How to Deal with Freshman Year Homesickness

Whether you absolutely love college so far or are still getting adjusted, there is one thing that can creep up on you at any moment: homesickness. I remember around this time last year, about a month into living on campus for the first time, it really began to sink in; this is how it’s really going to be, this is real life now. The work load starts to pile on, it begins to feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day and the stress is real! My hometown is only about an hour away from where I go to college and believe me, I was just like you- I could not WAIT to get out of that little town and start a brand new life. But just like you, there are things I sometimes miss and that’s normal too. You miss your home, you miss your pets, you miss your family, you miss your friends, and you even miss things you never thought you would. Along the way during my freshman year I discovered some things that snapped me right out of those homesick blues, hopefully they can be of use to you!

Take a break from school work, go out and do something to take your mind off of it! I know here at Michigan State University, there are plenty of places to explore. I love to ride my bike around campus maybe with some headphones in listening to my favorite music. Countless times I’ve stumbled on a beautiful part of my own school that I never even knew was there.

Switch up your routine, if you usually study and do homework in your dorm, try to change it up and find somewhere nice outside or a different place on campus to do your work.

Walk around your college town! I am absolutely in love with our college town of East Lansing here at MSU; whenever I’m feeling homesick a nice walk around reminds me how lucky I am to live in a place so great. There are so many places to go shopping with friends and always a new restaurant to try if you’re getting sick of dining hall food. Look up fun things to do in your area, maybe there’s a show coming to town or a concert that you can look forward to.

If you’re feeling really down remember it’s okay to cry it out! Truly everyone has those days; take a breather, take a nap (lol college), you’ll be feeling better in no time!

Call your parents!! They will LOVE that you took time out of your day to do this, it always feels so great to catch up on things going on in each others lives or even vent a little. Keep in touch with those you miss, FaceTime is a wonderful thing 🙂 I love scheduling regular FaceTime sessions with my friends and family during the week, I know it makes me feel better to hear their voices and see their faces.

I know I’ve written about this before in my previous blogs posts, but I cannot say it enough: step our of your comfort zone, JOIN A CLUB and meet new people!! The moment I decided to do this, it changed my entire college experience. Although I was (and still am) absolutely in love with my school, there were times in the beginning when I did feel homesick. A couple weeks into my freshman year I went out searching for a club that I had interest in and one where I could meet people who had similar interests as well. After I joined Sideshow I made the friends I had always hoped I would in college. The friends that turn into family, the friends that make you a better version of yourself, and the ones who make you look forward to every single day at school. It keeps me busy participating in things I love doing, makes me excited to be staying at school and has given me the best support system at my home away from home.

I know personally when homesickness creeps in most is right before I go to bed. Usually right before I’m about to fall asleep, I start to overthink EVERYTHING in my life – funny how that works out. Something that I realized was helpful to me was to write down something positive that happened during the day, everyday. I typically go to bed late and didn’t feel like I had enough time to keep a full journal each night but I did find something equally as beneficial. Each night I would write one sentence on a sticky note – something great about my day. It was so easy and just reminded me that even if I didn’t have the best day ever, I still always could find something great. This left me thinking about my great moment of the day and helped me fall asleep faster. Then at the end of the year, you’ll get to look back, read through all 365 of your sticky notes and enjoy reminiscing on all of your favorite memories.

Lastly, I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but the best thing to remember when you’re feeling homesick is that you are so lucky you have something so great to miss. Enjoy these days, they’ll be some of the best of your life. Be proud of yourself; this independent thing – yeah, you’ve got this.

Sincerely, Sienna

(Follow me on Instagram at siennamohl for more updates!)

Dorm Decor & Space for More

Now that you’re all moved in (congrats!!), you’ve probably realized just how small of space you have to work with. It’s still very early so maybe it just doesn’t quite feel like home yet, maybe your things are still scattered around and maybe you’re searching for ways to make it work for you. I thought I’d share some beneficial ideas I used for my room this year that hopefully can help you out as well! Knowing I would be living in the dorms for a second year, I was completely stressing myself trying to come up with the best way possible to save space and make the tiny room more ‘livable’. I cannot even describe to you how many times I drew out a floor plan trying to figure out what would fit best where in the room, so move-in day came and guess what, EVERYTHING FIT *angels begin to sing*. We got a little creative with arranging furniture this year to give us SO much more room for activities (Step Brothers yesss) and maximum use of storage spaces because c’mon, we’re girls and we brought a lot of clothes. Also below you’ll find some cute decor ideas to help you make your dorm feel just a little more like home.

Waddup MTV, welcome to my crib.

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Storage: We found the best way to save space was to push the furniture to the walls and stack our beds. This left us room to bring in a couch and make a cozy living area to watch TV and give extra space for guests.

Decor: Found these cute hanging lantern lights at Target.

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Storage: Even while bunked we still had room to store things under our beds. At Michigan State you’re able to pick the exact height the beds are at so you can leave enough room underneath for what you need. We store drawers for clothes, laundry and even our printer.

Decor: One of my favorite pieces of decoration in the room are the little lights above my bed. I found these battery powered ones online which are perfect because they can hang up there without being plugged in. I found cute (inexpensive) fabric at Hobby Lobby to tie over the lights so I wouldn’t be staring at the coils of the bed above me. Photos of my family and friends surround my bed hung with twine and tiny clothespins. Found all of the cozy bedding and pillows you see at Target.

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Shoutout to my awesome roommate Hannah for being hella clever – for all of you with lofted beds, you’ll definitely want to try this out. The ladder up to her bed hurts your feet when climbing up, so her family came up with what you see above. They cut up a yoga mat and zip-tied it around each bar to make it more comfortable.

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Moving into ‘the living room’, where we gained the most space this year compared to last. Hannah’s love seat couch fit perfectly and I found the cute little cube stool that meets multiple needs. It has storage inside and with the round tray acts as a nice little coffee table too (both tray and cube found at Target).

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Closer look at our favorite decor in our room – large black and white engineer print photos of us! These are extremely cheap and are literally printed right onto engineer blue print paper, make for great personalized decoration.

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Previously this space came with a large dresser and took up A LOT of room. We decided to move the dresser across from the couch to act as a TV stand. Gave us room for our fridge and microwave while even saving us from buying another piece of furniture to set our TV on.

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Like I said earlier…lots of clothes. Best way to keep organized is with those hanging storage units, Hannah has the big one to store clothes and I have the small one to store shoes. Hannah also brought the shoe rack which will be great in the winter time to keep our boots on. Extra storage bins on the upper shelf are separated by extra toiletry items, medicine, etc. which is nice to have it all in one place instead of scrambling around trying to remember where you put each item.

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Storage is key for your desk space! Finding extra drawers and put-in desk organizers are a great way to stay on top of your work this year.

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Dressed up this blank wall with fun random finds and hung them with extra strong command strips. Also using the right command hook, I take this mirror off the wall in the mornings and put it on my desk to get ready – functional and decoration ;).

 

Hopefully this possibly sparked some ideas for you, thanks for reading! I would absolutely love to see other dorm arrangements and creative decoration ideas so please feel free to add yours in the comments or send them to me!!

You can find my post as well as other dorm room ideas at Shutterfly.com!

 

Sincerely, Sienna

(follow me on Instagram at siennamohl for more updates!)

How to Conquer College Move-In Day

Move-in day is fast approaching, no worries though – here’s what to expect when you arrive!

Although my move-in day was busy, personally I was surprised to find that it wasn’t the nightmare everyone had told me it would be. Everyone had said it was going to be completely crazy and hectic and how they dreaded doing it again. At Michigan State I honestly found it to be a very “organized chaos” and truly was not that bad at all. Maybe it’s because I found it all to be very exciting, maybe it’s because my parents and I had come in with a positive attitude about the day but from what I experienced, move-in day is nothing to be worried about. That being said it will be a long day, definitely plan on bringing some easy-to-pack snacks and water for sure.

Now, before you even arrive on campus there are a few things that can be done in advance during your packing process to make the day extra smooth:

One thing is if you feel comfortable, you can take boxed items out of their boxes before hand to save time and space.

Something else that I found to be extremely helpful come move-in day was how I organized everything I was bringing in separate bins based on category. For example, toiletries in one and desk things in another! This will be such a time saver when it comes to unpacking and you’ll be happy you did it.

If you plan to keep some of your clothes in plastic storage drawers in your dorm (I did this), it’s so helpful to pre-pack them in the bins! Just tape the drawers shut for the drive to school and remove the tape once it’s all set in your room!

Clothes that I wanted to have hanging in my closet I brought in a big suitcase, some already packed on hangers. Then I could easily take them right out and hang them up. I found a suitcase worked easier to bring my shoes as well rather than a bin or box.

Not always necessary but something I thought should be mentioned is to bring tools just in case – (totally a dad thing) – screwdriver, etc. Not anything I can really say we even specifically used them for, but we definitely had them. The beds at my school didn’t need tools to be lofted but some beds might so just keep that in mind.

If your school is like mine, you will most likely get an email weeks in advance giving you a time slot to come on your scheduled move-in day; this is just to help avoid complete mass chaos. Now, this time is honestly just a ‘recommendation’. You will not be turned away if you come early and you will definitely not be unable to move-in if you come later than your time slot. It would be smart though to talk with your roommate and try not to move in at the exact same time. Definitely talk with your roommate well ahead of time to discuss how you both agree to have your room set up, that way whichever of you gets there first can arrange the beds, desks, dressers etc. to where they need to be. It was extremely nice to not have to try and move in double the stuff into a small space at the same time. It allowed time with our own families to set up our things the way we liked and do it the way we wanted. It worked out very nice on my move-in day, just as I finished up with my parents, my roommate and her parents got there and we were all able to meet and take the classic “move-in day roommate picture” which trust me, your parents are going to want to have!

When you arrive:

When you pull your jam packed car(s) into the parking lot, you’ll be greeted by staff members who will have you fill out a quick form with your name and phone number so they can contact you (they’ll call when your parking time gets close to being up). They will also give you a free parking pass for most likely 20 minutes (yikes, I know!)…it’s not a lot of time so it’s best to come prepared and that’s what this post is for! Don’t worry too much about the parking time, once you bring all of your things to your room have a parent go down to the parking lot and move the car to another area where you can pay to park and leave it there for an extended period of time (hopefully not too far of a walk from your dorm). Then they can come back to your dorm and help you set up your room without the stress of the time constraint.

There will be big rolling carts to put your stuff in to get it into your room. You just wheel it over to your car and start to unload – there will also be volunteers to help you carry your heavy items to your room! Personally the things I brought took up two carts, this will vary depending on what you brought but you are welcome to use as many carts you need (availability permitting).

In my dorm (and most dorms at Michigan State at least) there were only two elevators in the lobby area making it a slow process to bring carts to the upper floors. For items that you are able to carry up the stairs I would recommend doing that just to save time rather than waiting in the elevator line.

Right when you get into your room it’ll be a really good idea to plug in your fans first thing- especially if you don’t have AC! It’s going to get hot and sweaty moving in all your stuff!

Now that you’ve pre-packed intelligently with the organizational ideas listed above ( 😉 ), unpacking shouldn’t be too difficult! The best advice I have for the actual unpacking experience would be DECORATE LAST. I was so excited to begin hanging my lights, pictures and other decorations, but try to wait until you’ve finished doing all the big things (like the bed, couch, wifi, tv etc) first. Once the big things are done and settled in, you (and your parents) will be much more relaxed about decorating and will be ready to make the room feel like home.

As your day concludes, the time has come. Goodbyes are never easy wether you’re attending school 20 minutes from home or 20 hours from home, but just keep in mine this isn’t goodbye, it’s only “see you later”. It’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to be overwhelmed, but please be patient with yourself. Your parents are so proud of you and as tough as it may be to watch them leave, it’ll be even tougher for them to drive away without you. Take it in, hug your siblings, let your mom cry, listen to the advice your dad gives and take a deep breath – you did it, now let the adventure begin.

Best of luck to you and your family on move-in day! Please let me know if you have any questions or if you have other helpful move-in day tips or tricks!

Sincerely, Sienna

(follow me on Instagram at siennamohl for more updates!)

Packing For College: The Ultimate Checklist

It’s August which means it’s almost time to move into your new ‘home’, how exciting!! Now, I am fully aware it can be overwhelming to pack up your life and try to move it into a shoebox sized dorm room, but I promise it can be done! It’s tricky to know what you need to bring and what sounds like a good idea but really will just go unused and take up your precious space. Well I’m glad you’re here; although I’m sure you’ve started packing a little already, you can use this ultimate packing list to guarantee you won’t forget anything on move-in day!

Of course this list is going to be different for everyone (especially you boys, I’m sure your list is MUCH shorter!). Just bring as much or as little as you think you want or need; whatever will make you feel the most comfortable is what’s important! Note: for the big items on this list, talk with your roommate and discuss what you can share and who will bring what so you’re not buying two of the same things!

 

ROOM:

  • Additional seating. Although your room most likely comes with some desk chairs they aren’t the most comfortable thing in the world. It would be a great idea to maybe bring a futon or a comfy folding chair in addition to what they give you for more comfort, as well as extra hangout room for your friends! I brought a cute fuzzy chair similar to this one from Target and loved it!
  • Area rug. If your school has room’s like mine, they do not come with carpeted floors. Although there is an option to pay for carpet to be installed, I personally didn’t find that to be necessary and decided to bring a cute area rug that did the job and also matched my decor! Target has great affordable rugs and that is where I found mine.
  • Bulletin board or dry erase board. I absolutely loved having both of these in my room to stay organized all year.
  • Command Strips. These will become your best friend, you really can’t have too many!
  • Full length mirror. My dorm room did not come with a full length mirror when I assumed it did. I would suggest checking on your school’s website to double check if yours does or does not.
  • Hangers.
  • Hanging shoe rack. This was a HUGE space saver, highly recommend. I hung it in my closest and was able to store my shoes vertically instead of horizontally. Found mine at Target.
  • Photos, picture frames, lights and room decor. I loved adding my personal touch to make my dorm room my own and feel like home. I hung my photos using string and clothespin clips below my lights and also brought other various decorations as well.
  • Trashcan. Most likely your room will come with only one trashcan. I brought my own and it was very nice to have one for just myself underneath my desk.
  • Under-bed storage. I brought plastic stackable bins to store my clothes underneath my bed instead of all in my closet and dresser.

Below are some pictures of my freshman year dorm room.

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Here you can see the area rug as well as my under-bed storage.

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My desk space as well as some decor. In the corner there is the folding chair I mentioned.

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My lights and photos.

 

BEDDING:

  • Bedbug-protecting cover for mattress. You never know, better safe than sorry!
  • Comforter set. I was the typical indecisive girl when it came to picking this out but decided on a nice neutral theme. I found a solid gray comforter and a cozy creme knit blanket which allowed me to be unique with an assortment of throw pillows.
  • Foam topper for bed. Not completely necessary but I absolutely loved having mine and made my dorm bed much more comfortable.
  • Mattress pad.
  • Pillowcases. Yes plural, it was very nice to have more than one if one was waiting to be washed.
  • Throw pillows. Like I mentioned above I had so much fun picking these out!
  • Twin XL sheets. Remember, most dorm room beds are size twin XL instead of just a regular twin. Keep that in mind when picking out sheets because really the twin size will NOT stretch to fit. I would again recommend you bring two sets of these just to have when one set is waiting to be washed.

 

DESK SUPPLIES:

  • Backpack.
  • Binders.
  • Calculator.
  • Calendar.
  • Clicker (if needed for class.)
  • Desk lamp.
  • Desk organizer. Loved having this to keep my things organized as I collected more and more papers throughout the year.
  • Erasers.
  • Folders.
  • Highlighters.
  • Hole puncher/three-hole puncher.
  • Index flashcards.
  • Journal. I kept one during my first semester which I really enjoyed doing.
  • Notebooks.
  • Paper chips.
  • Pencil sharpener.
  • Pencils.
  • Pens.
  • Planner. Personally a total NEED.
  • Post-It notes.
  • Rubber bands.
  • Scissors.
  • Stamps. In case you want to send letters or packages.
  • Stapler.
  • Staples.
  • Tape.
  • Textbooks. Okay so this one I have some advice about. Before I moved into school I was naive and thought I needed to buy (used) my books and get them right away. I was wrong. I would definitely say that there is honestly no need to buy your books if there is an option to rent them. Much less expensive and it just makes more sense since when you’re done with the class, you’re done and won’t be needing the book ever again. Also you can totally get your books the week your classes begin or even the week after. Sometimes you find out from your professor you won’t be needing the previous said book or maybe you need a different version of it. That way if something has changed you won’t be stuck with a book you bought that you won’t be using. Second semester I decided to rent my books and waited to get them until after I had gone to my first day of each class. Definitely do what you’re most comfortable with but this is just what I learned from my first year experience.

 

TECHNOLOGY:

  • Batteries. For calculator etc.
  • Chargers. Phone, laptop, etc.
  • Ethernet cable.
  • Extension cord. This was nice to have to help my chargers and things reach me while sitting on my bed.
  • External hard drive. Life saver.
  • Flash drives.
  • Headphones.
  • Laptop. I got a great deal on my MacBook Air at the Apple Store for being a college student.
  • Laptop Case. I picked out a really great quality Kate Spade case from Best Buy.
  • Printer. Not completely necessary and most likely your school has public printers that you can use and pay for per page printed. That being said, it was still so nice of my roommate to bring a printer and I absolutely loved the convenience of having it right in our room. We shared the cost of refilling ink and paper.
  • Router for wifi. Double check if your dorm hall has wifi in the rooms or not before you move in. For example at MSU some halls did and some did not. Mine did not, but it was very easy to hook up the router I brought for our room.
  • TV and TV stand. It’s extra great if you can find a TV stand that also has storage.

 

KITCHEN SUPPLIES:

  • Coffee maker or Keurig. If your a fan of coffee, tea or hot cocoa.
  • In room food. It’s always nice to have some food in your room. Things like bottled water, cereal, easy Mac, granola bars, popcorn and your favorite snack foods!
  • Microwave.
  • Mini fridge.
  • Mini vacuum. Although my school allowed you to check out vacuums from the lobby of the resident hall for free, I brought one of those little rolling sweeper vacuums just to quick clean up our carpet which was convenient but not completely necessary.
  • Mugs. For your coffee, tea and hot cocoa 😉
  • Paper plates. Always nice to have some in your room in case you need them.
  • Paper towels.
  • Reusable water bottle. Nice to take to class with you.
  • Trash bags.
  • Utensils. I brought plastic ones that were great to have because I could use them and just toss them out after instead of having to wash them.

 

LAUNDRY:

  • Drying rack. I didn’t bring this right away until I realized after a couple weeks that I could really use one. For the things I didn’t want to completely dry in the dryer, I was at a loss of space to hang clothes in my dorm to dry. A folding drying rack was perfect because it could just be put away folded up and out of sight when I wasn’t using it.
  • Ironing board. Not completely necessary, I did not have one but one of my best friends who lived in my building brought one and let me use it when I needed to. If you have an extra to bring it’s really nice to have.
  • Laundry detergent. I used Tide Pods detergent all year which I HIGHLY recommend. They are literally so easy and perfect for college students. Drop a pod into the washer and you’re done.
  • Laundry basket or bag. I brought both, usually I would put whites in one and colors in the other so I could save time and not have to sort through my clothes when I got down into the laundry room.
  • Lint roller. This was great to have when getting ready for my job interview to clean up my nice dress clothes a little bit.
  • Portable stain remover pen. Tide To Go Stain Remover is perfect.

 

BATHROOM: (this could vary due to if you have suite or community style bathrooms)

  • Air freshener.
  • Bath towels.
  • Bathroom cleaning supplies.
  • Bath mats. Talk with your roommate and suite mates if can before so you don’t all bring these!
  • Hand towels.
  • Loofah.
  • Shower Caddy.
  • Shower shoes.
  • Washcloths.

 

TOILETRIES:

  • Body wash.
  • Conditioner.
  • Chapstick.
  • Deodorant.
  • Face wash.
  • Hairspray.
  • Hand soap.
  • Lotion.
  • Makeup.
  • Makeup remover.
  • Medicine.
  • Moisturizer.
  • Mouthwash.
  • Nail polish.
  • Nail polish remover.
  • Shampoo.
  • Shaving Cream.
  • Sunscreen.

 

  • Blow dryer.
  • Bobby pins.
  • Comb.
  • Contact supplies. (If applicable).
  • Cotton balls.
  • Curling iron.
  • Eyeglasses. (If applicable).
  • Feminine hygiene products.
  • Floss.
  • Hair clips.
  • Hair straightener.
  • Hair ties.
  • Hair brush.
  • Headbands.
  • Nail clippers.
  • Nail file.
  • Q-Tips.
  • Razor.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Tissues.
  • Toilet paper. My resident hall building actually gave us free toilet paper. It wasn’t great quality but it was free so it’s up to you what you would prefer!
  • Toothbrush.
  • Toothbrush holder.
  • Tweezers.

 

CLOTHES: (the essentials). If you go to school close enough to home you won’t have to bring all of these items right away. For example, my parents came and exchanged my summer clothes with my fall and winter ones when I needed them.

  • Athletic shoes.
  • Bathing suites.
  • Belts.
  • Boots.
  • Coats.
  • Dresses.
  • Flats.
  • Flip-flops.
  • Everyday shoes.
  • Formal interview clothes.
  • Gloves.
  • Gym bag.
  • Hats.
  • Heels.
  • Jeans.
  • Jackets.
  • Jewelry.
  • Leggings.
  • Long-sleeve shirts.
  • Pajamas.
  • Pants.
  • Purse.
  • Rain boots.
  • Rain jacket.
  • Scarves.
  • Short-sleeve shirts.
  • Shorts.
  • Skirts.
  • Snow Boots.
  • Socks.
  • Sweaters.
  • Sweatpants.
  • Sweatshirts.
  • T-shirts.
  • Tank tops.
  • Tights.
  • Undergarments.
  • Workout clothes.

 

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS YOU MAY NEED:

  • Bank documents.
  • Copy of birth certificate.
  • Copy of social security cards.
  • Credit card.
  • Debit card.
  • Driver’s license.
  • Insurance cards.
  • Student ID

 

OTHER:

  • Art supplies.
  • Bike. Loved, loved, loved having my bike. Highly recommend bringing a bike especially if you are attending a big university like me. Not only did it saving me a ton of time getting to class but it was also so fun to ride around campus with friends.
  • Bike lock. Definitely bring a lock if you plan to have your bike on campus. Unfortunately bikes often get stolen if not locked on a big campus with a lot of students.
  • Fan.
  • Lanyard. Great to keep your ID card in.
  • Musical instruments. If you play one it’s a great way to make friends. I know I stopped by some rooms with the door open while they were playing the guitar to give them a compliment on their talent.
  • Pepper spray.
  • Playing cards.
  • Suitcase. Nice to have to pack for a weekend visiting at home.
  • Umbrella.

 

I hope this list can be helpful to you as you pack and I wish you the best of luck this school year! Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Sincerely, Sienna

(follow my Instagram at siennamohl for more updates!)

 

 

Guide to a Chicago Getaway

Chicago has always been one of my very favorite cities. There’s just such a great vibe that surrounds the stunning architecture of the skyline; even in a simple walk around it can start to feel like home. I visit as often as I can and have accumulated some of my absolute favorite “must-do’s” of the city as well as some travel tips!

  • Travel

Although it’s a very easy three hour drive from where I live, taking the train from Grand Rapids is extra fun. We travel on the Amtrak train departing from the downtown Grand Rapids Station located on Century Avenue straight through to Union Station in Chicago. The ticket prices were extremely reasonable and it all can be found on the Amtrak website, link above. Making a couple stops along the way, the total travel time is a little over four hours. It’s a unique experience to stare out the window at the quickly passing scenery, much different than riding in a car on the highway, but the best part is pulling into the city and catching the first glimpse of the skyline. The tracks bring you right to the heart of it all as you step off with your bags strait into the hustle and bustle of the city life. Even if you decide to not take the train, I would still suggest taking a peak inside Union Station, it’s incredibly beautiful!

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Union Station ground entrance.

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Union Station waiting area.

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Union Station street entrance.

 

  • Hotel

There are obviously hundreds of hotels to choose from to stay in while you visit, my personal favorite has been the Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront. It is located directly along the river across from the Trump Tower; truly an incredible location with even more incredible views!

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Our room.

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Day view from our window.

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Night view from our window.

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Incredible view from the banquet room.

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My very favorite spot in the hotel: the Penthouse balcony.

 

  • Wendella’s Boat Tour and City Trolley Tour

Wendella’s– This is a fantastic boat tour that takes you through the Chicago River for an up close perspective of the iconic architecture then ventures out to Lake Michigan for a spectacular view of Chicago’s twenty six mile skyline. The full tour is about ninety minutes long, there are two docks where you can board (the Main Dock, 400 North Michigan Avenue and Trump dock 402 N Wabash Ave) where tickets can be purchased. Tickets can be purchased online as well on Wendella’s website, here you can also find directions and more information as needed. This has been one of my favorite experiences I’ve had in the city, the pictures don’t even do the views justice. A definite must do!

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Riding on the top deck of the boat through the river.

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View from Lake Michigan.

 

Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co.– Since we didn’t drive our car, the hop-on-hop-off style trolley was the perfect transportation for us! Tickets can be purchased for a 24, 48 or 72 hour period in which you can use the trolley for as much or as little as you’d like for that amount of time. On the downtown tour, you can hop on and off as much as you want at the city’s most popular and famous attractions. There are thirteen different stops along the way ranging from each end of the city. The trolley gets to each stop every twelve to fifteen minutes so not only did we use it to take a tour and learn about the city, we used it to get to where we needed to go regardless if it was an attraction on the tour, just to save us some walking. There is also a double decker bus option to use rather than the trolley if you wish. Each ticket purchased comes with a night ticket tour as well that you definitely won’t want to miss out on! Definitely a fun and unique way to enjoy Chicago that I’d highly recommend. (This company runs all year round.)

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The super cute trolley come to pick us up.

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The inside view.

 

  • Skydeck Chicago, The Ledge

For all who are not afraid of heights, spectacular views can be found 365 days a year on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower. The Skydeck ledge experience is one like none other, standing 1,353 feet above the ground in a glass box will provide you with a view of Chicago you can’t get anywhere else. As the eighth-tallest building in the world and a Chicago icon, this is something you have to try. Tickets here.

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Amazing views from all around the 103rd floor.

 

  • NBC Studios, The Steve Harvey Show

Although tickets for the show cannot be purchased, if you know the dates you will be in Chicago you can request free tickets here. We were selected for the free tickets when we went but happened to have a very unique experience. We showed up to the studio all ready to go in our brightly colored clothes we were told to wear, just then to be informed Mr. Harvey was sick that morning and the show taping would be canceled. As a courtesy to those who had tickets we were given the option to come back to the Mother’s Day show taping, since I am in school my mom and I knew that we wouldn’t be coming back to Chicago and were bummed we would be missing the show. So, we stuck around seeing if there was something else we could experience that day. Luckily enough some very nice staff members offered to take us on a private tour of the studios which was incredible and in my opinion even better than the show would’ve been!

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Inside the studio with my mom.

 

  • The Signature Room

The Signature room is a very special dining experience. Located on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building, the views while you eat are completely breathtaking. The fine dining experience is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion, for my mom and I, we were celebrating our birthday’s as they are in the same week. A place and memory I will surely never forget. Also, located above on the 96th floor is the Signature Lounge and bar as well as an area for private events. More information here.

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My cute mom.

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  • Broadway Chicago

If you’re anything like me you would never go into a big city without seeing a Broadway musical. We were lucky enough to be in Chicago the same time the traveling Broadway tour of 42nd Street was playing at the Cadillac Palace Theater. Spending time in the theatre district you can find great theatre themed restaurants for a meal before the show, or even just walking around you can enjoy the lively energy. The best way to find out what shows are playing while you’re in town would be on Broadway in Chicago’s website.

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The Cadillac Palace.

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  • The Classic tourist locations (of course!)

While you’re in Chicago you’ll definitely want to see the iconic best known tourist locations such as The Bean (Cloud Gate), Millennium Park, the International Amphitheater, the Chicago Cultural Center (where the Tiffany Dome is located), the Art Institute of Chicago, Shedd Aquarium, and the Navy Pier just to name a few. There are honestly endless things to experience in this city you are sure to enjoy yourself while you visit. Just get out and explore, Chicago truly never disappoints!

 

Let me know what you enjoy most when in Chicago, I’d love to try some new things next time I visit!

Sincerely, Sienna

Creative ways to capture your summer memories

I have loved photographs for as long as I can remember. I think what I love the most is that no matter how much the people in the photo have changed, the memory it holds never does. Today I’m sharing a couple of my favorite creative gadgets perfect for capturing your fun summer memories. We’ll chat about the FujiFilm Instax Mini Polaroid camera as well as the iPhone lens kit. Whenever I use these accessories in public I get tons of complements and questions, all the answers you can find here!

First, the FujiFilm Instax Mini 8 instant film camera.

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My parents always laugh when I use this camera, they say “it’s nothing new, polaroids are what everyone used when we were kids. We had it first!” (lol) this little FujiFilm camera has been around for a few years but is still just as popular as ever. It takes adorable mini instant polaroid photos that print on the spot. The mini film is sold in reloadable packs of 10 and are very simple to change in and out. The extra film can be bought in a number of locations such as Best Buy or even Walmart and come in classic white or fun colored patterns. The camera itself comes in a wide variety of colors as well (Raspberry, Grape, White, Pink, Blue, Yellow and Black) and can also be purchased in multiple locations (FujiFilm). The camera has a dial on the front part of the lens that allows you select the amount of light exposure needed for your indoor or outdoor setting. It takes great photos perfect for a little dorm room decor.

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Here are a few of the adorable photos the camera takes.

I found that I had a little trouble fitting the camera into my small sized purse to bring it with me places, so I was thrilled when I found the perfect solution: the Instax case. Not bulky and very convenient for traveling which also comes in various colors. The front opens up so you don’t even have to take the camera out of the case to take a photo. The case can be found at Best Buy.

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Next, the iPhone Lens Kit.

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Fisheye clip lens (smaller). Wide shot clip lens (larger).

These are fun accessories that can really help you step up your photo game and allow you capture moments in quite a unique way. Most kits come with three lenses, the Fisheye, the Wide Shot, and the Macro (not pictured above). They easily clip on to the phone; working best on the bare phone but are effective with a thin case on as well.

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Fisheye lens shown on the back camera.

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Fisheye lens shown from the side.

They look a little obnoxious when they’re clipped on but are easy to quickly attach and detach. I purchased my set of lenses on amazon.com for around $13, but I’m sure with a little searching you could find even cheaper ones as well. The pictures taken with the lenses are clear through both the front and back camera, pictures using each are below.

Fisheye Lens.

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Back camera. (Aerosmith concert)

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Front facing camera. (Florence + The Machine concert with Liv)

 

Wide Shot Lens.

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Back camera. (MSU vs. Oregon game)

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Front facing camera. (MSU vs. Oregon game with Hannah & Lysie)

 

Being able to “save” my milestones and memories with fun, creative tools like these have made me love photos even more. I hope your summer has already been fantastic and you’ve gained some new ideas on how to capture your next moments. Let me know if you have a favorite photography gadget you like to use, I’d love to hear about it!

Sincerely, Sienna

Finding your way as a college freshman

I just finished up my freshman year at Michigan State University and although the school year is over, I missed it so much already I had to come back; so ironically enough I write this post from East Lansing! I recently completed training to be a campus tour guide helping other students fall in love with their new home just as I did; something I love more than I even imagined I could. Quite the full circle year it seems and one I can honestly stamp as the best year of my life. I learned so much along the way, here are some of my experiences, things I wish I knew before I came to college, as well as advice as to how to make the most out of your freshman year!

It’s totally normal and completely okay to be anxious for this huge, new chapter of your life. I know all of the “what if’s” kept me awake at night, it can be scary to part with the life you’ve known for the past four years but every college freshman feels this way. I wish I wouldn’t have worried so much about silly things before I left; try to turn your nerves into excitement – you get a fresh start!

Saying “see you later” to my family was emotional, move-in day had been highly anticipated for so long so let your parents have their moment – remember it’s a big step for them too! Let your mom take pictures, hug your siblings and don’t be shocked if your dad even sheds a tear. Despite the emotions, I found being dropped off somewhere completely new to be surprisingly refreshing. You become the newest “you” that you have ever been up to that point. Every single face is unfamiliar, every place you go feels brand new. Take it all in and explore! Don’t miss out on a single thing. MSU had so many fun things to do during Welcome Week, it was the best time to meet new people! Don’t hide away in your room to be “too cool” to participate, grab your roommate and head out to the activities together!

Speaking of roommates, I was lucky enough to have a great experience using RoomSync. RoomSync is an online tool to help you find the best roommate for you and it’s super easy to use! You fill out a short survey about yourself in addition to writing a quick blurb about what you are seeking in a roommate. Many schools across the country offer this as an option and I would highly recommend checking it out. It was the same feeling as going in blind but gave me peace of mind in knowing I knew enough about the person I would be sharing my room with to be comfortable. My roommate and I got along great, we were respectful of each other’s space and belongings; I couldn’t have asked for a better situation for my first year. Living in such a small space with someone you’ve never met before really teaches you to have a high level of respect for others and how to handle conflict like an adult. I know friends of mine who weren’t as lucky with their roommates, if this were to be the case with you, try to talk out the issues with them and if that doesn’t work, your resident assistant (RA) would be a great resource to help you.

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My roommate Lysie and I on the first day of classes.

 

Before coming to college I was nervous that the level of academics as well as the work load would be a challenging jump compared to high school. I found that although the content was more challenging and the work load was heavier, I had much more time to focus on my school work. I was a very involved high school student with packed full days of school, multiple extracurriculars, club sporting events and work. In college it was a blank slate, I was able to experience my first few weeks of school work and then decide how many things on campus I could get involved with based on the time commitment I needed to set aside to succeed in my classes. School comes first, this is college, you pay for your classes and you are there to earn your degree, stay focused while enjoying yourself and use your resources. Go to class; really, you already paid for it! Do the extra credit opportunities that you are offered, they can really help your grade at the end of the semester. Most importantly, ask for help when you need it! Do not be embarrassed to ask for help, go to your professor’s open office hours or utilize your university’s tutor program. At MSU they have free tutoring which I definitely took advantage of. Math is my weakest subject and I am not at all ashamed to say I spent many hours at MSU’s Math Learning Center on campus. Taking time out of my week to do this and seek out the help I needed was crucial to my success.

Your college experience will truly be what you make it. You’re on your own, you have new freedom you’ve never felt before and it’s time for you to go after what you want without your parents doing it for you. Set goals for yourself, the opportunities are endless. Experience everything you can, use your new freedom to excel, trust your decisions and make the most of your time – this is home.

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GET INVOLVED; this is what truly made my first year unforgettable. There are organizations on campus for any and every interest you may have. Specifically, I jumped right in during the first month of the fall semester by seeking out an organization that I could continue to participate in acting. When I auditioned for Telecaster’s Sideshow I had no idea how much I would learn about working on screen as well as off screen and all of the experiences it would bring my way. It provided me with a family feeling, a group of people that shared similar interests, inspired me and one I knew I could trust.

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My Sideshow family.

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On set with Sideshow.

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Presenting at the Albie Awards.

But also step out of your comfort zone, this is where adventure begins! Have an open mind, you never know what you could stumble upon or the people that you could be lucky enough to meet. I most definitely think participating in some time of organization during your freshman year is such a positive and beneficial experience.

What getting involved has blessed me with most of all is incredible lifelong friendships. The friends I made within my first year made school feel like home, they became my family and the reason for fun filled weekends. The best advice I can give is to surround yourself with hardworking people who have aspirations and goals who are supportive of you and encourage you to be the best you can be. I am so proud to call these people my friends and am so thankful for the memories we’ve made together.

The days of my freshman year have been some of the happiest of my life so far and I could not have imagined experiencing a better beginning to my Spartan journey. Everyone’s college experience will be different, remember that it takes time to adjust! But even through the stress, never take a moment for granted, you are so blessed to be able to be receiving a college level education and you will not believe how quickly time will fly.

Thanks for reading!

Sincerely, Sienna

(follow my Instagram at siennamohl for more updates!)