A Fresh Perspective: Homecoming

BDDRyanSadly, I was not at UW-Stout for homecoming weekend because I was at a karate tournament. But, I was here until Friday afternoon. I still had an amazing experience.

I went to almost all of the events during the week with friends. I knew I was going home for the weekend so I wanted to make the week a fun time.

The most notable events would have to be the carnival, Chinese acrobats and the Stout’s Favorite Pizza taste testing.

The carnival on Monday could have had more activities, but what it had was enjoyable, such as the face painting and pie eating contest. It was who I went with that made it memorable.


The Chinese acrobats were amazing. The show had an incredible array of talents that blew everyone’s minds. The acrobats, in a weird way, made me very excited for the rest of the week.

The pizza taste testing was great because I love loud music and free food, so this was by far was my favorite event of the week. My friends and I were lucky enough to have the line right outside our dorm so we got right to the front and didn’t have to wait. After making a difference and voting for our pizza, my friends and I stayed and danced for the whole event.


If anyone didn’t have an enjoyable homecoming week, my advice is to get out and make it fun. The difference between my friends who had a boring week — they stayed in their dorm rooms — and the ones who had a fun week simply was getting out, taking part in the activities and trying to make it fun.

For any prospective freshmen who have stumbled upon this blog, I’ve learned that college life won’t be fun unless you try to make it fun.

Go Blue Devils!

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Some of my absolute favorite memories came during homecoming week at Mounds View High School. Now, here at UW-Stout, I can happily report that I have added to that list.

A Look Back at My Homecoming Week


I attended the Homecoming Kick Off event Monday night in the Memorial Student Center. I found myself mostly at the photo booth, where I could let my true colors shine by taking advantage of the wide selection of props. I found my favorite attire to be the hamburger hat, along with glasses that fit like Cinderella’s glass slipper.

(Mom, look! How come I didn’t wear this for my senior pictures?)



I geared up to film an episode of “Take2 the Streets,” featuring construction of the Soapbox Derby cars. This was my first time filming this special segment so it had its challenges, but overall it was fun talking with the different teams and listening to their quirky responses.

I also headed down to Wilson and 2nd to see the main event, of course. For those who successfully made it to the bottom of the hill without crashing, I applaud you. As for those who took some nasty tumbles, ouch. If it was me out there I would’ve wrapped my entire body in bubble wrap for sure.


Wednesday, Thursday

I didn’t get the chance to go catch the comedian on Wednesday night because of school work and dance practice, but I was able to make it up Thursday night at Stout’s Favorite Pizza event.


At first I was surprised how long the line was to get pizza, but then I realized the event description contained the word “free” in it, so it was a no-brainer at that point.

It was pretty chilly outside and there was a long wait, but there was so much energy trying to break through the brisk air with the DJ and various individuals dancing along to the music. My roommate and I stuck it out to sample some delicious pizza and then rushed back inside to get warm.

Friday, Saturday

Unfortunately, the loss of a fellow Mounds View Mustang classmate led me back to the Twin Cities on Friday night, so I wasn’t able to complete the week. My Facebook newsfeed was consumed with homecoming updates so I still got my fix.

Sigh. Can next year’s homecoming hurry up and get here already?

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Lovely Local Locales: Hoffman Hills

Barbara Young

I have to be honest with you. I was ready to post a cool DIY shelving/storage tip for this week, but then I took an adventure to Hoffman Hills and knew this story had to come first.


So, Hoffman Hills. Most people who have been around UW-Stout for a while are familiar with this state recreation area northeast of Menomonie. You hear about things like a tower and hiking and hills (duh), but that’s about it.

I was curious. My Monday morning class was canceled, so instead of sleeping (I know, this is me being weird) I decided I would find these fabled Hoffman Hills and go for a hike. Let me tell you. It. Was. So. Worth. It.


First of all, getting to Hoffman Hills is really pretty simple, once you know where you’re going. Don’t trust your GPS to have it as an entry. Mine didn’t, but I thought it did because there is a place in River Falls called Hoffman Park. Not the same place. Don’t leave Menomonie in the direction of Hudson. Trust me.

Instead, look up the actual instructions on the Hoffman Hills website. These are much more helpful.



This is my car. Alone in the parking lot. It was amazing.

Once you actually get to the hills, be prepared to be amazed. Also, go this week or this weekend while the fall colors are still vibrant and beautiful. You will be glad you did.

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When you drive in, park in the main or overflow parking lots. The main lot has a giant map and a little box full of maps you can take along on the hike. These aren’t really necessary because there are signs everywhere on the trails, but it never hurts to have a map.


My main goal of the trip was to get to the top of the tower, so I took one of the most direct routes, but there are tons of different paths.

Guys. This place is so beautiful. I can’t begin to explain it to you, so here – look at these pictures. I haven’t edited any of them, besides cropping.


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See what I mean?

I was super lucky because I was the only person in the hills when I arrived (the perks of being awake Monday mornings).

Let me tell you, though, don’t go there if you want a date where you just look cute and stroll casually about. That’s what the Red Cedar Trail is for. While the hills don’t offer an extreme workout, most routes require some climbing. The trails offer various levels of difficulty and are rated on the maps.


When I reached the tower I was beyond excitement. I’d been strolling about the woods for nearly 30 minutes and was already overwhelmed by the natural beauty. I couldn’t even imagine what it was going to look like from above.

I climbed up the observation tower, pausing at each level. The second level puts you above most of the trees and gives you a treetop view, but the third and final level kung-foo kicks the breath out of you.


I really think if a person could see that view every day of their lives they wouldn’t ever be unhappy. No way, no how. These pictures don’t do it justice.


So go and check it out. The hills are about 25 minutes from Menomonie. If you take the shortest path, it only takes about another 20 minutes to hike to the tower.

You can even make a day of hiking about the hills and enjoy a break at one of the picnic sites. Bonus: there are also outhouses.

If you want details, visit the website, http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/hoffmanhills/.

Have a great week Stout!

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A Fresh Perspective: Settling In

BDDRyanAs freshmen, the transition to college can be exciting but also nerve-wracking. For me, it was a combination of both. We are so ready to leave the nest and be on our own that we sometimes don’t think about what it really takes to live by ourselves. 10726649_10153479998695752_1997461677_n

I struggled with getting in the pattern of doing everything for myself. I had two weeks of dishes piled in my dish cubby before I realized I was the one who needed to wash them. 

The best pieces of advice I can give to any students – not just freshmen – is do not get behind on anything, get out and meet people and be involved. Getting out there creates an enormous number of connections with people, who can help you adjust and get through those rough days.


Another piece of advice: It’s just easier on you and your roommate if you stay on top of things. Sit down with your roommate and talk about your expectations.. Don’t just do the roommate agreement; actually talk to him or her. The best thing I ever did to calm my nerves about living away from home and with a stranger was talking to Chris (my roommate). Not only are we helping each other get through things, we are really good friends.


Last thing to add: enjoy yourself. You are here for four years; make it an enjoyable time.

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BDDAnnaliseAs fall begins to roll through campus, adjusting to the cool weather when walking to and from classes and meetings reminds me how bittersweet the transition is from high school to college.

The first month has set a new high in terms of free living, being able to hang out with new people at any time of the day and not having class for eight straight hours, Monday through Friday. I do appreciate the freedom, but I also have learned that such freedom of living comes at a price – and I’m not just talking tuition.

 The bitter:

  • You miss the people (and pets) you left back home.

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Sure, it’s nice to try things on your own, but you can’t just walk into the next room and chat with mom and dad about your day and the complications it brought. You have to make a conscious effort to pick up the phone and call them when it not only meets your schedule but theirs too.

As the weeks go on, you find so many clubs and activities you want to be part of. Just sending a quick text to check in with everyone back home becomes extremely hard.

2At the end of the day, those people matter and you still need to make sure they know it, even though you’ve started a new chapter.

  • It’s all you now
  • Waking up on time for class
  • Showing up for class
  • Making sure the dishes are clean
  • Having clean clothes to wear
  • Eating healthy
  • Managing your spending
  • Going to bed at a decent time
  • Locking the door behind you
  • Studying enough and staying off of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

The list goes on and on, but overall everything is up to you now. Parents might have an impact here and there via lectures over the phone, but like I said it’s all up to you how things play out. Not to mention, the consequences are all on you too.

Now, don’t let the bitter over power the sweetness!

The sweetness:

  • New people, new places, new things (Oh my!)

4Around every corner is something or someone new. I’ve been craving this adventure for what seems like forever. Plus, I’m lucky to get along with my roommate. We do almost everything together and have expanded our group of friends with each new adventure, whether it’s hitting up meals between classes, playing ping pong in the basement of our residence hall or catching a free concert.

  • You can find pieces of home around every corner.

5Living away from home is challenging and rewarding all at the same time. For me, the simple things like meeting someone from a rival school back home is so much fun. I enjoy reminiscing with them about those football games that were a close call. Also, I am incredibly fortunate to have various people from high school join me at UW-Stout. They keep me looking forward and remind me that home isn’t far away when things get challenging.

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