As the cold sets in and spring break remains too far away to even consider, it is easy to get caught up in the grind of going to class, going to Alderman and not getting the recommended eight hours of sleep each night. Even the walk to and from Grounds each day — a time I use to listen to music and just enjoy being outside — is becoming less fun and more treacherous. For example, yesterday, I slipped and fell into a semi-frozen puddle of mud, then had to walk all the way down the Corner on my way home with a huge mark on the back of my leggings as a testament to my great fall. But in this dark time of the year, it’s important to recognize the few bright things that can always make a day better. Dogs Seeing a dog somewhere on Grounds or near the Corner is perhaps the singular most exciting thing that happens to me on some days. Seriously, my friends and I will always cross the street to ask if we can pet your dog, even if it means being a few minutes late to class. Instead of petting other people’s dogs, some part of me used to really want to adopt a dog and keep it in GrandMarc. However, ever since my friend spent a weekend dog-sitting and the puppy peed in her bed, I’ve accepted that seeing other people’s dogs is as good as it’s going to get for me during my college years. Shoutout to Maverick the golden retriever and Rupert the corgi — I have no idea who your owners are, but they are very lucky people. Free samples at Alderman I don’t know why more people haven’t been talking about this, but the Greenberry’s in Alderman Cafe now sometimes offers free samples. I’m a huge proponent of any action that makes a library reminiscent of Costco, so I’m not sure why this isn’t making headlines. I walked by the other day and they were sampling lemon bars. I’m not even a big fan of lemon bars, but I took one anyways because I’m a nondiscriminatory supporter of free food. Snacktime One of my classes this semester is a two-and-a-half hour seminar once each week. The professor is clearly a very intelligent man because he knows that no one in the class can sit still and perfectly pay attention for that long, so he implements a snacktime and has someone bring a snack to share with the class each week. It’s like my favorite part of preschool followed me to college except now the snacks aren’t things like jello or nut-free cookies. Every week the person takes the group’s snack to the next level — last week there were homemade mini quiches with caramelized onions, spinach, potatoes and goat cheese. My original plan was to bring a bag of Tostitos and call it a day, so I’ve really got to up my game. When class ends early This is the greatest gift that a professor can give his or her students, other than a designated snacktime. The freedom that comes from a newly free 15 minutes can be overwhelming — what do I even do with this break in my schedule? Hit the dumplings cart before my next class? Scroll through the latest posts on my Instagram feed? Watch that pregnancy video that Kylie Jenner posted? The options are endless! Running into someone you actually want to see I always love it when I see people around Grounds that say hello, but there are certain people that instantly make my day better purely as a result of running into them. This ranges from the few people who take the liberty to scream, “OH MY GOD, IT’S ELLIE HANSON!” from across the street when they see me to people who actually take the time to stop and catch up with me between classes. This is also much better than the alternative of running into someone you don’t want to see and having to rely on the trusty “pretend to aggressively be texting, walk really fast and don’t look up” technique. Successfully evading the tablers at South Lawn This is a feat that is rarely ever accomplished but — when it does happen — always makes me feel like I made it through a minefield unharmed. Last time I passed through this area, I wasn’t on my A-game and left with a card offering me a free download of the Book of Mormon — the actual book, not the musical — and a small flyer inviting me to an event focused on “the science of the Bible.” As philanthropy season nears and tables pop up more around Grounds, I suggest wearing headphones or trying to recycle the same texting technique described above as a way to lower the chances of them trying to talk to you while you’re running to class. There are lots of things that make life at the University pleasant, aside from the usual reasons like friends and Tuesday night drink specials. And while bad days inevitably happen, taking the time to recognize some of the smaller happy moments in your day can make those days infinitely better.