Buying Books Blows

Even if you’re only a freshman in college, you know the pain of buying textbooks.  All that hard earned money out the window and then you can only sell them for what feels like pennies in comparison, if you can sell them at all.  It’s especially painful if a professor tells you a book is “required” and then you only use it once. Evil schemers.

I’m here to tell you how to save as much money as possible on your college textbooks.  I read my dear friend Megan’s post from a few days ago and I think $1000 a semester for books is blasphemy.  Blasphemy! Unless you’re in 8 or 9 classes (in which case I wish you good luck) your books SHOULD NOT be that much if you use the right venues.  I admit, sometimes it takes a smidge more effort to do it my way, but if it means saving a bunch of money I’ll put the time in.

To put it into perspective, I spent around $300 dollars on my books this semester and around the same last semester.  I’m only in 5 classes right now but I had to buy 18 books which is a pretty decent amount.  Unfortunately, there are some circumstances where you’ll have no other choice but to pay over $100 dollars for a book, but a lot of times that can be avoided.  This might happen to you if:

a. the book is rare or old-last semester the textbook my French teacher wanted us to have had been out of print since the 90’s so the only place I could find it was at my University’s bookstore.

b. the book is customized for a specific course at your school-all freshman at my school are required to take a Valparaiso University designed class we call CORE which doesn’t really fit into any subject category. As a result, if I were to transfer, there’s a large chance the credits from that course wouldn’t transfer over with me.  That also means my University designed the textbook so it literally does not exist anywhere else but here.

Besides these two cases, most books can be found in numerous online and offline locations.  Of course, your University will have all those books ready for you to order with one click, but looking somewhere else can mean the biggest difference.  At first I was skeptical to buy my books on any random website that claimed “We sell and buy new and used textbooks!” But to be honest, I’ve bought from at least 4 websites and haven’t run into any problems or scams.

I stumbled across this website: http://www.slugbooks.com and holy crap do I love it.  You enter the title or ISBN (I recommend the ISBN) of the book you want to buy and it will tell you the availability of that book as well as compare prices of it on 10 different websites! Awesome, right?  Every book is different, but with the majority of mine I found that http://www.chegg.com is always the most expensive and either http://www.amazon.com or http://www.valorebooks.com is your best bet.  Shipping can seem expensive, but I did the math and still came out on top.

I don’t know if I’ve said this yet but DO NOT buy your books from your University if you can help it! To put it into some more perspective, if I had bought/rented all my books at the cheapest prices my University was offering they would have cost me $600 without shipping. I cut my spending in half! To be fair, I know I won’t always be able to do that, but it’s worth it when you can.

So! I hope something I’ve said helps you out, even just a little.  And maybe in the future your book buying experience won’t blow so much.

Mich out.

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Winter Isn’t the Enemy

When people hear me say I hate summer their eyes do that bug-out-of-your-face thing you see in cartoons.  I get it, I’m the minority not the majority, but there are other people who love winter too! For example, my roommate, which is pretty lucky since we have to agree on the temperature of our room. All I can say is that the window is always open and at night it gets cold enough to keep my water bottle chilled.

I’m here to convince all you non-believers that winter isn’t so bad and that it has more to offer than just the pretty white snow.  Being from Wisconsin, and right next to the lake, no less, the Table and I get some of the worst winters there are.  If you don’t know what lake effect snow is, you’re really missing out.  It’s a beast.  Here are my reasons for loving the weather from November to March:

1. Let’s start with the obvious one: snow.

Snow! Snow! Snow!

Here are a few pictures from the winter they cancelled school on six different occasions.  The first one is of my brother peeking through a tunnel we dug on the hood of a car.  The red thing in the second one is our car.  When we opened the garage door that’s how high the snow was.  The third one has the criss-cross imprint of our fence.  We moved the fence and the snow just stayed there because it was so heavy. You can see me in the background and it was almost higher than my waist.

car snow  garage snow  fence snow

When I was little I loved to play in the snow and if I still had a pair of snow pants that fit me I would lay in it and just look at the sky.  Even if you hate everything else about winter, you can’t deny that snow is beautiful.

2. Hats, mittens, and scarves.

Besides the fact that they’re super cute, hats are so fun to wear.  I’ll admit I often wear them around the house just for fun. And I say mittens because I don’t like gloves.  The way they separate my fingers feels like they’re making them colder not warmer.  Below is a picture of a scarf I wove that I’m particularly proud of. The scarf is laying on the next item of my list.

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3. blankets, slippers, and sweatshirts.

The blanket above is special to me because I got it in North Dakota the first time on a mission trip which I now do annually.  Don’t you guys just love curling up inside with a blanket and a movie?

4. Hot Chocolate

I’m one of those people who can eat ice cream year round, but hot chocolate is seasonal.  I don’t like coffee but that can count too.  A warm drink is just ten times better when it’s cold out and you can feel it warming up your insides.  Doesn’t this picture look like it could be a Starbucks add?

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5. Seeing my breath and letting the tips of my ears get red.

I once heard someone compare seeing your breath to feeling like a dragon which I thought was funny, but I think it’s more like seeing my life.  This is evidence that I am alive, and every part of my body is buzzing with the cold.  And then you go inside and press your palms to your ears and you can feel them thaw.  I love that.

6. But one of my favorite parts is the smell.

I could go one forever with this list: ice skating, snow days, icicles, but I always get most excited by the smell that tells me winter is coming. It’s not so much a distinct smell as it is just crisp air.  When you breathe is deeply and it smells cold and fresh.  That’s one of my favorite parts.  So for all you winter haters I hope there’s at least one thing on this list that convinced you to hate the season maybe just 1% less.  Now it’s your turn to convince me why I should like summer.

No Matter The Distance

Being a group of girls, it’s only natural that boys pop up in conversations.  Three members of the Table are in steady and adorable relationships–including myself.  (Almost a year and a half in fact.) While some have the privilege of living a mere 15ish minutes from her boyfriend, some of us have to deal with being miles, hours, states apart.  While most people respond with a skeptic “well, if you think you can make it work…,” having the support of each other, friends, and family makes it a lot easier.  Believe it or not, a serious relationship can exist when you live in different states.  Here are some things I do that help ease the intimidation of a LDR (long distance relationship).

His name is Peter.

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We met during the summer before senior year.  We have now been dating for almost a year and a half.  I used to see him almost every day.  Now we’re off at college.  He attends Viterbo University in Lacrosse, Wisconsin.  I attend Iowa Sate University in Ames, Iowa. That is about a four hour drive.  It’s not too bad but it is long distance.  How do we make it work?

I’m sure you’ve heard it before: communication is the key to any and all relationships.  This is especially true for a LDR and definitely during college.  My boyfriend and I text each other every single day.  Even a simple “Good morning” and “Sweet dreams” can be enough sometimes.  Obviously that cannot be the only communication between a couple.  Make time to really have conversations, much like what would happen in person.

I'm crazy.  and also blonde now.

I’m crazy. and also blonde now.

Also Skype.  Lots of Skype.  Without physically seeing the other’s face, your relationship can turn into one of those fictional online ones; both people hiding behind a keyboard.  Using Skype (or Facetime or Chat or what not) to connect a face with his or her words can reconnect the human part of the relationship.  You can even go on dates with Skype!  Each of you grab a mocha from the cafe downstairs and–voila–instant coffee date. Although, for me, it’s more like: me stuffing my face with pasta or chocolate and him reviewing notes while his neighbor vacuums his roommates desk.  Close enough.

Something that I do is trick myself into thinking that he’s actually nearby.  Since neither of us have cars and we’re both (kind of) swamped with school, it’s easy to make up reasons why the other wouldn’t be able to swing by real quick.  The amount of stories we could tell about each others’ college life makes it seem like we were together when it happened. And of course reminiscing about times when we actually were together is nice, too.

Here's a shpt from his senior prom. (We went to our "brother" school)  I made that dress myself :)

Here’s a shot from his senior prom. (He went to our “brother” school) I made that dress myself 🙂

People always assume that LDRs fall apart tragically.  Some peers tell me horror stories of older siblings who were crushed by a relationship that was not meant to go long distance.  (Now that I’m in one, I wonder how the heck things can fall apart like I’ve been told.)  Sure I questioned if it was the right thing to do.  Initially, I figured taking a break for college would be easy.  That way we could both focus on school and not be afraid to “meet new people.”  But the closer we grew, the more I realized a break was not an option.  Neither of us want even to think about this relationship ending.  With LDRs, it’s essential that trust, support, and dedication form a triple threat.  If doubt creeps its way in at all, the whole thing can crumble.  So I don’t doubt.  I can honestly say that I cannot imagine myself with anyone else. Nor can I imagine myself single (even though I was for like, 17 years…).  Peter and I put faith in each other and know that the other will always be there no matter what.

So ignore all the haters.  If you think your relationship can withstand distance, go for it.  It’s not as scary as it seems.  Remember that it might take some adjusting and communication is vital.  With enough faith and support a LDR can be a breeze, no matter the distance.  If you believe in something, it’ll happen.

-Frankie :-*

Here are some cute pictures.  It’s actually pretty rare to find photos of us together so these are basically all off them. That’s what happens when you live for the moment, not for the documentation of it.
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Get to Know Anissa and Marisol

1. What three things would you bring to a deserted island with you?

Anissa: I’d bring my guitar so I could be infinitely better and actually write a song or two. I’d bring the Harry Potter series because I could read that over and over and over again and it’s very long so I’d take me a while. I’m imaging that this island is a tropical island so I don’t need socks or a blanket, but I’d definitely bring a pillow; I’m not down with sleeping on like plants.

Marisol: My dog, my smartphone, and the Harry Potter series

2. If you were a box of cereal what would you be and why?

Anissa: I’d be Frosted Flakes because you can never get enough of me. No, but seriously, I’d be Frosted Flakes because I’m kind of weird (In what world is miscellaneous shaped ‘grain’ not strange?) but also sweet.

Marisol: Lucky Charms-They’re not anything extraordinary, but the little bits of marshmallow makes the spoonful taste so much better. I’m the same way. I’m not special, but I offer the best of me.

3. What’s your favorite thing about being human?

Anissa: My favorite thing about being human is just being able to appreciate the world around me. I remember sitting on a bench in the middle of campus and feeling so grateful to be where I am in my life. It’s just the simple things like being able to appreciate the warm sun and a good song.

Marisol: We get to eat a variety of foods. Think about it. Every other species has a certain limited diet.

4. Who is your role model and why?

Anissa: My role model is Sue Reidy, our Anatomy/Physiology teacher. ¾ of us had her. I can honestly say both her life and death have been a very influential part of my life. She loved what she did and lived her life to the fullest, despite her illness, for as long as she physically could. She didn’t show that she was suffering and was still committed to her students until the very last day that she was able to work. She’s inspired me to do what I love so that I might impact someone else’s life positively like she did for me.

Marisol: I don’t have one role model in particular. My role models are those who are humbler than I am, because I can let my pride get in the way sometimes. Mostly though, I see admirable qualities in many of the people in my life—which is why I keep them in my life.

5. A penguin walks through the door right now wearing a sombrero. He says…

Anissa: Excuse me, ma’am, I don’t mean to frighten you, but at any moment, the bomb underneath my sombrero will go off, causing all non-penguins to become penguins. Welcome to the family.

Marisol: “Hey mis amigos! Que pasa?”

6. What kitchen utensil are you most like?

Anissa: I’d say I’m most like a can opener because I like to ‘open’ people up and find out all of the things about them that wouldn’t be obvious at face value.

Marisol: I’m the strainer. I filter out that which I don’t need.

7. What is the most played song on your iPod?

Anissa: Jackie and Wilson by Hozier. The album is amazing and so is this song. I highly recommend them both.

Marisol: At the moment, “Travelin Man” by Ricki Nelson

8. If you were a boy for a day you would…

Anissa: You know, I can’t think of anything I’d want to do that I can’t do right now.

Marisol: I would be the best dressed gentlemen out there.

9. If you could learn to do anything what would it be?

Anissa: Probably play piano, violin, and cello. I took piano lessons when I was little for a while. I think violin looks rad and cello sounds fantastic when Yo-Yo Ma plays it. Side note: Yo-Yo Ma came to Dartmouth once and tickets for a Dartmouth student to go and see him were $10.

Marisol: I would love to learn how to dance ballet. It’s such a rich dance and with so much historical background to it. The dance itself is so graceful and poised and just beautiful.

10. If you could date any fictional character who would you date?

Anissa: Oh. That’s tricky. I’d actually want to be the woman in my favorite book The History of Love because the guy is so in love with her that he writes a book about her. Not that I’d necessarily want to date him but just listen to this line ““The first woman may have been Eve, but the first girl will always be Alma.” Like that’s literally so romantic. Okay. Anyway.

Marisol: Captain Jake Ballard from Scandal.

11. What is the best gift you ever received?

Anissa: Probably my car. It’s a fantastic, 14 year old, well-loved hunk of metal. I keep it a mess but it literally made my senior year and summer so much easier.

Marisol: Marc Jacobs’ “Daisy: Eau So Fresh” perfume.

12. Give your 10 year-old self some advice.

Anissa: Hang in there, pal. It’s gonna get rough for a while, but you’ve got to hold on. We’re almost on the other side because there is, in fact, another side. I believe in you. Or rather, us.

Marisol: Don’t let your mom convince you to get the hair cut. JUST DON’T.

13. Where’s Waldo?

Anissa: Waldo is a metaphysical concept. Therefore, the real question is: Where isn’t Waldo?

Marisol: Waldo is in the Cave of Wonders.

14. What’s your best trait?

Anissa: Ummm…who knows?

Marisol: I am a very good listener. I’m more than happy to sit down and listen to anyone who needs it.

15. What do you want to accomplish in your lifetime?

Anissa: I want to do something to impact other people’s lives in a positive way. The reason I want to go into medicine is so I can help people do something that they can’t do for themselves.

Marisol: I want to adopt a child from a developing country, or at least financially provide for it.

16. Quick, tell us the first name that comes into your mind.

Anissa: Jason. Which is lame. I don’t even know anyone named Jason.

Marisol: Lucienne.

17. What’s your biggest fear?

Anissa: My biggest fear is walking by myself into a room of people that I know who are all talking about me and then they turn to me and tell me all of the things they hate about me.

Marisol: Being alone.

18. Besides the necessities, what is one thing you could not live a day without?

Anissa: I couldn’t function properly without a little down time. Sometimes my brain works a little too hard and I’m prone to burn out if I don’t take a break.

Marisol: “I love you.”

19. What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever done/seen/eaten?

Anissa: Oh I’ve eaten sea snails once! They were really good. Also, a little bit ago, I grabbed an unknown piece of fruit off of the tree on the way to the dining hall and tried it. In retrospect, that’s probably not the safest thing to do. But alas.

Marisol: I tried escargots. They were very chewy.

20. Say something interesting.

Anissa: To whoever is reading this: I think you’re awesome no matter who you are. Keep doing you, in whatever weird, cool, awesome, quirky, or normal way that is.

Marisol: Did you know that the Mall of America does not use heating? The body heat from all of its shoppers is enough to keep the place warm.

Sabrina’s Declassified School Survival Guide

Seeing as I have been in College for about two months, I basically know everything there is to know about it. So below I have complied a list of ten tips to remember when embarking on your collegiate experience.

1. You might need to share a closet.

Say it with me, “this is okay”. Honestly, you won’t need half the clothes you brought. A lot of people forget that you will be buying things while in college. You are not shipped off to a foreign country with no money and an inability to speak the native language. I went to Chicago, which is the shopping capitol of the Midwest. Most of the clothes I brought will stay in the storage bins under my bed.

2. You might develop a slight addiction to caffeine within your first few weeks of classes.

It is going to happen whether you like it or not. You know that foreign teacher with the hard to understand accent who teaches topics you learned last year on a Monday morning? Good luck. Without some sort of stimulant, that class will become a snooze fest so be prepared.

3. Your roommate might need you to leave for an adult sleepover

This is okay. I promise. As long as you maintain the ‘no baby-making on my bed’ policy, are not judgmental about it and she knows when to take it to his place, everything should work out fine. Don’t try to teach your roommate about your personal beliefs; don’t look down on her for it. Fornication is a thing that happens, get used to it.

4. You might not want to do some things.

Everyone has different comfort zones but it is important to know that college is meant to be a time to expand your horizons not retreat behind your own personal borders. Try new things, I beg you. But don’t do things that you will regret.

5. Your prof might assign a paper the first day of class.

I’m sorry but it happens. Don’t complain. Don’t roll your eyes. You pay good money to go to school. Actually do the school part. The paper will be super annoying but begin your collegiate experience on a high note and try not to be downgraded to remedial English.

6. When things get scary, get help.

If you’re friend is drunk out of his or her mind and poses a threat to your safety or their safety, then it is time to call someone. Typically campuses have a “good Samaritan policy” of some sort which will allow you to get help without  getting in trouble. Be a good friend and make sure the people around you are safe.

7. Get to know your city!!!

I guarantee you that the city that you’re in has a plethora of things to do. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a college town or the third biggest city in the country, there is no reason to be in your room all weekend. Get out and make some memories.

8. You might feel lonely sometimes.

This is totally normal. You’re away from your family and friends, which can even make you regret going to the school you chose. Just remember why you’re here and the the support system you have at school. Then eat your feelings. After that you should be totally fine.

9. If you think you see someone from your hometown, say something.

Don’t let that opportunity slip by. Who knows? Your friend from high school might be on a Biology field trip from UW-Madison. And you might spot him from across a restaurant. And you two might make awkward eye contact then look away thinking that you’ve gone insane. THIS HAS HAPPENED. Just say hi okay?

10. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Your roommate might be messier than you, you might lose you favorite sweater in the move, and you could possibly get a horrible grade on a test. Just take a deep breath, work out your angst and realize that these things happen. Then decide whether or not to fix it. You can always ask your roommate to straighten up a bit, go to your professor’s office hours, and buy a new sweater. Just calm down okay?

Much love!
Sabrina