I wrote for my university’s student life blog for nearly two years, from fall 2013 as a first-year student to spring break of 2015. During that time I wrote 65 posts.
I applied to be a blogger because, well, I was already doing it on my own. Posting for the university’s blog, Inside ‘Dores, was an effortless way to earn a bit of extra spending money. (I used my earnings from the first semester of blogging to buy my family’s Christmas presents at the campus bookstore.)
Since starting my own personal blog in 2010, I’d loved blogging because I loved my voice as a blogger. I’ve always thought the “Alisha” who keeps a blog is funny, cool, and unique—more articulate, more interesting, maybe even more honest than the “Alisha” you might meet at a dinner party. Maybe.
So by the time I started writing for Inside ‘Dores, I was comfortable with the format and the freestyle combination of photo essays, adventure stories, daily check-ins, and reflections on current events. All I had to do was include at least five links to Vanderbilt content and some photos. (Looking back, I have to say, most of my photos are awful, like, Instagram-filter, iPad-photo bad. So just be warned.)
And because I’m not shy, I seriously wrote about everything, including campus sexual assault and interracial dating. An older, wiser Alisha does not throw her opinions or attempt conversations about controversial topics, but 19-year-old Alisha never hesitated.
I also enjoyed writing about my academics:
As Craig predicted on the first day of class, it filled me with existential angst. We spent time on such topics as the concept of intelligence, the impact of context on our actions and beliefs, whether people could be replaced by machines, and the power of culture.
During the summer, I thoroughly documented a service-learning trip to South Africa, sponsored by Vanderbilt. One of my favorites from this series was an acrostic of “South Africa,” which I designed using photos I took during a one-month trip around the country. Here’s the text for the “S”:
Solving problems was never the goal. I understood from the beginning that the parallels between our own great nation and the southern-most tip of Africa were strong enough that if I wanted to tackle the issues of poverty, community health, civil rights, or education, I needn’t look farther than my own ZIP code. No, it wasn’t about solving problems; instead, I wanted to learn about South Africa, its history of colonization by the Dutch, decades of apartheid, and the process of reconciliation that is no older than myself. I wanted to shake hands with its people, look into their eyes, hear their stories.
It’s pretty, right? I really milked that trip for posts.
Some more highlights from among the many, many posts, most of which even I could not be bothered to re-read:
- Tips for International Travel: “Bring dry shampoo. I didn’t because I was afraid the pressurized can would explode in the airplane, but soon I wanted that stuff on hand for when I was really not feeling another cold shower.”
- Seven South African Adventures: “The majority of our group took a scenic drive to the famous Cape of Good Hope, hiking up through the fynbos to see the waves crashing below the lighthouse on Cape Point. Here, two ocean currents meet and mix their temperatures, making it fertile for both sea life and fierce storms. This was one of my favorite stops of the entire trip—but then again, any old national park gets me excited!”
- #VandyVegetarian: “Black bean & corn quesadilla from The Pub. If The Pub were my closet, this would be my favorite outfit. It’s served with chili-lime sour cream and salsa, and I always order it with guacamole on the side. The Pub also has one of the best atmospheres of any campus dining location.”
While a blogger for the ‘Dores, I became an editor and even led part of a training workshop for the newest batch of bloggers, which I also live-tweeted. I mean, haven’t all the cool kids live-tweeted a blogging workshop?
In the end, I quit because I started to feel like a paid promoter of my university at a time when I wanted to figure out what I really valued. I also wanted to explore other writing projects and genres. But I am grateful for the time I did spend on these posts. I now have a great snapshot of my life circa 2013-2015, as well as proof that I can blog with style—style guide adherence, that is!