Goodbye, Facebook

Goodbye, Facebook

I’ve had a longstanding tradition of ditching all social networks when the last two weeks of classes come by. In fact, I’ve gone so far as to install browser extensions that let me block websites completely; so I’m not tempted to try and visit while I’m working. While this may initially seem like something crazy … Read more

bye bye facebook

I’ve had a longstanding tradition of ditching all social networks when the last two weeks of classes come by. In fact, I’ve gone so far as to install browser extensions that let me block websites completely; so I’m not tempted to try and visit while I’m working. While this may initially seem like something crazy to attempt, it actually has helped me to increase focus, study time and energy – at a time that I need it most. If you’re interested in doing something like this, here’s what I do.

Block the sites

Let’s face it, we’re creatures of habit. Writer Grace Boyle puts it succinctly:

We are creatures of habit. We find comfort in regularity. When something out of the ordinary comes along, forces us to dig deep and make a U-Turn instead of keep going straight, it’s jarring.

We don’t like change. Nonetheless, change is what’s required for us to achieve our goals of better focus and better grades. We’re not alone, however, and we have some tools that can help us achieves our goals, in the form of browser extensions. These extensions add functionality or, in our case, remove it. This particular extension, Mindful Browsing lets you block websites with a single click and makes you wait a specified amount of time before allowing you to enter again. I’ve found that the wait, even at just a couple minutes, really helps persuade me back to work.

mindful browsing

Now, Mindful Browsing is just available for Safari on the Mac, but I also highly recommend Temporary Site Blocker for Chrome and Site Blocker for Firefox.


It should go without saying, but I’m going to say it: you need to really commit to cutting out your social activity if you want to succeed. As someone who has done it several times already, I can promise the results will be good and you don’t really miss as much as you think.


But what about when you’re away from your computer? We need to take the battle to your phone as well. During the last two weeks of classes, I delete Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and YouTube apps from my phone. I don’t actually lose any data, all my information is in the cloud, and I’m given a freedom you have to experience to understand. My phone changes from a device that occupies each spare moment I have to one that’s a useful communication and scheduling tool.

Do the work

Now that you’ve cut out the big items competing for your time, you can actually get to work. Even though checking Twitter may have only taken up 10 minutes of your time, you essentially start over your mental process when it’s back to whatever you were doing. By giving yourself the opportunity of uninterrupted time blocks to work, you’ll find you’re much more efficient and get much more done.

You can email me with questions at

Friday Five

Friday Five

August: School begins and you are filled with excitement and hope for the new school year. You haven’t seen many of your friends since last May and you can’t wait to catch up, set bi-weekly Panera dates and get back into your routine of DQ trips and re-runs of Friends every Thursday night. You have … Read more

  • August: School begins and you are filled with excitement and hope for the new school year. You haven’t seen many of your friends since last May and you can’t wait to catch up, set bi-weekly Panera dates and get back into your routine of DQ trips and re-runs of Friends every Thursday night. You have a new set of classes and are ready to kick some serious butt this semester. You’re pulling out all the stops. You won’t even be able to see the fridge after your parents hang up all of your A+ papers and exams.

Flash forward…

  • November: IT’S BEEN MONDAY FOR THREE WEEKS NOW! ..or so it seems. You can hear the second hand on the clock ticking in class and your notebook is full of doodles of stars and your name, written in every possible way (cursive, print, dotted, block… and the list goes on). You find that your bestie, the one you couldn’t wait to catch up with, is annoying you to no end… just because he/she dropped a few crumbs of his/her Special K bar near you on the desk. You’ve exchanged cramming for tests for cramming popcorn in your mouth while watching Modern Family. When will the semester end?!

This semester flew by; however, the week leading up to Thanksgiving break seems to be dragging on… and on… and on. Seeing Christmas commercials on TV is making everyone anxious for the end of the semester and extremely ready for the holidays. I know I am personally counting down the days until I can forget about exams and curl up on the couch to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with my sister (a yearly tradition).

However, we all have to hang on just a little bit longer! So, here are some tips to survive the rest of the semester…

  1. Set aside at least one night a week for “me” night: no studying, no assignments, just you and your favorite show/book/friend (and possibly your favorite late night snack as well).
  2. Get organized: the end of the semester can be so overwhelming with final exams and projects approaching, so write all important dates down and tackle your assignments based on when they are due!
  3. Make plans: speak with family and friends about fun activities to do over the holidays (ice skating anyone?!). Having something exciting to look forward to can sometimes be all the motivation you need to tackle that final group presentation or class speech.

And, as always, here are five things that made this week just that much better…

[Menchie's date with my sister]

[Confirmation for ordering Red Tour concert tickets!]

[What I thought was my long lost ring was found in the Writing Center]

[A trip home for the evening to celebrate my brother's birthday!]

[My visa arrived this week, reminding me I have less than two months left in the US]

Happy Friday!

A Conscious Holiday Season – 5 Tips for Being a Sensible Gifter

A Conscious Holiday Season – 5 Tips for Being a Sensible Gifter

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Thanksgiving time has surpassed and some might say it’s now time to spread Christmas cheer, singing loud for all to hear. My final few weeks of the semester are definitely going to be daunted and seem endless, but the reward of going home over winter break will be second to none. The reason I anticipate Christmas break so much is because it is really the only time of year I get to go home and spend a generous amount of time with my family! Also, not to mention I leave for Spain in just about a month!

Come this holiday season, I am sure there are going to be tremendous acts of kindness and irreplaceable gifts. One thing to keep in mind is to be extra kind to our planet, and be sure to shop with a conscious. I recently read an article on Grist, and it said that, “in general, we need to be sensible gifters, steering clear of buying unnecessary, useless stuff. Give experiences, not things. Or give wanted things. Or make things for people, if they’re open to it.” I think that it is very important to keep these points in mind, and have the needs champion the gifts you want. To help, I listed some tips for helping to be more conscious this Holiday season.

Do More with Less
Instead of buying a brand new article of clothing, buy a used one that is in just as good condition. The company Patagonia is actually encouraging its customers to stop buying their products, part of its Common Threads Initiative. The company believes that reducing, repairing, reusing and recycling its clothes can help contribute to a better environment, thus lowering its carbon footprint. This is a part of an initiative where that together we can reimagine a world where we take only what nature can replace. Part of this program was for Patagonia to open up its own Ebay store, where Patagonia wearers can find used clothing for reuse.

Shop Online
Online shopping is generally a greener way to shop because trucks can deliver goods efficiently, and it takes less energy to run a warehouse for goods than a whole mall!

Make Your Own Wrapping Paper
Most wrapping paper you find in stores is not recyclable and ends up in landfills. This is an opportunity to get creative, use old magazines, newspapers, comics or old posters to wrap gifts! According to the Sierra Club, if every family wrapped just three gifts this way, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

Give a Gift that Tells a Story
The Sierra Club allows you to “sponsor a wild place” and share the country’s most special wild places and national parks with friends and loved ones. Sponsorships start at $20 and come with a range of special gifts, like a photo, plush animal, certificate of sponsorship or a backpack. Also, you could give the gift of an annual pass to a National Park, a place where you can appreciate the outdoors.

Use Holiday LED’s
Instead of using ordinary Christmas lights, purchase some LED lights that use 90% less energy than conventional holiday lights. This could save you up to $50 on your energy bills during the holiday season as well … just saying.

I hope these tips help for this coming holiday season. One of Raider Relief’s past projects was H20 where we raised money during the holiday season to build wells supporting clean drinking water. Americans spends 450 billion dollars on holiday gifts each year, and it would only take 10 billion dollars of that money to solve the world’s water problems. When you think about it, there are many little gifts that are used just as stocking stuffers. I challenge you this Christmas to think about only a few gifts of what you really need, not just desperately want. Also, try to focus on some of the tips I listed, it might make a gift you give have a more personal touch, feel more intimate and make a positive impact on the world. Everyone loves a homemade gift or one that tells a story anyways!

¡Voy a España! 5 Study Abroad Tips

¡Voy a España! 5 Study Abroad Tips

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It was truly a weird, different and complex feeling I had when I booked my flight to Spain the other day, but nonetheless very exciting. During the spring semester of 2012, I will be traveling to Alicante, Spain to study at the University of Alicante. Alicante is a Mediterranean port city in the southeastern part of Spain, which has a sunny climate, beautiful beaches, tall mountains and rich culture and nightlife. I plan on swimming, surfing, sailing and enjoying the four-mile-long beach of San Juan, which is considered one of the finest in all of Spain.

Taking this opportunity to study overseas will definitely help me broaden my horizons. I anticipate meeting many new people and creating relationships that will last for a long time. I also want to explore a language and culture that I have been studying since middle school. You can only learn so much by practicing speaking and reading about cultural activities. Being able to put all these things into an actual experience will be second to none. Going abroad also will challenge me to travel on a budget and be able to effectively live on my own. I hope to become even more independent as my spring semester progresses in Spain.

Deciding to apply to this program directly reflects and relates to my academic program at Mount Union. I am pursuing majors in business management and Spanish and a minor in environmental science. Almost all of the classes I will be taking in Alicante will transfer to Mount Union and be credited towards my Spanish major. I also hope to take some cultural emersion courses that may be able to cover some of my general education requirements.

The application process was quite a long one, and I am still working on getting all my materials in. Since this can get very stressful I provided 5 essential tips for helping you study abroad.

1. Choose a program that offers what you want. Mount Union partners with USAC, which has many great things to offer, however there are other programs as well. Things to keep in mind are homestays, excursions, field studies, job opportunities, costs and if credits can transfer!

2. Read through everything! It is important to read over all the documents that are sent to you from cover to cover. You don’t want to miss important information and any materials that should have been submitted. Also, make sure your passport is up to date. Mine was not and this really complicated the process!

3. Create lists and be organized. It is very easy to get lost in all the documents you need to turn in. Create a checklist, and make sure you are up to speed with forms and deadlines.

4. Patience is a virtue. Once you apply for the study abroad program, you have to see if you get in. Once you apply for visas and a passport if you don’t already have one, you have to wait. Be aware that all the paperwork for studying abroad takes time, but should all work out in the end.

5. Be open to change. I cannot wait to experience something new, but in an entirely different culture. Take risks, do the unordinary, discover new things.

Here is some other food for thought I would like to share. I don’t worry so much about the destination, I prefer to enjoy the journey and see what we discover together along the way. Also, I figure you can either lead a path of mediocrity and let life decide your path or you can open yourself up to the world and see what happens. I feel that those who take the risk get more out of life. Man, I can’t wait to start exploring Spain, but also to explore the inner country of my own soul.