Tag Archives: student life

Long Time No See! 5 Creative Ways to Stay in Touch with Long Distance Friends

Let’s face it. When you came to college, you promised all of your besties that you would keep in touch with them no matter what. You made this promise despite the fact that you’re going to be 858.9 miles away, homework and exams and meetings are going to consume your day, and you’re going to want to spend as much time as possible with that new girl you just met on your hall.

It’s a lot harder to keep in touch with old friends than we initially think, and turns out we’re really good at forgetting to text people back (like really good). And that’s okay! It’s natural, maybe even expected, for friends to go through periods of limited communication. Even if y’all survived freshman year talking weekly, sophomore year presents a whole new set of unforeseen challenges. 

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But no need to fear! In the age of technology, there are so many ways to stay together even when you’re apart. 

So without further ado, here are 5 creative ways to stay in touch with that long-distance friend.

1. Host a Houseparty 

No, not an actual house party. Houseparty is an app that allows you to video-call multiple people at once. This idea is perfect for keeping up with your friend group that ended up scattered across the country. Trust me, I know how hard it is to coordinate a group Facetime with more than 3 people, but the app offers a loophole. You and your friends just need to download the app, add each other as friends, and you’re set! Whenever you have a spare moment, maybe while getting ready to go out, just open the app and it will notify your friends that you’re free to chat! If they get the notification that you’re “In the house”, they can just click on it and join you for an impromptu catch-up session.

2. Snail Mail

While it can make you feel like you’re stuck in the 19th century, snail mail can actually be a great way to stay in-the-know without being updated in real-time. Writing an old-fashioned letter to a friend, telling them about the past couple of weeks and the boy you’ve been talking to, is not only effective but also therapeutic. Plus, think about all the cute letters you’ll get back from your bestie! Put them in a shoe-box for keepsakes and you can look back on them later (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before energy, amiright).

3. Forgetful? Set Reminders!

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I am the most forgetful person I know. It’s honestly shocking that I’ve made it this far in life, so when it comes to remembering to check in on that one friend, I struggle hard. One of the simplest solutions is to set a reminder on your phone! Just go into the reminders app on your phone (this is assuming you have an iPhone… if you don’t, I’m sure there’s an app to download and also I’m judging you), set a reminder to “TEXT LINDSEY”, and tell it to repeat every two weeks!

4. Lists on lists on lists

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If you’re anything like me, you love making to do lists and grocery lists and wishlists. But one of my favorite lists is the one where I write down all of the stories I want to tell my best friend on our next skype call. Although we don’t get to talk too frequently, when we do have an opportunity to Skype, I remember to tell her about that time when I lost my phone in the middle of campus at midnight riding home on a Lime scooter. 

5. Slideshow Presentation

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This is something I saw on twitter and honestly I am dying to try it. Basically the idea is, if you don’t have the chance to stay in touch during the semester, when you’re home for break you make a slideshow to recap the past few months away from each other! You can put all of the crazy snapchats you took during the semester on there and then host a sleepover where all of your besties show off their slides. It’s like a review session but for each other’s lives!

These are just a couple of my favorite ways to stay in touch with my closest friends from high school. If you’re reading this and realize you haven’t talked to your friend in months, just remember it’s never too late to shoot off a quick text and reach across the distance once again.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Espresso Drinks

An espresso machine hums behind the sounds of chatter and clicking keyboards. The smell of coffee lies heavy in the air, while people sip beverages and twirl spoons. People mutter words like “macchiato,” “americano” and “cappuccino” to cashiers behind counters. 

Coffee shops can be the ideal location for many events. Maybe you have a big test that you need to study for, or you’re meeting up with a new friend for the first time. A coffee shop is the perfect place to go, because it can be casual, cozy and relaxing. However, if you have only ever consumed coffee at Starbucks, local coffee shop’s menus can seem confusing. 

Although coffee jargon might seem advanced, coffee orders are simpler than they sound. Here are some basic espresso drinks that will help you find your dream caffeine.

1. Lattes

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A latte is a deliciously common drink because it is customizable to your likings. At its core, a latte is 1 part espresso and 3 parts steamed milk with milk foam on top. 

 Beyond that, a latte can take many forms. You can order an artistic hot latte with a poured design, or a refreshing latte over ice. You can also alter your milk preference. Most lattes are made with whole milk, but feel free to ask for a non-dairy substitute like almond or soy milk.

 If you prefer your coffee sweet, add pumps of flavored syrup to your drink. Some flavors include, vanilla, caramel and hazelnut, but be sure to ask the barista what syrups they keep in their store.

2. Mocha

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A mocha is very similar to a latte, because they share the same milk to espresso ratio. However, mochas are much richer. A mocha has an added chocolate powder or syrup, blending together hot chocolate and coffee for a cozy drink of your dreams. 

Mochas can also be altered in their milk contents, temperature and  sweetness. If you are already a fan of mochas, try making your order a little more festive with a pump of peppermint, cinnamon dolce, or pumpkin spice.

3. Cappuccino

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Cappuccinos are great for people who enjoy the natural taste of espresso, but still want the richness of cream inside of  their coffee. A cappuccino is 1 part espresso and 2 parts milk with foam at the top, making it a little lighter than a latte. 

It is not very common to add syrup to cappuccinos, but mixing the drink with a cube of brown sugar makes the perfect blend of sweet to bitter, and thin to creamy. 

4. Macchiato

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Unlike a latte or a cappuccino, macchiatos don’t have any milk foam. A macchiato is 2 parts espresso and 1 part steamed milk. This drink is perfect for people who want a drink even lighter than a cappuccino but richer than an americano. 

This is a great drink to pair with a slightly sweeter cookie, danish or scone, for the perfect afternoon snack.

5. Americano

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An americano is a drink for the brave and bold. An americano doesn’t bother with cream or sugar, but rather relies on the rich flavor profile of the espresso itself. An americano is composed of espresso and hot water only, and the ratio is dependent on your order. Some people prefer a stronger coffee taste and will order a double shot of espresso, while others will order a single shot. 

This guide to espresso drinks is just a start to the endless amounts of coffee combinations available to you. Don’t be afraid to ask your barista for recommendations or try something new on a whim.

The next time you’re ordering at a coffee shop, remember to stay calm, stay creative and most importantly, stay caffeinated.

Featured image by Jesus Angel.

How To Make Your Space Feel More Like Home

Living in Austin is exciting. The city continuously hums with the sound of traffic and conversations, as thousands of people shuffle around one another on their way to classes and work. The movement is constant and there are always things to do, tasks to complete, and places to travel. What we often forget is that the hustle and bustle of it all can be just as thrilling as it can be exhausting.

Most individuals return to their tiny spaces seeking relaxation and debriefing from their tiresome days. Unfortunately for us college students, even our homes can be carriers of stress and exhaustion. They are reminders of the laundry we are too busy to wash, the groceries we forgot to buy, and the desks we need to unscramble with all of our assignments and readings. Inhabiting a messy home leads to a lack of productivity, and it can be overwhelming even when you do finally attempt to clean. If you can relate to any of these struggles, continue reading to learn simple ways to keep your space as clean and comfortable as possible.

Separate Work & Play

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Late nighters and crashing for an exam are often done in the comfort of our own home. There, we sit in our beds with our laptops in our noses and our books at our feet. While completing school work in your comfortable bed might seem like the best idea to engender your productivity, it might just do the opposite. Doing homework in your bed can without a doubt make you feel drowsy, lazy, and possible allow for too many phone breaks to check instagram and snapchat. This is because your bed is associated with relaxation, something that makes concentrating on homework very hard. If you were to shift your late night cramming over to your desk, you would quickly realize that you are much more motivated to finish the work so that you can earn some much needed rest. In general, your home should be associated with an escape from the stressful events during the day. Making an effort to keep the most comfortable and relaxing places of your house for debriefing only will provide you with a stress free zone to let loose.

Personalize Your Space

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As college students it can be hard to for the space you’re living in to feel like home. From horrendous roommates to tiny closets, there are a million things that make living arrangement uncomfortable. Although some of these events are unavoidable, creating a space that you love to be in can ease the burden off of your shoulders. The best way to create your own space is to surround yourself with all of the things that make your life feel full and happy. A great way to start is by hanging up pictures of you and your friends making your favorite memories, or displaying all of the sweet notes you’ve received from loved ones. Pin your favorite quotes, song lyrics, or life mottos to a bulletin board as daily dose of positivity and warmth. Hang up fairy lights, buy soft and warm blankets, and make your room feel like a sanctuary. Find simple and unique ways to turn the blank walls and stiff bedding into a space that you want to live in. Odds are the more thought and energy you place into decorating your space, the more you will strive to take care of it and keep it clean. A personalized room can make returning home more enjoyable, rewarding, and productive.

Keep Up to Date & Stay Organized

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The biggest contributor to a messy space, schedule and life is lack of organization. It’s a never ending cycle of feeling unprepared and stressed for the day that leads up to a clutter of clothes on the floor, a pile of dishes in the sink. The less we keep up with our mess the more time we need to clean it. Being proactive about the events on your schedule can lead to a more clear head and room. Invest in a desk calendar where you can write the dates of due homework assignments, tests, and social events. Also, consider adding a to-do list to your wall of thing that need to get done throughout the week to ensure that you don’t forget about the minuscule tasks that often get swept under the rug. It is always a good idea to use multiple calendars and reminders to help you stay on schedule. Making organizational space in your room can lead to a more productive and thoughtful outlook on your week.

Don’t Over Clutter

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The worst space to come back to is a place full of impractical and useless items. Although the snow-globe collection you have had since you were twelve is sentimental and belongs in your room, finding enough  space for every single one of them and for it to not become cluttered is difficult. This can encourage a messy room from the start, because when it is filled it to the brim there is no space to accumulate new things to bring you joy. A simple way to start decluttering is to go through all of your things and donate the clothes that you’ve outgrown or items that you don’t have the space for anymore. Not only is this beneficial for others who can find use out of your unused items, but it will help simplify your space and make organization seem more manageable than ever. Being intentional about the items that are in your space can make your home more meaningful, overall increasing your productivity and ability to relax inside of it.

Display Your Passions

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Burnout is a common issue college students feel throughout the semester. With so many hours lost to studying in the PCL and tests constantly appearing on your radar it is easy to feel overwhelmed and like the work you’re doing is meaningless. This is when you lose sight of the bigger picture and you no longer remember why you started or what goal you’re working towards. A great way to avoid burnout is to turn your home into a space that reflects your dreams and motivators in life. Display a vision board of the careers you hope to pursue, the places you want to travel, and the people that are helping you get there. Understanding the endless amounts of opportunity and possibilities ahead of you will push you work hard and never limit yourself. Your space will transform from a living space, to a home where you envision your future and productively work towards it.

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How to Keep a Positive Mindset in the Face of Stress

If you’re like me, not only are you a full time student, but you’re also juggling a job, being involved in organizations, homework, creative projects and somehow finding the time to have some iota of a social life. College, really just life in general, is rough and the stigma around mental health makes it all the more difficult to face. In case you’re unfamiliar with the topic, mental health is somewhat taboo in most social situations so people tend to put it on the back-burner.

To quote the words of a popular Vine, “That is not correct”. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, if not more so. We all have issues that we’re doing our best to conquer on our own. (And you go, queen, you’re doing great.) But just in case you think you need some advice or help from someone who is struggling through the same thing, here are some tips that help me to get through those especially rough days.

Make a list; of things that matter and things that don’t, of things you’re thankful for, of things you know you want to change.

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I know it sounds cheesy. But I did this my freshman year, when I was feeling especially overwhelmed for the first time and it helped me to take a deep breath, both mentally and physically. I made a list of all the good things in my life and all the things that weren’t going too well for me. Then I went through the latter list and wrote out why they weren’t important or how I could make those things better. This could go downhill very quickly so be sure to pay more attention to the happier list and not put too much importance on the troublesome list. Or, better yet, only make a happy list. I’m personally more of a realist so I like to consider both sides but if you’d rather look at the optimistic side of things, you do you, boo.

Take some time for yourself

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It’s hard to get away from responsibilities. For some people, i.e. me, it’s hard to say no when people ask you to do things so you end up with too many rolls on your metaphorical plate. However, it’s important to take care of yourself as well as others. Take some time out of the day, or at the very least once a week, to do something for yourself. It could be as simple as taking a break from homework to having a bubble bath and reading your favorite book while a face mask soaks your skin with all kinds of moisturizers. Is it obvious which one I’m fantasizing about more?

Surround yourself with things you love

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Because so much time out of the day is dedicated to schoolwork/things we have to do, I think surrounding yourself with things you love when you can becomes even more important. By this, I mean that you should find things that bring you more joy than anything else. If you’re stuck in an organization that only stresses you out, maybe it’s time to find another place to spend your time. If you’re in a relationship that doesn’t make you happy, maybe it’s time to move on. And this doesn’t have to involve people; in fact, sometimes the things you’re surrounding yourself with aren’t people at all. If you want to go to your room, close the door and read books for hours on end, then that’s what you need to do. Not wanting to be around people is completely normal and is something I find myself wanting often. Although, it is important to note that you should be careful not to push away people that care about you. There are ways to be alone that don’t hurt those who want to spend time with you. It’s all about communication and letting them know that it’s not them, it’s you. Unless you’re breaking up with someone…then you should never use that line.

Exercise, exercise, exercise

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Trust and believe that I know how awful this sounds. I hardly have time to exercise, let alone want to. My mom always told me to do this in high school and I blew her off due to the simple fact that I didn’t want to. However, now it’s one of the most effective strategies I use to battle anxiety and stress. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise and other physical activities reduce fatigue, improve alertness and concentration, and enhance overall cognitive function. It doesn’t even have to be as time consuming as going to the gym; meditation, going for a walk, even just taking a really deep breath is enough to release those sweet, sweet endorphins. One of my best friends does yoga right after she wakes up and she swears by it. It’s not about having the time but about making the time.

*My Chemical Romance voice* Sing it for the boys, sing it for the girls…

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SINGING! Jamming is the best form of self-healing. Unfortunately, I don’t have any reliable statistics to back up this theory. But I have years and years of personal experience that I could share, if you cared enough to ask. Blasting your favorite songs and belting out the lyrics either in the car, with your friends, or whilst performing in the shower is one of the easiest and most fun ways to occupy your time and your mind. Or, if you ever need a good cry, create a sad playlist (or you can use mine) and cry out every failed test, dead pet and broken heart you’ve ever had. You’ll feel much better afterwards. My roommates think I’m crazy for suggesting it but it’s therapeutic to me.

Find some time to get sh*t done

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It sounds simple but it’s really not. We get overwhelmed and flustered and then, next thing we know, our eyes burst open at 2 o’clock in the morning because we forgot about that essay that’s due tomorrow. So, find some time in the day to sit down and feel productive. It can be as easy as sitting in the Union and cracking out a few emails or writing your thesis for that paper you’re dreading. Hopefully this will make you feel more confident in your work and inspire you to continue your progress when you get home. But, if not, it’s a way to justify binging Game of Thrones when you should be working on homework.

Watch your favorite movie/tv show

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I’m a film major so I’m fairly biased when it comes to this. However, transparency aside, it’s hard to overthink when you’re not thinking about anything at all. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, sit down, put on your favorite movie and let the actors take you away. My particular favorite is when you decide to watch a movie from your childhood. That’s when the nostalgia hits you in the gut. But it’s a love punch so it doesn’t hurt.

Find healthier outlets that don’t involve mind-altering substances

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You know the saying: say nope to dope. This is definitely not to shame anyone who decides to partake but if you’re dealing with stress or anxiety, it’s really not a good idea. A popular myth is that some drugs, such as marijuana and alcohol, help you to forget about your problems and just make you feel g o o d. The truth of the matter is that these things can make you feel better for a short period of time but in the end, you just feel worse than before you started. It may be tempting but it’s always better to just say nay. Instead, have a talk with some friends or try any of the other tips on the list before resorting to this option.

Write

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Again, I have no statistic to back this up and this is completely a subjective opinion because I personally use the title of “writer” to describe myself. However, there is a reason that every cheesy teen pic has a character that keeps a diary. Writing out your feelings helps you to sort out your inner workings. Not to mention, writing is fun. Keep a daily journal, either by writing or typing, and chronicle your day in the life. You can write about anything you want, from what you had for breakfast to which professor you have a crush on this semester. What better person to vent to besides yourself?

Find a puppy. Or a cat. Or a giant lizard.

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Finally, there is my personal favorite: PUPPIES! If you’re like me, you had to leave your dogs back at home and from time to time, you go through dog withdrawal while at school. The easiest cure for this is to find a pup to love on in their absence. You could find a family member or friend to dog sit for or you could even volunteer at a local shelter, if you have the time. Regardless, it’s hard to be upset when you’re loving on a cuddly mammal. Dogs are support animals for a reason. Of course, not everyone is a dog person. This is also applicable to cats, birds, hamsters and, if you’re like my roommate, giant lizards. Animals are almost always better company than people anyway.

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As much as I want them to be, none of this advice is foolproof. Life is hard and sometimes it takes more than advice from a 20-year-old to help you feel better. Please, check out these links if you’re going through a rough time and are in need of professional help. Remember: you are not alone and you are loved. You’re doing the best you can.

Suicide Prevention Hotline

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Institute of Mental Health

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

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How to be Cute and Cruelty-Free In College

As college students, we tend to lose sight of shopping ethically in favor of buying what’s cheap and convenient – especially in terms of fashion. However, as much as we love saving money, it’s important to remember those affected by our purchases, and that’s not always limited to people. The animals we love can be hurt by major fashion brands, too. According to PETA, many animals that we hold dear to our hearts are being exploited by the international fur trade. This ranges from birds, cows, and rabbits, to snakes, cats, and dogs.

So, how does a broke college student go about buying clothes, makeup, and accessories even Bevo would approve of? By shopping vegan, of course! While the word vegan scares some people, it’s important to note that vegan just means something free of animal products.  However, not everyone has the time to research what they’re buying – so here’s a list of affordable brands to amp up your look while you’re here at the Forty Acres.

H&M

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H&M has made its mark as one of the few retailers to move towards sustainable fashion and beauty. None of their cosmetics are tested on animals, and they refuse to sell real fur. While the company does sell some leather products, they also have many faux leather alternatives that are just as cute. There isn’t an H&M near campus, but they offer free shipping for purchases over $40, and only charge $3.99 for anything below.

If you’re not interested in online shopping, the nearest H&M is located in The Domain at 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Austin, TX 78758.

Forever 21

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Like H&M, Forever 21 is another brand that has promised never to sell real fur. They offer an extensive variety of faux leather products; from jackets and skirts, to shoes, belts, and handbags. Forever 21 is one of the more affordable clothing brands on this list, but prices depend upon on the quality and complexity of the materials being purchased from this store.

Forever 21 is great for online shopping and offers delivery services, but it is also located in The Domain at 3409 Esperanza Crossing #110, Austin, TX 78758.

Target

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Unlike H&M and Forever 21, Target can be found on campus off of Guadalupe – also known as “the drag” in the longhorn community. They offer many leather and wool-alternatives, though the selection may be limited due to the small size of this location. Vegan fashions would be easily accessible here due to the proximity of this store to campus, eliminating extra shipping costs you might be met with during online shopping.

This Target is located at 2025 Guadalupe St. Ste 01-100, Austin, TX 78705.

Patagonia

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There’s not a Patagonia store near campus, but Patagonia merchandise is sold in the Tyler’s store off of Guadalupe Street. This brand uses more conventional materials to create their products, such as hemp and recycled cotton, but they also have wool-alternatives such as PrimaLoft® to insulate their parkas.  They also reduce their consumption of wool materials by using recycled wool in many of their products. This is a great brand to help you keep warm this winter, but it is more costly than the other brands.

Patagonia products can be found at the Tyler’s store at 2338 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705.

Pacifica

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Pacifica is a brand that specializes in skincare and makeup that prides itself on being 100% vegan and cruelty-free. Their products are formulated around natural ingredients and fragrances, as opposed to harsh chemicals, and the same can be said for their makeup. However, because of their ingredient choices and product formulation, some of their makeup is not as full-coverage as conventional brands.

Pacifica products can be purchased online, or in person at the Target on Guadalupe.

e.l.f. Cosmetics

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e.l.f.  specializes in makeup, and beyond that, they ensure their makeup brushes and tools are vegan. A lot of their makeup products not only benefit your look, but your skin, too; most formulations include vitamins meant to restore and refresh your skin, unlike other beauty products. Also, e.l.f. is a very affordable  for the college student on a budget.

e.l.f. products, like Pacifica, can also be purchased at Target on Guadalupe.

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