5/23/2019

Freshman 15: Tips for Moving Out

Moving out at the end of the semester can be an overwhelming task. There’s much to be done and a looming deadline, and how on earth is everything going to fit in the car?! Whether you’re about to move out of your living space for the school year or maybe your done, but you wish it had gone better, thinking through the process can help make it a more streamlined experience.


I shared my tips for move in day in the fall. Now, after two years of move outs and learning a few strategies along the way to help ease the process and stress of moving out, I am sharing a few move out tips. As always, I’d love to hear any tips you have, too!

Do not cart home what you know you do not want.
Before getting in full study mode for finals, check the university website and see if there is some place to donate items. Selling items is another option. I knew my desk hutch was too big for my desk the next year so I put it on a student resale Facebook page and arranged for pick up in front of my dorm.

If your school has a food pantry, it is a great place to drop off unused pantry items and toiletries. If not, try to find someone staying on campus during the summer. They would most likely be thrilled to have your surplus items.

Be considerate.
If you are the first to leave, make sure you take everything. Pretty self-explanatory, but once your car is full, it is easy to lose any enthusiasm for dealing with the odds and ends remaining in the room. I recommend you don’t assume someone else will want it just because you don’t. Communication is key and can save your roommate from work when they close the room.

Think strategically.
If you have fragile items that need a little protection, use your sheets or towels to wrap them. It serves a purpose and gets an item home without adding bulk. I packed my laundry hamper full of clothes, and storage cubbies filled to the brim with random items. Make sure to maximize your space in the car so that everything can fit.

Be prepared that moving out is an individual event.
Unlike the scheduled event of move in, everyone moves out at their own pace. If you have a Friday final, be prepared to see people moving out early in the week. Don’t lose your motivation because others are done early.  There will be plenty of time for packing after focusing on finals.

Be aware of deadlines.
If you need to be out by 10 a.m. Saturday, be out by 9. You most likely will require a room check and could have to wait for an RA’s or building manager's availability. Plus, this gives you a little buffer should any issues arise.

Make sure summer items are accessible.
Think about where your items will be during the summer. Will it be accessible? What clothes will you want to wear when you get home? Try to think and pack based on what you will need and how frequently you’ll need it once you get home.

If you have enough space, start packing early.
Whether it’s starting to box up date party costumes or throwing away the last of the snacks, try to prep for move out by making little efforts leading up to move out. By doing small tasks here and there, it will not take up too much time and help you feel like you’re making progress bit by bit.

What are your tips for a successful and smooth move out?

5/08/2019

Finals Tips + Tricks

Finals season has arrived. It's almost bittersweet — happy to see the end of the semester, but finals can be stressful. This round of tests was my fourth set of finals in college (that is scary in and of itself — how does time fly so fast?). So, I thought I would share a few tips that have helped me when studying for finals. I hope you find these ideas helpful. I'd love to hear any tips you have too!


Make a Plan
Preparing for finals in college is different from high school because you sometimes have days before the exams with nothing to do but study. It can be challenging to figure out how to best use this time. I've found that creating a schedule for myself to tackle the workload helps me use my time efficiently. This schedule does not need to be rigid, but mapping out how you will spend time ensures that you'll be able to cover all necessary material in a productive way. No late night cram sessions will help you better comprehend and review the material and use your time before the test efficiently. Plus, if you want to study with a group or classmate, you will be more aware of how much time you can allocate to working with others.

Have a Bedtime
This sounds silly, but it can be so easy to stay up very late studying for exams. I am not the best at maintaining a bedtime during the school year, but I do try to go to bed at a good hour during finals week. With a solid night's sleep, I will not be overtired and can study the material when I most awake. A full 8 hours of sleep can do a world of wonders.

Find a Study Spot
During finals week I spend hours at the library. I have a spot that I like on the quietest floor, and I am most productive tucked away in this nook. I recommend finding a place where you will not be distracted and can focus on studying. This looks different for everyone, but it's important to know where you can be most productive. I also like to change it up and work at Starbucks during the morning, but head to the library in the afternoon and evening. A little variety in my surroundings helps to keep me motivated.

Pack Your Backpack Well
There's nothing worse than getting to the library and realizing you don't have your textbook or computer charger. Before heading out to study, I always go through my backpack and make sure I have any materials I will need. Don't forget items like your phone charger and some snacks! If you do forget a cord or cable, check with your library they may be able to loan or rent you one, saving you precious time from returning to your dorm or apartment to retrieve it.

Work Breaks into Your Schedule
It is so important to study, but I also need a break here and there. I actually put some breaks in my schedule. I've learned you will be more focused if you occasionally allow some time for yourself. Whether that's scrolling through social media or going to grab a coffee, your brain will appreciate the break! Or if a friend asks to get an ice cream or take a walk, you will enjoy a little down time and it can help you be more productive when you return to studying. It is equally important to be careful not to take too long of a break. I like to make sure I set a time limit for myself so I don't waste an hour on Instagram, haha.


I wish you the best of luck on finals and hope that these tips are helpful! What are your keys to success during finals week?

4/04/2019

Spring Statement Earrings

There are endless aspects of spring to love, but the bright colors have to be my favorite. From the blooming flowers to colorful clothing, the change from winter is always welcome.

I try to incorporate color into my outfits throughout spring (actually always, let's be real), and one simple way to do so is adding fun statement earrings. Earrings are my favorite piece of jewelry because of their versatility. They can easily dress up or down any outfit. I'm always looking for new earrings to add to my collection, and I think the selection this spring is my favorite yet.

I've pulled together some fun statement earrings that are perfect for spring and summer. All the earrings below are under $25 and could work for numerous occasions. I love every pair of the earrings below, and I plan to add at least one or two to my collection.


top: one | two | three 
middle: one | two | three
bottom: one | two | three

What are your favorite earrings for the springtime?

3/28/2019

How to Take Time for Yourself During the Week

Ah, the mid-semester slump and the welcome relief of spring break. Still, it can be challenging to come back after break knowing that you need to be recharged and focused to do well on the remaining assignments, projects and tests before you reach the finish line. Life seems to be most hectic toward the end of semester and while it can be difficult to get back in the swing of things after a restful spring break it's a must with only weeks remaining.  

One way I have found to make it easier to ease back into the necessary work effort is to find small ways to treat myself. After a spring break full of R&R, I am making an effort to carve out time for myself during the week, which helps me to stay focused on what needs to get done. Little acts here and there can make a huge difference in the long run. Plus, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself especially when you're busy it’s easy to make excuses not to do so. Here are a few of my favorite ways to make some time for myself each day. 


Schedule Your Day
I'm a bit of a crazy person when it comes to my agenda and to-do list, but I am a true believer that this is a great way to find time for yourself and stay on top of everything. With a full course load and a part-time job, I plan my days and week practically minute by minute, which I know is not for everyone. By scheduling my time, however, I am very aware when I have unscheduled time. Then I use these little windows of free time effectively. Without my schedule, I feel like it would be easy to waste these 15 or 30 minute windows. Instead I use this time to grab a coffee, call home or knock something off my to-do list. Finding those small pockets of time throughout the day can build up and by the end of the day, I feel a sense accomplishment instead of a list of items I wished I had taken time to get done.


Treat Yourself (in moderation)
Sometimes a cake pop can be just the pick me up I need. My favorite is still the Starbucks birthday cake pop — maybe it’s the pink frosting. I find that giving myself something to look forward to or even just a small spur of the moment act can be the lift I need during a challenging day or week. This looks different for everyone, but find a small way that can pick up your day. Maybe it’s not food, but setting aside time to watch an episode of your favorite show or sitting on the quad listening to some music and just relaxing. 


Take an Extra Long Shower
I can be very speedy in the shower — the faster I shower, the faster I can get to bed - Ha! Giving myself extra time to stand there and relax can be so refreshing. I add these Smith & Vandiver Aromatherapaes De-Stress spa shower tablets. Its like a bath bomb for the shower. It releases a soothing aroma and encourages me to breath deeply, and relax from the day. There are so many great bath products available with relaxing scents like lavender, vanilla or jasmine. I'd love to hear if you have any products you love. 

Make time for Friends
Who doesn't love spending time with their friends, but sometimes life can get crazy busy and you don't have a lot of time. Still carving out time for friends should be a high priority. Even if its just stopping in the hall to talk with someone for five to 10 minutes. A short interaction is still better than no time with others. Recently, I've actively been working on reaching out to friends I do not see as often. Perhaps we had class last semester, but this semester our paths never cross. So, I try to schedule a coffee or a meal together. We all have to eat, right? I love finding time to catch up with others. 

While I would love to still be lying by a pool reading a book and relaxing, the end of each semester is always busy. I know gearing back up to make the most of these last few weeks is important, but carving out me time will make it a lot more enjoyable. 

How do you find time for yourself? 

8/24/2018

Freshman 15: Tips for Move In Day


After a summer of planning and purchasing all my decor, I was so excited to move in to my dorm. I also was a little anxious because I knew once we finished setting up the room my college life was going to begin. Being prepared for the day, however, made the move relatively smooth and allowed some time for good byes.


At The University of Alabama, you have a specific move in time. We literally pulled our car in front of my dorm building at the designated time, I went inside and received my key while my parents who were with the car were greeted by a team of volunteers who unloaded everything from the car into large rolling boxes and then met me at the door and took everything to my room. Then the real work began.


I know I was fortunate that this was my experience and getting into a dorm room may be a different experience for everyone. So, I will limit sharing what I learned to inside the dorm, except to say make sure you know where to get your key and have it before you unload your car. 

Now to the room, as I said in my post about making your room homey be prepared when you walk in. It is going to look very bare and boring. But, within minutes it looks full because your pile of possessions will fill the available floor space. Before we unpacked anything, my mom had a small bag of cleaning supplies and trash bags. She carried it with her so it did not get lost in the boxes. We wiped down everything, including the plastic covered mattress and inside all the dresser drawers. While the room looked cleaned, I knew it probably had been used for summer camps. So, it just felt good to know I was starting my home away from home with a clean surface.  


Also, if you have a suite style room with your own bathroom, make sure you pack toilet paper, hand soap and paper towels in your cleaning bag!


Since we are talking cleaning, remember to dress comfortably and in clothes that you do not mind if they get a little dirty. Our air conditioner was not working when we first arrived and although they came and fixed it quickly, it was still hot. Also, we brought iced coffees with us and some bottled water. It may seem unnecessary before you arrive, but when you are in the thick of setting everything up, you'll be happy for the convenience of having a cold drink available.






Before unpacking, you'll want to set up the furniture. I had planned my layout before I arrived based on the way I knew I wanted to use each space. If you have a roommate I suggest you talk about the arrangement prior to arrival, especially if you are arriving at different times. If you have to raise or loft your bed, make sure you bring the necessary tools. This can take a little time and you may be anxious to start unpacking, but be patient. It is easier to take one step at a time in a small space.  


Once the room is set up and your bed is at the right height, unpack your foam mattress topper if you have one. Mine took a little time to expand and it needed to air out for a while. If you are arriving by car, I do have a few tips to make unpacking easier. First, leave hanging clothes on the hanger and cover them with tall kitchen garbage bags. I found it made it so easy to just remove the bag and hang them. Second, if you have under bed storage drawers, fill them before you leave home and tape them shut to avoid spilling during move in. Like I said earlier, you may not be the only people handling your items. If you packed your clothes in suitcases, plan to send all of them home except one small suitcase for fall break or Thanksgiving. And, because you want to maximize your space be sure to throw out all the packing material. Also, if you have seen my dorm room, you know I had several items that had to be assembled. My room had a living room and we used that space for building all the items. If you do not have a living area, you may want to check for a floor lounge or even build it outside and carry it in. 


It is exciting to see your room come together. Putting your art on the walls really makes a difference. I used a lot of framed art and I quickly learned the lighter the frame the easier it was to secure. Be sure to know the rules for hanging items on your wall before you arrive. You'll want to be armed with the right tools whether it is an abundance of Command strips, nails and a hammer, or push pins. And, even though you are organized and prepared, you will probably need a run to the store for a forgotten item or to get something that you did not know you needed. Before we left home, we put the addresses of the local Target, Wal-Mart, Bed, Bath and Beyond and CVS in our navigation system. This was so helpful because while I had visited campus a couple times I really had not spent any time in town. I would also recommend you know the location of an off-campus Starbucks and a restaurant or two. Because school has not started yet, the campus Starbucks might have limited hours. And, when you are ready for a break, you will want to just go to lunch or dinner and not have to look up to see what restaurants are close to campus. Trust me on this one! 



Take time to make your bed completely before you stop working on your room. Once my bed was made with all the pillows it just felt like a real room. With beds made and the room put together take a quick pic with your roommate. Your friends and family will want to see your space. But, my advice is to wait to post it until right after your parents leave. Which brings us to saying good bye and even though you may be craving your independence, it is still a big moment in both your life and your parents' lives. You are leaving the nest and everyone (including your parents) is experiencing a mixture of happiness and sadness, and probably a degree of anxiousness. If your room is filled with people, walk out with your parents at least as far as down the hall. Don't be surprised if they have some final advice (let them have this parenting moment). Personally, I took this chance to thank my parents not only for helping me get everything set up, but for helping me get to this point. After a few final hugs, I walked back to my room, sent that room picture to a bunch of friends, which gave me a connection to people. I also hung out with my new roommates. Believe it or not, your new life as a college student starts right at the moment you say good bye. Getting out there and making new friends and living this new life makes it easier even if you are a sad to leave the comfort of home.

I hope your move in goes smoothly and that you have a great start to your freshman year!

XO,

Kathleen

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