Residence hall must haves

Every list from Target, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, or any other store that sells dorm supplies will give you their own version of the dorm room essentials, but the best way to know what you really need is by living in a dorm room. Unfortunately, waiting until after you’re all moved in probably isn’t the best idea. So the second best way to know what you need is to ask someone who already knows from experience. While it is easy to assume the obvious necessities, there are always surprises.

Deck the walls

Wall decorations, for instance, might not seem necessary but like I said, you’d be surprised. What’s the big deal with wall decorations? Hanging up pictures of your friends and family or posters of your favorite shows is one of the easiest ways to make your room feel like home. It takes away the white sterile walls and in a matter of minutes transforms an entire space. So when you pack, bring a couple posters and have your favorite pictures printed. The comfort they bring compares to nothing else.

Sheets in multiples

Shopping for dorm room decor always means shopping for bedding, and when you find the perfect bed set it feels like the search is over. Except that you need to be prepared for the day when you plan on washing your sheets and the washers are all full and you can’t wait because you have class, or work, or a club. You are still going to want a clean pair of sheets, but you won’t have them. Unless, of course, you planned ahead and packed two or three sets of sheets. The more sheets the better.

Never enough hangers

One can never have enough clothes hangers. Which is why it is important to pack way more hangers than you have clothes to be hung. Some you will lose, some will break or be borrowed, and others will be used for the clothes that you buy. Because when you have a nice dress shirt or a new dress that needs to be hung before a special event but you are all out of hangers, you’ll probably wish you had too many instead of too few.

Tale of the tape

Tape, of all kinds, will become an odd necessity during your college years. Packing tape, duct tape, painters tape, scotch tape … I think that’s all the tape. Anyway, I can’t count the number of times I’ve needed tape and didn’t have it. You’ll need it for sending packages, hanging things on your wall, making posters and projects, hanging up fliers for your club, fixing things, taping extension cords along the walls, and anything else you can think of. Tape is more than handy, it is an essential.

Bulk shampoo

Bulk shampoo and conditioner will save you trouble in the long run. It is inconvenient to run out of either on any given day, but when you’re tired or busy and you can’t get a ride to the grocery store and it’s too cold outside to walk to CVS it is especially inconvenient. So while you’re out food shopping in Costco or Sam’s Club, ask your mom or dad for one of those insanely large bottles of shampoo to save you a little bit of trouble in the long run. It’s all about the easy fixes.

* Bonus: What not to bring *

Sometimes people don’t consider some of the things they shouldn’t bring to school, and I am here to tell you that you do not need to bring more than a few t-shirts. Loyola loves swag t-shirts and the students love receiving them. So much so that over three short years I have accumulated well over 30 (yes, 30) free t-shirts. So don’t pack them because soon they will take up all your precious space and then what?

6 ways to save on textbook costs

It’s no secret textbooks can be expensive, especially when you’re carrying a full course load. Here are six tips to help mitigate the impact on your wallet.

Shop around!

This is something I cannot stress enough. Many times, students feel the need to buy books directly from the University’s bookstore, but that’s not necessary. Instead, use the bookstore as a starting point to learn what books you need and then start comparing costs.

Whether you rent or buy (and then sell back) a textbook, be smart about it! While shopping for textbooks for this upcoming semester I was able to save myself well over $200 just by taking a few more minutes and looking at different websites. If jumping from Chegg to Amazon and other websites just to find the lowest cost isn’t your thing, I’ve got great news. There are now websites who will even do all the work for you, such as Bigwords.com. On a site like this, you just enter the ISBN number of the book you are looking for and it will bring up a list of all the places you can buy/rent the textbook in an organized manner of lowest to highest price. The little bit of work and some research will save you lots of money in the long run.

Talk to the professors

Before the semester starts, and before you go ahead and buy your books, email your professors about the textbooks they have listed. Don’t be embarrassed to ask the important questions. Find out if your professor actually plans on using all the books they have listed; you never know, maybe that $150 book isn’t actually required. You can also save money by purchasing an older edition of a book, so ask if the edition that’s listed (usually the newest) is necessary. Usually from edition to edition the content of these textbooks doesn’t change much; it may be a word here or there or just a formatting difference. If you’re able to buy a book that is even only one edition behind, you can pay as little as a dollar for it!

Talk to your friends

If you know someone who has taken a class you are in already, ask if they happened to keep the textbook. If they did, you may be able to buy it off of them at a discounted price, or even borrow it for free for the semester! It might seem silly to think that someone would save their textbooks instead of selling them back, but it never hurts to ask. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Go to your classmates

Its common practice for students to look at the class roster before the class begins because everyone wants to know if they’ve got a friend in class with them. So first, I recommend checking who is in your class. If there is at least one person you know (you don’t have to be best friends) than you’ve got a golden opportunity. Chances are, you are not the only one looking to avoid paying full price for a book, so see if you can split the cost/book with one of your classmates. If there is ever a time you both need the book, one of you can always make copies of the pages or you can study together as partners. That way, everybody wins.

Ebooks

If you’ve got an e-reader, than you’re probably in luck when it comes to textbooks. Almost 100% of the time the cost of an ebook will be significantly lower than a physical copy of the textbook because the publisher is saving money on printing costs. The key to success when using an ebook is making sure that you are comfortable with the navigation process, and your inability to physically take notes on or in the book (though I don’t recommend doing this with any textbook). Different e-readers have different features such as the ability to highlight passages or bookmark pages, so make sure that you know the ins and outs of your e-reader before taking the plunge into the realm of ebooks.

Check the library

Libraries on college campuses are there for academic purposes. This means that the library on campus will differ from your public library at home because of the target audience and content of the shelves. You may not find as many fun novels to read, but you may luck out with finding your textbook on the shelf, essentially already paid for. You’ll likely have to make a few trips to the library throughout the semester to renew your book(s) but that just means you’ll get a breath of fresh air and free books!

7 ways students have fun on the Quad

Whether students are just getting back to campus in the beginning of the fall, or getting ready to leave for summer vacation, if the sun is out so are they. And where better to spend quality time outside than on the quad? While there are endless opportunities for a good time on the quad, here are a few of the most popular activities.

Getting some sun

Are you trying to catch the last rays of summer before the air gets cool and the leaves change color, or eager to warm up after a long winter? Then the quad is the place to go. On a nice and sunny day you are guaranteed to find it packed with students, so the earlier you can snag a spot the better. The best part is that there are always people coming and going, so expect some impromptu meet ups with friends old and new.

Loyola University Maryland quad on a sunny day

Grabbing a bite

Jazz up your lunch by bringing it to the quad and eating picnic style. Bring a blanket or hang out on the bench if you’re not one for sitting in the grass, but don’t count out the opportunity to commune with nature quite yet. Make it a date and grab a few friends for a fun afternoon pow-wow or go solo for a nice afternoon of reflection or people watching.

Listening to or playing music

Finally, a reason to be “that guy” who brings his guitar everywhere! When the weather is nice, everyone loves a good serenade on the quad. And let’s face it, for people like me who aren’t as musically inclined it is nice to have someone provide the soundtrack to my fun. If you’re not one for a jam session, feel free to bring an iPod and some speakers and crank up the tunes. Heck, throw a spontaneous dance party in there if you’re really looking to spice up your day.

Frisbee or Kan Jam or Slacklining

Get your blood pumping and have some fun with friends with these games. Everyone loves a laid back afternoon of tossing the frisbee around, but if you want to get a little more competitive pick up a game of Kan Jam. It’s that one where you’ve got to get the frisbee into the “can,” maybe even turn up those tunes to add in the “jam” part. If you’ve never tried slacklining, you’ve probably seen it. It kind of looks like people walking a tight rope between two trees, and let me tell you it is not as easy as it looks. But it sure is fun and will get your adrenaline pumping.

Studying

We’ve all had those conflicting moments where we want to sit outside and feel the breeze and just relax, but we’ve got a huge test coming up; more often than not this happens during finals week. Well, who says you can’t bring your studying outside? I am officially giving you permission to mix work with pleasure and hopefully make the task of studying a little less dreaded.

Reading for fun

I know I just told you to take your studying outside, but drop those required books and pick up a fun novel or a thrilling mystery and let your mind wander. If you’re feeling stressed, I highly recommend this to you; nothing helps your mind escape more than giving it a whole new world to delve into. This will also serve as a nice reminder of what it feels like to read without deadlines or pressure – this is for you, not for school.

Taking a nap

If you can fall asleep just about anywhere, try falling asleep on the quad. You won’t need a bed or blankets when you’ve got the warm sun and a free afternoon. Remember to put on some sunscreen or at least bring your shades, you can never be too cautious. And if you still aren’t convinced or think that napping in public sounds crazy, keep in mind I’ve seen plenty of people doze off on the quad, both intentionally and unintentionally. But really, I swear no one will look at you funny and even if they do you won’t know because you’ll be asleep!

Rock climbing and the discovery of your (unexpected) passion

When I started my college journey, I knew that I was going to come out four years later with a degree. What I didn’t know was what else I would pick up along the way.

Loyola has taught me so much about life in and out of the classroom, a surprise I happily embrace every day. I am not the only one who has experienced this either! Many people come to school and unexpectedly find a passion completely unrelated to academics. It is a truly priceless experience. If you want a better idea of what I mean, stop by the rock wall at the FAC and ask Sarah Gervasi, ’14, about her new found passion for rock climbing.

When asked how she was first introduced to climbing, Sarah will tell you, “I tried climbing one of my first nights at Loyola,” at the FAC attack orientation event. She started going regularly the second semester of her freshman year. At first, Sarah found climbing to be a fun alternative to working out. But she says, “once I started learning how much was involved in the sport … I found that it was becoming something I really enjoyed and excelled at.”

Finding something you love at Loyola outside of the classroom really is as simple as that. It is all about trying something new, and taking advantage of the different opportunities that Loyola has to offer its students.

Sarah’s experience with climbing has brought her new opportunities both on and off campus as well. Her on-campus job is at the rock wall, but she has also been able to travel around Maryland and surrounding states to go climbing outside and to compete at other schools (Loyola is part of the Mid Atlantic Collegiate Climbing Series where schools host climbing competitions). Additionally, she has been part of the competition marketing committee, which acts as a great melding of her study of communication and her love for climbing.

Rock climbing has definitely become a lifelong passion for Sarah, who can’t imagine a situation where she would ever stop climbing; it is a part of her lifestyle now, and for good reason. She admits that it “has really given me some confidence that I never used to have.” She is also open to new opportunities and adventures after become more “outdoorsy” through climbing. Sarah took a trip while abroad to visit Cinque Terre, five small towns along the coast of Italy. While there, the regular hiking trails were closed because of landslides, but that didn’t stop her group from exploring. Because of the experiences that rock climbing has afforded her, Sarah felt comfortable exploring every inch of all five towns, which may not have been the case before she was introduced to climbing at Loyola.

Ultimately Sarah urges everyone of all shapes, sizes, and ages to try climbing, because you never know, you might love it like she does! And truly, this advice can be applied to anyone coming to Loyola who may not necessarily be looking for a passion outside of the classroom. Whether it is sports like climbing or swimming or joining a club such a Relay for Life, there are new opportunities around every corner.

7 reasons to live on campus

Scene from a Loyola University Maryland residence hallSo you’ve heard that Loyola has some of the best residence halls well, anywhere. But amenities aren’t the only reason to live on campus. Consider all of this additional upside:

1) Convenience

You know those days when you wake up only to see it is rainy and cold outside, and you don’t want to get out of bed? Those days will happen, and those are the days you will be glad you live only a short walk to your class. Those are the days where you will want to spend as little time getting to and from class or being outside as possible. The only way to do that is to live on campus.

Or maybe the weather won’t matter much to you, but you forgot a book in your room and you need it for your next class. You’ve only got a few minutes to run to your room and make it to class on time. Living on campus is the way to go.

2) So many friends

Whether you are a first-year or a senior, living on campus guarantees you a social life. It is almost impossible to live on campus and not meet someone who lives on your floor. And we can’t leave out the fact that you live with your peers as roommates as well. Potential new friends literally surround you. Open door policies are a great way to meet new people, and you’ll likely have an RA who holds programs to bring your living community together as well.

3) Experience

This is college. These are the years. You will only have this experience once; don’t let it get away from you. If you’re looking to get the full college experience, living on campus is a huge part that you can’t miss out on. You have the rest of your life to live on your own, but when are you going to live with hundreds of people your same age, with similar interests, and who have the same weird schedule as you?!

4) You don’t have to call the plumber

Submitting a maintenance request and having your problem be solved in a day or two with no extra cost is a beautiful thing. Forget about finding a reliable handy man or plumber to fix your sink before the kitchen floods and then worrying about how much this will cost you. Loyola has got you covered. Seriously, maintenance is there to help you with your problems because we’re college kids so we don’t have all the answers yet. It would be unfair to think that we could really maintain an apartment by ourselves, so we just don’t have to.

5) All Inclusive

When you move out on your own, there are a lot of hidden costs that you probably aren’t thinking about. First you’ve got your electricity, then utilities, cable, and internet … the list goes on and on. When you live on campus all of that goes out the window. You pay for your housing and that is it. Loyola is handing you a big platter of convenience; take it!

6) Independence

Okay, so this may not make much sense following a post about how you’ve got a big platter of convenience in front of you, but just wait. When you live on campus instead of staying at home, you get to experience your first real slice of independence without the overwhelming pile of responsibilities that comes with full-blown adulthood. At Loyola, you’re given the ability to cook for yourself, do your own laundry, manage your own time, go to the FAC when you want (or don’t want), and find a balance that works for you. No more living on a household schedule, this is your time to be independent and find your own style of living.

7) Safety

Loyola has an incredibly safe campus as far as I am concerned. Between our swipe cards/locks on every door of every building and the campus police officers you see patrolling campus 24/7 it is hard not to feel safe. To be frank, this can’t be said for all the neighborhoods around campus where students like to live. But on top of all my other worries about school and friends, I don’t want to worry about not feeling safe where I live. Loyola consistently works to not only make me feel safe, but to truly protect all students from any potential harm. Safety is not something I want to gamble with.