Preparing For A Study Abroad

Preparing For A Study Abroad

Alternatively titled: A List of Things That Stress Me Out.
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Leaving the country is always an exciting experience, but it's especially exciting when you get to do it through your school. It’s like taking learning and making it fun again. But exciting as it may be, there are things that will be stressful about it, especially beforehand.

1. Shopping

Shopping for a study abroad can be fun if you really like shopping, but most of the time its just stressful. Do I need a $60 shirt to go trekking in the jungles of Panama? Probably, buy it just in case. Next thing you know, your total is $500 and all you can do is think about all the groceries that could’ve bought as the checkout clerk gladly takes your money. Just remember that the capitalists can smell your fear, and they’ll sell you something for it.

2. Packing

I don’t even want to think about it, but packing is literally the most important thing you do before getting on the plane. That suitcase is now your life-line and best friend, do not lose its trust. You’ll be living out of that thing for the next few weeks because we all know you won't bother to unpack once you get there. It’s a good idea to get all the clothes you think you might need, and then see what fits and what doesn’t. Better to overpack than under pack in most cases.

3. Planning

This is the hardest part, by far. A lot of thought has to go into everything you do, because you’re going to a foreign country with a different culture and different rules. One dumb plan could have disastrous consequences. It is best to have everything written down, and to refer to your itinerary and course syllabus often. Your professor should have guidelines for you depending on the country, but you can’t depend on them for everything. A lot of this planning stuff is on you.

4. Paying

Hopefully you can take out a loan, or your parents can help you. It doesn’t hurt quite as much when it seems like it’s being paid for by other people (in reality you’re totally still paying for it but at least it doesn’t seem like you are.) If you’re unlucky enough to just be paying out of pocket, my heart hurts for you. Seriously, the thought of giving someone else all of my money physically hurts me, and those who pay for their entire study abroad with their own money possess unheard-of mental fortitude.

5. Patience

After “planning” this just became of list of things I don’t have. In all seriousness, planning such an extensive and involved trip requires a lot of patience. There will be missed details and small screw-ups, but you can’t let the stress these instances bring weigh you down.

The whole point of a study abroad is for you to learn in a unique and fun way, to give you an experience you’ll treasure forever. That might be slightly romanticizing it, but still, the experience isn’t meant to be overly stressful.

Cover Image Credit: Alexia Darnell

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15 Things Only Lake People Will Understand

There's no other place you'd rather be in the summer.
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The people that spend their summers at the lake are a unique group of people. Whether you grew up going to the lake, have only recently started going, or have only been once or twice, you know it takes a certain kind of person to be a lake person. To the long-time lake people, the lake holds a special place in your heart, no matter how dirty the water may look. Every year when summer rolls back around, you can't wait to fire up the boat and get back out there. Here is a list of things you can probably identify with as a fellow lake-goer.

1. A bad day at the lake is still better than a good day not at the lake.

It's your place of escape, where you can leave everything else behind and just enjoy the beautiful summer day. No matter what kind of week you had, being able to come and relax without having to worry about anything else is the best therapy there is. After all, there's nothing better than a day of hanging out in the hot sun, telling old funny stories and listening to your favorite music.

2. You know the best beaches and coves to go to.

Whether you want to just hang out and float or go walk around on a beach, you know the best spots. These often have to be based on the people you're with, given that some "party coves" can get a little too crazy for little kids on board. I still have vivid memories from when I was six that scared me when I saw the things drunk girls would do for beads.

3. You have no patience for the guy who can’t back his trailer into the water right.

When there's a long line of trucks waiting to dump their boats in the water, there's always that one clueless guy who can't get it right, and takes 5 attempts and holds up the line. No one likes that guy. One time my dad got so fed up with a guy who was taking too long that he actually got out of the car and asked this guy if he could just do it for him. So he got into the guy's car, threw it in reverse, and got it backed in on the first try. True story.

4. Doing the friendly wave to every boat you pass.

Similar to the "jeep wave," almost everyone waves to other boats passing by. It's just what you do, and is seen as a normal thing by everyone.

5. The cooler is always packed, mostly with beer.

Alcohol seems to be a big part of the lake experience, but other drinks are squeezed into the room remaining in the cooler for the kids, not to mention the wide assortment of chips and other foods in the snack bag.

6. Giving the idiot who goes 30 in a "No Wake

Zone" a piece of your mind.

There's nothing worse than floating in the water, all settled in and minding your business, when some idiot barrels through. Now your anchor is loose, and you're left jostled by the waves when it was nice and perfectly still before. This annoyance is typically answered by someone yelling some choice words to them that are probably accompanied by a middle finger in the air.

7. You have no problem with peeing in the water.

It's the lake, and some social expectations are a little different here, if not lowered quite a bit. When you have to go, you just go, and it's no big deal to anyone because they do it too.

8. You know the frustration of getting your anchor stuck.

The number of anchors you go through as a boat owner is likely a number that can be counted on two hands. Every once in a while, it gets stuck on something on the bottom of the lake, and the only way to fix the problem is to cut the rope, and you have to replace it.

9. Watching in awe at the bigger, better boats that pass by.

If you're the typical lake-goer, you likely might have an average sized boat that you're perfectly happy with. However, that doesn't mean you don't stop and stare at the fast boats that loudly speed by, or at the obnoxiously huge yachts that pass.

10. Knowing any swimsuit that you own with white in it is best left for the pool or the ocean.

You've learned this the hard way, coming back from a day in the water and seeing the flowers on your bathing suit that were once white, are now a nice brownish hue.

11. The momentary fear for your life as you get launched from the tube.

If the driver knows how to give you a good ride, or just wants to specifically throw you off, you know you're done when you're speeding up and heading straight for a big wave. Suddenly you're airborne, knowing you're about to completely wipe out, and you eat pure wake. Then you get back on and do it all again.

12. You're able to go to the restaurants by the water wearing minimal clothing.

One of the many nice things about the life at the lake is that everybody cares about everything a little less. Rolling up to the place wearing only your swimsuit, a cover-up and flip flops, you fit right in. After a long day when you're sunburned, a little buzzed, and hungry, you're served without any hesitation.

13. Having unexpected problems with your boat.

Every once in a while you're hit with technical difficulties, no matter what type of watercraft you have. This is one of the most annoying setbacks when you're looking forward to just having a carefree day on the water, but it's bound to happen. This is just one of the joys that come along with being a boat owner.

14. Having a name for your boat unique to you and your life.

One of the many interesting things that make up the lake culture is the fact that many people name their boats. They can range from basic to funny, but they are unique to each and every owner, and often have interesting and clever meanings behind them.

15. There's no better place you'd rather be in the summer.

Summer is your all-time favorite season, mostly because it's spent at the lake. Whether you're floating in the cool water under the sun, or taking a boat ride as the sun sets, you don't have a care in the world at that moment. The people that don't understand have probably never experienced it, but it's what keeps you coming back every year.


Cover Image Credit: Haley Harvey

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An Open Letter on Maintaining Your Peace

A letter dedicated to those who didn't set resolutions conventionally. You do it on your own terms!

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To everyone on Maintaining Your Peace,


With the start of the new year, there's so much pressure to achieve this by that date or have this halfway done before another. Then, more added pressure to formulate a goal or resolution before January ends (if you didn't have one before).

I am always cheering for goals to be made and met, however, there's one point I want to continue to emphasize: maintain your peace among it all.

Some people may associate not working on a goal or toward one as meaning your blank slate (the new year) has gone to waste. This is absolutely not the case for each individual. Some people see a breakthrough at the beginning of the year while others don't experience an open door until the very end. I have been on both ends of the spectrum.

I am not writing this as someone who is a professional, but merely a writer that hopes others don't feel stressed about creating their goals at the same time as everyone else seems to be. Sometimes, it helps to let yourself breathe and analyze. From there, you can get a clear sense of what you want out of the year. However, I will say that it is never good to sit for too long. Even if it is a small aspiration, don't let your blank slate remain as is. You never know what could happen within the year!

Maintaining your peace can be a simple walk you take every day or reading a book. It has no definitive meaning on what it takes to makes sure you're in relaxing spirits. It would also help to even get a list together on things you enjoy to help make this year as stress-free as possible. That in itself is still an aspiration.

Don't let other people make you feel bad for not having a long list of things you want to accomplish this year. Life isn't always about making resolutions at certain times. It's about, rather than timing, making them because you want to or need to.

I hope you gain perspective for yourself and on your own time.


Positively,

Jessica

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