My Experience At The Red Carpet Premiere Of Good Fortune: The John Paul DeJoria Story

red carpet premiere of good fortune

My Thursday nights are usually full of the clicking of keys on my laptop and the sound of me dying of laughter from watching one of my favorite TV shows, “Impractical Jokers.” But this past Thursday night was full of laughs, inspiration, painful heels, and a little bit of Patrón tequila *wink wink* I was lucky enough to have been invited to the Red Carpet World Premiere of “Good Fortune,” a documentary on the true rags to riches story of John Paul DeJoria. John Paul DeJoria is the co-founder of the salon-famous Paul Mitchell Systems (you’ll probably recognize their iconic black and white shampoo and conditioner bottles on the shelves of hair salons). He also went on to become the founder and CEO of Patrón tequila a.k.a. the $200 bottles on the top shelf. I don’t know about you, but I love a good “started from the bottom” story because it truly depicts the very lesson our parents, teachers, and bosses have drilled into our minds over and over again: hard work pays off. But John Paul not only worked hard. He also tackled challenges and went the extra mile with his heart on his sleeve. He, both literally and figuratively, proved that when you’re at the bottom, the only way you can go is up.

red carpet premiere of good fortune

I was lucky enough to be my best friend’s Carrie Bradshaw for the night, as I was able to bring her as a plus one (yay!) When we walked into the AMC Lowe’s on Lincoln Square (where the screening was taking place) we were immediately immersed in a bustling crowd of photographers taking photos of attendees at the red carpet. It was so spectacular and so surreal (and very, very hot!) We didn’t get the chance to take photos on the red carpet ourselves (hopefully next time!) but we still got some great photos at the screening. Escalators led upstairs to a much cooler area, and we received complimentary popcorn, water, and candy (yum!)

red carpet premiere of good fortune

You can probably already tell that I loved the movie so much (Psst! You can get it on DVD starting in August!) and I also thought the Q&A portion was super insightful. I had no idea that John Paul was on “Shark Tank” (my parents’ favorite show) and people asked him some fantastic questions. Afterward, everyone cleared out ASAP because the next portion of the evening was about to begin…The reception and after party!!!

red carpet premiere of good fortune

The reception and after party were held at Lincoln Square Steak, about five minutes or less from the theatre, except my GPS wanted to take me the long way, so a five-minute walk ended up being a 10-minute walk…in very painful 4.5-inch heels. Luckily, I brought flip flops to change into, so my feet were saved. When we got there, I felt like such a V.I.P. because my name was on the list and we were invited in. I got to enjoy a delicious cupcake in honor of the movie, talk to some really great people who told me that they admire my work right here on this ol’ blog, and I even got to take photos with J.P. himself! Not to mention the fact that my best friend and I accidentally stole the seat of an entrepreneur from “Shark Tank.” Oops.

red carpet premiere of good fortune

The night was topped off with a wonderful, and might I add, aesthetic, little goodie bag with Marula Oil shampoo and conditioner from the John Paul Mitchell Systems!!! The whole evening was so surreal and so worth the painful shoes and sleep-deprived brain at work the next morning. Of course, I love telling you all about the lessons I learned from my experiences, and I love giving you tips in case you find yourself in the same position, so here are some things I learned/tips for attending red carpet premieres.

1. BE POLITE! 

The person standing next to you in line for tequila could be the editor of one of your favorite magazines, or an entrepreneur on one of your favorite TV shows! Always, always, always be polite and smile no matter how hot and sweaty you are, no matter how many people just bumped into you within the time frame of two minutes, and no matter how many times you skillfully dodged splashes of alcohol on your dress. A positive attitude goes a really long way!

2. ATTEND THE AFTER PARTY, NO MATTER HOW LATE IT IS. 

I was surprised to see that it was already almost 10p.m. by the time the screening and Q&A were over. I actually told my parents I’d be home by 10:30 or 11p.m. and that so clearly wasn’t happening. But staying out longer was so worth it because the after party was so great! Of course, let your parents know if you’ll be out later than you said you would. There’s always an experience waiting for you; it’s your job to welcome it. Plus, if I hadn’t attended the party, I wouldn’t have been able to talk to great people, meet John Paul DeJoria, or try the tequila everyone is in love with.

3. ARRIVE AT LEAST 30 MINUTES BEFORE THE TIME ON YOUR INVITATION. 

If your invitation says to arrive by 8p.m., plan to arrive by 7:30p.m. at the absolute latest. In fact, in the future, I would arrive at least 40 minutes early to an event like this because there are so many people that it gets crowded quickly. Plus, it’s easier to enjoy the entire experience when you aren’t rushing to get there. If you have to wait five minutes for doors to open or for the red carpet to be set up for photos, waiting won’t kill you.

4. BRING COMFORTABLE SHOES TO CHANGE INTO. 

This was my savior that night and I am forever grateful to the person who invented flip flops. At first, I just wanted to be extra sophisticated and bring just a wristlet, but then I knew I wouldn’t walk in heels the whole night, so I decided to use a bag that was just big enough to snugly fit my flip-flops, and it was really worth it. This is especially important if you’re wearing brand new shoes you haven’t broken in yet.

5. SOME THINGS ARE REALLY WORTH WAITING FOR.   

My friend and I waited on line to meet J.P. for nearly 40 minutes because, well, everyone wanted to meet him! And it’s obvious why: he’s genuinely a caring, positive individual and he literally radiates inspiration. Of course, there were also friends and businessmen and businesswomen who were apparently his lifelong friends so I guess they had meet & greet priority. But when we were finally able to talk to him, I was so stunned all I could do was say my name and smile really big. Nevertheless, it was awesome and I will probably brag about it for the next year or so. #sorrynotsorry

 

This was such an amazing experience, and certainly one that I never expected to have! Maybe as the editor in chief of a magazine, but certainly not as a 21-year-old college girl, and I am so grateful to have been able to attend! I really hope that I can go out to more awesome events like these in the near future, and I hope that even more people will become familiar with John Paul DeJoria’s story because his story of hard work is also our story.

Thanks for reading! 

12 Ways To Enjoy The Summer With Friends

During the winter months, everyone around me sees a winter wonderland with snow angels, igloos, and hot chocolate. I see a death trap with black ice, wet socks, and poofy jackets that make me look like a marshmallow. I’d gladly take the hot summer any day. When you go to a college in a region that experiences all four seasons, you don’t actually get to enjoy the summer on campus with friends. In New York, it starts getting chilly around October, and even when spring officially begins in March, we often still have cold weather through May! But I think we’re finally starting to see more sunlight and more gorgeous weather, which hopefully isn’t just a fluke. That said, it’s the perfect time for hanging out with friends and making memories. Whether you’re chilling with friends from your hometown who you haven’t seen all year, or you’re meeting up with your new college pals you saw just a few weeks ago (though, it feels like a year), here are some ways you and your friends can have some fun this summer.

1. Attend a free outdoor festival.

Be on the lookout for food and art festivals in your neighborhood. I go to school on Long Island and there’s always some sort of festival happening around the spring and summer — the Oyster Festival, Lobster Festival, music festivals. You can get into these festivals for little to no money, and you can spend as long as you want and try everything you see. A quick search on Google for fun festivals in the area should give you some ideas.

2. Go to the beach.

This can be a meticulously planned day-long trip or a spur of the moment stop for an hour or so. You can never go wrong with taking photos while your hair blows in the breeze, or building sand castles and collecting pretty rocks. If you decide to go for the entire day, make sure you come prepared with sunscreen, water to keep you hydrated, and cute sunglasses so you look as sharp as the sun.

12 Ways To Enjoy The Summer With Friends

3. Go for an ice cream run.

Well, unless you or one of your friends is lactose intolerant. In that case, go for a dairy-free ice cream run. One time, my friends and I stopped by this ice cream shop in town that was known for having the best ice cream in the area and it was SO good! Turn it into a journey for finding the best place for soft serve. You can also never go wrong with hitting up a childhood favorite for a vanilla cone with sprinkles.

12 Ways To Enjoy The Summer With Friends

4. Make ice cream together.

On the other hand, if you’re really feeling your inner culinary genius, try making your own ice cream at home. I’ve done it when I got bored of eating whatever’s from the store, because it’s so easy to really customize it and turn it into something of your own. If you’re going for a plain vanilla ice cream, simply whip up some heavy whipping cream until you see peaks (but not butter!) and mix in condensed milk. Freeze and you’re ready to eat! From there you can add whatever toppings and things you want, and you can turn this activity into an ice cream party for you and your friends.

5. Have a picnic in the park. 

It has been my dream to have a picnic photoshoot. You can invite as many friends as you’d like, and you don’t have to worry about there not being enough space because you’re outdoors and there’s certainly room for everyone. It can be a potluck-type of picnic where everyone brings some food or drink item to share so one person doesn’t have to do all the work.

6. Go for a run and turn it into a routine.

This is perfect for hanging out with friends from your hometown. You can plan a daily or weekly run through the neighborhood with them to make up for not being able to see each other all year. This is a great way to reach any health and fitness goals with a buddy. And if running isn’t your cup of tea, you can always walk or get creative and do outdoor yoga.

Related: How To Make Time For Going To The Gym In College

7. Have an outdoor photoshoot. 

I used to hate taking pictures of myself in high school, but when I started blogging I began taking photos more and, well, sometimes I needed to be in them. Now I love, love, LOVE having photoshoots with friends and I always have so many ideas for them. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to fun photoshoots I want to do, and you don’t even need a fancy DSLR — an iPhone would be great for the job. You never know when you’ll need a really good photo of yourself!

12 Ways To Enjoy The Summer With Friends

8. Attend an outdoor concert. 

Check to see if there are any free concerts happening in your area this summer. I know in New York City, there are free concerts happening throughout the summer for various artists. This is a fun way to get to see a singer you really like without having to pay hundreds of dollars for a ticket. And afterwards, you and your friends can hang out ad grab a bite to eat at a local shop. Be sure to check out my concert checklist for tips on what to bring with you!

9. Have a pool party in your backyard. 

I recently got a lip-shaped pool float from my internship and it’s so cool and so pretty and I’m dying to get it in the water. I don’t know how to swim, so I guess it works for me. But if you’re just using an inflatable pool in your backyard, you don’t really need to know how to swim, and you also don’t have to drive to a public pool. Blow one up that’s big enough for you and your friends, fill it with water, grab some sodas or even some fancy *adult* beverages and chill.

10. Attend a conference together. 

I know conferences sound boring, but there are actually some really cool ones for millennials that you can look into. They’re great ways to hang out with your besties, meet new people, and forward your career while learning new things. Her Conference is definitely my favorite. I went last year and had a blast, so I’m obviously super excited for this year’s. Pick a conference together, but also remember that you may need to book tickets in advanced.

By the way, if you’re curious about my Her Conference experience, be sure to read my post on the 19 things I learned from it.

11. Go on a tour of your city. 

While I visit New York City more often than I visit (the dentist? my neighborhood library? office hours?) I still have never gone on an actual tour of the place. I’ve always thought those red double decker tour buses looked cool, but I’ve never hopped on one for sightseeing. This is a cool idea for you and your friends, especially if you don’t always go to your nearest metro city. You might even discover a few new favorites.

Related: The Awkward Traveler’s Guide To Manhattan Part One: Basics + Battery Park

12. Hit the highway for a road trip. 

A road trip can be anywhere from Brooklyn to Montauk, or from Vermont to California. It’s all up to you and how long you’re willing to tolerate all your friends in one cramped car. Just kidding. But a road trip would be the perfect way to catch up with hometown friends or make new memories with college buddies. All you need is a car, a friend who can drive, and the wind in your hair.

What are your ideas for hanging out with friends this summer? 

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How To Recover From An Unproductive Day

how to recover from an unproductive day

This past Saturday was one of the most unproductive Saturdays of my life. I laid in bed watching Facebook videos for most of the day, and while I was really cozy and content doing it, I knew that there was some important work that I would probably try to high tail it to finish on Sunday. I should probably actually call this post “How To Save Your Ass Before Monday.” But sometimes unproductive days are very much-needed, like when you’ve been running around all week and just want a day to be lazy. They’re sometimes good for your mental health, but bad for your GPA! You can’t go back in time and redo the entire day (oh, I wish!) but you can ensure you make a comeback so you can try to salvage what’s left of your good student rep before Monday.

1. Admit that you were unproductive.

The first step is to essentially admit that you screwed up. You had the entire day to study for Tuesday’s exam — there was nothing stopping you. You had enough sleep the night before, you ate well, you even got dressed to head to the library, but you just didn’t do anything. Netflix might’ve won that round. Now you can stop beating yourself up for screwing up and work towards preventing this from happening the next day.

2. Make a plan for tomorrow.

Create a to-do list in your favorite planner. This will help remind you of all the things you should’ve done today but didn’t have to do tomorrow. I like writing down tasks in the best order for doing them because it helps me stay on track; I don’t have to think about which of my 99 problems I should tackle next. My plan for the following day consisted of me going to the gym in the morning, coming back to my room for a shower and heading to my second home (a.k.a. Starbucks) to get work done for the rest of the day.

3. Get your sleep (but don’t sleep in!)

Sleeping adequately is crucial to ensuring that you have enough energy the next day to finish all the things you put off. However, be careful to not sleep in! I find that when I sleep in, I feel lazier during the day and therefore less likely to actually finish all the work I planned to do. Start your day off bright and early (sure, I guess 9a.m. can count as ‘early’). I know Sundays are ideal for sleeping until noon, but you can offset any early morning grumpiness using my tips for making mornings more exciting.

how to recover from an unproductive day

4. Put errands at the top of your list.

Gotta do laundry? Need to run to the pharmacy? Want to go to the gym? Complete all these first so you don’t have to worry about them later in the day. Plus, running errands are a good way to ease into your to-do list. Personally, this helps me stay on track with everything else I have to do because my mind is too distracted to jump right into studying first thing in the morning.

5. Get dressed up.

Get dressed up??? How will this help me be more productive??? If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking that you’d spend half a day alone trying to figure out what to wear, but hear me out. How many times have you thrown on a pair of comfy sweats and a workout top and then proceeded to chill in your room because you were already comfortable so you figured: why not get even cozier in bed? Your clothes can be pretty influential on your overall mood. I find that when I, as well as people I know personally, dress nicely — jeans, a nice top and nice shoes, business casual or like we’re going on a casual date — we tend to be in the mood for getting shit done and going out of our way to make things happen. Plus, it’s a good excuse to show off how cute you look to the rest of your campus. Take your wardrobe into account the next time you’re feeling unmotivated to work. I decided to do my makeup extra nicely to put myself in the mood for tackling homework.

6. Work with a group.

Don’t feel like struggling through chemistry alone? Hit up some of your friends and propose a study group. Even if it’s just for a couple of hours, being in the company of other people who have to get shit done will help you get your shit done. I do this all the time — even though half my friends aren’t even Journalism majors. It’s just really nice to be around friends when I have to do something I don’t feel like doing.

Related: How To Have A Productive Library Study Session10 Secrets For Making New Friends In College

What are your tips for being productive? 

21 Things I Want To Do Before I’m 22

You guys, I’m 21 today!!! And with that, I must say, YIKES, I’M 21 TODAY! I’m getting closer and closer to life as a grown ass job-working, bill-paying adult, but before that happens I wanted to make sure that I live my college life to the fullest so I graduate with no regrets (at least no more regrets).

So in the spirit of being 21, I decided to make a list of things I want to do before this time next year. I know that a year can fly by really quickly (p.s., check out my post on things I learned from one year of blogging!) and I hate setting goals and then realizing in the end that I didn’t reach them, but if there’s anything I’ve learned so far in 2017, it’s that some things aren’t always as far-fetched as they seem. I’m not saying that dreaming about flying like a bird will help you grow wings and fly, but I am saying that with enough planning and effort, you can get what you want eventually instead of wondering what could have been. I’m rambling now. I’m getting old; I’ll probably be 22 by the time I finish this introduction.

Alright, now I’m done. Check out my list and let me know if you have any similar aspirations!

1. Travel to California.

Ever since I returned from my study abroad trip to Ireland, I’ve been very travel crazy. Who am I kidding, I’ve been travel crazy even before I got on that plane! I’ve been dreaming about traveling to Cali for a really long time now. I know it’s “just another state” but I’m excited to experience the media industry there since that’s where some of my job aspirations lie, and also possibly meet a celebrity! I’ve even been looking into interning in California this semester at a media company, but I know this will be very expensive since I don’t have relatives or friends who reside in Cali and I’ll likely have to pay for university housing if I actually get an opportunity there. But I’m willing to bet my birthday cake that there’s a possibility if I look hard enough, so that’s what I’m going to keep doing.

Also, my badass best friend got an internship with a Cali-based company for the summer so we’re hoping to travel there together this summer and hang out a week before her internship starts. So maybe I’ll get to see San Fran after all!

2. Intern at a well-known company.

While we’re still talking about summer plans, this is one of my hopes for the three months before the fall semester. I had a fantastic editorial internship last summer at a company that was already kind of big but has gotten EVEN bigger over the last six months. One day, my cousin messaged me a link to one of their Facebook beauty videos and I felt super proud telling her that I actually used to work there! I hope to be able to do this again this summer.

3. Publish a book.

Or at least already be in the process of publishing a book. I have wanted to be an author since I was in middle school and wrote my first shitty novel. But no time like the present, right? I didn’t do as much writing as I would’ve liked to have done during my spring break, but that’s already in the past. I enjoy writing both fiction and self-help type of things, so maybe my first book will be one of those (PLOT TWIST: my first book will be BOTH. *gasp* No, let’s not).

4. Attend College Fashion Week.

I was SO upset when I couldn’t attend CFW this past fall, but this year, I’m READY FOR IT. Her Campus organizes it every year, and, let’s be real, any HC event is full of glamour, free stuff and general awesomeness, so you can bet your strawberry daiquiri I’ll make every effort to be there. I think CFW is such an empowering event because the models are REAL college girls who come from so many different backgrounds and are unique in their own way, so I’m really excited for the chance to go this fall.

5. Have a photoshoot on the beach.

My first time actually walking on a beach was when I was in Ireland and went to Inch Beach. It was cold as hell, if hell were to freeze over, but it was still really cool. My group didn’t stay on the beach long, but the next time I go to any beach, I intend to go prepared for a day of fun photo-taking (and actual sunlight).

6. Take a spontaneous trip somewhere.

I wanted to do this for my spring break this year with my best friend. My plan was to basically call her up and be like, “dude, what’re you doing this spring break? Nothing? Let’s go on a train ride to South Carolina!” Unfortunately for us, our spring breaks didn’t overlap so no spontaneous train trip happened. I’m gonna be on the look out for spontaneous travel opportunities over the next year, because why not?

7. Work with more brands on my blog and social media.

I really love learning about new brands and sharing them with y’all, so I definitely hope to work with more brands this year. I have already gotten to work with amazing ones like Clarisonic and Essence makeup, and I had so much fun while doing it!

8. Make a scrapbook.

I have been thinking about this for a while now but never actually made a move to go out and buy scrapbook materials. Oops. Now’s as good a time as any to start, I suppose. It would be nice to have something to look back at cherish.

9. Start a YouTube channel.

I promised myself I’d start a YouTube channel in 2017 and I still have yet to do it! I love watching videos and I also love shooting and editing videos. I’ll be damned if I don’t post even ONE video on YouTube by March of next year. Space and time for filming and editing are my biggest obstacles this semester, but hopefully I can make something work.

10. Get blog merch.

I want to get my blog logo printed on stickers, baseball caps, shirts and basically other cute things. It’s shameless self promotion and I want to have something symbolic of how far I’ve come with Macarons & Mascara.

11. Buy a pair of really expensive sunglasses.

I’m not extra, I promise. But I really love Kate Spade and I’ve been eyeing their sunglasses for a really long time now. I’ve become more of a invest-in-one-really-high-quality-thing kind of person instead of a buy-a-ton-of-cute-things-for-cheap kind of person, and expensive sunglasses are definitely on my list. It’s much better to buy one good thing that can last you a really long time than to spend less money on a low-quality item that you KNOW is low-quality and will have to be replaced in a few months.

12. Learn how to swim.

If it ain’t an inflatable swimming pool, I’ll probably drown in it. Yeah, I don’t know how to swim, which is probably a skill everyone should possess. But luckily, the swimming pool at my school is supposedly opening up next semester, and one of my friends is a part-time swim teacher and has promised to teach me how to swim even if she has to drag me to the pool everyday, so I feel blessed.

13. Get a tattoo. 

This has been on my list probably since I was in high school. I love tattoos and I love looking at other peoples’ tattoos and hearing about what it means to them. I also have a kind of low pain tolerance, so I don’t know what’s going to happen there, but hopefully I’ll be less of a chicken this year and just go for it.

14. Take a bartending class. 

My college offers bartending classes to students where we can earn a certificate by the end of the semester. I think this is pretty cool even if I might not get a part-time job as a barista. It’s something interesting so why not!

15. Take myself on a date. 

I feel awkward when I’m out somewhere by myself so I want to work on getting over that. I keep looking up articles on places to take yourself on a date and I’ve been seeing some really cool stuff (including taking yourself on a trip to Iceland!!!) Maybe travel is in the stars for me.

16. Become better at makeup. 

I love makeup and have so much of it. I really hope to be able to take the time perfect techniques for eye makeup so I can do pretty looks for events and special occasions.

17. Donate clothes I no longer wear. 

I have too many items in my closet that I haven’t touched in years and seeing it all sitting there annoys me because I know that there’s probably someone else who could put the clothes to good use. It’s probably going to take a while, but I want to do a thorough cleaning of my closet. I think this is definitely the year I finally get up and actually do it.

18. Be featured in a magazine. 

I’ve imagined seeing myself in a magazine (and maybe even on the COVER) since I was a little girl. It’s probably far-fetched but a girl can dream!

19. Win a lot of money on those scratch off games. 

I’m obsessed with scratch off game cards. Especially the $1 ones so I can buy a bunch of them at once. I’ve one money off of them several times before but nothing to really brag about. It would be cool to win like $500 or $1,000 from a scratch off game, so fingers crossed!

20. Create the ultimate dorm room. 

My dorm decor game has gradually gotten stronger over the years. I’ve been building a more and more comfortable and efficient dorm room by simply organizing things differently and getting the right decor for my aesthetic. Hopefully, my senior year will bless me with the genius idea for a dorm room that will make everyone else cry.

21. Keep blogging! 

Heck, I sure hope that a year from now I’ll still be doing what I’m doing at this very moment! Blogging is so much fun and I’ve been able to connect with so many other people who share that interest with me.

Here’s to being 21! 

5 Simple Ways To Make More Time For Reading Books

5 simple ways to make time for reading books

Eight out of 10 college students will tell you that when they were younger, they could finish an entire book in, like, a day. Don’t quote me on that. That’s 100% a statistic that I made up for drama. But a lot of people I’ve talked to about reading have shared that experience and I think that it’s very important. I, too, was one of those fast readers who would much rather stick her nose inside a good book instead of good middle school gossip. Over the years, I lost that passion for reading so much so that when people asked me what my favorite past time was or what hobbies I had, I stopped including reading. When I got to college it was even worse because I got very wrapped up in the change of pace of college academics freshman year. As the college years go on, people tend to get busier and busier because they’re taking more advanced classes, getting jobs or internships and generally trying to get more involved. I can say without a doubt that this semester is by far the busiest semester I’ve had, yet this is also the semester that I’ve been reading the most books since coming to college.

I can go on and on about how important it is to keep reading, and how it can benefit your academic career, but I’m pretty sure I’ve written at least one article somewhere about this already. One thing I will say, however, is if you’re really into writing and you hope to someday become an author, you MUST read books. You pick up a lot about style and what makes a good story when you actually read them. I have hopes of publishing a few (or more) books in my lifetime, so reading is definitely something I need to stay on top of. I also have some book recommendations that I might end up doing an entire blog post on in the near future, so let me know what you think about that post idea! Without further ado, because I think this intro is getting kind of longwinded, here are my ways for making more time for reading in college.

1. Make reading the last thing you do before you go to sleep. 

This is one of the biggest things I started doing and it honestly feels so refreshing to not have a phone screen be the last thing I see before I go to sleep. Basically, if you would normally be on your phone for about an hour before falling asleep, use that hour to read a chapter or two of whatever book you started. Get in your pajamas, take off your makeup and dive under the covers with your book. I’m actually trying to get a small book light so I don’t have to keep the lights on too long for my roommate if I want to read (so if you’re worried about bothering your roommate with the light, this is also a good idea for you).

2. Always carry a book in your backpack. 

This is the second best thing I started doing and it’s been really helpful for getting me to continue reading — even when I think I won’t have time. I like doing work during any free time I have in between my classes, but sometimes it can be hard to focus because my mind just isn’t into it at the moment. When this happens, I like to take 30-40 minutes to continue reading where I left off so I can start focusing on something. I go to my favorite work spot on campus, find a comfy chair, order a drink, put on my smart looking glasses, and start reading. I usually find that it’s much easier to transition into homework when I do this.

3. Create an account on Goodreads. 

I used to have a Goodreads account when I was in seventh grade because my teacher made us create one. My friends and I used it beyond the classroom and would share books with each other and make recommendations, and add things to our lists. After middle school, I stopped using Goodreads but this year I remembered that it existed, so I started using it again. It’s really cool because you can set reading challenges for yourself, keep track of books you read, books you want to read, and books you are currently reading. My goal is to read 100 books in 2017, so just simply having this goal is motivating me to keep reading. Creating a Goodreads account won’t make you suddenly clear three hours a day in your schedule for reading, but it will be that little reminder telling you to keep going.

4. Join a book club on campus (or create one!) 

I find it interesting how much progress you can make on one task when that’s all you can focus on for an hour. If you go to a book reading club, you’ll spend the hour reading your book. You can get pretty far in, depending on the book. If you didn’t attend the club or don’t have one on campus, chances are you’d fill that club meeting time with some other activity. Find out if your campus has one of these clubs, and if not, try to start one for yourself. It could even be a non-official “club” that’s basically a group of people coming together in a dining hall or outside on the grass.

5. Read before doing homework to get yourself focused. 

This ties into carrying a book with you, so I won’t go into too much detail here. But try to take as much time as you need to get focused before delving into homework assignments or study sessions. You won’t be able to retain much of what you study if you’re unfocused, anyway, so you might as well use the time to do something productive. If you have time to scroll through your entire Facebook newsfeed (TWICE!!!) you probably have time to read a chapter in a book.

What’s your current favorite book? 

20 Ways To Be Healthier In College

This is my sixth semester of college and, let me tell you, even when you tell yourself that you’e going to start being healthy in college, IT’S HARD. Your dining options aren’t always in line with your definition of healthy; your assignments have you pulling your hair out; your body tells you to go to bed but your pile of homework tells you to get shit done. Yeah, it’s pretty difficult, but it doesn’t have to be one big improvement all at once. I’ve come up with a list of small, actionable things that you can start doing to have a healthier college experience.

1. Get enough sleep!

Lots of college students pride themselves on being able to run through an entire day on four hours of sleep or less. The way you hear people bragging about this, you’d think they were competing against each other or something. Not getting enough sleep will make you very sluggish and less alert during your classes.

2. Hang out with friends.

Being social is actually really important for being healthy. Sometimes you just want to get out of your room and be around people for a little while. Also, friends are great for when you feel like you really need to get something off your chest. If you’re worried you can’t see your friends because you have a lot of homework, schedule a study date with them. I do this with my friends all the time, even though none of us are studying the same thing. It’s just really nice to see them and have them as company. Be sure to check out my Secrets For Making New Friends In College!

3. Don’t substitute snack foods for meals.

I was super guilty of doing this and it’s really unhealthy. You don’t get as much energy as you need to get through the rest of the day, and you’ll likely end up being hungry again really soon. A pack of crackers is not lunch. Sit down for an actual meal if you’re hungry and you’ll feel much more full. I know a lot of people look for healthy options on campus and college campuses aren’t exactly breeding grounds for healthy foods, but if your campus has a dietician, make an appointment with him or her. The campus dietician can help you identify food options that suit what you’re looking for.

4. Have a piece of fruit with every meal.

I started doing this during one mini winter semester at my school and I felt pretty healthy because, before, I was completely disregarding fruit in my diet, unless I grabbed a fruit smoothie from Red Mango. I started having a banana with everything I ate — with cereal for breakfast, with a sandwich wrap for lunch, with pasta for dinner (I chose a banana because I’m allergic to apples and the only open dining hall only had apples or bananas as fruit options). It helped fill me up quicker and I didn’t even feel the need to grab ice cream or cookies for dessert. This is a good trick to try if you also have a sugar habit you’re trying to kick.

5. Give yourself breaks when you do work.

Don’t try to cram all of your chemistry notes into your brain over the course of four straight hours. Your brain can get fatigued and you won’t be able to retain what you study. I like taking a 10-minute social media break after every hour or so of studying or doing work. Another method of studying I’ve heard of is called the Pomodoro technique where you work for 25 minutes, take a five-minute break and then repeat each work-study block as needed. However, you must give your full, undivided attention to your task during those 25 minutes. If you have tried the Pomodoro technique, let me know if you were successful with it!

Related: How To Have A Productive Library Study Session

6. Listen to your body.

This is one of the most important things you could do for yourself. Always put your personal health above everything else — yes, even above going to class! If you’re extremely exhausted and feeling extremely crappy, don’t push yourself to go to an event or even go to class if you don’t think you can make it. It’s better to show up performing at your best than at your worst. Listening to your body can really tell you what you need. A headache may not seem like a big deal, but it can be your body’s way of telling you that you’re dehydrated and need some water ASAP (this has happened to me a lot). Be aware of the signals!

7. Don’t hold grudges.

I’m a natural grudge-holder, but I’ve learned over the years that holding grudges takes some SERIOUS energy — energy that I can expend doing other more worthwhile things. There aren’t enough hours in the day to walk around with a chip on your shoulder because someone did you wrong. I don’t forget what people do, but I move on from the situation and I don’t make it the number one thing on my mind anymore. It feels so much better to just think about the more important stuff in life and not sit over one insignificant thing that I’ll probably forget about by the end of the semester.

8. Have alcoholic drinks in moderation.

I get that everyone wants to go out and party once in a while to relieve some stress and momentarily forget about school, but use caution when drinking. Avoid binge-drinking (four drinks in one sitting for girls) and try to drink with people you trust who will look after you if you need care.

9. Bundle up when it’s cold outside.

If  you see people shivering outside and you think you should wear a hat, YOU SHOULD PROBABLY WEAR A HAT. I know the weather can sometimes deceive you, but it doesn’t hurt to at least pack a hat or scarf in your backpack in case you need it. It’s better to overcompensate for cold weather than to walk outside unprepared. Don’t play games with the cold; it can get you sick in a heartbeat. For more tips, be sure to check out my post on How To Avoid Getting Sick In College.

10. Drink lots of water.

This ties into my point on listening to your body. When you’re dehydrated, you’ll feel it. I get headaches in a specific part of my head when I really need water, and those headaches can hinder me from staying focused on my work. Water is also a good substitute for coffee when you’re trying to stay alert but don’t want to add to your caffeine intake. I like carrying around a refillable water bottle during the day because I find that I drink more water than if I were to just use a recyclable bottle of water.

11. Follow the instructions for using gym equipment. 

If you’re one of the brave souls who like to mix things up at the gym and try out different types of equipment, first off, good for you — I’m too comfortable with the few machines I use to try out different ones. Second, make sure you keep yourself safe by asking for help if you aren’t sure how to use a machine or equipment. I know it can be a daunting task because you don’t want to look like you’ve never been to the gym before, but really, who cares? Everyone at the gym should be there to work and focus on themselves, not judge others. Better safe than sorry!

12. Walk to class instead of taking the bus.

This is an easy way to get your steps in for the day. My campus is huge and there are several buses running through it. Walking to class from my dorm room, even if it takes 15 minutes, is a great way for me to stretch my legs (and get my heart rate up if I’m running late!)

13. Avoid pulling all-nighters.

Sometimes, staying up extremely late is unavoidable if you have an extremely packed schedule, but if you can avoid it, you should. This ties in with my first point on getting enough sleep, so I won’t talk about this too much.

14. Create a bedtime routine to help you sleep.

If you sometimes get in bed but find yourself unable to actually sleep for another few hours, try coming up with a bedtime routine to get you to sleep. Here’s my routine: After finishing homework, I remove my makeup and take a shower; I get into my pajamas and hop into bed; I go through my phone for about 30 minutes to catch up on social media or messages; I read whatever book I’m enjoying at the time for about an hour to an hour and a half. I’m usually able to fall asleep by midnight if I do this. My routine is pretty simple, but feel free to do whatever you need to do to fall asleep. What’s your bedtime routine? Let me know in the comments!

15. Take care of yourself as soon as you think you’re starting to get sick.

If you feel your throat starting to feel dry and sore, get some cough drops and start drinking really warm tea. Don’t wait until it progresses to your nose getting stuffy and you coughing up a lung before you decide to take medicine or get treatment.

16. Find healthy ways of venting your frustrations.

Everyone has shitty days, but the way you handle them is what’s really important. I’m the type of person who needs to complain loudly to get something that really upset me off my chest. I always feel like I can move on once I tell someone about it. If you aren’t big on talking to others when you’re upset, venting to a journal is a great alternative.

17. Don’t over-exert yourself.

This ties into listening to the messages your body sends you, so I won’t go into too much detail with this one. I’m not just talking physically here, I’m also talking mentally. Don’t pile on too many obligations for your brain to handle. Know what your limit is and don’t try to exceed it.

18. Listen to music.

Listening to music is like a temporary break from your mind. I love listening to music in the morning while I brush my teeth and shower for class. It makes me feel so much better about having to wake up for my 8a.m. and it puts me in a really good mood. For more ways to have a brighter morning, check out my post on How To Make Your Mornings More Exciting.

19. Ask for help when you need it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help if you need it. It’s not a sign of weakness and it’s completely okay to seek it. Looking out for yourself is one of the best things you could do.  Your college likely has free resources for students, so don’t be afraid to ask around and find the services that will suit you.

20. Set goals and be realistic about them.

Goal-setting is a healthy way to track progress and find ways to improve your performance. I love setting goals because if I reach or surpass them, I feel extra good, and if I don’t reach my goals I know exactly what I have to work on for next time.

What are your tips for healthy living in college? 

10 Easy Ways To Relax + Enjoy Alone Time In College

10 easy ways to relax + enjoy alone time in college

Wanna know the biggest secret that successful students are hiding from everyone? They DON’T do work 24/7. Insane, right? We all have our share of difficult days and mountains of homework, but don’t forget to take some time to chill and think about something other than school work. Relaxation is a crucial part of taking care of ourselves, and if we skip this step then it won’t be long before our academics start to slip. Currently, I have an 18-credit schedule, school clubs that I’m part of, an internship (and I may be getting a second one this semester! Fingers crossed for me!), a blog (obviously), and friends and family to keep up with. And, trust me, I make sure I make some time to lounge around better than any house cat. We all have very different ways of relaxing, but the most important part of it is making sure that during this magical time, your mind is relaxed and you aren’t concerned with your obligations.

Don’t expect to have a jacuzzi at your disposal with scented candles, bath bombs, and flower petals in your dorm room (one of those things isn’t even allowed in college dorms!) but there are still some easy ways that you can chill and have some time to yourself.

1. Give yourself a manicure.

I’m a huge fan of nail art and more often than not, I can be found in my dorm room painting my nails while I catch up on my favorite shows on Netflix. You’ll have to block out at least an hour and a half to do your nails because it takes time for them to dry. And if you’re trying to do a fancy design, you’ll need more time, which means you can chill for much longer. It’s also fun to scroll through Pinterest to look for cute designs to do, so this is another great excuse to hop onto Pinterest.

Related: 5 Types Of Pinterest Boards That Will Make Life Easier

2. Read a good book.

I used to be able to read a book a day but for a while, I stopped when things got a bit crazy with school work. This year, I really picked reading back up and it’s one of my favorite ways to relax. I like to read for an hour before I start my assignments and I also save it as the last thing I do at night before going to bed instead of scrolling through my phone. Books are just a nice way to escape your world and live in someone else’s for a few hours. This is a good way to give your undivided attention to something not school and adult life-related. I highly recommend “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” by Jenny Han. It’s what I’m currently reading and it’s such a good book! What book are you obsessing over right now? Let me know in the comments!

3. Create DIY face masks.

I live for DIY! I find so many cute projects on Pinterest and I can’t help but save them all to try out later. If you collected any great recipes for masks from Pinterest, now’s a great time to test them out. You can also scroll through the internet and watch TV while you wait for your mask to dry. It’s a great way to treat yo’self while you treat yo skin. Just make sure that the ingredients you use in the face masks aren’t harmful to your skin!

Related: DIY Cupcake Bath Bombs

4. Soak your feet in hot water and read a magazine.

It’s like having a spa day in the comfort of your dorm room! Sure, you’ll need a large enough container to hold the hot water, and a bit of space but, honestly, I’m extra enough that I would totally do this! Hell, I would buy a container JUST to do this. I used to sometimes soak my hands in really warm water to soften my nails just before I cut them and it was SO relaxing. Hot water just has this calming effect against the skin and it feels AMAZING. You can even plan a full on pedicure day! If you ~really~ want to do this right, you can invest in some scented oil and rose petals and add them to your foot soak. Don’t forget the magazine!

5. Bake delicious goodies.

This is yet another excuse to scroll through Pinterest for hours. This requires a bit of planning if you don’t already have all the ingredients at your disposal, but it’s totally worth it! Baking has been a hobby of mine since I was in middle school and I discovered that I make some seriously kickass fudge brownies. You can easily turn this activity into a girls’ night thing if you wanted to. My suite mate and I plan to bake cookies in our kitchen and share them with our entire floor.

6. Workout at the gym.

This isn’t exactly a creative suggestion since you’ve probably seen this idea in any article or blog post related to relaxing in college, but nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning. Working out doesn’t always mean running on the treadmill or doing squats on a mat; sign up for a fitness class at your college recreation center. My personal favorites are Zumba and Zumba toning. Challenge yourself to try every fitness class at least once. If it’s too cold to walk to the gym, you can bring the fitness to your dorm room, well, minus the treadmill… Invest in a yoga mat so you can easily practice poses, squats, pushups and other things.

7. Practice your hobbies.

We can probably all name at least two things that we used to do all the time when we were in high school but stopped having time for when we got to college. Do that. Pick it back up. You don’t necessarily have to start a new hobby in your free time. This way, you don’t have to worry about potentially not enjoying what you try. I used to make friendship bracelets every single day when I was in high school. I’d sit in front of the TV and do these complicated designs. I hear so many people talk about the things they used to do when they were in high school but stopped after coming to college. If you miss it, then use your alone time to get back on it.

8. Go to a local event by yourself.

Literally just take yourself on a date. I don’t do too many things by myself because I’m very used to always going out with a friend, but this is something I’d like to start trying out. I think that this is a good way to enjoy what you want to enjoy because you won’t have to go by anyone else’s schedule and you won’t have to try to accommodate for anyone but yourself. If this isn’t something you’re used to, start off by looking for events happening in your school’s area.

9. Start a journal.

Ever have something on your mind that you just can’t tell anyone else for whatever reason? Write those thoughts down in a journal! It’s probably better than passive aggressively writing a social media status about it. Plus, you’ll be getting it off your chest without stirring up any drama. I’m sorry, I’m making this sound like journaling is exclusively for venting about things that annoy you. It’s not. Journaling is perfect for simply talking about what happened during the day. You can really add memories to your journal by pasting photographs in there. When I studied abroad, I kept a daily journal and bought postcards that I taped to the pages. You can also start a scrapbook project during your chill time. I think I definitely regret not starting a scrapbook when I started college, but I guess it’s never too late to start one!

10. Go for a walk.

I know a lot of people enjoy taking long walks by themselves. It’s very relaxing because you can just go at your own pace and not worry about reaching a particular destination. Just walk for as long as you feel like you need to. If you’re feeling particularly full of energy, go for a jog instead.

What’s your favorite way to unwind? 

Don’t forget to check out these posts: How To Get Over The Winter Break Blues, 13 Tips For Getting A’s In Your Classes

macarons & mascara -- signature

 

How To Get Over The Winter Break Blues

It was great six-week break, even if Netflix and Doritos were your best friend for the most part. But it’s about time to go back to college and do college stuff and be kind of an adult for the next 15 weeks. Heaven help us all. No matter what you did over the winter break, you might long a little (or a lot) for those days of relaxation. Simply put, you’re just not ready to deal with dorm life, classes, and deadlines again and that’s okay. Adjusting to a new semester is rarely ever easy for anyone — whether it’s your first semester of college or your eighth. I know a lot of people tell me that their winter break made them accustomed to not doing much and it’s going to be really hard to get back into a demanding routine. Been there, done that! But here are my tips for never going back…

1. Meet up with friends ASAP.

I’ll be honest here. I sometimes have those moments when I want to socialize with everyone and those moments when I don’t feel like talking to anyone and just want to get right down to what I have to do. More often than not, the start of my semesters have been full of me not really feeling like hanging with people. But seeing people and catching up with friends from the semester before makes things a lot easier because you feel like you have people going through the same things as you. No one is particularly thrilled to go back to all-nighters and homework up to their ears, but at least you can all grab coffee and nervously laugh about those impending moments together! If you can schedule even just 30 minutes for a quick breakfast with a friend or two, your mood will definitely improve.

Related: 10 Secrets For Making New Friends In College

2. Visit old professors you were close to.

Even just stopping by for a quick ‘hi’ can help greatly. Hold onto any connections you made with professors from the previous semester. This is a great time to make small talk and chat about the weather because you aren’t as busy, and if you’re feeling unsure about the semester that lies ahead, your old professor might be able to help encourage you and soothe some worries by offering advice and resources. A lot of people think that networking starts after you leave college, but the truth is that it starts the minute your freshman self sets foot on campus. You never know what kind of information you can get out of your professors.

3. Make an effort to go out.

I know it’s January and snuggling up to hot chocolate indoors can feel very tempting, but also be sure to leave the room once in a while and see what’s happening on campus. The flood of emails about welcome back parties and events may be a bit overwhelming, but go through them and see which events stick out to you the most. Don’t forget about your college involvement fair! This is also a great opportunity to see what clubs and organizations are out there. Also, despite what many people may think, it’s never too late to want to get involved on campus. I’m a second semester junior and I still get excited for involvement fairs because every organization is a new chance to get involved with campus in a new way and meet a ton of new people.

4. Create to-do lists.

This is one of the easiest ways to get back into the swing of things if you feel you’ve gotten a bit lazy over the break. I always say that I live by to-do lists because they’re a quick and easy way to get all the obligations running through your mind down on paper so you can tackle them in a more organized fashion. You may have 10 different syllabi to print out, homework on the first day, textbooks to purchase, and a host of other things to do, and writing them all down on paper will make it much easier to keep track of what you still need to do.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Organizing Your Life In College

5. Busy yourself up.

Sometimes you might feel like the beginning of your semester is light and you have ample free time to chill. WARNING: Moments like these can also be rare and dangerous. Be aware that this can also contribute to feelings of laziness. I’m not saying that you should pile the obligations of the world onto your shoulders, but adding extracurriculars, a job, or an internship to your schedule can certainly help with time management because you’ll have less time to feel lazy. I find that when I’m less busy is actually when I burn myself out because I have fewer experiences to learn from and motivate me. I’m definitely still looking around for an on-campus job and keeping an eye out for an extracurricular or two that I can join. As always, be careful to not bite off more than you can chew. Everyone’s balance is different, so be able to know when you’ve made yourself TOO busy.

6. Set goals. 

Where do you want to be in two weeks? In one month? By spring break? These don’t have to be long term goals, and they also don’t have to be related to academics. Maybe your goal is to go to the gym at least four times a week *cough* my goal *cough*. Maybe you have a secret life as an aspiring author and your goal is to write 25 pages a week for the book you’re working on. Maybe you just want to get back on track with viciously reading books and you want to start a new book every two weeks. Every goal counts!

7. Dream about spring break plans. 

Well, this may not sound like a good idea because you’ll probably get sad that spring break feels like it’s never going to come, BUT you can also use it as a motivator to keep putting your best foot forward. You’ll earn a much-needed break and you’ll get to enjoy it no matter what your plans are — whether you’re hitting up Miami with your squad or planning an entire week of adventures in the city with your best friend.

How do you get over the winter break blues? 

Last Minute Gift Idea: DIY Cupcake Bath Bombs

diy cupcake bath bombs

I’m not gonna lie, the holiday season can be pretty hectic. And finding last minute gifts for friends, co-workers, and second cousins twice removed just adds on to the craziness. If a surprise gift exchange at your job has you worried with no idea what to get people, here’s a ~yummy~ idea that you can DIY right in your kitchen: cupcake bath bombs! Bath bombs have become super popular this year because they’re so aesthetically pleasing, they smell good, and they turn your bath water bright colors (and anything that magically turns things pink and purple is already awesome).

So basically, I have a slightly last minute gift exchange and had no idea what to get people, but after scrolling through Pinterest and finding bath bomb recipes, I decided to make some of my own to give as gifts. I found this “recipe” for cupcake bath bombs on Trending With Tori‘s YouTube channel and followed the instructions. Here’s what you’ll need:

  •  1 cup baking soda
  •  1/2 cup citric acid
  •  1/2 cup corn starch
  •  1/2 cup epsom salts
  •  2 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
  •  3/4 teaspoon water
  •  2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  •  1 teaspoon almond extract
  •  4 drops of neon gel food coloring

These ingredients are for making the bath bomb part that will dissolve when you put it in water. You probably already have most of these items at home. I didn’t have citric acid or epsom salt lying around so I ran out to the grocery store to buy them. For the frosting part of the cupcake bath bomb, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

So I kinda messed up…For some reason I thought that meringue powder was royal icing powder (which I already had at home) and I used royal icing for the frosting instead! No wonder my frosting turned out slightly goopy! In any case, it still dried well and they look great, so it’s okay.

diy cupcake bath bombs

I didn’t take photos of me in the process of making the bath bombs because I literally made them last night and didn’t have really good lighting. The first thing you’re going to do is get a large bowl, ideally one that you don’t use to cook things in. Gather all of your dry ingredients and mix them together with a plastic fork to evenly distribute them. Put this bowl aside and in another bowl, combine your coconut oil, water, vanilla and almond extracts, and food coloring of your choice. It doesn’t have to be specifically gel based — you can use whatever food coloring you have on hand.

So this part is where you’re going to want to take things slow but work quickly…if that makes sense…You’re going to add the coconut oil mixture one tablespoon at a time to your dry mixture. After each addition, mix thoroughly. Adding the wet ingredients little by little prevents the baking soda from completely reacting with the liquids. You want the texture of your mixture to become something like wet sand, but not too damp or too dry. I ended up using up all of my coconut oil mixture.

Prepare a cupcake baking tray by lining the holes with cling wrap. If you have silicone cupcake liners, they would work so well and make the bath bombs look even more like cupcakes. I didn’t have them so I just used cling wrap over my tray. Fill the molds and remember to press down very firmly. This mixture made exactly 10 bath bombs.

diy cupcake bath bombs

Let them sit out for around 30 minutes. I got hungry and had to grab a snack, so I let them sit out for about 45 minutes. To make the frosting, add the meringue powder and warm water to a bowl and mix it with an electric mixer until it becomes white and foamy. This took around 3-4 minutes of mixing for me. Add powdered sugar until the mixture is stiff and you can pipe it with decorating tips. I actually ended up using closer to three cups of powdered sugar in total, but maybe that’s because I didn’t use meringue powder…

Next, I piped the frosting onto the “cupcakes” using a resealable bag and a decorating tip. Be sure to add the sprinkles right after piping because they start drying fast! Boom, now you have adorable cupcake bath bombs that you DIY’d! I can’t wait to give these as gifts because they’re super pretty. Don’t forget to check out my Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for great gift ideas for everyone in your life!

What are your last minute gift ideas? 

 

The Collegiate’s Ultimate Winter Bucket List

The Collegiate's Ultimate Winter Bucket List

Thirty-degree weather? Check. Heavy coats, gloves, hats, and scarves? Check. Cup of hot chocolate to warm your hands while you walk to class/work because you forgot your gloves? Check. Winter is basically here — fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you feel about the cold. I totally wanted to create a fall bucket list earlier this semester but then I got caught up in other blog posts and class work and all that other fun stuff, so I’m making it up by creating a super fun winter bucket list! Bucket lists usually motivate me to get things to done that I really want to do, and they’re a great way to organize ideas for fun outings and activities. If you’re intent on not spending your winter recess with Netflix and a blanket (as amazing as that sounds) add these ideas to your bucket list.

1. Make a gingerbread house.

Not only do gingerbread houses look cute on Instagram, but they also make for a cute girl’s night or family activity. This is a holiday tradition you can’t pass up, and there are so many ways to get creative with it. I suggest looking up gingerbread house decoration ideas on Pinterest. But if you don’t have the patience or the architectural skill to build a gingerbread house, you can never go wrong with holiday cookies! Just the other night my friend and I baked literally mountains of cookies in the midst of finals week!

2. Have a secret santa exchange with friends.

I have always been a fan of secret santa exchanges because you don’t have to buy a gift for every single person in your friend group, which means you can save a lot of money and put more focus and thought into one gift for one person. Of course, what usually happens is we all get that one big gift that our giftee really wants and then we get something small for everyone else in the group, like homemade cookies in treat bags or tiny bundles from Bath & Body Works. This is a super fun exchange and you can even make it into an event with dinner and hot cocoa.

P.S., if you need gift ideas for EVERYONE in your life, be sure to check out my Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide!

3. Have a winter-themed photoshoot.

Over the past year, I have really come to love taking pictures of things — college events, my food, selfies, nothing in particular — and I often grab my suite mate or my camera savvy bestie and take photos of me outside doing things to use for blog posts (like the one below!). Photos are really fun ways to look back on the things you’ve done, so this is a great idea for your bucket list. Get your friends and grab someone’s phone and get creative. There’s also a lot of photoshoot inspo to be found on Pinterest.

4. Send holiday cards to friends.

Travel back in time to when email didn’t exist and a text message was basically like a dream. Sending holiday cards feels so much more personal than a quick text message. I’m not shitting on text messages (they’re still really thoughtful) but if you want to go the extra mile and show your friends and family that you’re thinking about them, invest in a pack of holiday cards and fill each of them with your favorite memories from the last year, things you love the most about them, etc. I have never sent holiday cards to people but this year I really want to. My relationship with stationery went from love to obsession in a few months time, so this is a great excuse for me to purchase cute cards, pens, envelopes and embossing tools that I don’t actually need.

5. Have a hot cocoa night with family or friends.

Seeing as this is a winter bucket list, something related to hot cocoa has to be on here. Or maybe it’s because I recently got a new Keurig and have been making peppermint hot cocoa in my room everyday for the last few weeks…Anyway, hot cocoa making is the perfect indoor activity on a dreadful day. This would be a great time to sit down in front of the tv with family and just chat and enjoy each other’s company. I know I won’t have much face time with my family this winter recess because I’ll be off to Europe to study abroad as soon as January begins and I’m coming back two days before the start of my spring semester. And of course, I also want to have as many hang outs with friends — old and new — before I leave, so this one is definitely on my bucket list.

6.Have a good, long talk about college, your relationship  status, and other awkward things with your parents. 

Well, this is probably inevitable, but maybe hot cocoa will make it less awkward (see above). Your parents and family members will ask questions about your last couple of months of school, so you might as well get it out of the way. If the person you’re dating is not a topic of conversation you’d like to have, some other ideas include the classes you’re taking next semester, how far along you are in your degree program, which professors were the absolute worst this semester, and how many all-nighters you pulled (a little sympathy is nice sometimes).

7. Discover a new place to eat in your area. 

This could be a cafe, restaurant, deli — anything, really. While I do have some favorites that I wouldn’t mind revisiting over and over again, I also love trying out new places to get food. I usually look to Instagram and websites like Cosmopolitan and Popsugar to tell me which New York City eateries are dishing out the hottest new Instagram food craze, then I make it my mission to go out and try it for myself. If anyone knows any must-visit eateries in New York City, do let me know in the comments! I’d love to visit them this winter!

8. Pet a reindeer.

My reasoning behind this one is simply that I just really want to pet a reindeer. Honestly, I’m not even sure if there are even farms or places where you can pet reindeer. I’m not even sure it’s safe to pet reindeer, as they’re probably really sensitive animals and you wouldn’t want to scare them. I’m not a reindeer expert, but that would be my guess. I do know, however, that you can pet tons of cute kitties in New York City thanks to the cat cafe! It’s called Meow Parlour and it has been on my bucket list all semester! But if you manage to get to pet a reindeer, though, you should totally take a picture and tag me on Instagram so I can cry tears of joy and be jealous at the same time.

9. Learn how to crochet.

I’ve been crocheting for maybe five or six years now and it’s definitely one of my favorite pastimes during winter. I always feel so inspired (and motivated) to crochet warm beanies, scarves, and headbands to wear out. Once you’re in the zone, it’s so easy to crochet for hours on end while you sit in front of the tv. So cozy (and a bit addicting!). Did I mention that crocheted items also make beautiful gifts for friends and family?

10. Reflect on your semester.

This is a very college thing that everyone should do at some point before they return for the spring semester. Reflecting on your semester allows you to see where your strong points were, where your weaknesses were, where you ended up by the end of the semester, and where you want to be by the end of the next one. It is essential to setting new goals because how do you know what to aim for if you don’t know where you stand? In order to have a fruitful reflection, I suggest getting a small journal to record your thoughts on your semester. You can even turn it into some type of bullet journal to make it prettier and more fun to look at. I know it’s easy to just want to put the semester behind you (I’m not even home yet and I already want to put this semester behind me) but taking time to think about things can help you be on top of your game next semester and avoid making any mistakes that were made during this one.

11. Check up on your bank account and other financials.

This may not be very fun — especially if you ran out of meal points during the semester — but, like the previous point, it’s definitely an essential. I’ll admit that throughout the semester, even though I said I would be diligent about my financial tracker and my expense tracker — I certainly wasn’t. In fact, I completely forgot I had made one. So I like to save the winter break for cleaning up and reorganizing myself financially. Plus, if I need to run to my bank for any reason, I have enough time to take care of everything because I’m at home.

Related: 13 Tips For Saving Money In College

12. Ride a ferry boat.

I rode a ferry for the first time last winter and personally, I thought it was magical. I had never been on a boat before so the feeling of gliding over water, the wind in your hair, and the seagulls swooping overhead was so cool and surreal. Like, it literally gave me life. I know that not many people would see it that way, but if you’ve never traveled over water before, use this winter to do so. Of course, the cold weather isn’t ideal for standing on deck with the seagulls (I learned that the hard way) but nevertheless, it’s still pretty fun. You can read all about my experience on the Staten Island Ferry here.

13. Go to an animal shelter and keep the animals company. 

Socializing animals is a fun way to spend the day. Many of them are happy to be petted and played with (if the shelter allows you to take them out of the cages and hold them — ask first!!!). By the way, this is a super cute and unique date idea for the winter time! Making your furry friends happy is always so heart warming. Always make sure you call up your local shelter first to see if you’re allowed to come in and pet the animals or bring them treats.

14. Go on a carriage ride. 

Last but not least, add a carriage ride to your list. This may not be a super unique thing to do during the winter because literally everyone and their mother is going to want to try to take a stroll through the city by horse drawn carriage in the spirit of the holidays, but it’s certainly worth doing if you haven’t done it yet. This is definitely on my winter list alongside going on a bus tour around the city.

What’s on your winter bucket list? 

The Collegiate’s Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide

the collegiate's ultimate holiday gift guide

I know the holiday season isn’t just about exchanging gifts, but it’s a widely recognized part of it. Buying gifts for the people in your life — gal pals, parents, siblings, boyfriend — is fun at first…then you realize you’re struggling majorly and running out of ideas, time, and possibly money. Ah, don’t you just love shopping for people? I started thinking about the fun gifts that I’d want to buy for my friends and family and then realized that some of these ideas might also be perfect for other peoples’ friends and family. Thus, this blog post was born! If you’re totally stumped on gift ideas, hopefully this gift guide will give you some inspiration.

~For your friends + sister~

the sporty girl 

Holiday Gift Guide

water bottle ~ yoga mat ~ cellphone armband

If you have a friend or two who love working out at the gym, get them some cute workout essentials they’ll surely love. Personally, I’m a huge fan of reuseable water bottles with funny or sassy quotes — they make the gym so much more fun! A yoga mat is perfect for taking to the gym even if they aren’t into yoga because they can use it to lay on when doing crunches or planks. I have been meaning to treat myself to a cellphone armband for a really long time now! If your workout clothes don’t have pockets for your phone but you still want to listen to music while you workout, this is a must!

the writer

holiday gift guide

kate spade journal ~ pen gift set ~ magazine subscription

Okay, they probably already have too many journals to count but I doubt they’d complain about these ideas! It’s so great to have so many places to get your thoughts out when you need to, so you can never go wrong with these ideas. A pretty pen set will probably make your friend cry tears of joy, especially if they’re a major stationery junkie. If they like to write, they may also like to read, so get them a subscription to one of their favorite magazines. Seventeen magazine subscriptions are only $10 for one year!

the beauty queen 

holiday gift guide

liquid lipstick ~ makeup sampler ~ beauty subscription box

Colourpop is a great pick for liquid lipsticks — they’re only $6 each and there are so many shades to choose from! Check out my swatches and review of some of Colourpop’s lipsticks and eyeshadows. There are so many cute makeup samplers available at places like Sephora and Ulta. This is a great gift for the up and coming makeup guru of your group, or that friend who’s just really into makeup. I’m currently obsessing over beauty subscription boxes! There are so many cool services out there, so you can find one that suits your budget and get them a couple of months worth of boxes.

holiday gift guide

makeup mirror ~ nail polish set

A makeup mirror is a perfect gift if your friend is away at college — it allows you to get your makeup done in the comfort of your room rather than trekking to the bathroom on a busy morning! You can never go wrong with a nail polish set — there are so many cute ones. And if you want you can buy a nail file, nail decals, and other nail art supplies to create a DIY nail art bundle.

the fashionista

holiday gift guide

blanket scarf ~ sassy sweater ~ jewelry

Blanket scarves are literally the best things right now! I don’t know what I would’ve done without mine in today’s weather. This is a super cute, affordable gift that your friend or sister could use all winter long if she doesn’t already have one. And if she does, I’m sure she’d appreciate the growth in her collection (just avoid getting her one with a pattern she already has). A college girl’s closet isn’t complete without a sassy sweater! Like, come on, you need to have at least one of those. You can never go wrong with cute jewelry. Icing and Claire’s have some really adorable pieces at very affordable prices.

holiday gift guide

phone case ~ wristlet

Get her a phone case that matches her aesthetic. There are some really cute ones that have pockets on the back so you can hold your ID card, some money, a credit card, etc. A wristlet is a great idea for those nights out when you don’t quite want to bring a large bag but also want to make sure that you have all your essentials that are inside your wallet with you.

the adorable techie

holiday gift guide

instant camera ~ portable charger ~ laptop case

Instant cameras are the cutest things ever!!! Seriously you’ll be the world’s best friend or best sister if you give this is a gift. I have an Instax Mini 70 and it is just so darling and so perfect for college. You can read all about it (as well as other cool college things) in my post on 9 Things You Need To Make College Life Easier. A portable charger is Godsent. You will be a lifesaver if you gift this item. Sometimes we forget to charge our phones but we rush out of the room or house with 40% battery. With a portable charger, you can charge your phone no matter where you are. Laptop cases are an essential college tech accessory if you don’t want a dirty laptop. Laptops are expensive, so treat them right!

the girl who’s always busy af 

holiday gift guide

spa set ~ planner ~ insulated thermos

You can DIY a spa set with a couple of cute things from Target. Grab some bath bombs, face masks, bath salts, and nail polish and put together an adorable little bundle for your workaholic bestie. Planners are EVERYTHING to someone who always has a million things to do. There are so many cute ones, too. Does your sister seem to never have the time to sit at the breakfast table and enjoy a cup of coffee? Get her an insulated thermos so she can have her morning tea or coffee on the go.

Related: 6 Handbag Essentials For The Winter

the traveler 

holiday gift guide

luggage tag ~ travel tote ~ books for the plane ride

Adorable luggage tags are great for spicing up your suitcases, and it makes it so much easier for you to identify your belongings. If your friend is studying abroad this upcoming semester, get her a cute travel tote to carry all her essentials in style. A good book is a great way to not be bored on long trips, and they’re especially handy if there’s no wifi on your train or ferry. Find out what’s on her reading list and gift it to her.

holiday gift guide

beauty travel bag ~ compact mirror

A travel makeup bag is essential for keeping your beauty products in one, neat place. If your friend doesn’t have one yet, this is a fantastic gift. And if she doesn’t use makeup, she can still use it for storing essentials such as lip balm, cotton balls, Q-tips, and more while she’s on the go. A compact mirror is a great travel essential for checking yourself from the comfort of your airplane seat, which means no having to get up and walk to the bathroom!

the girl who just loves her bed

holiday gift guide

bedroom slippers ~ a warm throw ~ decorative pillow

Bedroom slippers are a must in college dorm rooms, especially when you have to go from your carpeted dorm room to the cold tile bathroom in the hallway. A warm, fuzzy throw is really going to come in handy this winter season. You’ll probably get bonus points if you throw in a hot chocolate kit, too (a mug, marshmallows, cocoa mix). And who doesn’t love decorative pillows? There are so many that fit a wide range of personalities and aesthetics, so picking one out will only be half the fun.

~For your momma~

the cook/baker

holiday gift guide

cooking bundle ~ mason jar dessert set ~ recipe book

You honestly can never have too many spatulas, spoons, and adorable measuring cups (especially because when you need them the most is when you can’t find them). This is a great gift for mom, especially if she’s always complaining about not being able to find the kitchen timer. Mason jar recipes are, and always will be, the cutest things ever! They’re so simple but so pretty and they turn into something even prettier. You can never go wrong with a recipe book, especially if your mom is the adventurous cook type of person. And if she isn’t, getting her a recipe book might motivate her to step outside her comfort zone.

the homebody 

holiday gift guide

a photo frame ~ a bathrobe ~ art canvas

Are there just too many pictures cluttering your family photo albums? Show them off with photo frames. My mom always has a picture for a photo frame. You wouldn’t find a single unused frame at our house. A bathrobe is the perfect, everyday gift for literally anyone — not just mom. Bonus points if you get her a monogramed one. Art canvases are another great way to decorate the home and add personality.

holiday gift guide

throw pillows ~ scented candle ~ coffee maker

Does your mom have a not-so-secret secret throw pillow collection? No? That’s okay. Just like in a dorm room, having decorative pillows give personality to a space. This makes throw pillows a super great gift. My mom lives for scented candles, and there are so many pretty ones that smell AMAZING and (quite literally) brighten up a room. Getting your mom a coffee maker is your excuse for spending hours gazing at beautiful Keurigs. There are so many models to choose from!

~For dad~

the techie

holiday gift guide

selfie stick ~ activity watch ~ ipad cover

Seriously, what dad doesn’t want a selfie stick?? Selfie sticks aren’t as “basic” as society tries to tell us they are. My dad has one and it has made large family photos really easy (and more fun!). There are so many really inexpensive ones, too. If you want to encourage dad to pay more attention to his exercise habits, get him an activity watch. This may be a bit pricey, depending on your budget and the kind of watch you get, but if you can swing it this is a great gift. If dad’s ipad cover is literally falling apart, this is a great time to treat him to a brand new one.

the outdoorsman 

holiday gift guide

sunglasses ~ touchscreen gloves ~ puffer vest

For my dad’s birthday back in October, I got him these great sunglasses that were designed specifically for outdoor use and can reduce any glares and protect your eyes from the sun, and he loved them! He wears them when working on his hobbies outdoors and when driving (and they’re very stylish if I do say so myself). Everyone should have touchscreen gloves this winter because it’s not fun trying to use your phone with your bare hands when it’s brick AF outside. A puffer vest is a great cold weather gift that he can actually use over and over again.

the dad whose closet needs some sprucing up

holiday gift guide

fun ties ~ a scarf ~ a belt

If your dad has that one jacket that you wish he’d get rid of, this is a great way to find him a replacement (and hope that he gets the hint). There are so many men’s style items you can get him.

also…

You can never go wrong with getting either parent (or both parents) apparel from your university’s shop. My college has a bunch sweatshirts, half-zips, t-shirts, and hats that say “Stony Brook Mom” and “Stony Brook Dad” on them, so those make great gifts!

~For your brother + bf~

the gamer 

holiday gift guide

game controller ~ book of cheat codes ~ video game

If your brother or bf has been in the market for a new game controller, this is a great opportunity to gift him one (and show that you’ve been listening to his complaints of not being able to find his old one). A book of cheat codes would also be very much appreciated. When my brother and I would play video games, we were always scouring the internet for cheat codes to unlock cool things. Of course, you can never go wrong with just getting him a new video game he’s been eyeing.

the musician 

holiday gift guide

concert tickets ~ portable speakers ~ headphones

Gift your brother or boyfriend tickets to their favorite band (so you don’t have to listen to them enjoying their music at home). But they might need some quick concert tips so don’t forget to check out that post! Portable speakers are so great, especially if your brother is off to college or if your boyfriend is already away at college. Headphones are perfect for when you don’t want to disturb the entire library, or when the entire library is disturbing you. I also have a post on great music to listen to while you study!

the sports fan

holiday gift guide

wall clock (of his favorite team) ~ sports jersey ~ duffel bag

Get your boyfriend something that’ll make him think of you every time he looks at it — like a clock! If he goes insane over merchandise from his favorite sports team, this is definitely a great idea. A sports jersey is also a cool gift if he doesn’t already have one (or six). I think that everyone needs a duffel bag because they hold a lot of stuff so it makes carrying your belongings so much easier. I use my duffel bag whenever I go home so I don’t have to carry four different bags.

the cook/foodie 

holiday gift guide

waffle maker ~ cooking classes ~ shot glasses

Giving your boyfriend a waffle maker will make it so much easier for him to make you Saturday morning waffles! Ah, nothing like breakfast in bed. It doesn’t have to be a super fancy one; you can probably find one for around $30. Cooking classes would be a super cute thing for the two of you to do together. This place in New York City lets you make your own chocolate so that would be a really cool option. If your brother’s dorm room needs some sprucing up, get him cool shot glasses he can use for decoration, or something like that. But mostly for decoration!

You can never go wrong with…

personalized items 

holiday gift guide

mug ~ bag ~ journal

Personalized items such as monogrammed mugs, bags, and journals always make fantastic gifts. Plus, the little personal touch is very much appreciated! One year, I got one of my closest friends a t-shirt with her name designed on it and she absolutely loved it.

a watch

holiday gift guide

kate spade ~ kohl’s ~ addidas

I know this one isn’t very creative but it still works great because it’s something they can use everyday. There are definitely so many great brands out there, too. And who knows, maybe you might find a cute one for yourself, too!

Cards Against Humanity

holiday gift guide

cards against humanity

Any board game is a cool gift, especially for a college student who wants to have fun with friends while staying in on a snowy Friday night. But Cards Against Humanity is seriously one of the best games you’ll ever play.

~5 fast tips for giving gifts~

1. Always find out if they already have something before you decide to give it as a gift.

Does your friend already subscribe to Seventeen magazine? Does your boyfriend already have Rock Band 3? Try to find out in a sneaky way so that you can avoid wasting your money on something they don’t need a duplicate of.

2. Save up in advanced if you need to.

The money you have in your piggy bank right now may not be enough to get dad a fit bit, so you might have to save up in advanced. I know some people may not think about gift giving months in advanced, but if there’s a gift a family member or loved one has really been dying to have and you need to do a bit of saving up for it, it’s pretty worth it. Put away $10 per week if you need to; save every $5 bill you see — whatever works.

3. Avoid buying shoes for someone.

I avoid buying people shoes because first, something I think is cute is DEFINITELY not always cute to my mom. Essentially, your taste might be completely different from someone else’s. And second, sometimes a person’s shoe size ranges depending on the brand and width of the shoe, so you can’t always be too certain unless you see them try it on first.

4. Picky person? Get them something they use a lot of.

You already know that they clearly like it and use it often, so you don’t have to worry about them not being satisfied with the gift. If they’re running low on something they really love, this is the perfect gift idea.

5. Include gift receipts where necessary.

If you get someone something like perfume or a bath set and you don’t know if they’ll love the scent, include the gift receipt so they can return it if they need to. If you bought them a purple duffel bag but you don’t know if they’ll like the green one better, include the gift receipt.

What’s on your holiday shopping list? 

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter for more fun things in the daily life of a college gal!

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How To Get At Least 8 Hours Of Sleep In College

how to get 8+ hours of sleep in college

If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you probably now that I’m an avid believer in adequate sleep. Actually, no, that’s an understatement — there are no actual words that can describe my intense love for those blessed eight hours. I know lots of people hail coffee as the ultimate way to survive the daily grind that is college but, really, it isn’t. Your best friend is sleep! It’s very unhealthy to go to bed at 3a.m. to wake up at 7a.m. I know that getting at least eight hours of sleep every night is WAY easier said than done (cuz assignments, studying, extracurriculars and maybe a party or two here and there), so I’m going to share with you my tips for sleeping well.

Btw, I’m totally NOT a sleep expert. I’m just a college gal who may or may not have kind of, sort of mastered the art of a good night’s sleep. I hope…

1. Stop squandering your time during the day. 

I’m not saying that you should be studying every time you get a moment to catch your breath, but spend some of your free time during the day productively. This way, you’ll have less to do in the evening and at night. Hint: it really helps to start utilizing organizational methods so that you know what assignments should be completed, and can allow yourself enough time to do them. Check out my guide to getting organized for tips on how to do that!

2. Avoid drinking coffee at night. 

If you know that coffee will keep you wide awake for the next four hours, avoid it all together. I know, sometimes a caramel macchiatto from Starbucks is just so tempting, especially when you feel like you just need a tiny boost to keep you up for just another two hours. Try drinking iced water to wash away any sluggishness you might be feeling. It really wakes you up without keeping you up half the night. And if you’re really itching to head to SBUX, their Cool Lime Refresher is just so, well, refreshing and won’t have you up until all hours of the morning.

3. Stop forcing yourself to stay up late to do work. 

Heavy eyelids, decreased attention span, and long, drawn-out yawns that come every 30 seconds are my cue to close the books and get ready for bed. If I don’t finish assignment, I add it to tomorrow’s to-do list. Besides, trying to study when I’m clearly unfocused will not result in my retaining the material. As long as you’ve managed your time properly, you should be able to hold off on assignments when you’re too tired to do them and still finish them on time.

4. Gradually go to bed a little earlier. 

If you normally go to bed around 3a.m., you probably won’t be successful in going to bed at 10p.m. Try to go to bed an hour earlier every couple of days, or even one week at a time to ease you into a new schedule of sleeping earlier. For me, going to bed and falling asleep by 11:30p.m. is normal and comfortable. I’ve even been able to fall asleep as early as 10:30p.m., which is pretty rare for a lot of students!

5. Eliminate anything that could hinder you from falling asleep. 

If you could watch videos on Facebook for hours and hours, put your phone away when you go to bed. If your suite mate or roommate is playing music so loudly you can’t hear yourself count sheep, ask them politely to turn it down. You’ve made it this far, don’t let anything distract from your goal of getting some shut-eye!

6. Empty your bladder before bed. 

I have been in the situation where I’m too lazy to use the bathroom before I go to bed and then I end up waking up in the middle of the night because I just REALLY have to pee and would probably wet the bed if I just ignored it and went back to sleep. Sometimes, you may not fall back asleep right away when you wake up in the middle of the night, so make sure you do what you can to minimize the likelihood that you’ll wake up in a few short hours.

7. Establish a sleep routine. 

Have a set time when you wake up and go to bed every day and night. This might take some practice, but eventually your body will get used to it and you’ll be able to wake up around your desired time without having to really set an alarm. This is also a good way to practice not sleeping in. As hard as it may be to actually lug myself out of bed in the morning (especially during the winter when I don’t want to leave my warm bed!!!) I like getting up early before my classes start so that I can take my time and get ready for class (my eyeliner wings won’t sharpen themselves!) and do any work that I have to do.

8. Don’t go out every single night. 

Every night doesn’t have to be a party night. Take comfort in spending some time alone in your room. This is the perfect way for you to relax a little before you hit the hay by giving yourself a mini spa night, or squeezing in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. If you go out, you might not return until very, very late and you definitely don’t want to turn that into a habit.

9. Make your bed as comfortable as possible. 

You won’t get much sleep if there are cookie crumbs all over your sheets because you love snacking in bed. You might also find it hard to sleep with clothing strewn all over your bed. Keep your bed as a place for sleeping only. If you have back problems or just can’t sleep on a hard mattress, invest in a mattress pad/topper to make it much softer. If your head is too low with just one pillow, stack a second one on top of it. These small changes can make a huge difference!

I really hope these tips help you build a more adequate sleep schedule because college is rough and one of your best weapons against the ups and downs of college life is proper sleep!

What are your tips for getting proper sleep in college? 

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12 Ways To Avoid Getting Sick In College

This lovely picture was taken by my boy Jack Yu from Yongjianyu.com

Being sick in college is one of the most miserable experiences you’ll have. What’s worse is that it can be really easy for colds and viruses to be transmitted when you’re in college because you’re living so close to others in such small spaces. Yep, germs, snot and who knows what else are everywhere, and will not hesitate to give you absolute hell. So now that I may or may not have just sent chills down your spine (or was that because of the cold you may or may not be catching???) here are some ways that you can avoid getting sick.

P.S. I have only gotten sick twice in my five semesters of college! I think I’ll give myself a pat on the back for that.

1. Bundle up when it’s cold outside. 

I’m not trying to catch a cold just because I wanted to wear a cute tank top and shorts one last time before I send them to the back of my closet. Not dressing appropriately for the weather is one of the easiest ways you can get sick. I know there are lots of events like football games and homecoming that we all want to look cute for, but always consider the weather before picking an outfit. You might need to grab a scarf or a light jacket before heading out.

2. Don’t share food or drinks.

DON’T DO IT. That one sip of your friend’s soda can change everything. Your friend could be just starting to recover from a cold and if they’re still contagious…good luck.

3. Avoid sick friends. 

While we’re still talking about friends, if yours are so sick they’re coughing up a lung, try to spend as little time with them as possible. I know, that sounds totally mean, and if you were sick you’d want to be surrounded by love and warmth from your friends, but I don’t think they’d want you to catch what they have. You can’t avoid all contact with your sick friends, but try to be careful.

4. Don’t feel shy about asking your friends to cover their coughs. 

“Hey, do you mind coughing into your sleeve? I just don’t want to get sick.” This is a pretty polite way to ask a friend to be more aware that they could be spreading germs and getting others sick. You’re obviously not going to say, “COVER YOUR COUGH, B*TCH.” I know misery loves company, but don’t feel bad for nicely saying that you don’t want to get sick.

5. Get your sleep! 

I feel like I mention getting adequate sleep in literally every single post, like the one on how to deal with stress in college. But seriously, words cannot describe how heavenly sleep is. Get it. I know that being out on your own without a curfew to chain you to your bed can make you feel invincible, but you’re going to feel like absolute crap if you don’t sleep enough.

 

6. Sanitize workout equipment before using it.

First off, not everyone who uses the workout equipment wipes it down when they’re done with it, even though it’s basically like the unwritten law of sanitary gym practices. Second, if that person has a cold and they blow their nose, wipe away some snot, cough into their hands and then touch the buttons on the treadmill, the handles on the elliptical and all that other stuff, you’re picking up whatever they put down. Make sure you give everything a quick once over with some wipes before using it.

7. Throw in some healthy meals where you can. 

Building healthy eating practices can really boost your immune system and make you feel healthier overall. That’s not to say that people who eat healthy never ever, ever get sick but eating healthy can reduce your chances of getting sick and even help you recover quicker if you do. I love eating spinach and rave about it to anyone who’s willing to listen! Try fun ways of incorporating healthy veggies and fruit into your diet, like making smoothies or popsicles.

8. Don’t wash your hair and immediately go outside. 

My momma always warned me against going out with wet hair, especially when it was cold outside. I used to see lots of girls in school do it, but then again I also used to hear those girls complain about being sick all the time. You may not get sick after doing it just once, but don’t make this a habit. Make sure your hair is at least 80% dry before going out into the cold.

9. Wash your hands often.

This one is something we’ve been hearing since kindergarten. Wash your hands especially if you were just somewhere that’s notorious for containing a lot of germs, like a bathroom or junk yard (no, I have no idea why you’d be at a junk yard, but let’s just go with it).

10. Clean your space regularly.  

All the dust collecting on your table and couch can really aggravate your allergies and can even make you sick. Mold can also do this, so keep an eye out for any hygienic issues in your dorm room that you might have to report to an RA, though I hope no one’s dorm room actually contains that much mold…Make sure you vacuum, dust off, and wipe down any surfaces. You can also take turns doing this with your roommate or suite mates.

11. If you feel a cold coming on, act FAST. 

If your throat is starting to feel some type of weird, dry way, you’re probably getting sick and this would be a wonderful time to grab those cough drops and start drinking hot tea like it’s your job. Don’t wait for you to actually start running a fever before you decide to start doing something about it.

12. Relax!

Being stressed AF can weaken your immune system, so make sure you listen to your body and treat it right! If you’re really tired and just need to sleep, SLEEP! If you feel like you need to just take some time to chill and watch Gossip Girl amidst your 50 obligations, go for it! Remember to put yourself first.

What are your tips for avoiding getting sick in college? 

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11 Things To Do When You Feel Overwhelmed In College

Is it bad that I’ve only had three weeks of classes and I already want the semester to be over? No? Okay, good. Don’t get me wrong, I do love most of my classes and I feel like they’ll only get better and better, but I wish that were true of the amount of work I have to do! I definitely feel like I’m always doing homework, no matter how much of it I complete; when I finish one class assignment, I have to start preparing for the next. Ya know what I mean???? And if you have a packed schedule, it feels way crazier!

I’m very good at managing multiple tasks and I don’t get stressed often at all, but this week it really hit me hard and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t upset about it. If you’re in the same boat as me, here’s how I started dealing with this stressful week and how I will continue to manage it.

1. Keep track of your assignments and obligations.

I know, doing more work is the last thing you want to do at this point, but at least knowing exactly what you have to do will help you stress less because you won’t have to rip your hair our trying to remember what assignment you had to do for Chem lab, or when your English paper is due. My post on how to get organized in college has more snazzy organization tips.

2. Break up your obligations into manageable bits.

Don’t try to complete assignments for five classes in one night! Knowing your limit can really help you pay attention to your own needs as a human being because, believe it or not, you still need to eat and sleep. If you know that you get tired by midnight and can’t focus anymore, aim to complete assignments for just two classes that day and you can plan to do the others on other days. Also, if you know that one particular assignment is very big and you doubt you’ll be able to finish it in one sitting, plan ahead to break it into chunks so that, first of all, you don’t procrastinate the assignment, and second, it feels more manageable.

3. Reconsider your schedule.

I’m not saying you should drop every single class that requires you to put in a little more effort than you expected, but if there’s a class that’s giving you absolute hell, or you feel like the number of credits you’re taking is a bit too much for you at the moment, drop it. I can be really stubborn when it comes to this because I used to think that just powering through it — no matter how stressful it might get — is better than quitting. Boy was I wrong! There’s no shame in needing to drop something from your schedule! This is something I learned during the first two weeks of class last spring. For the record, I absolutely do not regret dropping the class I dropped! Good riddance!

4. Give yourself a break.

Like, actually take a night off to just chill and do something you want to do. If you feel like you need an hour or two of “Gossip Girl” treat yourself to it! If you just feel like taking a nap, more power to ya. I hate forcing myself to do work when it feels like my brain is turning to mush! Besides, I’m unable to retain what I’m studying if I can’t get my brain to focus. Even if you aren’t tired, it’s still important to take a *short* vacation from the books and just hang out with friends, chill by yourself, or do something fun.

5. Cut out any social drama. 

Seriously, this is the last thing you should be worrying about when you’re already stressed. Being mad at your friend or having one of your friends be mad at you can honestly really hit you hard; I’d be lying if I said that I wouldn’t feel even a little upset if a good friend of mine was angry with me for something. You don’t need to have this take over your mind, so to try to avoid drama, misunderstandings, and all that other annoying stuff, be straightforward and honest with your friends about everything — if someone does something you don’t like, tell them politely! Don’t talk crap behind their back because they’ll likely find out and it’ll cause so much unwanted crap!

6. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. 

If you’re like me, then you probably love getting involved in pretty much everything going on and you tell yourself, “yeah, you got this, you can take this.” Stop doing that. You’ve likely got enough on your plate as it is, and adding more obligations to that smorgasbord won’t help you feel less overwhelmed! There are definitely some things that I would have loved to do this semester, but I know that if I add anymore obligations to my schedule I basically won’t sleep. Like, at all. We can’t be the president of every club we like, and we can’t grab every part-time job we’re able to swing.

7. Drop whatever doesn’t work for you anymore. 

This might be what you have to do if you somehow managed to fill your plate a little too much. If there’s an obligation that demands too much from you and doesn’t give you even half the return you expect after putting in so much work, then maybe it’s time to let it go. There are some things that are definitely worth the blood, sweat, and tears (even if there are lots and lots of tears) but use your discretion to figure out what just isn’t, especially if it’s the thing that’s causing you to feel the most overwhelmed. I know that just dropping something sounds even a little selfish but you shouldn’t have any qualms about looking out for your personal health!

8. Do some work in the company of friends. 

Friends who struggle together stay together, after all. That was totally a joke (kind of). But I find that when I’m literally losing my sh*t I tend to feel better if I at least do it in the company of others. Ranting to your besties about how much work you have to do feels really good, and in return you get to hear them rant about all the work they have to do and that kind of reminds you that you’re all in the same boat together. But it’s cool because you’ll get through it together, too. Seriously, just talking to a friend about how you feel can make a difference. Likewise, if you feel that speaking to a therapist will help, don’t be afraid to schedule an appointment.

9. Exercise. 

That doesn’t mean you have to go hardcore at the gym and run six miles to sweat out all your tension; doing less strenuous activities can also be very alleviating so don’t forget about those! Simply taking a walk around the track while you listen to music can help you unwind. If your campus gym offers free fitness classes, definitely take advantage of those, too!

10. Take a nap.

I never nap. Ever. But if I feel like I have the weight of 30 textbooks on me, then a nap sounds pretty damn good (I’ll probably take a quick one after I’m done with this post!). Naps are very refreshing and I feel like when I wake up again my mind is a lot more clear and I have a little more energy to complete any tasks that need to get done. But also don’t force yourself to take a nap if you aren’t actually that tired because you’ll likely just end up laying in bed playing with your phone for three hours instead.

11. Appreciate the little things in life. 

I always enjoy getting to play music in the morning while I brush my teeth and shower. I love putting on lively, happy music so that I start my day the very same way. It’s small and sounds cheesy but it makes me look forward to the rest of my day, and even makes me feel like I can just fly through everything and basically be a badass. My post on how to make your mornings more exciting has more suggestions on small things you can do.

I hope you found this post really useful and if you are feeling very overwhelmed right now, I hope you’ll consider trying out one of these tips! Of course, everyone’s different and what may work for me may not work for you and vice versa.

What are your tips for managing stress in college? 

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6 Things To Do To Make Your Mornings More Exciting

how to make your mornings more exciting

Sidenote: The cupcakes in my photo have absolutely NOTHING to do with boring morning routines. I just thought it was a really pretty, fun picture on my camera roll so I decided to use it for this post! Aren’t they delicious? Anyways…

Sometimes I hate waking up early in the morning. Correction: I hate getting out of my nice, warm bed early in the morning. Waking up at 7a.m. to get ready for class can be such a mundane routine, and the list of things I’d much rather be doing goes on and on! Despite the drawl occurrence, I have found a few ways to actually make getting out of bed in the morning much cooler. No, seriously! I actually like, and maybe even look forward to, waking up early just because of a few small changes I’ve been making for a while now.

So you’re probably wondering what *magical* things I do to make some of the most boring morning activities surprisingly appealing. Sadly, there’s no actual unicorn magic involved here. But you can use your cool college student powers (that was totally the most bogus thing I’ve ever made up, and so to quit while I’m still ahead I’m just going to cut to the tips now!).

1. Play music while you shower.

Instead of listening to the water trickle from the showerhead in the morning, I like to listen to some Beyonce, Pitbull, and some of my other favorite artists. It really just makes me happier and makes me feel more lively and ready to take on the day. Plus, I also use the songs as a way to tell approximately how much time I’ve spent showering. I adore really long showers, but I can’t spend a lot of time showering because I have class to get to. Plus, it’s inconsiderate because my suite mates would need to get ready to start their days as well and I wouldn’t want to hog the bathroom. Each song I listen to is approximately three minutes long so I make sure that I don’t stay in the shower for longer than three songs. Btw, you don’t have to pay money for music — just use Pandora or another free music service! My post on how to save money in college has even more tips for not completely ruining your bank account in college!

2. Wash your face with a really nice smelling facial cleanser.

There are so many delicious smelling facial cleansers now from brands like Neutrogena and Olay. They all smell so yummy that it makes me so happy to use them in the morning! It even improves my mood if I wasn’t feeling so great before. Maybe the nice smells release endorphins in your brain or something (this is why I’m not a science major!). I currently use a facial cleanser from Neutrogena® for acne because it was recommended by my dermatologist and, unfortunately, it doesn’t have any distinct, beautiful smell (*sad face*) but I have tried the grapefruit line from Neutrogena® and the the Morning Burst® line from Clean & Clear® and both are heavenly!! A good facial wash is also one of the things I mentioned in my college beauty essentials post because it’s such an easy way to clean your face and get totally refreshed in the morning before class. What’s your favorite facial wash right now? I’d love to hear what you guys are using! 

3. Create a breakfast tradition.

Is there one specific place on campus you just love eating breakfast at? If you can, make it a habit to go there and order your favorite breakfast items to start the day right and satisfyingly. Don’t succumb to the bad habit of not leaving yourself enough time in the morning to have an actual meal — this can actually ruin your day because you’ll be hungry and in a miserable mood. My favorite place to have breakfast is at my school’s Starbucks because I love ordering an iced green tea latte with an everything bagel with cream cheese. Perfecto! Another breakfast “tradition” you can do is simply having “pancake day” with your roommate or suite mates. Your group can get together and make and enjoy pancakes together. Plus, this is a great way to bond and get to know each other better. You’ll definitely look forward to these food-filled mornings!

4. Walk to class with friends. 

If someone who lives on your floor in the residence hall is also in your first class of the day, introduce yourself and walk to class with them. Walking across campus by yourself is really boring and not very fun. Having someone to talk to can really lift your spirits and make you feel really good about going to class — even if it’s at eight in the morning! Plus, having a friend to sit with in class can also make the class itself more enjoyable — especially when you have to sit through six straight hours of lectures all day long!

Also, if your schedule is nauseatingly long and tiring this semester, be sure to check out my post on how to survive back-to-back classes.

5. Change up your hairstyle regularly. 

I don’t know about you but my *super diverse* lookbook for hairstyles consists of my hair let down or in a really simple ponytail. Clearly, I’m super creative when it comes to styling my hair. Taking a little extra time to have fun with your hair in the morning can really make you feel more excited to go out and start the day so everyone can see how cool your hair looks and compliment you (compliments are always nice to hear, haha!). Plus, you get something pretty to show off on Instagram! I actually would like to start varying my hairstyles more to make things a little more fun. There are so many interesting ways to add a little pizzazz to a simple bun, braid, or ponytail and I’d definitely like to start trying them out!

6. Do ANYTHING that’s a little out of the ordinary for you! 

Go for a quick jog before you start class. Do some yoga in your room to loosen up before you start the day. Go to the most peaceful spot on campus and just sit there and chill for a few moments — do ANYTHING that you wouldn’t normally do! Changing things up a bit can be really exciting, especially if you initially think you won’t like the change but you end up loving it. Personally, I think I might try to do some yoga in the morning because I feel like yoga is very out of my element; the movements are slow, controlled, and graceful, but I’m used to very fast-paced workouts so this would be an extremely interesting change for me. I might end up liking it and I may decide to include it permanently in my daily routine!

What’s your favorite way to spend the morning? Also, I’m looking for new hairstyle ideas! Let me know in the comments if you have any! 

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