Lea Thompson


Five Reasons Why You Should Register For Classes Outside of Your Major

Every student’s ultimate goal in college is to graduate with a specific degree that will get them the job they desire. Once general education classes are complete, it’s all about registering for classes that count towards your major. Though the goal is to be proficient in a particular field of study, many universities encourage students to step outside of their major by requiring elective classes and liberal studies classes. Within the realm of elective and LBST courses at UNC Charlotte, the possibilities are endless. Inside the course catalog, classes range from scuba diving to jazz, and everything in between. Though these classes seem irrelevant and may not hold a candle to the significance of your future, if you enroll in one of these courses, you might really enjoy it. You may end up like I did at the beginning of the spring 2018 semester, sitting in a class about Vikings, unsure of what I signed myself up for. Now, I spend all my time that I’m not in my favorite LBST class watching ‘Norsemen’ on Netflix. With my positive experience gathered from stepping away from my major, I’ve constructed a list of 5 reasons why every college student should consider doing this too.


  • Expand Your Horizon  


The disadvantage of choosing one major in college is the ‘tunnel vision’ and pure focus that it takes to earn your degree. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that there is a whole other world of amazing, interesting things out there to be explored. My prime example is my new-found interest in Western culture and the brutal lifestyles of the Vikings that established itself midway through my semester, due to my LBST class. Never, and I mean EVER, would I have considered investigating Norse mythology and the history of the well-known term ‘Viking’, had I not enrolled myself in a class that forced me to do so. Now that I am educated on their practices, religions and cultures, I am fascinated with them and have made an effort to learn more about them on my own time.


  • Random Knowledge


Everyone has that one friend who knows a little bit about everything and can hold, or create, conversations with nearly anyone. This is a gift. It is also quite impressive and can blow people’s minds when he/she starts listing off the chemical compound for common household substances that nobody else knows. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been jealous of these types of people, armed with unexpected knowledge of the world. Fortunately, each of us has the ability to start our own ‘random knowledge inventory’ by pursuing a subject that is arbitrary to your major, but totally compelling. I can assure you, after taking a class on Vikings, I’ll never have a dry conversation again.

Courtesy of Pixabay


  • GPA Booster


Fortunately for us (and not so fortunate for the professors of these specific classes), electives and LBST courses have a reputation for being easy. Though this is sometimes the case, it’s not to say that these courses should be ignored, pushed to the side or skipped. The lack of challenging effort required for electives or LBSTs allows for the quality of work to be strengthened and elevated by pushing yourself above and beyond. Then, in a class that you would most likely receive an A in anyway, you can earn a high A, and the respect of your professor.


  • Avoid Burnout


In order to be successful in your job, it is crucial to love whatever it is that you’re doing and to do whatever is it that you love. However, even when you love something, there is always a limit to how much you can take of that thing before it drives you crazy. This is true of anything, whether it be relationships, work or even extracurricular activities. So, taking a break from a concentrated field of study can be refreshing to the mind and can prevent ‘burnouts’ in the subject that you’re planning to get your degree in. Instead of avoiding burnouts by taking short breaks between study sessions, throw a little something different in the mix like the content of a new, exciting class. That way, you are still learning something, but it’s not like listening to your favorite song on repeat.

  • New Netflix Shows

‘Netflix and chill’ is kind of hard to accomplish when you can’t find anything you want to stare mindlessly at for hours. After finishing F.R.I.E.N.D.S. for the third time, I started searching for something that I would enjoy just as much as I did Chandler’s sardonic humor and Phoebe’s eccentricity. Now that my interest in Norse history is piqued and my Netflix accounts knows that, a new Viking related series pops up every day making it easier to find a show to binge watch my way through, next. Before, I would’ve scrolled right past the TV series that I now indulge myself with daily.

Professionalism: The Interview

It’s job-cuffing season! As the spring semester comes to a close and final exams are in view, all we need is another thing to be worried about—getting a summer job. Whether you’re approaching graduation and in search of your dream job, applying for summer internships or even just a summer job to bring in some cash, the struggle is real. Job searching is hard enough as it is but what really puts the icing on the cake is that dreaded interview. Interviews can be intimidating, especially for those that crack under pressure. After hearing a panel of power players discuss interview tips, and after experiencing a few interviews on my own, I came away with some valuable information to help any student ace that interview.

Courtesy of Pixabay

Dress to Impress

First things first, presentation is everything. This doesn’t necessarily mean go out and buy designer everything to wear to your interview. However, everyone has some sense of fashion and understands what looks good and what doesn’t. Treat your interview like you would a formal meeting with the president. Dress to be your best. In addition to the clothes you wear, wear a smile of confidence on your face. They always say, ‘never judge a book by its cover’ but a pretty, polished cover certainly can’t harm a first impression.

Askin’ All Them Questions

During face-to-face conversations, it is natural to nod and express grunts of agreement to show that you are listening. However, during an interview, this habit can actually be a turn-off to possible employers. Once, I heard the director of talent acquisition at Blueprint CLT say that ‘no employer wants a room of yes people.’ Instead, employers are looking for people to hire that are curious, inquisitive and interested in bettering their business. So, if you find yourself in the middle of an interview, nodding away like you’re jamming to a song on the radio, try to engage yourself in the conversation. This will impress your interviewer and prove to them that you aren’t just there to agree with everything they say.

Be Real, Man

Oftentimes, this can be the most challenging part of an interview. Not to say that anyone acts ‘fake’ on purpose, but we all like to put on our best show for possible employers. Again, another detrimental part of human nature. For example, if a person was to claim that they are extremely organized during an interview and once they are hired, this claim to fame goes to garbage, an employer may regret hiring that person. Social media is also an important component in modern day interviews. Be prepared for employers to question you about things that you post on your social accounts since they are used as a platform that represents who you are. It is important to stay true to yourself, your ethics and the personality traits that make you, you! Authenticity is valued and respected so it is smart to be consistent in the way that you act from the beginning.

Thank You, Thank You Very Much

Channeling your inner Elvis and sending out a ‘thank you’ email or letter 24 hours after your interview is the bow that ties it all together. Saying ‘thank you’ is not only courteous, but also proves that you are excited about the opportunity and view your chance to interview as a privilege. Once you’ve dazzled your interviewer with a polished appearance, an inquisitive nature and the REAL you, reaching out to say ‘thanks’ is sure to land you the job.

Humans of UNCC: Meet Lauren Pope

Courtesy of Leah Thompson

“I chose to pursue a career in elementary education due to the influences I had growing up from my teachers. I had an awesome first grade teacher. Being a teacher is really rewarding and you get to have a true impact on your students. I plan to incorporate fun things into my classroom so that the kids actually enjoy learning.”

Humans of UNCC: Meet Renee Goggin

Courtesy of Niner Times

“On Friday, March 23, three group members and I executed a community service project for The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Charlotte. At this ‘Easter Eggstravaganza’ we had different activities like egg tosses, egg decorating and food for the children to eat. We served about 60-80 children through the help of multiple food and fund donations. Doing this project gave me a sense of who I am as a person and the path I want to take in my career. I’ve explored both corporate PR and nonprofit PR and after completing this project I’ve decided that nonprofit is where my heart is”.


Humans of UNC Charlotte: Meet Madison Herman

Photo by Lea Thompson


“At the beginning of this spring semester, I transferred to UNCC from CPCC. I didn’t realize how different the two would be but it was definitely a wakeup call. I went from being in classes of 25 students to classes with 100 students or more. At CPCC I had a lot more online classes than I do now, plus I am now entering classes that pertain to my major. Transferring into a four year university with an associate’s degree benefited me in the long run because I got my general educations classes out of the way and I’m actually graduating a semester early.”  

-Madison Herman

5 Reasons Why Spring is the Best Season

Courtesy Of Pixabay

Everyone has their favorite season depending on preference of weather, from frigid cold to blistering hot and everything in between. Oftentimes, spring is considered a transitional season and all its refreshing qualities are overlooked rather than appreciated. In this article, some of spring’s most promising features of new life and new beginnings are highlighted to encourage summer, fall and winter lovers to seek a fresh mindset about the underrated season of spring.

Regrowth (you and nature!)

Winter is a season of bitter cold, barren trees and settling into a new semester. Between the temperatures in the teens and the massive ‘new semester workload,’ even I, a winter enthusiast, can admit that it’s a season of struggle. So, when the first flowers start to bloom and midterms come to a close, nature (and the average student) lets out a collective sigh of relief. Spring is the season of regrowth and rejuvenation. It’s a cliché mindset but proves itself to be quite true when nature looks a little bit greener and you start to feel a little bit lighter on your feet. Besides, spring break exists for a reason. Whether you realize it or not, that week that you spend with your toes in the sand is a week of recuperation, preparing you to ‘spring’ back into the semester with a positive attitude.

Spring Cleaning

Yet another cliché idea associated with spring but seriously, one of the best parts about it. The months after the holidays always feel cluttered with not enough time to pause and catch your breath. Then, before you know it, you’re thrown into a new semester with all your old notebooks, textbooks and junk lying around. Put the cliché idea of spring cleaning to work and de-clutter your life! Your spring break is what you make it, so make it productive. Trash the things you no longer need, clean out that monstrous pile of who-knows-what under your bed and ready your closet for warmer weather. Then, take any lightly used items and clothes to a Goodwill or donation place near you to help out in your community. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure!

New Life

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I think everyone can agree that seeing nature flourish and thrive is one of the most aesthetically pleasing things in life. Winter and all its leafless trees and snow covered ground is definitely beautiful, but once everything starts to ‘de-thaw’ and bloom again, the beauty of new life is uncovered. The stereotypical poster picture for the spring season would consist of birds chirping, flowers blossoming and the sun shining. The thing about that stereotypical picture associated with spring though is that it’s actually quite accurate. The beauty of spring may be underappreciated due to the fact that we, as humans, struggle with slowing down just long enough to open our eyes and truly admire the beauty that surrounds us.

Here Comes the Sun

Temperatures in the teens call for staying indoors by the fire drinking a nice, warm cup of hot chocolate. However, when spring comes around, it brings the sun with it. When the weather is nearly perfect there is no excuse not to go outside and get your daily dose of vitamin D3. It is scientifically proven that exposure to sunlight also increases the hormone serotonin in our brains, causing us to feel happier. Sun exposure may also help to decrease the chemical melatonin during the day, but increases it at night allowing us a better night’s sleep. This increase of melatonin at night makes for a more energized tomorrow.

Springing Forward

Thanks to the spring equinox that will begin on March 20 of this year, we will see more hours of daylight allowing for more to get accomplished before the sun goes down. Some people view this with a negative attitude because they see it as ‘losing an hour of sleep’ but there is more than one way to look at it. Many people use the saying ‘spring forward, fall back’ to remember to set their clocks according to the equinox. This commonly used saying can also be used to motivate you when the time comes to change your clock face. Do as the saying says…spring forward!

DIY Dorm Decorations: Rustic Wooden Picture Board

Moving away from home, out of your cozy room that you spent your entire life personalizing and into a tiny dorm or apartment sounds less than glamorous. There is nothing special about plain white walls and a tiny bed in the corner that many before you have called their own. It’s not you-it’s not unique. That’s why decorating is CRUCIAL when it comes to adding your own flare to your college living situation. When I started looking for wall art, picture frames and plants to liven up my small apartment bedroom, I was gifted an adorable wooden picture board that I fell in love with and used as a main attraction for my room. It allowed me to keep pictures of people most important to me on my wall in a special way. However, 12 pictures later, I ran out of room with a handful of pictures left to hang. So, with help from my efficient and crafty boyfriend, I was able to reconstruct a wooden picture board for cheap just like the one I was gifted but with even more personalization since I had part in assembling it myself. Here’s the steps we took to create a rustic, wooden picture board.

What you will need:

Photo by Lea Thompson
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Circular saw (with wood blade)
  • Eight (give or take) wood slabs
  • Wood glue
  • Hook and nail
  • Close pins/string/metal clips
  • Pictures
  1. First, we took measurements of the original. Altogether, the product was made up of eight 2”X32”X21.5” slabs of wood. The number of slabs you use can vary according to your preference of size or how many pictures you wish to hang.
  2. Once we had the measurements, we set out on a mission to find slabs of wood for free so we could complete this project without breaking the bank. It wasn’t hard to find slabs of wood lying around. I got lucky and found a pile in my garage that was left over from a remodeling project. This won’t be the case for everyone but old palettes are easy to find if you keep your eyes peeled, or you can purchase wood slabs specific to your desired measurements at Lowes.
  3. When gathering your planks of wood, make sure to look for one or two particularly sturdy pieces to use as a mounting board or the backbone of the entire project. We took two sturdy pieces of wood, cut them at 28” long and ran them parallel to one another in horizontal positioning. These pieces are here to support and hold together the eight boards and will not be seen. This will also be where you attach a hook or some other way to mount the picture board on your wall.
  4. Next, choose how large you wish your board to be to determine how many slabs you will need to cut to a 2”X32”X21.5” measurement. Use a pencil to make markings to indicate where to cut your slabs and use a circular saw to cut the slabs accordingly. The slabs do not need to look perfect. Uneven edges are what gives the finished product a rustic, antique look.
  5. With the back boards running horizontally and parallel to one another, brush some wood glue onto the middle of the boards. Wood glue is very thick and a little bit goes a long way.
  6. Place the eight (or so) boards side by side, staggering them however you prefer. When I look at my picture board, it sort of reminds me of an old, crooked picket fence to help visualize (picture attached).
  7. Leave it to dry for at least six hours. Once the slabs have had time to dry to the back board, you can glue on your hook (or other preferred method of mounting) to the backside.
  8. Now, each and every builder has a bit of freedom to customize their project. These boards can be painted or stained to the color that best matches your unique personality, or you can leave the boards bare for an untouched outcome.
  9. Then, you must attach your preferred method for hanging pictures. The original product was made with metal clips but when my boyfriend and I reconstructed this product, he suggested we string close pins across the top, middle and bottom of the board to allow maximum picture space. This step of the project also allows for some flexibility depending on the person’s style and preference.
  10. Lastly, pick a spot on your wall, hammer in a nail and mount your finished product! Once you’ve got it in place, it’s time to add pictures of your friends and family to the board to personalize it even further. This project is easy to complete while also being cost efficient and completely able to customize to your unique style.


This piece was featured inside Living Guide

Fueling Yourself to Get Fit: College Student Approved

Word on the street is that ‘strong is the new sexy,’ so hitting the gym regularly and keeping in check with your fitness goals is the new thing to do. However, being a full-time college student, we are forced to juggle classes, homework and for some of us, jobs, so exercising can be a hit or miss activity. Finding time to release stress and build muscle at the gym has always been important to me but I find myself falling in and out of ‘fitness kicks’ more often than I’d like to admit. From getting up before the sun to joining a gym right beside my apartment, I’ve tried it all and have finally composed a list of realistic motivations to stay on track with my fitness that I think could work for all college students looking to stay strong and healthy.

Set a Reasonable Goal

“You will never know your limits unless you push yourself to them”. It’s a well-known motivational saying that is designed to encourage fitness freaks to dream better, do better, be better, but not all of us are fitness freaks and can’t exactly relate to that quote of inspiration. Rather than aiming to push yourself to your limits, aim to expand your limits little by little. If you exert all your energy and give one, singular workout your absolute all, you can end up injured and exhausted, especially if you are somewhat out of shape or not used to much vigorous exercise. Each person has their own level of capabilities, strengths and weaknesses and a lot of that can be built upon if you strive to do your personal best during your workouts.

Feed off Your Fit Friend

We all have that one friend that is extremely strong, toned and quite confident about it. This friend spends 80% of their time at the gym, on the track or in a group exercise class and probably owns a tank top with Nike’s famous phrase ‘just do it’, on it. If you know someone like this, don’t envy them, gym with them! Friend fitness is so much more inviting than exercising alone and can be a great source of encouragement, inspiration and motivation. Work out with your fittest friend but DON’T compare yourself to them or you’ll actually find yourself less motivated to get in the gym than you were to begin with for fear of feeling inferior to them. Don’t make friend fitness a competition between you and your gym buddy. Instead, take advantage of your similar desires to stay fit by holding each other accountable and pushing each other to be the best version of yourselves.

Track Your Progress

Tracking progress can mean different things to different people. For me, it meant investing in an Apple watch and using the activity app to track my active calories burned, my exercise, my steps taken and more. Fitbits, Nike watches and even some Samsung watches can also track the same information as well. Oftentimes, watches that keep up with how many steps you’ve taken in a day notify you when you’ve reached your 10,000th step or encourage you to move around if they notice you’ve been stagnant. For others striving to lose weight or gain muscle in certain areas of the body, tracking progress could mean taking progressive photos of yourself periodically after weeks of working out and comparing your results.

Reward Yourself

The best thing about doing something productive like maintaining a regular workout schedule is the reward of bettering yourself that comes with all your blood, sweat and tears. Exercising can prove to be a reward in and of itself, however, it is okay to take it a step farther by rewarding yourself with something you enjoy, as well. Indulge in a sweet treat, have an easy day in the gym, or simply kick back and relax with your favorite show on Netflix. If that double chocolate chip muffin and white chocolate mocha from Starbucks is calling your name, go ahead! Besides, you’ll work it off in the gym later.

Courtesy of Pixabay

Social Life Dos and Don’ts

Everyone knows while college life is mainly about acquiring an education in a
specific field of study and preparing yourself for the real world, the social aspect of college is extremely significant to students as well. As the saying goes, college is the time of your life, the time you will meet your ‘forever friends’ and develop strong bonds with people of all kinds.
Although making friends can be a seemingly easy task, there are a few things to bear in mind when it comes to scouting out your lifelong relationships.

DO let your friends introduce you to new things. It’s human nature to be drawn to people who we share similar interests with, which can make it difficult to step out of our comfort zone and try new things. If you happen to meet someone you seem to get along well with, but don’t share similar interests with, don’t shut them
out just yet. This could be an opportunity for you to get introduced to a new concept, activity or idea. For example, I met a girl during SOAR and coincidentally sat with her during my first class of my freshman year and she is now my very best friend. She is completely enamored with all things NASCAR, which I knew absolutely nothing about and previously had no interest in. However, because of her love for NASCAR and my love for her, I am slowly but surely finding interest in the racing world.

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

DO keep an open mind when it comes to befriending new people. Luckily, college is different from high school in the idea that ‘cliques’ no longer exists and everyone sort of intermingles with one another. This can be a tricky transition to make if you’re used to belonging to one particular group of people and you find yourself in a sea of variety on a college campus. Society tells us time and time again we must find a place to fit in and stay there. However, I find that getting involved with students of different ethnicities, organizations and personalities is invigorating and can make for an overall better college experience.

DO set aside time for yourself. Making new connections with new people is exciting and necessary in order for our social needs to be fulfilled, but taking care of yourself should always come first. Sometimes we just need breaks from the outside world and everyone deserves to indulge in themselves and be at peace simply sitting in a room alone, doing something they enjoy. Sure, most of our free time is going to be taken up by homework and our beloved friends… just make sure you save some time, energy and love to keep to yourself, too.

DON’T feel pressured to do everything your friends do. Spending time with friends can be a form of relaxation and entertainment, but can also take up a lot of time. As college students, schedules are often packed with classes, homework and even jobs. Finding time to catch a movie with your roommates or grab coffee with your best friend can be challenging sometimes. If you’re like me and get stuck in ‘school mode’ during weekdays, making the most of your free time by completing assignments is always your first priority. However, it’s easy to get off track when your friends tempt you to join them for ice cream the night before your 8 a.m. exam or a few hours before an assignment is due. You love your friends and they know that. If they love you back, they’ll understand when you have to stay behind and take care of other things from time to time.

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

DON’T limit yourself to a specific ‘type’. This is challenging. People like people that are most similar to them. Sometimes people even choose to befriend certain groups in hopes of eventually fitting their mold and becoming ‘one of them’. Girls involved in sororities are friends with others in sororities. Students that have a strong Christian faith befriend those who share their religion. Athletic students typically hang around members of their team or other athletes they may meet in the gym. This is a natural occurrence in most of our lives and often we don’t realize that we are, in a sense, excluding ourselves from other groups. Rather than picking a ‘type’ of person, whether it’s by their looks, their belief or their interests, choose to interact with people that challenge you and add to your life.

DON’T be afraid to strike up a conversation with a random person. If someone on campus catches your eye, or you overhear a conversation that you are dying to join—have no fear, go say hey! In some situations, this may be considered a little bold, maybe weird, but chances are you may end up walking away with a new friend. If ‘outgoing’ is not in your list of personality characteristics, try simply turning to the person next to you in class and saying hello or sharing smiles with someone you encounter on campus. Besides, something as little as a smile can be the start of a lifelong friendship.

Humans of UNCC Meet: Katelyn Freemur

Picture Courtesy of Lea Thompson

“This past weekend I went to the International Festival on campus, because I wanted to broaden my understanding of all the different types of people in the world. There were a lot of tents set up representing different countries. They were offering food and drinks to try from their cultures which was probably the coolest part for me. There were also extra credit opportunities if you attended the festival, so it was definitely worth going to.”


This Is Halloween

It’s that time of the year again. Time to start layering your clothes, eating everything pumpkin spice and time to break out your Halloween costumes. Halloween is the second largest commercial holiday in America following close behind Christmas, but why is it so popular and where did it begin? When you consider the modern-day traditions of Halloween, it’s hard to imagine why October, and more specifically Halloween, is a time affiliated with horror, costumes and candy. To find out more, I dove into some history and uncovered some interesting facts about the horror-filled holiday.

The Celts were a group of people in Ireland, New England and northern France that participated in celebration of the festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in) approximately 2,000 years ago. The Samhain festival was celebrated on October 31st and marked the end of summer, and the beginning of the harvest and the dark, cold winter ahead of them which during that era, was a time associated with human death. It was believed by the Celt’s that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth on this night and caused trouble by damaging crops. The Druids, or Celtic priests, celebrated by building sacred bonfires where people

Courtesy of Pixabay

gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. The people who attended the bonfires wore costumes made of animal heads and skins and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.

By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered Celtic territory and the traditions of celebration for this Celtic holiday were combined with two festivals of Roman origin. Feralia, one of the Roman festivals, was a celebrated day in late October when the Romans commemorated the passing of the dead. The other festival to combine with Samhain was Pamona, the festival celebrating the Roman goddess of fruits and trees. Pamona’s symbol is the apple, which likely explains the modern tradition of bobbing for apples that is now practiced during Halloween.

The combination of these festivals was later expanded by Pope Boniface IV to honor all Christian martyrs and saints. In 1000 A.D., November 2nd was made All Saints’ Day to celebrate the dead. All Saints’ Day was similar to the original Samhain tradition with bonfires and costumes, however, instead of wearing animal heads, the people began to dress as saints, angels and devils. All Saints’ day was also known as All Hallows Eve, a name that some people still use to this day when referring to Halloween.

Up until the 19th century, Halloween was limited in celebration in the United States and was mostly popular in areas of New England like Maryland and the southern colonies. Colonial Halloween celebrations included sharing stories of the dead, telling fortunes, singing and dancing. By the second half of the 19th century, annual autumn festival celebrating the holiday of death, dread and doom were more common but not yet celebrated all over the U.S. With new immigrants flooding into America including millions of Irish, the holiday’s popularity quickly expanded and at the turn of the century, Halloween parties began to focus on games, foods of the season and festive costumes.

By the 20th century, all religious affiliation that originated with early celebration of the holiday Samhain were lost and everything reflected frightening, grotesque symbols. In the 1920’s, vandalism during Halloween time began to plague the celebrations so, in hopes to control this issue, the tradition of trick-or-treating was created. In theory, the activity of giving out and collecting candy on Halloween night would help the adults prevent the youth from playing tricks on them. Trick-or–treating acted as a bribe or a way to occupy children on the mysterious night of the year.

Today, the tradition of the trick-or-treating is still in practice and Americans spend an average of $6 billion a year on Halloween candy. Many of the original festivities of the evolved holiday are still popular today such as dressing up in costumes, telling ghost stories and hosting bonfires at a party of the season. This holiday is likely to evolve more over time but the core traditions of the holiday will remain: spooky, ghoulish, thrilling Halloween.

Humans of UNCC: Meet Ben Rogers

Picture by Lea Thompson

“Last year, I took a year off school to do some mission work in West Virginia with Experience Mission where they focus on the people, not the project. They focus on empowering local leaders, not bringing leaders in to fix a community. It taught me that my true passion wasn’t nursing, it’s helping people in communities which is why I’m now a Communications major concentrating in Public Advocacy.”

5 Reasons Why: You should consider a social media cleanse

Picture Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

We’ve all heard of juice cleanses, the process of consuming fresh squeezed fruit or veggies in order to rid the body of toxins and promote a healthy lifestyle. Similar to a juice cleanse, a social media cleanse is basically the same idea but to some, may sound a lot less rewarding. Social media is the intermingling sanctuary of the millennial generation. Many people participate daily in communication through their accounts on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and more. If there is even a minute of free time in the day, most people instinctively pull up their social media accounts and scroll through their feed, viewing pictures, opinions, and stories that their friends and family chose to share with the world. Social media has a gravitational pull that attracts our attention but have you ever considered that it may be adding negative impact to your life?

About 6 months ago, I noticed the time I spent scrolling through my feed on Instagram took up way too much of my day and negatively affected my self-image, activeness, and ability to focus on something for longer than 5 minutes. Gradually, I became frustrated that my life (and everyone else’s) seemed to revolve around social media so I decided to delete my social media apps and see how long I could go without them and what positive effects it might have on my lifestyle. After a month-long social media cleanse, I felt a significant difference in the way I viewed myself and world around me and found five solid reasons why I believe everyone should consider boycotting social media for a period of time, too.

To Eliminate Bad Self Esteem:

It’s easy to drown in deflated self-confidence when pictures of half-naked, perfectly toned and gorgeously tanned models flood your Instagram feed or when all your best friend’s engagements are getting posted all over Facebook while you’re living the single life. Social media plays as a devil’s advocate for this type of stuff and makes it nearly impossible to feel completely content with your life when you’re constantly being introduced to the next best thing. If you’re wanting to escape the pressure of feeling like you must compete with the rest of the world, getting away from your social media accounts and focusing on your own awesome life might be a healthy change for you.

To Strengthen Relationships:

How are you supposed to bond with your best friend over coffee when both of you have your faces in your phone? How is your significant other supposed to gaze into your eyes during your dinner date if you’re busy uploading that cute selfie the two of you took before you sat down to eat? Social media takes away from our face-to-face time spent with friends, family and loved ones and can create a wall between healthy communication without either of you realizing it. Put down the phone, ditch the social media for less distraction and pick up a conversation with a loved one.

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

To Become More Active:

Finding ways to stay motivated when it comes to your workout schedule is difficult enough as it is but when spending time on your phone, scrolling through your social media is a competitor, it’s even more challenging. A lot of us strive to live a healthy lifestyle by visiting the gym and working out on a regular basis which can be hard to manage between classes, homework, and jobs. That being said, wasting time on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat might be giving your thumbs a workout but it’s definitely not doing anything for your body. Trash the apps and tread the track!

To Improve Focus:

For full-time students, being able to focus all of your attention on one thing at a time is a necessary tool and is expected in the classroom and in the work field. It is a well-known fact that cell phone usage is considered a common distraction in the classroom but it’s hard to agree with the saying “out of sight, out of mind” when you have a multitude of notifications from Snapchat buzzing your phone. A social media cleanse would fix this issue, not only by eliminating the interruption of notifications but also by training your brain to strengthen its focus on one thing at a time. That way, when you’re ready to download all those tempting apps again, the habit of reaching for the phone won’t be as familiar.

To Challenge Yourself:

It’s hard to deny that social media plays a vital role in the average person’s modern lifestyle and it’s considered unusual when you run into a person who doesn’t participate in intermingling through these popular apps. If the four reasons above don’t quite speak to you, consider a social media cleanse for the sheer purpose of challenging yourself and encouraging personal growth by trying something new. You never know, you could start the newest trend by taking a break from addictive social media apps and enjoying your life from a new perspective, out from behind the screen.

Traveling to New Heights: Kenya, Africa

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Last year, entering my first semester at UNC Charlotte, I was a small-town girl who had traveled to a very limited number of places. My vacations in the past had stretched a mere 700-mile radius, from Hilton Head, South Carolina to Disney World, Florida. I never guessed that my first semester at UNCC and my involvement in a campus ministry, Niner United, would’ve landed me across the world in Kenya, Africa.

I started attending Niner United at the beginning of my first semester of college hoping to find a supportive group of Christian students with a passion for making a difference in the life of their fellow students and the surrounding community. To my surprise, the members of the campus ministry I chose were not only interested in reaching out in their community… they were also reaching out to countries thousands of miles away.

When the idea of traveling across the world to Kenya was presented to me by Steve Cheyney, Niner United’s campus minister, I was shocked. I’d heard stories about the dangers of traveling overseas and entering into an unfamiliar country as an American citizen, so the thought of placing myself in one of those situations seemed risky. However, being the optimistic and easily excitable person that I am, I eventually committed myself to spending my spring break on a mission trip in Kenya.

On March 3 I boarded an airplane and left the comfort of the United States with a passport in my hand, fear in my mind, but an undeniable excitement in my heart. Little did I know that traveling to Kenya would not change the lives of the African children I would soon meet, it would change my own.

After spending nine joyful days in Kenya, I returned to the U.S. quite a different person than I was before. Stepping out of my comfort zone and traveling to Kenya both strengthened my relationship with God while also encouraging personal growth within many areas of my life.

Being exposed to the African culture broadened my knowledge and appreciation of the traditions, practices and uniquities of countries around the world, not limited to Kenya. Soon after returning, I made the decision to change my concentration to International Public Relations due to the exposure of a new world I experienced while abroad. Learning the ethics and values of people so different from me, yet still being able to find significant similarities is a binding connection that left me wanting to discover more.

Without the opportunity to participate in a mission trip in Africa, chances are, I probably never would’ve left the United States. Flying on an airplane used to be a fear of mine, as well as the thought of being more than a few hours away from my family and my home. Now, I realize had I not traveled to Kenya, I never would’ve discovered my burning passion for travel.

Despite my hesitation and the initial fear of boarding a 14-hour flight, once we landed in Kenya, the journey was the least of my worries as the infectious African culture consumed me. Traveling abroad helped me to conquer a fear I wouldn’t have been able to overcome otherwise.

As a communications major, knowing how to interact with a variety of people is extremely important. Although most of the African people we encountered spoke English, the cultural, moral and circumstantial differences caused communication to be difficult at times. I believe everyone on the trip mastered a new way to effectively communicate and understand by opening our minds to new ideas and learning how to present our ideas in different ways. My interactions with the people in Kenya as well as my mission team made me more confident in learning to relay and comprehend diverse communication.

Travel opportunities are all around us, with options to go abroad through many different organizations whether it be a campus ministry, a research group or a semester of education abroad all on your own. It’s safe to say my decision to board a plane to Kenya quickly became one of the most impactful experiences of my life. In all the world, there are an impressive range of unique cultures for everyone’s taste, so no matter where you decide to travel, I can bet you won’t be disappointed.