Dining Hall Hacks

Dining Hall Hacks

Helpful hacks to make the most of your dining experience.

Imagine it is your first day of finals. You wake up and get ready for the day, shower, do your hair, pick out a fun outfit, and do anything you can to make yourself confident for your impossible final. More likely, though, you roll out of bed and glance at your flashcards real quick before heading to class in your sweatpants and t-shirt you slept in. Regardless, you decide to swing by the dining hall for a quick breakfast, it is the most important meal of the day. You see the fluffy pancakes, crispy bacon, banana nut muffins, baked apples, and the fresh strawberries calling your name. The only problem is you ran out of swipes. Looks like you will fail the test on an empty stomach instead.

Here are some helpful dining hall hacks to be sure that you can stretch your swipes the whole semester!

Ditch the Doritos

Of course, they look awesome in the campus convenience store, but there are better snacking options. Many oatmeal, yogurt or salad bars tend to have granola or nuts. Next time you go grab some extra in a to-go container for a study snack with a little more sustenance.

Microwave mug muffins

Who would’ve thought that you could make a muffin in your microwave! Grab the banana on the way out of the dining hall and follow this recipe: http://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/peanut-butter-banana-mug-cake/ for an awesome breakfast! If you have access to an oven, go bigger and make a loaf of banana bread, trust me, it is sure to be a floor favorite.

You don’t need Nana for baked apples

While I am sure your Nana makes the best baked apples, you can too, all from the comfort of your own dorm. Cut up an apple from the dining hall into slices and put in a microwave safe bowl along with a pat of butter, spoonful of sugar and dash of cinnamon. Microwave for two minutes on high and you have yourself a wonderful warm snack!

Order less pizza on pizza night

You can make a pizza stretch between a few more people with this easy hack. Head to the dining hall and take salad to go. Fill up two containers with salad and one with toppings and you will have a nice salad to go with your pizza!

Salad bar veggies can have a second life

Those salad bar veggies don’t have to be thrown away if you don’t want them at the time. Instead, blanch them in hot water, you can use a Keurig or coffee maker, for 2-3 minutes, then freeze them. When you are ready, steam them in the microwave with a little bit of water in the bottom of a bowl and a lid with vents or paper towel on top for 4-6 minutes. Now you have veggies to go with dinner!

When you don’t “got milk”

Dry cereal is gross. With strategic thinking at the dining hall, you can be sure your cereal never goes dry again. Bring a travel coffee mug to the dining hall and fill it up with milk. Take it back to your room, refrigerate, and enjoy with your cereal the next morning, or Oreos, I won’t tell.

Sandwich Stretching

Don’t waste your awesome sandwich or wrap! Take the other half back with you and enjoy it for lunch the next day along with a piece of fruit or some of those delicious baked apples.

I hope these helpful tips keep your stomach full all semester. Make sure to continue to stay active as well and eat everything in moderation. A healthier you will translate better in class, with friends, and for your future! Happy dining hall hacking!

Cover Image Credit: college.usatoday.com

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The Negative Effects Of Working As A CNA

You know you are a CNA if you are undermined, understaffed, and emotionally and physically drained.

I write this not as a way to deter people from wanting to be a CNA or to demean the job, but in order to outline the negatives, since some only outline the positives. With a job comes responsibility, and it is like that in any area or field. We have the good and we also have the bad. I am in a field where not many people like their job and they don't care who knows it. Others enjoy it and make the best of it. It is like that with any career. There are always both sides.

I write this after coming home from a meeting that we have to attend every week for 13 weeks straight. These meetings are preparing us for a new unit in our building, and they offer education so that we have the knowledge to communicate and take care of our residents. I like these meetings because I enjoy learning more in my field, however, others see it as a burden and a waste of their time. There are people who will bring in workplace drama, those that will do the bare minimum, and those that just don't care and will call in when they know their shift is short.

As a Certified Nurse Assistant, you help your residents, and you try to give them the best care that you can provide. That is the number one rule. If anything, that is the golden rule in nursing. When you step in on that floor, you are expected to give your full effort in giving the residents the care they need. Meanwhile, others step in and couldn't give a damn.

What upset me the most after the meeting was that we had to talk about abuse. We had to discuss what abuse was and why we need to treat our patients with dignity, respect, and kindness. As a CNA that is my work. I was saddened that something like this occurred, and that someone would demean a resident in a way that no one should be treated.

I'm furious, upset, and confused. The people that work in this field are there because they care, and they want to help those that cannot help themselves. So, why would they do such a thing?

It made me think of all the other negatives that I encounter in my field. The lack of appreciation from other staff and the constant undermining is tough. Nurses telling you that you are not doing your job right, or management becoming picky when you cannot chart between your residents is difficult. There is always something that you are doing wrong in someone else's eyes, and there is never a thank you when you leave your shift and everyone is clean and taken care of. There is no one to pat your back other than yourself, and you have to be your own cheerleader for a place that only looks at you as the lowest of the totem pole.

There are never enough of you. I say that because there is always a demand for CNAs, and no matter how many you have in a facility, there will never be enough. You will be short one shift or another, and you will have to scramble to reach everyone to make sure they are taken care of properly.

You come home and you have to go right back to bed because you took extra shifts. You are exhausted, and yet you still come in and put all your energy into work because you think of the residents. You consider what it would be like to not have anyone to care for you. You put them before yourself.

No one tells you any negatives as you are getting trained and go through clinicals. They only tell you that you are going into a profession that will help those that cannot help themselves, and that you should be proud of your job. It is not incorrect, but it is not fully true.

You will get called names, cursed at, abused, and you will get over-worked. No one will tell you thank you, and no one will baby you through your shift. You are a CNA. You take care of those that cannot take care of themselves. You are there to help and give care. Yes, there are negatives and you will want to quit like I've wanted to do multiple times. I will admit it. You will get upset and frustrated. This is not an easy job, and it was not intended to be, but you will get through it if you keep your heart open and honest. Do your work diligently, and do what you can to make others' lives better. That is the only reward you need to overcome the negatives.

Cover Image Credit: TravelNursesSource.com

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To Love a Broken Vase — An Ode To Valentine's Day

"To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides." --David Viscott, How to Live with Another Person, 1974


I remember an anecdote my elementary school teacher told us in the fifth grade. When a mother is pregnant with a child, they feel comfortable in their flesh. Provided with everything they needed to survive, they don't have to worry about anything. It's not until after they are born and the umbilical chord is severed that they realized they were not good enough, and insecurities fester.

I went through a similar process when I was growing up. Contained within my family and books, I felt like I held the world in my hands. It was not until high school where I seriously sought out others for company and wanted to apply myself to the social universe. And I saw myself changing in not only my behaviors, but how I see myself within the world.

With working hard to get good grades, with trying to get my driver's license, and becoming a better person overall, I realized the process involved a lot more effort than I ever had expected. And I found myself unprepared for the slow drudgery of it all. While I once pushed through to get things done, now I find myself giving up on projects while coming up with new ones. I frequently turned to my laptop for solace, as it kept my fantasies alive, but it also stole time away from me.

These behaviors showed in my relationships: I found it hard to meet up with friends, and my parents started worrying about what would my future look like. With the latter, I've had multiple conflicts with them, with me asserting I wanted to be free from everything, including accountability. Of course, that perception was quite unrealistic — to love and be loved, as well as to succeed, there has to a tug to know when you're doing something wrong.


A year ago, I wrote an article about how I saw romantic love from somebody who has never been in a relationship. Many things still apply today — I'm better off working towards my educational and career goals than seeking out love, though with Valentine's Day, it still fascinates me on whether or not I could be loved from somebody else.

From what I've heard from others, they would be charmed by my intelligence and kindness, neither fulfilling the stereotype of a nerd nor the perfect angel. However, the naivete would also put someone off, and potentially puts them in danger. I also see myself as the spontaneous type, but to the point where I forget where my priorities are, again making them worse than they really are. I imagine they would be intrigued by me as a friend or a lover, but end up breaking away after a short amount of time.

I don't imagine finding myself loving other people in the short term; however, I find myself open towards others. And that what makes me more afraid about how people view me--will they not be able to see the positives in myself when the time comes? Will they be just as capable of forgiving me the same way my family does?

At the end, I should take my friend's advice for Valentine's Day — love oneself. And take actions to make sure that I can love myself deeper and further.

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