The First Year

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Checkout Insanity

Posted by Braden

Checkouts . . . *sigh* . . . what a long, long week. It started out alright—only a few checkouts per night, mostly over the phone, not too much junk in the lobbies or overflowing from the dumpsters. Friday, though, was madness.

Of 13 boys' rooms, only two were ready for their final checkout walk-through at the time they scheduled. While I waited for the next room to be ready (as I was on duty and couldn't really leave my building to do anything else), I built architectural wonders out of the turned-in mattress pads. :) What did I care though that the boys were all late? I was on duty all day (with the exception of a few hours in the middle of the day for quick meal), and the rooms all needed to be done that night; I'd just do them all right in a row. And did. And it was painful.

For five hours I did deep-cleaning checks, recording the things that needed to be completed, the jobs that needed redoing, and the charges for boys who had already left, etc. You know that black mold that shows up on top of shower-curtain rods and seems to come by the pint? No? Well, neither did most of the boys in my hall. I usually had to get some on my finger first from checking it before telling them that the rod would need a quick scrubbing. And splashboards—oh, how I hate checking the splashboards!

Finally, Friday night at 10 p.m., the last of the walk-throughs were done. By 10 a.m. the next day, all of the boys were out of the building, and I had the rest of the day (until 6:30 p.m., when I finished) to prep the building for the next event for which housing was required: Women's Conference (talk about a tough crowd to satisfy in terms of cleanliness)! I put a blanket, mattress pad, and pillow on each bed, closed all the blinds, turned off all the lights, locked all the doors, filled out final work-order requests, collected all the things that boys forgot about or didn't realize that they'd forgotten (six boxes full of everything from posters to magnets to socks to pots). Lobby trash cans were emptied, leftover cleaning supplies taken to the central building, smoke alarms tested, and fire extinguishers checked. At last, at 6:30 p.m., I finished. FREEDOM!

In all sincerity, the RA job has been a blast all semester! I've loved the chances I've had to help my boys, plan programs, be involved, and learn people-management skills; but man, way to end with a bang . . . a somewhat painful, but relatively brief, bang.

Left Behind

Posted by Braden

The vast majority of the boys in my hall are going on missions this summer, and a lot of them live far from Provo. With no need for leftover spices, core ingredients, or kitchenware in the near future, many of them opted for the "I'll-just-give-it-to-DI-and-buy-more-when-I-get-back" option.

The result? Because I love my older sister, who agreed to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to drive me to the Salt Lake City airport for my flight home, I collected. A few pots, a few pans, a pie plate, a billion spatulas, wooden spoons, silverware, tupperware of every shape and size, a toaster, a nice track jacket, two sleeping bags, a new pillow, a laptop case—these are just a few of the things boys gave me as they were leaving, or things they left for me to pick up after they left. And then there was the food—from my apartment alone, my sister got roughly $250 of nonperishable foodstuffs: cans of vegetables, boxes of crackers, packs of hot pockets, jars of peanut butter, bags of marshmallows, stacks of ramen noodles, etc.

The advantage of leaving early? You don't have to throw away the stuff that nobody wanted, and cleaning jobs are a bit easier.

The advantage of leaving late? Lots and lots of free stuff.

Sleep Data Comparisons

Posted by Braden

I've got the stats on my winter sleep patterns! By themselves, the stats aren't too astounding. The comparison with fall semester is rather amusing, however.

The trend lines are the most interesting to me. Whereas fall semester saw bedtime gradually getting later and later throughout pretty much the entire year, winter semester remained fairly constant. And what's even more intriguing: both semesters had the same average bedtime (1 a.m.-ish) over the course of the semester! At the start of fall semester I was going to bed early, then I realized that I could stay out later and later until my average bedtime was around 2 a.m. By winter semester I knew approximately what I could handle, and I stayed nearer to that bedtime pretty much all semester.

Looking at the day-by-day comparison, in fall semester, my bedtime gradually got later each night from Monday up to the weekend. In winter semester, I started out the week going to bed late, then got more sleep each night during the week until the weekend came, at which time I went to bed as late as I did fall semester.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Free at Last

Posted by Laura

I am done with finals! Wahoo! It is a priceless feeling. All of that studying and hard work and worrying and studying and cramming and... and... and studying in preparing for one last test has reached its end.

One of my favorite days to walk on campus is the last couple of days of finals. You can look at the face of someone walking by and immediately interpret how their week is going. Some are totally at peace and may have a few drips of ice cream smeared on their lips from celebrating their freedom. Others are in denial and have a strange look on their face, suggesting that they are and thinking, "I've still got time." Some are holding a study guide in their hands and would run right into you if you didn't dodge their studying path. I have even run into a few who are very open with their panic, asking their study buddy something to the extent of, "Tell me everything you know about the Great Depression in the next 60 seconds!" Yet as I was driving in the car and saw the clock strike 10 p.m., there was an immediate flow of relief that filled the surrounding air and a feeling of excitement and celebration. Ready or not, finals happened, and now they are done.

I now have six days of pure joy until I begin my spring classes, and I don't think I will have a problem figuring out how to spend them. I feel so good about "last semester," and I was relieved to see how everything really came together in the end. I feel so proud of all I was able to accomplish, and my first year has taught me that I really can do hard things. I have loved BYU and look forward to the years to come.

Final Food Showdown

Posted by Braden

With checkouts around the corner and lots of leftover food in our cupboards, our ward decided to organize a potluck Thursday night before a lot of students went home for the summer. I was expecting stale, half-opened bags of chips and straggling Hot Pockets. I forgot to consider that these same students also had meal plan money that needed using up, so instead of a "junk-food, leftovers" meal, we had a smorgasbord! Smoked salmon, funeral potatoes, lasagna, garlic bread, macaroni and cheese, a 3-gallon tub of ice cream, sloppy joes, etc! What a delicious meal! I think that meal had more variety than any other I've had all freshman year, except, perhaps, for when I ate at the Cannon Center, but it would certainly be a close call.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Settling on a Major

Posted by Trevor

Well, the first year at BYU has officially ended. I promised myself at the beginning of fall semester that I would not choose a major this year. That way I could keep my options open and see what might spike my interest—I wouldn't limit my opportunities by chaining myself down to one major right from the get-go.

Now that the year is over, I can go ahead and declare a major with a clear conscience.

After much debating, I've decided to pursue a career in animation. This came as a surprise to me. Though I've been known in my apartment and all through high school as being the "Disney Guy," I never seriously considered working for a major studio. In fact, I never considered any kind of degree in visual arts at all. But, as everyone says, the first year of college changes everything, and I can testify that this is true.

For your enjoyment, I've attached my three projects from my beginning animation class. (Hopefully they play correctly. I'm not the most tech-savvy person the planet has ever seen.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hello, Goodbye

Posted by Laura

I think one of the hardest things in high school was saying goodbye. It was hard saying goodbye to friends, knowing that we were going our separate ways in life, not knowing when we would see each other again. It was hard saying goodbye to the senior power, knowing that I'd would have to painfully endure names such as "freshie" and "squashmore" all over again. It was kind of scary realizing that I was now considered an adult, technically, and was gaining much more independence than I'd ever tasted before.

And yet, with all the fears and worries, it has been exciting—something that I could never put a face value on. I have gained so much over the last year of my life. I've experienced an abundance of new thrills attending BYU. When I look back to that first campus tour at New Student Orientation, I can't believe how fast it has all gone by. It seems like I was entering as a brand new student just yesterday. And after my finals I will be retiring the name of "freshman" with hard-earned calluses from my study habits, now a few steps closer to graduation.

Life goes by so fast; it makes me realize how important it is to live in the moment and not miss out on great opportunities. Reaching the end of the semester and saying goodbye to friends, teachers, and classes hasn't gotten any easier since high school, but I think I have learned that there are a lot of hellos in my future.

Camping Indoors

Posted by Braden

My friends and I have really enjoyed going to Divine Comedy shows this year. Divne Comedy's amazingly huge popularity makes getting front-row seats rather difficult, however. How did we remedy this problem? With a tent. And pizza. And cards. And gummy worms. and marshmallows. And a lot of spare time.

We showed up just before 5 p.m. for the 7 p.m. show and set up camp. The time really flew by after that, and we were first in line! I think my friend Tom summed it up best:

Renting a tent: $7
Ordering two pizzas and having them delivered to the JSB lobby: $12
Buying a Divine Comedy ticket: $5
The look we just got from that kid over there: Priceless

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Major Decision . . . Maybe

Posted by Mitch

I think that I have finally chosen a major! This is big news, considering I almost, no, definitely shot myself in the foot if I ever wanted to pursue a business degree—accounting was a great class, just not a great GPA-builder. That's all I need to say about that. Then I considered majoring in history, because I love American Heritage, and I am actually doing well in the class. But I decided that history was too boring. No offense to any history majors.

Anyway, I think I have chosen my major, and it is public relations. Of course, I have to apply to get into the major after I complete the prerequisites, which could be fatal, but I have a good feeling about it. I think that PR is the best route for me, and I can minor in history.

Choosing a major has been a long battle, and I'm not sure it's over yet, but for now the smoke has cleared and I can see somewhat clearly. I love working for campaigns and speaking on behalf of people; what better major is there for me? And this major will prepare me for law quite well.

Advice to the future freshmen: don't sweat declaring your major! Take some classes first and feel out all of your strong suits. Choose a major you like and you can excel in. It doesn't have to be the major you have dreamt about since junior high. Those dreams are great, but they may not be a reality.

Allergic to Goodbyes

Posted by Braden

Goodbyes are in the air, and it's making me nauseous. Really, I can't go anywhere or do anything these days without somebody making a comment like:

"This is the last time we'll ever do this!"

"I wonder if all of us will ever be in the same place again. . ."

"Man, I'm going to really miss this class."

"Do you remember that time we [insert nostalgic moment here]?"

Sure, anybody/everybody is allowed to be a little bit sad that things are going to change in the very near future, but do they really have to? All the crying and tender moments . . . there haven't been TOO many instances yet, but I'm sure it'll get worse as the week goes on and people start leaving.

Cold and heartless as this sounds, I really kind of wish the semester could just end and we would all go home. If you haven't said something important to a particular someone yet, then why in the world should they believe you when you say it right before you leave them for a few months or a couple years? And then there's that awkwardness about how to say goodbye: Do you give everyone a hug? What if you don't know them very well? Do you give them a handshake? No, that's awkward and lame. Do you give them a high five? What if they think you're going in for a hug after all and then it turns into one of those awkward, sort-of-caught-me-by-surprise hugs? And must we really hear all of those old yearbook signature messages again?! "Have a great summer!" "I'm glad I met you!" "Don't change!" OK, so people don't ACTUALLY say stuff like that very much anymore, but you can almost taste the forced goodbye awkwardness in the air sometimes.

And what's worse—I'm not leaving until the very, very end of the week, so I'm going to have to bear the full brunt of this somewhat painful experience! Maybe if I lock myself in my room as soon as I finish finals and only come out to use the microwave and the restroom, I can avoid it all!

In all actuality, I'll probably just have to tough it out, day by painstakingly sappy, goodbye-full day. *sigh* Wish me luck.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Final Crunch

Posted by Laura

Today I finished my two hardest finals of the semester: microbiology and chemistry. They were scheduled one right after the other, which made the past few days of studying hard, trying to find a balance in studying enough for both. I had my microbiology final first, and the professor surprised the class by telling us that the pretest from the first week of class would be the final. My thoughts raced back four months as I tried to recall the questions; I remembered how I had never heard any of the vocabulary or microbiology language before. It was overwhelming to be exposed to all of that information at the outset and see an overview of the material we were going to cover. Yet as I retook the pretest this morning, I understood the questions, and it made me realize how much I have truly learned and understood over the semester. It was a hard class for me and it really pushed me to work hard, but I also really enjoyed it and have already seen how relevant the information is.

My chemistry final brought back memories of the ACT. It was timed: 60 questions within a five-minute time limit. I think the hardest part was pacing myself to get through all of the questions and finish on time. The whole class jumped with panic when our teacher made the three-minute announcement, and the air was thick with tension. We have to wait about a week to get our scores, but it feels nice to have the test done with and to see how the many hours of studying paid off.

Finals are scary and stressful. It's easy to be overwhelmed with the final crunch at the end of the semester. But having made it through two semesters, I know that everything really does work out in the end.

I have loved being at a university where you can gain comfort from having class prayers; it makes such a difference. It has been wonderful to have both secular and nonsecular education in all my classes and to see how each subject relates to the gospel in different aspects.

Delinquent Party

Posted by Braden

On Saturday we had our last big get-together with everyone before people start heading for home, missions, summer jobs, the rest of their lives, etc. And at this party we did whatever sounded fun while still being legal and safe-ish. We ate lots of junk food. We massacred a pinata. We launched a Reeses cup 60 yards at DT field. And we made sugar bombs. :)

Sugar bombs are wonderful things. You stick a boatload of powdered sugar in your mouth, somebody lights a match, and you blow. Pretty pictures result. And honestly, what else could we have done with all of our leftover powdered sugar? It was fun seeing everybody one last time. We'll probably most definitely never all be together again. At least we each have our own picture of spewing fire to remember the night by.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Only in a BYU Ward

Posted by Braden

On Sunday everyone in my ward stood up, raised their right hands to thank everybody for their service, then sat back down without callings. It was kind of fun! Of course, the bishop made a disclaimer: "This is not how it's normally done and not how it normally should be done, but our special circumstances make it necessary and we've been approved to do it this way."

Looking back, a lot of things about the way this ward has been run have been like that! We don't have a primary. For the first two or three weeks, nobody under the age of 40 in the ward had callings. There is not a single widow in the ward for whom the nonexistent scout troop can rake leaves or the imaginary young women can bring cookies. Excluding the bishopric, it takes two minutes to walk from one end of our ward boundaries to the other (assuming you start and end on the third floor of the respective buildings). Ward budget comes by the semester rather than by the year. Ward prayer is, of course, something that's not done in a regular ward. Every once in a while, on a weekend where not very many people are expected to be around (Thanksgiving, Christmas, beginning and ending of semesters, etc.), we have church as a stake instead of a ward, even though it's not time for a stake conference.

It's been fun being in a temporary ward made up of a specific demographic (18- and 19-year-old college students). Thank goodness I get to do it three more times at least!