5 Takeaways from Week 1 of the World Cup

5 Takeaways From the First Set of World Cup Games

Some things I noticed so far at this year's tournament.


The World Cup is now underway, and the first set of matches have been completed. This has been one of the most riveting finals in a long time, but there are some key takeaways from it this year.

1. VAR is a blessing, but can also be the double-edged sword it was expected to be.

It is only a curse insofar as referees are still capable of making mistakes with it (France's penalty vs. Australia is definitely one of the most controversial moments so far). There are other instances where VAR could have been used at the referee's discretion (England vs. Tunisia, Korea vs. Sweden, etc.). Overall? Great addition. Clear penalty for Peru against Denmark. Sweden as well. VAR has saved so many teams so far. Great addition.

2. The big boys will not win easily.

Germany struggled. France struggled. England did for a bit as well. Even Spain could only muster up a draw against Portugal. This is not even mentioning Brazil and Argentina! This could be the year of the underdog. Who knows who? Maybe Iceland will have a run? Senegal? Switzerland? Maybe one of the newly established powers in Belgium or Croatia could make a run. This year will be fun.

3. Mexico IS better than everyone thought.

Come on. Mexico is consistently slept on. Yeah, there's a bit of chaos, upheaval, and disorder, but Mexico is talented. Layun, Lozano, Chicharito? We saw them all play quite well against the world champions. They showed up, and did well despite the Germans placing pressure on them consistently. I'm not saying campeones yet, but Mexico has the ability to go far. Osorio has put together a good team.

4. Brazil has the same problems from 2014.

NO. DEFENSE. That is the exact same issue as last time! There was SO MUCH SPACE! They did not bother to close any gaps. No wonder Switzerland equalized. Brazil put together a shambolic, lackluster display on the defensive end, and significant effort could have compensated for the attacking malaise of Brazil after Coutinho's goal. Unfortunately, Brazil did not do enough, and losing Neymar may do them in.

5. Russia has not been as bad of a host as once thought.

Environmentally speaking, it has not seemed as bad. Sure, there were the abhorrent comments made by politicians and representatives in Russia, and the Russian's checkered history with racism made things a bit concerning, but from the sound of things, there has been either little to no reporting of any issues regarding racial tensions in Russia (note, there could be issues that simply have not been reported, and there have been other issues with hooliganism, which was also a concern, but there have not been upticks in incidents). The national team has also put on a show, with Golovin being a standout.

Overall, a fun first week. Let's wait until the end of the next set of games before other projections can be made, as well as other observations.

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11 Must-Go To Day Trips In North Carolina

For the wanderers and curious...

It's finally summer, classes are out! There are so many things to do in this beautiful state. There are many small towns to visit. These towns are perfect day trips. From the mountains to the beach and everything in between, there is something for everyone! Pack your car up and get ready for a summer of adventure.

1. NoDa

This is a small hipster district right outside of Uptown Charlotte. Music and art paint this town and it has a very creative energy flow. Amelie’s Bakery, a 24/7 french bakery, is located in this district. There is always something fun and new to try in this cute, artistic town!

2. Asheville

This town is known for the beautiful scenery and historic importance. The Biltmore Estate is located here, and it is open for tours every day of the year. It is the biggest estate in America. The downtown area is very artistic, and the mountains make for a gorgeous hike. This is definitely an adventure you don't want to miss.

3. Boone

This small town has a lot of outdoor activities. It is perfect for hiking and whitewater rafting. If you love nature, this is a must see. It is a college town where Appalachian State University is located. The downtown area is very old school and for modern hipsters.

4. Crowders Mountain

This is located in Gaston County. Once you reach the Pinnacle, the peak of the trail, with clear skies you can see for miles. It is a quick four-mile hike for the short one, the view is amazing.

5. Wilmington

This city is known for the beachfront. It makes a perfect day to hit the waves. There are many beach fronts to visit, such as Carolina Beach. Cape Fear Ocean runs through this city. White sand, waves and the boardwalk. If you are a fan of One Tree Hill, it was filmed here.The small restaurants and characteristics give this town a vibrant energy.

6. Serendipity House

This house is from the movie Nights In Rodanthe located on a beach in Avon, North Carolina. It has been remodeled, but the amazing characteristics of this make it a sight to see.

7. Linville Falls

This is located in Linville, North Carolina. Attractions close by are also the Blue Ridge Mountain. To get to the main fall, it is about a mile hike.

8. Outer Banks

Small beaches on the outer banks of North Carolina have wild horses. Corolla Wild Ponies run free, and you can even take a ride on them in the water.

9. Sliding Rock

Located in Brevard, this rock is actually naturally made from a small waterfall. You can actually go sliding down it. It is in Pisgah National Forest also near Asheville.

10. Devil's Tramping Ground

This is located near Bennett. It is a 40-foot circle that cannot grow life. If you leave something or sleep in the circle, the rumor is it will be outside of the circle the next day.

11. Land of Oz Theme park

Located in Beech Mountain, this theme park that was once full of life is now closed and for the most part abandoned. It comes alive for one night a year for an event. This is definitely a place to take a night adventure to...

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6 Reasons Traveling Is Good For Your Mind, Body, And Soul

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.


Have you ever traveled to a new destination and felt your mood instantly improve? Are you like me and feel happiest when you're on vacation? This is because traveling is a way for you to renew your soul and step out of your comfort zone. It keeps you happy and allows you to experience new things.

Visiting new destinations can open your mind to experiences you didn't even know were possible. You can meet new people, fall in love, try new foods, and see remarkable sites all while traveling. There are no limits to the places you can visit, and the things you can see. Currently, I am on a mini weekend trip to Arizona, and being here has opened my eyes and made me realize how impactful traveling really is on your mind, body, and soul. Traveling should be something you do as often as possible and whenever you get the chance. Here's why:

1. Traveling makes your heart happy 

Traveling is something that most people enjoy. It keeps the heart young and childlike. Traveling brings people joy because they get to experience new things that they love with the people they love.

2. It teaches you to embrace every moment 

Traveling can be unpredictable, especially because you are experiencing new things. Although it can be challenging, we learn best from these unpredictable moments. When we travel we learn to embrace every situation that is thrown at us.

3. Traveling relieves stress and improves mental health 

Traveling reduces stress and allows you to relax. More often than not, you take off work when you go on vacation and you focus on renewing your self. You get away from all the crazy things going on in your life, and you can just relax and focus on your own happiness.

4. It broadens your horizons 

Traveling lets you branch out and experience different cultures. You can try new foods, new activities, and meet all different types of people. You learn diversity, and you learn respect for other people and their culture's. Traveling helps you learn other perspectives around the world and lets your mind think in ways it never has before.

5. It keeps you healthy 

Traveling actually plays a big part in your physical health as well. During vacations, you often walk a lot to destinations and participate in calorie burning activities like hiking and swimming. Activities like these are often why you still are able to get your workout in while on vacation.

6. Traveling reminds you what is important 

Most importantly, traveling reminds you of the important things in life. We live day by day forgetting that every moment is remarkable. Sometimes, we get stuck in the same old boring routine and take for granted the life we have been given. Traveling reminds us that memories are valuable and that our lives should be cherished.

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