Book PostsCulture

Today is Mexico’s Independence Day, and we’ve rounded up some of our favorite reads from and about this unique and awesome country. Each year on September 16th Mexico celebrates its independence with parades, parties, delicious food, and family and friends. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Mexico and its culture, take a look through our book suggestions below.

mexico books

  1. The Years with Laura Diaz
  2. Mexico: Democracy Interrupted
  3. Pedro Páramo
  4. Frida: A Biography of Frida Khalo
  5. History of the Conquest of Mexico

What is your favorite book? Is there one specifically related to Mexico’s history? Let us know @carpejuvenis on Twitter!

Cover Image: Flickr

 

College

It’s been about four years since high school graduation, and I’m still not ready for adulthood. At the same time, I think this is a good moment to reflect about what I learned in the past few years. I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of people, learn a lot about myself, and learn a lot about the world.

One of the most amazing things I learned about college is how open-minded it can be, if you go to the right school. Luckily, I went to a very liberal school in a very liberal city, so I was exposed to many types of thoughts, as well as people who expressed themselves freely. I hear from old classmates about how clique­like some colleges can be, but I can’t imagine being in that type of place. People come and go. Those from high school don’t always stay, and those in college don’t always stay either. But this is only college. Imagine how much bigger it gets from here.

This might sound kind of sad, but I also learned about a lot of the bad things about myself. I learned how ignorant and intolerant I was, and I’m still learning – and trying to accept – that I’m not as kind or as good as I would like to think. In college, I met all sorts of personalities and I learned to understand the psychology behind these people (at least, as much as I can as a 21 year old). A big part of college is finding out what you don’t like about yourself, and having to make a big decision as to what to do about it. Do you accept it? Do you change it? Do you hide it? Some people embrace what society sees as bad, and some people try to change themselves to be what this world calls good. College forces you to make hard decisions because you’re finally responsible for yourself. Go out tonight or study? Buy groceries or do the laundry? Become good friends with a few people, or friendly associates with a lot of people? Nobody else is responsible for you. That can be a scary but refreshing realization.

A large part of my school is being aware of the social issues happening in the world. Immigration, racial conflict, religious conflict, economic disparities, just to name a few. Not only did college force me to be more aware of the world, it forced me to have an opinion. It also taught me to be tolerant of others. Where do I stand in the world? What am I doing for the world? What do I want to do for the world? What can I do? Does any of that even matter? Why? I don’t know the answers and I’m not sure I will for a long time, but at the very least I was able to develop a perspective of how paradoxically big and small I am, and not only on campus but in the world. It scares me a little, but Freshman year of college scared me too, so I think it is okay to be a little scared.

As a senior in college, I’m almost a responsible adult. At least, I’d like to tell myself that. While I’ve come far since my high school days, there is still much for me to learn. At least I got the chance to learn this much, and for that I am grateful.

Image: Picography

Education

Weighed down by finances, peer pressure, and receded motivations, many highs school seniors, and even juniors, believe that studying out-of-state is not an option. I say, stray away from this idea. Studying out of state is like leaving everything you have ever known to plunge yourself into an unknown, exciting, and mysterious world of wonderland. Be it across the country, across the world, or just over the invisible border, attending college out-of state can be one of the most awakening experiences one can ever have.

Depending on where you were born and raised or what you have been exposed to, the first major thing you will notice in an out-of-state college is the difference in the people around you. Perhaps they have an accent or even hold the door open while you haul your not-quite-needed closet packed into those six suitcases, but the little things always make the difference. University is the place where you meet students from all over the world, and this means that everyone is different.

You will find yourself befriending people who probably hold opposite political, social, or religious stances than you do. There are also times when an epiphany occurs – “wow, we were raised so differently.” And perhaps there’s the realization that you were raised in a more liberal, conservative, expressive, cold, authoritative, or allowing household. You are a product of your surroundings and the traits that have been emulated from those who have raised you, as well as the experiences you have had throughout the course of your life. You may note that perhaps everything that you have been taught has another side to it! You notice that there are other “right” ways to live life and to make decisions.

Yourself

In the midst of your external observations, there is also that inevitable internal reflection. Suddenly, you are to make decisions for yourself without the influence of others, and you begin to analyze how you will begin to choose your friends. This is a huge learning experience as you realize what kind of people you want be like. In addition, you also note that the morals that have been etched and engraved into every body cell are no longer enforced. You choose your own morals, and you make the decision to implement traces or chunks of what you have been taught throughout the course of your entire life. The cool part is that this is a never-ending process. Individuals develop like a growing leaf undergoing color change in the fall. Each day you are faced with choices that essentially mold your character. You are forced to fend for yourself in a world of predators, and friends, and strangers. And as beautiful result, you become more identified with the type of person you are as each day calls for growth and development.

Responsibility

I wake up every Tuesday and realize it’s laundry day. A sudden dread encompasses my body and thoughts. However the thought of having an unending pile of growing used apparel stacked under my bed makes my eyes to roll to the depths of their sockets and my nose to scrunch just a little. Responsibility is something every student is forced to take on. Be it the responsibility of time management, doing laundry, or cooking for yourself, these are life skills that are fundamental for life.

The Infamous “College Budget”

There comes a point in the semester where you have a “mid-semester-college-budget-crisis.” Of course, it’s always after a night of reckless spending when you mechanically type in that password and stare at the spinning ball on that bank app until the numbers paralyze you for a second. You then make the decision that you are officially on a “college budget.” You suddenly recognize that food, laundry, and outings with friends all cost money. You suddenly grasp the true value of money and how to live by a budget of some sort.

Classmates

One thing about studying out of state is that there is a wonderful atmosphere in the classroom: students actually want to be there. Studying out-of-state brings an even more inviting tone. When classes are discussion-based, you will find that not everyone is from the area that the school is located. Many arguments will begin with “well, where I’m from…” or “I totally disagree because for example back home…” People actually enjoy participating, and bringing in some home town flavor is always a catchy way to get people to pay attention.

Labels

Categorizing people has magnificent power. Like many things in this world, there are things that one cannot change, but one thing that can be done is to let it go and show people otherwise. As my best friend says, “you do you” and show them that you just may not represent that stereotype through your actions. As unpleasant as this may sound, using these skills and experiences will allow you to become a more grounded, open-minded, and accepting person.

Attending university out-of-state has many pros just like studying in state. However, for some people, you will always feel the responsibility a little more or experience a stronger feeling of independence. It is definitely an option that is worth considering!

Image: Dean & Draper

CultureEducation

Having a support system is invaluable. However, it is comforting to know that you could take care of yourself when you need to. This is an important idea, especially in the transitional time of college. College is when people usually move from home for the first time. It is also when you find out how much you have learned all those years at home.

I struggled with this concept a little bit myself. I did not learn to cook and do laundry until I was an adult. However, I did know how to do both by the time I moved out. I did not know how to drive at the time. It was troublesome being dependent on people to get around because you never know when their kindness or availability will run out. Once I had a final exam to get to but had no ride until the last possible moment. Had I missed it, I would have automatically failed the class even though I had gotten As in the course all semester. While classes only last a few weeks or months out of the year, mistakes in the real world can have more lasting consequences.

Independence comes with responsibility. That can be scary because the weight of bad choices is solely on you. Yet, we as people grow from our mistakes. It may hurt if you do something wrong, but if you remember how bad it feels, you likely won’t do it again. As time goes by, it is liberating to know what you are capable of.

We all become independent without consciously trying. We learn to walk so we do not have to be carried. We learn to write, read, and do math in school so it is almost effortless in our adulthood. We grow at different paces, but we are all heading to the same place. The best part is that once you can take care of yourself, you can be there for someone else.

You can manifest this plan in many ways. For example:

  1. Moving away. This demands that you take care of your own home. You are also managing yourself without constant parental supervision.
  2. Learn a skill. Be it cooking, cleaning, laundry, gardening, driving, or something else you need. Once you can do it, you do not have to wait for someone else to do it for you.
  3. Getting a job means you can make money. Even if you don’t know how to cook, you can afford to go out to eat. Getting a job also has the added responsibility of clients or coworkers being dependent on you to get your job done.

I hope these tips help inspire you to go after what you want and to better understand the value of independence. With effort and time, you will be capable of earning it.

Image: Unsplash

EducationSkills

I recently came across the question, “What is something you learned even though it did not benefit you?” I think all knowledge is beneficial, but it was an interesting question to reflect on. 

In college, I almost always took courses that were required. I had to commute and consequently did not want to “waste time.” However, in my senior year I took a bowling class. It was something I always wanted to do and I finally had the time. Bowling class was my favorite part of the day.

Another thing that became part of my free time was cooking. I never cooked when I was younger. Now, every recipe I learn fills me with pride. Plus, cooking gives you instant gratification with a delicious meal. If you make a mistake with the recipe, you can learn and improve. I find cooking relaxing, and it also brings independence as you do not need to depend on others for food. 

Since graduating, I have thought about learning how to sew. Sewing is just something I have always found interesting. Maybe it will become useful if I ever need to repair clothes, but for now it is just a new mountain to climb. I love that I don’t need to be assigned this hobby in order to pursue it – I can do it on my own.

The world is full of new things to see and do. Is there something you ever wanted to learn not because it was your major or because it was required? Go out and do it. You won’t know how much you like it until you try.

Image: Roger Nelson, Flickr

EducationSkills

Growing up means independence. However, there is also new responsibility. An easy way to simplify your life? Create a budget. It sounds boring, but honestly it requires almost no maintenance and very little time to actually do. Here’s a simple way of creating a budget:

Find Out How Much Money Is Coming In

This is the easiest thing to do. Total up your paychecks, or if you are receiving money from your family, total up how much they are giving you. It is worth knowing how much you have saved in case of an emergency.

Total Your Old Bills

This one is a little less fun. Go through your old bills. Look back every month or every three months at everything you have spent money on. You will notice trends and and can figure out the average or the most you spent in the span of a few months. This way you can determined how much money you need to save every month.

Think of Upcoming Expenses

If you have tuition or a trip coming up, that will use up a chunk of the money you are making. You don’t want to spend what you don’t have. Plan for the future so you do not overspend and get blindsided.

Find How You Can Save

If you are spending more than you are bringing in, you will be out of money before you know it. The bonus of looking at your old bills is to see if you are spending too much money, and if you are then you can cut back. It’s always good to see where you’re money is going. If you don’t like what you see, you can change how you spend. Also, you can figure out a percentage of your money to save for later.

Set A Goal For Your Money

Now that you know how much money you have and how much money you are spending, you know how much money you have left. This could be spent on going out to dinner or for a more ambitious goal like buying a car or going on a trip. Plus, it never hurts to have an amount set aside in case of an emergency. 

This will keep you out of trouble with overspending and ending up in debt. More importantly, you will know how much you can spend having fun. Once you have a budget, you don’t have to worry about it and you just adjust with the big changes in your life.

Image: Sumall

CultureExploreTravel

 TRAVEL SERIES

Traveling comes in all forms. Whether you are taking a one-week road trip or flying across an ocean to reach your destination, visiting new places is an integral part of learning about yourself and others. Seeing how different people live, work, and experience life helps break down the barriers between us and reveals that perhaps we are not all as different as we might have thought.

This travel series will cover a wide range of topics about how to travel, where to travel to, etc. Tune in next week for traveling on a budget. Let’s get going!

STAYING SAFE

 1. Be aware of your surroundings. This does not mean you should be paranoid, but rather be aware of who is around you and be conscientious of anything that seems unusual or strange.

 2. Watch your pockets. The smallest details will make the biggest difference. For instance, it is always a good idea to keep valuables such as your wallet, keys, phone, and identification (passport, drivers license) in a hard-to-reach pocket. This is to prevent pick-pocketing or accidentally allowing a precious item to drop from your bag without realizing it.

 3. Tell someone where you are going. It is always a good idea to inform a close friend or family member of your travel plans. If something unexpected happens it is essential that somebody knows where you are and has a way to reach you in the case of an emergency. If you are traveling alone this is a crucial part of your planning, and is beneficial for you and also the people who care about you. If you are traveling with other people, this is still a good idea and highly recommended.

 4.  Keep extra cash hidden on you. It is always a smart idea to keep about twenty dollars of whichever currency you need on you at all times for those “just in case” moments. Tuck the bill(s) into a small pocket of your jacket or bag. Perhaps you get lost in a city and it becomes dark out – if you feel unsafe or have no idea how to get back to where you are staying, having that spare cash will likely enable you to grab a taxi and get home safely.

 5. Decide on a meeting spot. If you are traveling with others, consider choosing a central meeting spot where you can go if someone loses the group or visits somewhere on their own. A good meeting point is one that is well-known by locals so you can ask for directions and is also typically busy during both the day and night in case a member of the group is waiting by him or herself.

 6. Have information. This step will take you about 10-15 minutes, but it is well worth the hassle. Go through your itinerary and write down or type in all phone numbers of hotels and friends you are staying with, addresses of your accommodations, and emergency numbers of whoever city you are traveling to. Having this information might help you enjoy yourself because you can concentrate on having fun rather than trying to remember where you need to go at the end of the day! Also consider writing down all flight, train, or car reservation information ahead of time and print any tickets you will need. Store these in a safe and secure spot in your luggage.

In order to travel as stress-free as possible, it is essential that you plan. Like most situations, planning is the key to success. Spending 30 minutes going over these safety tips and collecting important information will save you hours of stress, confusion, and anxiety during your adventure!

Check out Travel Series Part II: Traveling on a Budget and Travel Series Part III: Choosing the Destination!