Is Moving Out Right for You?

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Photo by Jamie Callari

I didn’t choose to move out per say. I had every intention of living at home and commuting to school for my entire time at UC. However, my wonderful plan was torn to shreds when my parents decided to up and move right before my junior year.

I was faced with the difficult decision of moving out and being independent or following my parents during their move and having to transfer halfway through my college education. Neither option would be easy, so I ultimately decided I couldn’t give up the public relations program I am so passionate about at UC.

My whole moving out process happened in about two weeks, and it was a whirlwind of changes. I had to find an apartment ASAP, lug all my stuff there, and suddenly learn how to be an independent human being. This also meant that managing my food blog would be twice as hard and time-consuming without my mother to act as my sous-chef, camera woman, and grocery shopper.

I know; it doesn’t sound that appealing at first, does it? It certainly didn’t feel like it to me at the time. But weeks passed, and then months, and suddenly, I was settled in and functioning rather efficiently. Moving out of my parents’ house seemed daunting at first, but I was shocked at how quickly I adapted when forced to do so (and that sentence applies to almost any situation in life).

With moving out, you garner freedom. And I’m not talking about throwing wild parties; I’m talking about the ability to decide what you want to buy at the grocery store, how to decorate, how messy you can be, and whether or not you’re going to put pants on that day (unless your roommate(s) disagree with any of these things). Suddenly, there’s no authoritative, judgmental eye over you. And for the first time in your life, you really come into your own.

Yes, you take on a lot more responsibilities when you no longer live with your parents, but honestly, this is a good thing. You’re going to have to be an independent, functioning adult at some point, so this is like the trial run before graduation. You’re going to learn a lot of important things like the most efficient way to kill a spider and how to change light bulbs. And although these things might feel like a pain while they’re happening, you can’t help but beam with pride for yourself afterward.

Living independently allows you to focus. It gives you more clarity to think about what it is you want and how to get it. Sometimes it’s something as simple as getting your work done. Without having your family over your shoulders, doing homework and writing papers becomes a bit less about distractions. But you also have more room to pursue and think about your interests. You get to concentrate on you.

The best part is you don’t have to move out forever. Most parents will happily accept you back if you decide that’s what you want after some time. Now is the best time to try it; college is all about having flexibility in your lifestyle and trying new things so you can decide what you want for the rest of your life. Whether you’re moving into a dorm or choosing apartment life, moving out of your parents house will be better for you than you ever imagined. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge.

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The 8 websites that got me through college.

That’s one loaded post title. It implies I will really, actually, truly, in less than two weeks (O M G) graduate. Wow.

In true nostalgic fashion, I figured I’d share some of the sites that I’ve discovered in school that have helped me out academically, physically and mentally. I need all the help I can get.

1. VisualCVScreen shot 2013-12-04 at 3.25.07 PM

#ShamelessPlug. Let’s get the academic stuff out of the way off the bat, shall we? (P.S. look around the page right now and try to tell me you’re not creeped out by all the little pictures of my face. GO AHEAD, TRY.)

This website has helped me a lot when applying for jobs and internships! The page itself is set up pretty much like LinkedIn and looks like a virtual resume. Unlike LinkedIn though, VisualCV makes it super easy to upload documents, visual samples and audio clips into a portfolio section. This feature is really helpful, especially if you’re trying to get a job working with social media. Many applications for positions involving social media now require a blog URL or portfolio URL to be submitted, so having something like this handy is great!

2. CollegeRuledScreen shot 2013-12-04 at 4.31.05 PM

Keeping with the academic theme, this website makes plotting your strategies for battle, I mean “picking classes,” ridiculously easy. I’m a little old-school I suppose (Excel docs 4Evah), but this option was introduced to me last year and I have a feeling that if I’d known about it as a first-year student that I would’ve been all over it. (P.S. I only gave you half my schedule in the example above so you can only half stalk me. Boom.)

3. InstamotivationScreen shot 2013-12-04 at 4.46.41 PM

Let’s be honest, there’s something you should be doing right now that you’re not doing because you don’t want to and you’re thoroughly going to regret it right…. now. (Sorry.)

Instamotivation, which happens to be from the brilliant minds at Greatist, will hammer you with motivational phrases until you feel like you could climb Mount Everest, backflip down and then run a marathon at the bottom.

Then you’ll remember that you’re only writing a paper on the economic situation in Sri Lanka and get real sad again. But you’ll be super motivated!! E-C-O-N, who can do it? YOU CAN! (Again, I’m sorry. Instamotivation overdose.)

4. GreatistScreen shot 2013-12-04 at 3.41.58 PM

Greatist is one of the best websites I’ve found in a long time. The goal? To breakdown health, fitness and general wellness information to interesting and easily digestible bites. The site is littered with infographics, research-based articles (with “takeaways” at the bottom for those moments when you’re pressed for time), recipes and polls that ask some tough questions about the state of health and wellness in the country all in a conversational, easy-to-understand format. The unique angle of the articles makes this site one of the biggest ways I procrastinate, but I’m constantly learning so it’s not all bad right…?? Guys?

5. The OatmealScreen shot 2013-12-04 at 5.00.51 PM

This website literally makes me cry. Real tears. Real tears of wonderful, unrivaled joy. These comics are hysterical and most are based on current events (procrastination is justifiable in you’re learning, obviously.) Pretty sure laughing constitutes an ab workout too, so it’s like a win-win.

6. What to Wear ToolScreen shot 2013-12-04 at 4.14.09 PM

For all my fellow runners! Plug in a few different details about yourself and the conditions outside, and the tool will tell you what to wear. No thinking involved. None. Nada. Zip. I need one of these for like, my life. Someone tell Mark Remy to get on that.

 7. Tone It UpScreen shot 2013-12-04 at 3.55.25 PM

Next we’ve got Tone It Up! I started following the site about two years ago because I was bored with my workouts. Karena and Katrina, the girls who run Tone It Up, create, film and distribute free workouts on their site. And let’s be honest, free is every college student’s middle name.

Low on time and space? You could definitely buy some dumbbells and do the workouts in the dorm too. Every Sunday, they post a day-by-day schedule of workouts, which is great if I’m feeling blah about my impending trip to the gym. Each one comes with a printable copy (although, I’m a cheapo and write the workouts on post-its. My gym bag looks like a multi-colored paper-based bomb went off.) With everything else going on, it’s nice to not have to plan my workout from time-to-time.

8. Whatever this isScreen shot 2013-12-04 at 6.31.34 PM

BEST way to waste time (and force you to turn dejectedly to Instamotivation) EVER.

 

I hope you find some of these websites useful! And hopefully, their use goes beyond just being amazing time-killers.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play with the little spaceship. #Instalazy

For you:
What are your top 3 most visited websites?

Other than the obvious Facebook and Twitter.
I almost typed MySpace.
Help me, I’m stuck in 2006 and I can’t get out.

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Being an RA is really, really fun sometimes.

They told me I was crazy.

When I mentioned to friends and coworkers what I was planning on doing, they called me a looney. Told me it was madness. I must be ill!

What exactly did I do, you ask?
I, voluntarily, took 16 18-year-olds on a six-hour trip to the mall. And it was AWESOME.

As I mentioned in my first post, I’m an RA for a themed community for first-year students. Whereas the zoo trip went along with the ULive floor theme for biology majors, this trip was for my own community: UBalance. In UBalance, we focus on healthy living from head-to-toe.

So when my partner-in-crime and fellow UBalance RA Sam came to me with an idea to take our floors to Destiny USA for the ropes course, WonderWorks and shopping (in the name of mental health and learning, of course), I was all for it.

On Wednesday, we loaded up two 12-passenger vans and set out for Syracuse.

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Destiny USA is pretty overwhelming. It’s basically four thousand stories and has every store/restaurant you could ever need (except a Chipotle. I am still sad about this.)

But even the open-plan, enormous, fully Christmas-ified interior of the mall didn’t make me half as hysterical as this did:
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This is where the fun begins.

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WonderWorks is probably the coolest place I’ve ever been. I don’t want to ruin the surprises, but they have a lot of neat things like anti-gravity space machines, roller coaster simulators, a BUBBLE LAB and lots of other exhibits. But, in order to get to the WonderWorks exhibits, I had to conquer a few fears.

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If you’ve been to Destiny USA, you’ve no doubt noticed the 7-year-olds sprinting from obstacle to obstacle above your head while parents cling to support ropes and mutter obscenities. Kidding. Kinda. If you’ve never been, you’re walking across various rope and beam obstacle while suspended over anywhere between 1-3 floors of the mall, depending on the part of the course.

We were all very excited. Especially these two.
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This is George and Kelsey showing off their “very-excited”/”we-are-totally-not-about-to-die” faces.

It was a lot of fun! You never actually unclip from the beam your harness is attached to like with some ropes courses, so after exploring for a bit, everyone gets daring. I did a few obstacles with no hands!

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Picture included because this girl looks eerily just like me. But it’s not me. But it could be. So that’s weird. 
Also, pro tip: Don’t wear converse when attempting the course. I almost slipped to my doom a few times.

Everyone pretty much had free reign, which is part of the reason I thought this trip went so well! You could spend a little time on the ropes course, browse WonderWorks, eat, shop–whatever!

Or, you could do what me and Cody did, which was get froyo and then scour the mall to find his face. Success.
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He is so cool.

Overall, it was a great trip! Living on campus can have drawbacks (I still miss/talk to my mom basically everyday), but I’ve been able to do a lot of awesome things that I never would’ve been able to do otherwise! Exploring the area has expanded my knowledge on a lot of things, too! Like, for instance, I now think ropes courses should be mandatory in all malls. All of them. It is our RIGHT. Well, not really, but I want it.

The great thing about this trip was that everyone that attended is part of the UBalance community. In a themed community, you have the opportunity to do things you’re really, truly interested in with people you connect with outside of the fact you attend the same school. It’s like forcing people to be your friend!!! Except significantly more successful than when I try to do it.

Living at UC, you’re really close to a lot of great places. It would be a shame to never see them, right?

Ok, it’s your turn!
Are you a fan of ropes courses? If you’ve never tried one, would you?
Have you ever visited WonderWorks before?
Do you like Cody’s glamour shot on that banner?!? Because I do.

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Fuel for Finals Week: What You Should Snack On

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There is actual evidence to show that college students gain weight because of the stress from finals week. It’s a natural habit that we like to reach for the snacks to ease the pain of studying. Often times, we’re not even hungry, but we partake in mindless snacking that can go on for hours. And before you know it, you’ve inhaled an entire bag of potato chips and 20 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. You’ve probably got the pizza delivery guy on speed dial too.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, eh?

But there’s more science to tell you that all that junk doesn’t help you much in the long-run. Not only does it do nothing to fuel your brain or aid your test performance, but it’s unhealthy and will expand your waistband in the future. It sounds pretty obvious to me that, if you’ve just got to snack while studying, then you should reach for healthier options.

I know, you’re sitting there thinking, “Girl, I’m young. I don’t have to eat healthy.” And you probably don’t want to either. But the truth is, the earlier you start treating you body better, the better off you will be. I’m not telling you to give up everything delicious in life and never indulge again; I’m just talking about switching out your normal studying snacks for real brain food.

The common misconception is that brain food equates to raw fruits and veggies, but there are much more exciting options out there if you prefer. Here are some of my favorite snacks that will fuel your brain so you can crush those exams without weighing enough to crush your professors after.

  1. Go nuts. No, but really. There are so many different varieties of nuts that there’s one for everybody, plus they’re salty, crunchy, and delicious. They’re proven to reduce stress and help your brain. And they’ve got protein! Just take it easy on these babies; you only need a handful or two.DSC_7293
  2. Cute & delicious. Teddy Grahams are, in my humble opinion, the cutest snack at the grocery store. You’d think because they’re sweet and targeted at kids that they’re also horrible for you and loaded with sugar, but they’re actually not half-bad. You can have about 30 little bears for around 130 cals, 8g of sugar, and 4g of fat. That ain’t bad! And they come in a plethora of flavors: Chocolaty Chip, Chocolate, Apple, Strawberry Banana, Honey, and Cinnamon.

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    Get the recipe for these PB & Apple Teddy Graham Pretzel Bites on thesmartcookiecook.com
  3. God’s gift to nature: Avocados. I know, you don’t want fruits and veggies, but in my book, avocados don’t count. They are so rich, creamy, and scrumptious that you won’t believe they came straight out of nature. Some people argue they should be classified as cheese because they taste that rich. But half an avocado is only 50 calories, and it’ll amp up anything you spread it on: wraps, sandwiches, veggies, whole wheat pita bread, etc. They are a bit high in fat, but it’s good fat, like in nuts.DSC_6046
  4. Get it poppin’ with plain popcorn. Sound boring? After a lifetime of eating popcorn drenched in fake butter, I never imagined plain popcorn would be any good. As It turns out, I was pleasantly surprised by how addicting and delicious it really is. Just a little bit of salt is enough to make plain popcorn taste like an indulgent snack, but you can have 2 cups for about 40 calories. Score!
  5. Hot and steamy. Did you know sugar-free hot cocoa has only 25 calories? It’s comforting, and it’ll satisfy your sweet tooth, but it won’t put you into a sugar coma afterward.DSC_7464
  6. Cup o’ Joe. Hot coffee has the same comforting qualities as hot cocoa for absolutely zero calories. Just be careful; when you load it up with milk and sugar, it quickly becomes bad for you. Use almond milk or a sugar-free creamer instead. Also, Nectresse is my sugar-free sweetener of choice. It’s not as artificial as other sweeteners.
  7. Take a dip. Hummus is a nutritious but completely delicious and hearty dip that’s perfect for study-time snacking. I only recently fell in love with hummus, but that love quickly grew into an obsession. If you haven’t tried it yet, just give it a shot, and you won’t be disappointed by how creamy and yummy it is. Plus, it tastes good on everything.DSC_8409-6

Those are MY go-to snacks, but here’s what fellow UC students suggested:

  1. Victoria L. – Granola bars (just make sure you look for ones low in sugar), apples, Rice Krispie treats (in moderation – one treat is 90 cal), Subway, and hummus. Did you know you can buy hummus from the Bistro at UC?
  2. Tyler G. – Cheez-Its (in moderation, a handful or two), grapes (try freezing them; they’re like candy), and Chobani yogurt (hello, protein!).

What snacks will you reach for when it’s time to study?

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Black vs. White Cookie Eating Contest

Today I walked into North Hall and came across an interesting sight: There was a table set up in the lounge with a large amount of Oreo cookies. On one side of the table were two white students, and on the other side, two black students. It turned out that I had stumbled upon an event called “Black and White Fight” hosted by brothers of Phi Beta Sigma. It was an eating contest where the student who could finish all the Oreo cookies first would win $50. I stayed and watched as the competition began, and people in attendance began to cheer for their “color.”

The purpose of the event was to address the segregation that is sometimes seen on campus, not just between races, but also between sports teams and social clubs. After the Oreo eating contest, everyone got involved in a deep discussion about mental enslavement and how we naturally separate ourselves from people who are not like us. After the event, people commented on how they thought it was interesting and a great way to get people who do not normally interact to engage in something meaningful.

I also got to eat some Oreo cookies!

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Shout out to Adalbert De La Cruz, and all the brothers of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

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Homecoming

Homecoming is the tradition of welcoming back alumnus of Utica College. So many events were held that it was nearly impossible to attend all of them, which was a shame. However, this 2013 homecoming was particularly special to me as it was the first time in 10 years that the alumnus of the Alpha Chi Rho Fraternity came back to an active chapter of Omicron Phi.

We kicked off the weekend on Friday night with a get-together on Varrik Street at the Celtic Harp, where a great number of alumni and undergraduates met for the first time, or reconnected after years of being apart. The entire second floor of the pub was filled with Greek letters, laughing and old chants, which I’m sure pushed the first floor patrons to their limits of tolerance.

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Early Saturday morning, we held our Postulant pinning ceremony, a ceremony which marks the beginning of a prospective member’s journey into becoming a brother of Alpha Chi Rho. Of course, at that point, the ceremony was solely for the purpose of maintaining tradition, as I and all the other members of the Fraternity were already brothers. It gave us a chance to be paired up with an alumni “Big Brother” who would guide us through the rest of our college career, and for the rest of our lives. It was an amazing feeling to have my big brother, Jean-Paul Plamondon from the class of 1996, stand before me and administer my oath into the Brotherhood. JP and I both have served in the Army, and got to know each other over the summer when the undergraduates and graduates went camping in the Catskills.

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After the pinning ceremony we all moved over to the parking lot for some tailgating activities. Our alumnus went all out, setting out a red carpet, velvet ropes and a wacky waving inflatable tube man. I don’t think Utica College has ever seen so many AXP letters on its campus at one time. Needless to say, we had an awesome time.

 

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