How to Love Dogs When You Can’t Have One

Maybe you’re not ready to give a dog a forever home. Many landlords don’t allow dogs in their rented apartments. Dogs are also a commitment. They need attention, exercise, playtime and meals everyday and some working families just don’t have the time and money to keep up with one. If you can’t own, but want to spend some time with furry friends, there are lots of other ways you can get involved.


Aside from donations, animal shelters rely on volunteers to run. Animal shelters are one of the most popular places to volunteer at, so you may have to wait before they can find a spot for you, but they will always need volunteers. Shelters need help socializing, walking, playing with and cleaning up after dogs. If you’d prefer some other furry friends, you can also help out with cats and other small animals, depending on what you shelter has.

“Borrow” a Dog

Chances are you know someone who has a dog. You can offer to walk their pooch while they’re out, dog sit or ask to go over and play with the pup every once in a while. Dog lovers love other dogs lovers, so they are more than likely going to have no problem letting you spend some quality time with their pet and they’ll appreciate the help.

This is especially useful for younger children who can’t have a dog in their own house. Parents can send them off with friends and family they trust and the children will love spending some quality time with a dog.

Become a Dog Walker or Dog Sitter

There are many working dog owners who need someone to walk their pooch everyday. Or many owners who go out of town and can’t take Fido either. Websites like Rover or Dogwalker can help connect you with people in your area that need a little help with their pup. This is flexible job you can do part time or full time around your schedule, so it’s a great way to make a little extra cash.

Work in a Kennel

All you would do everyday is spend time with other people’s dogs. You may be a young professional yourself trying to make it out in the world, but happen to need a part time job. Check around for kennels in your area that may need some extra help. If you happen to be studying some type of veterinary care or animal care this is also a great job to gain experience in caring for many animals at once.

Keep in mind that a job like this requires the dirty side of owning a dog as well. You’ll be required to clean up after them when they go to the bathroom and make messes, as well as the kennels every time a dog leaves.

Foster A Dog

Fostering can save a dog’s life while costing you no more than your time and love. Rescue organizations and shelters often can’t provide care for the high number of dogs that are given to them for various reasons, but they provide food, training and any medical care the dogs needs.

Fostering often saves dogs from being euthanized. This is for dog lovers who are ready for a short commitment, because a dog could be living in your home anywhere from a couple of weeks to a year, depending on how long it takes to get adopted. Once you receive a foster dog, you are not only their caretaker, but also their PR person. The shelter can only do so much, so you need to be on your game marketing your new friend.

Many foster dogs have suffered abuse and neglect in the past, so they will probably be terrified when they arrive. This is another reason why fostering is necessary: shelters need volunteers to help dogs with behavioral issues adjust to a normal, loving home.

The worst thing you can do is get a dog and  then have to surrender it to a shelter. So if you’re not ready for one, try a couple things on this list first. Also, remember to research what breed of dog is best for you before taking the plunge. Once you do decide you’re ready, dogs are loving, adorable animals and owning one is worth all of the work it takes.


Make the Most of Your Small Space in Three Easy Steps

Moving into college, especially for the first time, is exciting. Squeezing all of your belongings into a tiny room you share with someone else is not. Even if you’ve graduated from a dorm, chances are your apartment may not be that big either. If you’re not sure how you could possibly fit everything into such a small space and make it look good, read on for some tips.

Don’t bring too much. There are huge lists of things colleges suggest you bring when moving in, but you may not need everything. If you’re staying in a dorm, don’t waste too much space on kitchenware, because you’ll rarely use it. But if you’re living in a suite or apartment with a full kitchen you might need most of it. Having an iron and ironing board on hand seems useful, but if you’ve never ironed your clothes at home, don’t bother bringing one to college, because you’ll probably be even less likely to use it there. I think I used my iron twice the entire year I lived there.

Talk with your roommates and coordinate who’s bringing the big stuff. If you want coffee pots, hot plates, kuriegs, microwaves or fridges, you’ll only have room for one of each. Keep in mind that you might not even have enough space for all of these and/or most colleges may not allow things like hot plates.

Another thing people (myself included) over pack is clothing and shoes. Especially in triples or quads, you just won’t have the space you want to store everything. Seriously think about how often you’ll wear the clothes you bring, especially if you’re a sweats/yoga pants type of person. Those nice outfits are great for going out, but you probably won’t wear them to your 8 a.m.

Get creative with storage. Since there is so little space, you may need to think of some out-of-the-box ideas. First of all, don’t buy anything until you know what the room looks like. In-person tours are of course the best option, but a virtual tour works in it’s place. Especially if you’re flying, you don’t want to lug things that won’t fit.

Under bed storage is one of the most commonly used storage spots. Many dorm beds can be raised quite high, and if you have bed risers that’s even better. I knew a couple people whose bed were raised four or five feet off the ground, and they used a stool to get into it. That may be undesirable for some, but unless it’s a bunk bed, try to raise the bed enough to fit a bin underneath. I stored my shoes, towels and sweatshirts in bins under my bed and it worked out great.

Most dorms have some kind of closet or wardrobe. Storing vertically increases the amount of things you can put in your wardrobe. There are hangers that store a bunch of clothes, bras, shoes and more down in a line, so one closet spot hangs six shirts instead of one. Put some hooks on the outside for your coats and your robe. Cut a door shoe hanger to the size of your wardrobe door to store shoes, hair products or other small things, like packaged food items. Plastic jewelry and accessory holders are also great for keeping your things organized and easy to find without taking up a lot of space. You should also utilize the space on the floor of the closet or the bottom of the wardrobe. Crates or smaller fabric cubes are great for keeping things like first aid supplies, shoes, kitchen supplies and food if it’s a dorm, laundry supplies and other miscellaneous objects.

Dorms also have a set a drawers. I know folding is no fun, but if you have a lot of clothing, it’s the only way everything is going to fit. For clothing that won’t get wrinkled, such as t-shirts and tanks, rolling them up or folding them small and storing them upright are often space savers.

Drawers make it easy to keep your desk organized. If your desk doesn’t have drawers, you should get something small enough to fit underneath it. Chances are your desk will also be a part-time kitchen table and stylist chair. Small containers could also be useful to keep pencils in drawers and other items on top of the desk.

Don’t ignore the walls! Adhesive strips and hooks may be your best friend, because they are great for more than just posters and decorations. Put up adhesive hooks to hang anything from coats and robes to storage containers. Using something light with a lot of shelves or pockets, such as a hanging shower caddy, can make makeup, beauty products or school supplies easy to reach.

Try these design hacks. There are lots of easy design tricks to make the room look bigger. Many dorms and apartments have white walls, which naturally makes rooms appear more spacious. Keeping a color scheme also creates a sense of unity in the room. Try picking one or two main colors and using different shades and patterns with those colors in them. Stripes are a good choice because they give an appearance of a longer room.

If possible, pull large furniture away from the walls of your apartment to create an illusion of space everywhere, even if it’s only a few inches. You could also try double-duty furniture. Use an ottoman or bench seat with inside storage or a desk that also works as a coffee table. If that doesn’t work for you, there are small fold-up table and chairs that don’t use a lot of space when you’re not using them.

One of your first college freedoms is picking supplies and designing your room (or your side of the room), which is something many college students might not have been able to do before. Even though the shopping, packing and moving can be a stressful experience, remember that it’s also really fun, too.

Working as a Temp

One of the best decisions I made as a college student was signing up with Office Team, a temp agency. I only had a couple months of experience in an office, so all of my applications were ignored, but I desperately needed a job that paid more than minimum wage otherwise I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for Emerson that year. I had just come back from a poorly budgeted (but amazing) semester abroad and I was completely broke. I did a paid internship, but as the end of the summer neared I had barely any savings and an expensive school bill.

I went in for an interview with a recruiter, who, despite my lack of experience, assured me he would begin finding me a job. The interview was almost a month before I needed a job, but he started calling me with temp opportunities within a week. Waiting worked out much better for me though, because I got a stable job at TCI America that not only gave me a lot of experience in administrative work, but also exposed me to sales and marketing.

Temp agencies sometimes get a bad rap, because you often get paid less than you would as a regular employee and there isn’t often job security. I know that I got really lucky with my placement at TCI America, but I think there are lots of benefits to working for a temp agency, especially a college student or recent graduate.

The average entry level position often requires more experience than possible for someone who just graduated college, so finding a job can take months. During that time, a lot of those job seekers can’t afford to be out of work, so they get by on minimum wage jobs. Working for an agency until you find a job is a great idea, because you would most likely be making more than minimum wage and since it’s not often a long-term job, it’s easy to leave when you find the job you’re looking for.

There is a chance that a position will end before you’re ready, which is one of the main risks of temporary work. However, the agencies always have lots of listings, because businesses like to hire through temp agencies. Temporary employees are much easier to hire, because the agency deals with interviewing, background checks, reference checks, payroll and more. I interviewed for my position at TCI America, but I don’t think that’s common in most temporary placements. If you do lose your job before you’re ready, the agency will work hard to find you another job, because they only make money from you if you have a job.

I’ve worked in a couple different stores, and while working in a store or restaurant makes you great at dealing with people and handing multiple projects at once, office experience gives you an edge in the professional world, especially if you’re missing some of the other experience the job you want requires. Overall, I had a great time at TCI America. Even though the position was a lot of hours, I got great experience and made enough money to get through my school year.

How to Have a Great Interview

Finding a job is tough. You spend so much time tweaking your resume and cover letter so they stand out among the many other hopefuls you’re up against and you might have to apply to dozens of places before an application is noticed, and liked, by a potential employer.

After getting over the excitement of a call back, it’s time to prepare for the interview. You need to make sure you stand out more than your resume does.

Before the Interview:

  1. Research, Research, Research: Look over the company’s website, blog, stocks, recent work, new clients and products and anything else that might be relevant.
  2. Pick a Professional Outfit:It doesn’t matter if the office itself is business casual or even casual. You’ll want to dress to impress in business professional attire with extra attention to detail.
  3. Print Out Copies of Your Resume and Cover Letter: In case your interviewer forgets to bring a copy, you’ll save them the time of going back to get it and you’ll look prepared.
  4. Schedule It For the Right Time: You’ll want to pick a time that your interviewer will be most focused on you. Don’t schedule an interview on Monday or Friday, because they may be catching up or winding down. The same goes for the beginning or ending of the day or right before or after lunch. Aim for midmorning or midafternoon.
  5. Come Up With An Answer to “Tell Me About Yourself”: You’ll want to avoid regurgitating your cover letter. Make it a little more personal by adding a why to the what, but remember to keep it short and sweet. Weave in little details about your influences and goals.
  6. Prepare for Questioning: The most common questions are often about your strengths, weakness, failures, goals, managerial ability, ability to work under pressure or handle multiple things at once and disagreements with upper management or coworkers. The interviewer will often want to know why you want to work at their company, why they should hire you and why you left your last job. Depending on the position, you might also be asked specific questions about the company.

During the Interview:

  1. Make a Good First Impression: Be polite to everyone, because you don’t want anyone thinking you aren’t the one. You should also be professional in your demeanor and language.
  2. Be Confident, Not Cocky or Desperate: You don’t want to look too nervous, but you don’t want to seem cocky, because no one likes arrogance, even if you’re super qualified. Also, if you really need the job to make your next rent payment, don’t show it. You want to show them that you want the job because of what the job is, not because you’re behind on your student loan payments.
  3. Pay Attention: There’s likely to be a lot of information thrown at you about the company, the position and the duties. This is a great information to ask questions about later on.
  4. Don’t Talk Too Much: Be concise, but descriptive. Try to avoid making statements about your abilities without examples to back them up. Definitely don’t ramble too much, because you might end up saying more than you wanted. Remember to also be honest, even if it means saying you don’t have a skill.
  5. Ask Good Questions: Asking your own questions is so important. It shows your interviewer that you are interested in the position and company. This is also a great way to show off some of the research you did before the interview.

After the Interview:

  1. Send a Thank You Note: The email should be personalized and include specific information about the interview and interviewer. This shows you valued the interview enough to remember what they said and to take the time to thank the interviewer.
  2. Follow Up:  A phone call or email following up shows your continued interest in the position, as well as your follow-through abilities. However, don’t stalk your interviewer because they’ll be less likely to hire you. After you’ve contacted them a couple of times, it’s best to move on.


Movie Review: Entourage

Warning: Contains spoilers!

Entourage is a continuation of an HBO television series of the same name that ran from 2004 to 2011. It was released on June 3, 2015 and has grossed over $44 million. The protagonist, Vincent “Vince” Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his “entourage” of childhood friends, his brother Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillion), agent Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly), and personal chef Turtle (Jerry Ferrara)  grew up in a dangerous neighborhood. However, Vince was discovered by his agent-turned-producer, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) and they all ended up in Hollywood.

I had never heard of the television show, nor do I remember seeing any previews for the movie, so I went in completely blind. I actually went to the theater to see a different movie, but every other show was full for the next few hours (the only downside to those giant, fancy armchairs.)

Vince’s nine-day marriage ends and he decides he wants to do something different. Gold, who had just become a producer, offers Vince the lead in his first movie, Hyde, but Vince demands to direct as well. The movie skips ahead eight months, when Vince, who’s already over budget, needs another $10 million dollars. Gold is forced to visit the Texan rancher Larsen McCredle (Billy Bob Thornton) and his son, Travis McCredle (Haley Joel Osment), who are financing the movie. Larson is unconvinced of the movie’s worth and sends Travis to decide if they should give Gold and Vince the money they need.

The gang organizes a screening to get feedback on the movie and hundreds of people show up. Vince gets cold feet, fakes technical difficulties and gives Ari and Travis DVDs to watch themselves. Travis is thrilled, because he’s just met the model of his dreams, Emily Ratajkowski, and goes with off with her.

Gold decides that Hyde is amazing, but Travis doesn’t feel the same way. He first says he doesn’t like Johnny and then adds he hates Vince as well. The gang realizes that Travis only hates the movie because he’s jealous that Vince and Emily have started dating. Larson, surprised but also irritated at the disrespect he believes his son faced, agrees only to back the movie if Gold resigns, which Gold does.

Hyde goes on to be a major hit and makes over $450 million worldwide. Johnny, struggling through the entire movie with his poor career, wins an award for best supporting actor. In the last lines of the movie, a photographer ironically suggests to the gang that a movie be made of their lives.

Unfortunately, I wan’t very engaged while watching Entourage. The characters were more annoying than interesting, especially Travis and Johnny. The fact that the whole movie almost went under because Travis felt disrespected was slightly ridiculous, seeing as Emily didn’t want to go out with him in the first place. He forced her to let him go to her house and watch the movie with her and got angry that she was interested in someone else. He literally waited outside of her house after she finally got him to leave to see if Vince was going to show up. That’s creepy. That’s not okay. Emily is entitled to date whoever she wants.

That’s not the only hit against women in the movie. Most of the movie and the character’s subplots are based around the sexualization of women. The are countless party scenes of scantily-clad women and more than a couple sex scenes. Jeremy Pivon describes the movie as a “male fantasy,” but it’s pretty demeaning to women. The only functional relationship is between Gold and his wife.

Let’s look at Eric, who gets his ex-girlfriend, Sloan, pregnant. He cheated on her, with her mother, I think, which is why they broke up. Then he started sleeping with another pretty blonde with big boobs, but she dumps him because she thinks his relationship with Sloan makes it awkward for her. He sleeps with another girl that night and both girls have to confront him for acting like a womanizing jerk by scaring the hell out of him.

The characters may have come from nothing, but I couldn’t feel sympathy for their problems when they’re so conceited. The whole movie is a showcase of glitzy Hollywood life, and obviously celebrities have personal issues just like everyone else, but it was hard to care about the characters when I didn’t like them or their lifestyle.

Overall, they didn’t face any real problems or failures because every single thing worked out in the end. I don’t really understand how it could be a satire of Hollywood life, because there were no lessons learned and no making fun of Hollywood life. It wasn’t even funny. They started out great, used their connections and riches to solve their non-truly-existent problems and ended up even better without having to change any of their ways.

Why You Need to Sleep

Who really has time to get enough sleep? Those crazy people who insist on going to bed at 10 p.m. every night? College graduates? People without kids? Rich people? Definitely not me, that’s for sure. Especially during the school semester, I’m lucky if I manage to get five hours of sleep per night, and for various of reasons, I know there are thousands that can say the same.

atlas34I’m sure we’ve all seen this type of chart on the internet before. This seems simple compared to what me and many college students I know have to do on a typical day. Let’s add in work, extra curriculars, relationships, free time to read a book or watch your favorite television show, travel time, and more and you’ve got a chart I couldn’t even make.

Last semester I was busier than I had ever been, working 30 hours a week, running a coed fraternity on campus and trying to get through school while attempting to have a social life. I found that I was too busy and skimping on things that I really didn’t want to skimp on, such as sleep.

How Sleep Deprivation Effects You

Sleeping is so important for your body to recharge.  Despite that the ideal amount of sleep seems to be disputed everywhere on the internet, my doctor told me I need at least eight hours every night at 21-years-old. When I was a teenager, she said to get more than that, about 8.5 to 9.5 hours a night.

According to the Academy of Sleep Medicine, sleep deprivation causes serious problems in many of your bodily functions. It can make you irritable for no reason, unmotivated, anxious or even cause symptoms of depression. It can affect your performance by interfering with your concentration, coordination, ability to pay attention and stay focused, while making you constantly tired, restless and forgetful. Sleep deprivation can even affect your safety by reducing your vigilance, increasing your reaction times and making you more likely to make bad decisions.

Medically speaking, sleep deprivation has been linked to high blood pressure, heart attack, obesity and diabetes, the Academy of Sleep Medicine added. In fact, the link between lack of sleep and weight gain is very well-studied. The Guardian also reported on a study that showed constant lack of sleep disrupts hundreds of genes throughout your body that work to keep you healthy.

The Huffington Post sheds some light on the additional problems that teens face at a higher risk than adults that include mental health issues, behavioral and learning issues and substance abuse. Each missed hour of sleep raises a teens chance of feeling sad, hopeless and depressed.

How to Tell if You are Sleep Deprived

Right now, you may feel perfectly healthy. Many of the major health problems won’t show up until later down the road, and the less serious issues you could often just shrug off. According to Health Magazine, if you feel any of these, you probably need a few extra Zs every night:

  • You’re always hungry and/or craving especially fatty, sugary foods.
  • You’re gaining weight and you’re not sure why.
  • You’ve suddenly decided to become impulsive.
  • You have no memory.
  • You always look to someone else to make a decision because your indecisiveness is too much.
  • You’re clumsier than usual.
  • You’re as emotional as Cho Chang when she kisses Harry in Order of the Phoenix.
  • You’re sick more often than you’re not.
  • You’ve never needed glasses, but everything is suddenly blurry.
  • You’re skin isn’t looking too hot.
  • You can’t drive without the fear of falling asleep.

What You Should Do About It

Get more sleep! Obviously, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Even I, while suddenly realizing my lack of sleep may be the reason why I’m such a klutz or having sweet cravings, know how hard this is. I keep telling myself once I graduate, I’ll get some sleep. Even though I’m going into my last semester, six months seems a long way off to look forward to full nights of sleep. So, here are a few tips from The Huffington Post on getting in a couple extra hours:

  • Eating too much or too little before bed can disrupt your sleep. Caffeine and alcohol can also keep you up or wake you up later on.
  • If you have trouble falling asleep, you need to train your body when it’s bed time. Don’t spend any time in your bed except to sleep, and do the same things every night before going to sleep. It also helps to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Don’t nap during the day unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you have to, don’t nap for any longer than 90 minutes, which will take you through one REM cycle.
  • Limit screen time and other screen-related distractions before and in bed. Try not to watch too much television or surf the web right before your bed. Give your mind some time to wind down. Also, many (like me) sleep with their phones next to them to use as alarms or just because you can’t bear to be parted with it. I’m not judging, nor am I telling you to stop, because I couldn’t, but just let it sit there next to your pillow. Don’t check it during the night, don’t even think about it until it forces you to get up the next morning.
  • When you’re stressed or worried, your mind is going a hundred miles a minute while you’re body is trying to fall asleep. Problems can’t always be dealt with right away, so trying putting it to the back of your mind when you get into bed.
  • Getting yourself and your life more organized can also help you get more sleep. Learning to manage your time could open up some time during your day and possibly enable you to go to bed earlier.

There are lots of sleep studies and remedies out there, and you have to decide what works best for you and your schedule.  The important thing is that you can honestly say you get enough sleep more nights than you don’t.

Tips for Saving Money

Budgeting is hard and saving money is even harder. Staying home while your friends go out isn’t any fun, but unfortunately, many college students are already in debt and adding more debt can follow you for a long time. You don’t have to sacrifice everything, but making just a few changes can save you hundreds per month.
Use cash. If you don’t need to build credit or if you think using a credit card will be too much temptation, don’t get one. Even if you do need to build some credit, going into debt right away won’t help. Using only cash will help you budget better, because you can only use as much cash as you have. Don’t even carry your debit card with you. Take out as much per week as you feel you can spend and then don’t take any more out until the week is over.
Write it all down. Even though we have bank and credit card apps that tell us when we spend money, it’s not in front of us all the time, so it’s easy not to think about. Hang up a whiteboard and write down everything you spend (even your $2.00 cup of coffee) so you can see where your money is going.
Limit how many times you go out. No one likes to say no to friends, but if you can’t afford to go out, it will be better for you in the long run. Encourage friends to hang out in one another’s apartments to cut the costs of restaurants and bars. Alcohol is expensive and you may not be able to afford it every time you go out.
Look for free things to do. Especially in cities, there’s always something going on. For example, Boston has tons of free outdoor movie nights all summer. You could get passes to movie screenings or many museums have a free night every week. Pack a picnic and head to the beach for the day. Think outside the box to find something fun to do.
Keep a grocery list and watch sales. A grocery list will help you buy only what you need and not everything you see. When you’re planning meals, look at your supermarket’s sale flyer and see what’s cheap that week.
Keep a savings account. I would suggest going so far as to get a savings account in a different bank. With all the technology and apps, transferring money is easy between a checking and savings. Putting it in a different bank all together makes it much less convenient.
Loose change. Do not throw away your loose change! Keep a jar, a piggy bank or anything. It adds up in the end.
Set aside a little each week. Even if you can’t make large payments, put $20 or $30 per week in a savings account or take it out and put it in a piggy bank so it’s completely out of mind.
Make coffee and lunch at home. Buying lunch and coffee every day really adds up. That’s almost $4,000 per year you could cut in half if you made your coffee at home and brought a lunch to work.
Thrift shop. Thrift shops are great for finding lots of cool clothes for pretty cheap. The internet is also helping out with lots of websites for people to sell their clothes, bags and jewelry with as well. If you’re feeling really creative, you could also learn how to fix your own clothes, so you can sew them up instead of throwing them out.
Netflix/Hulu. Even subscribing to both of them is substantially lower than the cost of cable. You won’t get to watch everything in season, but between the two of them, they have a pretty good selection.
Use a library. Libraries are a free option to read almost any book you’re looking for. If you don’t find it at your public library, most have networks of libraries in the area you can request it from.
It may not sound fun, but saving a little money now will help out a lot in the long run.
(Photo credit to 401(K) 2012)

Surprise, You Have Anemia

I’ve been lucky for most of my college career to not be the stereotypical “broke college student,” because I worked a lot more than I wished I had, looking back. However, after I spent all my money in Europe last spring, I was met with more bills, my sometimes impulsive spending habits, and no savings. Thankfully, I lived at home, but I was paying hundreds of dollars a month for school without any help.

My organizational skills are awful, and that includes budgeting. I decided the best way to save money was on food. Done right, this would have been a great idea, except I didn’t limit the food I bought at restaurants going out, I limited what I ate for my daily meals. I rarely packed a lunch, and between work and school, I’d be out of the house more than 12 hours most days. I think I lived an entire semester on yogurt and bananas from my office and muffins or bagels from Dunkin Donuts.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

I felt fine at first. I finally lost weight, so I was really happy about that. But then, I started feeling worse. The first thing that hit me was the exhaustion. I was so tired all the time, and sometimes I even found it hard to stand. I was dizzy and lightheaded often, especially when I stood up. My heart would suddenly start beating fast and sometimes I had unexplained chest pain. I was rarely hungry, and when I was, the thought of eating made me nauseous. I was short of breath for no reason at all, and was beginning to be horrified at just how out of shape I thought I was. (I’m sitting on my couch writing this now and I still can’t seem to get enough downloadoxygen breathing regularly.) It took a long time for me to make a doctor’s appointment, because I never thought to put all those symptoms together. I didn’t think I was sick enough to go to the doctor’s and I thought I’d be wasting everyone’s time.

My mom finally forced me to go and even the doctor was puzzled. She told me she couldn’t see anything wrong, but there must be something. After a bunch of blood tests, we finally figured out that I have iron deficiency anemia. I didn’t even know that was a thing. It’s not serious, and I’m so glad for that, but even after taking iron pills for a month, I don’t feel much better. Apparently, it takes a long time for your body to recover from such a severe lack of iron.

Eating Well in College is Important

Now that my senior year is coming and I need to get an internship, I will be even shorter on cash and anemia is the last thing I have the time or attention to worry about.  We’ve all seen those news stories on Facebook telling us that we can’t eat right on a minimum wage budget. Even though this is sort of true, health problems down the road can cost even more than you could imagine. Eating right is so important, especially in college, when we are pushing our bodies to the max with work, schoolwork, partying, extra curriculars and all-nighters.

There are other ways aside from expensive take out to eat well and be a responsible adult.. My sister (somehow) wakes up early every morning to give herself enough time to pack a lunch and eat breakfast. I’m lucky If I can wake up early enough to put on makeup before rushing out to catch my bus. However, I can’t just take my health for granted even in college, because it could affect me for the rest of my life. I’m so thankful that my anemia is nothing serious and it won’t be so long-term, but I realize now the freshman fifteen isn’t the only unhealthy side effect I need to worry about when eating in college.

Book Review: The Infernal Devices

Warning: There are some spoilers!

The Infernal Devices is a a urban fantasy series by Cassandra Clare. There are three books in the series, Clockwork AngelClockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess. I loved Clare’s first series, The Mortal Instruments, and when I realized that The Infernal Devices trilogy was the prequel, I had to read it.

IMG_3124The series starts with young, homeless Tessa Gray, who crosses the Atlantic to live her brother in London after her aunt dies. She’s tricked and captured by the Dark Sisters. It is then that she finds out she isn’t human, but instead has the power to change into another person completely. She’s rescued by Shadowhunters, demon-fighting warriors with angel blood, who she finds refuge with in the London Institute. The only thing on her mind is finding her brother, Nate, so she agrees to help the Shadowhunters in return for their help finding her missing brother. She starts falling for the Shadowhunter who rescued her, Will, but his arrogant demeanor makes her pause, and shatters her when it is pointed out that they have no future since she isn’t a Shadowhunter like him. The other young Shadowhunter, Jem, doesn’t know of Will’s secret love for Tessa, and after Tessa’s heartbreak, she begins to fall for Jem. As she goes back and forth between the two, even accepting a marriage proposal, she can’t decide who she really loves more.

The head of the Institute, a young woman named Charlotte, faces a lot of adversity as a woman leader in 1878. After a few mistakes, she finds herself a target among even some of her own Shadowhunters, who want to see her out of power. Throughout many betrayals, including Tessa’s own brother and a fellow, but bitter Shadowhunter raised in the institute, the small group must find their powerful and clever enemy before he makes his automatons powerful enough to destroy the Shadowhunters he hates so much. They must trust old enemies and seek out help from the other creatures of the night, downworlders, and Tessa must give everything she has to save her new friends and her new world.

Clare is amazing at writing subplots. The story line and the characters themselves are so complex that there is always something engaging going on. The first one started out a bit slow, but after about a third of the way through, I was hooked and waited eagerly for every train ride to work. The series totals over a thousand pages, but they are a fast read, because they’re so hard to put down. Many of the subplots have to do with the character’s non-magical problems, and it helps ground the book a little and bring it back to reality, despite all the magical happenings.

One of the few issues I had with this series was the very end, where she connected it to her first series, The Mortal Instruments. Fast forward about 130 years, in The Mortal Instruments, there is a huge battle against demons in the sacred homeland of  the Shadowhunters, Idris. Tessa is half Shadowhunter and half demon, so she is immortal and still alive when the Mortal Instruments takes place. The book mentions that she leaves because she can’t stand to see generations of her family die, but being in the magical world and friends with some of the same downworlders, it just doesn’t seem likely that she wouldn’t have known about something like that, especially since many of the people involved were her descendants. Also, since the books were written after, the fact that all of her descendants have demon blood can’t be brought up. We see in The Infernal Devices how it affects her, but I would think it would have to have some lingering effect on her children and grandchildren, especially since she’s immortal.

I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who likes any kind of Young Adult fiction or fantasy. If you haven’t read either series, it doesn’t really matter which you read first because the plots don’t really cross in the two series, except for a few immortal characters. However, I would suggest reading The Mortal Instruments first, even though The Infernal Devices happens before then. Since Clare wrote the Mortal Instruments first, there is more of an introduction of the magical world, which might not be as exciting if you already know all about their world.

(Feature image credit to quasigeek)

Managing Your Time

Time management is really hard. I can’t tell you how many nights I’m up until 2 a.m., because I just haven’t managed to get my homework done after work, school, my extracurricular activities, my friends, my boyfriend and whatever else I needed to get done that day. Many students have a reputation for being way too busy and, with how fast the days seem to go by, every minute becomes important. Here are a few tips to making the most of your time.

Write everything down. The first step is remembering everything that you need to do, and if you’re anything like me, it’s probably a long list. Unless your memory is great, you’ll want to write down everything that needs to be done and when it needs to be finished by.

Then, you have to actually look at it again. I have bought and thrown aside more planners than I can count, no matter how many times I tell myself that this is going to be the one I use. There are a lot more options than just a traditional planner, because they don’t always work for everyone. You could try a wall calendar, an electronic calendar, or even a to do list, as long as you will see it everyday, preferably more than once a day.

Photo by jean-louis Zimmermann
Photo by jean-louis Zimmermann

Set mobile alerts. This is the age of smart phones. We use our smart phones for everything, so why not our schedules? There are a lot of benefits to electronic calendars, with one of my favorites being the ability to set alerts. If you don’t think you’ll remember to look at your schedule enough, then set a reminder on your phone.

Use the internet. The other thing our phones do that is awesome is connect to the internet. You can sync your mobile calendar to your computer so you always have it handy. If you don’t have a mac to sync your iPhone to, google calendar has an app and works just fine, too.

Expect to get a little distracted. We don’t live in bubbles, so odds are there’s going to be a person or a text message that is going to want your attention when you need to get something else done. When thinking about how much time it will take you to finish something, you need to add in enough time to allow a couple distractions.

But don’t let yourself get overly distracted. If you find yourself constantly checking Facebook or in a text conversation with four different people when you’re in the middle of your homework, then you’re not working effectively. The more distracted you are, the longer it will take you to finish the task at hand. If you don’t need the internet, get out of your room and go somewhere you can’t connect. Leave your phone in another room on silent so you won’t be tempted to go check it. There a couple of apps and websites that let you block certain websites for a length of time that you choose. Consider downloading “StayFocusd” for Google Chrome. It’s free!

Take a step back. If you always feel like you don’t have enough time, maybe you need to examine what exactly you’re spending your time on. How long are you browsing through your phone or the internet when you’re sitting in front of your computer with a half-finished paper? How many nights have you gone out this week when you know you have a huge paper due on Friday? Besides unplugging, it’s important to determine other ways to get more time. If you’ve seen your best friend/boyfriend/girlfriend four times this week, maybe you should stay home and finish that paper. If you work, go to school and have extracurricular obligations, maybe it’s just not feasible to see every friend every week.

Ultimately, it’s up to you. Sometimes, when you need to be productive, you have to give up the fun stuff for a couple hours. You shouldn’t have it do it all the time though, because having time for yourself is also really important. The key is finding the balance between work and play.

Have you tried any of these tips or have tips of your own to share? Feel free to leave a comment below!