Badgers, Find Your Balance

Badgers, Find your balance

Its the start of another school year and after nine months, I’m officially back on campus at UW-Madison. Needless to say, the school work-load will be a bit of adjustment after spending four months abroad, but I’m excited for all that the semester will bring.

Apart from diving right back into school, I’m also jumping back into writing—this time for The Daily Cardinal, a school newspaper on campus that I have been involved in for the last two years. In the past, I have only done social media work for the Cardinal, so I am excited to take on writing for them this year.

My first piece focuses on the stressors that the first few weeks of college bring and how finding balance between school and extracurriculars can be difficult, but is not impossible. You can also find the original article published on the Daily Cardinal’s website here.

Badgers, Find Your Balance

September brings the start of a new school year and a clean slate for every student—the chance for reinvention.

As a freshman, the first year away at college can be overwhelming. After your parents leave you on move-in day, you’re on your own. No is one there to make decisions for you, instead, it’s all on you. House Fellows may encourage you to engage with the students on your floor and attend the Student Organization Fair, while professors point you towards the library. Ultimately, however, whether or not you participate in any of these activities is entirely up to you.

On the other hand, as a returning student, the new school year brings change and opportunity. The chance to try a new club or take on the leadership role you weren’t qualified for the year before. If another school year has passed you by without achieving your goals—now is the time to tackle what didn’t fit into your schedule before.

Whether you are a freshman or a returner, you attend countless welcome meetings, sit through various orientations and attend try-outs. Within the first few weeks of September, you’ve tried just about everything, switched classes multiple times and are running on an average of five and a half hours of sleep per night. Time to reevaluate your commitments and make some big decisions.

It’s easy to forget the real reason every student is on campus—to earn a degree and eventually graduate. Balancing school with extracurricular commitments and seeing your friends every once in awhile is like a puzzle. All the pieces will fall into place eventually, but it may take some time and hard work to get there.

In the first few weeks of school, it is important to take a step back and see the bigger picture. College is about doing what makes you happy. If juggling two jobs, a student org, intramurals and school is stressing you out, determine what you don’t need and let it go. There is always next semester to pick it up again.

So say yes to something new, but don’t be afraid to turn people and opportunities down if something doesn’t feel right. Most importantly, amid all the madness that is college, make time for yourself. Find the gap in your schedule for a quick nap or a trip to the gym. Take a night to hang out with your friends. You’ll be quick to find that you aren’t the only one feeling overloaded.

College is overwhelming, especially when everything is thrown at you at the start of September. Finding balance can be difficult, but is not impossible. It’s all about the choices you make.

Nondrinkers on Campus


Over the fall semester in my journalism class at UW-Madison, I was able to explore a topic I have always been incredibly passionate about: the choice to  drink and what it is like to be a non-drinker at a school that celebrates alcohol culture.

We were allowed to choose any topic that was in some way connected to UW-Madison and investigate and learn more about. And for me, this topic was a no-brainer. While I spent many long hours working on this project, interviewing people, writing stories and working with different storytelling mediums, I ultimately produced a final website that I am incredibly proud of that encapsulates my entire project.

As a nondrinker myself, I don’t know many other people that choose not to drink at UW-Madison as well. This project pushed me to reach out to others that I didn’t know beforehand who also don’t drink. Learning about why they each made the decision not to drink was very eye-opening, as each person had their own reasons as to why they don’t drink. I had amazing conversations with each individual featured on my website and really do not feel that I had enough space to tell their stories. This was one project where I really hated having word limits as not only could those who I interviewed talk about this subject forever, but so can I.

I have always felt that many stories written about UW-Madison’s drinking culture focus on those who choose to drink and UW’s draw as the top party school in the country (thank you Princeton Review), and seem to leave out another population of students: those who choose not to drink.

Last semester, I ran across two articles also written by students attending UW-Madison who wrote about being non-drinking students at Wisconsin. I loved both pieces written by Jonah Beleckis and Jenny Recktenwald and was able to talk with both of them for my story. I encourage you to read both of their great columns here:

Jonah Beleckis: Letter to the editor: UW-Madison’s alcohol culture alienates non-drinkers

Jenny Recktenwald: Believe it or not, I don’t need alcohol to have fun

I really hope you take the time to look through my website and hear more about their stories, as well as the other individuals’ incredible stories that I was able to learn more about, as this is something that I’m really proud of and invested a lot of time in this past semester. I love talking about this topic (as you will probably see) so feel free to reach out to me if you want to talk further about it!

You can find my website at

ESPN College Gameday Tour


As a j-schooler, I’ve learned how important it is to check my emails almost every time that I look at my phone. You never know when there might be breaking news or emails that need an immediate response. This was one of those times. UW-Madison journalism students were offered the opportunity to go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the ESPN College Gameday set on Friday at three different times. There were a limited number of spots available for the tours, about 15 students per group, and the first students to respond were allowed to go.


Luckily, I was able to sign up for one of the times and was able to quickly make my way to Bascom Hill after work on Friday.


2011 was the last time that ESPN Gameday came to Madison. They had scouted the school the week before they came, and decided that Bascom Hill was the place that best represented our campus and would provide them with the most space for the set. Set producers and scouts had to determine how they would get all the trucks there, it is a very large hill after all, but they were able to park all eight of their traveling trucks on Observatory Drive at the top of Bascom. The same thing occurred this year when ESPN decided that College Gameday was heading back to UW-Madison for the Wisconsin Badgers versus the Ohio State Buckeyes game on Saturday.

Senior Operations Producer Judi Weiss lead our group on the tour. As a live show was about to begin, we first made our way to the main set where the broadcast desk set-up in front of Abe and Bascom Hall to take photos. We also got to look at the cameras and monitors set up around the desk.


After each group had a chance to take a few pictures, we were hurried off the set and up Bascom Hill to Observatory Drive where the main production trailer was. While the set itself is transported in different trucks each week when there is a different destination, the main production trailer and the tour bus travels to every location with the 65 cast and crew members.


We then went into the main production trailer to look a the set-up and even watch as a bit of the live show was produced. During a live Saturday morning show, 25 crew members made up of producers, the director, analysts, and other personnel, are squeezed into single trailer. It’s incredible. We were allowed to watch for a few minutes, then were hustled out as the next tour was about to start.

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It was a fantastic experience to see how a show as big as ESPN’s College Gameday is scouted, transported, set-up, produced, and torn down all in the matter of a week during EVERY SINGLE WEEK OF THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON. It’s an insane amount of work, but after touring the set, it is clear that each cast and crew member loves what they do and wouldn’t change it for the world.  


Jonah Beleckis’ letter to the editor: a look at UW-Madison’s alcohol culture


I stumbled upon Jonah Beleckis’ column “Letter to the editor: UW-Madison’s alcohol culture alienates non-drinkers” last spring while scheduling my posts for the Daily Cardinal’s Twitter account. As a member of the social media team, I would often times simply skim through the articles and quickly move on to create my caption. This article stopped me in my tracks.

“Hello, my name is Jonah.”

Beleckis hooked me from his opening line, pushing me to read further as if the title of the column itself had not already peaked my interest.

As a college student who has never had a sip of alcohol in my life, it is often difficult for me to find voices on campus that see things from the same lense as I do. Because of this, Beleckis’ column really connected with me. His experience as a student at UW-Madison who is a non-drinker is different from my own of course, but I relate to many of the situations that he discusses.

Beleckis recalls times where professors would make jokes about weekend antics, insinuating alcohol consumption, or times where he found himself standing in a packed Camp Randall crowd listening to the chants of “We! Want! More! Beer!” coming from the students around him. These are all common occurrences that most students on campus have experienced and can relate to. Few can attest to being uncomfortable with the casualness in which behavior involving alcohol is tossed around on the UW-Campus. Like Jonah, I know this feeling and relate.

Jonah really made me question UW-Madison’s drinking culture when he told the story of the first party he attended freshman year. He went to a house party where a cup of wop or beer or “whatever” was $5, the usual entrance fee on campus.

“My friend and I weren’t drinking, and after we informed the makeshift bouncer, he scoffed as if his bravado were up to peer review and asked me, ‘Why would you come to a house party and not drink?’ I bit my tongue and paid for an empty cup. We all make sacrifices to be accepted, right?”

Jonah’s final line from this paragraph, “We all make sacrifices to be accepted, right?” really stuck with me. No matter if you are a non-drinker or not, there are times in every person’s life where decisions are made in order to be accepted or fit the norm. He challenges the reader here to relate to his piece, whether they consume alcohol or not, and continue to read on.

To test the reader’s views on UW-Madison’s drinking culture even more, Beleckis provides statistics on binge-drinking specific to UW-Madison from Reonda Washington, the University Health Services Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Coordinator. One of the most alarming facts from Washington that Beleckis chooses to highlight, is that fifty percent of UW-Madison’s undergrads are considered “high-risk drinkers.”

This sounds fine, until Beleckis informs the reader that other UW-System schools reported 35 percent and that the national average was 36 percent. That puts in perspective how extreme UW-Madison’s drinking culture is compared to other universities.

I wish that he had provided more statistics on students that drink on campus versus those who do not. At the same time, I understand that there is most likely a lack of data on this subject but it would have been interesting to see more data on students that choose not to drink in his article.

Beleckis leaves a lasting impression when he encourages his readers to respect each other’s limits and differences.

“I’ve said no to a drink many more times than I’ve Jumped Around. I believe there are others on this campus who choose to say no, who might even have a harder time saying no.”
Through this column, Beleckis gives a voice to others on campus that are in the same or a similar situation as he is. He reminds those who struggle, or who feel isolated, that they are not alone on campus. Because of this, he makes it a personal and difficult article for one to forget.

Jonah Beleckis’ original article can be found here: 

This blog post was original published on as an assignment for Journalism 202 at UW-Madison.

How to Ace Your First Week of College

How to Ace Your First Week of College

Tomorrow is the first day of classes here at UW-Madison. In honor of the first day of school, I have accumulated a list of tips for making it through your first week without stressing and freaking out too much.

  1. Walk your classes before the first day: Being that I go to a school that has such a large campus, this is particularly important for me. While I may have had classes in one building before, walking my classes before school starts in order to find the exact room I will be in is crucial (umm…the Humanities building anyone?) This will also help you avoid the cliche of ending up in the wrong class and awkwardly having to sneak out (unsuccessfully of course). Even if your school has a small classes I really suggest walking your classes before the first day!
  2. Stay organized: Whether this means color coding your folders and notebooks for each class, writing out your schedule for the week including deadlines in your new planner, or simply just glancing at your class schedule the night before, just do what you need to do in order to be prepared.
  3. Don’t freak out: As simple of a tip as it may sound, it is one of the most difficult ones. You will most likely feel overwhelmed and the natural response is to freak out. Just don’t do it. You will get through it and figure things out!
  4. Don’t sit in the last row of class: It may be tempting. You can text, go on your computer–really do anything but pay attention to the lecture while sitting in the back. While you don’t have to sit in the front row either, find a place you feel comfortable sitting that will encourage you to pay attention in class. You’ll be thankful you did when midterms and finals come around.
  5. Be early: Especially on the first day, it is important to be early to class. This will allow you time to find your class if you get lost, pick the best seat in the lecture hall, and organize your things before the hall begins to fill up.
  6. Set multiple alarms: This goes back to being early, you can never be too early and setting multiple alarms can help this. You might press snooze on your first one so setting multiple will be your catch all. Besides, your mom or dad is not there anymore to wake you up and make sure you get going on time.
  7. Be outgoing and say hello: Don’t be that person. Don’t be the person that doesn’t look up, who doesn’t smile or say hello, or who gives the death glare. Just don’t be that person.
  8. Use your resources: You might still be figuring things out, even if you are a sophomore, junior, or senior! Don’t be afraid to reach out for help from your RA, school counselor, or even just another student. That is what they are there for and usually will be more than willing to help you out.
  9. Don’t be afraid to call home. Sometimes the only thing that can calm you down or help you out of any situation involves a call home and hearing the sound of your mom or dad’s voice.
  10. Most importantly, DON’T FORGET TO HAVE FUN! It’s easy to get overwhelmed your first week, but you have all year for that. Have some fun during syllabus week.

Dorm Decorating!

Mike Archer (1)

I moved into my dorm last week at UW-Madison. Because I recently got a job as a desk services worker for the residence halls, I moved in two weeks earlier than most people on campus. While this meant that the majority of people on campus were the house follows, desk  employees, and athletes, it also meant that I was the only person moving into my dorm that day and could take my time moving things in.

Prior to moving in, I had of course spent weeks pinning ways to organize my room, different craft decorations I could make, and various ways to display my photos. Needless to say, I was VERY excited to start decorating my room!

The first thing I put up was the DIY Photo Frame I made a few weeks ago. You can find out how to make one yourself in this blog post: .


With me, I had brought a bunch of painted canvases that I had done over the past year. There were two distinct groups of them, so they were divided up and hung with their like group. The first collection of canvases were UW-Madison themed. I hung these up over my desk and finished off the area by hanging my Badger flag over them. I’m really happy with how this area turned out!

The other collection of canvases were a bit softer as they featured similar light purple, green, and blue colors. The majority of these canvases had quotes and went together quite well. These I centered over my tv and eight cube organizer. I thought that this helped to give this media area a more relaxed vibe. Plus I just really like how they all go together.


Before moving in, I had printed a bunch of photos from the past year and summer out at Walmart. I decided to display them in a simple way above my futon and chair, under my lofted bed. I used sticky tack (one of my favorite things for hanging things up, it’s great!) to fasten the photos to the wall. I thought this was a simple, yet organized way to display these photos.

I also hung up my Ed Sheeran flag and Badger pennant on the wall between my desk and “kitchen area.” To complete my room, I hung up some lights above my bed and strung some beneath as well. The star lights that are above my bed are from IKEA and can be found here: . They were a must find for me when I went through the IKEA in Seattle with my family. The string fairy lights were from Amazon and I had used them last year in my dorm room as well.

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After the first night in my room, I discovered that the blinds provided in the room did not do a decent job of blocking out the sunlight. The next time I came home, I picked up some blackout curtains at my local Meijer. They are turquoise/blue and match with the color scheme of my room perfectly. Their addition has helped with the light issue in my room.

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Overall, I’m really happy with how my room has come along so far. I still have another string of lights I might add, but other than that, I think it is pretty much done and feels pretty homey to me! Let me know what you think or how you are planning on decorating your room!


My College Packing List

MY College Packing List

Prior to leaving for college last year, I remember constantly scrolling through Pinterest pinning every single college packing list I could find. Many of these lists had overlapping items and some hand pointless items that were totally unnecessary to bring to college.

After going through these lists for a few weeks, I combined and edited a bunch of lists and accumulated my own. This list was critical to my packing. While I may have brought a few other things that are not included on it, it encompasses most of the major things that I brought. Be sure to talk with your roommate(s) about what you are planning on bringing so you do not overlap items!

I have already started to pack for this coming school year and am utilizing my list again. I’m sharing it with you in the hopes that you will find it useful as you begin to pack this year. It may also save you some time and keep you from searching through every list you can find on Pinterest.

Let me know in the comments if you think there is anything important missing from my list or anything you saw that you had not thought of before that is on it!

Oh, and good luck packing!

My College Packing List


  • Twin X-Long Sheets (Two Sets)
  • Blankets
  • Duvet Cover
  • Duvet Insert
  • Mattress Pad
  • Pillow Cases
  • Pillows
  • Body Pillow
  • Throw Pillows
  • Mattress Protector


  • Body Towels
  • Hand Towel
  • Washcloths
  • Towel Wrap/Bathrobe
  • Curling Iron
  • Hair Straightener
  • Hair Dryer
  • Shower Caddy
  • Shower Shoes
  • Hair Brush
  • Comb
  • Lotion
  • Conditioner
  • Shampoo
  • Other Hair Products
  • Hair Spray
  • Nail Clippers
  • Q-Tips
  • Razor
  • Shaving Cream
  • Soap
  • Sunscreen
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Tweezers
  • Scale


  • Tape
  • Stapler
  • Staples
  • Calendar/Planner
  • Desk Lamp
  • Envelopes
  • Stamps
  • Paper Clips
  • Pencil Sharpener
  • Post Its
  • Rubber Bands
  • Scissors
  • Alarm Clock
  • Dry Erase Board
  • Calculator
  • Highlighters
  • Note Cards
  • Sharpie Markers


  • Laptop
  • Headphones x2
  • HDMI Cable
  • Ethernet Cable
  • Printer
  • Ink
  • Printer Paper
  • Surge Protectors
  • USB/Flash Drive
  • DVDs/Movies
  • Extension Cords
  • iPod Speakers
  • TV and Remote
  • Phone Charger
  • Computer Cord
  • Camera
  • Power Strip
  • DVD Player
  • JamBox

Dorm Room Necessities

  • Book Light
  • Futon
  • Kleenex
  • Mini Ottoman With Storage
  • Vacuum
  • All-Purpose Cleaner
  • Wipes
  • Steamer
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Broom
  • Lint Roll/Brush
  • Area Rug
  • Floor Lamp
  • Air Freshner Spray


  • Posters
  • Pictures
  • Lights
  • Picture Frames
  • Decorative Pillows
  • Adhesive Hooks


  • Clearisel
  • Face Pads
  • Neosporin
  • Band-Aids
  • Face Wash
  • Deodorant
  • First Aid Kit
  • Aleve/Aspirin
  • Cold Medicine
  • Gas Medicine
  • Cough Medicine
  • Thermometer
  • Vitamins
  • Makeup
  • Makeup Remover
  • Perfume
  • Bobby Pins
  • Hair Ties
  • Headbands
  • Feminine Products
  • Nail Polish
  • Nail Polish Remover
  • Cotton Balls
  • Floss
  • Wipes


  • Plates/Bowls/Cups
  • Can Opener
  • Pizza Cutter
  • Silverware
  • Paper Towels
  • Tupperware
  • Granola Bars
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Bread
  • Popcorn
  • Chip Clips
  • Dish Soap
  • Dish Brush/Sponge
  • Dish Towel
  • Microwave
  • Water Pitcher
  • Filters for Pitcher
  • Ziploc Bags
  • Water Bottles
  • Water

School Supplies

  • 4 Folders
  • 4 Binders
  • 4 Notebooks
  • Loose Leaf
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Sharpies
  • Highlighters
  • Backpack
  • 4 Notebooks
  • Pencil Case
  • Eraser
  • Calculator
  • Laptop Sleeve
  • Textbooks


  • Hangers
  • Fabric Softner
  • Hamper
  • Dryer Sheets
  • Stain Remover
  • Tide Pods


  • Under Bed Storage
  • Stacking Drawers
  • Shoe Storage
  • Closet Organizer
  • Duffle Bag
  • Waste Basket
  • Desk Organizer
  • Over the Door Organizer


  • Batteries
  • Duct Tape
  • Fan
  • Safety Pins
  • Sewing Kit
  • Umbrella
  • Soccer Stuff
  • Scooter
  • Board Games
    • Cards
    • Catchphrase
  • Lanyard


  • Hoodies
  • Jackets
  • Jeans
  • Rain Boot
  • Pants
  • Shorts
  • Skirts
  • Snow Boots
  • Sweaters
  • Sweatpants
  • Swimsuit
  • T-Shirts
  • Winter Wear
  • Shoes
  • Workout Clothes
  • Pajamas
  • Belts
  • Dresses
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Coats
  • Scarves
  • Jewelry
  • Purse/Wallet
  • Sunglasses


  • Drivers License
  • Debit Card
  • Credit Card
  • Medical Insurance Card
  • Financial Aid Info
  • Bank Info
  • Checks
  • Student ID
  • Social Security Card

Here is a document version of my checklist if you want to print it out and use it or edit it!


Don’t Forget These 10 Items When Packing for College

10 Items

It’s about that time to start planning your list for heading off to college. These can be long lists and while searching for futons and microwaves you may forget the little things that are most definitely some of the most important items that should be on your list.

Here are 10 things that you should add to your list of things to pack if they aren’t already there:

  1. Paper Towel: There will be spills. Just bring it. Please.
  2. Command Strips: Of all types and sizes. Hanging your things up allows you so much more space in your small room. Make sure you have both heavy duty strips for heavier objects coats and backpacks and lighter strips for hanging up accessories like hats and necklaces.
  3. Kleenex. Srsly though. You’d be amazed at all the people who don’t have kleenex in their rooms, especially when the floor plague comes around (it’s a real thing, and beware of it). Using toilet paper is NOT FUN. Just bring a starter box at least!
  4. Vitamins and Emergen-C: like I said, the floor plague is real. Be ready to combat it early with vitamins and Emergen-C.EmergenC_OriginalFormula_Tropical_cupAndPacket_mini.jpg
  5. Tide Pods: the best thing that you can do for yourself to help get through doing your own laundry. They make it so easy. Throw one in for a light load and two for a heavy or particularly dirty load. Bam. You’re done.
  6. A scissors: they come in handy and you might be the only one around on your floor with a pair of them. You’ll be famous.
  7. A vacuum. Either a handheld or a small stand-up vacuum is a must have in college. If you are living in the dorms, you’re front desk will most likely have one. In my experience though, these vacuums are not well maintained and usually do not work. Having your own will make cleaning so much easier and quicker. Trust me!
  8. Hanging Wall Lights: If you are sharing a room with a roommate these are a must have! Not only do they serve as a pretty decoration, but they are the perfect lights to leave on for your roommate when you decide to go to bed early and they are out late. Instead of leaving all the lights on, leave these on instead, they give off just enough light for your roommate to come in and get ready for bed without waking you up. Here is a cheap option from Target:
  9. Mini Storage Ottoman: You can find these at Target or Bed Bath and Beyond and let me tell you they are SUPER HANDY. They serve as storage, a table, a foot rest, or extra seating. I used mine almost daily last year and it is where I kept my extra blankets for when friends came to stay overnight. ottoman.jpg My choice is this ottoman for $14.44 from Target:
  10. Dish Soap and a Sponge: this is actually really important. Don’t forget it! I was amazed by some of my friends who didn’t have any of their own and rarely cleaned their dishes. Don’t let this be you. Be cleanly. (I prefer a Dobie Pad: )

I’ve Missed You Old Friend

I've Missed You Old Friend 2

Since returning home from college, I’ve thought a lot about the things that I missed most while I was away. 9 long months away some from of my favorite things. How I managed, I’m not quite sure. I guess it’s true when people say “you never know what you’ve got til’ it’s gone.” Okay, maybe that is a little extreme for the things I’m talking about. These things I’ve missed aren’t actually gone gone-I just wasn’t able to see and use them for 9 months. 9 LONG MONTHS.

Here’s a list of my most missed things, in no particular order of course:

  1. Sophie. Who is Sophie you might ask? Why my lovely golden retriever pup. I haven’t been in contact with a dog since the last time I saw her during Spring Break, I would never cheat on her with another dog!
  2. My bathroom. Community bathrooms in dorms aren’t really thatttt bad. Who am I kidding, they’re actually quite awful. Especially when there are cockroach infestations and long hair coating the shower walls on the daily. I’ve never been happier to come back to my own bathroom.
  3. My bed. It’s not a joke, dorm beds are not comfortable whatsoever. Even with the three inches of foam I brought along with me in an attempt to mask the rock solid surface I would be sleeping on, it still does not match the comfort of my own bed.
  4. My kitchen. More specifically my oven and electric mixer. I love baking and while I attempted to continue to bake at school, hauling all of my supplies down to the SINGLE kitchen that services all 1,200 residents of Sellery Residence Hall was not worth the work.
  5. My car. While even if I had it with me in Madison, it would rarely be used, I missed it dearly. The luxury of hopping in the car to drive over to the grocery store instead of walking, (I know its only a block away currently), is dearly missed.
  6. DVR. Its exhausting trying to keep up with all the shows I watch when there is no DVR. While it is fun to live tweet along with Scandal, I still enjoy watching shows on my own time and fast forwarding through all those commercials.
  7. The parental units. I’ll admit it, sometimes all you really need is a hug from your mom and a good joke from your dad to brighten your day.
  8. My water. The water from my house is notorious for being the best. I don’t know why, but it really does taste better than any other water I’ve ever had. Don’t knock it til’ you try it.
  9. My piano. The ability to randomly sit down and play a song whenever I want has never been missed more.
  10. My in house tech dude. Okay, you got me, I meant Tyler.

Anyways, let me know some of the things that you missed, or would miss most if you were away from home for 9 months in the comments below.