Skills

We’ve all been there – the weekend finally rolls around but you still have items on your To-Do list and you can’t shake the nagging feeling that you should be doing more. Whether you’re in school, working at a company, or self-employed, there’s always a way to feel like you could be filling your weekends up with work instead of fun (or anything but work). But choosing to let your academic or professional career dominate your life might not be the smartest, healthiest, or most productive way to live.

It turns out that over-working yourself can lead to a higher risk of depression, a disrupted sleep schedule, extreme eye strain, and loads of unnecessary stress. So as tempting as it may be to lock yourself in Friday though Sunday, reconsider that decision using these seven tips.

  1. Prioritize your To-Do list. If your To-Do list is still full by Friday afternoon, take ten minutes to prioritize the items. Consider what must be done that day, and what can wait until Monday. Break your big list down into a few small ones labeled by day, and if you absolutely have to get something work-related done on the weekend limit yourself to just two items. Otherwise, write them in for Monday or Tuesday.
  2. Make plans with someone. Force yourself to step away from work by making plans with another person. The more pressure you put on yourself to fulfill a promise, the more likely you are to follow through with it. Text or call a friend you haven’t seen in a while (and preferably not someone you work with or the conversation might steer back to work and trigger stress) and set a time to walk around outside or grab a meal. You’ll be less tempted to sit inside if someone else is depending on you. Set a specific time and confirm your hangout near the end of the work or school week.
  3. Have something to look forward to. If you don’t feel like seeing other people, you should still find something that you can look forward to. Block out time during the weekend to go to a concert, try a new restaurant, get some errands done, or go to the park and walk a few laps. Actually write down the time and activity you’re going to do in your notebook or iCal.
  4. Pre-schedule emails and posts. Technology is a necessary evil. Luckily there are ways to schedule emails and posts ahead of time so that you aren’t always logging-in to hit “send.” Carve out an extra hour each week to get ahead on writing emails that need to be sent the following week, and pre-write Tweets, posts, and messages that can be scheduled ahead of time.
  5. Figure out your stress-triggers. Think super honestly about the things that stress you out the most. Maybe it’s having a looming deadline for that term paper, or wanting to rehearse your business pitch a few more times. Whatever those triggers may be, address them and write them down in a safe place. Once they’ve been written down you’re less likely to forget what you need to do. Keeping tasks in your head instead of on paper is a great way to bottle up anxiety about potentially forgetting to do something. Be honest about what can wait, and what needs to get done now.
  6.  Turn off your technology. Press the off button. Shut your computer down. Turn off your phone or leave it at home. Even if it’s just for one afternoon, giving your eyes and fingers a break from the screen and keyboard will do you a world of good. It’s the simplest and most effective way to disconnect from your classmates, professors, and bosses. Limit yourself to checking your phone once a day, and shut it off again when you’re done.

It’s not always the easiest thing to step away from our professional and academic responsibilities, but giving yourself a break means you’re making a decision to invest into your long term health. The better care you take of your body and mind, the more stamina you’ll have to succeed.

Image: StokPic

Travel

Calling all the music obsessed, Francophile, people-watching lovers out there – you have until July 5th to get to Montreal, Canada for the International Jazz Festival. Trust me, it’s an event you don’t want to miss! A few years ago, I had the opportunity to experience some of what this nine day, nonstop celebration had to offer. I’ve been dreaming of going back ever since. Starting to pique your interest? Let me give you four reasons why you should absolutely make the Montreal International Jazz fest your next adventure.

jazz 1

  1. Enjoy the perks of Europe without actually going there. Montreal was colonized by the French, so as expected, French is spoken throughout the city by over 50% of its population, with English being the other official language. Traveling to this city is the perfect way to practice your French without having to spend as much money or time traveling to France. Not only will Montreal fulfill your desire for some French culture, but you can also visit its Little Italy and Greektown. Walking through the quaint, cobblestone street, you will hardly believe you didn’t cross any oceans to get there.
  1. Revel in the awesome mix of old and new music. The International Jazz Fest has featured some of the greats such as BB King, Tony Bennett, Miles Davis, and Ella Fitzgerald, and also showcases lesser-known, up-and-coming artists like Gogo Penguin, Illa J, and Florence K. With that said, you can be sure the audience is packed with people of all ages and interests. Additionally, the festival hosts more than just jazz artists. You will also hear world music, reggae, and slightly electronic beats. There is truly something for everyone.
  1. Soak up the eclectic vibes. As its name suggests, the festival is just so, well, international. With Montreal already such a diverse city, the festival brings even more styles, people, and cultures together. I remember sitting on the outdoor steps by the main stage in a massive city square amazed at the many languages I heard passing me. It was so refreshing to feel peaceful (as opposed to the usual slight nervous feeling I get in large crowds) surrounded by people who were genuinely enjoying each other’s company.
  1. Enjoy a variety of food. We know an amazing festival is never complete without it. Don’t you worry – the festival is fully stocked with food from around the globe. The Montreal International Jazz Festivals goes above and beyond the typical hotdog stand with an entire waffle kiosk, mangues en fleur (mangos carved like flowers, anyone?) kiosk, and even a Mexican food kiosk. It’s perfect.

jaZZ 2

At this point, you have no reason not to head to Montreal for the festival. Bonne journée!

Images: Flickr and Aysia Woods

EducationLearn

Senior year of high school is a big milestone. We have prom, graduation, and plans for where we are going post-high school. Senior year was my favorite year of high school, and I had a lot of fun. Remember to make the most of every second without letting anything fall to the wayside.

1. Maintain Your Grades

Don’t forget to maintain your grades after you get accepted into college or figure out your plans after graduation. Some people think that once they get into the college of their dreams, they are free to do whatever they want. You should enjoy yourself! However, if there is a steep drop in your grades without explanation, you could lose your place in college. I’ve even known people whose grades dropped so badly, they nearly didn’t graduate at all. Just one class could separate you from your goals, so keep giving it all you’ve got.

2. Avoid Trouble

It is wise to avoid trouble during your senior year. Once you get accepted into college, a weight is off your shoulders. More than that, it’s time to celebrate! When your future finally seems secure, it’s tempting to cut loose. Just keep in mind that there could be consequences for out-of-control behavior. If you get suspended or if things escalate and you get arrested, you could lose your place in college. You may be having senior fun, but colleges don’t want someone who will reflect badly on the school.

3. Create a Legacy

I recommend creating a legacy. The end of high school provides many mementos and keepsakes such as yearbooks and photos. Some people regret how they left their mark. Some are worried that they didn’t make an impression at all. You can start a club or get involved with planning an event. You could participate in a fundraiser. It’s not just about making your mark. It’s about leaving your school a slightly better place than when you entered it.

4. Don’t Miss Out

Lastly, don’t miss a single moment. There were times when I was too tired to go to senior events. Though I don’t regret anything, I do know it was my last chance to be around the people I grew up with. Many of those people I never saw again. Treasure all of the memories you are making.

It’s okay to have fun in your senior year. Everyone does. Make the most of every single second. It’s the last time you get to live comfortably at home and to hang out with everyone you grew up with. Just don’t let enjoying the year come between you and your future.

Image: StokPic

Health

  1. Dance in the rain
  2. Drink hot chocolate
  3. Watch a movie
  4. Catch up with friends and family
  5. Sleep late
  6. Relax by meditating
  7. Read a good book
  8. Cook a meal
  9. Bake from scratch
  10. Bring out an old board game
  11. Try on clothes and create new outfits
  12. Experiment with different makeup looks
  13. Take an artsy Instagram
  14. Read articles about your favorite inspirational person
  15. Paint your nails
  16. Spend an hour on Pinterest
  17. Plan a weekend adventure
  18. Listen to new music
  19. Make a mix CD
  20. Jump in a puddle
  21. Order takeout
  22. Try some new hair styles
  23. Paint
  24. Make mac and cheese
  25. Solve – or attempt to solve – a Rubix cube
  26. Update your photo album
  27. Take a hot bath (with a bath bomb!)
  28. Go through old yearbooks
  29. Search through Instagram
  30. Online shop and see how expensive your cart gets
  31. Watch your favorite YouTube star
  32. Practice an instrument
  33. Play balloon volleyball
  34. Workout
  35. Play videogames
  36. Write in a journal
  37. Brainstorm new business ideas
  38. Organize your closet
  39. Walk around your neighborhood
  40. Take a 20 minute nap
  41. Refresh by brushing your teeth and washing your face

Image: StokPic

CultureTravel

With the perfect blend of Southern charm and eclectic flavor, the fine city of Savannah should absolutely be on your list of cities to visit. Since I was a child, my grandparents hauled my brother and I all across their historic city, exposing us to every neat nook and cranny it has to offer. Sprawling with hundreds of acres of lush, Spanish moss-draped parks and stunning 18th century architecture, Savannah is surely worth a trip — a day trip, at the very least! If you ever find you have a day in “The Hostess City of the South,” I have the perfect itinerary for you.

Morning

Rise and shine – it’s time to get the day started! In my opinion, there is no better way to start off a lovely Savannah day than with a visit to Forsythe Park. At 30 pristine acres, this park is the largest in the city. Feel free to wake up your mind and body with a jog or yoga under the cool, mossy trees. If it’s Saturday, take time perusing the massive farmers market hosted there. This is also a great time to practice your “southern charm,” as Savannah locals love to smile and chat.

After your morning exercise, get ready to chow down at one of the best breakfast spots in the city, J. Christopher’s. This is a regional chain that actually began in Atlanta, but lucky for us, they converted a garage right in the heart of Savannah’s Historic District into one of their laid-back establishments. Go for their Blueberry Crunchcakes (pancakes made with crunchy granola) or one of their many breakfast skillets, with a coffee served in their mismatched coffee mugs. They even have a pet menu for your trusty sidekick. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Afternoon

Now it is time for a history lesson. Old Savannah Tours has been providing tourists with fun, comprehensive trolley tours of the Historic District since 1979. I recommend the unlimited Historic On/Off Tour because you can pick and choose what Savannah sites to explore on your own time. Be sure to hop-off at The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist to see its exquisite murals, the Sorrel-Weed House to experience true antebellum architecture, and the City Market for a bit of shopping.

In case you haven’t already grabbed a quick bite during the tour, try to make it to Joe’s Homemade Café in midtown Savannah. I admit, I have not made it there yet, but I hear this place is all-around remarkable. Joe’s is not a sit-down restaurant; they specialize in “picnic” and “to-go” foods, such as their infamous Forsyth sandwich and lemon cheesecake. Sounds like a winner to me.

Evening

Properly reflect on your day over a delicious meal on the rooftop of Local 11 Ten, a restored 1950’s bank-turned-contemporary-restaurant. This trendy spot changes its menu with the seasons, featuring innovative winter dishes like confit pork belly with pan roasted quail, warm caselvetrano olives with bacon, smoked bone marrow, and Sapelo Island clams. Relish in the soft house music and enjoy this truly unique dining experience.

For those wanting something a bit more soulful, try Huey’s on the River, a restaurant that actually serves authentic New Orleans’s cuisine. Their menu has the works. I’m talking shrimp & grits, fried green tomatoes, filé gumbo, Po’boys, and beignets. In proper Louisiana fashion, the place is friendly and just the right amount of noisy.

Last and surely not least, take a night stroll along Savannah’s lively River Street. Along the wide Savannah River, this cobblestoned street is always bustling with crowds enjoying nightlife, street performers, antique shops, and quaint boutiques. Stop by River Street Sweets to pick up the necessary Southern candies – pralines and fudge, of course – and then continue down toward the river to sit and enjoy the cooling breeze.

Time-Permitting

If you have a bit more time during the day, check out some contemporary art at the SCAD Museum of Art or be brave and go on a walking ghost tour of the most haunted city in America.

There we have it – a day of fun in the ever-charming city of Savannah. Enjoy!

*Going to Philadelphia? Check out these places!

Image: Aysia Woods

CultureSkills

No matter what you are celebrating this holiday season, a party is a great opportunity to see those closest to you. The task of setting up a party is easier than you think. Here are some ideas to make sure your party is a success:

1. Decorate

There is a time to decorate and this is it. Your residence doesn’t have to be all holiday themed if you have guests of more than one faith. Snowflakes, snowmen, or other seasonal themed decorations are appropriate. Decorations that you have collected over the years can be charming. If you don’t have those on hand, homemade or new decorations could be just the thing to make your place seem like a home. ‘Tis The Season: DIY Christmas” by Nicolette Pezza will give you some simple tips to make homemade decorations.

2. Make A Holiday Playlist

There are lots of Christmas albums out there these days. Mix and match your favorite tracks to give your party some background music. It’s a great way to set the mood.

3. Watch Holiday Movies

There are tons of holiday movies out right now which is a great opportunity for a holiday movie marathon. Channels like the Hallmark Channel play holiday films pretty much continuously. Dig up some good holiday flicks or tell your guests to bring their favorites. You may learn to love something new.

4. Get Holiday Themed Food and Drinks

Holidays are a great time for making treats and distributing them to friends and neighbors. At my holiday parties, I let my friends help in the creation and design of their cookies. It’s a good way to be creative and productive when making your party spread. Think of some seasonal items for the rest of the menu. Take a look at “3 Easy To Make Holiday Beverages” by Marian Rose Bagamaspad for drink ideas.

5. Hand Out Party Favors

The point is to get your friends something to remember their time.  Holiday baking would count as a party favor. There are a lot of sales going on now. Find something small for the people in your life. This could also be a time to pass out Christmas cards.

6. Do What Works For You

Do whatever you feel comfortable with.  I know many people who bought themselves Christmas sweaters this year. Have a Christmas sweater party! Share a holiday tradition with your friends or create a new one. It’s a good way to get to know people better. The important thing is to have fun with what you have.

These are just a few suggestions for throwing the ideal holiday party. Use what is around and available to you. The holiday season is a great time to see all those people you miss the rest of the year. You’ll want everyone to have a good time.

What are your holiday party must haves?

Image: Daniel Ramirez

Health

“Treat Yo’ Self” is arguably the most quoted line from the show, Parks and Recreation. It comes from an episode where two characters reveal their annual tradition of spending an entire day doing all the things they like. On this day, money is no object and all negative thoughts are dismissed. You indulge in your desires after being responsible the rest of the year. While this was a compelling episode of television, it also struck a cord with viewers because it is an almost universal fantasy. That said, the concept of getting yourself what you want is possible and important to achieve in real life.

We all have responsibilities. We have chores, school, work, bills, and more that need to get done for our lives to run smoothly. However, we also have to remember to give ourselves a break. With the holidays coming up, I have been saving money. I am mostly diligent, but when time and money allow, I will treat myself to a coffee or a movie. I don’t necessarily need those things but they are little pleasures that can make my day better. Being the best version of yourself does not mean you stop enjoying yourself.

I am not saying there are no rules to treating yourself in real life. You should never do anything to hurt yourself or others. I would also advise against doing anything illegal. You should also live within your means as you will still have bills the rest of the year. Other than that, this day can be your own.

While having a whole day where anything could happen would be lovely, I think the main lesson is to remember to take time to enjoy yourself. Some diets have cheat days, and a budget can have them too. While it is important to be responsible, it’s also important not to make yourself miserable.

It if helps, make it a Treat Yo’ Self day. Here are some ways to do so:

  1. Pick a day where you will schedule nothing. Keep yourself free so you can do whatever you want, whenever you want.
  2. Invite with some friends if you think they’ll help you on this adventure.
  3. Think of all the things you would want to do if you just had the time. Once you know what you want, you can find a way to put your idea into action.
  4. Think positive. Don’t put any limits on yourself. If you spend time thinking about all the things bothering you, you might not be able to enjoy what is in front of you.
  5. Have fun.

Find your passion and pursue it. Even if you can’t spend an entire day doing what you want, you can find a time to do something. It doesn’t have to involve spending money or be a nonstop thrill ride. Just make sure you are taking time for you. You deserve it.

How would you “Treat Yo’ Self”?

Image: NBC Parks and Recreation

Culture

The end of every semester is riddled with exams and final projects that make your head ache and your heart race as you reach for your aspired grades. However, non-stop studying can prove to be detrimental to retaining information. So taking 10-15 minutes out of your studying session to catch up on the news and cat videos is perfectly fine. And just so you have a chance to take a break, here are the three wackiest, most ridiculous bits of news for you to peruse:

1. Murderer Charles Manson Is Getting Married and Most Of Us Are Still Single

According to the Associated Press, on November 7 Manson and his 26-year-old girlfriend Afton Elaine Burton were issued a marriage license. They will have to get before February or else the couple will have to reapply for another license. Burton professes to love Manson, who is convicted of multiple murders, and moved from her Midwestern hometown at the age of 19 to be closer to him. So while you are studying for your classes, the “Helter-Skelter,” conspiracy ridden Manson is planning his impending nuptials; it’s a strange world.

2. Beyoncé’s Sister Gives A Shout-Out To Benadryl

Now I put this on the list purely because I am surprised that this is even news, but apparently between Solange Knowles wedding ceremony and reception she broke out in hives. Benadryl seemed to cure this breakout and the festivities were back on. Knowles even posted an adorable picture of her and new husband dancing at the reception. Moral of the story: celebrities aren’t perfect and Benadryl is magic.

3. E-Smokers Rejoice As ‘Vape’ Is Chosen As the Word of 2014

Out of all the words in the English language, the Oxford English Dictionary chose ‘vape’ as the word of 2014. This spawned tons of tweets from e-smokers and vapor enthusiasts alike to tweet their delight in learning that their own movement of vaping has left a mark. This was a long time coming seeing that although ‘vape’ was added to the online site this year, electronic cigarettes have been around since the 1960’s and an estimated 4 million American’s now use the product.

Good luck studying!

Image: Aleksi Tappura

Education

For those of you applying for college, declaring a major can be a little nerve wrecking. Photography majors have things to consider but they also have a lot of fun!

Creativity.

Want to do a fantasy photoshoot? Paint with developer chemistry? Photograph… without a camera? The photo world is vast and growing. It has become acceptable as an art, so you’re not only studying the technical aspect of photography, but also art and history and current events. You start applying your creativity to other places. If you write or paint, you start putting detail into the smaller things. In work, you might have out of the box ideas that would benefit you and who ever you’re working for. You learn to be a bit more open-minded. Have fun with it!

New friends, new perspectives.

When you go to university, you meet people from all over the world. That comes in handy when you have art galleries, thesis projects, ans collaboration assignments. Your new friends love photography just like you, but in different ways. You guys eventually will grow together and learn from each other. In some cases, you make lifelong friends. You’ll also see the world differently. You’ll notice the light coming through the windows, the shape of shadows, the way your reflection mimics the mannequin on the other side. Because of the types of classes you take, you’ll start noticing the various fonts, colors, and designs on advertisements. You’llstart seeing scenes in movies and think, wow, that landscape was amazing. I wish they cropped it more. It’s silly, but it’s fun, and when you meet people who think like you, it’s pretty amazing!

The meaning of life.

Ok, maybe you don’t learn the meaning of life. But you do learn about everything else. From news and events to self portraits, your experiments with the medium that is photography will take you places, let you see and think about things you never even thought to consider before.

Photography is a beautiful and deep subject to spend a few years on. Even if you learn that you’re not the best technically or conceptually, you still grow as a person, and what else is college for except to learn about yourself and the world?

Being a photography major is a lot of work, and sometimes it can drive you crazy. At the same
time, being a photography major is so amazing that it leaves you breathless and wanting
more. Whether that comes from learning, from meeting new people, from seeing in new
perspectives, or from realizing that you’re growing and being more than you were before, you
will come to find that being a photography major is more than simply photography. It is much,
much more.

Image: Rev Stan

Culture

The young-adult Halloween conundrum: you’re too old to go trick-or-treating, too bored with crazy parties, and too young to afford the really cool Halloween festivities. I know your pain. For those of us who want to lay low this Halloweekend, I’ve compiled a list of seasonally spooky films for you to watch.

Disclaimer: I am not including slashers on this list, even though I love them dearly. This list is for those of us who want to join in on the holiday fun but want to forego hangovers and/or nightmares. So grab some pumpkin ale, apple cider, candy corn, and popcorn and snuggle up on the couch for some frightening, but awesome, Halloween films.

1. Death Becomes Her (1992) stars Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep as the original “frenemies.” Streep plays narcissistic actress Madeline Ashton who’ll do anything to one-up Hawn’s Helen Sharp in her love life, career, or beauty. When you throw a magic potion guaranteeing eternal life and beauty into the mix, disaster will surely ensue! Bonus: Bruce Willis plays a bumbling, nerdy, idiot who is, strangely enough, the focus of Madeline and Helen’s romantic ambition.

Death Becomes Her IMDB / Death Becomes Her YouTube

2. One of Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous films, The Birds (1963) will probably freak you out. Based on the story by British suspense queen Daphne Du Maurier, the film focuses on a northern California town as it is bombarded by violent, freakish birds and all hell breaks loose. What’s most remarkable, perhaps, is how awesome Tippi Hedren’s hair looks up until the very end of the film. You may be scared of pigeons for a while after watching The Birds, but just remember that it’s a classic for a reason!

The Birds IMDB / The Birds YouTube

3. Watching Hocus Pocus (1993) on The Disney Channel was the highlight of my childhood Halloweens – and I still watch it every year. While some of the humor is fairly adult in nature, this film is great for kids and those of us who are horror-averse. Hocus Pocus follows Max Dennison (Omri Katz) the new kid in his small New England town who tries to impress his crush, protect his sister, and fight off the evil, child-killing witches, the Sanderson Sisters, all in one night! I’ve also always had a soft spot for Mary and Sarah Sanderson (Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker) because Winnie (Bette Midler) was so mean to them!

Hocus Pocus IMDB / Hocus Pocus YouTube

4. I know I promised that no slashers would be on this list, but Shaun of the Dead (2004) is just too good to pass up. This horror-comedy hybrid may be gory, but it will make you roll on the floor laughing! Shaun is not having a good week: his girlfriend breaks up with him, his relationship with his mom isn’t going well, he’s stuck in a dead-end job, one of his roommates hates him, and there’s a zombie apocalypse going on. This movie is definitely not for the faint of heart or those with delicate senses of humor, but watching it will give you a “what not to do during a zombie apocalypse” guide.

Shaun of the Dead IMDB / Shaun of the Dead YouTube

5. The final film on my list is Beetlejuice (1988) which, in all of its ‘80s glory, is one of Tim Burton’s best. Beetlejuice tells the story of a ghostly married couple (Geena Davis and a dreamy Alec Baldwin) who hire the services of a “bio-exorcist” to rid their home of its new – and living – tenants. The best parts of this film are Winona Ryder as an angsty, goth, teenager and a couple of impromptu dance routines to Harry Belafonte hits.

Beetlejuice IMDB / Beetlejuice YouTube

For those of you who want even more choices, honorable mention goes out to: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), Practical Magic, Rosemary’s Baby, Young Frankenstein, Donnie Darko and Ghostbusters.

Make yourself comfortable and enjoy your Halloween movie marathon!

Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight

Culture

Halloween is a night of fun, and of mischief. Whether you’re on campus or at a party in the city, it’s always good to have some safety tips in mind.

1. Do stuff with friends. Your friends take care of you and you take care of your friends.

2. Have a breathe­able and walk­able costume. Have back up shoes. If it’s cold, have some layering possibilities.

3. Avoid having a seance. Avoid all attempts to talk to spirits or bring back the dead.

4. Eat before drinking. Don’t leave your drink lying around. Don’t drink too much.

5. Know your surroundings when you’re going to a place. Know the people at the place. When you arrive somewhere, locate the bathroom and know your escape routes.

6. Charge your phone and keep it with you. Also have all of your emergency contacts in your phone, as well as your friend’s numbers.

7. Stay if it’s fun, don’t if it’s lame. No stress.

8. Follow your this-­is-­sketchy gut.

9. Have a way to get home or have a place to crash (friends from rule #1).

10. Carry a mini-flashlight or glowsticks with you to provide light when it gets too dark.

11. Have fun and be smart!

How will you be staying safe tomorrow? Happy Halloween!

Image: James Lee

EducationHealth

The semester is well underway and I’m sure, aside from getting involved in a gazillion clubs, juggling a job or an internship, and trying to have some kind of a social life, everyone is swamped with loads of homework. As I’m typing, many people are probably rushing to finish up their calculus problems or putting the final touches on a paper that is due in a few days. Whatever the case may be, there just never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done.

Pulling all-nighters and working well after midnight aren’t unusual scenarios. We fall asleep on our textbooks only to wake up in the morning ready to fall back into the same routine. College is extremely hard and the moments when you get to kick back and relax are extremely rare. Even then, the days when you do get a chance to take a break from schoolwork (i.e. the weekend) are usually not as laid-back as you would like them to be because there is always an exam to study for, a paper to write, or an assignment to complete.

They say coffee is a college student’s best friend, but spending the day (or even the night) working on homework isn’t the way to go about college because overworking yourself can cause your brain to melt into a pile of mush. Maybe that isn’t what really happens but, without the occasional break from schoolwork, you’ll eventually stress yourself out, and being stressed has many negative effects on your mind and body.

Whenever you’re at that point where you just want to rip your hair out, step away from your computer, put down the book you’re reading, and set aside that calculator. Your work will be there once you take a 10-15 break (or however long you think you need). It’s not going to get up and walk away, so use some of your time to rest your brain and stretch those legs because I’m sure you spend hours on end plastered to a chair (or your bed) whenever you do homework. If you can’t figure out to do with your free time, here is a list of things to do to help you unwind.

  1. Get a snack: Studying and homework is almost impossible to do on an empty stomach, so get something to munch on and something to drink so you’re not depriving your body of the nutrients you need. For better brain power, try eating healthy snacks. And no, potato chips are not an essential part of the food pyramid.
  2. Stretching/exercising: I have a friend who does lunges whenever she needs a break from doing her homework. You don’t have to do lunges, but stretching might be a good thing to do to keep your body from cramping up after hours of sitting. If you really want to get that heart pounding, try doing some jumping jacks.
  3. Read a book: And I don’t mean a textbook. Pick up a book that isn’t for school and read one or two chapters to get your mind off of your homework and allow yourself to slip into another world.
  4. Listen to music: Turn on your favorite band or singer and rock out to your favorite songs. You can sing along or dance or do whatever it takes for you to destress.
  5. Go for a walk: You don’t have to go too far, but you can walk around your residence hall or apartment complex a few times just to get some fresh air and get out of the confines of the four walls of your room so you don’t go stir crazy.
  6. Play a game: Games are a great way to keep your mind busy. More importantly, you get to have fun!
  7. Straighten up your room: I’m not sure about you, but my side of the room always seems to get out of hand whenever I’m studying or doing homework. I can’t do anything until my side of the room is in order and everything that was out of place is back into place.
  8. Check your email: When we’re busy with class and school work, sometimes we forget to check our inboxes to see if we received any important emails. Use your free time to make sure we’re not missing out on anything.
  9. Talk to people: Start up a conversation with your roommate, text a friend, or call a family member. It doesn’t matter who you talk to, but it’s important to get your mind off of your homework for a bit and what better way to do that than to converse with people about things that have nothing to do with homework.
  10. Set your alarm and take a nap: Of course I had to save the best for last. If you find yourself not wanting to do anything on this list, it might be time for a nap. After 30-45 minutes of resting your eyes, you should feel refreshed and ready to finish your homework.

There are a variety of things you can do to take a break from homework. Just remember not to spend too much time (more than an hour) taking a break. Also, don’t feel bad about taking a break. We all need one so our bodies and brain don’t shut down after hours of staring at the pages of a thick textbook or a computer screen. You might feel like there is not enough time in the day, but you have the power to make time, so try to work taking breaks into your schedule the best you can because you deserve it.

Image: Unsplash

Travel

Summers are underrated. Relaxing under the sun, hanging out with friends, seeing movies whenever you feel like them, and worst of all desperately attempting to avoid work all lead down a high speed road until you’re plopped back into the fall at work or at school and wonder what you’re doing with your life.

For me personally, I am staring the inevitable death of summers right in the face, as I prepare for my senior year of college. But no matter what situation might bring you towards your last summer vacation, what’s important is that you make the most of it.

Here are some ideas for how to make the most out of any summer, and avoid that downhill tumble into September:

1. Make fitness a priority.

The hardest part about exercise is getting it into a part of your daily routine. The dog days of summer are the perfect time to set yourself up for the busier seasons ahead by installing an exercise plan throughout the week. It feels like work, but after awhile the habit will kick in. You’ll want to go for a run rather than need to. Whether it’s to stay in shape or just to keep your mind sharp, exercise is a valuable asset to any go-getter’s arsenal.

2. Mix up your environment.

You’ll have the rest of your life to work in a typical office experience. While getting any professional experience will be incredibly valuable in the future, try to find it in an avenue that’s possibly more of a peripheral interest, or that’ll challenge you in ways your aspiring career might not. I’ll give you a personal example.  During my last summer, I have spent my days as a Creative Writing Intern for a small video game company. Though I’ve always enjoyed both writing and video games, I had never fully combined them into one workday until this experience. I feel like its really broadened my preexisting skillset, and opened a door to a potential career field I hadn’t initially thought about.

3. Keep an idea journal.

One of the most powerful things humans have are ideas. Keeping a journal of your day-to-day ideas keeps them under your control and in your hands. Big or small, easy or difficult, all ideas should be saved. You never know when an idea will come, or when the timing is right to seize on it. Write it down.

4. Take advantage of a flexible schedule.

The last summer also presents the ominous prospect of potentially leaving your home or your hometown. Take some time to revisit landmarks from the past,and to discover new places and possibilities too! The flexible schedule of the summer will leave you with some space to get out of your house and your comfort zone. Sleeping in is always an incredible option, but when you’re young and the world is this old, you gotta take advantage of all it has to offer.

5. Set away time for fun.

At the end of the day, this is still summer vacation. I know it’s hard to remember that second part. But it’s still there! When the waning summer days start to get hectic, give yourself the space to recharge in whatever outlet you find best. Binge a television show you’ve always wanted to binge. Read. Sometimes the best thing you can do to further your professional goals is to achieve your recreational ones. You should love the work you do, but don’t forget to love your life, too.

How have you been making the most of your summer?

Image: Jay Mantri

Travel

There are a few more weeks in summer to go on a trip! If you opt for a road trip, you will have a lot of fun. Before you go, though, there are a few must-have items to bring so that you can cruise peacefully. Here are eight important items you won’t want to forget:

1. Gas/ Food/ Emergency Money

I know this is an obvious one, but it is still worth mentioning. You don’t want to get stranded before you get anywhere.

2. Food

When you’re on a long stretch of road, who knows when you’ll see food again. It’s always good to have some snacks on hand so you don’t get too hungry. Or worse: grumpy in a car full of people because you’re hungry. Bringing a cooler can be helpful for snacks when you absolutely need them.

3. Games and Toys

If you are traveling with kids, games and toys are a must. However, they’re also great for adults. Playing a trivia game or a guessing game can help pass the time and keep others engaged.

4. Good Music

Be it an awesome playlist, CDs, or the radio, music can keep a long road trip feel a lot shorter. You can share your favorite music with those closest to you. You might just love hearing something new.

5. Something To Sleep With

Road trips are long. If you are not driving, you are welcome to rest. Comfortable clothes are good since you will be sitting for hours, so you may as well wear pajamas or sweatpants. Add a pillow, a blanket, and a sleep mask to block out the light so you can get some much needed rest.

6. A Cellphone

I know this is a necessity for a lot of people. Cellphones have many great uses. You can use it as a GPS, for games, music, a camera and most importantly, to contact people! Remember to keep it charged in case you get stranded and really need it. Having a car cellphone charger on hand is never a bad idea.

7. Maps

If you lose signal or run out of battery and have no electronic GPS, you could end up really lost. Maps still exist for a reason. Use them.

8. First Aid Kit

Many first aid kits come travel-sized these days. They are cheap and useful if the situation arises.

I hope these tips make the ride enjoyable for everyone! Have fun!

Image: weheartit

CultureSkillsTravel

Road trips are a fun way to spend the summer. If you have the free time and the gas money, it is a great choice. It gives you the opportunity to spend time with family, friends or a significant other. Here’s how you can plan one:

1. Pick a Location

The trick here is to pick a place you want to go, as well as finding the right time to go. If it takes three days to drive to your destination, you have to also factor in breaks for meals and using the restroom. Plus, if there are not enough people and little desire to drive continuously, you may need to spend a few nights in hotels. That will make the entire trip take longer. You want to make sure you have enough time to and from your destination. 

2. Figure Out Who To Invite

Traveling is fun but it can also be hard. If you are stuck in a car with someone for hours or days on end, make sure you like that person. More importantly, how many people you invite can mean different cars. Keep in mind that if you are the only one with a driver’s license, you will be the only one driving. That will mean more work for you. You also need to find people who can go on the trip at the same time as you.

3. Logistics

Timing can be everything on a road trip. You have to factor in times to stop for food, gas, and rest. You should also make reservations somewhere if you need them. Sleeping in your car is not always safe. You do not want to end up in an unfamiliar area and not be able to find a place to sleep. Above all things you should find out how much time you want to spend at your destination. That might determine how many breaks you take.

4. Pack Well

You want to bring everything you need. Gas and food money are a must. However, you do not want to over-pack. There needs to be enough room in the car for everyone.

Lastly, remember to have fun! These memories can last a lifetime.

Image: Unsplash

HealthSkills

As you guys know from my last 1/2 Marathon Series post, I recently took part in Nike’s Women’s Half Marathon in April. It was a crazy, thrilling, heart-pounding (literally) experience and I would not have survived without the help of hours and hours of music.

That’s why I decided to curate some playlists for every stretch of the journey that will hopefully help you on your own road to the finish line! I tried my best to keep these playlists varied and interesting, but it will become clear pretty quickly that I have quite the affinity for anything Katy Perry or Top 40 related (ha!).

Warning: I have included some explicit versions of songs so please beware if you choose to take a listen.

When it comes to running we all have our own preferences, but I hope you can find some inspiration from the lists below! At the end of the day just getting out there and being active is all that matters, regardless of the jams playing through your headphones.

Miles 1-3: Get Pumped Up!

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Miles 4-6: Settle In (aka Steady Beats)

 

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Miles 7-9: Keep Going (aka Distraction Jams)

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Miles 10-12: Inspiration Zone (aka Finish Line is in Sight)

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Mile 13-13.1: Miracle Song This should be whichever song you love the most!

This will be blasting through your speakers as you cross that finish line, so choose wisely! Might I suggest Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This”?

 

What’s your favorite Miracle Song? Happy running!