Friday, May 11, 2018

Suddenly, you’re walking across the stage

Seeing myself in my cap and gown for the first time, I can’t help but think about all of the little pieces of life that led me here. I will be the first in my family to graduate from a four-year university, and there were honestly so many times when I didn’t think I would even make it here.

Freshman year I even considered transferring. The years I’ve spent at Bloomsburg have been fun, terrifying, soul crushing, magical and amazing. Not to say I wouldn’t do some things differently if I could, but as they say, hindsight is 20-20.

I would tell myself not to worry so much. Of course, every freshman worries. They worry about who they’ll eat lunch with, if they’ll get lost looking for their classes. They wonder if they’re supposed to ask to use the bathroom during class (I asked to go to the bathroom in my first college class EVER and everyone laughed so if you have to go, save yourself the shame and just slip out quietly). Things will work out. Let yourself enjoy the newness of college and be open to learning as you go.

I would tell myself to talk to EVERYONE. People you meet in the elevator, people you sit next to in class, people in line as you wait for food. That’s the one, surefire way to make friends. Just start chatting about the weather or the homework from the previous class, and suddenly you’ve got someone to eat lunch with tomorrow, or study at Starbucks with. Take comfort in knowing that 95 percent of the people around you feel the same way you do, and just want people to talk to and understand the struggles of college life.

I would tell myself to say yes more. Go to more football games, go to more drag shows, go to more bingo nights. Go to more parties, go to more dance showcases, get more pink wieners. I can assure you, you’ll regret the times you said no more than the times you said yes. If something seems even remotely interesting, do it. Join a club and only go to one meeting, sign up for an intramural sport only to realize you have no coordination. The only way to find your people is to try literally everything until you do.

I would tell myself to enjoy every, single moment. Not just the big things, but everything. Getting late night with your friends, ordering Chinese food to the dorms, signing the lease for your first apartment, the first time you ever got a $2 bill from $2 Bob, getting breakfast with your roommates telling stories of the previous night. Take in every moment, because one day you'll think you have all the time in the world to do the things you’ve always wanted to in college, and then suddenly you’re walking across the stage wondering where the time even went.

Being a college student has changed me in both the best and the worst ways, and I wouldn’t trade a single second of it. I have grown more in these four years than I have in my entire life, and I am so proud of the person I am today. I am a Stranger Things enthusiast, I am a lover of pretzellinis, I am a local sorority member, I am a public relations professional, and I am now a Bloomsburg University alumna!

— Danielle Backowski, senior mass communications major #HuskyLife

Monday, April 30, 2018

Be careful what you wish for

When I was a freshman, all I wanted was to be a senior. To be on my way to a big girl job, be 21 and have my life figured out. Going to the Student Services Center the other day to pick up my graduation tickets made me realize I’m now at that place … and all I want to do is go back.

Lucky for me, there are still things I can do one last time I loved doing my freshman year.

Going to the Scranton Commons with a big group of friends was something I did often, especially when everyone ran out of flex four weeks before the semester ended. There’s nothing like eating plates and plates of food and grabbing a warm cookie for the road with your friends.

Seeing movies on campus was a treat back in the day, especially since I didn’t have a car and could never get to the movie theater. Bloomsburg always has the best and most current movies, so I never felt like I was missing out on anything. Plus, who can say no to a free movie?

Even though I literally NEVER won anything, midnight bingo was always a fun way to get out of the dorms and meet new people. Plus, a little friendly competition against your roommate and friends doesn’t hurt.

Living with a roommate can be annoying and crowded, but most of the time it’s like being at a sleepover. I loved having someone there to talk to when I was bored or needed advice or to vent. The bond you have with your roommate is something you can’t replicate. Whether it’s freshman or senior year, roommates are something to be treasured.

While I have the ability to do some of these things before I graduate, it certainly won’t be the same. My advice, whatever year you are, is to enjoy where you’re at. I wish I had taken the time to really enjoy and make the most out of every year, rather than looking for the next best thing.

Senior year approaches more quickly than you think, so take your time and have fun.

— Danielle Backowski, senior mass communications major #HuskyLife

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A freshmen takeover of my Husky Life

In the four years I’ve been at BU I have discovered some of my favorite restaurants, coffee drinks and places to hang out. Sometimes having all these favorites make it hard for me to decide where I want to go. So, I decided to let the incoming Class of 2022 make the decisions for me!

Monday: Chick-fil-A vs. Qdoba

These two new dining choices were all students could think about as they returned to school this past fall. While neither of them take meal plans, they’re both delicious and you can use Flex, Husky Gold or a credit card to eat there. The Class of 2022 voted for me to have Chick-fil-A, which I was definitely not mad about. My go-to meal is classic nuggets with fries, and of course, Chick-fil-A sauce. However, Qdoba is also a great option if you’re in the mood for Chipotle or something Mexican. They have bowls, tacos, quesadillas, you name it! With fresh ingredients and delicious queso, it’s hard to say no.

Tuesday: Starbucks vs. Java City

It’s safe to say I’m a coffee addict, so having multiple options on campus is like music to my ears. The great thing is that while there are two Starbucks and one Java City, they’re spread out so wherever you are on campus, coffee’s not far away.

Starbucks won the poll, so I got my usual Iced Blonde Americano with vanilla (which is SO good, trust). While I get the same drink every time I go to Starbucks, I do like to switch it up and get Java City. They have amazing iced coffee and their bagels are delicious.

Wednesday: BUnow vs. The Voice

If you’re a news lover like me, Bloomsburg is a great campus to be on because there are so many ways to find out what’s happening on campus, in town and around the country.

The Voice is BU’s student newspaper that comes out every Thursday. BUnow is the online news source, also run by students. Both are full of great information, with entertaining articles and important current events.

Thursday: Cardio vs. Pilates

Our Rec Center is one of the best that I’ve seen on a college campus, with a cardio room, weight room, rock climbing wall and so much more. Every day there are classes offered like Pilates, yoga or cardio sculpt.

Friday: Filet 18 vs. West End Ale Haus

One great thing about Bloomsburg is that if you’re sick of eating campus food, there are so many great options just a five minute walk away! If you’re too tired from your Pilates class the night before, there are also busses that leave from campus and go downtown. The bus stop is located behind McCormick, and comes every 30 minutes. It has stops by the fountain, by Old School apartments and behind Papa John’s on Iron Street.

Filet and West End are just two of the great restaurants downtown, and personally, two of my favorites. West End won the poll option, so I got to have a delicious mac and cheese grilled cheese for dinner.

— Danielle Backowski, senior mass communications major #HuskyLife

Friday, March 23, 2018

One invitation is all it took

It wasn't supposed to end up this way. I had my mind set on attending a different state school. My mom and I even bought matching sweatshirts. I really thought I had it all figured out after visiting different schools in both city and rural settings.

My best friend attended Bloomsburg University and invited me to come visit him one weekend during my senior year of high school. At the time, Bloomsburg was a school I had no interest in, but little did I know that invitation would change my life forever.

Here I am, a BU senior (#BUClass2018) with only seven weeks of college left. Looking back, I can’t even imagine what life would be like if I hadn’t attended BU. I wouldn’t have the education I do now, the mentors who have prepared me for my future, or the unbreakable friendships that shaped me and supported me these past four years. Yes, I might have gotten all of these experiences if I did attend another school, but I honestly wouldn’t trade my time as a Bloomsburg student for a second.

When arriving to Bloomsburg to visit my friend, I made him give me a personal tour. After being there for less than an hour, I could just feel that this was going to be my home, a feeling I did not have with any other school I toured. I returned home and researched my major, and BU offered the perfect track for my career interests.

I applied right away and soon enough I was accepted into the program. I mentioned this to my parents, for they still thought I was planning to attend the other school. We planned an official tour and just like that, they saw it as my home as well.

On Husky Decision Day, it finally became real!

With only a handful of months left being a high school student, I had to prepare myself for a huge change. On Decision Day, I met up with my future roommate, who is now a lifelong friend. This was the last time I would be at BU before becoming an official student in the fall of 2014.

As I prepare to graduate, I reflect on what I’ve been taught many times now. We plan our futures around what we think is best for us, but life always finds a way of guiding us in the direction we are truly meant to go. Life guided me right into BU’s arms, and I couldn’t be more thankful. This experience has led me to trust the process and believe life always has a way of working out.

— Megan Hawbecker, senior mass communications major #HuskyLife

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Saving money, investing in good habits

One thing I will admit to anyone who asks is that I’m not great with money. Sure, I have a little in my savings account right now, but that wasn’t always the case.

Take this past fall for example; in September alone I spent almost $600. Looking at that bank statement broke me to tears. How in the WORLD had I spent that much money? What could I possibly have spent it on? The answer: complete and utter nonsense.

Having a budget is a great way to keep yourself from wasting money and makes you feel a little guilty when you do. Through a lot of trial and error, I've created a simple way to chart my spending and even save some of the money I’m making.

Here’s how it works

Start by looking at your bank statement from the last month. Categorize your spending and write down how much money you spent in each category.

Create as many or as little categories as you want, don’t be afraid to be specific. Don’t forget to include any money you receive from your parents, working a job or taking out of your savings. I suggest making a chart that looks something like this:
  • Gas: $30 
  • Groceries: $50 
  • Going Out: $25 
  • Takeout: $15 
  • Coffee: $10 
  • Necessities (books, utilities etc.): $100 
  • Total money spent $230 
  • Total money received $250
Next, estimate how much money you will receive in a certain amount of time, whether it be monthly or bi-weekly. Add this amount to the bottom of your chart so you can keep track of the money you have leftover at the end of your set time period:
    Total money made: $250
Look at the list of categories from last month. Condense, remove and adjust these categories so they’re realistic to what you can afford. Do you really need to budget in a Marshalls trip every week? Probably not. Do you need groceries? Definitely.

Taking into account the money you’ve spent in these categories in the past, set a dollar limit that you’ll allow yourself to spend in each category. For example, if you spent $50 on groceries, it’s probably a good idea to give yourself a little cushion, so set your limit to $70.

At the end of the time period, your chart should look something like this:
  • Gas: $15/$30 
  • Groceries: $70/$60 
  • Going Out: $10/$15 
  • Takeout: $5/$15 
  • Necessities: $100/$100 
  • Total money made $250 
  • Total money spent $200 
  • Total money leftover $75
With this budget in place, you should be able to save money and start good habits for when you graduate and have bills (and student loans) to pay. Get started early! If I could do one thing in my college career differently, it would be this.

— Danielle Backowski, senior mass communications major #HuskyLife

Friday, January 26, 2018

Making the most of your last semester

All of my sorority sisters know that I am the friend that leaves a party as soon as I'm ready to leave. My roommate even calls me Houdini, because my classic move is being somewhere one moment and being in bed five minutes later.

Now that I'm in my last semester, I want to make the most of it. But with classes, an internship, a job and extracurricular obligations, I'm constantly struggling to live each moment to the fullest without spreading myself too thin.

Since the first week of senior year, I've been feeling the pressure to always say yes to things. "This is your last (fill in the blank), you HAVE to go", is something I hear almost daily. I've come up with a few tricks of the trade to cram in as much fun as possible without falling asleep in my classes the next day.

Do your work EARLY

One of the easiest things to do is get your work done ahead of time, yet since my first day as a Summer Freshman it has been one of the most difficult tasks. My advice is to take it one day at a time. No, you don't have to finish that project that's due in two weeks the day it's assigned. Focus on what's due tomorrow and get it done early in the day. That way you're not stress-eating late night wings thinking about all the work you should be doing, but aren't.

Use your planner

Buying a planner at the beginning of the year always makes you feel like you have your life together. The key to actually having your life together is to USE the darn thing. Grab a cubby in the library, get your syllabi out and put every significant task or paper into your planner. Then add all of your social events.

Look at it, change it, make notes. This way you know when things are coming up and you're not scrambling at the last minute. There's nothing worse than watching Snapchats of your friends having fun while you're stuck at home because you waited until the last minute to write a ten page paper.

You don't always have to say no

Being a responsible student doesn't mean saying no to everything. Go to half priced apps, go see a movie or go to trivia. Just give yourself a curfew, go to bed and wake up early to get your work done. Having fun doesn't have to mean staying out into the wee hours of the morning, and working hard doesn't mean locking yourself in your room all Friday night.

We're not perfect, some nights we'll skip doing homework to grab wings and sometimes we'll stay in because we just need some sleep. Enjoy every minute you can, because it really is the last time we'll get to live the #HuskyLife.

— Danielle Backowski, senior mass communications major #HuskyLife

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A thirst for future adventures

Crazy to imagine we’re six days out from flying home, but time went quickly when the third module came to an end. That doesn’t mean we haven’t made the most of what time we have left, though.

In November, I spent a weekend in Guanacaste Province, famous for its stunning, wide-open Pacific coastline. Sámara Beach was exactly that, a huge spread of white sand with an endless horizon before me. Guanacaste draws all kinds of adventurers and beach rats from around the world; in the span of two days I met travelers from Spain, France and Scotland, plus one guy selling ice cream who was originally from Holland.

We celebrated Thanksgiving Day with a ten-hour bus ride from Heredia to Granada, a lively colonial city deep in the heart of Nicaragua. La Calzada, Granada’s version of a main street, is jammed with restaurants that cater to tourists from every corner of the planet.

The City Market is only a few blocks away, a chaotic maze of wooden stalls and tables lined with pretty much every vendible thing imaginable. It was easy to get lost among the mounds of fruit, fish, spices, plastic toys and prescription drugs, but the Market is the cornerstone for all of Granada. The market is always the heart of the city, our directors told us, and the local culture beats strong in Nicaragua.

After a boat tour on Lake Nicaragua (nineteenth-largest lake in the world, by the way), we dragged our tired selves all the way back to Heredia. Soon it was time to get cookin’ on our Thanksgiving dinner dishes, since we’d be serving them to our host moms for a massive American-style meal at the end of the month. We all brought our culinary A-games and made it a Thanksgiving dinner to remember (I was mainly thankful I didn’t burn the two apple pies I whipped up five hours beforehand).

The last module has been all about Latin American Literature: poetry, essays, short stories and books that spearheaded literary movements and inspired generations of writers and artists. We’ll come home soon with sunburns, opened minds and a thirst for future adventures.

Joshua Lloyd is a junior Spanish and Interpersonal Communication major spending this fall studying abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica. Through SOL, he is studying Latin American culture and civilization.