Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Tips for Traveling Alone

Traveling is something that I love to do but up until I started college 8 hours away from home, I had never traveled by myself. I know it might seem odd to be nervous about traveling alone especially as a 19-year college student, but as someone who doesn't fly often, this was a whole new experience for me. I lucked out a bit as the first time I flew without my parents I was with my roommate who had experience traveling alone so she was able to give me tips and answer any questions I had (which there were lots) so that definitely eased my nerves when it came time for me to travel entirely by myself.

I traveled by myself for the first time when I flew home for Thanksgiving Break last November. I had booked a 5:00am flight out of the Columbia airport which was nice as it got me home to Ohio before 9am but it was also a bit stressful as I had to wake up at 3:30am and find someone to give me a ride to the airport because I didn't have my car on campus and there were understandably no Uber's running at 3:30am. Long story short, I made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare, seriously, I don't know why I thought I needed to be there so early. There was no one at the airport at 3:45am and it's only a 15-minute drive from campus but it's better to be early, especially when it's your first time traveling alone.

I've since flown alone 3 times as well as taking weekend road trips so I've come to develop a list of my tips for when you're traveling alone, whether it be flying, driving or checking into hotels, I'm here to share my experiences and tips on how to make your travels as easy as possible.


Early is Better Than Late
I'm notorious for showing up at the airport several hours before my flights begins boarding. While I don't need to get there three hours before boarding, it's much better to be early and have time to sit down and relax than having to run after you get through security to your gate. It's also nice to be there early in case of a gate change so you can be where you're supposed to be when it comes time to board.

Don't Be Afraid to Ask Someone for Help
This is something that I was hesitant to do when I traveled alone for the first time but I just had to remind myself that the airport staff was there to help me. Whether it's asking which direction your gate is or simply for a gate-check bag tag, don't be afraid to ask for assistance because you'll feel better instead of sitting there wondering "what if?" the whole time.

Bring a Portable Charger & Make Sure It's Charged
When I was flying back to Columbia after Christmas break, I had just boarded my connecting flight in Washington, D.C. when my phone alerted me that I only had 5% battery left. I had brought a portable charger with me but when I turned it on, I realized I had forgotten to charge it. It turns out the charger had permanently died so my mom ordered me this one off of Amazon and it's fantastic! I can get at least 5 full charges out of this thing! Especially now that most boarding passes and GPS systems are on our phones, it's important to make sure you have a charged phone at all times while you're traveling.

Have Confirmation E-Mails On Hand & Ready
My roommate and I traveled over Easter Weekend and we stayed overnight in a hotel since we didn't want to spend most of our day in the car traveling to and from Columbia. Checking into hotels is a simple process and the employees there will ask you for the information they need but I would suggest you have your reservation confirmation handy just in case anything were to happen.

Research Your Destination Prior to Arriving
When traveling to a new city, I would recommend doing a simple search and looking to see some of the things your destination has just so that when you arrive, you have a general idea of what you would like to do. You can choose to research more or less depending on your travel style, it just comes down to whether you like having a list of everything you want to do and see or if you like to just explore and see what you discover.

Have a General Game Plan
When my roommate and I went to Savannah, we had a general idea of what we wanted to see and do but we had no idea where to start. You can save a decent amount of time by having a general idea of where you'd like to go first so you don't sit there and bounce ideas around.

What tips do you have for traveling alone?

xoxo,

Monday, May 21, 2018

Summer Wishlist

Hi friends, happy Monday! I was shopping around online yesterday morning and came across some pieces that I thought were perfect for the summer and were just too cute not to share. 

While my summer wardrobe does have a lot of running shorts and oversized sorority t-shirts in it, I can always find a reason to dress up whether it be dinner with friends or fun adventures around Columbus. Clearly my two favorite colors at the moment are blue & blush pink but I think both of those colors are so perfect for the warm summer weather. I've linked all the pieces at the end of this post for y'all in case you want to shop any of the pieces on my wishlist!







Happy Monday!

xoxo,

Monday, May 14, 2018

5 Ways to Simplify your Summer

Every since I got serious about managing and running my own blog, my summers have been focused on generating as much new & exciting content as possible. I consider blogging to be a full-time job of mine during the summer months and try to do as much as I can to provide my audience with new things to read and to network with others to grow my brand, too. 

That being said, in trying to grow my blog, things can get pretty hectic in my life pretty quickly. I find myself easily getting frustrated because I am unable to do everything I want to do in a day but most of them time this is due to small distractions or distrubances in my day. 

I've come up with my top five ways to simplify your summer so that you can be as productive as you want to be. These tips have worked for me and have greatly increased my productivity and I've found that since making these simple chances to my daily routines, I've been able to cross so much more off my to-do lists and even leave myself with ample amounts of free time each day, too. 



Stop Multi-Tasking

I always used to think that I was a good multi-tasker. Sure, I could do two or three things at once but in doing so, my attention was scattered which resulted in a lower quality of work. I've found that by focusing one one thing at a time, I'm able to produce higher quality things and also be more efficient because my mind is focused on one thing instead of several different things.


Turn off Notifications

I'll be honest and admit that I spend most of my day on my phone or my laptop because I'm constantly working on blog posts or networking on Instagram. Whenever I would unlock my phone and saw that I had that little red notification on an app, I would immediately open that app and check to see what new alert was waiting for me. This, in turn, would lead to me getting sidetracked and shifting my attention to something that didn't need it right then. One day it got to the point where I couldn't stand to see that red notification bubble so I turned off all my notifications. Aside from my text messages, all other notifications are turned off. I also turned off my Instagram DM notifications, too. I check my DM's every evening and if any new ones have come through, I respond to them when I actually have dedicated time to responding to them rather than immediately sending a response 5 minutes after receiving it.


Make a To-Do List


One of the first things I do when I wake up every morning is grab a stickie note and write down everything I need or want to get done that day. When I write things down, I am so much more likely to do them and I also like having one place that I can refer back to all day to see what needs to get done next. I like to make my to-do lists with pen and paper rather than on my phone or laptop reminders app because there's something about physically checking something off that makes me feel that much more productive.


Declutter

When my room is cluttered, my mind is cluttered and I can't focus on the important things. I've been making it part of my morning routine and night routines to tidy up my room whether it's just by making my bed, putting away my laundry, or just straightening up my work area. When everything is put away and organized, my mind is too. I also love taking a giant trash bag around my room and going through all my desk drawers and my closet and getting rid of old things I don't need and making a pile of clothes to donate.



Unsubscribe & Unfollow

Once a month, I sit down and go through my social media sites and unfollow any accounts that I don't care to follow anymore, and I go through my inbox and unsubscribe from any email lists that I don't want to be on or that aren't relevant to me anymore. I enjoy social media so much more when my feed is full of things I actually want to see so by unfollowing the things I don't enjoy seeing, my time spent on social media is a lot more enjoyable and I don't find msyelf scrolling past a bunch of pictures or tweets.

What tips do you have to simplify your summer?

xoxo,

Friday, May 11, 2018

Snapshots of Freshman Year

I left Carolina a week ago and I am still in denial that I'm already 1/4 of the way through my college career. People don't joke when they say it goes quickly and that it will be some of the best years of your life.

I definitely didn't blog as much as I wish I would have during my first year at Carolina so I decided that it would be fun to share snapshots from my favorite moments on freshman year. This post will allow y'all to see what my first year in college entailed and it will also be a fun way for me to look back on freshman year!


Move-In Day
It feels like just last week that my sweet roommate Sophie and I were moving into room 312 and saying the dreaded goodbyes to our parents. Sophie and I met via the South Carolina class of 2021 Facebook page after she sent me a DM and we talked for about a month through Facebook Messenger and one night Sophie asked if I was looking for a roommate and the rest is history!

Sophie was my first friend at Carolina and in the 9 short months that I lived with her, she's grown to be one of my best friends and I'm so glad I got to go through freshman year with her by my side! I didn't expect to be so close with my roommate but I'm so glad that Soph and I did become best pals because it made going through homesickness, rough days & stressful weeks a heck of a lot easier.



Bid Day
By now I'm sure that it's no secret that I went through recruitment back in August and went Delta Zeta! Going Greek was one of the best decisions I've made because it opened so many doors for me, lead me to meet my best friends (& future bridesmaids one day!) and gave me so many memories. My mom was also a Delta Zeta so it's super cool to be sisters with her, too!




Weekend Road Trip to Asheville, North Carolina
Last September, Hurricane Irma was predicted to hit Columbia pretty bad so USC cancelled classes the following Monday and since one of my suitemates lived up in Asheville, North Carolina, we headed up there for the weekend to get off cmapus and out of the storms path. Hurricane Irma didn't end up hitting Columbia as hard as expected and all we got was some strong winds and lots of rain but it was still nice to get away for a weekend and since I had never been to Asheville before, it was fun to get to explore a new place! Our first day there we hiked up Frying Pan Tower on the Blue Ridge Parkway and even though I'm terrified of heights, the views were amazing & we snapped some fun pictures, too!




Delta Zeta Fall Band
Fall Band was DZ's first function of the year and it was my first ever function! The theme was 70's which was super fun to dress up for. I took my roommate Sophie as my date and got to snap a few pictures with Meghan, who ended up being my big!




Tailgating & Football Season
Saturday's in South Carolina and SEC football exceeded all expectations I had for them. I grew up in the shadowns of The Ohio State University so I was always a Big 10 kid but wow now that I've experienced a season of SEC football, I can easily say that SEC>Big 10 in my opinion. While the majority of our season was ridicously hot and humid, football Saturday's were so fun & I'm already super excited for our first game next season. You can read my post all about Saturday's in Sout Carolina HERE!






Big Little Reveal
Big Little Reveal was the day I found out Meg was my big & the day I met the girl who is now my best friend! My big took two littles so I'm a twin and wow Lynn and I couldn't be more alike. We're both from Ohio and only live 100 miles apart so you can bet there's going to be lots of roadtrips between Columbus and Cincinatti this summer.



Fall Break
Fall Break was towards the end of October and Soph & I flew home to Ohio for the long weekend. It was SO WEIRD being home for the first time since leaving but it was super nice and fun to get to show Soph around my hometown. We went to the outlet malls and then to a pumpkin patch one day which was fun and the rest of the weekend we spent just hanging out and eating because we loved having a full sized fridge as opposed to our mini fridge in our dorm. You can read my Fall Break recap post HERE.




19th Birthday
In January about two weeks after flying back to Carolina for second semester, I celebrated my 19th birthday! It was weird not being home for my birthday but my sweet friends helped me celebrate by taking me out to brunch! We snapped a bunch of cute photos, the one of Sophie, me, and Claire is one of my favorites and is currently framed and sitting on our kitchen counter because my mom loves it so much.




Delta Zeta Crush Party
Aside from Formal, our Crush Party function was one of my favorite functions of the year! I took Soph as my date and since I had finally started to find my group of friends in Delta Zeta, it was so fun to have a group to hang out with and showcase my super awkward dance moves all night long. Our theme for Crush Party was Mardi Gras because our function was the Friday following Mardi Gras and it was so fun to dress up for. Soph and I went all out with boas and gold head boppers that I am admittedly a little too obsessed with. I shared a separate post with more photos from the function, which you can read HERE.




Delta Zeta Spring New Member Retreat in Charleston, South Carolina
I'm on the New Member team for Delta Zeta which means that I'll work with the other girls on NMT to help our new member class in the fall adjust to life in DZ and help them with their transition into our chapter. DZ took a spring new member classs this year so NMT took the new members to Charleston, South Carolina for a weekend and it was so nice and fun to be able to get to know all the new girls and get to know the girls on NMT better, too. Lynn and I are co-partners for our position on the team which is so neat to be able to get to work alongside my twin and my best friend.




Dance Marathon
I shared a whole post about Dance Marathon which you can here HERE but Dance Marathon was another decision that I'm so glad I made this year! I will definitely be participating again next year because this event already holds a very special place in my heart.




Easter Weekend Road Trip to Savannah, Georgia
I shared a post with my Travel Guide to Savannah, Georgia & I also shared a post with my YouTube video I made while in Savannah! Soph and I both didn't go home for Easter weekend since we live 8 hours and 14 hours away from school so instead, we decided to head down to Savannah for the weekend since we both hadn't been in a while. Savannah is easily one of my new favorite cities and I will definitely be back in the future!




Saturday Mornings in Soda City
Soda City takes place on Main Street in downtown Columbia every Saturday morning and since it's such a short walk from campus, I was able to spend a couple Saturday mornings exploring Soda City with Sophie and Lynn!






Delta Zeta Bark-BQ Spring Philanthropy Event
Our Spring Philanthropy event was Delta Zeta's Bark-BQ which we held at a venue just off campus that allows dogs so people were allowed to bring their dogs and come enjoy live music and eat some yummy food and all proceeds went to our philanthropy. We couldn't have had better weather for this event, sunny & warm which made the turnout even better!




Delta Zeta Formal
I shared a post a few weeks ago with a ton more pictures from formal, which you can read HERE, but formal was hands down my favorite function of the year! It was super fun to get all dressed up and dance the night away with my friends. Our formal was the weekend before finals so it was a nice way to take our minds off of studying for a while and a great way to wrap up my first year in Delta Zeta.




Move-out Day
Move-out day was actually kind of sad because I had to say goodbye to all my friends and the room that I'd spent the last nine months living in. As much as I didn't care for the dorm life, a small part of me is going to miss all the fun memories that were made in room 312. You can read the post I wrote about my thoughts on the end of my freshman year HERE.



I hope you enjoyed seeing my favorite snapshots of my freshman year at Carolina!

xoxo,

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Guest Post: Brad Biehl from More Than a Word "There’s a Place for Both Quality and Quantity in Your Life"

Hi friends! I am super excited about today's post because it's something that I've never done here on Northern Prepster. One of my best friends, Brad Biehl, has his own website & podcast called More Than a Word and as soon as he told me about his launch, I knew I wanted him to guest post here on NP. I reached out to Brad a couple of weeks ago and asked him if he would be interested in writing something to share on the blog & he agreed and today I'm super excited to be launching our collaboration.

A little background on Brad before we get into what he wrote for y'all:
Brad grew up across the street from me and we would hang out all the time whether it was playing kickball in my front yard or selling lemonade on the corner. Brad was always coming up with new ideas and inventions that he would build out of cardboard boxes and I was always impressed with his latest and greatest ideas he would tell me about. Fast forward a couple of years and it didn't surprise me when Brad was telling me about his new website he was getting ready to launch. It's so cool to have grown up with Brad and see him doing such big things now and I'm super excited that he agreed to work with me in collaboration on this post. Please feel free to connect with Brad, give him a follow & definitely check out his podcasts! I'll include all of his contact information and links below! That's all for me, now I'm handing the post over to Brad.



There’s a Place for Both Quality and Quantity in Your Life

I often hear them say, “quality over quantity”. In fact, there may have never been a more repeated, cliche phrase to roam the chasms of our mind or exit through the gate of our mouths. However, for me, this is not enough. It promotes an incomplete model of thought that I see used more as an excuse, than as a truthful thesis. Before I continue, I want to stress that just because I question the phrase, does not mean I oppose quality. I just see it’s place in both this phrase and in our lives to be different. Let me explain...

I am guessing there is a healthy portion of this audience who is working toward a goal, doing work that they too want to impress upon other individuals. If you are not interested in spreading of ideas or product at this time, perhaps reading this could be a helpful step towards finding your purpose, and doing something awesome for people to enjoy. Wherever you stand currently, I hope you take something from this. 

As a podcaster, I obviously want people to listen to my podcast, my hard work. I want people to take time to listen to the 20 minutes that took me days to make and produce. That just makes sense, right? But thinking like this can be dangerous. You start to measure your quality as a producer and as a person, by the amount of people who consume your content regularly. If your numbers sit low, it can be very easy to become self-conscious about your work. When this happens, it is so easy to become discouraged about making more content, maybe slowing your production down. When production is slowed, and your quantity is minimized, then your quality also suffers. This is the stage when people often tell themselves that they’re making a choice to go “quality over quantity”, when in fact, all they’re doing is excusing an insecurity, and succumbing to fear. 


Instead, here’s is what I have done as I continue to grow my podcast...

From the beginning, I made a decision that I was not going to look at my analytics on Squarespace, Instagram, SoundCloud, or iTunes more than once a month.  The idea behind this was not to worry about how many people were seeing my work, but instead to just create content. It’s very hard to do. I want so badly to see how many clicks my site has gotten this week, or how many people have listened to Episode 12. But if I want to make it big, if I want my quality to eventually shine through to many, I first have to realize a very real truth about myself. This being that starting out, I am nothing. I haven’t proven anything yet. So I don’t have the right to sit here with a thousand followers on Instagram and claim that I am going “quality over quantity” when I haven’t yet proved that I have any quality?! The key is to produce as much content as possible, of course you should focus on the quality... of course, but focus more on the fact that you are actually DOING, and doing often. Something that one of my biggest role models and mentors, Gary Vaynerchuk says all the time is that your next video, or article, or post, or piece of content could be the one that does it for you. My next podcast could be the one that blows up. The internet is crazy like that. So at this stage in the thought process, quantity is more important than quality. 

For all of you that are freaking out right now, or struggling with this truth, keep reading, because quality very much has its place. 

While producing a ton of content is key, it is crucial that both your content and you are reflective of your identity-derived purpose. If it is meaningful to you, then it likely is meaningful to someone else. Focus on this innate, underlying meaning, not the shiny lettering in your video, or the proper header on top of your blog. Because this meaning is what makes quality important. 


Before continuing I want to change a bit of terminology... I want to change the word “quality” to “depth” in this context. And I want to change what we call “quantity” to “width”. 

I believe strongly that the depth of the impact that your content has on others is the greatest accomplishment. This is quality in my eyes. If something I say or produce impacts 1 person deeply, it will stick with them. If it becomes a part of who they are, they are more likely to reflect that onto another person in a similarly deep fashion. Meaning that, while it may be a bit more indirect, 2 people have now benefited, and it will continue to grow in this way because of that depth. I greatly prefer this progression over one that is wider in nature. Just because 100 people view your work, does not mean 100 people benefited or found value in it, meaning that “wide” impact, that quantitative impact is one dimensional and unimportant. 

In the end, I just really believe that by mentally expanding the roles quantity, quality, width, and depth, we are in a better position to understand why our work matters, both within ourselves, and to our audience. 

I hope from now on, we all begin/continue to create lots of content, while caring about the impact that our work has on the mind and heart of the viewer more than the like button on our YouTube channel.

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