While on the train to New York City, my laptop is out and I’m writing articles, not for the job I’m going to, but for writing jobs out of Lexington and San Francisco. California isn’t even awake yet, but my editor will have another article in her inbox before her morning coffee. Lexington is probably awake but the posts aren’t even due for another week.
Journalism collegians, just like most other majors I can imagine, have so much on our plates. We need to work for our degrees, work for our bank accounts, work for our resumes, work for scholarships for school and balance some sort of social life so we don’t end up having a mental breakdown (which might happen anyway). Don’t forget to add family life and workouts into the mix!
Photo credit: http://battleforthebathroom.wordpress.com
So how do we keep everything straight?
Planners and white boards, calendars and post-its, alarms and Word Docs, organize, organize, organize.
In writing, it is difficult to keep editors and writing styles straight, especially when working for some liberal companies and some conservative ones. That’s something you don’t want to mix up.
The best way to keep everything in order is to simply pay attention. You may be juggling fifteen things at once but always doing one thing at a time and thinking each task through to completion will keep everything in order.
Good luck, and just remember that the days of juggling essays, tests, quizzes, part-time jobs and college life is just around the corner!
One of the biggest challenges and most rewarding aspects of studying abroad is getting to know and become comfortable with your host family—and to have them feel the same way about you! It takes time and happens gradually, but if you both put in the effort, you’ll leave with a new home and an extended family waiting for your return. Having a host family was one of the most nerve wrecking aspects at first—what if they don’t like me? What if we don’t get along? What if it’s horrible and I feel like I can’t be at home? Though they were all valid questions, you just have to be open and honest with your host family and slowly start to get to know one another.
You might not be instant friends with them, especially if you’re from completely different generations on top of being from different cultures. It might be hard to communicate if there’s a big language barrier, but you have to try. The more effort you show in getting to know them, the more they’ll come to appreciate you and want to be open with you. It’s the same thing as meeting a stranger in America: slowly start to teach each other about yourselves and as time goes on, you’ll (hopefully) be more comfortable and become better friends. So don’t get into the nitty gritty details right away—especially with Italians, who are known for wanting to keep their privacy with people they don’t know well. Maybe the first night focus on talking about yourself: why are you studying here, what your family’s like, things you don’t like to eat, etc. But also try to get them to engage as well, by asking them questions too or giving them room to interject. Even if it’s frustrating and you don’t know what to say, just remember that in a week or less all of your efforts will pay off.
To further help your relationship with them, you need to be considerate and respectful. Don’t let garbage and clothes pile up around your room. Italians pride themselves on keeping things neat, and many other home stays elsewhere—even if the family doesn’t care about organization—would appreciate you being able to pick up after yourself and not make a mess out of their home. You are a guest in their house first and foremost, and no matter if you become a new family member by the end, you still need to respect their rules and boundaries. Though they don’t set a curfew, be conscious of the time you come home and the amount of noise you make when you return. Also be aware of how much time you spend in the bathroom, how much/little you eat of what they make you and how you interact with any friends they have over or pets they have. It’s not that you’re being tested per say, as much as you should be respectful and aware of how you’re acting in someone else’s house.
After time, you and your host family will grow to be more accepting and understanding of the others’ behaviors and likes or dislikes. You’ll be able to talk freely and fall into their habits of how long to spend in the bathroom, a normal serving size at dinner or how neat you should keep your bedroom. The more you integrate yourself into the culture and try to learn from your host family, the happier all of you will be and the better experience you’ll have. So just jump right in and learn, experience and grow. This opportunity is all about you and your hosts learning from one another, so why not make the most of it?
I loved everything about it.
I got to climb to the top of the Great Wall, and try 10 different kinds of dumplings. But, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t crack the language. It was fascinating to listen and watch the people speaking. There are so many tones and symbols—even watching people write had me in awe.
It got me thinking about how important language is. When I was in China it was so hard to communicate because of the language barrier. You are stuck using your hands, or trying to convey a message with your expressions alone.
It’s tough. It’s scary. It’s beyond frustrating.
You want to be able to speak the native language of country you travel—it’s easier, respectful, and of course just cool.
In fact, if I could have any superpower it would be the gift of speaking and understanding every language in the world. Now granted, that’s a lofty goal. But imagine what that would mean—the ability to communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime. It’s not that easy, but I wish it were!
Languages are unique and complex. They are full of history and tradition. I took French starting at a young age. I didn’t keep up with it and it’s a shame. Looking back now, I wish I would have practiced more or taken it more seriously. How cool would it be to really talk to someone in French, like really talk?
Every time I travel I get enthralled with the language—I hang on every word. Even the ones I can’t understand, which are a lot.
I have a new life goal—one that will no doubt take a while to accomplish. I want to learn to speak Chinese, at least conversationally. I left China in May knowing how to say hello, how are you, I’m fine, and thank you. It’s not a lot, but it’s a start.
I may never reach my super power goal, but I can say hello and goodbye in French, Chinese and English—I just have to keep adding to my word base!
We all know that when it comes summer and everything is winding down, it can be pretty easy to slip into the feeling of not wanting to do anything. However, once you’ve arrived at that point, it doesn’t take long until not doing anything morphs into being bored. While it is perfectly acceptable to feel that you have deserved a break after duking it out with the school year, don’t let too much of a “good” thing bore you down! Try some of these ideas to still maintain the freedom of a vacation, but also keep your summer exiting and memorable.
Planning a fun road trip with some high school friends, or perhaps college friends who live nearby, is a great option and relatively inexpensive if you split the gas cost amongst four or five people. Another alterative could be driving to visit other friends a few cities away, which then provides you with a place to stay overnight without having to pay hotel/motel fees. Or, if you’ve decided to save up for a travel splurge, going abroad or flying domestically – either to tour or visit friends – is very rewarding and calls for a great way to spend some of your vacation.
2. Get a Job
While working isn’t always the ideal way to spend a summer, the money racked in can more than make up for it. A summer job doesn’t necessarily have to be related to retail or food service. There are a lot of opportunities to make good money but also enjoy what you’re doing (but that’s not to say that some retail and food service jobs will never meet that criteria!). Working at a day camp or water park is a good option if you like working with kids. You can serve either as a counselor or a lifeguard, be able to relax in the sun all day, but still earn your keep. Babysitting is another viable option if you have the qualifications and the ability to reach out to your community as a trusted sitter.
3. Do Some Summer Cleaning
If you’re one of those people (like me!) who enjoy cleaning out that cluttered basement or garage, take on one of those projects this summer. It’s a great way to be on your feet and concentrate on a worthwhile task at the same time. Once the space is cleared, you can even decorate and make the place more “live-able”—who knows, you might have just created a new summer hangout spot! Even better, your parents may offer to pay you a small sum for the service.
4. Make Some Money off of Your Clutter
Once you’ve cleaned out that living space, you’re probably going to find a lot of old furniture/toys/clothing that you don’t really need anymore (or didn’t even remember having as a kid!). Talk it over with your parents and see if a garage sale might not be a bad idea. Other options for your nicer furnishings are to take them to a consignment store in your area. These stores will typically accept and display your belongings on the storefront for a specified amount of time (perhaps 60-90 days on average) and cut you part of the profits if they sell. Many other thrift stores will pay you cash on the spot for your items (usually in the clothing and toys category). Hop online and type in those keywords and your zip code to find such places near you.
5. Earn Money by Taking Surveys
On those slow days when you’re not sure what to do, and feel like making some extra cash, enroll in a few online survey websites that pay you by check or by PayPal for the redemption of a certain amount of points. This is fun if you already love sharing your opinion. However, always check first to make sure the site is legitimate (there are scams out there, after all). The best way to do this is by searching for reviews online by people who have used the site, and likewise by checking the Better Business Bureau website for accreditation. Once you find the right survey site, you can take multiple questionnaires that may award you points immediately so that the site knows what kind of surveys to match you up with. It is also recommended by survey takers that you join multiple panels to yield better results and increase the amount of surveys that you qualify for (you will screen out after the first few questions if your answers don’t match the type of person the survey giver wants). Despite that, if you put the time and effort into it, you can rack up enough points that can be redeemed for a cash payout, or other type of reward. Just make sure you understand how each site regulates their points/payout system, and you’re good to go! You won’t get rich off of this by any means, but you may make some spending money.
6. Take on a Crafting Project
I’m also one of those people who love being creative. One of my early summer projects this month was making a T-shirt quilt out of some old shirts I found shoved into the back of my dresser. Seeing as I already had sewing materials, the shirts, and one black throw blanket to sew them onto, it only cost me approximately $15 to complete: $10 for another black throw to sew as the back of the quilt, and $5 for some quilt batting from the local crafting store. It’s an excellent way to keep yourself busy and make something useful at the same time!
Whether it’s joining a local gym for the summer, jogging around the neighborhood, or exercising at home, keeping active is a great way to avoid gaining weight during a summer of being stagnant, and to promote positive energy and self-esteem. Exercising outside especially helps you to get a safe amount of sun (as long as you monitor how long you’re outside and make sure to wear sunscreen) and release more endorphins. Make it a group activity when you can as well. Exercising in a social setting can make the act of exercising in itself more enjoyable and doable. And in the end, who doesn’t want to come back to school in the fall looking their best?
8. Attend a Seminar or Workshop
If there’s something you’re really interested in but don’t have time to pursue at school, summer is the perfect opportunity to let that interest take hold. If you like art or writing, for example, take some summer writing workshops or art classes that may be offered at your local library or on a nearby school’s campus. Explore something you’ve always wanted to try, but just never had the time to.
9. Explore the City
I never knew how many attractions were available in my own hometown until after I had already gone away to college. When I came home for my first summer, many of my college friends who were also from my hometown (but had attended other high schools), showed me a wide array of places I had never been to. Keep an eye out for areas of town that have great restaurants, bars, and clubs for that fun Friday night with your friends—but also check for some good theatre, museums, and concerts that you may have never known existed. Larger city parks (like, for me, Forest Park in St. Louis) usually house more than one of these attractions, so just by traveling to one area you can discover a multitude of fun activities. But as always, remember to stay in a group if you’re in an unfamiliar part of town. Be safe—while also being classy!
10. Take Some “You” Time!
While it’s great to have an eventful summer, remember to relax and focus on you. Some alone time can be a good thing. Keep a journal, decorate your room, shop around the mall—do something that you enjoy that doesn’t necessarily have to be done with other people all the time.
Your entire summer shouldn’t be limited to these ten things, but the most important concept is making sure that you maintain an active summer but also get that feeling of elation. After all, you did make it through that school year; perhaps you didn’t get all the grades you wanted, or perhaps you were more stressed out than you would have liked. But regenerating over the summer can certainly lead to a more positive school year in the fall. The more relaxed and prepared you are for the upcoming semester, the more successful you will be.