The most Oklahoma things ever

Every state has its culture. Here are the most Oklahoma things ever:

1. Using adrenaline from tornados to text your crush
There’s nothing like the thrill of hearing a tornado siren. There’s also nothing like the terror of sitting in a half-lit shelter, wondering if you’ll see daylight again. But with this fear comes a whole lot of adrenaline. And what a good way to channel it? Text your crush, of course!

And after the tornado, use the relief from not dying to text them again.

2. Having a favorite TV meteorologist for severe weather
Are you a David Payne type of person? Or maybe you prefer Mike Morgan. Oklahomans differ on who we trust for premium weather coverage. But I think we all can agree on one thing: no matter who we watch now, no weather man will ever replace channel 9’s Gary England.

3. Making friends in the storm shelter
Severe weather usually lasts for a few hours, so that means a lot of time underground. If you’re in a public place when the tornado hits, this means hiding in supermarket storage rooms or gas station bathrooms. Spending three hours sweating and laughing nervously with strangers is good bonding. If you’re lucky, your company will be “Seen it all before. We’ll be fine” type of people and not “If the Lord wants to call us home, there’s nothing we can do” type of people.

4. Having five million people text you if you miss church one Sunday


Maybe you’re sick. Maybe you’re out of town. Or maybe you just don’t feel like going. But you know what skipping church means: a text asking where you were from your best friend, youth pastor, head pastor, usher and worship leader. And there’s never a good answer. Missing church one Sunday causes everyone to assume you’re going through a spiritual crisis. Expect many “praying for you” texts. Also expect to be drowned in hugs, love and pure joy when you return the next Sunday.

5. Not being able to tweet certain things because your youth pastor follows you on Twitter
Oklahoman young adults: remember being 14, scrolling through Twitter, and coming across a funny post you wanted to retweet, but it had a curse word in it? Remember wondering if you could get away with sharing it without your youth pastor questioning you at Wednesday’s youth group or telling your parents? And don’t even think about blocking him. He would find out. And then you’d be (lovingly) called out on Wednesday for sure.

6. Your high school math teacher was also a coach
You walk into the classroom. You see a 42-year-old man in a track suit and New Balances. He’s talking loudly to a star athlete in your class. He’s teasing the tennis girls. He has a poster of the football schedule on his wall. He keeps athletic equipment in the classroom. He calls everyone by their last name. He’s nice, but let’s be honest — he probably doesn’t know much about math. He hands out worksheets and devotes the rest of the class to “study time.”

7. Trash-talking Oklahoma to your friends but defending it to outsiders*
It’s easy to be angry at Oklahoma when your school’s funding is cut by the year, racism and homophobia are normal, and every road you drive causes damage to your car. Odds are, you’ve spent countless hours with your friends and family complaining about this state’s problems. But when an out-of-stater says something negative about Oklahoma, your response probably goes something like this:

“This is God’s favorite state! Ever heard of Southern hospitality? I’m sorry people in your state don’t treat everyone like their long-lost child. Remember when OKC got bombed? Oklahoma was nationally known for having helpful citizens. Ever been to Pops? What about Turner Falls? Do you know the joy of four-wheeling down backroads or jumping off the Eufaula Lake dock? We are the home of Reba and Will Rogers! Carrie Underwood sat at my table for Sunday dinner last week, and Baker Mayfield bought me a drink at Logie’s! Boomer Sooner, baby. Our education system may be trash, but our school children say the flag salute every morning AND have a moment of silence! It’s not brainwashing! It’s patriotism!! Call me when you’ve survived three EF5 tornados.”

*submission by Christina Lewis

8. Saying “yall’dve,” and “all y’all”

“If yall’dve cleaned your rooms, you wouldn’t be grounded right now.”

“I’m going to the movies with Sarah tonight, but all y’all can come, too!”

9. Talking with your friends about what your mom used to spank you with
Sydney got the hairbrush.
Kaylee got the wooden spoon.
Jake got the belt.
Will got the old-fashioned hand.
Lynn’s family is from Southwestern Oklahoma, so she had to cut a switch off a tree.

10. Having to “come out” to your parents as liberal, even if it was a single-issue belief

“Mom… Dad… I kinda think single-payer health care could be a good idea.”

11. “Are you OU or OSU?”
This one is far too complicated to chronicle in one blog post. The school-rivalry awareness started as early as kindergarten. It ripped friends and families apart. If you went to your OSU friend’s house, you better not have been wearing crimson. There was never a break. If you liked OU, you were elitist. If you liked OSU, you were a redneck. And the tension didn’t stay at home, either. High school homecoming weeks often had the theme day “OU and OSU,” where students wore their gear from one of the two schools. This day left the school divided. And bedlam was the source of town-wide Facebook fights.

– Drew

Oklahoma’s criminal justice reform

Hey, everyone! Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a series of seven criminal justice reform bills Thursday, April 26.

The bills’ goal is primarily to alleviate prison overcrowding. I read the seven bills and outlined what I thought were the most important changes. To see the full bill, click the link.

SB 649
– An amendatory bill relating to sentencing second-time offenses
WHAT CHANGED:
The bill states that no person can be sentenced as a subsequent offender if:
-10 years have passed since the person completed the original crime’s sentence.
-the person hasn’t committed a felony in the ten-year meantime.
(Also states that a previous drug possession charge can’t be used to enhance punishment.
Before this bill passed, a person could be sentenced as a subsequent offender if he/she had committed a misdemeanor within ten years of his/her first sentence completion.)

SB 650 — An amendatory bill relating to expungement
WHAT CHANGED:
The bill states that a person can file a motion for expungement if:
-he/she has been pardoned from a nonviolent felony
-he/she hasn’t committed another felony or separate misdemeanor in 7 years
-five years have passed since he/she completed the original felony sentence

SB 689 — An amendatory bill relating to sentencing
WHAT CHANGED:
Courts can modify a prisoner’s life without parole sentence if:
-the crime committed was nonviolent
-the prisoner has served ten years of his/her sentence
(This bill states that the victim’s testimony must be heard in court and considered when modifying sentences.)

SB 786 — An amendatory bill relating to burglary
WHAT CHANGED:
-Breaking and entering cars, trucks, trailers and vessels is now third degree burglary instead of second.
-Third-degree burglary sentences can’t exceed five years.

SB 793 — An amendatory bill relating to controlled substances
WHAT CHANGED:
-The bill exempts marijuana from Schedule I classification as it relates to transporting/possessing with intent to distribute — with this legislation, distributing marijuana isn’t in the same category as distributing cocaine.
-Prison time for transporting/distributing a Schedule I or II substance can’t exceed 7 years for a first-time offense.
-Prison time for transporting/distributing a Schedule III, IV, or V substance, or marijuana, can’t exceed five years.
-Anything past a first offense for drug trafficking must be served out for 50 percent of the sentence.

HB 2281 — An amendatory bill relating to stolen property, pawn shops, embezzlement, etc:
WHAT CHANGED:
-Stealing or otherwise illegally obtaining property valued at less than $1000 is a misdemeanor.
-Stealing or otherwise illegally obtaining property valued at $1000 or above is a felony.

HB 2286 — An amendatory bill relating to the Pardon and Parole board
WHAT CHANGED:
For crimes committed after Nov. 1, 2018, a person is eligible for parole after completing one-fourth of his/her sentence, unless that sentence is life without parole. The person must be 60 years old or older.

– Drew
Twitter: @drethegirl, @drewatou

What To Listen To On Your Walk To Class

Hey, everyone! So, I decided to write another post that I wish someone would have written for me. Finding new music is hard sometimes, especially when you’re busy. Apps like Spotify should make the process easier, but it reality, it can be overwhelming to sort through every new release until you find something you like. Here is a post containing a few of my favorite albums. All are from 2014 and later, so they should be pretty fresh. These are the records I’ve been listening to all summer– the songs that are a MUST for any summer playlist. I tried my best to describe my favorite tracks in a way that did them justice. Enjoy.

 

Z (2014) – SZA

Before there was CTRL, there was Z, the third EP from SZA (pronounced “sizz-uh”). Produced in part by Mac Miller, this experimental R&B album features SZA’s own songwriting. is dreamy, urban, and dark, and it’s perfect listening for a drive through the city or for a night in. The songs seem somewhat existential in theme, and they also include observations about love and specific struggles with worldly problems.

My favorite tracks:

  1. “Julia” is the third song on the EP. SZA reassures the person for which she sings, “Do I feel for you?/I can guarantee/Count on this one,” later spiraling into lyrics about disappointment and feelings of fear regarding abandonment. The song was named after Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, one of SZA’s favorite movie characters and actresses.”Julia” is well-polished and has synthpop influences.
  2. “Warm Winds (feat. Isaiah Rashad)” is my personal favorite from the album. The most poetic of the tracks from Z, the beautifully written, two-part ode to fear and infatuation feels like pure strength, romance, and nostalgia rolled into one. Part One begins with SZA singing about overcoming fear and asking God for a better way to cope, softly pleading “Digging out of graves is never easy/Handing you my shovel here to take.” Part 2 of the song, the most exquisite of the two, features Isaiah Rashad as a back-up vocal for SZA as she sings “Warm winds on a space ride/When I call your phone on a late night,” describing the feeling her lover gives her as she talks to him. This song seems to be written about a past relationship, as she reminisces, “I recall your soul had a taste like/Gardens, flowers, warm winds” and admitting in the second verse, “Sometimes I bite my lips and close my eyes/Just to pretend it’s you.” Instrumentally, this section of “Warm Winds” feels other worldly, as if the first section was created on earth, and the latter was created on another planet where SZA is finally alone with her thoughts and has discovered an entire new style of music. The production is cold, eerie, and utterly flawless; I haven’t heard anything quite like “Warm Winds” to date.
  3. “Sweet November,” produced by Marvin Gaye, is SZA’s recollection about a time in her life that she was deathly ill. In the refrain, she requests, “Remember me for who I was/Not who I am.” This track features a sample from Marvin Gaye’s “Mandota” which is originally from the deluxe version of his famous album Let’s Get It On. “Sweet November” is regretful and subdued, a stylistic choice that is entirely fitting for its theme.

CTRL (2017) – SZA 

I had to add CTRL. No summer music playlist would be complete without it. SZA may have escaped the public eye a few years ago, but there is no stopping her skyrocket to fame after this most recent project. CTRL is without a doubt the lusty, honest, and genre-crossing album that everyone has been craving for summer, and her observations on femininity, interaction between the sexes, and “hook-up culture” are themes that resonate with most millennials. This album will stand the test of time not because it will be relatable in 50 years, but because it perfectly captures the world exactly as it is today through a woman’s eyes.

My Favorite Tracks:

  1. “Supermodel,” the album’s opening track, features voice overs that are reminiscent of those in Solange’s 2016 record, A Seat at the Table, as well as lyrics that set the stage for the themes of CTRL as a whole. SZA sings, “Leave me lonely for prettier women/You know I need too much attention” as she almost clumsily pours her feelings out over a simple instrumental track.
  2. “Love Galore (feat. Travis Scott)” is the album’s second song. One of the two singles from CTRL, this one has gained immense popularity over the last few months for its solid vocals and its refrain, “Why you bother me when you know you don’t want me?” Travis Scott is the feature on this track, and his suggestive verse solidifies the song as R&B gold.
  3. “Drew Barrymore” is a testament to the telltale drop in confidence after a relationship ends. In this song, SZA questions the expectations that men have placed on her, as well as her lovers’ intentions and her own self-worth. There’s something classic, almost retro, about this song. SZA sings with heavy back-up vocals during the chorus and splits off into powerful verses, finally bringing the song to its peak during the bridge as she sings, “It’s hard enough you got to treat me like this/Lonely enough to let you treat me like this/Do you really love me?/Or just wanna love me down?” In the production of “Drew Barrymore,” SZA and her producers accomplished the rare feat of creating a completely raw, honest song with an absence of cliches in the writing process.

Freetown Sound (2016) – Blood Orange 

Dev Hynes is a British singer/songwriter, producer, and author. Freetown Sound is his third record under the stage name “Blood Orange.” The album features Hynes’ vocals as well as those of notable singers, songwriters, and even slam poets throughout. The album is a reflection on minority life in America, as Hynes has said that the album is for those who have been told that they are “not black enough, too black, too queer, not queer the right way.”

My favorite tracks:

  1. “Augustine” is the album’s second track. It is a look into how Christianity influenced Hynes’ life, both negatively and positively. The song also draws parallels between the life of St. Augustine and the writer’s own life, as Hynes sings, “Saint Augustine/Late have I loved and chose to see,” referencing his upbringing and experience moving to New York, both of which shaped him as a person. The lyrics also suggest that Hynes is trying to make a point about being black in America; Trayvon Martin is referenced, and so is the South African prophet Nontetha, who was institutionalized in 1922 for creating a church for black people to worship in. Then, there are homoerotic lyrics such as “Skin on his skin/A warmth that I can feel within” that give this song its final push into being a political statement. All these references fit together into a convoluted yet profound presentation. “Augustine” never grows old; it can be interpreted a different way every time it’s played.
  2. “Chance” follows “Augustine” with a smooth transition. A poignant look at cultural appropriation, “Chance” is beautifully executed. Lyrically, this song is up-front with no rich supply of double meanings. Hynes seems to be saying that he’s tired of white people appropriating black culture but not caring about the struggles of a black person, all the while expecting POC to conform to their world. He sings in a fading voice, “All I ever wanted was a chance for myself.”
  3. “Best to You,” probably the most radio-friendly song of the record, fades in from the outro of “Chance.” A heartbreaking examination of the pain of a one-sided relationship, this track features vocals from Lorely Rodriguez (“Empress Of”). The song begins with Rodriguez sweetly singing, “Call it all for nothing/But I’d rather be nothing to you,” a powerful sentiment of stubbornness to let her lover go. Yet, the best lyrical moment of the song comes at the bridge. Here, over a lively backing track, she resounds, “I can’t be the girl you want/But I can be the thing you throw away.” “Best to You” is a perfect ending to what seems to be one continued song starting with “Augustine.”

Lust for Life (2017) – Lana Del Rey

Lust for Life is Lana Del Rey’s 5th full-length release with Interscope Records. This long-awaited album was rumored to be a depart from Del Rey’s usual melancholy style (as she is seen smiling on her album cover for the first time in her entire discography), but with lyrics like “You said you’d meet me there tomorrow/But tomorrow never came” among some of the more upbeat tracks, it’s obvious that the songstress has sorrow well-integrated into her artistic process. The album is stylistically similar to Ultraviolence; we haven’t heard much of the undistorted, girlish-voiced Lana since Born to Die and Paradise. However, with hip-hop influences and a couple of ASAP Rocky features, it’s clear that Lana is branching out. A notable fact about LFL: Lana said it was influenced by her observations on the 2016 election. This becomes obvious on politically fueled, somewhat feminist tracks like “Coachella” and “God Bless America – And All the Beautiful Women In It.” This album at times feels like Lana’s way of recapturing the feel of the 60s-70s and placing it in the present– politics, free love and all.

My favorite tracks:

  1. “Cherry” paints a dark picture of what seems to be Lana’s experience with a particular man. Lana opens with, “Love, I said real love is like feeling no fear/When you’re standing in the face of danger.” She goes on to describe the “cherry and wine/rosemary and thyme” that has been the essence of her feelings towards her lover. Then, she switches her tone as she adds “f*ck” or “b*tch” under her breath at the end of most musical phrases. This, over a bass-heavy, brooding accompaniment, makes the tune almost violent, a sharp contrast from the “darlings” and summery images of which she sings. She resentfully ends with “I fall to pieces (b*tch),” and she somehow totally pulls it off.
  2. Summer Bummer (feat. A$AP Rocky & Playboi Carti) is the highly-anticipated lovechild of Lana Del Rey and rapper A$AP Rocky. Ever since the two collaborated on “Ridin” for a Kickdrums mixtape in 2012, it has been clear that they have serious chemistry in the studio. “Summer Bummer” is sultry and playful, with Lana recalling her Lolita-esque lyrical stylings as she sings, “High tops in the summer/Don’t be a bummer, babe.” A$AP Rocky kicks up the energy as he begins his verse rapping about his girl’s sophistication and attractiveness, later singing in a low, gravely voice (a la Del Rey) “She just might become my lover for real/I might f*ck with her all summer for real.” Lana takes the reigns for the remainder of the song as she rhythmically sprinkles the bridge with more summer imagery about “white lines and black beaches and blood red sangrias.” My personal favorite from the album, this song is unique, fun, and sexy, and it’s a must for any summer playlist.
  3. Beautiful People Beautiful Problems (feat. Stevie Nicks) holds the place of Lana’s third feature track on LFL. Lyrically, this singer/songwriter influenced song seems to be a call for love and peace. Lana opens with simple imagery about the goodness of the earth and the love that belongs to it, and then shortly after anticipates the planet running “red with blood.” Stevie sings of a blue-collar working man who is patriotic and cold, wondering if her love is wasted on him. Both women acknowledge in the chorus that their problems are definitely of the first-world variety, singing “We’re just beautiful people/With beautiful problems.” It’s possible that the man Stevie sings of is a metaphor for America and the chorus is a poignant look at how concerned Americans are with matters that are frivolous on a world-wide scope.

LP1 (2014) – FKA twigs

FKA twigs is an undoubtedly fascinating artist. Multifaceted and inventive, the English singer/songwriter/dancer/producer has a supernatural aura that presents itself in her music. LP1 is her first full-length studio album, and it’s obvious that she had no trouble breaking into the industry with her avant-garde approach to her art. This album is, in a word, transportive. There is a certain heaviness to this project, a certain desperation that makes it all the more enlightening. Listening to this album feels like taking a trip inside of the human psyche, and it can be heavy, even bordering on anxiety-producing at times. LP1 is riddled with insecurity, raw physicality, and truthfulness. The wildly experimental electronic influences make the listening experience closer to going to an art gallery than enjoying a 3-chord ballad, so if you love music that makes you think and feel, this album is definitely for you.

My favorite tracks:

  1. “Lights On” is a powerful ode to how insecurity and desire for intimacy mix. Using sexuality as its vessel, the song outlines the hidden fears that come to the surface during a love affair and how to navigate them. Throughout the song, FKA twigs repeats in a soft voice, “When I trust you we can do it with the lights on.” Even though this seems to be a message about feminine insecurity as it relates to sex, FKA twigs herself has said that the lyrics of this song aren’t necessarily explicit. She explains, “Some of the songs that people think are the most sexual are not at all to me…that’s a metaphor for letting certain people see the different, ugly sides of you that others won’t be able to see.”
  2. “Pendulum” is track #5 on the album. This one is a must-hear. It opens like a hymn, and the orchestration throughout the entire song is intricate and pleasing. “Pendulum” is FKA twig’s melancholy, suffocating recollection of her feelings of inadequacy. In the refrain, she sings chorally, “So lonely trying to be yours/When you’re looking for so much more.” The line is simple, but over a throbbing beat and backup vocals that echo a cry for help, it’s a shock straight to the heart. In the bridge, she nearly hisses, “How does it feel to have me thinking about you?/Wishing my words were enough to consume you.” The song is an angry, depressive accusation, and I’m totally here for it.
  3. “Give Up” is about action. A song that drips determination (FKA twigs is a Capricorn, for all of you astrology buffs), FKA twigs describes a relationship that is cursed by her human flaws which she wants to change. She feels as if she isn’t good enough, but she begs her lover, “Just nod your head and get up/I’m not gonna let you give up, babe,” even as she realizes that her partner is at the end of his rope. “Give Up” also has one of the most unique backing tracks I’ve ever heard, and the breathy vocals mixed with the reigned-in chaos of the instrumentals makes this track a stand-out.

1989 (2015) – Ryan Adams 

Ryan Adams is something of an enigma, and a summary of his musical career would most likely put me past the appropriate word-count for a blog post; he has excelled in everything from country to punk rock. However, his most notable work has come from his solo career in rock music (he’s snagged a total of 5 Grammy noms). In 2015, he announced his intentions to release his version of Taylor Swift’s album, 1989. It did exceedingly well for a cover album, debuting at number 7 on the Billboard 200 chart. As one Youtube commenter put it, “this album takes 1989 and makes it feel like it’s actually from the year 1989.” For those who may dislike Taylor Swift’s voice but don’t mind her melodies (and have an appreciation for music that isn’t over-produced), this rock album is a win.

My favorite tracks:

  1. “Blank Space.” I’m not going to lie; I liked this song even when T-Swift first released it. However, Adams’ version wins because he makes the lyrics “cherry lips, crystal skies” NOT seem cheesy, an accomplishment that I would have written off as impossible before this cover. Adams strips the song down and incorporates simple harmonies throughout, the result being a certain gentleness that is hard to achieve with such daunting lyrics. It’s enticing and somewhat haunting.
  2. “Style” is a powerhouse. A sharp contrast from “Blank Space” which is the track directly before it, the song starts with heavy guitar and Ryan Adams belting out “Midnight/You come and pick me up with no headlights,” in a voice that almost stopped my heart the first time I sat down and listened to it. The most interesting thing about this cover is the way it feels nearly improvised. The lyrics are sung as if they’re coming to mind for the first time, and he definitely takes some creative licensing; Swift’s original lyrics, “You’ve got that James Dean, daydream look in your eyes” become “You’ve got that Daydream Nation look in your eyes,” later evolving into “You’ve got that long brown hair thing that I like.” And let’s be honest: this song is hot. Ryan Adams took a teenybopper pop tune and shook it up into something sensuous and masculine. This cover bursts at the seams with intensity.
  3. “All You Had To Do Was Stay” is such a great cover that I don’t want to picture anyone else singing it ever again. The defining element of Adams’ work on this number is how he makes yet another pop song sound like it’s meant to be in his genre. There’s something Bruce Springsteen-esque about this adaptation, and its invigorating nature won’t be lost on the majority of listeners.

Every Where is Some Where (2017) – K.Flay

Every Where Is Some Where is studio album number 2 for the sometimes hip-hop, sometimes alternative recording artist K. Flay. As you probably guessed, it’s basically genre-less. I usually just tell people that if they enjoy the stylings of twenty-one pilots, they’ll probably like this album, even if it’s a little more crass.

My favorite tracks:

  1. “Dreamers” is track #1 on the album, and it’s a jam for everyone who feels that they need more from life. K. Flay spits a verse or two and then sings a melodious refrain of “This one goes out to all the dreamers at sea.” She really has a way of explaining lyrically what it’s like to constantly be self-correcting and attempting to improve. A great start to the record if you ask me.
  2. “Champagne” is a primarily rap-influeced track (with impressive speed, I might add) combined with a sliver of rock. K. Flay writes about what seems to be a mental break down. She talks about the “fight against the sentiment that makes me want to die,” and about the concern of her family and friends as she numbs herself out with substances and people. The track is dramatic, but it’s honest. And who doesn’t love a little angst every now and then? I recommend driving to this song.
  3. “High Enough” is frankly super, super hot. One of the singles from the album, K. Flay spins quite a different story than we heard on “Champagne.” This sultry song could only be described as a “banger,” and turned up loud enough, it’s sure to bust some eardrums. K. Flay spills out her feelings of newfound infatuation as she sings in the pre-chorus, “I don’t need drugs/Cause I’m already high enough.” Although this track does not feature any of Flay’s rap skills, it’s still impressive rhythmically; in the verses, she melds one picture-perfect line into another without missing a step, building all the way up to a powerhouse chorus and then to a subdued bridge. Listen to the beat of this song– it’s flawless.

 

 

Hope this gave people some new ideas on what to listen to on the drive to school this semester!

 

-Drew

Twitter: @dre_the_girl

 

 

Advice for College Freshman

Hi! Hope everyone’s having a remarkable week. Today we’re going to talk about:

For most of us, back-to-school is drawing near, and I was thinking that I really wish someone would have written me some sound advice about starting college before my freshman year began. So, I decided to write the post that I needed a year ago. Here’s some advice for incoming college freshman.

 

1. Be prepared to get sick. 

I don’t mean to start this off negatively, but living in the dorms is basically like living in a stale cess pool of bacteria, especially if your housing arrangement is suite-style. Four people to a bathroom gets really gross really quickly, and a once-a-week cleaning usually doesn’t do much to help the situation. With all the sludge and close-quarters comes germs. My first month of freshman year, I was sick for two weeks straight from the diseases in the dorms: pink eye, a horrible rash, and tonsillitis. Not to mention allergies that must have originated from Satan himself. By the end of the year, I was a full-fledged germaphobe, even going so far as to purchase an antiviral mask and latex gloves when my roommate got the stomach flu. All this to say, wash your hands, invest in a good multivitamin, and eat an apple every now and then. And don’t worry if you get sick; I promise, when you walk into a lecture hall two weeks after school starts, you won’t be the only one coughing.

 

2. Pick a health-care provider and a pharmacy.

This one is important. As you will most likely come down with a case of something-or-other at some point during the year, you need to know where to go. Now, your university has probably made it known that they have an on-campus health center, but honestly, these places can be tricky. At OU, Goddard Health is appointment-only, and with such a large student body, the slots fill up quickly. I recommend finding an urgent care center near your campus so you won’t have to wait two days to be evaluated. Make sure you have a copy of your insurance card, though; these places aren’t afraid to turn down patients. Next, pick a pharmacy close to your campus. I made the mistake of transferring my medicine to the on-campus pharmacy, later to learn what a complicated process it is. I recommend sticking with a Walgreens or a CVS. If you’re unfamiliar with your college town, learn the street name of the pharmacy you chose so you can let your health-care provider know which one it is.

 

3. Become best friends with your advisor. 

In high school, you probably only set foot in the counselor’s office once or twice, maybe never. Change that behavior real quick, people. Your advisor is your life line, and she/he has much more influence than you think. Your advisor is your person to talk to about any questions, academic or other, that you have about your college experience. You should have her/his contact info, so don’t be afraid to email or make appointments as much as you need. If you get into a class that is far above or far below your skill level, or even a class that you flat out hate, talk to them. They will go to bat for you and pull strings to get you out of there, no questions asked! I’m serious: use your advisor. Their LITERAL job is to help you navigate this new experience and help you graduate on time with a degree you are passionate about.

 

4. Make friends with your suite mates. Then, make a chore schedule.

As I said, sharing a bathroom with 4 people is horrendous. In order to avoid any disputes about who does what and when, you need to get friendly with your suite mates. My roommate and I barely spoke to our suite mates… we took more of the “leaving passive-aggressive notes” route. Introduce yourself to the people you’ll be living with, and if you’re all comfortable, leave your doors open so you can hang out every once in a while. Then, create a chore chart or at least have a talk about cleaning. Agree to take turns cleaning the bathroom once a week, and trade off buying replacement toilet paper, soap, etc. Always be courteous and wipe down the shower after you’re finished using it, and leave the bathroom how you found it to the best of your ability. Use your shower caddy and refrain from leaving razors and shampoo in the shower to save space.

 

5. Get Microsoft Word.

You may have been able to scrape by using Google Docs in high school, but you’re going to need to invest in Word for college. Professors are MUCH pickier about the formatting of your paper than your high school teachers probably were. Since most papers are turned in online and graded electronically, your professor is going to be able to see the exact measurements of your paper’s margins, as well as header and footnote discrepancies, and they’re not afraid to take off points or even give you an F for these mistakes. Lots of universities offer Word at a discounted rate (yes, you can download it to Macs as well), so you may even be able to save a few dollars.

 

6. Parking is going to suck.

The larger your university, the harder it is going to be to find parking. The easiest solution to this is to drive as little as you possibly can. Walk to class, always. Take turns driving with your friends or roommates for Target runs. If you go home for the weekend, ALWAYS come back Sunday. Don’t attempt to make the early drive on Monday morning. You will be late for class trying to find a spot. Though homesick you may be, try to get back to campus ASAP after your trips home so you can get settled in before your week starts– and avoid a $30 fine. PS: Parking tickets will usually be charged to your bursar account, so your parents WILL find out about them.

 

7. Use your resources, and ask for what you want.

Your resources include: professors, textbooks, tutoring services, the library, etc. Most universities are chalk-full of everything you could ever need to succeed, but the kicker is that you have to seek it out yourself. Read the flyers around campus, use your handbook, and become familiar with your college’s website. You’re new to this, so if you don’t understand a college term, look it up. If you don’t quite get how the whole “credit hours” thing works and what “major-specific classes” are, talk to your advisor. Educate yourself on your education. If you enjoyed a gen-ed class you took, email the professor or your advisor to ask about similar classes, especially if you are undeclared. And here’s a secret: Academically speaking, 99% of the time, if you take the initiative to ask, someone will help you get what you want, even if it’s not protocol. For example, OU recently added an ASL class, but it was reserved for Special Ed majors only. However, I emailed the department expressing my interest in the class, and they pulled some strings and gave me departmental permission, even adding in the email, “we like your spunk.” My point: take what you want; it will not be handed to you.

 

8. Get. Involved.

There’s a reason why opening week of college is packed with events for freshman. No activities leader will tell you this, but it’s to keep you mentally healthy. Frankly, those shoebox-sized dorms can get depressing. Combine this with a bad sleep schedule, poor nutrition, and homesickness, and you’ll be a ticking time-bomb for developing circumstantial depression. My recommendation is to try to spend as little time in your dorm room as possible. Pick something, ANYTHING, to give you somewhere to go and a group to interact with, even if it’s just once or twice a week. And despite popular belief, those involved in Greek life aren’t the only ones who have fun, so if you aren’t rushing, don’t sweat it. There’s student government, intramural sports, church groups, and major-specific organizations that you can lend yourself to.

 

9. Know your boundaries and limits.

Before I scare anyone, let me first say this: 9 times out of 10, peer pressure doesn’t exist. However, you have to realize that people are going to assume that you’re okay with everything until you tell them differently. If you go to a party, people are going to assume you’re drinking. If you go over to a guy’s house at 2AM, he’s going to assume you two are hooking up. It doesn’t mean you have to do either, but it’s something to be aware of. College is about discovering who you are and what you enjoy, but don’t make the mistake of throwing every long-held moral out the window the second your parents drop you off. Be smart. If you want to go out, start small if you’re inexperienced. I was fortunate enough to be in the School of Drama my first semester, and the functions I was invited to were safe and free of pressure. Find something like that before you jump right to frat parties. If you do decide to go to a party, always show up with at least one friend that you trust (and make sure you have a designated driver or an uber on call), and if you decide to drink, mix your own drinks and steer clear of the punch– often times, that stuff is an unholy mixture of Kool Aid, cheap tequila, and Everclear (and there are always the horror stories about sedatives and narcotics being mixed in there, too). As for hook-ups and dating, just be careful. Identify what you’re okay and not okay with doing before you’re in the situation. No matter what, educate yourself and be safe. It’s remarkably easy to go from “having fun” to winding up with an STD or a positive pregnancy test. And remember, if a partner isn’t mature enough to get tested or use protection, they shouldn’t be your partner. Also, rest assured that there are plenty of college-aged people who forgo both drinking and casual sex, so if these are matters you feel strongly about, you aren’t alone. Always use your brain and put yourself first in potentially dangerous situations. Learn to be confident saying “no.”

 

10. Watch what you eat. Hit the gym.

Heard of the freshman 15? It’s real. My freshman year, I gained exactly 15 pounds without even knowing, all while maintaining a regular exercise schedule. Diet is the tricky part. Often times, the food in and around the dorms is fast food. At OU, there was a different place to eat in each of the three “towers.” Mine was home to a place called Couch Express that was famous for its grilled cheeses and chocolate chip cookies. See my problem? Not to be extreme, but if you gain weight easily, I would download an app like My Fitness Pal and do some light calorie counting. Even if you are hitting the gym daily, you cannot outrun a poor diet. You just can’t. Furthermore, with all the people you are exposed to, your immune system is going to need the extra boost that comes from balanced meals. Now, it’s not realistic to follow The South Beach Diet or anything like that your freshman year of college, but you can do your body a favor and pledge not to drink soda or make late-night ice cream runs more than once a week. Also, don’t spend unnecessary money at Target or Walmart when you have a meal plan. Most of your groceries will end up being thrown away if you do this. When you make a store run, grab a couple boxes of low-sugar, high protein granola bars for a quick breakfast and a fruit that doesn’t need refrigeration, such as oranges. Back on campus, use your meal points to buy healthy snacks like nuts, peanut butter, and dark chocolate, and order items a la carte at dining venues. If you enjoy exercise or just want to kick your health routine up a notch, use your on-campus gym to do some cardio a few times a week– even 30 minutes of interval running will make a difference– and lift some light weights for your muscles. It’s hard to be fit in college, but making a few small changes to your diet will make a huge difference in your energy levels as well as your measurements.

 

11. Go to class, form study groups, learn organization.

This should seem like a n0-brainer, but believe me, there will be days where that 8:30AM lecture with the loose attendance policy will seem unimportant, and you’ll be tempted to hit snooze. Go anyway, no matter how tired you are. Studies show that attending class, even if you haven’t done the homework, even if you don’t actively participate, is much more likely to breed academic success than copping out altogether. You see, in high school, your job was easy. You got up at 7AM, you showed up to school at 8AM, and you were stuck there until 3PM, no buts about it. In college, it’s easier to get off track. Classes are harder, they’re spaced apart, and the attendance policies are often loose. Let me be clear: just because a class doesn’t have an attendance policy doesn’t mean you can’t fail it if you don’t show up. Also, read your syllabus before you raise your hand to ask a question. Chances are, the professor has already written it down. Oh, and buy a planner. Chances of a professor reminding you about a test are 50/50, and if you get stuck with one on the wrong side of that ratio, you’re going to need to look at your syllabus and write down every test date so you can start studying. Speaking of studying, the days of getting straight As only by paying loose attention in class are over; you’re going to need to spend the large majority of your time rewriting your notes, reviewing lectures online, and reading your text book. Don’t be afraid to initiate forming study groups. There will always be people who understand even less than you do, just like there will always be brainiacs willing to help you (I couldn’t have passed Astronomy without the help of two Earth Science Education majors in my class who became my study group). In college, most of the time you won’t have daily work to complete; you’ll have a lecture a few times a week, and then you’ll have about 3 exams (AKA three chances to pass the class) throughout the semester. My advice is to go ahead and do the extra credit early in case you bomb one of those exams. Another quick tip: decide now whether you’re going to use pen and paper or a laptop to take notes in class, this way you won’t have half your notes in notebooks and half on a word document (another mistake made by Yours Truly during my freshman year).

 

12. Don’t worry about what you wear.

No. One. Cares. I promise that there’s no need to dress up for an 8AM class. The uniform of every college student is athletic shorts and a tee shirt. The fanciest it gets is a comfy sundress or a pair of khakis for guys. Stay comfy! I didn’t wear a pair of jeans once during my entire freshman year. I’m serious. Keep in mind that your classes aren’t going to be the standard 47 minutes they were in high school. Classes can go on for hours depending on what you take. Don’t wear anything that is going to feel itchy, tight, or too hot after some time has passed.

 

13. Set goals.

This doesn’t have to be a major ordeal. You don’t have to set the goal of graduating summa cum laude or even making the Dean’s List. But, you need to have a few realistic short-term goals and a few realistic long-term goals. I promise, when the mid-year slump hits and you’re out of juice, having these in mind will make the year not seem so pointless. Examples of short term goals include: Get at least one A your first semester, make at least one new friend, try one new thing, etc. Examples of long-term goals include: graduate in 4 years, be an officer in one campus organization by your last semester, be published in your school’s paper by junior year, etc. Even if your goal is to miss no more than 2 days of class per semester, it’s better than nothing! Motivation is a rarity come November, so anything you can do to give yourself an extra push is necessary.

 

14. Get familiar with email and your university’s online operating system.

Remember in high school when you never touched your email account because email was for old people? Well congrats, you’re old! Your email is your BFF from this day forward. As soon as you activate your university email account, go into your iPhone, go to Settings>Mail>Accounts>Add Account, and then pick your university’s system and enter your email into it. Turn on notifications, too. This way, everything you need to know for your classes will be accessible at all times. You’re going to want to check your email a few times a day. All information regarding class cancelations, emergency alerts, and campus events will be sent out via email. If you’re going to miss class, email your professor unless otherwise specified on your syllabus. Email is the one sure-fire way to get in touch with any department of the university quickly and easily. It’s the most useful tool you have. Use it. You’re also going to want to get familiar with your university’s academic online operating system. For OU, this would be Canvas. Other schools may use Blackboard or something else entirely. Save the link to whatever site your college uses under the Bookmarks tab on your computer for easy access. This site is where you will go to check your grades, see study notes from your lectures (if your professor is kind enough to use powerpoint slides), and review all announcements regarding the course. Most of the time, your course syllabus will be there, too.

 

15. Recognize that you and your relationships are going to change.

 

Starting college is a new chapter in your life, and with it comes change. Whether you’re 20 minutes or 20 hours away from home, you are going to come back at Christmas with new stories, new ideas, and new beliefs than you had before. This is a good thing; it means you’re growing. However, it would be unfair not to warn you that part of growing up is letting go of familiar things, and while your high school relationships may not end, they will inevitably change. Don’t get me wrong; your parents will always love you, and your best friend from high school will probably still be there at your wedding if you choose to nurture the relationship, but the reality is that college is one of life’s tools for ridding people who aren’t like-minded from our lives. Let things come and go naturally, and remember that college is hard enough without forcing a friendship or romantic relationship that is holding you down. Your parents aren’t going to be there to keep an eye on you and give you advice, so you will have to learn how to listen to yourself and identify the signs that something isn’t working for you. Check in often with a family member you trust, talk to a therapist about the changes if need be, and relax. Something really great is ahead of you, and sometimes the journey to get there can be uncomfortable, even sad at times. Appreciate and reflect on the friends who were there for you in high school, call them for support, make plans when you’re home, but go live the new chapter of life that you were fortunate enough to open, and focus on the friends who will be with you for the next 4 years. Growth = change.

 

16. You’re not the only one who is terrified and confused.

I promise that no one knows what they’re doing their freshman year, so don’t stress! Your first year of college is more to get in the swing of things. Your job right now is to pay attention, be in good standing with the university (AKA don’t cause problems and keep your grades up), take note of what interests you, and try whatever you want! This is the first time in your life where your future is completely up to you, and that’s pretty empowering. Freshman year is going to be tough sometimes. You’ll get homesick, you’ll get regular sick, and you may not find your niche or even your friend group by the time it’s over. But hey, you’re going to learn so much, and you’re going to have so many stories to tell your friends and family back home! Shift your perspective from immediate to long-term and remember the end goal of getting a degree and being a valuable contribution to society. Try to have fun, ok? Everything will be fine, and you don’t have to have everything figured out right this second.

 

Other tips/info:

  •  Get a Brita water filter for your dorm room. You aren’t going to feel like going to the lobby at 3AM when you need a drink.
  • Have saltines somewhere in your room for an upset stomach.
  • Bring the necessities and just a few decorative items for move-in. Your dorm is going to get cluttered quicker than you think, and you don’t need 25 notebooks, a basketball, and 4 candles to add to the mess. Thanks to the air quality from dorm AC units, it’s going to get dusty quickly as well. Keep decor simple and space-efficient.
  • Buy a dehumidifier, seriously. Otherwise your towels won’t dry.
  • Know your social security number and your student ID# by heart. You will need both.
  • Walk through your classes a day before they start.
  • Girls, carry pepper spray and try to avoid walking across campus in the dark unaccompanied. Have campus security in your contacts.
  • Get a biggish trash can for your room to avoid frequent runs to the *very gross* trash room.
  • Be prepared to come into contact with political views that you or your family may disagree with. Many large college campuses are left-leaning, even if they’re located in a conservative part of the country.
  • Always tell someone where you’re going if you decide to venture out alone at night. If you have an iPhone, share your “Find Friends” location with your roommate or a close friend in case of emergency.
  • Get to know your RA. If he/she is good at the job, you will be checked in on regularly. Don’t be afraid to evaluate them negatively on a survey if they seem careless or dangerous.
  • Take the general-education classes that you dread most, first. Get them out of the way while you still have motivation.
  • Carry a refillable water bottle with you around campus to save money.
  • Make sure you know the ins and outs of your meal plans so you don’t run out of meal swipes too quickly. This happens a lot.
  • Call your parents once a week at least.
  • See if you qualify for the Honors College at your school! This is will give you more class options and a better chance of graduating at the top of your class!
  • All the cool stickers you see on people’s laptops are from redbubble.com. You’re welcome.

 

 

-Drew

Twitter: @dre_the_girl