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6 Tips for Adjusting to College Dorm Life

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If you are reading this, it probably means that you are preparing for one of the most extraordinary adventures of your life. Even with all the difficulties and stress related to studying, this is the period of your life you will remember fondly. It is the time when you will have the most fun. All the crazy stories you will tell while reminiscing your youth will have one thing in common – they happened in college. And living in a students’ dorm plays a considerable part in the awesomeness that college life is. That said, adjusting to college dorm life will be necessary. But no worries, it won’t take too long before you start enjoying all the college life has to offer.

Regardless of how excited you are about living independently and taking care of yourself for the first time, be ready for something of an emotional rollercoaster once you first get there. It will be the first time you share your living space with a roommate not related to you. The fact that you have separated from your family becomes real. Everything in your life is new. While undoubtedly exhilarating, it is also pretty overwhelming. You may feel lonely and homesick at times. However, there is no need for despair. It’s all too common and passes quickly, especially if you follow a few tips to help you accustom to your new way of life. And if things become too stressful to bear, counseling is always a great option. Sometimes, we all need some help to kickstart making progress.

  1. Make your dorm room feel like home

There is no better way to make a place feel homey and comfortable than making it look yours. Therefore, remember to bring some items you will decorate your room with. Personalize it with posters, pillows, or plants. Photos of your family, friends, and pets are an excellent idea. Also, some objects from your old room will remind you of home. If you have your favorite blanket, lamp, or even a chair from your old room, you will settle faster. It will also feel like you have brought a piece of your home with you.

When you decorate your room, make sure you choose ornaments and color schemes that reflect your style. However, don’t forget to check the school rules before making any changes, as there are restrictions as to the extent of your decorating. But regardless of the limitations, there are always simple ways to bring a piece of yourself into space.

Important note: Remember that you will be sharing the room with another thinking and breathing human being. So, before you get your belongings ready to be transferred to your new place, make sure they are on board with all your ideas and desires.

  1. Shared space requires some ground rules

The existence of a single room has been rumored, but few have lived to see it. Jokin aside, chances are you will share your room with another person. For this reason, setting some ground rules from the word go is a must. Approach the matter with a friendly tone and discuss some basic house rules. For example, sleeping and cleaning schedules are critical points you have to be on the same page about. If one of you vapes or is a smoker, it may be best to quit those habits. Also, having people over is something you must discuss.

Even if you are not a perfect match in terms of your lifestyle preferences, you can compromise. Know that it’s okay if your college roommate doesn’t end up being one of your closest friends. But it’s in your best interest not to allow an intolerable living situation to take reigns in a small shared space.

  1. Remember to live life outside the dorm too

Now that you have made your new room cozy and comfortable, it’s time to go out. No, really. Adjusting to college dorm life implies meeting other people, going for walks, studying at a library. Your room shouldn’t be like a prison cell. Sure, you can do everything there. But being confined in a small space for extended periods can make anyone go crazy.

You need time for yourself outside of your dorm. So go to a cafe, find a spot in a park where you can unwind and enjoy a change of scenery. If you try to form positive habits while in college, it will prove extremely beneficial.

  1. Planning a monthly budget is an indispensable part of adjusting to college dorm life

Being in charge of your financials for the first time in your life may be challenging. Staying on top of everything may feel overwhelming. Therefore, plan your monthly budget carefully. It will give you a boost in confidence regarding your financial decisions and provide you with structure and organization.

Two sound pieces of advice to get you started:

  • set some money aside for emergencies
  • don’t overuse your credit card.
  1. Get to know your Residential Advisor

In times of trouble, a Residential Advisor (RA) can be of tremendous help. Should you get into a conflict with your roommate or there’s an issue with your room, your RA is the person you turn to. RAs typically introduce themselves to new students, and sometimes there are regular floor meetings. That is the time to start interacting with them. They are usually students from upper classes whose job is to supervise several rooms in the dorm.

Although they will represent a sort of parental supervision, make no mistake – they are students too. And they, too, have a lot on their plate – work, studies, free time. So, try not to make their life more difficult. It’s in your best interest to build a rapport with them.

  1. Keep in touch with your old friends and family

Even with all the excitement of the newness dorm life brings, many new students experience homesickness. For that reason, it’s important to make your room feel like home, go out and explore campus, meet new people and build a relationship with your roommate. But it’s also important to remember your family and friends and reach out to them. Sure, the new chapter of your life has started, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss your old connections.

Adjusting to college dorm life will largely depend on your personality. While some students instantly feel at home, others need a lot more time to settle in. If you are among the latter group, know that you can, and you will enjoy dorm life. It may just take a bit more time to get there. Remember that the most important thing is not to get cooped up in your room. Go out, explore the campus, breathe the fresh air, and find a spot outside you will call yours.

Let’s Talk About STI’s

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Let's talk about STIs

What are STI’s? STI, stands for sexually transmitted infection, which is an infection that is transmitted during sexual contact with someone who has an STI. Common STI’s include: Bacterial (Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Chlamydia) Parasites (Trichomoniasis) and viruses like HIV. I will be discussing a handful of the more common STIs, such as the symptoms, the mode of transmission, as well as the treatments for it.

The most common STI is the herpes simplex virus, upwards of 80% of the population have herpes. Herpes simplex virus has two distinctive types: HSV- 1 which is transmitted oral-to-oral “kissing” and HSV-2, which is transmitted sexually. Once you are infected with either type of herpes virus, it will remain in your system (though it often is dormant, or doesn’t show any symptoms). According to the WHO: “An estimated 3.7 billion people under age 50 (67%) have HSV-1 infection globally. An estimated 491 million people aged 15-49 (13%) worldwide have HSV-2 infection.” The symptoms of (genital) herpes include pain in the genitalia, and skin rashes, among others. Herpes is treated with antiviral drugs.Despite herpes being relatively common, there is a profound stigma around the herpes virus, a lot of that stems from ignorance about the virus itself. In fact, the virus is incredibly common with upwards of 80% of the population having it. The herpes virus is something that is relatively benign, in fact if you’ve ever had a cold sore, you have the herpes virus, which is typically the HSV-1 type. Herpes, for the most part, is asymptomatic, the vast majority of people that have the virus do not display any symptoms.

Chlamydia, according to the CDC, is one of the most frequently reported bacterial STI’s in the United States. The mode of transmission of chlamydia is, mainly through the exchange of bodily fluids during sex. The available treatments for chlamydia include antibiotics. Although there are symptoms of chlamydia, as is the case of most STIs, the onset of those symptoms are not immediately noticeable. The symptoms could include, discomfort while urinating, excessive discharge, etc. Symptoms differ in all bodies.

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that primarily targets and affects the immune system of the individual. This can make it dangerous for people with preexisting conditions and those with a compromised immune system. If untreated, HIV can progress to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The symptoms of HIV may include fevers, chills, muscle weakness, headaches and fatigue, all associated with a weakening of the immune system. The virus has three stages, Acute HIV infection, chronic HIV Infection and AIDS. HIV can also be transmitted through non-sexual means, such as sharing needles. HIV can be transferred from mother to the baby during birth if appropriate health and medical measures are not taken. HIV is common. Unlike during HIV’s inception, today, there is treatment for HIV, such as PreP (pre exposure prophylaxis) which is a medicine that people who are at risk of exposure to HIV can take (and is offered here at myHealth). According to the CDC: “PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken as prescribed.”

Destigmatizing Herpes

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In 2018, I had just broken up with my long term boyfriend and rejoined the dating scene. I was single and ready to mingle! I dove head first into hookup culture. I had a new date every other night of the week and not a care in the world. My version of safe sex was being on birth control and briefly asking someone “You’ve been tested, right?” in the heat of the moment. That quickly caught up to me as I was soon diagnosed with genital herpes and sidelined from the dating game.

Navigating a positive STI diagnosis wasn’t easy. Mine came with a lot of shame, self-blame, and anger. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone. I was mourning the life I thought I had to give up on my own. I turned to the internet in hopes of finding some sort of cure (newsflash – it doesn’t exist), but it did lead me to a sex education crash course. Not only in how I should have been properly protecting myself, but that herpes wasn’t the terrifying pictures I was shown once upon a time in sex ed.

Educating myself on herpes made me reevaluate my initial shame. Herpes didn’t make me ‘dirty’, unworthy, or incapable of living a normal life. It didn’t change my personality, hobbies, or my values. My diagnosis was separate from who I was as a person. I began to see herpes not as a curse, but as a way to surround myself with people who would take the time to get to know me for me.

I started sharing my positive STI status with close friends. Each one of them reacted in a supportive way and asked for more knowledge. I gained more confidence with every person I told. Disclosing my status no longer seemed like such a daunting task. It became empowering. I was in control of who I told, I had the opportunity to educate other people, and if someone didn’t like it, I got to walk away knowing that they were missing out on the opportunity to get to know me.

Three years ago I knew herpes was going to change my life, but I didn’t know that it would going to change for the better. Through my diagnosis I established an amazing support system of friends, a sex education that I would have never learned otherwise, and gained confidence within myself. Being diagnosed with herpes or any STI can be scary, but it doesn’t diminish your value as a person. You are still worthy of everything life has to offer.

Step Up for Mental Health 2021

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Make every step count!

Join us as we take a virtual trek across the USA, learning fun facts, getting healthy and supporting the mental health program at myHealth for Teens & Young Adults. Last year, with your help, we were able to raise over $11,000 with this event. With your help, we hope to top that in 2021!

Register today with your donation of $25 or more.

Visit mightycause.com/story/4kssjf or TEXT myhealth to 56651

Donating will create a link you can use to connect your phone or other device to a Walker Tracker account. Once those steps are complete, you’ll be off and running! (Note: donations for myHealth’s mental health program are welcome regardless of whether the donor chooses to participate in the challenge.)

Start: May 1, 2021               End : May 31, 2021                            Daily step goal: 7,000

PRIZES:

  • $250 (1) random winner drawn at the end of the event from all who meet the daily goal
  • $250 (1) random winner drawn from all participants
  • $50 (1) random winner drawn each week from all participants
  • Lots of fun surprise drawings too! More chances to win when you get a friend to join too!

All gifts will be matched up to $15,000! Generously sponsored by Newport Healthcare and a matching gift from the Crocus Foundation.

Thank you for partnering with us. We couldn’t do this without you!

Staying Connected (woman with iPad)

How to Stay in Touch With Friends While Away at College

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Going away to college is a significant step in your life. It’s a turbulent time when everything you know changes; your surroundings, lifestyle, and, yes – even your old friendships. However, even though distance may keep you apart, it doesn’t have to tear you apart. Quite the contrary! It can be an endless source of inspiration that will keep the flame of friendship alive. And in today’s age, with all the gadgets and apps, it’s easier than ever. Here are some ways we recommend you explore to stay in touch with friends while away at college.

Instant messaging – an obvious first choice

Instant messaging apps are the easiest way to stay in touch with friends while away at college. FB Messenger, WhatsApp, Snapchat – these are all accessible and convenient. Also, with the inclusion of gifs, emojis, and filters, they became much more versatile. Not only can you express your thoughts and feelings accurately, but you can also do so in a fun way.

Upgrade the experience with Group chats

Another great thing to consider is making a group chat for your old crew. All the apps we mentioned have some sort of option for group chat. They can be a great way to organize a virtual get-together and share new experiences. Just remember to limit that MemeLord texting privileges, and you’re golden.

Go old-school

The digital era we live in gave us so much. Among others, a possibility for instant communication. Instant messaging apps are fast and reliable. Still, some find it generic and lacking in personality. So, what can you do to remedy that?

Simple – go old-school! Sharpen that quill, break out that papyrus and ink bottle, and let the words flow. Okay, maybe not that old-school, but you get the point. Writing a letter may not be as fast and convenient as WhatsApp. Still, you can’t deny the allure of the written word.

Email can be an excellent option for busy students.

Contrary to popular belief, email isn’t meant only for uptight businesspeople. In fact, it can be a fantastic, non-intrusive way to stay in touch with friends while away at college. Between lectures and enjoying student life, your friends won’t have too much time on their hands. Email can give them that much-needed leeway and allow them to answer when they find the time. They will certainly appreciate the lack of obligation to respond right away.

Like, comment, and get into heated arguments (on occasion)

We live in a world where “if you’re not on social media, you don’t exist.” Although this is arguably true, you can’t deny the benefits these can have when you want to keep in touch. So check their feed regularly and don’t be shy to engage in conversations. You will both meet a lot of new people at college, and a friendly debate is an excellent way for you to meet their new friends and vice versa.

Phone and Video calls are irreplaceable

Nothing beats a good old phone call when you want to stay in touch with friends while away at college. Even a short conversation can be enough to lift your spirit and relieve you of stress. So, schedule a “chat date” and talk your hearts out. Or, even better – use video chat for a virtual “coffee break”.

Visit your friends in their natural habitat

Moving to college is an inevitability both you and your friends will have to face. The pursuit of knowledge will scatter you all over the US, Canada, and even the globe. However, this doesn’t have to be a downside. In fact, it is a unique opportunity to visit different cities and meet new people.

The US may be immense, but in this day and age, traveling from one end to another isn’t an issue. Despite the standing joke that students are always broke, you’ll always find a budget option to get together with your friends in another city.

Canada is also a popular choice for those in search of higher education. Cities like Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal are big student centers with excellent colleges. That’s why many decide to go to Canada and pursue their diplomas there, and the previous statement remains true: You can easily find a cheap way to get from the US to Canada.

However, there’s one crucial thing to keep in mind: don’t make it a surprise visit. We don’t doubt that your friends will be happy to see you. But their schedule can prevent them from hanging out, so give them a call well in advance.

Use virtual worlds to stay in touch with friends while away at college

Did you and your buddies love raiding dungeons, destroying Nexuses, and surviving the ARKs? Then a virtual environment may be an ideal place to get together. In this case, gaming is an excuse to chat and have a good time. A familiar environment, albeit a virtual one, is a great meeting place.

Was your crew was more of a board game or pen-and-paper type? If so, there are many options that will let you sit down, roll the dice, and enjoy your favorite pastimes. Things like Tabletop Simulator are amazing for board games.

The distance can make friendships stronger

It is well-known that distance causes friendships to fade. However, if you stay in touch with friends while away at college, this doesn’t have to happen. Yes, you will change, and so will they. But keeping in touch will allow you to grow together as people. And once your college days are over, your friendship will be stronger than ever.

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