Campus

How to Stay on Top of School (Without a Mental Breakdown)

When it comes to school, I have precisely two modes. Either I am living my life as if I have never before attended school, as though for all intents and purposes I am the human equivalent of a tumbleweed, drifting through life with no burdens or responsibilities; or I am a sleepless zombie editing the same sentence of a paper that isn’t due for three days until the sun rises. There is absolutely no in between.

Since high school, I have dedicated all of my energy to making sure that I do not revert into Anthropomorphic Tumbleweed Mode, which means it’s been all school obsession all the time. In the hopes of preventing a mental breakdown or two, I’ve been trying to chill out a bit. Here are some of the ways to maintain that balance.

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City

How to Survive Commuting

Ah, the city school. There are so many upsides to attending a college in the heart of downtown: the exciting nearby events; the discounted access to museums and fancy cultural stuff; the jaw-dropping number of CVS franchises in a one-block radius. (It is truly mystifying that so many identical retail pharmacies can exist in such close proximity to each other without any threat to business whatsoever.)

However, with all upsides come downsides. Such is the way of the universe. There are two exceptions to this rule: the film Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, which is perfect, and the food known as the buttered popcorn jelly bean, which is one hundred percent downside and so unabashedly evil it is concrete evidence of the existence of the devil.

Going to college in the city has a downside, and it is this: it is expensive to live in a city, so unless you live on campus, you might have to move to the outskirts. And moving to the outskirts means spending a lot of time on transit. Here are some of my hard-won strategies to surviving my time on the train.

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Opinion

Balancing Being a Kid and an Adult

At the age of 19, I find myself in an odd place between being a kid and an adult. I don’t want to have to rely on my parents but at the same time, there is no way I could be financially stable on my own. Do I act like a kid or an adult? That is a question I ask myself a lot as I continue to tread through college.

My mom always tells me I need to stop working as much and I need to enjoy being a college student. Ok, I guess I can agree with her that I may work a little too much but at the same time I don’t do it because I have to. I work because I genuinely love what I do. I will admit that work can become a coping mechanism for me and way to distract myself, but as I’m growing up I’ve had to learn how to distinguish if I’m running away from my problems or if I am just immersed in my work. When I find myself overworking, I try to take a few steps back and do things that bring me back to my childish nature. I will color in coloring books, go window shopping (yes, I loved shopping as a kid too), or basically anything that doesn’t make me feel like I have to be an adult. 

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Opinion

13 Reasons Why I Smile

Amidst all the negativity in our day-to-day lives, there is always a reason to smile. When taking time to focus on the positive things in life, it is hard to narrow down a list to only thirteen things. I decided to tackle this writing prompt because after a hard couple of days and meditate on the things that make me happy. Here are thirteen reasons why I smile.

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Art

Tattoo Tips

I’ve always imagined getting a tattoo. The thought of getting an image inked on my skin that would be there for the rest of my life seemed both terrifying and intriguing. Even though I was scared, I always told myself one day that I would get one.

After much deliberation (over a year’s worth), I finally decided that I was going to get a puzzle piece tattoo. The puzzle piece was significant to me because it represents autism. My older brother was diagnosed with autism when he was about 3 or 4 years old. Despite his disability, he was and still is a major influencer and contributor to my life, and I wanted to be able to have him represented wherever I go.

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Opinion

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog

Starting a blog is a very daunting idea, but anyone is able to start one. Before I created my blog, I wish I had a better understanding of what I was getting myself in to. Although it is feasible to start a blog without a solid plan, I would strongly recommend against it. If you are considering starting a blog, here are 10 tips that I wish I would have known before I started my own blog.

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Health

How to Overcome Your Fear of Going to the Gym

The gym. It seems like a scary place. It’s filled with a lot of metal contraptions and machines that are supposed to help you work out, but in reality, you have no idea how to use them. There is also the potential of working out in front of people that you know, making yourself worry about judgmental glares 24/7. These are just some of the concerns that people like me had, making it impossible to make yourself actually go to the gym.

For a while now, I refused to go to the gym. I never bothered getting a gym membership back at home and I just chose to work out on my own. This mostly included going on runs around my neighborhood or attempting to get in 20 push ups and sit ups in one day. But neither of these exercises forced me “lift,”the deadly word that was associated with gym folk. It wasn’t until this year where I actually started to force myself to go. If I had to listen to my soccer coach complain to me again about how I wasn’t “strong enough” I was going to get severely pissed off.

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Globe

Easy Ways to Keep Up with the News

There was probably a time when keeping up with the news was easy. Back in the good ol’ days, when people read the Sunday paper and there was about as much space devoted to the Big Game as to politics as a concept.

Now, there are many reasons it is not easy at all. Such as: it constantly seems like the most insane event in the history of the world just took place, and then three minutes later something even crazier happens. Also, everything has been happening for so long and it’s so hard to catch up and does anyone know what Israel and Palestine comes down to or are we all just too scared to ask. Also also, the economy is so boring.

But there is one thing that makes it unbelievably easy, and that thing is in your hand or pocket or the space between your bed and the wall right now. It is called a smartphone, and it makes it impossible to believe that people ever managed to get their news exclusively from comically large stacks of paper with stories printed in size 8 Times New Roman once a week.

Here’s how I manage to keep up with the news and have bare minimum 18% comprehension on what it means, while also being the laziest individual on the planet Earth.

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City

The Salem Experience for $20 or Less

Come for the witches, stay for the tiny hand-blown glass animals.

image2.jpegThat’s not the slogan for the town of Salem, but it definitely is for my time there. I was initially interested in the grisly history of the witch trials, especially since it’s perfect for Halloween. I mean, the pivotal film Hocus Pocus is set there. But I must confess I spent much more of my time delicately combing through a tray of miniature polar bears and dogs and squids than I did contemplating the fickleness of humanity at the witch trials memorial.

Perhaps the most important part of my Salem adventures, however, is the fact that I spent less than twenty dollars for the whole day, train fare included. Here are my tips for how you can spend a day in the insanely-crowded town without breaking the bank!

1. Don’t buy your tickets on the train

Just go over to the little Charlie card ATM-like robot and buy a ticket. It’s a couple dollars cheaper, and those couple dollars can buy you a magical stone. A magical stone!!! More on that later.

2. The best souvenirs are also pretty cheap

Earlier — as in, immediately before this — I mentioned a little something about a magical stone. It’s time to talk more about that. I spent the unbelievable price of ONE AMERICAN DOLLAR on a stone that promises to increase my success, elevate my mood, and grant wishes. And it looks good doing it! This is an amazing and useful souvenir, especially since I’ve already gone a few days and haven’t lost it!

A lot of the stuff in the witchy stores in Salem is reasonably priced. So are postcards and little things like that. If you want a souvenir from your spooky journey you don’t have to break the bank!

 

3. Walking around is free

Tiring, yes, but free. Sometimes it’s like people forget you don’t have to pay for a tour in order to see stuff. The witch trials memorial is really amazing and right in town. The historical sights can be gazed at from afar with no added cos

t. There’s even the Salem Heritage Trail, which is similar to Boston’s Freedom Trail but distinctly witchier.

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And some of the most fun I had in Salem was walking around the stores. This is not because I am Isla Fisher in the 2009 film adaptation of Sophie Kinsella’s bestselling novel Confessions of a Shopaholic, but rather because there are a ton of cool stores in Salem. Some of them are so cool there is a line to get in! My favorite one was The Coven’s Cottage, and I chose to buy my magical stone from there because I liked the vibe. There are also wand stores, knick knack stores and bookstores, and all of these make for a fun browse!

4. Spend some money on the experience

For me, this meant forking over a couple of ones for a hot apple cider. 

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(Review: watery, but delicious!) For some of my fellow travelers, this meant fried dough, a book on Wiccan spells, a bandana for a dog or fifteen minutes with a fortune-teller. Some people enjoy feeling unsafe and frightened, and these people would not be able to visit Salem without entering the doors of one of Salem’s many haunted houses. There’s not much point to visiting if you don’t feel spooky or Halloween-y or, in short, Salem-y. So it’s worth it to shell out some cash for that One Thing.

In short: Salem is great and very Halloween-feeling and it doesn’t have to be expensive! If you plan in advance and consider what will make your experience really worthwhile, you can have a solid day for $20 or less.

 

Art

How to Escape Your Syllabus Prison

College. It’s supposed to be the time when you find yourself, when you make your lifelong friends, when you come to terms with the fact that you’re going to be in debt forever and you’d best get used to the taste of ramen noodles because that’s about as close to luxury as it’s going to get for the next couple of decades. Yes, college is all of these things, but college is also something else.

It’s a two-to-four year period when you have so much assigned reading that it feels like if one more word is transferred from the page to your brain you may explode. So how, pray tell, is reading anything not listed on a syllabus possible when every day is an increased risk to your body’s stability?

It requires sacrifice. But not soul-sacrifice, thankfully, because the ability to find time to read for pleasure would be a fairly mundane thing for which to sell your soul. Save that for the big leagues.

 

1. Prioritize Reading

Between homework, studying, essays, socializing, and some light witchcraft, free time can be tough to find for a college student. This is already horrible because free time is the best time, but it’s even worse because getting free time when you aren’t used to it is a weird amount of pressure. For me, it usually goes something like this:

I have some time! Sick. I’ll just check in on a few things on my laptop….Oh, three years have passed? I’m now legally missing? So much time has gone by that the motivation to search is fading in the hearts of those who love me? Right, of course.

To avoid this Rip van Winkle-esque experience, pick up a book immediately. Your phone can tear that book from your cold dead hands.

You may even have to pass on social plans in order to read, which is always weird. RSVPing “nah” in order to read is so profoundly dorky that the person you are politely rejecting may struggle to conceptualize just what this means. But the only way out is through, my friend, and if you just keep on being a full-on dweeb once in a while your loved ones will take the hint. And maybe even remain in your life if you’re lucky.

2. Carry a Book with You

There are approximately one million pockets of time during the typical class day during which you can read at least a couple paragraphs. Examples: arriving to class early, one of those weird breaks very kind professors occasionally grant midway through a class, when that one student who answers every question finally fulfills their dream of forcing two dozen sleepy young adults to listen to them for a few minutes. This can be prime reading time if you have a book, or an e-book app on your phone, if you happen to be a person who reads for the content and not for the experience of a physical book.

3. Traveling

One fact of life is that people go places. If you are ever going to a place and you are not controlling a vehicle or the movement of your own legs, this is a good time to read. If you live off campus and commute to class on a train or bus or whatever – boom, reading time! If you live far away and find yourself on a plane – that’s reading time, baby. Take advantage!

4. Keep a List and Read Good Stuff ONLY

This point really only needs to be the length of a link, and that link is goodreads.com. Learn it, live it, love it. Make a list of 500 books you’re excited to read and then realize you’ll never have time to read all of them.

5. Try Different Formats

Audiobooks are technically books, and you can do more activities while you read them. You can keep e-books on your phone or laptop or even an e-reader if you time traveled from 2007, and then they’re everywhere you are. Two win-win situations.

Really, finding time to read is a personal thing. This is my way of saying, “Do not blame me if this doesn’t work. You have to do this yourself, and also I just tricked you into reading this whole entire post only to find out that it may not help you at all.” But I hope it does. Happy reading!