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In College on
September 25, 2014

Back To School Essentials

This week marks the first official week of Fall!
Fall is my favorite season, especially because I get to partake in my favorite past-time: Back To School Shopping!
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I took a few weeks off to sort out my life and now I’m settled in for my last year of college. But now I’m back! I gave the blog layout a little refresher while I was gone too! Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

I know that mostly everyone has been back to school for a few weeks now, but if I’m honest with you… I back-to-school shop for the entire month of September. Seriously, I’m always the poorest in September because I’m buying tons of stuff to fill my desk and my dorm room. So let’s just pretend like you all are just like me for a moment and you’re all still shopping too. 😀

 
Shall we?
 
Here we go!
 
Here are some of the Back To School items that I just can’t live without this year.
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1. Agenda
My school used to give out agendas for free, but after my sophomore year, they decided to be more efficient and sustainable and sacked the whole idea. (Apparently people weren’t using them.) So for the last two years I’ve shelled out the extra cash to get this Lily Pulitzer agenda. Did I really need to spend $30 on an agenda book? No. There are plenty more affordable options. Like this one here, here and here. I just love that it’s so colorful. It makes me actually write down the work that I have to get done (Me actually doing it is another story…. #senioritis.)
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2. Travel Tumbler
I love love love coffee. Especially iced coffee. I don’t drink it much in the summer time, but come the first day of class, it’s as second nature to me as the blood running through my veins. It’s a habit that I’ve been trying to kick; I’ve been trying to get into drinking Iced Chai’s more often. One thing that I absolutely hate about drinking coffee: when your plastic container sweats all over your hands. It instantly ruins my mood. I grabbed this coffee tumbler from TJ Maxx for $3!!!!!! 
 
*insert angels singing here* 
 
Yes, you read that right. Three. Dollars. What is life?
This has been a lifesaver! It’s reusable. (So sustainable and environmentally friendly. Think of all the plastic you’re saving from going into the ocean.) Dishwasher safe. (Not that I have one at school, but very important for some people.) Plus, my favorite on campus coffee shop gives you a discount when you bring your own cup. I carry this baby around with me to class filled high with my coffee (or Chai) and sip away. The best part – it doesn’t sweat all over your hands because it has a double layer. Win for you. Win for the environment. Win for all.
*not pictured: my tumbler for hot drinks, but it promise, it’s equally as cute.
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3. Water bottle
Ok. Let me be honest with you here. I wish that I used this water bottle a lot more often than I actually do, but that’s just not the case. First of all, I don’t have a water filter in my room, so I grab a plastic bottle from my fridge and pour it in. I know, I know… it defeats the purpose, but hey, you win some you lose some. This water bottle was a gift from the Rec Center at my school for winning a competition during training. I have a larger Nalgene brand one that I bring with me when I teach Zumba classes (because it fits twice as much water in it, but it’s too bulky for me to want to lug around to class.)
 
4. Laptop cover
I used to have a plastic-y silicone laptop cover case (you know what I’m talking about, literally everyone has them to cover their Macs.) I had one in purple and when that one cracked I got another one in turquoise. But I found that they collect way too much dust and grime – especially when the majority of my time using my laptop is spent in bed with Netflix and Cheez-Its. (I’m telling you, when I took off the case there were lint balls from my fuzzy blanket and orange crumbs everywhere.) I wasn’t going to change my Netflix-ing ways so I just changed the laptop cover. This laptop skin is so cute, I always get compliments on it. Plus my laptop feels 10 lbs lighter – much better for when I have to bring it to class.
 
I bought mine online, but you can google search Marble Laptop Decal and find one for you too!
That empty space on top of my pink CD case is where I usually leave my Canon camera (which I was using to take these pictures!) Any one have any suggestions on a way to hide those charging cords? Comment below!

 

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5. Laptop Case
I did a Google search for “cute envelope macbook pro case.” This one showed up. I fell in love. Bonus point: it comes with the CUTEST charging cord carrier. It was a match made in heaven.
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6. Cute Desk Accessories
My desk is where I get a lot of stuff done. My homework, my “job” work, my to do lists, my blogging, my writing…. Sometimes it’s just more fun to be surrounded by things that inspire you. I put a lot of thought into each desk accessory. My stiletto heel tape dispenser was a gift from my coworkers Kyle and Katelyn (Thank you, girls!!); black floral frame is from TJ Maxx. I’m not sure what to put in the frame yet… maybe an inspirational quote or a picture of my family. Something to make me smile while I burn the midnight oil. 

 

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A lot of the stuff on my desk has been accumulated from the last three years of school. If I could start over, I would totally try and get everything in acrylic or black for a really minimalistic look. But I love what I have so far. It’s a great reflection of how my style has evolved.
I hope you were able to find something to inspire your next shopping trip! What are some of your back to school essentials?

 
In College, Life on
June 23, 2014

Keep Your Head Up, Buttercup!

I recently started summer internship as a Communications Intern for a non-profit organization in Boston. I was so excited to start, but the road to get here was not an easy one.
 

When you finally find your passion, you want to jump in with both feet. When I figured out that I wanted to work in public relations last summer, I was so excited to get started with an internship in the field to get more industry experience and grow professionally.
 
 
I started applying for internships back in early February. At first, I only applied to handful, but when mid-March rolled around and I still hadn’t heard back from anyone, I went into overdrive. I was so excited and passionate about wanting to get a start in PR, that I applied to a lot more internships. And when I say a lot… I mean nearly 50. I did everything that I could think of: I visited a friend who works in the career center at school and tweaked my resume over 7 times. I wrote a million and one cover letters highlighting my different skills and capabilities and why I would be a great addition to their companies. I networked every chance I could. I read articles on how to land an internship. I met with my professors and advisers to get advice. Still nothing. My friends were starting to think I was crazy because it was all that I talked about. I started thinking it was me… maybe I wasn’t qualified to do this type of work.
 
Eventually, the rejections and the “Thank you for your interest, but we have filled this position” emails started to come in, but at that point I’d still only only heard back from less than 1/5 of the companies and organizations that I applied to.
 
By April, the semester was almost ending and everyone had heard back about what internship they would be working with that summer… except for me. To say I was feeling discouraged would be an understatement! I won’t lie and say that I didn’t cry about it, because many tears we’re shed. I almost wanted to quit and take the easy way out and work a paying job that was completely irrelevant to the career path that I want for myself after college. But I didn’t.
 
 
You already know the ending to this story… The first week of May as I was gearing up for finals, I finally heard back from someone. I came in for an interview as soon as I was home from school, and a a week later I got the email: I was accepted for the position. It wasn’t everything that I’d hoped and dreamed for, but it was a start. It was a chance for me to get my foot in the door and to work on something that I was passionate about, hone in on my skills and make a name for myself.
 
Why am I telling you all of this? Well, there is a moral to this story, and it is this: The road to success is not an easy one. You will struggle. You will trip and fall and get all scraped up. But if you are fighting for something that you truly want, don’t you ever give up. I could have easily thrown in the towel so many times. I’d have random opportunities come up and I’d think that I would finally be getting my break, only to have something not follow through. If I’d given up then, I wouldn’t be wear I am now. I may not be at the top yet, but I am slowly but surely making my way there.
 
boston view buildings
The view from my office!
downtown boston
The view from my office, part two!
 
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Me with my org in downtown Boston getting ready to register new US citizens to vote as part of my internship!
 
No matter how hard it gets, no matter how tired you are, and no matter who tells you no, your dreams are always worth fighting for. Keep your head up, and keep on pressing on.
 
 
In College, Life on
April 29, 2014

Surviving Finals Week 101

I’m currently in my third year of college, so you would think that I have taking finals and exams down to a science. Well, your wrong.

You see, I suffer from a disorder called Chronic Procrastination. Whenever I have something that’s due (homework, an exam to study for, etc.) I always find a way to occupy my time with other things. Suddenly I have to clean my room, reorganize my wardrobe, paint my nails, watch an entire series on Netflix, read five books, take three naps… you name it. I’ll avoid getting any real school work done until the last minute, and then I’m rushing, stressed, and overwhelmed.
And let me tell you, Stressed Chekara is not the friendliest person to be around…
The other day a good friend of mine totally called me out on this. (What are friends for, if not to tell you how it really is.) She said that I’m great at giving advice about this stuff, but not so great at taking my own advice.
I’ll have to say that this year it was my New Year’s Resolution to stop with the procrastination and I’ve been making baby steps toward accomplishing that goal. Remember: “Rome was not built in a day!” I’ll get there eventually, but for now I’ll just be happy with my small accomplishments and continue taking it one step at a time.
Here are some tips that I came up with for surviving finals week. 

BEFORE EXAM WEEK
Know where you stand in the course.


My friend Gabii made a joke the other day: “You know it’s the end of the semester when you become a math wizard at calculating your final grade in you classes.” I’ll have to admit, I got a little knee-slapper out of that one hehe. This is definitely something that I have been guilty of.But it’s not necessarily a bad thing! Knowing what your final grade in your classes will be gives you an opportunity to seek extra help before classes end to get that extra push and lets your know where you should allocate your time for your other classes.

I think that knowing where I stand in a class helps me budget my studying time wisely. I know that I struggle with math, so I will be spending the next three days before the final studying every chance I get. I know that I’m doing awesome in my political science class, so I’ll probably devote only a few hours to reviewing the study guide.

Get Help Early


Speaking of math, that is definitely one of the hardest classes that I am taking this semester. That being said, since I knew ahead of time that I would likely be having a hard time, I knew that the Help Center was where I would be spending a majority of my time.
Get help for your classes as early as you can to beat the finals rush. Meet with your Professors, TAs, Help Centers etc. They’re all paid/volunteer their time just to help you. This is something that I definitely wish that I had taken advantage of my freshmen and sophomore years. I was too nervous to go speak with my TAs or my professors because I didn’t want to seem dumb or be annoying. Part of it was also because I felt somewhat intimidated being in such large classes. I wish I had the confidence level that I do now. Seriously, if I’m in lecture and I don’t understand a topic, at the end of class I will walk right up to the professor and make a time to meet so that they can explain it again. It has helped me tremendously this semester.

 

Take it from me and learn from my mistakes. These people are there for you and they all want you to succeed. So nag them all you want, send them 50 million e-mails and ask them lots of questions. It’s better to say that you tried and failed then that you didn’t try at all. Your GPA will thank you 😉

DURING EXAM WEEK
Study Time 

I believe there are several important things that determine a good study session:

Time of Day

It took me two and a half years in college to figure it out, but I just discovered that I am a morning person! (Shocking, I know…) But for some odd reason, it seems that I work best and accomplish more in the wee early hours of the day. I would rather wake up at 5 am and study for an exam as opposed to staying up all night. Of course not everyone is like this. Maybe you like the idea of staying up all night to study, that’s cool too. It’s always helpful to know what works best for you so that you can maximize your productivity.

Location

In my case, it always depends on what I’m studying for. One thing for sure about me: I cannot study in my bed. I will fall asleep instantly no matter the time of day, no matter if I’m tired or not. Studying in my bed always ends in a disaster for me. So during exam times I avoid my bed like the plague. I’ll study at my desk, in a lounge, at the library, or at the Barnes and Nobles near my school.

Individual vs. Group Study

I’ll have to admit that I quite enjoy studying by myself most of the time. However sometimes it helps to have a friend who will go over flashcards with you or help you do out math problems. Personally, I can’t study in groups of more that 3 people. It just gets too distracting for me and I get lost in all the side conversations!

Do you like studying in groups? One tip that can help you next semester is to form a study group with some students from your class early on. Get together and go over the study guide and the material. This is a good way to bounce ideas off each other as well.

Do you like studying by yourself? Find a nice quiet place to clear your mind and get some work done.

 

Noise Level/Distractions

I can’t listen to music with lyrics when I study. I just get way too into the song and end up accomplishing zip. (AKA, I become the artist and my desk becomes my stage: concert time…)

For the longest time I would just study in silence but when I would work in the library I would get distracted by the conversations of the students around me. So I came up with a solution! I recently discovered the Classical Music for Studying Pandora Station. Having the music playing is helpful to drown out the sounds around you. Plus the classical music part of it makes me feel smart while I’m studying hehe.

I always get very distracted by technology. My phone beeps while I’m writing a paper and suddenly I’m responding to texts, and scrolling through Instagram and Twitter for the next two hours instead of doing actual work. Oops. To help with this, I put my iPhone on Do Not Disturb when I know that I’m doing something really important. For my computer, I downloaded the SelfControlApp. This lets me block distracting websites while I’m doing things like writing a paper. Basically I have to block everything but Google… I might as well just shut down my wifi… but so far it’s helped me a lot. Give it a try!

 

THINGS THAT YOU FORGET TO DO DURING FINALS WEEK THAT ARE ACTUALLY HELPFUL

 

Sleep 

False Myth: Finals week? Sleep? Impossible.

But the truth is, if you don’t sleep you will die. (Slight exaggeration) As wonderful as staying up for 72 hours straight to study for your hardest exam sounds, after a while with no sleep you no longer retain any of the things your are studying. Your body needs time to refresh and rejuvenate. If you have to be up for long periods of time, take a few naps throughout the day and get some rest! A 20 – 30 minute nap can help with your alertness!

 

Eat

 

Finals Myth: I don’t have time to cook or eat healthy so I’m just not going to eat or only eat fast food.

Do you ever get so busy studying that you forget to eat or skip meals? This is not only bad for your metabolism, but also for your health! If you know ahead of time that you are going to be studying for a long time, stay stocked up on a few snacks so you don’t forget to eat something.

Do you ever hear people say that they’re so busy during finals week that they’re just going to pig out? I know I’ve heard it and I’ve been guilty of saying it… Try to avoid eating lots of unhealthy and heavily processed foods if you can. These foods have a tendency to make you feel more sluggish after eating them and you’ll need all your energy to study! Snacks like fruit and veggies are good options! Try something high in protein like peanut butter and apples. Healthy and yummy so its a win-win! Please note that this doesn’t mean you should have to eat like a rabbit during finals week. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are great for your brain function. Make sure to fill up on those types of foods! And if you wanna eat that cheeseburger, go for it! Just so long as you’re having well balanced meals throughout the day.

Shower


Finals Myth: I’m too busy studying and working, I don’t have to time to take a shower.

You, my friend are suffering from the Finals Funk. This one is for you… Taking a shower may seem like a chore that you can just skip over for a day to clear up some time in your schedule, but taking a shower can actually help you feel more alert during studying.
TIP: Make it fun by switching your body wash or soap to a new interesting smell. No time to wash your hair? Keep it up while you shower (you can always rock a fabulous shower cap) and then use dry shampoo to get rid of any greasiness. This will hold you over for a few more days until you have the time to wash your lovely locks. Make sure to moisturize your skin afterwards too!

I’m not telling you to hop into a warm bath and soak for hours… (Although this is not possible to do if your living in the dorms like I am, it can be very relaxing and can help release that pesky finals tension.) But showering daily is an important part of your personal hygiene. Take it from me, your friends, and the person sitting next to you at the exam, take a shower. Even if it’s a quick 10 minutes, hop in there, get cleaned up, and save us all from your finals funkiness.

Exercise

 

Finals Myth: There’s absolutely no time for me to exercise.

It’s finals week so I understand if you can’t spend 2 hours at the gym working out and lifting and admiring your fine physique in the mirror. Instead try and move your body for short amounts of time. Aim to at least move around for 30 minutes a day (psst. this doesn’t have to be consecutive!) Go for a walk around your building to clear your head, or do a quick at home circuit workout on one of your breaks. Moving around and exercising, even if it’s only for a few minutes can help rejuvenate your body. BONUS: All those endorphins released afterwords will give you a great big boost of energy that you can use to help you study your life away!

Socialize

 


Finals Myth: I have no time for my friends.Are you a finals recluse? So busy studying that you don’t have time to see any of your friends? I know for sure that I have been guilty of this… In past finals weeks I’ve cut everyone off and locked myself away studying. Granted you may not have the time to go clubbing or bar hopping with your friends all night long. Try and make time to grab lunch or coffee together. It can give your mind a break and when you come back to your work, you will feel so relaxed and refreshed!

 

WHEN TAKING YOUR FINALS:


Don’t panic, Don’t rush, & Relax


Sometimes I get so nervous that I psych myself out. Have you ever had a panic attack right before/in the middle/at the end of your exam? I have, and let me tell you it’s no walk on the beach. Take a deep breath, take your time, and relax. Make like a polar bear and chill out. Hehe. This one test does not define you and all of your accomplishments or your potential in life.
Did I miss anything? Comment if you can think of more tips to help you survive finals week!
Good Luck on Exams! You’ll do great!

 

♥♥♥

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*Disclaimer, I do not own these images. All images were found through Google Images.