Category: Husky Hour

Surviving Life Off Campus

In our most recent Husky Hour on 11/18, we discussed the in’s and out’s of surviving life off campus. This is everything you need to know when you’re trying to find a place that best suits your needs. 


*All italicized words will have descriptions at the bottom of the post.

Roommates:

  • Figure out who you want to room with for the next year or six months.
    • But how do you find them?
      • Ask your friends, people within your associated student orgs, Greek life – someone or a group that you will feel comfortable with.
  • Meet with this group or person and discuss your needs
    • what do you want in a rental?
      • Make sure you’re all on the same page in terms of noise, payments, cleaning, etc.

Rental (wants/needs):

Here are the following aspects to keep in mind when looking for a rental, based on the needs/wants you have either discussed with roommates or if you are living on your own need//want out of a space.

  • While looking at all of these aspects, you will need to keep in mind the triangle of renting (cost, quality, location). The triangle of renting only allows you to pick two out of the three options available. To elaborate, if you are looking for something lower in cost you may have to look further away from campus or if you want to be near campus, you will need to sacrifice the quality of your living space. For example, you may only be a 10 minute walk from campus and be right downtown, but your bathroom ceiling might also leak every few weeks causing your apartment to flood. So, vice versa for the other options – if you’re looking for something nicer quality, you will either have to bite the bullet and pay more to be closer to campus or you will have to look further away like in Hancock or Chassell for a nicer quality place. However, if it’s over in Hancock or Chassell, it will most likely be lower in cost, so there’s a silver lining of wanting something nicer quality.
      • Type:
        • Apartment
        • Townhouse
        • House
        • Duplex
      • Location:
        • Near campus?
          • If you are closer to campus, you can walk there, but you will most likely be paying more.
        • Downtown?
        • Elsewhere in Houghton?
        • Hancock or further?
          • Do you and/or your roommates have a car? This would allow you to look further away from campus, but you do need to keep in mind that you will still be paying for gas roughly once a week or so. You will also have to purchase a parking pass for campus or will be paying the meters, as well.
      • Price:
        What can you and/or you and your roommates afford collectively? Consider that you may not just be paying rent but also:
        • Water
        • Electric
        • Heat
        • Internet

While some of these may be included in the rent, most of the time not all will be. Also, consider the following costs that you will all be responsible for either individually or collectively that will influence your decision:

        • TV/cable (which can usually be lumped in with the internet via Charter, but will still be more pricey).
        • Plowing
        • Lawn Care
        • Trash
          • Is there a dumpster, do you have to buy city bags, will you be responsible for taking it to the dump?
        • Maintenance

Lease Dates:

  • Almost all leases in this area will be for 1 year and can start anywhere from early May to late summer.
    • Think about the time frame you and/or your roommates will need to be moved in by.
  • Signed is usually completed by early November, but there will always be places available after this first deadline.
  • If subleasing, keep in mind the lease you will be taking on from the previous tenant and how long you will sign on to be there.
    • Are you taking on the rest of the year or are you taking on 2 months?

Where to look for rentals:

  • USG website
  • GSG website
  • Facebook marketplace
  • Houghton Off Campus Housing website
  • Craigslist
  • Class year Facebook group
  • Ask friends/ask around
    • Ex. I asked my friend the other night if he knew any graduate students going back home after this semester and he countered back and told me that he would have two rooms opening up in the spring for my roommate and I to move into.
  • Call landlords or property managers/look at their websites to see if they have anything available.
    • Ex. the Houghton Off Campus Housing website

When you Find a Potential Rental:
When you find a potential place or places, contact the landlord about doing a tour/walk-through of the property.

  • Keep in mind that with COVID-19, they may have more precautions or want to send pictures instead, be accommodating.
  • You can ask for a picture of the blueprints/floor plan, which will help you get an idea of the layout and what you’re in need of.
  • Ask all questions you have about the property, such as:
    • Laundry
      • shared, in unit, free or coin operated, not on site?
    • Furniture
      • Is the rental furnished at all, if so, with what?
    • Parking
      • How many parking spaces if any are there on site, is there a lot down the street?
    • Plowing
      • Again, make sure you have a clear idea about this, as we have snow 6 months out of the year.
    • Payments
      • Do you have to mail in a check, pay online? What day of the month is rent due by?

Leases:
Keep the following things in mind when receiving a lease:

  • How to get a lease from landlord
    • Do you need to apply? How do you request/receive a lease?
  • Once receiving a lease, landlords should give you an appropriate amount of time to sign the lease, don’t feel pressured or obligated to sign something right away.
  • There will always be something else available, whether or not it is your first choice.
  • Ask questions if you have any.
  • Leases are legally binding documents, once you sign it, you are held to completing the terms.
  • Is it a joint or individual lease?
  • DON’T sign more than one lease, DON”T sign something you don’t understand, DON’T sign something you can’t afford.
  • Don’t be afraid to propose addendums if you feel comfortable.
    • Ex. If you agree with your landlord that you will take care of lawn care during the summer months instead of someone else in exchange for money off your rent, you could propose that would be in the addendum to make sure that you both are under legal obligation to uphold this.

Landlord/Tenant Etiquette:

  • Treat your lease like a business contract.
  • Don’t ask your current landlord about other landlords or properties that aren’t theirs.
    • Ex. you wouldn’t go to a Subway and try to order McDonald’s. Or you wouldn’t go to Rhythm and ask them to sell your old Walmart bike for you.
    • Either way, don’t put a landlord in a situation where they are selling someone else’s product.
  • Pay attention to emails/notifications from your landlord. These will include information you need to know, such as moving-in and moving-out, and other pertinent information such as plumbing issues or construction.

Descriptions:

  • Triangle of Renting
    • The triangle of renting is composed of (cost, quality, and location) of your rental. It only allows you to pick two out of the three options available, depending on which aspects are most important to you in a living space.
  • Subleasing
    • Subleasing is when you are extending your lease out to a new person to take over already said lease. However, the original tenant on the lease will still be reliable for obligations within the initial lease signed.
  • Joint Lease
    • This is when all tenants sign the same lease, meaning that as a collective everyone is responsible for all rules, regulations, and payments agreed and signed on.
      • Used most commonly.
      • NOTE: If you need to break a lease for whatever reason and are in a joint lease, this means both you and your roommate(s) are ending the lease and can be liable for damages or may forfeit your deposit.
  • Individual Lease
    • This is when all tenants sign individual lease’s, for the same shared unit. However, the lease if for their bedroom OR their own personal share of the lease.
  • Addendum
    • Any additional material added to the lease that is not on the initial document.
    • Remember to communicate with a landlord if you would like to add an addendum.

Additional Resources:

Sample Lease

A Practical Guide for Tenants & Landlords


Moving Off Campus

As we have been receiving more and more questions from students about moving off campus, we thought we would create a quick overview of a few things to keep in mind when doing so.

Rooming:

  • Figure out who you want to room with: Single, randomized, friends, etc.
    • If you want to move in with friends or someone you know, meet with them and come up with a list of needs:
      • Type
      • Location
      • Price: The general rule of thumb price wise to consider is:
        • Heat-look for gas, NOT electric
        • Water
        • Electricity
        • Internet
        • TV/Cable
        • Plowing
        • Lawn Care
        • Trash
        • Maintenance
      • Lease Date: Almost all leases in the Houghton area are for 1 year and will start anywhere between early May through late summer. Think about the time frame that would work best for all of you.
    • If you are looking for a place by yourself or looking for a single room in a house, you can use the previous notes to an extent.
      • Again, look at the type, location, price, and lease or sublease dates. Figure out how much you can spend per month and still have enough for other spending such as groceries, gas, school, etc. Look at the different options and decide what you will feel most comfortable in (you might not get your first choice, but there will always be other options). Make sure you’re in a good location, if you don’t have a car make sure it’s walking distance or maybe if you do have a car you still don’t want to spend a lot on gas each month.

Resources:

  • You can begin by looking at the following sources:
    • Houghton Off Campus Housing (HOCH)
    • Undergraduate Student Government (USG)’s website
    • Facebook Marketplace
    • Michigan Tech Marketplace on Facebook
    • Houghton Rental Housing
    • Copper Country Rentals
    • Craigslist

Questions:

  • As soon as you find a place you are interested in, set up a showing to view it. If you can’t view it (be understanding of COVID-19 precautions), look at the floor plans and pictures of the space. Also, call the landlord or company (or visit their websites) and ask whatever questions you have, such as:
    • Is there laundry on site? Is it shared? Is it free or coin-operated
    • Is the place furnished at all? What will you need to provide of your own?
    • Is there parking on site, if so how many spots? If parking is off site, where is it?
    • Plowing (again-since we live in a snow globe most of the year)
    • How can you pay? By check, cash, online, etc.? When is rent due each month?
    • Is it a joint or individual lease? *Joint lease means everyone is equally responsible for the full amount, individual lease means you are responsible for a separate portion of the overall rental
    • How do you receive/request a lease? Do you need to apply?
    • Are pets allowed? If so are they only ESA/Service animals?

Lease:

  • When you finally receive the lease to sign, really make sure to read through it thoroughly:
    • You should be given time to read it in full and ask questions before signing-don’t feel pressured into anything.
    • If you have any questions, ask them.
    • A lease is a binding document-once it’s signed by both parties, you are held to completing the terms.
    • DON’T sign more than one lease, DON’T sign something you don’t understand, DON’T sign something you can’t afford
    • Again, don’t feel pressured to sign a lease right away, there will always be things available through the fall semester and into the spring, and even later on into the spring semester

Lastly, pay attention to emails/notifications from your landlord. They should be sending you over information on move-in and move-out, and possibly other helpful information that comes along with renting.


Gaining Control in a Chaotic World

By: Sarah Woodruff

During this pandemic, it can become easy to feel like things are out of control. The switch to online classes and the stay at home orders are just a couple of the things we cannot control. It is natural to feel the need to control something when everything around you seems out of control. But what can we control in these uncertain times? When things are out of control, one of the best things we can do is focus on what we can control in our own little worlds. Here are a few ideas:

  • Clean up an area of your living space or complete a project you have been putting off
  • Come up with a plan on how you will spend your day and make sure to include time for self-care
  • Look for opportunities, maybe it is time to pick up a hobby you once loved again
  • Put a limit on how much mental space, focus, and energy that you allow COVID-19 to hold
  • Practice small gestures of kindness for others and yourself while practicing social distancing
  • Work on broadening your perspective – it can victimize you or empower you. Once you realize that you have a choice of how to perceive and respond to challenges, you can start to focus your mind more on what is possible and build upon it.

The fact is, we as humans have always needed other humans to survive. This situation is no different now, even though we are practicing social distancing. We all need to work together to solve our problems, both big and small. We have the choice to either accept things or problem solve depending on the situation. We can either react to the pandemic with fear, or we can respond with kindness both to ourselves and others. How we respond to the situation, ourselves, and others is where our control lies.

It’s important to recognize that you are doing many productive things in your life while possibly feeling the gamut of emotions such as fear and distress. Work on accepting yourself, your current situation, and your life without judgement or blame. We don’t have a clear path right now on what the future holds, and actually, we never do. We can all find comfort in taking things one day at a time, reaching out to those we hold dear via electronic means, focusing on the things we can control, and most of all be compassionate with yourself. We are all doing the best that we can in a difficult situation.


Mental Health Wellness Tips for Coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Sarah Woodruff

I recently came across a post “Mental Health Wellness Tips for Quarantine” by Dr. Eileen Feliciano, a Psychologist in New York. She has put together an extensive list of tips to help us all cope with the isolation and fear that we all may be feeling regarding the pandemic. She says, “I can’t control a lot of what is going on right now, but I can contribute this.” That is true for all of us, we cannot control a lot of what is going on in the world right now, but we all have things that we can contribute and accomplish, no matter how small. I’ve adapted her tips for MTU students, check them out below: 


1. Stick to a routine

Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, write a schedule that is varied and includes time for classes, homework as well as self-care.

2. Dress for the social life you want, not the social life you have

Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth. Take the time to do a bath or a facial.  Put on some bright colors.  It is amazing how our dress can impact our mood.

3. Get out at least once a day, for at least 30 minutes

If you are concerned of contact, try first thing in the morning, or later in the evening, and try less travelled streets and avenues.  If you are high risk or living with those who are high risk, open the windows and blast the fan.  It is amazing how much fresh air can do for spirits.

4. Find some time to move, again daily for at least 30 minutes

If you do not feel comfortable going outside, there are many YouTube videos that offer free movement classes, and if all else fails, turn on the music and have a dance party!

5. Reach out to others, you guessed it, at least once daily for 30 minutes

Try to do FaceTime, Skype, phone calls, texting—connect with other people to seek and provide support.  

6. Stay hydrated and eat well

This one may seem obvious, but stress and eating often do not mix well, and we find ourselves over-indulging, forgetting to eat, and avoiding food.  Drink plenty of water, eat some good and nutritious foods, and challenge yourself to learn how to cook something new!

7. Develop a self-care toolkit

This can look different for everyone.  A lot of successful self-care strategies involve a sensory component (seven senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell, vestibular (movement) and proprioceptive (comforting pressure).  An idea for each: a soft blanket or stuffed animal, a hot chocolate, photos of vacations, comforting music, lavender or eucalyptus oil, a small swing or rocking chair, a weighted blanket.  A journal, an inspirational book, or a mandala coloring book is wonderful, bubbles to blow or blowing watercolor on paper through a straw are visually appealing as well as work on controlled breath.  Mint gum, Listerine strips, ginger ale, frozen Starburst, ice packs, and cold are also good for anxiety regulation. 

8. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and a wide berth

A lot of cooped up time can bring out the worst in everyone.  Each person will have moments when they will not be at their best.  It is important to move with grace through blowups, to not show up to every argument you are invited to, and to not hold grudges and continue disagreements.  Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through this.

9. Everyone find their own retreat space

Space is at a premium.  It is important that people think through their own separate space for work and for relaxation.  Identify a place where you can go to retreat when stressed.  You can make this place cozy by using blankets, pillows, cushions, scarves, or beanbags.  It is good to know that even when we are on top of each other, we have our own special place to go to be alone.

10. Lower expectations and practice radical self-acceptance

We are doing too many things in this moment, under fear and stress.  This does not make a formula for excellence.  Instead, give yourself what psychologists call “radical self-acceptance”: accepting everything about yourself, your current situation, and your life without question, blame, or pushback.  You cannot fail at this—there is no roadmap, no precedent for this, and we are all truly doing the best we can in an impossible situation. 

11. Limit social media and COVID conversations

One can find tons of information on COVID-19 to consume, and it changes minute to minute. The information is often sensationalized, negatively skewed, and alarmist.  Find a few trusted sources that you can check in with consistently, limit it to a few times a day, and set a time limit for yourself on how much you consume (again 30 minutes tops, 2-3 times daily).  

12. Notice the good in the world, the helpers

There is a lot of scary, negative, and overwhelming information to take in regarding this pandemic.  There are also a ton of stories of people sacrificing, donating, and supporting one another in miraculous ways.  It is important to counter-balance the heavy information with the hopeful information. 

13. Help others

Find ways, big and small, to give back to others.  Support restaurants, offer to grocery shop, check in with neighbors, write psychological wellness tips for others—helping others gives us a sense of agency when things seem out of control. 

14. Find something you can control, and control the heck out of it

In moments of big uncertainty and overwhelm, control your little corner of the world.  Organize your bookshelf, purge your closet, put together that furniture.  It helps to anchor and ground us when the bigger things are chaotic.

15. Find a long-term project to dive into

Now is the time to learn how to play the keyboard, put together a huge jigsaw puzzle, start a 15 hour game of Risk, paint a picture, read the Harry Potter series, binge watch an 8-season show, crochet a blanket, solve a Rubix cube, or develop a new town in Animal Crossing.  Find something that will keep you busy, distracted, and engaged to take breaks from what is going on in the outside world.

16. Engage in repetitive movements and left-right movements

Research has shown that repetitive movement (knitting, coloring, painting, clay sculpting, jump roping etc) especially left-right movement (running, drumming, skating, hopping) can be effective at self-soothing and maintaining self-regulation in moments of distress.

17. Find an expressive art and go for it

Our emotional brain is very receptive to the creative arts, and it is a direct portal for release of feeling.  Find something that is creative (sculpting, drawing, dancing, music, singing, playing) and give it your all.  See how relieved you can feel.  It is a very effective way of helping kids to emote and communicate as well!

18. Find lightness and humor in each day

There is a lot to be worried about, and with good reason.  Counterbalance this heaviness with something funny each day: cat videos on YouTube, a stand-up show on Netflix, a funny movie—we all need a little comedic relief in our day, every day.

19. Reach out for help – your team is there for you

If you have a therapist or psychiatrist, they are available to you, even at a distance.  Keep up your medications and your therapy sessions the best you can.  If you are having difficulty coping, seek out help for the first time.  There are mental health people on the ready to help you through this crisis.  There is help and support out there, any time of the day—although we are physically distant, we can always connect virtually.

20. “Chunk” your quarantine, take it moment by moment

We have no road map for this.  We don’t know what this will look like in 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month from now.  Often, when I work with patients who have anxiety around overwhelming issues, I suggest that they engage in a strategy called “chunking”—focusing on whatever bite-sized piece of a challenge that feels manageable.  Whether that be 5 minutes, a day, or a week at a time—find what feels doable for you, and set a time stamp for how far ahead in the future you will let yourself worry.  Take each chunk one at a time, and move through stress in pieces.

21. Remind yourself daily that this is temporary

It seems in the midst of this quarantine that it will never end.  It is terrifying to think of the road stretching ahead of us.  Please take time to remind yourself that although this is very scary and difficult, and will go on for an undetermined amount of time, it is a season of life and it will pass.  We will return to feeling free, safe, busy, and connected in the days ahead.

22. Find the lesson

This whole crisis can seem sad, senseless, and at times, avoidable.  When psychologists work with trauma, a key feature to helping someone work through said trauma is to help them find their agency, the potential positive outcomes they can affect, the meaning and construction that can come out of destruction.  What can each of us learn here, in big and small ways, from this crisis?  What needs to change in ourselves, our homes, our communities, our nation, and our world?

Article credit: Eileen Feliciano, NYS Psychologist. Original article can be found here: http://www.sfu.ca/olc/blog/my-ssp/mental-health-wellness-tips-quarantine


Stress Less

By: Eric Arundel

Hello everyone! I hope you’re doing well and trying to find the joy in your daily life of physical isolation. I am intentionally calling it physical isolation instead of social isolation because I believe we still need to try our best to be social and connected with those around us. This is why I wanted to try and connect with our campus even when we aren’t seeing each other face to face daily.


Typically I share this talk on stress and coping once a semester during Husky Hour. It’s intended to be a starting place for how stress works and how to manage it. Normally this talk is pretty interactive because I think it’s beneficial to have people talk to each other and share what works for them. In the place of that I’ve tried to leave spots for you to pause the video and really think about the answer to the question I’m posing. Ultimately change only happens when we are intentional.


With that said, here’s the link to the video: https://huskycast.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=ac679de4-d70c-4b26-a838-ab8f014dfd34


I hope it helps you deal with the stressors of your day!