Author: Elizabeth Suh

Caffeine: Are You Above the Influence?

Coffee is just one of those things that naturally holds its place in college and in the workplace. In fact, about 50% of Americans drink coffee. That 50% consume about 400 million cups every day! Sorry water, don’t think your recommended 8-cups a day is happening anytime soon. Maybe if you had cute little shops and that sweet aroma and warmth and creamy goodness…Drink Coffee

My love for coffee is kind of crazy to me, because growing up, I was rarely allowed to drink soda that had caffeine. So, little did I know that in my college years, I would be bleeding blue, and bleeding caffeine. Yes, I do bleed blue cappuccinos.

So how did this addiction develop? I’d like to think it’s because Starbucks is brilliant, and its shops are conveniently placed so that you pass a Starbucks every day; it’s in the student center where I grab lunch, on the way to half the places I drive to, even in the ladies’ bathroom… OK well that last one is just a fantasy, but I really looked it up, and there are 15 Starbucks locations in Lexington. 15!

It sounds awful, but until the end of freshman year I would grab something that didn’t even have caffeine, like the strawberry and crème, just for the taste (which is one of the more expensive drinks on the menu, in fact). The end of the second semester came along, and I felt like I needed to treat myself every day—for going to classes instead of sleeping in, working hard to stay on track, not spilling my meatball marinara sandwich on myself… I mean, it was at least a once-a-day ritual. I never resorted to food for comfort, but I did resort to my green double-finned lady for comfort.

This year, I just about buy a coffee or chai latte after lunch every day. They’re cheaper than the non-caffeinated choices, but some people in my life have warned against developing a full-on dependency on coffee. Their reasoning?
• It’s not good psychologically to be addicted to a substance
• Some claim to have headaches when they do not have coffee
• One can supposedly develop a tolerance for caffeine
• An excess can cause anxiety, increased heartbeat and loss of sleep
• And, of course, it’s expensive.

If you’re one of the 50%, and you think you might have a problem, there’s hope and good news! You don’t have to necessarily give coffee nor caffeine up. You can consider:

• Finding out the right amount of caffeine for your body and readjusting.
• If you brew your coffee, you can mix it with grain coffee, which is a mixture of grain and nuts and doesn’t naturally contain caffeine.
• Switching to tea.
• Placing sleep higher on your priority list.

Children’s Education- Going Down the Drain

Every Monday night I volunteer at a Village Library branch helping children with their homework. It is such a treat seeing children and encouraging them to do their work. And I’ve actually learned a few things myself.

For example, I didn’t realize how little I knew about children; I didn’t even know if a kindergartner should already know how to read. I didn’t think of the fact that some of them didn’t care what my name was when I introduced myself, and that they would never forgive me if I didn’t give them a bag of Goldfish when their assignment was completed.

What shocked me most was the context of the books some of the children were assigned to read and some of the other assignments:

I don’t know about every child, but I was taught that “stupid” and “shut up” were really bad words.  I found it strange that in Frog and Toad, one of those phrases was used in the dialogue. Not to mention, the story was completely random; it seemed like no effort was put into writing it.

Not even ten minutes after that discovery, another volunteer approached me with a worksheet for English class. “What do you think this word is?” she asked. I looked at where her finger was pointing; there was a drawing of a witch and three blanks with one missing letter. It read “h _ g.” I replied, “Hag…?” She nodded and said that she was thinking the same word, but didn’t want to believe children were being taught that word. The word hag just has a negative connotation.

Another book was about a dog and his family. It was better written than the Frog and Toad story. However, there was a scene in which the whole family at dinner was tossing parts of their meal to the family dog. This is just not a good message, because children would read that and see the drawings and think it’s okay to feed their dogs everything!

I know these aren’t huge deals, and I’m not saying there’s nothing of value in these books and exercises, but it really concerns me to see that this is what children are reading and learning at school. Because outside of school, there is plenty of questionable things that they probably shouldn’t be exposed to, but school should be the place where it can be trusted that the material is legitimate.

I think parents should definitely be more involved with their children’s educations and look over what they’re being assigned for homework.

It makes me wonder if the quality of education was generally the same back when we were that age… I mean, we obviously turned out okay.

Goodwill = Goodbye Mall

As I looked at the two-feet-high piles of clothing around me, I realized that I had to change something.

I simply had way too much clothes.

After cleaning out my closet this summer, I’ve adopted this new goal of being less materialistic. Don’t get me wrong, I love fashion and lovely clothes, but I swore I hadn’t even seen some of those clothes, and I certainly had not worn half of them more than once, or even ever.

And I felt guilty. All the money I had spent on all that clothes -and this is just clothes I’m speaking of- could have gone towards helping others in need. I didn’t always spend money on myself, and I had given money every now and then. But the ratio was indisputably dominant on the Me end.

And all that investment in self-satisfaction, what did that do for me? Had it made me any happier? If so, happiness is surely an expensive thing.

This prompted me to greatly reduce the number of times I went to shopping malls. It wasn’t so hard to do, since dealing with the traffic and finding a parking spot could be enough reason to avoid shopping altogether.

On top of that, I donated clothes I wouldn’t wear to a nearby Goodwill. I couldn’t resist but to peep in while I was there, and I came back a happy, guiltless shopper: full-packed action classics and a beaded vintage bracelet I had fallen in love with—all for 3 whole dollars.

This commenced the replacement of shopping at the mall with thrifting.

When you find adorable oversized sweatshirts -perfect for this chilly weather- for $3, it’s hard to convince yourself that a sweatshirt at Victoria’s Secret is worth that $60.

I’m not saying that I’ll only shop at Goodwill, or that I’ll never purchase anything at a shopping mall; what I am saying is that thrifting at least on occasion is a healthy alternative to binge shopping: You purchase recycled items for bargain prices, and you help keep jobs for handicapped citizens.

And where else can you find books and films of all kinds, furniture, art, clothing, and other knick knacks that carry stories of many generations?

College Student Probs: How to Have a Smooth Semester

Juggling an 18-hour semester and other commitments –and sustaining a social life- has led me to hone my time-managing skills more than ever. Although I have more commitments than before, I still have free time and am no more stressed than when I didn’t have as many obligations.

Whether you think you’re doing okay, struggle with getting things done on time, or know you should do better but lack motivation, I’d like to share some things that have been extremely helpful to me in making the semester –specifically, classes-smoother and bearable. They may add some hours to your day:

• Use a planner- It can be a notepad, agenda, or phone app. The important thing is that you can organize your thoughts and look ahead to future assignments and other things you don’t want to forget, like grocery items to buy or a friend’s birthday. It also feels good to cross out or delete items once you complete them.

• Do the easy things first- Let’s say you have three assignments; one is busy work that will take 15 minutes, the other is a 20-page reading assignment, and the third is a packet of calculus problems. Let’s also say that the calculus problems will be the most challenging and time consuming for you. If you tackle these problems first, you’ll be a little worn out by the time you try to get to the other assignments. Instead, start with the easiest and knock those out first. That way, you don’t feel like you have that much left to do since you’re moving fairly quickly. Also, if you do run out of time, you would have less you didn’t do, instead of things you know you could have done like simple busy work.

• Work on projects a few days before they’re due- Never put off a project until the night before it’s due—or the day it’s due for that matter. Make sure you read directions in advance so that you can ask the professor any questions you have. Then you can feel more confident about what you’re doing. Also, separate portions of the project you’ll work on throughout a few days. It feels like less work, and it gives you goals to work toward for that day.

• Make outlines for papers- Try to write the thesis or main argument for the paper and three reasons to back it up as proof. Then, write the paper. This way, you’ll have a layout and you won’t lose your focus as much.

• Divide reading assignments- If you have 50 pages to read, if possible, read 25 pages throughout two days. Now that’s much more doable.

• Master skimming pages- They never taught you this before college, did they? A lot of times, you can get the gist of most readings by focusing in on sentences that seem like the main points; try to think of what the professor may ask if he/she were to quiz you on the reading and spend more time focusing on those sections instead of every single sentence.

College Student Probs: Attendance- Should It Be Part of My Grade?

You almost made that A in biology last semester; your exam average was a 90%, homework 93%, but your attendance was an 82% because you didn’t attend four recitations. Did you deserve your B?

In other words, has your grade ever suffered because of attendance? Maybe you had a professor who marked you absent if your phone went off or if you were more than 10 minutes late.

And some classes, which contain 400 students, do not count attendance because it’s just not practical.

Should attendance be part of your grade in college? 

No, attendance shouldn’t be part of my grade.

Usually, students who do well in a class also attend class. However, if that student doesn’t attend class enough to make an A, yet manages to do well on exams and homework assignments, attendance shouldn’t matter. Then, it seems pointless that the student in front of you stays in class and does nothing but surf Facebook just to get credit for attendance. We’re all grown ups here, and it’s your choice to show up or not. Your alarm didn’t go off. You got 3 hours of sleep. Your cat died. Neither of those reasons is considered an excused absence, but life happens.

Yes, attendance should be part of my grade.

Maybe you don’t want a student who misses half the time and makes a higher grade than you. Also, attendance can be an easy boost to your grade if attendance is not a problem for you.

Whether you’re satisfied or unsatisfied with the attendance policy of your classes, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Many colleges leave attendance to the discretion of the professor; make sure you read your syllabus.
  • If you strongly believe the attendance policy is unfair, you could always try to persuade your professor otherwise, or consult with staff above the professor.
  • If a lot of things are going on, or your life is falling apart, tell the professor. It doesn’t hurt if they are sympathetic and happy to help you get caught up.
  • Pop quizzes may be a sneaky way some professors implement an attendance policy.
  • Extra credit is often given in class if half the classroom appears empty.



Technology: Causing Us to Age Early

This summer, I spent several days in one of my favorite places—southern California. I toured around, I shopped, I swam, I took pictures, I sunbathed. And I met a handful of fascinating people.

One memorable individual was a man who was standing on the side of a road in Laguna Beach, adding finishing touches on a scenic painting. It was getting dark, but it was light enough for my friend and me to see its beauty. We paused and admired his work out loud, which sparked a 45-minute conversation with this stranger.

The painter, with tan skin, neat hair, and sharp eyes, told us he had been painting for –if I remember correctly- 50 years. I nodded for a few seconds, until it dawned that this man did not even look over 40! My friend commented on his youthful appearance, and the painter chuckled as if he had expected it. He continued to share his bio:

He not only painted, but gave golf lessons, wrote and published a book, gave lectures, played an instrument or two, and had a number of other talents.

“You know the reason why I look so young?” Mr. Over-Achiever slyly smiled at us 19-year-olds. “It’s because I don’t put myself in a cubicle for hours a day. I barely watch T.V. I paint, I go outdoors, I take my time to enjoy life.” 

I’m thinking, I will no doubt be making art and music endlessly once I’m retired, but it’s hard to think I can do that instead of a real job to really make a living. This guy’s kinda in Lala Land. 

The painter then got my attention when he warned us of the dangers of technology, especially today. Why?

He claimed, “Because it causes us to age early.” 

Wait… isn’t technology supposed to make us live longer, make quality of life greater? 

“Technology,” he continued, “It speeds everything up. When you teens and young adults send text messages, you make the process even shorter by abbreviating everything. The content of kids’ every day speech even sounds like text messages. You guys can’t even speak in complete sentences!”

True, true. 

“When people walk by my painting, they always say, ‘wow,’ ‘cool,’ or ‘awesome.’ It’ll be the day when someone actually takes the time to walk up to me and say, ‘That is an amazing work of art.’ You know why? Because they actually took the time to share a complete thought. You see, when people want to speed everything up, they cut everything short. You get to places quicker. And when you add up all the cut pieces, you end up with a shorter piece, a prematurely aged life.”

My friend and I were skeptical and quiet. Except for our buzzing cell phones every two minutes. He then challenged us to, only for the next 10 minutes, speak in complete sentences. I’ll just say it’s harder than you’d think, and it makes you think about what you’re saying before you say it. It reduces unnecessary grunts and one-worded comments.

What separates humans from animals is our level of ability to communicate. The painter believed that a person who speaks in complete, intelligent sentences shows sincerity and seriousness. That person will go far because he/she is distinguished from peers.

Although I’m not so sure if his theory that technology makes us age prematurely is legitimate, I am sure that that conversation, with a random painter in Laguna Beach, will remain in my memory. I may not text any less or reduce my use of “lol”, but I will make more of an effort to actually say something when I say something.

College Student Probs: Homework Help Apps

iPhones are useful for many things: Internet surfing, FaceTime, Instagram, Temple Run… But did you know they can also boost your grade?

Here are a few apps that can make classes and other responsibilities less of a headache for you:

  • iHomework:
    iHomework is an app for iPhone and iPad and costs $0.99. It is basically an electronic agenda or planner, so it’s less for you to remember in your head. You can record your assignments that are due that week or month, record your grades, list your classes, class times, and links to reading sections. The app also calculates your grade.
  • Free Graphing Calculator:
    Speaking of calculating, this app may save you some money by performing some functions that an expensive graphing calculator may do. It can square root, cube root, nth root, natural log, graph up to four equations at once, convert units, contains constants for scientific calculations for physics, and more.
  • Quick Homework Help:
    This free app, along with a Brightstorm membership, gives you access to 3,000 videos in math, science, humanities, instant math answers, and test prep. The videos are categorized by textbooks or subjects and are made by teachers. It’s a way to clear up some things or review before an exam on your own time.
  • Evernote:
    This is another free app that lets you create and sync notes, save and share files, record audio notes, and create to-do-lists. It’s also useful for things outside the classroom, such as grocery shopping and keeping track of bills and receipts.

There are a lot more apps and websites out there that can help reduce stress and clutter. But let’s be honest here: What you really want is to be able to beat your score on Temple Run in between reading your class notes without doing more than lifting your thumb.

College Student Probs: It’s Tough Being Fashionable

Ages ago, in my middle school years (okay, and maybe the first half of my high school years), although I wouldn’t be aware of this until years later, I wasn’t exactly the best-dressed… At age 13, I still shopped at Limited Too and thought I was cool. In my Abercrombie and Fitch days, I only bought tops with the brand name on the front and thought $55 for an originally $70 sweater was a good deal.

Anyway, let’s fast-forward to now (pleeease). Though I do occasionally have my days where I give up on looking presentable, and I don’t read fashion magazines, I do have my own style (thanks, Pinterest) and put more thought into a purchase than the brand name. Because I generally want to look and present myself decently. Especially for class.

Apparently I am one of the 0.5% of students on campus who feel this way. I mean, as I’m walking to class, literally all I see is: T-shirts. Hoodies. Workout shorts. Yoga pants. Jeans. Tennis shoes. Every girl is dressed for a workout at the gym! Last I checked, most girls consider their workout walking to class (guilty).

So I’m looking down at my little self, in my flowy cold-shoulder top, maxi skirt, and wedges thinking, What’s the point? Is it even worth taking the time or money to put together outfits I find cute, when no one even cares about her own outfit?

Because, ladies, let’s be real. We don’t dress up to necessarily impress the boys. We dress up to impress or keep up with the girls. Don’t believe me? Have you ever texted your girlfriend, “What are you wearing?” so you avoid being over- or under-dressed? Have you gotten ready with a friend to go out, see her outfit, and decide to change because you look stupid next to her? I know I’m not the only one!

So one day I tone it down, and decide to wear a denim button-down with rolled up sleeves and white shorts. And someone still asked me what I’m dressed up for! Seriously?

Should I really feel a little silly or out of place because I try to be the tiniest bit of fashionable? Or should I embrace the fact that I stand out because of expression of my personality through my appearance?

And if that wasn’t enough, how do I know what to wear when it’s 89 degrees outside, but 59 degrees in half of my classrooms? How can I straighten my hair if it’s raining or super humid (so… every day)?

Such a tough life, huh.

Well, to any of you who feel my pain (if you’re out there in Kentucky, I’d like to shake your hand), I think I’ve come to my conclusion:

You know how whenever you actually style your hair or wear a dress, you usually feel better about yourself, and you have a better day? I think we should be good to ourselves by clothing ourselves with confidence and readiness for the long day ahead. I’m not saying we should dress like we’re on the runway, and looks are certainly not what’s most important. But flaunting a little style -not necessarily skin- doesn’t hurt. (Just resist the urge to rock your Steve Madden stilettos every day.)

College Student Probs: Balancing College and the Need for Real Food

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Ramen noodles. Easy Mac. Frozen pizza. Pop tarts. What do these have in common? Ohhh yeah, the infamous college cuisine.

So here’s a question: Is it physically realistic or even possible to eat healthy, decent meals in college?

Before I answer…

First of all, since I lived in a dorm last year, I automatically had a meal plan, which included about one meal a day and $300 for restaurants on campus. So, I usually grabbed a breakfast bar on the way to class, ate a meatball marinara from Subway for lunch, and ate in a school cafeteria for dinner. 

This year, living off campus in an apartment, I do not have a meal plan. I figured I would do the same for breakfast and lunch, but at least cook dinner. I soon learned that I barely had time for this! I spend the majority of the hours I’m actually at my apartment sleeping. I resort to fast food or restaurants on campus when I don’t have time to return to my apartment. And when I do have about 10-15 minutes to make dinner, it’s a simple pasta or some macaroni (but made on the stove, of course).

So here is my answer: It can be realistic and possible, both if you have a meal plan/live on campus or not. But it can be a challenge and may require schedule readjustments. 

  • If you have a meal plan or are stuck on campus:
    • Go to the restaurants available that offer the healthiest choices. For example, don’t get greasy pizza when you can choose a grilled chicken salad. Also, go for water instead of soda. Saves you money, too.
    • If you can, take back fruits or healthy snacks from the cafeterias. Save them for later. Again, this saves you money you could’ve spent at the vending machine full of Grippos and cookies.
    • If you don’t have a meal plan or are not on campus:
      • Personally, I find this more challenging because the cafeterias are more expensive than buying groceries. But cooking is more time consuming, and you have to be in your apartment or home to cook. So, the first step is spending more time in your apartment; do some homework once in a while there instead of in the library.
      • Try waking up 10 minutes earlier than usual a few times a week to pack yourself lunch.
      • Try taking out 30 minutes out of watching T.V. with your friends or out of nap time (which is an impossible request for me) to cook yourself some dinner, and maybe for you and your friends if you’re at their place; basically, dedicate some time in your schedule for, well, food.
      • When you do cook, cook something that will last more than one day in the fridge and make a lot of it.
      • Buy some healthy snacks such as nuts or fruit; even if you’re not too proud of your meals, you can try to take in some nutrients in small doses throughout the day.

And I saved the best for last: The best option, especially in the beginning and end of the school year? Find events for free food on campus!

 -What are some things you do to get wholesome meals during college?

What to Do with Old Textbooks

What do you do with the stack of old textbooks that has been collecting dust in your closet since last semester? Whether you’d purchased them with scholarships, loans, or out of your pocket,  (give-or-take) $400-$600 toward college textbooks a semester can seriously add up!

old textbooks

Although you may not get all the money back, here are some ideas you can try that are better alternatives to expensive dust-collectors:

First, Sort!

If you are still in school, you may want to keep some textbooks that can help you with future classes or your major. Or, if you’ve graduated, you can make your library more scholarly with your organic chem books to impress your guests or refresh yourself on some information every now and again!


Check out websites that buy  used books, such as Knetbooks through SellBackBooks or directly through their website. Also, you can ask peers if they’d like to purchase them at a discounted price if you know they need the books this upcoming semester.


Some organizations collect and distribute textbooks to those in need, even around the world. Thrift stores will also accept them. Also, you can give them to friends or someone who needs the textbook to start a friendship. Even better, the gesture may come back around and save you big money!


Trade your used textbooks with friends or classmates for ones that you need. Use resources like social media to tell your classmates what books you have and which ones you need to set up a swap.


Instead of buying your textbooks in the future, try renting them to cut costs! Try Knetbooks where you will find some of the cheapest college textbook rentals and shipping is always free!

I hope this post gives you some good ideas of how to make use of your old textbooks. What has been the best option for you? Have more ideas of what to do with your old textbooks? Leave us a comment below!