2017 survival guide: living on campus

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GrossBathroom-03“I have to share a bathroom…gross. What’s the best way to deal with the communal bathroom situation?”
The dreaded shared bathroom. Sure, you had to share a bathroom with your little brother back at home, but sharing one with a stranger? Now that’s a whole different ballgame, you say. The best way to keep your bathroom clean and conflict-free is to create a bathroom cleaning schedule with your roommate(s)/suitemates at the beginning of the semester, alternating the weeks that you and your roomie are each responsible for cleaning the bathroom. Also, make sure to keep the bathroom clutter free, so those who share it with you aren’t tripping over the sweaty gym clothes you discarded on the floor right in front of the shower. If someone is slacking on their bathroom cleaning duties, don’t be passive aggressive. Instead, explain your frustrations to your roommate in a polite but direct manner. If the bad bathroom etiquette continues, your RA is always there to help mediate conflicts.

“I can’t find parking anywhere! Any advice for a frustrated driver?”
Ask any Towson student with a car and they’ll probably tell you that parking at Towson is…well, not great. Depending on the time of day, it can be pretty difficult to find an empty parking space on campus. But fear not, hope is not all lost! The best way to snag a spot is FoundParking-03to avoid peak parking hours. The parking garages begin filling up by mid-morning and don’t start substantially emptying out until mid to late-afternoon. During that busy period, give yourself at least 30 minutes before your class begins to hunt for a parking space. As TU administrators are likely to tell you, there’s also plenty of space at the SECU lots. While those lots are a little out of the way, there is a shuttle that will pick you up and drop you off at the main part of campus.

“I’m a commuter student, but I’m worried that I won’t be as involved on campus as some of my friends who live here. Do you have any advice for commuters in my situation?”
It’s easy for commuter students to fall into the routine of merely coming to campus for classes and leaving as soon as their last class lets out, but where’s the fun in that? Get involved with clubs and other groups on campus where you can find people with similar interests as you. If you don’t have time to consistently dedicate to a student organization, Commuter-03try to attend some events on campus occasionally to meet fellow students and TU community members, have some fun and maybe even learn a thing or two. Also, quadruple check that you have everything you need for the day before leaving the house in the morning. Sure, that means textbooks and the usual classroom materials, but it also means checking the weather in the morning to figure out whether you need a sweater or an umbrella, packing some snacks and a refillable water bottle for the day ahead if you don’t want to spend money on campus food, and phone/laptop chargers for when you’re running out of juice and the free charging station in the University Union is all full. Resident students might look at you funny for toting around your Hermione Granger-esque bottomless bag, but hey, preparation is the key to success, right?

“I’m pretty much broke right now, but I really need some money to go out with my friends. Where do I find or apply for a job?”
The easiest way to find and apply for a job is to go to the Career Center’s online job database, which is called Handshake. You can find all kinds of jobs and internships available based on your search filters and your employment needs, including work-study programs. Handshake can be found on the Towson University website if you type OfficallyBroke-03“Handshake” into the search bar. From there, you’ll find helpful pages of student FAQs, guidelines when it comes to submitting applications and the Handshake database itself! If a job you want isn’t listed on Handshake, don’t sweat it — employers on campus aren’t mandated to post job listings there. You can go in person and inquire about position openings to places like the Cook Library, the Writing Center and organizations such as The Towerlight! Additionally, once you get more involved, other positions can open up — being a member of the the Honors College gives you the opportunity to be a Student Director, and studying abroad gives you the option to become a Study Abroad Peer Advisor. There are plenty of opportunities for jobs on campus if you’re looking!

“Honestly, all this “meals and points” talk has me pretty confused. How does my meal plan work?”
Meal plans are super confusing when you first look at them, but trust me, it gets easier. If you’re a commuter you can sign up for a block meal plan. Block meal plans allow you to have a set amount of meals for a semester and it’s up to you to pace yourself through them. Otherwise, you get the choice of 10, 14, 19 or unlimited-meal plans, where you get 10, 14 or 19 meals a week and you can pace yourself in smaller increments, or an unlimited number of meals and just go crazy. A “meal” on campus will cover whatever you get at any dining hall for as long as you stay there, and at most places like Au Bon Pain and Newell Den they’re the equivalent of $6.00. Those meal plans reset every week on Friday at 2 a.m. These plans also come with what we call “dining points,” which is basically cash you put into your account, and are super helpful when your meal’s total comes to something like $6.23 – if you use a meal to cover the six dollars, your points will cover the 23 cents left over. To check your meal plan and points, head over to the Towson University website, type “OneCard account” into the search bar, click on “Ticket Office, OneCard & Business Office” and scroll all the way to the bottom, where a hyperlink “OneCard” will redirect you to the proper website.

“There are so many food options on campus that it’s hard to decide where to eat. Which places do you recommend?”
Oh boy, this is a great question. Here at The Towerlight, we love our food, and it was hard to come to a definitive answer. Really, it all depends on your tastes. The Union’s Susquehanna Food Court has plenty of options, ranging from a personal pizza station, to sushi, to Chick-Fil-A. Paws, also located in the Union, has some great fries, and there are sometimes some cool events happening there in the evenings. Au Bon Pain, or ‘ABP,’ offers fresh sandwiches, salads and soup, along with a coffee bar. In our completely subjective opinion, ABP has the best lemonade and chai lattes on campus. Out in West Village, you’ll GoodFood-03 (1)find Einstein Bros. Bagels, Panda Express and Jamba Juice, all of which are pretty good, but at peak hours, the lines are usually pretty long. However, one spot stands out to us year after year, and that’s Patuxent Bistro, otherwise known as PTux. The lines get pretty long since it’s only open for a limited time each day, but the food makes up for that. At PTux, you can enjoy a pasta station, a sandwich station, a salad bar, a burrito station and a Chinese food station, but make sure you get there early, so you’re not standing in line for your entire lunch break. And, if you’re looking to watch the next big football game in the company of fellow students and a huge plate of crab dip (and, for our 21 and over crowd, maybe a beer or two), look no further than Bill Bateman’s, located on the side of the 7800 York Rd. building. What can we say? Towson has plenty of options for plenty of tastes. Make it your mission to try them all before the semester ends.

“I’ve heard so many roommate horror stories, and I’m scared I won’t get along with mine. How can I keep the peace with my roommate?”
We get it. Living with a roommate can be tough, but it’s important to remember that it’s a two-way street. Make your best effort to be a good roommate, and things may fall into place. Take some time to understand each other’s needs. You may like watching T.V. until 3 a.m., but  your roommate may like going to bed at 10 p.m. Make compromises, and outline boundaries. You’ll be living with this person for nine months, so make sure you get to know them, and most importantly, make sure you respect each other. The most important thing about having a roommate is recognizing that there will most likely be some issues throughout the year. Hopefully, they won’t be major problems, but understand that it’s hard to get through an entire year in the same room as someone else without some kind of problem. It is crucial that you and your roommate don’t avoid addressing these problems, because it’ll only lead to greater conflict down the line. Be patient, be respectful, but be upfront. On your end, make sure that you maintain healthy habits while you’re living in the dorm. Take your trash out, don’t let your laundry pile up, shower and wash your sheets. It’ll make the whole experience more pleasant. If your problems with your roommate escalate to a level where you feel they can’t be solved, talk to your RA. They’ll help you work it out, and you can always switch rooms in the spring.

“I’m freaking out because I lost my OneCard! What do I do?”
Hey there! It’s okay! You can head to the ticket booth in the Union, and they’ll replace your card for you. Keep in mind that they’ll charge you $15 to replace the cards the first two times you lose it...the price gets much higher after that, so try to keep track of your card. The OneCard is your key to Towson University, and you need it just about every day. You’ll use your card to get into your residence hall, to buy meals and snacks, to check out materials from Cook, to visit Burdick gym and athletic events, to ride the shuttles and to print on the WEPA kiosks. Sounds like a lot, huh? We’d suggest taking your card off the lanyard that you’ve been given, and finding another place to store it. One great idea is to buy one of the phone pockets that you can stick to your phone case. As long as you don’t forget your phone, you won’t forget your OneCard.

“I’m really afraid of gaining the dreaded “Freshman 15.” How can I make sure I stay healthy while I’m at school?”
This is definitely a valid concern. Coming to college brings some serious schedule changes, and it’s important to make an effort to keep your physical and mental health in check. In terms of your physical health, Towson has plenty of food and fitness options to help you stay healthy. You can find healthy meal options at basically any of the dining halls and cafeterias, and sometimes, you can substitute less healthy ingredients for better ones. For example, at Kappa Sushi in Susq, you can ask for brown rice instead of white rice, and at a lot of dining halls, you can substitute for things like whole-wheat pasta or egg-whites. Towson also has on-campus dieticians, who can give you a hand in figuring out the best food for you. Burdick Hall is a great place to work up a sweat when you’re looking to burn some calories. Granted, the building is still under construction, but you’ll find multiple gyms, a pool, fitness classes and other workout resources. The building’s expansion is slated to be completed in December 2017, and when it’s done, there’ll be even more facilities to use. Towson’s Health Center at Ward and West is a great resource to use for anything from the common cold to a serious medical emergency. In addition to treating illness and injury, the Health Center offers services like STD-testing, contraceptive counseling and immunizations. However, on top of your physical health, your mental health is equally important. The Counseling Center is located on the second floor of Ward and West, and they’re here to help. You can make an appointment by calling 410-704-2512, or by stopping by the front desk. They offer both individual services and initial visits, as well as several group counseling sessions. The Counseling Center can help students in crisis during regular business hours, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, outside those hours, they recommend calling 911 if someone’s health or safety is at risk. College is a stressful time, and it’s hard to stay on top of the various aspects of your health. However, Towson’s resources can help you keep it all in check.

“I hate to admit it, but I really, really miss home. My roommate is driving me up the wall and I miss my dog…not to mention the stress of the everyday hustle and bustle of college. Please help!”
We hear ya, and believe it or not, we’re in the same boat with you. As cliche as it sounds to say, everyone gets homesick. For 18 years of our lives, we have had a pretty constant aMissingHome-03nd stable routine, and to have it thrown off all of the sudden can be a major shock to your psyche. This is a difficult question to answer because one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. For those of you living in dorms or in non-pet friendly apartments, there is a Just Puppies on York Road if you miss your dog…just saying. Our best advice is to not deny that you are homesick. Suppressing our feelings is one of the worst things that we can do as human beings. Talk to your parents, friends or other loved ones if you are struggling, and just remember you are stronger than you even can fathom.          

 

 

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