advice

To Survive or to Thrive: College Edition

Children are unapologetic about what they love; they are passionate and even obsessive. My childhood obsession was with archaeology; I read about the sarcophagi in Egypt thrive - childhood dreamsand the ruins in Pompeii. I dreamt that ancient bones and artifacts were still buried under my feet, just waiting for me to uncover them. Unfortunately, the dreams we have as children often fall away and are replaced with the pessimistic, “adult” mindset deemed necessary for the “real world.”

My dream of becoming an archaeologist was set aside, and I spent my high school trying to live up to an arbitrary definition of success. Adults stress the importance of “success;” they do not explain–and may not even understand– that this term is relative. I was told I needed to get into a good college in order to get a good job, and thus I set aside my “silly” childhood dreams.

By the time I entered college, I was used to the system; I understood that if I wanted to be successful, I had to manage my busy schedule and dedicate myself to my studies. Although I was a hard-working student, I felt like I was losing something; I was slowly forgetting the passion that I once felt for learning. By the time students enter college, they resemble machines; they are programmed to manage their classwork, jobs, and social lives. Time for rest and reflection are rare. We are always busy, and thus we grow distanced from our thoughts and ourselves. Like many of my fellow students, I grew detached from my true passions; I lost sight of what I really wanted.

Many students handle their academic and social stresses by simply going through the motions; attending classes and social events because we think we are “supposed to.” I tried to follow the example set by my peers, but, by sophomore year, I could see it was not working for me. I learned that it was better to let something go than to pretend. Instead of taking a class I was  not interested in simply because it looked impressive, I began taking classes that my childhood self calls out for– the class that reminds me of forgotten dreams.  If you simply pretend and go through the motions during college, it is likely that you will continue this habit after graduation. If you decide not to major in what you love because you are told it won’t make you “successful,” you will grow distanced from yourself. One day, you may forget who you are and what you truly love.

If we drop some of the tasks we feel we are “supposed to” complete, we become closer to ourselves and learn to understand who we are. When we are faced with a stressor, it is the way we respond to it that brings us closer to our true selves. In turn, we learn to love ourselves rather obsess over what is temporary. What is temporary includes both academic and social stresses, as well as our bodies. If we maintain perspective, we see that many of our worries are not worth dwelling on.thrive - college routine

If we want to truly love ourselves and become happy, successful adults, we must practice moderation. In school, we are forced to navigate two extremes. We are told to stay committed and work hard in order to succeed and make money. A nagging voice is often in the back of our minds, telling us we have no time to lose. The other extreme is a voice that tells us we are powerless and inadequate; it tempts us to give up. Our childhood fantasies are looked back at as silly dreams. We must navigate these extremes if we want to nurture our souls and stay grounded. Conflict forces us to either go through the motions or to reflect. We must reflect and force ourselves into consciousness. This creates an intimacy and honesty within ourselves. If we want to find the career that makes us happy, we must both love and learn with our whole hearts. 

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If we do not practice moderation, we often end up neglecting our mental and physical health. I use the app “Headspace” in order to check in with myself and stay focused on what truly matters. The app is described as “a gym membership for the mind.” Just like you train your body, you can train your mind. The app allows you ten days of free meditation. Using this app, I have slowly been learning how to clear my mind. By taking ten minutes each day to focus on my mental health, I have become more in touch with myself and what I really want. I have cut out activities that I was simply doing because I saw other students participating. I have learned that sometimes, the most productive thing I can do is to spend time alone and to not stretch myself too thin. My favorite meditation sessions focus on self-love. It is so easy to forget to congratulate yourself on what you have done, especially when you always have a new assignment or exam coming up. Being mindful of the present moment has allowed me to put things in perspective. During every meditation, I remind myself of all that I have to be grateful for and all that I have accomplished thus far.

Last weekend, I finally saw the ruins at Pompeii. During this experience, my heart was aching; I kept thinking about my childhood dreams and the love I had for archaeology. I let these dreams go because I believed they were unrealistic;  no one understood why I wanted to be an archeologist. I felt defeated. Through practicing both moderation and meditation, I have learned how to let things go; I have learned to focus on what I love and to disregard what others expect of me. Though I regret that I was defeated so easily by the pressures of adulthood, my experience in Pompeii reminded me that it is often the ideas and subjects you obsess over as a child that are the most true; the dreams we have as children never really die. The clean, “perfect” plan college students feel forced to follow is nothing but an act. If we keep on acting rather than living, we risk never truly understanding ourselves or what we want out of life. We must decide whether we will simply try to survive, or whether we will choose to thrive.

The Thing No One Likes to Talk About

We’ve all been there – your award letter comes and maybe it’s not quite as much as you’d hoped it would be. And the loan portion isn’t quite as little as you’d hoped it would be. But you take out the loan anyway because how else are you supposed to pay for school? We’re 18-22 year olds mostly, and I don’t know about you, but I certainly haven’t got $30,000 lying around for free spending. College costs continue to rise and with the rising cost comes a rising amount of average debt per student per year.

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 In addition to a higher amount of debt being taken on by students, a larger number of students have to resort to taking out loans as well.

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 Another thing to keep in mind while borrowing for undergrad, is how you are planning to pay for grad school should you choose that route. According to the Wall Street Journal, “About 15% of graduate and professional school students graduate with six-figure student loan debt compared with only 0.3% of undergraduate students”. Be aware of potential salary increases that can come from an advanced degree in comparison with the additional debt and decide for yourself if it is appropriate for your goals.

 Student loan debt is not all bad though. With proper planning and budgeting, you can keep your student loan debt under control. Still, college students need to be aware of how much they are borrowing and make sure it is the smallest amount possible to get through school. Supplement the borrowed amounts with jobs and scholarships as much as possible. It’s not always enough to cover everything, but every little bit counts especially once interest starts adding up on an unnecessary loan.

Getting Sick Without Mommy

Taking care of yourself is one of the many things you’ll need to worry about when you leave for college. Making sure you have all the necessary tips for prevention during the cold and flu season as well as habits for optimal health can keep you looking and feeling wonderful throughout the school year.

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How to prevent illness:

  • Wash your hands regularly- This is common knowledge as the first way to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Keep your hands out of your mouth, nose and eyes- germs are easily spread through contact with
  • Tissues, Tissues, Tissues- use them to open doors in the bathroom to keep hands clean as well as wiping your mouth (as opposed to using your hand, gross!) and catching a sneeze.
  • Have Vitamin C handy- Luckily, you can get your daily dose of Vitamin C through orange juice, oranges, and lozenges. Halls makes tasty Vitamin C drops that not only boosts the immune system but also sooths sore throats.
  • Hand Sanitizer- some areas at your college will have stations with free standing hand sanitizer machines. If you are unable to get to a bathroom to wash your hand, the next best thing is your own personal hand sanitizer. It will kill most of the germs on contact.

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If you unfortunately come down with the common cold, fever, or the dreaded flu, there are certain steps that you can take to get better quickly.

  • Drink plenty of fluids- liquids will help replace some of the fluids lost due to a fever or other ailment.
  • Sleep and rest as much as possible- the body needs time to recuperate and while you sleep, your body works to heal itself.
  • Take over the counter pain relievers- this can include Tylenol or Advil. It’s helpful for reducing fever, pain and body aches.
  • Eat and drink healthy- you can help your body recover by boosting the immune system to fight the infection. Tea, especially green tea, with organic local honey (for nutritional benefits) will sooth your throat and help heal the body.

It’s important to note that not all infections can be treated in this manner. Only illnesses that are bacterial need antibiotics prescribed for your doctor. Unfortunately for viral infections, you will need time for your body to fight them naturally.

3 Tips for Surviving Fall Semester

It’s about that time again where the new school year looms dauntingly overhead.  Nearing the end of swimsuits and late night rendezvous in replace of studying and hitting the alarm 3 times before rolling out of bed. Yes, it’s the fall semester and while you’re frantically rushing to class, were helping you retain some of that cool ocean chill all year round. Get your head in the game because it’s going to be a long semester.

1. Get Plenty of Rest

3 Tips for Balancing Fall Semester | Get Plenty of Rest

This could be tricky but it’s doable. You’re loaded with midterms or finals and you must study to pass but you’re working or crunched for time. The only likely scenario is to study late into the night, every night with little sleep. If your experience is similar, don’t fret. The perfect solution is to start early. In order to get plenty of rest, start studying weeks in advance. The rule of thumb is to study the amount of hours you have a class per week. For instance, if you have a class that meets three hours per week, the allotted amount of time you should spend studying that subject each week is 3 hours.

2. Pick Healthy Foods

3 Tips for Balancing Fall Semester | Pick Healthy Foods

At every college campus, there is an ample amount of convenient food, but choosing the right convenient food matters. Ditch the candy, ready-made pizzas and chips for something more filling.  Assorted nuts are packed with healthy fats, minerals and protein to keep you full during long lectures. Sustained energy can also help keep you alert if you find yourself drifting. Fruits are also an easy on the go snack filled with brain boosting nutrients that can help curb that sweet tooth we just can’t seem to get rid of. Try eating a banana for the amino acid tryptophan; it has been linked to aid memory (great for studying!).

3.  Hit Your Campus Gym

3 Tips for Balancing Fall Semester | Hit Your Campus Gym

Hitting the gym is a no-brainer for optimum health, but did you know it can actually help achieve higher grades? One study found that students who frequented the gym had higher GPAs than those who did not. Those who work out regularly have better memory, better test scores and tend be better at managing their time. So don’t sweat the upcoming semester; just sweat at the gym!

I hope these tips help you have the best fall semester yet! Have any comments? Leave them below!

Out With the Old, In With the New

While there may not be real school bells ringing, or yellow buses picking you up, it’s obvious that school has once again started. For many, it’s their first time at college. And for others, it’s the start of their last year, and final few semesters. Even though everyone is at a different starting point, we can all learn from some simple “start of the semester” advice.

Whatever happened last semester—whether in college or high school—it doesn’t have to happen again. If you were less than pleased with your performance, or really want to strive for something different, you still can.

Each semester marks a new slate, a chance to do and be something different. Maybe you got all A’s, or maybe you never even went to class. Either way, you call the shots. The beginning of the semester marks a special moment when you get a choice—you get to decide who you want to be and how you want to act.

I’ve had friends go all through college not applying themselves—not going to class, partying all the time, pretending they didn’t care about their future or their GPA. But then something changed. All of the sudden we came back from summer and they were setting goals, and really working hard. When I asked them about it, it was simple. It took a while to focus, to figure out what was next for them, but with graduation looming in the not too distant future a plan of action was necessary. Lucky for them, the new semester and the new year allowed for the change. With new classes, new professors, and a clean GPA slate—hey we all start with a 4.0—they were able to paint a different picture for themselves, one that didn’t involve not going to class.

The saying “out with the old, in with new” has never held truer. You can forget your bad final, or your slacker high school days and start fresh. Make a plan of attack for this fall semester and set some goals. And maybe you aren’t concerned with the type of student you are, and instead you need goals for something else. Take involvement for example. Have you be less than a social butterfly for the last few years? Ready to get outside your dorm room and mingle on campus? It’s not too late. Nothing is set in stone in college; you have time to do whatever your heart desires. Juniors and seniors join clubs, not just freshmen. Don’t think that because you didn’t do it before, you can’t do it now. The start of the semester is a great time for change as long as you take advantage of it—it won’t be as easy later.