The Confused College Student’s Guide To Good Note-taking

Note-taking is essentially a hated part of college life. So would you believe that many college students – freshmen, sophomores, juniors, even some seniors – still have no clue how to take down proper notes for classes? In my last four semesters of college, I have practiced and witnessed many different methods of note-taking, because I’ve had many different professors with many different styles of lecturing. What’s more is that not every single one of my classes has been a large lecture hall with 500 students, so that contributes even more to my professor’s style of lecturing, and thus my method of note-taking.

Really, it’s kind of like a ‘survival of the fittest’ sort of thing – only the better adapted methods will survive (and help you survive!) I’ll walk you through the methods I hail as ‘the best’ for taking good notes, because I believe in helping out my fellow college-goers. You can totally thank me by telling everyone you know about my blog! (Just kidding…but not really).

For the lecture hall with 300+ people: 

This was one of the first classes I experienced when I first started college. It was a general chemistry class and the lecture hall was huge, though admittedly not the largest lecture hall I would have a class in. It may be easy enough to succumb to our beloved high school habits by whipping out the looseleaf and pencil (which is exactly what my first instinct told me to do) but here’s why this might not be the most efficient way to take notes:

  • The professor will likely move very quickly. He or she has, like, 50 powerpoint slides of material to teach to hundreds of students in one sitting, and usually within about an hour to an hour and a half. So don’t be surprised if your professor doesn’t do you the courtesy of spending even close to five minutes on every slide.
  • Your handwriting may become a little…unrecognizable as handwriting. At some point during the scramble to write down every single thing written on the slides, your notes might actually start to look like a bunch of squiggly lines on a piece of paper. Unless you are fluent in the reading and writing of the squiggly language, this won’t be very helpful during your cram study session.
  • You might lose stray pieces of paper. Sometimes even the most organized people have a bit of trouble keeping their heads on their shoulders, and things might get misplaced. Wouldn’t it suck to have an entire page of biochemistry notes go missing right before a midterm?

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Solution:

  • Type your notes on a laptop. Most people can type faster than they can write, so the fact that your professor spends exactly two minutes per lecture slide won’t be as big of a deal, and you won’t have to break as much of a sweat to get important details down. Plus, there are no stray pieces of looseleaf paper that can get lost, and you will always be able to understand the font you use in Pages or Microsoft Word.
  • Pro Laptop Tip: Type your notes in Google Drive. This semester, I realized that typing my notes in Google Drive is easier than typing them in Pages or Microsoft Word. You will have your Google Drive documents anywhere there’s a computer, and everything you do in Drive saves automatically, so you don’t have to worry about losing 11 pages of unsaved notes because your laptop shut down mid-sentence. Plus, some universities give you an unlimited amount of free storage space. I also found that using Google Drive to take my notes allowed me to keep everything really organized because I can see all my folders laid out right in front of me.

For the professor whose lecture slides are mostly images and diagrams: 

You have to pay particular attention to these classes. The lecture slides may only have images of people or objects or whatever, but the professor may be saying a mouthful while on that one slide. Don’t let the simplicity of the powerpoint fool you! These kinds of classes don’t really allow you to skip on taking notes and just look at the slides on the class webpage later – you won’t know what the hell the pictures mean later! I actually have a professor like this right now, and I prefer to actually know what his lecture slides mean at the end of the day. I mean, don’t expect to study a picture of Samuel Adams’s face and know all about his role in America’s journalistic history. Still not picking up what I’m putting down? Here’s how this kind of class can really screw you over:

  • You have nothing concrete to study. You literally cannot rely on images and charts to do well on your exams for this class. Your professor probably wants you to think that you can but, believe me, it’s not going to happen. You still need to take notes for this class because, like I said, when you go to your class webpage later because your professor considerately posts the useless image-heavy lecture slides, you’ll have extremely little to no recollection of what was even discussed in class.
  • This style of lecturing requires you to have a sharp ear. I suck at auditory learning. Even if I’m trying to pay really keen attention to what I hear, I still won’t be able to retain as much information as an auditory learner can. If there’s very little to no text on the lecture slide, you can bet your Starbucks iced vanilla latte that pretty much all of the crucial points are coming from the professor’s mouth.
  • The images should be supplements for what you write down. I’m somewhat of a visual learner myself – somewhat – but even so, I still only like to use images as supplements for written notes. I will definitely draw accompanying diagrams because I know they will help me better understand the material, so you can’t completely discount images in lecture notes. So if you can’t discount them and you can’t rely solely on them, what the hell do you do!?

Solution:

  • Print out and annotate your lecture notes. This is my favorite method of note-taking for any class! If your professor posts lecture slides before class, printing them out beforehand and annotating on the sides is an efficient way for you to focus on what the professor is saying (the important stuff) rather than getting caught in the crossfire of diagrams, talking and all that confusing nonsense. Plus, your attention can only be divided in so many ways. With this method you can focus on the professor speaking and still be able to refer back to the images later on!

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For the class that’s basically like high school: 

This is the class where the professor handwrites everything on a chalkboard and you sit there and either type it all on your laptop or jot it down in your notebook. I call this the ‘like high school’ class because these classes – even if you go to a college with 20,000+ students like I do – are usually smaller with about 30 or so students in them – just like the good old high school days! I’ve had a few of these classes now and in the past. My Italian class from freshman year was like this and the law class I’m currently taking is like this, too. Many college math classes are like this, though some may have that large lecture hall component.

Even so, you can’t really go wrong if the professor lectures like this because now you have the ability to match the professor’s writing speed rather than lagging behind and cursing under your breath. You can’t really go wrong with this kind of class. The only caveat I have to offer is…don’t get used to this. Not all of your classes are or will be so forgiving when it comes to note-taking!

Hopefully I have brought you a little closer to note-taking success. Remember that this is only part one of my Confused College Student’s note-taking series! Stay tuned for part two, and let me know in the comments what kind of college lectures you’re taking and how you take notes for those classes!

 

 

 

 

5 Bad Habits I Got Into This Semester

Ugh. Bad habits – they’re so easy to start, but so difficult to break. Nobody’s perfect, and I’ve definitely had my share of crappy habits this early in the spring semester. The good news is that I caught them pretty early, so I have the rest of the semester to fix myself up a bit. You might find that you got yourself into these habits too, or maybe you’ve had these habits for a while and are looking to break them. Don’t worry, I have your back (so I’m basically the human version of a Golden Retriever). I also have some tips on how to break these bad habits! So without putting you in too much suspense (this isn’t Pretty Little Liars) here are the bad habits I managed to get myself into this semester:

Leaving a mountain of clothes anywhere I feel like. We’ve all been there before: after a long day, we just want to come home, take off the clothing that bore the blood, sweat and tears of the day, get comfy and go to sleep. I return to my dorm pretty late at night on most days – even the days when I don’t have my 10pm class, so after running around, attending meetings, interviewing people and being a student, I succumb to laziness and just throw my clothes on the chair at my desk. So basically, I have zero regard for what can still be re-worn that week and what needs to be tossed in the laundry bag. I have been making comments all week about how much clothing is taking up space on my chair. What’s worse is when I need to actually use the chair (as more than just a place to put clothes) I just grab the gigantic pile and dump it on my bed instead. This, without a doubt, contributes to the clutter in your room and, I don’t know about you but this drives me insane (though, clearly not insane enough that I address is as it happens). I have officially gotten tired of not being able to find clothes when I need it, and just having a cotton mountain be the first thing I see when I open the door.

Solution: Putting a shirt on a hanger, it turns out, isn’t super difficult at all. Even if you don’t have time to completely ‘re-organize’ your closet at night, just folding up whatever you take off and creating a neat pile somewhere other than your bed is helpful. Also, I will start putting dirty clothes to wash as I take them off because throwing a shirt in a laundry bag isn’t that hard either.

Not washing my face at night. You’re probably thinking that this is so gross and wishing that I didn’t just share this with you, but I pride myself on being 100 percent transparent with you. =) So yes, I’m not proud of not washing my face at night (I assure you I wash it in the morning, though) but I’m addressing it as a bad habit. This stems from the same idea in my previous point: laziness as the result of exhaustion. At night, I sometimes feel so sleepy that I don’t want to wash my face or do anything that could potentially alleviate my tiredness other than sleep. So I pretty much just wipe off my makeup with makeup remover wipes, sometimes pat some toner onto my face and go to bed. That’s it. Clearly I have no shits to give when I’m tired as hell. I certainly wished I had stopped being so lazy months ago, because my quest to improve my skin has definitely faltered because of that. That should be motivating me to take care of my face day and night, but instead, I temporarily saw it as an ‘unnecessary’ process. Bad idea!

Solution: If, for whatever reason, you adopted this bad habit like I did, here’s a super simple solution: instead of washing your face right before you’re ready to go to bed, wash your face about an hour and a half before your intended bedtime. Often times, washing your face wakes you right up and you may not be able to fall asleep after doing this. Having a clean face means that you can guiltlessly fall asleep anytime while surfing Instagram or Yik Yak!

Eating chocolate literally every other night. There was a point in time not very long ago (literally last week) when I’d eat chocolate or any chocolate-related edible more or less every other night. Sometimes, I just had a long day and wanted to treat myself – because I am a firm believer in treating yo’self – other times, I just thought of that Kit-Kat bar as dessert after dinner of a vegetarian rice bowl. I also had fun with mixing things up a bit; on Monday, I might have a Kit-Kat bar; if Wednesday was particularly crappy, I bought a generous slice of chocolate mousse cake from my school’s mini bakery; and on a Thursday afternoon I might feel particularly adventurous and hit up the Red Mango on campus for spicy Aztec chocolate flavored froyo. I don’t need to be a nutritionist to know that consumption of this much chocolate is definitely not doing me any favors in the long run; it certainly gave me a sense of instant gratification, but honestly, that’s probably the worst type of gratification. I do not deny that chocolate is incredibly delicious in every way, shape and form, but moderation is definitely key.

Solution: I am actually doing very well with a little experiment I created for myself. It’s a bit of a surprise that I’ll be posting about in a few weeks, so you’ll know all the details of this in a few short weeks! In the meantime, I still have a solution! If you’re as tempted by everything that is good and chocolatey like I am, start by cleaning your kitchen, pantry, or room of everything that contains chocolate (no, not by eating it all!) Give them to your roommate, your siblings, or even just keep them hidden from sight. Next, find healthy substitutes for the Snickers bar you like so much. I began using grapes as a substitute for when I have chocolate as a snack. If you love having a scrumptious chocolate-glazed donut for breakfast with your coffee, try substituting the chocolate donut with maybe a plain old-fashioned donut (which contains less sugar) or even something completely different like my new favorite, the spinach foldover from Starbucks!

Convincing myself that curly fries go with everything. I fell into the habit of eating curly fries with almost everything – grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs – you name it, I will put curly fries on it (yes, even ice cream because why not). Curly fries are like the next best pick-me-up in my opinion (after my beloved chocolate) but they are rather greasy and not something that should be consumed every single night – especially not if you’re trying to get toned abs and arms! Yet, I am super guilty of opening my life up to curly fries. For others, it may not be curly fries specifically – you might have this habit with pizza or take out, or some other unforgiving food item.

Solution: Try to challenge yourself to try a new food item everyday. This is especially cool if you live on a campus with many different dining halls or if you live in an area with a bunch of shops or food stores. If you usually cook and don’t eat out, challenge yourself to try a new recipe every few days. Mixing it up can ensure that you don’t form any new bad habits with other foods that aren’t necessarily good for you. This will broaden your palette and encourage you to be a little adventurous with your tastebuds!

Leaving my dirty dishes there to rot for, like, a week. Okay, I have a busy schedule, so sometimes when I cook for myself in the kitchen, I’ll leave my dirty dishes just sitting in my room for more than just a few days – forks, spoons and all. There are very obvious reasons why you should never do this, including the fact that anyone who comes into your room may be slightly appalled by this. Sometimes, it’s not a time thing, though – I just don’t feel like doing the dishes at that time.

Solution: I know this resonates with most college students who dorm and like to cook in the kitchen, so – from one college kid to another – I have a solution for us all! If you don’t do your dishes because you don’t feel like it, try making scrubbing the crumbs off your plate a little more enjoyable by playing some music while you do your tasks. Music definitely makes everything more fun, and you can always look forward to getting in your daily jam sesh in the company of syrup-covered plates and crumb-speckled bowls. Another way to liven things up a bit is by doing the dishes with friends or roommates. This is an…interesting…way for you to spend quality time with your friends or get to know new roommates. If your issue is that you don’t have time to clean the dishes after dirtying them up, then try allocating time in your schedule specifically for cleaning up after yourself. Yes, your dirt is important too! Setting as part of your schedule gives you more of an obligation to the task, and we all know that scheduling things is basically like setting it in stone, so you pretty much have to do it. Keep in mind that this bad habit may not necessarily be washing the dishes specifically for you; it may be vacuuming your house/apartment, cleaning up your room, etc., but the ideas behind the solutions are the same.

Hopefully reading this blog post didn’t keep you back from anything like, say, doing the dishes! But if they did, at least you procrastinated productively while learning a little bit about what my life has been like for a few weeks (don’t you just love learning new things about people?) Tell me something about yourself –

What bad habits did you get into and how will you fix them? 

 

 

Tasty Tuesday: Nutella Pancakes

So for Galentine’s Day, my roommate and I decided to make some brunch. We were thinking scrambled eggs and Nutella pancakes (because everything is better with Nutella). I’ll let you in on a little secret about myself: I don’t like pancakes. Syrup is even worse, in my opinion. Yeah, yeah, yeah; how anyone could hate what was basically childhood on a Saturday morning is blasphemous, right? My friends have been giving me the whole lecture for the last, like, decade.

So what propelled me to make pancakes if I don’t even like them? Like I said, Nutella is a powerful substance. So, this was super simple to do – even in a college dorm! I say this because, if you’ve ever tried baking or cooking any edible thing in a college dorm (with a communal kitchen in the basement), you know that it’s not always the easiest thing to do. If there are a ton of people congregated in the kitchen, finding space is difficult. Plus, where in your dorm room do you have the space to store all of your ingredients? You certainly can’t make a five-star meal out of a college dorm room, but pancakes of any kind are more than doable!

To make these lovely Nutella pancakes, all I needed were three ingredients: 

  • Pancake mix of your choosing
  • Nutella
  • Water

Yup, that was all! I forgot what brand of pancake mix we used, but I was surprised to hear that the beautiful buttermilk pancake mix only required water. I was honestly expecting eggs or milk or something, but, nope – just water. My roommate isn’t here right now for me to ask her what brand she picked up but I’ll ask her later and post an update.

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In any case, neither of us had made pancakes in a very long time – like not for decades. So the pancakes were a little…un-pancake-like at first, but no worries, we fixed them! I mixed all three ingredients together, but added extra water because it was difficult to spread the mix around the pan for a more circular shape.

The pancakes smelled and tasted great, and, because I hate syrup with a passion, I drizzled the tops of my pancakes with even more Nutella!

These pancakes are super easy to make and so impressive for breakfast! Like I said, they require so little that you don’t need a chef’s kitchen to make them. They don’t even need to be Nutella, they can be chocolate chip, blueberry, red velvet – the choices are endless!

What’s kind of pancakes do you like? 

8 Adorable Gifts To Treat Yo’Self To This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is approaching rapidly, and while most people may be scrambling to find a gift for their significant other, you might be finding yourself single with no one to mingle (or get you gifts). But, hey, we live in the 21st century – you don’t need someone else to buy you something pretty! I remember when kids in class would make fun of the students who wrote themselves love notes and bought themselves chocolate on Valentine’s Day. Personally, I have no shame in treating myself and no one should either! If you’re treating yourself this February 14th, then here are a few really cool (and really useful) gift ideas:

  1. A brand new, blinged-out phone case – Claire’s $14.00 Some people change phone cases like they change their outfits – hey, it happens! You’re probably going to decide to buy a new phone case in a few weeks anyway, so just get one now. There are many pretty phone cases out around this time at an even prettier price!
  2. Too Faced Chocolate Bon Bon Collection – Too Faced $49.00 Makeup is always a great gift, though not always for someone else! Getting makeup for others is a bit risky because they may have sensitive skin issues, dislike a certain finish, hate certain colors – need I go on? The good news is that buying cosmetics for yourself is easier! This eyeshadow collection from Too Faced is really pretty and has the perfect palette of browns and flushes. You can definitely do a super romantic eye look for Instagram with this palette!
  3. Coconut Cake scented candle – Target $5.00 don’t really love candles, but I am in actual love with anything coconut scented. I took a whiff of this candle in Target one day and haven’t stopped dreaming about it since! Unfortunately for me, college dorms don’t allow candles, so there was no real sense in me purchasing it (unless I just wanted to have it in my room to stare at). If you’re a real candle fanatic, you’ll enjoy the luscious scent of coconut cake in a candle. You can buy this to spice up your apartment and have your place smell just like a bakery!
  4. A pretty journal for pretty thoughts – Paper Source $12.95 Recently, I’ve been considering buying myself a cool journal to record my thoughts, blog post ideas, story ideas and even funny or weird things I randomly say! Journals carry no limitations and they’re just for you! Plus, there may be some Valentine’s Day collections coming out. If you enjoy writing, blogging, or just need a way to get jumbled thoughts out of your head in, like, five minutes then a journal is definitely a wonderful way to splurge on yourself this Valentine’s Day!
  5. A pillow – Paper Source $14.95 I’ve been obsessing over pillows. Weird, right? If you can (kind of) relate, then hunting for your newest addition to your secret pillow collection is a great way to present yourself! This one I found from Paper Source is really simple, yet cute. Pillows are great gifts because you never know when you might want to lie down on the couch, take a nap in the library, or even throw something at annoying people!
  6. Sassy sunglasses – Claire’s $9.50 I literally have a collection of sunglasses, which you can read about here, so I naturally gravitate toward glasses that protect our eyes from the sun (while making us look super cool). These glasses are super cute and quirky because they’re heart-shaped, and they’re a good grab because you’ll need super adorable sunglasses for the spring and summer anyway! It’s basically a win-win. These sunglasses are also very affordable, so if you’re just starting to build up your collection of sunglasses, you won’t have to burn a hole in your wallet with this one.
  7. A sleek new curling wand – Nume $79.00 I adore styling tools from Nume, especially the curling wands, since I love keeping my hair in loose curls or waves. The classic wands from Nume usually retail for a price in the hundreds, so grabbing these while they’re on sale for the low price of $79 is a HUGE steal! You can curl your hair by yourself for countless occasions: weddings; parties; first day of class; date night; chillin’ with your girls; just ‘cuz – the scenarios are endless.
  8. A quirky cool mug – Etsy $16.50 If you’re as crazy about mugs as I am then this gift is a definite! Mugs never cease to surprise me with how adorable and hilarious the designs and quotes can be. FYI, I’m also working on a mug collection! These are definitely an adorable gift to yourself because you can use it every day to drink beverages (and make delicious mug cakes!)

So treat yo’self this Valentine’s Day! Go get that curling wand, or that super weird-in-an-adorable-way mug – make this day about celebrating your awesomeness and showing yourself a little love!

How will you treat yo’self this Valentine’s Day? 

Tasty Tuesday: My Homemade Red Velvet Cupcakes For Valentine’s Day

Fun fact: I used to have a baking blog. That’s right, about two years ago, I had an adorable little blog full of all the treats and goodies that I’ve baked over the years (from scratch!) You can take a look at that old blog of mine here if you’re curious. Anyway, I’ll be incorporating some of my baking skills into this blog at any chance I can get, so you’ll definitely see some cool treats floating around here once in a while! To do this, I’m starting a new beat called Tasty Tuesday, where I showcase food/dessert that I either made myself or think is really worth talking about!

This Tasty Tuesday, I’m all about my homemade red velvet cupcakes. Red velvet is definitely a classic that I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of – and if you know anything at all about me, you’d know that I hate sticking to classics and love changing it up and keeping things fresh (and just a little bit weird!) But these cupcakes are definitely a crowd-pleaser, plus Valentine’s Day is coming up and I wanted to do something remotely festive.

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People have always asked me how I make my red velvet cupcakes and cakes. In truth, there are many variations on the classic red velvet cake recipe – some versions even use beet juice! Here’s my very own recipe that works for me:

Ingredients: 

  • 1 stick of margarine (softened)
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 3/4 cups of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup of buttermilk
  • ALOT of red food coloring!

Instructions: 

Step 1: Dump your softened margarine into a bowl along with your sugar and begin creaming the two together. I creamed them by hand, which takes just a tad bit of arm strength (and dedication) but you can use an electric mixer if you don’t plan on living in the kitchen for the night. 

Step 2: Add your eggs and vanilla once you’ve creamed the butter and sugar. I also added a crap ton of red food coloring (3-4 tablespoons) at this point and I just hand mixed every part of this recipe because I clearly love wasting time. 

Step 3: In a separate bowl, combine your flour, baking powder and unsweetened cocoa powder. I used the Hershey’s brand cocoa powder in this recipe, but you can use whatever brand you love (I’m not the cocoa powder dictator!) 

Step 4: This my favorite part because we’re going to bring it all together! Sift your dry mixture into your wet mixture and start incorporating everything gently. You might notice that the batter becomes difficult to mix. We’re not making bread, so add your milk for a smoother and more liquid consistency. 

Step 5: Have a cupcake baking pan ready to go with cupcake liners and begin spooning your batter into the cups. Oh – you’re going to want to heat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit for this (this recipe works best if you use a heated oven). Bake the cupcakes for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with very little to no crumbs. 

That’s it! No beet juice, no red hair dye and no blood. These cupcakes are perfect for bae, great for your parents (my mom loved them) and awesome for your palentine! On a side note, yes, I just said ‘palentine’, you can read all about that in my latest article for Odyssey.

So I decorated my cupcakes with homemade cream cheese frosting and tinted some of that frosting pink. I just used an angled spatula to apply a generous amount of frosting over the tops of the cupcakes (nothing too fancy, this time) and with a small piping tip, I piped some words like ‘love’ and ‘pizza’ – which should always be together in the same sentence!

I hope you liked this week’s Tasty Tuesday! Do you like Tasty Tuesday? Comments? Suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

What are you having on #TastyTuesday? 

 

 

10 Lessons I Learned Two Weeks Into The Spring Semester

This weekend concluded my first two weeks back for the spring semester of college, and let me tell you, I’ve already learned quite a lot and not just from my lectures! I’m always writing about lessons you can learn from your experiences, as you might have read in my post about things I learned during the fall semester. I wasn’t really expecting to do a pot on lessons learned this early in the semester, but a few things worth mentioning definitely came up – for good or bad!

  1. There is no shame in dropping a class. There’s this one class in particular that I’m currently enrolled in that I thought would be a cool elective for my minor, but it turns out that, due to the set up of the class and the teaching style of the professor, getting a good grade will be extremely difficult for me – even if i strain every brain cell I have to my name. I really should have dropped the class before the deadline because dropping a class after the deadline has passed would result in a ‘W’ on your transcript. Now I’m left with a miserable class for the rest of the semester that I need to somehow find a way to pull things together in. I mean, I could have walked without any collateral damage since there was no required textbook for the class and I’ve only dedicated my time to a couple of lectures. But I guess it was either my stupidity or my personal pigheadedness talking, convincing me to power through it. FYI, there are very few times when you shouldn’t listen to your gut telling you to ‘power through’ something and this is one of those times! 
  2. ‘Only’ taking 12 credits isn’t such a bad idea. If I had dropped the previously mentioned class I would have been taking a total of 12 credits this semester – just enough to be a full-time student. I admit that this is where my pride got the best of me (and totally kicked my ass, too). I guess there was just something about settling for the minimum that I’ve never liked (if you haven’t already guessed, I grew up as that irritating little overachiever). But if taking 12 credits meant that I wouldn’t be swamped with work and filling every minute of my schedule with a new task or meeting then I should have just swallowed my pride. And to think that I had wanted to take 22 credits, keep my job as an editor, plan a TED Talk, stay on the emergency response team and keep writing for a magazine! 
  3. Don’t be so quick to buy or rent a textbook. Last semester, I began the wonderful act of renting my textbooks instead of buying them, because who doesn’t love saving money? This semester, I kind of went all rent-crazy and automatically sought after cheap rents…until my friend – who is in like half of my classes – told me that he just borrowed the required textbooks from our school library – free of charge. You can’t even begin to imagine how many times I kicked myself for not thinking of that! Even though I was able to rent my textbooks for relatively cheap, I still spent a total of 100 dollars for all of my classes when I could have spent extremely little to nothing if I had attempted to borrow the books from the library. Well, now I know the importance of being more frugal and a little stingier with my money! 
  4. Actually, don’t be so quick to obtain textbooks in any way. For this one journalism class, I rented, not one but two, textbooks only to find that even though they were ‘required’ texts, we didn’t need to have them because the professor doesn’t plan on using them much at all. I heard this with my own ears. The professor actually encouraged us to refer to the PDF version of the online textbook (which is free) for times when she will actually use the text. That’s another reason why I’m learning to not jump the gun when it comes to textbook gathering. It may be a bit of work but I think hunting for PDFs and borrowed texts will be much easier on your wallet! 
  5. Your closet should contain at least one fancy party dress. A few days ago, I got a Facebook invite to this on-campus Masquerade Ball and I was pretty excited to go. The only thing I had that was even remotely close to how you should dress for a black tie kind of event was a short, fitted black dress with white polka dots. I paired this with tan boots and a red handbag and headed to the dance with my friends. It didn’t take long for me to feel like my wardrobe choice wasn’t my best call that night, but it was what I had. You’re probably wondering, ‘what girl doesn’t even have an LBD in her closet?’ Well, now I know the importance of a nice LBD, and I will certainly begin my search for one ASAP. College events that require formal dress don’t happen often, but they aren’t nonexistent. 
  6. Stay a million miles away from sick people. I am literally coughing and sneezing my brains out as I type this. My cold medicine has been my BFF for the last few days and I’ve given up on homework assignments and readings because I literally (and I absolutely mean this) cannot. Stay the hell away from people who don’t have the decency to cover their coughs when in close proximity to other individuals. Yeah, I know that getting sick is a natural thing and it happens to everyone, but if someone clearly doesn’t make even the slightest move to protect others from catching whatever they have, then you better make damn sure that you protect yourself from whatever they have. I just experienced firsthand how much of a struggle it is when you have 450 pages of text to read, articles to write and edit and a quiz to study for while you have snot dripping down your chin and your lungs in your throat. Life is much easier if you can avoid the common cold. 
  7. Submitting crappy work will make your life harder. So for that class I mentioned before, I had a lab assignment due this weekend and I really tried to use the resources to the best of my ability. I even sought extra help and resources but to no great avail. Even though I knew parts of my assignment were done crappily, I had a headache and my cold just wasn’t cooperating with me, so I submitted the lab the way it was. Not too long ago, I received a message from my professor telling me that I should resubmit the assignment. Yep, I deserved that. I had felt as though I had no choice because I was in terrible shape and was pressed for time, but even coming back to the assignment later when I’d (hopefully) feel better would have been a better option. Haste makes waste, so do things right the first time around and you won’t have to bear the consequences. 
  8. Even when you can sleep in, don’t. Sleep is such a wonderful, precious thing, but it can really eat up your time! On some days, I start class in the afternoon and I always make a list of everything I’m going to do before the start of my class, but I take my dear sweet time to wake up and get dressed in the morning, which always throws my schedule off. In the end I always angrily roll my eyes as I storm out of the room to start my day because I know that I should have been out the door at least an hour ago. If you got your eight hours for the night, it’s high time you get out of bed and tackle the day. Believe me, I always fall victim to a nice, toasty bed in the dead of winter, but when you have things to do, you want as few delays as possible. 
  9. Laziness is no excuse to stop taking care of yourself. This is going to sound really bad, and I definitely do know better, but sometimes I’m too lazy to go through my entire facial care routine before going to bed so I just take off my makeup and hit the hay. That’s it. Without a doubt, this has delayed my skin’s progress and never fails to make my face feel crappy every time I put my cheek to my pillow. There is absolutely no excuse for not taking care of yourself, at least no valid excuse. 
  10. You don’t have to be top dog in every little thing on campus. I like to be part of every little thing because I enjoy getting involved and meeting new people and making friends. I feel like I have a lot I can contribute to whatever organization I lay my creative little hands on, so naturally I’m a go-getter. At the same time, this doesn’t mean that I seeking to conquer basically everything on campus is a good idea! Being careful of biting off more than you can chew is something I’ve always warned others of and have always tried to warn myself of. For the most part, the responsibilities I held last semester just carried over into this semester, so things were already set for me. I really only took on one new task (planning the TED Talk) and everything else (aside from my schedule) stayed the same for me. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t half-dying with everything right now. Knowing when to step back and be content with what’s already on your plate can really conserve your energy (and sanity). There’s nothing wrong with not wanting added stress! 

You can probably say that these are lessons well-learned, because I certainly won’t be making the same mistakes twice! I’m currently working on ways I can combat whatever mishaps I can because doing nothing is way worse than trying and failing. Please let me know what you think and also what your new semester experiences have been like by leaving a comment below!  

How To (Productively) Survive A Snow Day

You’re laying beneath your toasty comforter, a fresh, white blanket has just covered your campus and you have just receive a magical message from your university informing you of class cancellation for the day. Alas, the mercy of the day is at your hands – with great power comes great responsibility! Okay, I know that bed and Netflix are looking pretty good right about now, but you and I both know damn well that this could lead to some unwanted consequences. Unless you’ve been studying your brains out all week long and can literally puke up the Kreb’s Cycle on command, Netflix will probably have to get in the backseat on this snow day. So instead of burrowing into bed all day long, here are some ways to pick up the pace on your snow day:

  1. Do some winter cleaning. I have met very few of my peers who actually manage to maintain a spotless room throughout the entire semester (yes, these people do exist!) If you barely made it through the first few weeks of classes without accumulating a large pile of God knows what in the dark corner of your room, then use this snow day to finally get to the bottom of your bottomless pit of throwaways. That pile of clothes that has now engulfed your seat at the desk (guilty!) could really use some sorting through. If the floor of your room hasn’t seen a crap-less day yet, now would be a good time to give it a once (or thrice) over. And if you’re garbage can is literally suffering with crumpled up pieces of paper, now-moldy food and the guilt of days past then do yourself a favor and dump it!
  2. Plan out the rest of your week or the following week. I’m basically obsessed with planning, but it doesn’t mean that a little organization can’t help you out! Use this time to match exams, projects and papers to due dates. Even marking down upcoming homework assignments is a great way to help you keep your head in the game and keep your stress levels down – running around like a headless turkey is so not cool anyway. Writing things on calendars is pretty much a second hobby for me, so this serves a dual purpose. Planning out what lies ahead is also a great way to build better organizational skills and improve time management.
  3. Schedule appointments/meetings as needed. Don’t wait for that day when you have five classes in a row, a meeting for the chess club and two papers to finish to actually decide to make a move to schedule important appointments. This is day is the best day to shoot the dietician an email asking for an appointment, or if you need to meet with your professor, there’s no time like the present to call or email and schedule a meeting. Likewise, if any administrative tasks need to be done, or at least need consideration, your snow day is the probably the best day to do them. Plus, you’ll be able to really sit down and think everything through, and once you’ve called up for all the necessary appointments, you can now add them all to the calendar you were just using to plan out your week!
  4. Paint your nails. Hey, a gal can be super busy sometimes and may not even have the time for a quick manicure! It’s best you use this free time rather than class time to get down to your digits. And maybe while you wait for your nails to dry you can read a chapter or two from your textbook for your history class!
  5. Revise class notes. Okay, you’re actually going to do some sort of school work on your snow day! Besides, what kind of snow day survival guide would this be if I didn’t urge you to do school work at some point? You’ve probably heard this since high school and are probably tired of hearing it in college, but the benefits of reviewing class notes while they’re still fresh from lecture are pretty evident. It’ll be way easier to recall the extra statements your professor made about integrals when reviewing your notes earlier rather than waiting a few weeks before the exam to review. You don’t need to spend five hours reviewing notes; even just spending twenty minutes per class is helpful.
  6. Get a head start on lengthy class readings. As a journalism major I can basically talk your ear off about lengthy readings for homework. My classmates and I are enduring some pretty intense crap this semester where reading is concerned. From journal entries to multiple chapters in the textbook, to court cases to the newspaper daily – any of us who have already made the deadly of mistake of putting off work can tell you to jump on it while you have the chance! If your professor wants to ram your skull with knowledge and assigned you a five-chapter reading for homework, then at the very least use your snow day to read one of the five chapters. Bonus points if you make it to two.
  7. Cook a week’s supply of dinner. For those of you who don’t have a meal plan or just prefer to not eat the notorious campus dining hall food (which surprisingly is not like a meal at a five-star restaurant) then chances are your belly relies on what you cook (or don’t) for the day. Cook up a week’s worth of fettuccine in your dorm kitchen and refrigerate what you don’t eat. This way, you won’t need to use your precious study time to cook later in the week. You will literally have food for days!
  8. Go to the gym (if you can make it there!) Personally, I’m not a fan of leaving my dorm if there’s snow (and ice) on the ground, though I do love a good workout. If you are gutsy enough to stalk through the half a foot of snow on the ground through campus to the gym, then I probably don’t even have to tell you that this is a good way to be productive on your day off. The gym is actually has more to offer than just sexy abs and toned arms – this is a great way to escape stress if you’ve been busting your bum all week long. Releasing some of those worries while hitting the treadmill is great for your day off. Now you’ll have more room to worry when classes start again (just kidding!)
  9. Grab lunch or dinner with friends.  One of the reasons why I despise the snow so much is because I worry about slipping and falling on my journey to the dining hall for food (among other things). But, hey, if I’m going to slip and fall, I’m going to slip and fall in the company of my friends so we can all laugh together. Then maybe one of them will slip and fall and we can all laugh at that person together. Everything is better with friends – especially foolishly struggling to maintain balance on icy turf. Using part of this snow day to grab a bite with buddies doesn’t cut into a rigorous daily schedule, so you won’t have to worry about missing out too much about staying on track for the day. Plus, maybe repeatedly complaining to your friends about all the exams you have coming up will help you remember their dates!

Many of these are how I’d typically spend my snow day (which I actually had today). They don’t all have to be plagued with binge watching Grey’s Anatomy (really good show) or Snapchatting how bored you are in your room.

What’s your favorite way to spend a snow day? 

6 Wardrobe Pieces I Simply Cannot Live Without

So the other day, I was doing something completely commonplace that literally everyone does on a daily basis and therefore doesn’t make me special: I was picking out an outfit in the morning. I realized that there were just some pieces that I naturally gravitated to, despite a drawer full of shirts and pants that could cloathe half the penguins of Antarctica. Yet I still had a personal obsession  preference toward some pieces of clothes. Everyone has that one piece of clothing that absolutely must coexist amongst their other belongings. And, by the way, it’s totally cool to admit that you sometimes wear it like 10 times before you finally decide to toss it into the washing machine (it happens to the best of us). I don’t know about the rest of you, but here’s what I consider absolutely necessary in my closet:

  1. Leggings Sorry, I couldn’t resist saving a different space for this one – it deserved to be at the top of my list! Yes, I most definitely do wear leggings literally everyday, and, yes, I do get told that leggings aren’t pants. I normally respond to these comments by saying, ‘I don’t give a flying shit about your urgent need to criticize my wardrobe choice’ ‘to each his own’ and smiling sweetly. Anyway, those haters don’t bother me because at the end of the day, I can still workout at the gym without being told I need to change my pants. Enough with my mini-rant. My pitch black leggings are as dark as my soul and they’re too comfortable to not curl up on the couch in! I can wear them with any type of shoe or basically any top and still look fabulous! I always have at least three pairs of leggings in my drawer because, sadly, sometimes they rip in places you really don’t want them to rip in and at that point it’s time to say good-bye. They’re so fitted yet so breathable at the same time! The people of earth couldn’t have asked for a better way to be lazy and not put on jeans.
  2. Flannel/Plaid shirts Flannel is one of the easiest ways to look and feel comfortable throughout the day. I have at least six plaid tops in my closet…just in my dorm! I especially love layering a graphic t-shirt under them and opening up the buttons. Maybe there’s something about the checkered pattern that gives you sort of a ruffled, somewhat rusty, I-ain’t-got-time-to-eff-around kind of look. In fact, my ideal outfit for everyday wear is pretty much a graphic tank top under an open, red flannel top, leggings and combat boots. Here, the plaid top gives you a put together but effortless look – my favorite kind of look! I also can’t wait to get my hands on a few flannel dresses for the spring. Truthfully, I don’t know why I don’t just replace basically everything in my closet with flannel and be done. Seriously, why don’t I?
  3. Adidas joggers In my high school, everyone owned a pair of Adidas joggers. Okay, not everyone, but it was extremely common to see a pair walking down the hall. A single day did not go by when I didn’t find at least five people wearing some variation of the classic black jogger with three vertical white stripes going down each leg and the familiar Adidas logo on the left side. These pants are extremely comfortable and they have pockets! When you’re an avid lover of leggings like me, you learn to appreciate pants that deliver extreme comfort while also providing a way for you to carry items without holding things in your hands. I love wearing these pants on regular days and workout days because, like the leggings, they are breathable and casual. I have actually tucked these into my Uggs and combat boots and it still looked fine. I love pairing them with a simple sweatshirt for a super quick but comfortable outfit for those days when I have an 8a.m. class and I just can’t. 
  4. Sunglasses Yes, accessories are also part of your wardrobe! I wear sunglasses pretty much everyday – winter, spring, summer, or fall. My friends actually make fun of me for always busting out my sunglasses, even when there aren’t any intense rays of sunlight. If I see so much as a crack of light from behind a cloud, I can pinky promise you that you will see my big frames on my face (and we all know that pinky promises are a huge deal). I (kind of, sort of) have unintentionally accumulated a collection of sunglasses since coming to college: I have sunglasses with a purple frame that I got from my college orientation; then I had my mom’s $50 shades with huge frames (that I accidentally broke. Oops); then I got two more free purple sunglasses (yay); then, I stole my brother’s green sunglasses that were he stole from me that I received from him because he didn’t want them anymore; when I got tired of my brother’s sunglasses, I bought a really cute pair of $7 aviator shades from H&M; finally, when I thought I lost those guys earlier in the fall semester, I was extremely upset and proceeded to buy a $15 pair from Target (that I got for $8). Would it surprise you if I said that I also want a pair of red heart-shaped sunglasses?
  5. Sports Bras I hate regular bras with a passion. Like, I have a drawer full of pretty bras of all designs that I never wear. Instead, I have created an arsenal of sports bras to wear in their place because I love that I can just slip them over my head and not have to hook anything or whatever. Of course, I wear sports bras when I go to the gym, in case you were wondering, but for me they double as everyday wear too. Is that a bad thing? Oh well. I mean, I don’t know about you but I haven’t met anyone else who have said that they wear sports bras everyday. Well, I am small-boobed so I could pretty much get away with it. One of my favorite ones is the really cute red bra from PINK that says “Happy Holla Days” and the band is black with a stripe of gold glitter. Clearly, this is very low-impact, but it still suits my needs.
  6. Sassy graphic tees These shirts can literally capture my personality in just a few sentences (this is pretty unprecedented). Many of them are meant to be funny, so they’re perfect for casual wear. I really like pairing them with leggings and sneakers, or, if I’m feeling really fancy I’ll tuck them into a high-waisted skater skirt and finish off the look with sneakers or combat boots. Like leggings, graphic shirts have unlimited potential.

I hope my list of wardrobe essentials taught you a little bit about my style and personality (even if all you learned is that people who bash my leggings irritate me and are basically dead to me).

What wardrobe pieces can you never live without?