Back to School!

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Hey Hawkeyes!

As I’m sure you all know, school is just around the corner and we’re all getting really excited! Leading up to move-in, I was definitely most excited to see my friends. I’m still a little hesitant about starting homework, but I really don’t get a choice with that. But anyway, the exciting stuff! I moved in Sunday the 18th so that I would be all ready for On Iowa! training on Monday. I also had the chance to meet some girls on my dorm floor. My dorm floor is about half sophomores and half freshmen, which has been a blast. My sophomore friends are getting the freshmen used to leaving doors open and just walking into open-doored rooms to chat. They’re all so great and friendly, I definitely hope I was like that when I came here, or if not, I hope I’ve grown into it. If you’ve read my older blog posts, you’ll know I’m involved in WiSE; this year I signed up for the mentoring program. I finally met my mentee when she moved in on Wednesday and absolutely love her! She lives just down the hall from me and we’ve had some great conversations already. It also made me feel amazing that right before she met me, the freshmen I had already met a couple days ago started telling my mentee how awesome and friendly I am. Totally made my day!

Now I’ll try to give you an overview of my week so far:

Monday: On Iowa! Training
I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun I’ve had with On Iowa!. The people I’ve met have been some of the kindest, most outgoing, and unique people ever. This year, the leaders were put into color squads. Each leader in the color squad is assigned a small group of freshmen that they will be teaching and leading. It makes organizing freshmen and leaders a TON easier. I’m part of Teal Squad/Teal Team. Teal Squad refers to the squad of leaders, whereas Teal Team refers to the leaders in addition to their small groups of first-years. Teal is definitely the best squad (Keep it real, Keep it Teal!). All the On Iowa! leaders are definitely awesome, but we’re all pretty loyal to our color. We’ve created a slogan (see previously mentioned  parentheses), squad cheer, and a squad handshake. But don’t get me wrong, I have some outstanding friends in other squads too. On Monday alone, we spent 6 hours in training. These training sessions included All-Team meetings (all colors together) and squad meetings (just your assigned color). We discussed ice breakers, nervous kids, introductions, and the Iowa Challenge. We also have a lot of fun testing out different ice breakers! After On Iowa! training I came back to the dorm and hung out with the girls on my dorm floor. We’re getting used to having talk sessions with everyone in a circle in someone’s room. Monday’s was in my room.

Tuesday: More On Iowa! Training
On Tuesday, we spent another 6 hours in training. We spent time in workshops learning about group facilitation and learning about how generation differences affect how people respond to teaching methods. And those were just the two workshops I went to. They also had sessions on foreign name pronunciation(for those of us that struggle with difficult names) and ice breaker sessions. We also learned how to answer tough questions that might come up. We’re pretty much prepared for anything after a practice session with our squads where we each had the opportunity to practice having an obnoxious group (played oh, so well by the rest of our squad). The training and practice was a lot of fun and definitely left me feeling way better about my small group. We closed our final All-Team meeting on Tuesday with a very special activity. We tied paper signs around our necks and were then instructed to swing them around to our backs. We were given a pen and told to write words of encouragement to our teammates. I had such special and sweet things written on mine. It really gave me the confidence that I was ready to face my small group. After training on Tuesday, I went back to my dorm for another great talk session in my friend’s room, which is just down the hall from my room.

Wednesday: Move-In!
On Iowa! leaders were asked to choose activity shifts to volunteer with. I chose to help with move-in. It was a little chaotic, but eventually I caught on and was a pro at packing those carts. The elevators were the best part! I mean, who doesn’t like a giant game of Tetris with carts and people?! After I helped with move-in, I helped with On Iowa! check-in. That seemed really easy after move-in. All I had to do was hand people their name tag, color wristband, and itinerary and explain what each one was. After that ended, I had a small break. During this break is when I met my mentee. I knew she had moved in and I had tried to visit her, but she wasn’t in her room. But I finally met her and we talked for over an hour until it was time for Late Night activities. I had been talking up Spirit Night to a bunch of the girls on my floor because I knew they’d love the tie-dying (who doesn’t love free Hawkeye shirts that you get to decorate?!). However, according to my On Iowa! attendance sheet, most of the people in my small group live on West side. Soooo the girls on my floor (including a couple sophomores) headed over to Hillcrest for the Spirit Night. We took a bus so we could show the freshman what it was like. We explained the Red and Blue routes once again, now with better visuals. They all gave a resounding “Oooooh, that’s what they meant by Blue to Burge and Red to Rienow.” I was very grateful to them for accompanying me over to Hillcrest since I don’t know many people living on West side. After tie-dying a shirt, talking, and meeting some more On Iowa! leaders(along with us leaders trying out some ice breakers), we headed back over to East side to attend their Spirit Night (same activities, but with more people from the East neighborhood).  The On Iowa! leaders received buttons saying “Ask me about” and then something that we had said we wanted to talk about with incoming families. Mine said “Ask me about my summer”. Mainly, I wanted to talk about my summer research because I felt like that was very cool for freshmen to hear about and get involved with. After explaining the entire project I help research to the girls from my floor, one of the freshmen looked at me and said “That is so cool; I want to do what you do.” Another day-maker! I’m so excited that I get to share so much of my college experience with them. After having a dance party and meeting even more leaders we headed for the dorm. Finally to bed. Well, shower first(move-in and walking every where except our one bus ride, equals slightly sweaty). And we can’t go without another talk session!In my room again with some girls more girls from the floor who hadn’t been around earlier. I’ll try to get a picture of a talk session so everyone can see how much fun we have.

So far this school year is off to such a great start, I wouldn’t change anything about it. If anything, I’d be fine with helping with more move-in and more On Iowa! events just to make these fun times last longer. But with how great the girls on my floor are, I know there will be plenty of amazing memories to be made. And as far as On Iowa! goes, I want to be a squad captain next year so I can be even more involved, so I’ll be applying for that later in the fall. Wish me luck!  For any of you out there, whatever grade here at University of Iowa, apply to be an On Iowa! leader, it’s such a memorable and amazing experience. I have had a blast with my squad and the entire leader team. They’re so full of energy and excitement that I can’t wait to share it all with my small group. If you’re thinking about coming to University of Iowa, we have one of the strongest, most supportive student body and staff. And for any freshmen who just got to campus: can’t wait to see you at On Iowa!