Hey Hawkeyes! Just thought I’d write a quick review of one of my favorite places on campus: Cortado Coffee & Cafe. They opened a little over a year ago and I can confidently say that I’m a regular customer now. This happened mostly because of my efforts to visit my roommate and hang out with her just about every day that she’s working (love you, Celia). However, there are obviously other things Cortado has to offer that have made me a loyal customer.
Cortado’s decor, layout, and overall design are very open which is certainly refreshing. It’s huge windows that face the Pentacrest bring in an abundance of natural light, and I love the white brick walls. Local art is put on display on the wall behind the main counter and I’m pretty sure they’ll put anyone’s art up there if you just ask! I love that the coffee wakes me up in the morning and that the space in which I drink it does, too ☀ Pro-tip: As a part of their initiative to limit screen use in-store, Cortado doesn’t offer wifi to their customers. The Airliner next door, however, does 😉 If you’ve got their wifi, then you’re basically set.
Speaking of coffee, let’s get to my favorite drinks. My go-to, ride-or-die hot drink would 100% be Cortado’s Mochaccino. Its chocolate flavor comes from a house-made chocolate ganache, and when I really need to wake up, I get a double of this. Its so tasty and the coffee really gets me going.
On those iced-coffee-mornings, I order a cold brew with vanilla flavoring and soy milk. I can already tell that I’ll be ordering it more often as the weather gets warmer (*if the weather gets warmer).
I typically don’t prepare breakfast for myself in the mornings so when I do make it over to Cortado for a cup of coffee in the morning, I can’t help but order food, too. Everything on the menu, including the breakfast items, is pretty nutritious so I always know I’m going to get a solid meal when ordering food here. My go-to is the Ultimate Wrap (think: a typical breakfast burrito) but recently, I’ve become a huge fan of the Hawaiian Wrap pictured to the left. This one’s just so tasty. The pepper sausage and grilled pineapple wake my taste buds up in the best, sweet and savory way
If Celia’s working a later shift, I’ll go in to get a bite to eat sometimes, too. Most of the time I’m there and want to order something to eat, I’m in the mood for breakfast food (which you can order anytime!!). But on those occasions where I want something other than breakfast food, I’ll get the Grilled Halumi Cheese sandwich. Basically, its the cutest, fanciest little grilled cheese I’ve ever had. The Turkey sandwich is also up there on my tastiest-sandwich list. I love its caramelized onion jam 🤤
Don’t even get me STARTED on the chocolate chip cookies. They are, hands-down, the chunkiest, chocolatey-ist, overall tastiest cookies I have ever eaten. Just writing about them makes my mouth water. One time Celia gave me a taste of it as cookie dough and truly had no words. I will, with no shame, eat one as breakfast sometimes. There are certainly healthier options but whatever. The heart wants what the heart wants. The healthier options I would go for otherwise on the pastry menu would be the vegan banana nut muffins. The chocolate and banana just compliment each other so well. Every single pastry is made fresh every morning which adds to their overall quality and flavor.
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As always, thanks for reading! I’m so excited that this school year is wrapping up, I’ve got a lot of fun things planned for the summer. If you want to see more frequent updates of my life on campus and in Iowa City, feel free to follow my social media accounts!
In my sophomore year, I have started getting really involved with my student organizations. Here on campus, I’m on the executive board of Her Campus Iowa as Director of Social Media and a Director of Public Relations for my sorority, Delta Gamma. With over 500 student organizations to choose from on campus, sometimes I feel like being involved in just two of them isn’t enough. However, I pour my heart and soul into the positions I have because I know they’re building a huge portfolio for me to use one day if I want to be in the Social Media Industry.
Her Campus Iowa
About a year ago, I was introduced to an organization on campus by my advisor through this admissions blogging project (Hey Aly!! 😊). She said she came across an organization that made her think of me and let me know that they were accepting new members. I can’t thank her enough for directing me to Her Campus because it has seriously impacted my college experience for the better.
For those who don’t know, Her Campus Iowa is a branch of the national Her Campus brand with chapters all over the country. Our goal is to provide an online platform for collegiate women to gain experience in journalism, social media, marketing, event planning, and so much more. Our editorial team writes pieces similar to articles you’d read in a magazine like Cosmo, but oftentimes with an Iowa City/University of Iowa twist.
When I realized what Her Campus was all about, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard about it sooner! As a student minoring in journalism and majoring in media communication studies, my mind was blown; this was the perfect student organization for me. However, when doing research on the University’s webpage of student orgs, it didn’t show up. I’d later find out that Her Campus is a for-profit organization so the university doesn’t allow it to be a registered student org on campus. Some may see this as a negative thing, and it sure is frustrating now when trying to get our name out in the community, but I knew I’d be gaining great experience by being involved. So that’s exactly what I did.
I joined the social media and marketing team because I wanted it to be my goal to make sure that no one else like me went without knowing about Her Campus. By the end of April, I became co-social media director with my best friend and got to work!
I’ve built a pretty solid portfolio of tweets, Instagram stories, event graphics, and am working on getting our follower count up. I’m not sure what it was at the beginning of the school year, but I know I wanted it to be at 1,500 at the end of second-semester and we’re so close! Liz and I have implemented a striped theme on our Instagram page and I think it looks pretty cool.
Not to mention the fact that Her Campus has also given me the opportunity to travel and learn from some of the brightest professional women who have real-life jobs in media. This summer, I attended Her Conference in New York City to learn from, collaborate with, and meet collegiettes from around the world. It was a two-day event with delicious breakfasts and lunches, informative panels, and keynote speakers that truly inspired me to keep working toward a career in media. I loved it so much that I purchased a VIP pass for this year’s conference so I could have an even more fulfilling experience. This was a trip I paid for completely on my own and it was so worth it. I worked the entire summer to help pay for my expenses (and of course the multiple shopping trips we went on and delicious food we had to eat). This is a topic I could talk about for multiple blog posts, honestly. But that’s the gist of my experience!
This is another topic I could go on and on about, but I’ll try to keep it brief.
I honestly never saw myself as a sorority girl in high school. I didn’t like the idea of paying expensive dues and being surrounded by 100+ girls since I kept my friend circle relatively narrowed-down to the drama and choir kids by the time my senior year rolled around.
What I didn’t realize, though, is that the sense of community I was getting from my drama and choir friends was exactly what I was missing the entirety of my freshman year of college. I didn’t know how to meet people without an organized group of like-minded individuals and felt extremely bored and lonely a majority of the time. There’s no way I could say I feel like that now that I am in a sorority.
Delta Gamma stood out to me during the formal recruitment process because I believed they could offer something truly special to me. Not only would I be receiving a circle of 100+ new, down to earth girls willing to become friends with me, I’d be able to become involved in ways that could potentially build my portfolio even further.
As the recruitment process went by, I began to learn about all the ways I could get involved and hold leadership within the chapter. It was in the second round that I spoke to DG’s then-Vice President of Communication (and now my Grand Big! Hey Alexis 😊) about all the work she and her team does for the chapter. I was sold. I knew from that very moment I wanted to have a leadership position and felt like I could truly have a place in a sorority.
Before I knew it, it was bid day and I was officially a new member! It wasn’t too long after that we’d host our first philanthropy event, Dunkin with the DGs. Sororities do a lot of work for their designated charities and for this one, I made a graphic that girls could share on their Instagram and Snapchat stories to help spread the word. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect to get my name out there because I had the opportunity to tell everyone if they wanted to see more stuff like this for our events, they should vote me as a Director of Public Relations in our upcoming elections.
A week or so later, I became one of DG’s Directors of PR with my good friend, Kristen! Together, we run our sorority’s Instagram and Tumblr accounts. I’ll take pictures of our events and sisterhoods and love saying happy birthday to our members on the Instagram story. I save all of the images and content I create for this account (and Her Campus) because maybe one day I’ll be able to attach some of it to an application in my future.
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In the time I’ve spent becoming more involved with my organizations, I’ve learned that the experiences I can receive from them are truly dependent on the work I’m willing to put in. Not only am I making great memories, connections, and new friends, I’m also productively building a portfolio of media I could potentially use to get a job one day. I wouldn’t change my experiences with Her Campus or Delta Gamma for the world and am so glad I’m taking advantage of the opportunities coming my way through these spaces!
Make sure you check out the University’s website for more information on the countless other organizations on campus you can get involved in and always try to keep your eye out for groups like Her Campus who aren’t officially a part of our school!
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Thanks for reading! I know I haven’t been too active on here. I have a lot of obligations with these two orgs and academics that I still have a hard time balancing everything. I’m working on it, though! Feel free to follow my personal social media accounts to get a more up-to-date look into my life as a college student!
Hey Hawkeyes! To be honest, some of my favorite things about a new semester include planning my class schedule and signing up for new classes. This is the most excited I’ve been for school so far because I’m finally done with gen-eds! There’s a reason I’m in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, so never having to take a science or math class ever again is a great feeling. All of my classes are now within my major (Communication Studies) and I’ve decided to work toward a minor in Journalism, too.
When constructing my schedule a few months ago, I really wanted to try to have my Fridays off. This time last year I didn’t have Friday classes and absolutely loved it. If I have the ability to give myself an extra day off school, I will definitely take it and I was so happy to find classes that let me do this again! So this is what my week looks like:
Despite having Fridays off, I did have to sacrifice most of my mornings. I know I’ll be showing up to my 8:30 lectures every Monday and Wednesday in my pajamas and am already regretting scheduling a class this early, but its a specific class required to get a degree in my major so I’ve gotta suck it up.
Since I’m not doing choir this semester, I figured I’d fill that 1-semester-hour time slot with something fun. I took an introductory weightlifting class for two semesters during my senior year of high school and absolutely loved it. The only issue was that I haven’t done any lifting since and have forgotten basically everything. I figured this class would be beneficial to my health and help refresh my memory of lifting from two years ago. So far, it’s been great! The class is only 6 weeks long and will give me a personalized lifting routine by the time its over. Amazing.
My other classes include Social Media for Social Change (which my roommate and I happened to end up being in together, so that’s fun!!), Media Industries and Organizations, and Copyright Controversies. I’m starting to notice and recognize a lot of the same people I’ve met in previous classes since they’re now very major specific. I’ve also started feeling genuinely interested in every class I’m taking. The readings and homework I’ve been doing these last week or so don’t even feel like work so that’s how I know that I’ve found the right field of study.
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Thank you so much for reading! I know this one was a bit short, but let me know if you have any specific questions about my classes/schedule in the comment section below! Make sure you check out my personal blog and social media for more frequent updates of my life on campus ✨
Hi. I know, I know. I was really bad at blogging consistently this semester. This writing became something I’d constantly set aside these last 16 weeks and I feel really bad about it. I’ve experienced so much change that I haven’t shared publicly yet so I’m worried it’s going to be a little intimidating to read (and even harder to write) but here goes nothing!
Here’s a monthly review of my first semester of sophomore year.
The first day of school is usually pretty exciting, but here at Iowa, it also happened to be the day of the Solar Eclipse. I don’t remember anything from my two classes that day, but I do remember barely seeing the moon cover the sun while sitting on the Pentacrest.
The first weekend of school also brought sorority recruitment. I wanted to make a whole blog post about my experience rushing but I wasn’t sure what I could or couldn’t say about it at the time. The process honestly wasn’t as bad as some people make it out to be. However, I don’t really have a hard time talking about myself so I can see why some people aren’t willing to put themselves through that for days on end. It was exhausting, but I knew that this was going to be one of the best things to happen to me. This picture was taken after the first day and I remember being so happy and proud of myself for going through, especially as a sophomore. I could tell that I was going to have a worthwhile experience regardless of which house I chose.
As you can see, and probably already know if you follow me on social media, I am now a member of Tau chapter of Delta Gamma! Bid day was such a whirlwind and happened so fast, besides, of course, the agonizing minutes we had with our sealed envelopes containing the bid. All 1000 girls who were rushing started at the IMU then followed representatives from their sorority back to their houses. DG happens to be the farthest away from campus so we rode a bus and once we got to the house, we were greeted by all the members we had met through recruitment- the girls who were suddenly our sisters. There was glitter everywhere and music and free food and just so much excitement, to sum it up. I’m so happy I’m a part of this sorority. DG was actually the very first house I visited on the first day of recruitment and I could really see myself fitting in there more and more after each round. I often have regrets about not going through recruitment as a freshman, but things could have ended up so much differently if I had done it then. I’m very happy to be a part of Delta Gamma and I’m excited for my journey with these girls.
In September, I also started getting really involved with Her Campus Iowa. This year, I’m on the Executive Board as Co-Director of Social Media and my work with them really took off this month. I love these girls and it was so much fun spending a week with five of them in New York City this summer at Her Conference.
We all work really well together and have met a lot of my personal goals for the year in this semester alone! One of them was to get to 1500 followers on Instagram, so if you haven’t already, check out our page 😉 I’m one of the girls behind these posts!
This was a pretty exciting month for me in DG because we had our first date party, our first sisterhood of the semester at the pumpkin patch, and big-little reveals. My big’s name is Cate and I’m super excited to get to know her better throughout my time in DG! My twin, Maddie, is also Cate’s little and we’re all sophomores so I think that’s pretty cool. We are a part of one of the biggest “families” in at Tau, and I’m especially excited to be in the same family tree as my grand-big, Alexis. I talked to her for the majority of recruitment and she’s honestly one of the main reasons I chose this sorority. She’s from my hometown so it was really nice to see a familiar face, but we also have similar personalities, career interests, and education paths. She was VP Communications this past term and I could really see myself doing similar work for this chapter. After talking to her in recruitment, I knew I’d get something really great out of this experience, as well as meeting new girls and making more friends. With this motivation to become more involved, I ran for Co-Director of Public Relations (a position that works with the VP of Communications) and got it! I feel so grateful to be surrounded by girls who are so much fun but also push me to grow as a person.
Up until this month, things were looking pretty great for me. On the 3rd, Her Campus Iowa had their second annual coffee crawl and I’m really proud of the work we all put into marketing this event. It was super fun for the girls on our team and people in the community.
A few days later though, my world stopped for a moment. After dating for a little over a year and a half, Alex, my high school boyfriend, and I broke up. I wasn’t heartbroken and we ended on fairly good terms, but this was a huge adjustment for me. He was someone I could turn to for anything throughout my entire college experience so far, and having to adjust to life in Iowa City without him was really difficult for me. I saw this coming, though, so I wasn’t surprised.
I had been really unhappy for months because I felt like I had put in way more effort into the relationship than I was getting in return. I stuck with it for the comfortability of dating someone from my hometown and felt like there was a solid foundation that wasn’t worth breaking up for. Although, as the months went by, we were both just trying to adjust to busier work and school schedules so making time for one another was hard – but especially for him, and I was tired of being constantly rejected and ignored.
If anything, I’m just upset I lost my best friend. We did agree to try to stay in each other’s lives because I really do value and appreciate him as an individual; regardless of his inability to make me happy in a relationship. However, being friends with an ex-boyfriend is something I’m not used to and am not entirely sure how well it will actually work. We’ll see.
The rest of this month, as far as academics go, wasn’t too exciting with midterms and various projects being due. I tried to spend any free time I had outside of school work and classes being surrounded by my closest friends because it was really hard for me knowing I could no longer talk to Alex every day. I grew even closer to my best friends Sara and Liz in this month, and love them dearly for having my back and listening to all of my problems.
Thanksgiving break was also a good time to hang out with all of my favorite people. I met up with Cate and Sara multiple times and had fun doing our favorite things: hanging out at coffee shops and going to movies.
After break, I had my final choir concert of the semester at Hancher Auditorium. This was the last choir concert I’ll ever be in since I’ve decided not to return next semester. It makes me sad to think I’ve lost my passion for singing in this way, but I just wasn’t having fun anymore. I dreaded going to class and didn’t have any friends there that I looked forward to seeing. The experiences I had in choir at Iowa just didn’t compare to the ones in high school so I wanted to preserve all of my fond memories of singing for that time of my life.
The year (and this blog post) is almost over! Yay! I’ll try to wrap this up as quick as possible, but I finished up the year with a lot of exciting things and pictures so just bear with me a little bit longer.
My friend Emily and I took a trip up to UNI to see the Varsity Men’s Glee Club perform their annual Christmas variety show. These plans all started out when Emily asked me if the choirs at Iowa have any fun Christmas concerts we could see to get us in the holiday spirit. Unfortunately, our school of music doesn’t have insanely festive, hilarious, and joyful musical performances so I had a better idea. I went to this show last year and knew it was fantastic. Also, Emily is transferring to UNI next semester so it was a really fun excuse to visit Cedar falls. The show was amazing and we even had some spare time to look at all the cute lights downtown and, of course, get Insomnia Cookies.
To finish up this first weekend of December, I danced the night away at DG’s semi-formal. In an effort to avoid having to deal with boys, I invited my best friend Alli from Iowa State to be my date. She’s transferring to Iowa in the fall and going to be my roommate next year so I figured a fun night in Iowa City with an excused to get super dressed up would make her the perfect date that night (and I’d invite her again in a heartbeat!). I met up with a few of the DG girls in my grade beforehand and introduced them to Alli. They were so welcoming and friendly; I’m just happy I can hang out with the freshman girls in my own pledge class, but also feel welcome to hang out with the girls who are my age and joined last year. Semi-formal was so much fun and I can’t wait to attend more events like this in the future!
That next Wednesday, Her Campus Iowa and DG both had their holiday parties and gift exchanges! I’m so happy I have a friend like Liz who is involved in both of these organizations with me. We celebrated with Secret Santa and holiday cookies for Her Campus and had a white elephant gift exchange between our “families” in DG. I definitely appreciated spending my study break on a fun, festive night like this.
One of my classes didn’t have a test for our final and, instead, we presented our final projects to the class with a huge breakfast bar. I only had “real” finals on Thursday and Friday this year so I spent the beginning of the week preparing, going home for a night to see my little sister’s Winter Choir concert, and being comforted by Emily’s sweet therapy pup, Lucy. I also went out to a nice dinner at Basta downtown with Emily and a few of her friends to celebrate her transferring to UNI. I finished up this week exchanging gifts with Liz and drinking hot cocoa at my apartment ❤️⛄️
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I know this was a hefty one, but thanks for sticking around and reading the whole thing. There was a lot I needed to catch you all up on and I finally forced myself to do it over winter break! I plan on updating this website better in the coming months so be prepared to hear more from me!
I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season, here’s to new all the new experiences 2018 will bring to all of us 🙂
With finals creeping upon us these next few weeks, I figured I’d give away my favorite spots on campus to study during this stressful time. I try to stay away from places that are too loud or too quiet because that’s where I lose my focus the easiest. If it’s too quiet when I’m trying to work, I’ll hear every little page turn or sniffle and it’s actually the ~worst~. On the other hand, if it’s a busy and bustling place, like the library café or Starbucks, I can’t help but listen in to every conversation near me or beverage order being mentioned. The following places are areas that I find a lot of solace and productivity in; the key ingredients to success when studying for finals. I hope you try them out when you’re studying for Finals Szn this winter too!
3: Main Lounge – Adler School of Journalism
I may be a Communication Studies major, but I spend a lot of time here. Some Comm classes are held in this building, but I’ve also been taking a few Journalism classes to maybe build up enough credits for a minor.
The Daily Iowan newsroom makes up quite a bit of the first floor, but to the right of the main entrance, there’s a neat media lounge/atrium that I’ll study in from time to time. About three stories of windows surround the room and 9 flat screens playing news and various other programs cover one of the walls. It’s a neat space that’s usually pretty quiet in the afternoon so I’m a huge fan.
2: Study Rooms – Main Library
You’ve probably all seen the neat glassed in, colorful study rooms in the Main Library. On my first tour here as a prospective student, I remember stopping at the library and thinking that I could totally see myself here as a student. It’s still weird to think that that was nearly three years ago and I’ll be halfway done with college after this year – but that’s beside the point.
The first floor has always been one of my favorite study places (aesthetically) because the colors and vibrancy of the interior design just scream productivity. However, the chatter in the café and the hustle and bustle of people leaving the building, going to the restroom, etc. gets to be pretty distracting for me. Right now is prime time to book those study rooms because they’ll definitely be full if you try getting a time slot the week of finals. Don’t feel bad for booking one all to yourself, but if you, invite some friends! They’re always relatively quiet but you still get to feel like you’re around people.
1: Rita Benton Music Library – Voxman School of Music
Finally, my favorite place to be productive on campus: Voxman. It’s such a beautiful building in general, but they’ve got an even more amazing, serene, library located on the main floor. If you keep heading straight to the back of the building from the main entrance on Clinton and Burlington and don’t take any stairs up or down, you’ll come across this neat little library.
I’d stop by before or after choir if I ever needed to get any work done. They have a printer, document scanner, a really cool glass chandelier, and these personal pods that are perfect for getting in the mood to study. My only complaint is that they close up kind of early at 9:00 PM, but there’s usually always room to finish up work in the main lobby area that’s open much later downstairs.
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Thanks for reading! I know I haven’t been posting very much. I’ve felt really overwhelmed with schoolwork and have been dealing with a lot in my personal life. There could be a post in the future about that, but I don’t want to make any promises because I’m still trying to deal with a lot of it. If there’s anything you’re interested in hearing me talk about, please feel free to use the comment feature! And as always, make sure to view my personal blog and check out my social media for more frequent posts of my life on campus!✨
Let’s just say, it’s been rough. Midterms officially consumed my life these past few weeks so I’m currently recovering and catching up on everything I fell behind on during that stressful time. Before the semester started, I set a goal to significantly raise my GPA, and this has led me to be a thousand times more conscious of the work I’m putting into my classes. It was a good goal because I’ll ultimately be able to apply for more scholarships, but that means putting in more effort than ever before. Now that things are slowing down a bit (and I’m all caught up on laundry) I’ve finally had some time to chill. After asking friends and previously experiencing the wonders of treating myself after a busy time, here are the best ways to ~actually~ relax in college.
Start a new Netflix series
As soon as things start slowing down in my school work, I begin binge-watching new series on Netflix because I actually have the time to sit down and enjoy them at night. This time, I started watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Even though the plot is a little far-fetched, I can definitely relate to a character who pushes through hard times and knows the importance of being tough in a cruel world.
Go to the Gym
I know participating in physical activity is literally the opposite of relaxing, but I find that working out – running and hot yoga specifically – really gets my mind off of things. Plus, I always feel super rewarded and good about myself afterward. I know that taking an hour out of your day to work out doesn’t seem worth it during a busy time like midterms, but I just like to make up for all that late-night-study-sesh-snacking by letting out some steam on the treadmill and improving my mind-body connection.
Paint some dinnerware
I recently found out about a cool little gem in town and I was so excited to finally have time to go. Fired Up is a studio located on 520 E Washington St where you can paint your own pottery. There’s a business like this in my hometown and it was a go-to spot for dates, children’s birthday parties, or just when you need some time to escape the real world and paint a plate. I plan on going here soon with some friends to have a much needed relaxing, fun time. I’m definitely in need of letting out some of my creativity that’s been put on the back-burner for a while.
Take a nap
A pretty obvious option when you’re looking to relax and I definitely take advantage of it. I nap almost every day of the week and don’t really know how to function without one at this point. I’m very #blessed to have an apartment so close to campus so I’m always less than 10 minutes away from my bed if I need a quick snooze.
I’ve been meaning to try this out for a while now, and I feel like I’ll really benefit from taking a few minutes before bed to journal my thoughts about the day. I know that studies exist about how journaling your thoughts and emotions can help you understand them better and help to improve mental health overall. I know that even writing these blog posts give me a sense of relief sometimes so I completely believe writing to be a relaxing activity.
Grab your favorite pint and eat as much as you can because you deserve it (well, unless you’re lactose intolerant, then please don’t eat as much as you can. I love a good dairy-free Ben & Jerry’s!!)
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As always, thanks for reading! Don’t forget to check out my personal blog linked below. Feel free to follow my personal social media if you want to see more of my life as a Hawkeye on a day-to-day basis.
One of the most grown-up things I did in college as a freshman happened around this time last year; I signed a lease. I can vividly remember how great it felt to have the newfound freedom of not “living under my parent’s roof” when I was adjusting to life in the dorms. However, even there you have an RA who is specifically there to guide and look after you in most cases. So just the idea of living in a place with even more freedom than what I was experiencing seemed too good to be true.
Towards the end of high school I’d constantly be fantasizing about what my future apartment would look like, even if I was thinking two years ahead of myself. I made Pinterest boards, watched HGTV way more than usual, and was constantly curious to know what my place would look like one day. I really did put a lot of thought into planning my apartment now and am very happy with the outcome, but I remember feeling like this was so far into the future when I was living in that dorm last year.
I went through and learned a lot in the process of getting “my own” place and I want to make sure all of you consider these three things when looking for your first apartment on campus this leasing season.
There’s nothing I hate more than the feeling of missing out on a great opportunity. When it comes to apartment hunting, you want to get this done quick. My roommate, Celia, and I had already found our current apartment around this time last year and ended up signing a lease at the beginning of October. When we were apartment hunting, our current building only had two units left. Decent places and their availability go quickly, and if you already have something in mind, I’d jump on it ASAP.
Know what you want
There really wasn’t a specific time Celia and I sat down to talk about what we wanted in our ideal apartment. Most of the major decisions were made by our parents who would eventually be the one’s really paying for the place. However, it did help to have a mutual agreement on having a location that was really close to campus. If location is a major priority for you too, then I would especially be proactive because these places are already rarely available and will certainly go quick.
After picking which building we wanted, we had to choose between two units and ultimately picked our place based on it’s location within our building. We were given the choice of a unit on the 2nd floor and one on the 4th. Each one had it’s pros and cons, but we ended up selecting the 2nd floor unit because our place doesn’t have an elevator. We dreaded the mere thought of moving all of our things (specifically mattresses, the futon, and other big pieces of furniture) up four flights of stairs.
A huge requirement for a place was also through an agency that had separate leases pertenant. We started the process looking at places through one agency, and eventually had to switch because in all of their properties, only one tenant was responsible for the lease. That would mean that one of us would have to pay for the rent all by ourselves and make sure we collected money from each roommate instead of just splitting it.
Having separate leases makes it much easier on tenants in situations, for example, where one roommate can no longer live in the building. This happened to us and even though we were upset that our third roommate decided to transfer schools, we were relieved to know that we weren’t responsible for finding a new roommate or paying for the empty room.
Price is also essential to knowing what you want. Discussing budget with your parents is important, especially if they’re the ones paying every month. Price varies from place to place depending on location, size, and the quality of the space. Obviously newly renovated places will have a higher price tag, and usually the fewer bedrooms there are, the more expensive it is. This is why Celia and I knew we needed to have a third roommate because the places we looked at with 2 bedrooms at were a a good amount more expensive than the 3 bedrooms.
In the last year, I’ve had too many moments of over-thinking the decorations in my apartment. Some
might find this unnecessary but I loved every minute of it, and it became a huge hobby of mine in the summer. As soon as I got a floor plan of the apartment, I went to this 3D interior design website to get a good sense of what the place was actually going to look like. Even though we did take a tour of our building before making the final decision, we were in and out of both units in less than 10 minutes. Both were significantly trashed and poorly furnished (pieces that were too big for the space) so we didn’t get a good sense of how big the apartment actually was.
Knowing how big our space would be was important to us because we wanted to make sure we could fit a desk and a full-sized bed in every room. Planning ahead and knowing the floorpan well allowed me to be 100% certain that our furniture fit, which would ultimately make move-in much easier on us.
Like I said, a huge part of the planning process led me to picking out and refurbishing furniture this summer. We didn’t meet our third roommate until moving in and Celia was in Africa all summer so I felt some kind of obligation to do most of the decorating for the place. I kept with the same color scheme we had from our dorm last year to make it easy on ourselves for the shared space and I love how it turned out.
I made sure to include space-saving furniture like this kitchen table/cart, and had to add unique stylish pieces to make it feel more like home. The blanket ladder lit by twinkle lights by the TV was bought at the same Iowa City antique store that we got our sleek glass coffee table from and the canvas above our futon is an original piece by one of Celia and I’s high school friends Christian D’Cruz (he’s got some pretty awesome stuff). I can’t forget to mention our lil big guy, Shaquille: The Plant of Steel and this hedgehog dish towel I gave to Celia as a fun little housewarming gift.
If you’re apartment hunting this Fall and as excited, anxious and impatient as I was, don’t worry, the time will come soon enough! Hopefully I had some helpful tips, but I know that you will find the best place for you.
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Thank you so much for reading! Be sure to check out my personal blog below and feel free to follow my various social media accounts to see my experience as a Hawkeye on more of an everyday basis.
And just like that, another school year has begun. With two weeks of my sophomore year already completed, I can say with a good amount of confidence just how excited I am to be pursuing this next chapter of my life.
So many things are looking up for me. However, I’ve found some pros and cons to my overwhelming feeling of excited-ness from these last few months. To summarize this feeling, I’ve basically never felt more confident in my life’s path. I’m growing more and more fond of what I’m learning in school, I moved into my very first apartment, I start working at Northside Bistro again soon, I’m going through sorority recruitment (more details about this later once everything is official), I’m co-directing social media for a really great online magazine here on campus, and have an interview later this week for a ~second~ (really awesome) job opportunity.
Being so immersed with all of this excitement has been such a great feeling, but it has caused some parts of me feeling significantly drained. I put off writing, and even thinking about, this first blog post for weeks because I couldn’t find anything specific I wanted to create. I had writer’s block. But while sitting here, in my first apartment, struggling to culminate an interesting topic for my readers because there are just too many interesting things for me to talk about isn’t something I should necessarily see as a problem.
I’ve sought out inspiration countless times these last 14+ days by taking, what I think are, visually pleasing and interesting pictures of what I’ve been “view”-ing on campus. None of the pictures I captured seemed to relate to one another other; it was all sporadic. I’ll show you what I mean. Here are just a few examples of these random, exciting moments I’ve had recently.
Looking ahead at my sophomore year academically, I’m not nearly as thrilled as I was freshman year. That’s not to say that I’m not excited at all, because I am! It’s just that the coursework and framework of education, in general, are no longer new to me. It almost feels as if this is an extension of my freshman year, I’m just taking way fewer general education courses and getting into the core classes of my major.
Finding balance is going to be my goal, for first semester at least. I can already tell that my plate is getting full, but that’s kinda the way I like it. I bought my first ~real~ planner since early high-school so I’m going to try putting it to use more in an attempt at adult-ing. Not going to lie, I’ve had at least two I-Have-No-Idea-How-To-Adult” meltdowns since moving back a month ago; the #struggle was #real. Nonetheless, I will survive and hopefully gain a little bit more knowledge in that field this year, too.
I predict full-schedules, late-nights studying, and stress-filled moments. But I also predict growth in my work experience, academic life, personal life and social life. I’ve seen and learned a lot in my time as a Hawkeye so far, this was just a preview of what I think is to come.
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Thank you so much for reading! Feel free to check out my personal blog and personal social media accounts to get a glimpse into my life as a Hawkeye on more of an everyday basis 🙂
Right now, it feels like everything is coming to an end and I’m actually super excited. With less than one week until finals, I’m ready to be done with school and just go home. However, there are still quite a few things I need to do before I can leave Iowa City.
As far as my remaining homework for classes goes, I only need to do extra credit for my Interpersonal Communications class (and yes, I need to do it). The rest of my time here is going to be spent studying for my three finals, working a few shifts, and packing up all of my belongings.
In an attempt at being productive and wanting to effectively use my move-out time, I decided to take home a few things a week early. I’m visiting home to do some Prom makeup for one of my friends in high school and wanted to take advantage of this trip to lighten the load for move-out day. Last weekend, I packed up half of my closet and realized just how much stuff I actually have here. A lot of it surprisingly came in handy, and other things I found were just completely useless.
When moving in, and over the course of the school year, I over-packed and definitely over-estimated how much I’d be using some items. So, for my final blog post of my freshman year, I wanted to take the time to give incoming freshmen some advice on what/what not to pack when you move up to the dorms in Iowa (and probably any college) in the fall!
I had one pair of heels here and never wore them. When packing to move in, I thought “Oh, I’ll bring these just in case I ever need them”. I should’ve decided right then and there to just leave them at home. Unless you’re planning on being in a sorority and/or actually prefer to wear heels when you get dressed up, by all means, go for it. However, that’s not me. I’m already a very tall girl who hates feeling uncomfortable in shoes so I should’ve seen this coming.
An Ironing board
I found a cute miniature one for $5 at IKEA and thought it’d be super useful. I even have a handheld iron to use with it (duh), but all they did this semester was sit in my closet. If you put your laundry away ASAP, your clothes probably won’t wrinkle anyway and if they do, I have a solution for that later on…
More than one set of dinnerware
Celia, my roommate, brought two coffee mugs, one plate and one set of silverware for herself and that was it. I, on the other hand, brought about two sets of silverware, two bowls, one soup bowl, four coffee mugs, four plastic cups, and four plates. We definitely had the space for all of these items, and they all actually went to good use. However, this led to piles of unwashed dishes for weeks at a time #notgood.
While going through my things, I found a padlock in the bottom of my desk still in its packaging. I remember thinking, “what did I even need this for?”. Then it hit me. The bathrooms in our dorm have lockers in them so that students can safely store their shower belongings. While this is a great concept, they’re just too small for the shower caddy that I have. Also, it’s really not that big of a deal to carry a caddy to and from your room every time you need to shower.
Just don’t buy them. If you have a water bottle, you’ll be drinking water from that all the time. Plus, these little cups just accumulate unneeded waste if they’re not recycled.
I’m pretty sure the university makes it clear that they supply you with a trashcan, but I decided that I wanted one for myself anyway. Of course, it went to good use and was never really in the way, however, if it saves you $5, then cool. There’s no need.
High school t-shirts
This might seem kind of insensitive, but you honestly don’t need those t-shirts from high school. They take up space, and truthfully, I would much rather fill my drawers with Iowa apparel now. If you have younger siblings or friends, hand down your t-shirts to them. I’m the oldest of three girls and I remember always thinking my friends who wore clothes from their older siblings that were dated before we were in high school were super cool. Sounds lame, but it’s true! Make your siblings look cooler and just give them those homecoming t-shirts. If you don’t have younger siblings to give your used stuff to, donate it or just keep them for when you visit home!
Wrinkle remover spray
If you were to only take one of my suggestions from this version of my list, you ABSOLUTELY need to purchase some of this magic. It’s such a life saver. This spray takes less than five minutes to make your clothes completely wrinkle-free and smells like fresh laundry.
Lots, and lots of Command Strips
You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll actually use these handy little hooks and velcro stickies, so just stock up. From decorations to towel hooks, I guarantee you’ll find a purpose for them.
For decorative purposes, Celia and I brought little fairy lights to put in our room. They created such a cute space while providing really calming lights. Throughout the course of the year, we also placed a tall lamp and a shorter, bedside lamp in the far corners of our room to replace the overhead fluorescent light that’s in every dorm. Doing this really helped to make the room feel more relaxed and cozy. This may sound a little dramatic, but we honestly feel like it improved the quality of life we had in our room. Harsh, white light from the huge, fluorescent bulbs really bothered us and having the lamps as an alternative form of lighting really helped to make our room feel like a home.
While this is not entirely necessary and basically just for decorative purposes, it can really liven up your room. We had a really ugly surface right underneath of our sink and it immediately looked better with this stuff. Contact paper is a sticky, but 100% removable, wall-paper-like product and makes unsightly surfaces tolerable.
Unless you and your roommate are cool with sharing one mirror above the sink, you’re going to need to invest in one to place on your desk. I understand that this is probably a much different story between girls and guys, but whatever. Celia and I each have light up vanity mirrors for our desks and bought a cheap full-body one from Target to put on our door. I’m not sure where Celia bought hers, but mine was a DIY project I made from IKEA products.
A mattress pad
Finally, another item you definitely need to pack for college. I used to think the mattresses were pretty comfortable so I never prioritized purchasing one of these. However, I’ve got some serious back pain at the moment and I’m blaming it on my terrible mattress. I’ve laid on beds with mattress pads here and they truly are a game changer. 10/10 recommend.
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Thank you so much for reading! I really tried to gather the most helpful tips for packing this school year, and hopefully, somebody finds this useful 🙂
As this is my last blog post for this school year, I just wanted to take a moment to thank Iowa’s Office of Admissions for giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts, experiences, and advice. This was such a great experience for me and I’m so happy to say that I’ll be returning as an undergraduate admissions blogger in the fall!
Don’t forget, you can always keep up with me this summer on my personal social media accounts! ✨
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my overall experience during my first year of college, it’s that I shouldn’t have set my expectations so high. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a pretty great time so far at the University of Iowa. But it’s hard to know how any experience is going to play out, especially if it’s a major change like going to a university for the first time. With that being said, here are some of the major expectations I had coming into college and how they actually turned out.
EXPECTATION: I love the dining halls! I definitely won’t get tired of the food here
REALITY: *avoids the dining hall as much as possible by the end of first semester*
The dining halls may seem to have a wide variety of options to choose from, but trust me, you’re going to find that there’s maybe a total of three meals you like. Then once you’ve eaten those enough, you WILL get tired of them. I was a huge fan of the burritos at Burge first semester, and since I loved them so much, I’d get them just about every night of the week. Except now, I can no longer stand the taste of the chicken they use in them (no matter how tasty it may be).
For some reason, it doesn’t feel like there are nearly enough options anymore and I’ll actually end up spending money on food some nights just to avoid eating in the dining hall. Flex meals have become a really great alternative to eating in Burge or Hillcrest, and so far I’ve used up about twice the amount of flex meals I used last semester in an attempt to eat a wider variety of food.
EXPECTATION: All-nighters totally won’t suck
REALITY: They totally do
I learned this the hard way earlier this week, actually. I pulled my first all-nighter ever on a 5-7 page rough draft of a research paper for my Interpretation of Literature class and I would never in a million years recommend this to anyone. In high school, I anticipated the idea that I’d probably end up going through with an all-nighter at least once in my first year of college and now that I’ve actually done it, I will never do it again. Going without sleep for over 36 hours is not something I should’ve looked forward to. I’m a HUGE procrastinator so of course I saw this coming, but it definitely taught me a lesson to never procrastinate that hard again. I was absolutely miserable and it completely screwed with my body/mind’s sense of time and ability to function.
EXPECTATION: Going out every single night of the weekend because #freedom
REALITY: Staying in at least 1 night of the weekend because #responsibilities
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but I had such high expectations for my social life when I really should’ve set the bar much lower. Sure, on occasion I’ll go out with friends Thursday-Saturday night, but more often than not, you’ll find me just chilling in my room on the weekends doing homework or just relaxing. Plus, I guarantee at some point you’ll need to make yourself stay in one weekend night to study for that Monday exam.
EXPECTATION: Not studying for an exam and miraculously acing it
REALITY: *Not studying for an exam then getting a D*
Usually, for the first exam of a course, I’ll go without studying just to see how I’ll do solely based on the information I’ve already absorbed from lecture/discussion/etc. However, this method has yet to work out positively for me. I’ve noticed that we cover a lot more information in one exam in college than one exam in high school, so it’s going to take more than what you can just remember off the top of your head. It’s pretty funny that I know this but have yet to actually practice what I preach.
EXPECTATION: All my friends from high school will totally hang out with me all the time
REALITY: *only sees high school friends once a month*
If you’re going to the same college as at least a couple of your friends from high school and expect to keep in close touch with them, you’re setting yourself up for quite a bit of disappointment down the road. I have some of my best friends living on campus with me at Iowa, and I see them maybe once every month or so.
Initially, this made me really upset and seriously question those relationships, but what I needed to understand was that we all have completely different lives now, and that’s the reason aren’t talking as much as we used to.
In high school, you and your friends’ academic schedules are all timed identically with one another and all of your friends are (most likely) located within the same building. Whereas in college, it’s extremely difficult to coordinate times to see friends during the day since everyone’s class schedules vary so much.
However, when you do see them, it usually results in a pretty great reunion where you catch up on anything and everything!
EXPECTATION: *BONGO: Red Route arriving in 2 minutes*
REALITY: *2 minutes later: Cambus has already been to your stop and is disappearing in the distance*
Never trust the Cambus app, Bongo, to always be on time because it will occasionally betray you. I always try to be at a stop around 5 minutes before it arrives just in case cause:
EXPECTATION: I’ll join and attend 10 clubs and love them all!
REALITY: *Never goes to 8/10 meetings but still gets emails twice a week*
Ah, there’s nothing like the rush of ambition you feel during your first few weeks on campus. “I can do anything!” “Sign me up!” “I have so much free time!” are all thoughts you have during the activities and student organizations fair at the beginning of the year. Except, in reality, you have literally no time for anything besides maybe two of the clubs on campus. But whatever, there’s always next year!
EXPECTATION: I’ll only take the elevator up to my room, like, once a day
REALITY: *hasn’t used the stairs in 6 weeks*
Now, my room is at least located on the second floor of my hall, so I always willingly choose to take the stairs up there because it really isn’t that much of a climb. However, I know there are some residence halls on campus with well over twice the number of floors my dorm has so I get that the struggle can be real. On my busiest days, I find myself walking about 5 miles around campus so I completely understand the urge to take the elevator every chance you get.
EXPECTATION: It’s going to be so great to get out of the house and away from my annoying parents
REALITY: *texts them daily and loves taking advantage of any opportunity to come home*
I remember feeling so ready to get to college by the end of my senior year of high school. I so badly wanted to feel independence like never before and couldn’t wait to experience what it was like to be totally free from all parental control. I’m pretty sure this feeling lasted about three days. Yes, the freedom is amazing, but it’s not always all it’s cracked up to be. I remember FaceTiming with my mom at least once a week for the first month I was at school and feeling surprised that I was actually super excited to come home for the first time.
EXPECTATION: Any free time in my schedule will be spent studying!
REALITY: *takes naps during any and/or all free time*
I remember planning my schedule first semester during orientation thinking, “wow, I’m going to have so much free time to do homework in between my classes!”. Although that’s what I could have been spending my time doing, it definitely wasn’t what I ended up doing at all on most days.
If I ever have more than an hour in between classes, you know I’m going back to bed for a little bit. I’m an avid napper and it’s honestly the only thing (besides caffeine) that gets me through my day anymore now that I’m taking primarily morning classes.
EXPECTATION: I’m never going to skip class because I’m here to learn!
REALITY: *Skips class at least once a month*
I’ve noticed that for most classes, attendance policy usually allows each student 3 unexplained absences. Policies vary by class, but this is what’s typically been the case for me and trust me, I’ve definitely taken advantage of it.
I try my absolute best to attend every class I can in the first half of the semester so that I can save those three free absences for when I need them most. I was always that student who showed up to school even while being painfully ill just because I hated missing class. However, that all went out the door when I learned I could basically have a few free passes. This especially comes in handy for morning classes when you’ve accidentally slept in, are actually super sick, or you’re honestly just not feeling it.
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As always, thanks for reading! Make sure to check out my personal blog site and feel free to follow my various social media accounts to see my daily life on and off campus 🙂