Colleen Bierstine

Colleen Bierstine

Public Relations major

Food & fitness enthusiast

Passionate about cooking, baking, eating, and working out.



15 Tips for Mind, Body & Soul Spring Cleaning

Apr 15, 2014 | Author: Colleen Bierstine

Spring 14

When spring rolls in, we feel like new people waking up from a long sleep. We’re like bears after hibernation, or caterpillars turned butterflies through metamorphosis. We feel ready for a new beginning and a new season.

To obtain this refreshed feeling, many of us defer to a little spring cleaning. But did you know there’s more you can do to reawaken yourself than dusting china (do people even own china anymore?)?

  1. Get a new haircut. It doesn’t have to be anything drastic; you can opt for a simple trim and layers. Or, if you are feeling bold, feel free to shed those heavy locks for something lighter and fresher. You can even experiment with spring colors. A new haircut can go a long way.
    Fall '138
  2. Paint your nails. With all the fun springy shades available now, the possibilities are endless. Pastels are always a great option.
    The strawberry nails I did

    The strawberry nails I did

    Embrace color!

    Embrace color!

  3. Embrace springtime scents. Whether it’s Yankee Candles or Bath and Body Works, there are some amazing ways to tantalize your olfactory senses. The light, fresh smells of the season will energize you and perk you up.

    Image from Bath & Body Works

    Image from Bath & Body Works

  4. Open the windows. I will be the first to say I’m not always a fan of bringing the outdoors indoors, but sometimes it is very refreshing to throw those windows open.
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  5. Embrace seasonal produce. Strawberries, asparagus, greens, carrots, leeks, lemons, peas and more are all in season right now. Get your paws on them while the gettin’ is good, and whip up some mouth-watering seasonal recipes.
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  6. Take a walk. This might not sound exciting, but you haven’t been able to take a walk all winter! It doesn’t have to be high-intensity or a workout. Just do it for the fresh air and sunshine.

    I know it looks like winter here, but alas, this is from March!

    I know it looks like winter here, but alas, this is from March!

  7. Sport spring shades. Pick out some bright colors and pastels to incorporate into your wardrobe. You can feel free to do some spring shopping, or just break out favorites from last year.

    Pastels!

    Pastels!

  8. Make the switch to iced. Iced coffee and tea doesn’t seem so appealing in the dead of winter, but now that the sun is shining again, get your butt to a Dunkin Donuts or local cafe and grab some icy cold goodness.

    Everyone loves iced coffee!

    Everyone loves iced coffee!

  9. Study outside. Grab your books or laptop and take a seat under the sun for a while.

    Image from Utica College

    Image from Utica College

  10. Try new make-up. I’m not a make-up wearer, but for you folks who are, grab some bright colors and switch it up.

    Photo from makeupgeek.com

    Photo from makeupgeek.com

  11. Wear something new. Have you never bought colored capris before? Or perhaps you’ve never dawned a hot pair of wedges. Whatever it is, give something new a try and update your look.

    I'd never worn a dress like this before, bonus point for pastel shades!

    I’d never worn a dress like this before, bonus point for pastel shades!

  12. Try yoga. A lot of these tips will switch up your appearance, but yoga will refresh your mind, body and spirit. New to the yoga scene? You can take BodyFlow, a 55-minute yoga/tai chi/pilates class designed for all skill levels, at Powerhouse Gym right down the road from the college! Try a class for free, or get a membership and classes are included.
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  13. Eat something cool. Get yourself a refreshingly icy strawberry lemonade or dive into some ice cream. These are things we typically only consume when it’s warm, so enjoying your first one of the season will automatically make you feel refreshed and spring-ready.
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  14. Flaunt your florals. Whether it’s shirts, skirts, scarves, bags, or the like, try out all the beautiful floral patterns blooming throughout stores this time of year. That will give you spring fever for sure.

    This floral skirt has "spring" written all over it.

    This floral skirt has “spring” written all over it.

  15. Drop the negativity. It’s easier said than done, but find something that’s really been bringing you down, and get it out of your life. Pick something realistic; you’re 3/4 of the way through the semester, so now is not the time to drop that really hard class. But you can avoid people that treat you badly or stop trying to force down that vegetable that you’re just never going to start liking. Nix the negative thoughts that plague your head when you look in the mirror, focusing on what looks good instead of what you don’t like. If something is causing you more stress than it’s actually worth, than you might want to re-evaluate it.
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17 Things Students Who Graduate Early Will Understand

Apr 3, 2014 | Author: Colleen Bierstine
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Photo by Kevin Waldron

College students know it’s hard enough to graduate on time, let alone early, but some of us are on a different path and kick things into high-gear so we can get our diplomas sooner. It isn’t easy, but we stick to the plan of attack come whatever may. And with a few heavier course loads and a lot of determination, we finish up a semester or two early feeling on top of the world.

Anyone who’s been there knows our lives are a little bit different than our fellow students on the normal 4-year timeline. There are certain things only we can understand, and for that, we share a special bond.

  1. There is no such thing as an “easy” semester for you. You have a full or overloaded course load every time, even as a senior.
  2. If you’re like me and only graduating one semester early instead of two, you wish you’d gotten yourself going sooner so you could graduate two semesters early.
  3. Free time? What’s that?
  4. Maintaining a decent GPA is twice as hard.
  5. You’ve inevitably had those full days that start with 8am classes and end with a night class, at least once every semester.
  6. People assume you’re really smart, but honestly, it was more about taking on extra workloads than anything else.
  7. People get really confused when your age and your class don’t match up (You’re 20 but you’re a senior???).
  8. You’ve come to accept the inevitability of all-nighters.
  9. Your time here with your favorite professors and classmates is all the more precious since you’re leaving sooner.
  10. People who say college goes by in the blink of an eye don’t know the half of it.
  11. You’ve been forced at least once to cram some of the most labor-intensive classes for your major into the same semester.
  12. You felt like a boss when you made it out of that semester alive, and with good grades too.
  13. You have a special bond with your adviser who helped you make graduating early possible. Without them, you would’ve gone crazy trying to put your schedules together.
  14. You’re a master at packing a whole day’s worth of meals into one lunch box since you often wind up spending entire days on campus.
  15. You are the ultimate multi-tasker, and your time management skills are incomparable.
  16. You learned to embrace planners and calendars to keep your plethora of deadlines straight.
  17. You know graduating early isn’t for everyone, but for you, it was worth it.

Long Hair/Short Hair – Who Cares?

Mar 28, 2014 | Author: Colleen Bierstine

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Being a young adult in college means trying to figure out who the heck you are, inside and out. You’re trying to find a personal style and nail down what makes you, you. Plus, you’re trying desperately to distance yourself from the frizzy-haired, braces-wearing awkward teen you were in high school. That means you’re experimenting with new choices, whether it be clothes, make-up, fitness, or hair.

When I wanted to cut my hair, someone very close to me vehemently urged me against it, telling me quite frankly how ugly and unfeminine I would look if I did. It had nothing to do with how the actual cut would look on me, but was merely because the person telling me this thought all females look bad with short hair.

Spoiler alert: I cut it anyway and received more compliments on my hair than I have in my entire life. I had a new found confidence and freedom, a sophisticated look that better suited my personality.

The initial skeptic still wasn’t happy, and I of course encountered others opposed to the look. They couldn’t believe I chopped off my “beautiful long hair,” and seemed personally offended by the choice, like how dare I make a decision about my appearance without their approval? The nerve I had to choose short hair when others would’ve killed for my long hair.Fall '138

Here’s the deal with all the hair haters: it’s none of anyone’s business what I, or anyone else, decides to do with their hair. Short hair might not be your favorite thing, but that doesn’t mean somebody with a shorter cut is any less beautiful for choosing it. And maybe you wouldn’t want long hair that dangles all the way down to your butt, but some people do, and they like it that way.

There’s no need to judge someone on the street because they dyed their hair a hundred hues of pink, purple, and green. People are so quick to cry, “How unprofessional!” Or “What was he/she thinking?” I’ll tell you what they were thinking: this is something I want to do, and I’m going to do it for me. Their personality is not suddenly less mature or professional because their hair color changed. I mean, think about that for a second. Some people just love to experiment, and maybe those against it are just envious that they don’t have the guts to do so too.

On a similar note, if somebody wants to do absolutely nothing with their hair for their entire life, that’s totally cool too. There’s no law that says you have to constantly chop and color according to the latest trend.

We’re in 2014 now, and an ultra-short cut doesn’t have to be any less feminine than long locks on a chick; nor does flowing hair on a guy need to be less manly than a buzz cut. Sometimes, the other extreme fits your lifestyle better, and that’s what your choice should be about, not gender norms. I workout and sweat everyday, so short hair’s a breeze for me, plus it suits the shape of my face. Another girl might prefer long hair she can constantly style differently.

Guys, it’s hair. It grows, it changes, and mostly, it just hangs there. Do what you want with it, whatever makes you feel beautiful, and don’t let anyone else make you feel any less so.

Everyone Should Read the News

Mar 10, 2014 | Author: Colleen Bierstine

photos & backgrounds3

As a public relations major, I am told on a daily basis by professors how I should be paying attention to the news. In this profession, it’s expected that you know what’s going on not just in your immediate environment, but in the world as well. I certainly can’t argue with that. However, I don’t agree that it’s just PR people who should be keeping tabs on newsworthy goings-on in the world; every student in every major should.

Let’s start with a really simple and relatable example: How foolish do you feel when somebody asks you if you heard about that thing that happened in that place, and you’re like “Uhhh….what?”

Or worse, you nod and say, “Oh yeah!” and pretend to know what the heck they’re talking about.

Save yourself from that awkward situation and check out the news once in a while. You’ll feel so gosh darn smart when you can reply with confidence, “Yes, actually, I did!” Then go on and show them your well-educated demeanor.

You honestly feel so much cooler when you can be the one ASKING other people if they heard about that thing that happened the other day in that place. And when they say “no,” you can go ahead and inform them. Way to spread the knowledge, you good Samaritan, you!

Plus, the more you read the news, the more you want to read the news. It becomes a habit, and you feel disconnected and out of the loop when you don’t keep up. It’s like when you don’t get to check Facebook for a few days, am I right?

No matter what your profession is, having knowledge about what’s going on in the world around you is beneficial. Even if you work at McDonald’s, you can keep tabs on the latest in the fast food industry. Or if you work in an office all day, check out the news from the competition and impress your boss when you come up with ways to keep up with them.

It’s a common misconception that all news is boring. Certainly, some of it is, but even the boring stuff is important. You might not be into politics, for example, but having an idea about what’s going on makes you knowledgeable about your own country, and let’s you make better informed decisions in your day-to-day life.

Plus, there is always news to address what you are interested in. For example, there is a plethora of news material for me as a foodie to indulge in. And there are more quirky avenues of acquiring your news. Although accurate and informative, traditional media like ABC or The New York Times aren’t the most exciting. Try websites like Buzzfeed. Is there a lot of fluff on Buzzfeed? Yes, but they do real news too, and they present it in such an easily digestible way.

What it comes down to is that you never want to be in the dark. I know that ignorance sounds easy, and sometimes, it just feels better to turn the other cheek. But why is that when we know that ignoring something doesn’t make it go away? The best we can do is educate ourselves with what’s going on the world. There’s no better way to tackle fear than finding out as much as you can about what frightens you. For some people, that’s war. for others, it’s the latest fashion trends.

Don’t be in the dark. As college students, we’re no longer innocent children who look at the world with rose-tinted glasses. Take those glasses off and watch your local news in the morning. Even Good Morning America or the Colbert Report will update you.

No excuses.

Why It’s Okay to Not Go Anywhere for Spring Break

Feb 27, 2014 | Author: Colleen Bierstine

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There’s this idea that you have to go somewhere crazy for spring break. Ideally, it should be someplace warm, tropical, and far, far away from Utica, NY. But if someone asks you where you’re going for Spring Break, it’s not uncommon to get looked at like you have six heads when you reply, “Nowhere.”

The truth is, not all of us have the resources, time, or patience for setting off on a wild adventure when spring break rolls around. Maybe you’re saving your money, or maybe you’ve got a big project to work on and can’t sacrifice a full week. Or perhaps you’re like me, and you just don’t feel like traipsing across the countryside when you could be sleeping.

Despite what television tells you, it’s okay to not going anywhere over break. In fact, it could be the best decision you make for yourself. Here’s why:

  1. The obvious reason: save money. Unless you’ve got money coming out of your eyeballs, it is highly unlikely that you’re at a time in your life with gobs of disposable income. Save your money now, so you can take that amazing trip to Italy or Disneyland with your future family later on in life.
  2. De-stress. Vacations, in theory, sound relaxing. You envision yourself sprawled out on a sandy beach with the sun beaming down on you, and your worries are miles away in NY. But here’s the reality: you argue with your friends over splitting the cost of gas to get there, you get lost on the way, that cheap motel you got is a health hazard, you’re too hungover to enjoy the sunlight on the beach, and everything costs money. Instead of putting yourself through all that, just kick back at home and enjoy a few days off from classes.
  3. Catch up on sleep. I don’t know about you, but college has really made me appreciate sleep. I don’t get much of it during the semester, so it is absolute heaven to partake in a week’s worth of sleeping in.
  4. Catch up on schoolwork. I know it doesn’t sound fun to spend your break doing homework, but think of how awesome it will feel when you’ve got all your most annoying work out of the way while you watch your friends scrambling and cracking under the pressure to get it done on time. Tough luck, guys!
  5. Netflix for life. Finally check out that TV series you’ve been wanting to get into, or have a movie marathon. You probably do that anyway when you’re not on break, but at least you can do it guilt-free now!
  6. Invite your family up. Usually, it’s you going home whenever you have a break, but why not invite your family to stay awhile and see the area? Show them around campus and take them to your favorite local restaurants.
  7. Enjoy me-time. It’s hard to get a second to breathe during the semester between classes full of people, hallways full of people, roommates, sports, etc. During break, the campus clears out, and you can finally have a moment to yourself.
  8. On the flip side, party with friends. Find some friends who aren’t leaving either and figure out some fun stuff to do together. Go to the movies, have a party, binge eat junk food while watching Netflix – the possibilities are endless.
  9. Do that thing you keep saying you’re going to do. You know exactly what I’m talking about: the dentist appointment you’ve been meaning to make, the laundry piled up on your floor, the kitchen that needs organizing, the new clothes you need to buy, the call to your grandma you should really make – whatever that “thing” is, you’ve finally got the time to do it.
  10. Prepare for the second half of the semester. By now, you know what you’ve got left ahead of you. Start prepping for finals, clean that mess of a dorm room, stock up on essentials, grocery shop, and get yourself ready to buckle down and power through the remainder of the semester.

See? It’s not so bad. I know getting away sounds nice, but you can metaphorically get away without having to fly thousands of miles away. Whatever you’re doing for break, don’t stress. Give your brain a chance to recover, get some sleep, and you’ll be ready to tackle anything.

How to Be a Better Commuter

Feb 17, 2014 | Author: Colleen Bierstine
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Photo by The Tangerine

Utica College has a fairly large commuter base. It attracts a lot of local folks, myself included, who choose to go home at the end of every day and drive back again in the morning. Some of us have a quick five-minute drive while others devote an hour or more there and back.

We all have our reasons for why we prefer it this way. And as with anything, there are advantages and disadvantages. One of the hardest things about being a commuter is dealing with harsh CNY winter travel and making that dreaded decision of whether or not to take your chances driving to school every time the snow rolls around.

There are several things to do to lessen the inconvenience and dangers posed by nasty weather. For starters, be smart when you’re making the decision of whether to face the commute or not. If you can afford to miss the class without severely getting points docked from your grade, then it might be best to not go in. Even if there’s important material, you can always try speaking to your professor or getting notes from a friend. Class is very important, and so is attendance, but your safety is the most important of all.

That being said, I am not in any way condoning skipping classes without a darn good reason. After all,we are seasoned veterans here in CNY when it comes to driving in harsh elements, so if you can, get your butt to class. It’s a given that you should drive slow, and always leave early on a bad weather day so you don’t feel the need to rush. But if you can’t avoid leaving late, do not try to rush there. It’s better to make it to class safely and a few minutes late.

It’s a good idea to even leave for class early on a good day when you’re a commuter. You never know what kind of traffic snafus or incompetent people you’ll encounter along your journey.

In fact, getting there early means better chances of a better parking spot. You can’t argue with that!

Being a commuter can also be tricky if you’ve got a long day with back-to-back classes and/or work. You don’t have time to run home again, so it is key to plan ahead when packing for the day. More obviously, you’ll need all your books, papers, etc. for your classes. But you also want to make sure you have tons of food to get you through the day. I recommend bringing more than you think you’ll need in case you get stuck being out later than you originally intended.

On a similar note, I recommend getting yourself a Brita water bottle. It has a built-in filter, so you can feel safe drinking tap water. That means you’ll have water all day long, and won’t have to bring or buy a million plastic water bottles.

It’s also not a bad idea to keep your car stocked with essentials like tissues, Advil, and your chargers for your phone/laptop/etc. This way, you won’t find yourself running to the store or back home when you unexpectedly need something.

If you have a laptop or tablet, I definitely recommend bringing it to school with you as a commuter. You never know when you might need it. If one of your classes gets canceled and you’ve got time to kill, you’ll be glad you brought it along.

Be sure to have a back-up plan for rides. Just last week when it snowed on Friday, I got completely blocked in by snow thanks to the snow plowers at my apartment complex, and couldn’t get out of the parking lot. Luckily, I had a friend who was willing to pick me up on her way into school.

Finally, try to be as picky with your class schedule as you can be. Some classes are only offered at one time, and you have to deal with that. But if you can choose classes so that you have to make as few trips to campus as possible, then do it. Your gas tank will thank you.

Are you a commuter? What do you do to make your life a little bit easier?

How to Survive Night Class If You’re Not a Night Owl

Feb 10, 2014 | Author: Colleen Bierstine
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Photo from camelcitydispatch.com

Some people thrive in night classes. In fact, some people actually prefer to take them  because night classes are generally only one night out of the week as opposed to the typical Tuesday/Thursday or Monday/Wednesday/Friday combination.

However, there are also a lot of folks like me who would much rather take an earlier class, and often avoid night classes like the plague. On top of not being an evening person, I am also night-blind (it’s a legitimate genetic condition; look it up), so driving at night is a struggle. Night classes are basically my worst nightmare.

I successfully avoided taking any until this semester in my senior year when two classes I needed to take were only offered at night. I’m sure many of you have run into this as well, and the most we can do is suck it up.

But there are ways to make it more bearable, tolerable even.

  1. Start by looking on the bright side. You only have to take this class once a week! That means less trips to campus and less days to worry about the class in general. It also usually means you have more time in between classes to get your assignments done. If you play your cards right, this could mean having a day or two off except for the night class(es).
  2. Learn to reverse your homework schedule. If you’re like me and you’re used to getting your homework done at night, you’re going to have to learn to switch that around on the days you have night classes. Get your work done early in the day so you don’t have to tackle it when you roll in at 10 o’ clock at night.
  3. Eat a light dinner beforehand. You want to make sure you’re not going to class on an empty stomach because that’s miserable and distracting, but you also want to make sure you don’t overeat so you aren’t uncomfortably full during class.
  4. Check the weather a day or two in advance. This only applies to commuters, but you want to be prepared if you’re going to have bad weather while traveling at night. Plan to leave a few minutes early so you can take your time. Also get your professor’s cell number so you can contact them if the weather is making it completely impossible for you to finish the trip safely.
  5. Carpool, if possible. Again, this is just for commuters, but you can arrange to carpool with a friend, switching off each week. Driving at night is just annoying, so it helps to share the burden. Plus, you can make it a point to stop and get ice cream or something on the way home, giving you something to look forward to.
  6. Bring snacks. Your mind is bound to wander during three straight hours of class, so keep yourself focused with energizing snacks. Just be wary of the super loud and crunchy snacks like carrots and chips that could be distracting in class.
  7. Ideally, have a classmate walk to your car with you. There’s safety in numbers, people!
  8. If that’s not possible, call a friend or family member while you’re walking to the car. Have a safeword agreed upon so if anything happens, you can say it to them so they can call the police for you. I know this stuff is ominous, but it’s good to be prepared.
  9. Don’t go the gym right beforehand. Okay, this one is really just for me. I took a cardio fitness class right before my night class and didn’t have time to shower or cool down in between. It was rough.
  10. Caffeine! An obvious one, but essential. If you’re not a night owl, you’re going to need a little pick-me-up in order to stay focused at the end of the day.
  11. Don’t wear uncomfortable clothing. It’s college; nobody cares if you wear sweats, and you aren’t going to want to sit there in your Sunday’s best at 9 o’ clock at night.
  12. Get a friend to take the class with you. Even if it’s not related to their major, there’s a good chance they can get elective or liberal arts credits for it. And obviously, class is a heck of a lot more fun with a buddy.

What are your opinions on night classes? Are you a night owl or a morning person?

The Blame Game Won’t Fix Negative Female Body Images

Feb 5, 2014 | Author: Colleen Bierstine

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In one of my communication classes, we have a lot of interesting discussions about gender differences and the effects of these differences on American society. In one of our conversations the other day, I watched the blame game play out: men vs. women arguing over whose fault it is that women feel pressured to meet an impossible physical appearance standard.

It’s no secret that these body image issues are particularly prevalent in college-age women. Eating disorders are frighteningly common among college students, and according to Brown University, “74.4% of the normal-weight women stated that they thought about their weight or appearance ‘all the time’ or ‘frequently.'”

Photo by Brittney Sabo

Photo by Brittney Sabo

But can we really say this is because men have unrealistic expectations of women, or conversely, that women pressure each other into looking a certain way?

As I watched my classmates go back and forth defending their own gender and condemning the other, I realized herein lies the problem. If all we ever do is declare that the fault belongs to someone else, then we ourselves will never change.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my short 20 years, it’s that you cannot change people who don’t want to change. The most you can do is work on improving yourself.

Of course, changing yourself isn’t much easier than changing someone else. In the past year, I have done a lot of work on self-improvement – not physically per se, but mentally. I used to be like many other women who look at 6-foot, stick thin models and flawless celebrities and felt the crushing self-criticism as I analyzed every difference, every thing I thought I lacked.

I’m 5’1″ and not stick-thin. I knew I couldn’t change my height, but I thought losing weight was the most important thing in the world. Slowly, I have been trying to change this mentality. I am trying to accept my body as unique and beautiful for what it is. It’s a simple enough concept, but an incredibly difficult process, and it’s easy to fall off track.

Here is the thing that fashion magazines don’t tell us: we’re all built differently; our bodies don’t do the same things. You and I could have the same diet and workout regime, and still look drastically different.

If you think about it, it’s sort of ridiculous that we should find one very specific body type beautiful when there is such a rainbow of body types out there. Why not embrace all the differences?

Everyone, including men, needs to try to join me in this process of changing our own thoughts. Don’t worry about anyone else right now; just concentrate on you. Start looking at your body differently, and when you feel those negative thoughts coming, remember that there are parts of you that other people are jealous of. Your beauty is different from everyone else’s, and that’s what makes you so incredible.

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Remember to be realistic. You can beat yourself up endlessly for not having longer legs, but is that going to change anything? Stop fighting yourself, because the second you start working what you’ve got, you’ll become exponentially more beautiful.

It’s all much easier said than done, but the first step to improving society’s feelings toward female body image is reevaluating our own thoughts first. The next time you look at a female and start picking out what’s “wrong” with her, stop and ask why you’re doing that. Is there really anything wrong with her, or is that just what you’ve been made to think? Are you just jealous of things she has that you don’t?

And don’t forget to include your own body in this. Unless your “problem” is endangering your health, it’s not a “problem” at all.

Change how you think; it’s infectious – others will follow.

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So You’re Single on Valentine’s Day

Jan 27, 2014 | Author: Colleen Bierstine

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I’ve stopped looking at Valentine’s Day as a day allotted for celebrating your sweetheart, and instead started looking at it as an excuse for celebrating whatever you love most. For me, that’s food, family, and cats. In that order.

It might seem hard to face V-Day alone, especially if you’re living on campus while your family is miles away and your roommate happens to have a hot date. But don’t let your relationship status get you down; there’s so much more to February 14th than romance.

If nothing else, V-Day is a great excuse to binge-eat chocolate, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. It’s also a good reason to show some love to yourself. You can make it a day about you, and use it to indulge and treat yourself more than you normally would. There are so many possibilities and so many reasons why it doesn’t have to stink.

The key is changing how you think. Get the idea of candle-lit dinners with a significant other out of your head. Yes, for some people, that’s what V-Day means. But for others, it has a whole different meaning. What means the most to you? What do you love? That should be what the day centers around.

There are plenty of things to do on Friday, Feb. 14th that will make it an awesome day regardless of your relationship status. You can have a movie marathon. It doesn’t have to be rom-coms; watch a marathon of blood and gore if that’s what you’re into. Just pick you favorites, pull on your pj’s, and settle in with a smorgasbord of snacks.

Here’s my favorite: eat as much chocolate as you want. Forget your diet; it’s one day out of the year. Grab as much chocolate as you can handle from the store then eat it with every meal: chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, Nutella-peanut butter-banana sandwiches for lunch, your favorite dish with hot cocoa to drink for dinner, and endless chocolate candies for dessert.

It’s all about treating yourself. Grab another single friend and head to your favorite restaurant to indulge in comfort foods. Or, stay in and get your favorite take-out. You could even cook a fancy meal for your friends or family.

Heck, spoil your pets too while you’re at it. Make it a day of appreciation for them. I love my cats like they’re my children, so I’ll happily throw them a V-Day celebration. Animals are much easier to please than people anyway.

You could even go on a little shopping spree to treat yourself. Chances are, you’ll have the mall to yourself since all the lovebirds will be off having fancy dinners.

And, if nothing else, rejoice for the awesome sales on Valentine’s Day candy the day after.

What Not to Forget When You Return From Winter Break

Jan 22, 2014 | Author: Colleen Bierstine
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Photo from Utica College

I know nobody wants to talk about it (I certainly don’t), but we’ve got to address this pressing matter regardless: winter break is over.

But I’ve done my crying, and I’ve dried my tears, and now it’s time to man-up and prepare. We’ve got a long couple of months ahead of us until summer warmly welcomes us with open arms, and I want to make sure you make it to see the sun.

There are obvious things you need to have ready to go with you like clothes and money, but I’ve got a list for you of a few things you might not have thought of.

  1. Textbooks – Yeah, an obvious one it would seem, but I guarantee there are a few people reading this right now and exclaiming, “Crap!” because they forgot to order them yet. Get on it.
  2. Family photos – Even if your dorm’s already decked out in photos, I’m sure you’ve acquired a few new ones over break. Hang ‘em up in your dorm to make it feel a little more like home and freshen up the room you became so used to last semester.
  3. Recipes – Remember all those great dorm-ready recipes you saw on Pinterest that you said you were going to make? Unless you print them out and have a tangible version, you’re going to forget about them. So, go ahead and print out recipes you like, then compile them into a folder or binder like your own little cookbook.
  4. Holiday decor – this one might be more for the females, but you’d be surprised how festive you’ll feel with just a few cheap decorations for your dorm. You’ll have Valentine’s Day and Easter to decorate for this semester, and although it may be early to shop for Easter stuff, the V-Day decor is already out. Little things like this will keep your mood lifted.
  5. Emergency comfort food supply – I don’t care how healthy you eat on a daily basis; everyone needs a little bit of chocolate or instant mac & cheese or whatever it is that tickles your fancy. Have a little bit on hand, and keep it hidden, so you don’t have to rush out to the store when you desperately need it.
  6. Reusable water bottle with filter – Ever since I bought my water bottle with a built-in Brita filter, my life has been so much better. You’ll save a ton of money not buying bottles all the time, it’s environmentally friendly, and you can feel safe drinking from most faucets.
  7. Back-up hard drive – This sounds like something only high-tech people need, but if you’re a student, or just someone who relies on their computer for things like picture and music storage, then you NEED a back-up hard drive. What would you do if your computer crashed in the middle of the semester? That would stink, wouldn’t it? These guys aren’t that expensive, about $60 for a decent amount of space, and definitely worth it. They will save your life.
  8. Notepad – Just a tiny one is all you need. You’d be amazed the difference writing down little reminders can make. “Run the dishwasher,” “Do laundry,” “Remember your book for class tomorrow,” etc. It is so helpful for a scatter-brained person like myself. You can also use it to write down long-term stuff like papers, final projects, and goals. And of course, write out those grocery lists.
  9. Way more pens than you think you need – Because they get up and walk away when you’re not looking, am I right?
  10. Extra underwear and socks – Because doing laundry is the worst.

What non-traditional stuff do you tote along to school each semester?