Things I Would Do Differently If I Was A First-Year Honors Student Again

by Sam Schreck

1. Get out of your comfort zone

Meeting new people is one of the best things about college. I wish I had introduced myself to random people more often. It could be as easy as poking your head in someone’s open dorm room or sitting down at a random lunch table. Making conversation with different people is how friendships will eventually develop. It might be awkward, but it will be worth it to work on your conversational skills.

2. Read every email from Iowa State

There are so many opportunities that I missed out on because I never actually read through every email I received on CyMail. Just reading the subject is not enough sometimes. There are so many awesome opportunities you might have no idea about. I recommend cleaning through all of the emails you have not read at least once a week so you don’t miss any deadlines.

3. Go to more HSB events

Iowa State Honors Program has many different events that are organized on a weekly basis. I never really took advantage of these fun opportunities. Things like trivia, ice skating, and awkward prom are all put together very well. It is just another one of many opportunities to do something new and meet amazing people.

Side note: Not living in honors housing is also one of my grave mistakes. I hear so many fun stories about the awesome things that go on in the floors and clusters. They definitely did some crazy/fun events and games that I wish I participated in.

4. Go to as many different club meetings as you can

There are hundreds of clubs at Iowa State. Some are more seriously involved in your major, and others are just about fun. Just signing up to be put on the mailing list for various clubs makes a difference. All sorts of events are put on by different organizations from the billiards clubs to Engineers’ Week. The old saying (with my slight variation) is right; you can’t say you don’t like it unless you try it. Even going to one or two meetings for a club you might be interested in is better than nothing. You might actually enjoy it a lot. Afterward, you can narrow it down to a select few you really like and run for leadership positions in the future.

5. Enjoy yourself!

Freshman year is the best year of college. You will only get busier with classes, other extracurriculars, and work. Attend as many athletic events as you can or create some hobbies. Do not focus on classes as much as honors students or I usually do. College is about learning more than anything else, but do not overwork yourself to get straight A’s like high school. Take advantage of the wonderful university around you because these are the best years of your life.


Honors Abroad: Trace’s Eastern European Adventure

by Trace Tuthill

Hello from dark and gloomy Poland! Why dark and gloomy, you ask? Well mainly because the current time of sunset here in Wroclaw is 3:45 p.m.!!! For comparison in Ames right now it’s at 5:00 p.m. So yeah, there’s that……it’s a lot of fun and not at all depressing. But on to more interesting topics. This semester I’m studying at the Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences. It is one of several universities in Wroclaw (Breslau for you German speakers out there) and the city is actually like Ames on a bigger scale. There are 600,000 inhabitants and around 120,000 of them are students. So, the city is filled with cool bars, cafes, and a thousand other things for young people. The city is super cheap (a beer is $1 if you know the right place), has great public transportation, and has a good ratio of downtown areas to residential areas. Another plus you ask? It’s located within Flixbus distance of every major city in Eastern Europe: this makes it super easy (and pretty cheap) to travel. Bring on the pictures!

The main square of Wroclaw (the square is called Rynek in Polish). It is in the middle of “Old Town” (usually we abbreviate the whole of Old Town as Rynek). A popular spot because a lot of the bars, cafes, and restaurants are located in this area and it is the most picturesque in Wroclaw.


My favorite picture from Krakow (the historic Polish capitol is incredibly beautiful for the record). This is the church in the Wawel Castle. I like it because it looks like an 8 year-old was mixing and matching different pieces from his lego box.


Another castle! (Spoiler Alert: Europe has lots of them) This one is the castle in Prague, the largest castle complex in the world. Which is just a fancy way of saying it’s so big it doesn’t really look anything like a castle. Prague is awesome, but also sprawling so it’s hard to find a picture that really sums it up.


I did a terrible job of taking pictures in Dresden, Germany so this is what I have. The city is on the smaller side but super interesting because 85% of it was destroyed by Allied bombing. There’s also an INCREDIBLE museum of military history there that I would highly recommend.


So this was taken on my way to Poland, but this was my favorite part of Europe by far. I’m in Gimmelwald, Switzerland and I cannot describe how stunning the scenery is. If you want to take a look at more photos, the link below is where I’ve been putting everything. The Gimmelwald folder is full of panoramics that I should be selling to a stock photo company.–?usp=sharing


Everybody will tell you that it’s more about the memories and people you meet than the photos and souvenirs that you get, and they would be right. I’ve met so many incredible people, whether it is for an evening at a hostel in Tossa del Mar, Spain or a whole semester here in Wroclaw. I might not remember why some Hapsburg emperor built the Vienna Opera House, but I will remember going to a concert in Berlin with a German friend. Or staying in an AirBnB with my Spanish roommates in Prague. Or playing drinking games with some Polish people in my dorm that I met outside the night before (shhhh don’t tell my mom). These things have made this semester a rewarding experience that I could not be more thankful for.

Motivation to Get through This Week (Break!!)

by Emma Troyer

I know it has been a long semester, but we are so close to Thanksgiving break. There are many things to look forward to over break and I am going to share them, so you all have motivation to make it through these last couple of tests and days until you are stuffing your face with turkey!

1. Break means two more weeks of classes

Some of you might be sick of your classes; well, good news! After this week, we only have two more weeks of classes. I know that means we have finals week in a month, but then we have another break! The motivation to finish strong should be better than ever after break.

2. Thanksgiving time

When I go home for thanksgiving break, that means time with my family. It is awesome to see most of my family after a long semester. Just imagine enjoying all of that great Thanksgiving food surrounded by everyone that you love! If that isn’t motivation to finish out this week, I don’t know what is!

3. Break from STRESS

Use this break to relax and enjoy time away from your classes! We all know the next three weeks might be the worst three weeks of fall, but just take some time to relax. It is healthy to take a break and have something else on your mind besides school!

4. The sad thing… a week away from Honors friends

The close relationships I have formed by being in Honors has been incredible. I have met some of my best friends through my first honors class freshman year. Leaving for a week and then another four will be hard on a lot of us! Good thing we have social media 🙂


How to Watch TV at the Same Time You Do Everything Else

by Sam Schreck

TV shows are a very important part of my life. Whether it’s Netflix, Hulu, or HBO, I am watching something almost every minute of the day. When it comes to studying, I have a few techniques to get by.

As a civil engineering major, lots of the homework consists of heavy math problems. These might take awhile to compute and could get boring after awhile. If you find yourself dreading the thought of getting it done, here is what I do: First you need to actually read the problem and get a full understanding of what it is try to ask you; write down any important information or variables. Then develop a plan of attack in your head of how you might solve the given problem. After you have an idea of what to do, get to work and start watching that show.

Notice the large laptop screen space while keeping my phone in view. This creates a larger importance of the work on the laptop screen and allows a small glimpse of TV in the corner.

Some of my favorites to watch in these situations are The Office, New Girl, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Shameless. Notice how these are all comedies? Yes, I love comedies. They make it easy to listen to the jokes without looking at the screen 24/7. It also helps if you have already watched a show, but that is not a deal breaker at all. Most of the new shows I watch are during school work. I do not recommend watching an action or thriller type of show during these times. Sometimes you may end up watching more of the show than doing actual work. It takes years of practice to get this down.

Studying for exams is a whole different story. You never want to be watching something during this time unless it is on mute in the background. It is important to really absorb what you are doing for the test. These can be anything from a football or basketball game to a common show you have seen more than once. It is always good to take a break or two during these times in order to relax your brain. Some good study break shows could be Rick and Morty, Scandal, White Collar, and How I Met Your Mother. There are all fantastic shows to allow yourself a break while you’re cooking food or giving yourself the necessary time to recharge. You do not need a specific genre for these times. Just stick to what you like.

Kick your feet up and take that much need break. Studying comes first, but Netflix is my runner up.

Those late night binges are not always the greatest. It really cuts into my sleeping or studying time. But I know I probably will not stop (unfortunately), so I tried to make it so they do not last as long. In this way, I can have more time in the morning to actually get the much needed studying or working out done instead of hitting snooze six more times.

This allows me to rest my head on my pillow while watching a show to put me to sleep. I do not keep a large TV on to light up the whole room. I can either sleep on my side (yes, I am a side sleeper), or close my eyes and just listen.

If you ever need a show suggestion or helpful studying tips, come find me! I am also always open to hear great new show ideas. Here is my personal list of the top 20 shows I have seen so far. If you have seen all these like me, I will get you my other 40.

  1. The Office
  2. Game of Thrones
  3. New Girl
  4. Family Guy
  5. Parks and Recreation
  6. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  7. That 70’s Show
  8. Shameless
  9. The League
  10. Workaholics
  11. Rick and Morty
  12. How I Met your Mother
  13. Dexter
  14. Scandal
  15. Friends
  16. White Collar
  17. Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  18. One Tree Hill
  19. Prison Break
  20. Narcos

Tip: Don’t have time to watch some of your show? Start downloading it season by season and watch it on the bus to class or running on a treadmill.

Leaves as Seasonal Stress Relief

by Sarah Kreutner


November Night

With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
And fall.

-Adelaide Crapsey


Are you one of those people who leaves a sidewalk to crunch through a carpet of fallen leaves? One who stops to soak in the cardinal, gold, and mocha blanketing campus? One whose nose tingles with the damp, earthy scent of autumn?

You should be! Slowing down, being present, and enjoying nature can help you de-stress and feel better during a stressful fall semester. You have that opportunity every time you walk across campus! According to this article, the average person spends over 4 hours on their phone EVERY DAY. What a waste! Who would want to stare at their device like the undead when nature is unfolding tiny masterpieces all around us?

Let’s look at the biology of autumn leaves. How come some are red and others are gold? Why do they change colors before falling off the tree? Richard Simpson from Arizona State University explains it this way:

“The pigment that causes leaves to be green is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is important for plants to make food using sunlight. During spring and summer when there is plenty of sunlight, plants make a lot of chlorophyll.
In autumn when it starts to get cold, some plants stop making chlorophyll. Instead, those plants break down chlorophyll into smaller molecules. As chlorophyll goes away, other pigments start to show their colors. This is why leaves turn yellow or red in fall.

“The color change usually happens before the leaves fall off of the tree. Why might that be? It takes a lot of energy to make chlorophyll. If the plants break down the chlorophyll and move it out of their leaves before the leaves fall, plants save energy. The plants can reabsorb the molecules that make up chlorophyll. Then, when it’s warm and sunny enough to grow again, the plants can use those molecules to remake the chlorophyll. That way the plants don’t have to make chlorophyll from scratch.
There are other pigments in leaves called carotenoids. Carotenoids are yellow and orange. Anthocyanins are other plant pigments that are only made in the fall. These pigments cause red, pink, or purple colors. Anthocyanins also protect leaves from being eaten or getting sun burned.
So the different colors in leaves are caused by changes in the pigments. When the weather changes, some plants break down all the green pigment. This lets beautiful yellows, oranges, and reds come through in the fall (Simpson).”

Have you ever looked closely at a leaf? Each one is unique, just like a snowflake. See the fractal patterns from the leaf veins?

And dried leaves curl into fantastically complex shapes. Find an interesting leaf and try sketching it to explore the curves and contours! It’s a great study break that will help you become more observant.

Now, I realize it’s November and most of the leaves are hitting the ground. Iowa’s peak time for fall foliage is mid-October, and Campus Services is starting to vacuum central campus. That means you only have a few more weeks to enjoy fall before the snow moves in! Don’t miss your chance!

Fall colors near Richardson Court (my photo)

Emily’s Ode to FFA

by Emily Saeugling, freshman in Animal Science

Last week I zipped up my blue corduroy jacket for the first time since high school in order to compete in the National FFA Public Speaking Leadership Development Event. This experience was more than just a competition; it represented the personal growth an individual can achieve through FFA. My time in the blue jacket taught me the importance of three things: hard work, confidence, and establishing a growth mindset. Joining FFA as a freshman in high school was a small decision. At the time the concept of speaking in front of a classroom or to an individual I didn’t know caused a flurry of butterflies in my stomach. Through the course of the next four years I kept making small decisions that made a big impact on me.

The National FFA Organization has a variety of opportunities — from leadership conferences to Career Development Events. What makes the organization unique is that a member can tailor their experience specifically to their interests. For me, improving communication skills and gaining knowledge of the agricultural industry were key. One of the first steps in my FFA career was attending a leadership conference called Greenhand Fire-Up. It was one of the first times I was placed in a situation where I had to work with individuals I’d never met before. Later on, I traveled to Washington D.C. to attend Washington Leadership Conference. The friendships I made here span across the nation. Spending excessive amounts of time on a bus even led me to meet my future ISU roommate. Needless to say, FFA presents the chance for students to develop leadership skills close to home or as they travel across the nation.

I was also able to start a SAE or Supervised Agricultural Experience. These are an opportunity for students to learn about agriculture and develop career skills in real-world experiences. I worked for a local agribusiness — answering phones, addressing customer concerns, and writing social media posts helped me develop intrapersonal skills. I was blessed to have employers and coworkers who deeply cared about helping me achieve my goals. They provided support and helped me improve my knowledge of the industry, capitalize on my strengths, and develop my weaknesses.

This past spring, I made a seemingly small decision to compete in the Public Speaking Leadership Development Event. At the time I wondered what I was getting myself into. A six to eight-minute speech? Fully memorized? Would I really be able to do it? It was an opportunity to prove to myself that I can overcome any challenge I am faced. I soon came to realize that I was no longer afraid of public speaking. I knew the skills I had developed throughout my time in FFA would aid me to be successful. Competing at the Iowa FFA State Leadership Conference had always been a goal of mine and I ended up winning the state competition. Going to nationals was surreal, especially as the Public Speaking LDE has been in place since 1930. This makes it one of the oldest and most prestigious competitions FFA has to offer. At the orientation of the competition, fellow members and I were told to “make the most.” For me, that meant using it as a chance to share my passion and knowledge with others. I had minimal nerves as my prior experience in FFA had given me confidence in my ability.

Awaiting the results of the competition at the banquet was a time of bittersweet reflection.  I thought about my personal growth and the mentors that aided me along the way. Four years ago, I could hardly give a classroom presentation. Today I love public speaking. Thank you, National FFA Organization, for making me a better achiever, a better leader, and a better person.

Five Reasons to Be Excited for November…

by Allye Bodholdt

October is drawing to a close, which means November is just around the corner. Turning the page on your calendar can mean many things, including colder weather, frosty cars, even snow. But it isn’t all bad… Below are five reasons to be excited for November!

  1. Thanksgiving Break I don’t know about you, but I could not be more ready for Thanksgiving Break! Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it’s a relaxing day spent with family and friends, delicious food, and of course, football. The weeklong break always seems to come at a much-needed time in the semester, right before all the group projects and final exams. It’s a great chance to “recharge” in order to make it through the last weeks of the semester, and the holiday always reminds of all I have to be thankful for, even when I’m feeling stressed-out in classes or overwhelmed by a busy schedule.
  1. Daylight Savings Time If you’re in need of some extra sleep before Thanksgiving Break gets here, you’re in luck! Daylight Savings time falls on the morning of November 4th this year, and provides a little extra time in the day as clocks are set back an hour. I know I will be taking full advantage of that opportunity to get an extra hour of sleep!
  1. Basketball Season November marks the start of Cyclone basketball season! The women tip off November 1st against Southwest Baptist, and the men November 6th against Alabama State. With so much success across Cyclone Athletics in October, November should prove to be another exciting month.
  1. Fall Vest Weather Shorts and t-shirts are great for a few months in the summer, but come November it’s time for things to cool off. The crisp, cool air in November is perfect for wearing jeans and boots, sweaters, and my personal favorite, vests. I can’t wait for the temperature to drop a few degrees so I can break out my fall favorites!
  2. National Doughnut Day – November 5th November 5th is a National Doughnut Day. According to Google, National Doughnut Day is also more commonly celebrated on the first Friday in June, but who says we can’t appreciate those delectable, fried, cake rings twice a year? I’m a big fan of doughnuts and will definitely be paying my respects on November 5th.