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.