. Iron/Steamer
    1. How much do you use this at home? Maybe you have never done your laundry before college, but I have done mine since I was 10 and literally never used an iron or steamer. Anything that gets wrinkly will tell you on the tag with the phrases “line dry” or “lay flat to dry.” When you read that, either put it in a mesh bag or remember the clothing item, then separate it from your pile of clothing after being washed and follow the directions on the tag: line dry. I bought a drying rack, but you can put it on your desk, hang it on the wood slabs on the side of your bed, or hang it on a hanger and hang it somewhere separate from the rest of your clothes.
  13. Extra Storage
    1. I am not going to tell you you will not need any extra storage (though I did not), but I am going to tell you to wait. Wait until you move in to see. Even if there is a 360 virtual tour, still wait. The virtual tour for my room was not accurate, but even if yours is, it is still different when you move in and are actually in the room. Make it easier for yourself to move in by bringing what you know you are going to need, then when you get there, you can decide if you need to buy anything else.
  14. Multiples of Reusables (Towels, Sheets, etc.)
    1. While I actually would recommend college students to buy multiples of toiletries, extra towels and sheets are a waste of money and space. Think about it. Just wash your stuff every week and the problem is solved. Remember that your dorm room is small and you only get half of the room, so you do not want your side to be both dirty and cramped. Be self-sufficient.
  15. A Million Command Hooks/Strips
    1. I kid you not, I used zero of these in my dorm room. Well, none that I brought. I used one command hook, but it was already there when I moved in. My parents then gave me three black triangle sticky things to use to hang my painting and poster on the wall and that was literally all I needed. I brought some command strips/hooks (luckily not a lot) and I ended up storing them the whole year. Only buy what you know you are going to use or wait until you move in to see.
  16. Seating
    1. You know what I am talking about. Buying your own seating when the school provides it for you. That storage ottoman from Target. Anything extra is unnecessary! Just buy a seat cushion for that horribly uncomfortable chair they give you and you will be fine!

Everyone’s college/dorm experience is different, so all I ask is you consider everything I said. My one big piece of advice is to buy/bring the minimum amount of stuff, then decide when you move in and are physically inside the room what you need to buy. You can buy stuff from your on-campus bookstore, amazon prime, or drive to the nearest CVS/Target/Walmart after you have moved in. Feel free to ask me questions in the comments or through the contact form on this website. Thank you for your time!


I am Not Stupid Just Because I am Not 18 Yet

As a 17 year-old college freshman struggling to find my place at my university, I decided to take to the internet to read the experiences and reflections of previous college freshman.

While all described the usual up’s and down’s, loneliness, friendships, and workload, some key things people LOVED about college really bothered me. Here are some of those luxuries described: choice, freedom, practical skills, work ethic, motivation, diversity of opinion/living/culture, etc. I feel I had all those luxuries before college, so why does no one else?

For one, I do believe most teenagers are lazy and unmotivated, and that is their own fault. I know because I was not one of those teenagers. However, the point is, some things people say are only offered in college are actually offered in high school and earlier, except people only choose to recognize and take advantage of them in college. Is that to say the school system is perfect? No. In fact, as I compare my pre-college school experience to those of others, I realize how deprived so many people are. Schools seem to think teenagers should not have access to practical skills, choice, diversity?

It may seem as though I am blaming schools for people’s challenging college experiences or life skill deprivation, but I am not. I am blaming society for treating minors as though we are 1 year-olds still learning how to speak. What do people think–that as soon as my 18th birthday hits, I am a changed person–an intellectual and proud asset to society? Well, maybe I am. But that transformation does not happen overnight. It starts early on. High school is probably the best time to provide students with some of the perks college students have. I think motivation would come naturally with those perks, and may even stimulate more of an interest in students to further their education.

How this would happen is a mystery to me, but I think it is something to think about.

Kids are smarter than adults think they are. So give them the opportunity to prove it.

All About my First Week of College | University of Connecticut Freshman| Class of 2021

I moved in to college on Friday, August 25th, 2017. It is now Saturday, September 2nd, 2017. Everyone is asking me to tell them about my first week of college and I am tired of having to type up the same paragraph or choosing things to say and forgetting whom I told what to, so here is everything:

Friday (AKA Move-In Day): I vlogged my whole morning (, but I barely vlogged during and after. As a result, I am only going to talk about during and after.

I got to UConn 20 minutes early and there was already a line of cars. My mom and I sat in it only for about five minutes until we got to the front, where a guy handed us a parking pass and directed us to where my dorm is (I am not going to reveal where I am living for safety purposes). There was a parking lot hugging my dorm building, so we turned in, but all the spots were filled, so we had to circle back and sit in the line again. When we found out where and how to check in, my mom dropped me off and I went inside the building and checked myself in. I got my keys as well as some flyers. Then, my mom and I pulled into the same parking lot we did before–but this time there was a spot in the FRONT! Score!

We unloaded my stuff and waited because we were told UConn students would come right up and help us. Well, we waited for 5-10 minutes before my mom asked me to take something up to my room so that we would know where to go and I could use my key for the first time. I took my comforter (might as well get something big out of the way) and headed up. I found my room fairly quickly and tried my key. It would not budge in the door. I tried it multiple times, tried taking it out and putting it back in, even asking someone else whom had already opened her door–and nothing. Luckily, there was a list of numbers to call under everyone’s room number plate, so I called the RA on duty. Wyatt got to me quickly and checked that I was at the right room in the right building before failing to open the door himself. So then I had to lug my comforter three flights down, across a courtyard, and back into the check-in building to get new keys. Luckily, they found the right ones and Wyatt took me back up to my room to check it before he left me to move the rest of my stuff in. Upon my mom’s request, I searched for and asked a group of the UConn helpers to help my mom and I move my stuff to my room. Three girls brought up all but my biggest suitcase because “we should probably get a guy to do it.” But no one came, so I carried that up three flights of stairs by myself.

In my room, my bed was not lofted while the other was, and since my roommate, Gwynne, wanted hers raised, I switched the beds. Meanwhile, my mom was worked up about the helpers obviously only volunteering for community service hours and all the waiting and such we had to do, but, of course, it did not even occur to me that I should be mad or stressed about those experiences. So, I started moving my stuff in. 

Unfortunately, though, by that time, I only had 1/2 (one out of two) hours left to move in before Gwynne arrived (we split it up so we each got half the move-in time). I did the best I could and finished all my big to-do’s (like making my bed and hanging my closet curtain), but when Gwynne arrived, my desk was junked up. Well, I left for two hours. During that time, I went to CVS as well as the campus bookstore. When I returned to my dorm, my mom left and I was alone with Gwynne. 

Immediately, I uncovered that I would be ‘the loud one’ in the roommate relationship between Gwynne and I. Most of my friends are outgoing, extroverted people, so being ‘the loud one’ is uncomfortable for me. Also, since Gwynne is shy (she told me herself), I knew the last thing I should do is pry information out of her. This leaves things rather quiet….and confusing…like is there tension or peaceful silence? I really do not know. Nevertheless, I invited her to all the meals and events I went to, and she followed me around in silence unless I asked her a question. I have to say, though, the confusion about whether or not there is tension between us did not start on Friday because I was in one of my rare talkative moods. I think I made a good first impression that way. Or maybe I was just annoying. Haha, whatever.

The events we went to were dinner, a hall meeting, and convocation.

It took me two hours to fall asleep that night.

Saturday: There were a ton of planned events. Most all were optional, a couple not, but all were scheduled to help us freshman acclimate as smoothly as possible to the UConn environment.

In the morning, everyone went to the Great Lawn to take the class of 2021 picture ( I was on the left edge of the first letter ‘n.’ Everyone was then taken to an auditorium where we watched a presentation on sexual assault and bystander intervention. I skipped lunch to head to my choir audition. Next, I decided to participate in a campus tour. I figured this one (I was given a tour over the summer at orientation) would be more detailed or we would be taken to the spots we would most likely go to the most. Nope. The leaders were awful–as in, they knew no facts about anything and never stopped us to tell us anything; we just wandered in and out of buildings whose names and functions we did not know. So, I left the group early and went back to my dorm until the Rainbow Center (LGBT organization) open house. So many people beamed about the Rainbow Center, so I thought I had better check it out. I am glad I did because everyone was positive and welcoming. There was a panel of people whom work there whom answered questions and told us their stories. When it was over, because no other events interested me, I walked back to my dorm and continued to put the stuff on my desk away (I did this little by little and I think I finished on Sunday or Monday). 

I think Saturday was the day when I really started to do my own thing because of the choir audition. (Choir is not popular, as I understand it.)

Sunday: Sunday held very little activities I was interested in, so I spent most of my time mapping out where my classes are, going on my computer, and putting my stuff away little by little. I probably would have put all my stuff away before then, but it is awkward when someone is in the room with you and you can feel them watching your every move…plus dropping something is embarrassing. Anyway, the only scheduled event I attended was the welcome event presented by the dean of my specific college (College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources).

I am happy to say I had no trouble finding my way around campus with my map. I love when I pass familiar buildings on my way to a new one.

Monday (AKA my first day of college): My first college morning, I went to the gym. Unfortunately, the walk is 10-15 minutes depending on my pace, but at least I do not have to warm up when I get there!

When I went to my first class at 10:10AM, there was an obvious change in population. Over the weekend, people were at events or in their dorm rooms, so the sidewalks were fairly empty; during the week, there was always someone on the sidewalk. Luckily, because I had already mapped out where my classes were, I confidently made it to class 10 minutes early.

In high school, me being 10 minutes early (which was typical of me) meant I was the first one besides the teacher to get to class. In college, me being 10 minutes early means 50-75% of the class is already there and I look like a slacker. Is it an east coast, college, or UConn thing? 

Only one out of my five classes had the syllabus available to read over the summer, but I figured my first day of college classes would consist of learning course content and I would be expected the read the syllabus the teacher would upload online, on my own time. But no. Literally all my teachers–oops, professors–did the first day was go over the syllabus. Like really? I could have read that myself. (And for one of my classes, I did.) Oh well. The syllabus stressed me out enough because there are two parts to my statistics course and three to my chemistry course, plus online homework and stuff I have to download and materials I have to buy and ahhhh. Literally I had acne on my face the next day. Thanks, UConn. 😛

In between classes, if there was enough time, I returned back to my dorm because I am a total homebody and am used to spending most of my time in my room. Unfortunately, Gwynne also likes to spend most of her time in her room (More like all her time. If she is not at class, she is in the dorm. I have literally never seen her go to the dining hall since those first two days when we went together). This leads me to the rest of the week…

Tuesday: Nothing about this day stands out to me. I went to the gym (I went every day this week, so this will be the last time I type it out) and to my classes. This is probably when I became confused about whether or not there is tension between Gywnne and me, and also when I began to avoid my dorm room and figured out where the library is. The fourth floor is totally my new home because it is the silent floor and the desks literally have walls around them like offices. I do not even notice the other people there! Oh, and I also began to try to eat at weird times so as to avoid the mobs of hungry college students. I did that throughout the rest—actually, I am still doing that.

Wednesday (prepare yourself): Worst. Day. Ever. I am telling you! Wednesday is my favorite day of the week, but for some reason everything went wrong last Wednesday.

I rushed my morning so that I could pick up this iClicker I ordered, because my chem professor said we were going to use it that day (in the syllabus it says iClicker points cannot be made up, so I knew I had to have that thing for that class). I picked it up, booked it back to my dorm to pick up my backpack, and by the time I got there, I was literally sweating–almost to the point of dripping. (I had just showered, too!) Even worse, after already tired and sweating, I then had to book it to my first class (not chemistry), where I was two minutes late (the TA got there at the exact same time as me…). In chem, WE DID NOT EVEN USE THE ICLICKERS. MY TEACHER LITERALLY WENT OVER THE SYLLABUS A SECOND TIME BUT WITH A POWERPOINT THIS TIME. 

Later on, I had to book it to another class and was almost late for that. (I am never late, so why that day was I late to everything?) 

About two and a half hours before my last class (the one I just described being almost late to), I decided I would get some laundry done. I figured it would only take an hour because my washer and dryer at home only take 30 minutes each. When I put my clothes in the washer, I saw some guy putting his clothes in 2/2 dryers available. I did not think it was a big deal that he took both the dryers because since we put our stuff in at the same time, they should be done at the same time. Right? Wrong. Turns out that guy set the machines to 60 minutes. I had class, though, so I had to remove my wet clothes from the washer after they finished washing, put them back in my laundry basket, into my dorm room, and then leave them there to go to class. After class, I went back to my building and checked that there was an available dryer. I saw that 1/2 dryers was open, so I–without putting my backpack down or anything–rushed up to my dorm room, grabbed my basket, and filled the dryer with my clothes. I finished putting my stuff in there and started the machine, only to look up and see Gwynne. It becomes clear to me at that point in time that Gwynne had put her clothes in the washer not long ago and they just finished, and I took her dryer (AWKWARD). 

Well, the joke is on me, because I sat down at the provided table and chairs in that laundry room for TWO HOURS and THE DRYER DID NOT EVEN DRY MY CLOTHES. Like was it just spinning my clothes around for two hours?? This was my breaking point. I was so done. I brought my wet clothes up to my room and headed to a Rainbow Center event, and I am so glad I went because I was on the verge of tears and that event saved my day. The people there were awesome, and we talked and played games for an hour. 

The world was not done hating me yesterday, though, because I tried knocking on my RA’s door to ask her about the drying situation (the sign on her door said she was in), but she did not answer. I returned twice more to her door before giving up and emailing her. Also, something I found out later was that the long paragraph I spent probably 15-30 minutes typing up for my mom about how bad my day was while I was in the laundry room earlier did not even send! I could not wait to get to bed and have it be Thursday.

(I took this from an email I sent my best friend the day of and edited it to sound nicer.)

Thursday: This was a good day for me. Other than finding out that the negative nancy I met in my chem lecture would be someone I would see 4/5 days a week (because she is also in my discussion & lab groups for that class [lucky me]), then finding out I would actually see her 5/5 days a week because she is in both of my Thursday classes, I began to build my social life. For example, I caught up with this guy named Branden whom I met at orientation about a month earlier. We have this seminar class together (not really a class, but technically it is). It was nice to see a familiar face and to have someone to talk to. I am definitely more of a listener than a talker, but I gotta talk or my voice feels weird (and it should; you can become mute if you stop talking for too long). I also chatted with this girl whom lives in my hall and whom I have seen around campus quite a few times, Emily, the night before and texted her a little on Thursday. (I would have mentioned her earlier, but I figured seven paragraphs were enough for one day.)

By Thursday, I was familiar with the popular/important spots on campus and got help from the school-provided tech service (it really works!).

Friday: I knew I should not have been, but I was stressed. Without the teacher writing the homework on the board everyday, I did not know whether or not I was prepared for class or if I should have started on something I had not started yet. Luckily, stress was the only thing that “went wrong.” I had two easy class sessions where all I did was take notes, checked out a graphing calculator from my statistics professor, did some work at the library, picked up three packages from the mail room, then headed out to experience the hyped-up sunset yoga on horsebarn hill.

Yoga was definitely my favorite part of the day. I was interested to try it because I never have and wanted to de-stress. On the way there, I met two girls, Betsy and Roselyn, with whom I got to catch up on all the talking I never got to do during the past week. That lead to a peaceful hour of self-reflection and quiet, then more talking afterwards. If I find any pictures or videos of that night, I will post them here; as for now, just take my word for it that the view from horsebarn hill is beautiful. Can they do that every Friday? 


  • Dining: I have no idea what people are talking about college food being horrible. There are some tasty, healthy options here. It is not all pizza and burgers. Plus, the dining halls are big, clean, and accommodating.
  • Social Life: It was slow and is still on its way there, but my social life has definitely improved over the past week.
  • Classes: They are slow and easy as of now. I think keeping up with the work is going to be the hard part.
  • Gym: It is nice and big and there are always machines open. I observed that there were less and less gym-goers as the week went on. It also got colder and colder each morning.
  • Roommate Situation: I am still confused, but Gwynne and I are on good terms as far as I know of. Like I said before, I am not too thrilled about Gwynne being in the dorm every second she possibly can be, but then again, it is her room. I hope she finds some friends or something, though! I do not see us becoming close, but you never know. If she puts in a satisfactory amount of effort in the future, I will definitely consider the possibility of us becoming close. (Why do I sound like a textbook?)
  • Ice Cream: The UConn campus-made dairy bar ice cream is well-known. Personally, I do not taste a difference from store-bought ice cream, but I also loved ice cream before coming here. Now I just have to avoid the ice cream station set up at every dining hall…*she types as she eats some two hours later*
  • Campus: Gorgeous! What else can I say? Just look up ‘UConn storrs campus’ and you will see for yourself! I love the green extensive nature and the brick buildings because that is not something I saw in my hometown of Irvine, CA.
  • People: Everyone I have met has been nice. Negative nancy may have complained a billion times, but she was still nice to me. (I know her name, but am purposely leaving it out.)
  • Weather: Cold in the mornings and at night, but warm during the day. I like the weather. The daytime is my favorite because it is sunny and hot, stays at a comfortable temperature because of the cool breeze.
  • Noise: So far my building has been quiet. Did I get lucky? Nah, I bet it is just because it is the first week. But I would not know yet.


If I left anything out, let me know and I will add it! 




How to Make PowerPoint Presentations Interesting

Not only is public speaking nerve-racking, which makes appearing confident difficult, but on top of that, we have to somehow make a PowerPoint presentation interesting. Impossible? Luckily not.
1) Put minimal to no text on the slides. Pictures are your friends!

You are using flash cards as a resource so that you avoid reading off of your PowerPoint. What better way to reinforce that goal than to completely remove the text? In addition, if you have a lot of text on your slides, your audience will be overwhelmed and automatically bored, and if you have minimal text on your slides, your audience will focus on reading it instead of listening to you. The best way to keep your audience engaged and to appear knowledgeable is to include a one to three pictures on each slide that represent what you will talk about; that way, your audience will understand the direction of your slide while also being able to fully listen to what you have to say.

2) Say more than what is on your slides.

Hopefully, you have no text on your slides; however, even if you have a few short bullet points, this point still applies: ALWAYS say more than the words (if any) included on your slides. By doing this, you convey a sense of preparedness. Also, often having ample room (as compared to a digital square) to explain a topic naturally pushes you to write more (include more facts and ideas than would have fit on the slide)–making for a more informative presentation.

3) No white backgrounds.

If you are like me, white backgrounds are your friends because the color white helps you focus on the words and pictures decorating the slide. However, most people are not like this. White backgrounds are boring and often cause people to doze off–so either choose a solid color, a theme, or choose a picture background!

4) Incorporate transitions.

I actually hate this point because I view transitions as “so middle school.” However, transitions animate the presentation and are much more exciting to watch than the split-second switching of slides.

5) Everything is purposeful.

What the heck does this mean? Everything that comes out of your mouth should relate to the topic. Your titles should be short yet meaningful (a theme, person’s name, etc.). The included pictures should directly relate to the main points of that specific slide that you will talk about. There should NOT be an excess of text, pictures, or even what you say. My recommendation is to not talk longer than two minutes on each slide–or you may start to lose your audience!

Here is an example of one of my own PowerPoint slides:

(I used a website called–as the logo in the bottom right-hand corner shows–and luckily I was able to record my voice instead of present live, but I still wrote a script and followed all the tips!)


Good luck on your PowerPoint presentation!

Why Schools are Failing at Assigning Books for Students

Authors write for one of three purposes: to entertain, to inform, or to persuade. Schools assign books that inform and persuade–which is great and all–but what about assigning books for ENTERTAINMENT???!! 

Here is why I think entertainment is the most valuable effect of books: I have hated reading all my life. That changed one year ago (I was 16–too old to start to like to read). My english teacher recommended The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James as a book to read for fun. The book was not assigned and not for points or any sort of credit for the class. My friend read it and thought I would like it, so I decided to give it a shot. And what happened? As you probably already guessed, I could not put it down! And, now, after looking back on it, I do not think I ever hated reading; I just hated the genres of books we were reading. But being entertained by this one book inspired me to read books for fun. This will benefit me in the long run by expanding my vocabulary and my mind.

It is one year later, and I am stuck reading books such as Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah, Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut, and Night by Elie Wiesel! Can you say depressing? Yes, reading about memoirs and wars and blah blah blah is important–but why are we only reading about that stuff? No wonder everyone thinks life is hard and the world is evil! Keep some of the books so children learn about the past and about literature, but do not leave out the books that have no purpose at all but to entertain! We know that reading makes you smarter, but the only way to actually get children to read is to make them want to. (Trust me, because that was me.)

And now let us talk about books we read just to learn about a certain time period rather than about literature: Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, for example. One or two books like this should be kept, but the whole english class should not be learning about history! I remember reading Grapes of Wrath at 14 years old and HATING it. It was SO boring to me, and to this day I groan whenever someone mentions it. (Why did you spend a whole chapter describing a turtle crossing the street–NO ONE CARES!!!) I have to say I am proud I suffered through, though, because I was one of probably five students in my class that actually read the book instead of sparknote-ing it. If a book is so boring the students choose not to read it–and these students are honors students–a red flag has to go up in your brain. Connecting history and literature is important, but english teachers should leave most of the history teaching to the history teachers.

Like I have said throughout, keeping these types of books in the curriculum is important. They inform, persuade, and–depending on the person–may even entertain. (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is my favorite book!) However, schools need to assign books whose purpose is to entertain so that children grow as students and as people.

How to Pick a Partner in High School

Let us be honest: it is hard to find the right person in high school. I have never had a boyfriend before, but I definitely know some universal qualities that every girl looks for in a guy. Also, I am an outside perspective and that can be really helpful if you are dazed by a guy’s looks–and do not worry about that; it happens to the best of us. Although every guy at your school may seem like a jerk, try to look for these qualities and maybe you will find the right guy for you. Note that I am going to be writing these in steps and not bullet points, so hopefully it is easy for you to follow along. In addition, these are NOT steps on how to get a guy/girl to like you. This is how to pick someone to advance on who is right for you.
1) Look for someone who is frequently around you 
It is scientifically proven that you are more likely to be attracted to someone whom you are around a lot. That goes both ways. But it is also easier to be with someone whom you are around all the time because it does not take a lot of effort to hang out with them, and that is something you absolutely need in a relationship. Maybe this person eats lunch by you every day or is in your math class. It does not matter what it is, as long as there is some (reasonably long) period of time where you two see each other every day or every other day.
2) Observe from afar to decide if he/she meets your standards
Things you may want to look for include: Is he/she kind? Does he/she take school seriously? Does he/she have a good sense of humor? Does he/she drink or smoke? Is he a gentleman/she a lady (in a non-sexist way)? Is he/she friendly? One that I have to ask myself each time because it is so important to me is if he(/she) is mature. But honestly just figure out whatever you need to in order to decide if he/she is a good fit for you. However, I would not advise stalking him/her online or in person.
3) Ask yourself if you are naturally attracted to them
It is okay if you are not. Attraction cannot be forced, but it is easy to convince yourself you like someone if you really want to. You need to really look for someone that is going to best fit your needs but also someone that you are attracted to. That is the whole point of having a relationship: being with someone you are attracted to. So, if you decide he/she is a bad person or you just do not like him/her, go back to step one. There is no problem with that. However, do not immediately dismiss them. Maybe give it a week or two and really see what they are about and you may decide that you really do like him/her. If not, that is okay too.
4) Go for it!
My best advice would be to become friends with them first. That way you can test the waters while you also find out more about them. Sometimes the person on the outside is very different from the person on the inside. Go with your gut and listen to your heart. Good luck!
I hope this helped you in any way, shape, or form. These steps may seem obvious, but some people–like me–like to see or hear them even though we know them already. Others may have no idea where to start. Also remember that everything I write is opinionated and open for discussion if you so desire. One Youtuber that can give you tips and tricks on how to get a guy to like you or how to tell if a guy likes you, etc. is Kimberly Moffit. I highly recommend checking out her channel because she is a certified relationship therapist, a doctor of psychology, and her videos are very helpful. Have a great rest of your day and remember to contact me if you have any questions or requests. Thank you for your time.


31 Things I Have Learned From Cross Country

1) It is possible to change bras in front of people without actually being topless.
2) When I think I can go no further, I can.
3) By working my hardest every day, I am helping everybody on the team.
4) My greatest obstacle is myself.
5) Running shoes and inserts are EXPENSIVE, but mandatory.
6) Carbohydrates only kick in after 4 hours of eating them.
7) Some people–whether I know it or not–really look up to me and I need to be an example, always (not just in xc).
8) An abbreviation for “cross country” is “xc.”
9) “PR” is an abbreviation for “personal record.”
10) Everything gets easier with practice.
11) Except hills.
12) Running in the rain is easy if you are blind.
13) Getting up and running at 6 am makes me happier, healthier, and more energized (believe it or not).
14) Coach does not hate you. He pushes you because he knows you can do better.
15) You can do it.
16) Everyone seems to think I am some type of god for running 3-7 miles a day, and I enjoy the shocked looks from people. You should enjoy it. Be proud of yourself.
17) You can always push yourself harder. Training never stops.
18) You are not slow. You are only slow relative to certain people. But that does not mean you are a bad runner or that you are less valuable to the team.
19) Sweating helps cool you off. Even better, if the world ever runs out of the water, you can lick yourself to live (KIDDING).
20) Spandex is REALLY comfortable.
21) I think you just found out what to do with all those t-shirts  you hate/never use.
22) Being a xc runner means owning at least 4 water bottles. (TIP: Get an insulated one)
23) Popsicles motivate me, even though I do not even really like them.
24) Water suddenly tastes better after you run 5 miles through the desert in 90-degree weather.
25) Forget what everyone says–socks are perfect gifts!
26) Sports sunglasses fit weird and look hideous but at least you can see with them.
27) They are not hills; they are inclines.
28) As long as you try your best, you have won.
29) Walking is lame.
30) You do not have to be the fastest runner on the team to be a leader.
31) Do not EVER give up.

12 Things You NEED To Learn In High School

Currently, I am going into my third year of high school, and in my high school experience so far, I have come across many students whom I know will crash and burn in the real world. Of course, I am still a student myself and have not been in the real world yet, but I have been told many things by adults. In addition, I have some wisdom myself and know that, even though I am young, my opinions and views are still valid and people can learn from them. So, here are ten things that within your high school experience you really need to learn in order to thrive in life after school:
As a young adult, still trying to find herself/himself, it is easy to feel outcast, alone, and like no one is on your side. However, it is just the opposite. What you may not realize is that everyone your age feels the exact way that you do. Take me, for example. Every time I think I have it all figured out, something new opens my eyes a little wider and I question everything. But this is all a part of growing up. Other people’s experiences may be different than yours, but they ultimately are the same. There is a reasonable explanation for everything: that smart kid that gets straight A’s studies until he passes out on his bed. That girl that bullies you every day feels alone and does not know how to healthily express her emotions. That teacher that gave you detention only wants you to benefit from the lesson he prepared because he knows it will help determine your future. Your parents only grounded you because they know what it could lead to. I know it is hard to imagine, but if you realize that everyone in your life wants you to succeed, you will be a much happier and cooperative person.
I see this one all over social media as well as hear it from my peers constantly: “School is literally pointless. We should be taught how to pay taxes and get a job, not about mitochondria being the powerhouse of the cell.” And, yes, while knowing that mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell will not help you pay taxes in any way, shape, or form, it is that knowledge that will make you ready to enter the real world. When you apply for college, they look for well-rounded students. When you apply for a job, they look for well-rounded people. So what does this mean? It means that you cannot even get hired for a cashier job if you do not know basic math. And let’s say you are laying in the grass on a Saturday and your child asks you what makes the sky blue. Having basic knowledge makes you smart and prepared for most anything. Also, taking basic courses will expose you to things you had never even heard before, and this may lead you to take courses in college  and it may even end up as a future career. You need to give it a chance. Do not know how to do taxes? ASK YOUR PARENTS. THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE THERE FOR. And you know what? My parents pay someone to help them do their taxes–most people do that–so there would be literally no point in school teachers teaching 14 year-olds how to do taxes; it is too complicated. Hopefully, now you can see that high school really is preparing you for the real world and that you just have to take it easy the first 18 years of your life to figure out who you really are and what you want to do.
Do not fall for what most freshmen do. Colleges may not look at that one C or D or F in a class, but they for sure will look at your overall GPA at the end of high school. And guess what factors into that GPA? That class you got an F in! Freshman year is a time to try things out, adjust, and make mistakes. But do not make the mistake of not studying and not trying. Try to get B’s and up and you can always pick up the slack. Though, of course, I recommend getting straight A’s if that is a possible goal for you; but if not, pick a goal that you know you can pull off. However, always have high expectations for yourself. Be smart and treat freshman year like any other year of school you have ever had, except take it (more) seriously.
I am going to have to try really hard not to go on a rant with this point. Anyway, let me start with the big one that everyone notices at the beginning of their high school career. So, obviously high school is split into upperclassmen and lowerclassmen. Juniors and seniors make up the upperclassmen and freshmen and sophomores make up the lowerclassmen. However, sophomores seem to somehow have put themselves in the category of upperclassmen. DO NOT LIE; you know exactly what I am talking about: Calling the freshmen “fresh meat” and looking at and talking about them as if they are stupid and 6 years old. GUESS WHAT? WE ALL GO TO THE SAME SCHOOL. WHY CAN WE NOT ALL BE FRIENDS? And just let me tell you to all the high schoolers who complain about freshmen being stupid–I know freshmen taking JUNIOR-level classes. In fact, I did that my freshmen year. Maybe some freshmen are arrogant–I will get to that in a second–but you cannot categorize the whole group of incoming freshmen as stupid or rude or arrogant when you have met just a couple ugly faces. Besides, have you ever even talked to them to see if they are stupid? And to all the sophomores who complain about freshmen being stupid–do not lie, I know plenty that do–GROW UP! Freshmen are stupid? You are basically still a freshman! I know that you think you are mature and that you are rolling your eyes right now or agreeing with me and thinking about other people that do this (and maybe you are not like this; I am just addressing the people that do), but that does NOT give you the right to put other people down. In fact, that makes you WEAK. Stop pretending that you are better than everyone else. In the end, we are all just students who attend high school to learn. Every single student at your school deserves the same respect you do, so be a role model down here on Earth.
This point includes adults–both staff members and adults outside of school–and friends. I think the hardest people to believe sometimes are adults. Let us be honest; they can be really annoying with their talk of “back in the day we didn’t have _______” and such. However, these are the people we really should be listening to. Us teenagers like to think we are mature and already know all of the advice. But we really do not. Adults have much more life experience than teenagers do. They are stable–they have found themselves and are doing with their life what they love. They are only here to guide us if we would just listen. They can see bad things ahead. They can also see good things. They have already gone through high school, so they know how it works. Whether it is studying advice or life advice, high schoolers should listen to adults. And about the cliche advice they give you, why do you think it became cliche? Because it has been used so many times and lead to a positive result! If we move on to friends, this can seem obvious. It is way easier to take a friend’s advice than an adult’s. Your friends are most likely the same age as you or within a couple years of you and are also in high school. Also, because you get to choose your friends, chances are that they understand you fairly well. This probably inclines you to trust them. This is a good thing if they give you good advice–and listen to it–but always be cautious of toxic friends. I could go into a whole lecture about how to tell if your friend is toxic, but the bottom line is that you need to make the judgment for yourself. That goes for their advice too. But be open-minded when you judge it. Overall, just listen to people who want to help you. Whatever advice you have been given was given out of care.
I know you probably want to slap me right now, but just hear me out. I will make this short: Teachers went to college for their job, so they WANT to be there. Yes, they may HAVE to be there, but coming to school and planning a lesson for you is a CHOICE. Sometimes teachers need a break, so give them one. And some teachers are just plain bad. Let them be. (Besides, at least they have personality.) It is your job to learn the material and ask questions. Teachers also have to follow the rules. If you have your phone out in class and they take it away and give you detention, do not be mad at them! You deserved it. It is against school policy. But also, you are disrespecting them by not paying full attention. Lastly, everything they do is meaningful. That essay you complained about was meant to strengthen your writing skills. That DBQ was meant to prepare you for the unit test. All in all, just know that your teachers really do care about you and want you to succeed. Do not blame them for things and hate on them outside of class just because you refuse to own up to a mistake or are having a bad day.
This is your time to have fun, make mistakes, learn from your mistakes, and find yourself. You should laugh and smile and be happy. Nevertheless, you also need to know that everything is not a joke. That D you got on a test? Do not high five your friend next to you that got the same grade, and definitely, do not brag about it. What you need to be doing is figuring out what you got wrong, why, and how to do better next time. That girl that tripped in the hallway and is now super embarrassed? Why are you laughing at her? What you should be doing is asking her if she is okay. Basically what I am trying to say is that you should have fun in your high school years, but you also need to know the boundaries.
This point is all about communication skills. (If you would like, I can make a list of some that people need to learn, but I will not go into that for now.) Teenagers seem to have a real problem listening. Sometimes it may be better to be the shy girl in the back of the class. I think observing people helps you learn things about them, about life, and about yourself. Just like I discussed in point #5, we should really take the advice that is given to us. We also really need to use the people around us as a resource. Put your phone away and make eye contact with the person talking to you and whom you are responding to. Also, because we are still finding ourselves, we should be experimenting and finding out what kind of a person we are and what kind of a person we want to be. Furthermore, learn how to give a good handshake. This is very professional and you will definitely do this many times in the future. It is a basic skill and something I wish people did casually when meeting someone–anyone. Basically, just be respectful and use common sense.
Now onto something you like hearing: you are in control of your life. You can do whatever you want. With that said, STOP COMPLAINING. Most things are temporary, and teenagers–including myself–tend to constantly blow things out of proportion. Sometimes, though, we really just need to suck it up and push through. A class may be hard, but you should still study and try your best because it is meant to benefit you and to push you to be the best you can be. Sometimes you may get stuck going to a restaurant your friend wants to go to that you absolutely do not. But maybe just this one time you could do something for her. Not because you have to, but because you want to. I think the real meaning behind the expression “suck it up” is change your attitude. Hannah Montana got it right when she said: “life’s what you make it.” Trust me; I learned the hard way.
As I have said earlier in this post, high school is a time to figure yourself out. And even if you think you have already figured yourself out, you will come to find that either you are more different to who you are now than you thought or that there is more to you than you thought. Anyway, you are not fully developed yet. This should not scare you, though. You do not need to know who you are in order to make the right decisions. As long as you know what your values are, you will be fine. So what are your values? Know what you look for in a friend. Know what is okay and what is not–what will you tolerate? Know your personal rules–no smoking, drinking, dating, etc. Know what is important to you. If you know all these things and more, you are ready for high school as well as anything else that comes your way.
You have probably noticed by now that you cannot sit around and expect things to happen. If you want to get anywhere in life, you have to have a goal. It does not matter how general or specific your goal is, as long as you have an idea of where you want to go. Also, make a plan of how you are going to reach it. Write down the steps to achieve your goal and start right away. If you decide you want something different, start again. But my advice is to always have something you are working toward. Not only is it good for you and your character, but it sets you up for a bright future.
I may be a teenage girl who has never worn makeup–and has no interest to–but just like everyone else, I have struggled with self-image. In fact, I still do to this day. In this society, we are told what beauty is supposed to look like, and since no one fits into that category, everyone feels ugly. For me, my struggle has been my acne. Starting around when I turned 13, I all of a sudden got really bad acne. It was mostly on my forehead but also on my nose and chin. I tried so many different products and they all did zilch. Eventually, I got annoyed and picked them and now I have scars on my forehead (updated–they are fading!). I would always feel embarrassed to talk to people, thinking they were staring at my forehead. I even had a girl literally come up to me, address my acne, and then proceed to act disgusted by it. (She was just rude so whatever.) The fact was that I just had to accept my acne and not let it define me. What is on the inside really is the only thing that matters. Just think, how do you pick out your friends? Because, just a note, I know NOBODY that picks out their friends based on their skin condition or hair color. You can feel confident with no makeup on or with acne or with whatever struggle you have. Once you overcome it, you can truly feel beautiful. And you know what? If people ask you if you think you are pretty, you should say yes. There is nothing wrong with that. You are NOT self-centered for loving yourself, and anyone who says otherwise can answer to me;)
Please feel free to email me with any questions you may have or comment below. Also, if you have any requests for future posts, make sure to send them to me and I will definitely consider. 
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