An open letter to Ivy Hall and my Ivy League

An open letter to Ivy Hall and my Ivy League


Typically, the college experience is a time of first occurrences. For many, it is the first time they are off on their own, away from their parents. It is a time of maturing, and a time of finding oneself. Most incoming college students don't realize how much their surrounding environments, whether it be a roommate, living arrangement, or friend group; may influence their college experience. Unfortunately, when you think of college, you don't exactly think of luxurious living quarters and extravagant amenities. You do, however, think of cramped dorm rooms, community bathrooms, and poor food options. Though these undesirable aspects are almost inevitable, it does not mean that your entire college experience will be completely unpleasant.

Four semesters, seven roommates and a pseudo roommate into my college career, I was fortunate enough to find the surrounding environment that would get me through one of the most trying years of my education. I was fortunate enough to find my Ivy League. My junior year of college, I moved into a new apartment - Ivy Hall, apartment 5103. It was a relatively nice apartment for a college campus; four individual bedrooms, two bathrooms, a full kitchen with a dishwasher, and a living room equipped with a couch, a coffee table and two armchairs. Sure, it wasn't the five star living I was hoping for, but it was much nicer than the dorms I had lived in previously. This apartment, however, was more than just a place to sleep at night. This apartment quickly became my home, and its residents my family.

My first roommate, Carson, really was something special. You would never guess that he and I had only known each other for a few months when we moved in together; our friendship seemed centuries old. Just months into our friendship, we were going on vacations together and attending each other's family parties. We had that sort of "I'm poor right now, so you buy lunch today" relationship, which was also very "I bought this because it reminded me of you." From the very first day we met, he went above and beyond, doing things for me that my long-time friends didn't even do. Whether it was a quick pick-me-up during a late night study session, or a little drive to get my mind off of things, he was always there to catch me when I was falling. As far as friends go, Carson was my soulmate. He is the definition of a true friend. The list that I could thank him for is endless and I am forever grateful that he walked into my life.

My second roommate, Jess, was the "college mom" that our apartment so desperately needed. She was always there with a helping hand and some motherly advice to get us through whatever was troubling us that day. Throughout our time together, Jess helped me with everything from resumes, to boy problems, to making sure I was eating a healthy meal when my schedule made me forget to do it on my own. In our apartment, the phrase "I'm sorry I'm trash, I'll do it later" was beyond overused, but Jess always made sure it got done. I know I speak for the entire Ivy League when I say that, all of those times that she replaced the paper towels, loaded the dishwasher, or took out the trash did not go unnoticed. Jess truly was the backbone that kept our little family together, and we couldn't have done any of it without her.

My third roommate, Rocio, was the sister that I never wanted, but was so lucky to have found. When we first moved in together, we did not know each other very well, but I was optimistic about the future of our friendship. It wasn't long before we had formed a bond like no other. Rocio had become the person that I knew I could be myself around, and the part of my day that I looked forward to. When I had my life together, she was always ready for a study session. When I was trying to get my life together, she was always ready with a motivational speech (or Netflix, Chipotle and a nap). I could always count on her to walk me to class (usually because we were both running late), grab coffee with me between classes, or stay up with me all night listening to me complain about how I've ruined my own life by partying instead of doing my homework. I'm so thankful to have had her as a roommate, a friend, and a role model.

Now, the semester has come to an end and so has our time living together. They say that, for some, college is a home away from home; I never expected mine to come with a soulmate, a second mother and the sister that I never knew I needed. I can never thank you all enough for being my family and keeping me sane these past few months. Just know that, without you guys, my life is in shambles and I miss the Ivy League more than you could know. Each one of you has impacted my life in a way that I couldn't even begin to explain, so here is my long overdue thank you for literally everything. I love you all and I can't wait to see what the future holds for us.

Sometimes, life sends you blessings in disguise. I've learned that, when this happens, you don't question it- you simply accept that you were lucky enough to have them and do your very best to share the wealth. The Ivy League was my blessing. There's no one else I'd rather have shared cramped dorm rooms, poorly flushing toilets and chip crumb covered carpets with. If you don't have one yet, go out and find yourself your very own Ivy League- you don't know what you're missing.

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13 Things You Learn As A College Girl Rooming With 3 College Guys

"If you would have told me a year ago she would be living with three boys and I would be okay with it i would have said 'No way!' But they're good boys." - My dad Mike

The most amazing and horrible thing about being in college is the prospect of roommates. There will be the nightmares that treat your room like a brothel, blow dry their hair while you're sleeping, or use the entire floor as a dumpster. Then there will be the roommates that teach you things and support you in ways you didn't know you needed.

This past year, I have lived with three boys, Joe, Jamel and Michael. At times it was a struggle, like when it came to who's turn it was to DD or buy toilet paper. Don't even get me started on dishes. Through it all though, I have honestly never been so happy with where I live and who I'm with.

Without further ado, here are 13 things I've learned from living with my three boys.

1. Don't buy paper towels when you can just grab a bunch of extra napkins anytime you get fast food.

It's a waste of money to get Bounty when Wendy's has napkins for free! Just stand in front of your friend while they reach their arm as far into the napkin holders as they can and fill the paper bag. These will serve as your paper towels, tissues, cleaning rags, and, in a bind, your toilet paper. Don't worry about running out because someone is always in the mood for Burger King. This "stocking up" mentality also works for Taco Bell sauces.

2. When you say you're going to do something, they will hold you to it.

If you say you're going to work out every Monday, Wednesday, Friday to lose weight for the summer they will help you, in the most annoying ways possible. They will ask you why you didn't go to the gym if they ever see you home doing nothing. If you have anything in your mug that isn't water, one of them may dump it out while saying "We drink water in this house." When you buy a scale and they lose weight they'll tell you how "it's easy." However, when you do start to lose the weight they will tell you that you look good and to keep up the good work.

3. It's a dumb question if you already know the answer.

If you see someone going downstairs with a full laundry hamper, don't ask if they are about to do laundry. If you see that there is a burger on the stove top, don't ask what they are making. What I thought to be harmless conversation starters made me look dumb for the first couple months in the apartment.

4. Boys will not tell you where they are going, but you better tell them where you're headed.

I was out on a date for the day and near the end of it, Jamel calls. Thinking it's an emergency I apologized and answered. I was then yelled at by all three of them for not saying when I left, where I had gone, and what time I was getting home. When they found out I was with a boy the shouts only got louder. "You could have been killed and we wouldn't have known!" When I got home they were all on the couch with their arms crossed. However, if they are walking out the door and you ask where they're going they will tell you it's none of your business.

5. The stroganoff Hamburger Helper is the best of all the Helpers.

As someone who's not a fan of marinara sauce, it's the perfect quick and easy pasta dish for a busy college student. They will not understand why you lock the door all the time.

6. They will not understand why you always lock the door.

I am a 5'4'' girl who is not as strong as any man that can walk through my door. My instinct when I get home and find myself alone is to lock the door. I also lock the door when everyone is home. This has resulted in my being blamed for our front door being broken. I think that, instead of just slamming against the door, the boys should just always assume it is locked.

7. Everyone needs a good girl's day.

The boys have participated in face masks that cleanse and clear your pores, let me paint their fingernails with nail strengthener while putting color on their toes, and have shared more than enough chips and dip to last a lifetime. Everyone needs a little self-care and relaxation.

8. If someone wrongs you, they will not forget it.

A previous boyfriend that I was having trouble pushing out of my life was deemed to never enter the apartment. Another boy that assaulted me, causing me to cry on the kitchen floor caused Michael to want to look him up and talk to him personally. If you have trouble deciding who you shouldn't keep in your life or what actions are unforgivable, the boys will let you know.

9. It ever hurts to have a plunger in every bathroom.

I don't think this needs to be explained and, honestly, I'd rather not go into detail.

10. Your feelings are not wrong, they are valid.

Michael got the brunt of my boy problems. When he would find me upset I would say that I can't feel this way or that I felt stupid and sad. He would always respond, "That's just how you feel. There's no cant. That's how you feel and that's not wrong or dumb."

11. Everybody should give anime a chance.

The first week of living together Joe and Michael explained Naruto for 2 hours to me. The next day we started watching it. I was surprised how great the plot was a how fast I connected with some of the characters (Gara). Michael even watched a show with me that left us in tears (Angel Beats). I have now found shows that I enjoy, such as Erased and Death Parade. My next adventure is Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood. Also, if you haven't seen Death Parade, do it. It's awesome.

12. They are not afraid to be brutally honest.

I once bought on sale soap that smelled like pomegranates. I didn't even make it a third of the way through the bottle before Jamel and Michael staged an intervention. Apparently, my soap smelled bad. Their only description was bad. I bought new soap two days after that so I wouldn't have to hear them complain anymore.

13. When they pick on you they want the best for you.

The way the boys motivated me is through being annoying. They would give play-by-play commentary on all my choices, make fun of people I starting hanging out with, and made sure I knew when they saw me being lazy. The comments will get under your skin and make you think more often than not about what you are doing. They want to push you to be better. They just push you through pushing your buttons

Now all of the things I've learned might not apply to everyone who lives with a group of boys. Honestly, to live with boys you need some tough skin and it's best if you don't easily bruise. If you meet those qualifications, I do promise that you will have some good memories and find that they are some of the best friends you could ever ask for.

Michael also wanted me to add that a twin size mattress can be used as a weapon. That's a story for another time though.

Cover Image Credit: Courtney Pollock

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An Open Letter To 5 Of The Wonderful Women In My Life

Women are truly amazing... these women prove that.

This month, on March 8th, International Women's Day took place. This day not only makes me so proud to be a woman, but makes me proud to know and be surrounded by such amazing women in my life. This entire month, I have been reflecting on the things the women I know have taught me about being not only amazing women, but being amazing humans. This is an open letter to five beautiful women (amongst multitudes) in my life, thanking them for all they teach and inspire in me.

Dear Mom,

Mom, words can't even describe how thankful I am for you. You and dad are the driving force behind everything in my life. Growing up, I am blessed to say that I was cared for by the most amazing mother: A mom who cut up cheerios for my sister and I when we were babies to make 101% certain we would't choke, a mom who waited outside our preschool classroom because Julie would get sick everyday from the woes of learning the alphabet and colors, a mom who is interested in every aspect of my life and has always made me feel like even my biggest and wildest dreams were in arm's reach, a mom who loves me when I don't have the strength to do it myself. You're a mom who teaches me that being a mother isn't someone's entire being, but just another facet of being a strong woman. From all the successful golf outings to the famous pizza days you planned and organized, you have shown me over and over again how hard work, dedication, passion, and a kind disposition can move mountains. You have not only moved mountains in my life, but have prompted me to start moving my own. I'm proud to call you my mom.

Dear Julie,

Julie (mostly referred to Julie Kinz by myself), you are someone who truly spreads love in this world each day. Your kindness is unlimited and shared with all who you come across. Everyone who knows you will say that you are literally the least problematic person they know! (Although, I must say, you wouldn't be a good reality TV Star. You'd want to simply talk things out on the "Bad Girls Club" and just watch quietly as everyone else flipped dinner tables at Christenings.) You study your butt off in order to one day be a kick-butt nurse, and you still manage to find the time to help me through my constant crises over the tiny-tiniest things. Being a nurse requires someone who is driven to help and show compassion to others no matter what the circumstances are, and if that doesn't describe what type of person you are, I don't know what does. You teach me everyday what the love of God looks like when acting in and through someone's heart. You constantly inspire me to be and do better even with the little things in life. I'm proud to call you my twin.

Dear Grandma,

Gran (almost always referred to as Gran next-door because you live next-door to our house), every time I think of you, a feeling of warmth spreads in my chest. Growing up, you'd come to our door every night to eat dinner with us, and I'd sprint from wherever I was to be engulfed in the huge bear hugs you'd give. You were the first person to hold Julie and me in your arms at the same time. To me, that image is more than just a picture in a frame residing in your living room: It is a symbol of the love you have for the two of us. A love that, like the challenging task of holding two chunky babies in each arm, is strong and assured. A love that makes me feel like no matter what happens in life, I will always have those arms to fall back in. You have given me so many things that I cannot begin to thank you for, but the one thing I am most grateful for is your love of family. Family is your top priority, and so is mine. Thank you for being such a beautiful, kind, warm, and witty person. I hope I become even a fraction of the woman, mother, and grandmother you are. I'm proud to call you my grandma.

Dear Grandma,

Gran, you are one of the strongest people I know. You are someone who embodies a truly determined and confident woman. You know what you want and go for it, an attribute I wish I had more of. You are one of my biggest supporters in everything I do, and you urge me to take the opportunities I come across and run with them. You call me after every one of my articles is published to tell me your positive and supportive review (which might be biased but I'm ok with that). You are someone who would do anything for her family and is a true matriarch, always watching out for and trying to help every child or grandchild that she can. When Grandpa passed, you taught me how to rebuild and start a-new even when this process is scary and foreign. You taught me that the strength within ourselves is the strongest and most important power we can ever channel. I'm proud to call you my grandma.

Dear Joey,

Joey, you are Julie and my best friend. You are someone I can't imagine my life without. Well... actually I can. It'd be full of lonely 2 a.m. Wendy's adventures, it'd be beach days without Linda's uncrustables and our endless photoshoots, it'd contain no memories of all our high school tales and shared stories (even the cringy ones), and it'd be lacking someone who has become a person I consider family in my life. This last year, especially this last month, has been hard for you. Losing a grandparent is a loss that changes lives and affects not only people's minds but their hearts as well. I am so sorry for every unfortunate thing that has happened to you and your family this year, and I wish I could stop the pain that comes from all of the loss and hardship. But these downfalls are a part of life, and although they cannot be stopped, by me or anyone else, they have a way of strengthening those who are able to pick up the pieces and make it through the darkness. Your strength, courage, and poise in these times have truly made me even more proud to call you my friend. I'm sure your grandparents feel the same way.

I'll love you all always and forever,

Vic xoxo

Cover Image Credit: Victoria Gallo

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