An almost graduate’s advice to surviving college

As I approach my last few weeks as a student at TCU, I have realized that sadly college is coming to an end and so will my antics here at this wonderful place I’ve called home for the past four years. So, to bid y’all adieu from my collegiate-self I’ve decided to create a list (gasp) of things you should and shouldn’t do at TCU and/or college in general I guess. Nostalgia has taken over my mind and therefore I must purge my words.

Do:

  1. Take all the free food and t-shirts you can get.
  2. Join a sorority. Kappa Alpha Theta is the best. I say this from a non-biased standpoint, I swear.
  3. Don’t be afraid to sign up for potluck roommates. Finding your future roommates through Facebook is overrated.
  4. Go to the free events hosted by your school. TCU has SPORTS, concerts, free food, 5ks, comedians, speakers and even petting zoos. Don’t be afraid to look for things to do on campus.
  5. Speaking of sports, go to every sport your school offers at least once. Obviously the must see sports are football, basketball and baseball. Try to see a couple tennis matches, volleyball games, soccer games and more. And as always, Go Frogs!
  6. Wear your school apparel everywhere, especially when you travel. You will literally meet so many cool people from all over the world. Trust me, people love to talk about their alma mater.
  7. Go completely out of your comfort zone. Do something spontaneous, like be in a random music video or road trip with new friends that you may barely know. The best stories come from trusting your gut and exploring with adventurous people on a whim.
  8. Go to class.
  9. Skip class, sometimes.
  10. Go to parties. When you graduate you won’t remember the nights you stayed in and studied, but you’ll remember the nights you got to celebrate college and being young with your best friends.
  11. Learn how to study. Whether it be writing notes, using quizlet or talking it out with a study group. D’s may get degrees, but A’s will get you the job you want.
  12. Get summer internships. Trust me, it will be so much easier to get a job after you graduate. Something I should have taken note of earlier.
  13. Journal. Sometimes there are things you don’t want to talk about with people. It doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be talked about at all. Write it down. Read it. Leave it alone. Come back to it. See if you can work it out yourself or if you need to talk with a friend or mentor.
  14. Suck up to your teachers. Whatever, be a teacher’s pet. More times than not your professor will give you the benefit of the doubt. Borderline grades are usually decided based on a students’ attendance and effort in the class. Make sure your profs know your education is important to you.
  15. Ask for letters of recommendation early. Oops.
  16. Take classes with friends. Double the notes and double the fun. Plus, shameless competition is always interesting.
  17. Say yes to dates. Dinner dates. Mixer/Party dates. Even if it is with someone you don’t know. What is the worst that could happen?
  18. Call your parents. Actually, call your whole fam. Give them an update on life and tell them you love them.
  19. Kiss the random hot guy at a party.
  20. Go out to dinner and happy hour with your squad.
  21. Have occasional wine nights with the girls. Who needs house parties and bars when you have vino, movies and PJs.
  22. Find a friend with a dog. Life hack: you don’t have to pick up the poop, give them baths or pay for their food. You can still get your puppy fix whenever you want.
  23. Go to Vegas for your 21st birthday.
  24. Go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
  25. Go to church!
  26. Sign up for intramurals with your friends. You may tear your ACL for the third time, but at least you have a story to tell.
  27. Find time to be alone. I have yet to actually succeed in this because I am a social creature and I hate being alone, but it is important so do it.
  28. Make college bucket lists with your friends!!!

 

Do NOT!!!:

  1. Ignore your health. I guarantee you will get sick your first two weeks at school. Chug airborne and try to get enough sleep. Stress can lower your immune system so make sure you know how to alleviate stress and see a doctor when you need to. Don’t ignore your mental health either. College is the first time we are sent away from our parents for an extended period of time. Our late teens and early twenties are a prime time for mental illnesses to become present. Do not be afraid to seek for help. You are not alone.
  2. Pull multiple all-nighters to finish one season of Friday Night Lights in two days. Also, don’t watch scary movies before you go to bed.
  3. Do your laundry on Sundays. Everyone does their laundry on Sundays. You will not find washers or dryers in the dorms. You may also find that your roommates are better at doing their laundry in a timely fashion and will beat you to the chase.
  4. Forget what time your night class is. You may miss your first test by an hour, like I did.
  5. Post pictures to social media that you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see.
  6. Forget to plan all your spring breaks and never make it to Cabo.
  7. Buy random expensive clothes you’re only going to wear once. Get creative.
  8. Ignore the friends that are always there for you. Popularity isn’t a contest in college.
  9. Let dumb boys dictate your happiness. And don’t compare yourself to other girls. After all, they say that comparison is the thief of joy.
  10. Sit back and let the four years roll by without putting in the effort to make it all worth it.

My lists aren’t extensive and will be added to later (maybe). Feel free to share with friends or high schoolers. I just wanted to relive all my good and bad experiences by jotting them down to share with others. It has truly been a blessing being here at TCU. I will never forget the exciting people I’ve met on my path to adulthood. Even though I am completely terrified of the real world, I know my experience here has prepared me both emotionally and academically. Today, I ordered my diploma and cap n’ gown. What a whirlwind it’s been. From the carefree freshman to the sophomore slump. From the junior academic to the inevitable senioritis. Thank you TCU for all the mems and friends.

TCU Tuition: $$$

TCU Diploma: Priceless

Peace out world,

T

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On Repeat

If you don’t know me or my not-so-absurd study habits, you’ll probably benefit from knowing that my favorite song is The Intro by The XX. Y’all have heard this song a bazillion times, trust me. It’s that super catchy low-key beat that can be streamed together for 10 hours (seriously though, it’s on YouTube) and there are (fun fact) absolutely no lyrics. Just looking at iTunes on my computer you can see the blatant gap between my top 25 most played songs, coming in first The Intro with 719 plays (as of right now) and coming in a “close” second Clocks by Coldplay with a solid 76 plays. So, you guessed it, instead of listening to YouTube’s ten hour version of The Intro, I’ve dedicated my time solely to listening to my 6 minute version, on repeat, every single time I study, or attempt to study at least.

I claim to be spontaneous, one of my top three traits, but I am pretty damn predictable. I’m a creature of habit. Aren’t we all though? I’ve decided that I need to leave myself opportunities for new experiences, for stepping outside my comfort zone. So this week, I had a couple new rites-of-passages. Some good, some bad. And instead of doing my usual lists on this site, I’ll change it up and purge some words without any other context. So who wants to know what happened recently? Ya? Okay cool. Here goes nothing.

I went on my very first “official” date. I didn’t get let into the student section for my very first time and sadly it was for the K-state game. Us roommates had our very first fight about doing the dishes. I tried a coconut-oil hair mask. I went to Lab, that weird freshman bar. I got accepted to the London study abroad program for Strat Comm. I listened to new music. Found a new song to play on repeat. It’s called Bad Intentions by Niykee Heaton. I went to my very first hockey game. Go Stars! I got a 97.5% on my advertising test. I got my very first C on a comm paper. I saw a couple new movies. My roommates and friends had some exciting new experiences too, but it’s not my place to tell. Although, I want to brag for them. It took me 40 minutes to park at school on a rainy day. TCU has officially beat all of the Big 12 teams in the past three years. We rock!

Alright, I think that’s all my little mind can think off. I’ll let you know if any more cool stuff happens. This is just a reminder to give yourself a break. Give up that monotonous daily/weekly/monthly/yearly routine for just a quick moment. Make it memorable, intentional, and freeing.

Cheers to New Experience and Peace Out,

Tara

It’s a Story to Tell…

It’s a story to tell… it’s the motto of the day. 

            These past few weeks have been filled with adventure, insanity, and chaos. It has been crowded with set backs and terrifying moments, but significantly outnumbered by the infinite amount of incredibly blessed moments. The beginning of each year introduces a new rhythm that sets the pace for the upcoming semester. I have a feeling that this year is going to be unbelievable in a hectic, but good sort of way. Here is long-story-short breakdown of how things have been going so far.

            Where did I leave off? How about I just start off with recruitment.

No surprise here, recruitment was off the wall crazy. It was way more fun than I thought it would be so props to my girls Aubree and Kelly for being the best recruitment chairs ever. Workweek and recruitment week are the two most insane weeks of the year. It is crazier than spring break…. For those of you who don’t get to experience the whole TCU recruitment process, you have no idea what its like underneath it all. It is incredibly hard to explain. Like when you ask someone who studied abroad (because like everyone did this summer), “how was it?” and they can only respond with one-word answers like “amazing.” How would I describe recruitment? Crazy. But it is so much more than that. Imagine cheer camp mixed with boot camp combined with an uncanny amount of estrogen. There is no real way to explain this week of drama and excitement. All I can tell you is that THETA is the best sorority and my sisters are truly talented and remarkable girls. TLAM!

            Next, school begins… of course. My schedule really couldn’t get much better. I mean two night classes AND a Friday class. It’s awesome. Alright, even though my calendar is not all that great, so far my classes have proved to be promising. Class is my favorite place to meet new friends. It gives me chances to have unattached relationships. I like knowing people that no one else knows. I don’t mean for that to sound creepy in any way, but I hope some of you will understand. For me I like it because it gives me a new viewpoint and perspective of everything that’s going on around me. It keeps me balanced and open-minded. I like that

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            With that in mind, I would like to share my indescribable experience in the music industry thanks again to my good friend Aubree who always provides us with a good challenge. This week’s was a music video. A legitimate one, kind of. An MTV2 music video that we were asked to come be a part of. I will spare you the details, but share some pictures that will explain the “it’s a story to tell moment.” It is one worthy of being told in person, but hard to explain in written words. I guess you’ll have to tune in on MTV2 to catch yo girls making a cameo in Willstrumental’s “Bout It Bout It.”

        Mixed with all this craziness with new beginnings and hectic schedules, I have found some lovely silver linings. A worthy list of breathtaking and delightful experiences. Through these past weeks I have strengthened relationships and bonds with new and old friends. I have been reminded about why I chose Theta and why I chose TCU and my friends. I have entered the long path of classes needed to complete my major. I have met with friends and family that I haven’t seen in forever and I finally got to settle into my new house with my unique and awesome roommates. Speaking of houses and family and friends, I have one more little adventure to share.

            Lucky for me I was able to travel down to San Antonio to my grandparent’s house to see part of my extended fam. Cousins and cousins and more cousins and aunts and uncles. The whole shebang. You’d think it would be one of those over the top family gatherings, and you’d be right because it was exactly that. I can’t believe that a group of 20-something-year-olds would get together and wreak havoc. How many girls does it take to open a trundle bed, to finish a basket of candy, to overflow the pool with an abundance of colorful floaties. It was nuts how many absurd activities brought us together. We wrapped up each night with looking at old photos from when we were little kids and then we would begin the next day with reenacting the pictures.

            During this great weekend, I was overwhelmed with all the fun and awfully tired from the sun. I was exhausted and unable to comprehend the call I had received from my dad. You can imagine how unbelievably shocked and panicked I was when I found out my mom was seriously ill in another country. I tried to stay calm and show how brave I was, but that night I crashed a little earlier and prayed a little harder. I prayed my little heart out for her. Thank you to everyone who sent her out in their prayer groups. Cid, you are doing great and have a strong support group that never stops praying for you. I love you! It’s your “story to tell.” 

 

Finally, throughout this entire crazy and emotional short journey I was able to experience some precious moments of solitude (believe it or not) and enjoy alone time with my homeboy, Jesus. My biggest “oh snap” moment was when I reread my Jesus Calling book for the reading of August 29. Yes, I’ve read it multiple times to understand it and then believe it. I’ll leave you with that. Remember through all your craziness, there is always an anchor. Find it.

 

“DEMONSTRATE YOUR TRUST IN ME by sitting quietly in My Presence. Put aside all that is waiting to be done, and refuse to worry about anything. This sacred time together strengthens you and prepares you to face whatever the day will bring. By waiting with Me before you begin the day’s activities, you proclaim the reality of My living Presence. This act of faith–waiting before working–is noted in the spirit world, where your demonstration of trust weakens principalities and powers of darkness.

The most effective way to resist evil is to draw near to Me. When you need to take action, I will guide you clearly through My Spirit and My Word. The world is so complex and overstimulating that you can easily lose your sense of direction. Doing countless unnecessary activities will dissipate your energy. When you spend time with me, I restore your sense of direction. As you look to Me for guidance, I enable you to do less but accomplish more.”

 

Luke 12:22-26; Ephesians 6:12; Proverbs 16:3

 

Enjoy your week!

Tara McQueen

Cheers to Capri

Cheers to Easter and getting a small break off of school. I am not going to Capri anytime soon, but springtime is still peeping through this bipolar Texas weather. Thanks to my nana and her wonderful taste in scents, Cheers to Capri limoncello candle is the brightest way to hop into spring. Hop Hop Hop. While I am stuck here at school for the three day break I plan on sitting in my room with the pretty yellow candle lit and buckling down to finish those three papers that are all due the day we get back from break. Lucky me. And though I have been feeling defeated by this treacherous turmoil they call college, this little candle brings light to my life, yes… physically and metaphorically. Since Nana has given me this gift I have had a little pep in my step. Today I told myself that I was not going to awkwardly avoid someone that I kind of know. I was going to smile at them and say hi. For the most part it went pretty well and I was in a good mood for the entire day (rare occasion). Yes, there were a few awkward moments when people may have not recognized me right away or that I hadn’t talked to in a while, but in the long run I think people appreciated my outgoingness and I could tell it put a smile on some of their faces. And that was the goal. Smiling is contagious. The little yellow Cheers to Capri brings sunshine to my life just with a sweet scent and I hope to share that light with people just by shining a quick smile. Another highlight of the day was showing Caitlin the sweet little New Testament booklet that some people at TCU had handed out the prior week. I snuck into her room and asked if I could have it. She easily gave it away without a second thought. But then she asked if I actually read The Bible. I said yes I do, every night and most mornings. She told me she had trouble comprehending what she reads from The Bible, well technically she said articulating, but I knew what she meant. I told her that I knew someone who sat down with me to examine just one scripture, line by line, word by word, just to break it down and understand its full meaning. I had never thought I would have time to dig into the meaning. I usually take the short cut and just assume what it says is essentially the meaning and think no more than it. But, I have found it important to actually discover our own interpretation of The Bible. Tonight, Caitlin and I decided that every night before we go to bed we will get together and read a piece from that little New Testament booklet. We plan to discuss it with each other and understand it from our own perspectives. I am grateful to have a friend who shares the same faith and the same curiosity as I do. I will keep you updated on what we have discovered together. Here is a little sneak peek about what we looked at tonight. The topic was stress and this is a recommended verse.

For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

-Psam 27:5

  Caitlin and I decided that it means God will find a way to keep us from the stress that finds its way to us. He will set us high on a rock where we can look out at life freely and see the greater picture of living and understand that the things that stress us out are minor compared to the greater gift of life.   Share with us your interpretations of the Psalm 27:5. Any suggestions for tomorrows Bible reading? Let us know.   Here was my verse of the day for this mornings reading. Enjoy!

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

-1 Thessalonians 5:18

If the Shoe Fits, Why Not?

(disclaimer: this was written on tuesday, 2-18-14)

I have learned during the past weeks I’ve spent here that adjusting doesn’t always mean conforming. Yeah, TCU girls on their way to class are a big fashion faux pas. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. You run into that new boy you like, sorry, but you look like a mess. This is the part I refused to adjust to at TCU. Yes, I conform to the Greek life culture; I do not conform to oversize tee shirts that make me look 30 pounds heavier than I am. I will admit as I write this that I am wearing a long sleeve (non-figure flattering) Endless Summer shirt paired with black lulus and blue converse. Not at my peak, but I did wear a sassy business dress for a good majority of the day. And now it’s cold, so forgive me for dressing accordingly to the weather for just a second. Sorry students in my Lab class, but I am not trying to please you right now.

But all this is beside the point. As I am adjusting to the new college culture, I have learned to conform from identity to identity. Yet I am still able to maintain a stable identity of my own. Am I not making sense? Here let me make this clearer by using an example.

Conforming in the sense of adjusting.

I show up to my chapter meeting and my seating is not in its usual order, I am not squeezed next to my talking buddy who I used to sit next to for every meeting. Am I going to make the best of it instead? You betcha. Lucky for me I get to form a bond with the new ‘sisters’ I get to sit next to. Adjusting to change, conforming to sorority sisterhood expectations.

Well speaking about sisters, Caitlin (yes, I consider her a sister) and I decided to play into the role of Texas Californians. Does that make sense? We embraced our California mentality and explored the artsiest of neighborhoods we could find in Fort Worth.  It was totally worth it. Adjusting the California mindset to what Texas has to offer.Image

Naturally, during our spontaneous adventure we thought the only rational way to end this day would be to go to Billy Bob’s to see Scotty McCreery in concert. Now I am not gonna lie here… I am not country music’s biggest fan, however, when in Texas…, right? I kick on my cowboy boots and head to the rodeo, pretending to be the real cowgirl that I am. Conformity? Yeah, probably. Fun? AbsolutelyImage

It sure seems like Caitlin and I had a crazy cool weekend. Even on Monday it continued on. Caitlin was super stoked that her Eno hammock came in. I committed to helping her set it up and try it out. Given it was a pretty boyish color (puke green and brown) us to girls added a little pizazz to it. We hung that bad boy up on a tree and climbed in, both crossing our fingers. If this sucker falls down, that is for sure a broken tailbone. Am I usually adventurous like this? No, not necessarily as much as I’d like to think. So yeah I pushed myself to meet Caitlin’s expectations of hammock chiller.

Overall, I’d say this whole experience has been successful. It may be altering your perspective or altering your actions, but being able to stay true to yourself and opening up new and different doors for yourself really isn’t that bad.

I could ramble on and on, but assuming some of y’all have as short of an attention span as I do… I’ll spare you the time and wrap it all up. What I am trying to get at here is that you can ALWAYS change yourself into who you want to be.

Home Sweet Home

Today was the first time I called my room in my TCU dormitory home. I don’t exactly remember the sentence it was used in, but I do remember stopping and thinking wow it feels nice to be back into a place I can call home. TCU has been such a lovely place to me in the past few weeks and I have always felt that this atmosphere was exceedingly inviting and lovely in a close-knit family (or just my sorority family, love you big) type of way. I always thought of TCU as my home during my freshman year. I thought it would be the same sophomore year. But as I returned to school uninterested in what I would title it, I realized that adjusting back into a routine and undecorated room was unfulfilling. I was lacking in some aspect and I couldn’t quite pinpoint what exactly that missing puzzle piece was.Image

I was extremely close to God at that time as I was searching for some comfort and stability in which I found in Him. I am grateful that I had a permanent reminder of his presence infused into my own skin. I seek out to Him in fear, hope, praise, and gratitude. He responds slowly by offering up a token that has been incomplete in prior weeks. First, He granted me with the gift of gratefulness. I am utterly pleased with the classes I am in and the stimulating and challenges professors I have the opportunity to learn from. Thank you, baby Jesus. You rock.

Next, I was granted with the blessing of faithful friends. It bothers me to say that I wasn’t initially content with the way things were going with my friends for the first week and half of school. I love them and I just did not feel that the love was reciprocated. Well, I was not surprisingly wrong. I was quick to judge and wrongly assume that the way we express fondness and affection can be drastically different. Unexpectedly, this was the hardest blow for me to overcome. I was jealous of the tight bond I once was a part of and upon my return I felt left out, like I didn’t belong. That only caused me to retreat. Luckily, I was finding that backtracking and neglecting the problem were not going to make things better. From there on out we decided to allow each other to openly express our feelings in an all-understanding way. I appreciate that communication and I now find myself in a comfortable and harmonious relationship with the friends I can confidently call family.

So far my finalizing gift is the ability to overcome extreme worry.

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

Psalm 55:22 NIV

Exactly what I needed to hear and I feel responsible for sharing it with others, aka you readers. Do not worry for He is always present and always guiding your path. Recently while just starting to read Eat Pray Love, I discovered a quote I found interesting and maybe a little abstract.

But why must everything always have a practical application? I’d been such a diligent soldier for years—working, producing, never missing a deadline, taking care of my loved ones, my gums and my credit record, voting, etc. Is this lifetime supposed to be only about duty? In this dark period of loss, did I need any justification for learning Italian other than that it was the only thing I could imagine bringing me any pleasure right now?

This popped out at me. I am not quite sure why yet, but I feel like there is more to it than what’s on the print and paper. Sometimes when you are feeling lost it is necessary to be your own devil’s advocate. Find yourself, ground yourself, and assure yourself. Life is made for you; you are not made to conform to societal pressures. You are capable of finding what makes you happy, what makes your mind climb higher than its limits, to let your words flow freely. Life is what you make of it. So incredibly cliché it almost makes me cringe. I can’t portray that in a more straightforward way. We mustn’t worry so much about what others think or what we are and are not capable of. We are capable of anything and stressing about it can only hold us back. My challenge for the week (maybe year, maybe lifetime) is to let go of the worry and let God guide me to my given path. Easier said than done, but always worth a try.

To tie things together I examine what I am blessed with here at TCU and what I look forward to receive throughout my time here. I smiled at myself when I heard the word “home” slip out of my lips today. I am content. I am finally home.