How to Finish Finals (Without Letting Them Finish You)

Final exams are right around the corner…

Half of me is cringing just thinking about finals, and the other half is jumping for joy at the thought of finishing my first semester at college. (I’m so ready for Pre-Calculus to end I’d actually consider throwing a party to celebrate taking the last exam for that class).

Here are the things I’m doing to prepare (along with a few helpful hints I’ve learned a long the way):

  1. Start studying at least a week before

There’s no use trying to cram an entire semester’s worth of material in one night. You’re not Cranial Capacity, you can’t learn it all at once. Studying an hour a night for a week before your exam helps your brain re-learn all the material without getting stressed or feeling fatigued, and studying daily means you’re reinforcing the material.

2.  Study in intervals

I’m not going to lie, I tend to binge-study one subject until I know it entirely before I move onto anything else. Lots of students get this way. Let me tell you right now – your brain hates you for it. Studying one subject for a few hours is very hard on the brain’s memory capabilities. The brain can become tired and start to blur and confuse information. One way to prevent this is to study in intervals, switching between subjects every 30 minutes to an hour, with a five minute break every hour to hour and a half. A great method for interval studying is the Pomodoro Technique.

3.  Study with friends

Grab some popcorn, music, a few blankets, and your books and boom! Study party! Quiz each other, teach each other, or just make sure you and your buds stay on task. Friends are a great resource to have when it comes time for exams.

4. Don’t camp out in the library

Seriously, don’t even think about packing some pillows, snacks, blankets, and a camp stove. You won’t be more motivated, and you’ll feel really groggy after not sleeping for so long. You’ll also start to smell. Gross. So go home to your dorm or apartment, take a shower, nap, and only go to the library to study if you really need to. Chances are it will be full of people all trying to cram or write papers, so not exactly the quiet, peaceful studying haven you need right now.

5. Take care of yourself

I cannot stress enough how many people will eat readily available junk food while studying at their desks during exam week. You’ll end up feeling sluggish, foggy, and maybe even sick. No one wants to take an exam (especially an exam worth over 10% of your final grade) feeling like that. Try your best to eat well balanced meals. If you find you’ve been sitting for a while, take a brisk walk. Take showers regularly, it helps clear your mind and leaves you feeling refreshed.

6. Go into your exams with a positive attitude

Embody The Little Engine That Could and say “I think I can, I think I can.” Check out this motivational penguin if you find you need a boost, Shia LaBeouf can’t hurt either.

Need some more help? I’ve got your back, don’t worry!

Here’s a great post on how to survive exams…And another great post about studying in general. Hungry? Skip the vending machines, check these recipes out! And lastly, for those of you writing essays: How to Recover an Unsaved Microsoft Word Draft.

Best of luck to you all!

xo Bailey

 

How I Create “Personal Space” at College…When I Share Everything

College is hard for introverts like me. I’m so used to having my own little bubble of space that the transition to college has been more than nerve wrecking. I went from having my own bedroom to sharing a tiny dorm room. I went from having my own car to relying on others for rides, or taking the bus. I also went from being able to be alone to practically never being truly alone. With roommates, hallmates, students around campus, and mass transportation being alone is difficult. If you’re like me and need some genuine alone time each day to recharge your batteries listen up, because I think I’ve officially hacked the system.

  1. Headphones

It’s an almost universal understand that when someone has headphones on or earbuds in they don’t want to be talked to. I take of advantage of this by walking to class blasting my favorite music, working outside with headphones on (even if nothing is playing, people can’t tell the difference and won’t talk to you), and in my dorm room. Listening to music and being unable to hear other sounds around me makes me feel more cut off from socialization, and when I’m taking the time to be an introvert and recharge my batteries, that’s all I need.

2. Travel Mugs

This sounds strange, I know, but if you’re a student on campus and you’re walking around carrying a travel mug, people tend to leave you alone. I’ve asked around on why that is, and the general consensus seems to be that travel mugs mean you’re having a rough day, and no one wants to butt in and make it worse or get snapped at.

3. In Your Dorm Room 

Eventually you’re going to figure out when your roommate has classes. If you schedule things right, you could be out of class when they’re in class. Now I’m not saying take over your dorm room and hide out in there whenever you can, I’m just saying that the opportunity for a quiet mid-afternoon nap once or twice a week is definitely there, should you choose to take it.

4. Study Outside

College campuses are huge, and the greenery on some of this is to die for! So why not study outside during when the weather’s nice? It’s an almost guaranteed way to avoid going to the library when it’s packed and you get a full dose of vitamin D at the same time. A few good places to study on campus are memorial gardens, the quad, in the grove of trees or grassy area you pass each day you walk to class, or on the top of a parking deck. Some dorms have roof access, so I’d check that out too!

5. Taking Advantage of the Library

While the library is a great place to study, it can sometimes feel claustrophobic and crowded. The library on my campus provides study rooms for students, but those usually fill up quickly. If you’re planning on studying and want to be alone for a few hours, go to the library mid-day and check to see if any study rooms are available. Some libraries let you reserve a room. If that doesn’t work out I snoop around and check out all the other floors. You’d be amazed how crowded the ground level floor can be and how empty all the floors above are. Sometimes the reading room (it’s full of old textbooks and wood tables, so like a mini library within a library) at my university is completely empty, which means I get the entire place to myself!

Those are all my tips and tricks (so far) for finding alone time at a school where being alone is virtually impossible! If you have anymore suggestions, tips, or tricks feel free to leave a comment below!

xo Bailey

Make It or Break It – Thanksgiving Edition

Turkey Day is right around the corner, and so is Thanksgiving break for college kids! Whoopee I get to go home!

Sometimes actually all the time it’s hard to make it through that last week of classes before break begins. Here’s my top 5 list to surviving the wait.

  1. Finish all your homework early

This is by far my least favorite item on the list. I’d love to put off all my essays, flashcards, reading assignments, and projects for break. Can I put them off? Most definitely. Will they ever get done? Most definitely not. They will sit in my agenda folder until the Sunday before school starts back, and I won’t finish a single thing.  So try to finish all your assignments before break even begins, plus all the extra work means you won’t have time to think about how excited you are to get home!

2. Plan Out Your Break

This one sounds a little obsessive, but trust me, you don’t want to get home and discover you have five doctor’s appointments, extended family coming in for a visit, and zero time for friends. Making plans before break starts, and blocking out time for things that you know are already scheduled, leaves you tons of time for any of that homework you said you were going to finish (but didn’t) and relaxing.

3. Call Your Parents

If you haven’t called your  mom in the past week and are starting to miss home like crazy, give her a ring. She’ll most likely be ecstatic to hear from you (and you could ask her to cook your favorite meal with an almost guaranteed “yes” in response). Your dad is also probably excited you’re coming home. He might want to ask you about the football game you went to with your friends last week, or how your classes are going. I know it’s the typical “how’s college” question phrased a million different ways, but if you miss home, conversations like these are almost sure to tide you over until break starts.

4. Pack and Clean

So this my second least favorite thing about leaving for home. I don’t like cleaning my dorm room, and packing up all the things I need turns into mass chaos. Do I really need six pairs of boots for a seven day break? But it’s getting down to crunch time if you’ve already made it through steps one through three! So here’s the deal – just get this over with. And do it a day early. No one wants to leave in a rush because they forgot to wash their sheets and take out their trash or left their favorite pair of jeans in the drier.

5. Make a “Going Home” Playlist

Today’s the day! The sun is shining! You’re going home! *gasp* You’re going home!! I think the best way to pump up the excitement of today is by creating a playlist for the road trip back. You can do this while sipping your morning coffee, or between classes, or even on the walk from your dorm to your car (just not while driving, friends, let’s be safe, okay?). Go ahead and have a jam sesh all the way back, you won’t regret it.

So for all of you college kids going home over the holidays, drive safely! And don’t forget to enjoy your break – you deserve it!

xo Bailey

Social Media and the Ready-Made Opinion

In light of recent events around the globe, let me just chip in to say a little something about social media. Not everything you read on there is true. No brainer, I know, but some people don’t know where to draw the line when it comes to believing things. Just because John Doe’s grandmother shared an article on Facebook about how the recent bombings in France were attributed to the Syrian refugees doesn’t make it 100% credible. Do your own research. Find your own facts. Don’t fall for the click-bait, as many of us are prone to doing. Social media is the greatest source of ready-made opinions, and too many people that I know gobble those opinions up and make them their own, without even batting an eye!

Another thing to keep in mind is to not get so wrapped up on what social media is presenting that you forget what’s going on around you. Social media likes to present to us one angle. It’s necessary to step back and look and everything else before making a judgement. Whether you think it’s right or wrong that people are changing their Facebook profile pictures to the colors of the French flag, that’s up to you, but please make that decision for yourself – not just because Aunt Jane from Whoknowswhere made a status update about it 3 hours ago and it popped up on your feed as your most popular post of the day.

“He was no longer quite sure whether anything he had ever thought or felt was truly his own property, or whether his thoughts were merely a common part of the world’s store of ideas which had always existed ready-made and which people only borrowed, like books from a library.”

― Milan Kundera, Life as Elsewhere

Social media is great for keeping up with relatives and old friends, connecting with people from around the world, and also just for general entertainment, but it should never be where you’re getting all of your information for current events. While it’s helpful to scroll through Twitter and see politicians’ tweets on Kenya or Israel right now, there’s more to the story than just that. Go watch the news. Read an article from the New York Times, NPR, or the Washington Post. Yes, sometimes those articles pop up on Facebook and it’s great to see credible editorials on that site, but most of the time I see things like “Betty White Dyes Peacefully in Her Home” and we all know how that turned out. While social media definitely has it’s perks, I’d caution you to make your own decisions during this time of turmoil. Post what you like, but don’t let someone else’s post become your opinion. Think for yourself. 

 

xo Bailey

Veg Heads

Being a vegetarian on certain college campuses can be very difficult, if not impossible. I’ve been a pescatarian since my sophomore year of high school, and didn’t even bat an eye at the transition from home cooked foods to dining hall all access plans. Oh boy, let me tell you, I couldn’t have been more naive. Within the first month of school I broke down and had to eat red meat because I started having dizzy spells. My typical day-to-day diet at the beginning of this semester consisted of eggs for two meals a day almost every day, and pasta, pizza, zucchini, or bagels for the other meals. I don’t have a car so I rely on going to the store with friends, if they ever do go to the store (all of us are on the all access meal plan). The fish on campus is mostly undercooked, and I didn’t want to run the risk of contracting an illness due to that. And the vegetarian fare consisted of overcooked zucchini, stuffed peppers, veggie burgers, pasta, and the occasional carrot or broccoli dish, but these rotate daily and often run out quickly with little hope of being refilled on a timely schedule. I could spend half an hour waiting on the vegetarian dish of the day to be refilled and not get a single bite of food.

I became very, very sick after eating meat for two weeks. So sick that I haven’t touched any kind of meat since. I’ve managed to eat more fruit, but honestly finding the right foods to suit my lifestyle is all about going to the right dining hall at the right time of day and supplementing my meals with small snacks high in protein, such as nuts, cheese, or granola bars. Peanut butter is a lifesaver! You can put it on almost anything (check the frozen yogurt or ice cream bar for this diet staple). And keeping a dorm room mini fridge stacked with cheese sticks is my go-to plan for when I’m hungry between classes. I still eat eggs every day (they’re a perfect protein, so essential!) but tend to branch out more for lunch – pimiento cheese and carrot sticks from the salad bar, apple slices with peanut butter on a toasted bagel, salads with nuts from the ice cream bar and cheese from the pasta bar. You really have to think outside of the box! If there’s a recipe from home that you like try and scope out all the different dining hall options to see if you can combine different stations to make what you want. Dining hall hacks are the best! 

If you’re not on meal plan and are looking for cheap options for vegetarian meals beans and rice, cheese quesadillas, peanut butter sandwiches, burrito bowls, and soups are great options. If you’re really interested about cooking vegetarian recipes then check out this blog! She has great advice on food choices, pairings, and nutrition!

xo Bailey

Boring Keeps You From Getting Fired

We’ve all heard the saying “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” but in most cases showing up at work dressed as Catwoman would probably get you fired. This keeps workers showing up in dress coded pencil skirts and the humdrum black blazer, but don’t you wish, even if just for a millisecond, you could whip out that costume of yours and parade around the office? How happy would that make you?

Now I’m not condoning wearing a Catwoman outfit to work every other day just because it makes you feel like you could jump out the window and scale a wall to stop a bank robbery (you can’t, please don’t try). What I’m saying is be true to yourself. But don’t get fired. That’s the fine line we all have to walk every single day. Some of us do it by wearing crazy socks to spite our boss’s dress code. Other’s write fanfictions that no one else will ever read. A few have blogs, or vision boards, or inspiration journals.

We all have something that makes us feel empowered, and sometimes that something is also the reason we look forward to the plethora of tomorrows we face.  

No one can play it totally safe for their entire life. No one’s bulletproof. But the way to feeling invincible (without needing a Catwoman suit to get there) is through making yourself the best version you can be. Be happy for who you are, and what you like, and all the dreams you have for yourself. Don’t let someone else’s dream become your own because someone tells you it’s “cooler” or “more realistic.” No. Your dreams are just as valid as theirs, but they’re even more special because they belong to you. Be dangerous. Be bold. Be creative. Be you. Boring keeps you from getting fired, but it also keeps you from being happy.

xo Bailey

The Art of Getting In

It was at this time last year my mother nearly threw away my first college acceptance letter. Yes, you heard me correctly, she nearly threw it away. UNC Wilmington had been sending me tons, and I mean TONS, of advertisements for their school, so my mother assumed the gold and teal envelope was yet another ad to be recycled, trashed, or collaged onto my vision board. It was my younger brother who saved the day, and my acceptance letter.

Nowadays, colleges make it almost painfully difficult to get it. First, you need the grades. I had a high GPA and still didn’t make it into some public  and private universities, which led me to thinking GPA really isn’t the be all end all. What matters is how many classes you take, if they’re AP or Honors or Standard, and if you took any from a community college or university near you. Having a vast array of high level classes from your high school and from a college near you gives your college application a competitive edge.

But wait, that’s not all! Need I even discuss the plethora of volunteer hours and service projects colleges beg to see? I volunteered with a service club at my school, worked on mission trips and other excursions with my church, and spent two years contributing at a fair trade store in my hometown. I’d participated in volunteer work all through middle school and even spent one summer chipping in as a junior volunteer at the local hospital. I genuinely love helping people, but sometimes I felt as though I was volunteering only to enhance my college app. And don’t even get me started on extra curriculars. Half the clubs I joined my freshman year were disbanded because they didn’t have enough members or the seniors got lazy and didn’t feel like hosting meetings anymore. So by the time junior year rolled around I could say that I had a job, played volleyball for the school and for a traveling team, and participated in two school-based activities: spoken word and SERVE-Interact.

I applied to six schools. Originally I was only going to apply to five, but everyone around me was applying to ten, or fifteen, or twenty six for crying out loud, so I felt inadequate. I hastily applied to Oglethorpe University because it looked like Hogwarts. Rash decision making, I know, but I’m a Harry Potter geek through and through (I later found out that Oglethorpe has a great science program, if you’re interested check it out here). You wanna know how many schools I actually got into? Four. I didn’t get into my top two schools. I felt cheated for the longest time. I made up all sorts of excuses for not getting in – I didn’t take enough AP classes, my adviser told me to take too many arts courses instead of science, the top 20% of my school was going to my first choice and UNC Chapel Hill couldn’t take any  more students from my high school (blatantly untrue, by the way), and my favorite excuse of all time: my valedictorian didn’t get into Duke so of course I wouldn’t get in!

I’m here to tell you that the saying “when one door closes another door opens” is the best thing you’ll ever hear when getting your acceptance (or denial) letters. Why? Because it’s so true. I thought I’d had two doors slammed in my face when I didn’t get accepted to UNC or Duke, but looking back on it, I’m happy I didn’t get accepted there. I ended up going to the University of Georgia. It’s about twice the size of Carolina, but just as pretty. I’ve met hundreds of new people from all over the globe, gotten the chance to watch world renowned orchestras perform, and have been introduced to authors, such as Alice Walker, and entrepreneurs, such as Erin Condren. The University of Georgia was but a blip on my radar when I applied to colleges my junior year, but now that I’m here I don’t know of anywhere else in the world I’d rather be. So for all you high schoolers out there, getting in isn’t the end of the world. You might be like me and end up somewhere that’s a better fit for you than originally thought, or you might end up like some of my friends who transferred in to their top choice school. Any way you look at it, if there’s a way to get you where you need to be, you’ll find it, I promise.

xo Bailey