What I Thought I Missed About College While I Was Home for the Summer

What I Thought I Missed About College While I Was Home for the Summer

It's not just my friends, the parties and the freedom, which I guess I didn't really miss that much anyway.
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Being a college student can be quite an experience. Classes aren't the same as high school. Parties aren't the same as high school. Life isn't the same as high school. Whether you're a freshman or a senior, whether you live on campus or if you commute, there are just some things about college that you miss while you're back home for the summer... and some that you don't.


Housing - While I was back home for the summer, I could only think about one thing: moving back into my on campus apartment. Living at home, I was constantly missing my freedom. I was missing having my own place. I was always with my family, doing whatever we always do as a family. At school, I have my own home. I can decorate it however I want. I can invite over whoever I want. I can come home at whatever time I want, with no one to stop me from doing any of it. If I want to fall asleep on the kitchen floor at two o'clock in the afternoon for absolutely no reason at all, I can. If I want to hang an old hubcap up on my wall and call it art, I can. If I want to let the garbage can get so full that it overflows all over the floor, I can. Unfortunately, now that I'm back at school, I'm realizing that on campus housing is one of the things that I definitely did not miss while I was living at home over the summer. I did not miss sleeping in a twin size bed. Those things are uncomfortable even for just me, and they're quite impossible for a sleepover. I did not miss the three foot by three foot shower space with a shower curtain that consistently attaches itself to my vulnerable body mid shower. I did not miss having a refrigerator that leaks all over the place and freezes everything within it. I did not miss the dishwasher that randomly spews soap bubbles out of every possible crevice until they have covered the kitchen floor. I did not miss the unalterable arctic temperatures in the buildings. I did not miss sitting in kitchen chairs that feel as though they could collapse beneath the wait of a nickel at every meal. I did not miss having an oven who's front panel is literally dangling on by a thread. I did not miss having a shelf in my closet that is almost too tall to reach. I did not miss having to sign into the building every night when I return home. Most importantly, I did not miss having to prove to someone, weekly, that I am in fact still maintaining life on my own and that my roommates and I have not yet died or set anything on fire.


Dining - Being home for the summer, my schedule got a little crazy and I often found myself skipping meals or eating super unhealthily. Come midnight (and sometimes even later), the only dining options available, if any, are unappealing fast food places, or whatever junk food one could find in their pantry. All summer, I found myself saying things like "If we were on campus right now, we'd be at Birch," or "If I was back in my apartment, I know I'd have something better to eat." A week and a half into being back on campus, I am starting to realize how much better off I was at home. I still have yet to go grocery shopping and have been mooching off of my roommates for days. I went to the freshman dining hall (not by choice, but because it was the only thing that was open at the time, and found myself eating curly fries and cucumbers at every meal. I am currently awaiting the perfect opportunity to ask my mother to take me grocery shopping so that she can buy me things slightly healthier than the Taco Bell I ordered at 2:15 this morning. As much as I hate to admit it, I regret how often I took advantage of having home cooked meals prepared for me and having common household ingredients replaced without me having to buy them.


Work Load - Over the past few months, I had been working a decent amount. I started my summer working thirty hour work weeks. That slowly increased to thirty-two and thirty-six hour work weeks. It eventually became thirty-eight and forty hour work weeks, and I ended my summer with a fifty hour work week. I would wake up in the morning, get ready for work and arrive by 11:30. I would work until 5:30, return home, get ready to go to the gym, work out for an hour or so, and return home, yet again, to make dinner (or eat the dinner that was already made) and go to bed, only to awake the following morning and repeat it all over again. I often complained about how busy I was and how little free time I had for myself, even though I had weekends off. Now, I am attempting to take six classes and working three jobs, while being an undergraduate teaching assistant and holding an e-board position for an organization that I am involved with.

I realize how easy my summer actually was, and I find myself wishing daily that I could have that schedule back. I want to work one job and relax on the weekends. I want to come home to delicious meals already made for me. I want to wake up in my full size bed to find that my mom has folded my laundry and that my dad has fixed the things that I lead him to believe that I was incapable of doing on my own. Although I am excited to be back at school with my friends, and I am eager to continue to prove myself as an adult in the real world, I do miss being at home.

Cover Image Credit: http://thecampussocialite.com/wp-content/uploads/dorm-decor_.jpg

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It's Hard To Stay Friends With A Kavanaugh-Lover, But It's Possible

Or hater.

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If you don't have your head buried in the sand these days, it's impossible not to realize how viscerally raw most people's political emotions are. And unless you live in a bubble, you likely have friends or family who have very different political beliefs with you. If you want to cut off those relationships, read no further. But if you view your relationships more T. D. Jakes style—"I like to see myself as a bridge builder, that is, me building bridges between people […], between politics, trying to find common ground"—then play on.

Before beginning a conversation with a politically-differing friend, put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself: what aspects of their life might have influenced them in this way? Accept that you just don't know what their experiences have been like. Maybe your gun-supporting friend had her house traumatically burglarized when she was quite young; maybe your friend who believes the government should solve all our problems was only able to get hot lunches at school because of government aid. View it as a thought experiment if you will: imagine a sympathetic reason (rather than a judgment-worthy reason) that your friend has this differing viewpoint.

We have two ears and one mouth. Ask them questions and then genuinely listen. As humans, we often listen to respond, not to understand. Try to understand without demonizing or judging your friend. David Livingstone Smith, author of Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others, said that when we dehumanize or demonize others, it acts as: "a psychological lubricant, dissolving our inhibitions and inflaming our destructive passions. As such, it empowers us to perform acts that would, under other circumstances, be unthinkable." Try to accept that your friend's point of view—no matter how much you disagree with it—is (in their eyes) just as valid as your own. Your goal is to listen first, persuade later, argue rarely (or never).

It's not about you. Your friend's support of Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court means just that: they think he should have been confirmed. Or if they are angry that he got confirmed, it means just that: they think he should have not been confirmed at the time. Use our earlier thought experiment: perhaps the supporter found fault in the accusations against Kavanaugh or genuinely viewed it as a false accusation, and (whether that happened here or not), we can agree a false accusation is concerning. It doesn't necessarily mean that they think the assault he was accused of is okay—perhaps they think any form of sexual assault is utterly appalling and should never be tolerated, but just didn't happen here. Your friend's view is not personal to you, no matter how personal it may feel.

There's a difference between supporting a politician and supporting an action. If your family member voted for Trump, that doesn't mean they support his personal behavior. (If they DO—that's a different story.) It's like watching Lady Bird (great movie) and someone saying that means you think all children should treat their mother like Lady Bird treats hers. The two could be equated but aren't necessarily. Have you ever gone to the theaters and seen a movie that had elements you didn't agree with or like? The same can be said for politics.

If it seems appropriate, when they are done sharing and seem receptive to conversation, share why you may disagree with them. Times to NOT share: if they are angry or closed off. (Observe both their words and their body language. If their voice was raised or their arms are crossed, not the time.) If they just shared something vulnerable with you (eg. they are vehemently pro-choice because they've been assaulted and got an abortion), now is not the time.

Remember, your goal is not to argue, but to listen and then to persuade. If they're not in a place where they can listen to you being persuasive—then let it go and try again some other time.

When you got skin in the game, you stay in the game. However—sometimes you shouldn't always maintain these relationships. Politicians your friends support don't necessarily fully reflect who your friends are, but political views are an aspect of who they are. To use the above analogy: when you see a movie at the theater, you are supporting it. Even if you disagree with it and warn your friends away, you still paid for the ticket.

And sometimes you don't. Understand when you need to disengage. It's okay to have some things you can talk about civilly and rationally and some things that you just can't. If my friend thinks communism is the way to go, for example, I am able to speak respectfully and rationally about it. But if a person tries to support child abuse, I absolutely cannot have a conversation with them where I try to understand where they're coming from and listen to them without telling them how wrong they are. It's okay to have some topics that mean so much to you that you can't engage with all of them or respect every differing point of view.

When you win, be gracious. And lastly, if you supported Kavanaugh, your friends who opposed his quick confirmation are crushed right now. It's okay if you think that's silly or not a big deal. But go back to the first point: put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if some political issue you felt really strongly about was dealt a crushing blow? You'd want the people on the winning side to be gracious, or try to understand, or at least not rub it in. Maybe you didn't like how the situation unfolded, but your guy's in now. Think of the golden rule and be kind to your friends who are struggling with this.

Just remember:

"Be sure when you step—step with care and great tact. And remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft—and never mix up your right foot with your left."
Dr. Seuss.

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