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This crazy year is drawing to a close, so I found it the perfect time to reflect on the things I learned experiencing sophomore year during a global pandemic. Life has been pretty disoriented these days which has allowed me the opportunity to learn on my feet. I've gained some valuable skills and knowledge I may not have gotten had it been a normal year. 

How to Cook Chicken

Starting out strong with this fundamental skill that I did not know how to do, I finally learned how to cook chicken. Before moving into my first off-campus apartment this year, my cooking skills were far from extravagant. I could whip up a good bowl of mac and cheese and potentially add soem veggies on the side, but that’s where my expertise sufficed. Upon moving in and having to fend for myself, there was a large learning curve when it came to cooking. Luckily, my roommates do not share my lack of critical cooking abilities and taught me the basics for preparing a tasty piece of chicken. Now, I am a master at all things chicken. Besides breaded chicken, I can never quite get a good balance between absolutely scorched or potentially undercooked. 

How to *Obtain* A Traffic Cone

I hope there is a statute of limitations on this one because although there are a plethora of traffic cones in my area, it’s not like they are totally up for grabs. In the beginning of the semester, while enjoying a nice evening with the roommates, we came to the conclusion that we wanted a new decor piece. So, we set out to find one in the dark of night and this proved to be a success. The key is to go on a random night after dusk and run as fast as you can. Our special guy sits in the corner of our apartment and serves as our Christmas tree all year round. 

How to Grocery Shop and Budget

I have never been great at managing my money, and I am still very subpar, but the process of saving enough money to buy basic essentials such as food left me in a rude awakening. That paired with the coordination of having to grocery shop definitely made me give my parents a lot of praise. For anyone coming into a similar situation, my advice to you is to split your groceries up with your roommates. This way no one has to ask if they can eat your food or get confused on who’s things or who’s. My other suggestion, if you like to cook and want to manage how much you are purchasing at the store, is to plan out your meals beforehand. This allows for less food and money waste and the bonus is that you don’t have to scramble thinking of what to make each night. 

How to Build a Proper Fort

Growing up with brothers, forts were no foreign entity to me. We constructed them at least once a week, and when I say “we,” I mean my brothers did the heavy lifting while I enjoyed the benefits. With COVID still very present in our lives, my roommates and I had to come up with fun ways to enjoy our weekends that didn’t put others at risk. One weekend, we had the brilliant idea of building a fort and doing a movie marathon. It turned out to be one of my favorite weekends all year and it was so easy and simple. Our method involves strapping belts together to make a nice anchor for our sheets. We strapped those to our conveniently placed command hooks from our wall lights and voila, a perfect fort for the weekend.  

How to Survive a Pandemic

The struggle of trying to have a social life and keep in touch with friends while following the restrictions as well as keeping everyone safe was quite literally exhausting. The constant fear of checking who everyone has been with and experiencing scare after scare was truly an experience that I hope comes to end soon. Surprisingly, even with the large school I go to, I never got COVID-19. Neither did anyone in our friend group despite our apparent constant spurts of quarantine after every potential exposure. Despite all this, it allowed me to put into perspective how lucky we are to be able to learn from things like this. Did I ever think I would be frantically running around trying to get tested for an unknown virus that might make me lose two of my senses? No, not in the slightest, but with hindsight being 20/20, it has matured me a lot in ways I am unironically grateful for. 

I wonder what I will learn in my junior year. To my rising sophomores, I hope this helps your college experiences!

Current Junior at PSU UP. I live right outside of DC in Bethesda, MD and I am on track to be an Advertising and Public Relations major with a minor in Business I love sitcoms, stand-up and spend my time hanging out with friends and traveling.
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