The 5 Realities of Having a Roommate

Upon your arrival to college, I’m sure you’re extremely nervous and uneasy about the thoughts of having a roommate. This person will share the same room as you, probably some of the same belongings, and eventually they may end up using some of your stuff with or without permission. Living with a roommate isn’t always the easiest of college tasks, but it’s one of the best lessons and experiences I’ve ever had!

Did we just become best friends?

So, here’s a few realities that happen with nearly every roommate you’ll have at some point through your college career:

  1. Your room will often look like a crime scene unless you have established a set day in which you will both organize your things and clean your room.
  2. Whether you know it or not, your roommate will know your entire life – especially if you are close friends.
  3. Your shared space will quickly become disorganized with two people frantically panicking to get up and ready for class in the morning.
  4. They will more-than-likely see you at some of your worst points throughout the year.
  5. And though the last four seem to be breaking points about having a roommate, that same roommate will always be there to comfort you when you need them! I mean, after all, they do live with you.

Having a roommate, in my opinion was one of the best things that had happened upon coming to college. Of course the five things mentioned above are from personal experiences here and each persons experience is different, but my first roommate was my first friend here at UC.

Having someone to talk who is going through the exact same obstacles as you in the beginning is comforting. Your roommate also allows you to find your first friend while you go out and explores the college experience. Your friend group will grow, but your roommate usually will be the one to keep you grounded for a while.

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The Best Way to get BAKED!

When I got home from work today, my roommates and I were talking about how it’s national chocolate cake day. We had been talking about it for nearly 20 minutes when we decided that we really did want to make a chocolate cake, but on the next level. What’s better than simply chocolate cake? Chocolate-covered chocolate cake pops!

Though chocolate cake is great and all, chocolate cake pops are much better. They are like bite- sized pieces of an entire chocolate cake! So, that’s exactly what we decided to make.Untitled

How to make chocolate cake pops:

  1. Beginning with a traditional chocolate cake: We made the cake according to the box and then let it cool for an hour.
  2. We then broke the cake up into a bowl and mixed it with one package of cream cheese. We then rolled this new “dough” into small circles and poked lollipop sticks into them before placing them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for a half hour.
  3. We then melted chocolate to dip the cake pops in.
  4. After dipping the cake pops in chocolate, we placed them back on the cookie sheet and let them cool for about twenty minutes. And then…… VOILA! Chocolate covered, chocolate cake pops!

It’s like chocolate cake, but better on national chocolate cake day! And what makes that even better? My roommates and I made them together and even shared with our friends!

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When All Else Fails… Communicate!

If you’re anything like me, you’ll find that it’s extremely hard to perfect the art of communication. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the correct form of communication that conveys the message you wish someone to receive.

In my experience, I have found that it is extremely hard to communicate in one way that everyone can interpret. So, I hosted an event for my residents on Tuesday that was focused on effective communication that poses a variety of issues that people must overcome. It was called, “Let’s Talk About ___ Baby! An event based on effective communication and the struggles that go along with it.”

When I was thinking of an event that could help my residents with communication skills, the first thing that came to mind was something that I did when I applied to become a Resident Assistant: structure building.

When one thinks of a structure, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Probably a building of some sort. However, communication is a structure that truly underscores the human race. Communication is what makes us, and it’s what could potentially break us. Without effective communication, life would be extremely difficult.

This event asked residents throughout North and South Halls to make groups of three to four people until they were given directions on what to do. I separated small bags; four bags filled with broken spaghetti noodles and four bags filled with mini marshmallows. Each group was given one bag of spaghetti and one bag of marshmallows and asked to build the tallest, self-sustaining structure possible within 8 minutes. However, it comes with a few challenges.

One member of each group was told that they could not use their dominant hand. Their dominant hand had to be placed behind their back at all times, and if it was observed that they used their dominant hand, they were disqualified. Another member of the group was told that they could not speak unless another member of their group had asked them a question. Lastly, another member of each group was told that they could not use their hands at all. Each of these rules posed challenges for the groups and revealed that various forms of communication were necessary to accomplish the common goal of building the structure.

Here’s one of the finished structures:

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There’s always more than just verbal communication. Sometimes it’s true that actions speak louder than words and the nonverbal messages sent through body language and gestures speak more to the audience/group than any verbal communication ever could!

So when all else fails, communicate!

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RA Life as I Know It

I saw some of my best friends become RAs early in my college experience and it was intriguing, to say the least. I mean, who doesn’t want to hold a position in Residence Life?!

Needless to say, I applied and was accepted as an alternate RA and, soon after, was offered a position in the First-Year Village in North Hall. This post describes how my life is now as an RA, including what my job is like, my responsibilities, and my social life. Life as an RA can be extremely demanding, but it can also be extremely rewarding!RA2

As part of my job, I’m expected to spend time throughout my floor and North Hall.

Though I am a fulltime student enrolled in the Health Studies/Physical Therapy program, I am also an RA. I set aside time for homework, meetings for organizations, and still try to maintain my social life. However, everything boils down to being an RA. Sometimes it’s next to impossible to sit in the building as a student rather than an RA. When I walk through campus, I frequently hear “oh, there goes my RA,” and that’s how I am referred to. Not that it’s a bad thing, but being an RA is a label that seems to stick, sometimes more than your own name.

I’m responsible for dealing with issues within the residential community.

When a resident is hurt, needs someone to talk to, or is simply disruptive, I have to address the issue. Sometimes it isn’t always the easiest scenario that I can deal with and that makes my role as an RA that much more rewarding. I am trained to deal with policy violations, roommate conflicts, fights, and plenty of other things that give me the title Resident Assistant.

Training is a lengthy process.

Fall and Spring – two training sessions a year that are hours upon hours long! It’s quite daunting when it crosses my mind; yet, it is necessary and relevant information that makes being an RA much easier.

At times, I’m hated!

Yes, it’s true. As an RA, there are definitely times in which residents throughout campus hate me. I have to be “that guy” at points when policies are broken and the college experience is hindered for the surrounding residents. As an RA, my job is to enforce the residential policy that is upheld by the Office of Residence Life and sometimes that means correcting actions of others that are not necessarily the best possible choice to make. No, I don’t want to rain on everyone’s parade, however, I want everyone to be safe and comfortable while they are within the Residence Halls.

Yes, I get free room and board, but it comes with a price $

Sure, I get free room and board, but it’s more than that. When I made the choice to become an RA, it was a rewarding one. Of course, I get paid and get my room free of charge, but I have to limit my social life and remember the standards that I was asked to uphold upon accepting the position. It isn’t always easy, yet it’s necessary.

I can plan a bunch of fun events for every resident, within a set budget.

Each year, I am given a budget through the Office of Residence Life that accommodates the residents of the building and allows me to host events that are fun and educational. Sometimes it’s impossible to accommodate everyone, but I try to make sure that I gear my events to something that the residents would like to participate in such as:

  • Door decorating contests
  • Fun community building activities
  • Social events
    • Skyzone Indoor Trampoline Park
    • Hoopla Frozen Yogurt
    • Pizza Parties
    • Nacho Bar

RASure, I have to make sacrifices now that I am an RA, but the job is far more rewarding than some of the activities and things I have to pass up. It’s true; There are weekend duty days that make it hard to go home or go away, but being able to be a part of Residence Life at UC makes it completely worth it!

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NEACURH

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the NEACURH conference held at SUNY Geneseo. NEACURH is the North Eastern affiliate of NACURH which stands for the National Association of College and University Residence Halls. It’s basically an organization that is who our own RHA, or residence hall association, reports to.

I was invited to go to the conference because I am a member of Utica College’s RHA. The president, my friend George, and another member, Sara, went as well. Our advisor, Marissa Finch, also accompanied us. (She actually drove…so I guess we accompanied her…)

The conference was themed “Marty and the Chocolate Factory.” (Marty is the name of the NEACURH mascot, which is a moose.) So everywhere you turned there was a candy themed this and that.

I really enjoyed the conference because it was a great opportunity for our RHA to network with other colleges and their own organizations. I actually have so many ideas for potential events and different ways to ensure that a large number of individuals get involved. It was so cool being able to talk to other individuals that have the same goals and the same mindset as myself and my friends!

If you’re interested in a fun time, join RHA! They tons of events planned for the rest of the semester and the upcoming one as well! Meetings are Wednesdays at 2:00pm in Bell Conference Room. Plus, if you join UC’s RHA you’ll have the opportunity to attend a NEACURH event in the future!

 

(George, Sara, and I getting into the NEACURH spirit!)
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Stressed Out? Take a Hike.

We’re so fortunate at Utica College to be not-too far from one of the most beautiful national forest reserves in the entirety of the United States. Literally, head up north for just an hour and you’ll be submersed in mountains and trees and glorious fresh air; it’s something every UC student should experience at least once.

This Sunday one of the RA’s in the First Year Village was holding a floor event where people could sign up to go for a hike. I signed up once I knew there were enough spots left, and convinced a friend to tag along. It was a beautiful day and we were lucky it wasn’t too hot in the sun-it was literally “just right.”

The hike was up Bald Mountain which is just outside of the Old Forge area. It’s a relatively easy hike and barely takes a half hour to submit the top. There isn’t too much fancy-footwork required, but there are a view rock faces you have to scale. My philosophy is, “if that dog can do it, so can I.” The views at the top, however, are beautiful and well worth the climb.

So, if you find yourself stressed and in need of some nature-time: head up to the mountains, gain some perspective, and enjoy the view.

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(The view from the top of Bald Mountain.)
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(Courtney and Gator attempting some relaxing yoga at the summit.)
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(George and I scoping out the view.)
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New Semester Resolutions: How I Did!

In a post at the beginning of the semester, I listed my new semester resolutions. Now that the year is coming to a close, I’d like to return to the list and reflect on what I have accomplished over the last several months:

My New Semester Resolutions/ Senior Year Sentiments:

1. Attend as many of my favorite (and free!) UC events as I can- including UCPB nights, Crystal Ball, and Mooseapalooza!

I definitely accomplished this! Some of my favorite events were the hypnotist during Moose Madness week, the Utica College TEDx talk, the Eh440 concert, Crystal Ball, and the GSA Annual Drag Show!

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The UC Gay-Straight Alliance snaps a picture after the show (above). 3BL at Crystal Ball (below).

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2. Win at Tuesday night trivia! (Hey, 4.0 Laura, I’m going to need your help with this one, lil sis)

While we didn’t win, we did get third place! Mainly because 4.0 Laura had night class and couldn’t be on our team to save us.

3. Do something fun over Spring Break- even if it’s not very far away or tropical!

We went somewhere both far away AND tropical- St. Thomas! It was gorgeous and so much fun!

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3BL in paradise!

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4. Take advantage of the open swim hours at the UC pool to add variety to my workouts.

Mission accomplished! Karita and I love to swim, and Laura and I tried spin classes, zumba, yoga, step, and tabata to switch up our workout routine. Photographic evidence of Karita and I at open swim can be found below.

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5. Take a Saranac Brewery tour, and check out any other local attractions that I have yet to see before I leave Utica.

The brewery tour was great! I went with Rachel, a Burrstone RA, and a few of her residents. I loved learning all about how beer has been made throughout history right here in Utica.

6. Get a good night’s sleep (most nights, at least!) so I am more alert during my 8:30 AM classes!

While I don’t have photographic proof of me sleeping, I can attest to the fact that I made sleep more of a priority, and my grades definitely prove it!

7. Make it a priority to do more volunteer work in the area.

This is one area that I was not able to accomplish nearly as well as I wanted. While I stayed very active on campus and was involved in many orgs that help area charities, I didn’t ever find the time to do my own, separate volunteering in the Utica area. There’s definitely always room for improvement, so I still plan to keep this goal in mind for the future!

8. Take a trip to NYC to see museums and eat tons of new foods!

This is another one I didn’t cross off the list. St. Thomas was a huge trip, which made finding time for NYC difficult. Luckily, I have some time this summer to try to accomplish this goal!

9. Allow myself more down time and fun, rather than over scheduling every moment as usual.

Check! I worked very hard on balancing my life more this semester. I gave myself more down time, had a great time with my friends, and was more spontaneous. This allowed me to enjoy every moment instead of trying to over-plan everything all of the time, as I am often tempted to do.

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Sunny days and good vibes in Utica with Karita (above) and Rochester with Ryan (below).

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10. Graduate summa cum laude and go on to graduate school next fall!

I am very excited to be the Class Marshall for the School of Arts & Sciences at this year’s graduation ceremony. In the fall, I will be beginning at the University at Buffalo in the Social-Personality Psychology PhD program.

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So there you have it! I’d say I did pretty well accomplishing most of the things on my list. It was a lot of fun to both create a senior year bucket list and to work towards checking it off. Though my time at UC is almost finished, this list helped me make some awesome memories in my last months here.

Time passes much faster than you think, so I invite you to ask yourself what you want to do before you graduate, make a senior year bucket list or new semester resolution list of your own, and have exactly the college experience that you imagine for yourself!

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The Weekend of A Thousand Events

The week after Spring Break is expected to be a busy one, as professors and students alike scramble to make progress in their courses as the time until the end of the semester draws closer. However, this weekend was even busier than anticipated, because there were TONS of fun events happening right on campus! Here are just a few of the things I did this weekend:

FRIDAY, 2 PM: OPEN SWIM

Karita and I love to take advantage of open swim at the Clark Athletic Center. It runs 12-3:30 PM on Fridays, so as soon as we are done with our afternoon classes, we like to head over to complete some laps, practice floating, and spend some time in the sauna. It’s a great way to kick off the weekend!

FRIDAY, 5 PM: WOMYN’S RESOURCE CENTER PUB & AWARDS NIGHT

We headed to the Pioneer Pub for the K Della Ferguson Womyn’s Resource Center Pub & Awards Night. The pub was packed with students, faculty, and staff who were celebrating the diverse women on the Utica College campus. I was honored to be a recipient of the Womyn of Substance Award!

FRIDAY, 5:45 PM: ORIENTATION BANQUET

The Orientation Banquet, held in the Library Concourse, was a fun way to reminisce with past orientation mentors. We watched a beautiful slideshow, had dinner, and all of the senior mentors received awards and gifts. I love all of my fellow mentors, and really enjoyed the opportunity to spend time all together as one big (slightly crazy) family again.

SATURDAY, 10 AM: ACCEPTED STUDENTS DAY

Even in chilly temperatures, the campus was bustling with eager students and their families, as well as many student workers who woke up incredibly early on their Saturday to help the day go smoothly. I was a part of a student panel and helped answer questions on the commuter experience at UC as well as life on campus.

SATURDAY, 3 PM: RA EVENT

My friend Rachel, who is a Resident Assistant in Burrstone, took her residents to the FX Matt Saranac Brewery for a tour. I learned a lot about the history of the brewery, the process involved in making their beers and soft drinks, and some interesting facts about Utica, NY, too! At the end of the tour, we all received free samples of Saranac soft drinks. My favorite is the Orange Cream soda!

SATURDAY, 6 PM: WIND ALL GIRLS ROCK! GALA

The Women In a New Direction’s second annual All Girls Rock Gala was held in the Library Concourse and offered a candy bar, a delicious dinner, a very charismatic and inspiring guest speaker, and (of course) plenty of awards. It was great to celebrate many great women on our campus, from faculty to staff to students.

SUNDAY, 11 AM: GAY- STRAIGHT ALLIANCE BRUNCH

The GSA had an informal Sunday brunch which was free to all UC students and included some surprise performers. The brunch was a sneak-peak of our second annual Drag Show, which will be in April. Many students joined the GSA for breakfast and helped paint a canvas for the organization by putting their handprint on it in a variety of bright colors.

WHEW! That was only a few of the events from the weekend! One thing I love about UC is the variety of things that happen right on campus. There are still plenty of fun events ahead before the semester ends, so make sure to check them out!

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Magic Always Comes With A Price (HOMW 3)

Hi everyone!

My highlight for the second week of February is a little delayed, but I am still going to fill you in on a moment I loved!

HIGHLIGHT OF MY WEEK (HOMW) #3: MAGIC ALWAYS COMES WITH A PRICE 

In case you forgot, Utica was hit with some major snow at the beginning of February. So, during those first few weeks, my friends and I spent quite a bit of time in the residence halls instead of hanging out outside or attending events in other buildings.

One weekend, we spent the entire weekend watching a TV series on Netflix. The show, called Once Upon a Time, is all about fairy tale characters living in a modern world. It is totally addicting, and we loved ordering pizza, piling up all of our fuzzy blankets, and binge watching episodes!

My friends and I are extremely involved on campus and usually try to attend every meeting, class, and event possible. But sometimes, that can come with a price: feeling stressed or burnt out at the end of the week. While it rocks to take advantage of all of the fun events on campus, sometimes it is nice to actually stand still. Taking a weekend to relax with friends and watch Netflix allowed me to rest, recharge, and avoid the snow for a little while.

I am so grateful to attend a small school, as it really helped me get to know my peers and make some true friendships.This weekend was exactly what I needed to feel ready to face the busy week ahead. These girls are there for me through it all, and we have weathered the storm together- literally! And that is better than any fairy tale.

 

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Glitter, owls, and more glitter (HOMW 2)

Hi, everyone!

As I mentioned last week, I am making time each week of this semester to reflect and share a moment that was a highlight of that week. In my previous blog post, I told you all about the great time I had at Crystal Ball on Saturday. That was definitely a highlight, but the highlight of my week actually happened prior to Saturday night…

HIGHLIGHT OF MY WEEK (HOMW) #2: GLITTER, OWLS, AND MORE GLITTER

I had an RA Event last Thursday in North Hall. For those of you who may not know, I am a Resident Assistant here at UC, and part of my job includes planning fun events for my residents. Sometimes they are educational events, like when we visited the Clinton Cider Mill and learned how apple cider is made. Other times, they are social events, like last Thursday, which was a make-your-own Valentines event.

This was the flier advertised on the Utica College First Year Village Instagram account. FYI, you can follow the account to be in-the-know about upcoming RA events in North and South Hall! It's named uc_firstyearvillage
This was the flier advertised on the Utica College First Year Village Instagram account. FYI, you can follow the account to be in-the-know about upcoming RA events in North and South Hall! It’s named uc_firstyearvillage

I have had many RA events before, but had never had one that included my love for crafting. However, I talked to some of my residents earlier in the semester and discovered that many of them also loved arts and crafts and liked the idea of having a time we could all decorate Valentines together. I immediately began planning the event and was extremely excited to pick up glitter, construction paper, the CUTEST owl stickers of all time, and all sorts of other art goodies for my residents to use. By Thursday night, many of the students who lived on my floor as well as other floors were looking forward to the event as much as me, and met me downstairs right at 8 pm when it began. The basement lounge was soon filled with students drawing, glueing, and glittering to their hearts’ content.

This is just one of the many groups of students who were making Valentines at the event last week. We put newspaper on the floor to minimize the amount of glitter mess- it's a tricky hazard of crafting!
This is just one of the many groups of students who were making Valentines at the event last week. We put newspaper on the floor to minimize the amount of glitter mess- it’s a tricky hazard of crafting!

Over thirty students attended my event. It was scheduled to only go until 9 pm, but we ended up crafting past 10:30 in the evening! I had a great time watching other students make beautiful cards for their friends and family, and of course I enjoyed making some Valentines myself! I was so happy that the students who attended had as much fun as I did crafting. One of my residents told me it was the best event she had been to yet this year!

Here is a glimpse of the Valentines I crafted!
Here is a glimpse of the Valentines I crafted, featuring the cutest owl sticker of all time.

Sometimes in the business of college life (especially during your first year, which is a huge transitional phase of your life), you can lose sight of special little traditions from your home life. I really missed making Valentines for my friends when I began college, so I was happy that my event allowed students an opportunity to be festive, creative, and do something that may have reminded them of old traditions in their lives.

Events like these remind me of how great it is to go to a school that has such a tight-knit student body. I love celebrating holidays in fun ways with my UC family. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Have a great week!

 

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