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!

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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! 🙂

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!!

Austin Graffiti Park

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It’s been a crazy few days in Austin, but I have to say I’ve really enjoyed it. One the highlights of the trip was the graffiti park. It’s free (which is great!) but you can also see some really great street art…

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Seriously, where else would you see a giant snail-snake-deer Valentines day painting.

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…and some really nice inspirational messages…

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Love.

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There was even some Doctor Who!!

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It’s within walking distance of the downtown area, on Baylor Street near Lamar and 10th St. W. It’s definitely worth the visit.

Starting 2014 Off With A Win!

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Somehow, I placed 1st for my category in a race I did over the weekend. I don’t know how it happened, I’m just excited that I got a medal.

The Dolphin Dash is a cute little race out on Anna Maria Island, with the proceeds going to the local elementary school. Around the halfway point, I ended up running next to a little girl who was by herself and seemed on the verge of giving up. She slowed down to a walk so I said, “Come on. You’re over halfway through. You can’t stop now!” And just like that, I had a new best friend. The second half of the race was spent talking about movies and music, instead of thinking about running and how much distance was left. It was a nice change. As hard as it is to talk while you’re running, it actually makes the time go by pretty quickly.

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I learned two things from this race:

1) If you need a confidence boost, sign up for a small race. Even if your time isn’t any faster than normal, you might place, which is always fun.

2) If you’re considering saying something encouraging to someone, you should just go ahead and say it. You don’t know how much the person needs it, you might make a new best friend and, lastly, you might get an awesome finish line photo out of it. 🙂

So did anyone make any New Years resolutions? The Dolphin Dash was the start of mine. I’m hoping to run one 5k per month with the two friends who ran this race with me. They also placed! Great start for a resolution!

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In other news:

23 Days to Austin

69 Days until Nashville

72 Days until the Music City Marathon

Happy New Year!!!

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas, yesterday! Mine was filled with Christmas music…

“Christmas Shoes” gets me every time!

And animals at Sun City Stables

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Teach me how to ostrich… #dance #farmlife

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Good times. @lindaellen27

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Baby goat abuse…

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Can’t believe Christmas is over already, but only 364 days until Christmas 2014! Too soon to start a countdown? nah… So who’s having a bonfire for New Years? And where’s my invite?