CollegeEducationLearnSkillsWellness

Living with someone you don’t know can be very challenging, even if you come from a household with lots of siblings and are used to sharing a space. When it comes to living with other people in college, every student fears having a bad roommate. No one wants to live with someone they dislike or have problems with. I met with a Resident Director and a fellow Resident Assistant from Emerson College to get advice for this article. Roommate dispute is one of the most common issues residence hall professionals have to mediate, so they have great expertise on this topic. Resident Director Brandon Bennett, Resident Assistant Jake Hines, and college students Zoe Cronin and Kit Norton, gave advice that will help you and your roommate get along throughout the school year:

1. Address both big and small issues.

Brandon Bennett, Resident Director at Emerson College, said that most roommate conflicts stem from a lack of communication skills. He thinks that when people are able to confront one another in a healthy way, roommate relationships can actually grow and become stronger. “Most people are not intentionally vindictive toward their roommate,” he says. “Being told how they are making someone feel can be a starting point for a compromise.” It is important to talk to your roommate if something they do annoys you, or if you think you might be doing something that bothers them that they are not telling you about. Resident Assistant Jake Hines, who has lived in a dorm setting for ten years because he attended boarding schools during high school, said that if you don’t address even the smallest issues, they pile up, and roommates become passive aggressive with one another. “It gets to the point that they hate each other and can’t live together anymore, so they need to switch rooms,” he said. For example, one of his residents started gaging at the sight of his roommate rubbing in lotion into his skin. “This kind of passive aggressive behavior makes roommates feel very insecure.” Talk to your roommate from the very beginning of the relationship and establish an open and honest dialogue.

2. Exchange one thing with your roommate that annoys you.

Once roommates are being transparent with each other, the problems that they had before should stop reoccurring. “Sharing one thing that your roommate does that annoys you, instead of a list to the moon, is a great way to let your roommate know what you don’t like, without offending him or her,” said Hines. For example, maybe you go to sleep earlier than your roommate and it annoys you that he/she leaves the lights on. Share this annoyance and ask your roommate what annoys him/her. Perhaps, he/she doesn’t like when you leave your dirty laundry on the floor. As a compromise, you can stop leaving your dirty laundry on the floor, and your roommate can turn off the lights earlier, turn on a smaller lamp, or do homework in the common area.

3. Ask questions.

Bennett said the greatest advice he could give to people who live with roommates was to ask questions. “Never stop trying to get to know the person whom you share a space with. Everything else from that point will become so much easier.” You should be friendly to your roommate, without expecting to be best friends.

4. Be aware of who you bring into your room and how often.

It’s important to always notify your roommate in advance if you’re going to have a guest. Zoe Cronin, a junior at Emerson, said that she got along really well with her roommate freshman year, but there was one time when she got mad. Her roommate’s boyfriend was visiting and he accidentally spilled orange juice all over the carpet. Cronin didn’t say anything and cleaned the carpet herself. “I wish I had told her I was irritated, instead of silently being mad,” she said. Kit Norton, also a junior, said that he and his suitemates were never going to forget the smell of a guest’s stinky feet. “It smelled like old, melted cheese,” he said. Norton had to put pants under the door so that the smell wouldn’t get to his room through the door. He still has never addressed the issue with the suitemate, who occasionally brings the guest. “You can’t smell it until he takes off his shoes; it’s like a super power,” he said.

5. Make up to your roommate, if you messed up.

Maybe you borrowed your roommates’ nice shirt to go out for dinner and you accidentally spilled grape juice all over it. Take it to a dry cleaner if you can, or offer to help pay for the damage, and apologize to your roommate. Norton’s suitemate Kristen once received donuts from her roommate as a form of apology.

6. Set rules.

Cronin advises to set rules with your roommate: a time for lights out, rotate taking out the trash, how many guests are allowed to come and how frequently they can visit, whether music can be played through speakers or head phones, what types of food can be eaten in the room incase of allergies or sensitivities, etc.

7. Be mutually respectful of each other’s personal space and belongings.

You might come from a household where sharing things with your siblings without asking for permission was totally acceptable. However, borrowing your roommate’s cute top might be crossing a line. Don’t borrow, use, or take anything without getting permission first.

8. Lock the door and windows.

Thefts aren’t uncommon at colleges. How would you feel if your roommate’s laptop got stolen if you forgot to lock the door? However, you don’t want your roommate to get locked out all the time, so kindly remind him/her to take the keys. Don’t be that roommate who locks the door and leaves while the roommate is in the shower.

You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate, but you should be friendly. You can always find a compromise. Having difficult conversations is part of growing up and helps you in the future. If nothing else works out, consult with your RA, who will advice you, and if needed, mediate the difficult conversation between you and your roommate.

Image: Flickr

HealthSkills

The transition from summer to fall can be a little sluggish, especially when many of us are in denial that summer is coming to an end. It’s when the leaves start turning orange and the air becomes crisper that it really starts to feel like autumn. And what better time to reset than at the beginning of a new season? With fall comes a vibrant energy that was lacking in the warmer summer months. People are buzzing around getting ready to head back to school, start new jobs, and plan out the year ahead. Before the official first day of autumn on September 23rd, get a head start on thinking about how you want to spend the next few fall months.

  1. Set goals for fall. Look at your personal life and professional life with a critical eye. What do you want to learn this season? How do you hope to improve? Look forward to what’s coming up and figure out how you can set yourself up for success. Another helpful way to look at the big picture? Create a timeline of the past three to six months and fill in highlights from each month. Compare what you’ve done to what you still want to do, and then add those items to your Autumn To-Do List.
  2. Constantly edit your life. What’s working? What’s not working? Eliminate the negative from your life, whether it’s a bad habit or a toxic person. Add positivity into your life, should that be more vegetables, laughter, or new experiences and travels. Don’t settle for what your life currently is – make it the best it can be.
  3. Clean your space and wardrobe. Now that it’s time to break out the sweaters, scarves, and boots, you might as well go through and de-clutter your space and wardrobe. Clear your desk, donate items you no longer need, go through your kitchen cupboards and toss expired foods – these are all actions that will help clear your mind and allow you to begin the season in a fresh environment.
  4. Get serious about being healthy. As the temperature drops, the drier your skin will get. Hydrate more than you think you need to and take advantage of the vegetables that are in-season. Move your body more, take the stairs, and be more mindful of how you’re treating your body and mind.
  5. Reconnect with friends and family. It’s too easy to check out during the summer and retreat into your own world. If you haven’t been a social butterfly the past few months, strike up conversations with friends you haven’t talked to in months. Right now is the best time to reconnect. Don’t wait for another season to pass you by. Better yet? Make new friends. Join a book club, talk to the person next to you in class, join a sports team – you’re never too old to add new people into your inner circle.
  6. Adopt a positive mindset. It may be easier to have a positive attitude when the sun is shining and the summer days are brighter and longer. But when it starts getting darker earlier and the skies turn gray, maintain a positive state of mind. Surround yourself with positive influences, smile, compliment a stranger or friend, compliment yourself, challenge any negative thoughts that enter your mind, and start saying “I can” instead of “I can’t.” The little changes make a big difference.

How are you resetting for autumn?

Image: Autumn Mott

Travel

There are endless ways to explore the world: solo, with family, as a volunteer, or with a program. No doubt each method offers its own unique perks and setbacks. Having the opportunity to travel more independently with family and friends and with larger organizations like People to People Student Ambassadors and Global Visions International (GVI), I’ve experienced a bit of what these various types of travel have to offer. If you’re considering signing-up with a traveling program, hopefully this little list of pros and cons of traveling in large groups will help you make your decision!

Pros

  1. Meeting people from all over the world is ten times easier in an organized setting. When you think about it, everyone is likely there for the same purpose – to gain invaluable experience in a foreign location and build relationships – so you already have something in common! Many times programs have semi-organized free time or group activities that promote casual socializing. Afterwards you will hopefully have great friends to visit (and who will let you crash on their couches) in other countries!
  1. Access to special deals, promotions, and events are common perks as organizations usually have deals with popular tourist sites and great relationships with the local community. I’m talking private tours, discounted tickets, and behind-the-scenes information that you would never have known about had you traveled independently. When I went on a three week South Pacific tour with People to People the summer of 2011, all of us students had a chance to meet the mayor of Rotorua, New Zealand, and enjoyed a night dancing our hearts out on a boat overlooking the Sydney Opera House. Could we have done this on our own? Maybe, but definitely not for free like we did!
  1. You’re going to learn so much. Most large travel organizations have a platform, activity, or issue they are addressing through their program – it could be education, sports, poverty, hunger, health, politics, or cross-cultural understanding, just to name a few. The program I volunteered with through GVI was focused on education. Had I never participated, I would know nothing about injustices that exist in the South African primary school system. The entire experience opens eyes to issues you know little about or, like me, never knew existed.

Cons

  1. Early mornings are part of the packaged deal when traveling with a large group. Depending on the type of program you travel with, schedules vary slightly, but more than likely participants are required to follow a schedule that starts early in the morning. It’s not always terrible, but when jet lag combined with simple travel exhaustion are combined, waking up could be a struggle.
  1. Yes, there will be some people you don’t care for in your program. But the good news is, there are many other people to focus on and you will not be with them forever. You never know, after your travels you may even miss that one annoying personality.

There are so many positives than negatives that come from traveling with a larger group or organization. I dare you to give it a shot!

Image: Flickr

Travel

According to common legend, bliss is defined in the dictionary as “perfect happiness,” but I am convinced there would simply be a picture of Eastern Market. That is all the definition you need. Last Saturday, I treated myself to a visit to this delightful place in Washington D.C. after a hellish few weeks of midterms. There is nothing quite as restorative as perusing through this massive market full of treats and treasures.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Directly off the blue line metro at the appropriately named “Eastern Market” stop, the lovely Capitol Hill neighborhood welcomed commuters with an interesting rendition of Pharrell’s song “Happy” – always a promising sign. Making my way less than two blocks to the heart of the market, I grinned at the sight of friendly crowds and vendors in their full splendor. Where should I go first? Eastern Market, opened in 1871 as a way to urbanize Washington and provide residents with goods, is made up of three main areas – the indoor South Hall Market, the Weekend Farmers’ Line, and Weekend Outdoor Market.

I was a bit snackish (and a bit broke), so I started the visit by winding through the Weekend Farmers Line, an open-air venue outside the main building called South Hall where local farmers sell their freshest produce. Walking through you can count on grabbing free, tasty samples of perfectly crisp Pink Lady apples, tangy homemade mustards, artisanal cheeses, fresh fruits, and more. Each vendor is so proud to tell you about their produce and answer any questions you may have, which I find much more pleasant than searching for produce in the refrigerated aisles of a supermarket.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Eventually, I made my way inside the impressive South Hall Market. Picture a scaled down version of Grand Central Station full of baked goods, produce, flowers, and other neat trinkets. That’s what it looks like to me at least! Eager shoppers peer over strangers’ shoulders and into every display case making sure they’ve covered all the bases before they head home to cook their garden-fresh meal. Wisely or mistakenly, I choose not to buy a glorious, fragrant slice of sweet potato pie from one of the vendors in the name of disciplining my gnarly sweet tooth. You be the judge.

Finally, I crossed the pedestrian street to the Weekend Outdoor Market to scout out some one-of-a-kind furniture pieces for my new apartment. This market is more “flea” style, complete with antique furniture, clothing, jewelry, artwork, and other crafts. Admittedly, it is not the cheapest flea market in the District, but you can be sure the quality of goods is relatively high. From vintage maps, giant pig statues, pearl necklaces, wooden cutting boards to thrifted leather jackets, there is something to entertain everyone. I spied an organically shaped pine coffee table that was perfect for my living room, so I was quite happy.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Before I knew it, it was late afternoon and I had to get back to my reality of obligations. Walking back to the metro I was already planning my next visit, and rest assured I headed home smiling from the buzzing energy of the little world that is Eastern Market. DMV-ers and visitors, put this destination on your itinerary. You won’t regret it!

Image: Flickr

Health

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

Image: StokPic

LearnSkills

Procrastination is that bittersweet friend of yours who dumps you when you need him or her the most. It is not the act of procrastinating per se that is most troubling. Delaying assignments by using Snapchat or watching cat videos is quite enjoyable. It is what happens ‘after’ that leaves us at our wits’ end. It leaves us with more worries, more stress, and more workload. Can this be contained? Yes, of course. Here are a few effective tactics you may use to do so.

1. Break the Bulk

Overwhelming work is a driving force for procrastination. Hence it would be in your best interest to break the workload into smaller components. For example, if you have a large project that needs to be completed, divide your work into sub sections such as Introduction, Topic 1, Topic 2, etc. This way it will be easier to digest how much work you have and you will be far more motivated to complete your tasks.

2. Set Artificial Deadlines

Deadlines help us keep pace. Our working senses get activated when we have a near deadline looming over our heads. Making your own deadlines before the actual deadline is a good way to get you on your feet. But they would be void without incentive. Make a penalty for not following deadlines and reward yourself for completing tasks on time. Make sure to not reward yourself too heavily, for you will get carried away and miss your next deadline.

3. Alternate Your Tasks

Boredom is procrastination’s best source of fuel. Don’t stick to one task as it will soon become tedious and the distractions around you will suddenly become more inviting. Alternating your tasks will keep you focused. I mix dull tasks with enjoyable ones to complete my work faster and more efficiently.

4. Stay in a Conducive Environment

Make sure you’re in an environment that is conducive to completing work. This entails doing work free of distractions. In my own experience, I switch off the Internet modem whenever I have homework to avoid WiFi-related distractions. Having friends who are motivated and supportive also helps. They will push you back on the right track when you feel like quitting. Tell your friends about all of your goals so that you become more accountable to fulfilling them.

How do you tackle procrastination?

Image: Jan Vašek

Education

With the start of the second semester of my freshman year, I felt more confident than I did going into my first. However, I didn’t expect the seemingly never-ending workload to start only a few weeks in. This past week has been an extremely stressful week for me where I seem to literally not have a minute of free time. Here is a list of ways that I deal with my stress to make life a little easier when it just seems like the world won’t give you a break!

Surround yourself with positive people

Having people to motivate you and keep you focus and grounded is seriously important. A smile or a “you can do it!” can really make a difference! If you’re really stressed, try to spend time with people who are going to help you get things accomplished, rather than people who are going to load their own problems on you and not consider yours.

Make a list and check things off as you go

Of course making a list of everything you have to get done can be overwhelming and may seem more stressful at the time, but doing this will allow you to check things off as you go which will help give you that deep breath of relief! It will also help you stay focused and keep an eye on what you need to get done.

Stay organized

Keeping an agenda or planner of time that you have to get things done can really help you out. It will allow you to successfully manage your time and give you ease of mind knowing you have a time and place for everything.

Don’t underestimate the power of a hot shower or nap

A hot shower or a hot bath (with a bath bomb of course) can help you unwind, relax, and take a breather from your hectic day. It’s just as important to relax as it is to get things done. A half hour nap can really make a difference when resting your mind and allowing yourself to take a step back.

Make sure to take a break

As stated above, it’s just as important to relax as it is to get work done. Take a break for coffee or a smoothie and that pizza you’ve been craving, check your social media accounts, or have a much needed phone call with your mom or best friend. These small things can really make a difference.

Image: Unsplash

Culture

It’s that time of year again. Love is in the air, but you don’t have to save it all for your significant other. Parks and Recreation had its ladies gather on February 13th for a “Galentine’s” Day celebration. While the show is a comedy and depicts the holiday in a comedic way, embracing the idea is a great opportunity for you to take a break from your love life to hang out with your girl friends. My friends decided that the day following Valentine’s Day worked better for us – it’s all about finding time to appreciate your friends and spend time together. Here are some ways you can enjoy your own celebration:

Brunch

Who doesn’t love brunch? You get a wide variety of food because of the hybrid morning/afternoon time. It’s the perfect time to catch up with your pals and hear what kind of Valentine’s Day they had. This is a good way to squeeze in some time with your friends if you’ve all been busy at work and haven’t had time to see each other. Save your breaks and take a long lunch!

Candy and Gifts

You don’t have to get your friends a gift. However, the day after Valentine’s Day provides a lot of sales. You can get a lot of discounted candy to munch on or a nice movie to watch with your friends.

Relaxation

Holidays can be stressful but hanging out with your friends never has to be. My friends and I are movie fiends, so we do romantic comedy movie marathons. If your significant other refuses to sit through Sleepless In Seattle with you, you can watch it with your friends the next day. Another option is a group spa day. Do what you like and enjoy yourself.

These are just a few ways you can celebrate. You can do a book trade or a shopping trip together. It doesn’t have to be just your friends – your coworkers or family members can join in! The point is to show love for everyone in your life.

Image: Flickr

CollegeCulture

This past weekend I went out for Greek life recruitment at my college. It was an amazing experience and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. But what I realized the most during this process is how important it is to be you and stay true to yourself, no matter how corny and cliché that may sound.

Throughout the weekend, I was brought into rooms filled with girls, most of which I had never met before. I made small talk and found people who I clicked with, and who I really felt comfortable with. When I walked into a room and found someone I could completely be myself and let my guard down around, it made me realize how important it is to just be you.

They say that when you’re going out for a sorority you’re supposed to go with the chapter that you feel most at home with and that you’ll know where you belong. When I would talk to different girls, I asked them how they knew their sorority was the one for them. They all answered that the sorority for you is the one that you feel like you don’t have to try to be someone else in.

That’s what made me realize how important it is to be myself. I ended up meeting girls just like me and girls I could see myself being future sorority sisters with. And while Greek life isn’t for everyone, the fact of being who you are and not changing to fit in still stands true. All of your quirks and imperfections make you who you are in the best way, and that is something you should never take for granted. It’s old, catchy, and a little bit overplayed, but Bruno Mars says it best: you’re amazing just the way you are.

Schedule Breakdown: Recruitment Weekend and Greek Life

At my university, spring recruitment is split into three days over a single weekend. We are split into smaller groups of around 30 girls to make the overall process easier. On the first day, a Friday, we visited six rooms. Each room represented the six different sororities on my campus and I visited each for 30 minutes. I was paired with a girl and learned more about her as she learned more about me, watched a video on their organization, and talked to more girls in order to get a feel for who I felt most comfortable with. At the end of the day, I voted for my top four sororities and my bottom two in ranking order. Which sorority you get called back to is based on mutual selection – you have to want to spend more time with them, and they have to also want to spend more time with you.

The second day you could be called back to a maximum of four rooms. I received my call that morning and was called back to my top four. This time, I was in each room for a total of 45 minutes. I talked with more girls in each sorority and also watched a video on their philanthropy. At the end of the day I picked my top two rooms and ranked my bottom two.

On the final day I went to two rooms. These rooms were an hour each and really allowed me to get to know each sorority. They each showed me a traditional ceremony that they do in order for us to feel more at home and part of the sorority. I had a more intimate one-on-one conversation with a girl who chose to talk to me. This day really allowed me to know I was making the right decision. At the end of this day I had to rank the two sororities. Then on Monday at 10PM, my bid was revealed and I found out which sorority I was in.

Being in a sorority gives you sisters and lifelong friends. Not only does they give you close relationships with people who have the same interests and mindsets as you, but they allow you to really work towards helping a good cause. Choosing a sorority that has a philanthropy that you believe in and support is also something that comes with Greek life. The community service and bonds that you form along with the involvement in campus that comes with being in a sorority is something that truly allows you to make your college experience a memorable one.

Image: Courtesy of Nicolette Pezza

Culture

So you’re in NYC for the winter and you’ve already read my last piece about doing some fun stuff in the city. Well, what do you know, there’s more to do! Who wouldn’t like a hot bowl of ramen, a cozy warm setting with some BBQ, or a comforting bowl of soup this winter?

Relatively affordable for a college student and great for winter­ get-togethers, here are some places I’d like to recommend.

Ramen

Yes, ramen! There are plenty of delicious ramen shops around the city; you just have to find them! You probably know about Ippudo, the popular ramen shop in the East Village that has already been noticed by NYT and NY Mag. But there’s also Momofuku and Takumi, which is located near NYU and is where I suspect local students go when they aren’t willing to travel any further than a five block radius. Spend a day exploring the neighborhood and warm up with a good bowl of ramen!

Japanese BBQ

When I first started college a few years ago, I tried to keep in touch with my friends from high school who were also in the city. We ate at a place called Gyu­Kaku. It’s a Japanese BBQ that’s great for chilly or rainy winter days near Cooper Union, but there there’s one up in Midtown. You and your friends order whatever meat or veggies you want, and you cook it on the grill in front of you. The cozy warm atmosphere and the abundance of food is a great way to spend lunch or dinner during the unpredictable but nonetheless chilly season. Split some orders with a friend, or go as a large group and get a party platter. It’s by St. Mark’s so you can explore the neighborhood (and get an ear piercing if you’ve been dying to get one) while you’re here.

Chinese food

I’ve been going to a Chinese place on 102 Mott Street (the name has changed once or twice) ever since I was a little kid. I’ve always gotten hot congee there. In high school, I went with a group of friends and ordered a rice dish with salt and pepper pork. In college, I went back yet again, and this time with different friends (and one who was a vegetarian). Despite its lackluster appearance, this Chinese restaurant has always been my go­-to when I’m in Chinatown because of its reliable food and nostalgic experience (and affordability!). Explore Chinatown and stop by for wonton noodle soup, rice dishes, and congee.

As a jaded New Yorker and poor college student, I can tell you that finding good food in good places can be exhausting both mentally and for the wallet. At the same time, it can be fun when you have friends who are willing to try new things with you. Take some time this winter break to see what new places you can find. Who knows what hidden gems you will discover. Enjoy and happy eating!

Image: Lauren Jessen

Culture

It is nearing the end of the semester and you are shooting your finals down one by one. Everyone is exhausted. Everyone is happy that the semester is over. Everyone is going home.

Many students in my school come from another state, even another country. It is rare for me to find another native New Yorker on campus. During these hectic times, it is difficult to get your friends together to have a final farewell when they’re busy packing their suitcases.

They, on the other hand, are leaving the friends they’ve made during the semester to return to a town where things have changed. For any situation, there is a sense of time passing, of things being different, and sometimes that can be hard.

Being the only one left around, it feels kind of lonely. For those leaving, sometimes we can feel excluded. Sure, there are things to do in NYC, but what’s the fun of doing them if you’re doing them alone? And when everyone back at home has changed too, how can we still hang out?

Here’s the thing, and I think I’m just figuring it out. Being alone and having that breathing room isn’t a bad thing. It’s a scary thing, but not all scary things are bad. Sometimes we get so used to being with friends at school, with meeting them for lunch before class or for dinner after seminar or on Friday night for drinks that we forget that we have changed along the way. Winter break is a break from school, but it’s also a break from people. Going back home is a way of taking a break from what you know and seeing how far you’ve come. It’s a good time to reconnect with the most important person. Yourself.

Now, this is kind of hard for me. I’ve grown used to hanging out on my friend’s sofa in Nolita and having weekly mid­week dinners. It’s become routine. At the same time, I haven’t seen friends from high school, cleaned my closet out, or thought to see if my opinions on things have changed. How am I different from when the semester first started? Did I learn anything valuable about myself along the way? Did I grow as a person? How? Why?

While this a brutal thing to do, winter break is a good time to do these things because there is breathing space from all the people who have been influencing us in the first place. Back at home, whether in a suburban town on the West coast or in a city in Asia, there is a sense of “I’m different” that naturally comes with time. It may be lonely, and relieving, to get away from it all, but in the end, it’s what you make of it.

Image: Tomasz Paciorek

Skills

Asking for help can be hard when you’re going through a hard time. At times it can be a case of pride. You don’t want to show how much something is bothering you or how much it is hurting. Perhaps you don’t want to burden someone with your problems. Whatever the reason, I can say it is always a good idea to ask for help when you need it.

I have never regretted asking for help. Have you ever not raised your hand in class because you were worried about asking a dumb question? We’ve always been told that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Even if there were, you could either have an answer right away or you could just agonize on your own for however long it takes for you to figure things out. When you speak up, you get answers.

I admit that this is a lesson I have had to learn more than once. I once missed a day of school while sick. I didn’t ask for anyone’s math notes because I was sure I was smart enough to piece together the information on my own. A week later, not only had I not figured out what I missed, but I didn’t understand anything that came after it. Instead of letting my confusion grow, I finally asked my teacher for help. Guess what? Everything began to make sense.

If someone can’t or won’t help you, it’s not the end. It just means you can move on to someone who can help you with your problem. This idea is not limited to class lessons. The holidays in particular can be troubling times for people. Some feel overwhelmed about spending so much money or the need to make a holiday perfect. Some people feel like they have to spend the holiday alone. Like the fear of asking for help, this pressure we put on ourselves tends to all be in our heads. Reach out to friends or family if you want to spend the holiday with someone. If you need space from your loved ones, you can volunteer somewhere. Don’t suffer because you’re afraid to reach out.

If you’re scared or confused in life, it never hurts to ask for help. You may want to prove you can do things on your own, which is valid. However, if you are slowing yourself down because you don’t want to admit that you need help or because you’re scared others will see you differently, don’t worry so much. Everyone has problems. No one was born knowing everything or being able to do everything. We all learn as we grow. Even in adult life we are still learning. The very problem you are struggling with may be just the thing that someone else is struggling with. You just have to be brave enough to talk about it. Not asking for help just wastes time that you could use to move forward. So don’t waste anymore time. Just ask.

Image: CollegeDegrees360

Culture

While it may be hard to admit, girls are some of the hardest people to shop for when putting aside clothes and makeup. And with the holiday season right around the corner, it’s definitely time to start getting the shopping done! Here are five things on every girl’s holiday list:

  1. Coffee

Whether it’s a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks or a Peppermint Mocha k-cup from Dunkin Donuts, sometimes coffee feels like it’s practically our blood. The drink is not only delicious, but it’s something to swear by when waking up for 8:30 a.m. classes and needing something to warm our hands as we brave the cold.

  1. Chapstick

With cold weather comes chapped lips and that’s fun for no one. Chapstick is one of the many simple pleasures in life that we all just can’t seem to get enough of; especially when it comes in so many yummy flavors!

  1. Chipotle

Embracing the calories is all the rage when it comes to Chipotle. What girl doesn’t like indulging in some guacamole? There’s nothing like an excuse to splurge on the love of food!

  1. Uggs

We all have to admit to owning at least one pair whether we’d like to or not. And though it may be hard to admit, this fad may just be the warmest and comfiest of them all!

  1. Yoga Pants

These might as well just be a gift from the universe itself! Yoga pants are a way of life; and a way of looking put together after rolling out of bed. These are sure to keep you comfy but also stylish when the cold weather hits.

What’s on your holiday wish list?

Image: Kevin Dooley

Culture

1. Holidays

The obvious: it’s holiday season. You may celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or just plain old New Year’s Eve. December means shopping. It means pigging out on all year-round-forbidden foods. And it means seeing family and friends and reconnecting with those who you have maybe lost touch with throughout the entire year. I see December as a month of reunion.

2. Hot Drinks

Don’t tell me you don’t participate in PSL season. Okay, if you had to look up PSL, maybe not. Either way, we all know there is nothing more comforting or satisfying than sipping on a searing cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate in cold December. It is the time where coziness reaches its climax. Drinking away your calories is acceptable, but only in December.

3. Smell

December has a smell – that is fact. It smells like cinnamon. It has the aroma of pine trees. And it has the faint scent of deliciously baked goods. Am I wrong?

4. Winter Clothes

Summer is definitely a desired season, but during this time you can finally dress in sophisticated coats and elegant scarves that you’ve secretly been waiting to wear all year long.  It’s cold, but not cold enough where you’re forced to wear bulky parkas. Also, it calls for some fun when putting an outfit together – scarves, boots, pants, jackets, ear muffs, hats, and gloves! There is much opportunity to be a fashionista – get creative, my friends.

5. Cozy, Cozy, Cozy

Not only do you get the chance to drink sugar and calories, but December also means sitting by mellow fireplaces, candles, and an excuse to just be lazy for once! The sun sets earlier, therefore your days end earlier and getting home early in the midst of some comforting dim lights is very tempting. Readers: what’s better than spending a night reading a captivating novel by the fireplace?

6. Netflix

Let’s be honest, not all of us have boyfriends and girlfriends to cuddle with. However, Netflix is always there to comfort all singles worldwide. From interesting documentaries to addicting TV shows to the movies we just never had the time to watch during the year, Netflix is our best friend.

7. Vay-cay

December is the time to reunite with family and friends, as previously touched on. However, it is also a time of travels and vacations – be it to see those family and friends or to travel with those family and friends. December is a time to bond with family and friends and get closer to your loved ones while still getting the chance to visit familiar or unfamiliar places!

8. Fluffy Snow

December introduces many parts of the world with snow. By January, the snow is no longer “pretty” because by then, it has turned yellow or brown and icy. However, in December, it is a beautiful thing to see blankets and blankets of freshly fallen snow! Snow angels better be on that to-do list!

9. ABC Family

December tends to revolve around child hood memories and this includes flipping the television channels only to find Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas or Polar Express on. For some of us, ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas is on our calendar – spare the judgments, please.

10. Reflection and Renewal

Above all, December is a month of renewal. It is a time to wrap up the year, to wrap up old habits, to plan for new ones; it is a time of reflection and preparation. This is a beautiful time that invites reminiscing and change. Plan to embrace the goals you have for 2015 and think about what you would like to leave behind in 2014. December is the close for the year – enjoy every last moment and squeeze out the best remaining bits of it!

How will you enjoy December?

Image: Stanford

CultureSkills

There are many things to be thankful for when the Thanksgiving pieces have fragmented into a “disastrous holiday.” This very American, very well planned, very much awaited for holiday may not be the picturesque family-filled weekend.

The Away-From-Home Blues

Not everyone gets the marvelous chance of traveling home for Thanksgiving as intercontinental trips can result in two entire days of travelling, exorbitant holiday fares, or simply lacking the luxury of time to do so. These away-from-home holidays can be seriously depressing – especially when you scroll through your relative’s posts of family reunions or phone calls that report you’re on speaker and all family members you love and secretly hate are together dining without you screaming their “Hellos.” However, if you are away from home, it doesn’t mean you need to celebrate Thanksgiving alone. Call up some friends who are also away from home and have a five-person-Thanksgiving-dinner; try cooking it all together. Amateur cooking without the guidance of your Mothers expertise is only calls for hilarious memories! Another option could be tagging along with along with a friend who has family in the area. Why not experience a different kind of Thanksgiving?

Preparation Timeliness

It’s almost law that you pay a price for the good stuff, no? Food: delicious, anticipated, and the entity that makes Thanksgiving actually happen. In other words, it is one of the most, if not the most important part of any Thanksgiving dinner. However, in order to have your guests roll their eyes in heavenly delight, you must first prepare this complex meal – aka the ultimate “OCD-enticing-price” as people are stressed out of their minds because the food is either finished too early or too late. Both can be disastrous because nothing is better than eating a home cooked recipe fresh out of the oven and nothing is worse than having to wait hours for your long awaited meal. Take a piece of advice: relax. Nothing ever turns out perfectly and that’s just a part of life! The premise of Thanksgiving may have a food component thrown in there, but when looking deeper into the holiday, it’s about being around family and friends and being able to reflect on just how lucky you are to have them!

Bizarre Selections

The quintessential Thanksgiving Dinner: turkey, apple pie, and stuffing? These are all foreign to me as my family celebrates with only a traditional turkey and Colombian food. Maybe we will get the occasional pumpkin pie that is bought from the nearest convenient store and left untouched throughout the night. Our unconventional dinners allow me to realize that there is true beauty in this holiday: the convergence of two cultures. On a different note, there are great stress-inducers other than the turkey not being prepared on time: not having a turkey. Not having turkey is only the worst thing that can happen in any Thanksgiving. But why? Why not have what vegan/vegetarian families have and eat seitan instead? Why not solve the catastrophic problem of having all stores having sold out turkeys by having a chicken substitute instead? The odd substitutes for what is representative of this day may just bring other little surprises!

Family Reunions

Aside from the obvious mishaps that can happen to anyone on any given family gathering, this can be the most unsettling: awkward reunions. It can be the horrible to have to introduce that semi-announced boyfriend or girlfriend. The impressions, the expectations, and the anxiety can all be a bit nerve wrecking. How about this situation: the absolutely irking family members who try to catch up with the happenings of your life by prying with totally eye-rolling questions. They’re all the same. “Any new boyfriends/girlfriends I should know about?” “You’re turning into such a woman/man!” or the expected comparisons to other relatives. Maybe you’re about to see relatives you have not seen in ages. What to expect? Expect anything from total joy to total awkwardness. But, hey, family reunions do these things – they are good problems to have!

Two Ideals. One Night.

“Bye! I’m off on a shopping spree,” everyone practically screams as they hurriedly move from feasting on gluttony to feast on the “more is better” American mantra. You just had a night of thanks for everything you have had and everyone you have had in your life and suddenly America hurries off to Black Friday to catch those 50% off deals like a heard of sheep desperate for a grass buffet. I have forever been curious and mildly disapproving of this concept but it’s very much present in this culture. Perhaps discern this transition with some extra-thanks? Thanksgiving is the time of year when everyone meets in loving gathering – most of the time. It is the time of year when everyone gives thanks for the experiences, opportunities, people, and things in their lives. But it’s also a time when patience, emotions, and your ability to “let go” is tested.

How will you manage your Thanksgiving mishaps?

Image: Satya Murthy

Culture

We’re so excited that one of our favorite holidays is just around the corner. While delicious food is a major perk of Thanksgiving, it is also a great time to remember what you are grateful for. We’ve talked about ways to show your gratitude throughout the year, Spotlighted a guy who started a company that encourages sending thank you cards, the power of random acts of kindness, and have offered tips on different ways to say thank you.

Thanksgiving is a time to count your lucky stars, appreciate your family, and give back to those you love. It is also a perfect time to share with friends and show how much you care about one another. A fantastic way to do this is by hosting a Friendsgiving! Friendsgiving is the celebration of Thanksgiving dinner with your friends, and it usually happens the Wednesday before or the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Whether you plan a Friendsgiving a couple of days before Thanksgiving or if it replaces actual Thanksgiving (since you might not be able to make it home for the holiday), there’s no better way to spend time with friends.

These are the 6 benefits of hosting a Friendsgiving:

  1. Experiment with new recipes.

Have you been waiting for the perfect event to make those mini pumpkin pies? Here it is, your perfect moment has arrived. Since you’ll be cooking or baking for a crowd, you can try multiple recipes and show off those kitchen skills.

  1. Experience different traditions.

Encourage those attending to incorporate their family traditions – does your best friend play football with his family before the feasting begins (hello Friends!)?, does your other friend watch football on TV afterwards? Is there a movie that one of your friends watches every Thanksgiving? Does someone love playing board games post-meal? Perhaps your family goes around the table before eating to say what they are grateful for?

Include these fun and new traditions into your Friendsgiving. By kicking off Friendsgiving, you and your friends will be starting a tradition of your very own.

  1. Try your friends’ favorite foods.

Make your Friendsgiving a potluck and tell everyone to bring their favorite dish (you’ll want to coordinate this so you don’t have four types of mashed potatoes). Through the variety of foods, you will experience the different flavors that your friends have enjoyed and celebrated over the years.

  1. You’ll get two days to focus on being thankful!

While being grateful every day of the year is important, this year you’ll get two days to focus on what you are thankful for – Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving. Lucky you!

  1. Start celebrating Christmas early without judgment.

So you and your friends want to start listening to Christmas music without being judged for it? This is the safest environment to do it in! Blast those Christmas carols and holiday tunes and make a dance party out of it. Who better to rock out to Jingle Bells with than your best friends who love the holidays just as much as you?

  1. Cleaning has never been faster.

Once the meal is over, there are multiple hands to make the clean-up process move much faster. For a stress-free post-meal experience, clean before you eat dessert. This way there won’t be that huge task looming over you. The job gets done sooner when everyone helps out.

Happy Friendsgiving!

Image: Friends Season 10