I Commute To College AND Live At Home And That's OK

I Commute To College AND Live At Home And That's OK

Moving away from home is every young adults dream, but is it really all it's cracked up to be?

Almost all teenagers find themselves constantly daydreaming of the opportunity to set out on their own journey that has seemingly no responsibilities- college. As a high school student, I continually heard amazing things about college. From getting to live without parents and siblings to becoming the best of friends with your new roommate, everything about college was captivating. Junior year of high school came quicker than expected, and before I knew it, I was applying to the universities that I had always dreamt of attending.

Time passed as I waited for what seemed like years for my acceptance letter to my number one university of choice. When I finally came to the realization that it was getting close to the deadline to register for fall classes, I immediately registered at my local community college in fear of not starting school on time.

I was crushed.

I sulked for weeks thinking about how I would be missing out on a “real college experience.” My family and friends comforted me by telling me that I made the smart decision and that I would be saving myself money in the long run. The truth was that no matter how much they tried convincing me to be happy with my decision, I would always feel as though I was missing out.

My time at the two-year community college came and went, and I was finally accepted into my dream school. Temple University has an amazing journalism program, and I was ecstatic to finish my college career at such an establishment.

After endless amounts of paperwork and frustration, I came to the conclusion that the only way for me to attend Temple University was if I commuted. It turns out my family and friends were right all along — I was definitely saving more money at a community college. It was too expensive to live on campus, so I parted ways with the ideas of the cliché college life and accepted the fact that I will always be a commuter.

Although I had so much to be upset about, I refrained from thinking so negatively because after all, I was attending my dream school. As the months passed, commuting to school began to grow on me. Sure, I hate sitting in traffic, driving in the rain, leaving extra early to be on time for classes, etc., but all of the negatives are incomparable to the positive things that I get from commuting to school.

The perks of living at home are better than ever. I keep in touch with my friends from my hometown while meeting new people and making new friends at school. I am able to keep my part time job while still being focused on my classes. Most importantly, I am able to spend time with my family and friends on a regular basis. My family means the world to me (and so do my dad's home cooked meals), and I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for the world.

I travel 45 minutes two times a day in order to get to and from Temple. In my car, I get to blast the heat or air conditioning as high as I want to (downfall of living at home — I have no control over the things that cost money). I drink my coffee, and I can jam to my favorite songs as loud as I want to, or I can educate myself while listening to a scholarly podcast or even quietly reflect on life.

The possibilities for my morning and evening “me-time” are endless. The view of the sunset on my way home from classes is almost as breathtaking as the view of the sunrise on the way there. You hear people talk about “stopping to smell the roses” and although I am driving well over 60 mph on the highway (sorry, dad.), the appreciation that I have for life during those moments is grander than any cliché college experience.

Although I was originally devastated at the thought of commuting to school for my entire college career, I am now realizing that my commuter student status is a blessing in disguise. The time that I have with my family, friends and myself are the greatest experiences that I could ask for, and I am forever thankful for them.
Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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5 Small Ways We Can Help the Planet Everyday, Not Just On Earth Day

Trust me, they're super easy.

Earth Day has come and gone, but there are still so many ways for us to do our part and help our planet!

As a species, we have produced more plastic in the last ten years than we did in the entire last century. The average American throws away 185 pounds of plastic each year and half of it is only used once. When it's thrown away, the trash just floats along. Literally.

By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

This is really really not good. But, luckily, it's almost entirely avoidable.

Here's a list of things we can all do to keep our planet pretty and kick some ass for Mother Earth.

1. Ditch plastic straws

Yeah, you've probably heard this one before — but hear me out. We only use straws once and then we throw them away. They end up in the ocean and kill sea turtles. We're all guilty of this. Hell, I used to drink everything with a straw. But the important thing is that we change our ways and better not only ourselves but the environment.

If you still wanna use a straw, that's totally okay! Try using a glass or bamboo one. You can buy packs of them on Amazon for less than ten dollars, which isn't bad considering you'll be able to reuse these as many times as you want.

2. B.Y.O.F. (Bring your own fork)

And your own spoon. And knife, as well. If you plan on going out for the day and you don't want to bring your own food, you can just buy your lunch and use your own silverware. This way, you won't waste any plasticware and there is no unnecessary waste from your lunch.

3. Cups, too!

While we're on the subject of just bringing your own stuff, bring your own cup when you're out for the day! Whether it's your water cup or your travel coffee mug, bring it (even if you don't plan on making your own coffee or tea).

Why, might you ask? Well, because you can just go to your favorite cafe and get your favorite hot drink in your own cup! This is both more sustainable and more cost-effective (they actually charge you for the cup).

4. Don't! Use! Plastic! Bags!

No matter where you are or where you're shopping, please be sure to use a tote bag or any other kind of reusable grocery bag. It's better for the environment, it's easier for you to carry, and you can get one with whatever you want on it! Mine says "You look radishing" and it has a drawing of radishes. Very cute.

Also, if you're buying fresh produce, you can use lighter mesh bags instead of the plastic bags from the produce section!

5. For *that* time of the month

If you're a period-having person, you might want to rethink the way you handle your lunar cycle. On average, people who have periods will throw away 300,000 pounds of menstrual products in their lifetime. This is really really not cool.

I suggest switching from tampons and pads to menstrual cups and cloth pads. While the cups might seem weird at first, trust me — they aren't weird at all. Both cups and cloth pads are easier and longer lasting than your conventional period tools.

While there are a bunch of other tips I could most definitely talk about and rant about and advocate for, I feel like this is a good place to start.

Just be sure to reduce the number of one-time plastics you use and make sure you're cautious of the waste you produce.

Cover Image Credit: Penelope De La Cruz

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What YouTube Says About Our Generation

We can learn a lot from high school vlogs.

Last week I wrote an article that sought to examine YouTube, not as an entertainment platform, but as a revolutionary and powerful tool, capable of documenting and preserving our generation in ways which no generation previously could.

I wrote:

"The ubiquity of cameras has made it so that our images are being captured constantly whether we realize it or not. And with YouTube and the Internet, we are seamlessly being cataloged into a massive and growing database of humanity ... I think of YouTube as a time capsule. Centuries from now, everyone can look back through YouTube and wholly experience our generation: its sights, sounds, issues, and—most importantly—the individual personalities of, not just its Kings and Queens, but its ordinary people."

With this article, and in subsequent articles, I'd like to elaborate on this concept by exploring and showcasing various content on YouTube. In doing so, I hope I can get some people to look at Youtube through a different lens—one that understands it as a historical tool.

In this article, I'd like to share a type of video I've found much of on YouTube: "day in the life of high school" videos. In these videos, someone goes around with a camera and basically shoots, in documentary style, a full day of high school.

Here's one from 1996:

One of the fascinating things about a video like this is that, when we watch it, we tend to see it in the context of the present. I'll watch the video, but instantly my brain seeks out the differences and similarities between high school in 1996 and in 2016 (when I graduated high school).

Through this video, we see, documented in an unbiased fashion, the lives of ordinary people. And through watching these people, we can also extrapolate further information about that generation. We are ALL a product of our times, whether we realize it or not. Everything posted on YouTube lends some kind of window into the present that it was posted in.

For example, at around 17 minutes into the video above, the cameraman begins to hum the Mission Impossible theme, a movie which came out in May of 1996, right about the time this video was shot. It was a big blockbuster hit and was most definitely on the minds of high schoolers like these. While that might not sound too fascinating right now in 2018, it will be a much more fascinating detail to those studying pop culture history 100 years into the future.

Now take a look at a modern "day of high school" video:

Now, imagine you were somebody in 1996 watching this video today. In just 20 years, we can already see tremendous generational differences. In the 1996 video, people were detached when confronted with a camera; it was something strange to them. In 2018, the digital age has taken over completely. In this video, everyone understands that he is "vlogging," a term that didn't exist in 1996.

In fact, everything about this video screams of our generation: the slang, the music, the fast jump cuts, the concept of a "YouTuber," the dress, the technology, Internet culture, how everyone's plugging their Internet identities (Instagram, SoundCloud, etc.)... the list goes on and on. Going from the 1996 day of high school and then jumping to this one really puts my generation into perspective.

This video is much more polished and edited, and its clearly made with the intention to project oneself to an audience, rather than for purely documentary purposes like the video from 1996 was. It brings to light an unforeseen force working all around us: the rise of a new type of global culture, one that, through social media, is growing larger by the day.

But these are just two videos out of over a billion YouTube videos. Estimated, it would take 60,000 years of non-stop watching to watch every video that is on YouTube right now. That is a LOT of content, and ALL of that is focused on the thoughts, concerns, issues, and realities of THIS generation.

We will leave a footprint unlike any other generation in history; I think its important for all of us to understand that.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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