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The semester is winding down you are probably celebrating the completion of finals and ready to unplug.  While you spent time developing in the classroom and you were also developing outside the classroom as well.  One of your daily development opportunities is your interaction with your roommate(s).  The end of the semester is a good time to assess how things are going with your current living situation and to start thinking about next semester.  You and your roommate should have developed a friendship and if you are lukewarm to friendship, there should be a level of respect.

How do you and your roommate communicate?  Do you handle disagreements in a respectful manner?  Are you prepared to complete another semester with your current roommate?  Do you have any concerns?  Are they major concerns like health, safety, and ability to comfortably use your room? Are you a positive influence on each other?  These are questions you need to consider as you enter the new semester.

If you are experiencing major issues, those that are preventing you from comfortably enjoying your room, are safety threats, or those that may jeopardize your success in school, you need to address them before starting a new semester.  You should attempt to talk to your roommate and see if you are able to resolve.  If you are unable to resolve, you should consult your resident advisor.  If there are major concerns, that may be not be resolved you should explore a room transfer. The room transfer may not be an option, as there are several factors that impact the transfer.  A transfer may incur a fee, there may not be anywhere to transfer you or your transfer options will be limited, and it will require you to pack and move all of your belongings.  Another major factor to consider before transferring is really evaluating your current situation.  It is good to know wat you currently have, as entering a new situation will be encountering the unknown.  All the work that you have put into your current living situation, will also be required in your new situation.  This time you will be coming into an already established living arrangement, you will need to get to know your new roommate(s), and develop a new system, learn expectations, and earn each other’s respect.

If things are going well (and even if they are not) while thinking about next semester you also need to consider next year as well.  Housing selection for next year will occur rather early in the semester and if you wait until the end of the semester you may run the risk of not having housing or not obtaining your top choices.  Housing options to consider upperclassmen building, Greek Life housing, on or off campus apartment, or stay where you currently reside.  Whichever decision you choose, you will need to make a commitment as early as February (this is typically priority deadline for on-campus housing) and some started back in October (off campus housing recruitment can begin as early as October).

While you gear up for your winter break.  Take a few moments to reflect on your housing situation this semester and think about your housing options for next year.  This will serve as a great discussion piece with your parents over the break.  Let them know how things are going, get another perspective, and discuss options for next year.

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Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and can be a time of great happiness or great sadness. You may be gearing up for a weekend of time with family and friends.  You are looking forward to your family recipes, family traditions, and time to relax before intense finals. On the other hand, you may not be able to travel home and back to campus for such aa short amount of time and then turnaround to return home during the semester break. This time is one that you should savor and enjoy.

Like many students across the country, you may be heading home for the holiday. This will be a great time of inquiries, updates, and sharing.  Your entire family will want to know how your life on camps has unfolded.  Be ready to eagerly share your major, your dorm life, and things that you enjoy and dislike about school so far. Everyone will want to know more about your interest, things you have learned, and how things are different or may have changed especially if they are an alumnus.

Some of you may need to stay on campus due to your distance from home, work responsibility, or another reason.  If you cannot make it home, do not let it get you down. You have other viable options that may be suitable substitutes to being home. You could be the guest of one of your friends/classmates.  It may not be your home, but it will give you the family feel and is a great way to strengthen relationships with your friends and to gain a second family.  Another option is to host a “Friendsgiving” celebration. This is a newer name for a concept that has been around for some time. A Friendsgiving allows you and others staying on campus the opportunity to come together to enjoy dinner, games and great conversation.  You can try out one of your family’s recipes and experience traditions from other families and cultures.

Thanksgiving is a great time to go home and cure any homesickness that you may have be experiencing, but if you cannot make it home, do not let it get you down.  This holiday is just the precursor to the semester break which will give you more than enough time to connect with your family. Use this time to regroup and prepare for finals. If you can make it home, enjoy the time with family and recharge your battery as you prepare to return to campus and complete finals.

Whether you stay on campus or go home for the holiday enjoy the time and Happy Holidays from your Interactive Resident Assistants.

Love is in the air, as John Paul Young would say. Valentine’s Day is soon to be upon us. Have you started planning how you will celebrate? Maybe you aren’t planning to celebrate at all, or maybe you’re going to be spending the day with a significant other or a group of friends. However you plan to celebrate, enjoying yourself-and enjoying yourself affordably is key for a successful Valentine’s Day!

To begin with, if you are single, think about how you would like to spend the day. If you’d rather spend time by yourself, queue up your favorite Netflix show and indulge in a delicious treat all for you. If you want to celebrate with a group of friends, find an affordable option in your local area. Maybe your student government is putting on an event, or a local restaurant you love is offering a special. Check out your options a few days before so that you and your friends have ample time to plan before the big day.

If you’re in a relationship, then your options depend on whether your significant other is close by or far away. If you’re in a long-distance relationship, think about things you and your significant other can enjoy. Technology has made so much more possible these days. Try ordering your favorite takeout for each other, sending a gift, and watching a movie you love together on Skype. If you’re in the same city, then you have even more options! You can go out to eat, see a show, or catch a free community event! Your budget should determine how you want to spend the day. If you have a low budget, try a romantic walk in the park instead. Take a picnic with you and make a day of it!

On the topic of presents, try to think about something your significant other or friend would truly enjoy. A sentimental card can sometimes mean more than a bouquet of roses. Valentine’s Day gifts can get expensive quite quickly, so if you are planning to buy presents set a budget for yourself. Don’t feel obligated to buy the largest teddy bear or all the roses in the store. Remember, it’s the thought that counts!

No matter what you choose, recognize that Valentine’s Day is just another day. Whether you choose to celebrate or not is completely up to you and/or your significant other. Don’t feel pressured to buy expensive gifts for each other or spend a lot of money on a romantic night out, and don’t feel bad if you do! Plan your version of a special day early to relieve stress and make the most of it.

At this point, you’ve probably been home for Winter Break for at least a little while. Take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back-you made it halfway! Now you just have to weather moving into the new year, returning to school, and all those pesky questions about what you’re doing with your life, what you want to do, and the most dreaded question of all- “So, are you seeing anyone?”

If you’re like most college students, you find these questions at best irritating and at worst invasive. That’s completely normal. It’s also completely normal to tell your well-meaning friends and relatives that you simply don’t know what you’re going to do with your life right now. Freshmen year is the time to BEGIN thinking about what you want to do with your life, not to make concrete decisions and never change your mind ever again. Your relatives and friends understand that. They are most likely asking these questions as a touch-stone for hearing about your life and aren’t sure what else to ask you. If you find yourself in these conversations over and over again this holiday season, try to steer the conversation toward other interests of yours, such as a class you found interesting or a new friend you met in the dining hall. You are not required to talk about every little detail, but finding common ground keeps you from having the same conversation over and over again. Make sure to keep your family talking about themselves as well! Take the time to ask questions about events you may have missed while you were away at school.

Another thing to keep in mind while you’re home for winter break is to catch up with those high school classmates you might not have seen since you went your separate ways after graduation. Plan these meetings early; don’t wait until the last day before you have to go back to college to catch up with everyone. It may be a good idea to meet up with a few friends one-on-one instead of attempting to gather everyone together at one time, but do whatever works for you! This is your chance to catch up with old friends and find out what everyone has been doing. While it may seem like you’re up-to-date with everyone via Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, you may find you’ve missed out on a lot! We tend to only post the really good or really bad things on social media, but it’s those mundane in-between events that keep friendships alive!

One important thing to keep in mind this winter break as you’re catching up with all your old friends and family is that despite the seemingly short amount of time you’ve been away, people change, and that is a good thing! You certainly aren’t the same person you were when you began your freshmen year, and it’s likely that your friends and family aren’t either. Embrace these changes and take the time to get to know these new aspects of the people you love, and let them get to know the new you as well. Make the most of the time you have before you head back to a fantastic spring semester!

IT’S THE END OF THE SEMESTER ALREADY?! I STILL HAVE SO MUCH WORK TO DO!

We’ve all been there. No matter how hard we try to be productive, our best friend–procrastination always comes knocking at our door asking to play. How do we manage?

Check out this awesome link with 12 tips on aceing our finals. Keep these in mind for midterms in the Spring semester.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/01/study-tips-for-exams-12-ways-to-ace-your-finals_n_789731.html#s193495&title=Study_In_Chunks

Good Luck!