Facing the Sophomore Slump

Hi everyone! A few weeks ago, I posted some tips for rising freshman heading off to school in the fall. When you’re going to be a freshman, there are so many things to do before move-in. You buy cute bedding to brighten up your room, create collages and canvases to decorate your walls, and go shopping for new clothes and cleaning supplies. Between endless graduation parties, scheduling orientation, and reading up about your new school, the summer before freshman year is jam-packed.

Now that I’m going to be a sophomore, the summer seems a lot different. First of all, I know what to expect, and while I can’t wait to get back to school, there’s something special about that mix of nervousness and excitement that you get before freshman year. I don’t need to go on a shopping spree for new dorm decor, not that I have the money to do so anyways. Instead, I’m figuring out how I can pay off some of my student loans and save some money to buy shirts that don’t fall apart in the wash. I hear you can sell your plasma for some cash…totally kidding (but I might be that desperate soon). Before I moved into school, I was already counting down the days until I was home for the summer. Now, I just want to go back to school!

I think I’m in a sophomore slump. I’m in a limbo between enjoying being home (and eating my mom’s food instead of the dining hall) and wanting to get back to my school routine ASAP. Since I’ve been home for over a month, I’ve been finding ways to liven up the summer and be somewhat productive.

1. Get a job: I’m lucky enough to be able to go back to the job I had in high school. It’s only part-time and I don’t get too many hours, but I’m making money that will fund my adventures once I get back to school. I like being able to support myself instead of always asking my parents for money. Plus, it gives me something to do. I know it’s hard to find jobs, but there are other things you can do to make money. I use a website called MyPoints.com. You earn points that you can later redeem for giftcards to your favorite stores. To get points, you add the MyPoints icon to your toolbar and click on it whenever you shop online at a store that uses MyPoints. You get a certain amount of points for every dollar you spend. You can also complete surveys, print out coupons, or sign up for email newsletters to get points. Since I shop online anyways, its an easy way to turn my purchases into rewards.

2. Make dorm decorations: I’ve been on a Pinterest kick lately and found some great DIYs for my new dorm. My friends and I are living on campus in a townhouse next year– 10 girls live under one roof! Luckily, it’s three floors, with two common rooms, a kitchen, and three bathrooms. This means a ton of decorating space. I’m going to do a quote canvas, make myself a Lilly Pulitzer letter, and make a new picture collage that includes my new friends (look for these posts in a few weeks). My friends and I want to make a paint chip wall for our common room; it’ll add some color since we can’t paint the walls. We’ve been stocking up on paint chips from Home Depot, pretty sure they’re catching on to us.

 

Isn't this cute?

Isn’t this cute?

3. Apply for scholarships: Paying for college is tough. I just got my financial aid packet and it’s finally dawning on me that I have to pay my loans back…uh oh. A lot of scholarship deadlines have already passed, but there’s still plenty of opportunities over the summer. Check out websites like Fastweb.com, moolahspot.com, and your college’s financial aid page. I finally have time to sit down and write some of these essays (at least my writing will still be sharp when I get back to school!). I am applying for anything and everything– every little bit counts. My parents are also really happy that I’m taking the initiative to pay for my own education, and when Mom is happy, everyone is happy. Plus, it’s an amazing to finally win a scholarship and get that check!

4. Keep in touch with friends: My friends and I have kept our group message going even though we’re not all at school. It’s an easy way to know what’s going on in each others’ lives and count down the days until move-in. We’re also reliving some of our crazier memories. Staying connected to my college friends makes me feel like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel– I’ll be back on campus soon! That being said, it’s also important to reach out to my home friends. I’m making more of an effort to connect with them. Instead of waiting for them to contact me, I’ve been texting them to make plans. Hanging out with my friends makes the summer feel like it is flying by!

5. Go to the gym: It might not be my favorite thing to do, but I always feel better once I get a good workout in. The endorphins always make me feel better, and I always feel strong and confident when I leave the gym. I think it’s important to take care of your body so I try to go a few times a week. It’s better than eating everything in my kitchen when I get bored.

6. Relax!: You just spent an entire semester at school working hard to get good grades. You deserve a break! I’m sleeping in, watching a ton of Netflix, and I’m currently obsessed with the World Cup (Go USA!!!). I’m taking these three months to recharge and destress. I have time to read that book I got for Easter, paint my nails, and try new hairstyles. It’s important to take a break. I’m cherishing this downtime before school starts back up because I know that I’ll be crazy busy once I get back.

These are just some of the ways I’m making the best of this summer. How are you spending your summer?

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Monday’s Favorite: Orange Is the New Black

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Hi everyone! Hope you are enjoying the summer and had a good Father’s Day. I’ve been loving the warm weather and have been using my downtime as a chance to do some serious Netflix binge-watching.

For those of you who have a Netflix account, you probably know Orange is the New Black came out with Season 2 last Friday. A quick summary of OITNB: the show centers around Piper Chapman, a wealthy New Yorker who has landed herself in Litchfield Prison because of a crime she committed ten years ago. Piper helped her girlfriend transport drug money (It was only one time!!). The plot follows Piper as she acclimates to prison and navigates the intricate relationships between all of the inmates. We also get to know a large supporting cast of prisoners and the circumstances of their imprisonment through a mix of current scenes and flashbacks.If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend you start now.

SPOILERS AHEAD*** Don’t read if you haven’t finished Season 2

Season 2 is just as exciting, shocking, and jaw-dropping as the first thirteen episodes. Jenji Kohan, the show’s creator, outdid herself.

Some of my favorite parts:

1. Where is Chapman? Season 1 ended with Piper beating the crap out of Pensatucky. All of the viewers questions– Is Pensatucky dead? What happens to Piper?– are left unanswered in the first episode of Season 2. We see Piper being transported out of SHU, loaded onto a bus, and boarding an airplane as she desperately tries to ascertain where she is going. She sees the Chicago skyline and realizes she is going to a jail there. Chapman is virtually ignored until she sees Alex in the prison– she had no idea where she was going or why she was there until she finds a familiar face. Kohan shows viewers how prisoners are treated as “less than”. Piper is treated like dirt and her rights are ignored. She is transported without an explanation and has no way to protect herself. Kohan makes a point about how vulnerable the prisoners really are. Later in the season, the Litchfield inmates are subjected to unsafe conditions when their showers start spewing sewage. This is another instance where the women are unprotected and have no way to advocate for themselves. Kohan really lets OITNB fans see how badly the inmates are treated– like they are less than human.

2. Piper’s Perjury: When Piper is in court to testify against the drug lord, she sees Alex before she is called to the stand. Alex urges Piper to lie and say she didn’t know the man; she says he is dangerous and will retaliate. Initially, Piper tells Alex that she will tell the truth no matter the consequences. However, Piper lies on the stand and says she never met the drug lord in an attempt to protect both Alex and herself. When Alex testifies, she tells the truth about the drug lord and is let out of jail. Piper chooses to lie under oath: another crime. Piper demonstrates that she doesn’t trust the system to imprison the drug lord. I think it’s interesting Piper chooses to do the wrong thing instead of the right thing– she keeps making bad decisions. Kohan is showing viewers that Chapman is responsible for her current predicament; she chose to do the wrong thing with Alex, and she chose to do the wrong thing in trial. It is her own fault.

3. Morello’s Backstory: I love seeing what the inmates were like before they ended up at Litchfield. This season, I really liked Morello’s backstory. Morello is one of my favorite characters; I love her sass, her optimism, and her over-the-top accent. She seems so fun and happy that I was wondering what she did to end up in jail. While we don’t know whether she was imprisoned because of her mail fraud scam or her obsession with Christopher, it didn’t really matter. Morello– who I thought was the most “with-it” inmate– turned out to be a stalker. I truly believed she was planning a wedding with Christopher, but instead, she was delusional and he only went on a single date with her. She even went so far as to break into Christopher and his fiancé’s house, stealing the prison van in the process. My heart hurt for Morello when we saw Christopher testify against her in court but I was heartbroken when I saw Christopher berate her in prison. Morello was humiliated in front of Nicky and the other inmates. I’m not sure how to feel about Morello now. Everything I that I thought I knew about her was actually her fantasies; I’m not sure what to believe. Kohan is a master at creating nuanced and complicated characters, and Morello is no exception. I’m excited to see what unfolds in Season 3

oitnb-morello-sad

4. Poussey: Poussey has been my favorite character this season. Her smile is infectious and her commitment to avoiding corruption is admirable. Even when all of her friends join Vee in her illegal cigarette (and later heroin) selling scheme, Poussey refuses to yield to the pressure. Poussey gets attacked by Warren, threatened by Vee, and ignored by Taystee, but she stays true to herself. She will not join the corruption ring no matter what she loses. I think Poussey is the hero of this season. She is so strong in her convictions, and her decision to do the right thing is admirable. She’s not afraid to stand up to Vee and fight back. She also doesn’t hold a grudge; Taystee and her other friends abandon her, but she allows them back into her life once they realize that Vee is bad news. She’s also really funny  and I love her and Taystee’s scenes together. I hope we learn about Poussey’s crime that landed her in Litchfield– it is mentioned she dealt pot, but I want a flashback that shows what happened. She’s also a hilarious character and I’m so glad she was featured more prominently this season.

These are only some of my highlights from OITNB Season 2. I’m in awe of Jenji Kohan and how conflicted she makes me (and other viewers) feel while they watch the show. She portrays the inmates as real people: they have good and bad qualities, and I’m torn as to how I feel about them. She is also incredible at creating cliffhangers and is the master of twists and turns. I never know what’s going to happen to the prisoners, and that’s part of the incredible journey that is OITNB. I don’t know how I’m going to wait another year for Season 3.

Have you all seen the new season? What did you think about it?