For the Fresh Peoples

I learn as I go. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten anything right the first time. I’ve learned more by making mistakes than I think I would’ve if I hadn’t made them.  I believe it is my duty to impart with some little snippets of wisdom.  From one fellow grammar Nazi to another, please, feel free to keep any corrections to yourself. I only drank one cup of coffee today.  WARNING: SARCASM INTENDED. STOP HERE IF YOU CAN’T LAUGH AT YOURSELF.

So, without further ado, here are a few things you should know about college:

  1. you no longer have the ability to be the teacher’s pet. you are ONE fish in one very large school.
  2.  friends will come and go. some people are placed in your life for a season. Others for longer. the latter are usually able to stand two tests which either make or break  friendships: 1) distance 2) time.
  3. i’m assuming a majority of you drink coffee or some caffeinated liquid. look at your class schedule. plan accordingly for caffeine crashes. if all of your classes are in the morning, by all means, help yourself to a cup of Joe, tea, your chock-full -of-energy drink of choice. If you intend on accomplishing your homework in the afternoon, you might wanna have a second cup after lunch. believe me. i’ve learned all of this by trial and error. don’t be that person who orders three extra shots of caffeine in their coffee. if you’re that desperate, there is a cure. it’s called sleep.
  4. summer classes. i took a fifteen credit load in the summer. entirely online. i spent 130+ hours on one five credit math homework. imagine a year-long math class, then a semester class and then a quarterly class and the an 8 week class. 130+hours for one class alone. plan accordingly so that you do not have to put yourself through something that stressful.
  5. you’re only human. not everybody places into calculus first semester the way ALL freshmen are supposed to. it’s OK. i placed into Algebra. i worked hard and received a B. better to work hard and receive a B than not work at all.   worth ethic will get you a LOT farther than 4.0’s.
  6.  in case of an emergency, take a tip from Gracie Lou Freebush. A.K.A, Miss Congeniality, Gracie Heart, Sandra Bullock etc.  and just S.I.N.G! Solar Plexus, Instep, Nose, and Groin 😉 Congratulations. You’ve just mastered your first self-defense lesson.
  7. ask questions.  find out EXACTLY what your teacher wants. make sure things are crystal clear. For example, does your math teacher expect things done a certain way? Let’s face it, most teachers prefer assignments done a particular way. if you can’t  ask  your teacher, ask the TA, if you can’t ask the TA, ask someone who has been in the class before, if you don’t know someone who has been in the class before, ask a different teacher in the SAME DEPARTMENT. your math teacher may know your English teacher, but his or her English skills probably won’t be that great.  don’t try to cozy up to your teacher so much that you become that extremely obnoxious person who sides with the teacher concerning everything. there is no such thing as a stupid questions. except, well y’know…..i just won’t go there.
  8.  english class. always give constructive feedback to classmates. the least helpful thing for a person to hear is “oh that’s cool,” or “oh that’s stupid.” Always answer the five W’s.
  9.  notes are important.  i’ve learned that the hard way this quarter. however, note taking is  only of good use to you if you a)  number the pages b) preferably keep them in a spiral notebook. neat writing is kind of pointless if you have half of your lecture notes in a binder and the other half somewhere on your desk.
  10.  you’re sharing a room with someone you’ve either never met before, share nothing in common with, will only keep their room clean until the first day of school starts, or is TOTALLY AWESOME. Be prepared for anything. you can only stalk a person on Facebook so much. the “e-harmony” of roommates only works so well. how do I know this? i talked with a friend at a going away party and she said her current roommate is actually on the waiting list for a  single room. #awkward.
  11.  amazon isn’t always cheaper. i recently recoiled in horror at this terrible revelation. i found out that one of my school textbooks is actually half the price at the school bookstore than online. this is the first time it has happened in five quarters so…..
  12.  if you aren’t the type of person who annotates and underlines frantically (like me) you should try renting books.  so step 1) figure out how you best retain information.
  13.  so, sometimes you can find the older version of a textbook for a lot cheaper simply because it’s a different edition. e-mail your professors and they may let you make copies of material not included in the older editions. not many people do this. mainly because they’re too lazy to make the extra effort and ending up spending more money than they’d like. and honestly, not many teachers are happy with their salaries and may therefore sympathize with your insane materials cost.
  14.  hopefully you are at school for an education so, try to come away educated. harsh, but y’know.
  15. Finals: UGH.  here’s my best advice. Set a tentative game plan. take out your handy-dandy planner schedule out the week preceding finals carefully. follow that as closely as possible.  then be prepared for that entire plan to completely failed. so after plan A fails, choose the class most vital to your degree and make sure to not fail that one class. 
  16.  academic integrity. let’s get serious.  you can bet I’ll write a separate post on this issue because I feel so strong about this issue. don’t cheat. please. it’s not worth it. i know “everybody” is making the decision to Google answers to that take home test. well guess what. you are not everybody. i could probably be an honors student if i weren’t an honest student. life isn’t fair. the bell curve isn’t fair. but YOU MUST think about how the decisions you make now will decide your future. don’t fall into that peer pressure. here’s the deal, many times people will try to justify cheating simply because things aren’t communicated clearly between your professor and the class-directly. look at your class syllabus. look at your test and/or homework instructions. if something seems fuzzy, clarify with your teacher. ASK if you can use extra. there’s nothing wrong with that.
  17. student accounts : “welcome! you’ll need our services for the next four years of your life at (insert school name) please expect delays from day one of account creation. we no longer communicate via paper. WE’RE ADVANCED. therefore, from here on out, we’ll have our IT department open 24/7, because the best part about our services is that nothing EVER works perfectly. expect unexpected changes to occur with each  log in and lack of communication and understanding from your teachers. we’re hoping that these dire circumstances will increase creativity among our students, who we desire to be as well-rounded as possible.” sincerely, The Team at ( insert name of school and account type).
  18. scholarships. brag away, because we all know that YOU are the reason YOU are here today. i.e 2.0 G.P.A, that one time you did that one thing with ASB. ahh but here is an idea! my third cousin twice removed was one-quarter Cherokee Indian. SCORE. no. just no.
  19. FAFSA. congratulations you are just rich enough but just poor enough that this one $5,000 Stanford student loan POSSIBILITY will hardly make a dent in the $200,000 + you’ll be paying for school. welcome to the middle class. WE ARE THE 99%.
  20. Need a Monday pick-me-up? Watch a Blimey Cow YouTube video. They recently started doing podcasts as well!
  21. Find your jam. And crank it up.

-Kayla

eldest of eight, recent High School graduate, current community college student and future transfer at God-knows-where (He does)

Jeremiah 29:11

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What to Write When You Can’t Write

I’m going to cut straight to the chase. I hate writing prompts. “What is your earliest childhood memory?” or, my personal favorite,“Write about a memory associated with a certain smell.”Um, what?!With all the books and websites out there dedicated to overcoming writer’s block, I’ve found very few helpful.  Not only are these prompts unhelpful, they’re also constricting. Instead of using the bank loaded with our own ideas, prompts tend to produce cookie cutter results. Where does all the extra dough go?! With roughly 15,700,000 search results for “writing prompts” on Google alone, I expect more original and fresh ideas. Writing often feels more complicated than it actually is. Depending on who you’re writing for–yourself, an audience, or both– you shouldn’t feel the constant need to crank out a novel every time you sit down with a piece of paper. Every bestseller, freelancer, blogger, and journal-keeper had to start somewhere. So, instead of suggesting cliche writing prompts, I’m going to take you on a trip back to the basics. 

I’ve come a long way in my writing–at least I’d like to think so–but one thing I know for sure is that I still have an incredibly long way to go. My starting point included lists of my favorite foods and games of MASH from long, hot, and non-air conditioned bus rides to camp.  My journalism journey–if you even consider lists and games of MASH journalism–moved from the Little League team to the All Star team. I waved goodbye to “listography,” and in ninth grade  I committed to being more consistent. I wrote down as many details, big and small, that I could remember from each day. Although I was fairly consistent, the amount of content in my entries varied. I found that when I attempted to write lengthy and wordy entries, I ended up writing LESS. I had to face the fact that some days, my most exciting activity might very well be having a dissection in science class.

Moral of the story? There is no shame in lists and “Dear Diary” entries. Trust me, inspiration doesn’t fall from the sky the way rain falls in Seattle. That would be waaaay to easy.

What to Write When You Can’t Write

1. Lists– lists and sub-lists are great ways to brainstorm.

2. Thought bubbles.

3. One line a day. This can be useful if you feel you don’t have time to keep a journal. I often leave space in mine to go back and expand on entries. Record something such as a Facebook status or something that will trigger your memory when you go back. Try and be specific. Just writing “I ate Cheerios for breakfast today” isn’t going to be of much assistance to you if you plan on going back and expanding.

4. The Method (Writing Analytically by David Rosenwasser). This is an exercise my English 101 teacher in college had us do often. This really helps turn gears. I don’t read poetry, but we had an in class essay where we read a poem and analyzed what we read. The Method asks four questions. 1) What repeats? 2) What goes with what? (strands) 3) What is opposed to what? (binaries/opposites) 4) What doesn’t fit? (anomalies). For all of these questions, ask the “SO WHAT?” question. It sounds like homework, but trust me, it is a really helpful tool.

5. Your mom’s grocery list.

6. Book reviews/reports/summaries.

7. Letters. There is nothing I love more than receiving a handwritten letter. I’m sure you know someone who would love to receive one.

8. Stories. If you want to make yourself known, sign up for a free account at cowbird.com, it’s a pretty awesome website.

9. Your school schedule.

10. Take notes in class. This is just a good habit. It doesn’t necessarily spark creativity, but repetitive learning skills improve memory.

What to Read When You Can’t Write

1. Garner’s Modern American Usage. The title is sounds big and scary, but it is a WONDERFUL reference. If you’re experiencing writer’s block, you might as well take the time you’re not using to write to improve your grammar.

2. Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis. Etymology at it’s best. Great for advancing vocabulary.

3. Books, books, and more books. If you don’t read, you’re writing is lacking its full potential.

4. The Newspaper. If I were you, I would choose something more wholesome than the Seattle Times. But, that’s just me. Flipboard is a great FREE app if you’re on the go often.

5. Word Dynamo (dynamo.dictionary.com). This is what nerds like me do over Christmas Break: expand their vocabulary count to and estimated +30,000 words.

6. Magazines. Try out Relevant: Faith, Culture & Intentional Living

7. Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty. This is a great book and very easy to read. I have yet to finish it!

8. Read a picture. I bet you didn’t know you could do that! “A picture is worth a thousand words”~Napolean Bonaparte.

Where to Go When You Can’t Write

(Breaks in recurring schedules are very relieving)

1. NOT Facebook.

For those in the greater Seattle area:

2. Green Lake Park. I went here just the other day. It had been forever since I’d been there. Which is a shame considering it is only about a fifteen minute drive from my house.

3. Alki Beach. If you have a lot of time on your hands, this place is awesome.

4. St. Edwards Park

5. Bothell Landing

6. Seward Park

7. A coffee shop. I find inspiration in listening, talking, and observing. The Aloha Cafe in Edmonds or The Lyon’s Den in Bothell are ideal–unfortunately for me only one of these two is convenient. Because Starbucks is overrated, just more convenient.

I don’t splurge very often, but when I do, I consider the small indulgences as money well spent. If you’ve never owned a Moleskine notebook, I highly recommend investing in one. I usually use college ruled spiral notebooks, but these often give me motivation, especially if I’m close to wrapping up a notebook. I’m sort of obsessed with gel pens as well. They bring a whole new meaning to “color the rainbow.” (I especially enjoy using them for my school planner). They add some excitement. My #1 tip is to keep a notepad with you at all times. There is nothing worse than letting a great idea slip through your finger tips. My #2 Tip is to share your writing–whatever type of writing it may be– with other people. Tip #3 Not everyone scrapbooks. I am one of those who does not. instead, I tape memorabilia into my journals with photo adhesives and/or scotch tape. You’ll be glad you did! Last, but certainly not least, Tip #4! If you’re writing for an audience, big or small, DO NOT cater your words solely to their tastes. Many people try so hard to keep up with the newest trends in the media and whatnot that their writing loses its passion. Especially non-writers. Your writing probably has a bigger effect on people than you think. We are often our biggest critics. Every expert in any field of work began with the basics. Don’t forget to review them!

P.S. I need to take my own advice more often.

I hope this inspires you!

Kayla

Since I’ve Been Gone

First off, to all my followers and viewers, I’m terribly sorry I’ve been so inconsistent in posting. I knew right off the bat consistency would be a struggle for me. Don’t get me wrong though, I have nearly 30 postings in the work! My creativity has not dulled.  I’m awakening from the lethargy and sickness that Spring Break wrought-at least that is my hope. My new quarterly school schedule has me up at sunset twice a week for English 102.  As for all of my other time, I am somewhat flexible. In other words, it has me easily procrastinating on every other area of my life. As of right now, there are 46 days, 21 hours, and 12 minutes until graduation. Yes I have been counting since pretty much the beginning of the second semester.  Some say “don’t do that.” Well, I finally know what I THINK I want to do so I’m ready to be done. I have yet to meet someone who says they want to go back and do High School all over again. It’s been fun, but frankly, I’m quite done.

Senior year has consisted of a lot of firsts. My life up to the point has consisted of many changes. Mostly good. I’ve turned eighteen, my brother turned has started driving, while another brother lost his first tooth. I’ve relapsed once again into my yearbook duties after a nice long break. I had my first last Spring Formal at the lovely Canal in Seattle, partnered with a very awkward first last senior recognition. And no, I was not the cause of this awkwardness. Cap and Gown pictures have been taken and everything is official. Senior sneak is coming up.  I obtained my first official non-driver’s license ID-you may be wondering, what good is such a thing? Unfortunately, it is useful in many instances and more convenient than carrying around a passport everywhere. Some major decisions are up in the air which at times has been quite taxing. And as my friends like to say I am “sleep exhausted.” Keep persisting friends! I’ve made it this far and intend to see through to the  end. Until then, Keep Calm and Graduate! (;

Keep Calm 1

Kayla

The Feeling of Impending Doom

Charlie BrownHmmm have I ever experienced the feeling of impending doom? Yes, yes Linus indeed I have. I would certainly say that during the two – three weeks leading  up to finals contain a certain feeling of impending doom. No matter how well or how awful I’ve done in a class there is still that lingering fear  that makes me question whether your current grades in the class are high enough to leave you room if you are not in fact entirely successful. In other words, I have not neglected this blog for no reason at all. In fact everyday it has been in the back of my mind and it has been tricky to prioritize.

I have found that the keys to surviving finals is  to 1) stop studying when you have reached the point where you are no longer studying, but just staring at a page. It’s OK really. I promise.2) Make yourself some coffee, tea, or other beverage of your choice and then 3) turn on your favorite Pandora station and/or 4) watch one, two, or three episodes of Psych. (However many it takes.) Laughter is the best medication. “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down” Mary Poppins rightfully tells us.

Anyhow, stay tuned because “Living>Surviving” will be returning next week on Friday, March 16!  Josh Taylor from Blimey Cow will be sharing with us who inspires him and why he thinks you should choose to live and not just survive!

P.S Please do survive finals. If I can you certainly will!

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