Sunday, October 2, 2011

Real Student Interview: Melissa

I'm back with a continuation of the Real Student Interview Series! Today I have the lovely and crafty, baking blogger, Melissa from 20 Going On 80!

Where and what do you study?
I attend Iowa State University and am majoring in Graphic Design with a minor in Advertising.

Where are you originally from? What made you choose to attend your college and was it a tough decision?
I am originally from a small town in Eastern Iowa (about 2.5 hours from where I go to school). I chose Iowa State mainly because of the reputable Graphic Design program. But the campus is beautiful and I just really fell in love with it when I came to visit in high school. I had heard about the wonderful design program before I visited, so the deciding factor was really whether or not I liked the campus atmosphere when touring (and I did, obviously!). I also like the fact that I am close enough to home that I can drive back in a few hours, but also be far away where I can be independent.

Do you have any advice for students trying to choose a college?
My main advice is to choose a school that not only 'feels' right, but will also provide you with a solid and reputable education. I think it's important to make sure you will be challenged and be taught valuable skills that will prepare you for a job after college. Make the time you have in college (and that you are paying for) to soak up all the knowledge you can... because in 4 short years you will be thrown into a world that expects you to be able to use those skills. So, it's important to know what your colleges programs offer to ensure you will graduate with the skills you need. Yeah, I know it sounds cliche... but I really believe it's true.

What has been your favorite thing about college so far?
Meeting so many new people has been the best thing about college. I came from a graduating class of 100 people (most of whom I went to grade school with, too) so I was always with the same people. Which was great in many ways, but also a bit sheltering in some aspects. I find it funny when people from these bigger cities are talking about these (weird sounding) store names or restaurants and don't believe me when I tell them I have no clue what they are talking about! "What, ARE. YOU. SERIOUS?! You've never eaten at a "Insert weird restaurant name here?!?" Haha, I get that phrase a lot. And then I proceed to tell them that the nearest Walmart or movie theater is 25 miles away... just to sweeten the deal. So, just being able to meet so many different people from different backgrounds has really opened my eyes to different things.

What was your best dorm room experience? What was your worst?
I lived in the dorms for 1 year (freshman year) and it was overall a great experience. I met a lot of fun and nice people on my floor, which made it easy to adjust. I was SO busy that year and didn't spend much time just hanging out in my dorm room. I basically just went back to sleep because I was always working on projects elsewhere. But my most memorable dorm memories are the late nights spent in our floor den slaving away over our design projects and getting late night Taco Bell (my fav, btw). I lived on a floor with a lot of other design girls, so we would take over the den most nights and just stay up all night either drawing or putting together 3-d models. Some nights I would leave to go to bed and wake up the next morning with the same people STILL working away. Let's just say that caffeine and Taco Bell were our best friends.

I really don't have a terrible dorm story, but since I lived in a dorm with 1200 kids the fire alarms were ALWAYS getting set off in the middle of the night. It really wasn't fun in the winter and I always felt so bad for the people straight out of the shower in a bath towel in 10-degree weather. I decided that if that happened to me I would ignore the alarm and just tell the firemen "I had no idea the alarms were going off."

But I do have a funny/almost-bad dorm story...
So, Freshman year when I moved into the dorms I was lost without baking. I didn't know what I was going to do not getting to cook/bake all year long! So what did I do? I got a toaster oven... soooooo against the dorm room fire codes! I baked muffins, cupcakes, cookies, grilled cheese, pretty much anything I could in that little thing! I was pretty much the dorm version of Betty Crocker. But it worked great and made my little white dorm room feel a little more like home. But one night I decided to make grilled cheese for a few friends for dinner, but I forgot that the pan was in the oven as it was heating up... and it still had butter on it from the day before. So, the butter was burning up and I didn't realize it until I opened the oven and a TON of smoke came out. My room was smokey in like 2.3 seconds. Like really smokey. So, we opened the windows (in the middle of winter) and one of my friends was fanning the fire alarm like crazy to make sure it didn't go off. Thanks to our firewoman skills, we prevented them from going off. I probably would have been the most hated dorm mate by my 1200 fellow dormies. But I must say that it was totally worth it... those grilled cheese turned out pretty darn well!

On your blog you talk about all kinds of fun crafts and yummy recipes. What are your top 3 favorite delicious recipes for a busy college student?
Ok, here are my favorite recipes that can be made in a dorm room with just a microwave and toaster (which is usually 'illegal' in dorms, but I snuck one in... I'm a rule breaker, I suppose)! These are all SUPER simple... and not so much gourmet. But are things I loved while living in the dorms that I could actually make with the tools I had!

1. Toasted Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. (Okay you're right, there's really nothing 'grilled' about these!) Just toast 2 pieces of bread, add a slice of cheese, and then microwave until the cheese is melted.

2. So this next one isn't really a recipe but a good microwave dessert! S'mores! Nothing is easier than this! I know the convenient store on my campus sold all the things to make microwave s'mores, which made a good late night snack!

3. And last but not least... puppy chow! You can make it in the microwave and use a big Ziploc bag to shake it up. Most of the Chex boxes even have the recipe on the side, so you don't even have to look it up!

Do you have any tips for incoming freshman on how they can save and manage their money throughout college?
When I came into college I had already had a decent about of money saved since I had been working all throughout high school. I thought that I would have that money forever... and I soon found out that I was wrong-o! I didn't find myself spending very much money freshman year since I had a meal plan and stayed on campus most of the time to eat. I didn't have a car so I was basically stuck there (which was good for my wallet!). But when I moved into an apartment I saw my money go like crazy. Plus, I got a car so gas sucked up a lot of that money. I felt like an older person, always complaining about the gas prices. So, my advice for college students on how to save money are:

1. Just because Jimmy John's delivers doesn't mean you should order it 4 times a week... however tempting it might be. Trust me, your wallet will hate you for it. All the eating-out adds up. If you think about it... if you eat out 3 times a week ($5/day), that's $15/week, which adds up to around $600 a school year! Ughh... I could go buy myself a iPad for that (which I secretly want, btw!). So, take advantage of your dining hall meal plan (if you have one)!

2. It's ok to say no to eating out. I found that my friends were constantly asking me to go out and eat. A friend from class would ask me to go one day, and my roommate the next. I probably could have went out every night if I said yes all the time. What my roommate and I ended up doing is setting Sunday nights aside where we would eat out. That way, even if we were craving Jimmy John's during the week we could say no to ourselves because of the rule we set.

3. Textbooks are my wallet's worst nightmare. I found that a lot of the books I would buy, I would never read. A lot of professors list books that really aren't even necessary to the class. So, my advice is to hold off on buying the book until you know for sure that you need it. Granted, some books I have had to buy right away, but I have returned a lot of books at the end of the semester that I never opened. And I have lost money on those, because the bookstore buys them back for so cheap.

4. Take advantage of the campus transportation. If you can ride the bus to the grocery store instead of driving, go for it! You are already paying to have that transportation available on campus, so you might as well use it!

What are your plans for after graduation and what made you decide on those plans?
After graduation I would love to get a job designing for a major magazine publication. This summer, I interned with Better Homes & Gardens Special Interest Food publications and absolutely LOVED it! So I would love to be able to work in a similar environment after I graduate. If I am able to mix my two passions (food and design) into a job, I will be in heaven.

What are your top 5 DIY projects for decorating a college dorm room? 

1. Get rid of the white walls by plastering a wall/portion of a wall with cute scrap booking paper or photos. Freshman year, I plastered the space between my lofted bed and the ceiling with photos. It not only spruced up the boring white wall, but also added a personal touch to the room.

2. Paint swatches work wonders. I have seen people plaster their ceilings of their dorms with them and it really adds color and interest to the room.

3. A really neat idea I saw while living in the dorms was a girl who made one wall of her dorm room look like a Facebook Wall. She had it plastered in paper and then people would "write on her wall" just like Facebook! It was so clever!

4. If you want to spruce up the faces of your dresser drawers, just tape on scrapbook paper to the fronts. It is a good way to hide those 40-year-old scratched up wooden drawers!

5. Replace those ugly, dirty, and sometimes stained window curtains with cute cloth shower curtains. When I lived in the dorms, I left the original ones up but just put the cute ones over top. That way, I didn't have to worry about putting the old ones back up when I left :)

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