New Year, New You?

Happy New Year!!! Cue “Auld Lang Syne,” fireworks, confetti, and new year’s resolutions that hardly ever last a year, let alone the blistery month of January. It’s just too hard to keep up with healthy eating habits when we are back to dorm life, and the only groceries we can afford are Easy Mac and Aldi fruit snacks.

Don’t even get me started on that resolution to wake up at 5 AM before class and get a workout in every day. Sure, you might set your alarm to that loud-enough-to-wake-yourself-up-but-not-too-loud-that-your-roommate-hears-noise and you might even sleep in your workout clothes. But let me tell you, the second your alarm turns off and you look out your window to see blizzard outside, you will go right back to sleep.

Maybe I am just speaking for myself. I’m probably projecting my inability to follow through on a resolution during college on all of you. There are probably some hard core goal setters who thrive on resolutions and find beautiful ways to implement them out there. More power to ya! We all need a chance to reset. We all need a chance to start over. We all need a chance to try something different or new or just again.  We all need a second chance–a do over.

As you unpack your bags, place your Easy Mac and Gatorade in their respective places and try to somehow wrestle your fitted sheet back on to your twin extra long bed (I can never figure out how to get the corners perfectly fitted) you might be thinking over the fall semester, Christmas break and looking ahead to spring wondering what changes you should make to ensure you are more successful, or efficient this semester. You think, “I know I need more sleep and I should probably start eating at least one piece of fruit every day but, what else…?”

Perhaps for many of you, this past fall was your first semester at college. Maybe not. But regardless, you find yourself wondering, “What the heck did I do with my time last semester? Why in the world did I spend until 2 in the morning playing video games when I had an exam the next day? I am putting SO much time into homework for this class, why isn’t it paying off? I feel like I didn’t have time for anything fun, what was I doing?” Maybe for you, stepping into 2019 means dropping some hurtful time management habits like it’s hot and picking up new ones.

Unlike my other failed resolutions to work out more and eat better, here you will find a short list of 3 tips and tricks that you might be able to implement this semester that might just help you find ways to manage time or cope with a busy schedule:

  1. Learn how to say “no”. I couldn’t stress this enough. Hope has a TON going on. There are no questions about that. But often, I think the glorification of busy-ness leads us to feel shame when we have even moments of free time, so we add more, or take on another commitment. Yes, be involved. Meet people. Go on that late night Steak-N-Shake run. But maybe that means you don’t have to agree to join another club or be the number one fan at all the sporting events. While it may feel like you are pleasing someone by saying yes, they will understand if they truly care about you. Being over-committed is not  cool. Rather, having balance and a clear mind is what is cool, and  truly sets you up to be as successful as you can when you aren’t running around like a chicken with your head cut off.
  2. Embrace the ebb and flow. College is challenging and busy and just difficult at times. Some weeks feel like they will never end and like you will never reach Friday. You might feel like you are overwhelmed to the brim and you just might scream if you have another paper to write. Other weeks (or days) might feel like you are two weeks ahead and now you are just killing time. So you might find yourself panicking because you feel like there might be something you are missing so you work ahead some more. But when you feel this way, STOP. Embrace the ebb and flow of the rhythms of college life. Not every minute of your time at Hope is supposed to be geared towards work. Plus, you need those breaks when your head can rise above water and you can finally breathe again (*sigh*). And those other weeks where you seem to be drowning? Just. Keep. Breathing. You can get through those weeks. Frida Kahlo once said, “At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”
  3. Prioritize. You have probably heard this one before, but honestly, do it! Now is the time to try! Don’t leave your most difficult tasks to the end of your to-do list otherwise you might be in a time crunch while you are also trying to figure out how to do an assignment or painstaking task. If you have a few minutes between classes or a little bit of down time before dinner, do an easy/mindless task and then you have something to cross off! You can also prioritize individual tasks based on how much mental energy you can or are able to devote to something. If it is not necessary for you to get and A+++ on an assignment because you already have 110%, maybe devote less mental energy, shoot for a B. If you can get yourself to be okay with prioritizing mental energy to challenging tasks and get re-energized by the tasks you enjoy or that don’t take as much time, you might be able to find a better balance and have a much easier time prioritizing your work!

Now, these aren’t foolproof. But perhaps they are a bit more unconventional and maybe overlooked. Time management, I have found is so much about mindset. Perseverance and resilience can get you a long way. You can do this. And if you feel like you can’t, ask for help. In Res Life, we believe asking for help can get us a long way. Rely on one another. Rely on your RAs, your RDs, Hope College staff, faculty and administration. We’ve got your back.

But also remember, you don’t need an excuse of a new year’s resolution to set a goal or make a change. If something isn’t working, try something new. If that doesn’t work, try again tomorrow. It’s okay to start over and it’s okay to begin again.

Top 10 Ways to Resolve Roommate Conflict

Despite our age and experience, living with someone is never easy.  Take it from Jonathan and Caleb who are new roommates on campus. Having previously had their own bedrooms in their old home, learning to share a room has brought its challenges. So, having recently moved in together, I thought I’d ask them their advice.  Here are Jonathan and Caleb’s “Top 10 Ways to Resolve Roommate Conflict”:

  1. Give them flowers
  2. Be kind
  3. Have an R.A. give them a “reminder”.
  4. Tell your teacher if someone is being mean
  5. Say “I’m sorry”
  6. Have some alone time
  7. Don’t take the other person’s things
  8. Sing them a song
  9. Ask if they are okay
  10. Fold your clothes a lot

The thing is, they’re right. They might use different words to describe their points of view, but it might do us adults some good to evaluate our “mature” perspectives and heed some advice.  Whether you are currently experiencing a conflict with a roommate or getting ahead of the game by learning what you can before you move in, here are a few takeaways from the list above:

  • Reach out. It is normal and okay to have tension and conflict with another person when you live so closely. But before you make up your mind that you are the one who has been wronged, ask some questions. Reach out to the other with a desire to understand where they are coming from. That doesn’t mean you have to agree, but it does mean you need keep an open mind that if two people are living in a space there is potential that there could be two sides of the story.  Whether this is in the form of “asking if they are okay”, or “saying I’m sorry”, reach out before you close in.
  • Take care of your space and your things. Whether you are living in a resident hall, a cottage or own your own home, a living space has more to offer when you take care of it. Maybe your roommate prefers things clean and you like things messy. And maybe you wish you could just live how you want to live. But regardless, when given something like a place of your own to live, it grows character when we respect it and take care of it. So for the sake of developing responsibility AND honoring the person who shares your space- “fold your clothes a lot”, wash your dishes, “don’t take other people’s things”.
  • Do something nice.  No one has ever said you have to be best friends with your roommate, but you can alway be a friend TO your roommate. Even if tension is flying in the air, you have the ability to access creativity and offer a kind gesture.  So maybe “singing a song” is way out of your comfort zone and “buying flowers” feels more romantic than you’d like, but could you offer an invitation to share a lunch? Or offer to clean their cereal bowl, or hold the door for them when you exit the building? Small things can go a long way.
  • Ask for help. Your experience here at Hope College matters.  And YOU matter. So if you are unsure of how to handle a situation, or if you feel unsafe, not only can you “tell a teacher if someone is being mean”, but you can lean into the support systems surrounding you. Inform a Resident Assistant or a Resident Director or seek counsel from the Counseling Center and other various resources on campus.

Like so many other aspects of your life on campus here at Hope College, having a roommate is an opportunity to learn and grow. Whether you knew nothing about your roommate before you arrived and now you have a new best friend, or you were best friends when you got here and it’s just not working how you thought it would, there is an invitation in the experience itself, to learn about yourself and about building relationships.  But if you’re not sure how to figure out what that invitation is, feel free to stop by Gilmore Hall and ask Jonathan and Caleb- I’m sure they’d have some advice.

 

College is Hard, But Your Chair Doesn’t Have to Be: Comfortable Study Spots

By Aine O’Connor, Neighborhood Coordinator

Are you and your friends searching for new study spaces? Getting tired of your desk, Science Center study rooms, and library tables? As midterms and finals creep closer, where will you go if (gasp) your favorite spot gets taken? Here are ten study spots to shake up your routine and find new motivation. Happy homeworking!

On Campus

Cozy Chairs in Lubbers:

If you just want to curl up and read a good book for your English class, Lubbers is the way to go. Each floor has at least four super cozy chairs to work on. Pro tip: On the weekends, you can oftentimes drag two chairs together to make a megacouch. Just be careful not to fall asleep!

Phelps Dining:

Many freshmen think that going to lunch or dinner alone is embarrassing or lonely, but it can sometimes be the best time to study! Go over to the fireplace side and grab a small table or a booth (some even have outlets close by). If you look around, I promise you won’t be the only one!

Rare Books Room at Van Wylen:

Do you want to feel like you’re actually at Hogwarts, even when you’re doing Physics II? Head down to the Rare Books Room in the basement of Van Wylen Library. There are hundreds of old hymnals, books in Dutch, and interesting stories to browse when you get bored.

Martha Miller Rotundas:

These spaces are open to you all day! The rotundas offer great views of downtown Holland and have the best beanbags on campus. Go to the first floor for a meeting or the second floor for some quiet study time.

Res Hall Lounges/Hallways:

People automatically think of the study rooms as the place to go, but sometimes your res hall’s lounge can be perfect. In Van Vleck, where I used to live, we used our hallways! Chat while you work, meet up to write together, or escape your roommate’s snoring at 2 AM by going to a new place.

Your RA’s room:

RAs love to see their residents! If our doors are open, feel free to stop by, catch up, and work on stuff. Another pro tip: I can promise that your RA is REALLY smart. It might not be a bad idea to ask them for help if you get stuck. They may also be a great pair of eyes on a paper or assignment! This is the view from my RA room last year.

Off Campus

Herrick District Library:

Herrick is just across from Centennial Park and is a fantastic resource for students. There are quiet reading rooms, rentable spaces, and awesome cozy chairs in the young adult section. Most importantly, almost no students think to go there during finals week!

Kollen Park:

Kollen Park has beautiful views of Lake Macatawa and is within walking distance of campus. If you go in April or May, there’s a chance you’ll see some tulips along your route!

Windmill Island:

During the fall and winter months, Windmill Island is often open for free, especially in the evenings. It is a great place to work on a book or writing project. Need to write a poem? Head to Windmill Island- you’ll find something worth writing about.

Crane’s in the City:

If LJ’s or Ferris gets too crowded, head downtown another block and go to Crane’s in the City (next to Karla’s Place). They have great cider, donuts, and even some apple pie if you’re lucky. They also have large tables to spread out at and a homey, autumn feel.