Cheers to Goodbyes

This semester challenged me in many ways. Writing about one subject for a whole semester was challenging but it helped me to be more creative with my writing, hence the name of this course, Creative Writing. Getting started was the most challenging part because I had ALOT to say about being a first-generation college student and I wanted to share all of my experiences in one shot. That was my problem in the beginning, combining posts that could have been more than one into one post which made it harder for me. For instance,  my first post was about getting into college and at the end, I started talking about my troubles dorming. Like Whitney…. why are you hurting yourself.

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After that, I began to write in my notes topics that I can write about throughout the week. Unlike some of my classmates, my blog came from my personal experiences so when I went through it, I wrote it down. Referring back to my list made it ten times easier for me to write a post.

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The comments really helped me to push through. Some weeks I personally felt like I was falling off and wrote off topic but the comments boosted me up. The comments that agreed with my post made me feel like I was the voice of all first-generation students. The reason why I chose this topic is that I feel as though online there is not a discussion about first-generation college students by a student who identifies as though. On weeks where I did not know what to write about, I would look up topics but always ran into the same basic information about us by researchers.

Researchers who are not first-gen students and relied all on research to get the answers. I would rather learn how to drive a car by someone with experience rather than someone who interviewed thousands of people of people on how to drive and they themselves never been behind the wheel. SO I am trying to be the one behind the wheel sharing my experiences s I fail and/ r succeed during my college experience. Therefore, reading comments like “Girl I can relate” made me smile, meaning I did what I wanted to do.

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I did not want my posts to be simply about my family specifically but I wanted to use them to help craft whichever topic I was talking about that specific week. The personal experiences really helped me to shape my argument or my story for that week.

Throughout this experience, I hope I educated some of the students who could not relate with my posts. If you are not around other first-generation students, how would you know their struggle? All the topics that I have spoken on are just 30% of the issues that we go through. There is way more stuff that I have to learn but I just have not got to that part of my life yet. After reading some of your posts throughout this semester I learned one thing we all have in common: WE ALL LIKE FREE STUFF!

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Since this is my last post I would like to share my favorite quote with you guys which actually relates to my topic this semester:

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I am a grown up now

Before I start off this blog post, I want you all to know how hard it was finding my last topic. I hope I am not the only one. To wrap up my first generation college tips/ stories/ read along blogs is the four years living on our own.

Dorming or living off campus for so long, you kind of forget your parent’s rules. Being in college there is no one telling you can not do this or that. There is no one telling you to be in the house at this time. College is where we make good and bad decisions. We are the ones directing our path and our future.

… Back at home, it is another story.

My parents decide what I eat. They decide when I come home. They decide when they want to wake me up on random days. In my parents’ household, they run the show.

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I remember my first break back from college, I thought my freedom at college would roll over like minutes on a phone back in the early 2000s. I was wrong. Without a car, I was stuck in the house the entire winter break! NO friends nearby to come to rescue me from my boredom.

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Now that I am living in my own house off campus, I am really starting to think about life after graduation.

Let’s be real: How many of you are actually moving back home after college?

For those who have their own room, I get it. You love your bed but for those who don’t? Back at home, I share the same bed with my brother so… these three and a half years half been great in my own bed.

In my family, everyone stays home until they get on their feet with a well paying job, get married and have kids. Basically the traditional way. But the thing is, I am already braking family tradition by going to college, so why not break it some more.

The whole goal of college is to come out and secure the bag, make that guapo, manero if you know what I am saying. So after graduation, I want to live on my own like many other college graduates do. I don’t know how my parents will react to that one.

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In their eyes, I am still the baby of the family, too young to live on my own. Being at school to them does not equate to real life living on my own. Like I stated in a previous blog post, my family does not understand the concept of living off campus. I am basically living the same life as them currently in regards to housing. I pay bills and maintain the house along with the other people that live here.

Can yall imagine living back at home permanently, like not going home for a break? Living in a household where someone went away for months at a time never happened before. Someday we all have to break it to our parents, that we are adults now and we have to move on.

 

Filling out “Parents” paperwork

Before I start this blog post let me give yall the back story of the reason why this topic came up. Last weekend, my organization, Douglass D.I.V.A.S. had to give do college readiness presentations for high school students who were apart of this college prep program. While talking to them about college, one student in a session ask me, “How do I fill out FASFA.” This question made me think of myself at that age asking the same thing and EVERYTIME I have to fill it out again.

You’d think as a junior I would be a pro filling out these documents but no. Everytime when Fasfa come around or HESSA or even personal paperwork where I have to fill out my parents’ information, I always run into an issue. It is either they forgot their login, they can not get the information to me in a timely manner, or when they are asking questions about the documents that I could barely explain my head goes all over the place.

Freshman year was the worst year for me when I had to fill out my parents’ information. First of all, I am so happy they trust me with their documents because that would make life ten times harder than it has to be. But back to freshman year, the Fasfa opened up and I got to fill it out because I was excited to get free money but then I got to my parents’ information and I was stuck. giphy.gif

I had to turn into a tax lady in 5 minutes, trying to understand the questions that were asked by the document. “What is your 2302 tax amount? What are your deductions? Are you claimed?” Like I was soooo confused.

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On top of that, I had to fill it out manually because my dad forgot his password, his answers for his questions, and the specific name he signed up with because he is a senior. (My brother name is also Wayne Cort) Like I don’t get you can forget that, BUT ANYWAYS

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I was nervous. I did not want to make a mistake and mess up my money.

One mistake and Rutgers would hit me with “your family makes too much so you cannot get aid.” My heart would have sunk outside of my body and down the gutter. Rutgers would find any way to not give someone money.

As I gotten older, I started saving these passwords that I needed in order to gain the information when those crazy questions came about. But doing that only helps but so much because even though I have access to these documents, the question is do I really know how to read it.

I know I am not the only one with these issues. I told those high school students the real, “Please make sure your parents trust you because you might have to fill out documents that require some really personal information from them.” Some of them were confused but once they get there, they will understand and say “Wow, this is what Ms. Whitney was talking about.”

 

No Class on Fridays

No class on Friday’s… hmmm that sounds like a dream come true. Imagine having a three day weekend every week. Sounds so amazing indeed. I never thought that could happen to me or that it was even possible to happen. Seemed like a thing that only the cool kids did or I thought everybody was just skipping class.

In high school, I was so used to the everyday schedule of classes, Monday through Friday 8:30 to 3, then everybody went home. In my high school, my schedule was given to me on the first day of school and I followed where ever that paper took me.

Once I got to college, my first semester, I automatically had a Friday class because being an EOF (Educational Opportunity Fund) Student we were required to take this half-semester class on Fridays. There were no complaints because my whole life I had “Friday classes,” it was regular.

Being around upperclassman my freshman year, I always heard them brag about how they do not have Friday classes and how great it is to have that extra day and blah blah blah.

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It was always the upperclassman bragging so I thought it was just an upperclassman thing. Ehh, in a way it kind of is because they get to pick their schedule first but a freshman could easily make a schedule without a Friday class if they just try.

After living life s a college student for some time, by Thursday ya girl be exhausted! Thinking about a class on Friday makes me sick. Like why do they even exist anymore?

The day I created a schedule without a Friday class was the best day of m life in college. I was shocked that it was accepted by Rutgers. I submitted my schedule and waited and waited as the loading box on webreg kept rolling and rolling then it finally went through. That was my first semester Sophomore year and since then I have been dodging Friday classes since.

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Now, since I was confused about the concept of college students not having a Friday class, my family was as well. Like every family, my family calls me randomly throughout the week hoping I answer. When I do and it is during the morning time “when I am supposed to be in class” I get questioned on why I answered the phone in the first place. I put that in quotes because students “usually” take classes in the day so what am I doing answering my phone during the day.

On Fridays when they call they chew me up! “Why you still sleeping?! Wait up and go to class!” Meanwhile, I am on the phone like “I do not have class today.”giphy-downsized-large.gif

Then they go on and on like I am not trying to sleep. “What do you mean you have no school today? Why you got a day off? What’s so special about today?”

I just be trying to get some sleep on a Friday, a day I DESERVE to have off. Now I have to wake up a formulate a good enough answer that will be good enough for my parents. Then, I do it again the next week.

Dealing with inner problems

This post will not just reflect me being a first-generation college student but it will also incorporate my culture. If you all do not know, my family was all born and raised in Guyana. My generation, besides my oldest brother, is all born in America.

SO, what is this post about, you may ask?

This post is about being aware of all the resources Colleges have to offer when it comes to being depressed or stressed. I bring up my culture because “children” being depressed or ill on the inside is not common.

As a third year at Rutgers, I have been through a lot of emotions. College can make you feel all of your emotions in one week. I was not prepared to lose sleep over classes. I was not prepared to fail so many times. I was not prepared to be imbursed in such a big community. Coming to college, everything caught me off guard and shocked me and I was doing it all by myself.

Doing this ALL BY MYSELF is hard. It drove me crazy.

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Growing up, when we were sick or anything, tea was always the solution. Tea heals everything in my culture. Natural medications are the remedies to everything.

Leg broke? Drink some tea

Body sore? Drink some tea

Got stung by a bee? Drink some tea

Just like that ^

I do not fit the category of what depressed people are. “Americans get depressed, you have nothing to be depressed about.” This is what they always say.

All my life I was told to drink some, everything will be okay but it will not be. Coming to school, I was very close minded to the many resources that were around. Shoots, I did not even know there were resources where students can sit and talk about their problems. It did not exist in my world. College was all about classes to me. That is what was told to me until I experienced it.

As soon as we stepped on campus, all of the first year workshops that were offered, the school let us know all of the resources we have available and they made it feel like it was okay to be depressed and admit it. Something that I have never admitted to because I was always told I am not. Seems like a good amount of college students get depressed or have other thoughts about life so these resources are a must to have. Just like me, many college students families probably deny the signs. In college, they accept it and allows us to be more open with it.

One time I did try to talk about my college problems with my family but their advice was very generic like it will be okay, not anything that a professional would say. I am not going to lie, I have not gone to any but just the thought of them being available to us is great. From what I have heard from my friends who have gotten help, they make them feel good.

If you ever need help, reach out to CAPS, they are here for you.

 

 

 

Off-Campus What??

We all know Rutgers, being such a large college in the heart of New Brunswick and Piscataway, has a variety of housing options. Some students live in dorms, some are in on-campus apartments, some are in off-campus apartments, and some are in off-campus houses. Not many colleges have this option but Rutgers is a blessing in disguise with all these options.

When I came to college, all I knew was that colleges had dorms and college students loved to decorate them. Everything happened at the dorms! Well, that’s what I thought. I was not aware of what on-campus and off-campus meant.

giphy.gif The terminology was confusing to me until those terms joined in my everyday conversation as a college student.

As a junior in college, I finally decided to move off campus to a house with my friends. I told my parents about my housing situation but I have a feeling they totally don’t understand what does living off campus includes. Why do I say this? Lemme insert some conversations where I spoke about my house and their answers to them:

Me: Mom my housemate locked me out. Now I m waiting outside for her to open the door.

Mom: Where is the security guard

or…

Me: So I got in last night after 2 in the morning.

Dad: You girls don’t have a curfew?

And when I try to explain it, it’s like the thought of me living in an actual house while I am at college is weird to them. I wouldn’t blame them, it sounded weird to me too. Not all schools are the same but I thought off-Campus was housing provided by the university.

Living off campus can get pretty scary at times. Like I stated in my previous post, I pay for my college bills. The school gives me financial aid and I get my personal scholarship. But the house bills gives me chills down my spine!

Getting that text from your landlord every month about rent….

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Getting that text from Rutgers about that crime that happened around the corner…

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Getting that email from pse&g saying the lights are getting cut off…

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I had no clue what I was getting myself into when I moved off campus. What attracted me was what everyone was saying: “It’s cheaper living off campus.”

From my experience so far has been very surprising. Every day it is something new.

Of course, I do not tell my family about these problems because I do not want them to stress about me. I am trying to be more independent and experimental as I am the first one in my family to experience these things.

The other day the heat was not working, we all had a fit. Imagine sleeping in a house when it is reaching 30 degrees at night. SPOOKY. giphy.gif

As time goes by, on the other hand, life living off campus for the first time is getting easier. I mean this spooky cat is still creeping around my house, the old guy across the street is always looking in our windows, and the heat…. forget about it.

 

 

They don’t want me to be involved.

Like I stated in my first post, I am the youngest and only girl of my family and growing up, my family was so protective of me. In highschool, I ran track my freshman and sophomore year but unfortunately, my father took me out because he wanted me to focus on school and that’s it. He did not like me doing other things besides homework. Track had me out of the house and took me places where he couldn’t follow. I always begged and begged to run again but all he said was “no, focus on your school work.” Meanwhile, I was an honor roll student my whole life.

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This is a scene from my house when I asked to run track again after I showed my report card and I still got a no.

 

 

Fast forward to college where I can do WHATEVER I WANT!

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Freshman year, I participated in everything, from fashion shows to pageants. Everybody knew who I was because I was always in some activity. These were my choices and I was happy not being held back from doing the things that I wanted. I’m not going to lie, the second semester, all the activities did catch up to me but let’s leave that story for another time.

Now being the baby of the family, my family called all the time and some of those times were when I was coming back from club meeting or practice which were after 9. Now to all us college students, that sounds about right…..

The last classes end around 9ish… People start to gather as soon as they end… and they finish around 10 or 10:30.

…. But to my family, it sounds like I am out partying all night, on a school night, and not worrying about school. It seems like I am trying to find other things to do then get a degree but the school itself pushes students to be well rounded. But it is hard to explain it to my family because they have not been in the setting to understand. College is not all about classes. Classes are probably about 50% of the experience and the rest is social life and all the other crazy things that happen in college. We need to go to events to make us sane. When I try to explain that to them, I am always the one that ends up being wrong, well… in their eyes.

When I told my family I joined a Sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., and it was like WWIII happened in my home.

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They were not upset about me joining a sorority, they were upset that a lot of my time was going into it. Just like every other extracurricular activity I tried to do when I was a kid, they did not see why I had to do it. “You always doing Sorority stuff. You better get in them books!”

I feel like many first-generation students can agree. Our parents do not understand that we are going through a ton of things in college and we need to relieve ourselves by attending clubs that interest us. My parents relate college to high school where we would be in class from 8-3pm and come home and do homework. When I was in high school, I was not going out at 8 to catch up on a chat about politics in the school library. 1. Those things did not exist and 2. me leaving the house after the streetlights came on was very slow for me anyway. So imagine all the thoughts that are going through my parents head when they call me at 10 on a Wednesday night and I am not in my room. anigif_enhanced-28976-1396549675-21.gif