Win the Procrastination Battle

When it comes down to it, writing your semester paper or starting your major project the night before it’s due isn’t all that sweet. Neither is failing that huge test because you don’t really know how to study. All in all, being a college or high school student is pretty hard as it is, but to add Advanced Placement or Preparatory Advanced Placement courses is just terrifying.

School2Some people may be perfect scholars, but, for the bulk of us who never really had to study much as kids, it can be difficult to learn these habits later in life. Just like learning to live a healthy lifestyle, studying is developed through practice and anticipating the long-term pleasure we will receive from it.

Several suggestions and methods have popped up, each guaranteeing the solution but one in particular is called the “Nothing Alternative.” What it entails is giving yourself two choices, do what you’re supposed to or do absolutely nothing at all. Don’t allow yourself to go do other chores, surf the web or daydream. Sit there and do nothing or accomplish what you’re avoiding.

“I study in a quiet place where I won’t be interrupted, preferably a library,” shares Frida Ballard, a 9th grader. “In those libraries I stay away from computers and don’t take my cell phone, so I can’t be interrupted. I also keep track of what I need with my planner, and I check it frequently.”

Myth: Making an Effort is Worthless
The best way to keep up with your advanced or even regular classes is to make an effort. An open mind and an open heart can sometimes be the most helpful tools to a relatively painless year. Studying and reading the material isn’t always the easiest or pleasant thing to do, but, often enough, it paves the way in the end.

Fighting the Study Traps
Study traps are useful in most cases, unless you’re on the other end of it. Study traps are some of the worst situations to encounter; for instance,  not knowing where to begin, saying there’s so much material, material is too boring and never remembering any of the information are some examples that can lead to a downward spiral of anxiety. Information isn’t retained if it’s learned in a cram session at midnight. Try to space out the sessions and, overall, avoid things that’ll wear down your memory.

“My advice is to do the work, first of all, and just try it,” Ballard said.”This ain’t no completion grade, kiddos. Those days are over. Actually complete it by yourself and turn it on time. By now you should know what environments suit you best, so, go there; and however difficult it may be, do not procrastinate at all cost.”

Starting can sometimes be the hardest part, but a good way to keep sane is to write down a list of everything that must be accomplished. Just by seeing what you’ve done and what you have left to do will motivate you. Start with the courses you don’t understand as much, that way the most fun and easiest items are at the end.  No matter the workload, find something that motivates and keeps you on task

“Honestly, I don’t always stay on task,” freshman Marisa Macias said. “I sometimes find myself getting distracted, but I do my best to stay focused. I just try to rid my surroundings of distractions. And, even though most teachers don’t believe it, music keeps me motivated and focused while working.”

Instead of  procrastinating, why not just finish your homework? Go on now, close this window and turn off the computer. Your homework is calling your name and it is rather loud.

Dealing with Divorce

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Did you know that half of all American children will witness the breakup of a parent’s marriage?

All over the media, celebrities make divorces seem hectic and crazy. Yet, if you notice closely, they never talk about how the children are doing.  Kids are always the victims of the divorce and sometimes are overlooked due to the stress of getting paperwork finished, lawyers always interfering and the fact that life will take a 360 degree turn.

In an article to Psychologytoday.com, psychologist Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D., said divorce tends to make teens react to divorce “with a more aggressive response.” That leads to teens to become “more separated and distant from parents [and] more self-sufficient.” Friends and social life becomes the main point in a teen’s’ life. The thing is that there are many teens who are going through the same thing you are. You can control the feelings you have and keep a strong relationship with both parents. Divorce is not easy, but you can be able to overcome it.

Your parents will always love you.
Your parents are not divorcing you, they are divorcing each other. Sometimes, parents cannot work together to make things work and feel that it is best to end the marriage. They want the best for you and parents think that divorce is the best option for you.

There’s a small chance your parents might get back together. Well, not exactly.
Remember that movie where Lindsay Lohan plays twins who do crazy things to get their parents back together? At the end of the movie, the mom and dad get back together and realize they love each other. That rarely happens in the real world. You need to realize that the chances of your parents getting back together are slim to none.

Make sure your parents know how you feel.
Do not be afraid to talk to your parents (either separately or together) about how you are feeling or the concern you have for your siblings. Let every emotion and thought you have out of your head so your parents know how you are feeling. As stated before, your parents might not get back together, but they can try to remain peaceful.

Find someone to talk to.
You are not the only child that has divorced parents and you will not be the last one. Find someone to talk to such as your best friend, someone who also has divorced parents or perhaps a teacher or school counselor. Even though they cannot do much about your parents, they are willing to listen to what you have to say and help you remain calm during the divorce.

Put all of your energy into a project or activity.
Divorce makes children and young adults feel angry or sad. Use that energy for something productive. Take a yoga class, volunteer at a nursing home or join a new organization. Doing this will help keep your mind away from the issues you are dealing at home and will you use your anger in a positive way. Plus, doing other activities will help you de-stress and relax.

Seek help.
Divorces can get ugly. Sometimes parents get so involve into their arguments that things start to get thrown or someone can get hit. Your safety comes first, which is why if arguments turn ugly, do not be afraid to call the police. Never meddle because things happen at the heat of the moment.

Remain in contact.
Explain to your parents that even though they do not want to talk to each other, you want them to remain in contact with you. Tell them that you want a daily phone call or a weekly video call. Scheduling times to see each other is important so that you can remain close to your parents. Do not be afraid to schedule visitations and tell them how often you want to see them.

Don’t feel bad about crying.
Crying always makes people feel better. Find a secluded place, such as the corner of your closet, and just start crying. There’s nothing wrong with curling up into a ball under the blankets and just start crying. Sometimes, to feel better, you just need a good cry.

People can fall in love again.
One or both of your parents might re-marry. Do not be afraid of this new change. If your parents new love interest makes your parents happy, then be happy. It will take time to get used to the new addition, but you will get used to the change.

Never be ashamed that your parents are divorced. Sadly, divorces are very common today and you can probably find someone in your class who knows how you feel. If you feel yourself getting very depressed, do not be afraid of seeking a therapist. Many children of divorce visit a psychiatrist to talk to someone about how their feeling and to get help on how to deal with their anger and depression.

Always remember that your parents love you and that the divorce is NEVER your fault.

Daddy’s Campeona

Marlen Esparza

Marlen Esparza went from daddy’s girl to daddy’s campeona as an Olympic boxer. “Boxing started because I was daddy’s girl… And my dad, when I was younger, would travel a lot because he was a welder… So he’d be gone for like 3 months, come back for a month… And my dad was a huge boxing fan. So when my dad was home that’s what we would do; we would watch boxing. That was o

ur thing. That was kind of like our bonding time… And eventually he let me try it… I never stopped after that,” shares Marlen Esparza.

That is where it all began: as something she merely enjoyed watching as a ritual with her dad. Boxing has played a pivotal role in Marlen Esparza’s life. Through falling in love with the sport as a fan, she discovered a desire stemming from her heart to begin boxing on her own as a young adolescent.

Growing up with this dream of boxing was difficult despite the support she received from her parents because uncertainties muddled her goals or personal life. Everything throughout the routine-like experience of cross country, track, swimming, and boxing in high school seemed simple enough up until her senior year. Marlen applied to several universities and had been awarded scholarships. Marlen was all set to attend a university with the support of her parents until, one fateful day, it changed.

“I woke up one day and I was really depressed and I knew why. And I just told everybody ‘I can’t do it. I just can’t go. I have to try this. I have to try boxing,’” she said.

While making that decision, Marlen realized the risk in her actions because in her Senior year of high school, 2007, the United States women’s team hadn’t even been accepted into the Olympics, but she still chose boxing. Looking back, now, she realizes that the only advice she would give herself or to any other young adolescent is “It’s okay to not know. And it’s okay to be unsure. And it’s okay to have doubt.”

When embarking on that journey, Marlen fully understood the implications of being not only a woman, but of being a Latina who chose boxing as a professional career. She describes both being a woman and being a Latina as motivational and driving factors in her career.

“I live a lot of my life fighting against what I’m supposed to be and so I think that it’s bad, but then it’s good because it makes me stronger.”

Marlen isn’t driven by the premeditated expectations of others or stereotypes that are placed on her, but by the drive to wake up every day and do something she’s passionate about.

Marlen refuses to let fear play a key role in her decision-making and passionate lifestyle, because instead she chooses to live life to the fullest. “I can just give it everything I have…It’ll be way worse to just give up at the beginning than give everything I have and not get it, because at least I know at the end of the day that I tried. And so that’s what I’m doing, I’m just trying,” she shares.

Her fearlessness and zest for living are both remarkable and inspiring.

From being a young spectator to becoming a champion over the course of her boxing career, Marlen Esparza has grown and evolved into a positive role model for Latina youth. She is a Latina woman with determination, drive, zeal, and strength. Marlen has fought and continues to fight adversity, stereotypes, self-doubt, and many fears. She is the first woman from the United States to not only qualify for the 2012 Olympics, but to win a round in the 2012 Olympics and to be awarded a bronze medal.

Marlen Esparza is not only more than capable of kicking someone’s butt in the ring, but also of kicking butt against fear, doubt, and uncertainties. Marlen is a role model who fights for her purpose, but, most importantly, she is down-to-earth.

“I don’t want to be famous, I don’t want to make millions of dollars. I don’t want that. I want to matter to people. I want people to say, when they think of me, I want them to think ‘That was a good person. That was somebody who did something.’ And that’s all.”

Las Geek Girls

It starts with a cartoon, or maybe a musical or a book. Leslie Piñon remembers it being the film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Andrea Cervantes, on the other hand, can’t say it was one thing for sure. For both young ladies, somewhere along the line they came to realize that their interests were a little bit different from other teens. Since then, they have been navigating a maze of identity, expression, and interpersonal connection, all under the label of “geek.”latinitas

The path of the geek is not always easy. “Geek” is often reserved for the kids that don’t quite fit in, kids with more “eccentric” interests. It could be a love of band or a passion for science fiction. Geeky interests span a large number of subjects, but what unites them all is an underlying sense of being a little odd or uncool.

“My immediate family always thought it was weird that I liked those things,” Piñon says. In addition to Lord of the Rings, she cultivated an interest in the Harry Potter series, Star Trek, and an assortment of comics. “For a while I was, I don’t want to say ‘ashamed,’ but self-conscious.”

While Piñon felt that self-consciousness at home, Cervantes remembers feeling it more at school. She was a bookworm with a backpack full of anime and musical soundtracks.

“I would arrive early to school to eat breakfast and the people who sat with me would ask to see what CDs I had,” she said. “They never knew any of them and gave me strange looks.”

When the social cliques started forming, Cervantes found herself set her firmly as an outsider.

“You are lumped into this ‘other category,’” she says. “It makes it difficult to actually enjoy your geekiness around others unless they have also been lumped in that same category.”

Luckily, both girls found a sense of belonging and community in theater.

“That’s a thing that tends to attract geekier folks,” says Piñon. “It’s been pretty easy for me to find an argument about something like Hulk vs Superman.”

And it’s been more than just finding people who like the same things. Finding an enriching “geek” community also proves to be creatively satisfying. Cervantes credits working with like-minded peers to bring a production to life as being one of the best experiences she has ever had.

Even off-stage, geek communities seem to be especially creative places. Online, one will find geeky fan communities encouraging and celebrating fan creations in visual art, writing, and even clothing design and construction. Fan conventions are notorious for bringing together passionate people all dressed up as their favorite fictional characters.

But even when embracing the geek culture, there are still social setbacks, especially for female geeks. The realm of the geek, especially when dealing with comics and video games, has stereotypically been believed to be the domain of boys and young men. But more and more, female geeks have become outspoken and visible, a trend that has caused some tension and backlash from their male counterparts. The consensus seems to be that girls can’t be geeks, or otherwise must “prove” their geekiness in areas typically believed to be male-only interests.

“I think there is still a gendered approach, but it does seem to be changing constantly,” Cervantes says. “I think there’s a geek subculture out there that’s rising up and allowing people to feel free to like what they like without being ashamed. But it’s a very gradual process.”

Despite the social turmoil, the pros far outweigh the cons.

Piñon credits a lot of personal growth to her participation in all things geek. Her written fanworks have not only helped her improve as a writer but have also helped her see her writing projects through until the end, something which she says is especially hard for her to do.

“I think happiness factor is up high,” she says. “Like over all contentedness with life. I tried to think what I would do with my time if I didn’t do any of my fandom-related things, and said life seemed boring and tragic.”

In the end “geek,” according to Cervantes, is just a term for people who don’t apologize for what they like.

“You have to like the things you like no matter how geeky they might appear,” she says. “That’s the only way you can be completely true to yourself. It’s freeing.”

Studying in the United States

100_0820The transition from high school to college is a big one. Now, imagine the transition from one country to another — it can be tough.

In 2010 I graduated from high school in Cd. Juarez, Mexico and had many mixed emotions about going to college. I was happy to have completed one of the first stages in my life, high school. At the same time, I was sad because I wasn’t going to the same college with my peers whom I’d known for 3 years. I was also nervous because I didn’t know what to expect from my new school; I was moving to El Paso, Texas to go to college.

I decided to come to United States to study at the age of eighteen because I believed that by doing so I would have better job opportunities. In Mexico, being a journalist could be risky because of the dangerous history reporters have had with the cartel. Although it is a sad situation, it is undeniably real.  Another reason why I decided to come to school in the United States was to find multicultural environments, something that may not be found in my hometown.  I decided to become a US citizen so I could benefit from the financial aid that was going to be offered to me. However, as I started the application for college and financial aid everything was frustrating and confusing; It was a new system for me to get used to.

My first day of college went pretty well, I felt confident and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. However, as the semester went by I started to get frustrated. I was dealing with many emotions. Since I wasn’t used to living on my own, I had to deal with housework and homework at the same time. I also started to miss my house and my parents, it was hard for me to get used to a new system. Although I knew English pretty well, I was dealing with the culture shock. I have lived in a border city my whole life and I thought I knew how life was in the United States. In reality, it is very different despite the fact that the cities are right next to each other. In the United States I had to choose a major and minor, whereas in Mexico there is no need to choose a minor.  I chose to major in Multimedia Journalism, which is a branch of Communication. In Mexico, people study general Communication and after that they can pursue a Masters in any area they would like to pursue from Communication. Something else I didn’t understand from studying in the United States was the core curriculum. During your first year of college in Mexico people start taking classes in their chosen major.  In the United States it takes about 2 years before you have your first class with content from your major. When I was doing my core curriculum I felt like I was in high school again; I had already taken most of the classes in high school.

In addition, students are very involved in their university here in the United States. They wear school t-shirts, university colors, decorate their cars, help with homecoming, go to tailgates, and support athletes. I wasn’t aware of most of these activities. I didn’t even know what homecoming consisted of or what tailgating was. Students in Mexico just attend class and don’t really get involved in their school. Their student life consists of going to class, studying, and going to internships. There are sports and artistic events students can attend, but there is nothing like homecoming in Mexico. It is not a big deal for students to cheer on a soccer game, or celebrate after the basketball team makes it to finals.

Besides these differences, there is no existence of student organizations or Greek life at universities in Mexico. I think having student organizations really helps students network and get to know other people in their university. I still don’t really understand what Greek life is about, but I still think it’s a great way to build many skills for your professional future.

I am in my third year of college and I have adapted being on my own and dealing with school, I have even started working. It was tough to get used to a new environment, but I am really happy I made it. Being involved in school and meeting new people from the university, has helped me through this life transitioning process. I think that once I stopped complaining about how bad it was and started actually living in the moment, I started to adapt to my new life. I think college is about exploring yourself and knowing who you are, living independently has helped me figure these things out.

Ways to Pay for College

Money2There are many things to think about when you are going to start your college career. Some things that might stress you out are choosing a major, finding out where you are going to study and knowing when you have to start applying.  One of the most important factors you must face when planning to go to college is deciding how you are going to pay for your education.

There are many ways to pay for your education. You can get financial aid, grants, scholarships, loans or a job. According to the Office of the U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid is responsible for managing the student financial assistance programs, authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

These programs provide grants, loans, and work-study funds to students attending college or career/ vocational schools. Every college has an office designated for Financial Aid. In this office they will guide you to apply for grants, loans or work-study positions. FAFSA’s web page is where you can apply for grants or find scholarships (fafsa.ed.gov), it is an easy application to fill out. Visit the Financial Aid office or ask your high school counselor about orientation and how to apply online, so that you can fill out your FAFSA form.

Grants

Grants can be seen as “free money” or “gift aid.” This is an aid that does not have to be repaid. Grants are need-based, and to receive a grant you must fill out a FAFSA application. Your application will be sent to the university you applied to, and the Financial Aid office will grant you an amount to help you pay for college based on tuition and financial need.

Mayram is a junior in college, she has applied and received grants since she started college. “These grants are incredibly beneficial for me as a student, they allow me to have an easier time financing my college education,” Mayram said. Mayram receives around $2,000 in grants, which helps her cover her college tuition.

Scholarships

Having a scholarship is different from receiving a grant. The difference is that scholarships are merit-based. If you have a talent, play a sport, act, dance, have outstanding grades or if you’re an active member of an organization, you can receive a scholarship because of your talent. There are many sources to help you find a scholarship. Visit the Financial Aid office at your school, or the counselors in your high school to ask about how to apply.

Adriana is a junior in high school and applied for the GEAR UP scholarship when she was in 8th grade. The scholarship was granted to her with help from her Educational Talent Search counselor.”The scholarship will be available to me once I matriculate to a college in the fall of 2014, so as of now I only know that it will help,” Adriana said.

Sara, a junior in college, was also granted with a scholarship. She was given the scholarship because of community service and commented about how she maintains her scholarship. “The scholarship requires community involvement as well as good standing in school,” Sara said. As it was mentioned before, scholarships are granted to students in many ways, whether you look for one or because of a special talent.

Here are some online resources you can find many scholarships by creating a profile.

http://www.fastweb.com/

http://www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/college-scholarships/

Loans

Loans are also offered in Financial Aid. Loans are money borrowed from either federal government or private sources and must be paid back with interest. Before accepting a loan it is very important that you understand your lender’s requirements and how your payments will be arranged. There are two types of loans that financial aid offers, Federal Direct Loan and Federal Perkins Loan Program. The Federal Direct Loan your lender will be the U.S. Department of Education. These loans consist of 4 types: Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, Direct PLUS, and Direct Consolidation. The first two types of loans mentioned are the most common offered at Financial aid. These loans are mostly offered to undergraduate students. There are two main differences between these two loans. For Direct Subsidized Loans, students have a financial need and the interest for the loan is paid by U.S. Department of Education. On the other hand with Direct Unsubsidized Loans, students don’t need to demonstrate financial need and they are responsible for paying the interest after they have graduated. As for Direct PLUS and Consolidation Loans, the first one is offered mainly to graduate students and undergraduate student’s parents, and the second is the combination of all loans in one single payment. Loans should be consider as an emergency to help you pay for college.

Miren, a junior in college, applied for a loan to pay the cost of a study abroad program. Her application was very simple to fill out with help of a Financial Aid advisor at her college. “It is very important to know the following before acquiring a loan: what type of loan it is, how much interest you will be charged, who you will pay back the loan to, and the type of payment plan that fits you the best,” Miren said.

Workstudy

There are many ways to pay for college but work-study is one of the best options. Work-study provides a part-time job to students with financial need. Not everyone can be eligible for work-study, contact the office of Financial Aid at your school to know if you are eligible. Work-study consist in working a part-time job either on campus or off campus, it depends on what your school may offer. Sometimes your school may require your work-study to be related to your major. You can earn the federal minimum wage or more, it all depends on your financial need and school’s funding level. Work-study can be an opportunity to not only help you pay for college, but also to get involved in activities going on around your school.

Alejandra is a junior in college and she has done work-study postions ever since she started. She applied for work-study through her FAFSA application. Once she was eligible, Alejandra applied for several jobs around campus that offered work-study positions. Alejandra commented on some benefits of work-study, “since you work at school you have it easy to work and study without having to go off campus plus you can pay off part of your tuition.”

 

Celebrating Las Posadas

It’s holiday time! Tis’ the season to spend time with the people we love and to take a look at how other Hispanic cultures celebrate the holidays. The Latino culture is very well known for being family oriented and although your family may have certain traditions during the Posadas season, why not dig a little deeper and explore the various ways a culture celebrates throughout the month of December.

The Posadas are small processions that represent the journey of Mary and Joseph had to endure to find a place to spend the night.  This tradition originated in Spain where they are called Jornadillas and this tradition has become  typical of many Latin American countries.

The Posadas symbolize the nine months of Virgin Mary’s pregnancy. Every night the group visits three previously chosen homes, in each one the group is separated in two, and one group enters while the other part stays outside holding the images of Joseph and Mary while singing a ritualistic dialogue.  In the first two houses visited, the entrance is denied and forces the group to continue on to the next house.   Finally in the third house, the host opens the doors and welcomes the travelers while the float with Mary and Joseph is placed on an altar close to the Nativity scene.

Las Posadas - guatemalaLas Posadas in Guatemala

Traditions in Guatemala are a fusion of  beliefs and elements of Arab, Spanish and Mayan origin; it is said the Posadas is one of the richest traditions in all of Latin America. These practices become evident during the holiday season beginning on December 7th with the Quema de el Diablo (Burning of the devil) which is done to purify the way for the Virgen de Concepcion the following day. The tradition consists of  taking the old or worn things that thoroughly clean  the home and burn them. Most Guatemalans burn old newspapers they have saved throughout the year and pile them in the big bonfire. So much is burned, that the next day there are pieces of paper falling from the sky, and the smell of smoke lingers in the air long after the morning of the next day. When the sky turns gray at night by the smoke of garbage,  the holiday festivities have officially begun.

The traditional Posadas are continuous from December 16- December 24th and, although it is still the basic precessions from home to home, the Guatemalan culture  add a twist to it. Children and teenagers carry colored paper lanterns as soon as night falls, and while the group is walking, prayers are sung accompanied by the Tucutícuto of the ayotl (a pre-Columbian percussion instrument made of a turtle’s shell which is taped on it’s convex side with a piece of wood) filling the air with music.

Every night for the remainder of the nights, the host of the third and final house receives the group of people with traditional Guatemalan food and pastries. These include agua de horchata, tamales, chuchitos, barquillos, among others. On Christmas eve (Noche Buena),  adding a baby Jesus to the nativity scene symbolizes the closing of the Christmas festivities and prepares everyone for the Christmas day feast.

Posadas in Mexico

Las posadas in Mexico are perhaps what we are mostly familiar with. The celebration is actually quite similar to that of Guatemala except in the reenactment of the procession, since it involves  actual actors. A group of people with paper lanterns and poinsettias follow the actors from door to door  followed by musicians singing the indicated verses until the final destination is reached. Once the host lets the people in, instead of beginning the festivities right away, they take a moment to kneel by the nativity set and pray the rosary. At the end of each night’s journey, Christmas carols (villancicos) are sang while children of all ages break open their star-shaped piñatas to obtain candy and fruit hidden inside. Of course, the party is not complete without the never ending  tamales, buñuelos, champurrado and pozole to end a night of festivities righ.

Like Abuelita says, “Panza llena, corazón contento.” A full stomach makes the heart content.

A Moment for Mindfulness

Stop. Breathe. Take a second to look around you, notice your surroundings, and pay attention to all five senses. Are you sitting in bed, on a bus, or walking to meet a friend? Take in everything.

Yoga

Are you shivering, sweating, or just perfect? Is that smell coming from the kitchen making your stomach grumble in anticipation, tickling your nose with wafts of ajo y cebolla?  And your hands, where are they? Perhaps they are running through your tight curls, molding moist clay, or leafing through last month’s Vogue.
While that may have seemed like an odd exercise, deep, unbiased awareness of your surroundings is essential to a meditative practice known as mindfulness. Mindfulness is a state of active awareness and openness to the present, without a conclusive judgment of the moment. Instead, in practicing mindfulness, one attempts to appreciate what is observed for the essence of what it is, rather than how subjectively “good” or “bad” it may be (Mayo Clinic).Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness Exercise

To explain, consider a dark, rainy, and windy day. For many, this description will seem dreary and depressing.  Now imagine walking into that rain — resist the urge to cringe. Feel the drops wet your skin, listen to the whistling wind and the rustling leaves, and smell the earthiness of rain. Stand still and just be. You have nowhere to go, no obligations to take you away from your commitment to enjoy yourself and nature in this moment. This practice of mindfulness transformed unpleasant weather into a profound moment of meditation and connection with yourself and nature.

“Mindfulness helps me connect to my body and the present. It helps reduce anxiety, creating a safe space in my mind. It makes my day brighter,” said Daniela Castillo, 22.

Now imagine doing the same activity on a bright, clear day, the sun warming your cheeks and the plush grass cushioning your tired feet. Or imagine sitting in your bed and letting every limb of your body sink into the worn quilt as you listen to the creaks of your sister’s footsteps and the rhythm of the kitchen. Mindfulness can be practiced any time and any place, as long as you are prepared to focus your mind to a state complete openness and non-judgment.

 To Your Health!

This ability to focus and disengage from your cluttered mind is not only useful, but physically and emotionally healthy. Dedicating a few moments every day for mindfulness not only lowers and prevents future stress, it minimizes the risk of depression and other mental health issues. Mindfulness also increases compassion and emotional warmth, and helps one enjoy a better night’s sleep. This prepares the meditator for a more healthy, kind and productive day (Psychological Science).

Amelia Henriquez, 21, said, “sometimes I need to just relax and feel the world around me. I want to see the colors around me as art, the smells as crazy perfumes, the sounds as songs. It puts me in a different mindset. I feel chill, at peace with it all.”

The best part about mindfulness is that it is absolutely free, and absolutely portable. No matter where you are, no matter how empty your wallet, you can take a few moments out of life’s dramas and anxieties to appreciate yourself and your environment while improving your health and outlook. It is as simple as turning off the judgmental voice in your head and soaking in this precious moment of life.

So the next time you are waiting to be picked up at school, look up and notice the way the clouds graze the sky. Listen to friends around you speaking in Spanish and notice how our language sounds like a song even when you don’t pay attention to the words. And when your mami picks you up, notice the warmth of her cheek as you kiss hello. This, amigas, is mindfulness.

From College to Career

College Chica 2013For many young Latinas starting college, the goal is to graduate and get the job they have been dreaming of since they were children. It is very important to hit the books from the very first day of school and study, study, study! Getting an education is the most important part about college, but there are other things you can be doing as a freshman in college that will help you get ahead when the time comes to graduate!

Join Clubs & Organizations

During the first few weeks of class, many colleges and universities have club and organization fairs where students can go and learn about the many kinds of student organizations that are offered on campus. Go to one of these! Colleges are full of a variety of fun and interesting clubs. Nicole Herrera, 20, says, “I think as a freshman in college, it is important to join clubs or organizations that are both relevant to the career you wish to take and it is also good to involve yourself with more extracurricular, but equally beneficial groups.” If you already know what career you might want, join a club that caters to that particular career. Such organizations often bring guest speakers to talk about what it is to be in that career field. If you are not sure about what you want to do, look around, talk to people, and join clubs that seem interesting. Chances are, these clubs will lead you to the right career.

Find Internships That Relate to Your Career

Keep your eyes open for internship opportunities! Even after you complete your degree and receive your diploma, many jobs ask that you have job experience. It is frustrating to think that a degree alone was not enough to get you a job, and because of that, try to work in as many internships as possible. Getting work experience before graduation will really make you stand out when applying to jobs. If you do not know what you want to be “when you grow up,” internships are the best way to figure out what you do or do not like. By testing out all the different work environments, you can narrow down your choices to something that you would truly enjoy.

Attend Career Fairs

You may not get many job offers as a freshman, but job fairs show you what jobs are on the market. Ask recruiters what they are looking for when hiring someone so you know exactly what you need to work on or improve. Think of attending career fairs as a form of doing research. Research is always good!

Talk to the Advisers

Universities have all kinds of advisers. You might have an adviser for your major, one for your minor, one for your overall classification, etc. Advisers are there to help you. Take advantage of that! If you ever have a question, they have the knowledge to guide you. There is a lot of pressure in choosing a major and deciding on one can be stressful. Career advisers are there to help you explore the different possibilities and help you make a choice that will be beneficial to you and make you happy. Never feel like you have a dumb question; there is no such thing! Having an adviser’s opinion is very helpful!

Network

Joselynne Valenzuela, 18, says, “Networking really is the best way to get places! It is easier to find opportunities when you have other people helping you look.” By networking, you will build connections with people who may be able to help you out in the long-run. The act of “networking” is easy; all it means is talk to people and make connections! Introduce yourself to your professor at the beginning of the semester and keep in contact with him or her throughout the semester. Stay after class to talk to the guest speaker. Make connections with your classmates. Talk to people everywhere. If you are on the bus, put down your cell phone and talk to the person next to you. Joining clubs and organizations is another easy way to network. The more people you know, the more chances you will have of getting what you want.

College is a time to explore all the possibilities that are available to you. Make sure you take all the opportunities possible and make the best of the short time you have as a student!

5 Makeup Essentials

IMG_2729Many girls overstuff their makeup bags with products that they do not even use.  It is not good to carry your whole makeup collection in your purse or backpack; not only because it can be bulky but it can also hurt your shoulders. For the chica on-the go, these 5 products are everything you need to make a difference in your daily look.

For Flawless Skin: Compact Face Powder

For touch-ups or to cover skin redness, a compact face power is perfect for your makeup bag. A compact face powder not only serves as a makeup product, but the mirror that comes with it can be very helpful. The L’ Oreal True Match can be a good choice because of its large compact mirror and the convenient applicator compartment. Maybelline’s Fit Me face powder is another good choice because it gives you a light weight coverage. Plus, there are many shades that will match your skin tone.

For a Soft Smile : Lip Balm

Due to the weather changes, your lips tend to get chapped. Carrying a lip balm or a lip gloss to brighten your look is an essential product to have in your makeup bag. Adding a little bit of color to your lips can make a difference in the way you look. Maybelline’s Baby Lips has the perfect combination of a moisturizer and a lip stick. This lip balm also has SPF 20 which protects your lips from the sun. The Burt’s bees tinted lip balms are another great option to moisturize your lips because they are made with natural ingredients.

For a Powerful Look: Mascara

When you are looking tired, mascara can be the best option to look awake and fresh. A couple of coats of mascara will lift your lashes and make your eyes look bigger and brighter. Covergirl’s NatureLuxe mascara is a wonderful mascara that will give the illusion of having longer eyelashes without leaving them clumpy. Another option for a good mascara is L’oreal Voluminous mascara which makes your lashes look fuller.

For Sweet Cheeks: Compact Blush

Blush adds a little bit of sweetness to your look and prevents you from looking pale. Choosing the right blush can be tricky because it is important to have a color that is appropriate for your skin tone. Wet n’ Wild blush in Heather Silk is a great option that compliments most skin tones and is also affordable. A high end blush that is really pretty and comes in a cute packaging is Coralista by Benefit.

For Clean and Smooth Hands: Hand Antibacterial/Lotion

It is important to always carry a product to sanitize your hands and to prevent you from getting sick due to the germs that are in the environment. To pamper your hands it’s important to always moisturize to prevent them from getting dry. Bath and Body Works HandiBac in the Sweet Pea  will refresh your hands while leaving a sweet long lasting scent. Vaseline has an antibacterial lotion that is a cream moisturizer that will clean your hands while leaving them silky and smooth.

For the busy chica these products are the perfect way to touch up your makeup when you are at school or in a rush. Leave the clunky makeup bag at home and carry these in your purse or backpack for quick access.

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