EducationSkillsWellness

Essays, assignments, articles, job applications, personal statements, reports, write-ups, presentations. Countless tasks we encounter at work and school require us to write. Facebook updates, tweets, text messages, blog posts. On a daily basis, much of the time we spend communicating with others is used tapping letters into an interface.

All of this occurs by writing.

However, there’s no doubt that the first set of examples is markedly more vilified than the second set. Few would say that they’d rather write an essay over a lengthy Facebook post on any given topic. Writing a cover letter is like getting a root canal in comparison to writing anything on social media.

When considering what it is that separates the two categories, it seems that their largest difference lies in that the one is considered “work” and while the other is considered “play.” Although keeping up with social media can certainly be demanding at times, most of us don’t view it as a job or chore. In contrast, reports and presentations – even for jobs or classes that we enjoy – are often thought of as sheer toil.

So is it the amount of brainpower expended that makes us revile at essay writing so much? Is it the time spent? Or the energy? As humans, we might dislike writing because we want to conserve our limited resources of time, energy, and willpower. Or is it the emotional benefit we receive from social media? In other words, the benefit we get from connecting with friends is typically greater than that spent writing memoirs and memorandums.

The reason why most people dislike writing is likely some combination of the two; the perceived benefit doesn’t outweigh the costs of spending time and energy doing something difficult. However, the fact that novelists, poets, and musicians create their works signifies that there’s something to be gained from writing – they all elevate writing to an art form, using it to express complexity, deal with difficulty, and celebrate what is good.

What it boils down to is that writing can help us think. It can help us flesh out rich thoughts, clarify complex ideas, and parse what is relevant in our multitude of opinions. Who hasn’t experienced a new thought or revelation while writing a thank you note, work memo, important email, or long-overdue text?

If you think about it, we write for pleasure every day. Take blogs for example. Inherently, blogs are supposed to be about things we enjoy discussing: travelling, eating, meeting people, visiting the rare and unexplored, politics, fashion, cooking, TV, movies, literally anything else. Every time we tweet 140 characters, we’re writing for pleasure. Just expand that. Or not. Write exactly that. You don’t always need to tweet about that burrito you had for lunch or how wild your weekend was, but sometimes you do! Just break free of the notion that you have to do these things on social media. Your writing of your thoughts provides more benefit than just updating your friends on what you’re doing.

Start writing on your smartphone at lunch. When you say something witty or insightful, jot it down. Use those notes as a way to delve deeper into those topics. Think about starting a blog. There’s no shame in writing banal and clichéd posts at first. Use them as a springboard to talk about what’s underneath it all.

Once you change your attitude toward what writing is (instead of a chore, think of it as a method to develop your personal understanding), you can more easily make writing a habit. So write it down – maybe you’ll like it. You’ll definitely learn something about yourself in the process.

Image: Flickr

CollegeEducationRecipesSkills

Eating well in college is hard. French fries and ice cream are always going to be in the dining hall, so how can you resist them? You’re always in a rush and need to grab something to go. Sometimes the dining hall does not serve the meals that you enjoy (maybe you dislike Mexican food, so Taco Tuesdays are not for you).

Before you get started with the cooking, purchase a mini fridge! Although it is a $100 dollar investment, you won’t regret it. You won’t have to always look for healthy food options in the dining hall or on campus cafes because you can make your own meals. Even if you don’t plan on cooking, have snacks in case you don’t have time to eat. Keep some cheese and meat in your fridge, in case you miss dinner, and frozen fruit and Greek yogurt for breakfast. Raw veggies and hummus are good options for snacks too.

Even though college is the place where you can make the worst eating decisions, it is also a place where you can establish good eating habits for life. Here are some easy recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner:

Breakfast

Avocado Toast With Chia Seeds

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 slice of bread of your choice
  • ½ of an avocado, lightly mashed with a splash of lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • Honey to drizzle

What You’ll Do:

  • Toast up your bread.
  • Top the bread with mashed avocado, red pepper flakes, chia seeds and honey. Enjoy!

avocado

Oatmeal With Raisins and Walnuts

What You’ll Need:

  • ½ cup quick rolled oats
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup crushed walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar (optional)

What You’ll Do:

  • Combine the water and oats in a microwave-safe bowl and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Gradually stir the brown sugar, raisins and walnuts into the oatmeal.
  • Once cool enough to devour, enjoy!

1-Minute Ham & Egg Breakfast Bowl

What You’ll Need:

  • Thin slice deli ham
  • Beaten egg
  • Shredded Cheddar cheese

What You’ll Do:

  • Line the bottom of 8-oz ramekin or a custard cup with a slice of ham. Pour the egg over ham.
  • Microwave on high for 30 seconds; stir.  Microwave until the egg is almost set, 15 to 30 seconds longer.
  • Top with cheese. Enjoy!

Pro Tip: Grab some fruit and nuts, and if you have time, go to the dining hall and have some oatmeal or eggs, which will fuel you until lunch. Instead of a muffin, choose a wheat or whole grain bagel. If you like yogurt, go for plain Greek, because it gives you a lot of protein and has less sugar than vanilla yogurt. If it is an exam day, grapes, berries and walnuts are good for optimal brain health and focus.

Lunch

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wrap

What you’ll need:

  • Chicken breast
  • Medium carrots, shredded
  • Diced red pepper
  • Green onions, thinly sliced
  • Reduced fat Asian-style sesame salad dressing
  • Bibb or iceberg lettuce leaves

What you’ll do:

  • Stir the chicken, carrots, pepper, onions and dressing in a medium bowl.
  • Divide the chicken among the lettuce leaves. Fold the lettuce leaves around the filling. Enjoy!

Chicken Noodle Soup

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 14 ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
  • 1 cup sliced carrots (2 medium)
  • 1 cup sliced celery (2 stalks)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 16 ounce package frozen egg noodles
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley (optional)

What You’ll Do:

  • In a 3-quart saucepan, combine broth, onion, carrots, celery, water, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to boiling and then reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in frozen noodles. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Stir in chicken; heat through.
  • Discard bay leaf.
  • To serve, pour soup into bowls. If you like, sprinkle with parsley. Serves 6. Enjoy!

chickennoodlesoup

Winter Fruit Waldorf Salad

What You’ll Need:

  • Unpeeled red apples, diced
  • Unpeeled pears, diced
  • Thinly sliced celery
  • Golden raisins
  • Chopped dates
  • Mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • Fat free orange crème yogurt
  • Tablespoon of frozen orange juice concentrate
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Walnut halves

What You’ll Do:

  • Mix apples, pears, celery, raisins and dates in a bowl.
  • In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, yogurt and juice concentrate until well blended. Add to fruit; toss to coat.
  • Serve fruit on lettuce. Garnish with walnut halves. Enjoy!

Pro Tip: Instead of getting burgers in the dining hall, eat chicken or lean meats. A salad and a soup combination or a wrap will fill you up and give you energy.

Mid-day Snack Tip

It’s that time between lunch and dinner, but you’re still in class and are hungry. Have a fruit like a banana or an apple in your bag, instead of a pastry. You can’t go wrong with raw veggies.

Dinner

Pesto Chicken Angel Hair Pasta With Herbs

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup basil pesto
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese

What You’ll Do:

  • Preheat over to 400 degrees F. Cover cookie sheet with foil.
  • Put pesto and chicken in bowl. Toss until chicken is covered.
  • Bake for 20-25 min.
  • Place slices of tomato on top of chicken and sprinkle with cheese.
  • Bake another 3-5 min.
  • Serve with a box of angel hair pasta and herbs and French bread. Enjoy!

Fried Rice with Scallions, Edamame, and Tofu

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 4 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • ¾ cup seeded and diced red bell pepper
  • ¾ cup frozen shelled edamame, cooked according to package directions and drained
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 6 ounces firm tofu, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

What You’ll Do:

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat until very hot.
  • Add the garlic, scallions, and ginger and cook, stirring for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the rice, red pepper, edamame, corn, and tofu and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes.
  • Make a 3-inch well in the center of the rice mixture.
  • Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, then add the eggs and cook until nearly fully scrambled.
  • Stir the eggs into the rice mixture, then add the soy sauce and incorporate thoroughly. Serve hot. Enjoy!

fried rice

Parmesan Breaded Fish Nuggets

What You’ll Need:

  • ⅓ cup Italian style bread crumbs
  • ⅓ cup crushed cornflakes
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ pounds cod fillets, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • Butter flavored cooking spray

What You’ll Do:

  • Combine the breadcrumbs, cornflakes, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl.
  • Evenly spritz fish cubes with butter flavored spray, then roll in the crumb mixture.
  • Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
  • Bake at 375 ° for 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Enjoy!

Pro Tip: For your biggest meal of the day, go with some chicken, steak or salmon with a side of veggies or brown rice. Going easy on carbs will help you stay focused, and you’ll get higher-quality sleep.

Late Night Snack Tip

Instead of getting a slice of pizza, Van recommends grabbing a low-fat smoothie from an on campus café. It will fill you up, and fruit is high in anti-oxidants, which are great for your skin.

Find food-spiration! 5 Instagram Foodies Worth Following:

When you look at your Instagram and see pictures of healthy food that is aesthetically pleasing, you’ll get inspired and maybe skip a burger that day for a grain and roasted butternut squash mix from the salad bar instead.

@thenakedfigChelsea Hunter finds beauty in simplicity

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@deliciouslyellaElla Woodward will inspire you daily to eat healthy

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@jamieoliverJamie Oliver has 3.3 million followers on Instagram (He calls himself a proud dad & chef. Unlike other Instagrammers who focus on a particular type of food, he posts a good range of breakfasts, lunches, dinners and sides.)

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@sarkababickaSarka Babicka is a professional photographer who makes a plate of salad look like a piece of art

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@leesamantha: Samantha Lee is a food artist (She makes food that tells a story!)

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Happy cooking and happy exploring!

Image: Flickr

CultureTravel

“Hitting up the churches and museums in Winnipeg today + the Osborne village shopping district, which is apparently like a shorter version of Gastown. Wanna see the architecture and then relax along la rivière rouge sous le beau soleil.

The photograph is of the cathedral in the cemetery in the saint boniface area of Winnipeg. So cool. Two girls were making candles inside when the wax caught fire and destroyed everything (including the 5000-volume library, alas!). This was in 1860. They’ve rebuilt it since.”

Facebook post from Winnipeg, Canada; July 28th, 2012

Don’t lie. We’ve all been guilty of this at one point or another. You look over at a backpacker on the bus, busily typing into their phone, entering a new status update that proclaims their new destination along with the new photo (or two hundred) of the day. Your forehead wrinkles, your eyebrows crinkle, and you turn away, back to the open scenery rolling by outside your window, wondering how on earth another person could be so absorbed by technology and the maintenance of a superficial image when beauty strolls by so close and refined, if only you’d look.

Wait, you did mean guilty of checking Facebook on your travels, right? Well, no, I meant guilty of judging people who update and stay tuned to social media while traveling.

Yes, I know what most people think when they see someone on vacation just thumbing away on their phones. You’re supposed to be focusing on the new sights and sounds around you! or Why are you so conscious about your image that you have to brag about every new thing that you do? Those opinions are completely warranted in some cases; I won’t discount the arguments that technology is making people more distracted and pulling them away from the real world. Face it; we are the generation that relentlessly, obsessively documents ourselves. Nowadays, people are more interested in taking a selfie and proving that they’ve been to said place than actually taking in the experience. That being said, social media has its good points, and many annoyed looks are merely the result of misled impressions.

“There was no end in sight. Yearning plunged into the distance; frost caught in my hair. Rushing passage, as ona sleigh in space. An intoxicating feeling came over me: a burgeoning sense of life, the limitless, exuberant pleasure of being in the world. The freedom of an hour in the Russian winterland. I loved life.

Years charged by, death wheeled over the earth, God and his stars perished in the West, and there was war on earth. I was a soldier in danger and in pain, a wanderer, a traveler in space. But I loved life.

Willy Peter Reese, 1944. He never came home.”

Private Facebook post from Prague, Czech Republic; June 24th, 2014

The quote above would have escaped my memory had I not saved it online. Re-reading it brings back the same feelings that urged my hand to copy Reese’s words. His words were a mirror to the infinity, that toxic contradiction of invincibility teetering on the edge of a dark crevasse; this I feel when prancing in a winter wonderland, but also when just in flight, in motion, in travel.

It’s sad to say, but I have a memory lacking in depth, in courage. You could argue that I could have just kept my thoughts in a notebook, but I run out of pages. Or I lose the notebook. I probably have dozens of notebooks stored in boxes in the garage; I’ve always been a packrat. But until I find time and the will to venture out to the spiderwebs and dust, there they shall stay: still, closed, aching. Like a time capsule, treasured and waiting.

On the other hand, my Facebook page could run forever; it scrolls off the screen for miles. I can check my account when I’m seventy-six (assuming I live that long) and I’ll still be able to see the thoughts I thought important enough to immortalize, share with the world. Facebook automatically records the time, date and location of writing – which is why it’s so important for me to pen down my reflections of an event at the time and place. It’s like the journalist’s way of holding to the truth, adhering to the authenticity of the moment.

There’s something to be said about writing from the place of now. There’s an urgency to write in real time, to write and immortalize your feelings right in that moment and right before that and right afterwards, because we know that if we leave it till tomorrow, we won’t be able to recall the small details, and if we leave it till the next week, we’ll only remember the highlights. Also true: tomorrow, there will be something else to write; the week after, even more. If I don’t write it now, the great likelihood is that I won’t write it ever.

“Oh, the many shades of Ireland.

I’ve seen it at its most dramatic, the colours vibrant and popping, and its most serene, like you’re invading a private world of nature that isn’t meant for human eyes. You can never get a bad photo of Ireland, this vast, beloved land is just too photogenic, almost to a fault. 😉

Made lots of progress today. Caught an early ferry from Cape Clear Island to Schull, on the Mizen peninsula, and spent the hour-long journey singing and watching the waves and the grey skies – was the only passenger on the boat, total five-star treatment, haha. Biked a total of 70 km today, whoot! The most I’ve done so far in a day this trip, and it’s been among one of the most scenic stretches of the Wild Atlantic Way. Truly, some of the sights I’ve seen are so rugged it makes me feel like I’m facing off danger just being in its awesome presence.The world is just too goddamned beautiful.

Another soggy day, the third wet day of the trip so far, but at 5pm, just when I went down to Mizen Head to get a view of the cliffs and the ocean from the southernmost point of the peninsula, the sky opened up and the sun came through – oh, what a glorious, much-appreciated entrance that was!

West Cork, you’ve been simply stunning! I’m a lucky girl. Tomorrow – crossing the border into Kerry, and beginning leg 2 of the journey.”

Facebook post from the County of Cork, Ireland; August 27th, 2014

One of the most powerful things I find, as a writer, is that looking back at your past entries, you don’t just remember what you’ve seen and accomplished, felt and survived; you also see a different side of yourself, a different maturity or state of mind. Four months before the dated post above, I wrote something in complete juxtaposition:

“I’ve had the opportunity to bike twice in Europe – the first was with my host in Glasgow, if you’ll remember, and the second was alone through the gorgeous grasslands and along the fierce highways. It’s a bit of a fear of mine to cycle alone in a foreign country, but there were so many nice people who helped me along the way.”

Facebook post from Bratislava, Slovakia; May 19th, 2014

Funnily enough, I don’t remember being afraid of biking solo through a foreign country. The immediate thought that would come to mind if you asked me what one of my greatest bicycle journeys (or any journey, period) has been is Oh, the time I biked for ten days around Ireland.

I don’t know if it’s possible to relive moments that have passed, but when I view something I expressed, whether a photograph, a written thought or a drawing, something calls to a long-buried memory tucked between the grooves and ridges of my brain. It’s like a quick flash in front of my eyes, a glimpse of a portal into a different world. It may not play out like an indie film, but all of those glimpses represent hand-picked slides of my past that I would not have remembered without a trigger. For that, I have to thank Facebook.

During my travels, I typically use Facebook at least once a day, unless I’m out in the boonies camping or on some long-distance sea voyage (the latter has yet to happen, sadly). Facebook, for me, is like a virtual diary with the added benefits of automatically sharing the thoughts and images I accumulate on my journey with all the people I care about. I use it to store and share my photographs, the precious moments lucky enough to be caught on film – photographs of myself in situations I won’t remember in a couple of years. A photograph of myself with two guys, all wearing sombreros, in Vietnam?! Check.

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Facebook also lets me keep in contact with friends I meet along the way and friends back home. When I’m lonely on the road, I know I can talk to someone with the touch of a button. Facebook also lets everyone know I’m safe, that I’m still alive. If I don’t post something for a while, people will at least know where I last was, on which day. That’s really important.

But, to some degree, you only post stuff to Facebook to show off, don’t you? One might ask me, eyebrow raised in doubt.

Well, I won’t disagree with you. Travel is, to a degree, a privilege, and while it took me a while to admit it, I have to say that I do take it for granted at times. When I traveled around Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand earlier this year, I kept on thinking about how lucky I was to have simply been born in the ‘right’ country, to a middle-class family with the kind of opportunities we have. I kept on thinking how countries in Southeast Asia were so affordable for people in wealthier countries, but how people from Vietnam, for example, would have to work for a decade or more just to afford one family trip to North America. I’m even lucky to just have a Malaysian passport; my citizenship allows me to visit 166 countries without a visa, or with a visa-on-arrival. That’s a huge amount of mobility that, sadly, citizens of certain other countries aren’t afforded. Life dealt me a pretty good hand.

But I don’t post photographs to show off the fact that I travel. Some travel companies are now taking on the slogan, “Take the next selfie in an exotic location to make your friends jealous!” That literally repulses me. Travel isn’t a competition, and if you think that way, you’re not thinking about travel right. Travel isn’t about one-upping one another for the title of ‘Most Countries I’ve Ever Stepped Foot In’. Travel isn’t calculative. Travel is about an exchange of culture, language, scenery, friends. Travel is about expanding our worlds, showing us just how small we are, teaching ourselves humility and patience. When I put up photographs from my travels, yes, it’s to show everyone I’m having a good time, but it’s also to showcase the beauty of the world, to give them snapshots of what else is out there beyond our comfort zones. A few of my friends tell me they live vicariously through my photographs and travel notes. I can understand that, because when I’m not traveling, I love looking at my Facebook feed, full of photographs from my friends who are frequent travelers, exploring South America and Europe and Asia. It keeps me invigorated, anticipating the next time I can get out on the road again, feeding my inspiration.

There will always be skeptics. My original title for this piece was “Reflections from the Road: A Defense of Facebook on my Travels,” but then I realized that sounded like I was seeking someone’s approval, or needed to prove something. In reality, I don’t, and you don’t. Opinions on social media seem to be divided into two halves: either people reveal too much of their lives, sometimes obnoxiously, sometimes mistakenly, or people filter their lives so that their social media accounts reveal only the parts they want people to see: the happy, glorious, brave side of them. To a certain extent, social media has masked anything that suggests true sorrow, anger or ruthlessness, and so we can’t be blamed for therefore thinking that social media is just for face, for show. But that doesn’t mean it’s all superficial. If you were to look back at what I posted when I was 15, you’d see that it’s all gibberish between young teenage girls. But I think if you looked at my posts in recent years, you could see the rawness of my heart.

“I know where I started out: starry-eyed, idealistic, ambitious and naive. Had the drive and the passion to take it all the way even through the dangers. I still hope I’m that naked flame.

But I wonder what kind of bad habits I have as a traveler. Sure, carrying just one backpack all around Europe has helped me get really far, but what about the deeper issues at play? They say take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footsteps. Do I take too many photos? Am I living in the moment? What kind of mark do I leave on the countries and people that have so kindly hosted me? I hope it’s a footprint that bears my changing identity, that remains bona fide and dedicated to the soul no matter the number of experiences that try to cull it.

But one of my biggest questions – and one of my scariest – is: Can I actually call myself a traveler, instead of a tourist? We always look at tourists with some extent of derision, rolling our eyes at their ignorant antics… As much as I hate to admit it, I do have a bit of the tourist in me, as much as I try hard to avoid that stereotype. One thing I have learned is that the next time I take on a long backpacking journey such as my summer in Europe, I will slow down.”

Facebook post from Dublin, Ireland; August 21st, 2014

Without these posts, these diary entries, I wouldn’t have remembered these specific moments. I’d say we are the sum total of our feelings, thoughts and actions, and if I can’t remember what I felt – the admiration, the inspiration, the luck, the chance, the fight – I would be missing out on a grand part of an experience of a lifetime. Where I might have only remembered the aftermath and the highlights, the great peaks and the final conclusion, with these posts, I have a second chance. I can go back to the in-between.

Yes, social media has made people even more vain and self-absorbed as before – but it has made people more self-conscious and vulnerable too. Social media has people doing all they can for a glamorous selfie, even risking their lives for what they think is the next coolest image. People have died trying to take selfies on top of high buildings and bridges, and in front of oncoming trains. I personally think this is utterly ridiculous. I mean, who wants to be remembered for dying for a selfie? Who wants to be remembered for being vain and stupid? Selfies are symbolic for the wrong things.

Photographs, on the other hand, are symbolic and metaphorical, for all the right reasons. When you put your camera in a stranger’s hand, you’re saying, “I trust you enough. I trust you enough to not steal my camera, and I trust you enough to capture a good image of me.” There’s a touching of hands, a gentle, friendly exchange of human contact. It’s no longer that ‘me, me, me!’ that the selfie screams, but an enveloping of ‘we.’ Photographs are an expression of our souls, and Facebook, for all its downfalls, is a platform for an exchange between us. I launch my wandering thoughts into the universe, virtual or not, so that it might draw out other wandering thoughts and conceive a conversation. I’m inviting people to join in, make themselves a part of my journey, and me a part of theirs.

“I went out to celebrate my last night in the eternal city, wanting to see the famous Fontana di Trevi which I’d left until the last minute. As I approached the junction at which I would turn and marvel at the fountain, I prepared myself mentally for the beautiful sight I’d imagined in my head – clear blue water lit up from below, shadows and light dancing lightly on marble, grand statues perched regally above.

I laughed my head off when I saw that the fountain was being restored. The pool was drained, the building was covered in ugly scaffolding, and a platform had been set up so that throngs of tourists could wait in line to get up close to the statues. Oh my, oh my, too hilarious. It both made my night and didn’t.

My first thought was that, oh well, Rome just wasn’t ready for me. So many buildings and sites were undergoing reconstruction/restoration. But then I thought – Rome, this marvelous city, this grand cradle of civilization that is almost 3000 years old and still so well preserved till today, this giant that tolerates the millions of tourists that stomp on its grounds, cough in its face, that leave after a brief three-day, two-night stay and call it “seeing Rome”… It does not have to be ready for anyone. It’s us that have to be ready for it.”

Facebook post in Rome, Italy; July 21st, 2014

It’s us that have to be ready.

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Images by Alaska Rue and Flickr

HealthSpotlightYouth Spotlight

We’ll admit that like almost everyone else with a smart phone, we are completely dependent on and obsessed with Instagram. That includes scrolling through the ‘Explore’ option for endless inspiration. One Instagrammer we always find ourselves gravitating toward is Steph Yu of @happyandhealthy96. Not only does Steph share gorgeous photos of the yummy meals she creates, but she encourages all people to find their own happiness and health in their own way.

On top of that, Steph has written an e-book and runs the website A Happy and Healthy Life where she shares recipes, thoughts, health tips, and even more stunning photographs. Oh, and did we mention that she’s only 19?

If you find yourself scrolling rapidly through this week’s Youth Spotlight to see all the beautiful images, don’t forget that there are words of wisdom snuck in between! But if you look first and read after, we won’t hold it against you.

Name: Stephanie Yu
Education: Studying business at the University of British Columbia
Follow: @happyandhealthy96 | A Happy and Healthy Life

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Steph Yu: To me, seizing my youth is defined by not waiting to live my life, but rather living for the now and not for my future. So often you hear “Oh I’ll do that one day, when I’m older.” But I believe that age isn’t a limitation but rather an opportunity. It’s an arbitrary definition that society tends to use as a barometer for maturity, success, and expectations, but I just like to do my own thing, and live according to my rules and my authentic passions.

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CJ: What school do you attend and what did you decide to study?

SY: I go to University of British Columbia, and I’m studying business at the Sauder School of Business.

CJ: What sort of living space do you live in and how do you maintain a vegan lifestyle there?

SY: I live in a single dorm room on campus. It’s actually extremely simple staying vegan and healthy. I have a minifridge and blender in my room that I use daily! I make smoothies, banana ice cream, bring fruit monomeals for lunch, etc. And for dinner I always go to the cafeteria and get a LARGE salad, with rice, or some more fruit!

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CJ: You’ve written an e-book called “Living A Healthy and Happy Life.” What was the process of writing that book like for you?

SY: The process of writing my e-book was both inspiring and difficult. I had to face all my fears, vulnerabilities, and mistakes, and open myself up to possible criticism. But when I started writing it, I promised that I would be genuine and authentically tell my story. I share a lot more than I expected I would, but I’m glad I did, I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people who can relate and that makes everything worthwhile!

CJ: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

SY: Follow your bliss.

CJ: To our readers out there wondering how they can take one tiny step towards becoming happier and healthier right now, what one piece of advice would you offer to them?

SY: I would say start with breakfast! That’s really the easiest meal to eat healthy. Have a large fruit smoothie or a fruit meal! Also WATER: drink enough water so that you’re peeing clear. And SLEEP! It’s so important to get enough sleep!

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CJ: You’ve experienced your own incredible health transformation. What were some of the difficulties you faced while beginning that process and how did you keep yourself motivated?

SY: It was really difficult for me to deal with social situations when I fist started. I would get a lot of questions that I wasn’t able to answer, and I really felt attacked. I realize now that most people were just curious, so I’d say don’t take things personally and do your research! Become informed about plant-based nutrition, and cover all the basic questions (where do you get your protein, calcium, iron etc).

CJ: As a self-starter you have to keep yourself on track with goals and deadlines. What tools and organizing methods do you use to keep everything running smoothly?

SY: I have a mac, and I use “Stickies” obsessively! I have daily to-do lists, and weekly agendas.

CJ: You have a huge Instagram following! What kinds of things do you do to engage with your community and how has that virtual growth impacted your real life?

SY: I love reaching out to local companies that support the message I do, and introducing them to my followers. I’ve also hosted fruit lucks, and gone to some vegan potlucks! It’s been incredible to find a community here in Vancouver of plant munching people! As for online, I love following and supporting other health foodies, and I’m constantly inspired by others on Instagram!

steph8

CJ: What has been the most unexpected part of college so far?

SY: University has been just incredible. The inspiring atmosphere, incredible friends, and total freedom has made this year my favorite year yet.

CJ: You’re also great about making fitness a priority. How do you keep yourself energized throughout the day and especially throughout a workout?

SY: I workout in the mornings before breakfast. I love waking up, drinking a liter of water, and then getting my sweat sesh on! One of my favorite things to listen to during a workout is the Rich Roll podcast.

CJ: What is your go-to recipe for when you just don’t know what you feel like eating?

SY: DATE COCONUT ROLLS!

CJ: What advice would you give to your 14-year-old self?

SY: Your imperfections guide and shape your narrative, love them, embrace them, and accept them.

Steph Yu Qs

Images Courtesy of: Steph Yu

CultureLearn

Generation Y is the most digitally connected demographic to date, yet we often struggle to keep up with current affairs happening globally. It often surprises me how many people I meet on a daily basis who have no idea of what’s going on outside their bubble of personal existence. With more ways than ever of keeping up-to-date and informed, it amazes me how so many from my generation fail to take note, or have an interest in foreign current affairs.

I’ve always had a genuine interest in current affairs; not only the news coverage that make the global headlines, but also more niche stories that many often fail to pick up on. Following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris earlier this year, it sparked my revival of wanting to utilize my background in international affairs and politics, to start to purse my passion of journalism more seriously as a profession.

Currently, I am struggling to comprehend why more young people don’t make it a point to stay connected to world affairs that affect their lives in ways they may not even realize. I don’t find it relevant enough of an excuse saying ‘not enough time’ is the issue, as I see Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn on far too many mobile phones, tablets, and desktops at offices on a daily occurrence. We pre-select what we wish to indulge our brains with when going on a media binge, and sites such as BBC, CNN, and Reuters News get avoided.

I find Londoners read print newspapers far more frequently than Americans, as it often makes the notion of personal space on the morning and evening tube commute home a bit difficult. Either way, print media is dying, and the way we consume news is becoming exclusively digital. Previously in times past, it was assumed that individuals in society keep themselves informed with politics and current affairs, as it generally affect their futures and well-being. Today, its appears to me too often that we have lost this approach of preserving the importance of keeping the culture of current affairs relevant in young people’s lives.

With so many news outlets in various languages, diverse viewpoints and political leanings, I don’t understand why more people don’t make it a point as part of the day to tune and learn what’s developing around the world. Social media does a good job of reaching out to audiences that would not necessarily have exposure to certain current affairs, but it often makes me laugh when I overhear discussions of young people asking what ‘ISIS’ is and wonder why it is trending on Twitter.

There’s a plethora of important events happening daily, and it’s a shame we don’t make it a point to tune in and analyze how they affect our direct lives. Believe it or not, in some indirect aspect, the conflict in Ukraine, continued rise of ISIS (The Islamic State in Iraq and Ash-Sham) and Boko Haram’s continued havoc causing trouble in Africa pave the future landscape of Generation Y a great deal.

It’s easier than ever to start paying attention to current affairs. Whether it be on a local or global level, there are vast news outlets and mobile apps that make receiving and sharing news accessible. Checking the news shouldn’t be a chore, but rather, a part of our daily routines.

We as human beings should feel in sync with how events unfold, and how others’ actions affect our daily routines. Incorporating your social media existence into current affairs is a fantastic outlet to get started if you struggle to make it to the BBC’s or CNN’s homepage. Simply connecting with several of your favorite print or media news entities on sites like Facebook and Twitter can significantly add the most important and breaking stories into your world.

The means to get involved and have further immersion is easier and more convenient than ever before. The younger and earlier you start reading about current events and following what goes on around you, the more informed your life will become.

Image: Jon Ottosson

Culture

For those who have been living under a rock, or out of the sphere of anything related to media, chances are you have heard of Bollywood. No, I didn’t spell Hollywood wrong. Bollywood is an actual word, and it’s now officially defined in the Oxford English dictionary.

After years of attempting to compete against its western counterpart Hollywood, India’s Mumbai housed film industry can stand firm on the morals of its own achieved global success.

Deriving from its former British colonial city name of Bombay, Bollywood has amassed an international following, catapulting its reach of producing almost three times as many movies a year than Hollywood, and allowing to call itself the largest film industry in the world.

The Status

India has its own breed of mega stars who now have the global clout, fame, and a buzz to rival those from America. With its presence at almost all International Film Festivals, Bollywood celebrities are now in a league of their own.

They have massive social media followings, make lucrative endorsement deals with top global brands, and have cash earnings that set them in similar brackets as top Hollywood celebrities. Their reach is not only in India, but their reach abroad is growing as many are choosing to branch outside traditional roles within the Hindi film industry and gain further exposure in the west.

Priyanka Chopra, a former Miss World, is India’s latest global export who launched her foreign fame from Bollywood to crossover and become a recording artist to produce hit singles with Pitbull and Will. i. am. for NFL’s Thursday Night Football theme song. In addition, she has also become the first ethnic face of Guess, and landed a new ABC talent television show deal in Los Angeles where she is currently based. With a heavy media push, her team is attempting to introduce a stronger South Asian presence into the American media market. Among other global Bollywood stars with massive fame include Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Aamir Khan, Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Katarina Kaif, Akshay Kumar, and Kareena Kapoor.

The Reach

From Cape Town to Canberra, Rio De Janerio to Riyadh, the sheer appeal to audiences and demographics showcase how India’s Hindi film industry position now rivals Hollywood’s reach. The past 20 years have progressed the popularity of Hindi film, in turn allowing for Bollywood to become more of household name in several parts of the emerging world. In addition, the massively clean cut and conservative family approach of no nudity have allowed for its films to amass loyal fans not just in its diaspora communities, but throughout Africa, Latin America, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East.

The Appeal

With its grand sets, exotic destinations, love stories, and iconic song and dance routines, many have dubbed the unique and drastically different format to western media part of its international success. Bollywood films have stayed close to traditional Indian values, but in recent times have become a creative playground to showcase a rising and rapidly westernizing population, home to 1.2+ billion people.

The Influence

With Bollywood paving the way for the western world to gain further exposure into Indian cultural values, art, and dialogues, the influence of it reach is massive. With its heavy hitting presence at every major international film festival – including Cannes – established Indian Industry award shows, and the trickling in of more Indian music, fashion, and media personalities into the daily lives of more westerners, it no longer remains a thriving industry.

Dubai Parks and Resorts is even developing the Emirate’s and world’s first Bollywood mega theme park project aimed at capturing the essence of Hindi cinema, covering a total of three million square feet. With a massive three phase development plan for construction in Dubai, the park will recreate for tourists and residents the extravagance and fantasy that is the world of Bollywood.

Have you seen any Bollywood films?

Image: Wikipedia

EducationSkills

Creating your own website is now easier than ever. It has become more economical in terms of money and work. But while starting a website is worth only a few clicks of effort, maintaining it and receiving constant traffic takes quite some skill. The essentials, tips, and tactics listed below are ones that I have learnt through experience by starting my very own website.

1. Finding your website’s niche

This is arguably the most important element to your website. You have to identify ‘why’ you are creating your website or ‘what’ purpose it serves. This will be your site’s trademark; people will remember your site for this very reason. To give an example, my website, www.maverickyouth.com, focuses on giving individuals the liberty to write and publish opinionated pieces. Linkedin’s niche is to serve as a platform that connects potential employers with seeking employees. The niche you pick will help your website set it apart from the crowd and it will make it more lucrative (If you’re planning on starting it for commercial reasons of course). Your title may also be linked with your niche for more impact. This task sets you going in the right direction.

2.  Who You Are Targeting

This is the next big step. While having a large consumer base might seem, quite intuitively, stronger, it is not necessarily so. True, having a large audience is a definite ‘plus-one’, but it’s better to have a narrow set of ‘active’ users than a large set of passive ones. My website looks to target young opinionated teenagers who wish to portray themselves through writing. Once you know who you are targeting, everything else will fall into place quite easily. Your website’s look for example can be modified to appeal to your user base’s interests.

3. Teamwork and Diversity Are Key

Having a team of committed individuals will make the whole process faster and more fruitful. Your choice of hiring (for pay or not for pay) is up to your discretion; the bottom line is you have to hire individuals ready to put in their best efforts. Diversity is key in this aspect. Make sure you have a team with diversified skill sets. You have to define their jobs clearly to avoid any ambiguity. Divide the website’s workload and hand over the work to the suitable team members. For example, you may provide the web designing work to someone with a strong background in computers. Since keeping up with each member’s progress is a must, make sure your team isn’t too large, as personal attention is required for more per-capita output.

4. Market Research

After your website is ready, you may share it with a select few to get their opinions and feedback. This sample audience may be close friends, family members etc. They should be people giving credible feedback. Otherwise, you may use websites like www.criticue.com to get feedback from online users around the world. This is an important measure to take before taking your website out into the open. The opinions you receive will be good sources for final touches. They may make you think of things you had not thought of before; you might see potential problems that you once overlooked. If your initial vision was strong, then the positive feedback you get from people will serve as a confident booster. Negative feedback will definitely make you rethink some of your website’s components. This is all for the improvement of your website.

5. Social Media

After your website goes live it becomes time to turn towards social media. Social media is a blessing to all website’s wishing to make it big. There are several widgets your website may employ to connect with websites like Facebook, Tumblr, etc. For example, your website may have a widget that allows users to register to your website by logging into their Facebook accounts. On the same note, creating a Facebook page for your website will be highly beneficial as you will be closer to your consumers. You may choose to use some credit to advertise through social media and attract a larger fan base. But before you involve money into the picture, it’s best you view some of the tutorials on Youtube that show you how to best handle your credit. Make sure you have a constant flow of posts on these social media pages. They are great for advertising new services or products. Since this job can be quite taxing, it would be pragmatic to have at least one individual on your team overseeing this.

Good luck with your own website endeavor!

Image: Picography

CultureHealthSkills

The first thing I do when I get online is go straight to Facebook. Sometimes I don’t even notice I’m doing it. Next thing I know, I’m scrolling through my news feed clicking on links, reading statuses, and commenting on pictures. That entire process seems to take up a good chunk of my time. Why? Because the Internet is a black hole. It sucks away our life and we’re not even aware of it, until we shut down our laptops or tablets and look up to find that time passed us by while we read the latest celebrity gossip or watched the latest episode of our favorite TV show.

While the Internet can be an extremely wonderful place, the outside world has so much to offer. Don’t spend your entire break from school online because if you do, you will have missed out on your chance to get some fresh air or spend time with your family and friends.

I know what I’m about to say might be hard for some of you to do. This is why, before I put in my request, I just want to remind everyone that Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest will still be here tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that. Spending a few days away from social media and the Internet, in general, won’t make it to disappear into the cyberverse forever. That said (after you finish reading this article of of course), I want everyone to close out of their Internet browsers and shut down every electronic device. Those are two simple steps but it might prove to be really hard for some, especially if you’re the kind of person who loves to stay connected at all times.

I am that kind of person too. I like being able to read what’s going on in other countries and, guiltily, what’s going on in the lives of celebrities I like. But, at the end of the day, I make sure to remember my own life. I am young. I still have a lot to explore and a lot to experience. I can’t do any exploring or memory making if I am always sitting in front of a computer screen.

And neither can you.

Get out there! The world is your playground. If you can’t travel to far off places just yet, take a walk around your neighborhood. Check out that store you haven’t gone in yet or maybe try the new coffee shop that just opened. Call up a few of your friends and go see a movie. Do something that doesn’t involve the Internet or social media. Unplugging is seriously one of the best ways you can seize your life because, whether you remember it or not, there was a time when we didn’t have laptops and smartphones and tablets. When we were kids, we still were able to find ways to entertain ourselves that didn’t involve the latest app or Twitter.

Pick up a book from the library, rock out to your favorite song,  and maybe help around the house or clean your room. Do something that doesn’t involve plugging in to the Internet. Do anything that will allow you to seize your youth because you don’t want to look up one day and realize that you didn’t seize every moment of your life. This moment in our lives have the potential to be the greatest. All you have to do is get out there and do more with your time than just stare at a screen. I know unplugging isn’t exactly an easy thing to do, but once you do it I promise you won’t regret it.

Image: Nomadic Lass

EducationSkills

November is the start of many things: cold weather, pumpkin spice lattes, and the holidays. However, while department store managers and baristas at Starbucks are preparing for the season, students are preparing for a different beast entirely. Exams are what shortly follow the month of November, so this month is a vital one in getting a few last good grades in before finals.

If you are one of the unlucky souls in desperate need of a few more A’s in a class, here are some ways to study for upcoming tests and exams:

1. Clear your mind and avoid multitasking

Cluttering your mind with other issues is probably one of the worst ways to study; in order to retain information you need to focus on that specific subject. Thus, multitasking is a terrible idea when studying. You do not need to have tabs open for other classes or for Facebook. Actually, if you have trouble with controlling yourself in terms of social media, websites like Cold Turkey is an amazing way to block social media temporarily, allowing yourself time to focus on studying.

2. Drink water and snack healthily

When studying, drinking water and eating healthy can play a vital role in retaining information. For example, eating slow carbohydrates, such as nuts, will give you a steady stream of energy and release of serotonin to keep you up and happy while studying. Whereas if you were to consume energy-infused foods and drinks, you will have a temporary rush of energy, but any information looked at during the crash will be lost to the intense desire to sleep. Also, prepare your snacks ahead of time to avoid wandering from the desk – you might never get back to studying.

3. Chew mint gum when studying and when testing

Psychologists have found that chewing mint gum while studying and testing correlates positively with good test scores. It allows your brain to make connections and help you remember retained information better. Therefore, it might be to your benefit to chew a stick of mint gum while studying for you next test and during the test itself.

4. Break up your study sessions, DO NOT CRAM!

MIT’s website shows that cramming can actually cause you to lose information and that the best way to study is in 20-50 minute intervals and to take 5-10 minute breaks in between these intervals. This allows your brain to absorb the information you just read without being overwhelmed.

5. If you are going to listen to music while studying, make it classical or instrumental

Everyone knows of the idea that playing classical music to an infant can increase the child’s potentiality of intelligence, and this idea still applies to students and young adults today. Studies show that classical music increases cognition and helps to remember data and material. However, classical music is not digestible by everyone. Hence, listen to some instrumental music, but make sure that it is instrumental music you are familiar with; if I try to listen to new music when I study, I get too distracted by the new melody and lyrics that I am listening to.

What are your best study tips?

Image: Anita Hart

Culture

It’s the time of year where we say our thanks to the things we’ve taken for granted, and being without a phone for the second time this semester has caused me to realize all the things I’m truly thankful for when it comes to my phone. Being without a phone has made me acknowledge not only the many things I take for granted regarding my phone, but also the things that having a phone has caused me to take for granted. Here are some things I’ve become thankful for that may just influence you to put your phone down for a couple of hours this holiday season.

1. Reminders

I’m always busy, and with being busy comes needing a way to stay organized and on top of things. My phone has all of my alarms, appointments, birthdays, and random notes in it in order to keep my daily life together. Being without it has definitely made me thankful for my little partner in crime!

2. Email

After missing out on the email for my 8:30am class being cancelled and getting up and lugging myself to class, I have definitely taken having access to email on my phone for granted. Being able to have my email on my phone allows me to check it straight when I get up; along with any cancellations that go with it!

3. Social Media

Not being able to Instagram on the daily may or may not be causing me to have withdrawals. Social media helps me keep in touch with my friends at school, as well as my friends and family at home. Being without easy access to all my social media sites has made it a lot more difficult for me to stay up-to-date on everyone’s lives.

4. Nature

Though being without a phone has given me my share of hardships, it has also helped me to realize how beautiful my campus truly is. Instead of scrolling through my feeds while walking to class, instead I look around and notice the beautiful flowers, trees, and architecture that I so easily took for granted.

5. Friends

My relationships with those who are my true friends, as well as my family, clearly deepened without a phone involved. It brought back emailing and direct messaging on Twitter, which although may be annoying, shows me who my true friends are when having to make an effort. It has also pushed me to spend more time talking to my friends and family face-to-face rather than texting them 24/7. Not having a phone has allowed me to be more social and have better relationships in general.

Though having a phone is a great thing that many of us take for granted, it’s also important to acknowledge the little things that we overlook when we’re absorbed in our screens.

Image: Jonathan Velasquez

Culture

Today’s social media websites are mostly possessed by advertisement companies, and have a penchant for converting their user’s every move on the website into data. This inescapable publicity has led quite a few Facebook users to partake in an exodus to new social websites. People have been predominantly going to one site in particular called Ello, which has now been appropriately nicknamed the “Facebook Killer” after having converted too many ex-Facebook users. This up-and-coming site has professed that it is based on the principles that its website should not use advertisements, and will minimize the collection of user data compared to other social media websites. Shifts like these show how the population of online users yearn for the ability to connect without the bombardment of media or loss of privacy.

It is a known fact that Facebook not only relies upon advertisements for a large chunk of their revenue, but also on collecting posts, shared links, and other data to sell for profit to media companies. People have become genuinely frustrated with the lack of privacy that accompanies social media these days. Whereas in the past sacrificing privacy for quicker communication was acceptable, that sacrifice no longer feels like an ideal tradeoff.

And the current flocking towards websites like Ello or the phone application called Yik-Yak, which does not give out IP addresses or user information, gives a sense of anonymity and privacy that Facebook cannot. Although Ello and Yik-Yak are not perfect – each has made its own mistakes in the process of starting new platforms – like Ello’s complete lack of privacy or blocking settings at the launch of the site, and Yik-Yak’s total user anonymity, which has led to cases of harassment and bullying, the large congregation of followers on these two websites is telling; people want freedom from the overbearing presence of media and advertisements.

Media is a domineering force that relies heavily upon consumers, and when social media sites sell out users and consumers for financial gain, it leads to the unending stream of unnecessary advertisements and commercials on one’s news feed. Although I don’t believe that Ello will mean the death of Facebook (remember when Google+ tried and failed miserably?) I do think that this competition could be a cause for change in Facebook policy. Facebook could learn from this shift in a need of space away from media, and hopefully create a stronger website that does not betray its users.

Image: Courtesy of Ello.com

Culture

Have you ever scrolled through the comment section of a Youtube video, or looked at a blog post only to find negative remarks? The Internet has become a medium for many forms of communication. Whether people are sharing art or the news, venting exasperation through the comment section or posts has become a cultural norm. Unleashing frustration via these outlets has gone so far as to even have nicknames like “trolling,” and these negative notes are usually the ones most viewers gravitate towards. All of the attention being drawn to these comments only feeds to the negativity fostering in those discussion boxes and, although these comments breed some kind of conversation, this shows a lack of responsibility on the part of people today because some are not consciously reviewing their words in order to remain respectful of others online

Now, some might say that no one should ever filter their words in order to appease the public, but with such a strong power of instant communication over the Internet, we have to consider holding ourselves accountable for every move – the Internet is forever. An example I recently saw of this kind of behavior was on Facebook. A friend of mine from high school had posted an article and a comment about why he disagreed with it. After reading the following posts, I was intrigued to discover what caused this commotion. The article was essentially discussing the oddity that is the social norm where a thin figure is considered more acceptable, however, the author went about the piece in a rather insensitive way. Without any self-awareness, the writer shafted an entire demographic of females while trying to promote security for another; he did so by successfully praising the curvy lifestyle and shaming skinnier girls. One of the more well thought out comments beneath the Facebook post pointed out this discrimination in a manner that showed the importance of body confidence for all sizes. However, there were some people who clearly just wanted to add in their two cents without contemplating the ramifications. One post went so far as to completely disregard the meaning of the post and side with the author.

Another instance of rampant negativity comes in the form of famous Youtuber Felix Kjellberg, or Pewdiepie, removing access to the comment section of his videos. Now I have never watched a video of his, but another channel on Youtube known as The Young Turks discussed this action and expounded upon why the most subscribed to Youtube entertainer has taken such a drastic measure. Overall, he disabled the comment section because negative comments were consuming that part of the page, and Kjellberg wanted his videos to be a positive experience for his fans. The explanation The Young Turks gave for this issue was that the algorithm used by Youtube shows negative comments above all else, but if the most viewed and most popular comments are the negative ones, does that not still point out a problem in the way the Internet is being maneuvered? Yes, negativity is unavoidable at times, but why are there algorithms that place them at the top? And why are these becoming so popular in general?

The only plausible answer is that not enough personal responsibility is being taken in conjunction to the ever-expanding Internet. There are few tangible consequences to poor etiquette online because it is easy to create fake accounts or to even just comment and let the wave of constant media flush it away into a hidden state. For problems like these, we unfortunately must rely on others to be aware of their actions. So, when you log on to your favorite social media website or onto any part of the Internet, be consciously aware of what you are typing, because you have no idea who is on the receiving end. I know that I have probably made this same mistake before, but I find it important to remember that once you put something into the world, the reception you receive for such actions are not up to you. So the next time that you disagree with an article or video, tread the keyboard carefully.

Image: Gratisography

EducationSkills

Many of us can’t wait to be out the doors and in our dorm room, but when the time actually comes, it can be difficult to finally say goodbye. Whether it’s to your friends, family, or even your co-workers who you never thought you’d miss, goodbyes aren’t easy. Here are some tips to make giving that final hug a little easier:

1. Make Plans

As summer comes to an end, your days will start to get numbered. Make time for the people you care about. Have a group of you and your co-workers go out to eat after work or have a beach day with all of your closest friends from high school. Do the things you love with the people you love. Don’t put off spending time with people you care about because saying goodbye is just around the corner.

2. Pictures

Don’t forget to take lots of pictures while you’re out spending your final moments with your favorite people! Putting pictures in your dorm will make coping with goodbye so much easier. They’ll make your dorm feel homier and help remind you that your friends and family will be waiting for you when you go home during breaks.

3. Social Media

Social media helps so much with saying your final goodbyes. Whether it’s just a #throwbackthursday post of Instagram with your besties or a Skype call with your brother, social media will remind you that even though you may not be able to physically be with your friends and family, they’re still there to talk and listen.

An important thing to remember is to not spend all of your time trying to keep in touch with your friends and family. While you’re at school, make sure you focus on your studies and have time to add new people to your life. Don’t worry, your friends and family will always be there for you, and they’re always just a phone call or text message away. The time you spend apart will make the time you spend together so much more special, and you and your friends will have a lifetime’s worth of stories to share come winter break!

Image: Civilon, Flickr

EducationSkills

This generation is obsessed with social media. If we’re not sharing our thoughts in 140 characters or less, then we’re trying to take the perfect selfie for Instagram or updating our statuses on Facebook. We spend so much time documenting our everyday lives through social networking that we often don’t think about the other benefits of social media.

And there are other benefits.

While it’s possible to find a job or an internship through Facebook or Twitter, you don’t want either of those social outlets to represent who you are professionally. Those accounts are personal, so they’re less likely to feature any projects you’ve worked on or document the clubs and organizations you’ve participated in. Employers are not going to be on the lookout for your accomplishments on any of the social media sites that you frequent. I’m not saying that you should stop using them because we all know the likelihood of that happening is very low (I couldn’t give up Twitter). However, what I am suggesting is that you use social media to network to your advantage.

Take all of those extracurricular activities and your many accomplishments and start building your brand. When I first heard the term ‘build your brand,’ I didn’t quite understand what it meant. Then someone explained it to me like this: imagine two companies coming out with similar products. Both companies are known for distributing quality products and they both get great customer reviews. Knowing all of that, you have to ask yourself, what makes either one of them stand out? Which company will attract the most people and sell the most products?

Well, it’s the company that knows how to market themselves the best.

The same applies for us. There are always going to be people with the same GPA as us, people who participate in the same clubs, and people who produce the same quality of work. Just because you’re always going to have people who are similar to you, though, doesn’t mean that you are not unique. Like those companies that I mentioned before, we all have qualities or strengths that make us unique. You just have to play up those strengths and SELL YOURSELF.

You can’t do that on Facebook or Twitter, so travel to a different part of the social networking world and make yourself a LinkedIn profile. It doesn’t matter if you’re in college or still in high school. Make an account and start documenting the activities and jobs and/or internships that you have done thus far that help highlight your strengths and the qualities that make you stand out from the crowd. Make a personal website or online portfolio (both of which you can share on LinkedIn) and document the dual enrollment program you participated in, that summer abroad, or any project that you were a part of.

Building your brand is all about marketing yourself and marketing something is all about getting someone to buy what you are selling. Doing this now may be what gets you into the college of your dreams, land you the internship you’ve always wanted, or if you’ve already graduated from college, it may be what gets you into grad school. You are never too young to start thinking about your future because, before you know it, high school will be over and done with and so will college. It all goes by in a blur so use your time wisely and start using social media, not just  as a way to connect with family and friends, but to connect with professionals that your parents or people in your family may know as well. If you want to work for a particular company one day, there’s a chance that they’re on LinkedIn. Also, if you are in college, you can see what alumni from your school went on to do after graduation and see what career paths people who had the same major chose.

There are so many opportunities out there and a lot of them are online,  a place where we all love to frequent anyways, so put those fingers to work and instead of using them to type out your next status update, think about what you want to do with your future. It’s fine if you don’t figure it all out in a day, no one does, but it’s good to have an idea of what you want to do. It’s also good to start getting your name out there because you never know how far your accomplishments can take you. Not every high school or college student has a LinkedIn account or an online portfolio, so once you make that decision to start building your brand, keep in mind that you’re already ahead of the game.

Image: morguefile

Skills

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” There is no proof that Mahatma Gandhi ever said these exact words, but either way, you are familiar with this quote. It was used in the valedictorian’s graduation speech, a few of your professors paraphrased it in their lectures, someone retweeted it on Twitter, it was printed across a cute shirt on the bargain rack at the mall, or maybe you’re just the kind of person who likes to collect inspirational quotes.

Whatever your story may be, there is no doubt that you’ve encountered this quote at some point in your life. However, your familiarization isn’t what’s important. This is solely because nine times out of ten people will look at that quote, think it’s inspirational enough to share on social networks, and go on about their day smiling at all of the likes and retweets and favorites they get from their friends and followers.

I’m not saying everyone is like that but how many people do you think will actually be the change that they wish to see? Now, that quote is obviously open to interpretation because we all want to see different things. We all have our own definitions of change and what we’d like to see change. But if there is one thing we all have in common, it’s this: we all live in an imperfect world. It seems like every time I go on the internet or turn on the TV, something horrible is happening. Even if I’m not aware of it, I still know that somewhere in the world someone is living in poverty or trying to survive in a war-torn country.

If you’re reading this article, that means you have access to the internet, which means you have a computer (or a smartphone), and that already makes you a little more privileged than a lot of people around the world. This is not to say that we don’t all have our own life struggles or that we’re all well-off, but I am saying that we have a duty to fulfill. Because while we all might not live in war torn countries or have to deal with poverty, it doesn’t mean that those issues will go away if we don’t think about it. The horrible things in this world aren’t fairies. They won’t disappear just because we say we don’t believe in them or because we aren’t forced to encounter struggles in our everyday lives.

So what is the point of all of this? Well, to put it simply, as young people (it doesn’t matter if you’re in high school or in college), we owe it to future generations to set a good example for them and to be the change. All change is change, so if you wish to see less animal abuse in the world, volunteer at an animal shelter, help fundraise for organizations whose missions are to end animal abuse. Whatever cause you’re interested in, find a way to become a part of it, because chances are there is a way that you can contribute. If you’re not really into joining any causes, you can still volunteer and make a difference in your community.

Look for local chapters of Habitat for Humanity. Put in time helping restore or build a home for a family in need. Pick up trash around the neighborhood, clock in some hours at the community center or an afterschool program or anything your heart desires! I’m not saying that doing any of these things will put an end to all wars or get rid of poverty forever, but as I said before, we live in a world that is imperfect and bad things happen everyday. Why not try to do something good to counteract the bad?

Volunteering is important because not only will it impact your life, but it will ultimately have a positive impact on the lives of others. No act of service is too small or too great. Poverty will not go away in one day and neither will famine or sickness. I don’t expect it to but I do expect to try to work at doing what I can, as a young person, as a college student, to make sure that I do things that honor the change that I not only wish to see but the change I want to see as well.

You have the power to influence others in a positive way. If you start to volunteer for a cause or an organization, one of your peers or family members might be inspired to get involved or to tell other people about it. That’s how movements are started. That’s how change happens.

If you’re like the queen from Alice in Wonderland and you don’t want white roses, paint them the color that you want them to be. In other words, if you don’t like the way things are, do something about it. Paint all of the things that you want to change red!

Also, the next time you come across the quote “be the change you wish to see in the world,” forget about liking it or sharing it or retweeting it; choose to live by it instead.

Image: morguefile

CultureSkills

Most of us haven’t had to make friends since high school, and even then we didn’t have to start from scratch. Going out to a new place on your own – some of us not even in our home state – can be pretty intimidating. Most of us aren’t used to having to make a whole new group of friends. Here are some tips on how to break out of your comfort zone, meet new people, and make the most of your college experience.

Start Early
Making friends takes time and the only way to speed up the process is to start early. If your college or university has a Facebook group, you’re in luck. Social media is the easiest and holy grail of ways to make new friends and meet new people in general. Post on your school’s page and post a brief paragraph about yourself including your name, major, where you’re from, and a few interests and hobbies that you enjoy. Breaking the ice yourself and starting the trend is always an easy way to get the ball rolling!

Have Questions and Ask Them
If you end up talking to any of your future classmates one-on-one through any sort of social media, have a few generic questions to ask. Questions that can allow you to get to know people and see if you have anything in common can include asking what their major is, how far they live from the school, what their hobbies/interests are, if they have any siblings, and what music they like to listen to. These basic questions always lead to more in-depth conversations and allow you to get to know each other.

Keep the Conversation Flowing
Don’t let the conversation die out. By letting the conversation end, you’re losing the opportunity to continue the relationship you’ve already started! There are always more questions you can ask to break the ice. Feel free to start a question game and go back and forth asking questions you’re curious about. Feel free to ask for someone’s phone number if you’ve been talking for a while as well as their other social media accounts to keep the relationship going.

Be Open-minded
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Try to connect with as many people as you can, regardless of if you think you’d have nothing in common with the person based on their 2010 profile picture. Never pass up an opportunity to talk to someone new; you could be missing out on your future best friend!

Have a Positive Attitude
If you have a positive attitude not only about making friends, but towards the people you’re making friendships with, you’ll be a lot more successful. A smile or exclamation mark can really break a shy person out of his or her shell, so don’t forget to spread the happiness!

Overall, be yourself when meeting new people. Never try to be someone you’re not. College provides an opportunity for you to find the people you really click with and make friendships that will last for years to come!

Image: Unsplash