Dorm Life

Cheap Eats

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When faced with the financial burden of college tuition and fees, one must stretch their budget elsewhere. There no getting around paying your college fees or textbooks, but you can stretch a dollar (or dollars) in other ways.

1. Chose meals that have a long shelf life.

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If you dorm, this may be especially useful. You may not always have the time to prepare a meal with fresh ingredients and they may spoil before you find that time. In this case, you risk losing your hard earned money. Meals that have a long shelf life are usually canned good, such as soups, certain fruits, vegetables and beans or prepackaged foods such as pasta, instant oatmeal and rice. Also, they are relatively inexpensive, costing no more than a few dollars for each item

2. Pasta, Pasta, and More Pasta

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Not only can you buy a package of pasta for no more than two dollars but you can make a meal out of it to last two or three days. It also falls under the list of non-perishable foods so there’s no worry of spoil before it’s cooked. Pasta can also give you that much needed energy as its high in carbohydrates. Ramen noodles has become a staple in many dorm rooms due to its versility and cheap price tag. A package can cost no more than 50 cents.

3. Quick Pick Me Ups

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Mothers always tell us to eat our fruits and vegetables and we should always follow their advice for they know best. Certain fruits and vegetables are expensive, especially if you may be searching for organic types. Bananas and apples, the loose variety not the bundles, are relatively cheap, readily available and easily consumed on the go. Just make sure it’s washed before consuming. Celery and carrot sticks in a to-go package is usually no more than 3 dollars.

4. Cheap Foods with a Short Shelf Life

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Keep in mind that the body needs a whole array of nutrients in order to sustain itself. With that being said, some foods may need to be consumed that do not have a long shelf life but will be relatively cheap nonetheless. Eggs for protein and versatility in salads or sandwiches, and fresh leafy greens for antioxidant and immune support such as Spinach, can be found for a few dollars per bundle.

Spending Time With Your Posse

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Staying on top of your studies is important. Making sure you spend time with your friends is just as important. Maintaining a social life, taking breaks from your school work- these things will keep you from going insane and getting burnt out too quickly.

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There are always things to do with your crew on and around campus. Activities such as bowling, ice-skating or a trip to the zoo are always fun. You could also find an interesting museum nearby or festival happening in the vicinity.

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Find a movie theater nearby campus and see the next big blockbuster with a bunch of friends (Mockingjay: Part 1 comes out in November, people!). See if there are any concerts coming up in the nearby area. Maybe your favorite sport’s team is playing nearby.

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You could also gather a group to go shopping. It can be for school supplies, for furniture you may need, for clothing you may have forgotten or just for the heck of it.

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Last resort? You could invite your friends to come watch a movie in your dorm room or find a lobby and watch the season premiere of that show you can’t believe ended in that INSANE cliffhanger last spring!!

 Spending time with your friends in college is important for your sanity. You should make time to hang out and do things other than sit on a quiet floor of the library all semester!

Go Greek or Go Home

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The attire called for business professional so imagine my surprise when I walked up in a smart navy dress and black blazer only to find a sea of girls in homecoming style dresses bearing it all. Along with the cleavage show came a strong downpour of rain which would ironically foreshadow what came next. The girls made a canopy of coach umbrellas to safeguard their hair and waited for their Rho Gammas to break the news.

When it was my turn, my Rho Gamma congratulated me on being invited back to the final party of the sorority I was most suited for. I took my card and strode away confidently. As some girls squealed in delight, others silently shed tears as their group leader did their best to comfort them. That’s the thing about sororities: they’re elite societies of women who pick and choose new members based on their own subjective judge of the hopeful applicant’s character and appearance.

Try as they might, not everyone gets in. It doesn’t matter if you have the highest GPA, a history of mission trips and service organizations under your belt or the most money in your back account. Recruitment is like speed dating; both parties have to like each other enough to form a long lasting relationship. You dress up, put on a string of pearls, spritz some Chanel #5 and give it your all. They want to know where you’re from, what your hobbies are, the plans you have for the future as they mentally rate your qualifications.

Let me give you the low down on the different categories of chapter houses. On one side are the traditional, not a hair out of place girls who push indecency under the rug. Let’s call them the Charlotte Yorks of the world. Across the street, you’ve got the polar opposite. These girls lounge around in their PJ’s eating ice cream and don’t mind getting a little dirt under their finger nails. These are the girls whose parents named them Alexandra and Kathryn only so they would shorten it to Alex or Kat. Next door to them are the ultra-feminist girls who believe in leadership and academic excellence or the Hilary Clintons. Catty-cornered to them live the southern belle sisters who know how to kick up their heels and have a good time.  These are the Daisy Mae Dixons. Whichever sisterhood they joined, they did so to befriend girls with a similar mind set as their own.

The intention is not to make people feel subservient, but this is the nature of sorority life. You either sell your soul for a monogrammed tote bag or you end up watching from the sidelines. Many sisters will tell you that they are not the “typical sorority girl”, that they are different and that they do not fall into the stereotypical Elle Woods category, but if the lavaliere fits honey – wear it with pride.  No I’m totally joking.

This article is not meant to disparage sorority members in any way. In fact, there were many young women who I met throughout recruitment that I have the utmost respect for. My Rho Gamma in particular was a gem. When I decided to decline going any further in the recruitment process, my first thought was – I hope I don’t let her down because she is someone that I have grown to look up to over the past few days. Many of the girls I met were extraordinarily passionate about their philanthropies and encouraging me to find a service project I was equally enthused with. I truly think the world of them for that. Others offered me advice on teachers and classes as well as surprised the hell out of me with the difficult majors they chose for themselves. They took the time to spend a couple of hours being my mentor and temporary “Big Sis”. I would really like to continue to build a friendship with these girls despite my non-Greek status. I am happy to say that I have no regrets about rushing and that it truly was a positive experience.

So as the baby Hilarys, Charlottes, Sporty Spices, and Daisies run out to greet their jubilant new sisters in their crisply pressed white dresses, I hope they remember that a few letters of the alphabet do not define them, that they are no better than their peers and that true sisters are selfless.

How to Beat Homesickness Freshmen Year of College

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Homesickness is very common among college freshmen.  For many first year college students it is the first time living away from their families, so missing home is completely natural and nothing to be ashamed of!  Here are a few helpful tips for when you find yourself feeling a homesick!

1. Before you move in, make sure to pack something personal that makes you feel more connected to home.  An old stuffed animal, blanket, or an old t-shirt/sweatshirt are all good options.  Having something in your room that makes you feel at home is really comforting.

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 2. Find one day a week that works for you and your family for Skype.  Talking on the phone is great, but actually getting to see each other while you’re talking makes a big difference! You can do the same thing with your friends!

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3. Pack your favorite books and DVDs.  When you start to get a little homesick, getting lost in your favorite book or movie can be really comforting.  Watching your favorite TV show on Netflix is also really helpful.  Weirdly enough, watching or reading something that makes you nostalgic can actually make you feel better when you start to miss home!

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4. Comfort food can also do wonders for homesickness.  When you’re missing home, treat yourself to some ice cream, cookies, mac and cheese, or whatever you love!  Eating something that makes you happy can help you get through it!

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5. Get a small plastic storage box and create a First Aid Kit with all the essentials as well as stocking up on any medication that you typically take when you get sick; things like cold medicine, stuff for nausea, and pain relievers/fever reducers like Tylenol.  When you start to feel a little under the weather, it can make you feel really homesick, so it’s good to be prepared.  The first time you get sick away from home is always the hardest; you’ll really want someone to take care of you, so already having what you need will make things easier!

 

Medicine

 

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Finding Your Perfect College

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When my high school career was coming to a close, the most difficult decision that I had to face was the decision of what college to attend. Only a very small portion of students really know where they want to go and what they want to do with their lives. For the rest of us, however, our desires are a little vaguer, which made the college decision process more difficult. Here’s a list of factors that I put into place in deciding where I would go to college.

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Class Size: This all depends on what kind of student-teacher experience you want. One of the perks of being in a small college is that you get more time to talk to your professor and learn more about their field of study. You also get more chances to find help for any classes you might be struggling in. On the contrary, one advantage of a big class is that more grade curves will likely be given and you have the chance to miss class and learn straight from the textbook (not that I’d recommend this).

Available Fields: Obviously, your college of choice needs to have whatever major(s) and minor(s) you are potentially interested in. Unless you know exactly what you want to do, it’s usually a good idea to look for colleges with plenty of options.  It is not uncommon for undergraduate students to change their major one or more times during their college experience.

Community Involvement: Many colleges have opportunities that will allow you to work with businesses and organization in the community to give students a better perspective of their fields of study.  This is also a good opportunity to begin making connections for your career. This is a very important aspect of college decisions, so make sure your school has good alumni relations and internship availabilities!

Campus Life: One thing that I want to stress is that you should definitely visit each college that you apply to. You could be living there for four entire years or longer.  You do not want to get there on day one only to realize that the school is essentially a prison. How your campus looks and feels to you is very important! In addition, learn about your school’s reputation on campus. Whether it has a party reputation, or a community service one, make sure you pick a college that will fit your personality while allowing you to grow and experience new things.

There are many more things to consider while looking at colleges, but unfortunately, I can only list these few. Something you need to remember is that while this decision IS very important, it is not the end of the world. If indeed, you do get to your college to start your freshman year and you absolutely hate it, don’t forget that you can always transfer! But give yourself time to become fully acclimated to the university, and you might find yourself falling in love with it in time! Good luck!

Beating the Wintertime Blues

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winter bluesAs winter approaches and the sun slowly disappears, many students begin to struggle with a variety of problems. Whether it’s being away from home, a ridiculous workload of homework, general stress or just a combination of all these things, every student suffers from some form of wintertime blues. Here’s a few suggestions to help you relax and see the light again.

Relax. The absolute most important thing to remember is to just relax. Believe it or not, stress happens to everyone. Sometimes the best way to deal with problems is to take a step back and look at them from the outside. Go out with friends, do something you love or find a new hobby. Whatever you choose to do, just let yourself forget your problems for a bit and come back to them with a fresh mind.

Meditating. A lot of people assume that meditation consists of deep thinking. For the most part, this isn’t true. Most meditation practices actually help to free your mind from your thoughts and your obsessions. Find a flat surface, sit up and focus on your breathing. As you sit still, try to manually relax each muscle in your body. Strive towards the goal of absolute silence…meaning no thoughts or emotions. I promise you it’s absurdly relaxing!

Meet new people. Another great way to get a new perspective on your world is to meet some new people. Get to know them and see what their views are. It’s very refreshing, and you never know who you’ll meet!

Clean. Try tidying up your dorm or apartment. Many times, a clustered room or environment can cause clustered thoughts and emotions. If you couldn’t tell, it’s not a good thing.

Get off campus. Sometimes a change in surroundings can help more than you can imagine. It sounds weird, but it really does work. Go to the mall or to a hiking trail nearby. Exercise is also a great way to perk up, so get moving! Do whatever you can to explore and get out of your cramped dorm.

While trying any of these suggestions, just make sure you remember that you are not alone in this. College isn’t exactly the easiest time in a person’s life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t relax and have fun. If you have any other ideas or methods of relaxing and staying cheery, let us know!

Tips for Living with a Roommate

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Campus LivingOne of the biggest learning opportunities college has provided me hasn’t been in the classroom; it’s been in my home away from home. Learning how to live peacefully under the same roof with different people has been a huge challenge. Differences also arise in the way people are raised and problems occur when there are clashing personalities. But there really is something to be learned from all of it!

I’ve had my fair share of roommate issues. At first I thought, “Maybe something is wrong with me”, but I’ve come to find that everyone encounters problems with their roommates, whether they’re friends or not. A big issue in my apartment this year is different standards of cleanliness. We’ve also had problems when it comes to guests and partying.

I won’t get into any specifics, but my advice for everyone is this: sit down at the beginning of the year and establish rules with your roommates. Whether you live with one other person in a dorm, or three other people in an apartment, establishing a common ground is an easy way to express your expectations and meet your roommate(s) somewhere in the middle.

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “But my roommate and I get along great!” That’s fantastic! Embrace the fact that you two can get along so well.

My takeaway lesson from three years now of what I call “crazy roommates” is this: everyone is different. Once you can understand and respect that, you’ll have a much easier time living with someone who isn’t necessarily your best friend. It’s also a lot like the real world- not everyone is like you, but you have to accept how they are. You may have to work with someone that you could care less about, but you need to be able to be civil and mature about it.

Have any good roommate tips you’d like to share? Let us know below!

3 Tips for Handling College Clutter

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August is finally here, and with it comes the back-to-school shopping season. This means renting textbooks, shopping for new clothes, and buying other items that will take up space in your dorm room or apartment. Not having room for everything can cause a headache, but there are ways to alleviate that. Here are some quick and easy tips to minimize the college clutter and maximize what little space you are given to live in.

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1. Spring cleaning is not just for the spring. This is the perfect time to go through your clothes and weed out things you never wore, things you will never wear, and things you no longer fit into. Donate the bags to the local consignment shop, and proceed to use that extra drawer space to your liking.

2. Invest in storage for under your bed. Think you do not have enough room? Think again. Several options are available for storage bags and bins,  and the storage you get with them is unbelievable. Stash away those out-of-season clothes or books you want to keep but need to hide to save space.

3. Sell, sell, sell! Have books you needed for a general education class that are just taking up space? Sell them online to get the most bang for your buck. Have junk from when you were a kid that your parents made you take to get them out of their house? Have a yard sale or sell them online. If you cannot see yourself carting it across the country or using it at any point in your life, get rid of it.

Have any other tips for organizing your space? Let us know in the comment section below!

Knetbooks Kickstart Sweepstakes!

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Looking forward to a new semester? Or maybe you shudder at the thought of buckling down once again for a year full of textbooks and all-nighters. Either way, knetbooks wants to help you kickstart your school year by giving away 15 daily prizes in our Kickstart Sweepstakes! Whether you need a coffee break or just some new music in the background, we are here to help you adjust. We will select one winner each day from July 30-August 13 to win a $25 gift card of your choice, from the following companies.  To enter the sweepstakes visit the knetbooks Facebook page, or simply follow the link below. And as always, visit knetbooks.com for the best deals on college textbook rentals along with FREE shipping on every order!

Kickstart Sweepstakes Blog

Urban Gardening: Making it Work in College

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Being a student and having a green thumb can pose serious challenges. Growing your own plants and vegetables within the confines of a dorm room is a difficult task. Gardening requires a lot of time, attention, and space – all of which is difficult for a student to commit to, and obtain. However, just because gardening can be difficult does not mean it is impossible. In fact, taking on the task can provide you with a wonderful hobby that has the potential to produce some great tasting food, as well as nice looking foliage to liven up your space. As long as you have a window, some form of a container, and soil, you can plant a variety of fruits and vegetables. Consider some of the below tips and tricks on how to adapt gardening to your urban lifestyle!

Consider the amount of sunlight you have exposure to. This is crucial when determining what to plant – especially if it’s a fruit or vegetable. Leafy greens, as well as vegetables like broccoli, are more shade-loving and will therefore require less sunlight. On the other hand, fruits such as tomatoes, strawberries, and kiwi, require much larger amounts of sunlight.

Container size is determined by root depth. Plants with shallow roots can be planted in pots that are smaller than 10 inches in diameter, while plants with deeper roots will require containers that are three to five gallons. Make sure that all containers are raised as to allow your plants air circulation and extra space for drainage. While this plant container is super crafty, it may not be the most practical.

Don’t over water your plants. You want to make sure that you have watered the entire container, but get rid of any excess water that fills the saucer below the container. Allowing your plant to sit in this excess water can lead to root rot. As mentioned previously, it can be difficult as a student to make sure that you are always there to attend to your plant. To make sure that your plants are still getting the nutrients they require, you can purchase water crystals that soak up and gradually release water when you are unable to give them your undivided attention.

Urban gardening is a great way to grow your own fruits and vegetables within a setting that isn’t conducive to traditional gardening methods. Although you won’t necessarily be able to grow a vast amount of any one thing, it’s a great way to test out different plants, and to spruce up your place in a functional yet aesthetically appealing way. For fun ideas in regard to displaying your own urban garden check out pinterest.com.

 

Have you ever tried urban gardening? What advice can you offer?