7 Apps that Make College Easier

My iPhone

When I got to college, EVERYONE had an iPhone. And yes, I mean everyone. People walked around with tiny computers in hand, always knowing the instant classes were canceled or when someone wanted to go to Starbucks. Me, I wondered around with a slid-up Samsung, blindly receiving texts only and furiously checking my email on my laptop in the mornings to make sure class wasn’t cancelled. I claimed I loved my Samsung, I claimed I would never cave.

And yeah, I caved that January.

I can’t say I’m sorry. Yes, sometimes I hate how connected I am all the time (I had to turn off email notifications). Yet it really is helpful to have a sidekick around whenever I need to look something up for class, a meeting, or my homework in the library. I don’t tote my laptop around everywhere I go, so my phone often replaces it.

As I’ve used and worked with my iPhone, I’ve found a few apps that really make a difference for me at school and for my summer jobs. Here are my favorites for college students:

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Books I Bought: Memorial Day Sale

Something to know about my love of reading: I never bought books, like actual, physical books, until high school. I grew up in a house where if you wanted to read something, you got it from the library where it was free and temporary. My shelves were full of yearbooks, Bibles, and books gifted to me at some point or another in my childhood.

Once I experienced the joy of putting my own pencil next to the inked words, I discovered a whole new way to read. And I do love having my own thoughts on each page, along with the possibility of reading a book again whenever I want. Yet my mind is trained to only ever buy a book unless I know I’ll like it (such as classics), I really, really want it (i.e. The Fault in Our Stars), or it’s secondhand. When I buy a book, it’s an occasion.

That’s why Half Price Books is my bestie, and when I saw all books would be 20% off Memorial Day I couldn’t pass it up. I still restricted myself to only three books, and put the rest on hold at the library :)

The three books I got are as follows:

Books I Bought 1

Gone Girl is flying away a little bit in this pic! :)

Gone Girl. After reading Allison Anderson’s rave review on this book, I had to read it for myself. She was so enthralled with the novel, and so many people have suggested it before, I’m finally going to tackle it.  The library list was too long, so since I could get it cheap I went ahead and picked it up. I can’t wait to dig in! You can also watch Allison’s (Amarixe, to the beauty world) mini video review of this book here.

Mrs. Dalloway. I tried Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and couldn’t get through it. As in, I never finished it, which is really saying something for me (I strive finish every book I start).  So my mom recommended Mrs. Dalloway as a good second try, and then to read The Hours, a novel inspired by this one, afterwards. Goodreads describes the novel as detailing “a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a fictional high-society woman in post-World War I England.” Hopefully I’ll enjoy Woolf better this time. I want to like her soooo badly since she’s such a famous female writer.

The Bean Trees. After being introduced to Barbara Kingsolver’s essays in my women in literature class this past semester, I wanted to explore some of her fiction. According to Goodreads, The Bean Trees is about Taylor Greer, a young woman who “arrives in Tucson, Arizona [with]…a three-year-old American Indian girl named Turtle, and must somehow come to terms with both motherhood and the necessity for putting down roots.” I must be honest, I’m starting with this one because it’s shorter than The Poisonwood Bible. But I am still looking forward to trying some Kingsolver fiction!

Books I Bought 1-2

Have any of you read these books lately? What did you think of them? I’m looking forward to starting Gone Girl this week. As always, I’ll let you know what I think :)

Also be on the lookout for a couple new types of posts soon. I’m still trying different things out, so I’m excited for your feedback!

leeann

What I Read: Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek

4/5 pineapples

Popular cover

First off: Maya Van Wagenen, I love you. You did what I always wanted to do (write a well-known book as a teenager) and you did it with style. You are who I wish I was in eighth grade. You are who I wish I had in eighth grade. And I’m so glad you wrote this book so that the millions of eighth grades like you and me out there have the reassurance that there are others like us out there. And it will be okay.

Gushy feelings aside, Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek, is sweet book about the realities of American middle schools and just what it really takes to be popular. It’s a super fast read (took me about 4 hours) and one that will remind you of those horrid middle school years, but then turn everything around to make you smile.

Van Wagenen’s voice is refreshing in a world dominated by adult writers and I just love her guts, however I did find the writing style a little simple and the beginning a little slow. She is fifteen, and she writes like a very naturally talented fifteen-year-old; lacking the polish and detail “practiced” writers have. This didn’t bother me a ton, but did tug at me throughout the book. (Bare in mind, I’m reading this a week after pouring over college reading-level books, so it just jolted me into a new genre). I found myself in despair by the series of events and results she recorded, rooting for her constantly but finding myself forever frustrated by the end results at several months.

It wasn’t until the final chapters that I just got it, as I think most readers of this book do. Popularity is something Van Wagenen attempts to define, and she does a beautiful job. The last sections add everything up, and all of her trials and errors before just make sense. Van Wagenen made me want to be a better version of myself, and I think that’s one of the most powerful things a book can do.

Have you read Popular? What did you think? I really enjoy memoirs, so please suggest any you like!

leeann

What I Read: Eleanor and Park

2/5 pineapples

(Why pineapples? Why not! I love them :))

Eleanor and Park

Please! Hold the tomatoes! Back away with the snark! Don’t hate me just yet.

I know this book is supposed to be something amazing. Every YA author has promoted the heck out of it. It sits at a pretty 4.21 rating on Goodreads, and several professional book reviewers have sung its praises.

But here’s the thing: I hate lovey-dovey romances.

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Making the Most of Summer

The summer before your freshman year can feel like a strange lull. No one really wants you as an intern, and without a year of college under your belt or a high school job, no one wants to take you on for three months. So, I’ve complied a few ideas to help make your summer exciting when you can’t work or aren’t working:

  • First off, don’t do what I did. I sat around my house all summer, doing absolutely nothing until it came time to buy all the stuff and make all the lists before moving to my new home. I watched a lot of TV, read a lot of books, and did a lot of sitting. There was absolutely no character building, life skill making, or college preparing happening. Okay, yes, part of this is because I was in denial that I was moving away from home in August. But a large part was pure laziness. I look back at that summer and think, “what a waste.”
  • So, set goals for yourself. Maybe this is when you’ll learn to cook. Or master decorating skills for your future dorm room. Maybe you’ll learn to garden. Perhaps you’ll even start a blog (that’s totally not what’s happening here… ;))! Whatever it is, you’ll feel better about the end of your summer if you’ve learned something new or have improved a skill.
  • There’s also the age-old option of creating your own job. Be it lawn mowing, babysitting, car-washing, house painting, or dog walking, you can earn a little bonus cash before school. While this was never my thing, being the introverted person I am, I know a few classmates who went this route before heading to school. It’s a good way to get some cash so that you can go into college ahead.
  • Volunteer! There’s a place for every passion, and very few places will turn down free labor. A quick Google search will show you what’s available near where you live, and show you the kind of change you could make. This is typically pretty flexible too, so you would be able to hang out with your friends whenever you wanted and still have an activity.
  • Speaking of high school friends, for goodness sake hang out with them. No matter what everyone says, things will not be the same when you come back from college. Of course there are exceptions, but things will be different once you all move away (not necessarily bad, but different). Even friends who go to the same college can end up meeting new friends and forming different lives. This is the time to live up the relationships you have now, and treasure them. You’re about to embark on a crazy adventure, and having a support system the first few months, before you really get to know your new classmates, makes the transition much easier.

I hope these ideas help the incoming freshmen out there! What are you doing this summer? What are your suggestions that I didn’t mention here? Let me know in the comments :)

leeann

Welcome!

(Quick disclaimer: I’m messing around with this blog until I settle on a topic I really love, so bare with me as I change things up!)

Books, food, writing: these are a few of my favorite things. Especially that writing one, which is why I’m here! I want a fun summer project, and since I love reading blogs so much I decided to make my own. It’s going to be full of a little bit of randomness, which means it’ll be full of a little bit of me :)

Here I’ll talk about college (which I originally was going to make the entire focus of the blog), write book reviews, give snippets from my life, show pictures of delicious food, update you on my running and how I exercise, and then just a sprinkle of anything else I love (i.e., makeup, clothes, piano, traveling). So stick around for awhile and enjoy the view- I can’t wait to see where this blog takes us!