All the rules for back 2 school

by Anya Jaremko-Greenwold

It’s that time of the year again; there’s a chill in the air, some yellowing leaves and everyone’s back for business at Fort Lewis College. Confused about what the hell you’re doing (Aren’t we all)? With the help of Luke Perkins (senior, general history major), Jalen Terry (junior, basketball player and marketing/business management major) and Taylor Ferraro (2014 graduate, English communications major), we’ve compiled a comprehensive back-to-school guide. Here’s our tips for flourishing this year at FLC.

Living situation Is it better to live off-campus or on-campus?

Luke: “Students are required to live on campus for their first year, unless you’re a transfer student. I feel that being off-campus gives you an added sense of independence, something that’s new for a lot of college kids. Many are coming straight from living with their families. There’s pros AND cons: You have comfort and a community around you in the dorms, you get your meals at the Student Union, they’re all cooked for you. It’s an adjustment period, living life outside of the nest.”

Jalen: “I live in the Centennial Apartments with my teammates [on campus]. It’s probably better to live on-campus to be social and meet people. But in the later years of college, it’s good to live off if you have a mode of transportation.”

Taylor: “Even though living in Durango is expensive, it’s actually a bit cheaper than living on-campus. I spent a little less money and lived on the grid. I had a car, but ended up using the Durango Public Transit System trolley a lot; it’s efficient and they have good timing, every 15 minutes. It goes up to campus and out to Walmart.”

Where should you look for a room or roommate off-campus?

Luke: “There’s classifieds in The Durango Herald and the Durango Telegraph. But if you don’t want to pay to have something in the newspaper, you can go to Craigslist. That’s where I ended up finding my apartment.”

Taylor: “I didn’t have as much luck with Craigslist as I did always checking the Herald and property managers; the three main that I would look at were Triple H Leasing, Action Property Management and Durango Property Management.”

Campus social life What’s a good place to meet new friends?

Luke: “I would definitely recommend joining a club. I’m a non-traditional student, and I didn’t have any sort of social group because I didn’t have that dorm life. My social group really expanded once I joined the school newspaper. I’m the editor-in-chief of The Independent now.”

Taylor: “It was important for me to force myself to join clubs. That way I found people I had at least one thing in common with. Although it’s hard to put yourself out there, going into the dining room alone – sit down with somebody. Even if you’re new, other people are, too, so you can talk about that.”

What clubs are good to join?

Luke: “Dance Commotion puts on really good shows and it seems like a tightly-knit group. I think they take entry-level people of every skill level. It’s not like you have to be Usher to sign up, but maybe they could turn you into Usher.”

Jalen: “All the sports here are super competitive. My team and I go to most of the sporting events, whether it’s soccer, volleyball, whatever, just to watch. There’s a lot of students that get pretty rowdy during games.”

Taylor: “KDUR [college radio station]. I came into school as an accounting major, and through my work with KDUR, I realized what was fun to me and what made my schoolwork not treacherous and horrible. My start in that club helped me figure out what I wanted to get my degree in. I was a DJ and did work-study there, then after graduating I worked as the KDUR office manager. I also did The Independent, which was a great opportunity; from there I was able to get an internship at The Durango Herald, and it eventually led me to being a columnist at DGO!”

Any tips about being safe with marijuana or drinking?

Luke: “I don’t smoke, but I know if you’re coming from a different state and smoking ditch-weed, and then you come here and buy this recreational-grade stuff, it is much stronger. You should probably be cautious about how much you smoke or eat. It will hit you harder. For drinking, quality over quantity. It can be tempting to buy the cheapest bottle, but you’ll feel it more the next day. Life’s just too short for cheap alcohol.”

Jalen: “Just don’t be an idiot. People aren’t gonna come up to your room specifically for you – if you do happen to have something, I’m not condoning it, but don’t have it out in plain sight. If you have weed, don’t be smoking it on campus. There’s hills, mountains, places all around to go to do recreational stuff without doing it in the dorms.”

Helpful Facebook groups to join?

Luke: “I play disc golf, we have a course up on the campus; so the Fore Corners Disc Golf FB page. Also Durango Save the Kids, which posts about social justice events.”

Also: Durango Online Garage Sale, which has several thousand members. You can buy, sell or trade furniture, cars, rooms, puppies, you name it.

On the townDurango events to put on your calendar?

Luke: “Snowdown is a big thing; it’s different every year. Some years are better than others, based on the theme.”

Taylor: “My freshman year, I was a little intimidated by Snowdown because I didn’t really understand it. But it’s just a big party for everyone to have fun in the middle of winter, after you’ve been hidden from the sun for so long.”

Jalen: “At Halloween, the Zombie March is crazy.”

Snowdown Fest is Feb. 1-5 2017. This year’s theme is “Intergalactic,” so start prepping your “Star Wars,” “Galaxy Quest” or “Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century” costumes now.

What’s something fun to do downtown?

Luke: “The River Trail is really nice. And open mic night at the Steaming Bean, I’ve really had fun going there and listening to the music.”

Jalen: “If you’re over 21, the bars. If you’re 18, the Wild Horse Saloon.”

Outside the townWhat are the best daytrips out of Durango?

Taylor: “A couple day trips I did were through OP, the Outdoor Pursuits program at Fort Lewis. We went ice climbing down at Cascade, that was a lot of fun. Cross-country ski trips, snowboarding.”

Also try: Silverton, a tiny mountain town (one hour away). You get there driving on the Million Dollar Highway (U.S. Highway 550), one of the most dangerous and beautiful roads in the world. Farmington (one hour away) is good for shopping; it has a Target, a Salvation Army/Goodwill, a Best Buy and an Olive Garden. Arches National Park (3.5 hours away) boasts gorgeous, dramatic desert landscapes. Mesa Verde National Park (30 minutes away) is famous for well-preserved ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings.

Best hikes near town?

Luke: “My favorite hiking trip is Bear Creek, up by Ouray. The trail has a pretty rough switchback start, but you get some beautiful views up there, especially once the leaves start changing. Pretty breath-taking.”

Also try: Haviland Lake, a peaceful body of water where you can picnic (20 minutes away). Engineer Mountain, a user-friendly hike with gorgeous alpine views and tons of wildflowers (30 minutes away). Ice Lake Basin Trail, outside Silverton, a wildly popular and challenging trek where you’ll find turquoise blue waters nestled between the San Juan peaks.

Gettin’ grubCheapest places to eat?

Luke: “Zia Taqueria. You can get a baby burrito and chips there for like $5. Bread Bakery, if you’re looking for pastries. The cookies there are the best. If you’re consistent and you tip, they’ll take you down some free stuff, which is always cool. I think T’s Smokehouse is the best barbecue in town, behind the Gaslight [theater]. All their advertising is word of mouth, but they seem to make it work.”

Jalen: “I found a burger joint called [Doc] Hathaway’s Café right across from Carver’s that I love to go to; super cheap burgers, cheap beer. Grassburger is more expensive for a burger, but it’s stupid good.”

What’s the deal with Grub Hub? Grub Hub provides free and easily-accessible food to financially struggling students. The food pantry-style setup runs Thursdays in Reed Library. Staffed by students, they give out several hundreds of pounds of food every month. You select your food, weigh it and take it home.

Luke: “It’s a registered student organization, run by the Sociology Club. They get food donated from throughout the community. Students can go there on “Grub Hub” day and get free food, whether it be chicken breast or packaged foods.”

In the classroomAny class recommendations?

Luke: “Everyone has to take a PE credit, so I highly suggest the ultimate Frisbee class. It’s a total blast, lots of running and playing and an opportunity to benefit yourself physically.”

Taylor: “I think it’s always important to take a couple of business classes. I took Matt Kelly, I think it was Business 201, a class about financial stability; he taught us different ways to budget and invest. Like, real world helpful tips. Most 18-year-olds don’t really know that stuff. I’d also recommend taking a news/media/writing course. Media is what we take in all the time, even if you’re not conscious of it – you’re looking at a sign or an ad, you’re watching a commercial. It’s important to learn that you don’t need to take in everything the media gives you as 100 percent truth. That kind of opened my eyes.”

Any recommended teachers?

Luke: “There’s a lot of great history professors, but if you really want a professor who is gonna test you and push you to better yourself as a student, take Dr. Michael Martin in the history department, who teaches Western Civ. He’s a very rigorous professor, and will work with you to make you a better student. He’s got a million different ties. I learned a lot about being a historian, a lot about writing and quite a bit about dressing from him.”

Jalen: “Michael Valdez was my business management teacher, and Emily Houghton was my sociology of sports. Both awesome teachers.”

Tips for interacting with professors?

Jalen: “It’s a small school, so make yourself known to your professors. Don’t goof off; your grades improve if you let them know who you are. They’re more willing and wanting to help you succeed in class.”

Also: If you email your prof, don’t use slang. Address them as “Professor,” not by your pet nickname. When asking for an extension, make sure you apologize profusely and explain you’ll understand if they can’t accommodate you. If you’re missing class due to illness, make sure it’s convincing (so don’t say you have cramps if you’re a dude).

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