Day 2: Lists, Lists, a Hundred Lists

7:00 AM

I don't know if you got it from the title of this post, but preparing for college (for me anyway) involved/involves A HUNDRED GAZILLION lists. That's right. And after all those lists scribbled on every available surface?

You still forget stuff. It's a nightmare.

Have no fear! I am here to help. Since I've been through this stuff already, I feel like I'm qualified to hand out suggestions. Right? (You hope so.)

First of all, I know lists vary depending on all sorts of factors: are you a commuter (driving back and forth to school from home) or do you stay on campus? are you moving two hours away or two states away (hint: big difference)? It all depends and, of course, I can't cover all the variables in this post, but I shall do my best to cover the things related to living on campus and other general things that every almost-college-student needs to know.

The General Things:

There are three enormously important things that you have to remember not to forget (See what I did there? Eh? EH?): high school grades, college forms, and books.

I'm pretty sure almost everyone has had someone tell them how important doing well in high school is. They were right. It's alright, you can groan. I promise that agonizing through high school has a point though. Many of us are not rich. In fact, many of us are the opposite of rich. And college is pretty darn expensive. If you get awesome grades in high school (and by good I mean A's) and do well on your ACTs or SATs, whichever test is common for your state, there is a high possibility that you will get a scholarship. Any money will help!

College forms. Blegh, I hated going through all those repetitive, long, and boring applications. A few things you need to know about this little section of college prep...

1. YOU WILL NEED TO WRITE MANY ESSAYS. This is inevitable. Thankfully, many of you have no problem writing. You probably love it. But these paragraph and essay answers will be asking about you. What has been the most important moment of your life and how did it affect you? What are your goals? What is a place that makes you completely fulfilled? And the hardest: Describe yourself. Oh. my. gosh. I cannot tell you the painfulness to me of these things. These aren't easy questions. They're hard. So, this is a heads-up. Prepare yourself. ;)

2. Colleges also always have a section where you mention extracurricular activities and such things. For some of you, this may be no problem whatsoever, but for others it could be a problem. It was a huge problem for me.

3. Have teachers who will write you letters of recommendation! This is SO important. Even if you're not the most talkative, friendly, or social student, work hard and do well and your teacher will most likely be willing to write a letter of recommendation for you. This is not only important for many college applications but also for some scholarship applications.

4. DEADLINES. Keep track of them. There are many and they will ruin your life. So you need to remember them and beat them at their own game. If you don't know important deadlines for the colleges you're interested in, you need to find out as early as possible. Possibly junior year, but definitely summer and fall of senior year.

Books. There are many opinions on this. In most cases, I would recommend not buying directly from the school itself. There are many places online and in physical locations that rent school books for a fraction of the cost. Also, places like Amazon and are a great place to buy books for English classes, because you want to be able to make notes or highlight in your book but you don't want to pay full price for a new book. In these places you can buy a good used copy for an awesome amount of money (meaning tiny).

But you also need to be careful. It's getting more and more common for college courses to require access codes for the class. If you rent or buy off Amazon, it's not guaranteed that you will get a usable access code. This is a situation where it would be good to buy a brand new copy from the college bookstore, no matter how painful it feels when you pay for it.

(ON CAMPUS) Things You Don't Want to Forget:
1. Umbrella 
2. Scissors
3. Comfortable walking shoes
4. Water bottle
5. Paper Towels
6. A Planner
7. Some type of air freshener
8. Laundry bag

Things You Need to Familiarize Yourself With Before You Leave Home:

1. Banking: credit cars, debit cards, accounts... ALL that jazz.
2. Doing laundry. This might be a given for a lot of you but I never did laundry because I did dishes and other chores and my parents wanted me to focus most of my time on school.
3. Your car. Yeah, sorry. You probably should be able to drive at least averagely. 

And now after all my fabulous lists, I'm going to write about random things that I've learned since moving onto my lovely campus. I feel like this needs to be in the "being prepared" section so I shall put it here. 

You will cry. As much as you've told yourself that you will. not. cry. You will. It's gonna happen. Tears will flow. It's natural. With that said, I come to my major point-- the first day/night is the absolute worst. After that it gets better, I promise. 

There are three things that you need to always remember to have with you: your wallet, keys, and cellphone. This was hard for me since when I lived at home I almost never left home. It's just not something I was used to doing.

The bathroom is not five steps away. You can't walk to it half asleep. It is, at best, through your dorm room's door and more steps beyond. At worst, it's on the other side of your floor of the building. REMEMBER THIS. 

There are going to be nights (or days) when you just don't feel like walking to the cafeteria or whatever. You need to have snacks in your room. And places to keep your snacks. I'm probably not one to talk since my side of the room is still a pretty big mess but there are bugs and roomies in college (not to bunch them together or anything ;)) and when you add those two things with snacks lying everywhere you don't usually get pretty results.

Skylar is really not sure if she likes college yet. It seems scary. There are tons of people, lots of walking, and the food is ages away. It's like her nightmare come true. Some good things have happened though, she saw her roommate for the first time in a couple months (since orientation). AND she organized/decorated her room. These things make her happy. 

Blogging Section:
I don't have any concrete plans except to pre-plan as much as possible and schedule TONS of posts so I don't disappear from my blog when classes start. 

blog project

Day 1: Nervous, Bordering on Astronomically Nervous

8:00 AM

We have officially started the project Freshmen Assemble! Before I get into my topic for today, I want to thank Sophia from Ravens & Writing Desks and Ashtyn from Wonderland's Reader for helping me out with this, both by giving me suggestions for the project and agreeing to be a part of it. :) You guys are awesome!

Whatever your personality type, I think the thought of college always puts at least a twinge of nervousness in your stomach. It's normal. It's what happens when you enter a completely new and unfamiliar environment. AND those college-level classes.

I understand.

In fact, I am all sorts of nervous and keyed up because (at the time of the writing of this post) it's only three days until I move to a college two hours away from my home. I've never spent more than a night away from my family. My little sister is my best friend.

And now I'm kind of freaked out because I've been launched into the world of adulthood (which, let me tell you right now, NOT as awesome as they make it out to be :P) of money problems, jobs, banking accounts, and other terrifying things.

You didn't think the only thing I did was read books did you?

Hey, I'm not that awesome. ;)

But at the same time, it's kind of (or a lot) exciting, you know? Heading out to get a degree, make myself, define myself, be my own person, grow my wings. Whatever you want to call it.

College probably isn't the best place to make a huge resolutions list-- at least not in the first semester.

But going off to college just brings the whole "starting fresh", "new beginning" feel with it, and so, yeah, I'm making the list. Sue me. (Actually, no, please don't.)

The List

1. Continue blogging--60% reviewing, 40% other (hopefully). Even though it's a given that I won't be ableto dedicate as much time to blogging, I'm going to try as hard as I can to keep posts going up semi-regularly. Also, I'd love to do my first USA book giveaway in Freshman year. 

2. Write steadily for one book. I know it's going to be hard, but hopefully I can get in a few hundred words almost every day. :)

3. Learn the bare bones of a language just for fun! Honestly, this was inspired by a friend. 

4. Exercise more than never. 

5. Get ear piercings or dyed streaks in my hair. 

And, hey, I know you're probably didn't come here to find out what I want to do this school year (even though curiosity got the best of you). You want to know how to deal with the mess that is your stress levels and emotions as you prepare for college. 

Well, I'll get into more specific topics in the next post, but for today I'm going to give you some general pointers. I've gone through this and have been going through the same experience as you since Fall 2013 (because of those darn college and scholarship applications). I completely sympathize. 

And don't judge. I like lists. They literally have saved my life these past few months. 

1. Don't procrastinate. This is like my worst sin. But don't do it. I know that maybe you aren't looking forward to going to college so much as dreading the change. Or maybe you just CAN'T DEAL with deciding your future and picking a degree right now. Deadlines don't wait for anybody. You've got to make a decision or fill out those applications sometime and doing it on your own timing is better than being forced into a decision because of procrastination. 

2. Be organized. About as much as you can. (I just remembered my desk. Oops.) But besides those random sketches and magazines that you can never (or maybe you're really neat) keep straightened out, you won't regret keeping all your college-related papers together and divided into some sort of system. You're going to need to reference stuff. Trust me. Especially anything and everything related to Financial Aid. 

3. Make lists. (refer to where I said they have saved my life) Make hundreds, or some slightly more reasonable number, of lists. You're not going to remember everything because you're not a mutant (or are you? *narrows eyes suspiciously*).

4. Remember deadlines. There will most likely be many. Put them where you're most likely to remember them. Google Calendar has a setting where it will send alerts to your Gmail at a certain set time before the deadline. Write them on your calendar (the actual physical one that hangs on the wall). Put them on the notes app you have on your phone. PUT THEM EVERYWHERE. 

5. This is a time where you have to remember and learn a lot of things over a short period of time. Especially if you're doing most of this pre-College stuff without a lot of help from your parents. So take time to relax. Of course, you can't take weeks off of preparing for college, but take a day or a few hours to just forget all the stress and that huge to-do list. Binge watch a TV show that you love. Read a book you've been dying to read. You'll feel refreshed and so glad you took a breather. 

Now that I've overwhelmed you (or hopefully helped you out), I hope that you're liking Freshmen Assemble so far. :) Tomorrow I'm going to talk more about preparing for college, heading into more specific topics. It's gonna be a huge post. ;)

With that in mind, are there any questions that you'd like answered? Any areas that you would love pointers on? Curious about an aspect of getting ready to move to a college dorm? Any and all questions are completely welcome and I'll try to answer them as best I can. 

And remember to check out the rest of the Freshmen Assemble team's posts!

Sunday Swoons | Sassy Spoof

11:34 PM

Sunday Swoons is a weekly feature hosted by Briana @Reader, Writer, Critic and me on the wonders of romance in fiction. We talk about anything from our favorite couples to what kinds of food we think fictional couples are (Sue us, we're creative like that). This Sunday we're going with re-writing the titles of certain books to describe the main couple's relationship. OR, you can go for another option which is re-writing the first line of the blurb to describe the main couple better. Link-up! Have fun! Eat chocolate! And don't forget to check out Briana's post. :)

For a more detailed and complete list of rules, go here.

NOTE: We're not trying to steal from Cait's Honest YA's at all. Pinky promise. We could never compete with that ;) Having said that, go check them out. :)

Sassy Spoof

I'm not sure how this is going to I have a questionable sense of humor BUT I'm gonna try. And you will pretend I'm funny. Right? Right???

If I make fun of a book it doesn't mean I hate it, in fact I might love it. I just like making fun of things. 


AKA Let's Fixate on Each Other.

Some of the metaphors Juliette uses are....kinda far out. I love this book but I read a review wherein the person who wrote the review ranted about the awful description that she just couldn't understand. And then she talked about Mafi's author's note (or whatever the heck it's called where you thank people) where she used a huge, unrealistic metaphor and the review writer was like SHE ACTUALLY TALKS LIKE THAT IN REAL LIFE? It just cracked me up.


AKA Which One is Better?

Need I say more? To everyone who has read this, you understand. To everyone who has not, you don't want to understand. But I'll give you a hint-- love triangle.


AKA Kissing Makes Everything Better


AKA I See You...Out of the Corner of My Eye.

Okay, that's it for today. Hope you like and link up! If you have ideas for Sunday Swoons topics feel free to comment your idea below or tweet me and Briana or whatever way you feel most comfortable with. :) 


Introducing: Freshmen Assemble

8:00 AM

I'm proud to introduce *drumroll*

Freshmen Assemble is a blog project that I thought of during the hectic process that is preparing-for-my-first-year-of-college. Basically, two other book bloggers and myself are going to write about our experiences related to college.

When this project idea popped into my head, I literally couldn't get it out until I had typed down the (horrible) first version of rules and topics and sent a few emails out to other bloggers I knew were headed for college this fall. Two of them replied and that's how this whole thing got started. They're awesome and I can't wait for you to meet them! I will be linking to their posts on each of my Freshmen Assemble posts (we will be covering the same general areas), so make sure to check them out and give them comment love. :)

Introducing the participating bloggers:

(Note: Links to the respective bloggers' blogs are in the Blogger Name @Blog Name)

When left to her own devices, Sophia naturally gravitates towards books (this has been proven through countless scientific studies). She enjoys reading practically anything - from classics to YA and anything in between - just as long as it has a solid plot and well-thought-out characters. Sophia also hopes to one day contribute to the literary world with books of her own. Though her natural writer's habitat is the novel, she occasionally wanders into the realm of short stories, and is currently working on a couple of the latter, in addition to her major WIP: a novel about masks, magic, and Venice. Sophia is an introvert who doesn't mind hanging out with people, especially if they will indulge her in a book discussion! Aside from literature and all that good stuff, she loves science and math, and is planning to major in Chemistry (with a minor in English) and is on the pre-Med track. 

My name is Ashtyn or Ash. I am a college freshman, as I’m sure you have guessed. I have lived in southern California my entire life and am taking the leap up north and moving to Washington to attend Western Washington University this fall (go Vikings!). I’m excited to start classes and intend to major in Creative Writing, although I have yet to declare. I’m most excited about learning new things, trying sports and activities I never have before (I want to kayak so badly), and meeting new people. I’m half excited, half absolutely terrified and I’m ready to share my experiences with you.

You guys already know me, but I thought I'd hop in and do this for fun anyways. The pseudonym I use for blogging is Skylar Finn, but my real name is Selena. I blog about books and life right here on Life of a Random. It's my favorite thing. Seriously. Besides constantly tweaking the blog design and reading, I'm getting ready for my first year as an Art major with an emphasis in Design at Tennessee Technological University which is around two hours from my house. And...which I'll be moving too. I'm super excited but also super nervous because people. I'm a shy introvert (Woop!) and this whole socialization thing is tricky. I think it's pretty safe to say I won't be getting into any sports activities (unless the coolness out does the painfulness) but I might be checking out things like singing or photography.

And that completes the introductions. Our posts will start tomorrow and end on Friday. We hope you'll follow us on our college experiences and maybe learn some useful tips on the way. :)


Hello from the Innards of College

1:20 AM

As I write this it is almost ten minutes past one and I'm about to face-plant into my laptop from tiredness. The reason why I'm up so late? Well, I have four Two-Dimensional Art exercises due tomorrow (which I'm gonna add were given yesterday). I also had to take care of a weird credit card charge that hopefully will be resolved now that I've looked into it and cancelled the right things (once again, fingers crossed).

I'm going home for the weekend because it's my dad's birthday. I don't usually get a ton of homework done at home...just because I'd rather be spending time with my family.

So, one of my goals this week is to get almost all my homework done by early Friday afternoon.

Honestly, though, I'm kinda sick and tired of the huge to-do lists, late nights, and early mornings. I'd rather talk about how, yeah my art supplies are flung everywhere on my half of the room and maybe even a little on my roomie's, but I've learned a ton during this first month. I'm also exhausted but I thought maybe I'd come across as more positive if I said something deep. ;) Did it work?

Here is something that I think all of us should look at (It's also something that I'm very guilty of):

This awesome art is by Sarah Andersen. She has loads of stuff all over Pinterest, which are all equally epic, and a website. I haven't visited her website but I definitely plan to sometime.

P.S. For those of you who mentioned envying my World Lit class (you know who you are ;))? I wouldn't. I had to do a presentation this last Monday. It was terrifying. I was so relieved to be done that to be honest I would've been fine with a D or something. (Well, not really, but it's a good analogy.)

I think it's time for me to go. I'm starting to nod off here. Good luck to all of you in school :) I feel your pain. But we can do this *fist pump*  If you like don't know what I'm supposed to say to that ;)

boring books

Purple Hibiscus...World Literature...Things...

9:16 AM

I didn't know this prior to attending my college World Literature class, but apparently Nigerian literature is a thing now.

Yeah. You didn't know either did you.

Anyways, I learned this because our first book (that I just finished reading) was by a Nigerian author named Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It's called Purple Hibiscus. It seemed to me to be a pretty typical (in a general way) "classics" type literature, but I wanted to discuss the parts that jumped out at me with you guys. Mostly about themes and such nonsense.

Purple Hibiscus is a story about a girl who is abused by her father along with her mother and brother. It's the journey of her discovering that everything doesn't exist on her dad's whim and finding herself where she didn't know she had herself.

It was very sad, but also very deep and kind of struck a chord in me. Buuut at the same time, I didn't really like it. SO, I'm gonna go through my complicated feelings, in no particular order, that ruined my brains.

The writing style reminds me a lot of To Kill a Mockingbird, with the exception of Kambili (the main character) sounding much younger and more naive than Scout who is about ten years younger. It was amazing (in a bad way), troubling, and at times annoying.

Is it just me or does every classic have a kind of unsettling, unnatural relationship? And messed up family relationships. I'm going to try my hardest not to rant but this really bothers me. The first issue: It seems to me like every classic-type book has a relationship like this. For example, in Purple Hibiscus Kambili crushes (or falls in love as she says) HUGELY on a priest who seems to be in his twenties or early thirties at best guest. And he likes her back. KAMBILI IS FIFTEEN.

Okay. Okay. Deep breaths.

While at some point, I kind of wanted it to work because Kambili had never loved or been loved like that before...It couldn't work.

My second point: Well, obviously, the dad beats up his kids and wife like a total a-hole. But also, and this is a somewhat uncomfortable/embarrassing topic, Kambili sees her grandfather naked and even though she's embarrassed she doesn't look away. And Adichie (the author) through Kambili describes the way her grandfather looks in quite a detailed way. This is super uncomfortable for me as the reader.

It reminded me of when I read Ender's Game and was weirded out by Ender and his sister's relationship. At first, it was like "Oh, that's sweet. They're so close." and then it turned into, "This is weird. It almost seems like Ender loves her in a non-familial way."

I don't know. I guess I've just read this too often in various classic-type books and it really bothers me.

Of course, there were other things that I did like; for example, I loved the symbolism in Purple Hibiscus. It was amazing and also really interesting and fun trying to discover what Adichie meant by something she said.

The ultimate message that was given was amazing. Kambili found herself. She became her own person. And I loved being able to travel that road with her and see who she changed from and who she changed into.

In the end, no I wouldn't recommend this book to you. But I also don't regret having to read it for class. The next book on the other hand.....yeah, I might regret reading this one.

Sometime this month, I'm planning to do a good, long post on all things me now that I'm a college student. I don't feel like this should or can be a part of Freshmen Assemble since it would take up to much room. So, I will be doing that. If you have any questions you'd like for me to answer (related to me living at college) then I'd be happy to hear them. I reserve the right do not answer them though. ;) You can ask me either in the comments below or on Twitter, it doesn't matter which.


Sunday Swoons | Couples on Covers & Dancing in Love

11:08 PM

Heyyy. This is a double post since Briana was awesome and was chill with me taking a weekend off because of me being overwhelmed with school (I'm a freshmen in college if you didn't know).

Originally, I was just going to skip last week's topic. However I thought about it and decided that I would have time to write a little bit about it and today's topic. It's late, but I say better late than never.

Last week's topic was Couples on Covers. Briana and I thought this would be a good topic because there is no arguing that there is tons of disagreement over couple-y covers, on whether we like them or not, or if we like one type over another. It's such a relevant topic. So have fun with it! I can't wait to see what you do with the topic. :)

For a specific list of rules, you can visit my Sunday Swoons page. But the basics are-- please give credit to me for the link-up picture, link back to us either through me or Briana, and have fun. :)

Also, remember to check Briana's Swoons post out too. *grins*

Last week's topic: COUPLES ON COVERS

Couples on Covers
(no pretty titles because my editing program isn't working right. boo.)

Since this is a topic dead and gone (not to be creepy or anything), I'm not going to spend a lot of time on it. I'm just going to talk about factors of a couple-y cover that I like and ones that I...well...hate. 

Let's start with hate (cause that's healthy). 

First of all let me say, I try not to automatically hate/dislike things. I like to give things a chance even though their first impression wasn't all that good. 

But when I see covers like these:

I just mentally groan. Loudly. 

I don't mean that no part of these covers look good. Maybe some parts DO look good, but this is so cliche. It's so cliche that it's making my brains burn. Books have been published for many many years now...I think it's time we come up with a new aspect on romantic covers. 

Like these:

I find the covers above extremely fascinating and completely AWESOME. Not only because the great contrast and I-can't-decide-whether-this-is-a-realistic-photo-or-digital-art-ness, but also because these are not old ideas they're new. And the symbolism (or what I think is symbolism. I could just be crazy. *cackles*) is another great dimension added to the last two Mara Dyer covers. I love them so much. I need to own them.

Okay, okay, back to the subject.

I just feel that, as a whole, the "couple covers" division of YA fiction (and all other fiction) is completely tired and over-done. We need fresh perspective! New ways of looking at old things. Everything else has changed so much...why not this?

Are there specific things about couple-y covers that you just can't stand? What are some couple covers that you think were done exceptionally well?

Note: While you can't link up with this topic since it's passed already, you're welcome to write about it and comment your link below. It's kind of my fault you didn't get to explore this topic via my blog, so if you want, go right ahead! I'll make sure to check it out and comment and maybe even spotlight some of you. :)

I promised two topics today didn't I? *bellows* Two topics shall be served!

This week's topic: DANCING IN LOVE | describing fictional couples (or either significant other) with songs

Dancing in Love

Briana has been the best co-hoster ever these couple weeks by understanding my busyness and talking with me on Twitter which has made me grin many times. So, I'd just like to give a shout-out to Briana! You're the best, girl. I'm SO glad we stumbled onto each others blogs. Keep doing what you're doing, which is obviously keeping me happy. 

Of course, I was joking about that last sentence.... ..... >.>

Dancing in Love is meant to be an awesome, free-range (which we like to make all of our topics) topic/area for both the bookworms out there and the music lovers. And it's not often that those two aren't the same people. 

Music is life. It can describe emotions so much better than words. Therefore, I think it's the perfect time to grab your fictional couples and attempt to describe their relationships with any of the gazillions songs out there. Good luck. :)

1. Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

This song describes C├ęcile and Prince Tristan's relationship perfectly, but I think, especially from Tristan's eyes. I think you'll know what I'm talking about if you've read Stolen Songbird.

Just So You Know by Jesse McCartney

2. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Once again, this is a couple song but it's more from Mara's point of view. Mara and Noah are such an amazing couple but they've had their dark moments, their troubled times to work through. This whole song, both the lyrics and the whole "feel", portrays that perfectly. 

At Arms Length by Plumb

3. The Hunger Games/Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

This pretty much describes Peeta and Katniss's WHOLE DARN RELATIONSHIP from Peeta's perspective. Cry, my lovelies. You know you want to. 

Drop Your Guard by Jasmine Thompson

I deliberately chose relatively well-known books to represent since it's more fun that way because more people know what the heck you're talking about, but feel free to delve into your own rare reads if you want. ;) Now I'm off to measure out formatting and sketch for art projects, eat M&Ms, and (finally) go to sleep. 

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