College Life

What to Take Home Over Spring Break

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Packing Your Bags for Spring Break = Less Finals Stress!

Want an easy way to make your finals week less stressful, before you even head home for spring break? Take home as MUCH as you can! Here is a short DO’s and DON’T’s list for spring break packing (if you’re headed home!)

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DO take you winter coat, scarves, hats and gloves. The bulkier the stuff you take home now, the less you have to deal with fitting it next to your comforter while studying for finals.

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DON’T take all of your sweatshirts home. There might be days when it still gets cold out, so just keeping your T-shirts and shorts handy isn’t helpful.

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DO take winter outfits and clothes you don’t wear so often. There’s no point in keeping it around if you aren’t going to wear it anyway.

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DON’T take your rain jacket. April showers bring May flowers.

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DO take home extra bags, notebooks, your third set of sheets- the extra stuff laying around that you never use and just takes up space.

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DON’T leave any textbooks or notes behind when you head back to campus!

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Following this list will not only lighten your packing load and stress at the end of the semester, but will also give your dorm room a (likely) much needed spring cleaning!

Spring Break Tips: Preventing and Treating Sunburn

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Spring Break is upon us and whether you’re off from school now, waiting patiently for your upcoming break, or just coming back from an awesome trip, these sunburn tips are for you! If you’re trip involves spending any significant amount of time outside, sunburn is very real possibility and it’s important to protect your skin. It doesn’t matter what skin tone you have or how sun friendly you think you are, the UV rays from the sun can, and will, affect you and you need to be safe! Here are some tips for preventing sunburn and treating existing sunburn.

To Prevent Sunburn:

  1. Get a high protection Sunscreen. (Nothing less than SPF 30)

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This is a no brainer. There are so many great sunscreen options out there, so there’s no excuse not to pick one up. You can go for the spray or the lotion, whatever you prefer, but just make sure you’re using something to protect your skin!

  1. Don’t forget to protect your lips! Get a lip balm with SPF.

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People often forget that their lips can get burnt from the sun as much as any other part of their body. Your lips are always exposed so make sure you’re doing what you can to protect them. There are some great lip balms with SPF that are perfect for this.

  1. Tinted moisturizer with SPF.

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Moisturizing your skin is an essential no matter what you’re doing, so getting a tinted one with SPF in it allows you to combine two steps in one!

  1. Protect your scalp! (Wear a hat or get some clear spray sunscreen and apply it to your scalp!)

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Don’t forget that you’re scalp is exposed as well. We tend to forget that and then we feel sunburn beneath our hair and it is not pleasant. Make sure you cover up somehow!

To Treat Sunburn:

  1. Aloe Vera Gel

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Getting some 100% gel Aloe Vera is great for treating existing sunburn. It helps promote skin healing and feels immediately soothing when you apply it. Pick up a travel size bottle before you leave, or if you’re already burnt, pick some up as soon as possible!

  1. Vinegar

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The acidity of vinegar is great from healing sunburn. Just mix some vinegar and water together, dip a cotton ball in your mixture, and dab it on the burnt areas. Healing will be faster and you’ll feel much better!

  1. Tea

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There are some great sunburn healing properties in black tea and it’s a pretty inexpensive home remedy. Make a pot of tea as you normally would and then let it cool to a lukewarm temperature. Once it’s cooled, soak a washcloth in it and dab it onto the skin—don’t rub! You can leave the cloth on your skin and let the burnt area absorb it as well. This will help speed up healing.

Once you’ve chosen a method to help heal your sunburn, make sure to moisturize your skin with a natural, unscented lotion. Moisturizing the skin is key to help further heal sunburn and you don’t want to use a lotion that might irritate the burnt

How to Keep in Touch with Long Distance Friends

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While some people flee high school and go to a college as far away from home as possible, other people really want to stay connected with their high school friends (or summer camp friends, or gap year friends, etc.). For those of you who are afraid that you will lose old friends to new college friends, here are some tips to keep in touch!

Create a Facebook Group

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For the occasional reminisce or for organizing a possible weekend reunion, a Facebook group is the way to go!

Create a Whatsapp Group

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Essential if you have friends who are out of the country for any reason.  Whether they are studying abroad, backpacking across Europe or have randomly moved to Australia-this way you can all stay connected.

Send a Random Text 

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Whether you last talked to this friend two weeks ago or two years ago, sending a “Hi, how are you? can go a long way and will probably be much appreciated. It lets them know you are thinking about them.

Send Something Through Good Old Snail Mail

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Who doesn’t like getting mail? Send them a postcard or handwritten letter to let them know you still care and want to know what they are up to.

Social Media Stalking

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Okay…not really for keeping in touch but if you want to stay updated on someone’s life, back stalk their Facebook profile pictures, their Twitter feed, their Instagram and other social media platforms.

7 Ways To Improve Your Dorm Bathroom Experience!

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Set the example. Keep your dorm bathroom clean. If you don’t, how can you expect others too?  Here are some tips to improve your dorm bathroom experience

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1. Girls, always clean your hair out of the shower drain. Guys, clean up the sink after you shave. It’s much less disgusting to clean up your own hair than to clean up someone else’s.

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2. Wear Shower Shoes. No, just because it’s the shower, doesn’t mean it gets cleaned. Cheap flip-flops are good for this kind of thing.

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3. Make sure everything goes down when you flush the toilet. If it doesn’t, flush again, or let someone (i.e. maintenance) know about it. How would you like it if the tables were turned?

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4. Restock the toilet paper when you finish it. Extra rolls are probably kept somewhere in the bathroom area. You’ll appreciate it when it’s done for you.

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5. Clean up globs of toothpaste in the sink. No one else wants to touch the gunk that’s been cleaning your mouth.

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6. Don’t leave personal belongings in the bathroom. It’s not your own private bathroom. Unless it is, then, by all means, leave your belongings wherever you want.

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7. If maintenance needs to be called, call them. Or tell your RA that they need to be called. If you don’t like walking into the bathroom being a mess, don’t leave it that way for others.

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If your hallway sticks to these clean, healthy bathroom habits, your dorm bathroom won’t be so gross and scary! Putting up friendly signs to remind others to keep the bathroom clean can also be helpful! Good luck!

Great Classes to Take for EVERY Major

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Looking to fill your elective slots? Or your general requirements? Here are some great and extremely useful courses to take, regardless of your degree, major, minor or concentration:

Intro to Computer Science

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As a journalism major, I was concerned about having to take this class, but it’s actually a really useful skill to have even at an introductory level. Knowing basic coding can help you in any field that might involve you using the internet (which in today’s world, is probably most).

American Government

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Assuming you are living in the US, knowing the basics about how your government works and (theoretically) functions is important for cultural literacy.

Religious Studies

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Specifically something you don’t believe in. Challenge yourself to understand another culture, religion or belief system. Seeing how others view the world can help you define more clearly how you see the world.

Foreign Language

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This can be really useful on a resume and in future jobs. Also helpful if you want to study abroad.

English Literature

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Read some books that you would have never picked up in a million years. Form some opinions about great authors. Make sure you can write a decent essay and argue your thesis coherently. These skills are important and having read some classic or just really good books will help you in life.

Astronomy

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With just a little math, learn about where we are in the universe and all the other incredible things we share space in the universe with. (Ok, as an astronomy minor, I might be slightly biased on this one.. but it’s still a great option!)

How to Make Free Time Productive

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Most of the time when we have free time to ourselves, we tend to use it to binge watch TV shows on Netflix or spend too much time aimlessly surfing the internet. So here are some productive ways to spend your leisure time.

1. Read a Book

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Usually reading is associated with school, but leisure reading is something that can be fun. Find a genre or author that you like and immerse yourself into that world. Make reading something you WANT to do. Need some suggestions to get you started? Create a free account at www.goodreads.com!

2. Exercise

Jogging

Not only is exercise necessary for a healthy life, but it also helps you relieve stress and can help you sleep better at night. If traditional exercise does not appeal to you, try a physical activity that interests you. Ask friends to exercise with you and make it fun. Need an app to get you motivated? Download MyFitnessPal for free!

3. Volunteer in your Community

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It is always a good feeling to give back to one’s community. It does not have to be a huge volunteer project, but anything that makes even a small difference matters.  Something small from picking up trash at your local beach to a bigger project like feeding the homeless really does make a difference. Find volunteer opportunities in your area at www.voluntermatch.org.

4. Make a List

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If you have more than one thing to do during your free time, make a list planning out the details.  Be specific about the importance level for each task, along with details about where and when it will be completed. You will feel more productive about your day when you see everything check off the list.

Tips to Stay Organized & Give You a Fresh Start!

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Another semester has started and you want to get a fresh start! Staying organized is the best way to ensure this happens. Here are some great tips to help you out!

1. Date Your Notes. Make sure to write the date at the beginning of each lecture to keep your notes organized. It also makes it a lot easier to find when notes are missing.

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2. Color Code Your Subjects. Color in your schedule and make sure your notebooks match, that way, it’s easy to grab the right notebooks for each class!

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3. Organize Your Computer. Instead of just adding papers and lecture notes to “Documents” create a college folder, with subjects or sub-folders for each semester to keep your hard-drive neat.

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4. Note Q&A’s in Lecture. When a teacher poses a question to the class, write your notes in the form of a question and answer (and highlight the question). It could be the same question appears later on in the semester…

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5. Keep Your Quarters in a Cup. Easy access for when you need to do laundry or need a midnight caffeine booster.

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6. Use a Pencil Pouch. This will keep all your writing utensils in one place, keep you from losing them and save you money on continuing to buy more pens and pencils!

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7. Clear Out Your Pack. Each time you get back to your dorm room, empty your backpack to keep important things like notes and study guides from getting lost in the mess.

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8. Keep Your Toiletries Together. That way you won’t lose anything and won’t pay for anything you already have.

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 9, Create an Inbox Folder. For discussions with professors, so that you don’t lose track of information or for easy reference back to it.

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10. KEEP YOUR ROOM CLEAN. Being organized isn’t helpful if you can’t ever find any of your things to begin with.

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I hope this tips help you get the fresh start you need! Have a great semester!

Your Professor’s Road Map To Success: The Syllabus

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Your TA or Professor will likely hand you a pretty long document on the first day of class, or maybe she’ll email it to you ahead of time. This document is your semester success checklist, and its called “The Syllabus.” Many students skip “syllabus week” (the first week of classes) or figure that they don’t really need to pay attention to the review of the syllabus. But, your teacher is handing you their road map to success this semester. The information you should pay close attention to?

              The Professor’s Contact Information.

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Office hours, a phone number, an email address- the professor is BEGGING you to ask them for help!

Guidelines For The Course.

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What the teacher is expecting from you is written out in (hopefully) plain and simple English. This usually also covers what to do if you get sick and miss and exam or how to handle missing class for a holiday, so keep this safe for future reference.

Exam Dates. 

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Helpful information, to be put on a calendar ASAP! This will ensure you don’t forget until the professor reminds you the class before.

Weekly Readings and Assignments.

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On some syllabi, this section is good to help you keep on track with what you need to be on top of. Think of it as the professor’s planner for you.

It’s really important to read the syllabus at the beginning of the school year so that you know how to conduct yourself for each course during the semester. It’s also important for you to KEEP the syllabus for each course, in readable condition (i.e. not at the bottom of your backpack) throughout the semester. Good luck with starting spring semester!

Tips For Planning An Affordable Spring Break

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If you’re planning a spring break trip with your friends, now is the time to crack down on your planning.  Finding an affordable trip is easier than you might think.  Here are a few tips to help you get started!

1. Do your research.

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Look into every deal you can find for the places you’re thinking about going.  Check Groupon, Airbnb, Expedia, Priceline, etc.  Make sure you find the best deal for the kind of trip you want.  Really explore your options so you can find the trip that’s right for you.

2. Set a budget and stick to it.

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Make sure you know how much you have to spend and plan accordingly.  Include any potential spending money you’ll need while you’re there.  If you’re not going to an all-inclusive resort, factor in your food and beverage expenses.  If you’re doing any non-free activities, make sure you’re prepared for the costs.

3. Read the fine print.

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Some hotels and getaway deals have extra and hidden fees.  Read everything before you book your stay/trip to make sure there are no surprises.  Be certain of the costs before you agree to anything.

4. Be open-minded.

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Don’t be too set on a specific place.  Just know the type of vacation you want to have (i.e. warm weather, beach resort, city, ski/snowboard trip, etc.)  Depending on the popularity of the place, the dates you’re going, and the amount of people you’re travelling with, some places/hotels will be more expensive.  Being open to different places can help you find a more affordable trip.

5. Split costs where you can.

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Find rooms that sleep more people.  Split the cost of the rental car or gas if one of you has your own car that you can take.  Go in as a group on snacks and/or groceries.  Anything that can be a shared cost, share it.

Road Trip Recipe

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If you have a long enough break, taking a road trip for a few days or even a week can be a great way to spend your time, see friends and experience new and different places! Here’s a few key ingredients to make a successful road trip:
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1. A Car- kind of a must have! Recruit a group of 4 – 5 friends and see if someone has a car. Make sure everyone is willing to chip in for gas. If none of your friends have a car, check out Zipcar and have everyone pitch in for that. If all else fails, bus it!
2. Friends- 3-5 is an ideal number for car fitting and driving rotations. Friends make every trip more fun and exciting!
3. 1 Pillow per Person- Necessary for the mid-drive nap and for the mid-drive fight! Also makes any car more comfortable.
4. Small Front Seat “Carry-On”- For phones, chargers, cameras and snacks. Maybe a book. Not larger than a small drawstring bag for most space and comfort of travel.
5. Sweatshirts- For differences in driver/passengers temperature preferences and for the quick run to the bathroom at the rest stop!
6. A Plan- Don’t just start to drive, know approximately where you are going to and about when you’ll get there (days-wise) in case of emergency, and so that you can research cool things to do once you get to where you are going!
Have fun and be safe!