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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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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International Goodbyes

Saying “goodbye” can be awkward, because it’s hard to choose what the appropriate form of farewell is. In the US, you have three different options and that’s already too many.

Type 1 – If it’s family or good friends, you probably hug.

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Type 2 – If it’s a more professional relationship or someone you just met, you might shake hands.

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Type 3 – If it’s somewhere in between those, you might bring out the awkward wave (my personal favorite).

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Travelers tend to meet a lot of people. They could be your roommates, people you met out in the common area of a hostel or at some social event. You could have been with them as little as one breakfast sitting, or maybe they’ve been your “explore the city buddy” for the past few days. You’ve exchanged emails or are now Facebook BFFs and are about to head your separate ways. As I said previously, I already have three possible goodbye options, but I’m really in trouble when traveling internationally. For instance, Dutch people kiss three times alternating cheeks. Hispanic people often do the same, but only twice. It has also become trendy, in some places, to say hello and goodbye with one cheek kiss. Other cultures value their personal space and don’t want touching to be involved at all.

I have an outstanding ability to be clumsy and awkward whenever possible, so that’s just too easy of a set up for something embarrassing to happen. When someone steps towards you to say bye, are they coming in for a hug or a predetermined set of cheek kisses? How many cheek kisses? On what side do you start the cheek kissing process? You know the awkward dance people do when they’re passing in a hallway and they keep trying to let the other one pass? Then it turns into some sort of really klutzy waltz. Now imagine that in even closer range, but with only your faces as you try to kiss the other persons cheek. It’s the stuff of nightmares.

Can someone with more authority than I possess please come up with some sort of internationally accepted, general goodbye?? I suppose it couldn’t hurt to just ask, “How do they typically say goodbye where you’re from?” but that’s just too sensible.

Am I the only one who’s felt this way before?? Tell me your stories!

Hello!

This is a special welcome to everyone being referred over from Domestic Imperfection and everyone that I just met at the World Travel Market, here in London (Still can’t believe I’m here!). Actually, HELLO if you’re coming to this site by any other means too. I love visitors! For all the Newbies, here is a quick rundown on Two Thumbs…

Have you ever heard someone who just had something exciting happen, like winning concert tickets, say, “Who has two thumbs and just won tickets to the concert this Saturday?” Then they probably point at themselves and say “this girl!” or “I did!” Well that’s what I was thinking when I was starting this blog. “Hey, I’m a blogger now.” That’s it. There wasn’t a ton of thought that went into the name, but now I think it’s perfect. This site is a little bit of everything: photography, travel, DIY projects… So to me, It’s about the things you can accomplish when you get up off the couch, away from the TV and make experiences happen. Ten months ago, I was saying, “Who has two thumbs and just started a blog?” and in less than a year it turned into, “Who has Two Thumbs and is in London with a press pass to the World Travel Market and also had two projects featured (my telephone table and panel wall) on one of her favorite DIY websites?” This girl!

Anyway, first official day of WTM tomorrow and many other exciting things in the works, so you’ll be hearing from me again soon. For live updates, follow me on Twitter and Instagram @CorneliaJoy. In the mean time, take a look around and let me know what you think!

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!

Bicycle Commuting For A Month

That’s right! 31 whole days of only using my bicycle for the daily commute to work. In other words, 22.2 miles round trip, or a little over 500 miles in total. Not only did I get in my exercise, but I saved money on gas and I got to be outside to watch the beautiful sunrise every morning. Here are a few tips that I’d suggest if you want to try to ditch your car, like I did.

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1. Go to bed! When the alarm goes off in the morning, that’s where the biggest struggle always is. You might have every intention of getting up in the morning, when it’s the night before, but you’ll think of every excuse possible to justify not getting out of bed when the time comes. Take away the excuse of, “I didn’t get enough sleep last night.” It’s one less argument you’ll have with yourself the next morning.

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2. Be mindful of the weather! I don’t just mean the rain either. Cycling in the rain is nothing compared to pedaling home with a headwind! Seriously, it’s amazingly irritating. The weather variations we have in Florida are just really hot, hot and raining. All of which call for shorts and a t-shirt. Too much wind, on the other hand, calls for leaving the bicycle at home and driving yourself to work. When the going gets tough, the Tough get going. Whether or not it is windy dictates whether or not the Tough take the car or a bicycle.

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3. Before you try cycling to work, drive your route and make sure it’s safe for the entirety of your journey. Bike paths haven’t always been on the forefront of all city-planners minds. You don’t want to get halfway to your destination and discover you can either ride your bike in the street dodging semis or on the grass dodging potholes.

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4. If you’re going to use headphones, which I do, don’t use ear-buds or anything noise cancelling. If you’re listening to music or an e-book to pass the time, you definitely still always want to know what’s going on around you. Pay attention. Pay attention. Pay attention.

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5. Give yourself plenty of time, especially in the morning. You don’t want to start your day full of stress about being on time, or arrive to work covered in sweat because you were pedaling like a crazy person. Get up early enough so you can take your time, enjoy the morning, stop to take some pictures and still have time to cool off and settle in once you get to work.

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If I can go a month without taking my car to work, I can run a marathon, right? Time to start training!

Now park your car, get out the bicycle and start building those leg muscles!