Thursday, September 30, 2010

IU vs. Akron

On Saturday September 25th the Indiana Hoosiers football team geared up to take on the Akron Zips. It was the second home football game of the season, and I finally had a free moment to attend. After photographing a Big Brothers Big Sisters tailgate for my internship, I headed into Memorial Stadium, a.k.a. the quarry.

Memorial Stadium

School spirit and excitement wafted through the air as fans began to take their seats with nachos, pizza, hot dogs and sodas. The Marching Hundred took the stage with their usual pre-game performance and the team ran onto the field with cheerleaders as fireworks shook the stadium.

Here Come The Hoosiers

The Hoosiers started the game strong, scoring a breathtaking touchdown within the first three minutes of the game. Hoosier fans whooped and hollered, jingled their keys, shouted out chants with the cheerleaders and cheered on the Hoosiers to victory 35-20.

Hoosier Nation

It was a great game full of fun, excitement and Hoosier pride. If you'd like to watch the Hoosiers in action, you can catch the IU vs. Michigan game on ESPNU at 3:30 p.m. this coming Saturday. Go Hoosiers!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ashley's Room Decorating Tips

So you’ve FINALLY moved into your new dorm room, you’ve put your sheets on your bed and your clothes are put away in the closet. You’re settled in to your new home... your new home with big, blank white walls. While it might not seem like a big deal, decorating your dorm room is one of the major challenges you’ll face when you arrive at college--and it can be more complicated than it seems. I have moved in and out of dorm rooms SEVENTEEN times, so I’ve gotten pretty proficient at decorating. Here are a few tips to make the creative process and the actual chore of decorating easier, and give you a dorm room you can be proud of!

Overall Appearance

1. 3M is your friend. Sticky tack may seem like a better option because it’s cheaper, but it has a tendency to stain the walls and not hold up what it’s intended to hold. If you’re putting up something small like individual photos, that should be fine, but for big posters invest in mounting tape.

2. Be 3-D. A lot of dorm rooms suffer from “flat wall” syndrome. Posters add color, but other objects (including anything from bulletin boards to kites) can add dimension and texture to the room.

Theme Park Theme

3. Get personal. While I have up a lot of purchased posters, my walls are also covered with more personal items. Four-by-six photo prints are a great decorating tool. Because of their size, they’re fun to tile and can fit into any available space, and if you pay attention to sale ads you can get them for as little as 10 cents a picture. I also have a section of my room devoted entirely to theme park maps from my adventures over the summer.

4. Use empty space. Have a free spot at the top of your dresser? Put something meaningful there. Your favorite football, cards from friends and family members or even (as in my case) stuffed animals can add personality to the room.

Fuzzy Friends

5. Keep it cheap. Poster sales at your school or stores in town can be tempting, but the best deals are online. If you become a member of a poster company’s website, you’ll receive incredible coupons and deals. At the beginning of this year, my roommate and I purchased 11 full-size posters for only 50 dollars (I recommend, but each person has their own preference).

6. Utilize the ceiling. Remember when I mentioned 3M? They also sell hooks that can be attached to the walls and not leave a mark when it needs to be removed. This can allow you to get as creative as you’d like to be! At the moment I have kites and a Japanese parasol hung on my ceiling but in the past I’ve hung up flags, shawls, and nets. You can also put posters and photos on the ceiling. Don’t be afraid to use ALL of your space, just be careful when trying to put decorations up there.

Sleepy Space

7. Be aware of color. Be sure to think before you hang up a clump of big posters or other objects. Last year, I spent three hours decorating my room before realizing that I had put all of my dark posters in one corner, creating a black hole effect. The rest of my room was bright and colorful, but the cluster of darkness never failed to draw my eye upon first entering the room. Have a plan before you start throwing things up on the walls, and you’ll love the results!

8. Make it cozy! Surround yourself (and your workspace) with things that will make you feel good but won't distract you. I display buttons I got during my adventures in Disney World over the summer, a photo of my boyfriend and myself and a few trinkets I've collected over the years on my desk. Whenever I'm stressed I can simply look up and see any number of things that will make me smile.

Cozy Workspace

9. Don’t take it too seriously. When decorating, just have fun! Remember that your room has to please YOU and no one else. Don’t stress out or be a perfectionist. If you mess up, you can always start again or just start anew the next year.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dinner Party Days

Since moving into the Union Street Center apartments with my best friend Sarah, I have found myself INCREDIBLY spoiled. While I am happy to keep dirty clothes off of the floor and chew on cardboard flavored microwaveable meals, she is determined to keep the apartment sparkling clean and just happens to have a passion for cooking. School has only been in session for three weeks and I have already lost track of the number of times when I walk through our door after a long day of classes and she says "Dinner will be ready in an hour!"

The Secret's in the Sauce

I'm not discussing ramen, here. When Sarah says dinner, she means DINNER. Some of our memorable meals have included barbecue sauce-smothered chicken legs, stuffed pasta with a delectable cream and shrimp sauce and stuffed burgers. The woman is a domestic goddess. So, when she told me off-hand that she had invited some friends over for dinner, I wasn't too surprised.

Cabbage in the Crockpot

I hadn't been expecting a big affair for Sunday dinner, but even I got into the spirit of things. After our friends Will and Chandler accepted Sarah's generous invitation, we straightened out the apartment and Sarah got to cooking. The menu? Corned beef and cabbage with potatoes and other vegetables, served with a specialty mustard sauce (and a side of vegetarian pasta for Will).

Family Dinner

By now, Sarah's dedication to the meal made me feel as though I had not contributed enough towards the event, so I decided to try and make a cake with a recipe I had found online. I took a box of Funfetti cake mix and combined it with a pint of vanilla ice cream, three eggs and a cup of water. Five minutes later the cake was in the oven, and an hour later our apartment smelled like vanilla heaven. Will and Chandler arrived for dinner and fun was had by all, until I tried to prepare the cake to be served. It turns out it was a liiiittle moister than I had been expecting, and as I attempted to remove it from the bundt pan the whole thing fell to pieces! Fail cake!

Funfetti Fail

Despite my horrendous failure, we had a fabulous dinner party! Everything was delicious and somehow the Funfetti pile seemed all the more delicious when eaten with out hands. Here's to hoping that we've begun a wonderful new USC apartment tradition: Sunday night "family" dinners!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Welcome Week 2010 - Midnight Madness

During your first week on campus, life can get a little crazy. Moving into the residence halls, getting to know people on your floor, trying to navigate safely through the maze of shelves at the IU Bookstore... who has time to go shopping? Sure, you may not have any soap or a toothbrush, but there's so much going on and you can't miss ANYTHING!

Corn Hole Champ

Luckily for all of us, the Office of First Year Experience Programs teamed up with the local Wal-Mart during Welcome Week 2010 to throw a party (and give students the chance to do a little bit of shopping).

Rock Band Trio

From 10 p.m. until 2 a.m., IU students were running around buying deodorant, playing Rock Band, waiting in line to stand in a money machine and playing carnival-style games that included everything from corn hole to Twister.

Ultimate Prizes
For every game they played and won, students were given a red raffle ticket that could be exchanged for a number of prizes that included food, trinkets and gift cards. There were even a select number of ultimate prizes that a lucky few would take home at the end of the night that included a television and a laptop computer.

TWINKIE NOMOther vendors were present giving out free food samples, coupons and small prizes. I had three Jimmy Johns sandwiches for a midnight snack, and my freshman friend Levi chomped on a Twinkie... hey, wait a second...

Midnight was certainly mad at Wal-Mart during Welcome Week, and it was a ton of fun! Hopefully now everyone has everything they need to start the school year right. Including shampoo.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Nice to Meet You!

Hello, and welcome to my blog! After this entry, my posts will be about life in the Union Street Center, but first I want to introduce myself. My name is Ashley Nichols and I am from a small town called Russellville, Ind. I’m an Indiana University senior studying Journalism and Public Relations. I’ve been quite the busy bee since I came to IU in 2007. I have worked as an Orientation Leader, a teaching assistant and an office assistant at the Disability Services for Students Office. In my (limited) spare time, I have been a member of everything from the IU Marching Hundred and the Big Red Basketball Band to the Auditorium Usher Corps to the Swing Dance Club (just to name a few). While at IU, I have also had a number of incredible experiences that included traveling to Japan during my 2010 Spring Break and learning to scuba dive.

Being an IU student also helped me discover another wonderful opportunity. I spent this past summer living in Orlando, Fla. working as an intern for SeaWorld. I lived and worked with other college students my own age and spent my summer working in the photography department. I started out as a sales clerk, but by the end of the summer I had become a photographer who took photos of the SeaWorld shows for guests and publications. When I wasn’t busy working, I took a number of behind-the-scenes tours and leadership classes that were offered exclusively to interns. Working as a SeaWorld employee was one of the best employment experiences that I have ever had, and not just because of the work experience!

As a seasonal employee, I was not offered any health benefits or things of the sort. I was, however, offered something FAR more valuable to a young lady my age: free theme park tickets.

I took day trips to visit Shamu at SeaWorld, went to Aquatica (a water park) during my lazy Sundays, swam with the sting rays at Discovery Cove, rode the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster at Universal Studios in the morning before my night shifts and went on evening dates to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. My friend Brian and I also spent a good portion of our paychecks on Disney World tickets. We managed to make our way through all of the parks, and even managed to get to three parks in only eight hours. Talk about a summer of adventure!

I've only been back in Indiana for two weeks and I admit that readjusting to college life has been a little difficult. I did, after all, just return from a three month vacation. Nonetheless, I am glad to be back and Bloomington and getting ready to begin my senior year here at school. The experience has been a promising one so far: being reunited with friends and family and moving into the Union Street Center have all made returning to the Midwest a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of Orlando life. I miss SeaWorld and Florida dearly, but it's time to get back to business!