My interest in service work wasn't gradual. I dove in head first.
Despite participation in Beta Club, Key Club, and National Honors Society, it was hard to do a lot of service work at my high school. We were far removed from any “real” community and there wasn’t much we could do to serve the small semblance of one that we had.
I always wished that there was more that I could do.
When I arrived to USC's campus, it was more than I had bargained for. Ever since, I’ve gone to every Service Saturday, all of them working outside, waking up during the early hours of the morning to trek over to Russell, as well as gone with a group to Greenville to help at the South Carolina Special Olympics taking place there and have volunteered at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk for a Cure.
I joined the Carolina Service Council and have taken on as many projects as I could handle, from preparing stockings to give to children at Christmas, gathering food to give to a family in need this Thanksgiving, and collecting as much loose change possible for UNICEF this past Halloween.
I’ve signed up for Relay for Life for this coming April, as well as plan to participate in one of the Martin Luther King Jr. Days of Service. I’ve talked to people with amazing ideas that I want to help push forward in the upcoming year, in addition to working on a project that I have in mind.
USC has not only given me a fantastic education, it’s also given me something far more amazing; a plan towards my future. I have received a plethora of options and opportunities from this amount of service work available, which has given me the power to give back.
I now have a direction to follow upon graduation. Through all the service work I’ve participated in, there isn’t anything better than knowing you changed someone's life.
From fixing up bike trails in the Harbison Forest, helping a student in a local school, or raising money for a walk to cure cancer, every single bit helps, even if it's a grand gesture or a simple favor. In the end, you're helping someone, and nothing inside feels better than that.
It’s that time of the semester. A few of us are all done with midterms, just waiting for fall break to roll around, while some still have a more midterms to go and even more eager for the break to get here. Now is the essential time to know how to destress and keep yourself in good spirits, even if you're worrying about what that exam grade is. There are a bunch of little things you can do that won’t take a considerable chunk out of your time, or your wallet, and will leave you better off in the long run.
The easiest thing you can do - go outside for a little. Take a walk around the Horseshoe, sit on the grass and watch the plethora of dogs run around. Find a nearby park and be a kid again. Take a minute on the swing set or go across the monkey bars. It’s a simple bit of exercise which will get your heart pumping and release endorphins. Like Elle Woods says, "you just can’t be upset when you’ve got a bunch of endorphins running through you."
Been at the computer for an hour or two? Stop. Pick up that novel or magazine you’ve been meaning to read and go through it for about thirty or forty minutes. Not only will that give you a minute to destress from a long period of work, but also helps keeps your eyes in good working order, since the computer screens tend to secretely damage your retinas.
Eat your favorite sweet - a brownie, ice cream, white chocolate covered pretzels. It doesn’t matter. Giving yourself a bit of treat will make all the work just a bit more worth it. Don’t go overboard on the munching but certainly eat enough to lift your spirits.
Rearrange your room! - Sometimes a change of pace can make you feel all the better. It may open up space, help you find something you’ve lost, or just give you a new view. Again, getting up and moving around instead sitting at your desk will do you lots of good.
Are you stuck on an essay and you just can’t seem to get over that concluding paragraph stump? I completely understand. Don’t try and force it. Go out with a group of friends for a while and then come back to it. Even if it’s just for dinner, getting away from the writing may dislodge that blockage. When you come back, you’ll be relaxed and the words will flow a lot easier.
Now, if you’re just too stressed out to deal with anyone, how about you pull out that Season 4 DVD of Supernatural or the Gilmore Girls and watch your favorite episode. Watching a TV show or movie you enjoy gives you the time to drain the stress from your body and send you back into stress free bliss. Even better, pick something you know will make you laugh. Laughter is the best medicine; at least for stress-filled work afternoons.
Make a craft - it’s as easy as getting some thread and beads and making a necklace for one of your friends. Make a bracelet saying 'you can do it!' to wear until your tests are over to give you a boost of positivity when you’re feeling down and out. You could just as easily take a piece of paper from your printer and do some origami. A lot of it is really easy and working on something like that will keep your mind working while relaxing it at the same time.
Now, here’s something a little bit more innovative. Not quite the normal distressing activities but incredibly effective nonetheless. It’s a glitter jar.
Now, stay with me here. Follow this recipe:
- 1 jar – with a lid that you can close really tightly
- 1/10 vegetable oil
- 9/10 water
- Food coloring
- Anything else shiny
All you do is mix the water and oil together, add a few drops of coloring, and then drop in all the glitter and shiny things that you want to go in there. Now, when you’re feeling stressed out and you just can’t take it anymore, grab your jar, shake it up and just sit there and watch the glitter settle. You could even wait until the oil and water separates I suppose. Just sit and watch and wait and take a moment where you’re doing nothing at all. It doesn’t take long but I’m sure that as the glitter settles your worries will too.
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Good Omens - a cult classic, like those movies, books and albums from the other side of the 90's that have millions of followers, but yet the name is not yet common knowledge. No more I say! This book deserves the title of classic, just like any novel by Jane Austen or Ernest Hemingway.
Good Omens is not a religious book. It’s the story of the apocalypse, the coming of the Anti-Christ, the great last war. But nothing goes the way it needs to for Adam, the unknowing, and unwilling, Anti-Christ, to bring all that about.
Adam isn’t the main character though. That title would jointly fall to the characters of Aziraphale and Crowley, an angel and demon respectfully, that have been around since Adam and Eve were in Eden. They don’t want the world to end. They’ve grown pretty attached to it.
So they try and stop the Apocalypse.
Some feat, right? Well, they’re not the only ones who’re trying to do the same thing. There’s also a witch guided by her ancestor who’s been dead for centuries and the hapless witch hunter trying to catch her. Even Adam, who without knowing it is bringing about the Apocalypse, is quite against all of it. He’s a nice kid. He got mixed up and went to the wrong family when he was born and grew up with a set of strong morals. He wants the world to stay just as it is too.
You see all those fantastic characters I’m talking about? They're so wonderfully fleshed out that you could swear this was an autobiography not a work of fiction. There’s the massive amount of humor, on every page there’s something to make you laugh out loud. Literally. Trust me. I’ve experienced it. And don’t worry about the authors being British; they’ve left us Americans footnotes to help us through some of the jokes written for the people on the other side of the Atlantic.
As for the humor, they are making fun of different parts of the Christian religion, but not spitefully. They’re doing it from a place of love and understanding of the Bible with its nuances. It’s just little things about the Bible and the Christian religion that any practitioner, or not, can get a laugh at. I mean Satan speaking to Crowley through the voice of Freddie Mercury? What’s not to love?
Gaiman announced earlier this year that the series is to play on BBC in the upcoming year, no exact date as of yet. There are also no words as of yet towards its premiere date in the United States, though considering the normal period of time it takes, it should only be a couple months later than its British premiere.
So, start hitting the books! It’s a good and easy read that’ll give you something to laugh about after that hard test you just took. Relax, get a cup of coffee and enjoy the wonders that are the writing of the masterminds Gaiman and Pratchett.
Image Source: http://www.neilgaiman.com/works/Books/Good%20Omens/ed/141/
Many people are reluctant to travel abroad for multiple reasons ranging from expenses to lack of desire. But is the lack of desire stemming from the fear of “missing out at USC?” It is true that your college years are the most important and memorable, but why wouldn’t you want to enhance those memories traveling to a destination of your dreams?
As the semester comes to a close, it becomes increasingly difficult to find time to work out when finals are the only thing that inhabit your mind. For those of you who fear sitting around countless hours full of anxiety and stress leading to packing on pounds, don’t fear, there’s hope! If you allow yourself a 30-40 minute study break per day, you can work out in the comfort of your own home or an easily accessible gym with these helpful tips:
Contrary to popular belief, there are many college students who have a predisposition that they will find their “true love” at college. Hearing stories of their parents meeting as undergrads or friends who have found their carbon copy during their school years puts a subconscious mental strain on the college brain.
Most students mask the thought of wanting to find Mr. or Mrs. Right in front of their peers, but it can't be argued that the thought hasn't passed through almost every student’s mind. If you are a firm believer that the right person is awaiting you in school, here are some things to keep in mind when you think someone may actually show potential:
- Remember to stay true to who you are. Pretending to be someone you aren't with hopes of impressing somebody is only masking your real personality. You will find the right person doing the things YOU like to do.
- Be happy with where you are presently. If you are overwhelmed with past relationship memories, schoolwork or any other personal issues, and think focusing on making a relationship with someone will drive those feelings away, you’re wrong. All it does is build up more emotion you don’t need. A relationship should be an added bonus to your life, not a stress factor.
- Everybody has flaws, including YOU. It comes down to a matter of which flaws you can tolerate and which you cannot. Be aware of the double standard; criticism not only comes from you, but can also be directed your way. As long as you and your significant other can compromise and accept each others' pet peeves, you'll be fine.
- Remember the “Golden Rule” we learned as children; treat others the way you would like to be treated. In terms of relationships, the person you want to invest your admiration in must treat you with the same respect that you entrust in them. A strong relationship has equal dedication coming from both sides.
Keep in mind that all relationships are different, but every person deserves the best with what they are willing to offer. As cliché as it is, listen to your heart. If you don’t feel happiness in a department that is important to you, be strong enough to let go. There are more opportunities out of college, don’t lose hope. Settle for the best, not less.
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Unfortunately, there is a limited amount of healthy options in Russell House for students trying to avoid the infamous “Freshman 15.” For those of you that find it difficult to choose something appetizing that isn’t coated in grease or butter on campus, here are some suggestions:
On the main floor, the salad bar and sushi cases for leafy lovers can satisfy a vegetarian craving. If you would rather go with something a little more filling, the Horseshoe Deli offers plenty of sandwich options that you can custom order to fit your appetite. If a fruity option is what you’re searching for, Freshens offers several smoothies that include boosters of your choice, ranging from Focus to Energy.
Although the upstairs can appear to be a fast food paradise, there are healthy options hiding amongst the fluorescent Burger King and Chick-Fil-A signs. Santorini’s gives students the cultural option of Greek salads and entrees, including grilled chicken wraps, pita chips with hummus and steamed vegetables. Over at Einstein Bagels, flat bread and lower calorie sandwiches can also prove to be satisfying meals.
If you happen to live off campus, enjoy cooking and have access to a kitchen with an oven or stove, I recommend you check out this site for simple, quick dishes and this link for the more advanced chef. Sally Kerr-Dineen, a culinary artist and mother of two college students, created these sites for beginners and more advanced cuisiniers. Her inspiration stemmed from wanting to teach her children simple recipes so they would not go off to school and be left to survive on fast food. These recipes are sure to spice up your kitchen and your palate, and may even have you expanding your culinary talent.
Image Source: asianweek.com
Gone are the days when our mothers bribed us with dessert after dinner if we ate our vegetables. Lately, USC students have actually become more concerned about their dieting habits and want to eat more nutritious items. Just look at Russell House food venues: Freshens, Horseshoe Deli and the salad bar are popular stops for health-conscious Gamecocks. There’s only one problem: these attempts at eating healthier fail due to unnecessary additions to the food.
The word "salad" has become seemingly synonymous with the term healthy, and has hundreds of recipes to choose from. Generally, salads consist of lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and so on. This doesn’t sound too bad, right? Wrong. People usually don’t stop there; they add meats, croutons, cheese and enough dressing to sink a ship. A salad with all of these additives could total close to 1100 calories with 65 grams of fat. Considering most daily nutrition values are measured by a 2,000-calorie diet, this is less than ideal. So how do you change your salad for the better? Change what you put in it!
Instead of lettuce as the base for the salad, try dark green vegetables like kale or spinach. As far as salad dressings go, they all have potential to be high in calorie content, so ease your pouring hand. Nutritionists recommend one tablespoon per salad. Add some fresh fruit and veggies for a sweet, crunchy burst to your meal. For better weight-loss results, try to limit croutons, fatty meats or high-sodium condiments.
Another food favorite amongst wellness watchers is yogurt. With selections like parfaits, smoothies and frozen desserts, what’s not to love? Yogurt’s calcium, Vitamin D and probiotics make it a health-food staple, but all of those “fixins” at the yogurt bar could be detrimental to your health goal. Adding fruit is one thing, but dishing out whipped cream, gummy bears and sprinkles is another. Keep your yogurt simple and nutritious.
Last but not least, the sandwich. Bread, meat and vegetables are all you need. Condiments like mayo, mustard, oils and cheese may be tasty, but they increase calorie content. Adding vegetables is one way to make the sandwich nutritious, but I don’t mean lettuce and tomato. Throw on peppers, spinach or even cucumbers to spruce up your meal.
The key thing to remember is: make your meals simple. A little preparation and focused mindset will keep those urges for extra toppings at bay. Healthy habits take time, but every step will put you on the right path.
Here are some fun and helpful links for healthy eating:
Now, I’m fully aware that this is purely a blog, not some sort of self-help domain or a forum for religious discussion. (I’m Jewish, so I’ve already got the minority complex on my side, but don’t worry — that’s besides the point.) Obviously a vast majority of my friends are Christian, and that’s something I’ve become as comfortable with as Easter eggs and Christmas trees. All of that said, I want to share an experience I had a couple of weeks ago in Charleston.