Traveling Cheap While in College

Traveling cheap

Last week, my partner and I went on a very nice vacation to New York City. As normal as that sounds, it’s something I thought would be impossible only one year ago. After all, my parents weren’t about to pay for a vacation in The Big Apple if they weren’t going. However, there were a few little tricks I discovered which made vacationing on my meager, college tour guide income possible. Follow these five simple tips on traveling cheap and go places you thought you never could afford!

Tip 1: Avoid Hotels!

I initially balked at the idea of vacationing in New York simply because I thought a hotel would be too expensive. As it turns out, I was right. However, we didn’t stay in a hotel and really no college student living on a budget should ever stay in a hotel. Look around for a cheap Airbnb, or try staying at a hostel. After all, you’ll simply be sleeping there. It doesn’t need to be a five star Vegas suite to comfortably rest your eyes for a few nights.

Tip 2: Make sure the place you’re staying at has a kitchen and cook your meals.

I can’t say enough about how much cheaper this one mantra made our trip. Food in big cities is expensive, no matter how cheap you try to make it. If you get a cheap sandwich and a drink, that’s easily a good ten dollars. Multiply that by three meals over five days and you’ve got an uncomfortably high expense of $150 per person. Unfortunately, that estimate is also on the lower end for big cities. By giving up eating out for most meals and buying groceries instead, we spent about $50 on food for a full week.  Now that is traveling cheap! If you follow this advice your meals might not be the most glamorous (lunch was a bagel with peanut butter and an apple most days), but hey, you’re here to see the sights. You can get plenty of better, more affordable food back home.

Tip 3: Find out what’s free, and then do it.

Free concert? Add it to the list. Free museum hours? Mark them down also. Free street fair, street performances, or bar trivia without a cover charge? Mark all of them as to-dos. Just because something is free doesn’t mean it’ll disappoint. If you play your cards right, you can even weasel your way into some paid activities for free (or at least for cheap). For instance, The Met in New York only has a suggested admission price. Do I feel guilty about only paying ten dollars for two people? A little, but it’s hard to feel anything other than awe when you’re staring a 4,000 year old egyptian mummy in the face, especially when the experience didn’t break the bank.

Tip 4: Budget for your trip, then follow through with it.

Know how much you want to spend and stick to it. Before the trip, try to plan out all anticipated costs in advance. You’ll want to know what’s essential before you start splurging. For instance, if your ticket to see the sights is in the form of a $35 subway pass, you need that more than you need a street kebab. It’s not only essential and worth budgeting for, a subway pass also won’t give you food poisoning. Once you’ve planned out all your important and unavoidable expenses, you can take what’s left over and use it towards feeding your need for instant gratification. Keep in mind unexpected expenses are part of traveling, so be sure to save a little cash to cover unplanned travel needs.

Tip 5: Remember to Have fun

Budgeting is great and all, but your vacation is about having fun. If you get caught up trying to save every dollar possible while traveling cheap, you’re likely going to miss out. It’s important to give yourself some spending money so when an unexpected opportunity arises, you can get out there and have fun. If you can afford to cut loose, then why not splurge a little? After all, life can’t always be about scrimping and saving.

Traveling is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be outside of your reach. While most college students face a tight budget, proper planning and thrifty ideas can make traveling cheap possible. While the thread count of my Airbnb sheets might not have stood up to the expectations of some ritzy New York travelers, we shared the exact same view of the mummies inside the Met.

 

Overcome Writer’s Block With These Summer Writing Exercises

Writer's Block

Ah, the summer is here and you’re ready to kick back and relax. If you spent last semester struggling to overcome writer’s block, picking up a pen is probably the last thing you’re planning on doing over summer break. However, soon next semester will sneak up on us and you’ll be back to stressing over how to start writing a paper. The truth is, there is no secret to being a great writer. Simply put, practice makes perfect. Writing and reading are exercises for your mind. The more you practice the craft, the better you will become. You shouldn’t stop writing simply because the semester ended. When school starts back, lose the stress by practicing these four writing exercises over the summer:

Free Write

Some students appear able to begin writing a paper without taking any time to brainstorm. Before class is dismissed, they’ve written a novel and are off to claim their National Book Award. While we can’t all be the next Edgar Allen Poe, we can improve on our ability to overcome writer’s block. Practice free writing, an exercise writers use to strengthen their creative ability and sharpen their voice. Free writing is trying to continuously write for 15 minutes without interruptions. Sound easy enough, right? Well, the challenge is your pen should not leave the paper until those 15 minutes are up. Free writing is not about stopping to think. It’s about actively writing whatever pops in your head. Try walking outside, whether it be in your backyard or in a local park, and finding a comfortable spot to write about your surroundings. 

Once you are finished, take an hour or so before you review what you wrote. After you read your spontaneous creation, take time to make any necessary revisions and turn it into a story. This great exercise for young writers strengthens their thought process and improves their editing skills.

“My first…”

 New experiences create rich memories filled with lasting emotions and detail. Many people can recall their first day of school, their first pet, or their first time driving with distinct clarity. All of these firsts are great story telling opportunities. Try to think about how you felt those days or in those moments and expand on them. What details stand out in your mind? What senses or emotions can you remember? Think of it like you’re telling the story to someone else; what would you want them to know? Start a paragraph with “I remember” or “My first” and let your memories dictate what you write. This will help you create strong stories and sentences because you’re practicing reporting information and using descriptive words.  

Use Online Prompts

The internet is a great source for education. There are dozens upon dozens of online writing prompts that will help strengthen your skills and reduce writer’s block. The best part about using prompts is your freedom to search for and customize them to fit your interests. Prompts usually start with a subject or topic (I.E. What’s Outside Your Window) and feature questions to help you brainstorm what to write for your story.  For a more creative approach, you can combine two prompts to create one bigger story. The options are endless!

Ask Journalistic Questions

If you’ve spent more than 10 minutes in a writing class, you’re likely familiar with the five W’s. Who? What? Where? When? and Why? This formula is often used by journalists to create leads, but it’s a great tool for other writers to utilize. Imagine your walking through town and suddenly see a dog chasing a cat. The dog chases the cat up the street until both animals run around the corner of a building and disappear out of view. Who is responsible for that dog? What caused the dog to start chasing the cat? Where did the two animals run off to? All of these questions create awareness of your surroundings and help with describing a situation.

Writer’s block is the last thing anyone needs when facing a deadline. Doing any of these exercises once a day, once a week, or even once a month can help keep your writing skills sharp throughout the summer. Write, take a break, come back to read it, and learn from your experiences. Now go practice writing! 

 

Questions to Ask if You’re Changing Majors

changing majors

The spring semester will be coming to a close sooner than we know it. As finals loom and end of term projects are assigned, many students will begin to wonder if they’re pursuing the wrong dream. If you’re finding your core classes totally useless or experiencing utter success in other subjects, you might be considering whether changing majors is worthwhile. You’re not alone! Upwards of 75% of undergraduates change their major at least once between the time of enrollment and graduation. Before you do anything official, here are some questions to consider before changing majors next fall.

Will I graduate on time?

This definitely varies between students. If you’re changing majors going into your senior year, then you’ll likely have to delay graduation.  If you’re a first or second year student, then chances are you’ll be fine. Should changing your major result in more years of undergraduate schooling, consider taking on a preferred subject as a minor. This compromise allows you to enroll in courses that interest you without the burden of completing as many credits. However, do not make any changes without scheduling an appointment with your advisor. They are your most important tool in deciding if changing majors is the best move.

Does my major have to reflect what I want to do in life?

No, not necessarily! Although some undergraduate professional programs are designed to prepare you for a certain career, i.e. engineering programs, most majors aren’t great predictors of what you’re going to do in life. In fact, studies show that only about 27% of college graduates are in a career directly related to their major. Therefore, your major doesn’t lock you into a certain career path. Regardless, earning a college degree is an investment in your future, so invest wisely.  

But what if I want a career in something totally different? Will employers consider me?

Again, so many graduates have jobs in fields unrelated to their majors. Acquiring experience in the field you want to work in, along with taking related classes, will give you a foot in the door. For example, if you’re an English literature major but aspire to be a business analyst, take classes related to analytics or even consider minoring in it. Additionally, internships are a great way to gain experience in your desired field. By interning, you’ll also interact with professionals who can later serve as excellent contacts for networking. Having experience in your desired career field and a professional network to leverage will create more opportunities than majoring in particular subject.  

Is it okay to change majors because my current one is too hard?

Yes! It’s not a shameful thing to change your major if you’re struggling in your current one. Our success is dependent on so many factors including our passions and general personalities. Just because we’re struggling with something doesn’t make us incompetent or a failure. Additionally, changing majors does not mean you’re giving up. It actually means quite the opposite. It means you’re smart enough to identify areas you excel and struggle in. You’re also brave enough to make a choice that will ultimately make you happier and more successful. Though it can be scary, change often brings opportunity.

What if my parents get mad?

We all have to understand that our parents simply want what they believe is best for us. They want to see us succeed, avoiding the struggles they faced and realizing opportunities they never had. However, parents don’t always know what’s best for us. When talking to your parents about your decision to change majors, tell them all of the reasons why you’re making the decision. Explain why these reasons will be ultimately beneficial. Be honest and be understanding, even if they’re angry. Change is scary for everyone. In the end, it’s your life and your happiness. You will be the one living it each day.

When deciding whether or not to change majors, consider some of the questions listed above and then decide the right course of action. First and foremost, before making any major (pun intended) decisions, consult your advisor and other people who are connected with that field of study. Email professors and other students to make sure you have a good understanding of what to expect. But don’t let it stress you out too much! You can always change it again. Good luck!

Keeping Up With Life Outside of College

For some students, moving several hours away from home to attend college is necessary to pursue a quality education. Going to a new place and meeting new people is wonderful, but what about all the family and friends you left behind? Their life still continues while you’re away. At some point during your college career, you will be faced with the choice of either going to class or going to some kind of special event such as a wedding or baby shower. Here are some tips for how to balance your life at school with your life away from school.

Weekend Gatherings

Plan Gatherings on Weekends

If possible, try to schedule (or ask others to schedule) special events or gatherings on weekends. Heading home on a day when you don’t have class is much easier than during the week. This is also when most people have time off work, so it should fit better with non-student family and friends as well.

Setting Expectations

Set Realistic Expectations

You are not going to make it to every single one of your cousin’s basketball games. Don’t promise family and friends you will show up to all their events when it is not possible. Be realistic when deciding what events you are going to try to make it home for. Also, make sure your relatives understand you are busy. They may not like the fact you are missing family events, but ultimately they should understand your education is important and must take priority at times.

Calendar

Plan in Advance

If you know about an event at the beginning of the semester, go ahead and start planning for it. Professors are more understanding and flexible when they receive notice far in advance. If you wait until a week before a big test to tell your professor about your sister’s upcoming weeding, it is unlikely he will grant your leave of absence. Communicating your schedule to others in a timely manner helps everyone plan for the future.

Recognizing Importance

Recognize Whats Important

A close friend of mine recently found herself in a tough situation. A funeral service for her family member was scheduled on the same day as a final presentation worth 20% of her final grade. The funeral was in a different state and the presentation could not be rescheduled. It was not possible for her to attend both events. What should you do if you find yourself in this situation?

You need to recognize what is important. My friend made the extremely tough decision to give her presentation rather than go to the funeral. Were some family members and friends upset about her decision? Yes. Was missing the funeral emotionally difficult for her? Yes. However, you have to make these difficult sacrifices. You must decide what is more important to you and your overall life. Missing a special occasion is hard, but it is a necessary part of earning an education.

Balancing school and home life can be difficult when you are in college, but with a little planning you can graduate and still be a part of the family! Have any other tips for balancing life in college? Leave them in the comment section below!

 

LinkedIn Tips for College Students

LinkedIn tips for college students

As a college student, it’s never too early to construct a resume. Starting early gives student the chance to constantly make sure everything is grammatically correct and up to date. However, in the digital world employers and programs look at much more than resumes to review potential candidates. One of the largest growing networks today is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a social media service for professionals and is one of the key tools for career networking and employment. As of 2016, LinkedIn holds over 467 million users, 40 million of which are college students or recent college grads. If you’ve decided to create a LinkedIn, it’s important to understand how utilizing the platform affects your success rate. Here are a few LinkedIn Tips for college students.

Profile Photographs

One of the most essential aspects of a good LinkedIn profile is the photo. Like other social media sites, i.e. Facebook, having an appropriate photo helps the viewer connect with you and legitimizes your account. Because of the various spammers and scammers lurking on the internet, it’s likely that other users, recruiters, and companies may feel weary about “connecting” with a user who doesn’t have a photograph. The key to a good LinkedIn photo is a clear headshot only featuring you. It doesn’t need to be a professionally taken photo, but looking clean and wearing a nice top is a must. Also, make sure to smile! Employers are looking for enthusiastic people.

List Your Skills

LinkedIn allows its members to easily list their skills in their profile. Additionally, LinkedIn allows you to put your skills in a specific order and lists the top three “featured skills” on your profile. The remaining skills are visible by clicking the “view more” button. Therefore, it is extremely important to think through which three skills best represent you. By entering your skills,  you allow employers to get a good understanding of what you’re capable of doing. LinkedIn also allows its users to obtain “endorsements” on their listed skills. Past employers and other members can verify you’re proficient in your these skills based on who and how many people endorse you. But of course, be careful who you ask!

 Expand Your Network

With LinkedIn’s huge member database, learning how to grow a strong and cohesive network of connections is one of the most important LinkedIn factors for college students. Like other social media networks, LinkedIn allows you to “connect” with people. These people could be classmates, coworkers, friends, whoever! In addition, college students have the special benefit of connecting with alumni. If you’re applying for a position, check LinkedIn to see if anyone who graduated from your school works there. Use this angle to connect and ask for advice and recommendations- not jobs. Like any other social engagement, make sure you’re not obtrusive.

Post Articles

Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn users have the opportunity to share articles or write their own and post them on their profile. Sharing and writing articles is another one of the best practices on LinkedIn for college students. Articles can be blog posts, recent news in your field, and generally interesting things. Not only does this provide employers and recruiters with more information about you, but it also helps give them a sense of who you are. However, be very, very careful to only post relevant and appropriate content to avoid offending and upsetting anyone. A general rule of thumb is to avoid politics and overly opinionated pieces.  

LinkedIn is one of many social media platforms that currently has millions of active users. With so many social platforms bidding for your time, it may seem unnecessary to join. However, LinkedIn isn’t about sharing your favorite family photos or mistakes you made last weekend.  It’s focused on the professional job market and connecting with current or potential employers to build a strong professional network. Use these LinkedIn tips to create a high performing account for success during and after college!

Is College the Right Time for a Pet?

Pets are one of the greatest joys in life. There is nothing better then curling up in the evening with your best friend on your lap. For some college students, getting a pet is at the top of their to-do list. However, getting a pet is an important decision and should be carefully considered. Once you own a pet, you are responsible for taking care of another life. College might not be the best time for such a large responsibility. If you are thinking about getting a pet, here are four important things to consider:

Puppies

Housing

You will probably change housing several times during your college years. This creates a risk that some of your living arrangements may not be suitable for pets. Dorms and other campus sponsored housing such as fraternity and sorority houses typically only allow service animals. Most apartments that allow pets require additional fees to cover cleaning costs when you move out. Further, even if the place you live allows pets, your roommates may not be as open to the idea. If you think that you will be living in a place that will not work with pets at some point in your college career, then you should hold off before getting your new furry friend.

Baby Bill the cat

Money

Pets are expensive. There’s really no way around that fact. Living on a college student budget with a pet can be extremely difficult. You need to make sure you have the financial means to care for a pet before you bring one home. The AKC estimates the average cost of owing a dog the first year is $3,085. That’s a steep price to pay on a tight income. Some common pet expenses are:

  • Food and water
  • Treats
  • Cages
  • Beds
  • Toys
  • Vaccinations
  • Spaying/Neutering
  • Flea and tick medication
  • Collars and leashes

This is by no means a complete list of necessary animal supplies, but you will need to provide all of these essentials for your pet. In addition, remember to budget additional funds for unplanned emergencies. It’s not hard to rack up a vet bill totaling several hundreds of dollars, or worse, even thousands.

Cute Doggo

Time

College is extremely time consuming. Attending classes full-time, participating in clubs, and working can leave you with little time to take care of your pet. Before you get a pet, you need to ensure you have the time to set aside for playing with, walking, and caring for your new family member. Animals need plenty of love and attention to be happy. When they are receiving enough exercise or attention, they’ll often channel their displeasure through negative actions. This could mean coming home to chewed up household items or other displays of anxious behavior.

After-College Plans

Moving across the country or taking a gap-year in Europe sounds like a wonderful plan, but it’s difficult to take any animal on such journeys. If your after-college plans include traveling or other large lifestyle changes, you may want to wait until you are settled before buying a pet. Once you’ve established a clear plan and are confident you’ll follow it, properly caring for an animal becomes a more realistic possibility.

Pet

Final Thoughts

When you adopt an animal, you are committing to care for it as a family member for the rest of its life. If you have any concern over your ability to keep and care for an animal, potentially over the course of 10+ years, then you should wait before getting a pet. I know many people who have successfully kept pets as college students, but I also know those who had to give-up their loved one. Make sure you’re fully prepared for such a commitment before you head to the shelter.

Have any tips for caring for an animal in college? Leave them in the comment section below!

Celebrate Warmer Weather With A Spring Playlist

Winter is finally over! That means warmer weather, more daylight, and finally retiring your parka. As spring begins to make a stronger appearance, you’ll need to update your music playlists to match the mood. It’s time for a spring playlist. Luckily, super talented artists like Lorde, Sampha, and Calvin Harris have you covered. For those who are looking for freshly picked tunes to bump during the rest of the spring semester, look no further. Here’s a specially curated playlist that’s perfect for any student trying to celebrate the arrival of spring.

Knetbooks Spring Student Playlist

  1. Nightcrawler- ZHU
  2. Green Light- Lorde
    • For those who think of Lorde and envison darkness and saddness, you might be surprised with this pop-esque hit. It’s almost impossible not to dance along with the music. Even the New Zealand singer herself can’t stop in the music video.Spring Playlist - Lorde
  3. Slide- Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean, Migos
    • Calvin Harris, Frank Ocean, and Migos walk into a bar… and create an uber catchy song that cleverly combines Harris’s production with rap verses that are intrinsically Migos. Even more, the melodies can clearly be attributed to Frank Ocean. The song was already rated by Pitchfork as a best new track. You have to listen to believe it.
      Spring Playlist - Calvin Harris
  4. Too Late to Fixate- Conor Oberst
  5. Third Day of May- Odaigahara- Fleet Foxes
  6. Sweet- Little Dragon
  7. Surreal- Louis Futon, RKCB
  8. Total Entertainment Forever- Father John Misty
  9. Darling- Real Estate
  10. Blossom- Milky Chance
  11. American Teen- Khalid
  12. Die Young- Sylvan Esso
  13. Chanel- Frank Ocean
  14. Nothing, Not Nearly- Laura Marling
  15. Selfish- Future, Rhianna
  16. Show You the Way- Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins
  17. Chasing Colors- Marshmello, Ookay, Noah Cyrus
    • Say hello to Noah, Miley Cyrus’s younger, but nonetheless super talented sister. Noah is stacking her resume up with hits, recently collaborating with Labrinth on the song Make Me (Cry).
      Spring Playlist - Marshmello
  18. Big Picture (THRDL!FE Remix)- London Grammar, THRDL!FE
  19. My Emotions are Blinding- Tennis
  20. It Ain’t Me- Kygo, Selena Gomez 
    • The hype leading up to this song was incredibly worth it. Kygo’s tropical beats supporting Gomez’s melodic voice produced an enchanting and heartbreaking song about loss and moving on. Listen, cry, dance.
      Spring Playlist - Kygo
  21. Love Incredible- Cashmere Cat, Camila Cabello
  22. Kinda Bonkers- Animal Collective
  23. Basically- STRFKR
  24. My Old Man- Mac Demarco
  25. Falling- Alesso
  26. When I Get There- Big Wild
  27. Blood on Me- Sampha

Spring is here! Celebrate the end of the semester with this fun, energetic spring playlist that is sure to have you stepping to the beat. If you want to listen to these songs in order, click the link at the top of this list to hear it on Spotify. Not a fan of this genre of music? Let us know what you prefer to hear in the comments below!

Surviving Severe Weather in College

Springtime is once again upon us. Although the warm weather is a welcome change, for many Midwestern states spring also means the return of severe weather. If you live in the Midwest, you were likely taught from a young age where to go in your house should a storm occur. But what about when you’re away at school? Here are a few tips for surviving sever weather at college.

Lightning

Dorms

Most college dorms are well equipped for severe weather. Dorm rooms typically have an alarm system installed with distinctive sounds for both fire and weather related emergencies. Also, much like hotels, you can usually find a map of the building with instructions about where to go if a tornado occurs. If not, ask your resident assistant or building manager where the safe space in the building is and the safest route to get there. A few things to keep in mind when living in dorms:

  • You will occasionally have drills to practice evacuations. Even if you know it is a drill, you need to take the time to follow instructions and practice. Yes, it can be inconvenient when you are studying, but it is necessary to prepare.
  • Always take your room key with you when the alarm goes off. Resident assistants may check rooms to make sure everyone evacuated. If you don’t have your keys, you may find yourself stuck outside if they lock the door behind them.
  • Make sure you know where your roommates are during emergencies. If they are not in the building, text or call them to make sure they know to take cover from the severe weather.

Off-Campus Housing

Preparing for severe weather when living off campus is a little bit harder. It is your own responsibility to monitor the weather and know when it is time to head to the safe space. A great way to keep tabs on the weather is by purchasing a weather radio.NOAA Weather Radio

An NOAA weather radio links to the national weather monitoring systems and sets off an alarm if there is severe weather in your current location. The device plugs into a wall outlet, but in an emergency can run off battery power so that you can take it with you to your safe space. Weather radios are small, useful devices and are available at most all major retailers for about $25-$30. This item is a must if you live in severe weather prone areas.

A few other things to keep in mind when living off campus:

  • Ask your building manager or landlord where the safe space for your apartment is at. If there is not a designated space, follow these guidelines for taking shelter.
  • If you have to leave your apartment to get to your safe space, be sure to lock the door behind you. Take your key and wallet with you in case you need them.
  • Your neighbors may not be as prepared as you during a severe weather emergency. If it is safe to do so, check on your neighbors to make sure they are aware of the severe weather threat and help them get to the safe space as well.

During Class

Severe weather can hit during any time of the day. You may occasionally find yourself in class when an emergency occurs. Like dorms, college academic buildings are usually very well equipped with alarms and labeled safe spaces. Your professor should know exactly where to go during an emergency so listen carefully for instructions and follow them promptly.

NOTE: Do not leave the group unless your instructor gives you permission. Most colleges require instructors to take attendance as a way to keep track of students during emergencies. If you are present for attendance and then split from the group during an emergency, your professor will be unable to locate you and could cause an unnecessary manhunt.

On the long list of things to prepare for in college, severe weather is one of the most important. However, it is also one of the most overlooked. With a little preparation you can be ready for any emergency. For more information about severe weather preparedness check out The National Weather Service’s website.

Welcome, TRAPPIST-1

TRAPPIST-1

Photo via NASA.gov

Welcome, TRAPPIST-1!

TRAPPIST-1: The Discovery

One week ago, astronomers from NASA and Europe made a groundbreaking discovery. This discovery will forever alter the way that we view space and time. 

Last Wednesday, NASA announced the discovery of seven Earth sized planets orbiting a dwarf star named TRAPPIST-1. The system of exoplanets is only 39.5 light years away. Given the vastness of the universe, this is a relatively short distance. 

The TRAPPIST-1 discovery is historical because it’s the first known instance of a system of seven Earth sized planets revolving around a single star other than our very own system. The Spitzer Space Telescope, which is currently over 235 million kilometers away from Earth, discovered the planets. Because of the orientation of the planets and their star, scientists are able to effectively observe the characteristics of TRAPPIST-1.

Why it’s so exciting?

Again, this discovery is absolutely groundbreaking because it is the first of its kind. According to scientist, what’s particularly exciting about this finding is the planets have the potential to form and hold water. Even more exciting, this finding means they have the potential to host life!

The star that the seven planets orbit is a red dwarf, meaning it’s ‘ultracool’, or under 2,550 kelvin. This makes it significantly cooler than our own sun, which is about 5,778 kelvin. Because of the stars cool nature and the placement of the planets, the possibility of the closer planets retaining liquid water is strong.

The TRAPPIST-1 discovery is raising a lot of speculation and excitement about the possibility of life outside Earth.

Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reported to the New York Times, “For the first time ever, we don’t have to speculate. We just have to wait and then make very careful observations and see what is in the atmospheres of the Trappist planets.”

Is there life outside of our planet? Only time will tell!

Now what?

This discovery opens the door to so many questions! Is there water? How could we tell if there is life? The possibilities are endless!

Currently, NASA reports that the geography of the planets is rocky. Scientists will continue to observe the exoplanets in order to deduce if liquid water actually exists on the planets.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope will begin to screen at least four of the planets in order to determine the atmospheric composition of the planets and learn if they consist of hydrogen.

In 2018, NASA’s James Webb Telescope will further assist scientists in exploring the makeup of these planets. This telescope will have technology that can enable scientists to determine properties of the planets including the presence of water, methane, and oxygen!

Dear TRAPPIST-1, Earth welcomes you!

Unconventional Places to Spend Spring Break

The oh-so-anticipated spring break is just a ways away. It’s time to start thinking of ways to spend the week long hiatus from classes. With popular culture and travel agencies promoting college ‘spring break’ as a week of wild partying on tropical beaches, which by all means does seem fun, it’s easy to forget about other options. The Earth provides us with thousands of miles of adventure, beauty, and landscape to explore. Use this spring break to discover nature and the beautiful scenery available to us. Here are four suggestions of where to look:

spring break

1) Lake Powell, Arizona/Utah

Lake Powell is located right on the border of Utah and Arizona, settled right on the Colorado River. This scenic area is colored by blue lakes broken and broken up by high rocky canyons. It is also only a short distance from Antelope Canyon and Glen Canyon Recreational Area. However, around spring break time the weather is still fairly cool, averaging around 61 degrees. This means swimming may not be an option. Luckily, the chilly temps make it the area’s offseason, meaning the prices for travel drop. This makes it perfect for college students on a tight budget. Additionally, the city of Flagstaff is a two hour drive away and passes Grand Canyon National Park. Make sure that road trip playlist is on point!

spring break

2) Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park is a desert landscape teeming with wildlife of all sorts, surrounded by mountains that seemed to have popped up from the dusty ground by magic. The park is the ultimate dream destination for many travelers. The area houses multiple campgrounds and affordable vacation rentals. If you’re a Jack Kerouac junkie, the Jack Kerouac Cabin is located along the northern end of the park. Joshua Tree is also less than three hours away from both San Diego and Los Angeles, California… in case you’re also in need of some beach time.

spring break

3) Canmore, Alberta, Canada

There are the Rockies, and then there are the Canadian Rockies. Located in the Canadian province of Alberta, Canmore is the destination for nature lovers. Nestled right beside Banff National Park, the area houses opportunities to hike, ski, and simply explore. For those still holding onto the the cold elements that make winter activities possible, this is the place for you. In between March and April, during most spring breaks, Canmore’s weather is still brisk. Unfortunately, this does make camping more difficult. Instead, check out the prices of lodges and ski resorts as they often fall that late in the season. Hot tub after the slopes, anyone?

spring break

4) New Orleans, Louisiana

A city of culture and liveliness, New Orleans is the perfect spring break destination for those wishing to both enrich themselves and have some fun. While it isn’t the most unconventional place to spend spring break, it’s still worth every consideration. This melting pot of a city is home to around the clock entertainment, flavorful dishes, and amazing architecture. With a variety of festivals popping up constantly, popping up constantly, New Orleans always has something to fun to do. Check out the famous Bourbon Street for some of the best jazz music the United States has to offer, or dare to walk through the infamously haunted French Quarter.

Spring break doesn’t have to be a party in Cancun. While that might seem fun, consider using this free week to travel to some unforgettable places. By the way, feel free to invite me!