A Fully Unqualified Guide to College House Ownership

by Carter Francis

This previous Sunday I found myself in a rather unique position as a college student.  Truth be told, it was not too unique of a position for me: I found myself in Lowes purchasing a gas stove.  Just another in a line of exciting college purchases such as a sink, toilet, bathtub, and a roof.  Moral of the story, get a good landlord!  Mine sucks.

Of course, my landlord is also myself…francis

I am the second child in my family to attend Iowa State; my brother is three years older, and buying a house was his idea. I still don’t know if I should thank him or not.  I’ll spare you the details, but a 50-year-old house that has had college kids living in it since its creation is lucky if it hasn’t been burned to the ground.  My grandparents fronted the money for the down payment and the rent from the other tenants helps pay the mortgage. Financially, the move was rather savvy.  Between the two of us, my brother and I will have lived six years without paying rent, house prices in Ames are surprisingly reasonable, and we are gaining equity on the house.  I am by no means suggesting that other people or families follow in our tracks; it is not for the faint of heart.  I digress, however, the true purpose of this article is to extol the great skills and wisdom that I have proudly won through the trials of college house ownership.

I should remind you that my landlord sucks.  Here is a list of all the stuff that went wrong (so far).

  • Sink handle gets broken, water everywhere
  • Toilets leaking (number of seals replaced – 3, toilets replaced – 1)
  • Raining indoor due to leaky roofs (Roofs replaced – 2, Garage and House)
  • Trees Fallen – 2
  • Sagging ceilings replaced – 2
  • Tub Surrounds put in – 2
  • Light fixtures replaced – 6
  • Pickup beds full of stuff taken to the dump – 6
  • Mice caught in the house – 4 (I think we are free)
  • Chipmunks in the house (2)

Living in a house is different from an apartment: you have more responsibility, more things can and will go wrong, but if you are renting (or maybe even buying) a house it will be a college memory you won’t forget.

Random tips from Carter-

  • If you have to fix something, look online, call someone handy, and GO INTO THE STORE – Talk to the people working at the store.  With a little background knowledge, you can find true enlightenment.  After a few good questions, and you will be directed to the expert on your current problem.  Don’t be fooled by age, if you are directed to an expert their advice is almost always gold.
  • Go into the hardware store and talk to the workers – Just do it…
  • Fix things yourself – The secret of handy people is that all of them have hit their hand with a hammer, built a lopsided table and done something stupid like not turned the electricity off while doing electrical work (TURN THE ELECTRICITY OFF WHILE REPLACING ANYTHNG EXCEPT MAYBE A LIGHT BULB).
  • Be Safe – Get a dust mask, learn how to use power tools. Be careful, have a friend around and ask for help.
  • Don’t be (too) afraid to break anything – If something is already broken, you can’t make it worse, look online, ask around, just try and fix it.
  • Nothing is hard with the right tool – Humans are not the strongest, fastest, we have no claws or sharp teeth…but we have tools.  Don’t try and remove a screw with a hammer, look at the internet.  Steel wool stops mice as they can’t chew through it, baking soda and a bleach water mixture will remove mold, heat guns help to remove paint, the proper saw goes a long way…

This goes for almost everything in life.  If you get frustrated, stop, think, ask for help, figure out a new way to solve your problems.

In all honesty, these tips really have no application for the average college kid.  But then again, if you don’t try and build something not to code or rig an elaborate system to open a fridge from your couch are you really a college kid?

I do not recommend building something not to code.

Humans of Honors: Allen Wang

wangMajor: Aerospace Engineering

Year: Junior

Hometown: Bettendorf, Iowa

Favorite Honors Memory: Anything hosted by Dana because she’s great!

What is the weirdest thing you’ve eaten? A cicada

What is the coolest place you’ve been? I got to go into the control room for the Hubble Space Telescope during my internship over the summer.

What is your favorite smell? Apple cinnamon

What cheers you up? Space!

What upcoming movie are you most excited for? The Incredibles 2

Bored? Not Anymore

by Charlie Labuzzetta

We’ve all said it… “There is nothing to do in Ames!” While some weekends may seem devoid of activity, with a little effort, creativity, and willingness to try something new, Ames can become a hoppin’ place. I’m glad this is an Honors student blog, however, because my idea of a good time might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

First of all, there is a reason we have swing dancing at the Honors retreat every year. It’s AWESOME! Cyclone Swing Society frequently hosts dances at the Memorial Union, sometimes with live music. There are frequently other Honors students at these dances and lots of other cool people to meet. If you have a car, go to Lake Robbins (http://www.lakerobbins.com), an authentic ballroom in Woodward that has dances, bands, and a fair number of college students that attend each weekend.

I tend to find out about these and other events using the university events calendar (events.iastate.edu) and the Ames event calendar (www.visitames.com/events). Events of all sorts can be found. There was a Bonsai tree show at Reiman gardens a few weeks ago and the Midwest Quidditch Championships were here this weekend.

Another great source of events is the music department (music.iastate.edu/calendar/events.php). The Band Extravaganza Concert was this weekend, which is my favorite concert to go to each year. Besides getting to hear the Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble I, all 300+ students of the marching band play a review of their half-time show music on stage at C. Y. Stephens. If you haven’t seen anything at Stephens Auditorium, go ASAP!

If you can’t get enough of attending events at C. Y. Stephens, consider liking the Stephens Auditorium Facebook page to keep an eye out for student rush tickets. I recently saw the Brian Setzer Orchestra there and I had to pick my jaw off the ground when I left. If you didn’t know, there is an Honors seminar next semester, “Sampling World Music – LIVE” where you can attend musical venues at Stephens Auditorium for credit!

Finally, a shameless plug. As a member of the Honors Student Board, I want more people to come to the events that we host! This week we have FredH on Tuesday from 6 – 8 and a study abroad info session on Wednesday from 5:15 – 6:15. Look out for emails about other events and come celebrate Honors Week with us in the Spring.

If you haven’t been inspired yet, here is a word cloud of lots of things to do and see in and around Ames before you graduate!


Humans of Honors: Jessica Riojas


Major: Environmental Science

Year: Sophomore

Hometown: Clinton, Iowa

FHP Section: L1 (leader)

Favorite Honors Memory: Last year during FHP, Jessica’s section toured a dairy farm. She really enjoyed the cows and the bonding.

Favorite Smell: Bonfires

What cheers you up? Being outdoors and animals (especially puppies). Jessica has a yorkie, a golden retriever, a pomeranian, and chickens at home!

If you could only listen to three songs for the rest of your life, which would you pick?

  1. Scar Tissue (Red Hot Chilli Peppers)
  2. The Scientist (Coldplay)
  3. 3 AM (Matchbox 20)

If you could meet any fictional character, who would you choose? Pocahontas

Most embarrassing moment: During Jessica’s first semester of freshman year, she was sitting in the 2nd row of her bio lecture of 400 people when she spilled her coffee all over the floor. She then had to get paper towels to clean it up while the professor just kept going.

Humans of Honors: Sydney Hill

Major: Animal Sciencehill

Year: Senior

Favorite Honors Memory: My sophomore year, I remember getting into a discussion about Joggers with my coleader and Emily Wilcox and I can’t think of them without remembering that conversation.

Favorite Smell: Something that reminds me of Fall, like Fall Cider.

If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be and why: Tina Fey because after I read her autobiography, she seems to be a really good role model and of course really funny!

What is the air velocity of an unladen swallow: 9.81

Favorite Parking Lot: The one behind Gilman, especially after 5:30 because it’s basically empty and you can cut right to the Library.

Weirdest Thing You’ve Ever Eaten: Cow Tongue

Honors Ambassadors on: ISU Rec Services

Honors Ambassadors have lots of experience with ISU’s Recreation Services program, which has one of the largest and best intramural sports programs in the nation. Honors students participate in Outdoor Rec trips and fitness classes and are Intramural Champs of all kinds. Find out more here: http://www.recservices.iastate.edu/

Kaitlin Peterson, junior in English Educationkaitlin
Hi! One way that I like to stay in shape is to go to fitness classes that are offered at State Gym and at Lied. There are a ton of classes for cycling, yoga, and kickboxing. My all-time favorite is Sunrise Yoga at State Gym. It is a wonderful way to start the morning. The sun shines in through the windows as the class starts which makes for a beautiful sunrise that the class gets to watch as we do our morning yoga. Don’t be worried if you aren’t flexible because I definitely am not! A lot of the poses are meant to strengthen the core and help us to relax. It is a peaceful way to start out the day, especially this past week with all these midterms! The class I like starts at 7, but there are a lot of other yoga classes that are spread throughout the day if you aren’t a morning person. If yoga isn’t your thing, then there a large variety of classes such as different varieties of cycling, cardio dance classes, and all sorts of things! Grab a friend and check them out!


allieAllie Volk, junior in Biology
As a freshman, arguably one of my best discoveries was a hip hop dance group fitness class through Rec Services. Being a student who was very active in high school with sports, adjusting to a college lifestyle where my schedule was dominated by classes and coursework led to me leading a drastically more inactive lifestyle. Also, because sports kept me active in high school, I was very intimidated by the idea of going to the gym to workout. Hip hop dance class offered me a low-pressure, fun way to fit physical activity into my schedule. The instructor makes it easy to follow along, the music choices are always great, and it’s not at all dependent on your ability to dance. Having a scheduled time to exercise also helped keep me honest and reliable about going. And if dancing isn’t your ideal method of staying active, Rec Services offers a wide range of classes from spin to kickboxing, so it’s really easy to find one that works for you.


Traer Schon, senior in Journalism and Mass Communication
Didn’t get recruited my Steve Prohm, Matt Campbell, or Christy Johnson-Lynch? Well don’t worry, intramural sports offer plenty of chances to relive your high school sports glory days. I’ve had the chance to be in a couple different intramural leagues , and they were a lot of fun and very easy to do. Definitely check them out—but if you beat me out of a T-shirt I will not be happy.


Catie Meis, senior in Materials Engineeringcatie-2
If are looking for a little adventure (or if you wish you were more adventurous), check out the Outdoor Rec Program’s extended trips! They are usually offered over Thanksgiving break, winter break, spring break, and at the beginning and end of summer. There is wide variety of trips, with various activities and traveling to locations across the US. My sister and I went backpacking for a week in northern Georgia over spring break last year with a group of 10 ISU students and a couple outdoor recreation staff and we had an absolute blast! We made new friends, enjoyed time outdoors, learned some new skills, got in some solid exercise, and best of all – left our phones and schoolwork behind for a week. I can’t imagine a better way to spend a break week. If backpacking isn’t your thing, there are lots of other trips – I’ve seen kayaking, canoeing, rafting, caving, climbing, mountain biking, and even surfing trips advertised in the past. If you can’t convince a friend, don’t worry – you’ll make them along the way. You generally don’t need prior outdoors experience to participate either – just bring a great attitude. Also, these trips are SUPER inexpensive for what they are – Outdoor Rec does all the trip planning and provides food, transportation, and equipment. All you need to do is bring clothes and personal items typically. Excited yet? Check it out! http://www.recservices.iastate.edu/outdoors/ Last tip – check the registration dates and show up bright and early when the outdoor rec office opens that day – the trips fill up fast!


melanieMelanie Stoss, junior in Chemistry
I encourage everyone to get involved in the intramurals at Iowa State because there is such a wide variety of activities to choose from. I haven’t done as many as I would have liked to, but from the few I have done (racquetball, disc golf, NCAA tournament bracket, and tennis), I had a BLAST and even won a couple of intramural champ t-shirts! Some events require a partner or a team but others you can do on your own. Some are not based on athletic ability whatsoever, so don’t let that hold you back because it is meant to be fun anyway (be on the lookout, Battleship H20 is coming up in November and is in my opinion the best intramural offered here!). If competition isn’t your thing, recreation services also offers group fitness classes for the beginner exerciser and for the avid lifter and runner. From yoga to Zumba to strength or water training, the hour-long classes are a small commitment where you can meet awesome people if you make it part of your weekly routine.


img_0836Morgan Hassebroek, senior in Kinesiology and Health
Intramurals are a great way to stay in shape and meet new people! Because there are so many options and levels of difficulty, anyone can join and possibly end up a champion! The champion T-shirts are awesome and are a coveted item here on campus. I haven’t gotten one yet but I plan to before I graduate!

Tired of Dining Hall Food?

by Maddie Keane

People say they get sick of dining hall food by the end of their dorm dwelling days, but I found ways to keep things interesting. Here are 10 tips to keep it interesting while eating on campus.

  1. Check the menu. If it says Convos has crepes, go there. Fast. Run if you must, but do not miss crepe day. Pick the dining hall serving something you like. Can’t find anything you like? Try to imagine what usually goes with the meal. If the menu option is quesadilla, there will also be taco toppings.  You can make a salad with black beans, salsa, cheese and jalapeños instead!
  2. Never miss the specialty days. If they change up the food for you, you have no reason to be bored. Look for posters on the walls of the dining hall or in the information cards of the napkin holders.
  3. Caramel + Apple: put 2 pumps of caramel from the ice cream station in a bowl. Add apple slices from the salad bar. Dip apple slices in caramel. If there are no slices available, carefully use a butter knife to cut up a whole apple. You could also bite into the apple and spoon caramel into your mouth directly afterward.
  4. Find the waffle maker at UDCC! Top with peanut butter, chocolate chips, nuts, strawberries and whipped cream from the ice cream and other condiment stations.
  5. Ice cream floats: add soft serve to root beer, Coke, Pepsi, or any of the various drinks offered for the perfect touch at the end of the meal. Add chocolate milk for a milkshake, candy pieces or real fruit from the salad bar for a blizzard effect, or cereal for a delicious dessert with a big crunch.
  6. Do not let time of day limit your choice of cuisine. Eat cereal for dinner. Make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast! Get creative, and go after whatever your taste buds are screaming for.
  7. Mix it up! Eat several side dishes from different stations. Ask for the chicken breast from the grill, chop it up and eat it on a salad. Pour strawberry sauce on the plain cheesecake to make it even more delicious and even less nutritious.
  8. Get a smoothie with a meal swipe! Froots, located in State Gym, has a variety of smoothies from the Berry Bopper to the Oreo Madness. A swipe includes any smoothie in any size and a side. Sides include granola bars, cheese sticks, and fruit.
  9. Meal bundles are always a good option, especially if you have lab until 10pm or you forgot to eat dinner. Convos has smoothies, sandwiches, salads, and a bunch of fun sides from 7-11pm (try the macaroni and cheese!). You can grab a breakfast bundle too! You can eat at Convos or take your bundle to go. You can choose an extra side instead of the main dish if you’d like. Take some of your sides with you for a snack later or another meal. Pro tip: order online to avoid the line!
  10. Buy a smaller meal plan. This is an easy way to save money and assure you won’t get tired of the food offered at the dining hall. This is not a good option for everyone, but if you do not have time for breakfast or lunch anyway, go for the silver or bronze plan. Use dining dollars to buy a breakfast at a campus café or a vending machine. Save up lots of room in your belly, and eat one, satisfying meal in the dining hall. The bronze plan includes lots of dining dollars that you can use at Froots, Subway, Panda, campus cafés and many of the vending machines around campus.


So dorm dwellers: Do not get bored of the dining hall. Use these tips and come up with more of your own ways to mix it up. If you gain the freshman 15, at least you will have enjoyed the process!

P.S. If you have a bunch of left over meals, find upperclassman (like me) to help you use them at the end of the semester. We are happy to help out!