Life Update: I declared a major and joined a sorority?

This spring semester has turned out to be a very eventful one for me. Beyond a full course load of classes, some very exciting changes have happened in my life!

First off, I declared my major! You may or may not know that I entered the University of Illinois college of Engineering as an Undeclared Engineering student. Essentially, this is a very cool and very selective program at my school where you are in the engineering college but have yet to be tied to a set major. In our first semester, we take the basics that all engineers must complete (Calculus, Physics, Chemistry…) and have the opportunity to explore all 16 majors through tours, shadowing students, and special seminars held by professors and advisors from each department.

This process was really hard for me because I came into school thinking I wanted to do one area of engineering and ending up loving something on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. I started off with a lot more course work more related to structural and large-sized things, (Civil or Industrial engineering) ended up kind of hating it and thinking I might not even want any sort of engineering, and then discovered I loved a certain class I’d barely even thought of as engineering.

I can now proudly say that I’m a Computer Science major at Illinois! I even got a sweatshirt to prove it.

Another sort of different things that happened is I rushed and successfully joined a sorority. Greek life was something I never considered coming into school because I never really knew anything about it, and also had some rather false assumptions. But being here and seeing some of it in action (and also being at a school with one of the largest greek systems in the nation) made a sorority something I actually really wanted. So, I decided to participate in an informal spring rush, and am now a member of the Theta chapter of Alpha Omega Epsilon.

Now my experience is a little non-traditional, my sorority is specifically for technical science majors (though it’s still a social organization!) and does not have a house. But what it does have is a great, close-knit group of supportive women and a slightly smaller community than I would have in any of the big social sororities on campus. I honestly love everyone in my chapter who I’ve spent time with so far, and this next week after spring break is our big little week, (where we are matched with an older sister who will be our “big”) and that’s extra exciting!

♥, Tamara

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My Spring Semester Classes

Hey, y’all! I am about halfway done with winter break right now, and I’m actually pretty excited to get back to school. I really wanted to be done with my fall semester near the end, but it was more that I wanted a fresh set of classes than anything else. My first semester was kind of just all the (slightly annoying) prerequisites of general chemistry and calculus I and intro seminars, and now I get to start more classes I like! Unlike fall semester, where I almost took a full course load and then dropped one class I now don’t need, this spring semester I will be taking max credits.

Intro to Computer Science

At my school I am currently in the Undeclared Engineering program, which means I am guaranteed a spot in one of the engineering majors of my choice, but I am not part of a department and don’t have a major quite yet. Over first semester I narrowed down my choices to just a few, and right now my top choice is Computer Science! This CS class is the first one for majors in the subject, and I’m really excited to see how I like it. Even if I don’t choose it as a major, luckily this would count for the coding class I would need as a part of any engineering major.

Calculus II

So this is just kind of the necessary annoyance of being a technical science student. I like math as a subject, but math classes can be a little gruelling, (read: amazingly difficult) especially at my school. I’ve heard from many people that Calc II is better than Calc I at least, and I plan to do Calc III (the final one) over the summer to free up that room in my schedule next fall.

Physics: Mechanics

If I don’t end up as a CS major I think I might end up studying physics, so this class is going to be pretty important. And either way, since I’m in the college of engineering it’s still a required class! “Mechanics” is the basic, probably a little boring kind of physics, but I’m thinking I’ll still enjoy this class. Plus, most of my friends are also taking it next semester so at least I’ll have plenty of people to study with.

Indian Cinema in Context

What I’m super happy with this for this class is that it not only will it count for my media minor, it will also count as one of the last gen-eds I need to take! I’m thinking I’ll learn a lot from this class too. India actually produces the most movies per year in the world (much more than the US) and I don’t know a ton about Indian culture in general, so I’ll be glad to find out more about something foreign to me.

21st Century Documentaries

I picked this last course kind of on a whim but I’ve turned out to be really pumped about it. I was kind of just looking for another media class that worked into my schedule, since I had the extra credits, and I found this one. It is a 300 level, which makes me a little nervous, but it’s taught by a professor who also makes documentaries, which is just super cool. Hopefully I can handle the course load, and have a bit of fun with this one!

How much longer is your winter break? If you’re in school, are you taking any cool classes this year/next semester?

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The Dorm Room

Hi, everyone! It’s been a while. I’ve been super busy here at college, but today I am pumped to share with you what my dorm room looks like. 😊

As you may know, I am attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. One great thing about this school is that it has some pretty nice dorms. But I also get extra lucky in that I am living in the second newest dorm building on campus. It’s not a dorm freshman have resided in during past years, but as I am living in the Honors Living-Learning Community I got what I would say is one of the nicest rooms on campus.

dormdoor

Another cool thing when picking housing at U of I is that you not only get to choose a roommate and hall, but you get to pick your very specific room number. (and as a sophomore and up you can even reserve an entire side to side block of rooms for you and your friends/teammates/sorority sisters/basically anyone) As the nerd I am, I looked at the floor plans for my building before choosing a room, and therefore got one of the four largest rooms in the hall. Seriously, I knew it was bigger, but this place is huge.

My roommate is named Maya and is a sophomore in Engineering. She is seriously the greatest but I’m not going to be displaying her side of the room because that would be weird.

dormbed

The first thing on the left (my side) when coming into the room is my bed. I have this awesome rainbow striped duvet cover that was new this year, and a really soft blanket that my swim coach gave to me as a graduation present. On the wall, I have a strand of twinkle lights (nowhere near the advertised 10 ft) a caricature drawing I had done during one of our orientation events, and a row of photos. Some that I’ve taken, some of me, and a few from this last year’s swim team photo shoot. I’ll probably be adding more to the walls eventually, but at least they’ve gone from “utterly blank” to what could be considered minimalist. You can also kind of see the container I’ve been using as a bedside table in the bottom corner of the picture.

desk

Next is my general desk area. I have some shelves with cups, my camera, books, notebooks, and my camera. Then my desk with my bookshelf and just general work area. Off to the side, I have a full-length mirror and a hook with my Rainbow Rowell tote bag and sheet-music umbrella hung from it.

On my bookshelf I have Every Day by David Levithan, (which I am reading for a class!) the (now completed) Alcatraz series by Brandon Sanderson, and a plethora of fall ARCs that either have yet to be released or are already out into the world. I’ve “decorated” the shelf with my time turner necklace, my New York Yankees cap, and a rubber duck that I was given when I joined the synchronized swimming club here at school.

deskcloseup

On the back of the desk, there’s a metal panel where I’ve been keeping magnets, bookmarks, and have taped up other postcards and things.

fullroom

There’s my dorm room! What other kinds of things do you think I should hang on my walls? What other college type things would you like to see posts about? Make sure to let me know in the comments!

♥, Tamara

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How to Choose What Books to Bring to College

Next Tuesday I leave home to move to college. I have many worries about moving in, and a few of those have to do with my books. I’m not necessarily worried about having enough reading material: I’ll be bringing my kindle and I can always check out ebooks from my home library. I am somewhat worried about having the right reading material. What if I want to re-read that one favorite book that I can’t easily get from the library where I am?

I also am worried about having enough material for my bookstagram. Probably the silliest sounding of my worries… But it’s a pretty big part of my life.

While I don’t yet know 100% whether I’ve made the right choices in the books I’m taking with me, today I’m going to be talking a little bit about my thought process in choosing books. Hopefully I can help out a fellow book blogging college freshman!

How many books do I really read in a semester?

On average, I read about 4-8 books per month. In my first semester of college I will be away from home for about four months: half of August, September, October, November, and half of December. By that count I should be bring about 20-40 books with me.

Okay, that number is ridiculous, and I know it’s ridiculous. I won’t be bringing 40, or even 20 books. For one, I can bring less because ebooks. Secondly, with my classes and extracurriculars I will probably be reading on the low end of my average.

Will I be acquiring any books while I’m there?

Short answer for me: No. There are really no bookstores where I’m going, and there is only one book being released soon that I know I will be buying.

Think about the space:

College dorm rooms are notoriously small. For me this is really not an issue. My dorm room is huge, (huge!) comes with a small bookshelf, and books are actually really easy to store. But if you have a really small room with little storage space it’s something to consider.

Which books do I bring? What will I want to read?

This is hardest for me because I am a huge mood reader. I’ve decided to bring a mix of my usually genres: middle grade scifi / fantasy, ya scifi / fantasy and contemporary, and one or two adult books.

I have also decided to bring pretty much all paperbacks and ARCs. They’re lighter, easier to carry, and easier to store.

Other things:

  • Most of the ARCs I’m bringing are upcoming fall releases. I have a lot of released ARCs but most of those will be staying at home. That way I’ll have books for review, and I can stay on top of new releases without buying any new books.
  • I have absolutely no idea what kind of books the university library or the local library there will have.
  • I’m planning on not exchanging books until the end of the semester, but I do have a long fall break where I’ll probably do some bookish reshuffling.

There you have it! My entire (not so) foolproof plan for choosing what books to bring to college. I’m not going to show you exactly what books I’m bringing because frankly, I’m not entirely decided yet, and I probably won’t be until the day I leave. It’s going to be weird not to have my bookshelves in my room… They might actually be one of the things I’m going to miss most about home.

What about you: Are you a college student? Do you bring books with you to school? How many? Do you have any tips on how to choose what to bring?

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