Tag Archives: College

What They Won’t Tell You About Studying Abroad

Spoiler: It’s Not One Huge Vacation

With the increasing popularity of studying abroad in today’s day and age, it would be safe to claim that every twenty-something year old knows at least one person who went abroad. It’s a college staple at this point– especially within the social media hype of the century. Everyone can view the world at their fingertips, which is why so many young people are drawn to these foreign countries to experience for themselves. Traveling is the new craze among millennials, and honestly, if you ask me, it’s been a long time coming. Traveling is something that nobody will ever regret or say anything bad about. Seriously, nothing bad can really come from travel, as every single travel experience brings something new to be learned.

I guess that’s why I was so drawn to Australia. I remember seeing people post at the opera house and with sea turtles at the Great Barrier Reef even in high school, and instantly wanted to go. Not going to lie to any of you though, I was extremely nervous. So nervous, that if you had asked me if I was going to go abroad 6 months ago, I would have told you that you were out of your mind. You see, I am in love with my college. I have school pride washed over me in every aspect, and I am so confident that I made the right choice in terms of my schooling. Merrimack College has introduced me to quite literally the best people I know, and has transformed me as a person. It is my comfort zone, my familiarity in every regard. Which is why I knew in my heart that it would be best to try this crazy experience out. After all, everyone that I spoke to regarding this matter said that it would be the most incredibly worthwhile experience that I could ever engage myself with.

But shortly after saying a tearful goodbye to my family at Logan Airport mid January, I was slapped with the harsh reality that nobody has ever said that this journey would be easy. Seriously, how many people do you know that have moved themselves across the world for any period of time? I can guarantee you that NONE of them would EVER say that it could be considered easy. And if they somehow have the audacity to claim that, they are lying to you.

I’m very lucky to live the life that I do. I grew up in a happy household, with parents who gave my siblings and I the world, and an extended family that I remain very close to. I go to the perfect school, and consider myself good friends with many, many people. I’ve always had people on my side, cheering me on within everything that I do. I’ve never had to go into anything completely on my own. Even moving into Merrimack, I was fortunate enough to know my roommate from prior events and to have someone to experience all of the “new” with.

But I didn’t have that here. I flew on each flight by myself, filled out the housing form alone, and quite literally did the damn thing by myself. I had no close friends by my side. I just had my two suitcases, my journal, and every bit of life and familiarity that I could cram within those things. And I’m going to be upfront with you all, it was rough.

Because not only do you have to start over somewhere completely new and foreign, you have to fend for yourself. You cook for yourself, are responsible for taking complete care of yourself, budget your own money and your own time, and have to work damn hard to be the best version of yourself with quite literally no form of familiarity. You’re not only here for traveling and immersion, you’re here to live your best life, just as you would at home. And that doesn’t seem hard, but it sure as hell is when school starts back up again and all of your friends are still going on with their lives, just as they would with you there.

Absence really does make the heart grow fonder, and that was another harsh truth that I realized the moment I got here. You don’t realize the true value of your individual relationships for everything that they are until you’re waking up at the crack of dawn to call your cousin on her 5pm commute home from work, or forcing yourself (or some of your friends) to stay up into the late hours of the night to catch up. You realize within these small hours who really has your back and who doesn’t. The people who go out of their way to speak to you every day makes a world of difference and shows you quite literally who has your back more than anybody (you know who you are). I guess I have moving across the Asian pacific to thank for showing me who my truest friends are, but then again, I also have the country itself that I chose to thank me for that.

Nobody ever said that in the midst of my loneliness and heartache upon arriving that I would be introduced and/or become closer to quite literally some of the best and most interesting people I have ever met in my life. Here, in the peak stages of ultimate vulnerability, like souls will gravitate. Some souls will have lived within yards of you at your own college for years, and some will come from all across the world. But you all have your interests and emotions and values to compare and contrast, and that’s where the best of friendships form. You’ll meet people who you care so deeply about and love dearly within a few short months. When settled, you’ll develop a longing in your heart to live perfectly as you are, with these like souls, as happy as can be, forever.

Not a lot of people will probably tell you that you’ll more likely than not fall in love, either. Only this time, it might not with a person. It’ll be with the world, the country that you hand picked to transform, challenge, and grow your entire being. Traveling can be ugly, traveling within these countries even can resonate some harsh truths with your mind. But in the middle of the ugly, traveling is simultaneously the most beautiful thing that anyone can ever do. It fills your heart to the brim with the best kind of love for the most beautiful of places, and shows you everything you need to know about yourself. It matures your heart and your mind, it teaches you more about yourself than any classroom or experience could ever teach you. As you live and thrive on your own, you realize you have everything to thank the country you gave a little bit of your life to. And that, in and of itself, is enough to make anyone fall in love with both the country and yourself.

Would I change anything I have done these past two months, any place I’ve been to, any person I’ve met, and any experience that I will have within these next five weeks for the world? Absolutely not. I will be the first person to advocate for a semester abroad for anybody. But will I tell you that the whole thing is sunshine, rainbows, beaches, and parties? Never. You’re here to do life. And life isn’t pretty, never will be. But it most certainly will always be worth it.

On “Being Prepared” for Grad School

I signed up for Grad-Advantage thinking it would prepare me for the “one year program” I had remaining in my grad school education – and to be fair, it did in some ways prepare me for what I was to set forth to do – what it didn’t prepare me for however, was the fact that I would have absolutely no life if I lived a “successful” post grad life.

Biting of More than I Could Chew

I thought I could do it all – but where I am now, relative to where I was then is an entirely different mindset. You see for me, I have to work to pay for school, and I need to go to school to do what I love (ie. Track, friends, relationships) but what they didn’t tell me is that I couldn’t be an adult – and I couldn’t be successful and also have it all.

I am currently in my second week of grad school – in fact, as I type I am currently in class receiving the same lecture I heard five times [yes five] during my undergrad career – the only difference ? now I am paying my own money to sit and ‘learn’ at half the pace I do while I am out in the field working.

that being said…

The Classroom is no Match for the Real Thing

Any working American can affirm this but the classroom is no match for real work experience. I have learned more in the past three months than I did in an entire curriculum of college or grad school and to be honest – it is a little frustrating.

Now I get it – I am on my third fourteen hour day this week – I am tired, I am crazy, and I really want my bed – but at the same time I have clear expectations and a sense of worth when it comes to my education, and I can’t be the only one that gets frustrated when the thing that is holding me back from moving up in the ranks is also the very thing that forces me to cling to the ledge of my sanity.

So did I bite off more than I can chew? Definitely – But I will adapt as I always have because I know that this education no matter how tedious it currently feels will pay off in the long run.

In the Long Run

In the long run I want it all. I want to work, to play, to fall in love and earn a salary that can help me afford the number of children I want – but in the short term I feel kind of stuck. I feel stuck because I can’t do what I love without going to work or school, but I also don’t have time after working and schooling to put my heart into what I love.

In the future – ie. next week, I hope to change my tune, but right now I just feel stuck, tired and unprepared – and while I have always known that this is where I am meant to be at this stage in my life – I really do wish I could have it all somehow… and I know I am not the only one.

22 for 2022 – 22 Tips to Beat the Heat

what did the fan say when he was asked what kind of music was his favorite…







Welcome to College! Where AC is Nowhere to be Found.

Happy first day of classes to all my friends, readers, and first year students! Today is the day where you start your academic career. Now for those of you who moved in 4 days – 12 days ago – you may have noticed that Central Air is not an amenity included in your tuition package.

At Merrimack College – this means that anyone living on campus has recently discovered that their room is going to be more like a heat lodge than a dorm room… Now while some of you are lucky enough to have been placed in Royal Crest – you will also be doomed to experience the heat wave while attending classes or going to the gym.

But DON’T WORRY I’ve Got Your Back

Inspired by my friend Mairead [ who can’t seem to get a break from this heat ] this post will feature my second 22 tips for the class of 2022 – where we will discus how to beat the heat when you realize your college doesn’t believe in AC.


22 tips to beat the Heat when your College Doesn’t believe in AC

  1. stay away from coffee: while copious amounts of caffeine WILL get you through that first long day of classes it WILL NOT help you beat the heat – it will only dehydrate you, preventing your body from its natural cooling process.

  2. Drink water! the more water you drink the more you sweat [ don’t say ew ]. the more we sweat the more our bodies are able to naturally cool us off. [don’t believe me? ] ever sweat when you’re sick – that’s your body fighting off the bad stuff. So give your body a fighting chance 

  3. GET A BOX FAN: the best way to stay cool is to get the hot air out of that sweat box you call a room – put a box fan in the window and face it out toward the screen. This allows the fan to suck out the hot air and create a better flow in the room. 

  4. GET ANOTHER FAN… or 5? keeping the heat out is all about keeping the air moving. once you set up the box fan that will get the hot air out – get another fan to circulate the air 

  5. Commit to foods that cool you off: Ice cream is great when you’re hot but it isn’t the best for you – try cooling fruits and vegetables – keep some cucumbers, grapes, and carrots within arms reach to limit your salt intake and hydrate yourself from the inside out

  6. Find COOL places: Trees provide shade. Some buildings provide shade. Heat rises so stay out of your bedroom if you live on the top floor of the townhouses or the houses.

  7. Make Friends with people who have AC: Of the full college population x students live in air conditioned apartments – make a friend that can give you a home away from home – beyond being a good friend offer to help that friend study, give them a second look on their paper – make it so you all benefit.

  8. Stay positive – in orientation we had a rule that hot and tired were curse words – now while this sounds crazy it also helps you keep a better mindset. We Know you Are Hot – We Know You Are Miserable – We have all been there – WE HAVE ALL SURVIVED AND YOU WILL TO. AKA SUCK IT UP BUTTER CUP – A LITTLE POSSITIVITY GOES A LONG WAY.

  9. HEAT UP TO COOL DOWN: A cold shower feels ten times better after a workout. Sweat out the bad and take in the cool by taking a cool shower after a workout.

  10. Damp Hand Towels: Have you ever stuck one of these on the back of your neck? If you don’t have a hand towel grab a t-shirt or a tube sock – wet it in the sink with cold water and place it on the back of your neck – you’ll notice an immediate cooling sensation. 

  11. Hit up the newest buildings colleges want to put their best foot forward. Newer buildings have more money put into them and more AC – Go to the MAC (Mack athletic complex), sit by the hokey rink, go to the bottom floor of the library, Crowe Hall – or anywhere there tends to be a big push for campus tours. 

  12. Treat yourself to a dinner off campus: Panera is right down the street from Merrimack, but odds are all campus’ have a chipotle or a local deli in walking distance. If your room doesn’t have AC theirs will. ——- For those really looking to break the heat see if there is a local hardware business in proximity to your school

  13. Hit Up the Hardware Store: amazon carries multiple options for standing fans and standing air condition units. because it is not approved of to put a box unit in your window on a college campus – take a trip to the local hardware store or take advantage of amazon prime student discounts to cool yourself off in two days or less

  14. Check out the Campus Stadium: if a tree is in the open the bleachers wont be – if your campus has a stadium, hiding out beneath the bleachers could be the best way to beat the heat

  15. RESIST THE URGE TO HOOK UP: The last possible way to stay cool is to get your body close to someone else’s. Tell the hormones to take a chill pill and postpone hookups – and if you can’t keep your hands to yourselves – don’t complain about the fact that you just turned up the heat in your room.

  16. Make a Paper fan: you did it in third grade lets bring it back?

  17. Explore local parks? if you google parks in your area – odds are there are a few. With Merrimack College this is the case. GO to Harold Parker, Den Rock Park, or check out the area down the street where Philips Academy is 

  18. Explore local Shops: near campus you will find cvs, casa, whole foods, dunkin, starbs, and a variety of fast food options and if it is too close to walk – take the shuttle 

  19. Go to the art museum the Addison Gallery at Philips Academy is an amazing space to look at art and relax in the central air conditioning. 

  20. Hit up the LOOP: located in Methuen – the Loop is just close enough to get off campus but just far enough that you can distract yourself from the heat. A shuttle ride away – the Loop Is the perfect place to catch a movie, get a bite to eat or do some light shopping 

  21. Drop out? Run Home? ok maybe don’t do these. look when it comes done to it we have all been there – even those of us who live in AC find ourselves wanting to give it up to save on high electric bills. Sweating through college with your friends is one of the best parts of learning to live away from home. It teaches you limits, boundaries, and above all – patience. It isn’t living with your friends – but its even harder to live with them in a 100 degree room. Use this time to see how much heat you can take – after that everything is smooth sailing 

  22. Limit the Layers – BUT STAY MODEST!

end of tips?

hey guys so I know it seems like I pulled some of these out of my ass – I did. Truth is – it is so hard to beat the heat when you are just trying to live in a new place with new people. It isn’t easy to bear with me and it’s no easier to bear with this heat – but I wasn’t lying when I said we all have and continue to go through it.

At the end of the day – taking care of yourself is your most important job, so take this week to listen to your body – take care of yourself and keep the fluids up. You will survive this heat wave I PROMISE – but remember that your friends always have your back and if you can’t stand the heat… just find the AC

Becca’s Declassified School Survival Guide

College, the place I heard about my whole life from my mom. The best 4 years of her life; filled with friends, parties, late night adventures, listening to bands in the courtyard with 200 other students, and of course LOVE!

I couldn’t wait to go to college, I had this perfect vision of what it would be like. I had it all laid out; I would make a huge group of friends, we would all stay up till 3am laughing, drinking, doing our homework together. That on the holidays we would all go to each others houses or have things like a “friends-giving”. And that we would all be like one big family.

I went in confident with high hopes that these next four years would be the ones I would never forget, and for the first semester it was! It was filled with all the things I hoped for, all the late night adventures and being one big family (I had so many new contacts in my phone my storage was getting full). It was great! I went to sleep with a big smile on my face every night because I made it happen, ME! And I only highlight that because in high school I was quiet and did not really care for all the students around me, and I low-key kind of regret. But for college I couldn’t wait to leave, start fresh, and really discover new things about me!

As the years went on, I switched friend groups, people transferred, people changed, I changed…. College started to become this place that I suddenly could not wait to leave and somewhat forget. By the end it looked nothing like the vision I came into school with, but yet I still didn’t mind how it turned out. That just because it wasn’t great like what I had always imagined, it was still great but in its own way.

“I realized that living with so many expectations does more harm than good. Its nice to have ideas and maybe an outline for life and certain things, but lives best moments happen unexpectedly. So just live!”

But if there were a few things I could warn freshmen year me about they would be……

    • SAVE SAVE SAVE!!! College is expensive!!! From text books, to alcohol, and especially food!!! I really wish I worked more before and during college, It would have defiantly been worth the hard work and sucky hours, but beats being a poor college student!
  2. Go out
    • Even if you don’t feel like going out GO OUT! Especially when you go to school in New England and half the year its too cold to go outside in winter coats let alone in skimpy party clothes. I do regret not going out more the first 2 years of school (when it was actually fun to go out at Merrimack!(true OG merrimack people will know what I mean). I was anxious most nights about so many things that I always told myself I’d just go out next weekend but then it would be the same thing the next. So go out, have fun, meet people, just let loose!
    • O.M.G. DO NOT EAT THE LATE NIGHT MUNCHIES!!!!! I repeat do not eat the late night MUNCHIES!!! You will regret them in 3 years!!!!!
  4. Don’t be afraid to truly be yourself because in an environment of over 4,000 people you are bound to find someone just as odd as yourself.
    • I went through my fair share of friends in college, but hey thats the beauty of college right? So many people, there is always a chance to meet someone new. But at a school with only 4,000 students (I know that sounds like a lot but its really not!!!) by the time you are a senior you pretty much know everyone. But within those 4,000 students you are always bound to find other people who like and do the same things you do. So don’t stress so much about trying to make friends. It will happen over time I promise!
  5. GO FAR AWAY!!!!
    • If there is one thing I would do differently in college, this would be it. GO FAR AWAY!!! When it came to picking colleges I was 100% sure I didn’t want to go too far away from home. I don’t know if it was because I had separation anxiety or what; but I ended up going to school 30 minutes away from home.(so tell me why I paid for housing!!! Just kidding, living with roommates is what made me grow the most!!) I should have gone further away and seen the world, maybe Italy or Hawaii, but should not have stayed so close to home, it was definitely a crutch
  6. Don’t live with regrets when it comes to your feelings
    • When I went away to school I imagined I’d find love. Like I said I grew up hearing all about the boyfriends and loves my mom had in college. All the memories of the group ski trips they’d all go one, the memories of her special someone meeting her parents, and wearing their jerseys at football games. I was so ready for me to create my own memories like those, but there was a small problem…….. ALL THE GUYS IN MY GENERATION ARE F*** BOYS (sorry not sorry). But there were a few guys that got away through out the 4 years there.
    • I learned shortly after falling head over heels for a guy, to never live with regrets and if you have feelings for someone tell them before it’s too late (and they transfer). After that, telling guys how I felt became easier. Because nothing was more painful than living with the feeling of “what if.”

I soon grew up from freshmen year me and really started to accept the fact that all things happen for a reason. No matter how shitty they feel, no matter how much you don’t want change to come, change is good. But these 6 tips are ones to live by for myself, college is where I did most of my growing, it was painful sometimes, but so worth it!

So even though college was NOTHING like I expected,it pointed me in the right direction for my future, and taught some of the most meaningful lessons that I will never forget.

22 Tips For the Class of 2022

In honor of Merrimack College welcoming the incoming class of 2022 today I wanted to do a shot piece on “22 Tips for the Class of 2022”

Below are the basic tips to follow to remained informed, intuitive, and hip to the college grind.

Ultimately College is a time to find yourself, but none of us get through it without a little help from our friends – so if you have any tips be sure to send them in via the comments below!

22 Tips for the Class of 2022

1.Be Yourself

I don’t know who you were in high school but this is the time to grow – to be a dork, a nerd, a jock? No. This is a time to be YOU. So strip off the labels and be yourself because that is the only way you will find your tribe.

2. Be Someone Else

Maybe you used to be shy – be the opposite for a day. Change who you think you are, dare to leap out of your comfort zone – whether this means being someone else or just acting like the person you were afraid to be growing up. Think of who you are now and take it one step further.

3. Party – Or Don’t

News Flash – you don’t have to party in college to have fun. You don’t have to drink to make friends. Like being yourself – the party or no party debate is about you and what you are comfortable with. In college I indulged in some reckless behaviors, but I also spent a lot of nights in with friends. Who you become is about who you hang out with – so chose your friends wisely and make sure that if you do party you have your people to back you up.

4. Join a Club

At my school it was impossible not to get involved – if this is the case at yours consider joining a club. This could expand your friend group unexpectedly, or it could get you out of the room [ REMEMBER : YOU ARENT IN BACK TO BACK CLASSES FROM 8-3 ANYMORE (HOPEFULLY) SO USE THAT TIME TO DO SOMETHING]

5. Start a Club

Does the club you want to be a part of not exist …? Interesting … How about talking to someone who can help you jumpstart your club [some clubs come with school funding!]

6. Join a Cult

Umm… Wait maybe don’t do this? 

but you could join a society that goes with your major or even your career goals [ yeah… yeah … do that ]

7. Go to Every Class the First Week (then keep going to class)

NEWS FLASH – someone once calculated how much each class costed – it was around 300$ [IM NOT TALKING ABOUT THE FULL ‘SEMESTER’ CLASS] So every class you skip – maybe think about what someone could have done with that money… [Just saying]

8. Take a Mental Health Day

Not to contradict tip 7, but to contradict tip 7 – take a day to take care of yourself. If this means laying in bed and watching sad movies with a tub of ice cream or going on a run instead of that class that has been making you cry – take the time, regroup. No amount of money or time is worth sacrificing your health.

9. Talk to that One Person who is “way out of your league” [because they aren’t]

See that guy/ girl at the front of the class the one who’s dimples seem “perfect” and who’s shirt always brings out the “glimmer” in their eyes – TALK TO THEM – better yet ASK THEM TO HANG OUT OR GO OUT. The worst a person can do is say no – so why aren’t you taking a chance?

10. Comfort someone who is clearly homesick

From the first week to the last day of senior year someone will get homesick – its a guarantee. So go and ask if they are ok. Talking to someone or even saying hello can make a huge difference.

11. Go on Epic Adventures

“Yo bro do you wanna walk to CVS – Get Coffee? Yo lets go to chipotle!” Remember that adventure is literally everywhere so get hype and find a reason why a small trip could be an awesome way to orient yourself with your campus’ surroundings.

12. Spend a Night in

Movie Night? Popcorn? Enough said

13. Get in Trouble at least once [call it a learning experience]

Get to know your campus resources – you don’t have to do anything stupid to do this but getting in trouble or getting in a fight with a new friend teaches you more than perfect relationships and a perfect record. You won’t learn if you don’t make at least one mistake.

14. Get a Job

I was once asked how much allowance a mother should give to her kid… I told the woman that I got a job instead of asking for money from home. When the mom rubbed this in her students face and told her she should get a job – I turned to the student and said – if you have a job you don’t have to ask permission on what to spend YOUR money on. [the mom wasn’t thrilled but it definitely put an idea of self sustainability into the students mind]

15. Be Best Friends with your Prof (or department head)

Extra time on a paper or a test? Extra help on what the midterm exam will ask for – being friends and having a professional relationship with your professors could make your grade, or it could just help you learn some fun information about what it means to be a member of your major.

On the first day of class make it a habit of introducing yourself. It makes a difference

16. Be someone’s hero for a day

Making a difference in someone’s life is honestly not difficult. Start today by being kind – this practice could make you a hero, a decent human or a great leader one day – so try it out.

17. Consider a point of view you thought you were completely against

Politics – Violence – Civil Rights

Change starts with a conversation. It is hard to be open minded but it’s impossible to grow without the ability to communicate why you believe what you believe. At the end of the day you don’t have to like someone’s views, but finding out how they got those views will help you understand people better.

18. Nickname your friend group [ make it obnoxious but relatable ]

My friends and I called ourselves ROLEX – my brother took this as an opportunity to point out that we named ourselves after something that was “overpriced and useless” but I just thought we were timeless.

19. Make Someone Proud [ Or better – Make Yourself Proud ]

Whoever you’re doing it for – do it well. I can’t help you with this one, it’s all up to you

20. Do something you never thought you could do

kiss someone, fight someone, sky dive, join a club – just do something out of your comfort zone and maybe you’ll surprise yourself

21. Get in trouble again [ another lesson – just for the hell of it ]

Fool me once shame on me – fool me twice shame on you…. you got to risk it to get the brisket my friends so push some limits [WITHIN REASON] but whatever you do, learn something from it.

22. Graduate ?

I mean if you’re gonna WIN at college you got to finish it right? SO DO IT!

The Afterward

After Graduating from the best four years of my life SO FAR I cannot wait to see what the future holds for my brother and friends who are still enjoying and suffering through their college years. Being someone who has been vastly defined by the events that have built the person writing to you today – I can say that the best is yet to come and that these tips are exactly the ways to break out of your shell and make college great.



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stay tuned for more with our next college story “How to WIN at College”