A Letter To Myself

Dear freshman 19-year-old Lizbeth,

It is November 22, 2017 and you never expected your life to be the way it is right now. You had many paths in mind, always intricate but always worth the trouble. Your dreams were big and your worries were small. But today, on this Wednesday afternoon as you sit in the library doing homework during break (bummer) you can’t help but reflect on the roller coaster of your life.

A little over a year ago you were so set on going to Iowa State University, eleven months ago you were set on going to the University of Colorado Boulder, nine months ago you were set on going to the University of Minnesota, and then in April you made the ultimate decision to attend the University of Iowa. You, out of everyone, should know by now that life never goes as planned so quit trying to pencil everything into your planner. It’s complicated, things pop up, situations occur, you lose people and you gain people. . . but in the end, everything happened exactly the way it was meant to happen. All the puzzle pieces fit, all the paths make sense.

It was a rocky start, but you pulled through – just the way you always do. If things change again, I want to remind you that IT’S OKAY! Do not set a concrete plan in your head, because when it changes you’ll be disappointed. Instead, focus on each day as they pass by and continue to keep those around you close. You’ve got such good people in your life, don’t let them slip away. Coming to Iowa not only gave you life-long friends, but sisters too. Be grateful because you never would’ve met them if you stayed home. They’re all so good to you. Don’t forget to tell them daily how much you love them just as they always remind you.

However, stuff is going to happen to you. The hurt, failures, and heartbreaks aren’t over yet. As a matter of fact, they’re just beginning. But you’ve pulled through it in the past, and you’ll continue to pull through it in the future. Do not let the failed relationship, bad exam grade, or homesickness hold you back. Take all of that and use it as motivation to keep chugging along. You’re unstoppable girl. Always remember that.

I know you miss the Lizbeth that shrugged problems off and always knew what she was doing. She misses you too. To meet her again, you must slow down from time to time. It’s okay to say “screw it” every now and then. Go do something you love. Stay an extra five minutes in the sauna, go buy one more coffee, sleep in a little longer. Taking one day off isn’t prohibited. Just be smart about it when you do it.

Even though I want you to have more answers than you do questions, don’t quit asking them. At the same time don’t overthink everything. Don’t wait around for that over-due apology, that invitation to talk, or explanations to past situations. Let it go, because I can assure you that they already did.

I also know you’re struggling with the thought of transferring and changing your major. Don’t. I know it’s hard, I know the workload is insane, and I know that there’s an easy way out to all of this. But let me ask you this: when has taking the easy way out led you closer to your goals? Psychiatry is a pain in the butt, all the sciences and maths are hard when all you want to do is go out and have fun. However, you’ll be thanking yourself profusely in six to eight years when you’re doing what you love. Stick with it. And Lizbeth. . . don’t leave Iowa City. I know that a lot of your friends who left Sioux County are transferring back. Don’t follow the trend. Stick with the decision you made. Being home feels good, but when will you ever leave if you don’t leave now?

Most importantly, I want you to know that you are thriving. You’ve accomplished more than you give yourself credit for. The new reality of life is that it’s always going to be messy – but that’s okay because you’re handling it. Quit being so hard on yourself girl. You’re doing everything you’re supposed to be doing. I am so proud of you.

You got this.

Love,

Lizbeth xoxo

SALT

I come from a very religious hometown, where there are approximately 20+ churches in a town of 7,000 people. Deciding to come to Iowa made me realize that I was going to be in charge of keeping up with my own faith. My parents weren’t going to be there to wake me up for church on Sunday mornings. My friends weren’t going to be there to pick me up for church on Wednesday nights. Ultimately nobody would really know if I attend church regularly here at Iowa.

Honestly, I rejected the idea of going to church and keeping up with my faith the first few weeks here. I felt free, and in a sense that meant I didn’t have to attend church if I didn’t want to. The people I was surrounding myself with weren’t all that into religious stuff, so I never felt the pressure to go. I thought I decided that it wasn’t as important in college as it was at home.

Wrong.

In the weeks following, I felt empty. I was always surrounded by friends and had good company, but something just felt off. I was starting to think that I chose the wrong school and that I would eventually end up transferring back home. I joined various clubs, attended multiple events, and would always be open to meeting new people. I didn’t know what was happening.

There was a lot going on in my life at the moment that very few people knew about. And although everyone was being an exceptional friend, I didn’t feel 100%.

In the bigger scheme of things, I decided to re-connect with my faith and begin building my relationship with Jesus once again. My roommate was nothing but supportive of my decision, and joined me in my journey. She began reading daily devotionals with me right before bed, which allowed us to talk and de-stress about situations going on.

I made the decision to start attending The Salt Company. The goal of the Salt Company is to give every student at the University of Iowa the chance to meet Jesus and develop a meaningful, impactful relationship with the idea of faith.

“We believe that Jesus will satisfy every longing of the human heart and that by dying on a cross for our sings he offers his unconditional love to everyone”

The Salt Company meets every Thursday night at 8 p.m. during the school year at the Englert Theatre (right next to Java and Ragstock!). There are over 400 students who gather weekly to hear teachings from the Bible and worship through live music. I promise that even if you go alone, you won’t feel lonely. Everyone you meet in there will have open arms for you.

If you want to dive deeper with your faith and worship outside the larger community, there are Connection Groups available too! There are over 100 student leaders, so there is always room for new members. Within these groups there are approximately 10 to 12 students. Connection Groups meet in various locations, both on and off campus. These groups are smaller bible study groups to create more authentic, raw relationships with the leaders and peers around you. You commit to whatever works around your class schedule, so there is never pressure to attend if you’re swamped with homework.

As I walked in to my first Salt session, the first thing the minister said was that there are people hurting, heartbroken, alone, and people who cried for the wrong reasons that day sitting in the same room as I was. I was not alone. In the same session, the message was loud and clear to me: It’s hard to trust God sometimes, but that’s okay because He’s writing a better story for you than you are for yourself. It was at that point that I knew I made the right decision attending.

Thanks to the Salt Company, Iowa City has finally began feeling like a second home for me. There will always be hurdles crossing my path, but I just need to stay connected to my faith to hurdle any of them. I highly recommend the Salt Company to anyone looking to join a religious student organization.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ladies, if you want to sign up for daily online devotionals join this thread of emails: http://girlfriendsingod.com

Devotional Books: The Confident Woman Devotional by Joyce Meyer

Dear Bestfriends

To the amazing girls I’ve met in the last three months:

 

Dear Emma,

I hit a home run when I got you as my roommate. Thank you for the constant pep talks, celebration cheers, and endless love. I used to pray every night that I would get a roommate who would double up as a best friend, and my prayers were surely answered. People know when we’re together, because what other roommates scream at the top of their lungs when something (anything) happens? Nobody but us. There is no one as determined and focused as you, and that’s something that rubs off on me. I want you to know that you’re one of the biggest role models in our friend group – and that’s something to be really proud of! Thank you for being honest with me in everything, even the tough situations where you have to tell me I’m doing wrong. Thank you for telling me that that boy isn’t worth all the trouble and that my next exam will go better. You’re the serenity to a lot of the madness that goes on, and I love you for that.  I know that if I got to go back and find a roommate again, I would always pick you. Continuously. I love you.

Remember when we were locked INSIDE our room for two hours? And one of us almost jumped out the window because of a panic attack. One for the books.

 

 

Dear Camille,

Through you, I have found the thrilling perspective about college. It was hard for me in the beginning. You were one of the few people I told about wanting to transfer. However, you didn’t push away when I showed you I was breaking. Instead, you kept picking me up. Thank you. From that, you made sure I would always have fun. You’ve made college what it should be – fun! Our memories are one in a million. I’m going to look back at these years and cherish all of our wild, hilarious times together. You’ve made every single day here a little better than the last. I know I’ve found a forever friend in you. Thank you for making Iowa City feel like home. If it wasn’t for your constant support and encouragement, who knows how I would be feeling up to this day. I used to be upset thinking about the future. . . I thought I wasn’t going to have you across the hall anymore. Wrong. I can’t wait to be living with you all over again next year! We’re a power duo and we’ll continue to be.

 

Dear Holly,

The story of how our friendship became will always be one I’ll remember. I hate math, and in some ironic way that is the one class that has brought me the best of friends I have here at Iowa. Sitting next to you on the first day of class is a choice I’ll never regret. Little did I know that through you, I would find my twin. There is nobody who can keep up with me as much as you do, and for that I thank you. You’re always there to hug me when I have my little mental breakdowns (which are daily, haha). You’re always there to make me laugh and keep me motivated to finish anything I have to do. I’m so lucky that we continue to become closer with each passing day. You have such a passion and drive to achieve your goals. I admire that about you. No matter what ends up happening with your major these next few years, I want you to know that you’re such an intelligent girl. You’re going to gain so much from having such a bright head on your shoulder. I can’t wait to be your roommate next year. I want to thank the worst class ever for giving me my best friend ever.

   

 

Dear Kennedy,

You once said to me, “Lizbeth I’ve never met anyone like you”. Well Kennedy, I’ve never met anyone like you either! You’re the funniest, quirkiest, smartest girl I know here. I love everything about you. I wish I could balance everything out as well as you do. Thank you for being as fun and lively as you are on weekends yet so engaged and driven on weekdays. Someday we’re going to look back at all of the pictures and videos we have together and clench our stomachs from laughing so hard. You’re such a great neighbor. Thank you for giving me some of my best memories here at Iowa. I’ll never forget you Ken.

    

 

Dear Emma N.,

Even though I don’t see you nearly as much as I did at the beginning of the school year, I want you to know that you will always be one of my best friends here. I love you so much. You have seriously been with me since day one. Through all the ups and downs I’ve been through here at Iowa, you have never left my side. You have such whole, caring heart for others and that’s something that I noticed about you right off the bat. You watch out for all of your friend’s well-beings. At times you remind me of my older sister, and that brings a part of home here. Becoming close to you was so easy, because you understand me in so many ways that others just don’t. Thank you for always being a call or text away. You have such an impelling attitude that it’s contagious. You’re hardworking and always test your limits, which is something I try doing daily but don’t always have the courage to do. Even though we have different friend groups, always remember that no matter where life takes us, I will always be your friend.

 

Dear Ally,

Remember when I refused to talk to you since our fathers tried so hard to make us become friends? I laugh every time I think about that. Now, I can’t fathom a world without you. You’ve taught me so much in the three months I’ve been here. Thank you for taking me under your wing and showing me the ropes of Iowa. You play the role of a big sister and best friend in my life. There are so many things I look up to you about. On my tough days, you’re the person I can confide in. You listen, you’re honest with your words, and you don’t think twice about lending a hand out. You give so much and never expect anything in return. You have such a big heart and that’s going to get you so far. Thank you for being with me through the roller coaster of my freshman year. In a sense, you’re a piece of home. There isn’t another sophomore I’d rather be closer with than you.

Remember when my date accidentally elbowed you in the face and gave you a black eye?

The Truth

Hey there! I’m going to take a little twist and start this blog post off differently. I want you to take a second and clear your mind. Now think: What’s the first thing that pops into mind when you think about college?

I’m assuming that most of you thought about going to parties, meeting new people, and living in a new city. I too had the same thoughts prior to arriving at Iowa. Before moving here, I thought I knew everything there was to know about college. I thought that I was as prepared as could be. Little did I know…

Although college has been everything that I expected and more, there is still so much that I was oblivious about. Having this type of attitude caused me to close out people who were trying to help me adjust, and I regret that! Looking back, I should’ve accepted their help (especially my parents) in the process of adjusting and settling in. A lot of things would’ve gone smoother if I would’ve had an open mind. So if you doze off for the rest of this blog, at least keep this piece of advice with you: College isn’t like what they portray in movies. There’s a lot more involved than just the fun stuff that most people see. Keep an open mind about everything and always be willing to accept help! It’s okay to need others.

So here’s a few things I was wrong about. . . and trust me these are just a few.

Expectation: My roommate and I will be the best of friends, never leaving each other’s side.

Reality: My roommate and I are close, but we do our own thing.

  • I met my roommate through the Class of 2021 Facebook page because honestly, I’m the type of person who would worry too much if I left it up to fate. We talked for a few weeks before deciding to make it official, but right off the bat I think we both knew we would end up together. It was a quick friendship, we bonded and realized we were so similar yet different so we wouldn’t clash too much. When we first moved here, we would spend all day together just because it was what we were comfortable with. We already knew each other and it was a lot less intimidating to meet new people when you already had someone you knew by your side. However, that didn’t last too long. We have different majors, so our schedules look different. I noticed that we were spending more time with people that have similar majors since the schedules lined up that way. Then, after joining different sororities and finally getting a hang of our routines, we see each other a lot less then at the b

    eginning of the year. Now, I see her maybe once or twice a day but we still snapchat all day long. At night is usually when I see her if neither of us are having a late night at the library, so we always catch up and vent to each other about everything! I still love her, trust her, and care for her. We have a strong connection and I consider her a close friend. Even though we aren’t together as much as I thought we’d be, we still manage to keep the close bond and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. (I love you Emma!)

Expectation: College classes are going to be as hard as the professors make them.

Reality: College classes are as hard as I make them.

  • On average, a full-time student here takes 15-16 semester hours. Some go a little over and some go a little under. I’m exactly in the middle, taking 16. I thought since I was taking the “average” load of a freshman I would be fine, but I found that it’s pretty stressful on me. I try managing my time as best as I can, but I always find myself staying up late and finishing things up. The material in classes isn’t meant to be hard, but I still struggle a bit since I always have something to do. I rarely have free time to just sit back and relax. I made the mistake of taking “a day off” around the third week here, and it got me in a really bad position. I fell behind and it was SO hard to catch up (keep in mind that this was ONE day off). I had to go out of my way and go into some of my TA’s office hours, request extra worksheets, and even ask a friend to run over some practice problems with me. Ever since that off day, I learned my lesson. Even if it’s just a day, your classes’ workload do add up!

Expectation: I’m never going to miss home.

Reality: I miss home… a lot.

  • I was always ready to leave home and start my own life and make my own rules. I even “warned” my parents to not expect many calls from me because I’d be too busy with everything that I was planning to get involved with. Oops. I seriously call my parents at least once a day and text them constantly. At times I even call them crying because I just feel overwhelmed with how much I have to juggle without having that “home comfort”. I actually wanted to visit home this weekend but my parents think it’s best to wait until Thanksgiving. They want me to get that college experience I was always so desperate about. At times I get in this funk where I regret not choosing a college near home but then I snap out of it and realize that coming to Iowa was the right choice for me. It’s taught me a lot about who I am as an individual. I thought I knew myself pretty well, but coming here has opened my eyes to so much.

 

Expectation: I’m going to be with the girls in my sorority 24/7.

Reality: I’m with the girls in my sorority maybe three times a week.

  • Prior to joining a sorority, I made a lot of really good friends my first few weeks here. I was able to build friendships and form connections fairly quickly. After joining a sorority, I knew I didn’t want to forget the prior friendships I’ve already made. Instead, I’ve found a happy balance of spending time with the girls in my sorority and the friends in my classes. I always have someone I can text to study, hang out, or even just chat for a few minutes. I’m hoping to build even stronger friendships with the girls in my sorority after we’re all officially initiated. I get to eat at the Zouse (nickname for Zeta Tau Alpha house) a few times a week, so I’ve decided to head there whenever I have free time to start building those close connections! I thought I would be obsessed with the sorority I joined, but I realized quickly that it’s healthy to have various groups of friends and always keep your mind open to meeting new people. I still love all the girls at Zeta and am SO happy that everyone is involved with so many different things. At times it opens new doors for me too! A girl from Zeta recently asked a few of us if we wanted to join an intramural volleyball team, and I agreed! I’ve found a good balance and hope to keep it that way.

Expectation: I’m going to beat the “you fail your first test” idea.

Reality: Even after studying a lot, I still didn’t do so hot.

  • I had my first big college exam about four weeks ago. It was really different than an exam in high school due to a lot of things. To begin with, the test started at 8:30 pm and we had an hour and a half to complete it. So if a student used the whole 90 minutes, they wouldn’t walk out of the building until 10 pm. Another weird thing about this was that everyone got assigned a testing center depending on one’s last name. I was in the Pappajohn Business Building which was really nice, but it was kind of far from home. Prior to this test, I took two online tests, spent approximately two hours per night at the library studying, and even attended study sessions. I thought I was prepared but as soon as I sat down and began taking it I felt overwhelmed. A lot of the material on the test wasn’t anything like I studied for, so that really threw me off. I’ll admit it – I did bad. I relied too heavily on the practice exams and study guides that I didn’t take it past those two materials so a lot of information that I needed was left out. It made me realize that although the professors do provide good study materials, there is a lot left out that you have to incorporate on your own. It’s not like high school – not everything you have to know will be given directly to you.

Every adult told me that college was going to be the best four years of my life. I still don’t know if I fully agree with this, but I’ve only been here for a little less than two months with a lot left to learn. I’m now going through this journey with an open mind and clear heart – and I encourage everyone to do so too!

Involvement on Campus

On my first campus visit at the University of Iowa I was overwhelmed by the 500+ student organizations offered here. I had no idea how I would narrow down my options and choose the right ones for me. Sometime during my second week here I attended the Student Organization Fair, which is where a good amount of organizations set up a booth and basically tell you what they’re all about. You can talk one-on-one with a representative, but don’t worry – it’s super laid back. I literally went in between classes wearing athletic shorts and an oversized tshirt. It’s a great way to get information on organizations you’ve heard about and even discover new ones! After a few days I made up my mind and set up a steady routine. Here are some things I’m involved with here at Iowa:

  • Dance Marathon

This is a student organization created to raise money for oncology patients being treated at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. Each month leading up to February, there are various events that students can attend to raise money for their “ticket” to the big event. Basically, I have to raise $500 before February to attend the 24-hour dance party! All of the money goes directly to the hospital and helps hundreds of families with medical expenses. It’s the largest student organization here at the University because who doesn’t want to be part of a club that raises money for little kids?

 

  • Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority

I am blessed and proud to say I received a bid from my sisters at Zeta Tau Alpha this fall during recruitment! Greek life is a great way to get involved both on campus and the local community. There are various leadership and volunteering opportunities offered in each chapter. Sororities and fraternities here have high scholarship expectations, so each house requires a maintained GPA, which is a great way to keep one on track! It’s also a good way to meet tons of people and start forming lifelong friendships.

 

  • Iowa Student Psychology Association

This club allows me to make connections with professionals in the psychology field, connect with peers that have similar majors, and allows me to learn more about the field I’ll someday be in! It’s a great key to guide me through my next three years. This club helps their individuals customize their schedules and stay on track for their major. Whatever major one is in, there should be similar clubs to this one! I would encourage individuals to join at least one student organization involving their major – it’s a great form of resource.

 

  • Pike Fraternity Intramural Soccer

I played soccer in high school and during my last game there I honestly thought that that would be the last time I play a real game of soccer – boy was I wrong. I got asked to join a co-ed intramural soccer team with some guys in the Pike fraternity and I couldn’t reject their offer. They promised it would be laid back and fun. Although it is fun, they’re really intense. Every intramural sport has “levels”. There are teams that are just playing for fun and then there’s other teams that are literally out for blood. I was lucky (lol “lucky”) to be put in a competitive team so it’s definitely hard work, but overall I really enjoy the company there and am happy I’m staying active!

 

There are a few other things I’m involved with outside of student organizations such as the Iowa Admissions Blogging Team, and I recently applied for a job at the Java House Coffee Shop! It may seem like a lot, but once you find a steady balance it’s easy to handle.

If you’re looking into joining clubs or becoming involved on campus click on one of the two links below! They’re easy websites that break down each student organization so you can read a little what they’re all about. Even if it’s just one club – join! It’s a great way to make friends, meet professionals, and make the most out of your time here at the U. 🙂

http://uiowa.orgsync.com

https://csil.uiowa.edu/pickone

The Beginning

I’ve been living in Iowa City for exactly three weeks now. Honestly, it feels like I’ve been here for three months and I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or bad thing. When I left home on August 16th, I didn’t expect my life to change as much as it did in such a short time. That sounds totally overdramatic, but it’s so true!

Good Changes

  • Starting a workout routine. Back at home, all I would ever do is hang out with friends and watch Netflix with my sisters. I never had the energy to hit the gym or even get a light workout in. I am not joking when I say I only worked out approximately three time this whole summer. But with the rec center being a five-minute walk from my dorm, it’s hard not to want to go to the gym! A plus about living in Hillcrest is that if I ever don’t feel like making the five-minute walk, I just go down to the gym in the basement! It has a beautiful view of the Pentacrest and river. I now go to the gym around 4 to 5 times a week and love the feeling of it. No freshman 15 for me – hopefully. *knock on wood*
  • Becoming such great friends with the girls on my floor. When my roommate and I got our dorm assignment and we saw it was the all-girls 4th floor of Hillcrest we both wanted to cry. We had our hopes set on co-ed Burge. Hillcrest was on the west side of campus, and although four flights of stairs doesn’t sound awful – IT IS. We just had to work with what we got. The first week when everybody is moving in I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend keeping your door open! This is the best way to meet the people on your floor and make your first few friends. Living in an all-girls floor could’ve gone either really good or really bad, and thankfully – it’s been a blessing! I am so close with the girls that live around me. Having people just a few steps away has never been better. I can always run into their rooms if I need to talk, a hug, or even just company.
  • Gaining the mindset that homework comes first (…err, most of the time). We all know that high school teachers exaggerate when talking about college. Although not everything they say is true, some of it is! The professors here are not as scary and daunting as previous teachers make it seem. They’re all so down to earth and crack jokes 24/7. On the down side, they do stack on homework like it’s their job – which I guess it is, haha. It’s definitely not a joke when they say that one lecture hour should be equivalent to three hours of homework. I have so much homework that I start as early as I can to have my nights off. Honestly, I have NO idea how I would survive college if I didn’t prioritize my time wisely. Although I’ve had one or two oopsie days where I just want to hang out with friends and be lazy, I have made it such a good habit to do homework between classes and early in the day.

 

Bad Changes

  1. Losing old connections. It’s true when they say you don’t talk to everyone you thought you would after high school. People dispurse out into the real world and choose different colleges. . . nobody has time for superficial friendships. I stopped talking to about 80% of the people from back home, and it’s scary to think that that is only going to get higher. I don’t know if people would consider this a “bad” change, but for me it is. I’m scared that I might stop talking to some people who are true friends just because of my lack of time to talk. I’m always so busy with an activity, homework, or even just hanging out with people that are near me that I don’t always want to be on my phone maintaining the conversations from people who aren’t near me.
  2. Changing who I am in certain situations. People always say that college is the place to “re-invent” yourself and what not. Although this is true, it feels weird to me. Before moving here I told myself that I was going to try becoming a “new person” (Lol – I know I hate myself too). Now that I’m here, however, if I ever act like someone I know I’m not I just feel dumb inside. I’ve tried staying true to who I am and dropped the idea of changing into a “new person”, but I still catch myself doing things I wouldn’t normally do or say things I wouldn’t normally say.
  3. Developing a whack eating schedule. Since college isn’t like high school where there’s a specific lunch period, one must fend for themselves. For starters, I hate being alone so I never go eat unless I’m with a friend. Then when I do get to the dining halls, most of the food becomes repetitive after a week or two so my appetite isn’t the greatest. Although the food here IS good, it’s not amazing. On top of this, I have a lot of homework most of the time so I purposely skip lunch or dinner to keep working. On a really good day, I’ll have two pretty decent meals. But usually I only eat once a day and snack in my room.

 

All of this has happened in just three short weeks! I’m both anxious and excited to see what the future holds for me here at the University of Iowa. Thanks for following me through my journey, and I can’t wait to keep writing about my experience.

PS Wooooo, first blog post is done. Another good change – Lizbeth the blogger.