Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Dirt on Roommates

So, I have been pretty lucky when it comes to roommates. Other than an awkward few months in Charter Oaks, I've had some pretty awesome roommates. Mindu and Tanisha were awesome people to live with. We all worked together, worked everything out as it went and just had 2 very awesome years living together.

As an RA, I learned that not all roommate relationships are like this. In general, as we head a floor, we learn which rooms are the ones that have those harmonic relationships. At the beginning of this year, we all had to sit in with the rooms on our floors and do roommate agreements. For us, it was a way to get to know each residents and we created a space for each roommate to talk about what they would need for this upcoming school year and for each other to get to know the others' schedules.

This was the moment that we as RAs could kind of pick out which rooms were going to be difficult throughout the year. By the end of the year, we all had a mental note of those rooms that would need some extra attention and possibly conflict resolution later in the year. So, here is a list of roommate issues that may happen in college:

1. The messy roommate

One of the worst things, if you are a clean person, is the messy roommate. This is the person that has the clothes all over the floor, doesn't do their dishes as they use them and basically leaves a trail everywhere. This is the person who works better in a mess. I admit, I am one of these people. I am not the most organized when it comes to my personal items, but I always know where they are at.

But for someone who is the opposite, I understand how being in a dirty environment can actually not help your concentration whatsoever. So, the dirty roommate can actually become an annoyance. This can lead to disagreements.

Solution: The only thing I can say to try for this type of roommate is talk to them. Sit down with them and explain how you need a cleaner environment to be able to focus. Ask them to try to keep the mess in the common areas to a minimum and pick up after themselves for a bit. You can't fix it all at once, but they may not be aware that it makes you uncomfortable. If they don't listen, or get offended, it may be worth bringing in someone else (like an RA if you live in a dorm). Sometimes, just speaking up can make a difference.

2. The Naked Roommate

So, maybe they won't be Hugh Laurie, but this is ACTUALLY something that happens. This is the roommate that loves to walk around in the nude. In some cases, this person may just like to sleep without clothes. But, in some severe cases, they will walk around at night...and even the day...without covering themselves up. And don't get me wrong, this happens with both sexes!

Solution: Set some boundaries with them. If it makes you uncomfortable, remember that it is your rights they are invading because you live there too. If the person likes to sleep in the nude and they share a bedroom with you, state that they need to either get a private room or put some clothes on while asleep. You share that room with them and it is your right to not have to see that.

If they walk around in the nude, that brings another problem. You can't have people over because you are afraid that your roommate may come out without clothes. Ask them to at least wear a bathrobe when they are walking in the common areas.

3. The Loud Roommate

We all know them. As an RA, we come to resent those people who like to be loud well into the night. These are the rooms we go knocking on to tell them to quiet down. In some cases, they get written up due to their excessive noise. Sometimes, people talk loud. We all know that person who just never learned to use their 6 inch voice.

Solution: Ask them to quiet down. In many cases, when the RA comes by and asks people to quiet down, they do! Some people don't know that the music they are listening to is loud, or that they are being loud. If it is bothering you in your bedroom, then it is probably being heard out in the hall and infringing on the rights of others in different rooms.

Make a noise complaint! So, it may seem bad to make a complaint about your roommate...but in a dorm experience, the RA doesn't mention who made the noise complaint. I know, in our building, we will say "someone made a complaint." When they ask who, we just say we don't know who it is. So it is safe for you call and make that complaint.

4. The Party-er

This is the roommate who is drinking, smoking, having people over and just partying their way through college. I won't say that I don't go to parties, I have attended my fair share in the past 4 years. But this is different. This is the roommate who spends a lot of time on the "party" experience and less on their school work.

Solution: In general, if this person goes out at night and comes back, there is not much you can do. Ignore that situation. If they are loud when they come back, make a complaint. But, if they are drinking in your room, having people over all the time, etc. You CAN do something. For one thing, if your dorm is it. You can also do this secretly. The rules are in place for your and everyone else's safety. If your dorm is not dry, well try your best to ignore it. The next day, it may be worth talking to your roommate about their habits.

5. The Gamer

This is the roommate that stays up all times of the night playing games. In many cases, they keep to themselves. But, in other cases, these games can really ruin your concentration.

Solution: If this roommate's games has you awake all hours of the night, ask them to turn down the volume. If they are sharing your room with you and the flashing bothers you, ask them to move out into the common areas of the dorm (and to shut the bedroom door). Talk to them about the sound. Sometimes when you get into a game, you don't realize how loud things are, or how bright the screen can be and how it can bug others.

6. The Quiet One

Normally, this isn't an issue. But as someone who likes to get to know everyone, this can get frustrating. This is the roommate that never leaves the room. This is the person that the RA's begin to worry about as the semester goes on. This person never comes to events and we never see them walking in the sometimes we can think that things are no okay. In general, as RAs, we don't hear much about this roommate. But, if you like to know who you living with and form friendships, these introverts may make it harder.

Solution: Many of the "quiet" people express that they don't get invited places. Just because they seem happy to sit in their room on their computer or with their nose in a book, doesn't mean that they don't want to spend time with you. Invite them, and keep inviting them. They may decline, many times, because their likes are different than yours. But, there may be one time that they will join you. Don't forget about them! 

Or, ask them what they want to do. Many introverts want to get to know you, but may be too shy to instigate. Ask them if they want to do something, and what they want to do. You may find something fun that you never even thought of!

7. The Klepto

There are many varying degrees of this roommate. This may be the person who borrows a shirt and never gives it back, or eats your food without replacing it; to the one who packs away many things that are yours at the end of the year and leaves with them when you are not around. Sometimes this goes unnoticed for months before you begin to see things missing from different spots.

Solution: Make a roommate agreement. If you are not comfortable with sharing clothing, food, personal care items, etc. sit down with you roommate(s) and say so. If you make it in writing, you can use it later when you start finding those "missing" items. If you do this at the beginning of your stay together, ground rules are set. If you are okay with sharing, specify how you want to be asked (if at all) and if there is any way you want the borrowed thing to be returned. If damages were to happen, if the borrower would need to replace or repair. Anything that goes along with this.

Of course, these aren't the only roommates that you will come in contact, but theses are a few of them that may come up in your college life. If you have any roommate experiences that I haven't shared, and maybe some solutions too, feel free to comment. As always, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Election: A Reaction Post

So, here is another post about the election...yup I know, you are probably tired of this election by now. But, we all have our own opinions on how we wanted things to go yesterday and well...I feel like some things need to be said.

Our new President of the United States is...

Barak Obama. I'm pretty sure you know this by now. And while I have some friends who were upset that our President is going to be around for another 4 years, I am not. Yes, I voted for President Obama.

In general, I tend to lean towards the democrats. My views and their views seem to line up in general. But, I also like to be informed. So, I listened to what Romney/Ryan said in their speeches and debates. I listened. Some of the things that Romney said were not okay. As a woman, I was not in agreement in the overturn of Roe vs. Wade for one. That huge court case gave women rights in general. I am not here to fight for abortion (or against it), but that court case gave women more rights than just abortion. It showed that we are important and that what happens with our bodies should be our decision.

Planned Parenthood, though they do offer abortions for women where it is legal, also does many other services for women AND men. They test for STDs, offer mammograms and cervical cancer screenings and help keep us a fee that is based off of your income so it is affordable for all Americans. I have used Planned Parenthood for birth control, and while some people don't believe in birth control, some people need it. I have a friend who actually has hormone issues and their use of birth control is for a medical issue. She shouldn't have to pay out of pocket for that, and I agree. Insurance coverage of birth control is a very important issue near and dear to my heart.

As a woman, I couldn't even let myself vote for Romney as the differences in interest was just too much. Obviously, there are other things I was unhappy in what the governor said, but I am not going to beat this into the ground. Am I happy that Obama won. I am not going to drag Romney supporters through the dirt since some of them are very near and dear to my heart. You can believe what you believe and well...I guess you can complain about it too.

This is all I want to say. Obama won, you can't change that now. It is time to take the next 4 years and let things happen! I remember reading how Congress was filibustering EVERYTHING these past few years so that "Obama would be a one term President" and tried to use that argument that Obama got nothing done. He didn't get it done because you wouldn't let him.

So, lets come together. Let's be nicer to our fellow man, no matter if he is a Republican or Democrat (or Libertarian, or Green!), and be a little nicer. Karma is a crazy thing but it will come back to you when you are nice to people. In another 4 years, you can rise up and choose whomever you want for President and there will be all new candidates. Just some food for thought.

Ballot Proposals...

So, Michigan had a lot of proposals on the ballot. And they all failed. Now there were a couple I didn't want and I voted no for. I mean, I don't care if they want to build a bridge to Canada without hearing from us. I pay taxes too! But they have money for these bridges and if the people don't want still just sits there. Part of our budget is for that international bridge.

Collective bargaining...really? You didn't pass it? Don't you remember the Flint Sit-down strike? Our state is built upon unions with our huge ties in the auto business. Unions BUILT our state. And you are going to deny those the ability to get together and bargain? Really?

As for the home health care One of the major things that proposal would give was a list of home health care workers who had background checks. Home care is cheaper than sending our elders into a  home and research shows that many have a better life living at home than in the home. Depression in nursing homes is a major thing that accounts for much of the decline of our family members. Why wouldn't you want a list of qualified individuals who are going to be taking care of YOUR parents? They are going to come in and care for their needs.

A step towards equality...

Last night, we elected the first gay Senator. Three other states also made gay marriage legal making a total of 7 states that it is now legal in. That for me is awesome.

I have many friends who are homosexual and I am close to them. I hope that eventually Michigan will join the bandwagon and I can see these friends marry. This is my basis, if you don't believe in gay marriage...don't get gay married.

I am happy that we have made some strides towards a new tomorrow of equality for these individuals that want to express their love.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Credit Cards, Payday Loans and Other Stuff

College is an exciting time. For many, it is the first time we are away from home for longer than a short time. Parents aren't there to tell us what to do. This is the first time that we get to actually make our own decisions.

Most of us have also just turned 18. This means that you are now a legal adult. You can vote, join the army and even buy cigarettes and porn. But this also means that we can legally sign a contract to just about anything we could want. This is a big time to make some very bad decisions that you may regret later down the road.

Credit card companies are not stupid. They know that all these 18 year olds are newly on the market and they can now sign for their cards. Most students don't know about interest rates and other parts that come into a credit card.

At 18, I thought credit card was money that I didn't have. Many students are like me and they will sign for a credit card because they will get a $500 or a $1000 credit line. Once that plastic is in their hands, they will spend it on everything they want. They won't think that they will have to pay that back, with interest (which means you'll end up paying more than it would have been if you saved up for it), in a certain time. Many of these students are freaked out when they get that first bill in the mail and they don't realize that they can't even pay the minimum.

So they won't. I did it, trust me.

They will ignore the bill, and the next one. Soon, they receive notices of being very late, of the company trying to settle their debt, and later that the bill has been sent to a debt collection company.

Then the calls begin. Debt collection companies buy the debt that a credit card company for a smaller price than what the debt is. These companies will bug you via the phone and the mail over and over and over again. They just want your money and they want it now.

I ran into this problem. When I was 18, I got a Discover credit card with a $500 credit line. Instead of keeping it in my back pocket for "emergencies," I spent the money stupidly. I do admit this. Then I couldn't pay the bill, so I ignored it. For over 2 1/2 years, I ignored calls and letters from debt collection companies. This past December, I finally settled the account with the debt collection company.

And my credit score suffered. One thing that young adults ALSO don't understand is that you have a credit score. This score is what companies look at to give you a loan for a house, or a car, or even school. At this time, because of my 18 year old stupidity, I have harmed my credit score for at least the next 7 years.

Credits cards can be helpful. As an 18 year old, you don't have any credit. Credit cards, if they are used wisely and payed off on time, can help give you a credit score which will help you in the future. Sometimes it's okay to charge something, as long as you can pay the minimum balance on your credit card on time. Once you begin to default, you are on a downward spiral.

Another huge no-no that many college kids fall into are payday loans. These companies, like  Check N Go, give you cash money on the spot. These loans are even worse than credit cards. For one, the interest rates are high. I remember reading one where I would receive $500 and in 30 days I would have to pay $800 back.

And the 30 days is an issue. Most students don't make $500 in 30 days, so they totally don't make $800! These companies are ruthless. I know I haven't actually gotten a loan, but you give them your information. I know I had some issues with someone trying to scam me because they got my information from a company I tried to get a loan from. It was a nightmarish day where I ended up making a police report with the Michigan State police, the FTC and the FBI.

Basically, if you want something that you don't have (and it isn't necessary for life), save for it. Get a job! Wait, it may get cheaper. One thing to remember is you don't have to have the newest things. These past few times, my new stuff have been because I have saved the money for it. I didn't get my new phone until September because I couldn't afford it when the new upgrade became available in July. It was something I wanted and I saved up for it.

Here's some tips from my experience:

1. Use cash. I find that if I keep cash to buy food/stuff on campus with me, I'll not overspend. This is because I only have a certain amount, and if I want to make that last for a few days, I can figure out how much to spend at a time. If you use your debit card, you may not remember how much is on the card at that time, and you may actually overdraft your bank account (giving you fees that you will lose).

2. Read the contract. Don't sign something blindly. Take the time to read the whole contract. I remember my car insurance lady telling me that it was smart that I took the time to read the whole thing. Sometimes companies will try to hurry you into making a decision and signing the contract. Stick to your guns. If they don't have the time to sit there with you, ask to take the contract home and return it when you have the time to go over it. There is also no harm in asking questions and even having a lawyer look at the contract.

3. Don't buy everything because it's the newest, greatest thing. I know, we all want the brand new thing so that we can tell all our friends. If you don't have the money to have it (and cover your living expenses), don't buy it. Many times, the newest electronic is also very glitchy. It's worth waiting for the company to get all the kinks out AND saving the money for it.

4. Remember the important things. You need food to live, so make sure you have money for that. You need to live somewhere, so if you don't want to be on the streets with your TV in hand, make sure you live somewhere that you can afford the rent AND pay that rent (and other living expenses like heat and electricity). You do need clothes, but you don't need the most expensive clothes. There ARE nice things at Good Will and Salvation Army! You don't need a car usually, as there is public transportation in many cities. You don't need the internet or a phone (though one is nice to let your family know you are alive...but you can get internet ON a phone for rather cheap now!)

5. Find cheap activities to do. There are plenty of activities around campuses and in close cities that are rather cheap (if not free!) Don't pay an arm and a leg to participate in things. Getting together with friends can be more fun than other things AND cheap!

6. Coupons! I know, I know. It seems like something that is for moms, but it isn't! For Christmas, my Aunt Linney gave me a book called the "Entertainment Book." This book was a huge book of coupons that had anything from free meals, to free movie tickets, to free carwashes. It was pretty awesome and saved me a lot of money this past year! Find one in a nearby city near you. It is $30 and has saved me more than that in just movie tickets! It is also worth clipping coupons for food you eat, toiletries that you use and places you like to go. Anywhere you can save a couple bucks is worth it. Also become a member of store savings clubs. Kroger has the Kroger plus, VG's has a card and Meijer has mbucks where you can clip coupons online and enter your phone number at the register and it will apply any that count. Totally worth it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Month of Giving Comes to a Close

So my birth month is over (boo D:) but it was a fun month for sure. And of course I was finishing my random acts of kindness! See them below!

You may also notice the little dog in my photos for this installment. That is Spot! Each week, the RA's pass Spot around as a weekly recognition of someone who did something nice or was just really awesome for the week. This week, I got Spot! Nick gave me him because of my calm handling of last week's building evacuation/fire issue. So Spot got to join in on the fun this week :)
Spot couldn't decide what he wanted at Starlite the other night!

17.  Safe Trick-or-treat for kids in Flint

This past Sunday, Riverfront put together a safe trick or treat for kids in Flint. This event provided a safe environment (away from the dangers of crime) for kids who can come from some scary neighborhoods in this city. We had about 70 kids and their families come by to join us for halloween games, a coloring contest, a costume contest and LOTS of candy! It was adorable seeing lots of little kids in their costumes (at the age where they are excited to get all dressed up) and giving them candy!

Spot was trying to steal all the candy before the kids arrived! Bad Spot :P

18. Cooked for a friend

Last Wednesday night there was a small fire in my building, enough to set off the sprinklers in their apartment and causing a full evacuation of the building into the street for 3 hours. After all was said and done, 8 apartments were moved due to water damage and Nick and I being on duty didn't get to chill out and calm down until after midnight. That was when we realized we had eaten all day. I was cooking dinner when the alarms went off and had to get people out of the building. My chicken was ruined by the time I got up there at 1 am. So, I grabbed some more chicken from my freezer, went down to Nick's room, and cooked Tanisha and Nick some 1:30 AM. Either way, they were happy to eat it and Nick and I talked until around 4 am that night. Sleep just wasn't going to happen after dealing with an emergency like that.

19.Took Notes for a friend who was home sick

This fall has been rough. I know that I have spent some days sick out of my mind and home. For my friend Abijah, the poor thing lost her voice and didn't make it into class. So, I took her good notes in the class that we have together, and sent them to her so that she could stay as updated as possible!

20. Gave Free Stuff (including gift cards) to random residents

On Tuesday, I walked over to campus and bought three $5 gift cards for Jilly's Pizza, a pizza place that I know the owners rather well. I wrote out 3 cards and gave the residents a task. I said the first 3 people to stop by my door would get an awesome long as they said, "I solemnly swear I am up to no good!" Of course, I knew there would be more than 3 people that would stop by, so I filled a basket with bags of chips, bottled water, candy, cookies, and pop so that those who stopped by later would have something else to take with them.

At around 4:45pm (I wrote that it would be between 5 PM and 12 AM), one of my residents texted me and told me that I already had 3 people waiting! Three lovely ladies from the 10th floor (one I hadn't met before!) got the gift cards, and about 12 other people stopped by throughout the night and left with a free snack and a smile on their face. When asked why I was doing this, I just explained how I was celebrating my birth month and they thought it was really cool. Maybe I inspired someone to at least pay it forward
Spot joined me by chilling in the basket of goodies. :)

21. Bought a movie ticket for a friend

Every October for the past few years, there has been a Paranormal Activity released. During the very first one, my friend Luna and her family took me down to Ann Arbor to see it. At that time, it was only showing in 15 theaters in the country, and the theater in Ann Arbor was the only one in Michigan. I always have fond memories of that night.

So, every year since, we have gone to see the next installment the first weekend it is out. This year, Paranormal Activity 4 was playing. And I'm not going to lie, I was excited to see it. And I wanted to see it with some friends. So Luna and I picked a time and invited our friends Hoffa and Jessica. Hoffa was a little short, so I decided, I can just get your ticket for you. I hadn't seen him in awhile and I wanted I did!

22. Donated Clothes

When my old roommate Mindu moved out, she left behind a bag of clothes. It had been sitting and moving from apartment to apartment this summer. So, I decided it was finally time to take it to Goodwill. So I went through my closet, grabbed some clothes that I haven't worn in years and those that didn't fit right, bagged them up, and dropped them off at the local salvation army.

I hope someone enjoys the clothing and it helps them stay clothed this winter. 

Other happenings:

The weekend of the 20th was the big Michigan vs Michigan State game. Michigan barely pulled out the win. I watched it with some friends at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Last Wednesday, we had a small fire on my floor that caused 8 apartments to be flooded and a total evacuation of the building for 3+ hours. And I was on duty. It was an interesting night that ended with me not getting to sleep until well past 4 am.

The fire department received a round of applause by the residents when they arrived.

This past weekend was another Sanborn clan party for Halloween. I dressed up as "accident prone" and had plenty of shenanigans with my friends in Lapeer. 

Sunday night, Nick and his boyfriend Matt and I went to St. Lucifer's Haunted Asylum. It was Nick's first haunted house and we had a good time...even while waiting in the cold, windy line for 2 1/2 hours!

1. Sign of the Times- Three Days Grace
2. What I've Done- Linkin Park
3. Start of Something New- Daughtry
4. Broken Glass- Three Days Grace
5. Payphone- Maroon 5
6. Gangnam Style- Psy
7. Hummingbird- Alex Clare
8. How to Save a Life- The Fray
9. Save Me- Shinedown
10. Broken Crown- Mumford and Sons