family

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How to Be a Better Freshman

Freshman year is a big deal. You’re experiencing and encountering so many new things at once, and they all seem like make it or break it situations. However, you can relax knowing that while everything seems like a huge deal, in the long run, most things aren’t. By following some simple tips, you’ll be navigating your first year of college so well; people may think you’re a sophomore!

freshmen

DO create some distance; DON’T be a stranger
For many incoming freshmen, this is the first time they’ve been away from home. No matter the distance, if you’re living on campus instead of at home, it’s going to be an adjustment. Establish some sense of independence while living in the dorms. Instead of calling the parents every time you can’t figure out laundry, roommate problems or homework, try working it out on your own or asking someone on your floor.

Of course, don’t ignore your family completely. Check in periodically and share how you’re doing. Try to visit at least a few times a semester. You’ll be surprised to find how much those conversations and visits mean after being away for a while.

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How to Come Out to Your Parents

scrabble board with "Dear Mom"One of my friends recently told his parents that he is gay and has been in a same-sex relationship for the past year. His parents are very conservative and were less than thrilled to learn this information about their son. At first, there was a big fight and my friend stormed out of his parents house. However, he recently had another discussion with his family and things went much more smoothly.

Coming out to family and friends is a really important step for homosexuals, but it can also be very difficult. Things usually go one of two ways: your friends and family react positively and accept you, or they react the way my friend’s parents did. Of course you hope that the important people in your life will accept you, no matter what, but that is not always the case. However, there are some steps teens and young adults can take to ensuring that when they do come out to their parents, it will go smoothly and not end up causing World War III.

1. Pick a good time. It’s not a good idea to come out to your friends or family when either you or they are stressed, frustrated, or upset about something else. For example, you should never come out during an argument or in order to hurt the person you are telling. Instead, wait for a time when you can sit down together and calmly discuss the matter. You might even want to tell them ahead of time that you have something important that you need to tell them and ask that they prepare themselves for the conversation.

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How You Can Survive Winter Break If You Are Not Going to Be at Home

tress covered in snowFor many of us, Christmas and the holiday season is a time that we like to be at home with our families and loved ones. However, if you are studying abroad, taking December intersession courses, or simply can’t get home for the holidays, this time of year can be a little disappointing for you.

If you are finding yourself away from home this holiday season, we have a few tips to help you survive Winter Break away from home.

1. Celebrate the holidays in an unique way. There’s no way to recreate the atmosphere and events that take place at your traditional holiday celebrations. So instead of trying, why not create a new celebration? Find some friends who are also spending the Winter Break away from home and think of something fun that you can all do together. Maybe it’s volunteering at a local charity, going ice skating together, or having a marathon of your favorite Christmas movies with plenty of puppy chow and hot chocolate. The more creative and festive you are, the more fun it will be.

2. Call back home when everyone will be there. Arrange a time with your family and friends back home when you can talk to each other. This will give you an opportunity to catch up with everyone from back home and tell them what you have been up to as well. You could also open gifts over the phone while you are talking if you have sent them by mail. If you have Skype, this can be even more fun because you will get to see everyone.

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Holiday Gift Ideas for Mom on a College Budget

She gave you the gift of life, and even though you might be a poor college student now, she still deserves a gift this holiday season. Sure, a framed copy of your report card for this semester is a good idea, but maybe you should consider changing it up this year.

Here are three more creative gift ideas you can get for your mom this year. And yes, we are keeping the fact that you might not exactly be rolling in the dough in mind. However, there are also some more luxury minded options.

1. Pampered Momma
College Budget: Body Lotions Estimated Cost: $25
Luxury Budget: Spa Gift Card Estimated Cost: at least $50

Most moms love being pampered, whether this means taking a bubble bath at home or getting a massage at the local spa. You can either create an at-home-spa experience for Momma or you can send her somewhere else for her pampering. The at-home spa could consist of body lotions, bubble bath, and a loofah. You can buy a gift card in any amount you want, but most spa packages cost at least $50.

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Holiday Gift Ideas for Dad on a College Budget

He’s the guy who taught you how to ride a bike. Then, when you were ready for a nicer set of wheels, he taught you how to drive a car. He’s provided advice and listened when you needed him.

There’s no way you can give him a gift as wonderful as he deserves, but you can give Dad something better than a burned CD full of music he’ll never listen to. Here are some creative ideas for gifts for Dad this holiday season. (As always, we are keeping in mind that you might not have tons of cash to put towards gifts this year. Hey, you’re a college student, we get it.)

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Holiday Gift Ideas for Your Sister on a College Budget

Maybe she acted as your second mom when you were growing up, or maybe she was the terror who stole your favorite toys and wouldn’t give them back. Maybe she walked with you to school on your first day and told you how to avoid the mean kids in class or maybe she was the mean kid in your class.

Either way, she’s your sister and now that you are both grown up (although that does not necessarily mean you are more mature), it’s time to show some sibling love and get her the best holiday gift you can think of…and can afford on your college student budget.

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Holiday Gift Ideas for Your Brother on a College Budget

Alright, so maybe he wasn’t exactly nice to you when you were both younger. Maybe he pulled your hair or hid your favorite toys. Hopefully he’s matured a little by now and has stopped irritating you just for the pleasure of getting on your nerves. He’s your brother and even though he might not deserve it at times, you should probably get him a gift this holiday season.

Here are some cheap and fun gift ideas you can get your brother this year. And hey, you don’t really have to spend a lot of money.

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Easy and Delicious Thanksgiving Dinner Recipes

turkeyThanksgiving is for spending time with your family, being grateful for all that you have, and stuffing your face with delicious food. Last year, my mom asked me to make the Thanksgiving dinner. At first, I was terrified, but after some planning (and using these recipes), it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. If you are going to preparing some of the Thanksgiving feast this year, or the whole meal is falling on your shoulders, try some of these easy, delicious recipes! Read the rest of this entry »



Skype Makes it Easy for College Students to Keep in Touch

Starting college is such an exciting time! Chances are, you are moving out of Skypeyour parents’ house, and possibly even moving to a different city. This opens a world of new experiences and freedoms. Woot woot!

But what if you start to miss seeing your friends from back home, or even your parents? (Don’t scoff, it could happen.) You could jump in your car or book an airplane ticket back home for the weekend, but that could become quite expensive, especially if you catch the homesickness bug. So, how can you see your parents/friends/family pets without wracking up a huge credit card bill? One word: Skype. Read the rest of this entry »



Living Abroad with a Host Family

Many students who choose to study abroad also live with a host family. This is usually called a “homestay” study abroad experience.

Living with a new family can be a stressful experience. You are combining two different cultures and trying to make them live as a family for six weeks, a semester, or even a year. It can be very awkward. So here are my tips for a successful homestay experience.

I am currently living with a host family here in Sevilla, Spain. However, it is not what you would expect a typical family to be like. My family consists of my “mom,” a 74-year-old woman named Rosa, and her adult daughter, Christina, who is 40-years-old. This is not a strange thing though; most host families are not your typical family with a mom, dad and two kids.

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