Tag Archives: student life

How to Budget Your Dine-In Dollars

At this point in the semester, most of my friends are either dangerously close to running out of dine-in dollars or have more money than they know what to do with. I’m somewhere in the middle with around $150 dine-in dollars out of $300. 

Even though I drink copious amounts of coffee and have trouble resisting the urge to grab peanut M&M’s every time I pass Kins Market, I limit myself to a weekly budget.

Here are my tips for creating and sticking to a budget so you can ration your dine-in dollars to last all semester.

First things first: determine where you typically spend all of your money. For example, I spend most of my dine-in dollars at the different Starbucks locations around campus. 

I could easily see myself grabbing a coffee before classes in the morning and another one to keep me motivated during my afternoon study sessions. However, I try to limit myself to three coffees a week. That puts me at 15 dine-in dollars a week. With about 15 weeks of classes in the semester, I spend about $225 on coffee each semester. 

That leaves me with $75  of non-coffee money. I can use this to grab an energy drink from Kins Market or fries and lemonade from the Union Chick-Fil-A on my way to class. I can also usually sneak in an extra coffee every other week and the occasional chocolate croissant.

This budgeting tactic can apply to any amount of dine-in dollars you have left. So Whether you have $50  or $450, figure out one place where you do/can spend most of your money and budget it out every week. This’s the easiest way to both save your money if you’re running low or use it up if you’ve got cash to spend!

Featured Image By Liliana Garcia

8 Tips for Traveling/Flying Solo as A Student

We are all at the age where traveling alone is the desirable and adventurous option, with students venturing on their first solo travels around the world. It all seems overwhelming at first, with no parent or chaperone to hold your hand and guide you through each step of the journey. In order to have the safest and most efficient journey, there are some rookie mistakes that all students traveling alone can avoid. It’s also important to remember that there is a first for everything, and with experience comes confidence for future endeavors! 

  1. Check for student discounts before booking anything, and carry around a school ID just in case! 

You’re paying a lot to be a student, so take advantage of it! There are many venues, transportation services, and even restaurants that give discounts to current university students. Especially when booking a place to stay, do some research on the benefits of choosing a student hostel over a regular hotel. By carrying your UT ID around during travel, you can always ask if student discounts are available before any purchase. 

  1. Have a separate bag/pouch for all important documents (passport, vaccination card, ID, PCR test results, boarding passes, etc.).

Although it might seem tempting to throw all your documents into your backpack or carry-on, take the extra time when packing to set aside all the papers you need in one place so that it is easy to access. During baggage check-in, multiple security checks, and boarding the plane, they will ask for the same documents over and over again. So keep everything in one place to avoid misplacing everything and for quick access. 

  1. Pack a simple carry-on (a compact but spacious bag like a backpack works the best, with separated compartments with zippers).

There is a reason why adults always advise packing lightly. Other than the large baggage that you can check in before your flight, airlines usually allow one to two carry-ons. It can be anything from a small suitcase to a guitar case. I recommend bringing a backpack since it has multiple spacious compartments separated by a zipper. It is easy to stay organized when you know that each pocket holds a different item. 

  1. Wear easy-to-remove shoes and comfortable clothes in general.

When going through security, you have to remove your shoes, hat, belt, watch, and other small items that you might not be conscious of. It is smart to wear easily removable shoes, like sandals or slip-off sneakers, to save time. I know some students might want to dress up for their first trip alone, but trust me when I say value comfort over looks. You’ll have to move around a lot at the airport, so comfortable clothes and shoes are a must. 

  1. Be flexible and open-minded to changing some details, regardless of the original plan. 

Nothing can be planned to perfection. Be prepared for some last-minute changes, and don’t feel discouraged when some things don’t go exactly as you wanted! Always think about different possibilities and have a basic outline of a backup plan. It’s less stressful when you’re open to new ideas and embrace the spontaneity of going with the flow. 

  1. Have anything that makes you feel safe and comfortable (pepper spray, alarm, comfort items, etc.).

Although traveling alone is perfectly safe, it’s always nice to go the extra mile to feel secure. Whether that means stocking up on security items (those approved by airport guidelines) or bringing along a comfort plushie, it’s smart to have a grounding item that makes you calm during your trip. Of course, anything that makes you happy is qualified to tag along. 

  1. When traveling internationally, bring cash to exchange to different currencies instead of using a credit card. 

Many people don’t usually think about this during their first solo trip. However, when traveling internationally, banks charge a certain percentage of whatever you spend with each card swipe. To avoid this, many people opt to use cash and use an ATM or currency exchange booth to withdraw cash from cards. To prevent the heavy taxing and convenience fees, I recommend having cash already to exchange after your flight. 

  1. Don’t be afraid to speak up!

If something goes wrong, if you have questions, if someone does anything to make you doubt anything, make sure to speak up. No one will be there to speak for you, so take the initiative and get things done the right way. The people working at the airport are there to help you have a comfortable traveling experience, so don’t be scared to strike up a conversation!

Keeping these eight tips in mind, I hope that your first solo trip is a bit less hectic than it would have been. Traveling and flying alone is an exciting new adventure that will be forever remembered. So have fun, be safe and go explore the outside world!

Featured Image by Reo Lee

A Plant Mom’s Guide to Taking Care of Succulents

Owning succulents has seen a growth in popularity among young adults in the past few years. Not only are succulents fairly easy to take care of, but they are also an inexpensive way to liven up any space. It’s also been proven that owning succulents comes with many benefits, such as air purification, increased focus and improved quality of sleep, according to Cal Farms, a succulent shop and blog. 

“Succulent plants brighten up the mood because of the beauty brought about by their fresh earthy colors and striking shapes,” Cal Farms said.  “These certainly never fail to provide accents to the bland paint finish of any room, but there’s more to it than just being an aesthetic addition to any place.”
 

I currently own eight succulents and over the years I’ve figured out what works best for keeping them alive and healthy. Here are four dos and don’ts for taking care of succulents.  

Do: Use rain or distilled water to water your plants

The best type of water to use for succulents is rain or distilled water. This is because they’re free of any chemical treatments or added minerals that would be in tap water. I use distilled bottled water to water my succulents because it’s convenient. Since I use distilled water for my succulents, I make sure that the soil they’re planted in is fertilized. Distilled water lacks the natural minerals that would be in rainwater.

Don’t: Use tap water

Beware of tap water! I have lost a few succulents to tap water before I knew it was harmful for them. Tap water is treated with chemicals and minerals that makes it safe for human consumption, but this is not the case for succulents. Chlorine, fluoride, calcium and magnesium, are just some of the minerals that are found in tap water that can harm succulents. These chemicals and minerals can change the pH of the soil and damage the absorption capabilities of the plant’s roots. Repeated use of tap water on your succulents can lead to them being malnourished due to root damage. 

Do: Water your succulent’s soil

When watering your succulents, make sure to directly water the soil and avoid getting water on the plant. The roots are the only part of the plant that can absorb the water and so getting water on a succulent’s leaves is unnecessary and can actually be harmful.. If the water were to sit on a leaf for too long, it could cause the leaf to get soggy and rot.  

Don’t: Forget to rotate your plant!    

It’s important for succulents to get enough sunlight. I keep my succulents in my windowsill, so they can get direct sunlight every day. However, remembering to rotate your plants is equally as important. This prevents one side of your succulent from getting more sun than the other side. It also makes your plant grow straight. Not rotating your succulents will cause them to grow leaning toward the window or the direction they are getting the most sunlight.  

Do: Put your succulent in a pot with drainage  

Photo by LUM3N on Unsplash

It’s essential that your succulents are in a pot with drainage. This means that the pot has a hole at the bottom and is normally sitting on a dish or inside another pot to collect the excess water that drains from the hole. Succulents, unlike other plants, are made to go long periods without being watered. They store water they need in their stems and leaves. Once they are done absorbing water, the excess can drain from the pot. Without drainage, the soil will remain moist, and the succulent’s roots will rot.  

Don’t: Water your plants too often  

Succulents do NOT need to be watered daily. In fact, succulents can go weeks without being watered. This is what makes them so low-maintenance and convenient! I water my succulents every four to five weeks, but this can be different for every succulent. A good way to tell if it is time to water your plant, is if the soil is COMPLETELY dry.

Do: Remove dead leaves from your plant  

Once your succulent starts to grow, the older leaves at the bottom of the succulent tend to get dry and shrivel up. This is normal for succulents to do as they grow; they allow the upper, newest leaves to grow up and receive sunlight, and rid themselves of the lowest, older leaves that are not getting any sunlight. It’s okay to pull off dead succulent leaves if you gently pull on them and they come off with ease. Never tug on a leaf or try to pull it off when it’s not ready, as this can cause damage to the succulent. 

 Don’t: Forget to admire your plants!   

Photo by Morgan Severson

Life gets busy and it gets easy to overlook small moments that bring us joy. My favorite part about owning succulents is watching them grow. Every day my succulents are growing, reaching up and out towards the sun, changing colors, and most days I don’t even notice. But sometimes I look up, and I notice a new leaf or a longer stem and, in that moment, I feel pride. I feel proud of them for growing and proud of myself for taking care of them. Allow yourself to watch your plants and admire them for all their growth and beauty.  

Photo by Morgan Severson

P.S. One of my succulents has two little baby succulents growing at the bottom of it. I think they are so cute so… I thought I’d share! <3  

Featured image by Alyssa Lindblom

The *notion* of staying organized: how to effectively manage your time

If you had an existential crisis surrounded by piles of papers during midterm season, chances are you weren’t the only one. In light of the many projects and tests, students were forced to confront their pre-existing organizational habits. If your current strategies aren’t working for you, here are some tips for how to get organized for the second half of the semester. 

There’s no feeling quite like checking off a box on a to-do list, so I use multiple different organizational tools including a bullet journal, a calendar and notion. To standardize my organizational process I’ll start each semester by making a key so that each class has an assigned color. 

As soon as I receive my course syllabi, I write down all of my assignments on a wall calendar on the day they are due so I have a general sense of assignments. To avoid clutter, I write “exam” or “paper” in the prescribed subject color without adding other details. I keep the current month’s and next month’s calendar on my wall so that I can easily access them to see any upcoming assignments. 

When looking at my calendar, I typically start to put assignments on my radar about three weeks before they’re due. When I notice something coming up, I’ll review the instructions on canvas to see exactly what the project entails. Depending on the assignment, I’ll allocate more or less time to work on or prepare for it. For example, I started working on my French midterm well over three weeks in advance, whereas I can complete some of my communications assignments the day before they’re due. 

I’m the kind of person who likes to work on assignments a little bit per day and write multiple drafts of a paper before finally being satisfied, so I always find starting assignments earlier than necessary is helpful. With these upcoming assignments, I’ll start to put aside time to work on them. typically 15 to 30 minutes a day at first, and then larger chunks of time closer to the due date. That way, I won’t have an entire paper to do the day before the due date.

If you have a class in which you do multiple of the same type of assignment, as the semester progresses, you can use your previous experience to determine how much time you’ll realistically need to complete the assignment. For example, in my UGS class we have three research assignments, so for the second one I was able to better gauge how much time it’d take me to finish it. 

For repetitive events like weekly quizzes, I find it helps me to set up a specific time each week to study so that I don’t forget and can also set aside the optimal time to study. For my biology quizzes Thursday morning, I always study Wednesday nights so that the material is fresher in my mind. 

Every Sunday evening, I’ll transfer events from my calendar to my notion page, which I find is a helpful organizational tool. I’ll add any due dates or assignments with time stamps, as well as any other meetings or plans. 

Keeping all of my due dates in one place gives me a good sense of how my week is going to go. Under the events of each day I keep a to-do list. I generally add items onto the to-do list the day of or the night before, because writing things down helps set my intentions for the day.

I tend to do more concrete homework, such as readings, the night after class. Getting ahead on readings ends up confusing me, particularly for classes that have reading quizzes, which is why I do them right after they’re assigned. Most of my classes are on Mondays and Wednesdays, so I typically spend Monday and Wednesday nights doing homework for those classes. Because I have more free time on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I devote time to projects and essays. 

On days where I’m working on more projects, I’ll seperate my time into different chunks so that I don’t get too invested in one project. I’m the kind of person who’ll finish an assignment a month before it’s due to procrastinate studying for a quiz, so I found that these time chunks allow me to balance doing what I like and prioritizing work. When scheduling time, sometimes I have to readjust, which is okay! If I have reading that has to get done, I’ll finish it regardless of if it runs over time, but if I’m working on an essay due in a couple of weeks, I’ll stop after the allotted time. 

Although staying organized is helpful in the long run, being proactive can lead to overworking yourself or burn-out if you’re not careful. Make sure that you’re taking time for self-care, and giving yourself breaks and time to have fun! 

While these tips have helped me stay organized my first semester of college, certain strategies will work better for different people. Knowing your assignments and when they’re due is the most important thing — from there you can decide how you want to tackle working on them. Whether with a calendar, sticky-notes or other organizational tools, it’s never too late to get organized!

Featured image by Alyssa Lindblom 

Campus Art You Ignore Every Day

With classes back in person, it’s likely that you pass by the many art installations here on campus. Many of us have seen these works, but never stop to learn their name or artists. This is your chance to appreciate the art you ignore every day.

Public art is something we often take for granted. The UT campus is littered with paintings, sculptures and digital pieces that we usually don’t give a second look. The art we ignore every day should be appreciated, so I hope that the small taste I was able to give here inspires you to look a little closer at the pieces you pass on your weekly commutes.