Sum(mer) It Up

Wow. It was Wednesday of Finals Week as I am writing this. It is safe to say I am ready for school to done for a bit. However, I am not ready to leave Iowa City and all of my friends. Bittersweet actually.

I don’t mean to sound cliché, but time flies when you’re having fun. It is absolutely unreal to think I am moving out of Catlett Hall in less than 48 hours. It feels like a month ago I was moving in with all the anxieties and unknowns about college.

I look back on that day often. I remember coming to Iowa City and moving in, with no real expectation on what this year would hold. I never got my hopes too high or too low. But man oh man, has freshman year here totally surpassed my expectations in every way possible.

First off, school was a lot harder than expected. Did I think it’d be a cakewalk? No, not at all. WARNING: College is hard. Now, was the schooling itself hard? Well, not exactly. It is the self-accountability that is needed along with the drive. There are times where you are always on top of things. But things come up, and life throws curveballs here and there. Luckily, I have been able to overcome those bumps in the road and say I have done pretty well for myself grade-wise in my first year of college.

I also thought living on my own wouldn’t be so tough. While I knew I can handle myself with mom and dad right next to me, you are your own parent. You got to feed yourself, clean yourself, and get stuff done. Simple enough. While that was the easy side of things, the emotional things got to me at times. Not being there for family events, not seeing your hometown friends, or just kind of feeling alone. It all happens, but it is all part of the process. While the hard times have been extremely challenging, the good times have been even more rewarding. Thankfully, I have a great friends I have made here in my one year in Iowa City.

These friends I have made here are the reason I am going to miss being in Iowa City for three months. I have made so many memories with all of them. Whether that be hitting the town, chilling in the dorms (shoutout to the coolest neighbors Sid and Tay), or just being in each other’s presence, it has made this year one of the best in my life. They say your college friends are the ones that stick around for life. I’d like to say that I have a lot of new lifelong friends after this year. If they end up reading this, thank you guys for making it such a memorable year!

Lastly, I want to thank this university for all of the great opportunities it gives us students. From me being able to write posts like these to being on the radio and countless other opportunities you offer to every student, thank you Iowa. I am so glad I chose to be a Hawkeye and haven’t regretted my decision for a split-second.

While it is bittersweet that this is my last post for the year, it is safe to say I am excited to do it all over again next year. Crazy to think I am going to be a sophomore soon.

Thank you to everyone who has read my posts over the year. I am truly thankful to be able to write what I feel for a university that I am so passionate about. I really do love being a Hawkeye, and if you’re a future student, I am sure you will too.

Thanks again everyone! Have a great/safe summer!

Go Hawks,

Derek Hansen

The Final Stretch

Welp, it’s the first day of classes after spring break. Before I get into the meat of this post, I just have to say this break was a needed one. Plain and simple.

Not to say the other breaks weren’t needed, but this 2nd semester has been a bit more stressful than the 1st. That is expected and I am truly enjoying being busy. It makes time fly by faster than it usually does.

Speaking of time, I only have 7 weeks of classes left until Finals Week. WOW. It is absolutely nuts to think I am on the final stretch of my first year in college. I remember I was so nervous, excited, and prepared for college a year ago. Needless to say, this place has exceeded my expectations and challenged me in ways I didn’t think were possible.

It felt just like yesterday I was on my first visit here in Iowa City. I remember the people in my group, and a lot of weird yet quirky facts about the U of I. Like, there is more than 5 MILLION resources in our Libraries. I sometimes forget all of the great things this University offers to benefit the success of the students. Don’t worry, I have been taking advantage of them whenever possible!

I remember coming to Orientation with so many questions and expectations. I met some awesome people and some friends that I still have today. I remember knowing the Iowa Fight Song before anyone else did, but I mumbled it to fit in. But seriously, GO HAWKS!

The tears that came from my parents heading back home without me were pretty tough. I don’t care how tough you are, you’ll get emotional when your parents leave. You may not cry like I did, but I’m man enough to admit the emotions got to me more than expected. Don’t worry, I dealt with it by getting some free food with the On Iowa! food crawl around downtown Iowa City. Food is the key to happiness, let me tell you firsthand.

The first day of class was one to remember as well. I got up all early and got all spiffed up. By spiffed up I mean wearing a Vikings tee-shirt and a raincoat with some jeans. Yes, my wardrobe has expanded since I’ve been on campus, thank you very much. Not only that, I met up with some buddies from home that go here and witnessed the Solar Eclipse. Hundreds of people gathered on the Pentacrest to gaze upon this natural showcase. I’m going to throw a hot take here, but it wasn’t worth the hype. I guess I thought the world would go dark. My lack of knowledge must explain my lack of interest in my science class I am taking right now. (I have a decent grade, but that class just drains me.)

I got to be a part of Hawkeye history by attending in the first Wave to the Stead Family Children’s Hospital at the end of the first quarter. I don’t recall of a moment that made me feel so proud to be a Hawkeye. Many people had tears in their eyes, and while I was one of them, I remembered that moments like that is what makes being a Hawkeye so special.

Coming home and answering questions about the University of Iowa has to be one of the most fulfilling feelings for me. People ask what it’s like, where I live, what I am studying, if I’ve been to every football game, or if the food is great there. I can certainly answer positively to all of those, but I just say “It’s great to be a Hawkeye”. Boy oh boy, it is.

While I still have some work to do to finish out this year, I’ve been recollecting a lot of the memories made in my short time here. It makes me so excited to see what is in store for the rest of this year and the years to come. Hopefully time slows down a bit, because I sure do love being a Hawkeye.

Iowa’s Moody Weather

Hello everyone! At the time I am writing this, spring break is only two days away. Crazy to think I am almost done with my freshman year of college. Time flies when you’re having fun (or lots of stress and staying busy).

IOWA WEATHER

Well, Iowa weather is certainly a tricky one to predict. You can go from being in shorts due to 60 degree temperature to freezing your butt the next day. College is a different animal compared to high school, mostly because you aren’t inside all day.

You could get away with wearing shorts in the winter during high school. You get from your car to your class within minutes and you’re sheltered from the unpredictable forecast for the rest of the school day.

College doesn’t have that luxury. I can tell you from first hand experience.

I never really thought about the aspect of being ready for Iowa’s forecast frenzy. When I first arrived on campus, it was warm every day. It got steamy as well, as I caught myself sweating a bit just from walking to class.

Needless to say, I like the warm weather better than the cold. Who doesn’t really?

I can remember my first encounter with the cold weather. Oh what an experience it was…

The First Experience

I was heading to my 8:30 am French class, as I do every day still. The weather had been mild recently, but you know, Iowa likes to switch the climate up in a hurry. I wore my grey hoodie with a tee-shirt under along with my jeans. I come out of the walkway from Catlett onto the T. Anne Cleary Walkway, and the wind hit me like a wall.

As soon as the wind grazed me, I grimaced as if I ate a spoonful of wasabi. I knew right then and there that the warm weather wasn’t going to be around for awhile. I marched on, feeling the wind in my hair and piercing my eyeballs as I head toward the Pentacrest. This is not the ‘feeling the wind in my hair’ experience that is seen as freeing. Oh no no no.

For all those soon-to-be Hawkeye Freshman living on the east side, here is your warning: The T. Anne Cleary Walkway is always windy. No matter the weather, it feels like a wind tunnel. Don’t say I didn’t tell you beforehand.

As I got into Phillips Hall, shutting the door to block the frigid wind, I felt accomplished. All of a sudden, my glasses started fog up. It was as if I forgot to defrost my windshield in my car. If I got weird looks from other students, I wouldn’t be able to tell you because I couldn’t see jack squat.

The Snow

Now I was pretty pumped for the snow. Actually, let me re-phrase that. I am pumped for the snow anytime before Christmas and New Years. After that, snow is a sore sight to my eyes.

My first snow in Iowa City wasn’t until after Christmas break. It snowed a little bit before break, but not enough to stick to the ground.

I was headed to my daily French class, as mentioned earlier, and caught myself gazing at how beautiful campus is when the snow lays perfectly. I saw the white outline atop the golden dome of the Old Capitol. Or how the pillars of the Pappajohn Business Building held snow like a cap.

While I was gawking off about the snow, I stepped in a puddle. I may or may not have let out an audible phrase in frustration, but needless to say, my feet were wet.

Wet, damp, and FREEZING. The rest of the journey was made, but the numbness of my feet made me feel like I was hovering, not walking to class. Once I got in the building, my feet were less cold. However, my socks were wet.

Wet socks to me are one of the least pleasant feelings. Every step you squish some water out and the cycle just continues. Luckily, my mom sent me in a surprise pair of boots. Pro tip: Get boots. I don’t care how tough you think you are, walking around campus with wet feet/socks is not a feeling you will grow accustomed to.

Getting There

All in all, the weather is anybody’s best guess. Just make sure to check a weather app before you head to class. That way, you aren’t a poor sap wearing something that won’t protect you from Mother Nature’s wrath.

Thankfully, I’ve been in Iowa my whole life, so I’ve been trained to expect the unexpected. I am still learning and by no means am I mastering it.

Hopefully by the next post I write, the weather will be warm enough for jeans and hoodie. Heck, I’ll be bold. Maybe it’ll be shorts season. I probably jinxed it, but oh well. Iowa weather makes for some great challenges, but hopefully it stops being so moody soon.

The Grind is REAL

Hello everyone! I hope your second semester is going well. While all the chaos of midterms are upon us, remember we are almost done with this semester already! I know, it’s hard to see the positives when you are jam-packed with taking exams and papers due. Slowly but surely!

The thing about college, is that some weeks are very relaxed. Then all of a sudden, WHOOSH, you have 3 exams, a quiz, and 2 papers due in one week. Well, at least I did.

Don’t get me wrong, I get anxiety from it like most people do. And that is okay! If you aren’t worried about being successful, you simply don’t care.

But, everyone has these weeks in college, and here are some tips to get you through it!

Take One Thing at a Time

That is easier said than done. You have so much racing through your mind about what is all on your plate. And that is only the school part.

It may be overwhelming if you think about all at once. So, don’t do that. Thing of it as just doing one piece at a time. Trust me, it sure helps your brain to calm the heck down.

Complete one task and move on to the next one. Do not try rushing it! If I learned one thing in my short time in college, it’s that rushed work might as well be flushed work. The quality won’t be there, so the result will not follow.

Don’t flood your mind with negative thoughts or worries. As a wise man once said, “Get ‘er done”.

Schedule Your Day

Set your mind to do certain things at a certain time. If you go from one subject and then go to another, your brain will probably get fed up. That will lead you to stopping, going to eat, or hunker down with some Fortnite (if you don’t know what Fortnite is, it’s a video game that is changing the culture).

Scheduling your day will get rid of the stress of trying to get everything done at once. It will take one more worry out of your mind, and with a hectic week, you’ll be glad you did it.

Take Some Time Off

It is okay to take breaks. Honestly, cramming your studies is a bad way to study. Give your brain some time to just absorb the material. I don’t care how smart or witty you think you are, your brain will not retain the information if you just load it all at once.

Go for a jog, go to the Fieldhouse or Campus Wellness and Recreation Center. Exercising releases chemicals in your brain that can help you focus. Overall, it’s healthy for you and your brain will return the favor by being more focused.

You could take a nap, go chat with friends, or work on something else. Really anything that takes your mind off of school for a bit will help. Crazy, huh? Who would’ve thought not thinking about school would help you with school?

Breathe

And finally, just breathe. Everyone has a tough week here and there, and that is how college works. You’ll get through it, and after all, it is just school. Nothing too life damaging, and getting through it will help you down the road.

You learn how to handle a lot in college, but people still struggle to know how to do it efficiently. Take some advice, add some more, or find out what works for you. All in all, just stay on the grind and everything will fall your way!

Thanks for reading everyone!

 

 

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!

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.