Things I Learned in College

Wow, it’s been a while… I guess I’ve just been so busy, with all these cool college things that I didn’t have time! With Spring Quarter coming to a close and I’m realizing that I’m finishing up my first year at Western, I’ve been thinking about the things I’ve learned – not in the classroom. Here are a few things that come to mind.

Regardless of how many times you trek up them, five flights is five flights and going up them first thing in the morning is tiring.


Stairs in Old Main


Alternatively, carrying a backpack around everywhere has made me feel much more agile when I do not have that burden.

Always remember to submit your time sheet before you leave work, or else you may end up having to do it on your phone while at a horse show.

There’s a surprising amount of loose bricks around campus, and some of them are pretty fun to look at.


Bricks are cool.




More cool bricks

carpe diem

This one is outside the library


I find a lot of them outside the Art building…

My favorite bathrooms are on the first floor of the Communications facility. This is great because that’s where the Physics department is and I’ll likely be spending a lot of time there.


isn’t it big and nice and clean?

The AstroLab is cool. And when you have a key to it you feel important.

Talking to people is the best way to get things done.

As much as you might plan it out in your head, if you’re excited and nervous your words will always come out in the wrong order. Just go with it.

astro lab

Yay astro lab!

Plan things out way in advance, that way you can be as flexible as possible and still get things done!

I am a whizz as Physics labs. I don’t know what it is. I just get them done thoroughly and quickly. (I hope that continues!)

There’s always something going on on campus. Always.


On this particular day they were naming the chemistry building

I know I can never have a career that requires me to rely on other people to give me work. I am “too productive”. (Makes me a good employee though!)

Men’s basketball games are more fun than women’s. However, volleyball games are even more fun than basketball games.

I can walk across campus in 7-8 minutes.

Despite distance and time away, a best friend is a best friend and you can always pick up where you left off. (Also, I don’t like Danielle being in Pullman, but I love John being in Seattle)

My mind rarely gets nervous. This is awesome, except when my body decides it’s nervous anyway.

Doctor Who is pretty cool. As is Merlin.

When you don’t have a key, it’s difficult to get into the Fairhaven dorms. Edens, on the other hand…..

My favorite treat is a white mocha and a berry/chocolate chip muffin.


Now I’d like to share some cool things I’m proud I’ve done this year:

I quickly made friends.

I played a flute solo for an audience in a concert hall.

I was apart of a university symphonic band.

I consistently received A’s in all my physics classes (a little worried about this quarter though!).

I started research as an undergrad.

I was apart of a pep band at a basketball game that was aired on television.

I managed to balance pep band, 18 credits of classes (including flute lessons), 8-10 hours of work a week, and a boyfriend all at once.

I was chosen to be one of eight “College of Science and Technology Scholars” and received a nice scholarship.

I have become well versed in Evernote.

I’m now pretty comfortable at East Coast Swing.

I was jump crew at a horse show.

I went to my first rocky horror picture show.

I read Dante’s Inferno, Darwin’s Origin of Species, most of the Old Testament, Schopenhauer, Montaigne, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses.


I had quite the year and I’m very excited for the next one!




Written by J'Neil in: Random Thoughts,School |

Final Musings

Yay! I have almost finished (and survived) my first quarter at Western! Yippie! With an unexpected 17 credits, 8 hours of work a week and added extra-curriculars such as Viking Band and Swing Dancing, I have a hard time believing I managed to do it all! It feels great to have it all done (except for a calculus final I have tomorrow…)

Throughout the quarter I’ve had the pleasure of realizing a trait I have that can be difficult for others. For some reason, I have excellent time management skills. So much so that it’s my normal way of life and I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I have been able to see a bit of how other students are handling their first quarter and while some have plenty of time for both school and socializing, others spend late nights or have to miss fun opportunities to get work done they had not yet gotten to. That just doesn’t work for me. I like my sleep and I like to do as many fun activities as possible. By splitting up my work and realizing that I need time to recharge and relax, I was able to make my ‘dead week’ one of my easiest weeks this quarter. I just think that’s wonderful.

Other thoughts on Finals:

I really like the format of my classes’ finals this quarter (and it’s even better because I have all the same professors next quarter! yes!) My physics final was take home; we got to work on it throughout all of dead week and collaborate with other students. While in reality this meant I finished it on Thursday and spent Sunday and Monday going over it with some of my classmates, I really enjoyed the format and the ability to work on it on my own time, without being stressed about getting it all done in a certain amount of time. My Honor’s 103 class only had a paper due – pretty easy. :) Calculus is a traditional comprehensive final but my professor is a quirky woman who has decided it’s necessary for us to have food and is bringing us some things to munch on before the test.

This week, because of my substantially reduced load due to finals week, I was able to go to the newest movie theather hear in Bellingham on the first day! My mom and I first went to The Lorax – an interesting film obviously based off of something out of a Dr. Seuss book, but with a very apparent theme about pollution and taking care of the environment. Later in the evening my dad joined us for The Hunger Games. I had known the premise of The Hunger Games but hadn’t read the books… I felt the movie was rather stressful, but interesting. It did make me curious about what happens in the other books. The premise of these 24 teens fighting to the death makes me rather uncomfortable and I feel that in the books you get a lot more background of the politics and history throughout the districts, instead of just the bloodshed as is often a focus in films. However! The theaters are pretty exciting. This new establishment alone has twice as many screens as Bellingham has had total. The seats go higher rather than farther back which makes it so it’s hard for the person in front of you to block your view, but also it would really suck if you dropped something… All in all, I’m pretty happy with them, especially that the first three days they are open they are showing a variety of movies for $2 and the proceeds go to local charities. Can’t wait to see The Hobbit on Friday!

And for my last thought; I’d like to share a fantastic musical group that I have discovered and have been immersing myself in the past couple of days. The Piano Guys are a group of five guys that record and produce piano/cello covers of a variety of songs. They are also known for taking their instruments (especially the grand piano..) to interesting places. I will leave you with a seasonal piece… but I encourage you to look at their other videos to watch the joy on the cello player’s face, to see the surprising places they take the instruments, and to hear the fantastic music they create.

Carol of the Bells (for 12 Cellos)

Written by J'Neil in: Random Thoughts |


It’s that time of year where we recognize what we are thankful for and take some time to appreciate it…. Earlier this year I helped out a friend by doing a gratitude journal. He was writing a paper about how being grateful for what you have ultimately makes you more happy so he had a few people keep track of what they were grateful for and then evaluated our “happiness level” before and after. Since grateful and thankful are pretty close to the same thing I’d like to share what ended up on that list.

Claire, Me, Alex, and Cameron

  • Music
  • Alex’s thoughtfulness
  • John being there for me
  • Water
  • Dedicated Musicians
  • Warm Fuzzy Socks
  • Fun Servers at Zoe’s
  • Friends
  • Mom
  • An Income
  • Sleep
  • Flowers
  • Plumbing
  • Games
  • Delicious Food
  • Technology
  • Swing Dance instructors
  • Really Good Swing Dancers
  • Rain
  • Texting
  • Doctor Who
  • Ice Cream
  • Rain (again)
  • Warm Coats
  • Viking Band
  • Good Class Discussions
  • New Job
  • New Job’s Work Station
  • Difusers
  • Mom(again)
  • Exciting Volleyball Games
  • Danielle
  • Chai Tea Lattes

I felt this was a pretty good list and it’s interesting to see what comes to mind when I write down a few things each day. There are also many things I’d like to mention that aren’t on the list;

-My family. My mom, my dad, my brother, my aunt, and any other relatives. I’m so glad to be related to such funny people and they do a very good job at making me feel loved and supported. My family is awesome.

-My friends. To my friends from high school, I have enjoyed the opportunities we’ve have to spend time together, it’s a lot of fun. I’m happy we’ve been able to stay in touch. To my new friends from Western, I couldn’t have asked for any better people to meet at first. By some crazy random happenstance we came together and became friends not because we were on the same floor or something, but because we got along and enjoyed each others company.Specifically I’m thankful for Cameron coming up and introducing himself to me on the first day. It’s been great to get to know him and I like to spend time with him. However, without Cameron I wouldn’t have met Alex (I’ll get to why that’s so great later) so I am thankful for his friendliness and effort to reach out to new people. All of the people I have met at WWU and gotten to know have enriched my life in some way and I am so glad I am able to have these experiences.

Alex. Woo! He gets his own paragraph! This quirky kid is quite the find. He consistently flatters me and makes me feel special. He’s thoughtful and actively puts effort into doing things that make me happy. He makes me laugh and is incredibly genuine. He’s open to new things  – let me try to teach him a little guitar and piano! – and is quite good at learning things. He’s very quick and clever. He even answers all of my crazy questions! I hope I get across to him that I, too, think he’s the ‘cat’s meow’. ;)   I often find myself thinking how lucky I am to have met him.

-Being at home. From time to time a waffle back and forth between being happy to be at home and wishing I could be on campus or ‘on my own’. I always conclude how great it is be to home. It’s comfortable yet I’m able to be involved and social at school. I have my family around me when I want to talk or need a friendly face – but I also have my space. I realize that this harmony is not achieve by pure coincidence. It takes a lot of effort on my family’s part and I am exceedingly grateful for their efforts. I recognize that in someways having me at home is harder than my moving away because I have to be given space and independence consciously not just because I’m in a different city. Whenever people ask me how it is living at home I say, “Quite nice actually, but that’s very much true because my parents are awesome.”

-Felix. I absolutely love my kitty. He always greets me and purrs continuously when I pick him up. I know no matter how bad my day was there will always be someone happy to see me. He’s adorable.

-My Job. I’m so glad I was able to get a job on campus. Even though it gets tiring sitting in front of a computer for five hours, I really can’t complain. I’m left to work on my own and I am in charge of many different things. However, I also have quite a few people I can ask if I need help and I’m constantly learning. I enjoy being able to know my way around a system so that I can problem solve and help people.

I hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving and can take a moment to slow down and consider what in your life you are thankful for. Then! You’re very welcome to come back here and share!

Written by J'Neil in: Random Thoughts |

Thing-ness, Chair-ness and the Like

Recently in my Honors literature class we read one of the Dialogues by Plato. In this particular dialogue Plato shares the events and discussion surrounding Socrates’ death. This is a pretty interesting conversation as they try to prove the immortality of the soul and use that as an argument as to why philosophers should not be afraid of death.

One of the ideas presented was “Thing-ness”. This was an idea of Socrates explaining why we can recognize things as what they are even if we haven’t ever seen them before. An excellent example is “chair-ness”. Chairs can have all sorts of shapes and sizes but we always know it’s a chair. How do we know? Socrates thought that there was an essence of “chair-ness” that existed on a different plane that we were able to refer to. The fact that we could refer to this, or recollect this knowledge demonstrated that our souls existed of this same plane and therefore did not end their existence when we died. Seems kind of weird, right?

My thoughts on “chair-ness” is that it’s an interesting way to explain how we learn without being taught. There are things that we take in but we’re not consciousness of it, therefore we can’t really explain how we know it. The idea of essences makes quite a bit of sense when applying it to abstract ideas such as “Beauty” or “Equality” or “Truth”. Yet, everyone still has their own, slightly differing notions of what those things are. In this sense they can’t really be all referring to the same “essence”. I believe that they could be referring to their own “essence” that was created based on their own experiences, which taught them – although unconsciously – what each of those abstract ideas mean.

I don’t particularly buy into “Chair-ness”… though I appreciate the way of thinking that demonstrates there are some things we know without having consciously learned it – we learned it through experience.


Written by J'Neil in: Random Thoughts |

(Tea)Time to Slow Down

I love tea. I love tiny savory treats. I love mini scones. I love my mom. Let’s put all these together and what do you get? Tea Time with Mommy! Yay!

I really enjoy whenever my mom and I are able to make a trip up to Vancouver, B.C. to our favorite tea room, The Secret Garden Tea Company. It’s fun girl time. I noticed this most recent time why perhaps it’s so great. Since the establishment is in Canada, we usually have our phones off. This means no distracting texts, no mindless wandering on facebook, no random games to keep us occupied. We’re in the here and now, able to focus and enjoy time together. I know that recently I’ve been frazzled and my mind has been all over the place, doing homework here, talking to a friend there, planning this way over there, remember to get that done…. So this time was wonderful. The only thing I had to concern myself with was spending time with my mom.

We all need time to slow down from our lives and just enjoy the moment. Going to tea with my mom is one of those times for me, and I couldn’t ask for anything better.

Written by J'Neil in: Random Thoughts |

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