29 August 2010


Hey, y'all! After my self-imposed exile from blogging, I am back in action! At least, for now, I am back in action. In the time I have been gone, I have moved into my dorm, underwent a one week orientation, and finished my first week of classes. A lot has happened--more than will fit in a blog post--so I have condensed this into a greatest hits-type collection of random things I've learned this past couple of weeks:

1. When you move into your dorm, unpack your own stuff so you know where it is: I unpacked most of my stuff, but I had to go register my vehicle and log into the college's network, so my grandma finished putting things up for me. She is a very organized person, so she put everything in a logical place. Alas, I am not logical, could not figure out where anything was, and had to call her at 7:30 am one morning to ask where my laundry detergent was. I have since discovered where everything is, but this taught me a valuable lesson in unpacking.

2. Get there early on the move-in date: This advice is courtesy of my aunt. She called me my last day home to tell me this. Both of her kids went to big universities and she said it was utter mayhem on move-in days, so being early is essential. I'm going to a pretty small private college, so move-in day wasn't totally chaotic, but I did get good parking and since I was the first in the room, I got to claim the bottom bunk--We shorties find this essential--and move all of my stuff in before my roommate moved her stuff in. Yeehaw!

3. Getting out of your comfort zone is part of college and that can be awesome: My college does a program during orientation in which several of the groups get together and put on skits. I haven't done anything like this since I was in elementary school and I am so shy, so I was dreading this. It ended up being one of the most fun things I've done in a long time. And even though I worked on sets and backstage and never had to be on stage, it did jar me out of my comfort zone and made me realize how much I enjoy theater. At least, the being backstage and collaborating part. So . . . getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing!

4. However, there is such a thing as getting too far out of your comfort zone: Don't worry. I didn't do anything crazy or illegal. But I did go to my first rave-type dance during my orientation. It was all right. I slightly danced for all of like one minute, but that is just not me! I am a nerd. I do not dance. Thus, I sat down and drank Powerade and had way more fun watching everyone else who could not dance dance. But I at least gave it the old college try first. (Did you note the terrible pun? Please say yes. I thought of that for a couple of seconds before writing it down. Please acknowledge my terrible pun or I will torture you with more.) ^^

5. The whole "You'll escape your reputation at college" saying is only true if you don't really deserve your reputation: If you're still being labeled as the kid who ate mud in third grade when you're in high school--I do know someone who did this--yes, you probably will escape your reputation at college. However, if you deserve your reputation, everyone will soon come to that conclusion about you on their own. In my case, I have always been perceived as a neurotic nerdbag. This reputation has followed me ever since elementary school. It has followed me to my new college because, well, I am a neurotic nerdbag. I realized this the day my orientation group was sitting around a table and someone dissed 1970s music. Someone else objected, insisting that some good music was produced then. Me being me, I indignantly blurted out, "Pink Floyd!" The girl sitting next to me told me, "Oh, Zella, you would say that."

6. Working in the cafeteria is not too bad: My college requires work-study, so I was assigned to the cafeteria. I work as a cook's help, server, cashier, cleaner, and general "Hey, do this!" person. To be honest, it's a physically demanding job--way different from the library--but I actually enjoy it. Most of my coworkers are pretty cool, and we get first dibs on meals. Also, on the closing shift, if we finish early, we sit around eating ice cream until time's up. It's called fringe benefits. ^^

7. Upper-division classes in your major are delightfully nerdy: At my community college, I took general ed classes and though I liked most of my professors, most of my classmates complained about everything. Thus, I got dirty looks for getting excited about reading Lord of the Flies. What heathens. Now I am taking only history and English classes--no more general ed!--with fellow English and history majors. The result is we actually have great class discussions, as opposed to everyone sitting in silence because most of them didn't read the assignment and everyone else is too self-conscious to speak up, and my classmates share my nerdy delight in reading Mark Twain and Robert Frost and historical textbooks. This is also the only time that my telling people I am double majoring in history and English is not greeted with stupefied expressions or sad looks that indicate I will be unemployed for a vast period of time. Instead, I get "Oh, those majors complement each other so well!" Note to readers: If you ever take an English class with all English majors, mention the detestable scenario in which Twilight is assigned academic reading. The horrified expressions that uniformly form around the room are priceless. ^^

8. Eating in a cafeteria takes some getting used to: I had not eaten in a cafeteria since I was ten--am now twenty one--so this was a bit of a culture shock for me. In fact, the first few days, I couldn't really eat anything. It took me four days to eat a small full meal and a good week to eat anywhere near normal. It's not that the food is bad--it's pretty good for cafeteria food--but I was a bit overwhelmed by the whole atmosphere and it took some getting used to. Now that I am in classes and walking everywhere, I've actually been eating more than normal--yet I have still managed to lose weight--so it's not an issue, but all of that food is so tempting! As much as I love junk food, I have made an effort to actually eat better. I avoid drinking soda--they serve lemonade and chocolate milk in the cafeteria!--and I try to stay away from burgers and pizza and stick with more healthy options. If I don't like the looks of the more healthy stuff, I will get a burger, but I try not to do it more than once a week. I also try to schedule that for when one of my friends is working the grill. We worked on the skit together and got our worker training together, but we're not scheduled to work with each other--an outrage!!!--so this the only time we see each other. This time-honored ritual involves both of us standing on our tiptoes (the food stations have a top that is at our eye level. The designers did not have short people in mind when they made it), and shout the following conversation at each other over the noisy cafeteria:
"Hey, how are you?!"
"Fine! How's the grill?"
"Not bad. How's salad?"
"Good. Classes going well?"
It's the little things that count. :D

9. Cramming a fridge and microwave in your dorm is worth the space they take up: All of you know my well-documented obsession with Oreos and milk. I can partake in this nightly ritual because my fridge houses a half a gallon of milk to accompany my cookies. Ditto for the popcorn that is cooked in my microwave. I can munch to my heart's content!

10. Attending 26 policy presentations in a week is not too bad if you get good speakers and a mix of funny skits and videos.

11. Your ID card is your friend: Seriously. At my college, you need your ID card with you for pretty much anytime you go to an office or eat in the cafeteria or clock into work. On the flip side, this ID card has netted me free admission to the campus museum and over 30% discounts at the campus's restaurant. Befriend your ID card and never leave home without it.

12. Communal bathrooms are strange at first, but you eventually get used to them.
Am I saying that I do not want to transfer to one of the dorms that has personal bathrooms? God, no! But after a few days, you get over it. Ditto with dorm rooms. I have read horror stories of students waiting for nearly an hour to use the showers, but so far I have never had to contend with that for any longer than a minute.

13. Having a roommate can be awkward at first, but it's not necessarily totally horrible: My roommate and I were complete strangers and we don't have a ton in common, but we get along and try not to get on the other one's nerves. Also, our schedules are not the same and she goes home as often as she can, so we're not getting cabin fever and going psycho on each other. I have learned to look up in the top bunk before turning on the lights and talking to myself aloud and slamming drawers. I did that once for an extended amount of time before realizing my roommate was asleep in her bed. She never said anything about it, but I felt terrible. And foolish. And crazy. Oh, wait. That's me everyday. :D

14. Always have your dorm keys with you: Otherwise, you'll lock yourself out at 7am and have to wait half an hour whilst wearing a bathrobe for the RA to get back from breakfast to let you back into your room.

15. Likewise, make sure you have everything before you leave your dorm: That is, unless you like walking halfway across campus and then having to run back to your dorm and then bolt up 2 flights of stairs to get things . . . more than once in the same hour.

16. 14 college students can fit around a table for 8: My orientation group did this all of the time. Some of you just have to be willing to eat with your plate on your lap--I was always one of these people. No, I was not raised in a barn.

17. If you and 8 of your new college friends decide to go to Wal-Mart together in multiple vehicles, make sure everyone has each other's numbers: Not doing this means someone named Zella will spend the whole time walking around the store looking for everyone else.

18. Living at a college in a tourist town means there's always something to do off campus, but it also means you'll be a tourist attraction, too: This is usually positive--boredom never strikes--but this can suck on occasion. Specifically the being a tourist attraction part. Here at my college, we have a lot of tourists, most of whom are very nice. But we also have a service called Ride the Ducks. And people will use those to tour the campus. It makes us feel like zoo specimens, especially when they quack at us with artificial quackers. (I am not making this up. I hide every time I see the Ducks coming.) Ah, but revenge is sweet. And when we all got to do this ride for free--again that student ID has its perks--we quacked at random tourists with a vengeance. Then again, we also quacked along to "Who Let The Dogs Out?". ("Who let the dogs out? Quack! Quack! Quack! Quack!" Try it sometime. It's catchy.)

19. My campus has a strict no-alcohol policy, so I don't have to worry about crazy parties, which is one reason I wanted to come here. Parties annoy me. A delightful side effect of this policy is that, in addition to the school sponsoring constant events to keep us occupied, we students devise all sorts of eccentric randomness to amuse ourselves. One of my personal favorites of these was a snipe hunt that I participated in.

And now I am going to tell you a story. If you have never been on a snipe hunt and would like to eventually go on one, you are not allowed to read any further! Sorry! It will spoil all of your fun.

For the rest of you, that being those of you who have been on snipe hunts or those of you who have not and are determined to read this post anyway, a snipe hunt is a traditional rite of passage in rural areas in which you're taken into the woods to hunt a small bird called a snipe. You will be given bags to capture the snipes and various instruments to murder the little buggers. You will then be left in the woods to wait for the snipes for several hours, or at least until those who are taking you snipe hunting have decided that they've had enough fun at your expense because, um, it's just a huge practical joke. You will not capture a snipe--which are notoriously difficult to hunt--and you certainly won't do it standing out in the woods in the middle of the night holding a plastic Wal-Mart bag.

I was heading back to my dorm one night at about ten o clock when I heard one of the orientation leaders was hosting a snipe hunt. I couldn't resist showing up because a) I am from a rural area and know exactly what a snipe hunt is, b) I am mean and enjoy practical jokes, and c) I know the guy who was leading the snipe hunt has an outrageous sense of humor--and is quite easy on the eyes, if I may say so *cough*--so I knew it would be a fun way to spend a couple of hours.

We--there were nearly twenty of us--all met at the edge of campus, which is basically a huge tract of woods. Those of us who were "experienced" snipe hunters offered to flush the birds out for the newbies. The newbies were given bags, baseball bats, turkey calls, and plenty of ludicrous instructions on how to hunt snipes. We told them we'd put them in a flat area at the bottom of the hill and chase the snipes to them because snipes can't run uphill. We also warned them to be quiet because snipes have excellent hearing but poor eyesight.

We abandoned them and took the hills above them, wherein we made weird noises--ahem, they were snipe calls--and threw rocks into the woods to sound like we were flushing the prey toward them. After about twenty minutes, we discussed whether we should leave our poor friends in the woods, which is how a proper snipe hunt is conducted. But though we were mean enough to trick them, we were not quite that mean. (Also, my college has a weekday curfew we have to observe.) It was decided that we would conclude the snipe hunt early by scaring them. See, ain't we friendly and considerate?

After several minutes in which we all laughed hysterically--but silently--and plotted our next move, we sent one guy running down to where our snipe hunters were stationed, screaming that the snipes were overrunning us and that our fearless hunters needed to escape! "There are too many of them! RUN!" The rest of us, shortly after that, went running back up the hill--in front of our comrades--screaming bloody murder and shouting, "RUN!" " and "They're biting me! Get them off me!" and "OWWWWWWW!" and--in a tribute to Monty Python--"Run away!"

We stood at the top of the hill, trying our best not to laugh, when we saw our hunters running up the hill away from the vicious snipe. When they got to us, we asked them if they saw any snipe and after being told that they hadn't, we regaled them with tales of how we were viciously attacked by snipe--"They bit my ankles!"--and some of us, including yours truly, complained that back home we go snipe hunting all the time and have never had this problem. What is the world coming to when snipe attack you?

As you can imagine, we had more fun with this than the poor snipe hunters did. But . . . they'll get to be in on it next time. ^^

20. I am really enjoying my new college and I'm glad that my anxiety about transferring has so far been proven totally unfounded.

All righty, guys. I am definitely back to blogging here regularly--probably on the weekends--but it may be a few days before I resume doing book reviews on my other blog. I have been too busy to read for pleasure and I still need to write a review for the book I have read. Good to be back! I missed all of you. :)


  1. YAY for settling in at college! As with your graduation guide, I am sure I shall find this utterly helpful myself in two weeks. It sounds like you've had a great time, I hope my college is as fun. :D

    I haven't eaten in a school cafeteria since I was 11, eep.

    You know, I read "fringe benefits" as "fridge benefits." Fridge benefits sounds like a good type to have, especially as a hungry student. :)

    The snipe hunt sounds like a blast. xD

  2. Glad to hear you're enjoying your new college, Zella. I know the feeling of cafeteria culture shock. I still haven't gotten used to eating in the cafeteria though. I hate the cafeteria with a burning passion, which is why I choose to eat my lunch in the art room with the other social outcasts instead :)

    I've never heard of a snipe hunt before. It sounds like fun though :P

  3. As I believe you already know, Zella, I moved into college about a week before you and I totally agree with all you've said here.

    We don't have a cafeteria at our college, we have to do a 15minute walk onto campus to get our food. Some of the food is decent, but I can't really say any of it is worth the 15 minute walk.
    But we have fridges in our rooms and a communal kitchen so if you don't want to do the walk you can make something, or ask someone to get the meal take-away for you.

    Also, I on't have a room-mate, we don't share our rooms (which is lucky because no one could put up with my music or child-like sleep habits) but we do have communal bathrooms. Showering is always a gamble. We spent a weekend from Friday afternoon to Monday afternoon without any hot water. People were walking to the GYM and paying $9 entry just to have a warm shower.

    And you're so right about the key. Yesterday one of my friends spent 10 hours locked out of her room waiting for someone with a masterkey to arrive. Another friend got locked out yesterday and broke her door down to get inside. It's going to cost her over $500 to get it fixed.
    The Chairman tells a story about his friend getting locked out within the first ten minues of moving in. He holds the record.

    My college either doesn't have a no-alcohol policy or no one obeys it. I'm at a party college - in fact, I'm at a party university - so there's at least one person drunk beyond belief any day of the week.
    I've gone clubbing twice with the people on my floor, now. I'm straight edge, so i don't drink anything but I like dancing so it's still fun. The only problem is that I like to go to bed at about 10:30 and I'm out with them until at least One so that's my main reason for not going out.

    I'm glad you've enjoyed college so far, so have I. :)

    You'll be proud of me. The first thing i did when moving to this new town was find the library and get a library card. I've been there for one reason or another every day.

  4. *winces* ow.. that was loud. did you have to yell? a simple phonecall would suffice ;)

    *acknowledges pun*

    That snipe hunt sounds so fun :D I would love to be in on the joke!

  5. Well now *I* can go snipe hunting with others and I won't be out of it. Thanks, Zella!

  6. @Feathery: Yes, I really am enjoying myself. I do hope you settle in with no problems, too! The hardest part of the cafeteria for me, weirdly enough, is the smell of everything cooking while I was trying to eat. That took some getting used to! The snipe hunt was so much fun!

    @Emma: I know what you mean about cafeterias. Before I was homeschooled, I hated the school cafeteria with passion and at my old college I ate in my car everyday. One thing I can say about my new college is most people are pretty friendly, so I have had people who barely know me invite me to eat with them. That being said, I still usually eat by myself. I've always been a social misfit. I believe snipe hunts are huge in the rural American South and Midwest. My grandpa said they used to take their unsuspecting city cousins on them all of the time. :D

    @Penguins: That's so cool about how colleges work in Australia! I am so glad you're enjoying college, too! I would like not having a roommate, but all things considered, it's nowhere near as bad as I envisioned. But I suppose that depends a lot on the roommate! I am not much of a cook, so it would have to be pretty tasty for me to walk fifteen minutes to eat. You'll never guess what I did today because I was in a hurry. I locked myself out . . . :D Yes, I am proud of you! I have been patronizing the library frequently. It saddens me that I no longer work in one.

    @Bruce: My apologies. I can be a bit hyper when I get excited. Thanks for acknowledging my pun! I shall spare all of you in the future. You'd love snipe hunting! It's just so much fun . . . as long as you're not the hunter.

    @Scott: You're certainly welcome! With snipe hunts, knowledge is power. :P

    Thanks to all of you for commenting! :)

  7. O.o *takes notes* great. in addition to being scared outta my wits about being dumped five hundred miles from home, I need to worry about rabid orientation events too. Sounds fun! :D

  8. Hehe I was dreading the rabid orientation events, too, but they actually were fun!

    I thought I'd be homesick, but the events kept me busy and introduced me to a lot of people, so by the time I had some time to myself I was psyched for college. I still call my family regularly and go to see them when I can, but I really do like living at college. :)

    Good luck! It will all be fine! :)