My Favorite Studying Spots at Iowa

Midterm season is killing me – and it’s not even over for me yet. I’m taking a study break right now to write about a few of my favorite study spots on campus! The amount of time, commitment, and effort you have to put in during this time is straining. I’m not going to lie, I think it’s baloney that a majority of classes rely heavily on tests scores but it is what it is. All you can do it study study study and hope you rock all your tests. Midterm season is hard! If you feel yourself drowning take a step back and know that it’s all going to work out in the end. One bad test won’t determine your definite grade for that class. Take it from me, I’ve failed two tests my time here at Iowa.

The best thing to get you started in your studying routine is to find your spot! Here are just a few of my favorite places to study around campus, and I hope you enjoy them just as much if you ever decide to check them out.

The Java House

Basically my second home – literally. If my friends can’t get a hold of me the first spot they check is always Java because I turn off my phone when I’m studying. The biggest distraction when studying is your phone. You get notifications, feel the urge to scroll through social media platforms, and honestly just mess around. The most important piece of advice I can give in this post is to turn off all forms of notifications. Even if it’s just for 30 minutes! A little chunk of pure focus is going to benefit you so much more than hours of studying while being distracted.   Java has such a soothing atmosphere that it makes focusing easy. The playlists they play are always amazing and the staff is so friendly. The only downside with Java is that sometimes the wifi crashes and it’s always full! So many people love it. 

Art Building West – Second Floor

One of my biggest things (I don’t know why) is to study somewhere that’s aesthetically pleasing to the eyes or has a nice view. For some reason, I cannot study somewhere unless it’s nice in that sense. Since I’ll be spending a lot of time there, I don’t like looking up and seeing old, dungy tables or books. The Art Building is one of the most beautiful buildings here at Iowa. The second floor is all open windows that looks out to the prettiest blue little pond and greenery. I highly recommend this spot. It’s always quiet and never busy. However, do check the hours before you head to the west side because they do close early sometimes!

The High Ground Cafe

I just found this place and I love it! When I study, I like staying for a couple hours but sometimes I do hit walls. When I do, I love ordering a hand-crafted drink for energy and even encouragement (treat yourself). Last year I would only study at coffee shops and I ended up spending a crazy amount of money. If you don’t like spending money on a drink each day just to study then I recommend keeping coffee shops exclusively for those days you know you’re going to really grind. It’s a “special treat” for yourself. Not only that, but a little caffeine can never hurt anybody.

 

    

Music Building – Rooftop

I hate being alone even if I know I’ll get more done but having friends with you to study is perfect because you can take mini breaks, chit chat, and then re-focus. I love studying at the rooftop of the music building during warm days. You’re free to talk and not whisper, enjoy the sun, and just get stuff done!

 

 

 

Iowa Memorial Union – Third Floor

But there are times I just want to get away from everybody and do my own thing. It’s important to remember that sometimes studying alone is what you need to be the most productive you. I found that the third floor of the IMU has a few cozy, hidden spots where you can study alone and avoid any distractions. My favorite spot is directly in front of the very large windows on top of the main entrance of the IMU. I’m alone yet I can see everybody in the outside. A huge plus about this floor is that it has a printer – no need to go to the library to print.

Involvement on Campus – Sophomore Year!

The University of Iowa is big! There are so many activities, clubs, and organizations you can be a part of. It might be tricky to choose just the right ones, but in the end you find the ones you love. As a freshman, I made sure to get involved not only to start building my resume right away, but to find organizations that can both teach me and help me grow as an individual. Here are just a few organizations I’m a part of, & I hope you find yours too!

The Odyssey Blogging

In a far future, I hope to publish my own book on psychology and counseling services – and what better way than to start getting published as an undergrad in college? The Odyssey allows me to write whatever I want, in whichever way I want, and still be published. It not only helps me reflect on past experiences, but it allows me to grow as a writer and editor.

Iowa Student Psychology Association

Through ISPA, I am able to participate on hands-on activities that will help me down the road in both my education and career. There are many research opportunities offered and workshops in resume and cover letter building. Honestly anything that can help me get a head start in the game is something that I highly encourage for any field!

Her Campus Iowa

This organization allows me to connect with the community around me and other strong females as well! It allows me to grow my circle of connections and learn how to market myself and my work. This club has brought me many friendships and fun, new experiences!

UI Active Minds

Mental health is important & something that will heavily impact me for the rest of my life. There is so much I have left to learn about mental health before I can dive into a career that focuses on it. It’s an amazing learning opportunity and allows me to make sure that I as well am in check with myself.

Our Collective Brains

This is a brand new club on campus that took off this year. Although it’s on its beginning stages, I can already tell it will be one of the most beneficial clubs I joined as an undergrad. Our Collective Brains is a club for first-generations or minority students majoring in psychology or neuroscience. Through this club I will be offered job shadowing opportunities, internship opportunities, graduate school application help and much much much more!

Volunteering at the Crisis Center

Although I haven’t officially began training for this, I’m excited to see what November holds in store for me. Through the Crisis Center, I will go through training on how to become a suicide hotline counselor. This not only gives me real-world experience in a field I want to someday be part of but allows me to be the plug of relief for those around me as well.

I highly encourage you to try out as many clubs and organizations as you can. If it interests you, check it out! The time commitment is simple, and if you ever can’t make a meeting or event then it’s completely okay. A lot of clubs and organizations understand that you are a student and will always encourage you to out academics first. Good luck on your future endeavors!

Xoxo

Lizbeth

Home Sweet Home!

As an incoming freshman, I thought living in the dorms would give me ultimate freedom. Wrong. Yes it’s a whole lot less strict than living with parents, but there are still so many rules. You have to be conscious about your neighbors, cordial to your roommate, and follow any rules your RA has along with the hallway quiet hours.

With freshman year out of the way, it was finally time to get the type of freedom I always craved. Apartment/house hunting is a tricky task. There’s a lot of things you have to take into consideration when choosing which place you’re going to call “home” next.

Here’s a list of things both my roommates and I took into consideration when choosing our new home, and we hope it helps you guys too!

Always look at price first

If you’re a super broke college student who still heavily relies on their parent (guilty as charged) it’s super important to take into consideration the price tags that come with the units. I worked all summer long to save up money for rent, but it still won’t be enough to cover the whole year, which is when your parents step in. It’s important for them to agree with the budget and prices if they’re going to be helping you out – or even if you’re doing it on your own! You don’t want something that will be too much on you.

. . . But don’t hold back to looking at “nicer” places

At first, my roommates and I avoided looking at anything that was considerably nicer, solely for the purpose of saving money. However, if you get an extra roommate or two, the price per month drops for everyone which makes the “nicer” places affordable!

Look at the location of the place

If you’re anything like me, you probably won’t want to sign a lease somewhere off in Coralville but you also don’t want to sign a lease right on top of a busy restaurant/bar downtown. Location is essential. You have to make sure you’re in a place you’ll be comfortable coming to and from campus, and in a “safer” neighborhood.

. . .But remember that the closer to campus, the higher the demand

But if you are the type to enjoy living in a busy street with a high traffic volume, usually somewhere on top of a business downtown, those options are always available too! Obviously, the closer the apartment is to campus, the more money it’ll be.

Be 100% about everyone you’re living with

It kind of sucks that most people have to sign a lease right before Thanksgiving, considering the fact that it leaves you with a whole new semester to meet new people, make new friends, etc. However, even though you have to sign early on in the year, make sure you only sign with people you’re 100% about. They’re going to be your roommates for a whole school year – and if you aren’t 100%, then honestly just don’t sign.

. . .But make sure everyone is also 100% on board

Yes, we had a roommate ditch. It left everyone else in a sticky situation. So always make sure your roommates are on board as much as you are. If you sense a hint of doubt, make sure to get it resolved ASAP! Do not wait until last minute unless you want to deal with apartment lease issues.

Make a checklist of stuff everyone is going to bring

It’s always smart to get organized after signing a lease. Divvying up the stuff to bring to a new apartment can be tricky, but it is doable. An easy check list on Google Docs can do justice, and just have everyone put their name next to the things they can bring.

. . .But remember to be fair with the whole group

If one of the roommates agrees to get the couch, make sure you’re not making them get another big purchase. A roommate bringing a couch versus a roommate bringing silverware doesn’t equal up. You see? Make sure everyone is contributing the same amount! It’s all different with each roommate, so just make sure to communicate.

With everything taken into consideration – my roommates and I chose to sign a lease with Apartments Downtown at one of the Villas! It’s located on Gilbert Street which is approximately a 10 minute walk from campus. We love our new home and can’t wait for the year ahead.

If you’re in the process of looking for a new place to live, even if it’s not until next year, don’t be afraid to start the process as early as you can. Most people sign their lease for the upcoming school year as early as October! The living demand is high in Iowa City considering it’s such a big college campus. Be proactive, but don’t stress. In the end, it always works out! Good luck.

Xoxo

Lizbeth



Iowa City, I Missed You & Glad I Stuck With It!

If you would’ve asked me exactly a year ago if I was going to stay at Iowa, I would have looked at you (probably cried) and said I wanted to transfer to a college near home. I was home sick, confused about my major, and overwhelmed by the difference in both the community and size of the city.

BUT – I stuck it out. I stayed. And honestly, it was one of the best decisions I could’ve possibly made. Iowa City is my home!

Freshman year is tricky. You’re excited to go to college, relocate, and practically begin a new life, but nobody tells you about all the “bleh” things that come with it.  Nobody really talks about the jittery feeling walking into your first big lecture, the uneasy thoughts wondering if you’ll make a lot of friends or not, and the sadness that sometimes succumbs over as you think about how much you miss home. Nobody really talks about these things because it’s uncomfortable, it’s not a fun topic to think about.

Freshman year is harder for some than others. Sometimes you wonder why everyone else seems like they’re having the time of their lives and you’re over here stressing out on the inside. Thing is, it’s all a little overwhelming and challenging at times – but you aren’t alone. There are probably more students that feel the exact same way you are than you think. Even now, as a sophomore, I went into a funk for three days because I didn’t feel right. Something felt off. . . but I soon realized that it was just the adjustment.

As I left to go back home my freshman year, I cried on the way home. I didn’t want to say bye to the city I fell in love with. Yet, coming back this year I cried as I left home. I didn’t want to say bye to the little town that I grew up in, where my family and puppy were. It’s hard! It’s challenging!

In the end, however, it all turns out to be okay. You’re going to readjust, and soon enough you’re going to fall in love with Iowa City the way I did. Just know that it can take two days, two weeks, even two months to adjust. You’re allowed to have as much time as you want to re-adjust. Don’t be worried if you feel a little behind from everyone else, because we’re all different. Just remember to take care of yourself first and foremost.

Don’t stay in – go out. Try some caramel apples from Aspen Leaf. Get a personalized pizza from Blaze Pizza. Sip on a white mocha from Java House. Enjoy the artwork along the walls in downtown Iowa City. Go out, enjoy yourself, and explore! The world is big and there’s so much to see. Why not start with the city we all love?

Xoxo,

Lizbeth

Balancing a Job

To many, deciding whether to get a job first semester or not may be a tricky choice. Yes money is nice but so is going out with friends – you see the dilemma?

In my situation, I was blessed enough to have parents who were willing to give me money first semester in order to not get a job right off the bat. They thought that trying to balance a job, academics, and a social life right away would be too much for me to handle. Boy, were they right! First semester is a huge transition and a big learning period. If I were to give my honest advice, I’d say avoid a job first semester and focus on settling in. Take the extra time you have and go out with friends, explore Iowa City, and just make Iowa your new home.

In order to do this, however, it’d be a smart idea to start saving up money during summer prior to moving to Iowa City. My roommate spent her summer working so she wouldn’t have to get a job during the school year, which worked out perfectly for her. She has her own money without having to have a job here. It’s all about what works for you and your situation.

However, life can’t be all fun and games forever. There’s a certain point where you have to quit relying on your parents and show them that you can do it out in the real world on your own. As second semester rolls around, you now know what does and doesn’t work for you, which makes it easier to decide when squeezing time for a job accommodates you.

I was given such a neat opportunity at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, where I not only have a job that allows me to build connections with people in my field but also lets me choose my own schedule. For the most part, most jobs around here are flexible since they know that academics are first priority. I chose to work Monday through Thursday mornings before class, which allows me to get it “out of the way” right at the beginning of my day, along with a three day weekend. Although waking up early isn’t my favorite thing to do, it works for me.

Choosing to get a job may be a tricky choice, but with all the openings in Iowa City and HireaHawk.com, it’s an easy process. All you have to do is fill out a general student application and click on all the jobs you’re interested in. A few do have extra applications though.

On a side note, I just wanted to say a HUGE thank you to my momma and papa for supporting me with absolutely everything my first year at Iowa. I wouldn’t have been able to survive first semester without all of your love, advice, and even money (lol). I love you both so much!!!

Xoxo, Lizbeth

 

A Letter To My Roomie

Dear Emma,

It’s hard to believe that we only have a little over a month left with each other. I still remember every detail about the first few days we lived together, as if it just happened yesterday.

Thank you for everything you’ve done for me in these last seven months. Although I might not say thank you everyday, just remember that I’m always grateful for you and all you do.

For now and until the day I graduate, I’ll always have a part of you in my heart. I feel so lucky to be able to say that I had such a great roommate. After hearing all the roommate horror stories from everyone else, it’s such a good feeling to not know what that’s like. You’ve made the first year at Iowa such a good one.

 

Being able to grow with you for a year has been a really neat experience. I’m glad that we’ve both found things that make us happy. I’m glad that you’ve found a second family with your sorority and even a special someone who makes you smile. 😉

c

I knew that you’d be a role model since the day I moved in with you, and I just want to remind you that you still are one! You hold such high standards for yourself and those around you, that it’s contagious not to want to strive for more. I’m so proud of everything you’ve worked on, set your heart to, and accomplished this semester. I will always be rooting for you roomie.

 

Thank you for not tearing my hair out in the mornings when I drop something or turn on the loud Keurig as I get ready and you sleep. Thank you for always sharing your momma’s homemade goods with me. Thank you for your open closet when I need it. Thank you for everything!

I don’t know what next year will bring for us, but whatever it may be I just wanted to sum it up: Thank you for being an amazing first-year roommate and always remember that I love you today and everyday.

Let’s make this last month one to remember.

Xoxo,

Lizbeth

PS, do you remember getting trapped in our own room? Hahaha

Becoming a Hawkeye

When asked the question, “What made you decide to be a Hawkeye” I can’t help but laugh. Let me tell you a little story. . .

I didn’t want to be a Hawkeye. All throughout high school, I was set on three other schools and was confident that I’d end up in one of the three. Iowa was never a choice, it wasn’t even a consideration if I’m being completely honest. Then life happened, and I committed to Iowa the last month of my high school career. It was sudden, out-of-the-blue, and a shock to everyone.

I dreamed of being a Gopher at the University of Minnesota, a Cyclone at Iowa State University (I know, I know – yuck) or a Bison at the University of Colorado Boulder. For these options I was either following a risky dream, a person, or just simply wanted to get away from this area.

In the end, the choice that made the most sense for me was Iowa. A school I never considered was what ultimately would be the best decision for Lizbeth. It was a perfect combination of everything I was looking for: very few people from my high school, far away from home but close enough to visit, a competitive psychology/counseling program, a D1 sized-school, and in-state tuition. Although I never thought it was the school for me, my dad made me open my eyes and realize it was. All I needed was a little push.

Now that I’m here, my heart fills with joy knowing that I’m able to say I’m a Hawkeye! It’s a school that has brought me so much. So many opportunities, so many great people, so many memories, and so much joy.

Reflecting back on it, I know I would’ve never gotten half the things, opportunities, or people had I not come to Iowa. To this day, I couldn’t imagine my life any differently.

So when asked, “What made you decided to be a Hawkeye?” I can honestly say I don’t have an answer, but now that I’m here, I can’t imagine not being a Hawkeye.

My advice to anyone stuck between colleges or lost on where to choose: BE SO VERY OPEN. I know you probably hear that a lot, but there’s so much truth behind it. Even take into consideration the colleges that you discarded before even giving them a chance. Don’t make the mistake of throwing an option out simply due to pre-existing opinions. Be open, look everywhere, and take in all your options. In the end, do what’s best for YOU.

Xoxo, Lizbeth

Perks of Going Home

I love living in Iowa City and consider it to be a second home, but there are so many perks that come with going back home-home. Here are just a few (of many) that come to mind.

Homemade Meals

One will truly never know what they take for granted until they no longer have it. . . and for me, it’s my momma’s home cooking. I miss coming home from class and having a snack or hot dinner that night. Eat all you can while you’re home TBH.

Old Bestfriends

Coming home to such amazing friends make being home that much better. Having distance between people shows you who your real friends are, and there is truly no better feeling than that. Some people even say that nothing beats high school friends. I love you guys.

Saving Money

For the most part, you won’t have to worry about spending so much of your own money because your parents are right there with you. Tag along with your momma when she goes and buys a coffee or tag along with your dad when he makes a quick run to the store. They’re right there with you!

Unlofted Bed

My bed at home is always, and will always be, better than any other bed I sleep on. It’s the bed I grew up with and the bed that I got to choose. It’s comfy and after a long day, the most relaxing feeling is being able to hop into bed instead of climbing up.

No Sandals In The Shower

Finally! No shower caddy! No shower sandals! I can just walk into my shower and have everything there. I can take as long as I want and not have that underlying feeling of taking up the shower for too long. Bubble-baths here I come.

Iowa City, you are home now too but nothing beats home-home where you’re constantly surrounded by people you love with things you love.

Xoxo, Lizbeth

My Experience At Hillcrest

Hillcrest Residence Hall

Hillcrest

Home sweet home! Although Hillcrest is a really old building, it has a lot of well… character. The rooms are by no means brand new, and actually have a lot of chipped paint and noisy heaters. On the plus side, you will always find someone to hang out with. The floors are co-ed, but they’re split between women/men sides. As you enter a floor, the right side will be all girl rooms, whereas the left side will be all guy rooms. The only floors that aren’t co-ed this year are 4th and 5th floor. I live on 4th floor, which is a small all-girls floor, and the 5th floor is made up of returning sophomore guys.

I hated the idea of being on an all-girls floor when I first moved in, mostly because I thought it would be my only opportunity to make guy friends. After a few weeks of living there, I realized how great it actually was. You make such strong friendships with all the girls on the floor, and don’t have to worry about looking presentable at all times. You kinda just go.

Coming in, I was worried that I would constantly have to wait to use the showers and the bathrooms. Surprisingly, I’ve only had to wait once, maybe twice, this whole year! Everyone has such different schedules that you never really have to wait around to use these facilities. The only downside is when the bathrooms are closed for cleaning at inconvenient times, and you have to wait for them to reopen. However, you can typically avoid running into their hours by checking the cleaning schedules posted on each bathroom door. They do clean every day which is a huge plus. You never have to worry about a dirty bathroom!

Another thought I hated coming into a residence hall was living in a dorm with a dining hall. I was SO wrong! Having a dining hall down a few flights of stairs has seriously made my life so much easier. I can just slip on some moccasins and head down there without having to walk outside. In my original thought, I thought having a dining hall would make my dorm busy and loud. In reality, the dining hall is far far away from my room and it has no effect on me whatsoever.

Hillcrest also has many washing rooms, a gym, and a small mailbox where you can drop off any mail you need to send out instead of making a detour to the post office. There are also many study rooms available throughout each floor and lobby area.

In my opinion, if you’re looking to get a true dorm room experience, Hillcrest is a great option.

Make sure to read the descriptions on the Housing Website to get info on all of the other residence halls!

Xoxo, Lizbeth

Scheduling Around

In college, class schedules are a pretty big deal. They’ll ultimately determine if you have time to do an extracurricular club, get a part-time job, join a fun organization, or participate in intramural sports. Time is everything. Figuring out how to build a convenient schedule while maintaining 15-17 semester hours is hard but very doable.

During orientation, you’ll have to sit in a designated room with your orientation leader(s) and for the next two hours you’ll determine your freshman year schedule. When I saw that it was a scheduled two hours I was shocked. How could making a schedule for ONE semester take so long?

In all honesty, I wish I had more time. Since Iowa is a big university, there are hundreds of classes offered. Obviously you’ll have to take your gen ed’s, but one can also schedule fun classes, honor classes, or advanced classes. It’s all honestly up to YOU and your major.

 

Above, was my schedule for my first semester as a college student. I kind of over-loaded and was a bit too ambitious. I thought college was going to be simple and I’d know how to take control right away. I was overconfident and this schedule kind of kicked my butt. I’m not saying four classes a day is hard – but homework for four/five classes a day is. They say for every hour you’re in class, you should spend three outside of it per day. Along with this schedule, I had a lot of “waiting” around time until my next class. The gaps were an hour and that kind of made my schedule long. I wanted to get a part-time job as well, but I could really only work Tuesdays and weekends, and that was if I finished all my homework/studying. It was kind of a mess. From this, I learned to try scheduling my classes back-to-back to avoid the waiting time. This way, I had more time to be proactive about my activities and school work.

 

After first semester, I realized a lot of things I did and didn’t like. Personally, I hated being in class past 3:20 (just like high school) so I made sure to be done around that time each day if I could. Next, I realized I didn’t have as much drive as I did at the beginning of each week by Friday, so I made sure to only schedule one or two by the weekend. This way, I’ll be more focused in classes instead of just dazing off. Lastly, I kind of realized that if I decide to take a math AND science class in the same semester, I need to choose easier gen ed’s. The math and science classes here are no joke, and you can’t just cross your fingers and hope to do good. You have to put in the time both in and out of class.

Every person is different and I know of very few freshman who loved their first semester schedule. It’s honestly just a big a learning period.

If I can give any advice, it’s to trust your gut. If you know you aren’t a morning person then do not schedule that 8 a.m. class. If you like going to bed early, do not schedule that 7 p.m. class. With time, you’ll find people whose schedules sync up with yours and it’ll all feel easier. By second semester of your freshman year you’ll know what you do and don’t like. Good luck!

Xoxo, Lizbeth