Shine a Light

Hey everyone.  I’d figured I’d start this with a heads up. This post will be unlike all of the others I’ve written. It has a little more of a serious tone than I usually write with. However, I feel like it is necessary to shine a light on it.

This post is dedicated to the Kirlin family.

January 4th, 2018

This date is the day my life, and many others’, changed forever.

It was a cold January day, which is norm for the Midwest. My friend and I were going to see the new Star Wars movie in Omaha. We lived in Missouri Valley, which is only about 20 minutes away from Omaha.

We stopped at Freddy’s Burgers and Fries, which is a pretty cheap burger joint. I just sat down with my double burger with fries when I got the call.

It was my mom, but instead of a cheerful ‘hello’, she was in tears. Having a hard time making out the words, she told me what had happened.

One of our closest family friends, committed suicide. I don’t really know what my mom said after that, because I was in pure shock. I didn’t want to believe it. I couldn’t believe it.

He was my best friends’ brother, he was my parents’ best friends’ son, and he was someone I looked up to. The fact that his pain was so extraordinary that he didn’t want to deal with it anymore is so gut wrenching, mostly because no one can sense it.

My friend and I rushed home to see the family at the hospital. The waiting room was packed with family friends, all in tears. It didn’t really hit me until I met up with my parents, where I finally lost control of my emotions.

For the rest of that day, all we could ever think about was, ‘why would he do this?’ And that is easy to say for people who haven’t experienced the emotional and mental pain he was going through.

He felt alone. He felt as if he was a disappointment. He felt like he wasn’t loved. The thing is, all of that was false. The outpour of support from friends, family, and community was something I’ve never seen before. It was another reason why I love small-town Iowa; everyone has each other’s back, even when they don’t feel like getting up.

Sure, all of us can think of things we could’ve done something different to prevent this from happening. Hindsight is 20/20, and the reality is that he hid the pain so well.

I don’t really remember a time that he didn’t have a smile on his face. Whenever I wasn’t with his little brothers, I would talk to him about new movies, video games, or music. I always valued his opinions, and he always had a laugh that’d make you laugh.

People suffer without letting a soul on earth knowing about it. That is what depression can do to your mindset. I like to describe depression almost like a parasite. Depression takes over the steering wheel of your brain, while you take the back seat. How he left us wasn’t like him. He would never hurt a fly. It’s the depression that took over, and the rest is history.

Picking up the Pieces

The reason I chose to write about this, is because depression is a sickness that many people are battling everyday without anyone else having the slightest clue about it. College is a tough transition and many students may be battling depression.

The University of Iowa offers many counseling services to students.

If you are reading this and are battling depression, please don’t feel like you’re in this fight alone. Although you feel like you mean nothing, your family and friends think otherwise.

Sometimes people do have a bad day here and there. And you know what? That’s okay. Life isn’t always sunshine and roses. What I always tell myself and my friends is, “It’s a bad day, not a bad life”. The hard moments make you appreciate the good ones.

Never feel like you’re in this battle alone. Never feel like nothing will get better. Never question your self-worth.  Never feel like giving up.

Talk to a friend, a roommate, a co-worker, brother/sister, aunt/uncle, parent, even a favorite teacher. Whatever you do, just reach out. There is at least one person in your life that is willing to help you. If you can’t think of anyone, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

If you are a friend of a person suffering depression, check in whenever you can. That can come from a simple text or a night out with other friends. Always listen, always let them vent. Just simply being there for them will lessen the pain.

Losing someone to depression is something no one should ever have to experience. The pain and the endless questioning are second to none.

A Letter to Lane

Dear Lane,

I know you’re in a better place. You’re no longer suffering and you’re at peace. We all hope you watch over us and give us the signs that everything is okay. Your impact on my life will always lead me to a fruitful one. You always had a smile on your face, even though deep down you were in so much pain. I just want to thank you for all the great memories we had, even though we weren’t always the closest. I feel bad for all the kids that won’t have you as a teacher, because you would’ve been a life changing one at that. Thank you for all the great memories and laughs. Watch over your brothers and parents. You’ll inspire me to always lend a helping hand to whoever needed it, like you always did.

Thank you,

Derek

#LiveLikeLane

Back at It

Hey everyone! I hope you all have had a good break, and at this point, a solid first week of classes.

I’m not going to lie, the first semester went by so fast. I felt like I blinked and ‘whoop’ there it went. I was awfully proud of how my first semester went, and frankly I can’t wait to see what the next 7 semesters have in store for me at the University of Iowa. I’m not too good at math, but I’m pretty sure that number checks out.

Break was long, and I was ready to be back. Sure, over break I made plenty of great memories with friends and family, but I really did miss this place.

Why? Well first off, all of the friends I have made here are some amazing people. They root for you when you need it most, and are also extremely fun to simply hangout with.

Another reason why I am glad to be back, is that I missed Iowa City. Yes, you heard it here first. I MISSED THIS PLACE. People might think that’s a little bit crazy because, for one, this place is where I go to school, and two, it isn’t my hometown.

Now, both of those statements are true, but they are both wrong in a sense.

Iowa City is my home. I love the downtown area. It makes me feel like I’m living the city life I’ve always wanted to, just a smaller, more Iowan scale.

I missed walking and always catching myself just looking at the great views from my floor’s lounge in Catlett Hall, or turning up Iowa Avenue and seeing the gold dome of the Old Capitol being in the center of the spotlight. It is like a painting that I am living in, and I just can’t get over that.

Sure, there are some people that would like to disagree that Iowa’s campus isn’t the most beautiful. There are some truths to that. However, no campus that I ever toured made me feel more connected to a community then the University of Iowa’s. That was a huge reason that I chose to attend Iowa, was because of the great surrounding community that is Iowa City.

The other thing I missed, was that there is always something going on at Iowa. Whether that be a movie at the Iowa Memorial Union or Free Donuts on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway, something will for sure to keep you occupied.

I also like to be by myself once in awhile. Don’t get me wrong, I love being home with my parents and my sister, but I don’t mind the independence that college gives you one bit. I embrace it. I get to decide where I want to eat. If there is something new, I’ll go try it. If there is a basketball game on a certain night, I can go. I love my family more than anything, along with my hometown of Missouri Valley, but Iowa City gives me some independence that I truly enjoy.

The last thing, I missed being busy. YES I JUST SAID I MISSED BEING BUSY. The reason why, is because during winter break, you have an EXCESS AMOUNT of free time. EMPHASIS ON EXCESS. Going from college where you are busy non-stop to break where you don’t do much, you start to feel like you’re getting behind even though there is nothing to worry about. I was ready to get busy, and midway through the second week of classes, I might be regretting that statement soon.

At the end of the day, break was a very good time to reconnect with friends from high school and family. I do miss Missouri Valley and my family, but knowing that I can easily call Iowa City home, is what makes coming back so easier.

I hope your 2nd semester goes well to Hawkeyes and Non-Hawkeyes!

Take Five…or Ten

I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving. I know I sure did. The food was great, but spending time with family and friends is what puts the icing on the cake (which I had a lot of).

Take Five

I remember being in high school always looking forward to winter break. The reason I mentally skipped Thanksgiving break was due to our school only getting out the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, which ended up to only being a 5 day break. Which flies by WAY too fast, in my opinion.

I would get so excited because I would not have to go to school and have little to no homework. I still did have basketball practice over break, except Thanksgiving Day, of course. Thanks to practice, I have never, not once, went Black Friday shopping. And with me, being the bargain searcher I am, sure do wish I could take advantage of those great deals.

Most of all, I was ready for a break. I was ready to sleep in, lounge around, and meet up with buddies of mine. Man, was life rough in high school or what?

Take Ten

Looking back at all the breaks during high school, I can only come to one conclusion: THEY WEREN’T NEEDED. I know, it’s a hot take right? What I really mean was is that breaks are a NECESSITY in college. The constant juggling of time, school, and friends gets so abundant that I don’t even think a circus clown could juggle them.

All jokes aside, it really does wear you down. If you are in high school, don’t expect college to be easy. Yes, you probably are going into college with the mentality that your life will be very chaotic and stressful for however long you are here. Some of that is true, but that is what the experience is about. I’m not saying this to scare you off, just giving you the forewarning. So, you can’t say I never told you.

This year, fall break at the University of Iowa was from November 17th to November 27th. Ten full days of no school. It is so relieving to go home and be with family and friends for more than a couple of days.

Before you get ahead of yourself, you will mostly have homework to do or lessons to study. It can get hard to get back in the swing of things when you come back, especially if all of your procrastination finally catches up to you. My advice is to set aside one to two hours a day reviewing your notes or doing assignments. It will keep your brain in the school mode. Don’t get me wrong, it is a struggle to do it, but when I did, I felt better in more confident in coming back to Iowa City.

Turkey Break

Enough about school for a wee bit.

I tell you what, I do love the holidays. What do I love even more? Food. Thanksgiving is just one of my favorite holidays primarily for all of the delicious meals that everyone cooks up.

Granda made some great stew, while the other grandparents carved the turkey and served up the stuffing and green-bean casserole. That is yummy with a capital ‘Y’.

The most special part of Thanksgiving, for me at least, is to come home to all of my friends and family. I sure do love Iowa City and all the incredible people I’ve met there, but nothing beats coming back to good ‘ole Missouri Valley, Iowa.

My friends and I got together every chance we could and told stories about our college experiences. We’ve all have some interesting stories, to say the least.

And during the Thanksgiving celebrations we had (one for each side of the family), I got to see some of my family that I haven’t seen since I’ve moved out, some even longer.

One of the best stories I have from break is from a mini genius. My little cousin, Everett, can tell you all 45 Presidents of the United States. He even knows some of the First Ladies, too. Here I am, listening to a 3-year-old tell me all the Presidents, while I can probably only name five. This kid is brighter than me, and I’m 15 years older.

I even asked him, “So Everett, what President is from Iowa?”

He then replies very confidently, “Hoover Hoobert.”

Even though he mispronounced a wee bit, you git the big picture.

Time is Up

As a good of time that I had, it ended quicker than I imagined. Ten days sure does fly by when you are with people you love in the place you love.

I did read a tweet over break that hit right home to how I was feeling. It read, ‘College makes you appreciate home, but home makes you appreciate college.’

I’ve read some relatable stuff, but I don’t think any form of text has hit me like that tweet did.

It is always hard to leave home, especially when home is filled with friends, family, and all-round great people. But over break, I caught myself telling people that I would be going home on the 27th. That is when it came to me; Iowa City is home now, and I am ecstatic that it is.

I already know I have people that I could count on or just have a good laugh. The Iowa City and campus environment is something that I have grown to love. They always say, ‘Home is where the heart is’ and I totally agree with that. But in this case, ‘Home is where the Tigerhawk is’.

That was the most cheesiest thing I have probably ever typed, which means something because I can get exceptionally cheesy.

Just remember that it is good to go home, but it is as just as good to come back. Only two full weeks of class, then finals week. After that, I will be Missouri Valley bound.

Besides, it is almost December, which means CHRISTMAS!!! You bet your bottom dollar I’m getting jolly. More details will come in the next post.

Stay golden, Hawkeyes.

Kinnick Kraziness

What. A. Night.

What game am I talking about? Oh, you know, The Ohio State Buckeyes vs The Iowa Hawkeyes, of course!

I have been looking forward to this game since I bought my student tickets at Orientation. Ohio State has always been a tough opponent for Iowa, and the rest of the country. The Buckeyes are almost one of the most memorable and respected programs in all of college football, and to say I saw them play up close and personal was pretty exciting for me, being a huge Hawkeye fan and whatnot.

I had a good feeling about the game all week. My dad and I were talking about the new uniforms on the Sunday they revealed them, which by the way were totally swagtastic (I mixed the word ‘swag’ and ‘fantastic’, just letting you know).

Then, I made one of my most bold statements of the year to him, and even Twitter:

See! I had faith in my Hawkeyes!
I even tweeted my prediction, bold move I know!

So, for all of those fake believers out there, shame on you. I know being a fan of the Hawkeyes can be a love-hate relationship sometimes, but at the end of the day I will always be Hawkeye.

Now don’t get me wrong. I didn’t predict a complete blowout like what I witnessed on Saturday, November 4th.

The atmosphere was unreal. Fans were decked out in all black, hence the theme of the game being a blackout. There were a lot of red for Ohio State, which didn’t surprise me since they are known for always traveling well.

Oh, by the way, did I mention I was sitting front row in the student section?

I am the one in the khakis, and I was yelling ‘I!’ like there was no tomorrow. It is Monday and I still have a raspy voice. It’s fine though, because I know I wasn’t the only one yelling, as you can tell in this picture.

I don’t really know when that picture was taken, but I am assuming after the Hawkeyes scored on the FIRST PLAY OF THE GAME. Like I’ve read on multiple articles, “Seven seconds. Seven Hawkeye Points.” Amani Hooker intercepted J.T. Barrett and took it back for a 30 yard touchdown, and Kinnick Stadium blew up.

Ohio State did answer with a touchdown of their own, but it was one of the only times they did answer. The score was 31-17 going into halftime. @hawkeyefootball then posted a halftime update video with a Hawkeye legend, Desmond King. He was drafted this year and is now playing for the San Diego Chargers. Can you spot the khakis?

Yep, you bet that is me in the background with the King! He got the student section fired up for the second half, and the Hawkeyes themselves kept the fire.

Our defense played on a whole new level, shutting down one of the most experienced quarterbacks in college football. He threw 4 interceptions, 3 to one bad man named Josh Jackson. Look at this crazy one handed interception he had so pretty much seal the deal for the Hawkeyes:

CRAZY!!!!

That play has been on replay for a couple days, but it will forever be in the minds of Hawkeye fans everywhere.

Everyone in the stadium knew the game was over by the 10 minute mark of the 4th quarter. That is when people were planning to storm the field, my buddies and I included.

We were on the turf with 30 seconds left, and Ohio State was still running a play. By the end of the play, we booked it out there. The stadium was so loud and all I could see was green turf and Hawkeyes in my vision. People were running like they stole something and meeting for a party on the Tigerhawk logo at mid-field.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RC7oGeTIfXI

Watch that video to see the craziness unfold. I mean, we did beat the No. 6 ranked team in the nation in brutal fashion, with the final being 55-24. By the way, no one had beat the Buckeyes that bad since 1994, which is pretty insane.

Here is a full pic of what the ‘Black Sea of Kinnick’ looks like:

Yep, I’m in the middle. Maybe if I was a little taller you could spot me out. So much pride was being spread. “LET’S GO HAWKS, LET’S GO HAWKS, LET’S GO HAWKS!” That chant went on for a while, but I really wish it never ended.

I’ll never forget celebrating with all the players on the field. That game will always reinforce why I love being a Hawkeye. I will tell this story to my kids and hopefully they can experience the same thing (Yes, my kids will be Hawkeye fans, it is one of my main goals for fatherhood).

I had a short conversation with wide receiver Nick Easley during the mosh pit with thousands of people, and he ended it with, “It’s a good day to be a Hawkeye.”

Nick was right, but everyday is a good day to be a Hawkeye, in my opinion.

Big 10, Small Feel

Before I get started, I’d like to update you on a few things after being here for over two months now.

  1. I killed my midterms which has made me one happy scholar. The midterm stress is real and something I wasn’t sure how to handle. After patiently waiting to see my results, I can finally say I do know how to handle them. I’m glad they are over for now, because me oh my, it was a struggle.
  2. My Rec-League basketball record has a lot more losses than wins. But, unlike some people, I can make it both ends of the court without gasping for air like a fish out of water. So that is the most important thing, in my book at least.
  3. I’m still really loving it here. Fall in Iowa City is truly mesmerizing. Almost all of the trees on campus have a yellow tint to them now. I’m starting to think it is on purpose, hence our main school color being yellow. Hoodie weather is among us and I am more than thrilled about it. The only con to that is, however, more laundry for me.

Alright, enough about me. Let me keep blabbing on about how amazing this campus/university/community is. Well, I guess one huge factor that really makes me proud to be here is the fact that it is a Big 10 school.

The Big 10 is mostly known for it’s great athletic performances in almost every sport. A lot of schools can’t say they are solid in almost every athletic event they offer. Most Big 10 schools can say that.

The conference has a lot of schools with history as well. Lots of national championships have been awarded to many Big 10 schools. Sports aren’t the only thing that Big 10 schools are known for, however.

Every Big 10 school is part of the Big Ten Academic Alliance. Big 10 schools educate over 520,000 students a year and have over 5.7 MILLION alumni. Talk about a big amount of people. The Big 10 schools partake in research, with funds that total to almost 9.3 BILLION dollars each year. EACH YEAR. The Big 10 really does live by that motto of go big or go home.

The Big 10 has even gotten bigger since it started. It now has 14 universities (Big 10 just sounds better than Big 14) which originally started out with nine (Formerly known as the Western Conference or the Big 9).

Long story made short, the Big 10 is one of the most, if not the most dynamic conference in all of higher level education. Students receive not only a ‘first-class’ education, but receive a connection that is shared by over 5.7 million people: The Big 10 Connection.

Those numbers may be overwhelming. I know they overwhelmed me when I was looking into coming here. Something about the history of the Big 10 really did lure me into coming here. I’ve always respected the other schools in the conference. They all share that historical bond thanks to the schools they attended. You are bound to find a Big 10 alumni anywhere you go, and I find that super awesome.

The average enrollment at a Big 10 school is 41,995 students. The University of Iowa is at the smaller end of the spectrum, with a total enrollment of 33,334 students. Think about it. Thirty-three thousand, three hundred thirty-four students attend this school, and it is considered one of the smaller ones. WOW. That was one thing that did worry me before coming here. Were there going to be so many people that I wouldn’t know how to handle it? Well, you’d be surprised, it doesn’t feel that big at all.

Even though I go to school with 33,333 people, it sure doesn’t feel like it. As I walk to class I see many new faces, but I see just as many familiar ones. I always get a couple waves or a friendly ‘hello’ while I’m walking across campus.

You find your people, too. Don’t think that you have to be friends with all of the other people on campus because that is most likely impossible. If you can be friends with 33,333 more people, I will forever envy you. And don’t let them intimidate you, either. The term ‘Iowa Nice’ is real. Everyone (well, mostly everyone. I can’t speak for the whole student body but I can say 95% of us are super nice and helpful.) is in the same boat, so why not be nice to a fellow Hawkeye? The people make the campus feel big, but at the end of the day, it is really up to how you look at things.

Don’t let a fear of a big school like Iowa drive you away from going here. I was pretty close on not coming here, but when I saw that people, the campus, and the community I knew that there was something here for me. The best part about it, is that 5.7 million people feel the same way, all thanks to that ‘Big 10 Connection’.

 

 

New Faces

College is full of opportunities to explore interests and yourself. Not to mention, new people! There are so many different people with unique backgrounds. Sure, college is for learning and taking advantage of the opportunities, but a huge part of college is the people you meet. They can end up being your best friend, a study buddy, or even more extreme, your future wife (or husband)! Most important, you find your community or your ‘tribe’.

The difference about making friends in college and making friends in high school is that you have to put forth the effort to go out and talk to them. In high school, you are with the same people, stuck in the same building, for 8 hours. Usually that leads to a friendship of some extent. In college, that ‘I’ll wait until he/she starts the conversation’ attitude you had in high school will not be so effective. In order to meet people, you have to take the first step.

There are a few different ways of taking the first step. The first option is just a simple ‘hello’ or ‘hey’ as you walk by or see them in class. Sure, you might not start a conversation right away, but good things take time!

Another way is to ask them about their major. What are their interests? What activities are they in outside of class? This will for sure start the conversation, and then you can take it from there.

The final way, which is the most courageous, is just go up and talk to them. Whether they are a completely new person, a familiar face, or a person from your floor, start the conversation.

A good tip for motivation is to remember that everyone is in the same, awkward boat as you are. Don’t feel like you are the only shy person on campus. College is new, the campus is new, and yes, so are the people.

What has worked for me? Well, I like to think I have a pretty dry sense of humor. Surprisingly a lot of other people do to. I always crack a joke or two in a group full of new people, and I get a few laughs here or there. That ends up being the way to start the conversation.

Don’t get me wrong, you will fail a couple of times. There was this one girl on my floor that I met, and I could not get her name right if it was spelled out on her forehead. I felt so bad and blushed right away, and she knew that I was truly trying to remember. You meet a lot of new people, so that means new names to match with new faces. I have finally got her name down, and it is week seven of classes.

You have to remember that everyone is different. Not everyone is up to talking right away. It may take a few walk-by’s, a conversation, or a couple of ‘hey’s to get them warmed up to you. AND THAT IS OKAY! Don’t be offended if someone doesn’t want to talk, after all, they may have something going on and talking to a new person may not be a huge priority to them at the moment.

Overall, the people I’ve met at the University of Iowa have been some of the most caring, helpful, and fun people I have ever met. It has only been 8 weeks since I have moved in and I feel like I have some friends that I could go to if I ever needed anything.

Your floor may or not be social right away. For example, my floor (Catlett Floor 6 Green) wasn’t very social for the first couple of weeks. I was kind of upset because when I imagined college, I always saw a close-knit family feeling when talking about my floor. For the first couple of weeks, we kind of did our own thing and minded our own business.

We finally start to kind of act like a community now. We mostly have our doors open all the time, letting the neighbors know we are able to chat about whatever. Whether that be homework or just about our lives before college, we always have something to talk about.

Speaking of neighbors, Bryan (my roommate) and I received some new neighbors a couple of weeks ago. They lived on the same floor prior to moving across the hallway, but we never really got to talk to them much. Once they moved in across from us, we always chat for a bit. They have a whiteboard on their door that always wants some song suggestions, so I always write one. I think I recommended ’22’ or whatever by Taylor Swift. NO, I AM NOT A T-SWIFT FAN. They wanted Taylor Swift songs so that was the only one I could really remember. They also don’t have a microwave so Bryan and I are now allowing them to use our microwave, all they have to do is ask. So, Sid and Taylor, if you are reading this, you are some great neighbors!

As for Catlett Floor 6 Green, you all have started to make this place feel like a true home. If you are reading this, I appreciate you and if you ever need anything 690 is always open, well, if we aren’t in class that is.

Okay, I got a little off track. But, the main point of this post is to tell you that yes, it is more of a challenge to make friends in college. Everyone has their own schedule and everyone is so busy. You can do little things like ask for their Snapchat or just ask them to go get lunch with you. Everyone is trying to find their place, their people, and themselves. As one of my biggest role models, Ms. G from high school that passed away a year ago, said, “Find your tribe, and love them hard.” That cannot be more true for college. There are people for you here, really anywhere you go. They are waiting for you to introduce yourself. It is okay to be nervous, but at the end of the day, everyone is in the same position you are. Just give the effort to make friends and those friends will give right back.

Meals that Flex

College is a great place to meet new people, make new friends, explore yourself, and explore new FOODS. YES, FOODS! Sorry for all caps, but I cannot stress enough how much tasty food I’ve had since I’ve been here.

First off, I live in Catlett Hall which has a ‘Marketplace’ (dining hall). This Marketplace has a huge variety of food every day, whether that be ranging from a Yellow Curry Thai Chicken Wrap or the Omelet Bar, I am sure you can touch all ends of the ‘food spectrum’ at your time in the Catlett Marketplace. I always know that when I leave, I am satisfied and stuffed.

Marketplace food is tasty, as I have already stated, but there are times when I feel that I have to switch it up a bit. Enter Flex Meals.

When you choose your meal-plan, you also have a number of Flex Meals that you are able to use. What are Flex Meals? They are pretty much the same as meal swipes, but they can be used at many different locations. Some of the locations that accept Flex Meals are The River Room in the IMU, Food for Thought in the Main Library, and the StreetHawk Food Truck, which is my personal favorite.

In The River Room, there are many options such as pasta and stir-fry. This dining option is a good one if you aren’t in a hurry to get to class or a meeting. The food takes time, but boy oh boy, is it worth it. I had some pasta smothered in Alfredo sauce with a side of a banana and a bottle of water. The food is just half of it. The dining area of The River Room is located right next to the Iowa River. Whether you want to enjoy the view from the inside or take advantage of the patio seating, take the view in with the food!

Food for Thought is just a clever name for a café in a library. When I imagine a library, I see books and hear ‘shushes’. You know what I don’t see? You guessed it, food. The neat little café offers ready-to-go meals, fruit, bottled drinks, and some sweets as well. I have taken advantage of it multiple times. Sometimes I don’t feel too confident on the assignment I am working on, so I bought a cookie and a water and I have to say that it helped me push through. Maybe it is just living up to its name. Food for Thought is a smart move. Ha, I’m funny.

I saved the best for last. The Street Hawk Food Truck is one of a kind. The Street Hawk varies location, depending on the day. Monday and Friday, it is located on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway. Tuesday and Thursday, it is posted up right next to the Main Library. Wednesday, it is at Mayflower Hall. This option takes a little time, but it is worth every minute (and Flex Meal). I always get the BBQ Bacon Burger. Man, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. My choice of sides are an apple and a cookie (I like cookies if you couldn’t tell already). I sit on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway and devour this burger masterpiece. If I said that I eat with a little class, I’d be lying. It is usually a mess, but a mess I don’t mind.

There are many more options across campus that allow you to use Flex Meals. I HIGHLY suggest that you use them wisely. They aren’t unlimited, so make sure you make those meals count. I should probably start working out a little more with all the food I’ve eaten. Wait, it’s lunch time. Maybe after lunch.

Swarm

My alarm went off at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. You may be thinking, “Poor Derek, Saturdays are for catching up on all the sleep you miss because of school.” Well, you’re not wrong, but you’re still wrong. Why? Because it is HAWKEYE GAME-DAY!

Finally, the time has come for Hawkeye Football, and I could not be more excited about it. I have been a Hawkeye fan since I can remember. I’ve been to games before becoming a student at Iowa, but actually being a Hawkeye and attending these games is a whole other experience.

After waking up so darn early on a Saturday, I got my Iowa Football shirt on. On the back it has the Iowa Classic A.N.F. label. For those who are unaware of what this acronym means, it is ‘America Needs Farmers.’ I brushed my teeth, had a Pop-Tart, and headed out the door with my roommate.

My roommate and I met up with a group in front of Daum Residence Hall (on the east side of campus) and made the trek all the way to Kinnick Stadium (on the west side of campus). To some people, the walk is boring and long. On Hawkeye game-day, it is such a festive walk. People are all decked out in black and gold, hootin’ and hollerin’, and just celebrating their love for the Hawkeyes. It makes the walk seem shorter than it actually is.

We finally arrive at Kinnick Stadium and before our eyes is the sea of black and gold. You hear all different types of music. From old style country to modern day hip-hop, everyone is having a good ‘ole time. The smells consist of burgers, breakfast, and well, pretty much anything that can be grilled. If you want some free food, take advantage of this opportunity. Not only will people give you a plate of some good grub, but they will welcome you because you’re a Hawkeye.

The term ‘Iowa Nice’ really comes into play on game-day Saturdays. You see fans, no matter what team they are cheering for, come together to have a good time before the game.

After we arrive and check out the game-day scene, we decide to get in line for the student section tickets. It is about 8:45 a.m. when we get our spot in line. They let in the students an hour and a half early, and since the game started at 11 a.m., we were let in at 9:30 a.m.

Those 45 minutes went by so quickly. Everyone is excited to get in the stadium so the chatter about the game keeps you occupied.

The goosebumps arose when they played a ‘hype video’ on the south end-zone scoreboard. It replayed highlights last season, displayed all of the die-hard Hawkeye fans, and finally, former Iowa defensive lineman Mike Daniels shouts, “We fight for Iowa!”. Man, I have goosebumps just typing it out.

Everyone goes crazy. You can literally feel the sound of 70,000+ fans scream as the Hawkeyes band together to ‘swarm’ the field hand in hand. The song ‘Back in Black’ blares, everyone is on their feet clapping to the beat. It is game time!

Before the National Anthem is played, the crowd hears the famous Heisman Acceptance Speech from the legend himself, Nile Kinnick. So many things get me riled up for Hawkeye Game-day, but this has to be the most thrilling. Some people even have it memorized. I am going to make myself memorize it before my time being a student ends.

The flags are off the field, the coin is flipped. It. is. GAMETIME.

There are so many cheers that were new to me. Being in the 2nd row, I had a pretty nice view of the game and the overall atmosphere. My favorite cheer, however, is the ‘I-O-W-A’ cheer that takes all of Kinnick Stadium. After every score, the spirit squad raises a flag with your designated letter. So, if you are seated nearest the ‘I’ flag, as I was, you form your body into the letter ‘I’ and yell as loud as you can ‘I!’. The whole stadium follows, spelling Iowa. It goes on for a couple minutes at least, and it sure is deafening.

The Hawkeyes took the win against a solid Wyoming team, with the final score being 24-3. I’m proud to say that I am 1-0 while sitting in the student section.

Now, during this week I’m writing this post, is ‘Beat State Week’ or ‘Hate Week’. Why? Well, we face our in-state rivals, the Iowa State Cyclones. If you are a Hawkeye fan, you know how much this game means to us. It gives us bragging rights for a year and makes Iowa officially the ‘Hawkeye State’. It really doesn’t do anything officially, but we like to make it feel like we are better.

In my hometown, the Hawkeye to Cyclone fan ratio is split pretty evenly. Here in Iowa City, it is all Hawkeyes, go figure. Actually, you’d be surprised how many Iowa State fans go to the University of Iowa. One student I met is a die-hard Cyclone fan, but works as a video-team member for Hawkeye Football. Ironic, huh?

Speaking of my hometown, one of my bus drivers is a HUGE Cyclone fan. He would always give me grief about choosing to go to Iowa instead of Iowa State. He even made up his own acronym: I.O.W.A. = I Oughtta Went to Ames! Pretty clever, even for a Cyclone fan. Frank, if you read this, we ought to see who wins! Go Hawks, beat State!

Overall, the game-day experience is everything I imagined it would be. The environment is so electric, you don’t even have to try to feel it. Even if you don’t like football, I highly suggest going to a game. You’ll have a fun time no matter your knowledge of the game. It is sure something I will remember forever. It made me proud to be a student here, to be black and gold, but most importantly, a Hawkeye!

1/15

One of out fifteen. That is how many weeks of classes I have under my belt this semester.

I remember being so eager and excited to get to Iowa City to start college. Now look at me, ‘College Boy Derek’ has one week of class down. It is unreal to think about how fast time has been.

If I could sum-up the first week of classes in a phrase, it would be this: a lot. So much new info (informative or not, it is truly up to you) is thrown at you all at once. It is like you are on a one man dodgeball team and getting pelted by the playground bullies. But, instead of rubber balls, it is syllabi, club/organization invites, and yes, even homework.

To all those high school students out there, I envy you. You get to go back to school, catch up with some friends you didn’t see much this summer, and casually work your way back into the school flow.

College is exactly like that, you see when you first arrive to class yo—SIKE. Your first week of college is like…well…wait. There is a wise guy that goes by the name of Forrest Gump, he states, “Life is like a box of chocolates, ya never know what you’re gonna get.” And boy oh boy, does Forrest hit that right on the nail.

The first week of college is all crazy, all stressful, but it is all OKAY. Yes, you will get assignments on your first day of class. Yes, you will be overwhelmed with it. This is college, and I have a feeling that it is all up hill from here.

You also have to remember that you are here for school. Yes, it is easy to get distracted with the beautiful campus, your friends, and food. Yes, I find the food to be distracting because it is so good. Anyways, you should treat school like it is your job. The reason I say that is because the University of Iowa is big on, “You’ll get out what you put in.”

Long story made short, if you work hard you will be rewarded. Iowa has so many opportunities in store for everyone. Find your passion and stick with it.

Yes, the first week of college is stressful. I feel like I can’t stress that enough, no pun intended. BUT, it can also be super fun, only if you make it.

My focus is mainly to treat school like a job. This means from 8 a.m. to about 4 or 5 p.m., school is the main priority. This obviously depends on your schedule, but as of now this is what works for me.

After you ‘clock out’, the rest of the day is up to you. Spend it wisely!

Okay, back to the point. The first week of classes is a blur. Don’t be intimidated of this blur for it is super manageable. I truly do enjoy being in a routine day in and day out.

I already mentioned it, but I cannot emphasize this enough. YOUR SYLLABUS WILL BE YOUR BEST FRIEND. Wow, I never thought I would ever type such a sentence, but I did. Your syllabus or syllabi, will entail what your course will be touching on throughout the semester. This is way different from high school due to the fact that you had little to no idea what you’d be hitting on during your class. In college, your whole semester is already planned out. If you want to get a head start and do your homework that is due two weeks ahead, go for it!

I’m pretty sure I covered all that the first week has to offer/throw at you. Don’t take my word for it though, everyone’s experience will be different. That is something that Iowa prides itself on; everyone’s experience is different. Embrace your experience, it will truly be one of a kind!

A New You

Yes, it is here. College. Wow, just wow. Where does time go? I remember trying to hit a ball off a tee with my way too small helmet for my way too big head. I almost looked like Chicken Little when he saved the day in his first baseball game.

Sorry, sorry, I’m getting off topic. It is really hard not to on Move-In day.

Move-in day makes for a rainbow of emotions. You feel ecstatic for this new journey, new people, ‘new you’. While you feel like a little kid on Christmas, you also feel the sense of an ending. Your family has been with you through every step, but Move-In day is when it is time to let go of their hand.

Now, some kids cannot wait to get away from their parents. Some kids don’t even want to think about letting go. Me? I’d say I’m probably in the middle. I love my family, I love my hometown, but at the same time I love the University of Iowa. So, if you are wondering what rushes through your head during this huge day in your life, just expect a rainbow of emotions.

However, after saying goodbye to your parents (Yes, I cried and I am not ashamed), you get to explore new places, meet new people, and take advantage of what the U of I has to offer. After my parents left, I was asked by a friend I met at Orientation if I wanted to go to the ‘Around The World Food Crawl’. What is better than food when you have the blues? You guessed it, free food!

Then, my roommate and I combined with a couple of new friends and hit up the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center to play some pick-up basketball. I am proud to say, as of now, my record is 2-0. I am as proud as I am out of shape, which is very much so.

If you feel like you’ll be one of those kids who will think about home 24/7, stay busy. Not only do you have fun, you meet some new people. Don’t worry about judgement or about embarrassing yourself, it is college. Everyone is in the same boat as you, so take advantage of that.

At the end of the day, sit back and be proud of yourself. You did it, you made it to college. You can now start on a ‘new you’. Be ready for all of the new opportunities that lie ahead, don’t be afraid to mess up, but most importantly, soak it all in. My parents said that college was the best time in their life, but also the shortest thanks to time being faster than Usain Bolt.

I am more than beyond Cloud 9 that I chose the University of Iowa. I’m just as nervous as I am excited. I have my job orientation in a few days and I attend my first college class on Monday (Elementary French I, oui oui).

A lot has happened in these first couple of days, but I feel like I’m ready to take on this new journey. I can’t wait to see ‘New Derek’ by the end of this experience. Hopefully his jokes are more funny, because they are a little rough at the moment.