Nicole Buckenham

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communications major/psychology minor

Boy Scouts Now Accepting Girls

When I was little, I distinctly remember the impact the Boys and Girls Scouts had on me when they came to speak in my elementary class. I am not sure what grade it was, perhaps kindergarten or first grade. A woman came and gathered us around in class, and spoke about what the Girl Scouts had to offer. I just remember how she was only talking about selling cookies and how great of an opportunity that was. I was not interested in just selling cookies.

Then, the speaker for the Boy Scouts came. The man spoke with such enthusiasm about all the adventurous things that go on within Boy Scouts. He talked up the camping you would do, the mining for gems, and bike riding. These are all things that sounded like so much fun for me. I was a bit of a tomboy, but regardless, I did not want to only sell cookies.

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When both speakers had spoken about one another’s organizations, I knew I wanted to be a Boy Scout. I went up to my teacher and told her this. She kind of laughed, like how adults laugh at silly things kids say. Then she said that I could not, and Boy Scouts were for boys. I could join Girl Scouts if I wanted to. With what she said, I was very upset.

I remember talking with my friends about how mad I was that I could not do all the fun things the boys got to do. It was not the fact I could not hang out with the boys, I just wanted to go camping, hiking, and all of the outdoorsy stuff they would get to do. I thought just selling cookies was dumb. How could that be the highlight of Girl Scouts?

To this day, I will never forget how I felt to feel so excluded from something I really wanted to do. All of my guy friends growing up would always talk about the camping adventures they would have, and I wanted to be a part of it so bad.

For a while now, it surprised me that there was still a separation between Boys and Girls when it came to the Scouts. Things are becoming more openly accepting of women these days and it seemed like it was about time. But, it did make sense why it was not. Boys and Girls Scouts have been around for such a long time, it becomes a little harder to change things when they have so much history and surrounded by tradition.

Also, we are dealing with adults here who are obviously more opinionated than little kids can be. I had spoken out how I felt about being secluded from an organization, but most children would probably just go along with it.

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But, on Wednesday, October 11, 2017, it was all over the news that the Boy Scouts will now accept girls. People felt that the rank of an Eagle Scout, within Boy Scouts, got a lot more recognition than anything in Girl Scouts ever would. The scouting board of directions all unanimously decided to make it a gender-neutral organization. They want the same experience for both girls and boys, this is now the American way.

It is a huge change, and there definitely is a lot of backlashes to change such a historic organization. But, if you ask me, it is about time.  

Résumé Tips & Tricks

When it comes to writing a résumé, things can get a little complicated. Sometimes it can be hard to word things just right. Like, when you are trying to make your boring job sound a lot better than it actually is. So, here are some tips and tricks when it comes to making an eye-catching résumé.

To catch your reader’s attention, you can start off with a summary or overview of yourself. If it is interesting enough, it will most likely help whoever is reading your résumé, make them more excited about learning more about you. You should use strong buzz words like ambitious, creative, organized or leader in your introduction to describe yourself. You should also mention what kind of background you have, such as a background in marketing or finance.

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When it comes to the body of your résumé, start off with your experience and move into education. Always list your experience from most recent to oldest. You can also sort your work experience from normal jobs to internship experience if you have had any. When it comes to the verbiage about what you have done at your job, use strong words to make it sound as important as possible. For example, if you were a hostess, do not just say you sat people down and cleaned tables. You should word it as, “empowered to upkeep a positive customer experience and ensure a positive image.”

This makes it sound like you did a lot more than just greet customers, and that you think of it higher than just any old job. Some other strong words to use when describing jobs are: crafted, coordinated, adapted, perfected, managed, resolved, oversaw, refined, developed, etc. These are just some words you can use to describe your job duties without saying, “planned” or “created.” These words make you seem more like a leader, which is what employers are looking for. When you have finished your work experience, it is time to move onto education. If you are still in college, write your anticipated graduation date as well as that you are a candidate for your degree instead of saying you already have it.

After that, list all of the extracurricular you have been involved in while in school. It is a good thing to have some experience with clubs, as well as outside work experience to put on your résumé. Employers like to see that you are involved, can take on multiple roles, and see if you can manage your time wisely on top of school work.

To end your résumé, you should include a short paragraph of your skills and achievements. Skills can consist of the type of software you are familiar with, another language you can speak, or something you feel you are really good at, like writing. Achievements can be anything from an award you have gotten from school or a certificate of some kind that means you are an expert in something specific, like CPR. Also, depending on the position you are applying for, feel free to mention other things you are interested in that make you stand out. This can be anything from playing the guitar, an interest in basketball, or the fact that you love a good challenge. Résumés are meant to be professional, but in this day in age, it is key to try to stand out.

When it comes to your résumé, there are tons of different ways you can approach it, but employers basically skim over your résumé. So, make sure you have everything you want them to know that you feel is relevant on there, and especially at the beginning. Another thing to note is, your résumé should not be the same for every position you apply for. Every job you are interested in is unique in its own way. That means, your résumé should be too. You can change the dialogue around to fit the employer, and include and remove positions you feel are relevant!

Book Review: ‘We are Never Meeting in Real Life’

Photo by Nicole Buckenham

If you are looking for a book that can be easily read around a busy schedule, “We are Never Meeting in Real Life” is the book for you. The book is written by Samantha Irby, and is a collection of short essays that blend together. It is a great choice if you do not have the time to sit down and read a whole book. It is also good to read if you are that person who tends to put down and pick up books and forget where you left off. Since they are essays inside the book, it is easy to read them when you are waiting somewhere, or at night to get a quick and relaxing read in before you go to sleep. The essays themselves are not very long, but the book in general, is all about the author’s life. So basically, they are moments in time about Samantha’s life. The essays blend together like this, and are not just random unrelated stories.

This book is also good to read if you enjoy funny, relatable, and good stress-reliever stories. All of the essays in here are super funny and are real things that can happen to anyone. It is a great stress reliever to pick up in between doing school work because of all the laughs you will get from it, and has short enough essays inside to do so. The author talks a lot about dating, but also other things women tend to go through and makes them hilarious. The author is big on voicing her opinion, and is big on being independent and having a voice as a woman. This book is not for someone who will get offended easily or feels uncomfortable from a lot of cursing. The book can be a bit crude, but for the most part, is all in the sense of good fun.

The only downside I would say about this book, is the amount of complaining from the author in the essays. She does complain about a lot of things that have happened to her in the stories, and makes them for the most part funny. But, to an extent, it can be a bit much. At some points in the essays, you can see where she is coming from, but at others she is just being difficult. She complains about guys, but in the end, it is all her doing for why things did not work out. So to enjoy this book and find the humor in it, you have to really start to understand the author as a person and get past the amount of complaining she does.

I enjoyed this book, and I think others will to when you start to see how you can relate in the author’s stories. Again, it is a great book to read while in college. It is good to read not only because the essay’s inside are hilarious, but also of the shortness of the essays inside. They are great to read on-the-go, and great if you do not want to commit to a whole novel!

Rating: 4/5

War of the PSL’s

Photo By Nicole Buckenham

It’s that time of the year again, pumpkin flavored everything is everywhere. Which, this, of course, includes the infamous Pumpkin Spiced Lattes (PSLs). It can be hard to decipher which coffee shop to go to when you are trying to find the best PSL for you. Also, which PSL is the best bang-for-your-buck since we are all college students.

So, I went out and went to two of the most popular coffee shops in America. I went and grabbed a pumpkin spiced latte from no other than Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. These two places always seem to be at war with each other when it comes to the best coffee. They are always right beside each other in distance, even though both places always seem to be offering the same thing, but at different prices and different tastes.

Starbuck’s PSL was priced at $4.60.

The beverage was offered to me hot or cold and I chose hot. When I opened the beverage, just to look inside, it was a beautiful orange color that resembled a pumpkin. From it just sitting in the car with me, the aroma of the latte took over. It was not too strong, but a perfect smell of fall and spices filled the air.

The taste definitely had a pumpkin flavor to it. It was not too sweet, nor too bitter. I am usually not Starbuck’s biggest fan when it comes to coffee because it can come off too strong or bitter to me. This was definitely not the case, it was the perfect amount of sweet that I did not have to even add cream or sugar to it.

Dunkin’ Donuts was priced at $2.69.

The pumpkin spiced latte from here was also offered to me hot or cold. I could also tell right away from the size it was just a little bit smaller from what I was offered at Starbucks. I could smell a sweet fall scent from this latte too, just not as strong.

The taste to me of this drink did not resemble a pumpkin, but more of a Chai Latte. I am the Chai Latte’s biggest fan, but not when I was expecting a pumpkin flavor on my taste buds. The taste was a bit bitter, rather than sweet. Again, why it reminded me of a Chai. Also, from multiple pictures I have seen around of Dunkin’s PSL, I was expecting whipped cream and a drizzle of something sweet and did not get that on my drink.

When it comes to the winner of this war, I would have to say Starbuck’s won me over with their Pumpkin Spiced Latte. I usually do not go to Starbucks for drinks, considering the price and usually more bitter taste than Dunkin’ Donuts, but this definitely won me over. Dunkin’ Donuts PSL was not bad, just not very pumpkin flavored. When it comes to taste, Starbucks definitely created the perfect taste of fall in just one beverage.

If you are looking for a less expensive choice, Dunkin’ is the way to go. The price of their latte was pretty much half of Starbuck’s drink. It all depends on how much you really want to pay and what you are looking for when it comes to finding the best Pumpkin Spiced Latte that you enjoy!

Restaurant Review: Akahana Sushi

Photo by Nicole Buckenham

Attention all sushi lovers: If you are a sushi fanatic, like myself, this hole-in-the-wall sushi restaurant will be just thing you are looking for. The sushi at Akahana is my favorite sushi by far in the Charlotte area. This restaurant even beats out fancy sushi restaurants around uptown in my opinion.

To start off, the prices here are unbelievable. Every day, all the time, sushi here is buy one get one free. That is something most sushi places do not offer but only on certain days, at Akahana this offer stands all the time. Not to mention, their menu is pretty large. The spicy edamame on the menu is hands down my favorite I have ever had. I tend to get edamame at most sushi restaurants I go to and this is the best. The spicy sauce that the edamame is dipped in is simply indescribable, but so good. They have tons and tons of sushi to choose from also. Some of the best rolls I have had are Volcano Roll, which is fried. Or even just their spicy tuna roll is amazing.

The service here is pretty good to top it off. They are always really friendly along with the fact that it takes no time to get your food ready. Every time I have been (which is a lot) it has never been busy. It is a pretty big restaurant and they never seem to have a packed house, so the service is always great. And on top of that, it takes no time for your to-go orders to be ready if you want to do that. Akahana is located in the Plaza Midwood area, so it can take a little bit of time to get there but the carry out orders usually only take around fifteen minutes. If you call while you are on the way there, it should be perfect timing. But, the food should be warm regardless if you are a little late to pick it up.

The only thing I would have to say about Akahana Sushi that I do not like is the environment. If you are looking for a cute place to go and eat, this is really nothing special. The inside of the restaurant is not decorated too well and is pretty bland. The food is great, however there’s not much other than that once

Photo by Nicole Buckenham

you step inside the restaurant. Also, the little shopping area in which it is located is hard to get to. If you are coming from the university area, the turn into the restaurant is hard to make. Also, it can be a challenge to find parking. There are other places located beside it that people are parking for so it can be somewhat hard to find a spot. But, the good thing is that it is free parking unlike if you were eating uptown and had to pay.

All in all, Akahana is one of the best sushi places I would have to say in the Charlotte area. If you have not tried it yet, I highly suggest it if you are a sushi lover. It is not the most scenic, but if you are coming just for the food, this is a great option. I would give it a 4/5 stars.

Hiking in North Carolina: Linville Gorge

One of my favorite hiking spots to hit up in the summer is the Linville Gorge. It is located in the Pisgah National Forest in Marion, N.C. Hiking in the gorge has been one of my favorite experiences when it comes to hiking and swimming. Another favorite spot of mine, which I went to right after hiking, was Lake James. Lake James did not take long at all to go to right after hiking in Pisgah Forest. These two spots are a great day trip to take in the summer time.

Photo by Nicole Buckenham

When you first start to get hiking in Linville Gorge you will quickly come across a scenic view. You get to the top and there are benches around you looking down onto a few little waterfalls. There are a lot of rocks and water that make it such a beautiful scene to see after hiking. Once you get past this part of your hike, there will be a right turn you can take. When I went, it was roped off for only experienced hikers, but I went anyways. It was a quick hike down to the bottom. I would say it was about less than a mile long. Once you get to the bottom, you are surrounded by water and a few tiny waterfalls. It was very secluded with few people and the perfect place to swim too. If you want a peaceful place to enjoy nature and swim around, this is a great option. After that, you hike back up to the top and finish the trail back around. This was definitely one of my favorite hiking spots because the views were spectacular. The Linville Gorge area is great if you really want to enjoy nature and swim in the wild.

After this, a great spot to hit up and relax a little would be Lake James. This is a lake surrounded by sand that makes it seem like you are at the beach. For hot summer days, this is a great spot to go to without driving all the way to the coast. You can lay out and soak up some summer rays. There is a lifeguard here to watch over people too for safety. The water is cool and you are surrounded by mountain tops everywhere around you. This definitely beats the beach in my opinion because the views around you make it worthwhile. The only downside is it costs money to swim in the area, but it is under ten dollars. When you leave Lake James, there are some restaurants nearby that we do not get here in Charlotte. The restaurants consist of great pub food or some unique mountain food that the city just doesn’t offer.

If you are looking for a day trip to take and get some exercise at the same time, Lake James and Linville Gorge hiking is a great idea. Even though North Carolina heat can sometimes be unbearable, there are so many options to cool off in water throughout the hike or you can wait till you get to Lake James. If you are someone that is an adventure seeker, these spots are great to explore in the summer.

Why you should keep a job during college

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There are many reasons why you should or shouldn’t stick with a job throughout your
college career. Of course it can be hard to balance work life with school life, but for the most part, having a job while in college is very beneficial.One reason why you should definitely get a job while going to a university is future debt. For those who do not have to pay for the loans they have accumulated during college, most of us do. Once you graduate, soon enough you will have to pay off the debt you have gained while attending school. This can be pretty hard because chances are your first job or two after graduation will not pay too much. It is a good idea to think ahead while being in school and get a job to save up money. It is good to put away around ten to fifteen percent of your paycheck into a savings account. It may not seem like a lot at the time, but eventually it will add up and after four years or so you will have a good chunk of extra cash to spend. Saving money is really important when you are keeping your future in mind and especially when it comes to paying off your college debt when you graduate.

Speaking of saving money, having a side job while in school teaches you money management skills. It is so important not to splurge on impulse purchases and save money for later. If you are just spending your money on anything and everything, it is not helping you prepare for the future. We are going to have more and more bills to pay for when we are older, so it is good to learn now how to save up for important things over mediocre things. You never know when something comes up and you are going to have to have the money then and now to pay for it and it is good to have a safety net for this very reason. Also, it is important to have some extra spending money. Everyone’s current financial situation is different, but if your parents currently pay for some things like your rent or phone bills, it is nice to have some extra cash laying around that they aren’t giving you.

Another reason while sticking with a part-time job during your college experience would be to have experience. This is another very important reason to get a job. Having an extra job on your resume along with your degree tends to stand out. Whatever future career you look forward to having when you graduate, it helps to have some experience in the field you are going for. Or it does not even have to be in the direction you are aiming for, but any customer service job prepares you to have great people skills. Future employers like to see that you were keeping busy throughout your college experience and really like to see that you have had at least spent some time with working in your life. It looks great on a resume you can multi-task and doing things other than school. Having a job will put you ahead of the completion in the future when applying for you dream career outside of school.

Finding the right job for you can be hard or easy how you approach it. Babysitting is always a good call

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when in college because there is always the option to do homework while you’re watching the kids. It also pays pretty well and depending on the children, it can be fun.Restaurants seem to always be hiring and you will always walk out with decent cash in your pocket. This also looks great on a resume due to you are always dealing with people face-to-face. You just have to look around for the right job for you. UNC Charlotte has a great job posting site, along with LinkedIn and just Google searching available positions. In the end, having a job while in college will be more beneficial in the long run and worth the balance between working and school.

Book Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

You may know Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, from the movie starring Reese Witherspoon. Let me start off by saying once again the book is better than the movie. The book gives an in-depth perception of Strayed’s solo hike over the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,663-mile wilderness route stretching from the Mexican border to the Canadian and traversing nine mountain ranges and three states. This journey started when Strayed thought her life could not get any worse because of the tragic death of her mother, her failing marriage and her addiction to heroine. With nowhere else to turn to, she headed for the trail to find herself.

This book is raw, bitter and reverent all at once. There were moments in the book where you believe that Strayed will not make it to the end. From dried up water sources, wild animal encounters and brush-ups with perverted men, Wild keeps you entertained and inspired. Reading this book, I became very attached to Strayed because of her character development. At the beginning, she was hiking with boots that were too small for her feet and a backpack too heavy for her body. The backpack was appropriately named Monster because of sheer heaviness of the pack, leaving her with blistered hips. Throughout the book you see her transition from a grief stricken addict to the empowered “Queen of the PCT.” Parts of the book make you feel as if you are hiking with her and I would sometimes feel mentally exhausted reading about her 16-mile a day hikes through knee deep snow.

As beautiful and awe-inspiring as Wild is, I would strongly recommend one should not hike long distances, such as the entirety of the PCT, without proper experience or training. Strayed was driven by a blind will to fix her broken life by the healing effects of nature; but, she had no clue what she was doing. There are many ways to hike or travel safely, excursions that are well thought-out and planned. International Studies Abroad has great programs where you can hike and explore the wilderness in a distant land. If you took the structured route to “finding yourself” might I suggest hiking through fossil beds in Morocco, or canoeing through the mangroves of Colombia Isla de Salamanca. I believe if Strayed knew the excursion options of ISA, she would be on board and hopefully carrying a lighter backpack.

Overall, Strayed describes what it is like in the wild, “with what it was like to walk for miles with no other reason than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets.” Strayed drags you through the ugly parts of her flawed life and that’s what makes her undeniably human. I winced at the pain of her blisters, her inexperience and her grief. I cheered her on for her courage and her will to go on. I actually cried at the end of Strayed’s memoir because I felt that it was a genuine story about a woman’s struggle with grief and growing up. This being said, reading this book gave me a strong urge to go buy hiking boots, to fix my own life. Wild is redemptive, passionate and brilliantly written. Her epic journey is a page turner, which is incredibly beautiful as it is tragic.

Five Reasons Why You Should Attend a Music Festival

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

If you are a music lover like I am and you have not been to a music festival yet… you are seriously missing out. It may seem like a scary or exhausting use of time but it will be something you will remember forever. If you are a fan of concerts, just imagine all your favorite artists in one area playing back to back. Music festivals can be a serious commitment but one of the most life changing things you will ever experience. This is the best time to go to one, when we are young and can take the time out to do so.

1. Getting there
Have you ever heard getting there is half the fun? Well, if you are going to a music festival

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chances are you are taking a road trip there. Just getting to your destination is even part of the fun. There aren’t any big music festivals in North Carolina, which needs to change, so most likely you are going to be traveling out of state to attend one. Flying can get expensive, so carpooling with all your friends and pitching in for gas money is the best idea. If you have never taken a road trip before, you are in for a serious treat. Some people do not like them, but when you are surrounded by friends, listening to your favorite songs, and in the state of mind you are going to a music festival, it can be a lot of fun just driving in the car. Make sure to pack snacks and have a great in-car DJ. Time will fly by when you’re having fun getting there so enjoy the little things like time spent with friends in the car.

2. Friends
Speaking of spending time with friends, this is such a fun and unique way to be together. Music festivals are meant to be spent with people that are close to you and share common interests. Go with your pals that like all the same music you do. This is such a fun outing that is different from the typical bar scene with friends or even just a concert for a night. You are spending about two-four days with these people with non-stop things to do. It can be tiring, but such a memorable time everyone can share for years. My only advice would be to go with people who can handle such a long event. Your friends need to be able to handle hot weather, lots of standing and of course love the music.

3. Music
This then brings me to my next point of simply, the music. This is why you are going to a music festival in the first place! Like I mentioned before, imagine concerts back to back from each other. Also, usually festivals have all types of music and not just one genre. This is great because at one point you could be dancing and the next to relax, listen to something more acoustic. There are headliners and smaller acts as well. This can be fun to see smaller acts you’ve never heard of to listen to some new tunes and sometimes even meet the bands. At big festivals there are no “assigned seats” you pay for so if there is an artist you really want to see, you can stand there for hours till you make your way to the front row. Lastly, music festivals are a lot more relaxed than seeing an act in a venue. The bands/artists are a lot more loose than they would be within an inside venue. They can move around more and say whatever they want to get the crowd going. Music is just a lot better with a music festival than the strict limitations from your average concert and is so worth the money.

4. Festivities
Other than the music being there, there are other things that make up the “festival” part of a music festival. A lot of times there will be rides there you can ride. There’s of course great food and drink options to keep you going. Often times there will be sporting events you can take place in. There may be skateboarders and opportunities to do yoga going on. There is a ton of picture ops to be taken with the surroundings as well. And whatever city you are in, there is always tons of stuff going on outside of the concerts. Once it hits night-time, there are tons of bars in the area to check out to keep the fun going.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

5. Memories
Lastly, the memory of having the privilege to attend such a fun event will be carried in your memories forever. Going to a music festival, I know is something I will never forget. I often reminisce on previous ones I have been to and can’t stop thinking of the next one I will attend. It’s so much fun to look back at old pictures of friends and videos of the live music. Being in a new city for days with nothing but listening to music non-stop is an experience that you need to have at least once in your lifetime. It truly is something you will always remember.

Mid-College Crisis

Ending your sophomore year, or somewhere in your junior year there is such a thing called the “mid-college crisis” that you may be going through. This crisis can hit you like a ton of bricks, but it can come in two very different ways. One way being you are coming to the realization that college is slowly coming to an end. This can mean for you responsibilities are heading your way and no more wild, crazy nights. The other way the mid-college crisis can affect you is you realize you have no idea what you are going to do with your life and have not even started going in any sort-of direction to figure it out.

Photo By Nicole Buckenham

If you are the type of person that is realizing partying Thursday-Saturday, or maybe even more than that, is a lot harder to do…you are most likely experiencing the mid-college crisis. All of sudden you feel the urge to embrace the phrase “YOLO” more than ever. Any opportunity to go out, no matter who or where, you tend to take it and run with it. You think that you will never have this amount of fun and less responsibilities again. Which is true. The real world is going to come after graduation. There will still be time to go out and have fun, but those fraternity parties may be a little weird to attend. No matter what theme they are you feel the need to go all out. You want to go and try every bar in the area just to say you did it once. Each paycheck you make, you make sure it mainly goes towards having fun than saving for the future. Your mind is basically telling you that you will never be this young again and you need to truly live life to the fullest. This will hit you half way toward college if you are this type of person. It will be a truly great realization. You might all of a sudden get the courage to do things you never would have done. These things can consist of going to a crazy music festival, having a once in a lifetime spring break, meeting new people or simply making great memories. It really does make sense that these are the “best years of our lives.” We have responsibilities but not nearly what they will soon be. Just make sure if you are going through this college crisis that you realize you cannot do college over again. The whole reason we are here is to pass our classes and get that degree. So, even though YOLO can apply to having fun, it also should apply to our future.

The other side of the mid-college crisis is that you realize maybe you are partying a little too hard. Maybe you have not even been partying, but it just did not hit you that you will be graduating soon. This is the more common side to the crisis. It usually hits when you actually get into your major and you need to decide what you are going to do with your life. Grades are becoming more important and passing classes ever so important. This is the time you will be busy researching what you should do with your life. It is probably hitting you that you need to find some sort of internship for the summer. They are hard to find and if you wait too long to look for one… it may become almost impossible. You are probably on Hire-A-Niner and LinkedIn every day. It is starting to bother you that maybe you could have had more experience so far in your college career. But, one thing to remember is it is never too late. Clubs are never too late to join and look great on a resume. They also look super good if you can have a leadership position. Internships, even unpaid ones, are a must have and if you look hard enough, you will be in good shape.

The important thing here is to not stress out. It is tough not to since the end of college is vast approaching. You probably have friends who have graduated already and are watching them blossom at their new job. Maybe ask around and use some networking skills. See if their companies are hiring. The best thing to do is relax, focus on your grades and remember to still have a bit of fun. The “mid-college crisis” can be tough for either route you are experiencing. Just try to find a good balance between having fun and staying focused.

Why You Should or Shouldn’t Get A Pet in College

Even though in college it seems we are surrounded by friends and invested in school, from time to time everyone can get on the lonely side. There had been numerous times I’m sure when you feel there is a void in your life, or maybe even an extreme case of boredom strikes. When this happens, sometimes the idea of getting a pet pops up in your head. While this may work for some people, for others this is an absolutely terrible decision. So with that, here are some reasons why it may be good idea or a bad idea to invest in a pet while you are in school.

Photo By Nicole Buckenham
Photo By Nicole Buckenham

Getting a furry friend (or not so furry) while you are in college can be a good and healthy thing for some. If you are the type of person who is a home-body and can be there to take care of a pet, well, then go out and get one. Pets need a lot of attention. They especially need attention if they’re a little guy over anything else. Be prepared to make your life all about your pet and if you are ready for that then everything will be alright. Having a pet can be a MAJOR stress relief. It feels great to come home to something happy to see you and something you can cuddle at the same time. Pets can be your companion and your best friend. When you are debating on getting one or not, make sure this is not a spontaneous decision and you’re getting one to add on to your group of friends, not just because you’re super lonely at the time. Lastly, if you are big on helping out the animal world, rescuing a pet can do wonders. If you can actually adopt a pet, that helps save another animal from possibly being put down. So if you are a person who thinks being home frequently isn’t a challenge and you are looking for a best friend, getting a pet may be the way to go. But, the most important thing to remember is adopting a new animal is a long term commitment not just a short term solution to a problem. Make sure you know what you are getting into and this isn’t just some idea you came up with when you were bored one day. 
Now, there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t get a pet in college as well. First of all, you have to realize just how expensive they can be. We are for the most part “broke college students” and therefore buying pet food every week can really add up. Don’t forget all the toys, cleaning supplies and things that could get destroyed from your furry friend. Also, if you go out a lot or even a little lazy, taking constant care of a pet can be nearly impossible. Getting a dog is a definite no-no unless you have the yard-space as well as the time to take it out to play and go to the bathroom. Animals can suffer from depression. Even pets that seem easy such as ferrets or reptiles get sad easy if they aren’t let out of their cage enough. Time is very important here, so if you are someone who is barely home, a new animal is not a good idea. That is unless you plan to take it everywhere you go. There are “cat cafes” nowadays. Another thing you may not think of is animals are loud. Especially dogs, birds and animals that are caged move around a lot in the night. This could cause problems with your roommates or even your neighbors. Most college students do not live alone, so you have to factor in other people in your decision as well. Mainly we are in school to simply go to school. Other things become our priorities like jobs, clubs and our social life. A pet can really get in the way if this isn’t a well thought-out process. It could take a toll on our pockets, cause a distraction when it comes to school work and ruin relationships. Some people might not like the idea you’re picking getting a cat over their major cat allergy. Getting a pet in college can really be a bad idea if you’re not prepared. But, weigh your pros and cons out right. And if it seems to be in your favor to get one, then go right ahead. Just make sure you are giving your pet the attention it needs but at the same time staying on top of your everyday life.

Why Toronto should be on your bucket list

When people think about a big city, they think of New York City or maybe Charlotte since our school is right here. But, Toronto is a city very undermined for what it is. Being from Canada, I am a little biased, but no other place in the world takes my breath away like the city of Toronto. It is not only the hustle and bustle of a big city, but the amazing experiences that I have had there amongst my countless number of visits.

One very touristy, but beautiful thing that sold me on Toronto was eating at the CN Tower. It is considered the tallest restaurant in the world that is constantly spinning very slowly so you can see all of what Toronto has to offer. If I could compare it to anything it would be like Fahrenheit in Charlotte, but a lot fancier and a lot taller. I really do not like elevators because I am claustrophobic so getting on the elevator to the top initially was freaking me out. But, once I got in and noticed it was a see-through elevator I was not scared anymore. It feels so much more open riding to the top in the elevator when you can see all of the city around you instead of feeling trapped for such a long ride up. The food, service and view are all worth it to go eat at the CN Tower.

Photo By Nicole Buckenham
Photo By Nicole Buckenham

Another experience I have had twice in Toronto was casually walking into the practice performance for the Muchmusic Video Awards. If you are not familiar with what this is, it is the equivalent to the MTV music video awards here in the States. It is basically all the same American artists with just a few Canadian ones. They pretty much have the video awards outside because it is in the summer and the Canadian air is great and not too hot. The first year I stumbled upon Kesha and the second I walked into Avril Lavigne’s performance. Both were so much fun to see because for one it was a behind the scenes look at what was going on and also I was pretty much front row because barely anybody was there to see it. They do the video awards every year so if you go in the summer around that time it is super easy to check out the video music rehearsals.

Besides those two things, the city itself is truly one of a kind. It is a huge city, but despite its size, it is extremely clean. It reminds me a lot of Charlotte in that way. It is fairly clean and also not too loud for the majority of the time. I love to go shopping in Toronto. There is a massive mall that is five stories tall with a basement containing the subway station. It is easy to spend all day in this, as well as the many shopping stores right outside of the mall that are pretty popular too. But, my favorite part about this city is right smack dab in the center of it. It is close to all the shopping but there is a popular outing area where lots of live music is always happening. There are many restaurants that sit high up with outdoor seating that look down on the music when it is happening. This is my favorite because I love music as much as I like to people watch. It is the best place in the city to look down at the hustle and bustle without actually taking part in it.

There are countless reasons why I love the city of Toronto that I would never have enough time to sit here and write them all out, but these are just a few of my favorite. I have had so many great memories and experiences in this city as well as all the amazing things to do it holds within. I really hope to live here one day and take advantage of my Canadian citizenship to find out what more Toronto has to offer. This is definitely a stop you should add to your bucket list one day.

How To: survive a haunted house

There are two types of people: those who love haunted houses and those who are forced to go with the people who like the haunted houses. I, for one, love everything to do with Halloween and all the scary things that come along with it. With that being said I know how to survive a haunted house and not suffer from the effects like having nightmares after. These five steps will help those who get scared easy survive a haunted house.

1. Go with a big group

It is fine to go with just one person other than yourself or a couple others. But, the best way to avoid being super scared is to go with a large group. This not only would be more fun with more people but it is easier to hide away in the middle with a larger group. If you are in the front of your group you will most likely be more scared because all the scary things and people will pop out at you first. And if you are in the back of the group, some of the scary actors can follow you throughout the haunted tour.

2. Go with people you know

It really helps to go to a haunted house with people you are familiar with. If you go with friends or even a significant other that makes it just so much

Photo by Nicole Buckenham
Photo by Nicole Buckenham

better because then you can hold on to someone tight throughout the haunted house. Also, if you are with some people you know pretty well, that means they probably know you pretty well too. This means they know how you can be around scary situations and haunted houses so they can help you out as you go along. Lastly, the best thing about knowing who you are going to be scared with is that you won’t feel embarrassed when you are screaming and running around. Your friends are there to guide you through the haunted attraction and not make fun of you as if you went with people you are not really close with.

3. Don’t act scared

This to me is what really gets me through a haunted house. The most important thing to keep going through your head the whole time is to not act scared. This may be hard to do, but like I mentioned before, some of the actors can follow you throughout. I’ve been in a situation before where I screamed so loud it made me an easy target to a clown standing beside me. He then decided to literally follow me throughout the whole entire haunted house till the end breathing down my neck. If you want to avoid situations like this, it is best to not show your emotions. You should try to scream a little quieter, don’t run too fast and do not cover your face up. It may be hard to look at some things while going through the attraction, but sometimes the actors see that and will pop up in your face once you open your eyes. It is important to enjoy your time but do not make for an easy target.

4. Think happy thoughts

One thing I pride myself in is avoiding having nightmares after something scary. No matter what it is, a scary haunted house or a scary movie, I never seem to have any after effects. What I do to avoid this is just remind myself it is not real and think of happier things. I also like to counter-act whatever scary thing I just saw. For example, if I were going to walk through a haunted house I would make sure I do something opposite after. Maybe I would see a scary movie, hang out with friends, or maybe even play with puppies. The best thing to do out of anything though, is laugh. Funny movies are the best things to see and make sure you go do something light-hearted with your friends. Laughter really is the best medicine to anything.

5. Have fun

The last step into surviving a haunted house is to have fun. Just remember no matter how scary something can seem to be, it is all in good fun. The scary things you will experience through the haunted attraction are meant out of pure joy and not to actually scare you. Halloween only comes once a year, so the best thing to do is to enjoy it and enjoy being scared!

Five Alternatives to Caffeine

I know when I say I live off of coffee and energy drinks since I became a college student I’m not just speaking for myself, I’m speaking for the majority. I wake up feeling lost without my caramel iced coffee to drink with my breakfast and then the Red Bull I put in the side pocket of my book bag to get me through my day. Without caffeine getting me through back-to-back classes and then work right after I’m not quite sure what I would do. But all of that caffeine builds up, is bad for your liver and creates an unbalancing effect on your body. It is great when it is needed but it is not so good to drink it casually. So with that in mind, here are some alternate and cheaper methods for college students to avoid consuming caffeine every day.

Photo By Tribune News Service
Photo By Tribune News Service

1. Eating Healthy

This seems almost like common sense but the healthier you eat, the better you will feel. If you add some nuts to your diet such as hazelnuts, almonds, or cashews that will boost your energy as well as whole-grains, like quick and easy cereal bars you could eat for breakfast. Try not to skip any meals either, it really helps to have a routine and make sure you get all three meals in to get all the nutrients and energy you need from each one. But, most importantly fruit is the way to go. Fruit contains fiber that keeps your blood sugar levels steady which is a great pick me up for when you start to drag as the day goes on. It is so easy and also cheap to just throw an apple in your backpack and munch on that during a class when you need some extra energy to focus.

2.Power Naps

Now this one I know is something we all love to do.  A power nap is anything around a sixty-minute nap in between classes or when you have some free time. It feels like such a relief to rest your brain after you have had an information overload or feel stressed out. If the nap is anything too long you become groggy after, but a quick power nap can help you feel wide awake and full of energy to conquer anything. Research has even shown that a good ole’ nap can even help you retain information easier that you are learning throughout the day.

3.Exercise

Exercising may seem like it could tire you out, but just the right amount could get your blood pumping and your adrenaline going. A good run or even just a fast walk somewhere can really make a difference. This is also a super easy way to boost your energy if you think about it. If you have some extra time in the morning or even in and out of classes, go for a walk or take a long way around to your classes to get you going. If you really want to exercise though, going to the gym for a full workout is great way to feel better. Especially since you have easy access to one on campus and all the other options of off-campus gyms as well.

4. De-Stress

When you are stressed, your body releases certain chemicals that affect your whole body in a bad way. At first, procrastinating and cramming for a test might release a response that seems like it is giving you some energy and releasing adrenaline but actually in the long run will drain you of even more energy. Take your time with things, meditate, listen to your favorite songs, and spend time to just simply relax. De-stressing is a long process but the results are long term and will make you seem more energetic in your day to day life without a cup of coffee.

5. Chewing Gum

It may come as a surprise, but chewing gum actually helps increase your energy. And how cheap and easy is it to just pop a piece in?! Chewing gum leaves you feeling refreshed and new as if that feeling you get right after you brush your teeth. But not only does it do that, it also increases your heart rate that then increases blood flow to the brain. It helps you pay attention more and increase your alertness in class. You are not just sitting there, your mouth is being stimulated and your body is doing work. This won’t help a ton to get your energy back but if you need a quick fix, this will sure do the trick.