Wednesday, April 27, 2011

So Long, Farewell!

It is the end of the semester and therefore this will be my last RPS blog entry. I've had a fun writing about my life here at Indiana University and I hope that everyone out there has enjoyed reading it.

As for me, I am on to other things! I will be graduating on May 7th. Later in May I will be moving to Orlando, Florida to participate in an internship at SeaWorld Orlando. Then, in August, I will be moving to Nashville Tennessee to study at Vanderbilt University to get my M.Ed in Higher Education Administration.

I know there is a lot of life ahead of me, but it is still sad to see these good times at IU come to a close. I know that I will miss the campus and the faculty, but I will miss my amazing friends the most.

Bye IU. <3

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How to Survive Little 5

As everyone on campus knows, the Little 500 is a bike race that annually takes place in the end of April. It is a large, end-of-the-year event that echoes across campus for a full week. Though the bike race takes place on Saturday, the partying for the event begins the Friday of the prior week. Some people enjoy the week of partying, others find it irritating. I won't say which side I take, but will instead provide tips to survive the week whether you choose to party or do your own thing.

For Those Who Party
1. Be Safe: One of the most unfortunate parts of Little 5 is the lack of concern for one's health and welfare. If you want to party, that's fine, but do so safely. Have a designated driver, stay with friends who will watch your back and keep you from going home with a stranger, and know your own drinking limits.

2. Go to Class: Another of the ills of Little 5 is that many students tend to skip class. According to a poll at, 26% of respondents said that they would not be attending any classes, and 32% stated that they would only attend a few classes. This, of course, irks professors, and they tend to take measures to punish students who do not attend. Giving out extra credit, giving an easy pop quiz, and showing students the answers to upcoming final questions are a few of the methods I have seen professors take.

3. Go to Class Sober: Some people think it's funny to attend class drunk. It's not. If you want to drink vodka out of a water bottle, do it outside of the classroom please.

For Those Who Do Not Party
1. Have fun!: You may not be interested in recreational drinking, but that does not mean that you cannot have any fun during Little 5 week. Get together with a group of friends and do something fun! Attend an on-campus festival like Collins Fest or Huge Fest, play some sports in the sunshine at Woodlawn Field or go get ice cream at the Chocolate Moose. Relax and ENJOY yourself a little bit. It's springtime, time to celebrate!

2. Be Safe: People do stupid things when they've been drinking and are more inclined to do things they would not do while sober. I'm not saying you're going to be attacked by a drunken mob, but you should still be aware of your surroundings. Also be careful when crossing streets, and try not to walk alone late at night.

3. Be Understanding: Partying may not be your favorite way of cutting loose, but for many college students (and maybe some of your friends) it is. While it can be frustrating to hear people screaming at 3 a.m. or watch someone stumble down the street at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday, do not be frustrated by the situation. Take the week to focus on yourself and things that you like to do, do not waste your time being irritated about situations you cannot change.

Friday, April 1, 2011

How to Stay Informed in the College "News Bubble"

During my freshman year at IU, I became so wrapped in all of the new things surrounding me that I found myself drifting about in what I called that "news bubble." I could not tell you about one piece of news from the 2007-2008 school year. As the years have progressed I have found following the news to be more enjoyable and convenient, and I eventually broke out of that bubble. Of course, college students are always skilled at wasting time on the computer, so I put together a compilation of my favorite online news resources that you can use to keep up with what has been going on in the world!

1. The Indiana Daily Student
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I love the IDS online site because I can keep up on local Bloomington and IU news even if I forget to grab a copy of the free newspaper. The page also has links to the Weekend, Inside Magazine and Arbutus (all IU student publications).

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A good source for a quick review of U.S. and international news. A great resource for someone who only has the time to skim the headlines!

3. The Huffington Post
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This is just MY personal favorite, but online blogs and news outlets are a fantastic source of information. If you have a specific interest, look for a blog that discusses your interests and check it regularly! It is a great way to find unconventional news.

4. Al Jazeera
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As a journalism major, I hear a lot of complaints that even major news outlets like CNN or NBC report stories with a strong U.S. bias behind them. If you want to get international news WITHOUT the "U.S. tie-in," Al Jazeera is a fantastic resource.

5. Twitter
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Social media is a surprisingly easy way to keep up with news worldwide. Simply create a Twitter account and follow a few news outlets. Then, when you log in, you will get constant news updates about top headlines! I suggest Bloomberg and Reuters to get you started.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

How to Beat Post Spring Break Blues

Spring Break is past, but I'm still stuck on it! I had such an amazing trip visiting Orlando, FL, and I want to be back in the Sunshine State. Unfortunately, I'm back at IU attending classes, completing assignments and going to work. Getting back to reality is tough, and sometimes getting back into a routine is even tougher. I've come up with a few quick and handy tips to make you feel less vacation-home sick.

Take Some Time for Y-O-U
The weeks after Spring Break can be busy or hectic, and it is easy to get caught up in the shuffle. If you throw yourself into activities, work or homework, you might look up and realize that summer time has arrived and you haven't spent much time enjoying the last half of your spring semester. So, even though there is a lot of work to be done, be efficient about it and make time in your schedule for YOU. Don't forget to hang out with friends, go out to dinner or even curl up for a movie in your favorite pajamas. I have spent the last couple of days hanging out with my roommate Sarah, because with graduation looming I only have a few more weeks to spend with her. Don't burn yourself out! Taking time for number one will also help you to ease back into your normal schedule without feeling too forlorn about the delight of spring break days gone past.

Smell the Springtime
If your Spring Break is anything like mine, then you will find yourself shocked when you return to school to find that the town has torn away the bitter shackles of winter and stepped into spring. When I left Florida I was in 75 degree temperatures, and when I arrived in Bloomington I was in 77 degree temperatures. After months of holing up indoors, be sure to get outside and get some fresh air! Take that reading assignment outdoors, or plug in your computer into one of the outside plugs on the IMU's outdoor patio. Soak in the sunshine and leave those winter layers in the closet! The warmer weather will make you feel as though you are on a staycation, and will remind you why you loved campus so much... prior to the winter months.

Break Into New Habits
Coming back from a break is great, because it gives you the opportunity to recreate your routine. Do you normally get a $4 coffee in the afternoon at Starbucks? Pick up something cooler (like a cranberry or orange juice) from an RPS Dining location and savor it while sitting in the spring sunshine! Want to exercise more? A walk or jog outside will invigorate you. Want to put more effort into your studies? Set aside some daylight hours and start having group study sessions in Dunn Meadow or the nearest patch of grass!

While the end of Spring Break can seem depressing, don't forget that you only have a few more weeks to enjoy campus before summer arrives. Get your studying done, but remember to socialize, relax and enjoy the spring weather!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spring Break Travel Tips

Spring Break is swiftly approaching and students are already starting to leave Bloomington to escape to tropical paradises or to get some TLC at home. Luckily for me, my family has a lot of experience with booking travel, so I have managed to put together an awesome Spring Break trip for a fairly low price! I've decided to share these wonderful tips with you so that you'll have more cash to spend on souvenirs.

1. Book Early, Book Early, Book Early!
This is the #1 rule of travel! Start thinking about where you want to go for Spring Break around Thanksgiving. You will likely be unable to purchase plane tickets so early, but start giving the thought some serious consideration. Talk to friends and family, make a plan. That way, when January rolls around, you will have both the money AND the knowledge to book your flight and hotel to wherever you would like to go!

2. Fly Southwest
I have done a lot of flying in the past year, mostly thanks to the fact that I am dating someone who lives 700 miles away. Many students flock south for Spring Break, and if you are heading in that direction I HIGHLY encourage flying Southwest. Their no-nonsense policies (that include Bags Fly Free and No Change Fees) make flying a breeze, and the best thing about flying SW is the complete lack of hierarchy and prioritization of passengers. When I flew Delta, I was always in the last group to board because they called five different passenger classifications (including their Platinum, Gold and Silver SkyMiles members, then First class, etc.) before even getting to the Zones, of which there were four. It was a miserable experience and I always left feeling like I was nothing more than a little lining for the airline's pockets. When I fly Southwest, I NEVER feel less important than the next passenger, and they board according to check-in time. The best part? There are no assigned seats: seating is open, and is on a first-come first-serve basis.

3. Know the Roaming Gnome
Through the years I have used different websites to book flights and hotel rooms, mostly for the convenience of it. However, this Spring Break I discovered an incredible secret: Travelocity's "Top Secret Hotels." Travelocity keeps a list of hotels (ranked by stars and price) available in major destinations that go unnamed until the room is booked for the night. This is because the rates are so low, the hotels cannot be identified in order to maintain their regular rates. To a college student, what could be more fun?! Booking through Travelocity's Top Secret Hotels feels as though you are a spy on a secret mission who will only receive the coordinates of your next assignment when you confirm your purchase. I wound up getting a $300/night room for only $60! I was absolutely delighted and ecstatic. ALL around wonderful reviews for Top Secret Hotels! Give it a try, I do not think you will be disappointed.

4. Invest in AAA
For a low fee, you can become a AAA member and then reap the nearly constant benefits of having a membership card. In the past year alone, I would argue that AAA saved me $200 in discounts at amusement parks, restaurants and hotels. As a member, you will also have access to travel packages designed specifically for AAA. There are other perks as well: you can download an app that will point out all of the locations you can receive discounts in your area, and request trip information from your local branch. This can definitely come in handy for Spring Break, especially if you are traveling to an unknown area!

Enjoy Spring Break, and above all be smart. Be sure to be safe and have lots of fun!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fun with Animals

Coming to college can be so difficult for those of us who leave pets behind at home. For people like me who have grown up with animals in their home, life in the residence halls definitely feels as though something is missing. Unfortunately, fish are the only types of pets that are permitted when living on campus.


After three years of feeling that something was missing in my life, I finally decided to do something about it. Since January I have been volunteering at the City of Bloomington Animal Shelter photographing the animals.


While they have multiple positions available for volunteers, every volunteer starts out as a dog walker or cat volunteer. Dog walkers take dogs out of their kennels and play with them, and cat volunteers work in the mornings pampering the cats and cleaning the cat colonies.


I HIGHLY encourage you to volunteer at the City of Bloomington Animal Shelter if you are worried you'll be missing your furry friends. I know it made all the difference for me!

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

An Evening at the Auditorium

One of my favorite places on campus is and always has been the IU Auditorium. Imposing both inside and out, you can't help but to feel like royalty when you step onto its marbled floors or rest into one of its red cushion chairs. Everything about the place seems to scream luxury and grandeur, and that's just the building.


Last night I went to see the hit Broadway musical, Spring Awakening. I had heard of it in passing and thought it might be decent, so I spent the $20 for a balcony seat. Yes, for IU students it is outrageously cheap to go and see shows at the auditorium! Over the years I've seen a number of musicals and performances including Avenue Q and Beauty and the Beast! This coming Friday, I even have a front row seat to Kodo, a performance of Japanese drums. I'm so excited!


In any case, the Auditorium was PACKED. People were everywhere purchasing merchandise, talking to friends, buying last minute tickets and getting excited for the show. A few people were even attending the show for free, courtesy of Residential Programs and Services. For nearly every show, the office holds a contest for residence hall residents where the winners receive free tickets.


Although it was strange to be seeing the musical by myself, I still felt right at home. The show was not quite what I expected, but it was riveting and the musical performances were spectacular! I highly recommend it for audiences 18 and older.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

IU By Nightfall

Because I recently realized that I've been stingy with photographs lately, this is a photo post! All of these photos were taken this past week after sunset on the Indiana Bloomington campus. I love campus at night, especially when the weather is cooperating!






Thursday, February 10, 2011

Top Five Reasons I'll Miss RPS

This past week I went on a college visit at Vanderbilt University in Nashville to attend a "visitation weekend" for graduate school. To be honest, I absolutely loved it. The campus was beautiful, I loved the city and all of the people I spoke to made me feel very excited about my Master's program. There is, however, one very tiny drawback that's making me nervous.

They do not offer housing for graduate students.

For many people, this would not even be seen as a drawback. A lot of students choose to move off campus after their freshman year, so this is no surprise. However, for me, this is nerve-wracking! Here are a couple of reasons why I will miss RPS (and why I've been lucky to live here).

1. Furniture
Move in day is hectic enough without worrying about moving in a bed, dresser, desk or bookshelf. For the past four years, RPS has provided me with all of the furniture I need for work and comfort (including couches and lamps in my new apartment). For a student like me who has plans to work overseas in the coming years, this has been a wonderful solution: I did not need to spend money on furniture then have to worry about selling or storing it when I was away. Unfortunately, Nashville does not seem to offer many "furnished" apartment opportunities. I'm going to miss my RPS couch, dining table and bed when I'm using a futon for all my furniture needs come next year.

2. Maintenance
There was this wonderful episode at the beginning of the semester when, while cleaning my fishbowl, I dropped six big marble glass beads into the garbage disposal. When Sarah asked me what had possessed me to take out the drainer, I could only reply that "I didn't want to get it dirty." Needless to say, our sink was out of commission, if only because we did not want to accidentally flip on the garbage disposal and witness the catastrophic event that would be sure to follow. I called down to the Center Desk and let them know, and the next morning my sink had been fixed by a maintenance worker while I slept in. No charge, no fee from a landlord, nothing. RPS provided the repair quickly and without hassle, and THAT is something I'm going to miss when dealing with a landlord in the future.

3. Payment
RPS takes all of the trauma out of paying for housing accommodations: they simply charge the cost to your Bursar bill in two installments (one for fall, one for spring). This system eliminates the need for students to pay rent on a monthly basis, and while that might not seem like it's a big plus, it is. I cannot count the number of times a classmate or friend has had to cut a group meeting short because they had to go back to their apartment and make sure that they turned in a check before the office closed at 5 p.m.

4. Convenience
I have grown accustomed to being able to walk to all of my classes and only take a bus when I'm feeling especially lazy. Unfortunately, any apartment within a mile of the Vanderbilt campus comes with the hefty price of over $1000 a month for a studio, and I would likely have to pay utilities on top of that. So, my options are to either go for broke and continue spoiling myself or live five miles away and learn to drive in city traffic. I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do yet, but I know that no matter where I live it won't be quite as close or convenient as my current apartment.

5. Fun
One of my favorite things about residence hall life is the social aspect. There are always free events and programs going on for residence hall, er, residents. At Union Street there was a Super Bowl Party this past Sunday, and the weekend before Spring Break there is going to be a video game war (which promises to be a day full of excitement and poor health choices). There are some apartment complexes off-campus that have social events, but for the most part people keep to themselves.

In summary, I know that I have to grow up at some point, but RPS has definitely been a helpful transition from living with my parents to living in the real world. Before moving off campus, think twice about all of the extra hassles that come along with it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bloomington Dining Guide

This week, Brian came back to Bloomington to visit me again. This time, we only had a few days and I wanted to show him the best that B-Town had to offer including food! I sat down a week beforehand to try and decide which restaurants were a good representation of the town as a whole, and in the end we wound up having a delicious few days! Here is a list of the restaurants we went to, what we had, and why we loved it!

Casa Brava
My favorite Mexican restaurant in Bloomington (or anywhere!), Casa Brava offers a large menu selection and a friendly and fun atmosphere. I've been going to this restaurant for years, and I have never had a dish I didn't like! The wait staff is very friendly, and often the food is out onto the table within 10 minutes! This visit, I had a beef quesadilla and Brian had a shrimp and rice dish, both of which were delicious! This restaurant is a MUST for people who want great food, fast.


Ami Japanese Restaurant
After Indiana was hit with a very ferocious ice storm, Brian and I decided to walk to Mother Bear's Pizza to get some dinner. Unfortunately, we walked a half hour on the ice to find that it was closed! On the bright side, Ami Japanese Restaurant was open, so we decided to try some Japanese cuisine. I have to confess, I have had a lot of Japanese food and Ami stands up to the challenge. Everything we had, from sushi to miso soup to udon to teriyaki was fantastic. I highly, highly recommend a stop to Ami next time you want something delicious!

Mother Bear's Pizza
This delicious pizza restaurant has always been a favorite of mine, and for a good reason. Voted "Best Pizza in Bloomington" since 2005, it is the best type of "pie" that I have ever had! My favorite order is sausage and mushroom pizza, but I've been told that their vegetarian pizza is delicious. Not only that, but the restaurant atmosphere is wonderful! It's warm, homey and very relaxed. I highly recommend it!


Home Sweet Home
It's great to go out to eat, but sometimes the best food is the kind you make at home with friends! Brian and I spent an hour at home making heart-shaped pancakes, and we had a fantastic time spending time together!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Get Kinected

As I was sitting about, pondering what I should write about in my blog this week, my darling roommate walked into the apartment with a new XBox Kinect. Let's just say that this made the decision an easy one! After my recent post about New Years Resolution, I had been thinking about fun ways to start being more active. Luckily for me, Sarah's new toy made that all too easy!


Unlike days of the past, when playing video games meant sinking deeper and deeper into a human-shaped hole on the couch, getting into the game is now a physical activity. Unlike other movement based game consoles that require a controller, the Kinect uses your body's movements for game play. This innovation has led to fun (and exhausting) games including Dance Central, Zumba, Kinect Sports and even various "personal fitness" games.

You're probably wondering what this might have to do with living in the residence halls. This is, surprisingly, an easy answer! While I know not everyone is into video games, playing the Kinect made me realize just how much of a routine college students fall into. We go to class, we work out, we go to meetings, and then we go home and stare at our computer screens for hours. Even when I'm hanging out with my friends in the residence halls, I find that we often just put on a movie and play on our computers. Over the last few weeks, I've come to feel dissatisfied with this system of same old same old, and it made me start to think about new ways to have fun with friends, even when the chilly weather keeps you indoors!


Break Out the Board Games
If you're hanging out on a Sunday evening with nothing to do, break out a board game! Monopoly can be a bit slow, but some quick moving games can be a riot. Telephone pictionary (which can be played without a physical game!) and Catchphrase are two of my absolute favorites.


Ask A Couple Questions
With a quick internet search or for a few dollars at your local bookstore, you can find a list (or book) of funny questions to get conversations rolling.


Make A Feast
Maybe not a feast, but try making food with friends! The residence halls have kitchens that you can use to cook, and while it's impractical to try and make meals on a daily basis, they're great to use every now and then. One Christmas I made twelve batches of Christmas cookies to give to friends and family! If you get together with your friends, you can make a dessert or even a full meal to share.


These are only a few ideas of how to break the bad college student habit of sinking into the couch, but I am sure that you can come up with some of your own! Get creative, do something everyone will enjoy and put the computer away!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Year's Resolutions with RPS

It's a new year, and with it comes the gaggle of New Year's Resolutions. "I want to get out more," "I want to lose weight," and "I want to get in shape" are the ones I most commonly hear. Luckily, Residential Programs and Services can help!

"I want to get out more!"
Good for you! College won't be any fun if you sit in your dorm room all day. Luckily, there are a lot of programs offered through RPS in your residence hall on a weekly basis. I've gone to formal dances, root beer keg parties, movie screenings, ceramics painting workshops... the list goes on and on. When you move into your residence hall, you'll be bombarded with opportunities to socialize, so take advantage of them!

"I want to lose weight."
This one can be a toughie... I know from experience. The dining halls claim to have healthy options, but you can only eat salad bar and sandwiches so many times and if you're not careful you'll wind up eating poorly simply out of a desire to try something else! Luckily, if you plan well, you can have flexible dining options! The best tool to use when deciding what to eat is the NetNutrition system RPS offers to students. It helps you track the calories in the food you eat on campus. You can find it here!

"I want to get in shape."
This one is a personal favorite for me. There are two gyms on campus, the HPER and the SRSC, where students can go to work out or to take exercise classes. However, it can sometimes be difficult to get there when it's cold outside or when you're in a rush. Luckily, RPS offers fitness rooms and equipment in a few of the residence halls on campus. These are a great resource to use for a quick workout in between classes or before bed!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Playing the Textbook Game

Hello again! It's a new year and a new semester here at IU in Bloomington, and as usual everyone has been busy busy busy! As usual, people are rushing around trying to find their classes, reorganizing their schedules and (much to their dismay) buying textbooks.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear before I begin this blog post: buying textbooks will very likely be one of the most painful experiences of your college career. When I came to college, I was convinced that the complaints I had heard were overblown and that there was no way textbooks could be as expensive as I had heard. When I got to the checkout counter at a local bookstore and shelled out $490 for my first semester's books I discovered that I WAS WRONG. I'm writing this blog post because I don't want you to make the same mistakes I did! Over time I learned the tricks of the textbook game, and I'm going to share them here with you to save you some time, money and heartache.

My textbooks this semester!

Very quickly, I want to give a brief overview of the two bookstores in Bloomington in case you ever decide you would like to purchase your books in person. The first is the IU Bookstore, located in the Indiana Memorial Union. I've been told that purchasing your books there is beneficial to the university, but I also have found that they tend to be a little more expensive than the other option in town.

T.I.S. is located on 3rd Street and can be reached by IU bus. In comparison to the IU Bookstore it is cheaper, more relaxed and I find that their organizational system for finding books is far better. They also offer a fantastic rewards program.

When I arrived for my first semester at IU, I had heard from a few sources that I could save money buying my textbooks online. Nonetheless, I was afraid that the books I needed wouldn't arrive in time for my first day of class or that I would make a purchase online that I would later regret (ex. a book in poor condition). Up until the second semester of my junior year I purchased my books at T.I.S., convinced that the extra money I was paying was worth the peace of mind. Once again, I was wrong! Since switching to online textbook buying/renting I have saved HUNDREDS of dollars, have yet to receive a torn up book and have never received a book late in the mail.

Textbook package from Chegg

Just a side note here for incoming students. If you don't have a textbook for the first day of class, don't worry! Some students don't even purchase their books until after they've seen the syllabus to ensure that they'll actually use them. I don't recommend that practice, but if you've ordered your books and they haven't arrived in time for your first class, don't panic! Your professor will not be upset. In fact, I don't think I've ever had a class where we used the book on the first day.

When I finally got tired of spending hundreds of dollars on textbooks and not being able to sell them back because new editions had been released, I decided to give online textbook shopping a try. A friend of mine had used Chegg, an online rental service, and swore by it. I decided to check it out and found that I could rent a book for the fraction of the price of purchasing it at the bookstore. You would simply rent the book online and send it back at the end of the semester. Even better, the return shipping was free! I have used Chegg EVER SINCE for nearly all of my textbook needs! When you get ready to purchase your textbooks, be sure to look into the resource. It's a great way to save money, and they even plant a tree for every book you purchase.

Chegg's Website

Now, there are rare occasions when I do not use Chegg for a certain book. A lot of professors will assign what I refer to as "regular books" for required reading. These are books you could likely find in a Barnes and Noble, and usually run for around $20. Normally, you can rent a used copy of this type of book for the same cost of purchasing a new copy. In this case, I always go to to see what kind of deals I can dig up. I can normally purchase a $25 book for only $3-5, and I once found a $50 book for $5! Website

Don't be afraid to buy OR rent your books online! It is MUCH CHEAPER than buying them in person, and by using reputable companies like Chegg you can ensure that you'll have a positive experience.