Questions? No Need to Raise Your Hand…

This is the week just a short (or extremely long) year ago when I decided on UWGB myself. I remember May 1st was the big announcement day at my high school when everyone wore their new college spirit wear.
But I remember still having questions- so I will answer two big ones for you….

WHAT DO I DO WITH ALL THIS PAPERWORK?!
-Look it over. What needs a response? Send those in immediately! Especially when you receive things concerning housing, R&R sign up, E-Z books (which is really neat- and I strongly suggest it!), or other things. If you have questions, then call or email as soon as possible- it’s a busy time of year for everyone so the response will be as prompt as humanly possible.
-What about sheets of information? Phone numbers, hours for the clinic, bus routes, where to go for help- all of it is important. Keep a folder. At least for the first year it’s always nice to have. When I moved on campus my mom gave me a folder of what I saw at the time as useless information. I’ve used it MANY times throughout the year.
-Living on campus as a student or planning to visit as a parent? I highly suggest stopping at rest-stops (if you have a longer drive) or gas stations along the way and look for information pamphlets about fun stuff in town or a good map and put this in the folder too. There are some available in the University Union as well.

WHAT IS R&R?
You got an amazing description of R&R (or will be receiving one shortly) if you were an admitted freshman planning on attending UWGB.
Now, I know it’s your final weeks as a Senior, and I remember the senioritis well, so I will summarize for those who have brains as fried as I remember mine being.

-You will have a lot of icebreakers that you will think are lame and cheesy- but they really do help you meet people-so you should do them anyway- everyone looks and feels just as silly as you do.
-You will get TONS more information.
-You will pick classes for your first semester of college. That being said, don’t worry about it, you will have TONS of help doing so!
-YOU WILL HAVE YOUR PICTURE TAKEN….. it will be your picture for four years- and you have to carry it everywhere- don’t say you haven’t been warned. That being said, if you don’t care for your picture- you already have something in common with people here- and it’s no big deal.
-You will be asked if you have any questions throughout and at the end of the day, and you will probably not be able to think of any. On the way home you will think of 1,000 and remember that you have an e-mail of a wonderful Ambassador, who is a student just like you- and contact information for pretty much any department you may have questions for.

Oh, and you’ll get to meet me! I’m one of those Ambassador people you’ll be with all day- so feel free to ask me any questions, or just say hello!

If you have any other questions, general or specific, or you’d like to see a blog about anything in this last week you should e-mail me at philkr16@uwgb.edu or hit the little comment button (try it, it’s kind of fun!) and leave me a message!

Life’s A Beach!

When I was in YOUR spot last year discussing colleges with my peers, one girl I talked to had one unique requirement- wherever she went, she wanted to be able walk to the beach. Looking at fun, warm places like California and Florida, she of course didn’t want to go THAT far from home. Little did she (or I, at the time) know that UW-Green Bay would have been a place of interest.

Yes, we are known for our beautiful arboretum, but did YOU know that Green Bay has access to the water?! I didn’t. I was excited when the beautiful 72 degree weather took my friend and I to Community Park, a University owned property only a short walk away from campus housing.

I had seen it as I drove by, but all I ever really caught a glimpse of was the big green space with some pretty benches, picnic tables, and trees. A great place for sun bathing or playing games and frequently used by the community, who would have thought so close to campus on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, you could kick off your flip-flops and take a walk in some sand?

But as I said in an earlier post, only in Wisconsin would a beautiful day mean more snow ahead! Oh well, I will wake up tomorrow with white flurries in the air, just waiting for Saturday when I can once again dangle my feet in the bay at Community Park.

(Not really a sand-in-your-toes person? Be sure to check out another unique piece of University property. Curly Lambeau cottage (the original cottage used by Curly Lambeau in his coaching days) is also only a short walk from campus and has an amazing view of the bay and the option to walk by the water.)

Walking The Shores

Walking The Shores

Spring Time and Snowflakes

Spring break already happened, I put my flip-flops by the door, I’ve attended more than one day of classes without a jacket, and I finally took down my snowflake window clings to be replaced with beautiful flowers.

But, apparently, Wisconsin is a little confused about this “spring” thing.

For example, this month’s GB Nites took place right after spring break. Students spent a Saturday night decorating flower shaped cookies with bright frosting and jimmies, competing in what are typically outdoor games (egg drops, popsicle-stick bridge building, and limbo), and the main attraction- decorating your very own pair of flip-flops. I left the event around midnight, marveling at my amazingly cute new pair of flip-flops and mentally going through my wardrobe for something I could wear them with. When I walked outside I was completely caught off guard and ripped out of my spring-minded state. SNOW?!? Snow. Two inches. So much for flip-flops…

Example 2, on a night out with friends for some late-night snacking/studying we were returning to campus when the driver suddenly slowed down and turned on his brights. I looked out the passenger-side window wondering what he could possibly be seeing-and I was in disbelief. DEER! In the arboretum there was a little family of deer just hanging out. Now, I’m a city girl- I don’t get to see deer that often so- It HAS to be spring, right?
Well, again, nature likes to confuse itself and yesterday there was a robin (which has always been my personal sign of spring) flying through flurries on campus.

On Saturday, my friend and I were antsy to do SOMETHING. After running errands, we decided it was ridiculously nice outside. Armed with just our sweatshirts and a camera, we decided to venture around the gorgeous arboretum for a nice, long, spring walk. Yesterday I was back outside armed with a sweatshirt and my winter coat.
So whether you enjoy your GB Spring days watching nature and wildlife in the arboretum, or attending the fabulous GBNites spring-themed event…be prepared…a snow storm is surely just around the corner…

In Times of Crisis

When I was younger I heard somewhere that in times of crisis, you find out where your real support system is. The week before spring break, I had a love/hate relationship with finding that out.

The Monday before break happened I was sitting through a lab and as the professor was giving his final notes, everyone began to clean up their tables and grab their bags. My first reaction is always to take out my phone and ID and move them to my pockets for easier access. I had four frantic missed calls from various family members and knew something was wrong.

Then, my biggest fear about being in college happened. My dad was hospitalized and here I was, sitting in the hallway of a building two hours away from home, bawling not knowing what to do. I don’t have a car on campus, I had midterms and a job interview all lined up for that week and I didn’t know where to begin.

From orientation (but especially from my job there) I knew that every student has a resource, The Dean of Students Office, for situations like these. Well, lab is a later class, and the office was closed, now what?

My professor, leaving the room, noticed my (probably quite loud) sobs and my lost self. He patiently waited until I got off the phone, calmed down enough to speak, and asked what happened. When I explained to him my hectic week and my inability to process what was going on he offered his best advice, told me not to worry about the midterms or anything, and to let him know what he could do. My best friend sat with me and looked up greyhound tickets, airplanes, and anything that could get me home as quickly as possible.

I saw the professor whose midterm was latest in the week and explained my situation. She expressed her sympathies, told me not to worry about her midterm, and we’d work something out.

I got the same responses from every professor and staff member I contacted. I didn’t just have my friends; I had this amazing support system, displaying their true colors. My professor from lab kept up with me to see if there was anything he could to.

Everyone went above and beyond just the simple “I’m so sorry to hear” and truly extended every offer from a talk, a hug, phone numbers, and even from two very special people extended offers of a ride home.

I was astounded. I knew great people were on campus at GB, but I never would have expected this in the least.

When I returned from spring break, everyone continued to show concern. When I explained to one professor how everything with my dad’s surgery had gone smoothly, we were just worried about him not being able to help me move back home in May (My dad cannot lift for eight weeks), that professor said “Just e-mail me, I’m there.”

Yes, I would have rather not had this experience at all, but if anything it showed me exactly what I love about GB and why I’m happy to be here.

And if all telling this story does is make you feel more comfortable leaving home(no matter how far away “home” is), or sending your child away for the first time- you have nothing to worry about. You don’t just have regular help and sympathy; you have wonderful, caring people who make up this amazing support system that is truly unique.

Fighting The Freshman 15

When I talked to people about college they all warned me about “the freshman 15” a scary term referring to how easy it is for freshman to gain weight now that they are making their own nutrition choices. I didn’t believe them, but just in case, I packed my fat-jeans in my college stuff and came prepared.

My first semester I had no idea how anyone could gain weight. I realized how much food costs, and was still trying to figure out the hours of the commons and how/when I could find time to eat. I was taking long walks around the arboretum, running around outside, and spending a lot of time exploring the campus.  I had lost far more than the freshman 15 I was supposedly going to gain.

THEN the holidays came. And Valentine’s Day chocolate. And GIRL SCOUT COOKIES. And all the food I had brought back after winter break.  I had figured out how to budget and eat well on campus- and now know more people who plan off-campus dinner trips.  It’s a little too chilly to walk, nobody plays outside late at night when it’s this cold, and I’ve pretty much found my way around.

It was time to walk into the big scary gym. I’m sure by now most of you have heard about, seen, or have been in the amazing Kress Center we have on campus. Only scary to me because it was filled with new shiny machines I had no idea how to use or what they were supposed to do- I had never been to a gym.

When I went to work out for the first time, I was scared and went with someone else who had never been to the gym. We had fun exploring and trying to figure things out. There was also a very helpful staff that were willing to answer questions and my friend finally found the excuse to talk to that cute athletic guy she had been staring at in lecture.

Once I felt more confident in the actual process of going to the gym and using machines I knew wouldn’t kill me, I decided it was time to take some classes. The Kress Center offers tons of free-to-students fitness classes all week long. A group of trained, energetic instructors can help you do everything from yoga, to Zumba (one of my now favorites),  to step aerobics, to cardio kickboxing , and sculpt the perfect “summer beach body abs” as one of my instructors puts it- as well as so many others!

Two weeks ago, I finally felt like the gym queen. Of course, I wasn’t amazing at anything- but I finally had the confidence to go by myself with my radio, follow my little simplistic routine, and then go to the fun free classes. When a friend of mine joined me for the “Ab Attack” class, it was my first experience using an exercise ball (one of those big inflatable balls you have to balance on).  I was stretching my abs and following directions while trying to balance. My friend and I could not stop laughing at the fact that the supposedly pretty simple exercise was so difficult for both of us. Here’s a tip: Don’t laugh, and stretch your abs a certain way…you pull a muscle…a very painful…probably pretty important muscle.

So, although sometimes in pain, I can confidently tell you that I’m eating Thin Mints right now and am not at all worried about the Freshman 15, due to the fabulous Kress Center- again- FREE to all students to fight their weight-gain worries…just try not to laugh during ab class.

When Katie Met Katie

Over the course of my last semester in high school, I started using more technology in my search for the perfect college.

This year, way more than last, most colleges and universities are using more technology to reach students and discuss what’s important about their institution and why it might be perfect for each prospective student. (Just for example, check GB out using e-mail, AIM, Twitter, Flickr, Delicious, Youtube, Myspace, and Facebook- as well as, of course, this blog).

There is a plethora of information at your finger tips.

More importantly, however, if you look hard enough – you can start to get to the heart of the matter and find specific people. Whether they are current students or future classmates, once you’ve decided, or even while still on the fence, go exploring!

When I came to my first official GB event only days after I had graduated high school there was a girl in my group who stood out to me. She had the same name, similar interests, and then ironically- the same exact major and minor I was planning on taking.

I went home and did my research. From our group activities I knew her name and where she was from.  When I finally found her on Facebook, we started casually chatting. As the days went by the comments got longer and longer and we got to know a lot about each other. The first day on campus she sent me a text message saying “Where should we meet?”

I was excited to have someone I knew right off the bat, and giggled at the fact that technology had already played such a huge part of our friendship. I was nervous that it wouldn’t be the same- or she would somehow be completely different—neither was the case.

Katie and I have been called “inseparable” by some of our professors, and have attended more events together than I can count. Even though we’ve both obviously met more people (many of who I recognized from various “Going to GB” Facebook groups)- we still remain close.

Technology also becomes a large part of your college career- many professors have facebooks and I even have a class this semester that has a facebook information page!

So I encourage you to go on Facebook and join GB groups that interest you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of other students! Become friends with Phlash and get information about the latest sports events. Become a “fan” of UWGB and get more information. Hey, there’s even UWGB flair if you’d like to start showing your Phoenix pride! I’m not really familiar with some of the other programs- but start finding some cool stuff to do on those as well!

Meet The Professor

One of the reasons I love attending UWGB was solidified yesterday in the first day of classes. Although I sat through classes that I can see the potential of being extremely challenging for me, I found that the professors impressed and inspired me.

One in particular, a professor for my new science class, spent ten minutes before a relatively large lecture class, shaking hands of students, asking where everyone was from, and asking a question about it that showed he was actually paying attention to your answer.

He told a few jokes to wake everyone up, and started class promptly with the typical first-day-syllabus review. In his syllabus, as in most, he explains his office hours (which are certain times set aside to visit each professor with questions or problems but all of the professors I’ve run into have also had by-appointment times if their office hours don’t work with yours). In the paragraph about coming to his office he mentions a plethora of snacks and soda if you want to come in and have a casual chat.

Later that day, to my surprise, after finding a seat in the Cloud Commons with some friends, this particular professor came up to our table, remembered both my name, and the name of my friend who had been sitting next to me in his class, and his student from last semester who was sitting at our table, asking about our break and if we had already had other classes.

This is not my first cool-and-caring professor encounter. In fact, I’ve had them with almost all of my professors thus far. Last semester a professor I had even called me to his desk after class. I had been tired and did not raise my hand for any questions in the 80 minute discussion. I was aware of this uncharacteristic behavior, and was concerned that he was going to yell at me for not participating. Instead, he wanted to make sure that everything was going ok and asked if there was anything he could help me with.

(These are just two examples, and I hate leaving every other cool professor out, but that might get boring for you. )

In talking to my high school friends at their respective universities about this first day adventure-and all my experiences here at GB- most of them couldn’t believe such professors existed, let alone that I had one on my first day of classes and have encountered so many in just the first few months here.

I guess that’s just something to consider or look forward to at UWGB…it’s not just the classes; it’s what the professors make of them. And a lot of professors aren’t just stopping at hoping you (an actual person and not just your student ID number) pass their class; they are going to do everything in their power to help you- and most importantly- make it fun along the way.

“I Wish I Was Home…I Wish I Was Back There”

(Since I’m a big musical theater nerd in my spare time…I decided that I could sum up my life and the title for this blog in that quote from the musical THE WIZ.)

At the end of finals week I was more than happy to leave GB. Not the fabulous school, not my friends, but a nice break from academia was welcomed. Even though I would miss some amenities of Green Bay like cable and high-speed internet (which explains the lack of posting, and I apologize)- nothing beats home-cooked meals and old friends.

The holidays were a wonderful opportunity to tell my entire family of all my college adventures in (pretty much) one shot. It was nice to make big meals, not be up writing papers, and to have the keys to my little almost-broken-down car in my hands again!

But after the first week of being in my home- I realized I had a completely new one. Once the novelty of seeing everyone began to wear away, I longed for my other home.

If you would have asked me in September, and admittedly well in to October, I would have never called Green Bay home. It is not where my family is…. Not where my cats sleep at night…. Not where I have my car, or my favorite art hanging in my very own room.

By November and the end of the semester (when I finally figured everything out) I made a home. I didn’t realize it until I wanted to run to my friend- who is now inconveniently hours from my home- instead of 2 minutes…. Or until I got so sincerely bored without talking to the fabulous people I work with or see on a daily basis on campus…. Or even- until the night I went “hmm…what to do?”

But here it is…slapping me in the face. I miss home.

I now define home a little differently. Home is not necessarily where my car, my cat, or my room is. Home is where love is. Where laughter is. Where you know somebody is there for you, whether it be a friend, an adult, or a helpful stranger.

Although nothing can replace being home, here, in Milwaukee…I cannot wait to get back to my other home at UWGB.

‘Tis The Season To Be A Phoenix

Final exams are just around the corner and the holidays are quickly approaching. Campus is becoming a dizzy, busy mix of break-anxious and stressed out students. To cure some of these emotions, UWGB started its holiday celebrations this week- and if you ask me- it was just in the nick of time.

For me it started Monday. My on-campus job in the Dean of Students Office called for some office decorating! As the student workers went through boxes of ornaments decorating trees, the university staff in the office played Christmas music and we all talked about family traditions and what presents we were most excited to give to others.

After Monday the week became busier again with spring theater season auditions, preparation for final exams, and final projects being due.

So what better than more holiday cheer at the end of the week? On Friday evening Good Times Programming, a student organization here on campus that plans fun events, sponsored an event entitled “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” At first, I was hesitant to go considering I could have sat in my pajamas in my very warm dorm room instead of braving the cold, but they made it too exciting to pass up.

A horse drawn carriage arrived at the Community Center, a building in the middle of student housing at 6 PM. For three hours the horse drawn carriage would carry large groups of students around the beautiful snow covered campus to the Union.  It was SO cute and SO Christmas-y that the horses had jingle bells on them and the drivers wore Santa hats. Even though I couldn’t feel my fingers at the end of the trip, everyone was giggling and singing Christmas carols and just having a great time along the way.

When arriving at the Union groups of “weary travelers” stumbled in to the coffee house to make- get this- GINGERBREAD HOUSES and frost and decorate Christmas cookies while sipping on hot chocolate in front of a fireplace and participating in “Christmas Carol-oke.” Oh, and did I forget to mention the entire event was positively FREE to all UWGB students? Well…it was! J

Then, on Saturday morning, after a long night of stuffing St. Nick’s stockings, Santa himself came to campus! In an event properly entitled “’Tis The Season” families from the community intermingled with curious UWGB students and UWGB volunteers to make Christmas crafts and meet or take pictures with the jolly man himself. Although I didn’t stay and do a lot of crafts, the pure energy of the dozens and dozens of toddlers and pre-schoolers asking Santa for their Christmas goodies, or making ornaments for their holiday trees was inspiring and refreshing during a stressful exam week.

So, incase you thought that exams were one big ball of stress, or that the holidays could not be celebrated in style on campus- I hope this proved you wrong. Really, where else do you get to go on horse drawn carriage rides and see Santa all for free?

 

 

 

Birthday Fun

Last week was a major event. My birthdays back home were always a HUGE deal. For some reason, the baby child of a huge family, my birthday was made into surprise parties and cool relaxing days that make up some of the best memories.

This year, when I contemplated leaving campus to spend the weekend of my birthday at home, I realized that Thanksgiving was quickly approaching and reasoned that going home would be more of a hassle than a fun occasion.

When I announced to my friends that I wanted to make my birthday last an entire week I was expecting to be met with “Um…what?” Instead I think both of my best friends on campus said something along the lines of “Let’s DO IT!”

The entire week was met with excitement and enthusiasm from my family. I was sent 19 birthday cards throughout the week (FYI: College kids LOVE getting mail!) and my mother sent me a special birthday package with a homemade cake and balloon bouquet through an Ecumenical Center program on campus.

Of course, the entire birthday celebration was also met with enthusiasm by my two best friends, myself, and eventually spread to a large group of people, residents of my building, and pretty much everyone we came in contact with throughout the week.

With simple themed days- we made typical life on campus full of classes, work, and meals more creative. Of course, each day have a creative name.  “Mac and Cheese Monday”, “Tasty Tuesday”, “Tireless Thursday”, and “Super Sunday” were just some of our more fun terms for our crazy shenanigans. On Sunday, the actually day of my birthday, my friends drove me to the mall nearby and we celebrated by making a build-a-bear (fun whether you are 4…or 19) and walked around seeing how many people we could get to say Happy Birthday to me.

By the end of the night, I realized that as nice as it would have been to be at home, I could not have imagined celebrating my birthday without the very special people I did.

When I left for college everyone told me I would meet my best friends. I thought they were just reassuring me because when I came to UWGB I knew virtually nobody on campus. I now know what they meant, college is a great time to meet people and then one day you turn around- and wonder how you ever lived without them.