Monday, March 2, 2015

Study Tips- Finals Frenzy!

For most college students, midterms have arrived. The library is packed, lectures are suddenly going from half-full to packed, and students are downing coffee like water to cram last-minute for those A's. It's a similar scene here at DePaul- but it's for FINALS! Yes, that's right, winter quarter is already coming to an end. It feels like it just started! But in 17 days, I will be done with my current classes and prepping for a few days in Arizona with my mom and stepdad (and temperatures that are above fifty degrees- I can't wait!).

But for the next two weeks or so, I'm cracking down with my textbooks and prepping to do as well as I can. Between meeting with a tutor, nightly dates to the library with my roommates, and much-needed naps that function as my main source of sleep, I'm already in the fast lane. But the key to all this? Staying organized! I'm a super-disorganized person normally (thank you, ADHD), so it's crucial for me to stay on top of absolutely everything. Here are a few tips I've found super helpful!

- Keep two copies of everything- one digital, one print. I do mean everything! Every syllabus for my classes is both printed and in a folder as well as saved to a folder on my laptop. I keep a paper planner with me at all times that coordinates with an app called iStudiez (for my school assignment due dates, available for $4.99 on the App Store) as well as with my iCal app. When I make to-do lists, I write them down as well as set alarms in my phone for them. Having two forms of reminder is a little foolproof way- if I do forget one way, there's always another, and two reminders means I'm twice as likely to get everything done in a timely manner.

This was at 8AM a few days ago! I felt super productive waking up and getting things done. And yes, I color-code my planner with highlighters!
- Get creative with a calendar. One of the biggest issues I have- and I hate admitting this- is just getting out of bed to go to class. Especially when I'm up late studying, my bed is my best friend in the morning, and it's difficult to get up and throw on a jacket for class! Because I like the visibility of a calendar, and I love checking things off a list, I created this Post-It tab calendar on the side of my tall bookshelf. Each number is a class- from the day I made the calendar, I had 24 classes total left- each of my four classes meets twice a week, and I made it three weeks from the end of the class schedule. Each time I get back from class, I tear another tab off and toss it in the trash. It feels good to get each class over with, and it reminds me how few meetings I have left in these classes and to make the most of each ninety-minute meeting! Plus, unlike a typical calendar, it took me five minutes to make.

World's cutest neon calendar, right? And it's not super-noticeable in my decor, but I never fail to peel off my tabs after every class!
- Cross it off! I love making lists, mostly because the feeling of knowing everything you need to do is right in front of you and the subsequent feeling of crossing things off are SO great! So I got a little carried away and made a big visual of every single assignment I have due between last week and finals for three of my four classes. (One only has in-class work, so I got lucky there.) Having everything up on the side of my bookshelf next to my Post-It calendar (and in colorful construction paper and marker!) is a really great way to keep myself going- I just take a look at that, and I know I can do it. It really made the abstract stress I had a bit more concrete and less stressful, since I didn't actually have all that much per class!

Each sheet is color-coded to the folder and notebook I use for that class... maybe I'm a little color-coding crazy. But it so helps! 
What are your tips for staying organized and being the best student you can? Leave them in the comments! 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Best and Worst in Grammys Fashion

If you live under a rock or somehow have avoided Facebook for the last 72 hours, let me fill you in- the Grammys, aka the night with the highest rate of fashion crimes committed per capita, were last night in Los Angeles. I don't watch the actual Grammys ceremony- I tend to enjoy going back and watching the most important clips on Youtube the next day, since my musical taste is kind of picky- but I'd be damned if I let a potential opportunity to critique celebrity style go to waste! Since my mom and her best friends did such a great job with the Golden Globes fashion recap (in case you missed it, click here to read!), I figured I'd take back my title of resident snarky betch for a night before they recap Oscar fashion in a couple of weeks.

So without further ado, here's my take on the best and worst looks on Sunday night's red carpet.


ANNA KENDRICK


MY TAKE: Flawless. I don't think I've ever disliked an outfit Kendrick has worn on the red carpet, and this is no exception. There are very few award shows where a woman can pull off a pantsuit, especially one where the jacket also serves as the blouse. But at the Grammys, it's fair game.


ARIANA GRANDE


MY TAKE: While I don't love the way the sequin ruffle falls- it feels like an afterthought on the part of the designer- it's nice to see Ariana wearing something that doesn't involve a leotard or thigh-high boots.


BEYONCE


MY TAKE: Flawless. Queen Bey always knows what to wear, and what looks great on her. (Which, let's bey-honest, is everything. Everything looks great on her. Yep.)


CHARLI XCX


MY TAKE: And after the show, she can audition for a supporting role on the next season of Party Down! Seriously, it's cater-waiter gone bad. And the fur just makes it worse.


CHRISSY TEIGEN


MY TAKE: Oh, wow, another long-sleeved, floor-length white gown with cutouts and panels on Chrissy Teigen. The deja vu is so, so real. I guess girl knows what looks good and goes with it. Again. And again. And again...


GWEN STEFANI


MY TAKE: Is she, like, still 25? Seriously, she looks so great. I'm not normally a fan of jumpsuits but this is just so Gwen Stefani with the upper bodice detailing. She can do no wrong.


JHENE AIKO


MY TAKE: Did she forget this was the Grammys, and not a black tie ball? Looks a little too formal for the occasion, but gorgeous nonetheless.


LADY GAGA


MY TAKE: Whoa, didn't even recognize you, Mother Monster! Seriously, LOVE this look- maybe a bit too much cleavage, but it's so glam and chic (and not made of meat!!!!!). Keep doing this, please, Gaga. I love it.


MADONNA


MY TAKE: My friend Jackie tweeted "American Horror Story: Madonna" in response to this outfit. I think that most accurately sums up my feelings on this toreador-gone-slutty ensemble. Nobody told me they moved Halloween to February...


MEGHAN TRAINOR


MY TAKE: I don't understand the appeal of see-through curtains masquerading as a skirt. She'd look better in just the olive-green slip underneath...


MILEY CYRUS


MY TAKE: While the cutouts are certainly more plentiful than I would ever, ever wear, she looks far more elegant and sophisticated than I would have expected Miley to look, and I'm impressed.


NICKI MINAJ


MY TAKE: Did the bottom half of the skirt get caught in a paper shredder?


RIHANNA


MY TAKE: Cupcake couture at its finest. (Seriously, Giambattista Valli, how many yards of fabric did you use? It's horrid.)


TAYLOR SWIFT


MY TAKE: Best look of the night, hands down, and one of the best looks Taylor has ever worn on the red carpet. Obsessed. 


All photos courtesy of Buzzfeed.

Do you agree or disagree with my opinions? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Valentine's Dates with a Twist!

A few days ago, my boyfriend called me with a little (well, kinda big) surprise: he's flying back to Chicago for Valentine's Day! I fully expected us to have a Skype date, watch a movie, fall asleep talking to each other through our computer screens- the usual for our date nights. But the fact that I get to see him again, and so soon after our last visit, made me so, so happy. Of course, I spent the evening completely neglecting my upcoming midterms and got thinking about creative date ideas!

It's really exciting for me to get to plan a weekend like this with Rob- I've been single on Valentine's Day almost every year in recent memory, and yet, it's one of my favorite holidays. Maybe it's because I've never had a traditional Valentine's date with flowers and a nice dinner, but while that's the ideal night for some couples, there are definitely more options for a fun way to celebrate with your significant other, or with a group of friends you love!

1) Go out for lunch. Beat the crowds by heading out for a nice meal and dessert five or six hours earlier than most people! You can opt for a nicer, sit-down environment, or you can keep it informal and quirky- check out that hole-in-the-wall taco place you walk by on the way to class or work, or go to a Chinese restaurant and only order by pointing to the photo in the menu that looks best to you. By the time most people are just leaving the house for their dates, you're on to the next activity!

2) Have a movie marathon. Looking to avoid the crowds entirely? Stay home with a bucket of popcorn, some chocolate Kisses, and a great DVD selection! You can theme it, and watch all the rom-coms you've missed in the last year or two (or ten, I don't judge!), or just go for whatever looks the best at the Redbox kiosk. Great opportunity to cuddle up to a date or catch up with friends!

3) Paint a masterpiece. This is actually the idea I suggested to Rob, and he loved it! Let your inner Picasso shine at a local art studio. Painting and drinking is becoming a very popular pastime in big cities all over the country, so see if your local Sips n' Strokes has any availability for Saturday the 14th. Rob and I are taking a slightly different route- we're heading to Glazed Expressions in Lincoln Park and painting mugs for one another! We're both big tea-drinkers, so these are keepsakes we can both use for a long, long time! (He thinks his will come out horribly, but I don't believe him. I'll post the results after we paint them!)

4) Volunteer. Show a little love to those less fortunate and spend your day volunteering somewhere! Do you like animals? See if your local humane society needs any help- often they let first time volunteers play with the adorable puppies and kittens! If you're as allergic to adorable furballs as I am, look into soup kitchens and homeless shelters and serve a hot meal to those who need it- everyone deserve a little love on Valentine's Day!

5) Go on a scavenger hunt. I know I've got a list of things I still want to do and see in Chicago! Make a list of little things you can go take pictures of and do all over your city with your Valentine or your friends- you'll end up with lots of photos and mementos to scrapbook or collage! Don't be ashamed to get a little touristy with it, too- the memories you make will last a lifetime.

What are your plans this Valentine's Day? Share them with me in the comments!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

World Cancer Day

I don't talk much about my cancer story on this blog, but seeing as it's World Cancer Day, and my remission anniversary is just around the corner, I'm turning the blog teal for a day (so to speak) and sharing an abbreviated version of my story, with the hope that in the future, no 19-year-old girl has to endure what I did.

On October 29, 2012, I walked into the ER, alone and scared. I had a throbbing pain in my lower abdomen that my school's Health Services department couldn't diagnose, and it had only gotten worse throughout the day. After a five-hour stay in the hospital, a very unrestful night's sleep, a ride back up to the Chicago suburbs with my dad, and an hour in yet another emergency room, I was diagnosed with an ovarian tumor. I was told it might be cancerous, it was a foot long (!!!), and that I'd be rushed into surgery to remove it. The big C-word stuck with me, and I began to cry. I was a college sophomore- all I wanted was to celebrate Halloween with my friends and finish my midterms!

The weeks and months that followed were grueling and trying. I was in the post-surgical ward of the hospital for four days before I was allowed to go home and recover. The tumor was, in fact, cancerous, but only stage 1A- I was really lucky. I was poked and prodded at by doctors in numerous hospitals while they tried to decide what further treatment I needed. That was the scariest part- nobody seemed to know what to do with me. I was so, so afraid that I wouldn't be okay.

I was actually kinda cute as a baldie! I tweeted this to my favorite late-night host, Andy Cohen, and got a special shout-out from him! 
But here I am today, a proud 2-year survivor. After ten weeks of a three-drug chemotherapy regimen, a lot of naps, and a triumphant return to school, I was declared in remission on February 18, 2013. I was so excited to be a "normal" person again- to go out with my friends, to eat sushi again, to grow my hair out. But I had no idea that cancer would leave me with more than just a surgical scar. It's stuck with me from the day I was diagnosed on an emotional level, and it influences how I live my life every single day.

I blog, I study, I work because I have a second chance at life. I know other cancer patients aren't nearly as lucky as I am, and for them, I give back. I participate in Relay for Life, I contribute as a blogger to the Huffington Post's Generation Why section on young adult cancer, and I speak at local events about becoming a survivor at age 20. When I hear stories of other teens, children, and adults who have to face cancer, I break a little inside- cancer is something nobody should ever have to face, and yet, so many people are diagnosed every single day. 

My favorite sweatshirt and my teal ribbon pin. I'm wearing them today!
Today, on World Cancer Day, I think of those who have endured cancer, both those who've survived and those who haven't. I think of my role model, Diem Brown, who passed away in November 2014 after being diagnosed with cancer a third time. I think of the family members and friends I have who have had a doctor drop the C-bomb on them, and who were as taken aback as I was to get their diagnosis. And most importantly, I think of a future where nobody has to hear the words "You have cancer" ever again.