Thursday, March 24, 2011

How to Beat Post Spring Break Blues

Spring Break is past, but I'm still stuck on it! I had such an amazing trip visiting Orlando, FL, and I want to be back in the Sunshine State. Unfortunately, I'm back at IU attending classes, completing assignments and going to work. Getting back to reality is tough, and sometimes getting back into a routine is even tougher. I've come up with a few quick and handy tips to make you feel less vacation-home sick.

Take Some Time for Y-O-U
The weeks after Spring Break can be busy or hectic, and it is easy to get caught up in the shuffle. If you throw yourself into activities, work or homework, you might look up and realize that summer time has arrived and you haven't spent much time enjoying the last half of your spring semester. So, even though there is a lot of work to be done, be efficient about it and make time in your schedule for YOU. Don't forget to hang out with friends, go out to dinner or even curl up for a movie in your favorite pajamas. I have spent the last couple of days hanging out with my roommate Sarah, because with graduation looming I only have a few more weeks to spend with her. Don't burn yourself out! Taking time for number one will also help you to ease back into your normal schedule without feeling too forlorn about the delight of spring break days gone past.

Smell the Springtime
If your Spring Break is anything like mine, then you will find yourself shocked when you return to school to find that the town has torn away the bitter shackles of winter and stepped into spring. When I left Florida I was in 75 degree temperatures, and when I arrived in Bloomington I was in 77 degree temperatures. After months of holing up indoors, be sure to get outside and get some fresh air! Take that reading assignment outdoors, or plug in your computer into one of the outside plugs on the IMU's outdoor patio. Soak in the sunshine and leave those winter layers in the closet! The warmer weather will make you feel as though you are on a staycation, and will remind you why you loved campus so much... prior to the winter months.

Break Into New Habits
Coming back from a break is great, because it gives you the opportunity to recreate your routine. Do you normally get a $4 coffee in the afternoon at Starbucks? Pick up something cooler (like a cranberry or orange juice) from an RPS Dining location and savor it while sitting in the spring sunshine! Want to exercise more? A walk or jog outside will invigorate you. Want to put more effort into your studies? Set aside some daylight hours and start having group study sessions in Dunn Meadow or the nearest patch of grass!

While the end of Spring Break can seem depressing, don't forget that you only have a few more weeks to enjoy campus before summer arrives. Get your studying done, but remember to socialize, relax and enjoy the spring weather!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spring Break Travel Tips

Spring Break is swiftly approaching and students are already starting to leave Bloomington to escape to tropical paradises or to get some TLC at home. Luckily for me, my family has a lot of experience with booking travel, so I have managed to put together an awesome Spring Break trip for a fairly low price! I've decided to share these wonderful tips with you so that you'll have more cash to spend on souvenirs.

1. Book Early, Book Early, Book Early!
This is the #1 rule of travel! Start thinking about where you want to go for Spring Break around Thanksgiving. You will likely be unable to purchase plane tickets so early, but start giving the thought some serious consideration. Talk to friends and family, make a plan. That way, when January rolls around, you will have both the money AND the knowledge to book your flight and hotel to wherever you would like to go!

2. Fly Southwest
I have done a lot of flying in the past year, mostly thanks to the fact that I am dating someone who lives 700 miles away. Many students flock south for Spring Break, and if you are heading in that direction I HIGHLY encourage flying Southwest. Their no-nonsense policies (that include Bags Fly Free and No Change Fees) make flying a breeze, and the best thing about flying SW is the complete lack of hierarchy and prioritization of passengers. When I flew Delta, I was always in the last group to board because they called five different passenger classifications (including their Platinum, Gold and Silver SkyMiles members, then First class, etc.) before even getting to the Zones, of which there were four. It was a miserable experience and I always left feeling like I was nothing more than a little lining for the airline's pockets. When I fly Southwest, I NEVER feel less important than the next passenger, and they board according to check-in time. The best part? There are no assigned seats: seating is open, and is on a first-come first-serve basis.

3. Know the Roaming Gnome
Through the years I have used different websites to book flights and hotel rooms, mostly for the convenience of it. However, this Spring Break I discovered an incredible secret: Travelocity's "Top Secret Hotels." Travelocity keeps a list of hotels (ranked by stars and price) available in major destinations that go unnamed until the room is booked for the night. This is because the rates are so low, the hotels cannot be identified in order to maintain their regular rates. To a college student, what could be more fun?! Booking through Travelocity's Top Secret Hotels feels as though you are a spy on a secret mission who will only receive the coordinates of your next assignment when you confirm your purchase. I wound up getting a $300/night room for only $60! I was absolutely delighted and ecstatic. ALL around wonderful reviews for Top Secret Hotels! Give it a try, I do not think you will be disappointed.

4. Invest in AAA
For a low fee, you can become a AAA member and then reap the nearly constant benefits of having a membership card. In the past year alone, I would argue that AAA saved me $200 in discounts at amusement parks, restaurants and hotels. As a member, you will also have access to travel packages designed specifically for AAA. There are other perks as well: you can download an app that will point out all of the locations you can receive discounts in your area, and request trip information from your local branch. This can definitely come in handy for Spring Break, especially if you are traveling to an unknown area!

Enjoy Spring Break, and above all be smart. Be sure to be safe and have lots of fun!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fun with Animals

Coming to college can be so difficult for those of us who leave pets behind at home. For people like me who have grown up with animals in their home, life in the residence halls definitely feels as though something is missing. Unfortunately, fish are the only types of pets that are permitted when living on campus.


After three years of feeling that something was missing in my life, I finally decided to do something about it. Since January I have been volunteering at the City of Bloomington Animal Shelter photographing the animals.


While they have multiple positions available for volunteers, every volunteer starts out as a dog walker or cat volunteer. Dog walkers take dogs out of their kennels and play with them, and cat volunteers work in the mornings pampering the cats and cleaning the cat colonies.


I HIGHLY encourage you to volunteer at the City of Bloomington Animal Shelter if you are worried you'll be missing your furry friends. I know it made all the difference for me!

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