How To Prepare to Study Abroad

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Studying abroad can be one of the best times in a student’s life. It gives you an opportunity to explore new places, try new foods, and experience new cultures. Many people see study abroad courses as trans-formative experiences that change the way that you view the world. However, there is much to think about and plan before getting up and moving to a different country for a semester, a year, or any extended time. Here are four important things to do and figure out before going abroad.

Prepare Proper Identification

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When traveling to another country you will likely need a passport. If you do not already have one, obtaining one can be a semi long process. It is important to think ahead and get your passport sorted out before it is too late. It is important while overseas to keep your passport and identification stored in a safe place. Losing your ID or passport can create massive problems while abroad.

Sort Out Your Money

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You will likely need a different currency when traveling abroad. It is necessary to either change your currency to the local one, or to find a credit or debit card that works overseas and has minimal charges that you can use. Airports tend to be an expensive place to exchange currency so seek out alternative places such as some banks.

Phone Plans

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Figuring out a phone plan is important for study abroad programs, as using a domestic phone overseas can really run up your telephone bill. Different carriers have different options and it is important to look through each one and figure out which one is the most cost efficient and works the best for you.

Safety Protocol

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It is important to be safe overseas as you will be in a place that is unfamiliar to you and will likely not have as much family and friends nearby to lean on if you need help. It is important to create a safety plan to ensure that you will be safe and able to enjoy your study abroad to the fullest!

Comment below with your study abroad tips and experiences!

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Train Like A Beast, Look Like A Beauty

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We all have those moments when we think, “I want to work out!” Which is great, except there’s only a select few that stick it out and workout on a regular basis. Sometimes we get too busy, or just give up. Try these tips out and see if you can stick to that workout routine a little longer.

Find Your Workout Pace

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Not everyone can work out like the Rock, or Jillian Michaels. Don’t worry when you can’t do the routine you pick out right away. Find a routine you want to be able to do, and slowly work towards it. This will lessen your chances of getting discouraged. Work up to a routine that is going to challenge your body, but don’t work so hard that you hurt yourself. Start with basic things: go for a jog, do a couple push-ups, a couple squats. Drink lots of water, and try and keep your body healthy aside from working out. Building up your workout will also lessen the chances of you hurting yourself. If you haven’t worked out in a while, you might not be sure of what your body can handle, so be sure to take it slow and don’t give up!

Enjoy Your Workout

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Not everyone enjoys pumping iron or doing a bunch of squats. Try to find an activity you enjoy, if you enjoy it you’re less likely to quit trying. Maybe you enjoy running or swimming or biking or you could try walking a little more and driving a little less. Working out doesn’t have to be a chore. Find a cool playlist to listen to, find a friend to workout with, or find a cool place to workout.

This is one of the workout playlists I use on Spotify.

Feel Cute When You Workout

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No matter who you are, or how you workout, feeling cute is going to help motivate you. Find a cool looking pair of sneakers, and a cool outfit. For guys, basketball shorts and a rocking T-shirt. For girls, a pair of leggings and an awesome t-shirt. You don’t have to spend a fortune to look good, just make sure your workout clothes are breathable, comfy, and stretchy always helps. Make sure to get a fabric that breathes and won’t overheat you while you’re working out

Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day, your toned body won’t be either. Be careful, have patience, and don’t give up!

Comment below with your best workout tips!

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Clean Room, Clean Mind

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It’s getting close to the beginning of the new school year, which means new teachers, new classes and maybe even a new dorm. Having a tidy room can have many benefits: it can relieve stress, it can help focus when you’re working on homework and its an added bonus that you don’t have to speed clean when friends and family come over. These are simple ways to keep a clean room and make the most of your space.

Small Space Doesn’t Mean Small Things

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Rooms vary in size and having a small room is an actual problem. It means you don’t have as many places for your things, which leads to your room feeling cluttered. To “de-clutter” your space go and get some storage drawers to place around the room. This can keep things like makeup, hair tools, shoes, hats and extra clothes up off the floor and out of sight until you need them. It keeps them well organized and doesn’t take up a lot of space. This also allows for a makeshift book case if you don’t have enough room for one.

A Lot Of Things Doesn’t Mean A Lot Of Clutter

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Everyone has something that takes up a lot of space, whether its clothes, shoes, books, movies or what have you; we’ve all got something. Instead of getting rid of things (which note: you might need to do that too, more on that later) try different ways of organizing them. If you have things you don’t use, let’s say at least once a month, pack it up in a storage tote. You still have it on hand but it isn’t taking up space. For clothes, if its the wrong season, pack it up in a tote. You don’t need a winter coat in the middle of July, and you don’t need shorts in the middle of December. This allows more room for the clothes you wear all the time.

More Clothes Doesn’t Mean More Options

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Admit it, you have a favorite pair of jeans, a lucky shirt, a special hoodie. You also have clothes in the back of your closet that you or someone else bought that you don’t wear, or you’ve grown out of. Take all of your clothes out of wherever you store them, and sort. The ones you haven’t worn in the last, say three, months put in the give away pile. Ones that are special and you don’t want to get rid of, pack them up in a tote. After you’re finished, you should have a smaller amount of clothes, that you can now fold and put away.

For a different way to fold clothes to make more space, check out these organizing tips.

Organizing your room can relieve stress, help with anxiety, and let’s face it, having a clutter free room makes it easier to clean. These are just a few tips on how to keep a clean room.

Comment down below other ideas you have for tidying a room. Good luck!

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Little Things That Matter to a Girl

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When forming a new relationship, there are many things that people are apt to learn about each other in the course of their conversation. Some of these things are trivial; little facts that add nothing to the relationship itself but still help to promote understanding of values and ways of thinking and doing. Other facts are pivotal and help to really create a strong relationship and strong connection. Many of these little things such as when someone’s birthday is or what things annoy people the most may seem quite obvious, but there are plenty of details that are important for a healthy relationship that may not be quite as obvious. When knowing how to make a girl happy in a relationship, there are an endless amount of facts and details that a guy should know.  Here are four important little things to know about a girl in order to make sure you are able to make her happy.

Dessert Preference

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When a woman is unhappy or in a bad mood, there are very few things that work better to pick them up than a good dessert. Even for those who are highly health conscious, a healthy and tasty dessert can change a mood quickly. It is important to know what kind of dessert a girl likes most and how to easily obtain said dessert. Don’t forget the specifics either. Simple chocolate is a fan favorite but everyone has different tastes and it is important to differentiate between milk, dark, and white. Some people love one type of chocolate but despise the other. Chocolate and desserts are not only great pickups, they are also great mood enhancers. Bringing a box of chocolates to the door for a date or night in may seem like a cliché, but it is cliché because it has been proven to work time after time.  Chocolate has been proven to reduce stress, and also has many other lesser known health benefits.

Favorite Feel-Good Movie

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When we as humans are unhappy or in a bad mood, it goes without saying that surrounding ourselves with our favorite things can do a lot to enhance our moods. Our favorite movies are a great thing to watch when in a mad mood or when in a tough place. However, it is important to pick a positive movie to watch in these situations. Your girlfriend’s favorite movie might very well be Old Yeller, but it is highly unlikely that watching this while depressed will cheer her up. Try to seek out a favorite of hers that is positive and uplifting. A feel good or a comedy is usually a good choice.

Favorite Meal

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As pointed out in the previous points, surrounding someone with their favorite stuff can raise their mood and make them happier.  It is very important to know a girls favorite meal. Making her favorite meal for her when she is depressed or sad shows her that you care about her happiness and want to help her out of whatever funk she may be in. Making her favorite meal for a romantic night in is also a great idea. If you can get her favorite meal down to the most minute detail and accompany it with her favorite dessert or snack, you have a good chance at making her happier and improving her mood.

Favorite Flowers

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Girls love receiving flowers. Plain and simple. Classic roses are usually a safe bet, along with colorful bouquets and arrangements. However, remembering what her favorite flower is and showing up with them is a very romantic gesture that shows that you listen when she talks and that you care about making her happy. Being slightly knowledgeable about flowers is also something that also can surprise girls as most tend to assume men have no idea about flowers.

Although these little things may seem non-important in the scale of things, it is often the little things that matter the most and can do the most towards making a woman happy.

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Fourth of July Party Ideas

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It is the beginning of July, which means the coolest holiday of the summer is on the horizon! Here are some great ways to celebrate the Fourth of July with friends or family and not break the bank!

Fun With Food!

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It’s a party which means there has to be food! Change up the same old dishes and add some American spirit flare!

  • Cut up fruit. The easiest fruit would be watermelon into stars shapes and lay them out.
  • Make a healthy flag cake with bananas, strawberries and blueberries.
  • Make white-chocolate dipped strawberries and add blue sprinkles!

Games!

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I would say games are for kids but who are we kidding? Adults have just as much fun playing games as kids do.

  • Corn hole of course is on the list, it’s a tradition.
  • A fun twist on the classic game Twister is to spray paint the dots on the lawn.  This way you can have more dots and more players!
  • Spray paint cans in red, white and blue and set the up.  Grab a ball and play backyard bowling!
  • Stick a stake in the ground. Grab glow-sticks and play ring toss in the dark!

Decorations!

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You cannot have a party without some decorations to spice things up.

  • Pick up streamers from the store and string them up in the backyard to add color.
  • Buy white and red flowers and place them in a vase of water. Add blue food coloring to the water.
  • Spray paint mason jars and set them up on a colorful table runner.

I hope these ideas on how to change up your Fourth of July party spark your creativity!

Comment below with other fun ideas for the Fourth of July! And of course, Happy Fourth of July!

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Choosing the Best Summer Hat

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It’s summertime and the sun is out and shining. There are plenty of ways to protect yourself from the sun, but at the end of the day there is no better creation to protect your face from damaging UV rays than a hat. There are a bunch of different kinds and styles to choose from. Some are ageless and work in many settings, whereas others are only appropriate in specific settings.

While it is important to prevent burns and cover your face properly, it is also instrumental to have the right kind of hat to compliment your style and surroundings. Here are the main types of summer hats, along with when each should and can be used.

The Baseball Hat

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The classic baseball hat is what most think of. The design is simple. It protects your face from the sun and can be worn effortlessly with a multitude of outfits. Different types of baseball hats can be used based on the social setting and location. Different styles can also be used to compliment one’s own personal style, with styles such as snap-backs gaining prominence as of recently. Baseball hats also give you the chance to show support for certain teams or brands.

The Sombrero

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Mexican sombrero hats are much more present in the country as they are designed to protect the face and neck from long days in the field under the hot summer sun. Although sombreros are not typically worn for fashion reasons, they have a highly functional use. These hats should be avoided in non-countryside settings as they are not commonplace in urbanized settings and are usually not necessary for these kinds of settings.

The Cowboy Hat

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The Cowboy hat is highly prevalent in the southern United States and mostly in the great state of Texas. The hat is particularly associated with ranch workers in the southern and Western U.S. The cowboy hat’s wide brim protects the face much like the sombrero without protruding as much from the base of the hat. However, it does not shadow the neck like a sombrero would. Beside being used for a functional reason, the cowboy hat is used frequently by those who dress in a cowboy style. Combined with cowboy boots, wrangler jeans, and a plaid or plain tee shirt, the cowboy hat can complete the cowboy style that is popular in Texas and some of the southwestern states.

The Bucket Hat

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The Bucket hat, also known as a fisherman hat, is primarily used by fisherman as the name dictates. The hat has head wear design with a wide and downwards sloping brim, with occasional ventilation holes on the side. The hat was introduced as a fashion statement in the 60’s and has seen a revival as of late, especially among middle school children in the United States. Although the hat has some shade advantages over a common baseball hat, it is mostly used as a fashion accessory and is associated with today’s “hipster” scene. The bucket hats origins go way back as well, with many famous icons having sported the style at one point in their careers.

The Straw Hat

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The Straw hat has a wide brim and provides some shade from the sun. It is made of lighter materials than most hats, and this helps to keep the head cool. However, the straw is not always woven tightly, so it is possible for UV radiation to get through the holes in the hat and create burns. This hat is most commonly worn while gardening or at the beach.

The Wide Brimmed Hat

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The wide brimmed hat is mostly worn by women and provides strong protection from the sun. Its wide reach allows maximum cover of the skin and provides a cool alternative to a heavier hat. Some wide brimmed hats also can be made in sun resistant materials, providing further protection from the sun. Wide brim hats can be fashionable, while also preventing skin cancer by preventing damaging UV rays.

Everyone has a different style when it comes to head wear, but one thing is for sure; Hats can be a great way to not only protect you from the sun, but to compliment an outfit or fashion as well!

Comment below to share what summer hat works best for you.

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Ways To Stay Cool In The Summer Heat

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We all love summer. Summer means a break from studies as well as a great time to hang out with friends and family. The only problem is that summer heat sometimes dampers your fun. These are some fun ways to stay cool in the heat!

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Freeze Fruit

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Putting grapes, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc. into the freezer and freezing them is a great way to stay cool. There are plenty of uses for frozen fruit. It’s an easy snack to put out during a party or just a snack for yourself.

Water Spray

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Fans that spritz water are neat, but why would you spend a lot of money on something you could make at home? Go to the dollar store and buy a small spray bottle, fill it up with water and you’ve got a homemade one in a couple of dollars. For an extra something in your spray bottle, you can add a couple drops peppermint oil to create a cooling spray.

Summer Clothes

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This may seem like a silly tip to add, but we all wear clothes not made for summer sometimes. Whether it’s your favorite pair of jeans, or your lucky hoodie, it’s too hot. Try and stick to loose fabric, as well as more light weight fabric.

Drink a Lot of Water

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If this is the only thing you take away from this post, that’s fine but seriously, drink more water. Most health agencies recommend a half a gallon of water a day, which equals out to eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Now, in the heat, your body is sweating and you’re working harder, so it’s much easier to become dehydrated. Some benefits of drinking lots of water are staying healthy and hydrated during the summer months (and all year round for that matter).

Style for the Heat

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We all love our long hair, but in the summer it can put a damper on things. Your hair is a natural insulator, so when you have long hair, your head and neck are going to get really hot. So try some cute up-do styles to stay a little cooler.

Hopefully these tips help you enjoy the summer heat a little more!

Comment below with more suggestions on how to beat the summer heat! 

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How to Have the Perfect Barbecue

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Summer is upon us and the sun is out and shining–well most of the time anyways. There are so many great ways to enjoy summer and having a barbecue is one of the best. If you like delicious food, music, and enjoying the company of your friends on a beautiful sunny day, then a summer barbecue is the perfect option. Here are some important things to do to ensure you have the best barbecue possible.

Plan Ahead With the Weather

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Nothing can ruin a barbecue more than the pouring rain. Soggy meat and muddy clothes can spoil a fun day quickly, so check ahead with the weather to try and select a day that is clear and sunny. Sometimes you will just get unlucky and the weather will do its best to ruin your day, but if you plan ahead you can usually avoid having a barbecue on a rainy miserable day.

Make a Fun Summertime Playlist

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Upbeat music can really do a lot to boost your mood, so it is imperative to have a good selection of music to dance and sing to, or just enjoy in the background. Try to find a genre or selection of songs that are well known and positive. Summer themed songs can help enhance the experience as well. Be careful about selecting specific genres if you have a group with a variety of different tastes. When in doubt, it’s hard to go wrong with classic rock songs, as they tend to be universally more known. Some examples of bands that would work well on a barbecue playlist are The Beach Boys, as well as Queen and Journey.

Invite a Close Group of Friends

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Barbecues can be extremely fun, so make sure to get a good group of people who you like to be around and who are happy to be there. This doesn’t mean excluding people who may not necessarily fit in with everyone or who may be a little shyer. Barbecues are a great way to introduce friends to other friends who they may not know, as it is a relaxing setting in which people are generally upbeat and happy.

Stay Hydrated and Bring Refreshing Drinks

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It is important to have plenty of liquids available in the hot summer sun, so bring plenty of refreshing drinks. Fruity drinks such as fruit juices and sodas are tasty beverages to bring to the event. For the 21+ crowd, cold beer as well as wine can be a nice treat to help one relax on a cold summer day. Consult local drinking laws if you are in public areas to ensure that you are drinking legally. It is also a good idea to bring water as it is refreshing and good for you to drink.  A cooler is also a good idea to keep in mind to keep your drinks cold.

Bring Something To Do As A Group

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Barbecues can be fantastic events to just relax, sit around, and talk, but there are many other things that can be done at them.  Bringing card or board games can be a good relaxing way to enjoy each others company, as well as bringing balls or other items.  A soccer ball to kick around or a Frisbee to throw are very common barbecue items and can help to keep those who don’t like to remain sedentary having fun.

Bring Lots of Tasty Food

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Ah, the best part of the barbecue: Food. The food at a barbecue may be the most important factor and is what a lot of people look forward to the most. The traditional barbecue foods are hot dogs, hamburgers and watermelon, which are all excellent choices that you cannot go wrong with.  Remember though that there are many other options as well. Pulled pork and brisket are a little harder to make but can be twice as delicious if made right. There are also plenty of barbecue sides available that you can bring such as sweet corn, potato salad, and baked beans. It is also a nice idea to bring a dessert that people can enjoy. Homemade brownies or cookies are a delicious idea, but you also can’t go wrong with something cold on a hot summer day, like ice cream or popsicles.  It is also very important to not forget condiments! Although some people may like their burgers or hot dogs plain, it can often be that extra bit of mustard, ketchup, or barbecue sauce that really helps to put the food over the edge.

If you follow all these steps, you will have a fantastic barbecue and have a wonderful day eating good food, enjoying some good music, and enjoying the company of friends and/or family!

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Books To Read When You Miss John Green

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Are you missing this guy?

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By now must of us have read at least one John Green book, or heard of one. A lot of you have already read all his books, multiple times. If you are one of those people you may be looking for some similar reading material. Here are some books to read to help you fill the void of John Green this summer. Not all of these books are new but they are all still amazing so keep an open mind.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story: Ned Vizzini

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This is a story that follows Craig, a fifteen year old attending a very prestigious school.  He has very high hopes for himself which adds an enormous amount of pressure on him to succeed. A series of events ends with him in a mental institution, where he makes new friend and finds himself.  The books does very well at depicting mental issues and depression, without sugar-coating it, but refrains from being morbid. The storyline is a little intense, but the way Vizzini writes the story has you laughing throughout it’s entirety.  eCampus.com has It’s Kind of a Funny Story available to purchase for $7.45.

The Probability of Miracles: Wendy Wunder

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This story follows Cam, a sarcastic teenager who has spend a lot of her life in and out of hospitals.  Her mom then has this idea: move them to Promise, Maine which is supposed to have miraculous powers.  When they arrive, Cam finds a sort of bucket list and as she moves down the list we see her fall in love, find self-love and even start to believe that maybe miracles CAN happen.  The story is not centered Cam’s illness, it is about how she copes with it and learns to enjoy her life. A feel good read that makes you smile with every chapter!  iTunes has the Probability of Miracles available to download for $7.99 if you want to read it by the pool on your iPhone or iPad.

Okay for Now: Gary D. Schmidt

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Schmidt is a sort of western writer and this story is set in the Vietnam era so it is a little different than the other three by him. Teenage Doug moves to a new town, gets a new job and meets a new girl, Lil. Together the duo spend their free time at the public library where Doug get unofficial art lessons from the librarian.  The story follows Doug as he deals with his abusive father and his brother back from the war in Vietnam.  Schmidt does a good job of depicting life in a new town, as well as the incredible feat of incorporating art into the story. Knetbooks has Okay for Now available to rent for $9.25.

Perks of Being a Wallflower: Stephen Chboksy

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A lot of people have seen this movie and the movie is actually pretty close to the book. Charlie is an incoming freshmen; a very quiet person without a lot of friends but he soon finds some. This is a coming of age story about a boy finding friends as place to fit in, as well as trying to deal with personal issues. This book is not as light as the others and I will admit that I cried while reading it. It is very inspirational and is a feel good read without being mushy, while also being more mature.

*Be warned that if you decide to read this one that the book goes into more detail and is much more intense than the movie and may make you feel uncomfortable at times.*

As always, as the cheapest option you can look for this title at a local library.  Knetbooks also has The Perks of Being a Wallflower available to rent for $10.00.

I hope that these suggestions of books to read when you’re missing John Green (sigh) help keep you occupied this summer!

Comment below if you have any feedback or more related books to suggest!

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Five Date Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank

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Dining out at nice restaurants and attending musical events are always good ideas for dates when looking to impress someone that you like. However, doing this on the regular can also put a very heavy strain on one’s wallet. Going on fancy dates can show that you care about someone and that you want to make them happy with romantic gestures, however the total can quickly add up. This is especially true for college students who often do not have the luxury of extra spending money to be thrown in wads at three-star restaurants. Just because you do not have the cash to go out to a fancy dinner every week doesn’t mean that you still can’t impress your date. While it is fun to go out to upscale restaurants frequently, sometimes the budget just doesn’t allow for it.

If you need ideas for dating on a budget, look no further as I will be providing you with some options that will let you have fun without breaking the budget.

Go For a Walk or Take a Hike

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Although it may seem simple, just walking around with someone can be a great way to get to know them better.  When choosing a spot to walk around, look for an area that is interesting or has aesthetic advantages. Find a place filled with culture! If you have the option, a big city is the perfect setting for a nice walk, as well as a pretty park or neighborhood. Nature walks and hikes are also a good option for those who live in close vicinity to a forest or other nature filled area. Walking is great for you as well, as being outdoors can significantly improve your health and even lower stress. Reduced stress level can make it easier to relax and enjoy the date. Now that’s killing two birds with one stone!

Get Dessert

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You may have heard people say that diamonds are the way to a girl’s heart. I would disagree, dessert is! Ice cream and frozen yogurt are always good choices, but you can’t go wrong with cake or pastries too. When seeking out dessert places, try looking for local patisseries and hidden gems. There is nothing wrong with going the classic Ben & Jerry’s route, but sometimes it can be fun to try somewhere new. It’s also commonly known that dessert improves your mood, so you are more likely to enjoy being with another person because you equate spending time with them with happier feelings. Carbohydrate-rich foods like desserts cause your brain to produce serotonin and tryptophan — chemicals that can promote your emotional well-being and thus make you a happier person

Have a Picnic

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Having a picnic in a park or pretty area is a great idea for a date. It is a setting that encourages conversation and creates an atmosphere of relaxation for both parties. As far as food for a picnic, you can’t go wrong with a classic sandwich and chips combination. Bringing a bottle of wine with glasses adds a little romance to the outing and can make it feel more like a date than just lunch (if you are 21+ of course). Once again, you can’t go wrong with dessert as bringing something chocolaty or rich will end the picnic in just the right way! A picnic is a great option as it can work at nearly any time of the day. You can have a lunchtime picnic and revel in the sunlight, or set up for a dinner picnic and enjoy the sunset and the night stars.

Attend a Sports Game

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Although tickets to certain games can be extremely pricey, there are often ways to get cheap tickets to a variety of different sporting events. Try taking advantage of student ticket deals as many colleges have deals worked out that will allow you to get into events and games for greatly reduced prices. Sports games are a great way to get to know someone that you may not be completely comfortable with, as you have the chance to sit and talk, with a decreased threat of awkward silence and a conversation topic (the event) already lined up for addressing. Sports events also offer a great opportunity for group dates which may benefit some individuals looking to strengthen relationships, but not quite sure how to do so. Some individuals may be nervous or uncomfortable on initial date and adding another couple or friends to the date may help to ease nervousness.

Visit a Museum

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Although some museums can be quite expensive and really put a dent in your wallet, colleges also do their best to make art available to students by offering student deals that make museums either much cheaper or free! Some museums will offer free admission to students within the local area, while others will host student nights. Visiting a museum is a great way to get to know someone as you can learn what they value and how they think by finding out their opinions and views on art. Although museums can make great date spots, it is also important not to get too caught up in the actual art and to allow yourself to talk to your date and get to know them rather than just the art you came to see. Remember, you are there for the date; not just the art.

There are many other options when dating on a budget that can be both romantic and fun. One great tip is to try something new together as this can bring added excitement to the table. Take advantage of student deals on events and museums as these can prove to be strong dates that don’t break the bank. The most important thing when planning a date is to choose something that you can both enjoy. Although some ideas may seem like great date ideas to you, people have different tastes and your date may not be enthralled by the idea of going to a baseball game or walking around a neighborhood. When planning, be creative and thoughtful and you can easily find a great idea for a date that will not empty your pockets.

What’s your favorite budget-friendly date idea? Comment below!

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