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!

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!!

Photographing the Terrible Twos

I recently did a maternity photo shoot for a friend and discovered (for the second time) how difficult it is to get a two year old to cooperate for pictures. Here are a few things that I learned that helped make the whole process run a little more smoothly.

1. Prioritize.

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They are over posing for pictures pretty quickly. If there are any cute ideas that you were really wanting to try, get them out of the way immediately or they probably won’t happen.

2. Aperture.

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See this picture ^^^ ? It looks like the little guy is happy and laughing, but he’s actually screaming… and this was only about 10 minutes into the shoot. Oh, boy. Use aperture and focus to hide that grumpy face.

3. Improvise!

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Try taking pictures while they’re doing something they enjoy. You might end up with a little boy riding around on a 4-wheeler in 90% of the pictures, but at least he’ll be smiling.

4. Wardrobe!

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One of the benefits to photographing a two year old, is that they are almost always adorable, even just walking across the yard. You can take plenty of cute candid shots that look great. If that two year old is wearing a shirt that says something like, “Big Brother.” Bam. That makes it part of a pregnancy shoot.

5. Patience.

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Take breaks and alternate between poses with the whole family and ones that just have the parents or mom. This way, the youngin’ can run around a little bit.

So, that’s what I learned last weekend. It was an adventure. If you want to see the rest of the photos, check out my Facebook page!

World Travel Market Preparations: Business Cards

Only a little over a month remains until the London 2013 World Travel Market. I have my press pass, the hostel is booked, plane tickets are purchased and now I have my business cards! I used moo.com, and it was really such a great experience. I used the “Great Escapes” Template. I loved the color scheme and layout on the front, and on the back, you can choose 5 of your own photos that will alternate on the cards…

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*There isn’t actually a blank space under “Two Thumbs Travels”, I just figured the internet isn’t the best place to display my personal cell phone.

You can use the photos on the back as a mini photography portoflio, like I did with the New York and Key West Photos, or have photos of yourself to make them remember you, like the skydiving and paddle-boarding shots…. or you can have a picture of your cat, just because you can…

Anyway, the cards are made really well. They’re not flimsy and cheap feeling, like cards I had previously purchased from a large office supply retail chain. I also love the matte finish and rounded corners, but there are many other options also. Plus, they come in a really cute little black box so you can carry them around and not get them damaged or lost.

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The shipping was incredibly fast too. I ordered them on September 15th and the confirmation said they would arrive by September 25th. This is why I was fairly surprised when they came in the mail only 5 days after I placed the order and 5 days before they were due to arrive.

I wanted the cards to look professional, but stand out with a little humor (Cat Lady) and I couldn’t be happier with the results. I highly recommend moo.com for not only business cards, but all kinds of promotional materials. Go check out their website!

For live updates on all upcoming events (World Travel Market, Doctor Who 50th Celebration, Cats), don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, Vine and Instagram @CorneliaJoy.

Side notes: I would like to point out that I know the scratches on my desk are terrible and I will be refurbishing and posting about it as soon as time allows. Also, I will only have 8 weeks of class left for my B.A.S. after the WTM, but it would be a huge waste of money hassle to make these and then have to order new ones 8 weeks later, so I decided to include it on there already. I hope that doesn’t offend anyone!

Things To Come…

I realize I have posted A LOT about the Keys lately, but my horizons will be expanding once again, shortly. Here is a list of a few things coming up over the next few months or so…

Travely things…

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First, in November, I’ll be headed to London for the World Travel Market! This will be my first time at WTM and first time in London. I’m definitely excited for both! I know lots of adventures with new friends await, and that’s just the beginning. After London, I’ll be headed over to the Netherlands via a short stay Brussels. At least that’s the plan for now. After a couple weeks in the Netherlands, it’s back to London for (hoisting my inner nerd flag) the Doctor Who 50th Celebration! It took waking up at 5 AM and struggling for about 45 minutes to get through for tickets the day they went on sale, but my diligence was rewarded and I have a ticket to the (now sold out) event!

Marathon

Since leaving Nashville in May, I have done almost nothing but think about how I can justify a trip back. *Enter the Music City Rock ‘n Roll Marathon* Granted, the race isn’t until April, but at least now the dates are set! I intended to only sign up for the half marathon, but my running buddy signed up for the full. I’m not sure if my competitive nature or peer pressure is to blame, but regardless of the reasoning behind it, I am officially signed up for my first marathon, 26.2 grueling miles. What have I gotten myself into?? Actually, as far as marathons (aka running over 26 miles, in one shot… on purpose) go, this seems to be a pretty cool one. There are supposed to be bands at every mile playing live music, and then a big free concert afterwards. The race benefits St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, so that’s pretty cool too. It also gets me back to Tennessee. What more could I want?

More fitnessy things..

Bad Prom

In March, there’s another pretty awesome race happening in my area, and I’m really looking forward to this one. It’s only a 5k and it’s called the “Bad Prom Run.” You find one of your old prom dresses or something terrible from a thrift store, a group of your funnest friends, run/walk a couple miles and then have a big party after. Sounds like a good time to me!

DIYs..

I’m almost done with the interior of my Dome Top Steamer Trunk, I’m pretty excited to have that beast finished. I’ve also got a few other things thing in the works, but I don’t want to say too much. Spoilers! Between what I’ve got lined up for myself and friends, and all the estate sales/thrift stores that are calling my name There are plenty of project posts on the way.

Personals..

– turning 25 (since when am I a quarter of a century old?)

-finishing my undergraduate schooling

-applying for graduate school aka lots of stress

If you’re looking for live updates in real time on any of those events, I’m talking to you Doctor Who fans, be sure to follow me on any of the various social media platforms… facebook, instagram, vine, twitter… @CorneliaJoy! If you have any suggestions for London/Brussels I would really appreciate hearing them!

Bucketlist Item #10… Skydiving!!!

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Well, I did it and I lived to tell the tale. Bucketlist Item #10. Check! I can tell you there is no feeling quite like the rush of stepping out of a plane 11,000 feet in the air… on purpose.

We found a Groupon, so the jump cost was only $115. I say “only $115” because without the Groupon, it would have been much closer to $200. The weather was pretty terrible for our appointment time of 2:30, so we ended up jumping closer to 6 or 7. We occupied our time with some soccer…

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And mobile “Family Fued…”

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And in no time, we were off…

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Other than the initial terror due to stepping out of the plane, it actual wasn’t too frightening. Because of the delay, we ended up jumping right at sunset, which made it worth the wait. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone to try at least once. If you decide to purchase the video, be prepared to see some very bizarre facial expressions. Not from fear, but from the air pressure. I had giant cheekbones at one point, flapping lips at another and the side of my face moved in ways that ones face never should.

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Sun City Stables

I spent my Memorial Day at Sun City Stables and I have the sunburn to prove it! They have horseback riding or a petting zoo if riding isn’t really your thing. Time is of the essence though, because right now they have the CUTEST little baby horse! Meet Milo…

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He has absolutely no fears and will happily walk over and chew on your arm, face, camera… whatever. He’s not picky. The sheep are shameless as well.

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In their defense, I did enter the pen with a bag of chips. If you are around sheep, or goats for that matter, with a bag of chips they really can’t be held responsible for their actions.

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On top of the goats, sheep and horses, there are also llamas, an alpaca, an ostrich and a couple guinea pigs… and maybe some other things that I have forgotten. It’s only $5 for the petting zoo, which is nothing, so go check it out! The riding trails are lovely, the people are friendly and the animals are great. 🙂