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10 Ways to Avoid Homesickness

For many freshmen, going to college is the time they’ve been away from their families for months at a time. Homesickness is pretty common around the residence halls and it sucks–we know, we’ve been freshmen too. To help you avoid feeling homesick, we interviewed 22 freshman and asked them what they have been doing to adjust to college life. Here is their advice:

1. Keep busy
The more active you are the easier it will be to meet people and to feel at home.

a group of students smiling

2. Go to Class
This keeps your mind occupied as well as gives you something to feel proud of.

Students in a classroom

3. Get a Job
If you get an on or off campus job, you will meet quality people who could become life-long friends as well as get work experience for your resume.

students working at a coffeeshop

4. Explore Winona
Get out and get to know people, explore Winona’s treasures such as Sugar Loaf, Garvin Heights, the Lake Lodge and other area stomping grounds.

a person jumping into a lake from a rope swing

5. Hang Out with Friends from Your Hometown
Occasionally spend time with familiar faces as they can be a little piece of home at school. Be sure to return the favor and visit them at their colleges too!

visiting friends at college

6. Participate in Campus Activities
Join intramurals teams or other clubs on campus. Participate in residence hall events also. These activities are a great way to meet the people living around you as well as people with similar interests.

students have a mock sumo wrestling match

7. Keep Your Door Open
Keep your door open and get to know those around you. They will become some of your best friends and will see you at your best and your worst.

a group of students

8. Occasionally Skype Friends and Family
Don’t call home every day as that can make you more homesick. But a little skype chat from time to time can be very reassuring and refreshing.

skype

9. Keep Family Traditions Going
Maybe you had some fun family traditions like watching the Super Bowl, Sunday Muffin Day or Friday Game Night. Keep these traditions going with your new friend-family!

students eating dinner together

10. Decorate Your Room with Pictures
Putting up photos may seem like just a little thing but making your room look and feel like home can make a big difference.

decorated dorm rooms

–Trevor Frosig and Sara Bahnsen

The Great Cafeteria Debate: Main v. West

a piece of greasy pizza

It actually doesn’t matter which caf wins, because at least we don’t have to eat this!

 

If you’re a student here at WSU, odds are that some point in your college career, someone will have attempted to get you to join their club in exchange for free food. And you’ve probably attended a meeting for that reason alone.

Why does this tactic work so well? Answer: Because, it’s a widely accepted fact that college kids love food.

In this two part post, I will tackle one of the biggest food-based debates on campus: Does the caf on Main or West Campus have better food? This is the kind of hot topic question that keeps students up at night wondering. I will evaluate the food based on availability, variety and quality.

So let’s see how our first contender, the Jack Kane Dining Center on Main Campus, matches up.

Availability

Over on Main, food is restored at a significantly fast rate. If there is no salad in the salad bar, the Chartwells employees are likely already on their way with a big tub of leafy greens. If the supply of monster cookies has been depleted, you can usually go back to your table for a few minutes and return to find the plate full of yummy baked goods. The Jack Kane Dining Center never misses a beat with food restoration.

However, the physical accessibility of some items is not that great. Pizza, for example, is assembled on the spot and then cooked for about seven minutes. Although super fresh pizza sounds great in theory, it actually creates a really long line and is less efficient than just grabbing a slice from an already cooked pizza. Dessert is another example. If you are in the mood for ice cream, you will also have to wait in a long line as opposed to serving yourself at West Campus.

Variety

On Main,  your cup may runneth over with variety. There’s nowhere else on campus where you will have access to apple butter, red pepper hummus, a waffle machine and a potato bar as well as a wider range of cereals than you find on West. Of course, whether this variety matters to you or not will depend on your eating preferences. I know that a waffle covered in hummus isn’t for everybody.

Quality

Here’s where things get heated. Although variety and availability matter in terms of overall experience, quality holds the most power in this debate. In order to ensure, that this was a fair debate, I spent a week eating on Main campus and a week eating on West. The variety definitely gave Main an advantage. If I didn’t like the look of the main course I could try the vegetarian option or make myself a waffle, which were usually pretty good.

The pre-prepared food, however, seemed to be a toss-up. There were times when on Main , the sandwiches were a little sloppy, the meat a little dry and the pizza line was just too dang long. These issues though are not totally criticisms of Chartwells or the food they provide. I think a big part of why I had less than perfect experiences was because there is almost always a ton of students in the Jack Kane Dining Center. Also, Chartwells has to guess how much food will be demanded as well as how much time each dish takes to prepare which are both factors in the quality, especially in the presentation of the food.

In Short

The variety on Main campus is top notch, but the accessibility can get a little frustrating and the food at times can be a little dry or just warm rather than truly hot. Overall, I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars.

And with that I bring this first post to a close! Main will be hard to beat, so tune in next week to see if the Lourdes Cafeteria on West campus can measure up!

–Hannah Carmack

Meet My Fishy Friends

four fish in a small tank

Here are my first four glow fish! And you thought the title meant my human friends :P

From the moment we all moved in, the Class of 2018 Facebook page has been inundated with posts about missing our furry friends. I’m sure that these emotional outpourings aren’t limited to the freshmen. Those brave dogs and cats that put up with our nonsense for years are probably sitting at home and content to be left alone, but also missing us terribly–just as we are missing them.

Personally, my pet, a guinea pig I had for four years, passed away a couple of weeks before I left. That gave me time to mourn (Yes, I know he was a guinea pig, but he was my first real pet) and get used to the idea that I wouldn’t see him when I woke up in the morning or when I arrived home from school. For others, kittens are being born and Scruffy has to go in for surgery. Yep, college without our beloved pets is going to be tough, but there are some alternatives to moping in the corner because you miss Mr. Cuddle-Kins’ adorable face.

a pet guinea pig

As you can see, it would have been extremely difficult to leave my guinea pig, Keenan, behind.

The rules for living in the dorms say the only pets allowed are fish. So go get a fish! That’s what I did my first day in the dorms (which for me, was Sunday before everyone else arrived on Monday. There are some perks to moving here from the East Coast :) ). There may not be a huge pet store in town, but Wal-Mart has a nice selection of fish and tanks. Now you don’t have to be like me who spent $60 on fish and supplies. My tank, a one-gallon diamond-shaped bowl, was only $11. They don’t have bags of rocks smaller than 5lbs., but if you know someone who is also looking to get a fish you can share. The rest of the accessories you put in the tank is up to you–except the water. The water on campus is chlorinated and the fish won’t survive. You can pick up distilled water at Wal-Mart as well or go to any other store.

Also, there’s always Winston, the therapy dog. He is a 3-year-old Blue Heeler/Rat Terrier and as cute as can be. He’ll cheer you right up! Wednesdays with Winston, held from 4-5pm in the IWC every Wednesday, might be just the thing you need to pick up your spirits.

Then, of course, there’s Skype; the only way to talk to your pet from the comfort of your dorm.

But I mean, come on–fish are great! And even though you can’t play with them like a dog, cat or even a guinea pig, they have their own unique personalities and can fill the void in your heart that was once filled with taking care of that special little friend back home.

–Rachel Adam

The Facts of Res Life

a man yelling and the caption "Loud Noises!"

Unfortunately, res halls can get pretty noisy. But I’ll help you handle it better than Brick Tamland here.

Tired of the person above you dragging a chair across the floor at 3am? Me too! My name is Hannah Carmack and by the end of this article you’ll know how to deal with some of the downsides of res life. Don’t get me wrong–for the most part, res life is great. The food is all you can eat, your RA plans activities to keep the hall entertained, friends are only a few doors down and you can commute from home to class in minutes. The pros of living on campus far outweigh the cons, but that doesn’t make the cons any easier to deal with.

Here are a few quick tips to help you deal with some of the less pleasant parts of res life.

Oh the Hills are Alive with the Sound of College Students
Proving to be one of the biggest issues on campus, unwanted noise continues to aggravate innocent hall residents. However, there are multiple ways to adjust to noisy neighbors. The first and most direct way is to talk to your neighbors. Many students don’t realize their noise travels through the walls or down long hallways, so alerting them to that fact in a kind and cordial manner can help a lot. The second way to go about handling noisy neighbors is to block them out. I like to place a fan directly next to my bed to drown out the elephant-laden basketball game that seems to go on in the hallways. Another option is to give ear plugs a try. They’re not for everybody, but they work wonders to silence your surroundings.

RubbaDubDub There is No Tub
Plagued by long lines and low shower pressure? You’re not alone. But do not fear as there are a few ways to make showering here on campus a bit smoother. If you keep getting stuck in long lines for showers you may want to consider changing the time you shower. Like the café and the quad, there are times where the showers are insanely busy and times where it is incredibly busy. If you are trying to shower at 8 or 9am, odds are you’re hitting the rush. If shower pressure is the problem, the best advice I can give is ask your RA. Each hall has at *least* one good shower, and odds are your RA knows exactly where it is.

Are You Done with that Dryer?
My advice for laundry is pretty much the same as my advice for the showers. Keep your eyes peeled for the busy times to avoid. You’ll get your laundry done a lot quicker if you’re not waiting for someone to get their clothes. But you don’t want to be that person hogging the washer and dryer either, so set an alarm on your phone so you can pick up your clothes promptly. Your hall-mates will thank you for it!

Hey, “Free” Pizza!
Ahhhh, the community fridge. Just as much of an issue in college as it in the workplace. Food theft is real, and although there is no surefire way to ensure that it doesn’t happen to you, here are a few tricks to help deter thieves. First, try labeling your food, like Marco here, with your name and what’s in the box.

food in a community fridge labeled with a person's name

Maybe threats are a little extreme, but putting your name on your food is a good idea.

Second, try to keep any leftovers you do have in your own mini-fridge. If the pizza box is too big, ditch the box and store the slices on plates or in tupperware. If you don’t have a mini-fridge, ask a trusted friend to store them for you. The community fridge is great, but if you’re paranoid about possibly losing your beloved three-day old pizza slice, find a securer place to put it.

It’s Getting Hot in Herre but Please Keep Your Clothes On
Here in Minnesota we have ‘real’ seasons, and by real I of course mean ungodly hot summers and arctic tundra-esque winters. Seeing as how the highs have been in the 90s the last couple weeks, here are a few tips to help you beat the heat. Try putting a box fan in your window; bringing in the air from outside can really help your room cool down. If you only have an oscillating fan (one that sits on the floor or table and turns to the left and right), try putting it in your doorway to bring some of the cool air from the hallway in. Placing a frozen water bottle in front of your fan can also give your room an icy chill.

Res life may not always be perfect, but the community will always be there for you. If you’re ever feeling lonely or homesick, you need only to walk out your dorm room door.

–Hannah Carmack

Your Ultimate Guide to Move-In Day

Here are some of the friendly RAs and Move-In Crew ready to help you move in.

Here are some of the friendly RAs and Move-In Crew ready to help you move in.

If you’re anything like me, you prefer to know exactly what you’re getting into before you get into it. Knowing what to expect and, thus, being prepared are two of the best ways to erase fear. When it comes to Move-In Day, I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t a little nervous my freshman year. This is why I have whipped up this little guide for you so you can have a run down of what Move-In Day will be like. Hopefully, this will put your nerves to rest so you can sleep in peace the night before the big day!

Now, without further ado, here is “Your Ultimate Guide to Move-In Day.” You’re welcome!

Before You Leave Home

Make sure to bring the following:

  • A form of identification
  • Social Security card
  • Health insurance cards
  • Cleaning supplies (I’ll explain more later.)

You’ll get a good workout moving in so wear loose, comfortable clothing.  Also, get here early because it’s going to be a crazy busy day! Moving into your residence hall is an all day event and begins at 9am.

First Things First

Before you start unloading, check in with the RAs at front desk.

They have a few forms you must fill out:

  • Emergency contact form (This can be filled out by you or your parent.)
  • Room Condition Report (RCR)
  • Loft agreement form (This must be filled out even if you don’t want a loft. You can change your mind any time throughout the semester.)

Then, you will receive:

  • Warrior ID card (If you haven’t had your photo taken yet, go to the Warrior Hub in Maxwell Hall.)
  • Room key
  • A folder containing coupons, club and general information, your orientation week schedule, the academic school year schedule and other useful information

You new address should be posted at the front desk, so make sure you write that down! Also located at the front desk should be a “Transit and Safety Ride” pamphlet and free Winona State notepad. Feel free to grab these. :)

After You Complete the Paperwork

You will be escorted to your room. If you are not escorted, don’t be afraid to ask a Move-In crew member to help you. The Move-In Crew are volunteers who will be wearing purple t-shirts so they are easy to find!

They are there to help you in any way, including:

  • Set up lofts
  • Move in your stuff
  • Find your room
  • Answer any questions you may have

Once You Get to Your Room

Before you move anything in, check your room over and fill out the Room Condition Report (RCR). This is your chance to write down any damages currently in your room so you don’t get charged for them at the end of the year.

Also, this is where those cleaning supplies I mentioned earlier will come in handy! The rooms were thoroughly cleaned after the previous resident moved out in May, but over the summer your room has likely gathered a little dust so take a quick spin through and wipe down surfaces.

Time to Move In Your Stuff

Moving carts should be floating around all the residence halls. Don’t hesitate to grab one!

Your roommate might also be moving at the same time you are. This is great because you can coordinate on how to arrange the room and who gets which desk. If your roommate isn’t there yet, be mindful of where you place your stuff so he or she can move in later on without tripping over your boxes and bags.

You’ll probably realize that you forgot to bring something (extra hangers or Command strips, for example) and if you find yourself in need of anything, check out Wal-mart and Target. They are located off Mankato St. right across from Winona Health.

After Your Parents Leave

Your family may be gone, but you are not alone! Remember, this is your first opportunity to get to know people so leave your door open and introduce yourself to your neighbors!

You should also check your email. You will likely be receiving an informational email about your agenda (PDF) for the rest of the week. Stay up to date and make sure you know what is going on so you’re not left out.

There will be a mandatory hall meeting where you meet your RA and the rest of your hallmates. You will likely go to dinner with them and go to the UPAC’s outdoor movie located on Main Campus in front of Phelps. If you haven’t already, start making some friends!

Other Tips for Orientation Week

Make sure to bring your warrior ID card with you everywhere you go. Remember, the residence halls lock their doors after 11pm so you will need your ID to get inside!

I’m sure you have heard this before, but I will say it again: be outgoing!!! I cannot stress this enough. Worried because you’re shy? You might surprise yourself! Everyone is extra friendly so breaking out of your shell will be easier than you think. The thing to remember is that everyone is new and will be open and willing to making new friends. A simple smile will go a long way!

Still have questions or concerns? The Housing and Residence Life Office also has a move-in day guide to help you get settled in at WSU.

–Anna Butler

17 Things Your RA Wants You to Know

Several RAs at a team building retreat

The RAs went on a team-building retreat in preparation for your stay!

When you move into the residence halls next week, you will meet your residence assistants. You may wonder, “Who are these supernatural beings that always keep their cool and have endless amounts of knowledge and energy to go around? How ever did they get to this level of awesomeness?”

Well, the RAs don’t have supernatural powers nor did they come from outer space. In fact, they are normal students just like you and me who have a passion for helping others and making a difference! All of these RAs were once freshman too and walked onto campus for the first time a little unsure of themselves and the road ahead. They learned many things on their journey and were influenced by their awesome RAs to follow in their footsteps. These people who walk the halls in confidence are ready and excited to connect with you on a personal level to make your first year at Winona a memorable one. They want to be your mentor and see you grow as much as you do. But before you officially arrive at your new home, there are a few things they want you to know.

In their own words…

  1. We are not scary people; we are normal, just like you.
  2. We put in a lot of work organizing events and making your freshman year great. We love it when you come to our programs!
  3. We are here to help, not get you in trouble. We want to enhance your experience, not take it away from you.
  4. We are trained to handle any issue you could possibly have so don’t be afraid to ask questions! Also, we were freshman once, too, so chances are we have been through what you are going through.
  5. We want to get to know you–even if you don’t have a question or need our help, we would love to chat with you!
  6. When it comes to decorating your dorm room, you are going to need a lot of command strips. Also, if your dorm doesn’t have AC, make sure you bring a fan.
  7. Get involved, get over-involved and then decide which you want to stay involved in. The connections can last even if you don’t stay in the group.
  8. Don’t go home right away. Stay EVEN IF you feel home sick. The feeling will pass and it only gets better from there.
  9. Keep your door open and get OUT of your room every chance you get.
  10. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone– so get uncomfortable.
  11. Come in with a positive outlook. The way you choose to view your experience will greatly affect the happiness of your stay.
  12. Go to class! You may want to kick back and only focus on the fun, but remember the real reason you are here. Your senior year self will thank you for it!
  13. Being away from home for the first time can be scary, but you can have confidence knowing that the dorms are an extremely secure environment to live in.
  14. Living on campus is filled with great opportunities to not only make new friends, but also to meet a variety of new and interesting people with different views and opinions. Embrace it!
  15. Free food is not uncommon…You’re welcome!
  16. If you are without a car this year, have no fear! From main campus, you are conveniently within walking distance to nearly everything.
  17. Smile, be yourself, be fearless and don’t worry. We are all in the same boat!

–Anna Butler

Several RAs at Prairie Island, about to go canoe racing at the team building retreat.

See, they don’t look so scary–just ready for a little canoe-racing at their retreat.

7 Ways a Res Hall is Totally Unlike Your Parents' House

Living in a college residence hall is quite different than living in your parent’s house and, of course, you knew that already. However, there are some aspects that you won’t fully comprehend until you move in. And as someone who lived through it, I can tell you that this is really what res life is like compared to your family home.

1. At your parent’s house, you probably had your own room

a woman snuggles into a big bed


but in the res hall you will have roommates–enough said!

disneyshedding_0

2. In a house, you have a bedroom for sleeping, a kitchen for eating, a living room for hanging out with friends etc…

hamster-house


while in a res hall room you have one room for all of the above activities

step-brothers-activities

3. Back home, your neighbors live on the other side of a picket fence

Hidey-ho Neighbor!

but your neighbors live on the other side of the wall in a res hall

WallNeighbors

4. Before you moved to college, your parents would yell at you for playing music too loudly

nice-stack
but now you’ll be the one asking people to turn their speakers down

TooLoud

5. At your parents’ house, the bathroom is a place of privacy

Bathroom Privacy

while in a res hall a bathroom is, well, just a bathroom

DormBathroom.JPG

 

6. Back home, the person to washing machine ratio is about 4:1 with the bonus of Mom’s complimentary laundry service

Mom's Laundry Service

At college, the person to washing machine ratio is more like 20:1

Occupy all the Washers

7. If you are hungry at your parents’ house, you just have to walk over to the fridge

FridgeSnack

But at college if you want a meal you have to walk across campus to the dining hall

Feeling Peckish

When you break it down, a residence hall is a crowded, noisy crash pad with small bedrooms and not-so-private bathrooms that requires effort and planning to find food. But, it is also the place where you will make many of your friends, get creative with interior design, stay up too late cramming for exams, while away Saturday afternoons with movie-marathons and taste a little independence. It’s an once-in-a-lifetime experience of communal living that will be totally different from living with your parents, yet in the end, your residence hall will become your home sweet home.

–Liz Meinders

HomeSweetHome

To Donate, Re-purpose or Toss When Moving Out

a person carrying several boxes, dropping one

Don’t want to deal with a ton of boxes? Donate unwanted items!

Can’t figure out what to do with all the stuff you’ve accumulated over the year as move-out day approaches? Resist the temptation to toss everything in the garbage and instead look at donating or re-purposing items such as:

  • Clothing
    If you know that some of your clothing is “going out of style” and don’t want to keep it, DO NOT SIMPLY THROW IT AWAY! Donate items to a local thrift store such as Salvation Army or Winona Volunteer Services. If you don’t want to drop off items at a thrift store yourself, WSU supplies some bins at the end of the year during move out week to collect unwanted items and will help reuse them in any way. You could also put a listing on Wazoo’s List, WSU’s private Facebook group dedicated to getting usable items into the hands of people who want them and out of landfills. Finally, another thing to do with unwanted or unwearable clothes is to upcycle them in some way, such as changing a t-shirt that is too large into a scarf or a bag (there are plenty of ideas on Pinterest for this!).
  • Movies
    Have some DVDs that you are kind of sick of watching? The front desk of your residence hall will GLADLY accept any donations for movies to add to the shelves for future check out. Is it scratched up and doesn’t work? Use it to make an awesome coaster for drippy drinks!
  • Bedding
    Blankets, comforters and pillows that are still in good condition can be donated to people in need or sold to consignment shops. Bedding that is too worn to donate can be ripped up into strips to make braided headbands, smaller pillow covers or other cool Pinterest creation.
  • Textbooks
    With how much textbooks cost, this tip seems like a no-brainer but I’ll say it anyway: Do NOT throw those books away if you do not want them! Textbooks are easily sold to other students planning to take the same class so you can make at little money back on your purchase. If you don’t personally know someone who needs the same textbooks, Wazoo’s List and the Free and For Sale Facebook pages are good places to find people looking for used textbooks. This is especially great for those loose-leaf texts that will not get much money back from stores like WSU bookstore, Warrior Textbooks (located on Huff Street) or a number of online retailers such as Amazon, Chegg or eCampus that will also give you money for used textbooks.
  • Room Accessories
    Whether you live in a res hall or an off-campus apartment,  room accessories are easily repurposed each year. Storage bins are always useful and can even be inexpensively re-painted for a fresh look (the same goes for picture frames), flower vases can be used as a pot for plants and glass jars or containers can be of great use for spare change or small item storage. Rugs can be washed up and used again, and curtains can be remade into any cloth item or reused.

My personal advice is to ask any of your friends or co-residents if they would like to take it off your hands or would be up for a trade. You never know if you don’t try this! My roommates and I got many useful things from our friends and people in the res hall last year, such as cushioned chair that just needed some new cloth and a shelf that needed some minor repairs.

If you are packing up and discover some items that are beyond trade or reuse, WSU provides extra dumpsters outside the res halls to help you clear out your room. Bins full of pizza boxes or shattered items are probably not going to be a desirable item to trade, sell or reuse, so go ahead and toss it.

I hope this helps you figure out what to donate, re-purpose and toss when moving out next week!

–Brianna Bosshart

Sticking Around? Stay in Summer Housing

New Hall at Night

New Center could be your home sweet home this summer!

Summer is just around the corner as finals are closing in. Many students will be moving out of the dorms and back to their homes, but for those of you who want to stick around, there is another option— summer housing. Your summer housing will be in New Center (or East Lake, if you are a current East Lake resident) and cost just $12 per day. This is perfect if you need to stay for just a few weeks while you take a summer class or the entire summer break.

Because people are always coming and going, summer housing can be a little awkward. When I, Liz, stayed in New Center for a summer, I shared a four bedroom suite with three girls I had never met before. Also, the Jack Kane Dining center is unfortunately closed during the summer so you have to buy all of your own food. However, there is a bright side: you will have a chance to make new friends and you can develop your home-cooking skills.

There will be 20 resident assistants working in the buildings from May to early August, and the same rules apply in the dorms as they normally would during the school year (e.g. no candles, no toasters, no duct tape etc.). Sign-ups have already started so if you are interested, visit the Housing and Residence Life website for more information and signups. We would love to have you experience summer in Winona with us.

–Megan Malina and Liz Meinders

The End (of the Year Party) is Near

a girl with her face covered in whipped cream

Angela Wahl (an former RA in Sheehan) getting pied in the face by her residents!

Winona State University residents, here’s a heads up for you!

The Main Campus End of the Year Party on April 28th will be a night to remember as the week of finals approaches and you have to depart ways with some of the best people you have met this year. Make it a moment full of bonding, fun, prizes and memories that you will never forget!

This year’s party will be held in the Sheehan Parking Lot and all Main Campus residents are invited. The theme is Beach Bash so break out your flip flops, sunglasses and beachwear. Some things to look forward to are:

  • Henna tattoos
  • A cakewalk
  • Mashed potato castle building contest
  • Raffles
  • The opportunity to pie your RA in the face
  • Music
  • Food prizes
  • Dinner (though you will need to use a swipe on your ID card)

Last year’s end of the year party was a great excuse for me and my friends to push aside the last minute cramming study sessions for a bit. On top of the break from finals stress, we got to throw a whipped-cream pies in the faces of our resident assistants, earned some free food from completing the fun games and enjoyed a nice picnic dinner together outside.

So mark this event on your calendars, set aside those books and enjoy a night together with all your Winona Warrior friends!

–Brianna Bosshart