Ode to Irvine

An Ode To Irvine: My First Home

A boring place that has surprisingly captured my heart.

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I grew up in Irvine, California, home to Irvine Spectrum and UC Irvine. It's a super safe area. Our crime rates are so low that sometimes I think the cops here get bored. Actually, I know that the cops here get bored. My city is known for being quaint and quiet, of course they're bored. Honestly, I think most of us in Irvine are bored. There are no bars or super artsy restaurants. There aren't any cool art galleries or huge sports arenas. Although we have a ton of huge businesses in Irvine (fun fact: I was driving around and noticed that Maruchan's Headquarters, the company that makes Cup O'Noodles, is literally five minutes away from my house), even the skyscrapers are just so Irvine. It's bland and cookie cutter and beige. It sucks the soul out of you.

Almost every teenager in Irvine loves to talk crap on Irvine. It's so easy to when you're bored out of your mind with close to nothing to do. Naturally, the easiest thing to blame for the terribleness of Irvine was the mastermind that is Irvine Company. Now, keep in mind, Irvine Company does a lot of right things. They keep our city clean and they've protected a large chunk of land from being developed for wildlife. But, it's just so easy to blame the owners of the city when things aren't going right. Kind of like it's easy to blame your parents when they won't let you do anything fun. I was no exception to this rule. My best friend and I would talk about how happy we would be to finally get the hell out of there and move somewhere that actually had personality. Irvine Company closed down the cult ice cream shop around the corner and god, did we have a field day with that one.

Another thing about Irvine is that Irvine Company always has something bigger and better coming. One of my favorite sayings is that the devil works hard, but Irvine Company works harder. I can't remember the last time that Irvine Spectrum wasn't being developed for something. I think this is Irvine Company's way of a) profiting and b) trying to make Irvine cooler but obviously us Irvine kids aren't that impressed.

And then I moved to San Diego. Anyone in San Diego can tell you that the area around SDSU is actual garbage. To go anywhere cool, you need to drive like twenty minutes. Downtown SD? Twenty minutes away. Mission Beach? Twenty minutes away. La Jolla? You guessed it, twenty minutes! Literally any beach? Twenty minutes away or more. By the time I finished my first month at SDSU, I was really missing Irvine. I swear to god, I suddenly didn't recognize myself in the mirror anymore. Who had I become? High school me was and still is rolling her eyes as we speak.

The truth is is that no matter how much I love to talk crap on Irvine, it's still my home. We have some of the best Asian food around. Convoy Street can't even compete. We're in a prime location, ten minutes from some of the nicest beaches in the country. Nothing in San Diego that I had been to could compare to my Irvine/Orange County favorites. My favorite poke place in Newport Beach can't be beat. My favorite boba place blows any boba place in San Diego out of the park. Boring as it might be, my best friend lives five minutes away when we're both in Irvine. My family is all within driving distance. My dog is in Irvine. My mom's cooking is in Irvine.

I know I have grown because Irvine has become one of my favorite places, simply because it's home. I won't settle down here with my kids or my career. But, having moved away, home has made its way to a different part of my heart. A place where I no longer resent its dullness. It will always be known as my childhood, no matter how boring or bland and it will always be considered my first home even when I have completely left it behind.

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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6 Ways To Save Money As A Broke College Student

Money saving tips so you can afford adult life while also paying for an expensive tuition.

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It is difficult to work, attend college, and make all your payments on rent, tuition, and bills, (not to mention finding a little money to spare on yourself). These are six ways to save that have helped me in this money stressful time and that you should use too in order to reduce the expenses of adulting.

1. Saving money on rent.

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Apartments are cheaper than houses because most include some of the bills in the rent cost. Make sure to check what amenities apartments offer such as free wi-fi, trash removal, or water included. When choosing roommates the more the better for cost. You should get at least one roommate because it is difficult to afford even a studio apartment living on your own. If you want pets you should choose a place that doesn't have pet rent because even if you have a large non-refundable pet fee it is cheaper in the long run then paying twenty a month per animal.

2. Saving money on bills.

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If you choose to live in an apartment complex, having an apartment on a higher floor will make your electric bill cheaper in the winter because heat rises. Even though your electric bill will be higher in the summer you can afford to work more because classes won't be in session. When purchasing light bulbs get ones that are energy efficient and use lights with batteries to help save on the electric bill. Also make sure to turn off all lights when you aren't in the room. You can save water by not running the faucet when you brush your teeth. Anyway you can think to conserve water and energy use that to your advantage.

3. Saving money on food.

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Your best friend is buying in bulk when you go to get groceries. I personally buy ten pound ground beef logs, cut them up, and place them in the freezer to use later. Everything is cheaper when you buy in bulk and you save time grocery shopping. If you don't know how to cook now is the time to learn because frozen and fast food eats up your money. You should also go to your local food bank if you are really struggling because everyone has to eat. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it! Going without food to pay your rent is not something anyone should have to do.

4. Saving money on furniture.

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You should buy used if at all possible when finding furniture for your apartment or house. Living in a college town has its perks because people are constantly moving you can find great deals at garage sales or on craigslist. For instance I got my couch for free, I just had to move it out of a graduating students apartment. You can also check out thrift stores and consignment shops in your town.

5. Saving money on entertainment.

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There are a lot of deals and discounts for college students so take advantage of that for entertainment.. For example movie theaters usually offer a student discount and if you go to a matinee showing, tickets are even cheaper. Find out when your local bar's happy hour is and use it. Also see what meal deals are offered by restaurants around you, such as 3 items for 10 or specials on Thursday nights. You can also use apps to find coupons, my personal favorite being pocket points because it rewards you for studying.

6. Saving money and side hustles.

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Put back money during the summer in order to have a backup fund for when things get crazy busy during the school year. Scope out banks and find out what interests they offer on savings accounts in order to increase the amount of money you have saved over the years. If you need extra money you can get paid for donating plasma and you can sometimes find research studies that will offer participants cash for things as simple as just an opinion. There are also baby sitting and pet sitting apps you can download to get one time gigs if you are low on funds for the month.

These are all great tips that I have been taught or have learned living as a broke college student. It isn't easy living life in the adult world and pursuing a degree at the same time. I hope these tips will help you save money and keep you out of hard times.

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