Annie Loves College! // Lessons from First Semester

The title says it all, my friends.  I’m one semester into my college education and could not love it more.  (I mean, if my professors stopped assigning homework that would be great, but other than that I’m doing swell!)  I love my roommate, I love my major, I love my classes, I love my school.  All is well on this side of the computer.

To commemorate my fruitful first semester, I’ve compiled a list of things I wish I’d known coming into college.  From the advice everyone seems to give to the stuff I had no idea I’d experience, here are my tips for your first semester.

1. Communicate with your roommate.  Sharing a living space can be difficult at first, especially if you’re like me and haven’t shared a room since you were eight.  To alleviate any tension and prevent any tension from forming, be honest with your roommate from the very beginning.  If you like the blinds open, tell them.  If you are comfortable sharing food, make that known.  It may seem awkward at first, but setting boundaries and establishing guidelines will prevent conflict and make both of your lives easier.

2. You can be confident and nervous at the same time.  There’s this strange dichotomy saying that you’re either a nervous wreck or completely confident on move-in day, and that’s not true.  Your first semester will be a roller coaster of emotion and, surprise surprise, that’s how it’s supposed to be.  There will be good days and bad days, but how you handle the bad days is really what counts.

3. It’s okay to say “no.”  If your friends want to go out on a Thursday and you’re slammed with homework, you have the right to stay in.  In college, you and your wellbeing are your priorities, so take care of yourself first.  A relaxing night spent with a good book and a bowl of microwave popcorn can do wonders.

4. It’s also okay to say “yes.”  If your friends have something ridiculously fun planned on that Thursday night, you can also set homework aside for a few hours and go have some fun.  I wouldn’t recommend skimping on sleep every night, but a five-hour night once in a while won’t kill you as long as you’re having a good time.  It’s all about balance.

5. If your dorm isn’t carpeted, buy a rug.  That tiled floor will start to feel like hospital flooring and you’ll get tired of hair accumulating on your socks.  Split the cost between you and your roommate; you’ll thank me later.

6. Going in undeclared is fine.  Knowing exactly what you want to do is also fine.  The vast majority of college students change their major multiple times before graduation; I did a few weeks ago.  You have the time to change your mind whether or not you know exactly what you want to do with your life.  Trust that you’ll end up on the right path.

7. Don’t get bogged down by the required credits.  Taking all the necessary courses to graduate in time is important, but so is taking some classes just for the hell of it.  Explore new interests.  Take something you’ve never taken before.  Your mind will thank you for going out of your comfort zone.

8. Walk to class if you can.  If the weather’s nice and you’ve got the time, skip the bus.  Fresh air is so restorative and you’ll get to appreciate all the beauty of your campus.  Plus, you’ll get some exercise in.

9. Call your dad.  The common college parable always reminds students to call their moms, but don’t forget about your other family members.  Call your dad and your grandparents and your sisters and brothers.  They miss you too and want to know you’re doing well.

10. Take what you’ll use.  Look around your room and identify everything you use on a daily basis.  If you use it at home, you’ll use it at college.  This goes for clothes, shoes, organizers, furniture.  If you use it every day, it’s worth the space

What did you learn your first semester of college?

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19 Facts About Annie

Hi y’all!  Since I’ve gained so many followers recently both on Twitter and on my blog (which I’m way grateful for!!!), I found it only fitting to reintroduce myself so we all can get to know each other.  I also write about myself in my Introducing Annie post many moons ago and you can read even more about me there.

Before we get going, I’m running an anonymous five-minute survey to get some information on how I can improve my blog.  I want to create a site that you enjoy just as much as I do and your feedback on Annie Likes Words is critical and appreciated more than you know!  Also, I will give everyone who fills out the survey a shoutout on Twitter and Instagram!

Click here to take the 5-minute reader survey.

And with that, let’s kick this thing off.

First off, hello.  I’m Annie.  I’m a freshman at Elon University, a semi-small liberal arts college in North Carolina.  I love to read, I love to write, I love to read about writing and write about reading.  My favorite book is The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan and I’m in love with dogs and fall-scented candles.

Here are 25 more facts about me:

  1. This post contains 19 facts because I turn 19 in less than a month!  My birthday is nine days before Christmas, which makes celebrating with friends a little challenging, but also makes for a solid two weeks of celebration.  I love having a Christmas(ish) birthday because I’m out of school for break by the time my birthday rolls around.  Also, Christmas makes it easy to pick a birthday theme (I’m partial to the ugly Christmas sweater party).
  2. I support the Oxford comma.  I know not using the Oxford comma is grammatically correct, but I still get kind of peeved when I read a sentence that doesn’t have it.
  3. I hate talking about my current writing project.  I’m currently writing a young adult thriller novel (which I’m almost finished writing!).  When people ask me what my book’s about, I never know how to describe it.  The plot is so nuanced and complex, I struggle to do it justice without reading the whole book.  Describing the story isn’t impossible, I just don’t like doing it.
  4. I collect stickers.  My collection started many years ago and I’ve since collected dozens (maybe hundreds?) of stickers, which I plaster everywhere.  This summer, I purchased a sticker every place I went and put them all on a water bottle to commemorate such a fun time in my life.  One of my favorite pastimes (read: procrastination methods) is scouring RedBubble for stickers, especially if they pertain to my favorite TV shows.  Speaking of which…
  5. My favorite TV shows are “Stranger Things,” “The Office,” and “Jane the Virgin.”  Quite a lineup.  A surefire way to get me talking is to ask about what I watch on Netflix.  These binge-worthy shows are my absolute go-to’s, but I also love “Once Upon a Time” (which I mentioned in my Fall Favorites post) and “The Great British Baking Show” for some marshmallowy reality TV.
  6. I still play the Kim Kardashian video game on my phone.  I know; how adolescent of me.
  7. I can speak French (kind of).  I’ve taken French for five years and know enough to understand my professor and the movies we watch in class, but I’m not sure how I would do if I were in a French community.  Hopefully I’ll get to travel soon and find out.
  8. I can tap dance in high heels.  As implied by my pursuit of a minor in Dance at university, I love to dance.  I started taking lessons at the age of 3 and have kept up with it ever since.  In middle school, I discovered a penchant for tap and was chosen to represent my studio as a soloist in the tap discipline in high school.  Because I’ve never shied away from a challenge, I learned how to tap in heels and the rest is history.
  9. I dressed up as Wednesday Addams for Halloween.  For this entirely DIY costume, my flatmate and I sewed a Peter Pan collar onto a three quarter-sleeve black dress that I paired with my beat-up Converse high tops.  I braided my hair (which was pretty difficult because my hair is somewhat short/layered), slapped on some dark lipstick, and brushed some black eye shadow around my eyes.  Instant Wednesday Addams!
  10. My favorite ice cream flavors are mint chocolate chip and moose tracks.  Enough said.
  11. I love watching How to Cake It on YouTube.  Yolanda Gampp makes the most amazing cake creations on this channel!  Every night before bed, I watch one (or seven) of her videos because I’ve seen them so many times, they put me right to sleep.  I recommend watching her pecan pie megacake; it’s my favorite and is perfect for fall.  Click here to check out Yolanda’s delicious channel.
  12. I have a younger brother and a younger sister.  Living away from my family this year has had its challenges.  I miss my family, but I inadvertently get to talk to them more because we call and FaceTime all the time.
  13. I’m majoring in English with a concentration in Creative Writing.  Is this one even a surprise?  My blog is centered around the reading and writing of literature, after all.
  14. I’m also minoring in Dance and Psychology.  I picked up a Dance minor for obvious reasons as aforementioned, but Psychology stems from my love of AP Psychology senior year.  Everything we studied made sense not that it was easy, but I understood the material and comprehended the topics we studied.  I’m not sure how these minors will translate to a career, but I’m having a great time studying for them.
  15. I start listening to Christmas music after Halloween.  In my opinion, Christmas is far too good a holiday to be confined to one month, so I decorate and listen to Christmas music the day after Halloween.  This is in part a product of my childhood because my mom decorates our house for Christmas before Thanksgiving.  My favorite Christmas albums are Amy Grant, Harry Connick Jr., Lady Antebellum, Colbie Caillat, Idina Menzel, and Pentatonix.  The Nutcracker score is also a classic.  Click here to check out my Christmas Spotify playlist.
  16. I don’t drink coffee.  Instead, I opt for a chai latte or good ole hot chocolate.  Sometimes I add a shot of peppermint if I’m feeling spicy.
  17. I love wearing jewelry.  I have a few select pieces I always wear when I leave the house: my pearl earrings, my high school class ring, a necklace with a pendant that looks like North Carolina, and my watch.  I’ll also layer on some Pura Vida Bracelets (they’re adorable bracelets and support a great cause–click here to check them out) and a scrunchie because my hair is unpredictable.
  18. My favorite emoji is the one of all the little stars.  It’s a good, versatile emoji.  It doesn’t take the spotlight, but supports other emojis and makes everything look aesthetically pleasing.
  19. The last artist I saw in concert was Jon Bellion.  Elon’s Student Union Board got Jon Bellion to come perform for the student body over Homecoming weekend and his concert was fantastic!  If you have the chance to see him live, I strongly recommend it.

That’s all, y’all!  Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to get to know me a little better.  I hope you stick around 🙂

Do we have anything in common?  Let me know in the comments!

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Annie’s August and September College-Themed Favorites

Have I mentioned that I started college recently?  Did you catch the sarcasm there?

As I’m writing this post, I’ve been in college for five (six?) weeks and am thriving.  I love the autonomy that comes with creating my own schedule and absolutely adore my flatmates, not to mention the dining hall food isn’t shabby at all.  Long story short, I love it here and am so glad to be attending such an amazing school and living on such a gorgeous campus.

The first week was a little rough because I was pretty homesick, but once I found a good group of friends and got settled in my dorm, I started to really enjoy myself and take advantage of all the opportunities my university offers.  I’ve gone to so many interesting cultural events, including seeing former Prime Minister David Cameron speak (which was amazing!) and getting my first henna tattoo.

In addition to trying so many new things, I truly feel like a new person.  Who I am at my core is unchanged, but I am surrounded by people who allow me to be my unabashedly true self and it is so freeing.  I have honestly loved and will honestly cherish every second.

With all of this lifestyle transition comes a transition of the stuff I use every day.  Without a commute to school and hours of time spent in the car between activities, not to mention a significantly smaller living space, my every day essentials have drastically changed.  I’ve found myself going for items that are more for function over fashion, but I love products that are both.  I’m also digging things that have multiple uses and take up as little space as possible because sharing a dorm room is definitely tight.

Here are a few products I’m loving this month:

Monaco Ankle Booties from Cleo Madison
Cleo Madison // Booties
What I love about these shoes is that they are the perfect mix of style and comfort.  I live in the back corner of campus, so I have to walk fifteen minutes each way to get to my classes.  Comfortable walking shoes are a must and these booties definitely do the trick!  They go so well with any outfit and are perfect to throw on before my 8 AM when I want to look put-together but just rolled out of bed.  I also love the boutique where these booties are from.  Cleo Madison is an online modest clothing boutique with adorable and affordable selections.
I received these booties in exchange for an honest review of the product.

DIY Gold Drip Mason Jars
Jars // Paints
I use these little jars to hold pens and pencils on my desk and they’re absolutely perfect and incredibly easy to make.  I bought some gold paint from Target, placed the jars upside down on a paper plate, and poured the paint over the jars.  Simple to make and absolutely adorable!

Download the App
Even though my campus is incredibly safe and has fantastic campus police, you can never be too careful walking at night.  I avoid walking alone after dark if at all possible, but sometimes the situation requires it.  In these instances, I use SafeTrek to make sure I get home without a scratch.  All you have to do is open up the app and press the big purple button.  When you release the button by removing your finger, you have ten seconds to type in a predetermined password.  If you don’t type in your password within the ten seconds, the police are sent to your exact location.  SafeTrek is $3.00 per month and totally eases my mind walking around campus!

Plates and Bowls from IKEA
Large Plates // Small Plates // Bowls // Polka Dot Bowls
Eating from takeout containers and dining hall plates can get a little tiring, so I bought a few little plates and bowls to use when I feel inclined to eat like a normal human being.  This pieces all came separately, but they go so well together and are incredibly easy to clean (which I know because my flat has no dishwasher).  They’re the perfect reminder for when I forget how to use proper dishes and silverware.

St. Ives Radiant Skin Face Scrub
Amazon // Target
Walking to and from class in the North Carolina heat is definitely the culprit of this girl’s greasy skin, but this scrub is perfect for combating oil and keeping my face silky smooth.  I love the tiny exfoliants in this scrub: they’re not too harsh, but pack just enough punch to make a difference.  The scent is also fruity and light and gorgeous and if it smells good, what’s not to love?

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Amazon // Goodreads // ThriftBooks
You know I had to throw a book in!  This book has become my safety blanket; I never leave the dorm without it.  I am currently reading When Dimple Met Rishi and absolutely love it.  Whenever my BIO 101 homework or a looming paper has me down, I crack this book open for a dose of sunshine and adorableness.  There’s been so much hype surrounding this book and I’m happy to report that Menon’s adorkable romance passes muster.

“Once Upon A Time” on Netflix
IMDB // Netflix
What’s life at college without a Netflix break every now and then?  I’ve been rewatching “Once Upon A Time” on Netflix as a way to destress and relax after a long day of stress and nonrelaxation.  This show centers around the lives of fairytale characters who were sent to our world by the Evil Queen’s curse.  All the characters live in quaint Storybrooke, Maine, with no memory of their lives before arriving in Storybrooke.  The cheese factor is astronomical, but I love this show nonetheless.

In conclusion, here are some of my favorite blog posts from the past few months:
Annie Gives Book Recommendations Based on Hogwarts House, in which I geek out about Harry Potter and give book recommendations.
Annie’s Friends Give Book Recommendations, in which my bestest gal pals share what books they think you should read next.
[LET’S CHAT] How Do You Find The Time To Blog? in which Mikaela from The Well-Thumbed Reader talks about time management for bloggers.

What products have you been loving recently?

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Annie’s Guide to Dorm Shopping

Hello friends!  As promised in my August monthly update (which you can read here), I’m going to share a little bit about how I shopped for college.

College preparation is overwhelming.  There are so many variables to consider: where you’ll be living, who you’ll be living with, what type of housing you’ll get, whether you’ll live off or on campus, et cetera.  On top of that, you have to be considerate of your roommate and how he or she would like to decorate the room.  It’s a lot to consider in a short amount of time, but it can be done if you do it right.

Here are some of my tips to tackle dorm shopping:

1. Make a list.  By that I mean make a big list.  I combed the internet for recommended packing lists and took inspiration from each to create one long list of things I needed to buy.  In the end, my list was six single-spaced pages long.  Pay attention to the minutia: list out every single thing you want to buy.  It looks much more intimidating than it is.  Which brings me to my second point…

2. Use Pinterest for inspiration.  There are so many college packing lists out there and it’s wise to use the resources available.  In addition to packing advice, you can also find loads of cute dorm room pictures to use if you’re unsure of your dorm style.  Here are some links to my college-themed Pinterest board and my dorm-themed Pinterest board.

3. Shop around your house first.  Now that you have your long and lovely list and abounding Pinspiration, it’s time to really get shopping.  Start at home.  Look around your house for small things you can take that you won’t miss when you come home.  For example, I took my pencil cups from my desk and some of my decorations off of my bookshelf, but I bought new sheets and blankets so I could leave mine at home.  Shopping around your house will also bring little pieces of home with you, making your room even more welcoming and familiar.

4. Buy food when you get there.  Even if you’re on a meal plan, it’s a good idea to have something to munch on during your late night study sessions.  However, waiting until you get to school to buy your food it a good idea because your food will be nice and fresh.  My go-to’s?  Goldfish, spearmint gum, white cheddar Cheezits, and Annie’s fruit snacks (yes, the brand is actually called Annie’s).

5. Make a doubt list.  If you’re wondering whether or not you should buy something, you should probably wait.  You’ll have plenty of opportunities to shop once you get to college, so don’t waste space by packing something you’re not even sure you’ll use.  And if you’re like me, you’ll take one (or four) trips to Target or Walmart on move-in day.

6. Invest in Amazon Prime.  I can’t rave enough about how wonderful Amazon Prime is… and they have a student discount!  If you have an .edu email address or another form of documentation that you are, in fact, a college student, you can get Amazon Prime FREE for six months.  But wait: there’s more.  After the six months are up, you get Prime for half-off.  Instead of coughing up $100, you only have to cough up $50.  And did I mention they have included two-day shipping?
*Side note: this was not an ad for Amazon Prime; I just love their service!

7. Buy some school supplies before and some after you get to college.  Buy a single-subject notebook for each class and one binder for every two classes, plus some arbitrary pens and pencils, but I’d stop there.  Your professors may have specific requirements for each class, so wait until after syllabus week to purchase the rest of your supplies.  With that handy-dandy Amazon Prime subscription, this won’t be a problem.

What are your dorm shopping tips?

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