Miss Musings

A modern miss provides commentary on sociological and psychological issues concerning politics, the media, literature, and everyday observances.

14 Sneaky College Life Hacks

I will be the first to tell you that it is normal to feel clueless in college. During the first few weeks, you may ask yourself probing questions such as, “Where is the laundry machine?” and “Does Nutella on a bagel constitute a balanced breakfast?” Your greatest fears may come to mind as you take a lukewarm shower or get drenched in the rain that was not reported on your spiffy weather app. But do not fret – I am here to give you some tips on how to be successful in college, from grades to food to mental sanity.

  1. Listen to music while you grocery shop. This will empower you and make you shop faster in case you have to catch a speedy grocery shuttle.
  2. Do NOT boil an entire box of pasta. Don’t listen to what the box says; you cannot eat all of it.
  3. Go to your professors’ office hours! Introduce yourself and have at least one question to ask each professor. They will remember you, which is priceless for when you go to their offices to inquire about grades or difficult assignments.
  4. Do your laundry in between classes. Unless you would like to volunteer as tribute for the Hunger Games, it is advised to stay far away from the laundry room on weekends.
  5. Stay away from free food. While unlimited free pizza is tempting, you will get tired of the free food after a week or two. Just because it’s free does not mean you should eat it!
  6. Be done with homework by 7PM. If you do homework during the day, you will not have to turn down your friends’ offers to play Cards Against Humanity or go grab Steak & Shake. You will also have ample time to sleep. Speaking of…
  7. Do not sacrifice your sleep. Only rare breeds can manage crazy schedules and get enough shut eye. Prioritize your health above everything else, except going to class…
  8. Actually go to class. Even if you can get an A in a class without attending, it yields good karma to show up somewhere you are paying to be. Your professor will take note of your desire to learn, which could come in handy if you fail a quiz and need to seek assistance.
  9. Don’t stress making friends. The key to meeting people in college is putting yourself out there, not being afraid of being mildly uncomfortable for a few minutes at various meetings, introducing yourself a million times, and eventually, meeting really excellent people who stick with you to the end of the experience and beyond. Do not worry if you don’t have a “squad” or clique right away; just appreciate the people you do have in your life and deepen your most worthwhile friendships.
  10. Carry an umbrella. Everywhere. Always.
  11. Take a spiral-bound notebook to take notes on to class, and then rip out the notes at the end of the day and add them to a massive binder. This way you are not carrying all of your notes around with you every class day.
  12. Invest in a digital watch. You don’t want your professors catching you glancing at the clock, do you? Because trust me, you will.
  13. Shop with reusable bags. Not only is this good for the environment, but it allows you to cram more items into fewer bags. No longer will you have to keep track of ten plastic bags on the shuttle.
  14. Write down everything in one planner. This includes grocery lists, to-dos, finals, exams, quizzes, and fun. Make the planner your lifeline. Become one with the planner.

 

That is it, collegiates: you are now 14 steps closer to achieving success (or sanity) in school.

What is the most important thing you have learned this semester, or during your college experience? Leave a comment below with your tip!

8 ways NYC is like an Orlando theme park

Not long ago I found myself muddling through crowds, standing astounded on Main Street, and taking short cuts to avoid human traffic jams. But instead of the setting of Universal Studios Orlando, my adventure took place in New York City.

New York City. Courtesy of Miss Musings.

New York City. Courtesy of Miss Musings.

Everyone had told me that New York was this and that – a sewer trap ridden with rats and rude, accented remarks. I had to walk fast or be trampled. Pick pockets are everywhere. New York was absolutely nothing like this; in fact, navigating the big apple was as easy as snaking through any of Orlando’s theme parks.

Here’s how New York and a theme park are similar:

  1. You need to walk fast, but people won’t hurt you if you don’t.
  2. There are (surprisingly short) lines that are avoidable if you look for the short cuts.
  3. The tourist areas are sketchy, but you can find a tranquil haven on a bench in some green space.
  4. No one knows where anything is.
  5. People will randomly stop in front of you to take a photo of something mundane.
  6. There are people in costumes in Times Square, but they will ask you for a tip unlike the character performers at Disney.
  7. Food is everywhere, albeit expensive.
  8. Instead of Mickey Mouse ears, everyone is wearing NYPD and New York Yankee shirts. EVERYONE.

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Oddly enough, I found New York City and Orlando to be close cousins, if not twins. The two towns are similar, and if you can navigate Disney safely and with alacrity, New York City will be just like another theme park.

My Tumultuous, Blood-Stained Battle with the Omnipresent Cliché

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By Dino Quinzani (Flickr: Muro di giulietta) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Leave it to my parents to tell me that I am a good writer; I know my ability. Yet, growing up with a prolific older sister, I did not believe writing was or ever could be my territory. It seemed like an unknown world; it was akin to a sensuous piano of untapped keys that stared at me with white eyes, black pupils…

That is precisely how I wrote. I kid you not. I personified random instruments the same way a lonely romance writer would, but I, a mere 17-year-old lady, never cracked open one of those shirtless male-clad books.

This begs the question: why was my writing so cliché?

I want to blame my more immature pieces on my love of reading. Books make my brain hurt but my senses tingle, so I read a lot of stories when I was younger. This may have been a double-edged sword: I learned how to write well by reading the works of published authors, but I also learned how to copy them down to the sentence structure. I was not a writer; I was an indoctrinated soul.

But as time went on, my diction grew more unique. No longer did I try to sound like Jane Austen. I told myself – hey, Samantha, don’t be Jane. Be you. Be inspired by Jane. Do it. Just WRITE.

When I stopped trying to imitate authors, I found a whole new way to write: by being myself. It is horrible to read the same thing twice, so it is only my hope that people will read my writing and feel enlightened simply because I said something differently than the author they read stories from in their AP Literature class. Through a bit of introspection and practicing completely self-generated writing, I learned the art of being a writer instead of a cliché machine.

It took time. I have edited my writing meticulously, wrote actively, stayed aware of my cliché trap, and attempted to be myself through-and-through while writing, even if I was a bit scared of how a piece would turn out. Then I would remember that there is always editing. But writing? It’s boundless. I would tell myself fine then, be cliché, and then change your words at your will. I fought my inner editor for countless pieces, only to unleash her on some of the most cliché articles and poems I have written. I told myself that writing from every corner of my mind, whether it turned out cliché or otherwise, was okay, because it was the only way my writing would improve. Inner editor (I call her Edna) will spice it up after the words go in my Word document. After a while, she came to visit me less, because I finally grew comfortable with writing as me; I wasn’t so cliché after all.

Quiet the inner editor. Don’t worry about being cliché. If you are cliché, fix the problem after you write something. But the chances are, if you write as yourself, you may create the most original pieces of us all.

How do you fight being cliché? Tweet Miss Musings with your tips!

Body positivity: the power of ‘sizing up’

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Mall culture jakarta70“. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

You know that feeling you get when you pull on a pair of pants and you not only look good, but you feel good? Sometimes a nicely-fitting pair of jeans is all you need to feel like the next Tyra Banks. Unfortunately, we don’t all find our jean-soul mates on the first try at the department store, and poor luck can certainly crush our shopping spirits. To amend the situation, I am here to explain the power of sizing up – my trick for feeling fabulous every time I shop.

When I find a new pair of jeans I like, I immediately grab one size higher than my actual size to try on. If you are unsure of your size, eyeball the pants, then grab one size larger.

Usually the outcome of this odd shopping habit goes one of two ways: the pants fit great on the first try, or they are a bit loose. If the first is true, my shopping is over and I am satisfied. If the second is true, I feel great about my body, even a bit empowered, and I try on a size lower.

Now let me make something clear: your mood certainly should not dependent on your size or your ability to go back down to your usual pant size. However, I do believe that how we dress can make us more confident, and I am guilty of throwing on heels just to make myself feel powerful. But remember that this power and strength comes from the inside, your clothes just help bring it out of you.

When I went to Kohl’s one day searching for pants, I grabbed a size 9 instead of my usual 7. The pants, to this day, are one of my favorite pairs; this is because I felt great in them, not because they are my lowest size. Ladies, we need to approach shopping as an opportunity to be confident, expressive, and flaunt what we have. I believe the best way to do this is to size up when necessary, smile, and then be blind about the numbers.

Focus on how you feel in clothes, not on the little number on the tag. No number can do your body justice or measure your worth.

Are you body positive when you go shopping? Tweet Miss Musings or leave a comment below!

9 ways to be an excellent journalist

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By Peter Weis (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

We all have our rock star dreams, literal or not. While journalism is an attainable field to go into, it takes a lot of effort, some connections, a bunch of luck, and the following skills.

  1. Know how to speak to people effectively. You know those people with the firm handshakes, easy tones, and understanding looks who you just want to open up to? Be that type of person. Speak with ease, smile, and do not pressure others for facts or be annoying. You never know who will fess up the right information to you based on your manner.
  2. Learn how to feel out situations. Are you in an intense atmosphere like a crime scene? Or are you in a friendly party setting? Be aware of your surroundings and try to analyze which people look the most willing to talk to you. Not everyone will want to speak to a journalist.
  3. Butter people up. Everyone loves compliments, but at the very least, try to get on a level playing field with the person you are interviewing; this will make them like you more and be more candid when they answer your questions.
  4. Listen much more than you talk. Journalists are meant to ask questions and tell stories – that’s it. Try not to be self-centered when speaking to interview subjects and turn their responses around on yourself. It does not matter what YOU would do in a certain situation, but rather, what your subject did. Be warm, ask follow up questions, clarify, and move forward in order to use your time constructively.
  5. Come prepared. Always arrive to interviews with questions in mind! No matter how great you are on the spot, it is always best to come prepared with some questions in hand.
  6. Focus on making people comfortable around you. Contrary to what you may believe, journalists should a. never be annoying, and b. NEVER try to be intimidating. No one wants to fess up facts to people who intend to intimidate others with their prowess. Whether you are talking to your grandma or interviewing the mayor, remember to make eye contact, be engaging, and approach your subject as a curious friend instead of a “big time” journalist.
  7. Never prompt interviews with “I’m a journalist…” This follows the same path as the last tip. In most cases, interview subjects will get nervous when they realize they are speaking to someone who can control their public images. It really does not matter that you are a journalist when you are attempting to get a quote from someone. What matters more is making a friendly first impression, getting your subject to trust you, and then throwing in the journalist bit.
  8. Remember that this is not about you – it is about the story. If you go into journalism just because you like seeing your own name in print, you might as well throw the dream away now. This field is way too cutthroat for people who are driven only by success. Journalists must always prioritize telling accurate, informative stories from original angles. The best journalists are the ones who could spend their whole lives without receiving any credit for their work yet still feel fulfilled by being the ones to tell the stories.
  9. Be willing to learn from others. The most crucial aspect of journalism everyone must remember is that journalism is a constantly evolving field. If Twitter gets big, learn how to use it in a timely manner. Be on top of new social networks. Ask questions. Be present. Finally, be willing to learn from your interview subjects, colleagues, elders, and youth. No matter how qualified you are, you are a storyteller, not the be-all end-all fact machine. How can you tell a good story if you are not willing to listen to the stories of other people?

Have more tips for being a great journalist? Tweet them to me or leave a comment below!