By Mackenzie Rossero, For The Miami Student
I purchased my first laptop sticker two weeks ago.
It's a dreamcatcher, adorned with feathers, beads and loopy Zentangle designs. It reminds me of the dreamcatcher hanging over my nightstand back home - my dad gave it to me when I was younger. Since then, I have been fascinated with the image of the dreamcatcher.
And, like many students, I think, in a way, the sticker on my laptop represents me.
At 8:34 p.m. on a Monday night, the Armstrong Family Room is buzzing with the conversations of students caught in the unproductive stage between homework and socializing.
Many sit with open laptops, though few are actually touching the keys. Roughly half of these laptops are decorated with stickers. There are many representing Miami and some promoting TV shows like "Friends" or "The Office." All hold a deeper meaning for their owners.
When I approach Amanda White, she is quick to clear a seat and welcomes me to sit among her friends. Her laptop is covered with stickers, the majority of which are Disney-related.
Amanda chuckles and explains why she enjoys the "punny" Monsters University sticker. It reads "Future MU Alumni," something she will be next spring, despite graduating from Miami University, not Monsters University. The marathon Amanda ran last winter is commemorated in another sticker.
"I did a marathon in Disney World in 2014. It was the hardest thing I've ever done," Amanda says. "I'm very proud of it."
Amanda points to her cross sticker. "I am a Christian," she says. "It's the No. 1 part of my identity."
Sara Rudokas sits on a bench in Upham, eating an early dinner and balancing a laptop on her knees. A sticker of her dog Duke, a Husky-Australian Sheppard, is in the top right corner.
Saif Alnuaimi sits with his legs crossed at the ankles, his laptop screen reflected in his glasses.
Stuck on the back of his laptop are four Apple logo stickers. They are strategically placed - turned at different angles but still mirroring each other. He explains that he got them with the purchases of his iPad and MacBook back home in United Arab Emirates. Saif's remaining stickers are Oxford-related. Two are Miami logos. And, barely visible under the case, Saif has a picture of himself wearing traditional head wrap from his country.
Vicky Mordzinski is a member of Delta Zeta sorority. Her "big" got a double order of stickers and shared them with her. Many are of New York, though Vicky has never been there.
Andrea Lupariello laughs and it bounces off the walls in Armstrong's living room in small echoes. She's been collecting stickers since June and has five on her Toshiba.
Her favorite is the logo for 3E Love - similar to the handicapped sign, but with a wheelchair shaped like a heart. The company's name, 3E Love, stands for embrace, educate and empower.
"I promote disability awareness," Andrea says.
Tanner Speakman's sole sticker is of Boba Fett's helmet, from "Star Wars." It glows - the Apple logo on his MacBook shining from beneath.
Sophomore Marta Stewart sits at a table in a gray baseball cap. She is alone, but talking animatedly to everyone around her.
Her computer is open - a golden retriever puppy set as her desktop background. There are seven stickers decorating her purple laptop case.
Her first, a small Miami "M" is peeling in the bottom right corner. Marta also has two stickers to remind her of Michigan, where her family goes every summer. Showing me a sticker that reminds her of Miami football, Marta shares her passion for sports and the pride she feels for the Miami teams.
There's also a big, paisley "M" that she added today - meant to stand for Marta, but it could stand for Miami, too.
"They are important," Marta says of laptop stickers. "They define people."