CultureEducation

Adjusting to your college dorm can take some time. If you’re still working on settling in, or if your current situation just isn’t working out, here are five ways to adjust to your college dorm and make it feel like home.

1. The Bed

No matter where you go to school, there’s nothing comfortable about the jail cell-like bed of your dorm. Investing in a good mattress pad and bedding set that is warm and makes you feel at home is essential to making your bed feel close to the one in your room at home.

2. The Closet

Going from optimal clothing space to a three-foot closet is a big deal. In order to get through the size change, invest in space-saving hangers so you can still bring a large part of your wardrobe. Narrowing down the necessities that you need to bring is also extremely important when it comes to making the most of your new home. Bring clothes that make sense for where you are going. For example, if your school is in a location with harsher winters, load up your winter jackets, boots, and scarves.

3. The Bathroom

Not being able to walk around barefoot is a big step. Getting used to the idea of a communal bathroom can be frightening, but it isn’t as scary as it sounds! A shower caddy is your new best friend in college, as well as a pair of cheap flip flops to accompany you everywhere you go.

4. The Noise

The noise level is going to increase dramatically when moving from your room at home to a college dorm. Having 30 or so neighbors on the same floor definitely contributes to that. It’s important to get into the habit of taking advantage of the library when it comes to studying and doing homework because it will be your savior of silence and concentration.

5. The Roommate

Living with another person in the same room may not be something you’re used to. Having a friend can help you from being lonely and homesick, but it can also be difficult to get used to another person’s living habits. Setting rules and boundaries from the beginning is a key factor to make dorm living easier for both you and your roommate. Who knows, your living companion may just be your future maid of honor!

Overall, living on campus is a major part of the college experience and one that should be taken advantage of if given the opportunity. Even with its ups and downs, some of your best college memories will be made and shared in your college dorm, and you’ll be sure to call your college dorm home!

CollegeCultureEducationSkills

Here are five guidelines I’ve learned while sharing a suite in college. Whether you’re in a suite with multiple people or just have one roommate, these tips will come in handy!

1. Set Rules

The first and probably most important thing to do with the people you’re living with, whether that’s a single roommate or suite mates, is to set rules and boundaries. Put things out in the open so that arguments are less likely to get out of control later down the line. For example:

  • Whether you prefer morning or night showers.
  • When it’s okay to have visitors and how much time in advanced warning to give each other.
  • If and how food and personal items should be shared.
  • Whether outdoor shoes are allowed to be worn in the bathroom.

2. Take Time to Spend Time

Whether you’re best friends with your suite mates or not, it’s important to take the time to not be strangers, and to continue to get to know each other. Whether that entails going out, ordering takeout and eating together, or watching a Netflix marathon is up to you guys. Maintaining a good relationship with your suite mates and creating a comfortable environment to share feelings is a key to making living in the same space so much easier and enjoyable!

3. Clean Up After Yourself

Make sure you don’t leave a trail or crumbs in the common room or scatter your hygiene products all over the bathroom counter. Being respectful of your suite mates’ space sets a precedent for them to do the same for you.

4. Group Chat

Create a group chat on your phone or on Facebook. This open line of communication saves you all time, and makes living with so many people so much less of a hassle! Sharing simple plans through text (like when you’ll be taking a shower or going to get food at the dining hall) will allow you to all be aware of what you’re up to and prevent conflicts.

5. Always Ask

Whether that’s asking if it’s okay to steal the bathroom for a half hour to take a shower or if it’s okay to have a friend stay the night, it’s always a smart – and considerate –  idea to check if it’s okay with your suite mates. The more you make an effort to respect their privacy they’ll respect yours, and you can avoid miscommunications by making sure to get the thumbs up from your suite mates. When in doubt, ask.

Overall, living in a suite is a lot of fun whether it’s a suite of four people or eight. As long as you’re respectful of each other, having a suite can be a real advantage and a great opportunity to form a close group of friends that are likely to last a lifetime.

Image: Flickr

Health

We all know the basics of healthy eating and the benefits that come with it. Unfortunately it may not be the most fun – or easiest – thing in the world to actually do. Here are five yummy recipes to try out to satisfy your taste buds and your inner health-fanatic!

Twizzler Dupe

If you cut strawberries and put them in the oven until they’re mostly dried out, they’ll become a delicious treat more yummy and healthier than Twizzlers! Throw these in a bag and bring them to the movies for the perfect snack.

Bananas and Peanut Butter

You can’t go wrong with this classic and mouthwatering combination! Try peanut butter and banana slices on toast for a yummy snack that will fill you up and satisfy your craving for something both sweet and salty!

Strawberry Yogurt Treat

If you’re looking for a refreshing snack, try cutting strawberries in half and dipping them in yogurt. Put them in the freezer until the yogurt is frozen and a savory treat is made with two completely healthy ingredients!

Yogurt Parfait

Try vanilla yogurt with your choice of fruit and some granola. This is the perfect healthy treat that can be eaten as breakfast, an everyday snack, or a refreshing dessert!

Banana Ice Cream

Banana and a little bit of vanilla extract in a blender make a delicious and guilt-free ice cream when put in the freezer! It’s the perfect summer treat when you’re craving something sweet.

What are your favorite healthy snacks? Let us know on Twitter with the hashtags #snacktime and #seizeyouryouth!

Image: Foodie’s Feed

EducationTravel

It’s August. The carefree summer is slowly, painfully, even bitterly on the distant horizon. No! There are a few more weeks! For a freshman entering college, there is the buzz of excitement and anticipation. For those of you who are coming to New York City for college, welcome! As celebration of your soon­to­be­arrival, here are some things you should consider before packing up and moving in.

Dorming in NYC is nothing like dorming in a university with a campus. Many schools in suburban towns have their own little communities, enclosed with lawns, parking lots, and even buses to get from one part of campus to another. NYC is not like that at all. If you’re going to school in Manhattan, chances are you’re going to be in, well, Manhattan. Your buildings are probably integrated into the city. Parsons and NYU, for example, have their buildings and resources blocks from each other, and students tend to walk or take the subway. Some schools are more closed off than others, but if you’re in NYC, why not use this chance to explore?

Exploring isn’t hard in NYC, but it takes practice. Actually, getting anywhere in NYC takes practice. The city is a grid for the most part, but some sections, such as the West Village or Chinatown, can get a bit muddled. Remember: short blocks are streets. Long blocks are avenues. Learn to read the MTA map. Use Google Maps but keep in mind that walking, not driving, is the go­to method, so learn to live without your car.

While travelling, dress properly. The weather in NYC can range from 75 degrees to 50 degrees in a week. Autumn is great because it’s a chance to layer clothes, but check for rain, wind, or hurricanes (you can’t miss the last one). Hurricanes do affect us, as with Hurricane Sandy, so keep that in mind.

Grocery shop in the middle of the day in the middle of the week. Weekends and after work hours are packed with people getting off from work. My out­of­state friends think Trader Joe’s is a good option, and there are always corner stores that you can run to if you need laundry detergent or instant noodles in a hurry. Those corner stores (or delis) are everywhere, so no matter where you dorm, they should be there. If you have a day where you don’t have classes and you want to stretch your legs a bit, go stock up on Nutella. You’ll appreciate it.

Remember, NYC is like no other city in the world. Always ask questions, keep an open mind, and be prepared for anything. Welcome and good luck!

Image: Unsplash

EducationHealth

We’ve all heard of the horrifying myth of the Freshman 15 and unfortunately—it’s real. Juggling classes, internships, and a social life can make it hard to find the motivation (and time) to hit the gym, so here are some tips to avoid the Freshman 15 even with that busy schedule!

1. Monitor What You Eat
You can’t always be eating healthy, especially with the sometimes limited options given to you on campus, but you can keep track of what you’re putting in your body and how much of that contributes to a healthy diet. Apps like MyFitnessPal really allow you to monitor what you’re eating based on your individual height and weight. It gives you a daily calorie intake based on this information and lets you keep track of the foods you eat and how many calories they contain. It also gives you other helpful information such as showing a pie chart of the carbohydrates, fat, and protein percentages you have consumed throughout the day. It also allows you to put in any exercise you do and the amount of calories it should make up for!

2. Have Healthy Snacks in Your Dorm
Having healthy foods in your dorm for midnight snacking is vital. When you’re craving something sweet, reach for fruit snacks instead of chocolate. Foods such as Goldfish, Cheerios, granola bars, and trail mix are snacks you’ll be able to eat at your heart’s desire without worrying about their nutritional value, or lack thereof.

3. Treat Yourself Once in a While
It’s okay to have that chocolate ice cream you’ve been craving—just don’t make it an everyday habit! Try making junk food a reward for doing well on a really hard exam or finishing a great workout. Also, an emergency stash of chocolate for times of need never hurt anyone!

4. Drink Plenty of Water
Water is the life saver of staying healthy and in shape. Make sure to drink a surplus of it and to drink water in place of soda and other beverages as often as possible. Drinking a lot of water will help curb the munchies for unhealthy food!

5. Find a Gym Buddy
Having a friend to go to the gym with will make working out and staying healthy way easier! A friend will help give you the motivation to stick with it, as well as make you feel more comfortable going to the gym rather than walking there alone. Take advantage of your schools facilities!

At the end of the day, don’t stress over the weight you may or may not gain in college. Do what you can to stay healthy and try to make more good decisions than bad ones. Enjoy the experience and the yummy food that comes with it!

CultureEducationSkills

Haven. Sanctuary. Kingdom. It doesn’t matter what you call your room but, at the end of the day, it’s yours. You can paint the walls any color you want to, put up posters that represent things you like, blast your favorite music, and be as messy as you want to be. That is, if you’re not the kind of person who needs for things to be in a particular order.

The point is, our rooms belong to us and, for the most part, that means we don’t have to share our personal space (I feel sorry for those of you who have to share your room with siblings. I’m an only child). It’s a different story when you get to college, however. Not only will someone else be living a few feet away from you, but that someone will more than likely be a complete stranger.

That pretty much was what freaked me out when I got assigned my roommate. And it didn’t help that I had just watched The Roommate (Note: Do not under any circumstances watch this movie before starting school). After seeing that movie, I kept thinking about what kind of person my roommate would be. Among other things, I was afraid that she wouldn’t like me and that we’d have nothing in common. To be completely honest, I was just extremely nervous about the whole thing.

And I’m sure quite a few of you are too.

Sharing a room with a stranger is not easy but it’s not as hard as you think it is. Sure, you might not have anything in common with your roommate. Sure, you might find being in the same room with them to be extremely awkward the first couple of days. But all of that will pass. You just have to keep in mind that, just like you, your roommate is experiencing college for the first time, too. They probably have the same fears that you have about college and that, in an of itself, can be a good thing.

So why not work to find some common ground? You don’t have to be best friends with that person right away, but the truth about having a roommate is…there’s no avoiding them. It’s impossible to live with someone for eight or nine months and not talk to them. In fact, if you want to have a great relationship with your roommate, the best way to do that is to talk. It can be small talk at first. Ask about where they are from, what they plan on majoring in, what classes they’re taking etc. Chances are they came from a different country (my roommate freshman year was from China) or a city/state you’ve never traveled to. They might even have the same intended major as you or have a similar schedule. It doesn’t matter what questions you decide to ask but it is important that you get to know them. Trust me, it’ll make sharing a room with them a little easier.

Remember what I said about having your own room? Well, your dorm room is technically your personal space but it’s also the personal space of another person. While you can hang up posters and decorate your side of the room the way you want to, keep in mind that you shouldn’t blast music whenever you want to or turn on the TV when you’re roommate is trying to study. That’s not to say that you can’t do any of those things, but another truth about having a roommate is…you’re going to want to set some ground rules. It’s always good to sit down and talk about each other’s likes and dislikes, figure out who’s going to take out the garbage on what days, and if one (or the both of you) are in a relationship, ask if it’s okay to have your boyfriend or girlfriend stay over.

These are the kinds of things you might want to clear with each other if not the day you move in, then in the next few days to the first few weeks of school. If you don’t set some ground rules, then there’s no telling what you both like and dislike. So it’s better to hash that out sooner rather than later. I’ve seen quite a few people, my freshman year, change rooms because of issues with their roommates doing things they didn’t like i.e throwing dirty laundry on the floor. Yeah, if you’re not into that, you have to let your roommate know from the get-go otherwise they’re just going to continue to do it.

This brings me to my next truth about sharing a room with a stranger: if it doesn’t work out, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Talk to your RAs and ask them about how you can go about getting a different roommate. I’m not sure how it works on other campuses but at mine, I know that before ultimately deciding to go through with the change, you have a meeting with your roommate, the RA and a few other people to see if the problem is something that can be resolved. Whatever that process may be, just know that if you have a roommate who doesn’t have good hygiene or is outright rude, you don’t have to put up with it. Having a roommate can and should be a wonderful experience, so don’t settle for a horrible one.

Again, I have only known a few people who have had bad experiences with their roommates so the chances of you getting placed with one are very slim. Just start school with an open mind, talk to your roommate and remember that, while your room is your room, it’s your roommate’s room, too. You can both work together to make your room your haven, your sanctuary, your kingdom.

So, when you find out who your roommate is going to be, why not shoot them an email? It doesn’t have to be a long, overly excited one if you don’t want it to be. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple, “Hi, my name is…”

Don’t be a stranger!

Image: Dormify.com

EducationSkills

We all know (and fear) the mass of college loans that await us at the end of our four years, so why not save a little money when it comes to shopping for your dorm? What do you really need to survive your four years? It can be tricky to narrow it down when it feels like you need everything and anything for being on your own for the first time. Here’s a generic list of things I believe are worth having when staying on campus:

  1. Bed Products: Two words: Twin XL. Make sure your sheets fit the bed that your school is providing you with! You can get away with full sheets if you tuck them in or a twin comforter since they’re made longer in order to hang over the edge of your bed. I also recommend getting a mattress pad and bed bug protector. No matter where you go, those beds aren’t going to be as comfortable as the one in your room at home, and it’s always better to take precautions rather than not. Also, bed risers can be a life saver when it comes to under bed storage. Don’t forget to load your bed up with some comfy (and cute) pillows!
  1. Desk Products: Putting aside your standard school supplies, there are some items you’re going to need to have in and on your desk at school. One of the most important things is a lamp. You’re going to want to have proper lighting for all your studying and late night surfing the web endeavors! Which comes to my next necessity; a laptop. It’s an unavoidable need to have to get you through all you classes whether to help you with cramming for that big exam or writing that research paper due at the end of the term. Also, remember to have lots of containers and bins to organize your supplies in your desk draws! As for personalizing your desk, consider having a few nicely framed pictures and a mirror so that you can avoid trying to do your makeup in the bathroom in the morning; it’ll truly be a life saver!
  1. Medicine/First-Aid: I highly recommend having a homemade first aid kit handy somewhere in your dorm. You can keep Band-Aids, Neosporin, Advil, Tums, sterilizing wipes, and any other medical items you may need as the year goes on.
  1. Beauty Products: All things under the categories of makeup and hygiene come into play in this category!
  1. Bathroom Products: Whether you’re sharing a suite or using a communal bathroom, it’s always a smart idea to have a shower caddy. It makes bringing all your bathroom necessities from your room to the bathroom so much easier. Some other generic necessities include towels, shampoo and conditioner, and all your mouth hygiene needs!
  1. Miscellaneous: There is a list of items that I recommend that don’t necessarily fit under one particular category, but come in handy nonetheless:
  • Batteries: There’s always going to be something you have that needs batteries and having them hidden in a draw somewhere will save you lots of time when you do!
  • Full Length Mirror: You have to be able to check your outfit before going out in public, right?
  • Trash Can: Self-explanatory.
  • Laundry Bag: Save yourself the trouble of attempting to lug all your dirty clothes with the stereotypical overflowing pile in your arms.
  • Umbrella: Rain or shine, you’ll be stuck walking to class.
  • Tissues: Commonly forgotten and always needed whether it’s to fend off that common cold or clean up a quick spill!
  • Backpack: A life saver when it comes to lugging your books from class to class.
  • Paper Plates: Easily disposable and a great way to keep your room from being littered with crumbs!
  • Sewing Kit: Usually overlooked, but you really never know when a sewing kit can save the day!
  • Flashlight: If there’s a power outage, you’re not going to want to waste your cell phone battery to guide your way around.
  • Garbage Bags: These will make your life so much easier when it comes to emptying out your trash can!
  • Mini Fridge: There is going to be food that you’ll want to have that need to be refrigerated (or those leftovers from dinner last night).

Happy dorm shopping!

EducationSkills

Debt. And debt. And then some more debt. We all know it’s waiting for us at the end of our four years in college, but that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice a new college wardrobe, right? Though it may be hard to part with your over-flowing closet of endless outfit options, here’s what you really need for your college wardrobe to stay up-to-date without breaking the bank:

1. Leggings/Yoga Pants/Sweatpants

Every college student knows that life revolves around leggings, yoga pants, sweatpants, and the life of comfort that comes with them! There’s a simple way to break down these basics that you’ll likely be wearing 75% of the week:

  • Leggings: When you want to be comfortable but still want to look nice. When paired with the right shirt these can totally be dressed up!
  • Yoga Pants: More casual and perfect for when you’re on the run from class to class but still want to look somewhat put together.
  • Sweatpants: Typically worn on those roll-out-of-bed mornings, sweatpants are the ultimate comfort luxury for when all you want to do is curl up in your bed and sleep the day away.

2. Shorts

As much as leggings, yoga pants, and sweatpants are the staple of every college wardrobe, the long pants just aren’t going to cut it during the warm weather that comes around during the beginning and end of the year. Shorts, particularly jean shorts since they match virtually anything, are the go-to wardrobe fix for this problem.

3. Jeans

There will be days, most likely around once a month, wear you decide to break out the jeans and look a little nicer than usual. Jeans will also come in handy when you want to go out but don’t feel like getting completely decked-out in a skirt.

4. Plain Shirts

Another absolute staple, plain shirts – both long-sleeved and short-sleeved – are going to allow you to get the most out of your wardrobe and money. These can be paired with any variety of bottoms and layered with the right cardigan, scarf, or jewelry, and they can be worn on any occasion.

5. Crop Tops and Skirts

Whether or not the party scene is for you, there’s a good chance that you’ll experience at least one during your four years. Crop tops and skirts are items that are typically worn, so it can’t hurt to have one or two of these stolen away in your closet or dresser!

6. Scarves

In order to dress up those plain t-shirts and long-sleeved shirts and to keep warm, scarves are a necessity. They’ll allow you to get the most out of your basics by making an already worn outfit appear brand-new while also keeping you cozy as the weather cools down.

7. Cardigan/Jackets

Like scarves, these add-ons can be a life saver when it comes to getting the most out of your college wardrobe. They’ll also help big time with transitioning into fall and winter weather. You can get the most out of those summer tops without freezing and still look stylish.

8. Flip flops

Two words: flip flops. The ultimate necessity that every college student needs. There are three very important uses where flip flops come into play.

  • In the Shower: Whether you’re in a suite or in a communal bathroom, sharing a bathroom with any amount of people is tricky business. Do yourself a favor and get yourself a pair of cheap flip flops to solely wear in for your bathroom adventures.
  • At Parties/Social Gatherings: There will be drinks and there will be spilling of drinks. Do yourself a favor and wear a pair of (preferably black) flip flops so you don’t have to go through the heartbreak of having your favorite (or worse—brand new) shoes ruined.
  • Everyday Convenience: As mentioned earlier, you’ll definitely have your roll-out-of-bed mornings and those mornings require no-hassle shoes. Flip flops are the perfect solution!

9. Flat/Fall boots

As the weather gets colder, you’re no longer going to be able to wear your beloved flip flops going from class to class. The smart choice that every college student should make is to have at least one pair of flat boots for everyday use. No wedges, and definitely no heels, are needed when it comes to trudging your way across campus!

10. Undergarments

This may seem extremely obvious, but I felt like this was a necessity to put on the list either way. Pro tip: stock up. Being in college calls for a lot of hours to do the three S’s: study, socialize, and sleep. That leaves little time to do laundry and even when you do have the time, you’re really not going to want to do it. Also, don’t forget to have a surplus of socks (we all know we’re bound to have multiple lone socks in the drawer after a month or so)!

Overall, these 10 categories should save you a lot of hassle when it comes to deciding what you need for your college wardrobe! Happy shopping!

EducationSkills

It’s summer! You get to sleep in, waking to the sound of chirping birds, sunlight coming through the windows, illuminating your room. You wake up with bed hair and you stumble out of your bed, walking past the pile of dirty laundry and bowl of cereal you went to get in the middle of the night. Your desk is a mess. Nail polish bottles, papers, pencils, eraser dust, an earring missing its sister, a collection of bracelets, a chipped cup, a photo of you and your friends, Post-Its that have lost their stick…

Listen. You’re a lovely and awesome person, but it’s time for an intervention. It’s time… to clean your room. Summer is a great time to clean your room or workspace. You can get rid of old things and prepare for the next semester. There are some things you can do to make it easy for you to keep your room clean until September, without making your room too sparse or boring.

When most people clean their room, they clean their closet. But there are other parts of your room that you can’t neglect. You have that Economics textbook propping up your laptop. The Victorian novels you bought for Lit class are scattered on three shelves and you probably spent $200 buying all of those last semester.

Students often forget (or don’t have time) to sell their textbooks at the end of each semester. Finals can get in the way, or going back home/going abroad will be more of a priority than a few books lying around. But unless they’re on a shelf (and you’ll be using them again), there isn’t any reason to keep them. There are many options to sell them, either back to the school’s bookstore or online.

Speaking of things you’ll need again, you might want to sort through all your notes. Some students use a laptop and save their docx. or PDFs there. Luddites like me like to print things out (sorry trees!) and write notes on them before putting them in a folder. All those papers scattered in your room? The Post­Its reminding of you an upcoming final? The pens that dried out because you lost the pen cap? (I prefer clicky pens myself) This is a good chance to go through what you want to keep (or not keep) and delete/throw out what you don’t want.

Laptop users, this is a good time to back up your data! You might unexpectedly need that final paper’s works cited page again, or you might get a handout that you’ve gotten before. I like to back data up every half a semester, but the summer is the best time to do it. You might want to tune-up your computer and all that techy stuff while you’re at it!

This time of the year is a good chance for you to make a workspace for yourself. If you’ve been living off your bed with laptop in lap, you might have found yourself falling asleep while doing a paper (sounds familiar?). If your desk space was cramped up with dirty laundry, old lip gloss, and a dusty printer, well, it should all cleaned up and free for you to use. If you create a workspace, it will help you concentrate.

Remember, if you always push your chair in after you use it, it won’t be piled up with clothes and other things. Keep a container for pens and other office supplies, and make sure your printer is in a spot that’s easy to access. Ink is also easy to refill, so always have that somewhere in case you have to emergency­print a handout or something. Things like that can distract you from working during the school year, and if you start the habit this summer, you are more likely to maintain it (and get to know where everything is) by fall.

Now that your room looks like it’s ready for summer fun, as well as for the next semester, there are a few things you can do to keep it that way. Next week, I will share my tips on how to maintain your organized space.

Read Summer Action Item – Clean Your Room: Part I

Image: Kikette Interiors