Category Archives: lifestyle

The Power of Creating Our Spaces

By Jonah Vroegop

[3 ½ minute read]

Over the last few months, the world has been in a state of unpredictability – that’s no secret. International travel is shut down, stores and restaurants are only accessible online. Museums, public spaces, and universities are closed around the world. But, we’re all still here, aren’t we? Being pushed indoors or to distanced, outdoor spaces has been a challenge for myself and many others. Although we can still have picnics on the lawn and we can still get groceries, we can’t do a whole lot more. Even work and class, which are usually a nice excuse to get out and get your day moving in a productive way, are largely remote. This has caused an ongoing struggle for me of deciding what to do with my day and how to be creative. It is hard to motivate myself to be productive in both school/work and also the personal projects that I have had on my bucket list. So what can we do about it?

Photo by Ellen Auer on Unsplash

Be strict about where you spend your time. As humans, we are naturally inclined to interact with our environment and to respond to it through our behavior and attitudes. Therefore, by changing our environment and our attitude toward it, we can force ourselves to behave in ways that are conducive to productivity! Research shows that the places we spend our time are a critical part of our memories and the experiences we have at a biological level. So when we spend most of our time relaxing in bed or on our favorite chair, we associate these places with relaxation – just like how we may associate the classroom with focused attention or associate the kitchen with eating and cooking. So to be more productive, I always do work sitting at a table or at a place where I won’t be tempted to do other things. Avoid doing work or browsing the internet in bed at all costs and try to save getting in bed for when you actually want to sleep.

Try a new technique! Keeping a schedule is important so that we can get to bed at a reasonable time and avoid those moments of “Oh jeez, I messed up” when you see the sun rising before going to bed. For both keeping a schedule and for productivity, I recommend using the Miracle Morning technique. This technique states that if we get up early, feed our body and mind, and achieve some small things, then the rest of the day seems to just fall into place. Each morning is an opportunity to start the day with a new attitude and when I follow a routine like “Miracle Morning”, it’s easy to find myself doing work without even having to think about it because I like to keep up the “streak” of getting things done. Don’t want to start that project you’ve been putting off? Haven’t been able to start reading that book you bought? Start by giving yourself easy tasks at home like doing laundry, cleaning your room, or writing in a journal to kickstart your motivation. Making a daily To-Do list always helps me, in addition to incentivizing myself with something to get me out of bed (a cup of coffee or tea). Possibly the best advantage of this technique is being awake and productive while the world is calm. Early in the morning the streets are quiet, the weather is cool, and our mind is fresh.

Photo by Rémi Bertogliati on Unsplash
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Quarantine Gardening Misadventures

By Sarah Selke

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Over the past few weeks, which have consisted of staying primarily at home, I – like many others – have taken up a new hobby. I have attempted to acquire a green thumb. After ordering several beefsteak tomatoes, some marigolds, and a couple of eggplants from a local garden center, I began tending to my plants on a near daily basis. Within just a week, the tomato plants proved to be a success with dozens of flowers and green fruit hanging on their branches. The eggplants in the corner were sprouting large leaves and appeared to be developing at a rapid rate. The marigolds planted next to the two harvestable plants not only gave the vegetable bed a lovely splash of color but were also meant to aid in the tomatoes’ growth. Everything seemed to be going as planned.

One morning, I noticed two marigolds missing from the garden. Upon closer inspection, I realized that not only had the flowers been consumed, their entire roots had been dragged out of the soil. In addition, several large holes had appeared in the eggplants’ leaves. Perplexed by the source of this destruction, I began looking online for answers. While the marigolds had to have been uprooted by a rather large animal, the holes in the eggplant leaves suggested that they had been eaten by slugs. This required two rather complicated solutions in order to prevent further attacks on the garden. One of these was to build a wired fence around the entire vegetable bed; the other was to place small cans of essential oil mixtures next to the eggplants in order to repel the slugs.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

As it turns out, getting rid of the slugs was not a terribly difficult task, as many of them were later found in the oil mixtures. However, building a fence was a more tedious job, which required numerous attempts to complete. Once finally finished, I was quite confident that my vegetables and marigolds were now safe. Nevertheless, the next morning I was in for yet another surprise. All the remaining marigolds as well as one of the eggplants had been completely eaten. Utterly clueless as to the cause of my garden’s demolition, I scavenged the internet once again for answers. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that gophers were responsible for eating most of the plants. Unfortunately, they are much harder to get rid of, and of course there was hardly anything left for them to consume. After digging around, I discovered a large hole near where the marigolds had once been and flooded it with water and cotton balls that had been soaked in peppermint oil. Although in retrospect it is hard to say whether this would have worked in repelling them from my plants, at least there has been no further damage to the tomatoes. 

Ultimately, while gardening may seem like a rather simple and relaxing hobby to pick up, it can be quite demanding if one is unaware of potential obstacles. Perhaps the easiest thing to grow for beginner gardeners are alliums, which include green onions and garlic. These can even be grown indoors, which make them the perfect plant to cultivate while stuck inside during the pandemic. Here’s a brief article for how to grow scallions in just a glass of water: https://www.allrecipes.com/article/save-money-diy-fresh-green-onions/.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Maybe you too can pick up gardening to keep you occupied during quarantine! If you do not have an outdoor space to garden in, you can always buy an indoors terrarium and grow succulents to begin to cultivate your green thumb. Happy gardening!

Featured image by Benjamin Combs on Unsplash

Sarah is majoring in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She was born in the Los Angeles area and has lived there much of her life. In addition to English, she has some background in Mandarin Chinese, French, and basic German. In her free time, she likes reading, listening to music, photography, and cooking. Sarah went to Beijing last summer and experienced having one-on-one conversations with other local students learning English. She hopes to continue improving her Chinese and French and is interested in teaching English as a foreign language someday. Feel free to reach out to Sarah if you need any help with your English language skills.

Staying Busy and Happy During Quarantine

By Gina Samec

[3 minute read]

For many of us, this summer, which was once full of travel plans and internships, has been reduced to three months of uncertainty. It’s been a strange transition for me to go from a structured week of class and extracurriculars to feeling directionless. Everywhere I turned this semester there was an irksome reminder that I was falling behind. When I checked Linkedin, my peers were posting about their remote summer internships. When I checked my inbox, I was receiving emails from career websites about how to stay competitive in the current economy. At first, I felt overwhelmed and defeated that I wouldn’t have something to put on my resume for this summer. However, I realized that most people I know are in the same situation as me. Instead of stressing over something that I have no control over, I can put my energy towards doing things that make me happy. For those of us who have the privilege to relax this summer, this is a great opportunity to do things we haven’t set aside time for in the past because we were too preoccupied. Here are some ways you can pass the time during quarantine.

Dance Workouts

Sitting or lying down all day has become the norm. However, it isn’t ideal for our health. If you hate the gym and don’t have motivation to work out, a dance workout is a really fun way to stay active without it feeling like a chore. Thanks to Youtube, there are plenty of free workout videos which are a great replacement for attending a real class. Here are some youtubers I enjoy who have been posting fun dance workouts: MadFit, The Fitness Marshall, and MYLEE Dance.

Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash
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