Sarah Ro

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Sarah is a senior business student double-majoring in Marketing and HR Management. She loves to read, write, explore new cities and watch TedTalks. Her favorite college experience was studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea. In the future, she hopes to continue writing- both professionally and personally.

International Niners: Part Three

this online-exclusive series is focused on the study abroad process to provide clarity and further information for UNC Charlotte students who are seeking to partake in an international education experience during their college years. The goal of this series is to encourage students to come out of their comfort zones and immerse themselves in global experiences that are worthwhile and life-changing.

Photo By Sarah Ro
Photo By Sarah Ro

The difference in emotions most students have pre-study abroad and post-study abroad illustrates the special value of all that we have gained while being abroad. Students pre-study abroad are usually feeling nervous, anxious, worried and confused. However, upon return, most post-study abroad students cannot stop talking about their time abroad, spend hours reliving their memories while going through photos and wistfully share of what now seems like a dream. From being a nervous wreck to actively encouraging other students to study abroad – what causes this shift? I believe it is a compilation of all that we have seen and experienced, how we grew as an individual and realizing all that we have gained. The benefits of studying abroad are endless.

Future Career

It should be no surprise that the world is turning towards a direction of globalization and incorporating an international perspective. This is the case regardless of which field you enter: business, politics, education, healthcare and all other areas. The worldwide trend translates into a desire of organizations to hire individuals who have taken the initiative to be exposed to foreign environments. By partaking in study abroad, students can add international experience to their resumes and stand out from competition during interviews by incorporating unique foreign experiences into your answers.

Learn More about Yourself

It is alarming how many students agree that studying abroad has changed them, or had a great impact on their lives. When an individual moves and lives in a completely foreign environment, it is impossible to do so without growing in character. The ability to adapt to the local lifestyle, learn about a different culture, participate in new activities is not something that comes naturally to most of us who have lived in the same country for a long time. Hence there is a level of effort, confidence, and willingness needed to transition into the foreign environment. Once we take the opportunity to take our education outside of the classrooms at UNC Charlotte, it allows us to grow in character and improve our ability to adapt to changes.

Special Bonds

While studying abroad, there is an increased amount of dependence you place on the friendships you create there. Without the usual friends and family, we naturally seek out relationships with whom we are able to feel comfortable with, partake in new experiences with and grow closer together with. One reason (among many others) why study abroad is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is because you are able to meet other students who have come from all over the world for generally the same reason – to see all that the world has to offer. With this common mentality, it is much easier to create bonds with students who are also seeking friends in the new environment. In addition, there is something special about the friendships you create while abroad. The adventurous trip encounters with natives, late nights and inside jokes are moments you will all relive together every time you reunite.

The best thing about study abroad is that no experience is alike. One student may have train traveled all throughout Europe while studying in London; another could have ridden elephants while living in Thailand and another might be enjoying street food in Osaka, Japan right now. All of us engage in different experiences that shape our own study abroad story. Regardless of how we may grow, we all grow.

Humans of UNC Charlotte: Meet the International Niners

 

Photo By Sarah Ro
Photo courtesy of Ryan Tittus 

“One of my favorite parts about studying abroad was the international exposure. My semester in Germany was the first time I had ever been to Europe and it was absolutely incredible. Since I didn’t know anybody that was planning on studying at the same university for exchange, I really learned how to immerse myself into the German culture as well develop lifelong relationships with people from around the world. Studying abroad is so much more than just taking courses at a different university. With that being said, I strongly recommend that every student takes advantage of the study abroad opportunities that UNC Charlotte offers because there are so many intangible skills that you pick up abroad that you won’t learn in a classroom.”  – Ryan Tittus (host country: Germany)

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Photo courtesy of Catherine Anderson

“My semester spent abroad will always be my favorite part of my undergraduate years. I met people from all over the world and experienced things that most people only dream of. I learned more about myself and about the world in those 5 months than I have in all of my years at Charlotte. Studying abroad was truly the best decision I’ve ever made, my only regret is that I didn’t have time to do it again.” – Catherine Anderson (host country: Germany)

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Photo courtesy of Jason Park

“My year studying abroad in China and South Korea was easily the best year of my life. I learned to be a lot more confident in myself and through meeting many different people with such different cultural backgrounds, I have a much better idea about what I want out of life.” – Jason Park (host country: China)

 

International Niners Part 2

This online-exclusive series is focused on the study abroad process to provide clarity and further information for UNC Charlotte students who are seeking to partake in an international education experience during their college years. The goal of this series is to encourage students to come out of their comfort zones and immerse themselves in global experiences that are worthwhile and life-changing.

All students have encountered times when they feel really…really…#broke. For example choosing to only fill up half of your car’s gas tank or

Photo By Sarah Ro
Photo By Sarah Ro

purchasing endless packs of instant ramen – sound familiar? In this position, the thought of all the expenses associated with studying abroad seems daunting, burdensome and impossible. Hence one of the greatest myths of studying abroad is the idea: “There’s no way I can afford it.” Is study abroad expensive? Yes. But is it possible? Definitely. As college students, we have the benefit of an endless amount of resources and opportunities open to us – if only we would seek and take advantage of them.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

Move over free food; scholarships are the new college student’s best friend. Among the various scholarships offered for prospective study abroad students, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship sponsored by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is one of the most recognized for generously providing financial support to undergraduate students. Every year, over 2,800 scholarships are awarded in amounts ranging of up to $5,000 to US students. In addition, the maximum award amount increases of up to $8,000 for students seeking to study a language deemed a “critical need language” including Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Turkish and much more.

The program describes itself to “offer grants for US citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies or credit-bearing, career-oriented internships abroad. Such international exchange is intended to better prepare US students to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world.” Both the UNC Charlotte Office of Education Abroad advisors and alumni of the Gilman program (such as me!) recommend and emphasize the scholarship to all students seeking to study abroad. It greatly assists students by providing an opportunity to lessen the financial burden – because finances should never be the reason preventing you from studying abroad.  

When applying for the Gilman scholarship, make sure to stay on top of deadlines. There is a component for the student to complete as well as one for the financial and study abroad advisor – with different deadlines. The student component of the application consists of a standard fill-in-the-form-with-your-information page, personal statement and explanation of the follow-up service project to be completed when you return. Make sure to start early, write the deadlines in your planner and be creative when writing your essays in order to stand out from the crowd! If you are interested in applying for the scholarship, feel free to speak to the UNC Charlotte Office of Education Abroad or email me at sro@uncc.edu for any questions.

Office of Education Abroad Scholarship

UNC Charlotte’s Office of Education Abroad also offers various scholarships for students seeking financial assistance while studying abroad. It is important to note that OEA scholarships are only awarded once a year; the next upcoming deadline is February 15, 2017. The basic requirements include full-time student status, minimum GPA of 3.0, good disciplinary standing and attendance at a webinar explaining the expectations. If you would like more information, visit the OEA office located in Room 256 of the College of Health & Human Services Building.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

One common misconception is that FAFSA cannot be applied when paying for studying abroad. While each case varies, this is generally not true. Students should continue to fill out the FAFSA form for the year they intend on being abroad. For exchange students, the grants and loans awarded can be used to help pay off the tuition or room and board amounts for studying abroad. However, it is required that you communicate this to the faculty at OEA, so they know to properly distribute your FAFSA awards to your separate study abroad account.

Calculating all the necessary expenses for study abroad can result into a total that leaves you wide-eyed, eyebrows furrowed and continuously sighing. Don’t feel like you are alone; there are hundreds of other students who can 100% relate. But do not let the thought of study abroad being a financial burden overwhelm you into running in the other direction. Scholarship opportunities such as the Gilman and OEA scholarships are out there; FAFSA can be applied and as most students do – find a part-time job or paid internship and start saving! Translate your desire to study abroad into hard work that will allow you the opportunity to do so.

International Niners: Part One

This online-exclusive series is focused on the study abroad process to provide clarity and further information for UNC Charlotte students who are seeking to partake in an international education experience during their college years. The goal of this series is to encourage students to come out of their comfort zones and immerse themselves in global experiences that are worthwhile and life-changing.

As young college students, one of the crucial resources we should seek are experienced mentors, working professionals and those who have already walked the path we are currently embarking on. By creating relationships and interacting with these

Photo By Sarah Ro
Photo By Sarah Ro

individuals, we are able to learn from their experiences and most importantly – their mistakes. When I have conversations with those much older than me, one question I usually ask is, “What do you regret the most about your college experience?” The #1 repeated answer is “I wish I had studied abroad while I was a college student.”

That answer along with other factors is what ultimately led me to start my application process to study abroad. As intimidating as it may initially be, I did not want to risk the feeling of regret as a post-graduate with a never-ending list of what-ifs. As a study abroad alumni I may be biased; but I fully believe that studying abroad during college is a once in a lifetime experience that all college students should take advantage of. The opportunity to move to a different country, immerse into an unfamiliar culture and be surrounded by fellow students that have come for the same reason – to live beyond our little bubble, is of special value. Maybe you’ve already been contemplating about studying abroad and simply have been waiting for a sign, or someone to push you. This is your sign.

Once the decision has been made to study abroad, the first step is to do your research. To start off, answer the following questions: Which countries are you interested in? How long do you want to be abroad?

Different Programs

Deciding on which country is easy for some, not for others. If you need some inspiration, read study abroad blogs online, speak to UNC Charlotte students who have returned from being abroad or check out social media websites such as Pinterest. Make a list of the top three countries you want to go to. This is crucial because access to different countries is not limited to one single program. Depending on which country you want to go to, you may have to apply through a different program.

UNC Charlotte is partnered with numerous foreign universities all over the world including: Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and much more. By applying for one of the partner universities, you would partake in an exchange program in which one student from the same foreign university would come to UNC Charlotte (literally, in exchange) for your place. However if the country or school you desire is not partnered with UNC Charlotte, it does not mean you cannot go there. There are other exchange programs such as UNCEP (University of North Carolina Exchange Program) and ISEP (International Student Exchange Programs) that offer hundreds of countries and schools to choose from. Do not be afraid to ask questions and seek opportunities if you feel limited on your choices.

Different Time frames

Some students can easily be abroad for one full year and it still not be enough while others may be ready to come back home in ten days. Everyone has different preferences on their study abroad experiences. While it is important to be optimistic, remember to also be realistic with yourself. How long are you okay with living abroad? Be honest and truthful when you answer that question.

One beneficial characteristic of the UNC Charlotte study abroad program is its wide variety of programs that are available for both shorter and longer time frames. For students seeking a more thorough study abroad experience, the standard time frames for an exchange program are either one semester or one full academic year. While the exact range varies by program, the fall semester generally lasts from late-August to December and the spring semester, March to June. One the other hand, faculty-led programs are perfect for students looking to be abroad short-term. These trips are often conducted over spring break in March, or during summer vacation. In addition, having a UNC Charlotte faculty member and other UNC Charlotte students with you ensures a smoother transition into the foreign environment.

Each students has a different outlook on what they want their study abroad experience to be. From the country, Host University, program duration – there are many decisions to be made. Take the time to conduct research on each component in order to ensure your time abroad is uniquely yours.

Thirsty Thursday: Fusion Tea

Boba or Bubble tea created in Taiwan has long been a staple drink for individuals living in Southeast Asia as well as U.S. cities with large populations of Asian-Americans. The drink consists of either a fruit-tea or milk-tea base and is usually served with various toppings. Tapioca pearls, shaped like bubbles are the usual topping of choice hence the name “bubble tea.” However, other toppings such as lychee, rainbow jelly, passion fruit jelly and popping boba are also fan-favorites. For first-time boba tryers, the drink may initially be intimidating due to its vivid colors or dark bubbles lying in the bottom of the cup. But don’t let that slight scare prevent you from trying a worldwide favorite that millions of people love. Simply think of the bubbles as jelly, the consistency is similar to that of our usual favorite gummies, and it doesn’t really taste like anything. If it’s your first time, simply try a tea in the flavor of your favorite fruit and add rainbow jelly as your topping. Rest assured; you will love it and await your next visit to explore different flavors and toppings.

Photo By Sarah Ro
Photo By Sarah Ro

For those familiar with boba, I feel your pain – finding good bubble tea in the Queen City is a challenge. Most bubble teas are simply additions to the menu at Asian restaurants or taste overly artificially sweet. But no worries, Fusion Tea has opened, and its bubble tea is the best in Charlotte. Fusion Tea located on 440 E McCollough Drive, is less than a five-minute drive from campus. It is conveniently located in the shopping complex with Shane’s Rib Shack, La Kabob Grill and Pho Real hence parking won’t be a problem. The shop has multiple tables, chairs and sofas so feel free to come on your own, with a friend or even a large group. There is a wide selection of drinks on the menu, ranging around five dollars as well as small appetizers and desserts.

The drink I tried was the Passion fruit Refresher which costs $5.25. The presentation is colorful and super cute, contained in a mason jar and loaded with toppings. The fresh and sweet drink had the distinct, delicious flavor of passion fruit and was the perfect drink to cool off with. One recommendation is to ask for less ice as they load the cup with way too much ice. Other than that, I was pleased and will continue to return to Fusion Tea.

 

Foodie Friday: Golden Cow Creamery

Holy cow! If you are bored of purchasing traditional ice cream flavors from Baskin Robbins and Carvel, make some time and head on over to Golden Cow Creamery.

Golden Cow Creamery is a relatively new addition to Charlotte’s (very) small selection of dessert spots. Score! Its address is 170 W Summit Ave. Charlotte, NC 28203. Located in the South End area, it is approximately a twenty-minute drive from UNC Charlotte’s campus. Initially, it might sound like a drive, but a drive to the 49er’s most frequented dessert spot, Amelie’s French Bakery takes about the same time.

Photo by Sarah Ro
Photo by Sarah Ro

Golden Cow is already building a strong following through its unique yet delicious flavors, great customer service and clean-cut interior. When you purchase an ice cream cone here, you can guarantee there are no artificial syrups, food coloring or preservatives. Made with a lot of effort and love, you can taste the difference in Golden Cow’s ice cream compared to other mainstream ice cream shops. Flavors such as Salted Oreos, Dunkaroos (yes, that 90’s childhood favorite in ice cream form), Berry Cobbler, Honey Lavender are definitely ones you cannot find elsewhere. The texture of the ice cream is perfectly smooth and rich which complements the sweet and crispy waffle cone. Upon entering, I was intrigued by the Honey Lavender flavor hence ordering a scoop on a waffle cone. Though it may not be for everyone, I loved it. It was the ideal level of sweetness with a hint of floral and even had small pieces of real lavender. The wide variety of flavors ensures that there is something for everyone among your group of friends or family members. Plus, they are pet-friendly and even sell small hand-made frozen dog treats for your pup!

The customer service at Golden Cow Creamery was A+. Upon arriving, I was greeted with a white, sunny interior and a bright smile. Since there were so many flavors I had never heard of, I was asking for samples multiple times. But there was never an eye-roll or sense of impatience, rather an eagerness to explain flavors and politely provide samples. After selecting my choice, I sat down on one of the chairs and scanned the environment. Consisting of a heavily white interior, it demonstrates clean-cut modern minimalism at its best which is perfect for those wanting the perfect Instagram-worthy ice cream shot. While eating my ice cream, I was able to have a short conversation with Alex, one of the owners of Golden Cow Creamery. He was extremely friendly and personable, open to sharing about his past-life experiences as well as his excitement for the future of Golden Cow Creamery. The personable people that work here along with the cool ambiance and high-quality ice cream make Golden Cow Creamery a dessert spot to frequent.

If you and your friends are craving something sweet after a long day of classes, be sure to drive over to Golden Cow Creamery- you will not be disappointed.

Photo by Sarah Ro
Photo by Sarah Ro
Photo by Sarah Ro
Photo by Sarah Ro

Travels to the coast: Charleston, SC Itinerary

Fall break is approaching soon! That means no classes on Monday, October 10th and Tuesday, October 11th. Rather than staying indoors to catch up on Netflix, take this opportunity to explore Charleston, South Carolina – a nearby, yet beautiful city that has so much to offer.

Stop looking up hotels and rent an Airbnb (airbnb.com).

While hotels are the norm when looking for a place to stay, they do not provide you with the unique experience of living as a local during your trip like Airbnb does. After a long day of exploring, coming to a real and cozy home beats the formal hotel vibe. The hosts usually provide a recommended list of restaurants and activities which are helpful for those that do not want to do research on Yelp. I have used Airbnb, and I’ve always had fantastic experiences. Simply go to airbnb.com and type in “Charleston” to see all the open listings that you can book within minutes.

Charleston, South Carolina is ideal for people who love to eat. Southern food, of course, is its expertise but there are a wide variety of restaurants and cafes that have consistently appeared in notable culinary magazines. If you’re a foodie that loves to eat, here are my top recommendations:

  • Hominy Grill: Shrimp and Grits. Charleston Nasty Biscuit. Remember these two names and simply repeat to the waiter once seated. You willnot be disappointed, I promise.
  • Pearlz Oyster Bar: Ideal location as it is right by Waterfront Park, and they serve delicious seafood. Go during Happy Hour to grab a dozen fresh oysters for $9.99 and a refreshing beer.
  • The Obstinate Daughter: Another ideal location as it is a short walk from Sullivan’s Island but the warm ambiance, beautiful interior and great-tasting food are what really makes this place stand out. Try the ‘Old Danger’ pizza which is a fan-favorite- and for good reason.
  • Persimmon Cafe: When you first drive up, you’ll be confused to find a vintage laundromat. But walk around, and you’ll see a small cafe-like area with mouth-watering selections such as the toasted Nutella frozen custard (which they set on fire, before your very eyes).

Now that I’m full, what is there to actually do in Charleston?

  • Walk and Explore: As a city rich in history, Charleston demonstrates its unique beauty through old cathedrals, palmetto trees and streets waiting to be explored. Simply walking around will take you through cobblestone streets, colorful homes, sunsets at the Charleston Harbor and lush gardens.
  • Rainbow Row: Lined with houses in colors of the rainbow and flower-filled windows, this is a major photo spot located on East Bay Street. Snap a picture (or ten) here to remember your Charleston trip.
  • Beaches: Folly Beach, Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island. Choose one and make sure to watch the sunrise or to simply sit, relax and listen to the waves crash with your toes in the sand.
  • Shopping: King Street is famous for being lined with a unique balance of southern boutiques, popular mainstream brands, high-end luxuries and specialty stores.

Charleston, South Carolina attracts many with its beautiful beaches and delicious restaurants, but ultimately leaves a lasting impression through its warm hospitality and southern charm. If you’re looking for a mini-getaway to relax, make the three-hour drive into a short road trip and enjoy the special city. You’ll love it.

How To: Green Juice

Juicing has been all the hype in major fitness-frenzy cities such as Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago with new pop-ups businesses opening left and right. Recently however, juice shops have been making their way down to Charlotte, NC (perhaps a sign that we are indeed a modern, growing city?). Some of the popular ones include Juice Bar on Park Road, Clean Juice at Stonecrest and Viva Raw in Uptown Charlotte. As most things are, there are pros and cons to purchasing juices at these stores. The pro is the juice itself which is made of multiple fresh ingredients and packed with vitamins essential to your body. The con however, is the price. Sold at $6 for a small sized cup, it is definitely not an average college student’s budget-friendly drink.

On the bright side, juicing is something that can be done at the convenience of your home – for a much cheaper price. Though purchasing a juicer is an upfront investment, there are many low-priced options available at retail stores such as Target and Walmart ranging from $40-50. Remember, this is only a one-time cost and quite worth the investment that will break-even the cost of buying a few cups of green juice at a store. In addition, buying fresh ingredients at the local supermarket for about four cups of green juice will cost around $10, which eventually leads to each cup costing about $2.50. Let’s think about that: $2.50 a cup compared to $6 a cup- quite a large saving especially if you continue to drink green juice on the regular.

This recipe below includes both fresh greens and fruits which provides you with a healthy sweet and slightly sour juice that tastes and makes you feel amazing. Drinking green juice in the morning is a great way to start your day by fueling your body with much needed vitamins and nutrients. It also fills you up for a few hours, so considering adding it or making it an alternative to breakfast for a couple days as a trial run.

Recipe:

 

  • 2 apples
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 cucumber
  • 6 leaves of kale
  • ½ lemon, peeled
  1. Wash all ingredients thoroughly and safely chop into smaller pieces.
  2. Turn on the juicer and place a cup or thermos under the peak.
  3. Place ingredients into the juicer and push down with presser.
  4. After all ingredients have been used, turn off the juicer and enjoy your fresh, green juice!

#FoodTruckFriday

Photo by Sarah Ro
Photo by Sarah Ro

For most of us college students, summer is really hard to let go. From beach road trips to laid back barbecues

with way too much food, we often find ourselves reminiscing for those carefree summer days. When you’re really feeling for those summer vibes, head onto Food Truck Friday in South End, Charlotte.

Food Truck Friday is a weekly event in Sycamore Brewing held every (you guessed it!) Friday at 5-10pm consisting of live music and a line-up of various food trucks. The food truck prices are often below ten dollars but be prepared to spend more if you are an active foodie that loves to eat. Most food trucks do have a debit/credit card system, so no need to worry about having to hit up an ATM before going. There are a few parking spots at the brewery as well as a spacious lot across the street. However, keep in mind that many people head over here after their 9-5 jobs and spots fill up quick. so be sure to head over a bit earlier so you’re guaranteed a chance at the good food. It is an outdoor event so stay updated on their social media pages to see if they will cancel that week due to weather conditions. If you want to know which food trucks will be participating, follow ‘Food Truck Friday – South End’ on Facebook as they post the line-up weekly.

There is a good mix of food trucks ranging from gyros, pizzas, tacos and even desserts. Among them however, Papi Queso is a favorite with a strong fan base- and with good reason. They specialize in grilled cheese sandwiches but with a genius twist. One of their best-sellers is the Pig Mac which is a grilled cheese sandwich consisting of pulled BBQ pork, cheddar mac n’ cheese and bourbon onions. It tastes better than it sounds – if that’s even possible. Another food truck that always has a line is Tin Kitchen, known for their creative tacos, quesadillas and sliders. Many rave about their Korean-influenced plates such as the pork belly tacos and Korean BBQ sliders. There are usually 8-10 food trucks every Friday so you are guaranteed to have a wide selection to choose from.  

Think of Food Truck Friday as a reward to yourself after a long week of classes, studying and working and head over there this Friday! It is the perfect opportunity to gather with friends to grab a beer, chow down on mouthwatering insta-worthy plates, enjoy southern music and the remnants of the late night summer breeze.

Recipe: Strawberries and Cream Cake

This season calls for many festivities and gatherings, from backyard barbeques to summer picnics. For those that are stumped on what to bring to your next meet up, here is a simple and easy cake recipe that requires few ingredients and less than an hour of your time. Yellow Cake with Strawberries and Whipped Cream is the perfect summer cake because it is light, sweet and incorporates fresh fruit.

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Photo by Sarah Ro

The ingredients you will need are:

Box of Yellow Cake Mix
Three Eggs
Vegetable Oil
Strawberries
One cup of Heavy Whipping Cream
Three tablespoons of sugar
One teaspoon of vanilla extract

The first step is to bake the yellow cake. Go ahead and set your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, pour in your box of cake mix, three eggs, one cup of water and one third cup of vegetable oil. Then use a whisk to evenly mix all the ingredients together. When the ingredients have been thoroughly combined, pour the cake batter into any baking pan that you have in your kitchen. Put it into your oven and set the timer for thirty minutes.

The second step is to get your strawberries and whipping cream ready while your cake bakes in the oven for the next half an hour. Wash your strawberries thoroughly and pat dry. Slice all of the strawberries and then sprinkle one tablespoon of sugar over them. The next step is to move on to creating your fluffy, white whipping cream. In a large bowl, combine one cup of heavy whipping cream, two tablespoons of sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Rapidly whisk for five to seven minutes. (This may take some patience and a whole lot of arm strength, but don’t worry, the liquid will transform into a smooth, fluffy texture.)

The third step is to assemble your cake. After the cake has finished baking, take it out of the oven and leave it to cool for about ten minutes. Slice the cake in half horizontally. This should give you two slices of bread- the top half and the bottom half. Start by laying down the bottom half of your cake, layering it with the whipping cream and then the strawberries. Next, add your top half of the yellow cake and follow the same layering process: whipping cream then strawberries. Feel free to add the leftover whipping cream to the sides of your cake to cover it completely. Your end result should be a beautiful and delicious layering of yellow cake, whipping cream and fresh strawberries.

This cake is a great option for beginner bakers or for college students that do not have a lot of money or time to spend on preparing something. The simple but bright presentation of the cake as well as the sweet taste will leave your friends and family impressed at your next gathering.

Building a Budget: Guidelines to College Budgeting

In the lives of college students, there are many things we consider to be difficult. Waking up early to be on time for class, approaching that seemingly scary professor and climbing up the endless amount of stairs on campus- just to name a few. But one overwhelmingly common challenge that we as young adults face is saving money. Most of us have part-time, full-time jobs or even paid internships, however, we still live paycheck to paycheck while constantly worrying about money. One simple and great way to overcome this challenge is to create a budget for yourself and stick to it.

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Photo by John Lineberger

How do I create a monthly budget?

For those of you that love technology, pull up an Excel spreadsheet. For the old-fashioned folks, simply take out a notebook. The first step is to write down your monthly income- all the money that is coming in, whether it’s via cash or check. The second step is to write down your monthly expenses- all the money that leaves your account. Separate your expenses into specific categories so that you know exactly where your money is going. For example, Groceries, Gas, Credit Card Bill, Phone Bill, Car Insurance, Rent and Utilities can be some categories. Remember the purpose of budgeting is to track your spending but also, to see where there is opportunity to save money. Look at your expenses and really nit-pick at it. For example, say you put eighty dollars under your monthly expense of Shopping. Think to yourself: Do you really need more clothes? Wouldn’t it be so much more fulfilling to add that into your savings account and watch your money grow? Spend time analyzing and adjusting your budget until it is realistic but also allows room for saving some money.

How do I stick to my monthly budget?

Writing down your budget is only the first step. The next part is being consistent, staying on track and sticking to the budget.

One tip is to keep receipts of every purchase you make whether it’s at a gas station, from a restaurant or a clothing store. This way, at the end of the month, you can sit down with your planned budget along with all the receipts from that month. By looking at the two, you can compare and see if you actually stayed on budget or where there is room for improvement.

The second tip is to use resources to help you. There are multiple applications for smartphones such as the ever-popular “Mint” app to help you create budgets and link your bank account, so you can directly see how much money you are spending and how much money you have left to spend.

The third tip is much easier said than done, but resist spending urges. When we’re bored or have a couple of hours to kill, it is so easy to go over to the mall, get a cup of coffee and buy a shirt or two. But by the time you’ve left the mall, you’ve spent forty dollars- just like that. Choose other activities and places to go. For example, go over to a friend’s house, take up blogging, read some magazines at Barnes & Noble, go for a run- the options are endless.

Overall, making a budget and keeping it can be difficult at first, but the most important thing is to stay motivated and take time to analyze your budget versus spending at the of each month. Where did you overspend? Can you cut any costs? How much were you able to save? As time goes on, budgeting will get easier and soon, it will become second nature. We are already young adults and we need to start taking responsibility for our own finances. Making a budget, finding opportunities to save money and saving money are all healthy financial behaviors that are crucial for us to be financially ready for the future.

Three Easy College Breakfast Ideas

breakfast
Photo by Sarah Ro

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, they say. But why is it that so many college students fail to eat breakfast on a daily basis? The excuses range from no appetite in the morning to no time for breakfast to maybe even waking up at noon- when it is already time for lunch. For some, the reason is really simple- they just don’t know what to eat for breakfast. After a while, cereal and toast can get pretty boring, so skipping breakfast gradually becomes normal. To make you full and fueled with energy to face the day, here are three different but easy breakfast ideas that are delicious and take a short amount of time to prepare.

1. Waffles with Fruit and Honey
This is a perfect option for those that crave something a bit sweet in the morning. Grab two frozen waffles from the freezer, put some butter on both sides and leave it on high heat for thirty seconds on each side. Then grab your favorite fruit of choice and slice them on top of the waffles. To finish off, drizzle on some honey for some natural sweetness. This breakfast is sure to satisfy your sweet craving in a healthier way with the use of fruits and honey.

2. Fried Potatoes with Vegetables
For those that are seeking a more flavorful but still healthy breakfast, fried potatoes with vegetables is the way to go. First, grab one potato and bake it for ten minutes or until it gets softer. When you think the potato is ready, take it out and slice it into one fourth pieces. Second, slice an onion and green bell pepper. Then on a frying pan with some oil on high heat, throw in your slices of potato, onions and green pepper. Sprinkle on crushed black pepper and salt for more flavor. What you have now is a delicious, flavorful breakfast filled with nutrients to energize you for the day. One tip is to drizzle on some ketchup or even Tabasco for the hot sauce lovers to make it even more delish.

3. Breakfast Croissant
There are many types of bread from white to rolls to baguettes. But there is something that sets the croissant apart from all others. It’s light and flaky texture with the slightly buttery taste reminds us why croissants are so popular throughout the world. Some students may think that croissants are expensive or unaffordable, but they can easily be found in a pack of three for less than three dollars at your local supermarket. The breakfast croissant is customizable to your preference of what you want to add in it. One option is a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast croissant. First, fry your strips of bacon over high heat. Then, crack one egg on your frying pan and fry on both sides until slightly browned. Next, slice your croissant in half and put it on the frying pan for twenty seconds so that it becomes warm, toasty and perfectly flaky. You should take out whatever cheese you have in your fridge- all kinds will work, whether it is American, Provolone or Cheddar. Now, it is time to compile your breakfast croissant- add your fried egg, strips of bacon and cheese- and take a big bite!

Breakfast can be simple and even fun to make in the morning. Next time, set your alarm just fifteen minutes earlier than normal. Take the time to make a hot cup of coffee, turn on some music and enjoy your “me time” while making a delicious breakfast for yourself.

Foodie Friday: Sunflour Baking Company

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Photo by Sarah Ro

 

Nowadays, it is rare to find a cafe that is one-of-a-kind, not a chain and muchless, family owned. Of course we love our daily Starbucks or Caribou Coffee runs, but sometimes venturing out can lead you to a new favorite spot. Sunflour Baking Company, a small and quiet cafe filled with delicious drinks, baked goods and sandwiches- may just be it.

The Sunflour Baking Company is located on 2001 E 7th St. Charlotte, NC 28204. From campus, it is a fifteen to twenty minute drive. It is in a small center with some other restaurants and stores, so parking is usually never a problem.

From the outside, it seemed very plain and even a bit unappealing, but I was pleasantly surprised walking in. The light green walls of the cafe, big windows, chalkboard menu and bright paintings of flowers provided a very welcoming and friendly environment. But the best part was walking to the front, where through the glass window, I could see pastries, macaroons, muffins, rolls, cupcakes and slices of cakes. It was almost the same feeling I got when at the age of six, I walked into the candy store for the first time and saw chocolates, gummies and candies all lined up before me.

At Sunflour, a couple of things that caught my eye were the nutella cupcakes, coconut macaroons and the flourless chocolate almond cake. The prices of the baked goods generally ranged from three dollars to seven dollars.

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Photo by Sarah Ro

Though the cupcakes and almond croissants were extremely tempting, I decided to try one of their sandwiches. From unique combinations such as Pimento and Tomato or Fig and Brie, to more common sandwiches like their Tuna Melt or Egg Salad- the variety is sure to suit everyone’s personal taste.

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Photo by Sarah Ro

After much contemplation, I ordered the TAB panini on rosemary bread which had turkey, avocado, bacon and basil mayo along with a Matcha Green Tea Latte. The employee patiently waited as I deliberated on my order and was extremely friendly. After about seven minutes, I was brought the sandwich and drink to my table. The TAB panini was amazing, recommended one hundred percent. It was perfectly toasted, the slight rosemary scent of the bread along with the combination of turkey, avocado and bacon with basil mayo was superb. The hot green tea latte was the perfect mix of milky and sweet. The quiet and relaxed ambiance of the cafe allowed me to peacefully eat and drink while catching up on a book.

Overall,  I would rate the Sunflour Baking Company a four out of five stars. From breakfast sandwiches and toasted paninis to baked goods and various teas, the choices are endless. You can come here to grab a satisfying meal or to catch up with an old friend over coffee and pastries. The service was friendly and fast, the employee that helped me answered any questions with a smile on her face the entire time. The environment was clean, full of light and decorated in a simple yet cozy manner. Generally, the prices of the sandwiches and drinks were similar to Panera: not super cheap, but affordable. Sunflour is a great place for college students to study, relax with a book or meet up with other friends.

4/5

Five Summer Beauty Must-Haves

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Photo by Sarah Ro

 

As the season changes, so does the beauty products that you use. To ensure you look your best throughout the summer of 2015, here are the top five beauty must-haves that you should have in your makeup bag.

1 SPF

Whether it is a spray or lotion, always bring some form of SPF around with you in the summertime. Most of us already know the dangers of not protecting our skin from sun damage. If not, here is a few: risk of skin cancer, discoloration, brown spots and wrinkled skin. Convinced? Many brands are coming out with travel size bottles of SPF, so grab one at your local drugstore or Target and be consistent in applying it everyday.

2 Waterproof Mascara

In beauty magazines and beauty blogs, when asked “What is the one makeup product you cannot leave the house with?” the overwhelming majority say mascara. The answer is not surprising- mascara has the ability to thicken the lash line and open the eyes, making them seem wider and more awake. But come summertime, the season of excess sweat and oil, some girls become prone to panda eyes, in which black streaks are found around the eye area due to mascara transferring. Hence, waterproof mascara is a necessity in this hot season. It ensures that your mascara will stay on your lashes throughout the day and not move around. In addition, it has been shown that waterproof mascara helps to hold the eyelash curl for a longer time.

3 Tinted Lip Balm

In winter, we love our dark matte berry lipsticks. In spring, we reach for our light pink lip glosses. In summer, tinted lip balms are the lip product to go with. It helps to keep the lips moisturized while also giving a sheer tint of color. One of my personal favorites is the Maybelline Baby Lips in Cherry Me, which smells of fruit punch, keeps my lips moisturized and gives off a cherry red tint. You won’t have to worry about applying it perfectly or stress about it transferring to your teeth because the formula is the same as that of a normal lip balm.

4 Body Mist

Its summer- naturally, you may sweat a lot or the people around you may sweat a lot. Regardless of which one it is, it’s always nice to have a pleasantly scented body mist with you. Two very popular places for body mists are Victoria Secret as well as Bath and Body Works. Both stores sell a variety of scents ranging from fruity to floral for affordable prices. A few sprays of whichever body mist you choose will ensure that you smell fresh and sweet throughout the day. Just remember not to overspray- three to four pumps will always do the trick.

5 Mattifying Powder

You will probably be taking a lot of pictures over the summer, whether it’s a family vacation or a spontaneous beach trip with friends. Hence, a mattifying powder is absolutely essential to avoid the dreaded “oil slick face.” Simply touching up throughout the day will prevent the excess oil and allow you to put your best face forward. A holy grail favorite of most is the Rimmel London Stay Matte Powder which can be easily found at your local drugstore for four dollars.