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.”


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!


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.”



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!



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



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!



Creating Memories

Have you even done something that was a lot of fun with your friends and reflected on it a year later? You either realize how much fun it really was and want to do it again, or you realize how much has changed in that short time—and sometimes, you get a mixture of both. I actually did this not too long ago. Last Easter, I had some friends over to my house for a good home-cooked dinner, bonfire and a couple of movies. We had a blast. We were so relaxed and just having a good time. The sad thing is, I do not get to see some of the girls that were there as much as I would like to now since they are no longer close by, even though we still talk and hang out as much as possible.

My roommate and I were having another one of our meaningful conversations the other night, and we came to the realization that even though we are not as close to some of the people we used to hang out with, we still wouldn’t change a thing. There is a reason why they came into our lives, even if it was just for a short time. I’m going to be honest—I wasn’t fully listening to what my roommate was saying the whole time (but if she asks, tell her I was), because I started to think about how much things have changed and how many memories I have made with some great people. Although it makes me happy thinking about everything, it also makes me sad because it makes me miss some people who are still very important to me.

The other weekend, my boyfriend and I went on an adventure to find a waterfall—not just any waterfall, a 100-foot-tall one. Four hours later, we found it. While I was standing at the base of the waterfall, I looked up and saw the sun trying to poke through the clouds. As the rays came through, they landed right on me and started moving up the side of the waterfall. I felt like God was trying to tell me something, but I couldn't put my finger on it. So, naturally, we climbed up the side of the waterfall as if He told us to. When we got up to the top, nothing happened. Sure, it was beautiful—but I thought for sure that something miraculous was going to happen. After we walked back down and stood there for a minute, I suddenly realized that every journey comes to end. I believe friendships are like “mini journeys.” You learn things, explore emotions and help each other out just like you would on a journey through life.

I have said this a couple times in my blog, but I am going to say it again. College is about learning. If you had asked me anything about friendships in high school, I would have not come close to saying they were “journeys.” But that is exactly what I have realized over time. Throughout my three years at Young Harris College, I have learned how important friendships are—and how much more important those memories you created together are.

Live the life you love.


Being A Good Friend

The other day my roommate and I were talking about people that we were friends with in high school and how we are glad we decided to go to college. We also talked about how we both went through a phase where we thought we could do anything and not get into trouble. The friends we had back in high school who decided not to go to college seem to still be in that phase; however, I don't think it's a phase anymore—it's their lifestyle. That's the path they chose and that's how they want to spend their lives. At the age of 19, they are content with working a minimum-wage job, sometimes on a graveyard shift. I still consider these people my friends, but it is crazy to think how different our paths have become in just a short time.  

One of my friends back home who I have known since middle school started his first semester of college this spring. I am so extremely proud of him. When we graduated high school and everyone was leaving for college, he stayed home and worked every day. One day last summer he woke up and said, “I am not doing this for the rest of my life.” That day, he began his college search. When he called me—I'm not going to lie, I teared up. From the day we met, I knew he was going to do something with his life. I knew he had potential, but he just did not see it. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do—whether it’s on the softball field, coaching swimmers or even just in my friendships—is motivate someone who does not want to be motivated. I am not saying I am the reason he changed his life, but I would like to think I played a small part by encouraging him along the way.

Life is about learning. You learn what to do and what not to do, and it takes some people longer to learn than others. My roommate’s friends are still learning about life, and hopefully they will soon realize the potential they have and act on it. It took my friend seven years to change for the better. If you have friends like this, encourage them. Everyone needs someone to kick them in the butt and help them make decisions. Since I can remember, I have told my friend a quote by Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Every time I told him this, he looked at me like I was crazy because he didn’t understand what I meant. Last year, when he was on his college search, he called me and said, “Kali, I get it. I finally get what you were telling me all those years. If I want the world to change, I have to change first.” Now, I am not a mother, but I tell you what—I sure felt like one when he told me that. I am so incredibly proud of him and cannot wait to see what he does.

“Live the life you love, love the life you live.” The second you do not, you must change something. “Be the change you wish to see in the world."



Just A Typical Week

Well, folks, this week has been pretty average. I had midterms in all of my classes before spring break so I have not had anything too tough to eat up all of my study time. However, I've has been surprisingly busy with Alpha Omega stuff. This is the last week of education period for all Greeks so we are just preparing to welcome all of our new members into the organization. Tomorrow we are having a cookout to celebrate the accomplishment. Other than that, I have just been covering new material in all of my classes and working on semester long projects. Classes, the gym, homework and meetings have pretty much taken up my entire week.

I am also already busy making plans for the upcoming summer. Part-time jobs, camp counselors, mission trips and vacations generally fill the summers for college students. It is great having the time off, but honestly I love coming back to Young Harris when August rolls around. This year I am going on a mission trip to Guatemala for five weeks for the first part of the summer and then hopefully taking summer courses for the remainder of the time. Getting ahead in classes between the spring and fall semesters can significantly lighten the load and keep you on track for your degree.

College life can be busy even when there aren't too many academic obligations. I know that my post this week is pretty short compared to my previous ones, but I am sure there will be much more to say in the upcoming weeks before the semester ends. I hope that you are all having a great week!



Choosing Your Path

It would be an understatement for me to say that spring break was amazing. Those 10 days of freedom were so needed after midterms. However, I did not have a “normal” spring break. I spent the time in Orlando, Fla., at a softball tournament. Now, before you say, “Ah, you’re so lucky, it must have been so hot!” I will tell you—it was not. The first couple of days were miserably cold with winds up to 25 miles per hour. Thankfully, it warmed up a little towards the end of the week and we were all able to get a tan—which I definitely needed!

While I had a great time in the sun and on the field with my teammates, I also realized some things. The top thing I recognized is how close I am to being done with school when I overheard a couple of freshmen players talking about how they didn’t know what major they wanted to choose. It got me thinking about my freshman year and the four times I changed majors within those two semesters—how confused I was about what I’m going to do in life. I told them it’s okay to be confused and it’s okay to not know. The reason you take core classes during your freshman and sophomore years is so that you can change your mind or figure out what you want to do. Some people know for years what major is right for them before they even enter college, and more power to them, but there’s no need to panic if you don’t know.

Young Harris College has a great mentoring program, and the advisors are great. They actually take the time to help you figure these kinds of things out. I came to YHC as a freshman wanting to be a high school history teacher but quickly realized I was not cut of for that career. After speaking with my advisors, I realized my strengths and weaknesses and the things I love doing. After many meetings, I finally know what path I am taking.

If you are like my teammates and have no clue what you want to do, do not be worried. You just have to live each day to the fullest and open your eyes to what you truly love doing. Paying attention in class will also help you pick up on the little topics that spark your interest. And most of all, talk to your advisors every once in a while. They do help a lot—and they want to help. Use the resources you are given and have fun with it.

Live the life you love.



Subscribe to RSS - blogs