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Let me start by confessing that I don't believe in having a singular carry-on. I always travel with two. And ladies, guess what? You can do it too. I'm tired of seeing ladies walking around the airport with just their purse and giving me questioning looks when I walk to my flight gate with my purse and my backpack. All airlines allow you to have a carry-on, and because we're ladies and love having stuff with us, a purse!


My backpack always goes in the overhead compartment, and my tote goes underneath the seat in front of me. Airports and airplanes are great, but until we figure out how to teleport to places, your girl is about to be carrying a bunch of stuff with her at all times. So without further ado, here are my carry-on essentials.

iPhone, iPhone Charger, Power Bank

I have the iPhone 6 Plus and I doubt there's  anywhere I go without it. I also always have my favorite power bank with me for when I need to recharge. Once it charges my phone, I charge it back up for the next time my battery is on the brink of death.


Earphones

Airplane headsets just don't cut it for me so I usually bring my own.


Laptop, Laptop Charger

I highly recommend you don't put your laptop in your checked luggage because even if you put a "fragile" sticker on your suitcase, I can pretty much guarantee that it'll get tossed about with all  the other suitcases.


Journal, Pencil Case

Sometimes, inspiration strikes when you're 34,000 miles above the ground, and I'm always ready to jot things down.


Bible

I love being able to delve into scripture while I'm flying. There's something about being so high up that makes me feel like I'm closer to God.

Folder of Necessary Documents (I-20, Itinerary, Boarding Passes)

I like to keep a folder of all of my travel documents so that nothing is misplaced or falls out of my purse by accident. Before I implemented my folder system, I had lost one too many boarding passes as I ran through airports.

Passport or ID

If you don't have one of these with you, I don't even know how you got on the plane, lol.

Wallet

It's always good to have some money on you just in case.


Mini Lotion

My hands are perpetually dry so I always always always travel with a mini lotion.

Baby Wipes

These are very handy for a quick clean up of just about anything.

Lip Balm

The atmosphere in planes is so dry, lip balm is definitely a must for me.

Neck Pillow

Awkwardly leaning on the person next to you can be uncomfortable for the both of you, that's why I bought this neck pillow and faithfully fly with it everywhere.

Scarf

Airplanes get pretty chilly, so I like to make sure I have a scarf handy.


Snacks

I'm a compulsive snacker. There, I said it. But also, I like to keep snacks around because with all the time zone changes I go through, I'm the person who gets hungry when they're not offering food on the flight.

Toothbrush and Mini Toothpaste

Long layovers and long flights are just not the time to have bad breath. So I make sure I have my toothbrush and a small tube of colgate with me.

12.19.2016

What's In My Carry-On?


I feel like one of the best things I was able to get out of being raised by african parents was the opportunity to have actually lived in Africa. Although I haven't been to a great many of Africa's 54 nations, I've been to nine (Senegal, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, and Swaziland) amazing ones. All of these countries, much like the rest of the continent are full of natural resources. Although often overlooked, Africa is brimming with amazing experiences just waiting to happen. So today, I'm taking you to Kenya. Here are five of my favorite must have experiences from "The Pride of Africa."


1. Adopt An Elephant...Or At Least Pet One


One of my favorite animals in the world is the elephant. I just think they're exceptionally majestic and wise. However, the sad reality is that they’re being hunted for their valuable tusks. When poachers seek to extract the tusks from the elephant, they kill them. They literally kill the entire animal for two tusk. And because of the high demand for ivory, the elephant population has dwindled significantly. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust runs a rescue and rehabilitation program for the orphaned offspring of the elephants who have been killed for their tusks.

Going to the elephant orphanage in Nairobi is such an amazing experience. Much like the joy of watching an innocent child play in a backyard, the joy of watching baby elephants play in mud is heart warming. Knowing that had they not been rescued, they too would have suffered a similar fate as their parents once they reached maturity. That is, if they hadn't been hunted in their period of vulnerability first.

Another great thing about the elephant orphanage is that not only can you watch the baby elephants play and occasionally touch an interact with them, you can choose to adopt one! By adopting an elephant, for only $50 a year, you can contribute to its continued upkeep.  And honestly, that's the very best part. I think we can all deprive ourselves of our much lusted after Steve Madden heels, to ensure that an elephant is looked after. You can read more about the elephant orphanage on the the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust website.

2. Witness the Wildebeest Migration


The wildebeest migration is the largest single movement of an animal group in the world. From July to October, over 2 million wildebeest make the journey from Tanzania's Serengeti National Park, to Kenya's Maasai Mara National Reserve. Basically what I'm saying is girl, treat yourself to a safari.
Watching the wildebeest is frightening and amazing all at the same time, but being at Mara will put you at the heart of the home of some of the most beautiful animals in the world.

From aardvarks to baboons, to lions, zebras, giraffes, and rhinos. Check out all the animals you'll be able to see here. And yes, you'll even see a real live cheetah. Just don't bust out your cheetalicious ensemble. That's just not going to fly.

3. Lounge Around In Lamu Town


In 2001, Lamu became a UNESCO World Heritage site. A historic center of Swahili and Muslim studies, Lamu is one of the oldest and best preserved settlements in East Africa. Lamu town is actually located on Lamu Island. A lot of people don't actually know that Kenya has islands, but now you do!

Do you see this?? Lounging around at the beach all day literally sounds like the best idea in the world. The relaxed vibe of the whole place is what makes it so enchanting. Time slows to a halt yet passes so fast when you're there.

4. Make It To The Gates Of Hell And Live To Tell The Tale


If you're more adventurous, go to hell. Hell's Gate  National Park that is. In prehistoric times, a river flowed to the south of Lake Naivasha feeding the people of that region. Now, however, it's dried up and left in its wake a large crevice in the cliffs. This crevice is called Hell's Gate. If you're a hiker or enjoy bicycle rides, this place is definitely for you. It's also a popular spot for birdwatchers and photographers.

It gives vague Grand Canyon vibes, but the experience is definitely all-African.


5. Unleash Your Inner Tree Hugger at the Nairobi Arboretum


Also one for the hikers, the Nairobi Arboretum is a stunning display of African foliage. Founded a little over 100 years ago, it presents the most vibrant greens imaginable. Hiking through it, and breathing in the pure air, and learning about the different flora and fauna is truly a great experience.


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There are tons of fun things to do in Kenya, but I just wanted to share my top 5.

 What do you want to see?

9.01.2016

5 Things To Do In Kenya


The month of August has been a particularly difficult one for me for personal reasons and I just found myself downtrodden and just lacking zeal. Although I tried the fake-it-til-you-make-it approach, I still felt that artificial smiles and the fake joy I was putting out was poisoning my mood even more. But as life does, things got better, and something I found that really helped me was celebrating. Whether I was celebrating the little things, or even the big things, just celebrating was enough to put me in a genuinely good mood. I like having an occasion to celebrate, even if it’s a silly one. So below I’ve compiled a list of holidays through to the end of the year that you may not have known about that are worth celebrating just because. I’ll be celebrating them, and I’d love for you to join me. So put on your party hat, and seize the day!

For September:


5th- Cheese Pizza Day

No one will ever have to fight me in order to convince me that pizza consumption is a  good idea. If eating a truck load of pizza would save humanity, let me be the first to say that, YES, I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE. On this day, pizza is being taken back to the basics. No toppings, no special whatever. Just a simple cheese fest. I can't wait.

21st- International Day of Peace

This one is so important because in a world where political, racial, and so many other boundaries are constantly at the forefront, we often forget that underneath our exterior appearance and other arbitrary preferences, we are all the same. This day is dedicated, as the United Nations puts it, to "cultivating a culture of peace." Read more about it on the official website here.

25th- Binge Day

Any excuse to consume excessive episodes of a show is a good excuse. Considering I do this pretty well already, I'll make sure to check this day off the list with flair. I just spent a day watching a season and a half of unREAL. And I loved it. So you can say I've warmed up sufficiently for this day.

For October:


7th- Bathtub Day

I am a huge advocate for pampering yourself. But sometimes as a college student, frequent trips to the spa don't necessarily make huge sense budget-wise. So how about downsizing your spa day and just DIYing it from home? A bath is always relaxing. I personally recommend the Aveeno Active Naturals Stress Relief Foaming Bath. It's under $5 and smells absolutely great!

11th-Face Your Fears Day

Whatever fears have been holding you back, today is the day to let them go. Think about what scares you, and just do it. Grab a friend if you have to, and truly make a day of it. And once you've faced your fear, CELEBRATE!

22nd- Make a Difference Day

Although this calendar has been all about reasons to celebrate for yourself. Today, be the reason someone else celebrates. Going to a homeless shelter and donating clothes or serving food could be an option but there are so many other things you can do.

For November: 


11th- Origami Day

Celebrating  a culture that is not your own can be a great way to not only learn something new, but to make cool connections. Today is all about the delicate Japanese art or origami. Taking a blank sheet of paper and turning it into a work of art is so much fun. So surround yourself with good people, and get folding!

24th- Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day

What's your unique talent? It doesn't have to be something that only you can do, but it's something you truly excel at and enjoy! My talent is talking. Yes, I'm claiming it as a talent. I'm all about talking, all the time. So you know what I'm going to do? Grab some gal pals, grab some food, and talk!


26th- Cake Day

Could I really make this list, and not include Cake Day? No. Not at all. Your local bakery is probably having a sale, but you can totally bake and decorate a cake yourself...then cut yourself the biggest slice. Who said you can't have your cake and eat it too?

For December:


3rd- Make a Gift Day

It's December, Christmas is approaching, sales are lighting up everywhere. But before you pull out your wallet, pause and think about what you were about to buy. A sappy card? A generic gift? Why not make your loved ones a gift? They won't be expecting it because today is definitely not Christmas, and they'll appreciate it because you took the time out and put some effort into it.

7th- Cotton Candy Day

You may or may not be tired of all the food related days in this post, but I'm not! So grab your niece or nephew and hit the candy store! The opportunities for fabulous instagram pictures are endless. Thank me later. And tag me so I can see them!

30th- Bacon Day

Lord, here goes another food day. But listen, did you really want to round out the year any other way? Discover a new diner and see what kind of bacon they're serving up. An adventure and a crunchy treat? Sign me up!

*************
What days will you be celebrating with me?

8.29.2016

12 Holidays to Celebrate This Fall


The concept of college is already anxiety inducing for so many who are taking their stage left exit from high school. Now top it off with having to share close living quarters with a stranger, and the anxiety levels might just sky rocket! I

 know I personally was stuck in the mindset that my roommate and I would either be the very best of friends just like in the corny movies, or we wouldn’t be able to stand each other—I have no idea why I was fixated on these extremes—thus  rendering my freshman year completely ruined.

Fast forward an entire year, and I’m heading into my second year of college, and with two roommates under my belt—one each semester—I feel like I have a few good tips on how to get along with your roommate starting even before you meet face to face.


GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER BEFORE MOVING IN


My roommate and I actually met by texting through an app called CampusQuad. CampusQuad is a super helpful group chat app that connects college students. Within the app, just about every college in America has a group chat for the incoming class of that year. Here it is in the Apple app store.

"Download CampusQuad and meet people just like you. You'll have friends before you even set foot on campus!"


The QUAD app was ideal because by texting through it, we were able to get a feel for each other and other people from our incoming class without the pressure of exchanging any solid contact information. 

We spoke on a nearly daily basis although it was sometimes difficult due to the fact that I was eight hours ahead, on a different continent. The mornings for her were my afternoons so it wasn’t too bad.

Okay so I didn’t actually meet my roommate through the CampusQuad app, although it is how I met a bunch of people from my incoming class. My roommate and I originally met through Instagram

By simply going to the explore page and looking up hashtags that pertained to my university, I found a few people who had posted using the school’s hashtag and I was able to semi stalk them. On their pages, after going through their most recent images—okay so I went through all their pictures, sue me— I dropped a few comments along the lines of, “Hey! I’ll be attending [insert university here] this fall too! Looking forward to seeing you around campus!” 

A comment like this generally drove the person back to my Instagram page and occasionally started a lengthier dialogue. So go ahead and stalk your university on across any social media you can find them on!

ATTEND ORIENTATION + MINGLE


Another great way to get to know each other before move in day is to go to orientation. Texting or interacting through social media may be great, but face to face interaction is even better. 

Because I lived too far to attend orientation, my roommate had really taken a chance by asking me to room with her. But orientation is a great time to meet your future roommate because you’re all participating in pre-planned activities generally created to get people to come out of their shells a little bit more. 

The first few hours are guaranteed to be awkward, but don’t be afraid to say hi to a stranger. That stranger might just be your next best friend.

 "Forget what your mama said—TALK TO STRANGERS!"


DON'T SPEND TOO MUCH TIME TOGETHER


Once you’ve settled in with your roommate, you’re probably going to have the urge to hang out with her all the time. That’s understandable; she’s probably the one person you clicked with amazingly. But listen, you don’t need to spend every waking moment together. 

One of the reasons I was able to have successful runs with both my roommates was that we didn’t really hang out together all the time. In the case of my first roommate, we didn’t have the same circle of friends, and we also had differing majors with her being a Communications major while I was a Biology major.

I will admit that at first I was concerned that we wouldn’t have anything in common past our initial “click” but this actually ended up working in our favor. Fairly quickly, we ended up developing a little routine where we would talk about our days in the evening back in the room. 

With both of us having experienced something different throughout the day, it was definitely an entertaining way to wind down our evenings.

"Be your own person. Make your own friends."


With my second roommate, it was a bit different. We clicked on so many levels it often didn’t make any sense. Since we’re both inherently talkative, we literally never ran out of stuff to talk about. 

She, too, was a biology major, and although we had similar classes, we weren’t actually in any of each other’s classes. She, too had a separate group of friends, however, our friend circles overlapped a lot. At the end of the day, our biggest struggle was to stop talking and actually fall asleep at night.

SPLIT RESPONSIBILITIES AND EXPENSES


No one likes a moocher. Therefore, it is important to establish responsibilities as soon as possible or one roommate will get frustrated because they find themselves bearing the brunt of the dorm room expenses. 

I would advise taking turns on who buys the toilet paper (Side Note: toilet paper is MAJOR. Like, SO important. And you never really know how essential it is to your way of life until your parents stop providing it, and it’s on you to get it yourself). 

Taking out the trash and general cleanup is also something that should be split equally to some degree. It won’t be a big deal though if everyone acts like a grown up and cleans up after themselves.

"Show that you care by being fair."


Resist the urge to wait on splitting responsibilities until someone fails to fulfill something the other felt as though should have been taken care of. By being up front about it, you avoid a bitter confrontation down the road. 

So take the time and set up a white board or chart documenting each person’s duties and when switches of duties are meant to happen. This way, when someone doesn’t do what they’re supposed to, they can’t claim that they didn’t know or didn’t have early enough notice.

VOICE CONCERNS IMMEDIATELY


Being passive aggressive is not cute and neither is sitting around waiting for your roommate to change habits they don’t know they have. If there is something your roommate does that you don’t like, and then by all means let her know! 

By not telling her, you are subjecting yourself to a life of discomfort for no reason. In the same manner that you should be making accommodations for your roommate, your roommate should do the same for you. It is a shared space after all.

"Boss chicks talk it out. Petty girls hold a grudge."


And by sorting out your issues by yourselves, you avoid the tedious chore that is Roommate Mediation. There’s nothing worse than getting the RA involved. 

Even after the situation is resolved, there tends to be residual feelings of resentment on the part of the accused/guilty party.

BE 'ROOMMATE OF THE YEAR'


Nothing says Roommate of the Year like a cute sticky note left on the TV, the door, or the mirror. Everyone needs a little confidence boost or word of encouragement once in a while. 

Little random acts of kindness really do go a long way. She has a test coming up and has been studying hard? Pick up her favorite blueberry bagel on your way back to the dorm. It’s the small things that are the most appreciated.

"It's the little things..."


What your mom said about being treated as you would like to be treated? Pay attention to that because she’s really speaking from experience. 

And kindness just makes for a more pleasant environment within your dorm room.

8.04.2016

Everything You Need To Know About College Roommates



Everyone likes to save a little money here and there, especially if they're a college student. That's why I wanted to share with you how I was able to save over $280 my freshman year of college. 

I'll also walk you through a simulation of my savings on textbooks for my upcoming school year. This year, my textbooks will be included in  my tuition so I won't actually have to buy them, but I still wanted to share this tip because that definitely isn't the case for everyone. 

Let me tell you what the not-so-secretive secret is: Slugbooks.com.



SlugBooks is a site that compares the price of textbooks across multiple websites and presents you with the lowest ones. I always recommend to anyone just entering college, or even at the start of each semester when new books are necessary, to always rent their textbooks. 

I recommend this because the chances of you using those textbooks after that semester are slim to none. The best part about renting textbooks is that you can use them, and send them right back to wherever they came from once you're done with them. 

This is particularly satisfying for textbooks needed for a class you weren't a fan of. So let's jump right into it:


STEP 1: PUT TOGETHER A LIST OF YOUR CLASSES 

This coming semester I will be taking the following classes:

Global Business
General Chemistry + Lab
Psychology
Anatomy and Physiology + Lab
World Literature Before 1700
General Psychology

...for a total of 17 credits.


STEP 2: FIND OUT WHAT BOOKS ARE REQUIRED FOR EACH COURSE

The next thing you need to do is find out what books are necessary for each class. You can most likely do this online if your campus book store has a website.

Global Business-

Global Business Today (9th Edition) {Paperback Rental, Used: $88.80}
General Chemistry + Lab-

General Chemistry: The Essential Concepts (7th Edition) {Hardcover Rental, Used: $104.50}
Workbook with Solutions to Accompany General Chemistry: The Essential Concepts {Paperback, New: $125}
General Psychology-

No book listed
Anatomy and Physiology + Lab-

Seeley's Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology (9th Edition) {Hardcover Rental, Used: $93}
Photo atlas for anatomy and physiology {Paperback Rental, Used: $50.60}
World Literature Before 1700-

The Bedford Anthology of World Literature {Paperback Rental, Used: $21.20}
Don Quixote {Paperback Rental, Used: $6.80}
Othello {Paperback Rental, Used: $3.20}
Lais of Marie de France {Paperback Rental, Used: $3.00}
One Thousand & One Arabian Nights {Paperback Rental, Used: $2.99}

All  the prices above are from my campus bookstore. So in total, I would have payed $499.09. Just a few cents shy of $500 (all this being before tax of course).


STEP 3: OPEN SLUGBOOKS.COM + ENTER ISBN NUMBERS


Once you open slugbooks.com, enter the ISBN number unique to each textbook. You'll find this number with the textbook in your campus' online bookstore. Below, I entered the ISBN for Global Business. Alternatively, you can just enter the textbook title and pick it out from the list that comes up. 

STEP 4: SEARCH FOR ALL OF YOUR TEXTBOOKS


As you can see, for my Global Business textbook, I can rent it from Amazon for $18.48. This is $70.32 less than I would have rented it at my campus bookstore. Now I'm going to go ahead and search for the rest of my textbooks.


If I were to pick the lowest prices available for each book, using Amazon as the main site I bought from thanks to free two day shipping with Prime Student, the total for my books would come out to $121.78. This means I would have saved a whopping $377.31!


STEP 5: RETURNING YOUR BOOKS

When it comes time to return your books, if you stuck mostly with Amazon while shopping on SlugBooks, you can print out return labels via your Amazon account and return the book absolutely hassle free. 

Amazon is also really generous with the time window you have for your books, so there's no need to worry about not having them turned in on time.

*************************************
I hope this was helpful and that you too will get to walk away with a few more savings this upcoming year.

My last back to school post: End of Summer Checklist


8.02.2016

Back To School: How I Saved Over $370 On My Textbooks


In case you hadn't noticed, summer is drawing to a close rather quickly and although the temperatures in a lot of US cities are hitting some pretty staggering highs, leaves will soon be abandoning trees in favor of the ground. 

Cue the fall season. 

And with the fall season comes the beginning of the school year. This year, I'm going to be a college sophomore and I am so excited to get back to my college grind even though I'll miss being home for the summer. 

Whether you're going back to school as a seasoned college girl, or just starting your college career, there are a few things you should check off your list before taking your campus by storm. Below I compiled just a few things to check off your to-do list to make your transition into the next scholastic year that much easier.

LOG ANY PAYING OR VOLUNTEER WORK

Girl, it is never too early to start putting together a killer resume/curriculum vitae. So think back over the past summer and start writing down the work you did, for whom, when, and for how long. 

You don't have to create your resume just then, but having a word document on your desktop that you come back to every so often and add in bits of work that you do along the way will make life so much easier when you finally decide to hunker down and draft that resume.


BOYCOTT YOUR CAMPUS BOOKSTORE

Before you make the mistake of buying your textbooks at your campus bookstore, hear me out. I'm about to change your life. Okay, maybe not. But I'll most likely remove at least one digit off the final bill for your college textbooks. 

This coming year, my university will no longer be requiring us to buy our textbooks because they'll be included in tuition. This obviously has its pros and cons, the main pro being that books are one less thing for me to worry about, and the main con being that tuition is inevitably going up. 

The one smart thing I did my freshman year (okay, not the one smart thing, but one of the most beneficial) was avoid my campus book store when it came time to purchase my books. 

I enlisted the help of Slugbooks.com (this is not an affiliate link) and ended up saving hundreds of dollars. No, this is not a scam. Yes, this is for real. Please save your money by reading the post I wrote about it.


GET A HEAD START ON WINTER SHOPPING

It's still technically summer, and I know you want to keep your short shorts and crop tops on for as long as possible, but the truth is, fall will fly by and suddenly frost will be clinging to you tighter than your  favorite skinnies. 

And girl, truusssst, it's not  a good look. Being that they're currently off season, all the cute wintery clothes will be way cheaper now than they will be towards the end of fall when things start to cool down considerably.


DOUBLE CHECK YOUR SCHEDULE

If your schedule is already available to you, double check it and make sure everything looks good. Personally, I'm a morning person. That girl sitting front row center in your 8 AM with her hand up? Yep, that's me.*Wendy Williams voice* How you doin'? 

This coming year, my schedule is looking pretty much how I want it to with most of my classes being in the mornings from 8:00-10:50 pretty much every day except for Tuesdays and Wednesdays when I have Chemistry and Anat&Phys labs from 1:00-3:50PM. 

Maybe you're not a morning person and prefer to have your classes in the afternoon. That's totally fine, just do yourself a favor and check your schedule so you can start planning the rest of your life around it.


GET ADMINISTRATIVE DETAILS IN ORDER

It really is best to get all the nitty gritty out of the way to make sure you cruise into the new year without any unnecessary road blocks. Therefore, take the time now to make sure that the following five are in order:

MEAL PLAN

HOUSING (ON CAMPUS OR OFF)

FINANCIAL AID / PAYMENT PLAN

WORK STUDY

MEDICAL RECORDS


SCHOOL SUPPLY SHOPPING

This is literally my favorite part of anything school related. I am a huge fan of stationery, so any time is a good time to buy some, especially if an academic year is right around the corner. So hit your local Walmart, Target, Staples, etc., and get shopping! 

If they don't have what you're looking for or you'd rather shop from the comfort of your own home, let Amazon be your best friend.

This is as good a time as any to inform you all why exactly Amazon is my best friend. Aside from the fact that Amazon has yet to lack what I'm looking for, they offer free Prime Shipping (for the first six months) to college students and then it's at a discounted price for the rest of the time. 

All you need is an email that ends in .edu, and you're golden. [example: FirstAndLastNameCombo@YourUniversity.edu ] Get yourself on the Prime Student train by signing up right here.

CHECK YOUR ATTITUDE

It's a new year ladies, make sure you're heading into it with a positive attitude and an open mind. Prepare to meet people as beautiful and intricately complex as you are. 

Be kind, uplift those around you, but most of all, remember that you're here to acquire knowledge that will further you in this life journey. 

Alright, go forth and be great. 





7.31.2016

Back To School: End of Summer Checklist


On one of those "I'll just pop in and just look around" days at ULTA, I came across NYX's Liquid Suede lipsticks. I feel like my entire life has been a hunt for the perfect matte lipstick. I had tried and bought a bunch of different ones, the most recent of which was the Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick. Although I definitely loved it, it just wasn't matte enough. Enter NYX Liquide Suede.

6.26.2016

NYX Liquid Suede Review


So I have a confession to make. And it's something I've struggled with for a while and now that I think about it, I think you might struggle with it too : riding the struggle bus. 

Now for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, the phrase " riding the struggle bus" refers to anyone who's life is full of slightly (or majorly) embarrassing/"why am i so challenged" moments on a regular basis. 

Below are 10 instances in which it occurred to me that I indeed was riding the struggle bus in college.




1. When I thought it was a great idea to make ramen noodles in my electric kettle
When you're hungry and too lazy to go to the kitchen in your residence hall, you stoop to some serious lows. Ramen making. In an electric kettle. I mean, it worked, but my kettle never quite recovered and the next three cups of tea smelled like the most suspicious mixture of hibiscus and spicy beef.


2. When I wanted to address my professor, and totally forgot his name
Starting your phrase with, "Excuse me professor...err...sir." and leaving it hanging isn't great. The situation is only made worse when about four professors turn and look to you expectantly, and you're left to smile and meekly point to the one you were addressing in the hopes that you don't come off sounding like too much of an idiot.


3. When I put too much laundry detergent in the washing machine
A laundry room full of bubbles is actually only cute and funny in the movies. In real life, it's terrifying. And hazardous. 'Nuff said.


4. When I locked myself out of my room, then out of my building

One day, rushing out of my room for class, it completely slipped my mind that I had left my key in the room...until I stepped out and the door shut behind me and the auto-lock feature that  I had come to love quickly stabbed me in the back. Cool beans. 

The situation only got worse when I got out of class and was headed back and realized that not only did my key let me into the room, my student ID that was attached to it let me into my building. Fabulous. 

A freezing January morning in North Carolina was the perfect setting for this mishap. I gave public safety a call, and they were eventually able to get me back into my building, an back into my room.


5. When I had to speak on behalf of my group about an analysis of a reading I hadn’t read
As a pre-med bio major, my science homework always comes before others like Cultural Anthropology. It just so happened that on the day that we were breaking up into groups to discuss the reading I hadn't read, he asked each group to pick someone to speak on the group's behalf. 

Guess who was chosen by the group? Yep, yours truly. 

Luckily for me, I can give a monologue on nothing in particular, so I pulled it off. Or so I thought until the professor, after a long pause, asked me, "so what exactly are you trying to say?"


6. When I found a $10 bill and felt like Bill Gates
The college financial situation is real. And sometimes when you're at a really low point (cooking free ramen noodles in an electric kettle), God really comes through. My roommate had asked me to pick out some books for her in the library one day and I pulled out a particularly old one from the top shelf. 

Seeing that it was on her topic, I opened it to check if it would have anything of use for her. Luckily for me,  I spotted a little bookmark, and when I turned to the page it was nestled in, I found myself face to face with president Alexander Hamilton himself! 

What luck! 

I pulled out the ten dollar bill, dropping the book in my haste, and held it up to the light. YUP, IT WAS THE REAL DEAL! After a spastic jig, quick prayer of thanks, and calming deep breaths, I walked out of the library, with knowledge for my roommate in my backpack, and president Hamilton in my back pocket.


7. When I thought I had avoided the freshman 15 but my pre-college pants didn’t fit anymore
So there I was having "a little bit" of everything  at the dessert counter all year every time I was in the dining hall, and on the unfortunate day that I went to put on a pair of jeans from high school, they wouldn't close. 

Being the dedicated person I was, I MADE THEM CLOSE. And the grotesque muffin top that glared back at me in the mirror was enough motivation for me to peel those bad boys off and hit the gym.


8. When I read my notes in that second inner voice that doesn’t register any of it

I absolutely hate when this happens because I find that I've "read" and "progressed" through an entire page and during the small pause it takes to flip the page I realize that I have ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE what I just read. So I flipped back and started over. Am I the only one whose thoughts are elsewhere while their eyes run across the page pretending to absorb knowledge?


9. When I was homesick for 60% of the year
Most people are so excited to finally be away from home for college, but let me be the first to say that I wasn't. I was so scared. I was about to be over 7,000 miles (literally!) from home. I missed it terribly. I won't say too much about this now because a post on this very topic will be hitting my blog very soon.


10. When I thought a sweater was sufficient to keep an east coast winter at bay
My school does a stellar job at keeping all the buildings nice and toasty during the winter. That's why I'm choosing to blame them for the day I forgot that it was actually winter-ing outside and left my residence hall in nothing but a light sweater. 

Did I mention that this was the same day as number 4 (see above)? I think this was the day I realized that not only did I have a seat on the struggle bus, but that my seat was in fact the driver's seat.


Are you on my struggle bus? I'd love to hear some of your struggle bus moments in the comments below!

6.24.2016

10 Times I Was On The Struggle Bus In College


I was talking to one of my friends a few hours ago about our upbringings in African households and how they truly shaped the young women we had become. There are multiple truths you are made privy to when being raised in an African household. And you only learn to appreciate and occasionally laugh at them when you've moved out and are living on your own. I thought I would share ten of these not just for my African friends who need a slight refresher on the joys of being a CAP (Child of African Parents) but also for anyone else seeking a glimpse into our not so glamorous upbringing.


6.21.2016

10 Facts About Being Raised By African Parents


I'm roughly halfway through my summer vacation and I decided to make some changes to my lifestyle. Mainly adopting five habits in the areas of beauty, health, and faith. I am a firm believer in the importance of personal upkeep and improvement. That's why I'm sharing the five habits I am working on adopting this summer and hopefully you'll like them enough to adopt them too! Here's the health edition.

5 Healthy Habits to Build This Summer


I'm roughly halfway through my summer vacation and I decided to make some changes to my lifestyle. Mainly adopting five habits in the areas of beauty, health, and faith. I am a firm believer in the importance of personal upkeep and improvement.

That's why I'm sharing the five habits I am working on adopting this summer and hopefully you'll like them enough to adopt them too! Here's the beauty edition.


6.20.2016

5 Beauty Habits to Build This Summer




It's been about a month since I turned nineteen.

Oddly enough, I'm not ecstatic. Last year, turning  eighteen had been the pinnacle of my year. I had received my diploma, a document acknowledging that the thirteen years of grueling 6 am wake-ups was indeed for a reason. 

And I was eighteen. I was an adult. 

An independent woman who don't need no man (except my father upon whom I am still financially dependent...lol). So maybe the idea of freedom (in all its complexity and, oddly enough, simplicity) was a major factor in the importance I gave the age of eighteen. 

That's understandable, right? Right.


But here I am, at last celebrating what some of my college counterparts would call my "#NastyNineteeeeeen *tongue out emoji*" and I'm not that hype. And you know what? I've resolved that that's okay. 

This sentiment is akin to what I felt when I turned seventeen. As I climb further and further towards my pinnacle (yeah, that's what I'll call my mid life zone between 30 and 60), I find myself missing the simplicity of life at the age of nine. The almost magical beguilement that surrounded my every day is something that now, a decade on, nags my innermost thoughts. 

My life was entirely orchestrated, but done just so. Just so that I still lived a life that I thought was entirely my own. Just so that I, missing two front teeth, believed I had achieved some sort of maturity. 

Just so, you know?

Every year I advance past the age of thirteen, I look back exactly a decade and realize that life was truly the most perfect when it was the most simple. Things started getting dicey at eleven so I guess I'll have to take time and reflect on that when I turn twenty one.

When I was nine, life literally seemed perfect. I know now that it really wasn't but I can't pretend that I didn't have the ideal childhood. I like to think that I wasn't spoiled, but in all honesty, I had everything I needed, and it was supplemented with everything I wanted. Let me be the first to say that this isn't the best way for parents to raise kids, but I turned out alright so I guess it works in some capacity.

Being nineteen , I'm burdened with responsibility and a mind that is forever churning to figure out where I'm heading in life. Of course I know I'm going to medical school in the next three years. 

Hold on. THREE?! DIDN'T I JUST "GRADUATE" FROM ELEMENTARY EIGHT MINUTES AGO?!?

...Oh, that's right, that was actually eight years ago. 

Why does it seem that time only picks up speed the older I get? I used to be so excited about growing up. It's overrated. I want out. Rewind. Backspace. Hit refresh. Something.

I'm not entirely sure what this year will bring. All I know is that I'll smile, I'll cry, and as is the norm lately, I'll be more than a little confused as to what in the actual fiddlesticks is going on.

6.17.2016

On Turning Nineteen



In a heavily consumerist society, a recurring theme is the ability to dispose of items, and unfortunately, people whom we feel we no longer have a need for. 

With the consistency of the changing seasons, a new iPhone is released just about every year, and its generational predecessor can be found passed down to young children or preserved in a green storage bin under a blanket of dust behind grandfather’s old Mustang. 

Although much more animate than cell phones, friends and “loved ones” seem to be as disposable. Oddly enough, friends do share an uncanny similarity with old iPhones and the hot pink nail polish trend—they are widely accepted to be only for a season.


What I find also as a longstanding trend, is the disposability we grant to phrases. Take the phrase thank you, for example. The personalized you is dropped and renders it a passing thanks. I don’t believe that the word thanks, in all its six lettered heft, is sufficient to convey a sense of sincere gratitude. 

Maybe it is because I am what my old English teacher would call a “fluffer” when it comes to words, but I cannot apologize for preferring to have every word used to its maximum capacity—without sounding like too much of a word snob, of course.

But the prime example of a phrase dug up and tossed about incessantly is the phrase I love you. Used most meaningfully at marital ceremonies to convey the intention of long standing physical, emotional, and financial support, this phrase, now soiled, is the con with which college boys convince enamored girls to sleep with them. 

It is the phrase that follows “OHMYGOD” when a service is granted or a gift is received. It too shares a similar plight as thank you as it is often reduced to love ya

Most people may not say it, but it is this factor of disposability that lends to the feeling that the love ya they just received may not have been sincere. That is why I am calling for the biggest verbal and written revolution since Shakespeare threw a bunch of words at the English language and they became mainstream. 

I am calling for the biggest campaign to save an endangered species: the sincere word. Ambitious, I know.


I am fervently fighting to give I Love You its meaning back.

Going off to college, in an earnest bid to be as correct with my use of the English language as possible, I have said I love you to a handful of people. I gravitate towards phrases like “I strongly like you.” Phrases like this one mean exactly what they say: there is something about you that is pleasing to me. 

The golden phrase, I love you, takes time for me to bestow upon the individuals around me. I make it this way so that once I finally do say it, that person knows that it is said with all that is within me. 

And without a shadow of a doubt, they are able to believe it. The reason I treasure this particular phrase is because of the power it has. Any love I have for those close to me is modeled after the love God continues to pour over a disgruntled and defiant humanity. Of course mine pales in comparison, but what I’d like to highlight is that it is the thought that counts. 

When I say those three words to someone, I want them to stand for something. If imagery and symbolism weren’t the foundation upon which language were built, then all we’ve ever known about what we say is a lie.

Dear friend, when I say I love you, it stands for the emblematic hug my heart gives yours. 

It stands for the repeated crunches our diaphragms perform as we share a laugh. 

It stands for the determined darkness behind my eyelids as I pray for you. 

It stands for the tear that gravity drags downward over pore-filled cheeks as I cry over what pains you. 

It stands for the blistering speed at which my vocal chords vibrate as I cheer for your successes. 

It stands for the knuckle buckling squeeze my hand gives yours before we embark on an adventure. 

It stands for the contentment that nestles itself in my lungs, causing a breathless giggle to erupt from my lips every time I reflect on our memories.

I love you.

6.16.2016

Give 'I Love You' Its Meaning Back


Going off to college is tough; you’re leaving behind everything that is familiar to you and are being plunged into the unknown. The anxiety surrounding the situation can be exacerbated if like me, you move quite the distance from home (7,000 miles, anyone?).  

But this doesn’t just apply to the college transition. Any transition in which access to those closest to you is severely limited is a tough one. 

Below are some of my top tips on how to maintain friendships at a distance.




"Give Me Space"


Although the “we need a little space” line is a cliché in the realm of break ups, it might just save your friendship during this transition. 

If both of you are headed on different paths, chances are you’re both going to be thrust into an environment where you’ll have to settle and re-establish yourself. Talk to your bestie and set a ‘grace period’ in which it will be okay not to be frequent communication. 

Three weeks to a month is a solid amount of time for a grace period. You’ll be out of the orientation haze, and will be making strides in establishing your day to day routine.

Make Time For FaceTime


I’m not entirely sure how besties kept up before the advent of FaceTime. I'm thinking pigeons, but I don't think I would trust one to make it all the way to my friends. 

This iPhone feature has single handedly contributed more to the maintenance of some of my most meaningful friendships than any army of carrier pigeons ever could have. 

Once you’ve settled into your college routine, it’s time to dedicate that one hour slot in the afternoon, to a quick catch up sesh with bestie.

Make Plans

Another thing that greatly helped me maintain my friendships was making plans. Even if they don’t happen, planning a trip with your best friend is definitely fun. 

There’s a trip to London that has been planned and is still waiting to happen (right Saher?). Making plans is also a great way to escape the day to day hustle and bustle. 

I don't know about you, but there's just something about checking flights and destinations that calms me. Being that there's no real time crunch, it can be a relaxing process.

Put In The Work

Know that not everyone you were friends with before your move still has the intention of being your friend now that you’re in your new setting. And there are definitely the ones you gravitate towards more frequently. 

For my closest amgios and amigas (oh I speak Spanish now?) I make sure I reach out several times per week. If it’s snapchat, there are about 3 people that I am in touch with on a near daily basis. But as for every few days, FaceTime is something I make sure to make a priority.

*********
About three months into my transition to college, I found myself still struggling to adjust to being an ocean away from my family, and my friends were spread out all across the US and the world. Although I was constantly surrounded by people, I felt very isolated.  

Enter Kara.  

Kara has been my best friend since the beginning of high school when we kinda just decided that best-friendedness was for us haha. She was flying from Cyprus to the US to spend time with some family, but made the time to stop by and spend the weekend with me. It meant the world to me. 

Although breakfast for dinner and a near religious binge of Orange Is The New Black made up most of our agenda, just being with my best friend in a place that wasn’t home was everything to me. 

We kept in touch all through the year, and I think our friendship was able to stand the test of distance because we made each other a priority and never let too much time go by without being in touch.

Maintaining Long Distance Friendships



Having successfully accomplished my first year of college, I thought it would be fair to share the little scraps of wisdom I've picked up along the way. I'm taking a wild guess and assuming that you're in college in order to prepare for a successful future, correct? 

Okay, I know some of you (however few) might just be present because your parents are forcing you to go. Whatever the case, I'm certain that you want to make the very best of the experience. 

There are some things you just don't do in college. Unfortunately, I've done most of them. Isn't that the beauty of knowledge? That you acquire it and pass it on so that others may live a better life?

Yes? 

No?

Regardless, I'm here to help you avoid said mistakes, k? You're welcome, boo.


1 | SCHEDULING LATE AFTERNOON CLASSES

Home girl, I get it, I really do. You're finally out of high school and you are making the executive decision to sleep in. Congrats. But listen, is it worth it? Okay, yeah, you avoided those 8, 9, 10, or even 11 am classes, but are you really trying to still be in class at 4:45 pm wondering when the (nonexistent) bell is going to ring?

No. 

That's why you need to schedule your classes earlier. Maybe you don't walk into your 8 am with a hop in your step and a smile on your face (*raises hand* just me then?),  but scheduling your classes earlier in the day frees up your afternoons for work, sports, studying, naps etc. 

When I get my stuff done earlier, I usually get to spend my evenings and nights as I please.

2 | PULLING FREQUENT ALL-NIGHTERS

Yes, you're a big bad college girl, but don't get caught up in the hype. All-nighters may be necessary a few times throughout the year but constantly staying up until the wee hours of the morning won't really make you the happiest dandelion come time to actually be a functioning human. 

Plus it will definitely take a toll on your productivity. Your parents had it right sending you to bed at 8 when you were a kid. Our brains are still developing, even in college. 

Now that you're at a point in your life where the influx of long term information that needs to be retained is increasing, you need to make sure that your brain is working at its very best. And that means getting some sleep!

And need I mention those less than chic bags that will be clutching at your eyes? Yeah, off to bed!

3 | WASTING (FREE) TIME DURING THE DAY

One of the best things about college is that all of a sudden, it seems like you have an abundance of free time.  This is why time management becomes a major KEY to success. You can't just waste your time and expect everything to be dandy. 

Actually scratch that, you CAN. 

As in, it is within your capability, however, I highly discourage it. That extra hour or two between classes is the perfect time to get a jump start on your homework so you'll have less work to do later on in the evening. 

Also, let me just make a quick case for my all-time favorite pastime: naps. Naps are so important. Especially since rule number 2 probably just flew in through one ear and out the other. If you can't be bothered to do your work, take a nap and recharge that battery. And by that I mean your biological battery, as well as your phone battery. #KillinIt


4 | GOING TO CLASS IN PAJAMAS

Never should this ever happen at all. I'd be a liar if I told you that I had never made this mistake but trust me, I get it, you do not have the time to be looking like you're about to strut down the runway of Paris fashion week during your 8 am Psychology class. 

That's totally understandable. However, one thing that's high on my list of priorities in college is looking presentable at all times. You don't know who you'll meet (think future husband or employer) on any given day. 

There is simply no way you'll be able to live down the fact that you met your potential future employer in your faded my little pony pj pants. Not a good look.

5 | NOT BUYING CLEANING SUPPLIES

Okay, this goes for all four years of your college career. Dorms and apartments are dirty. Unless you want to be contracting an alphabet of diseases, make sure you budget for cleaning supplies as well as make time to use them and actually clean up!

Check out this post I wrote on the five unsung heroes of your college shopping list. These five are absolutely essential and it's kind of criminal (and gross) to forget them.


6 | GOING TO THE BATHROOM BAREFOOT


Don't do it, girl, don't do it! First of all, why on earth are you walking around barefoot to begin with? Do you know what's been on those floors?

Do you know what's gotten stuck in that carpet? My roommate and I regularly put down and vacuumed some carpet cleaner, but you can bet we still had our slippers on in the room. 

Slippers in the bathroom, though? That's a no brainer. Especially if you're sharing it with other people.

7 | PROCRASTINATING ON LAUNDRY

Gone are the days when mom breezes into your room, laundry in tow. It's on you now. So pick a day (any day except Saturday and Sunday) and get that laundry done. Now you're probably wondering why I advise that you get your laundry done on a weekday. 

This is because everyone else is having the same thought process you were just 4.5065 seconds ago: I'm too busy during the week. 

Think again, ma'am. 

That two and a half hour break between classes on Wednesday is long enough for you to toss some clothes in the washer for a cycle and migrate them to the dryer with enough time to spare to get them back to your room and grab your stuff for the next class. 

Ironing and folding can happen later.


8 | NOT GOING TO OFFICE HOURS/ TUTORING

It's not cute to struggle in silence. That's why your university has a bunch of resources available to you. This is the time to take ownership not just of your education, but of your future as well. 

These aren't like high school grades that you won't remember past the summer after graduation. These are the grades that'll set you up for internships. Internships that could pave the way towards that dream job. Do I hear a cha-ching?

Go see your professor about that thing he said in lecture that made zero sense. Then go to tutoring to figure out those calculus steps you keep tripping over.

9 | THE FRESHMAN FIFTEEN

I'm going to say this once and only once: take care of your body. It's the only one you've got. Of course you'll want to indulge, but beware of the bulge! 

I'll write a more in depth post on this at a future date, but for now, just know that you don't want to be wondering how you let yourself go a year from now.

10 | BEING LATE TO OR MISSING CLASS

The only person who ends up being at a loss here is you. You know why? Because whether or not you come to class, you're going to be spending the next decade or two paying off college debt for the classes you didn't go to. 

Mhmm, thought you were slick, huh? 

Being late is also just downright rude. You know better, and I'm willing to bet that on your mama. There's a professor that has spent hours preparing knowledge that they are trying to share with you. The least you could do is show up. On time. 

By the way I wrote this post on getting in good with your professor. Check it out!

6.15.2016

10 Mistakes To Avoid In Your First Year of College

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