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What to Do When You Have No Motivation

We are 14 long weeks into the semester, the beautiful weather is finally sticking around, and many are already making their summer plans. But finals week will be here in the blink of an eye! Here are some tips to make sure you stay on top of things and finish strong.

1. Fight the Urge to Go Home

Ryan Gosling says "don't go"

Seriously, don’t do it. It will just be even harder to come back and finish out these last two weeks.

2. Get Out of Your Room

Ferris Bueller

The weather is nice, so study outside and breathe fresh air, ya silly goose!

3. Keep Clean and Organized

teen hides messy room behind curtain

I’m just saying, you’ll never find your homework under all those piles of clothes.

4. Go to All Your Classes

Spongebob and Patrick in a classroom

You can always gain more knowledge, my friend, plus don’t lose out on those easy participation points that might bump up your grade.

5. Attend Study Groups or Tutoring Sessions

Warrior from Mulan

Cramming last minute is never a successful strategy and studying with friends or peers definitely heightens motivation.

6. Go to Bed and Wake Up Early

cartoon dragon wakes up

Always get a good night’s rest and you’ll feel refreshed and ready to tackle the day.

7. Eat Healthy

Abu the monkey stuffs face with fruit

Fill up on fruits and veggies rather than cards and caffeine to get your brain the nutrients it rightly deserves to keep focused and alert.

–Liz Doyle

Embrace Your Shape: A Look at What the Media Feeds Us

movie poster for Miss Representation

What has the media done for you? Has it made you feel good about yourself? Probably not. Has it given you unrealistic expectations about how you should look and act? Most likely.

On Tuesday, I attended a documentary and panel discussion event put on by the Health Communication Class here at WSU. I went to the event originally to support my aunt who was on the panel. But now I am so glad I did because I learned so much and got a whole new perspective on media.

The documentary, Miss Representation, asks powerful women in today’s society to explain how the media represents women. Their conclusion? Basically everything’s  “about the body, not the brain.” The media places photos everywhere of women that have an unattainable beauty because of the way we use photo-editing tools. Thus America is presented with a limited portrayal of women: skinny.

a quote from Lisa Ling in Miss Representation

And did you know that 8-10 year old kids have the same mental capacity as a 24 year old? Neither did I. The brain doesn’t fully develop until well into your 20s. That means that images we see at a young age imprint into our brains and affect us into our later years. Girls see skinny, scantily clad women and learn to see themselves as objects. Meanwhile, boys see these same images and learn to see women as objects too. It’s a vicious circle that we all want to stop but don’t know how.

Well, the panelists had a few ideas on how to break the cycle. President Olsen said the shows that portray women in a derogatory manner are the shows you don’t need to watch. The Kardashians, Toddlers in Tiaras, The Bachelor and shows of the same content all show women in a manor that make women feel like they need to be pretty in order to get anywhere in life. Other ideas are to boycott magazines, make better choices about the entertainment you watch, read or listen to and choose media that has strong female characters instead of the mainstream nonsense we buy into.

A student at the event asked, “How are we meant to change this when women and men receive backlash for doing what they love or express themselves in a way that others don’t like?” The brilliant response to this question: “You are going to receive backlash in everything you do. The only thing you can do is to allow your passion to push you through to do what you want to do.”

a quote from Alice Walker in Miss Representation

Remember how I said my aunt was on this panel? Well, she was there because she is a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner who works in the WSU Health Services office. There she sees patients and answers the many questions people have about their bodies. At the panel she spoke up, saying “I receive many girls in my office who ask me if they are ‘normal.’ Everyone is normal. We are all different but that doesn’t mean that our differences are not normal.”

This goes for guys as well. Men are conditioned to be hard-faced and to shield their emotions from everyone around them. They are taught that in order for them to be successful they need to have a nice car, dress a certain way, make a ton of money and be smarter than everyone around them. But, guys, do you really want to be that way? Having no one know what you are actually feeling and striving for a life you really don’t want?

As President Olsen said at the end of the panel: “College is a time for self discovery, so go find yourself.” That’s definitely what I plan to do. Will you?

–Rachel Adam

a panel of men and women

5 Interview Tips for the Almost-Graduate

nervous woman in car

Let’s just face it: job interviews are scary. No matter how many times you’ve done it before, it’s just frightening to sit in a lobby full of people who are looking to fill a position that you so desperately want. It can also be rather uncomfortable to talk (and brag) about yourself for hours on end in front of said people. As I continue my process in finding a job after graduation, I have learned a few things that make job interviews much more bearable.

cartoon squirrel breathes deeply

1. Take a DEEP Breath
I usually show up to interviews at least a half hour early. While this same seem a little excessive to some, I use my first 15 minutes in my car to go over potential interview questions and calm my nerves. I often take five minutes to just breathe and visualize myself nailing the interview. This gives me enough confidence to leave my car and strut into the interview room.

man smiles at camera

2. Smile
This may seem weird, but before an interview, I smile at myself in the mirror. A LOT. This helps fight the nerves and gives you a chance to practice smiling those pearly whites at your potential employers. When you walk into an interview, it’s so important to remember to SMILE! Employers really appreciate interacting with a confident, friendly and SMILING candidate.

Sherlock Holmes says "Do your research"

3. Research, Research, Research
Before an interview, do everything possible to learn more about the company. Go on their website, talk to current employees and try to memorize their mission statement. Employers really like when a candidate knows a lot about the company BEFORE even being hired for the job. It shows passion and excitement about the opportunity and that you’re willing to work hard for the position.

a woman coaches a little girl

4. Practice with a Friend
First sit down and write out any potential questions that could be brought up in the interview. I then find it helpful to write out my answers to these exact questions and study my responses. Finally, have a friend quiz you on some of the questions. That way, you have practice verbally answering these interview questions and can critique your answers to perfection. I found this extremely helpful since I am a much better written communicator and often get tongue-tied during the actual interview. It’s much easier to respond to questions you have already answered out loud.

man dances

5. Be Patient and Keep Trying
It’s very disappointing to receive rejection after amping yourself up for a job interview. However, its important to pick yourself back up and continue your search for another position quickly. It’s intimidating to put yourself out there, but don’t beat yourself if the first interview doesn’t land you an offer. As scary as job interviews can be, it’s exciting to see where you may end up and all of the endless possibilities in front of you. Keep going my fellow Warriors, because the post-grad life is almost here!

–Melissa VanGrinsven

5 Items You Should Have In Your College Medicine Cabinet

an almost empty medicine cabinent

Ahh…the average college medicine cabinet!

Springtime: Full of sunshine, running along the Winona lakes and a few cases of the sniffles. While just getting over a week-long cold, I was reminded of all the important items every college student should have in their medicine cabinet/closet for those unexpected cold and flu bugs.  Here are just a few things you should pick up to keep away from those pesky germs:

1.  Hand Sanitizer

A must-have when you are constantly touching public handles and sharing pencils with a coughing desk mate. Keep a large bottle in your room and a small keychain-size container in your backpack to use on-the-go.

2.  Kleenex

There’s nothing worse than having to run to the bathroom every five minutes to blow your nose with a little bit of toilet paper. Keep some Kleenex boxes on hand for those drippy messes.

3.  Ibuprofen or Nyquil

Trying to go to class with a pounding headache and stuffy nose is never ideal. Make sure you have some pain-relieving medicine to make it through that important exam and then take a well-deserved nap afterwards.

4.  Chicken Noodle Soup

While you may not want to keep this in your medicine cabinet, try to keep some cans of soup on hand to soothe an unexpected sore throat. It may not be as good as your mom’s homemade recipe, but the warm broth will feel heavenly!

5.  Vitamin C Tablets/Emergen-C

While it’s important to get lots of vitamin c when you are sick, it’s as equally as important to take it BEFORE YOU GET SICK to fight off any potential sicknesses.  Try to take a multivitamin or supplement to get your daily dose of the infection-fighting miracle worker.

–Melissa VanGrinsven

Where There's Food & Friends, There's Happiness

good food, good friends, good life

It’s true!

With all the homework and studying, do you find it hard to spend time with your friends? Have you gotten bored with the cafeteria food? Well then do I have some good news for you!

You can have friends and home-cooked food at the same time by starting up a weekly dinner night.

For me and my friends, it started when we had a Chinese feast of orange chicken, fried rice and egg rolls—all the works–on Valentine’s Day. We sat in the lounge on our floor talking and eating and enjoying each other’s company.

After that night I decided that I wanted to give back to my friends that are always feeding me. So I made garlic chicken, tilapia, garlic mashed red potatoes and steamed corn. I also picked up a red velvet ice cream cake from DQ. An hour of intense cooking later and we were all around the table again talking and having a good time.

These two instances made us all decide to cook every week. For the past three weeks, my friends and I have been taking turns to host Sunday night dinners and it has been so rewarding.

I mean, let’s be honest here, we all get tired of the caf food once in a while and who wants to leave their dorm on a Sunday when they’ve been snuggled up on their bed all day?

This past week, we made pasta, garlic bread and some delicious, homemade cake. Fantastic!

What I’m trying to get across is that spending a little extra money for a nice home-cooked meal is extremely beneficial. It provides food for your body and social interaction for your well-being. We’ve all been told about the affects of overwork and stress on your body, and in fact, the main reason for floor activities and campus wide events is to counteract those negative effects. . Your body can’t work 24/7–it needs a break. And being anti-social doesn’t help either.

Studying and working hard for classes and life in general is important, but having some friend time and relaxing a little is nice too. In fact, it’s needed. You can’t push yourself all the time and think that you won’t feel the effects to everything else in your life.

That’s why my friends and I started our get-togethers. We weren’t seeing each other as often as we liked. We found a day that worked for everyone and went from there. We forget about our worries and sit at a table and laugh.

And really, what more could you want on a Sunday night?

–Rachel Adam

Got a Room? Will Work Out!

people running marathons and a person watching Netflix

We’ve all been there before. You’re cuddled up in bed at 3 in the afternoon, already wearing PJ pants and well into yet another Netflix marathon. The snow is falling hard outside, making it difficult to even leave your room. An open bag of pretzels leans up against an empty jar of Nutella. As the credits roll, your finger hovers over the “Next Episode” button…

Well it’s time to get moving! Though the gym may be a far trek from your room, it’s easy to stay active in one room. Here are some tips and tricks to keep your body healthy, even with a 12×12 foot room.

1. Get the Heart Rate Going!

This chart is perfect to add some cardio after sitting for so long. Luckily, none of these exercises require any weights or equipment. It’s easy to do and is a perfect alternative to running outside or on a treadmill!

cardio workout chart

2. Tone Those Muscles!

This month-long routine is perfect to tone your muscles in a smaller space. It only lists crunches, sit-ups and squats, but if you stick to it for the whole month, the results are awesome! Do this first thing in the morning or right before being to bed and you’ll be getting fitter – in the comfort of your own room.

crunches and sit-ups workout routine

3. Put in a Movie – No Really!

Another great idea on how to stay fit in a small space is simply pressing “play”. Look on YouTube or purchase a workout DVD for some heart-pumping exercises that can be done only a few feet away from your TV. It’s like having a personal trainer right there in your own home!

a woman doing yoga

Be sure to check out WSU’s Wellness Pinterest board for more ideas on how to stay happy and healthy during these dreary winter months!

–Melissa VanGrinsven

A Student's Guide to Sustainable Frugality

dollar sign and earth

Doing good for the environment doesn’t have empty your wallet.

While I’m not one who lives paycheck to paycheck, I know the value of living frugally. I budget carefully and think through my purchases. Sometimes though, it seems like buying eco-friendly products and living green are too expensive for a college student’s budget. For instance, there’s no way I could afford to drive a hybrid car or put solar panels on my apartment roof. But there are ways to have the best of both worlds: this is a student’s guide to sustainable frugality, saving you money and the environment too.

1. Using a Glass Water Bottle Instead of Buying Plastic

The average 24 pack of your basic, glorified tap water is around $3. Let’s say that you go through one of these packs each month. In a year you will spend $36 simply for the convenience of water in plastic bottles. This isn’t too bad for your bank account, but it is bad for the environment because you alone have added 288 plastic bottles to landfills in a single year. Think about how many plastic bottles would be wasted if all the students at WSU, let alone the entire US population went through a 24 pack of water a month! Alternatively, you can get a glass water bottle for about $12 at Target. After four months of reusing the glass water bottle, the bottle has paid for itself and now you are saving $24 a year, plus there is zero plastic waste.

2. Make Your Own Cleaning Products with Natural Ingredients

When you want something really clean, your first instinct is probably to reach for the product with disinfecting chemicals cooked up in labs. But in fact, Mother Nature already perfected two powerful cleaning solutions: white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. Mix either one with water (on a 50/50 ratio) or use hydrogen peroxide on its own, and you have a natural all-purpose cleaner for counter-tops, glass surfaces, carpets and even your toilet bowl. You can get 128oz of white vinegar for $3 and 32oz of hydrogen peroxide for just $1 at the grocery or drugstore. Let’s compare that to spending $2 on a 24oz bottle toilet bowl cleaner and $3 for a 26oz bottle of counter-top disinfectant.

On the surface, it doesn’t look like much of a difference, but the savings are apparent when you drill down to price per ounce. At $2, the commercial toilet bowl cleaner comes out to $0.08/oz and the commercial disinfectant at $3 cost about $0.12/oz. The vinegar costs $0.02/oz while the hydrogen peroxide comes out to $0.03/oz. The commercial products are 4 times as expensive as the natural ones! Remember, too, that you have to dilute the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide with water so your purchases will go even further. Over a year, you will spend a bit less on cleaning products by making your own natural recipes, but the real savings come from avoiding harsh chemicals that can actually make you sick even while your house is spotless.

3. Switch Incandescent Bulbs Out for CFL Bulbs

This is a well-known energy saving tip but when you see the sticker price at the store, you might think otherwise. It’s true that you have to spend some money upfront to purchase CFL lightbulbs but you will save energy and money overall. Let me take you through the math. At Target, you can get two GE 60-Watt Incandescent Soft White Light Bulb for $2.50 while two GE 60-Watt CFL Soft White Light Bulbs will cost $8.79. Say you need 10 light bulbs for your entire apartment, so your total bill would be $12.50 for incandescent bulbs and $43.95 for CFL bulbs. That’s a big price difference! But you can see the savings already when you look at how long the bulbs will last. GE claims that the CFL bulbs will last 13.7 years while the incandescent bulbs will only make it 1.4 years. With the cost of replacement, you would end up spending $9/year on incandescent bulbs, but only $3/year on CFLs because they last so much longer. That is a yearly savings of $6.

Now let’s factor in energy usage. The average Minnesotan uses 793 kilowatt hours (kWh) each month and the average cost for residential electricity in Winona is $0.11/kWh. At that rate, your average monthly electricity bill is about $87. Now, each incandescent bulb uses 60 watts, and if you used one bulb for 10 hours a day, that one bulb would use 0.6kWh. At ten bulbs for 10hrs/day, you would use 6kWh each day. Using 10 incandescent bulbs for 10 hours a day for 30 days would equate to 180 kWh/ month. The total cost for all that energy is $19.8/month. Meanwhile, each CFL bulb uses a mere 15 watts, so 1 bulb for 10 hrs/day would use .15 kWh. At 10 bulbs for 10hrs/day, the energy consumed would amount to 1.5kWh, and at 10 bulbs for 10 hrs/day for 30 days the total would be 45 kWh/month. The total cost is just $4.95/month. That is a savings of $15 each month—your $90 bill is now $75. In a year, you’ll save $180. As you can see, the savings add up quickly!

4. Eat Seasonal and Local Foods

It’s the dead of winter and we’re all longing for spring to arrive. While at the grocery store you might reach out for a nectarine or some grapes just to remember that there is warmth world. But hold up—those warm-weather fruits clearly aren’t in season here in Minnesota. No, they had a long journey to your local Hy-vee from California, Mexico or maybe even Chile, an expense you’ll see at the register when you pay $3-4 per pound for those nectarines and grapes. Even though eating fresh produce is healthy for you, eating produce when it’s in season helps the environment by lowering emissions produced by shipping foods thousands of miles and saves you money too. Not to mention that that oranges, strawberries and peppers taste better when you get them in season. Eating local produce is even better because again there are reduced shipping costs—both monetary and environmental—and you keep your dollars in the local economy. Supporting local farmers at the Winona Farmers Market is an important way to build community, which in turn supports your life as well because all businesses thrive when people have money to spend.

5. Cut Down on Food Waste

Speaking of food, let’s talk about how much money you lose by wasting food. In the U.S, 40% of the food produced gets thrown away each year at every stage of production from insect damage to commercial “beauty standards” for produce to spoilage in your fridge. All this wasted food costs Americans $43,052,480,000. That is a huge number to wrap your mind around, but think about it this way. If the average American family of four spends roughly $1,252 per month on groceries, as a single college student you might spend about $300 at the most. If you threw out 40% of the food you purchased, you would basically toss $120 in the trash—that’s some serious cash! A big reason people throw away food is because it spoils before they can use it. Here are few apps that can help you help you eliminate your own food waste and save money:

  • Green Egg Shopper lets you track your food purchases by how soon they will spoil and then alerts you when foods are almost expired
  • Love Food, Hate Waste provides portion planners and helps find recipes for the ingredients you have in your cupboards
  • 222 Million Tons helps you shop smarter by giving you templates for grocery lists based on how many people you’re shopping for and what they like

Even if food isn’t actually spoiled, most people will still toss it if the expiration date has passed. While expiration dates have good intentions to reduce food-borne illnesses, the fact is that any bad bacteria is already present regardless of the date printed on the package. Expiration dates are really more of guidelines for grocery store shelf-stockers—for you, the consumer, most foods are still perfectly good to eat even if the expiration date has passed.

These are just a few ways to be sustainable on a budget. If you’d like to learn more about frugal living, come to “The New Frugality” presentation by economics expert Chris Farrell on Thursday, Feb. 26 at 7pm in the Vivian Fusillo Stage in the Performing Arts Center.

–Elizabeth Meinders

Valentine’s Day Isn’t Just For Lovers

a valentine's meme featuring hans solo

And you know what, that is ok too!

As Valentines Day quickly approaches, I’m sure most of us single people can’t help but dread it just a little bit. What’s the point of Valentine’s Day with no significant other to spend it with? Your plans might be something along the lines of getting a tub of ice cream and sitting down to watch a romantic film by yourself, but I would like to share a little piece of advice that I learned awhile ago: Valentine’s Day isn’t just for the lovebirds.

Valentine’s Day is really just about love and luckily for us, love isn’t an emotion reserved for those with significant others. Think about it: you love your parents, you love your siblings, you love your grandma, your roommates, your best friend, your dog – the list could go on and on. Valentine’s Day should be about showing all the people in your life how much you care about them.

So here’s a few things you can do instead of watching that movie based on a Nicholas Sparks novel.

  • Pick up the phone and give Mom and Dad a call. I can guarantee they’ll appreciate hearing from you, even if it’s just to say hello and to let them know that you’re doing well.
  • Buy some chocolate for your best friend who may also be “significant other-less” then share it together while chatting on the couch, because no one should have to eat chocolate alone.
  • Make your roommates dinner, and yes, ordering Domino’s counts.
  • Grab that squeaky toy your dog loves and or the feather wand your cat can’t get enough of and play with your pet all day until they’re tired and curl up next to you for a nap.
  • Most importantly, make sure you set aside a little money too so you can show some self love by indulging in the half price candy the day after.

If you surround yourself with the people who mean the world to you, I can assure you that you won’t spend February 15 regretting the fact that you ate an entire tub of ice cream and cried for 2 hours over The Notebook. Furthermore, you should revel in the fact that you are blessed with people who love you every day of the year and not just on February 14.

So, you can either choose to be the Valentine’s Day Scrooge or sit back and realize that, yes, not having someone to go on a romantic date with may be disheartening and at times very frustrating, but there are so many other people in your life to love and they all want it just as much as you do.

–Garrett Bowling

8 Student Discounts You Should Try

a student counting pennies

I guess this is one way to budget….

To all those broke college students—this post is for you!

Of course, this post is also for me because even though I have a job, I still feel pretty broke. This is mainly because I have all these bills to pay and purchases to make like tuition, textbooks, groceries and gasoline. I am sure at least some you are feeling the same way.

Now, we have all heard about the “amazing deals” we can get through our school IDs and even student email addresses. But I bet you figured that it was all fake or that it was too much work to get the discounts. Well, I did a little research and discovers that not all of them are fake and the discounts really aren’t that hard to collect.

Here are 8 student promotions that you can benefit from in our area and online:

  1. A Sam’s Club Collegiate Membership can help you save money on groceries, laundry detergent, computer gear and more. Plus, you’ll receive a $15 Sam’s Club Gift Card and extra offers when you sign-up!
  2. Join Amazon Student to get free two-day shipping and all the other benefits of a Prime membership, including streaming movies and tv shows, at half price.
  3. Get The New York Times delivered to your doorstep or to your iPad at 50% off with their College Rate Subscription.
  4. Studentrate.com has great coupons for a variety of popular stores and gets you cash back on your purchases.
  5. Collegebudget.com is similar to StudentRate.com. and has great deals and coupons for products you use every day.
    college budget.com
  6. Jo Ann Fabrics has a student discount program that nets you 10% off nearly every purchase. Now you can save money on all those Pinterest DIY projects you’ve been dying to try!
  7. Sign up for Amtrak’s Student Advantage Card and save 15% on fares. Now traveling home or taking a weekend get-away can be a little less expensive.
  8. Spotify.com has a Student Rate gives you $5 off a premium membership, effectively cutting your monthly fee in HALF!
    spotify student rate ad

So that’s all I have for today, but I’m sure there are a ton more legitimate college student discounts out there. I certainly will be using the ones I’ve found and looking for more. That way, hopefully I can turn this broke college student into a college student that has more than $4 in her wallet every month. Good luck to you too!

–Rachel Adam

The Road to a Realistic Resolution

a paved road

When making New Year’s Resolutions or just goals in general, my number one mistake is making goals that are out of the ballpark huge. For example, am I really going to go to the gym seven days every single week? The answer is a definite and capitalized NO. Another time I made it my goal to read all the great literary classics like Ulysses, Anna Karenina and 1984, over the summer. I didn’t even make it through one classic novel in the three months.

I have learned that the key to sticking to a resolution is making one that you can really accomplish. Say you’re a C-average student and you want to improve your GPA. Don’t set your goal at getting a 4.0 next semester. Instead, set your goal as completing assignments on time, going professors during office hours or going to the tutoring center. If you make a realistic goal, you’re much more likely to stick to it.

Here is how you do it:

1. Make Small Goals Along the Way
Another important part of achieving a goal is making small goals that add up to your final goal. This year, my resolution is to exercise more and eat better. I’ve set small goals such as beginning with running only one mile at the gym and will work my way up to 10 miles. When you achieve your small goals, the big goal will seem a little less looming.

2. Make yourself accountable.
Sometimes we need more than our own sheer self-motivation to stick to a resolution. I know I certainly do. So make yourself accountable to those around you. Tell you mom to call you once a week and ask how your goal is coming along. Ask your roommates to encourage you in your goal. Simply having others around you to remind you of your resolution will give you the extra motivation it takes to stick to it.

This year, reach your goal by creating a realistic one–that is, one that seems achievable and maybe even enjoyable. Good luck!

–Leah Dobihal