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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

One Month In

I just started attending Young Harris College in August. Some people might say, “There’s no way someone can write about college after only being there for a month.” Well, I beg to differ, because the entire experience has been life changing for me, and I’ve already learned so much. 
I’ve gained a sense of freedom I didn’t have before when I relied on my parents for everything. Academically, the Advanced Placement classes I took in high school prepared me for the courses I’m taking right now, yet each class still offers a challenge. Despite my quiet personality, I’ve found myself randomly talking to other students I don’t know just to introduce myself. Ultimately, I’m beginning to realize who I am, and it’s a great feeling.
In this blog, I plan on sharing my experiences and findings in order to inform future students of what they’d be missing out on if they don’t choose Young Harris. Although brochures and campus tours are nice, they only scratch the surface of what college is truly like. My goal, as a current student and as the author of this blog, is to be relatable and give honest advice about what to expect as a YHC student. 
As the weeks go on, I’m going to write about multiple things. I’ll touch on my academic courses and how they require you to ask “why” and “how.” I’ll write about what type of social events happen around campus and how easy it is to meet new people. There are plenty of other things I will mention as time goes on, but if there’s something specific that you want me to highlight, leave a comment below. I will try my best to answer your questions in upcoming posts—and if I don’t know an answer, I will definitely research it and let you know within a reasonable timeframe.
That being said, I can’t wait to tell you all about how great Young Harris College is. It’s one of the best colleges in the state of Georgia—in one of the best locations. In my eyes, it’s the College you fall in love with so much that you don’t even want to leave on the weekends! 



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Feeling Nostalgic

Hello everyone! I’m glad you’ve found your way to my very first blog post! Starting my fourth and final year at YHC has made me very nostalgic lately, and I would like to share a defining moment from my freshman year that initiated my everlasting love for Young Harris.
YHC wasn’t really on my radar when I began my college search. As a high school senior, I scheduled a visitation with little knowledge of the College besides the fact that my aunt attended YHC in the ’70s’s and it was a place that fostered many fond memories for my mom, her sister, and the rest of their family. Upon arriving for my tour, I was immediately taken aback by how beautiful the campus was. Tulips were in bloom everywhere I went—if you have been at YHC in the springtime, you know how colorful they make campus!) While on my tour, people I had never seen before were smiling at me and waving to me. Right away, the small, intimate feel of Young Harris wrapped me in, and I knew that this was where I needed to be. 
When I arrived in the fall for classes during my freshman year, I knew one person—my best friend and roommate, Erica. The first week was a whirlwind of events. The Campus Activities Board always plans Welcome Week for new and returning students. One night, they had a huge inflatable screen blown up on the lawn and invited everyone to watch a movie under the stars. In addition, things were set up on the plaza in the middle of campus, and everyone came out to mingle. Although it was scary at first having to meet new people, I made friends who to this day still play a part in some of my favorite YHC memories.
After my first week of classes, we went up to Bell Mountain. It’s certainly a treacherous place to get to if you’re not careful because the road to the top has been worn down from many years of travel and rainwater. But, believe me, the hike is absolutely worth it. When we got to the top, I was amazed that I was still in the small area that surrounds the College. The view was breathtaking. Off in the distance, I could see YHC nestled into its protective valley and I knew that I could call this place my home.
I often think about my first week of school at Young Harris. It’s very bittersweet and hard to imagine this is my last year here. I’m determined to make it the best year yet and embark on adventures that will allow me try totally new things while I still can. This year, I’ll have a busy workload with organization meetings, classes and study sessions, but I know every bit of it will be worth it once Commencement comes in May.
It’s easy to get caught up in the wonders of Young Harris College. It’s such an amazing environment to be in with so much to offer, and I can’t wait to share more of it with you! 
Best wishes until next week,


Monday, May 6, 2013

End of the Semester

Where has this year gone? I just finished 50 percent of my college career! Can I give you some advice? Enjoy every single minute because it sure does fly by. It seems like just yesterday I was sitting in the big white rocking chairs in front of Appleby Center at 4 a.m. waiting to begin START Orientation.

This year has been busy, but it has also been amazing. I am one step closer to graduation and medical school, but I am not quite sure whether to be happy, sad, nostalgic or indifferent. The people at YHC truly are my family, and this year’s tears were even worse than last year’s. I had to say goodbye to friends that I had gotten to know deeply over the last two years. Brothers, sisters, friends and buddies all walked across that stage at Commencement this year, and I cannot help but reflect on the memories we shared together.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog each week. I know that I have enjoyed writing it. I hope you all have a great summer, and hopefully I will run into someone next year that actually read some of my blogs!

I just got an email from a wonderfully kind alumnus thanking me for writing this blog. So sir, if you are reading this, I thank you for your praise. Have a great summer, folks.


Monday, April 29, 2013



Summer is finally here! Well, it's actually just finals week but still... summer! Even though my schedule is jam packed with things to do, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that is the only thing that keeps me going. Finals week is usually the most stressful time of the entire year. Everything is due the week before, and then the actual tests are given the next week. Many people end up pulling all-nighters. I’ll admit that I’ve pulled a couple myself during freshman year. That was the worst mistake ever. Even though I got my paper done and completed my study guide, I could not remember anything that I had looked at the night before because I was so tired. I literally fell asleep during my test. I would never suggest pulling an all-nighter. What you need to do is take naps every once in a while. What I usually do is study for two hours, and then I take a 30-minute nap. Obviously you can change it to fit your lifestyle, but that's what works for me.

There are actually ways to not stress out over everything. Time management is the most important skill for a college student to learn. If you learn this, you will not be as stressed as you would have been otherwise. I wish someone would have told me about time management years ago. It took me three years to understand how to do it. There is a difference between knowing that you have to do it and knowing how to do it.

Summer is my absolute favorite time of year—the sun is shining, we get to go on the boat and I can sit by the pool with no worries in the world. However, I am going to miss everyone over the summer. My friends and I spend every day together for eight months, and then we don't see each other at all for three months.

It saddens me to say, but this will be my last blog for the semester. It has been a blast writing and telling everyone what goes on at Young Harris College. Although I mostly wrote about things in my life, they are things that almost every other student on the YHC campus can relate to. The stress, the fun, the good times and the bad—it happens to us all. College is what you make it, so make it your best.

Thank you for reading along,

God bless,

Kali Shimmin


Monday, April 22, 2013

Adventure Time

When I first came to college in 2010, I wondered what I would do when I was not playing softball. At first, I would nap. I took anywhere from five-minute naps all the way to three-hour naps almost every day of my freshman year. However, when I came back sophomore year, I realized that there was so much more to do. I lived in the mountains! I needed to go out and explore.

During the last two years, I have found so many amazing places to go hang out, such as waterfalls, lookouts, cool thrift shops and great fishing areas—but don't ask me where they are because I cannot remember.

When my friends and I are sitting in the living room and start to feel a little bored, one of use usually yells out, “Adventure time!” Right then and there, we all hop into a car and just drive somewhere. After finding a cool place or doing something crazy, the fun thing is trying to remember how to get back to campus.

I will never forget the time we thought we were going to be stranded in the middle of the woods. We had decided to go off-roading a day after it had rained a large amount. Now, if anyone knows anything about off-roading, you know that without a four-wheel drive vehicle with good all-terrain tires, you will not make it very far. I knew this small detail, but yet I still took my Jeep out there. Now you might say: “You have a Jeep, you'll be fine.” Wrong.

Even though my Jeep Liberty is a four-wheel drive, I have the worst tires known to man on it. After, about an hour of roughing around through the mud and rocks, we came to a part of the road that made my stomach drop the second I saw it because there was no way my car was going to make it through or turn around and go out the way we came. The ground was too wet for my car to make it up some of the hills.

Thankfully, my friend had seen a gate not too far back. As we walked towards it and began to actually look, we saw that the gate had a lock on it. But since my friends love to make serious situations a tad bit funny, one decided to pretend like she was the bearded lady and rip open the gate. Well, folks, she ripped it right off the pole it was on. I was blown away—we had been saved! Later on, in order to keep my friend from getting a big head, we came to the conclusion that the gate was already broken and it was just there for looks. Five hours later, we made it back to campus safe and sound.

This story just goes to show that living at Young Harris College gives you so many chances to be outside and go on adventures—no matter how random they may be. I wish I had begun exploring my freshman year and not slept the time away. From the minute you step on campus, remember that your adventure is already beginning.

“Live the life you love.”


Monday, April 22, 2013

Beware of Finals!

Finals are very quickly approaching, and with them, loads of stress. I have a final in all five classes I am taking this semester. Two of them take place on Friday, and I am not looking forward to that. Anyway, I am just going to talk a little about finals at Young Harris College.

I have joked that finals week is my favorite week of school because there is so much free time. You have to study like crazy for the finals you do have, but the rest of the week is class-free. The testing schedule is posted on the school’s website, and you just have to show up to take each final in a specific location.

After you are done with one, you give a huge sigh of relief and then move on to the next. During my freshman year, I had all of my finals on three days so the rest of my week was glorious. Finals week begins with “Reading Day,” which is simply a day off to prepare for any finals that take place on Friday. If you don’t have a Friday final, then this could essentially be a day off.

All in all, finals are not nearly as bad as people would have you think, but rather just something that should be taken seriously. If you concentrate, study and make sure you are prepared, then the rest of finals week can be used to hang out, play video games, chill on the lawn and get ready for summer.

Hope you all are having a great week!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Embracing Change

Last week, there was a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Rollins Campus Center. After a whole school year of listening to construction and watching the old Dobbs McEachern Gym and Rollins and an old residence hall get taken down, they are finally starting to construct this new building in the center of campus. I have been told that this new center will be the home of a new library, dining hall, offices and even a Starbucks!

For me, this means a lot of changes. During my freshman year, we had just opened the new Recreation and Fitness Center, and the Village apartments complex had not even started to be built. Now people are used to working out and going to basketball games in this awesome space and living with friends in nice apartments with kitchens and washers and dryers—all of the things an upperclassmen needs.

The College is also building a new residence hall that is just for freshmen, which is also crazy to think about. New students arriving this fall will be making memories in a completely new spot that will be around for years to come. There are so many more housing options for students now than there were just a short time ago.

So many things have changed on this campus since I first arrived, but it is all for the good. With all these changes, Young Harris College feels like a premier place that is constantly growing. My senior year is going to be amazing. I am living with some of my best friends again, and I already cannot wait until next August rolls around.

Most people are afraid of change because it’s different. Some people like the “traditional way” of doing things, but I think you have to embrace the changes. The world is changing, and even though Young Harris is a small town in the north Georgia mountains, we have to change along with it. I am already looking forward to coming back as an alumna after I graduate to see what has become of this beautiful campus.

“Live to life you love.”



Monday, April 15, 2013

What Is There To Do Up Here?

As a tour guide, I have learned what topics students are most interested in and what to leave out when giving tours. Everyone always wants to know what the residence hall rooms look like, where the gym is and what happens on the weekends. But there is one questions that all of the tour guides joke about because it is asked on nearly every single tour: “What is there to do up here?” After having answered that question probably 200 times, I think I have a pretty well defined answer. Since I have lived in this area my entire life, I believe I probably know the answer to that better than most. I have observed that prospective students care about a few specific things such as shopping, entertainment and the outdoors—so I will touch on each of those. 

Obviously, living in the mountains and practically the middle of nowhere, you have to live without some of the convenience of being near big shopping malls. A lot of students crave the ability to shop when they first come to college. Quite frankly, though, everyone is broke. If that big high school graduation check isn’t paid toward tuition and books, it is practically gone by the beginning of your sophomore year. And to be honest, you don't really need a lot of money at Young Harris. All of your food is paid for, and you can get an on-campus job for some extra spending money. “But wait! I still need to shop!” Walmart is right down the road, Ingles is located in both surrounding towns, and there is a dollar store practically on campus. You can get all of your basic amenities at those places, but shopping online can pretty much get you everything else. Amazon Prime offers free two-day shipping, and they have a big discount on the service for students. Other than that, you can just get stuff from whatever company website you really need. There are also a few local boutiques around that carry “cute” stuff. I am a guy and we really don't usually care about that stuff—but you ladies can always find somewhere to spend your money!

As far as entertainment goes, there are movie theaters in both Blairsville and Hiawassee and they both have movie tickets for only $5 with a YHC ID! There is a bowling alley in Blairsville and a roller skating rink in Hiawassee. Other than those, there are lots of great local restaurants and ice cream shops that are reasonably priced. Brothers Restaurant is right down the road, that is my personal favorite local place and the food is excellent. Lots of places also have wing nights and trivia nights and there are a few sports bars and grills not too far way. As far as on-campus, student groups are constantly putting on dances, cookouts and other fun events. Greek life has plenty of events year round as well. There is also a college-sponsored student group called the Campus Activities Board that puts on bigger events like Spring Fest and Fall Fest as well as weekly events like Coffeehouse.

However, the biggest “thing to do” on and off campus is outdoor stuff. There is a little comment that I frequently say to students when I give tours—if you aren’t an outdoorsy person when you come to Young Harris, you will be when you leave. You are in the mountains! This place is absolutely God’s country. Hiking, backpacking, camping, biking, going to the beach right down the road… the list is endless. Everyone has friends who are outdoor leadership majors and they always know the best places to do stuff. Since arriving at YHC, I have gotten into camping, longboarding, bouldering, swimming and a bunch of other stuff. I will never forget the fun times and skills that I have gained through these experiences.

All in all, there is way more to do here than students may think. It’s also important to realize that you are coming to college to get an education and make memories that will last the rest of your life. My biggest advice to freshmen under any circumstances is to stay at YHC on the weekends. You will miss your friends and family, but you have to understand that when you come to college, you essentially begin a new chapter of your life. Staying at college will help you make friends, study more and ultimately have a great first year and college experience. Plus, who wouldn't want to have time to go on mountain adventures with their friends? Have a great week, friends!



Monday, April 8, 2013

Life Lessons

About a year ago, I was struggling with life in general. I had received my third concussion in March (one of the hazards of being an athlete), and things had been very difficult. I couldn't sleep right, I wasn't eating right and I was losing people close to me because of my emotions going haywire. Once things started to get a little better and back to normal in April, I got a phone call that no one ever wants to get.

I will never forget what I was doing at that exact moment. I was sitting in my dorm room at my desk, Pinteresting. My friend called me out of the blue to inform me that a friend of ours from high school was just in a fatal car accident. At first I didn’t believe her, because he just seemed invincible. The things I had seen him do—there was no way he was killed because of a car accident. But 10 minutes after hanging up on her, another friend of mine called with the same information.

Everyone always says there are five stages to loss. I went through them. The first step is denial. I didn't believe anyone who told me. The second step is the one I am still struggling with—anger. I am mad-livid actually. I was so mad at God for taking him and not the guy who hit him, the guy who chose to run the red light going 75 mph. The third step is bargaining—thinking about the “if onlys.” I was away at school and he was at home working, so I didn’t get to see him as much. To this day, I wish I had called him while I was home for my spring break two weeks before and asked him to hang out. I will forever regret that. The fourth step is depression, which is one I definitely went through. After the funeral, I was so sad all the time. My roommate at the time said she had never seen someone so sad all the time. The fifth and final stage is acceptance. A year has gone by now, and I have learned that death is a part of our lives. It’s not easy and it’s not fair, but it’s how things are.

Our lives are so precious. No one is invincible. Everyone would like to think they are, but the truth is we are nowhere near it. It took me 20 years, losing a friend and a car accident of my own to figure out that anything can and will happen. Most of the time people don’t realize this until someone close to them passes away. In high school I would hear about people in car accidents, but I didn't know any of them so it was different. The moment something happened to one of my good friends was when I realized how short life is and how careful you must be. You have to live your life without any regrets. If you love someone, tell them every chance you get.

Something else I have learned from this experience is that even if you think you’re a good driver, it’s usually someone else who’s not. Be aware of your surroundings and of what other people are doing. If you do this, your life and possibly someone else’s could be saved.

I miss and love you, Kenny. May you rest in peace.
3/16/90 - 4/10/12



Monday, April 8, 2013

College Prom

Ah, prom season is in the air! Expensive dresses, tuxedos, corsages and borrowed cars. It all feels so familiar. If you are in high school and already getting nostalgic about attending this memorable event, I have good news for you! Young Harris College practically has a prom of its own!

Every year, the Student Government Association’s freshman committee throws Spring Formal, a free event for all students that is a blast every year. Everyone loves a chance to get dressed up, and the whole school comes out to the swanky Brasstown Valley Resort down the street from the College. YHC hires a DJ, and foods and drinks are served. (If you are a senior, you get a double night of fun because YHC also hosts a Senior Celebration Dinner beforehand.)

College formals feel different than they did in high school. It doesn't feel so strict, and it doesn't have to be as perfect as you thought it did in high school. You feel free to eat at a less expensive restaurant, show up late and not rent a tux. Honestly, I think it is more fun this way. It is less stressful, which means you are more relaxed and feel free to just dance and have a great time.

This year, my friends made even less big of a deal about it than last year. My girlfriend and I went to Brothers Restaurant in Young Harris and arrived about an hour after the event started. We danced with each other and friends and had a great time.

College is the transition period between childhood and adulthood. Enjoy all of these experiences, as if they are your last. But don't be stressed by them! Take one day at a time and enjoy everything while you’re in college. I can’t believe I am a sophomore and already done with two years—but at least I know I have two more Spring Formals to attend during my time at YHC!




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