Guide to High School Freshmen Year

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Dear Freshmen,
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Welcome to your next four years. They are what you make it. I’m not going to say that these next four years are going to be the best of your life, though for some, they will be. Everyone has their time, their peak, and your’s may be about to begin or they may be in your rearview window. They might be farther up ahead.
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No matter when the golden years begin, you can still make high school worthwhile by remembering what’s important and striving to meet the goals you set in place for yourself.
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Everyone hates the freshmen
This isn’t true in every case, but be prepared to receive some heat from upperclassmen. Trust me, you’ll do the same once you’re in their shoes. It’s just your time to sit at the bottom of the totem pole, so don’t sweat it.
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Learn to take good notes now
If you don’t have a way of taking notes that works for you by senior year, then you will have a rough road ahead of you when you get to college. Notes are so important for succeeding in your classes, and you really need to try your hardest to get your best grades even in your first year.
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Push yourself
Colleges will look at all four years! Don’t look back and fret over classes you could have done better in that may decide which school you will attend in the future. I know I’ve looked back and been disappointed in myself for slacking off when I could have pushed myself further. Your GPA does matter for your college search in the future. Try taking one honors or AP class this year and see how you handle the workload. See how much you can handle and give it your all. I slowly built up my honors classes from one freshmen year, three sophomore year, and then five sophomore and senior year.
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Don’t cheat
I don’t think most people go into school thinking that they can cheat their way out. Most people have the best intentions, but get stuck in a difficult situation which leads to the offense. Getting caught cheating or plagiarizing can be very serious, even permanent record serious. Colleges will see what’s on your permanent record, and plagiarism is one of the worst.
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Plan and Don’t Procrastinate 
Procrastination is the student plague, and I’ve suffered from it too. I couldn’t list on two hands the numbers of things I’ve done to avoid doing my work from deep cleaning my closet to doing movie star makeup. Be diligent and get your work done to avoid feeling stress that can lead to cheating. Overall, getting your work done early gives you extra time to do things you love and lessen that stress altogether. Who wants to be stressed out anyways?
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Get to Know Your Teachers
They are there to help you. Ask them questions about homework you don’t understand and communicate with them about classes you might miss or times to meet with them about your questions from class. It is always better to talk with them earlier than later, especially if you have assignments you need an extended due date for. If you meet with your teachers before the due date (the sooner the better) and present them with a logical explanation to why you can’t turn something in on that date, most would be willing to give you the extension. Show your teachers that you have a strong work ethic and responsibility, and they will be willing to help you succeed. They will also be important later on for teacher recommendations heading into college.
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Try New Things
There is life outside of academics too! Branch out your freshmen year and dabble in a few areas of your interests. Want to try soccer? Tryout for your school’s team or join an outside soccer club for the season. Like art? Check out the school’s art club or take a class in something that interests you. Join Student Government. Volunteer at a local nonprofit. My only advice for you is to find a few things that you love instead of trying to have the most extracurriculars. Focus on the quality of your experiences instead of the quantity. Once you find what you love to do, stick with it and see how much you can achieve in those areas.
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Be Comfortable With Change
This can be harder for some people, and I understand that. Change can be scary. Unfortunately, many of those Middle School friendships you made might break apart, and that’s okay. People change, and so will you. Your friend group might not have the same interests anymore. There are still people in your high school that you can get to know who might be just like you. Everyone as a freshman is eager to make friends and feels the exact same way as you do. Look for people that make you happy and support you as loyal friends should do. Hold onto them, and don’t look back.
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Passby Popularity
The whole invention of being popular and having status is the dumbest thing ever created. Popularity isn’t real, and though it can be exhilarating being caught up in the race, take a step back and realize that it doesn’t have any value. The popular kids won’t always be popular, and the false sense of status they feel won’t last forever. Read any posts online about popularity to see how being uncool is actually the coolest. This article about popularity is very interesting, explaining that sometimes the people with the highest status in high school struggle the most one their out in the real world while those who were considered “geeks” have a higher chance of becoming successful!
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Be Yourself
Don’t act cool for the upperclassmen. They’ll see right through you. Don’t act dumb to get attention. Everyone will see right through you. Don’t fail classes because you think people will like you more. Don’t sign up for classes you hate because your friend or crush is in them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions because you’re afraid of looking stupid. Someone else will always have the same question. Simply, don’t worry what the people around you think, just worry about yourself and what makes you happy. Don’t fit in with the mold, because you’re better than that. You’re you.
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Avoid Drama
Don’t start it. Don’t spread it. Don’t listen to it. Rumors are what they are: rumors. Ignore the ones about yourself. If your friends tell you about the school drama, don’t worry about it anyways. It could very well be false too. Don’t get into drama with someone you don’t like either. It’s never worth it. Just worry about yourself and your life instead of trying to get the scoop on everyone else’s.
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Don’t Judge 
You don’t know all the people around you, just like how many of them won’t know you either. Get to know people before you assume things about them. Everyone is different, and sometimes the people you think you’d like least (based on what you’ve heard about them) can become one of your best friends. I’ve had it happen before.
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Bullying Can Be Stopped
If someone is being bullied, be there for them and don’t be a bystander. Tell a teacher or a parent, and you can even do this anonymously if you want to avoid being a snitch. If you’re being bullied, also tell an adult. Remain calm and act unbothered; they only want your reaction. It’s ok to be hurt when you’re away from your bully. Don’t ignore them forever when you are away from the bully. Present the bully with your face of indifference when you are talking to teachers or counselors behind closed doors.
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Romance Isn’t Everything
If you meet someone and stay with them all four years, fantastic. If you like someone, tell them regardless. Don’t change yourself to be with that guy or girl you like, and don’t pretend to like what they like to be cooler. If you don’t like someone back, be nice to them about it and maybe be friends. If the person you like doesn’t like you back, you can be friends with them or take a few steps back for your own wellbeing. Keep yourself and schoolwork first over any guy/girl because they might not be permanent, and your goals and your future will be.
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I hope you enjoyed this blog post! Write in the comments below the biggest thing you learned in high school for the freshmen!
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Durham, NC City Guide

Copy of How I Became A Better Public Speaker,and How You Can Too!
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Hello Loves! 
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What better way to kick off the blog than by showing some love for my hometown in NC? I love living in North Carolina, and it has far more to offer than just its coastlines (featured in like every Nicholas Sparks novel!). Durham and its surrounding cities are definitely worth a visit. I’ll offer my picks for shopping, food, entertainment, and all my favorite spots!
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THINGS TO DO
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Duke University is the first thing that comes to mind when you talk about Durham. It is one of the most prestigious universities in the nation, known for its top-tier athletic programs and academics. It also happens to have a fathomable campus, featuring the well known Duke Chapel. Take a walk around campus and see the chapel for yourself (the dorms are just as pretty!).
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A quick walk will take you to the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, a top Durham destination. Enjoy the scenery and beauty the garden has to offer, making it an ideal Instagram opportunity as it hosts hundreds of photoshoots for people across the state.
DPAC is the place to go to watch plays, musicals, and more. You can see Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, The Little Mermaid, The Sound of Music, Wicked, Newsies, Kinky Boots, The Nutcracker, and the Lion King.
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Sports fans can buy a ticket to see a baseball game at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. One of the most popular events is the nights where all food concessions are only $1! By day, take a trip to the Duke Lemur Center to photograph or even paint with the lemurs.
Eno River State Park is the place to go hiking and experience NC. Go to the Eno Rock Quarry, a 60 foot deep abandoned stone pit, to swim. Get an adrenaline rush from jumping off the cliff or relax on a float in the water. Bring a float!! Even if you are an experienced swimmer, there is no place to touch once you are in the center of the quarry. There is a deep drop-off all around so having a float is essential to staying above water. There are logs that float in the quarry to hold onto, but having your own float is a better guarantee. Make sure to check the cliff for logs and other debris before jumping.
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For the history junkies out there, you must visit Bennett Place. This farmhouse is where the Civil War ended between Johnston and Sherman. Walk around the site to see the houses and watch a bayonet demonstration. They have several special events throughout the year to educate you about the time period.
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PLACES TO EAT
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Durham wasn’t named the South’s Tastiest Town for nothing! The city has over 700 restaurants, a large sum of which receiving national recognition. You can eat at some of the most delicious bakeries in the South by stopping in the Mad Hatter Bake Shop, Rise, Monuts, Scratch, and more! You can get your coffee at Cocoa Cinnamon along with a fresh pastry.
For lunch, you’ll have to head to Parker & Otis for a panini or Foster’s Market for legendary sandwiches. Go to Nanataco or Pizzeria Toro for a delicious lunch or dinner! My personal favorite is Burger Bach, a New Zealand inspired restaurant that imports their burgers from the country itself! The cows are all pasture fed and the burgers are fresh as nothing is ever refrigerated.
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Vin Rouge is the place to go for an upscale dining experience, and you can hit the Parlour for the best ice cream the city has to offer.
Southpoint Mall also has a wide range of dining options from Cheesecake Factory, Firebirds, Zinburger, and more! Head up towards the food court for Nestle Tollhouse cookies and Hagan Daaz ice cream. 
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SHOPS TO SEE

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This mall also is where you need to shop! It carries well-known brands like Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, and Topshop along with dozens of others. At Southpoint, you can head to Lush to buy your beauty products and homemade soap, Kendra Scott for charming jewelry or Madewell for your wardrobe needs. We have everything from Free People to Anthropologie to J. Crew.
Head to Crate & Barrel and West Elm to furnish your home in the latest styles, and go to Pottery Barn (and we have PB Teen too!) for the younger members of the family.  The Apple Store is in full operation with a cozy Barnes & Noble next-door. Southpoint has everything you need and more!
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In downtown Durham, Brightleaf Square is the place to go for antiques and art. Vert & Vogue, the most recognized store in Durham, also has a location inside the South building. Stop inside for cute clothes!
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HOTELS TO STAY
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Stay at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club if you are looking for luxury. You might just even see a celebrity sitting across from you at dinner.
The 21c Museum Hotel combines art and dining, and it’s only a short walk to DPAC! Aloft Durham and The Durham are also superb.
Also check out The Odyssey’s Durham Bucket List here to get more inspiration for your trip to our lovely city!
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