Winter

The Brighter Side of Winter

every day I'm shovellin'

If you don’t live under a rock, you’ve probably noticed that this winter has been particularly harsh thus far. So if your plans have been ruined and your classes have been cancelled—AGAIN—here are a few ways to stay sane while you are cooped up indoors waiting for the blizzard to pass.

  1. Don’t feel bad about cancelling plans.

This one is important. If you made plans with someone before a snowstorm, don’t feel bad about changing or postponing said plans. Remember, your safety comes first. If you must drive in this weather, be sure the roads are safe and make a list so you can get as much done in one trip as you can.

 igloo

If something were to happen when you were out getting milk and bread, be prepared to build an igloo for safety in the case of an accident. This basic skill could save your life and even if there was no accident, practicing in the backyard could lead to hours of worthwhile fun.

  1. Learn a new skill

Between Pinterest and StumbleUpon, it’s easy to find something new to learn. Maybe you’ve always wanted to crochet a scarf. Or play the harmonica.

ice fishing

You could even learn how to go ice fishing, I hear Eskimo’s do this a lot in their free time why not try it out and see what the rave is all about.                                                                                   

  1. Catch up on homework

Okay so this one isn’t actually enjoyable but hey, it needs to be done. If you’re an assignment or two behind, now is a good time to catch up.

sockssocks

If your fireplace is running low on wood, you could always use that homework assignment your professor gave you last week. Staying warm or doing homework? I think we know the answer.

  1. Skype your family

Your parents are probably worried about you, as parents often are, because of the severe weather. Take some time to let them know you’re okay and while you’re at it, let them know what you’ve been up to lately.

faceplant

Like how you’ve become a famous YouTube star from sledding down a hill on your campus, then flying up 15 feet in the air and planting your face into the snow.  The Today Show has already contacted you about a guest appearance – mishaps in the snow aren’t so bad.

  1. Hang out with your friends

Just because you’re staying in doesn’t mean you have to be alone! Call up some friends in town or around campus and have some fun.

 undie

You could have a movie night, play some board games or participate in a philanthropy event! Every year, my campus hosts an undie run, you show up and donate your clothing to a homeless shelter. Then you get to run across campus in your undies, doing good and having fun all in one!

 

The “What I Wish I Knew about Education Abroad” List for Students

study-abroadAs the semester comes to an end, the majority of us are focused on surviving finals week and getting home for the holidays. However, many students, myself included, are preparing to spend time studying abroad for a few weeks, or even a semester. Although I am now very excited for my trip, my education abroad journey has not been all smooth sailing. There are a million and one things I wish I had known when I began planning my trip abroad. Here are just a few tips that I hope will make the process a little easier for anyone who is considering education abroad.

START EARLY: I repeat, do NOT wait until the last minute to start planning your trip (like I did). Although it’s not impossible to plan an education abroad trip last minute, it is definitely more difficult. If you are at all interested in studying abroad, go meet with an education abroad ASAP. Different programs have different requirements. It is absolutely never too early to get started!

 
Decide where you want to go: One of the most important education abroad decisions you will make is where to go. One of my majors is Spanish, so I chose to study in Seville, Spain in order to complete the requirements for my major. Many colleges offer many areas of stud. But, you need to think about which cultures and experiences will benefit you the most academically. No matter where you go, you will have a great time and make awesome memories, so make sure it’s going to pay off towards your degree.

Find a friend: Chances are, you know someone who has studied abroad in the past. Use them as a resource! Don’t annoy them of course, but ask them to get coffee or lunch with you someday so that you can ask them questions and advice.

Don’t let money stop you: If you’re anything like me, you may be hesitant about education abroad because you think you can’t afford it. Surprisingly, my semester abroad is going to cost me less than a semester at my home university. Now, this may not be the case for everyone. But I promise, education abroad fees include A LOT. And, you can usually apply any scholarships, loans or grants that you receive at your current school to education abroad fees. There are also TONS of scholarships available to students who want to go abroad.

Although a good GPA, campus involvement and leadership experience are all important aspects of an impressive resume, education abroad gives students an advantage over the rest. Employers and graduate programs love seeing that a student has studied abroad. Not to mention, I have never spoken to a student who regretted their education abroad experience. Have any questions or suggestions of your own about education abroad? Let us know in the comments section below.

Win a Free Trip from eCampus.com!

Home for the Holidays Contest Final Version (3)

Everyone’s favorite season has finally arrived! It’s the time of year when ice skating downtown with friends every weekend is the norm, drinking hot chocolate and eating sweet treats daily is acceptable, and heading home to spend time with family and friends is what every college student looks forward to the most. I, like most students, love being away at school for the majority of the semester. However, as soon as Mariah Carey Christmas carols hit the radio and bells start ringing for The Salvation Army outside of the local grocery store, my anticipation to get home for the holidays begins.

Although we all look forward to heading home for the holidays, we at eCampus.com understand that for some, it can be difficult to get there. No one should have to spend their holiday in a deserted college town for lack of traveling expenses. Now, with our help, hopefully no one will have to! We are proud to announce our Home for the Holidays contest. We are celebrating the season of giving by paying for one student to travel home for the holidays. One lucky winner will receive a $300 check to spend on travel expenses this holiday season. Whether by plane, train or automobile, we want to send you home for the holidays!

To enter, simply answer the question “What do you love most about going home for the holidays?” through our Facebook or Twitter page. For Twitter, tweet your answer to @ecampusdotcom using #homefortheholidays. For Facebook, visit the eCampus.com Facebook page and click on the Home for the Holidays link at the top of the page.

For those of you who will be traveling on your own dime this holiday season, don’t forget to check out Orbitz.com for top travel deals.

Good luck and happy holidays from the eCampus.com team!

Must See Movies During Thanksgiving Break

hunger-games-catching-fire-poster-usaWith the holiday season quickly approaching and Thanksgiving break right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to check out the latest Hollywood hits. Time off of school provides the perfect opportunity to go watch those must see movies you’ve been dying to see, but just haven’t had time.Here’s my list of the three best movies to check out while on Thanksgiving break.      

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire- November 22

This is the second movie in the Hunger Games trilogy. I HIGHLY recommend watching the first one if you haven’t seen it. I also recommend reading the books on your time off of school. The series has a fascinating storyline, set in the future post-apocalyptic nation Panem in North America. The country is divided into different districts, all under the political control of the Capitol. The Capitol established the Hunger Games as a way to remind the citizens of the districts of the Dark Days (75 years before the events in the books/movies).

Catching Fire starts with Katniss Everdeen  (Jennifer Lawrence)’s return after winning the 74th annual Hunger Games. President Snow is unhappy with Katniss and fellow winner Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) for breaking the rules, allowing both of them to win. The 75th Hunger Games mark what is known as the Quarter Quell, with a special set of rules. This year’s participants are selected from previous Hunger Game winners.

I don’t want to give too much away for those who haven’t read the books, but this story and competition is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Katniss once again outwits the Capitol, causing President Snow to become even angrier with her.

Delivery Man- November 22

Delivery Man is Vince Vaughn’s latest flick, so it’s sure to keep you laughing throughout the whole movie. Vaughn stars at David Wozniak, a man who just found out he has fathered 533 children through anonymous donations to a fertility clinic 20 years ago. He is faced with the decision of whether or not to reveal his identity when 142 file a lawsuit for him to do so.

What’s interesting about this movie is that it’s actually a remake of Director Ken Scott’s 2011 French Canadian film, Starbuck. “Starbuck” is the sperm donor alias that Vaughn’s character went by.

Homefront- November 29

Homefront stars Jason Statham and James Franco in this action thriller written by Sylvester Stallone (Rocky). Statham plays a former DEA agent who moves to a small town with his daughter to get away from everything. An incident occurs on the playground at school where another student bullies her. Obviously trained by her father, the girl physically retaliates and knocks the kid down. His parents show up at the school, furious about what the girl did to their son. His father (James Franco), who goes by “Gator,” begins to taunt the family.

He snoops around in their house when they’re not home and discovers Statham’s character was an undercover DEA agent. This upsets him even more because he is the leader of a meth-production gang in town.

The rest of the film looks like it’ll live up to true Stallone and Statham action. Lots of fighting, guns and threats. What else could you want?

While these three films are obviously not the only ones coming out during this time, they’re ones that I definitely plan on going to see. What must see movies are you looking forward to this holiday season?

Bounce Back from Winter Break!

It’s hard to acknowledge that a whole month has passed during Winter Break and many students will try to put off the lingering date of the first class back for as long as they possibly can. But eventually you have to order books, make travel plans, and pack to head back. So how can you bounce back from your winter fun and make the most of your return to the land of college? There are a couple ways to cope with the looming change of pace that you are about to encounter— some may be more productive than others. One option would be to deny the inevitable, kick and scream and lock yourself in your childhood room. It should be noted here that 1. I highly doubt that will work, and 2. Any college “cred” you’ve earned from your parents since you went away might go flying out the window. There has to be another way—A way to return to school without sadness and roaring and ready for yet another semester.

If you follow these few steps, your transition from sleep-ins and free time to textbooks and dorm rooms should be a tad smoother. Remember, break may be fun, but there are plenty of advantages to being back at school too—think cleaning room standards, freedom, curfew (or lack thereof), and staples of a “college” food pyramid. So grab a pen, a piece of paper and break out your rusty note taking hand so you can jot down the important tidbits of getting ready for spring 2012.

Tip #1: Spring Cleaning is not a dated concept
One of the best ways to get ready for back to school—college age or not—is to clean up and clean out. To better prepare yourself for school get rid of clutter and old stuff. Do you have old clothes, shoes, papers, notebooks taking up mountains of space at home and in your dorm room? Make a pact to downsize and start fresh. Throw away old notebooks, donate and sell back old books, and go through old clothes to see what you wear and what you don’t. I can speak from personal experience in the cleaning department. Every time I come home from break I clean out my closet and do a goodwill run. It’s not necessary to do it every break, but let me tell you, it is a huge relief to go back to school feeling like you have your room in order and last season’s drab duds put to better use. Then, when you get back school you are left with only the stuff you wear and use on a regular basis! It makes such a difference and will leave you feeling excited to get going with the semester.

Tip #2: Treat yourself
So you’ve made the effort both at home and at school to de-clutter and simplify, now it’s time to pat yourself on the back and add a little sparkle to your newly cleaned up life. Treat yourself to new school gadgets—a bag, laptop cover, or flash drive—or maybe a fun new outfit that you can’t wait to wear all over campus. For me, I got new kicks—All Star Low-top Converse sneaks—to spice up my wardrobe and convince myself I’m ready to hit the books, looking good and feeling good too!

The same goes for school supplies! Nothing says, “I’m ready for class” like pens and notebooks, all shiny and new! Maximize all that spring-cleaning you did, and reward yourself with a little sparkle and pizzazz for your upcoming courses. By buying new accessories  you will help ease the stress of changing up your routine, and will buffer the boredom that accompanies the start of class. Everyone loves pulling new school supplies out of your tote, and lining up all of your prettiest pens and highlighters to impress the professor! In my opinion, the new school sparkle alone is exciting enough to get me back to class—but that’s just me.

Tip #3: It’s a date… so mark it
Even with the new razzle dazzle pencils, post-its and a clean room ready to go, there can still be a lull in excitement to get the semester started. So the next tip I have for you is get a new planner. Now most calendars end in December (obviously) leaving you room for an upgrade. However, some agendas keep right on rolling through the New Year. It’s up to you, and your organizing preferences of course, what you do next, but here’s my advice. Get a new planner, or agenda and start fresh. Mark all the dates of things coming up in the semester, and even the summer—maybe it’s birthdays that get you going, or formals, or even graduation, but mark it all down! It is way easier to get through class and the semester if you have things to look forward to. Mark down the fun stuff (like I said, birthdays, parties, date night etc.), but also the academic dates—midterms, finals, career fairs, exams, the like. Having everything down on paper will give you a sense of what’s to come and will help you keep on track. Now, if you want to have a little extra fun with this assignment, check the web for fun events going on in your area. Maybe there are some concerts you want to save up for, or a movie that is scheduled to come out, a sporting event you can’t live without seeing, etc. Plan ahead and write it all in your planner. Visualizing is a great way to set goals, make plans, and prepare yourself for what’s to come.

Tip #4: Spring Break bodies are not just for Spring Break…
Now as cliché as it sounds, getting fit is a great New Year’s resolution. It’s easy to over eat and cut back on the exercise routine during break because you can always get serious “next year”. Well the New Year is here, and getting fit is not only a great way to start out the year, but also a great way to start the semester! Have you seen Legally Blonde? If you’re like me, you’ve seen it at least a bagillion times so here’s a little a quote you should remember: “Exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands”. Most of this quote applies to us college co-eds–endorphins will make you happy and give you more energy to run around campus with your books and what not, and hopefully, for most of us, suppress the urge to shoot anybody. Let’s hope.

But seriously, exercising can help make the saddest of days just a little happier, and put a much-needed pep in every step. It’s the preconceived notion that exercise makes you tired, but in fact, it does the exact opposite! Even if you aren’t into hard core cardio or intense weight work outs give your body some much needed movement. Even walking to the end of campus and back just to get some steps in is a good way to ensure you aren’t staying stationary for too long. You will be able to focus and get more schoolwork done if you aren’t sluggish and tired. Plus, it won’t hurt your spring break plans to tighten up that figure of yours just for fun—no beach required (although booking a trip wouldn’t be bad for your motivation either!)

So all in all, it’s important to remind yourself of all the little bonuses of being back at school. Think positively and remember all the fun times, study parties (and real ones) that are in store for the semester and try to lose the ‘tude when it comes to moving back in. You will love being back as soon as you get reacquainted and settled in. And hey! If all else fails, make plans for the weekend as soon as you get back so you have something to immediately celebrate!

-Ring Queen

I’m reading An Introduction to Literature