The Incoming Freshman’s Ultimate Guide To College

The Incoming Freshman's Ultimate Guide To College

August is always one of my favorite times of the year because it’s when college campuses get flooded by new, wide-eyed freshmen. No seriously, I remember when I was in their shoes and while it was crazy, it was also exciting. When I was an incoming freshman, I clawed through the internet in search of all the top notch college guides because, well, I didn’t have anyone who could tell me what to expect and what I should and shouldn’t do. So, I wanted to be sure that I went in at least kind of knowing what I had to do. I could just wing the rest. Since completing my freshman year four semesters ago, I learned so many things about college life, made a few mistakes, had even more amazing experiences, but also wished I had done a few things differently.

Make no mistake, your first year of college will hardly be perfect. But, you can still make it fun, awesome, and super fulfilling by learning a few tricks of the trade ahead of time. Here are some important things you should keep in mind for freshman year.

1. Be-friending people at orientation is a great start for making friends.

Be prepared for everyone to be super bubbly and extra friendly at orientation. Well, not everyone but nine times out of 10, the person you’re talking to will be ready to send you a friend request in a heartbeat. You might even be the person friend requesting everyone at your table. It’s a great way to start connecting with people. And when you get someone’s contact info, be sure to hit them up during the first week to grab lunch! Check out my 10 Secrets For Making New Friends In College for more tips.

2. EVERYONE is stressed out on move-in day.

Nope, you’re not the only one. Move-in day requires a lot of thinking ahead, but as a first year student moving in for the first time, it’s kind of hard to figure out what problems you might run into and how you can solve them ahead of time. Luckily, I’ve gone through move-in day not once, not twice, but three times and I have so many Tips For Making Move-In Day Less Stressful, and I can tell you that freaking out and biting the head off anyone who gets in your way is not one of them.

3. Your RAs make great friends.

I know some people may think that being friends with an RA is the middle school equivalent of eating lunch with the teacher, but it really does help to have an RA as a friend. They’ve been in your shoes and can give you advice, and they can help you with some of your housing needs and questions. Not to mention the fact that they’re extremely involved on campus and can score you some great roles in campus projects and programs.

4. Sometimes, the crazy roommates from the movies do exist!

Luckily, I’ve never had one but I’ve heard so many stories about roommates who threaten to put Nair in shampoo and poke holes in condoms with a sewing needle. Not every roommate is like that, obviously, but if you do have a conflict that leads to vindictive behavior, handle the situation immediately. I have two great roommate guides that you should check out: 5 Things To Do Before Meeting Your Roommate For The First Time and 7 Common Roommate Problems + How To Solve Them.

5. Living in a triple requires extra compromise.

Surprise! My experience in a triple wasn’t all pillow fights and late night giggling, but it was great to always have someone to talk to. You do have to make extra compromises so that everyone is as comfortable as possible. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. Your success in a triple will depend on the ability of you and your roommates to effectively communicate. Voice all of your concerns and make sure you’re being fair in return.

6. You really don’t need to bring your full wardrobe.

I promise, you don’t. My freshman year, I brought so many clothing items (and so many shoes) that I didn’t even wear. Honestly, you’ll likely end up wearing whatever’s comfortable most days, or whatever’s on top of the clothing pile on your chair (oops). I do, however, advise that you bring professional, business casual outfit options for any campus job or internship interviews, and even a cute dress for fancier campus events.

7. Instead of rolling your eyes at your loud hall mates, befriend them!

This is actually one thing I wish I had done differently. If your hall mates are blasting music at 1a.m., it’s easy to tell them to shut the hell up please turn it down when you’re friends with them. It doesn’t hurt to randomly pop in and introduce yourself. I have wanted to bake cookies for my hall mates for the longest time, but I always forgot. It would’ve been nice to get to know them, but I guess senior year is the year. Better late than never, right?

8. Take advantage of the deals in your dining halls.

Tuesday night tacos for $2? Hell yeah! Meal points go faster than you might think, so take advantage of those deals. Always see what they’re serving up. I know campus food is notorious for being crappy, but once in a while you find a dish you just can’t get enough of.

9. Weight gain in college is a real thing, just like weight gain at any other point of your life.

There’s a lot of info dismissing the freshman 15 as just a myth, and there’s a lot of info supporting its existence. Honestly, you can gain weight at any point of your life — not just your freshman year of college. The reasons for weight gain are often different, but for me it was because I indulged in all the new, sugary drinks I found on campus. It’s easy to succumb to a midnight meal of gummy worms and soda, so avoiding unhealthy weight gain definitely takes effort.

10. Research your professors before class starts.

I always do this so I know the best way to take notes in class. Usually, people will say things like, “this professor never uses the textbook” or “lecture slides are always posted before class.” This helps me decide how I’m going to get the most out of the class. P.S., I have a post on how to take notes in class that you should read!

The Incoming Freshman's Ultimate Guide To College

11. Join group chats for the classes you’re in.

This is a great way to get to know your classmates and avoid awkwardly asking the kid you never talk to for help with the homework when you don’t know what the heck you’re supposed to do. Check Facebook for any groups or even start a group chat yourself through Facebook Messenger or GroupMe.

12. Skipping a “super easy” intro class may be tempting.

I know, I know, you learned it all when you were in high school, but attendance is sometimes a big part of your grade. And, if the class is so easy, there should be no reason for you to not get an A, right? There are very few times when it’s acceptable to skip class, and this isn’t one of them. But you should check out my post on How To Skip Class Like A Pro for more tips.

13. Raising your GPA is harder than you might think.

Sad, but true. An A in a 3-credit class doesn’t carry the same weight as an A in a 4-credit class, and the 4-credit class is usually way harder. Numbers don’t define who you are, but keep in mind that you may want to maintain good academic standing for any scholarships, grad school applications, and honor societies you may think about joining in the future.

Related: 13 Tips For Getting A’s In Your Classes

14. All-nighters are SOMETIMES worth it.

Just like skipping class, all-nighters are not something you should do all the time. I’m a huge fan of getting 8+ hours of sleep but there were definitely a few times when I stayed up later than I normally would have, but was super productive and got all my work done, which in turn made it easier for me to handle any remaining tasks the next day. Don’t pull all-nighters often because it will mess up your sleep schedule and decrease your alertness during the day. And pull all-nighters for the right reason. If you’re just staying up to finish your video game, do yourself a favor and go to sleep. 

Related: Tips For Pulling An All-Nighter In College

15. Your inbox gets SUPER full.

Your school sends you dozens of emails every week, sometimes with super important things that you need to know right away. Make sure you read all of the emails because it’s easy to miss something, especially if you’re super busy. Go through your email at the end of every semester and completely clean out your inbox. Yeah, delete everything from the semester before to make room for the hundreds of new emails you’ll have next semester. It really helps reduce clutter and you’ll be able to breathe a little easier.

16. Don’t judge a club by its cover.

Some clubs and organizations may seem boring or like it’s not your thing, but give it a chance if you’re even remotely interested. Clubs and organizations are a great way to build your resume and climb to positions of authority. You don’t have to join 10 clubs, but I suggest joining one or two clubs you might really enjoy and sticking with them throughout college so you can get a position on the e-board. Showing how you bettered an organization as part of e-board can be super impressive on your resume.

17. You may not feel like attending club meetings after long days.

Joining a club is only one part of it. Actually attending the meetings is the hard part. I’m super guilty of just sticking my nose into my textbook to finish homework instead of going to club meetings, and I definitely wished that I had been more active in any organizations I signed up for. Treat it as a serious obligation instead of just another thing on your schedule.

18. Yes, college parties are a thing.

Parties go on pretty much every week, at least on my campus they do. I haven’t gone to a party yet, but I know lots of people who have great and also not-so-great times at them. Be a smart partier if you decide to go. If you have an 8a.m. class or interview the next day, don’t stay out past 2a.m. Be mindful of how much you drink and what you drink. If you don’t know what jungle juice is yet, you will. It’s literally a mixture of whatever alcohol is left over at a party. If you’re cringing right now at the thought of it, you should be.

19. Making time to hangout with friends will make your day much better.

I’m a meticulous planner and will schedule out my entire day from start to finish, but spontaneously hanging out with my friends have made my days less mundane and way more fun. Whether you’re complaining about a class together or driving off campus for a quick dinner, friends definitely make the experience so much better.

20. Laundry actually takes up a significant amount of time on the weekends.

You’d be surprised by how much planning laundry requires when you don’t have someone to do it for you. Sometimes you might have so much dirty laundry that you need to put in two separate loads. To help you out with the whole laundry on your own thing, I have post on How To Do Laundry In College that I highly recommend checking out.

Well, that was a super long post, but I really hope it helped you out! If you know someone who’s about to start college, feel free to share this with them!

What are your freshman year survival tips? 

How To Make Time For Going To The Gym In College

How To Make Time For The Gym In College

I finally reached my goal of consistently going to the gym five days a week! I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I’d tell myself that I’ll go and then I don’t. Or, I’ll embark on a journey of attending the gym everyday, go twice and then allow small hiccups in my schedule to prevent me from continuing to go. It’s really hard to squeeze gym time in between your part-time job, your internship, your class work and your social life. It’s also really hard to remain consistent with it once you start. Why that’s the case is beyond me. One thing I do know for sure is that I love going to the gym because for an hour and a half a day, I can focus on my music blasting in my ears without thinking about a paper or homework assignment. I also love knowing that I’m getting closer toward my health-related goals, so that also keeps me coming back.

Because I know that the struggle I described above is something than many others are all-too familiar with, I decided to write this post on how to better pencil in workout time even if you’re really busy. What’s your favorite thing to do at the gym? Let me know in the comments!

1. Sign up for a fitness class. 

This is one of my favorite (and most common) ways to not only motivate you to exercise, but also to make sure you add it to your schedule. When you sign up, you feel obligated to go. If you sign up to volunteer at the campus blood drive, you’d probably add that to your schedule so you don’t forget. So do the same with fitness classes. Check out your college’s fitness class schedules and try to find one that occurs when you don’t have class. My personal favorite is Zumba Toning because I can do cardio and strength training in one class.

2. Look for time in between your classes. 

I know a lot of people prefer to not go to class right after going to the gym because then they’ll be sweaty, but if it doesn’t bother you then this is a good way to get in a workout. If you’ve got an hour and a half before your next class and you’re looking for something to do, exercising is a good way to be productive in that time. On days that I slide a workout in between my classes, I bring deodorant and a change of clothes in my duffel bag so I can feel even a little bit fresh after my muscles and body cry for an hour. In my post on things to make college life easier, I talk about a great product that’s perfect for slipping into your bag when you need to freshen up but don’t have a lot of time.

If you don’t like being sweaty in class then maybe this isn’t the option for you. If that’s the case, check out my next suggestion…

3. Plan to go for at least an hour right after your final class of the day. 

Class is over for the day, so you can’t use being sweaty in class as an excuse anymore. This is also a good idea if you have back-to-back classes. If you need to bring gym clothes with you, do it. Make sure you plan ahead by bringing a lock if you’ll need to leave your backpack in a locker at the gym. Sometimes you’re already really tired after a day of class and going to the gym might tire you out even more. At the same time, going to the gym could also wake you up. You never unless you try! But if you’re worried that working out at the end of a long day will leave you exhausted, try doing low impact exercises for the hour. Or, instead of going for an hour, do 45 minutes and gradually work your way up to a longer duration.

I usually like going to the gym after I’m done with my classes because I can stay for as long as I want and I can really take my time. I don’t have to hurry to change for class or cut my treadmill time in half because of something else I have to do.

4. Pick two-three days during the week as “workout days.” 

And stick to them! Tell yourself that every Monday and Thursday after your psychology class, you’ll go to the gym. Forming a habit out of it will ensure that you keep going. You don’t have to plunge right into going to the gym for most of the week. Even starting out by picking one day a week to workout is a really good start.

5. Think of going to the gym as an obligation, just like class. 

Build the rest of your schedule around your classes and the gym, as surprising as that sounds. I have my beloved Zumba Toning class every Tuesday at noon and, I shit you not, I will NOT give up this time for anything else. If someone asks if I’m free then, the answer is always no. If I need to meet with a professor, I will not suggest this time to meet. I’m very stubborn when it comes to trying to compromise with this time because I love the workout so much and I basically treat my attendance in it as I would my attendance in an academic class: if I’m not so sick I can’t move, I’m going. This really helps a lot because at least I know that I’ll definitely have at least one workout day taken care of.

What are your tips for making time for a workout? 

Related: 20 Ways To Be Healthier In College, 10 Ways To Relax + Enjoy Alone Time In College

 

10 Things I Learned From One Year Of Blogging

lessons learned from one year of blogging

It’s my one year blogiversary! It has OFFICIALLY been one year since I created Macarons & Mascara and wow, just wow. I have gone through some great things (and not-so-great things) with this blog in the last 12 months, and I feel so proud to have come so far. I got thousands of pageviews, got to work with amazing brands for sponsored opportunities, recently ran an awesome giveaway in partnership with one of my favorite makeup companies, and got well on my way to building a strong social media following for my work.

To celebrate my blog’s new ~maturity~ I’m sharing 10 lessons I learned in the last 12 months, and also my goals that I have for my blog for 2017. Since 2017 is literally just a few days away, I guess we’ll call my goals my Blog Resolutions (let’s pretend for a minute that the name actually sounds cool and witty).

1. It takes a village to raise a blog.

Being part of a community of other bloggers is extremely important for growth. You need people with more experience who can give you advice — from what camera is a good investment, to how you can deal with a blogging slump. And when you get more experienced, you’ll be giving advice to newer bloggers. I think that far too often, and not even just in blogging, we make the mistake of treating our acquaintances as competition because maybe they’re doing really well for themselves and we don’t want to take away from our own success. I’m lucky enough to be part of an amazing group called the InfluenceHer Collective, and I’ve been able to interact with so many different bloggers from different places and with different experiences and perspectives, and the support we give each other is incredible and has definitely contributed to me reaching my goals.

2. Your blog is like your baby.

You created it so you need to take good care of it! I have been through some terrifying moments with my blog this past year but I managed to be a good blog mom and fix it and make sure it’s all better. Seriously, when there’s something wrong with your website, no matter how big or small, it’s all you can think about until you resolve the problem. There have been times when I sat in class while chatting online with tech support and trying to take notes because I couldn’t carry on and pretend I was okay knowing that my blog wasn’t the way it should be. It takes care and patience, which brings me to my next point…

3. It’s not just about writing.

Writing and taking photos is a small part of it. Being able to understand and write HTML code has definitely made life with a blog much easier, and having a knack for designing graphics and working with photos is definitely very helpful. There are different components to running a website that you’re responsible for when you’re self-hosted and you have to make sure that all your ducks are always in a row. ALWAYS.

4. I love photography.

When I first started this blog, I used to design titles over free stock photos and used that as my featured image for my blog posts. But then I wanted to do something more personal that would contribute to my brand, so I decided to start taking my own photos and designing titles over those. Doing this has improved my photography skills greatly, and it has trained my eye for what looks good in a photo. Not to mention, my Instagram has never looked better! Blogging showed me that photography is my secret love I never knew existed. Now, I can spend hours on photoshoots (and money gathering props) because I love it so much.

5. Social media is a pain in the ass but I love it.

Fun fact about me: prior to Fall 2015, I had absolutely no social media accounts. None. Not even a personal Facebook. When I decided I wanted a career in writing, I began creating social media accounts, and when I started my blog, I began using social media to grow a following. Oh sweet Jesus…what a JOURNEY. Social media has been the best of times and the worst of times. I used to get so pissed off when I’d spend weeks just trying to attract five new followers on Twitter only to lose 10 over-freaking-night! It was the most annoying thing! How do you even have time to keep up with it all??? But then I started creating social media strategies that fit my lifestyle and my goals and I started attracting more people to my accounts. I still have a long way to go, but I think I’m off to a good start. Social media has also connected me with other ideas and other fun blog posts. Honestly, the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is probably scroll through Twitter looking for things to read.

6. Setting goals is a huge factor in success.

It pushes you to always do better than you did before. I set monthly goals and I take some time to evaluate each of them in detail at the end of every month. I figure out what works and what doesn’t and how I can make them better and attain next month’s goals. I like having a set pathway that can lead me to my goals, so this really helps. It has also been instrumental with school, too, because I set goals for things I want to accomplish in my classes, extracurriculars, etc. I love setting goals so much that I designed my very own blogging binder to keep me on track in 2017.

7. It looks really awesome on a resume.

Stating that I run and have grown a website is the cherry on top of my resume. It looks great because it shows that you are self-motivated, influential, and passionate about a career in online media (if you want a career in online media). I used to actually forget that I can put this on a resume. During one interview I had, the woman interviewing me actually told me that I should have it there! Needless to say, I never made that mistake again.

8. It’s a great confidence booster.

Not gonna lie, I feel pretty darn awesome walking around knowing that I’m a blogger on campus. While I don’t broadcast it to the entire campus, some of my professors and a lot of my classmates know and read my work regularly. I can even go to my professors’ office hours and have a conversation with them about my blogging! One of my professors even told the dean at our School of Journalism and we had a meeting all about my work and I gave him a business card. I can’t remember the last time I felt so confident in something about myself. Having people tell you that they love your work and that you’re doing an amazing thing definitely builds confidence. And while people on campus stare at me weirdly when I pose for pictures, my friends and I always have a good laugh about it later.

9. It’s better to take your time and do things properly the first time.

There have been times when I really rushed to take a blog photo just because I wanted to publish the post as quickly as possible instead of waiting for the next day, and I usually feel bittersweet about it. Sweet: I got a post with awesome information up when I wanted to. Bitter: I could’ve taken a much better picture if I had more time. It’s always the small things that get under our skin. Sometimes people tell me that no one notices the small things that are wrong, but the thing is that I notice what’s wrong with my post. I hate the feeling of knowing I could’ve done better, so taking my time is much better than wanting to redo the whole thing in the end.

10. I’ll probably be blogging for many more years to come.

Yep, I definitely love blogging so much, and I don’t want things to end after I graduate. I’ll probably rebrand and shift from being a college blog to a career and lifestyle blog or a mostly beauty and style blog. Or maybe even just a blog for adults — who knows! It doesn’t have to end when my college career ends.

This was my first ever post on this blog — do you remember it? Be sure to check out 5 TV Shows To Cozy Up To This Winter!

Blog Resolutions

1. Work on growing my newsletter.

Newsletters are cool because they let you communicate with readers in a more personal way (My newsletter is pretty awesome, by the way, and you should totally subscribe!). I’m finally starting to pay more attention to it and actually send out weekly messages to my subscribers, and it’s a lot of fun. I feel that growing my list will help me reach more people, so this is definitely a goal of mine.

2. Master Pinterest (and other social media).

Pinterest has been very useful for me these last six months in terms of growing my blog and getting more eyes on my work. Pinterest has helped me get over 20,000 views and thousands of shares on ONE SINGLE POST ALONE and that’s pretty awesome. I really want to be able to do that again on more posts, so in 2017 I’m setting out to become the ultimate Pinterest master. But of course, I also want to increase my following on my other social media as well. While Pinterest is a huge driver of success for many bloggers, I think that at the end of the day all of your social media working together is what helps you become really successful and reach your goals.

3. Buy a REALLY awesome DSLR.

I have fallen in major love with cameras. I like to sometimes think that the camera is only as good as the person using it, but sometimes there’s only so much you can do with an iphone camera. I do have a Nikon Coolpix L340 and while I do get super pretty HD-looking photos from using it, I would still like a more advanced camera for taking blog photos and Instagram photos so I can keep my skills sharp. I’m currently deciding between the Nikon D5300 and the D7200 but can’t decide!

4. Give out more business cards.

Last year, I made business cards for my blog and they really came in handy. I went to conferences and events and met guest lecturers at my school, and I handed them business cards. It felt so nice saying, “can I leave my business card with you?” because they always looked slightly surprised but also excited to exchange the information. You can sit in on hundreds of lectures given by the top professionals in your field, but if you don’t make the effort to establish a connection and use them as a resource, you’re not going to learn as much as you could have. Despite this, I still have a lot of business cards that I’m itching to get rid of (mostly so I can design new ones with my ~new~ and super pretty blog logo that you’ll see in 2017!). Basically, I’m going to be on the lookout for more exclusive blogger and college girl events that I can bring my business cards to.

Related: 19 Things I Learned From My First NYC Conference

5. Get my blog logo printed on stuff.

I feel like getting your logo printed on stuff is a huge personal celebration of your progress and hard work and I really want to do this! Slapping a sticker with your logo on your laptop is like seeing your name on a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (I’m assuming). I really want to get my logo printed as a sticker for my laptop and maybe even on a shirt or baseball cap or something else.

6. Monetize my blog more.

So, clearly, spending more money in 2017 is a goal of mine. I hope to be able to pay for those business cards, fancy cameras, and blog merchandise with money I make from blogging. In 2016 (mostly the later half) I made some nice pocket change through sponsored posts and advertising, but I hope to turn my pocket change into money bags, or something like that. Of course, making money wasn’t my reason for starting my blog, but it would be great to get paid for doing what I love, so I really want to find more ways to make some serious cash from my blog.

7. Keep writing two blog posts per week.

At the beginning of the year, I was basically posting whenever I could, which usually resulted in me going a week and a half in between posts. I wasn’t posting nearly as frequently as I would have liked to and my page views weren’t off to a bangin’ start because I hardly gave my blog enough attention. But then, I started setting publishing goals and took things up to one post per week and then to two posts per week. I maintained that schedule even during my busy fall semester (yay me!) so I hope to keep it up going forward. Since it’s winter break, I’m probably going to try to write three posts per week because I have so much I want to say before the semester starts up again!

8. Make more blogging buddies.

This year, I met some cool bloggers who are doing the same things that I’m doing and it was such a cool experience. Working on posts and engaging with them online has been so much fun and I hope to expand my circle of blogging gal pals. While each of our successes pushes the others to continue to do better, I don’t see them as competition — and that says a lot considering I’ve always been a really competitive person! I see them as friends and colleagues who can provide help and support. I love reading and commenting on their blog posts and I love all of our ideas. I want to see more of that, so I hope to meet more people who are doing the same thing as me.

9. Reach 100,000 monthly page views.

This is a HUGE goal of mine because it shows that you’re able to build something up so high from scratch. To be honest, reaching any page view goal shows that you’re able to make progress. I remember earlier in the year when I had finally received my first 1,000 page views, my goal for next month was to double that and reach 2,000. I ended up hitting 4,000. Reaching your goals — no matter how “big” or “small” — is HUGE. Reaching 10,000 page views may seem like a dream right now, but once you get there, you’re going to give yourself a pat on the back, eat a cupcake to celebrate, and set a goal for 15,000 or even 20,000 next time. And if you ever had any doubt that your blog wouldn’t be as big as some of the others, I really hope this tidbit gave you the motivation to keep pushing forward!

I hope you enjoyed reading tidbits of my blogging journey and my goals for 2017. Thanks so much for helping me get here! 

 

9 Things You Must Consider Before You Leave For Study Abroad

9 things to consider before studying abroad

I’m studying abroad in Ireland this winter (yay!!!) and it’s going to be my first time traveling outside of the country since I was four years old, and I’m pretty darn excited. I’ve heard so many things about how life-changing study abroad is and how it’s “the experience every college student should have.” You’ve probably heard the same spiel that I have. I recently had my study abroad orientation at school and we covered so many things that I didn’t even think I’d have to think about while abroad. Honestly, the only things I prepared for prior to orientation were purchasing my ticket, converting the currency, and buying some travel essentials. If you’re studying abroad in another country in the near (or far) future, DON’T even so much as pack a suitcase without considering these things.

1. Your health insurance while abroad.

I got that “oh crap” feeling the moment the presentation turned to health insurance because guess whose mind insurance never even crossed…My school puts study abroad students on a special health insurance plan because accidents can happen and you need to know how much and what costs your insurance will cover. The plan makes it easy for us to report and check claims from our phones, and we can also find other services this way. Ask your school’s study abroad office if they offer an insurance plan that you can be put on.

2. Can you get your prescription medication in the country you’re traveling to?

One important thing to note is that while you’re abroad, you should not be changing anything in your routine. Some people who travel abroad during intersession think that it’s okay to not take their medicine because it’s “only three weeks.” Make sure you bring your medication and also see if you’re able to get it in the country you’re traveling to in case you lose it or something. This website called the Drug Translation Guide is great for figuring this out. Your medication may also come under a different name and dosage, so figure this out before you board a plane.

3. Your passport expiration date.

Did you know that if your passport expires within six months of your return date to the United States, you may not be able to get back into the country? Yeah, neither did I. I’m not travel expert, but this may be an important detail to take into account.

4. Currency conversions and payment options while abroad. 

Converting your currency is a huge thing to consider before traveling — how will you pay for meals and other things you’re going to purchase? You can convert your currency at your bank, but be aware that you may actually have to order the conversion in advanced, and the rate may change daily depending on your bank. Also inquire about any conversion fees. You definitely don’t want to just pick yourself up two days before your departure and go to the bank to try to convert your money. Another thing to consider would be whether or not you can use your debit card or any other cards while abroad. Be sure to find out which cards are accepted in that country. Leave yourself with enough time to consider money matters for your trip.

5. Packing a voltage and plug adapter. 

My heart practically fell when they told us not to bring straighteners on the trip because using a U.S. flat iron in Europe could practically set a floor on fire. Even with an adapter. The current isn’t the same in every country, so make sure you know what items you need in order to be able to use certain electronic devices. Essentially, you need a voltage adapter for anything that heats up — hair dryers, curling irons, and computers if they don’t have a built-in voltage adapter. This is probably one of the biggest items (besides your passport) that you can’t get away with not bringing with you. If you have any doubts, ask your study abroad office what electrical items are and aren’t allowed in the country you’re visiting.

6. The other country’s social etiquette. 

Another really surprising part of orientation came when we were discussing the social do’s and don’ts while abroad. What may be appropriate behavior and attire in your country may not be appropriate in another country. The professor my group has been traveling with has been taking students to Ireland for many years now, and is of Irish decent herself, so she was able to tell us a lot about what to expect and what not to wear. Let me tell you, I probably would have packed a couple of clothing items that I wouldn’t have been able to wear if she hadn’t told us otherwise. Getting a feel for the country’s social norms can really help you decide what to pack and what to leave at home, so do your research! Also research what gestures are considered rude in the other country. A peace sign with your fingers may be cute in your country, but in another country it can be highly offensive.

7. Alcohol. 

We were told that with a lot of students, alcohol consumption nearly doubled while they were abroad. This can do with the drinking age being different in another country, and everyone else around you may be drinking so you might think “why not?” I know that talking about alcohol isn’t all that fun and I like to talk about fun stuff, but it’s still something to be aware of. Make sure you continue to do what you need to do in order to look out for yourself and keep yourself safe.

8. Class materials such as textbooks. 

It is still STUDY abroad, aka you’re not on vacation and you still have classes to take and probably homework to do. Find out what things you’ll be expected to bring for class time. The only things I’m required to have are a textbook and a journal for documenting the trip, but make sure you know in advanced if you must order the textbook or if you can rent it or get it from your school’s bookstore.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Buying Textbooks In College

9. Preserving the memories you make. 

Do you plan to bring a fancy DSLR? Will you just stick to using your phone? Do you want to have instant prints using an instant camera? Consider how you’re going to take photos while you’re away. I hope to purchase an instant camera from FUJIFILM before I leave so I can have adorable, tiny prints for my travel journal, so definitely let me know of any good deals on an Instax mini! Preserving memories isn’t just limited to taking photos. You can also start a free blog, a vlog on YouTube, a scrapbook, or a journal, to name a few.

What other things should you do before leaving for study abroad? 

9 Things To Do This June If You Suck At Thinking Of Things To Do

Alas, May is coming to an end, but that means June is just beginning! Time for some fun in the sun, hangouts with friends (now that school’s out) and binge-watching Netflix. Well, not too much of Netflix, though. In the past I haven’t gotten out much and I haven’t done too many things with my summer, but this time I intend to make great use of my three months of no school and I’m taking it one month at a time. If you’re determined to not go all couch potato on society this summer, then take a look at my bucket list for some inspiration for fun things to do this June.

  1. Try a wild milkshake from BlackTap. If you haven’t heard about the craze over the most insane, over-the-top milkshakes at BlackTap…clearly, you’re not one with insane, over-the-top milkshakes…BUT they’re really cool-looking. There’s something so intriguing and almost magical about stacking cookies and cotton candy on top of milkshakes. A few months ago, my friend and I wanted to go to BlackTap, but we were running out of time and we had heard that it takes hours to get in because the lines are so long (because the milkshakes are so amazing!) So I’m determined to finally go and give those milkshakes a try. If I had to pick one flavor off the top of my head to try right now, it’d probably be the coffee flavored one because (thanks to the two Starbucks conveniently located right on my campus) I’ve come to enjoy sweetened, creamed(?) coffee drinks. But I’ll probably go with the most insane flavor they have!
  2. Join a Twitter Party. Twitter parties are usually great for talking and networking with other like-minded individuals. Some Twitter parties are used for promoting certain products while others have a specific topic of discussion, and participants use hashtags in order to partake in the conversation. I’d love to get in on a Twitter party because I see it as an opportunity to talk to other bloggers who might be able to give me a few pointers, plus I also really want to make some blogger buddies! There may not be chips and dip, and you won’t find anyone in some corner somewhere playing spin the bottle, but it’s still a great way to exercise your Twitter account in a new way.
  3. Go out with friends. My friends and I each went our separate ways after graduating from high school, and we haven’t seen each other in many, many months. One of our friends has a dance recital in June and it’ll be a chance for all of us to hang out while supporting our friend. Maybe your friend doesn’t have a dance recital coming up, but seeing some shows or movies with friends or just hanging  out is a great way to spend time away from your computer screen.
  4. Create and enjoy healthy food from Pinterest. Healthy meals always seem to be popping up on Pinterest, and I don’t know about you, but every time I see an egg-filled avocado with toast, I actually feel motivated to eat it (this coming from the girl who took a spoonful of avocado to the tastebuds and promptly shuddered and spit it out). My plan is definitely to surf Pinterest to find some #foodgoals and then actually create and eat them. This is a great way for you to kickstart a new lifestyle, or become interested in foods you never thought you’d be interested in. Who knows, maybe there’s even a culinary genius inside you, and maybe you’ll put your own creations on Pinterest!
  5. Have a professional looking photoshoot. It’s really important to have professional looking headshots, or just clean, well-staged photos of you looking your best. Seriously, you never know when you might need to quickly upload a new profile picture for a new job or LinkedIn, so better safe than sorry. I’d love to have this type of photoshoot with some of my friends, so that way we’ll each have a plethora of nice shots to choose from. These pictures would work great as LinkedIn profile pictures, business card images, email signatures, and more. Definitely use part of your summer to clean a few things up professionally, even if they’re as small as changing your profile picture from a wild Friday night to interview-ready.
  6. Make chocolate at Voila Chocolat. I’ve been baking since middle school, and have worked with chocolate on many occasions. I’ve used chocolate for molding, tempering, garnishing, and simply just baking chips into warm, chewy cookies, but I still want to learn more. I’ve wanted to come to Voila Chocolat since Valentine’s Day, but couldn’t because of the weather, so here’s my chance to do so! Voila Chocolat actually offers educational classes where you can learn things — like the science of chocolate — so I’m really excited for that. There are definitely other classes out there that allow you to have fun while learning how to create culinary masterpieces. Learning new things is always a productive use of your time, so don’t hesitate to through some fun (and good eats) in there!
  7. Eat at all the cafes on 5th Avenue. Well, maybe not all of them, but I definitely would like to discover new eats on 5th avenue this June. I actually got started on that journey and on Friday I went to a sandwich shop called Potbelly, and the sandwiches there were pretty good so I can’t wait to see what other eateries I’ll discover in that area. I’m hoping to find a burger place next, or maybe even a shop that specializes in really healthy food. You don’t have to go straight to 5th avenue — pick your favorite neighborhood, or a neighborhood you’ve always wanted to explore, and gradually eat at a new restaurant or cafe every time you’re there. This maintains the element of surprise because you don’t necessarily have to plan a trip to a cafe, and who knows what you’ll discover next time!
  8. Go to blogger events. I’m still in the process of scoping out some cool events geared toward bloggers/college writers/girls-who-dream-of-the-magazine-industry, but so far I’ve found a few (that aren’t in June) that I will be attending. Attending events that are targeted toward your career goals is a great way for you to network and put your name out there, and at the very least meet people who may actually play a huge role in your future. You never know, right? There are conferences for people of many different trades and professions, so make sure you put yourself out there and take a look at some of them. Some events are literally as easy as ‘Like’ the event’s Facebook page for head-counting purposes, and show up!
  9. Go bowling. I love bowling, and I’m fairly good at it, but I haven’t gone bowling with friends in probably over a year! This is on my bucket list because it’s an activity that I’ve always enjoyed doing, so it’d be nice to go back to the basics to cover old, familiar ground. If all else fails, you definitely can’t go wrong with partaking in an old activity that you know and love well, whether it’s hiking, fishing, swimming, or others! 

I hope my list has inspired you to create your own June bucket list, or to at least give yourself the chance to go out and explore and have some fun.

What’s on your June bucket list? 

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The Ultimate Somewhat Mini Concert Checklist

With all the lights, people screaming song lyrics into your ear, and let’s not forget the thought of being under the same roof as one of your favorite artists (or under the same sky if you’re outdoors), concerts can be really fun experiences. Maybe just a tad bit intimidating if you’re a first-timer who doesn’t know what they’re doing, but nevertheless the fun. If you do have some concert jitters and aren’t sure what to bring, what to wear, or where to go (but hopefully you know where your venue is come concert time) then I have some helpful hints and tips for you in this amazing (if I do say so myself) concert checklist. I myself am a rather organized person who disdains confusing, or uncomfortable situations (then again, who doesn’t?) so don’t worry, this list is 100 percent Jasmin-approved! Without further ado, here are some things you should make sure you do in preparation for your concert experience!

Before anything at all…

So before you sing along to every song at the top of your lungs, and even before you pose for Instagram pictures at the concert, there are a few things you need to make sure you’ve completely nailed.

Know how to get to your venue. It’s awesome that you’re going to see Ellie Goulding perform in Somethingtown, but if you have no clue how to get to Somethingtown and day of the concert you still have no clue how to get to Somethingtown, umm…you’re in some pretty deep crap. Transportation is time and time is money. Having to use public transportation to get to your venue may take more time than driving there, which means you’ll have to plan ahead more. You wouldn’t want to end up not being able to see your concert because you couldn’t be on time, now would you? You might feel like throwing caution to the wind and being a little spontaneous, but don’t underestimate the power of a well thought out plan.

Know how to return from your venue. Especially if you’re using public transportation! Personally, I’m a rather awkward public transportation user — I have to quadruple check that I’m standing on the correct platform before boarding a train — so to me, knowing every detail of your transportation plan (including how to not get lost)  is the difference between making it home in time to tell your smiling parents every detail of your experience, and making it home to a stern talk about being more responsible when traveling so you don’t come sauntering through the front door at three in the morning because you took the wrong train twice. I like knowing at least two options for making my trips, so if one is no longer doable I have a backup plan.

Make sure you have a fully charged phone. Not 60 percent battery, and definitely not 40 percent battery! You may also want to be concerned even at 80 percent. Phones are for more than just Snapchatting amazing moments for your Story that will make all your friends wish they were at a concert too. If you need to make a call to someone — a parent, a friend, a relative, the police — you shouldn’t have to worry about how soon your phone will die on you. Save yourself the worries and charge your phone. You know you’ll likely be waiting in line for ages, and you know the concert isn’t going to be a super quick thing, so be prepared!

Charge your portable charger as a backup. By now you should know just how much I love backup plans! If you really want to get to the next level of prepared, you’ll bring a portable. But if you want to be the king or queen preparedness, you’ll remember to actually charge the charger before throwing it into your bag. I have a portable charger and I cannot tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to actually charge it just for everyday use, so I end up bringing my whole phone charger to class with me. A portable charger is useless if you don’t charge it for at least three hours in advanced.

Stay hydrated. Especially if the concert you’re attending is outdoors under the hot July sun. Carrying water bottles to a concert is tedious, and at some venues they might not allow you to go in with outside beverages of any kind. At the same time, not many people would want to pay for a bottle of water from the venue, and even fewer people would want to leave their place in line to buy something to drink. You definitely don’t want to end up passing out in the middle of the concert, so make sure you hydrate beforehand throughout the day.

Make sure you have tickets! Your concert tickets are one of, if not the most, important items for you to have at the ready for your concert experience. I’ll even forgive you if you opt to pack your concert tickets instead of the portable charger. How else would you get into the concert? That was a rhetorical question by the way. In any case, make sure you are holding your tickets or printed confirmation of paid tickets in the palm of your hands before you even think about stepping out the door. TickPick is a great place to buy tickets. The interface is rather simple, so first-time ticket purchasers need not be intimidated! Users can select tickets to concerts from a multitude of artists including Shawn Mendes, Ellie Goulding, and many more!

For figuring out your wardrobe…

They say getting there is half the fun, but I think picking outfits is half the fun (getting there is more like a quarter of the fun). So amid all the shopping, try-ons and whatnot, what should you remember?

Wear comfortable shoes. And try to avoid having to pack comfortable shoes, because then you’ll have to either carry an extra bag or use a bag that’s bigger than you might like. You know that at some point you’ll end up with blisters and/or sore feet and the pain isn’t always worth it. Plus if you’ll be standing most of the time you might want to treat your feet like they’re royalty.

Try on as many outfits as you can. Can we be blamed for wanting to look as fabulous as we can? I think not! Sometimes, the first outfit you try on at the mall or in your closet isn’t going to be your ultimate choice for concert wear. I’m usually happy with an outfit at first and then I decide that I’d much rather wear something else, but then I go back to the first idea, but not before coming up with a completely different idea. Our accessories need to be dazzling in those selfies; our outfits need to be on point for Instagram — there’s nothing wrong with wanting to show off an even more fabulous version of yourself for a concert! But there are still a few points that go along with finding your perfect concert outfit…

Don’t think you’ll be able to overlook a minor discomfort. If from the beginning you feel that your shorts are just a little too short for your personal liking, chances are you’re going to feel like you have to pull on them all throughout your concert experience. And who wants to miss an opportunity to take an epic pic of the artist performing because they were too busy being uncomfortable in the outfit they chose? You may think it’s no big deal because you see other people wearing a certain thing all the time, so you can power through it. Remember that everyone is different and what one person might be comfortable wearing wouldn’t necessarily bring another person as much comfort. There’s definitely a difference between going outside your comfort zone and doing something you already know will drive you bonkers. This being said, this is an important point on this checklist because you never want to forget such comfort at home!

Wear something that won’t make you freeze half to death. So recently my school had our annual “Brookfest” concert, and these past few weeks in Long Island have done very little to prove that spring was actually upon us. I saw so many girls walking across campus to the concert in tube tops while shivering profusely. Again this also has to do with your personal level of comfort, all factors considered (remember that it’ll probably get really hot if your venue is indoors). But you can totally check this off your list once you’ve fully considered your comfort.

Channel your creativity. An amazing thing about concerts is that it’s full of creativity — no matter where you attend one, who’s performing, or even who your fellow concert goers are. You can bet your boho accessories that people will take this as an opportunity to add their own personal touches to their concert experience to make it a true concert dream. Feathers, intricate jewelry, crochet, lace — you name it! Plus, it doesn’t stop there. I got to handpick my dream Coachella lineup, a.k.a. Faux-Chella, thanks to the awesome team at TickPick. TickPick was able to highlight a number of dream music festivals by teaming up with a number of music lovers out there. Below you’ll find a super cute graphic they created for me based on my personal picks for my dream festival. And if you haven’t already noticed, the name Faux-Chella is super adorable!

Macarons and Mascara _ TickPick

So do you have all these things in the bag? 

Don’t worry, we’re almost done! So now that we’ve covered a couple of points with regard to dress and essentials for a great concert experience, all we have to do is make sure you’ve got a couple of things in the bag (aside from tickets and a fully charged phone).

Do you even have a bag? Like a little pocketbook for carrying around cash, ID, your phone, and the like? Some may find it useful to carry just a small drawstring backpack or a small crossbody. The choice is completely yours, but I don’t think you’ll find yourself able to fit everything you need into just your pants pockets.

Cash. You’re probably going to buy merch before the concert (because the experience wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t bring back a t-shirt). Make sure you’ve got enough cash to fulfill your concert merch dreams.

A small pack of tissues. Hello, allergy season. You might want to make sure you have even just a few tissues to wipe your nose with if you’ve got some annoying sniffles come concert time. Plus, if you’re chilling at your concert and someone accidentally spills soda on sandals, tissues might be a good way to clean up the situation (side note: making up hypotheticals is another one of my talents).

Sunglasses. I wouldn’t be caught dead outside without sunglasses on me. If you’re going to an outdoor music festival, sunglasses are a must! They not only shield your eyes from the hot yet sometimes annoying sun, but can also add to your outfit and make you look even cooler.

ID. Even if it isn’t required that you bring ID, or if the venue doesn’t typically check for ID, you should probably have some form of identification on you at all times anyway. But if there will be ID checks, guess what you might want to consider bringing!

Friends who want to have a good time! Okay, you can’t fit your friends inside your crossbody, but you should still bring them along, too. Everything’s better with friends (except when eating cake because who’s trying to share cake?) So grab some buddies to make memories with!

If you made it this far in my blog post, congratulations because I know I’ve said (typed?) a mouthful. I hope you enjoy your next (or first) concert experience!

What are some of your concert experiences? 

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Note: All thoughts and opinions discussed are completely my own. Thank you to TickPick for the beautiful Faux-chella concert graphic!

 

 

My New Year’s Resolutions

Confession time: I’ve never made New Year’s resolutions! However, I am familiar with this yearly “tradition” of sorts that many tend to take part in. It makes sense. What more inspirational way to ring in the new year than to pledge to make improvements to your life? But phase two of this tradition includes breaking every single resolution within the first month of making them. Suddenly those life improvements don’t seem so important or exciting anymore. This is what has become a societal “norm.” When you tell your friends that your resolution is to lose 10 pounds, chances are they’re rolling their eyes at you and thinking, I give her two weeks before she gives up. Well, anyone who knows me knows that I tend to defy common thoughts held by society (totally on purpose). Seriously, anyone who tells me that I won’t stick to my resolutions will earn a death glare, free of charge. Who are you to label me or anyone else a failure “ahead of time”? To kick off the new year, and to show that amazing resolutions can come in tiny packages, I have my first ever list of New Year’s resolutions to share with you!

  1. Stop eating junkfood out of boredom. You don’t have to be a doctor to know that excessive junkfood is bad for you in the long run. Even if you can’t physically see the effects of eating all those cookies, cakes, chips and crap, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t doing bad things to you internally. I already know that I can go weeks without eating sweets (chocolate, etc.) because I’ve done it before. However, at some point during the semester, I felt like having a chocolate bar as a midnight snack and a well-needed pick-me-up. One chocolate bar one night turned into a chocolate bar every night, which turned into a pint of ice cream a few times a week! I had completely destroyed my no junkfood streak to the point where I’d go out and get junky snacks because I was literally bored and wanted to chew on something! Um, no. This isn’t going to cut the mustard this time!
  2. Travel around the city more. I always get weird looks when I tell people I’m from the boroughs of New York but I very rarely go to Manhattan. Always. It’s kind of disappointing to know that I wouldn’t be able to give clear (or correct) directions around the city if I ever needed to. Plus, I personally would like to explore some of the hidden gems in the city. Everyone knows the Statue of Liberty, Rockefellar Center and such (which I’ve neber visited, by the way) but I’d like to skip that and go hunting for the lesser known awesome places in the city. I have nothing against the fabulous landmarks in our city, I’d just like to explore the way I want to explore.
  3. Make new friends. This is especially important for me because some of my absolute closest friends who I met in college are seniors and are graduating this spring! Sure, I know some people my age but I didn’t always click with them the way I clicked with my older friends. I’ll be losing my Zumba buddy, sadly. While I still plan to keep in touch with my friends after they graduate, it’s equally important that I meet new people and grow new friendships. I’m sometimes good at starting conversations with random people, but following up is where I have the issue. I don’t always text people asking if they want to grab dinner or if they want to study together sometime. I really should because these are super easy ways to get to know someone new and build a friendship. But that’s what the new year is for – working on a few things!
  4. Gain membership into blogger networks. I’ve been blogging for two years now, but this is my first super legit website/blog and it’d be really cool to gain valuable insight from being part of blogger networks. There are two networks I already have in mind: The Her Campus Blogger Network and Blogger Babes. Blogger Babes is especially cool because it can help female bloggers be competitive in the industry while fostering a sense of community and oneness. Plus, gaining membership will give me a step in the right direction and show me that every ounce of work I’ve put into my website is paying off.
  5. Enhance my makeup skills. I’m fairly decent with applying foundation, winging my eyeliner, making my eyelashes look ginormous and doing pretty eyeshadow, but I’d definitely like to pick up a few new skills and master some new makeup looks. There are so many ways to do a smoky eye and I’d like to find one way that’s completely my own. I also want to learn how to make wild eyeshadow colors look flawless! Yes, I would be that girl walking through campus with yellow, green and orange eyeshadow and I would totally own it! To do this I will try to go to free beauty classes offered by Sephora stores to those who are members (like I am). I will also try looking around for other makeup events and such around the city (Whoo! Resolution #2).
  6. Practice photography and improve skills. As a blogger, I feel that having great photography skills of your own will help you out immensely because you’ll be pulling stockphotos off the internet less and less if you have your own fabulous masterpieces to put online. Plus, in the journalism industry (especially magazine journalism) if you can take your own high quality pictures, it’s a huge advantage when looking for employment because more and more content platforms are pushing for original photographs to accompany articles. I’ve been playing around with my iphone and trying to take better pictures using that for now, but I’d like to get a DSLR camera so I can really take pics like a pro.
  7. Enhance mental skills. Ever wonder what hidden abilities you might possess? No, I don’t expect to be able to move my eyeshadow palette with my mind (yet) but I definitely know that I want to be able to use my brain more. We probably all have more mental capacity than we might think, but the truth is, more often than not, we are slowing down. I want to pick up speed and be sharp as a tack. There are dozens of apps nowadays that allow you to train your brain and stretch cognition. I’ve tried some in the past (which can be addicting but frustrating if you don’t hit the goal you want to hit) but I have never sought to make it a habit, until now, that is. Thinking can be improved, problem solving can be improved, not to mention other cool abilities. Telekinesis is overrated, anyway.
  8. Get my first paying part-time job. Confession: I’m a sophomore in college and I’ve never had a paying part-time job. Ever. I’ve been an intern and volunteered before but I’ve never performed a task for monetary compensation. I would really like to get on that part-time employment train. Making my own money means that I’ll have more responsibility to save and monitor it properly, which is actually a really good thing because it teaches you habits that you’ll have to have when you’re older. Plus, I’ll be able to add to my list of references and experience by getting a job.
  9. Start reading again. I used to be able to go through novels in a day. That’s right, a day. I used to devour books and could recall every detail in them. When I got to high school, I stopped reading during lunch and instead listened to whatever gossip was going around the table that day. Now, reading books for class seems like a chore, and my reading speed has definitely slowed. My passion for writing started with my passion for reading, after all, and it would be great to get back into the reading zone.
  10. Get my clarinet fixed and play again. I’ve been a band geek for nearly 10 years. My instrument of choice: the clarinet. After high school, a key on my clarient broke and I never got it fixed. I’ve definitely been meaning to pick it up and play again, especially an awesome Game of Thrones cover, but I can’t do that with a broken key! I hope this will be the year for me to get it fixed and back in shape so I can get back to playing in my free time.
  11. Learn more Italian. I took Italian during my freshman year of college and it’s a really great language! I definitely would like to travel to Italy someday and being able to speak the language would be pretty helpful. My goal here is to refresh my memory on what I’ve learned and learn new things about the language and culture.

I hope you enjoyed reading my New Year’s Resolutions and I hope I even inspired you to make your own – no matter how big or small! Have a Happy New Year guys!

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? 

JS

5 TV Shows To Cozy Up To This Winter

If you’re like me and you’ve already finished binge watching tv shows that you’ve already seen at least once, then chances are you’re looking for a new show to satisfy your craving for Netflix. Nothing says, ‘winter break,’ like sitting in a toasty room, hot chocolate in hand, eyes glued to the screen of your smart tv or laptop. If you’re looking to discover a potential interest in a tv show you’ve never seen before, then you’ve come to the right place! Don’t worry, I’m not about to suggest shows like Pretty Little Liars, Teen Wolf, or Revenge that pretty much everyone already knows about (though I do enjoy watching Emily Thorne’s quest to make people suffer unfold). They’re fantastic shows, but here are some I got to know that I couldn’t stop watching.

1. iZombie 

Synopsis: Olivia Moore was a diligent student with a residency at the ER…in her past life, that is! She was scratched by a zombie and now she is one. Her secret put many things in her life on hold, but becoming a zombie is not without perks. Let’s just say that she now has some undeniable qualities that make her kick-butt detective for the Seattle police department.

My thoughts: This show is different from your normal crime drama because of the intricate comic book detail that you see throughout the show – that and the fact that our young sleuth eats the brains of the victims in order to uncover the gruesome details behind their murders! We can see what Liv sees after eating a victim’s brain, and the attitudes she adopts are all extremely different and entertaining. Many of the murders are actually really fascinating (like the girl who ended up impaled by a tree branch after a skydiving incident that wasn’t actually an incident). Some other awesome characters to look out for in this show are Ravi (Liv’s new British boss in the morgue who comes equipped with an arsenal of intelligent comebacks), Evan (Liv’s seemingly pointless younger brother who actually plays a HUGE part in the explosive season finale *hint, hint*) and Blaine (because every show needs a cynical buttwipe).

2. The Fosters

Synopsis: Callie and her younger brother, Jude, are prisoners of the foster care system. There is no doubt in Callie’s mind that she and her brother will never find a loving foster family…but then they met the Fosters. Upon Callie and Jude’s arrival, the family is literally turned upside down and sideways with all the crime, romantic drama, tension and trouble that ensues, and almost everyone has something to lose.

My thoughts: I have my roommate to thank for introducing me to this show. Every episode is drama after drama after drama! Some real issues, such as discovering one’s sexual orientation, are brought to light in this show in a really great way. Honestly, I hate Callie and Brandon. Her pigheadedness gets herself and the ones around her in trouble and it’s like she never learns her lesson (or rather, countless lessons). Of course, this is what the show is all about. Besides, you know the show is good when you can actually feel some type of way toward the characters! Honestly, there was never a dull moment during this show!

3. Cupcake Wars

Synopsis: Bakers with businesses back home come from all over the country to compete against each other in the fight to woo three top notch judges (one of which is usually a celebrity or a representative of the cause for that episode). Bakers go through a series of challenges until two are left standing for the final challenge: create a display of 1,000 cupcakes to be featured at an exclusively lavish event.

My thoughts: If you love baking (or eating food) and you love competition and the occasional mishap, this is the show for you! It amazes me that the contestants on this show are always great bakers at home that can blow your mind, but come competition time and they can really falter and fail. Some absolutely devastating things have happened during competition and you will always find yourself rooting for that one baker – or you might find yourself fuming if that one baker loses.

4. Witches of East End

Synopsis: A family of witches is in huge trouble after the mother has tried – for centuries – to suppress the powers her daughters possess. Of course, nothing is without consequence. Someone truly evil is out for this family’s blood.

My thoughts: I just started watching this show and it’s bizarre enough to keep me interested! This isn’t Sabrina the Teenage Witch level of magic. I actually appreciate the use of Latin in this show (I proudly took Latin in high school) and some weird things actually do happen that may have you looking over your shoulder! The details behind the storyline make this show one of a kind – I mean, who watches her children die and be born again over a dozen times? The show is a bit fast-paced in the sense that the plot of each episode carries on a bit too quickly. But this is definitely the show for you if you like the supernatural and witches!

5. Young & Hungry

Synopsis: A young and bubbly chef named Gabi and her intelligent and equally insane roommate need money, which means Gabi needs a job. She is hired to cook for a tech genius for whom she begins to catch feelings and sleeps with. Did I mention he’s engaged? The series follows Gabi’s screw ups as she continuously meddles in other people’s lives.

My thoughts: I saved the best for last! If the catchy intro in season two isn’t enough to persuade you to watch this show, then here are some other cool things about Young & Hungry. Gab’s situations are unique – like, you’ll never ever find yourself in her situation, unique. But that’s what makes them entertaining! Watch out for Elliot – his tongue is as sharp as a tack! With Elliot around to fill the room with sass and cut-throat comebacks, you’ll laugh for hours! All characters considered, there is literally no topic that is off limits for jokes on this show!

I hope you enjoyed reading this list of some newly discovered shows that I personally find great!

What tv show are you into this winter? 

JS