My Experience With a Long-Distance Relationship in College

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“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

For the entire time I’ve been in college, this quote has pretty much defined the romantic side of my life. I’ve been in a relationship for a little over 18 months, and I’m almost positive I’ve spent more time away from my boyfriend than I have with him.

Nick and I started dating about a month after we graduated from high school (and how we got together is a story for another time). Originally,we planned on our relationship being only a summer fling, but we grew to really love being together, and decided to stay together as I headed over 200 miles away to Iowa. We knew it was going to be hard, and that was actually one of the reasons we didn’t originally intend to keep dating after summer break ended.

I vividly remember when we both decided to stay together. I already knew that I wanted more out of the relationship than just a quick fling, but I didn’t want to pressure Nick into something I wasn’t sure he was interested in. One day, while we were hanging out at his house, he pulled up the calendar on his phone and asked what weekends would work best for him to visit me at school. The emotions that rushed through me were indescribable. It was such a relief to know that he felt the same way about me as I did about him.

I’m not going to lie to you; it’s never been easy. And I know it’s not going to ever get any easier. Skype calls and texting can only go so far. But our relationship has grown to be stronger, and I know that it will continue to become better as we go.

Many students come into college in the same relationships they ended high school with, and, unfortunately, many don’t make it. Listening to one of the counselors at school talk during orientation, I remember she said there was always an increase in relationship/break-up counseling around the fourth week of the semester because that was always when long-distance relationships ended. Nick and I promised each other that we wouldn’t become another statistic.

The most common reactions I’ve encountered when I tell people that my boyfriend doesn’t go to school at Iowa is, “you’d be happier if you weren’t doing that to yourself,” and, “you’re not going to have as much fun if you’re tied down.” It’s frustrating, but there are certain stereotypes that do come with being in an LDR. You just have to learn how to brush these comments off, because, if you choose to be in any kind of healthy relationship, you are just as happy and having just as much fun as everyone else.

I’ve learned a lot of lessons about relationships in the past year-and-a-half. Relationships require trust, strength and communication. I know it sounds like a stupid lecture to be talking about that, but if you’re not willing to give a little extra in all of these, an LDR just isn’t right for you.

LDRs require a lot of talking, whether it be over Skype or through texting or over the phone. You talk about your day, something that frustrated you, something that made you happy, your accomplishments, etc. Even just doing your own thing and sitting in silence while Skyping, which sometimes happens during my Skype calls with Nick, becomes enough, because at least you’re spending time with them.

Even through all the pitfalls of LDRs, there is something important to look forward to: seeing your significant other. There is nothing else in the world like the first hug after being apart for two months. It’s indescribable, and makes everything you’ve been through worth it. After finally seeing Nick as he walks toward my residence hall, suitcase in tow, I can’t help but run up to him and give him a big hug; it’s a reflex now.

So, yeah, I guess absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

XOXO,

Rachel

My Bucket List

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I think about the future a lot.

That’s not shocking considering I’m getting closer and closer to being a real, functioning adult every day.

I could go on and on about how terrifying debt and careers and college are, but let’s aim for something a little more positive: my bucket list (even though the concept of a bucket list is sort of morbid on its own, but whatever).

I have tons of things that I want to do in my lifetime, and I’m hoping to cram it all in before I kick the bucket.

So, without further ado, my bucket list.

  • Graduate college/get my Bachelors degree–This one is kind of obvious, but it’s always been one of my biggest goals since starting high school. I’m currently earning a Bachelor of Arts degree  in Journalism and Mass Communication.
  • Get my Masters degree–I’m still debating if I’m going to do this or not (I’m shuddering thinking about how much debt that would add onto my already sky-high student loan bill), but it would be beneficial for me in the end.
  • Travel to Europe–A European vacation is just within my grasp with my plans to study abroad in Italy during the summer of 2017. Thank goodness most study abroad programs offer progress towards your degree. Europe, to me, has so many different cultures wrapped up into one continent, and I’d love to be able to experience them all.
  • Write a novel (or as many as I can)–I’m currently earning a certificate in Creative Writing while I’m here at school, and Iowa is famous for it’s writing program, so I’m hoping some of what I learn here, as well as what I already know, will help me when the time comes. I always have ideas bouncing around in my head, and I try my best to write them all down, so I’m hoping one of those will take off.
  • Do something that goes against my fear of heights–I am absolutely terrified of heights. I can’t do roller coasters, I hate flying in planes, I even had a panic attack when my siblings and I went to the top of the Sears Tower (it will never be the Willis Tower, I’m not correcting that)–I’ve got the whole shebang. But a lot of fun things in life involve heights. I’d like to do at least one thing that I normally wouldn’t, whether it be zip-lining or actually conquering the sky decks in the Sears Tower.
  • Be successful in my career–I know this is what everyone hopes for, but my idols are Woodward and Bernstein, who were just younger journalists when they broke the Watergate scandal. If they can do, why can’t I? Maybe not as crazy successful as the two of them, but successful nonetheless.

It’s not the most extensive list (I’m trying to save you the agony of going through my full bucket list, which is filled to the brim with random things I’ve found on Pinterest), but it’s my list, and I love it.

Don’t forget to cross your accomplishments off your own bucket list as you go through the year!

XOXO,

Rachel

My 2016 Reading List

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I.

Love.

Books.

I love everything about them, and I always have. There’s just something about being able to totally forget what’s going on in the world around you and becoming completely engrossed in the story you’re holding. My mom always joked with my teachers that she was probably the only parent who had to force their kid to stop reading.

That being said, I like to challenge myself. For 2016, I’m hoping to read at least 50 books. I’ve signed up to do the Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge, and I’m also participating in the 2016 Classics Challenge through my Tumblr, where you read one classic book each month.

I’ve set a pretty high bar for myself this year, but I’ve planned out what books I’m hoping to read so I’m not floundering at the end of the year trying to figure out what I want to read.

Unfortunately, I’m in the middle of a lot of series at the moment, so I’ll be finishing a lot of those this year.

Currently, I’m reading Game of ThronesThe Selection, and Lord of the Rings. What I have left of those series is already seven books, which is good news for me.

I’m also planning on starting a few series that I’ve been interested in for a while, such as the Cinder series, the Mara Dyer series, The Raven Cycle series and the Shades of London series.

While I do have a ton of series that I’m hoping to get through, there are some free-standing books that I want to read, too.

I read a few of the poetry novels by Ellen Hopkins a few years ago, but this year I’m planning to reread what I have read, and read the new books that have been published since I last picked up one of her books.

For the 2016 Classics Challenge, I’ve already finished reading 1984, my January book. For what’s left of the year, I’ll read Animal FarmCatcher in the RyeLord of the FliesGone With the WindOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s NestThe Divine ComedyA Clockwork OrangeThe Bell JarA Farewell to ArmsFor Whom the Bell Tolls and Pride and Prejudice. I’ve wanted to read a lot of these books for a very long time, especially those whose movies I’ve seen (and loved).

I’m also going to finish up The Things They Carried. It was one of the required reading books from my senior year of high school (already two years ago!). We started reading it near the end of the year, but our teacher gave us the option to finish reading it on our own because we didn’t have enough time to finish it in class. Naturally, since we weren’t being tested on it, I decided not to read it.

I’ve based some of my reading choices on my favorite authors. I really enjoyed Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, so I’m planning on getting through her book Fangirl. I’ve read a ton of Stephen King’s books (I could definitely say that he’s my favorite author, and The Shining is easily one of my favorite books), so I’m going to read his classic Carrie.

The last books I want to read were recommend to me by my grandmother. They’re all either historical fiction or spy dramas. She recommended two authors, David Baldacci (Hell’s Corner and Divine Justice) and Jennifer Chiaverini (The Spymistress and Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival), and gave me one free-standing book, The Big House by George Howe Colt.

Because this is a big goal I’m setting for myself, I actually have a few books that I have to read for my Interpretation of Literature class this semester, so if any books fall through, I have some backups.

I hope everyone is having a great January and a great start to their year!

XOXO,

Rachel

5 Things You Should Do to Start a Semester Off Right

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One of my many New Years Resolutions for 2016 is to be more organized with my schoolwork and classes, and my winter break is almost over (yikes!). The spring semester coming up is a big one for me; I’m officially a junior now, and I’m starting some great new internships and online writing jobs. With all of this added hectic-ness, I need to be on my A-game with organization, otherwise I’m going to be stuck wading through piles of papers and textbooks.

But enough about little ol’ me.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person afflicted by the horrific disease of unorganized chaos, I thought I’d lay out my plan for next week (which I’m hoping will become my plan for every subsequent semester) in the hopes that someone else will benefit from this.

1. Transfer important information from your syllabi into your planner.

Important information: Before you can complete this step, make sure you have a planner or some way to write down your assignments.

When going through your syllabi, don’t just glance them occasionally and let them rot in your folder for the rest of the semester. Take the important information–due dates, readings, midterms, assignments, office hours, etc.–and put them in your planner.

You’ll regret it later if you don’t. My syllabi always end up tucked in the back of some random folder, and I can never find them when I need them.

2. Buy those textbooks (or don’t).

I always breathe a sigh of relief whenever I find out that a class doesn’t require a textbook. Textbook prices are ridiculous, but don’t get me started on that.

I always try to wait until after the first class to figure out if I need to buy a textbook. If you’re looking at the syllabus and all but one reading is online, you really don’t need it. And if you do end up having to get the textbook, look online for cheaper options than the school bookstore. Definitely try to either buy a used book or rent the book, too.

3. Figure out how you’re going to be taking notes.

If this isn’t your first semester in college, you probably haven’t figured out the best way to take notes. There are really only two options for this: by laptop or by hand. In large lectures, or smaller classrooms where my professor permits it, is where I tend to use my laptop, while I hand-write my notes in small classrooms or discussions.

I love to use Microsoft One Note to take notes on my laptop. It’s super easy to use and makes it easier to keep my notes organized. In One Note, you can make notebooks that separate into different folders. It’s super easy to use and I’d recommend it to anybody.

When I write out my notes, they tend to be kind of sloppy because of how much I’m rushing to make sure I get as much information down as possible (I tend to always get the professors who go through lecture very quickly or don’t put the lecture slides on the class website). But afterwards, I go back through and either rewrite it or type in into my laptop. However, when I do rewrite my notes, I tend to do an outline style instead of the typical and oft-taught Cornell style. I’m just not a huge fan of it.

4. Be social.

During my freshmen orientation, we were told that if we were lost while trying to find a classroom, we should look for other people who looked confused, too. If you found out they were looking for the same room as you, keep talking to them and eventually get their number, because that was somebody you could contact later.

Even if this specific scenario doesn’t happen to you, it’s still a good idea to talk to the people sitting around you in class. Try to get their numbers, because you can text them later asking for notes if you miss class, or to create a study group for midterms and finals.

5. Set some goals for yourself.

If you have something to work towards, it will make it easier to work hard throughout the semester. Think about what grades you want to earn or what you want to get involved in this semester.

For example, some of my goals are to procrastinate less (which is always a goal of mine), to earn A’s or B’s in all of my classes and to study more often.

Good luck on your first semester!

XOXO,

Rachel