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5 Ways to Maximize Your College Experience

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There are a few things I did, or wish I had done in college, which really helped make the most of the experience. The time spent in college, even counting graduate school, goes by so quickly! It’s important to make the most of it, before the opportunities are gone!

1. Join a student group/organization.

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The only group I joined was my college’s volleyball team, and I wish I had joined more! It doesn’t have to be a sports team. It can be social, or political. It can be about a hobby, or a cause. The fun in this is that often they are people from different classes, majors, and walks of life who come together for a common interest. Not only will you make lifelong friends, but it is a great way to grow your network!

Now let’s talk about networking. I don’t care for the word. It implies schmoozing simply for the sake of future career or personal advancement. To me, there is a difference between networking, and growing your network. “Networking” is the aforementioned schmooze fest. “Growing your network” is the result of getting out into the world and actually getting to know people. Putting it another way, when you are needing a job or reference, would you rather turn to a friend that truly knows you, or someone you met at some networking event, gave your business card, and to whom you blathered on about your credentials for 15 minutes?

2. Study abroad.

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It would be really hard to get the same level of experience you get from studying abroad, on your own. The most important benefit these trips provide is an added level of safety. You are placed within a network of students who can accompany you on adventures, program supervisors who will check on you, and locals who you can give you safety and travel tips. It’s the perfect combination.

This is also a way to meet people outside of your normal group, only this time they will be from other countries, instead of just other majors. You become fast friends with your study abroad group too. You are normally all out of your comfort zone and have no idea what you’re doing, so you naturally become stuck together.

This is also a good option for those who aren’t super comfortable traveling internationally, because you can choose from different levels of immersion. Some schools put you in a dorm with a bunch of other expats, while other schools stick you right in a local’s home with a family that barely speaks any English. You get to decide how adventurous you want to be!

3. Take an Internship.

This is an area where I missed out, and I REALLY regret it. One of the major benefits to internships is that they often lead to careers within your internship company upon graduation. Another benefit is, even if you have work experience, it diversifies your resume substantially. This is very beneficial if you are looking to change careers/industries upon graduation.

I went to a smaller college that had a virtually non-existent Career Development Office, so internships were a little bit harder to obtain. Any big name school, should be able to help at least get you started in the right direction. For those in smaller schools, take initiative and find your own internship. You won’t regret it, and a surprising amount of internships are even paid!

4. Attend Events

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There is something about going to a college game as a student, which makes it more exciting and fun than most other sporting events. Anyone can buy merchandise for a professional team and say they are a fan, but attending a game at your school with your fellow students and yelling obnoxious chants over and over (It’s GREAT… To BE… A FLORIDA GATOR!) is much more fun, especially when you beat the opponent in triple overtime… No offense Kentucky..

If sports aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to get your school spirit on.  Homecoming weekend is a blast. UF had Movies in the Swamp, cultural events and Gator Stomp. You might also want to check out some of the performing arts shows. Whatever gets you out and amongst your fellow Gators, Tar Heels, Longhorns etc.

5. Use your Electives!

The biggest waste of electives is just taking classes that are easy. This is college! You’re here to learn! Think about your future career, and in what position you would like to be. What electives can help you get there? Or maybe you’re studying something that already defines your career, like accounting, take something that will be personally rewarding. Curious about photography? Take a class! Interested in American history? Take a class! Want to learn another language? Take! A! Class! Don’t take Intro to Art History because you heard the professor has never failed anyone. You’re paying for an EDUCATION, so make good use of it!

These are from my own personal experience, but I’d love to hear your tips! Leave a comment below!

Tutorial: EASY Graduation Cap Decorations

I had never decorated any of my graduation caps before, mostly because I either didn’t remember or the task seemed too daunting. I mean, who wants to compete with caps like these:

Cap 2 Cap 3 Cap 1For those of us that can’t paint like Van Gogh or bedazzle with the best of ’em, I suggest some scrapbook supplies and fabric glue…

6X0A9809I threw this together in about 15 minutes, which is especially handy if you have a needy 3 month old at home. No hand-ruched fabric. No gluing 18,000 rhinestones. Just pick something that you like in the scrap book isle (Which could actually be the hardest part. There are so many great choices!) and stick them to your cap. In hind sight, I wish I would have added more flowers, but overall I’m happy with the concept.

Now I just need to graduate again so there’s another cap to decorate…

Congratulations to all of the 2015 graduates, and go Gators!

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St. Jude’s Music City Half Marathon

If running for hours (3 hours, 1 minute, and 18 seconds in my case) trying to finish 13.1 or 26.2 miles is your thing, you might as well do it at a fun place and for a good cause. That’s why I recommend running the St. Jude’s Marathon in Nashville Tennessee, part of the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series.

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I don’t, however, recommend running it at 4 weeks pregnant. You will have no energy and nausea will likely be your running-mate. All that aside… It was still so much fun!

There are plenty of distraction to get you through, including a competition for cheer sections throughout the race course. Awards are given for creativity with signs, encouragement, and snacks.

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In addition to the standard water and Gatorade fuel stops, people were handing out doughnuts, pizza, mimosas, coffee, fruits, and GU energy packs. All of these things help contribute to you getting those necessary second, third and fourth winds…

Collage 1Nashville is a beautiful city, so even if you only (ONLY?!) do the half marathon, you’ll still get to see plenty of beautiful neighborhoods, parks, and historical buildings. The Nashville Downtown Hostel happens to be right across from the finishing point of the race, so in addition to being fun and unique place to stay, it’s also super convenient!

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Keep in mind that a “short walk home” across the bridge is one thing, but a short walk across the bridge after running 13 miles isn’t really all that short at all. Probably the longest, “short” walk you’ll ever take…

There’s also a free post race concert for the runners! Last year it had several stars from the TV show Nashville. If you can find the energy to roll out of bed, it’s a really fun time.

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Last, but not least… you get a fancy medal too.

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So if you’re thinking of doing a distance run, try this one. It’s not that bad (It’s that bad), but it’s worth it! :)

Hello, again!

It’s been too long, but a lot has happened. Here’s a quick catch up!

First, I graduated from SCF… 6X0A8617

Then I went to Tennessee…

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And ran in the St. Jude’s Music City Marathon… but only the half… (only half crazy)

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Next came grad school… (Go Gators!)

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Which led to a trip to Istanbul..

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There was a trip to Montana somewhere in there..

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Oh… and I had a baby!

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Now UF graduation is only 6 weeks away!

It’s been a pretty hectic 12 months, but it’s given me quite a lot to write! Better get started!!

:)

Map Trunk Refurbish pt. 1

Map Trunk Before and After

I found this trunk at the usual place, an estate sale. It looked pretty terrible, but it was really sound structurally. It was sturdy, the latches worked really well and lined up perfectly. Excellent candidate for a project. First, to prep the trunk, was the usual sanding process. You can see the difference here, from where the top is sanded and the bottom wasn’t..

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Then the whole thing. The interior panels were just plywood, so not really worth sanding down.

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When I was re-doing the Dome Top Steamer Trunk, I was thinking of different ways I could re-finish its interior. Ultimately, leaving the bare wood the way it was won out on that trunk, but one of the ideas I came up with was using some of these maps I had as a covering. These maps weren’t super old and full of character. They were from the era just before GPS and Google maps, so they were kind of ugly and obnoxious. I used some different stains and paint on a test piece to see what I could come up with. Two different stains and some dark brownish paint later, and this was the result…

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I was pretty excited with how it turned out! It kind of had an old leather map look. Huge improvement! The next step was to cut the map pieces down to size.

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I ALMOST cut the piece too small because I didn’t take into account that I was going to scrunch it up for texture. That shrunk it down quite a bit, but thankfully it still worked out. Next, I tried to stick the map to the trunk using 3M Spray adhesive. As soon as I applied the stain to the paper, it completely detached from the wood. Time to break out the Mod Podge! Worked like a charm.

I applied the lighter stain to the whole map…

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Then I worked the darker stain around the outside and then lightly through the middle. The final touch was the dark brown paint only around the edges. I used the same old rag that applied the stain to blend in the edges of the paint with the stain.

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Tada!! Lastly was a coat of polyurethane and it was finished! My favorite part about the maps is that both sections have locations in them that have been major parts of my life.

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I’m still toying with the idea of using something to line the map and make the edges cleaner, but we’ll see. There are also big plans for the interior, but they’re still in progress. I’ll keep you posted!!

The “Wing It” Bench

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I came across this bench at an estate sale a WHILE ago. It looked like a disaster, but it was such a sturdy little thing I couldn’t pass it up. It came home with me and there it sat for months, like over 12 of them. Finally a few weeks ago I started on the sanding process. It was definitely a process.

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It was surprising how easily the stain and the majority of the ugly blotches came out. It was a terrible stain job too, sloppy and so thick you couldn’t see any of the wood grain. After I finished the sanding, it sat in the garage for a few more weeks because I still had no clue what to do with it.

Inspiration came from digging through all of the random paint and stain cans that I’ve acquired from the Home Depot Oops Paint section.

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I had some reddish weatherproofing wood treatment that I’d been wanting to use. Ironic since I hated the red that was on the bench originally. It would have been too gaudy to make the whole thing red, so I went with just the legs. There was also a new stencil that hadn’t been used yet, so now was as good a time as any…

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A little distressing, some regular polyurethane and it was finished. It was fun to go into a project and just wing it.

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