Semester Must Haves

Untitled #12

My First Year Experience and Advice

We always hear about the infamous Freshman 15, at least every single blog, newspaper, magazine and website talks about the “simple and cheap ways” college students can avoid putting on a few extra pounds. Although this information is key, we never hear much about dealing with homesickness or feeling lost while in college.
College- especially your first semester- is for most people, their first real taste of independence. Personally, I had never been away from home for no longer than two weeks and this was due to school trips. I was so excited to go away from school and start my own adventure, but that was until I realized how much I really depended on my family and friends.
I’ve always been a very independent person: I’ve been working every summer since I was 11, I’ve never really had to rely on my parents for help (that much) and growing up in a bustling city, I know how to get by on my own. But when I moved into my dorm and saw my parents drive away, I discovered that I had a very serious case of homesickness. All of my friends know that family is super important to me- I called home everyday, I spent hours talking my mom and sisters, and I always made sure I knew what was going on at home. Even though I talked to my family every single day and made great friends, I still felt empty.
I get irritated very easily, but I found myself becoming so annoyed at the simplest things (once I had a meltdown because I couldn’t find my chemistry notes and I thought I was losing my mind), I was not really interested or engaged in conversations with my friends (they always talked about the same things- boys, boys, and more boys- and it seemed like it would never end), not too mention, the cold weather really dampened my spirits. My relationships with my newfound friends became strained because of our differing priorities: I am a type A, perfectionist workaholic who prefers to work all day whereas some of my friends wanted to party and “live life.”
I didn’t feel a need to explain myself to others whenever I turned down an invitation to a party; in fact, I really don’t think anyone should explain themselves to others. I let my friends know my boundaries and what I would do and what I would not do. Sometimes, I felt like they did not really respect my boundaries and this, along with other issues, culminated in a huge blowout.
Thankfully, by the middle of my second semester-after going home for winter break and hanging out with friends and family- I became more comfortable living away from home. My relationships with some girls in my dorm became stronger, and I now consider them to be some of my greatest friends. I realized that it is absolutely okay to be homesick (once in awhile) and I really appreciated my family even more than I did previously!
After my freshman year of college, I learned four things that I think are invaluable for anyone, no matter your age! Once I realized how important it was to master them, I found that I didn’t feel so homesick or alone any longer.
How to beat homesickness
You would be surprised by how many people in college are homesick! But since we all have different ways of coping, you would think they were perfectly fine and happy. Everyone has their moments of homesickness and wanting to go back home, but these four tips (reaching out, putting yourself first, prioritizing your life and staying busy), are foolproof ways of fighting your freshman year blues.

Fall Fashion for Under $50!

Fall Fashion
One of my favorite stores would have to be Old Navy! They have great quality clothes at affordable prices; my mom calls them “J. Crew’s younger sister!” She has a point, you know. Old Navy sells a lot the same styles as  J. Crew but for a fraction of the cost! That quilted vest you’ve had your eyes on? You could splurge and buy it at J. Crew for $120, OR you could go to Old Navy and get the same exact one for roughly $35. If I do my math correctly, you would save 70% by going to Old Navy (and getting the same exact vest)!
With summer winding down, we have to prepare our minds (and our closets) for the fall and winter. Living in East Coast my entire life has taught me to prepare for fall and winter simultaneously. There’s nothing worse than leaving your house one November morning only to realize that it will be in the low 30s and all you have is a hoodie or a lightweight jacket (trust me, I know how it feels).
Thanks to Old Navy and other stores, I have come up with a list of 10 Fall fashion necessities that everyone should have in their closets (and did I mention they’re all under $50):
  1. Animal Print belts: I normally do not wear belts  with my jeans because I have my trusty go-to pair of Levi’s skinnies that fit me perfectly. However, many of my pants and corduroys call for belts especially since they start to lose their snug fit pretty quickly. I prefer black or brown belts, but when I want to be daring and bold, I’ll choose a fun animal print such as leopard or cheetah. This way, I still have my neutral colors, but in a fun print- two for the price of one!
  2. Chelsea Boots: love Chelsea boots: you can dress them up or down and they are perfect for any outfit. I’ve been looking for a pair for a while now, but these boots from Old Navy might end up in my closet! I don’t like to wear heals during the school day because I’m running all over campus, but these are perfect for days off or even when you have few classes.
  3. Printed tote: If I’m not carrying my gym bag or crossbody bag, chances are I’m carrying one of my many totes. Tote bags are truly a blessing! You can look cute and polished and still carry your entire life without looking like a busy mom or my dad when he’s late for work! This tote strongly resembles a bag I saw at Nordstrom a few weeks ago.
  4. Crewneck Sweaters: A flattering cut and the quintessential layering piece- basically everything you need for fall. I buy most of my sweaters when they go on sale in the summer and  I almost always stock up on crewnecks. You can wear a collared shirt underneath your sweater or just wear it by itself and you will still look put together even though it only took you five minutes to get ready.
  5. Quilted jackets: Jackets are a must have for everyone, but a nicely fitted quilted jacket  should be on the top of everyone’s shopping list! I don’t really need to go in too much detail about the benefits of a great fall jacket, but I think everyone should have one! I ordered my quilted jacket yesterday and it was probably one of the best purchases I’ve made all summer long. 
  6. Leggings: They’re comfy, affordable and you can wear them with (almost) everything. Just make sure your leggings are not thin and your shirt/sweater actually covers your backside! I always stick with black, fleece lined leggings from L.L. Bean, but these leggings from Old Navy are a pretty good deal as well!
  7. Ballet Flats: A closet staple since my elementary school days, ballet flats are comfortable, cute and super easy to wear. Wear them with jeans, leggings, dresses, skirts, shorts (you get the picture)! I love these flats because they remind me of the iconic Chanel Flats; since I don’t have $245, these will have to do for now.
  8. Snug scarves:  Once the temperature drops, a warm scarf can work double duty: it keeps your neck super warm and also adds nice touch to any outfit. Not to mention, scarves are pretty inexpensive and you can buy a nice scarf collection from any store!
  9. Skinny jeans: I mentioned that I can’t live without my Levi skinnies (literally the best pair of jeans known to man), but Old Navy’s Rockstar jeans have a great fit that nearly rivals that of Levis. They come in many colors and prints- they have a leather coated pair that I’m thinking of buying- and they are very affordable ($34 regular price, $19 sale price). Skinny jeans are a classic piece because they go well with everything and are worth the investment! Everyone needs a pair of well fitted jeans these are exactly the ones you should get if you don’t want to break the bank.
  10. Dresses: Dresses are easy to wear and you still look presentable without looking like you actually rolled out of bed. Shifts, fit and flares, A-line, you name it, I probably have them in my closet and I wear them to class throughout the year. Just throw on a sweater, scarf, tights and boots and you can turn your summer dress into the perfect fall ensemble. If you have fitted dresses and a sweater that matches, you can trick people into thinking you’re wearing a skirt and top!

Where do you go for your fall shopping? What’s on your fall wardrobe shopping list?


Dorm Decor

Dorm Decor
Many of you have probably started to move in or maybe started thinking about what you are going to pack! I move into my new apartment in about two weeks- I’ve started buying kitchen appliances, but I haven’t really thought about how I am going to decorate my new room. Like last year, I am going to be living in a double (this time with one of my really good friends), so I have to share a small space.
Last year my dorm was not decorated at all. It was really drab and boring and this partly because I spent so much money on clothes and partly because my room was a) extremely small b) my bed was lofted so I didn’t really have any wall space and c) we had a common area. This year, I am going to have a living room along with a kitchen, two bathrooms and my side of the room, but I really want to decorate and make my room my very own. 
So what’s on my “Dorm Decor Wishlist?”
  1. Window curtains: The presence (or absence) of curtains can really make or break your room. I prefer light, neutral colors because I believe your room should be soothing- not eclectic and all over the place. Make sure you are allowed to bring your own curtains, if not, you can use them as a closet divider or even a changing area (if you’re not comfortable changing in front of your roommate).
  2. Storage containers: Forget plastic bins and tupperware! Welcome to the world of stylish storage containers and mason jars. I love buying storage bins that are made out of fabric- they have really cute ones at Target and Walmart for low prices. I use these bins to hold my extra school supplies, textbooks and even my extra clothes. Mason jars are perfect for food storage: you can put an entire salad (plus dressing) in a mason jar and put in your bag when you go to class and not have to worry about the jar taking up so much space in your tote! You can literally use mason jars for everything and anything- go on Pinterest and you will see a million and one ideas for mason jars (mini aquarium, anyone?)
  3. Jewelry storage: Every girl (and guy) needs a place for their jewelry, makeup and watches. You can get jewelry trays from the Container Store for about $6 or you can get personalized acrylic  jewelry trays online for higher prices. There’s nothing like a classic jewelry box, like the Tiffany Blue one from Kate Spade (don’t worry, you can get cute ones from Target as well)!
  4. Desk lamps: Whether you are pulling an all nighter or you just want some soft light, everyone college student needs a desk lamp. I love this one because it comes with a pencil holder that way you don’t have to go searching for a pen or pencil in your bag.  Not to mention, they are small and easy to pack.
  5. Bedding and carpeting:  Who doesn’t love to jump into bed after a long day? I know I do! Although I’m not the best at making my bed, I always make sure my sheets match (ugh, that’s one of my biggest pet peeves)! Since a lot of my room accessories are neutral aka white and gold, my sheets and rugs usually stick to the same color scheme- if not, I go for a dark purple or navy blue, my two favorite colors.
  6. Calendars and wall art: I need a desk calendar because I never know the date and I don’t have the energy to flip through my agenda first thing in the morning. Barnes and Noble has desk calendars with pictures, paintings and quotes for everyday of the month or year, depending on the type of calendar you get. If you have a daily calendar, you can rip off the pages and create a small art gallery in your room. Or, if you don’t want to do that, you can create an inspiration wall (my mom came up with this). Basically an inspiration board on steroids, you can print out your favorite quotes, places people, or anything else that inspires you! Print them out in different sizes and frame them on your wall. Anytime you feel discouraged, just look at your wall for a small dose of motivation!
  7. Flowers: I know buying fresh flowers everyday is pretty expensive (especially for college students), but having something fresh in your room is not only refreshing but can perk you up a little bit. I’ve always wanted to grow my own flowers, but since I go to school in Boston, that’s a bit far-fetched, especially during the winter. If you’re like me and you love flowers, buy artificial flowers from a local craft store and put them in a pretty vase. They look real, but they’ll never die and you won’t have to water them!


How will you decorate your dorm, room, or apartment? 


Monday Mornings

Monday Mornings
Monday mornings are always rough: after enjoying the weekend, we now have to restart our tiring routines of work, school and constant fatigue. During the summer, especially after I finish work, I enjoy a slower pace. I still wake up early (around 6:30) and I have a small breakfast while watching the news and reading the newspaper.
On Mondays, I usually take a walk around my neighborhood for about 30 minutes. After my walk, I’ll stop by Starbucks or a local coffee shop to read or write (this can be anything- my weekly to-do lists, newspaper articles, thoughts, blog post drafts, etc.)
I love to dress up and make sure I look presentable before I leave my house, but I’m not one for over the top, extravagant outfits (I’m just going down the street!) A simple shift dress, a pair of flats, minimal accessories (my class ring, my initial pendant and gold watch) and a tote bag filled to the brim- with the necessities, of course- is what I call the perfect “Monday Morning Outfit.”
What’s your go to Monday Morning outfit? Simple and sleek, bold and daring, or classic and chic? 

Menu Planning for College Students

Hello Readers!

I am getting ready to go back to school very soon (I have many mixed feelings about that!) I move into my on-campus apartment on August 31st, which is later than a lot of my friends who have to go back mid-August. At my university, upperclass students have the option of living in apartment style housing. I am going to live in a six person apartment with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a common area and a small kitchen! Last year, I lived in a five person suite with a bathroom, so although I never had to share a bathroom with my entire floor, I still had to walk to the dining hall for each of my meals (although I had the occasional pizza delivery and trips to local restaurants).

Since I have my own kitchen, I will not have a traditional meal plan; instead, I have a profiler plan- basically I have a bunch of meals (50) that will never expire until next August. Since I have 50 “backup” meals to use throughout the year, I will have cook almost all of my meals!

In the midst of unpacking, registration, classes, reuniting with friends and more, I will not have much time to think of meals every single day.  After a long day of classes, work and homework, the last thing I want to do is spend fifteen minutes deciding what to eat and another 45 minutes grocery shopping and looking for food in my kitchen.

So what’s my solution? 

I started to make a  meal calendar for the entire first semester-September through the first two weeks of December- so far, I have finished September’s meal plan. Each calendar lists out my meals-breakfast, lunch and dinner- as well as recipes for each of my meals, although for some of my meals, I don’t really need a recipe (I’m looking at you, cheese and tomato panini). I include the recipes along with the meals so that I can have portion control and minimize the amount of food (and money) I waste. Most, if not all, of my meals are one serving meals and are very filling, so I don’t have to worry about going hungry.

I use Google Calendar for planning my meals, which is perfect because I can color code (blue is breakfast, green is lunch and pink is dinner) and I’ll always have my menu wherever I go! At first, when I started meal planning, I wanted to make sure that I did not frequently repeat meals (one thing I will NOT miss about the dining hall) and I wanted to have really tasty food that did not cost a fortune to prepare.  After a while of creating meals, I got the hang of it, and now I have new ideas for meals just popping out of my head!

This is just a plan, my meals may change throughout the week: clubs might have free dinner, my boss will most likely give me and my co-workers a free lunch, I might have to stop by the dining hall, or I might decide to treat myself  by buying lunch. In that case, I can skip that meal and write a small note to myself (problem fixed)!

Here’s a sample of my meal plan; click on September to see what I will be cooking in my new dorm!

Do any of you plan your meals? If you have any menu suggestions or any tips, comment below!