Life After College

Having just recently graduated from my university, I feel that I should give the upcoming graduates some advice and insight as to what life will be like once that diploma is in their hands. Life is pretty great, but there are a few things to watch out for.

I was lucky to have a job in my field upon graduation, but don’t expect to make great money. No matter what field or direction you choose to go, employers don’t (and won’t) pay you a lot at first. That takes years, experience, and hard work. It was a big shock to me when my first “real” full-time job decided to pay me less than I was making at part-time boutiques and nanny positions. Don’t let this make you lose hope. Scoring the job you want is going to take a lot of effort, and you will no doubt hear a lot of no’s before that big YES.

Not every job you apply for will call you back to set up an interview. You will hear a lot of silence. If you’ve applied for many, many jobs and aren’t hearing anything back, consider updating your resume to look more professional, concise and visually pleasing. One great way to make your resume shine is with Monster Jobs’ free evaluation from a resume expert. I uploaded what I thought was a really good resume, and found out that a lot could be done. You will be assigned a real person and they will give you great tips and advice on what to change or fix.

Don’t have your heart set on staying in your hometown with a perfect job. Life isn’t fair, and getting a great job definitely has its ups and downs. In applying for jobs, you will have the choice to stay as close or far away as you want, but don’t expect to land your dream job in your friends and family’s backyard. Often, entry-level workers will have to move away for a few years before moving back to their hometowns for the job they really want.

If you find yourself moving away for a job, it can be tough to make friends in a new city. It takes a lot of courage and extrovertedness to put yourself out there to meet new people. Where do you go to meet new people? It all depends on what kind of friends you want. I know that for me, I’d want something similar to what I had in my hometown. This would mean finding a good church and befriending individuals there. Other relationships can come from your job. Most people that moved for a job will find solace and a degree of kinship with other employees. They can then branch out and meet new people through the employees’ outside friend circles. Creating new relationships will take some time and patience.

The last thing that I want to mention is depression. College was the best four years of my life and I definitely wasn’t prepared when it ended. Entering the “adult” world can be quite a shock. You might feel like you don’t have friends anymore when your younger friends start their new semesters and seem to forget about you. It may seem as though no one understands what you’re going through. It’s important to recognize these strange feelings and always have the truth in the back of your mind. You are NOT alone. It’s normal to feel lonely and lost after graduation. Things are new and totally different. Do you have friends that graduated with you or a couple years before you? Reach out to them for advice. And for the friends that seem to have “left” you in the dust when a new year of college arrived for them? Remember that their graduation dates are fast approaching and soon they will be in the same boat. Try not to get too upset with them and let them enjoy their last year or two from reality.

It takes time to get into the swing of being a true and working adult. You will have some ups and downs, but eventually things will become easier. Besides, there are many pluses to life after college (like being able to afford something other than ramen to eat). Tests and studying? Forget about it! Spend that time watching Netflix and relaxing. You’ll no longer have to schedule your weekends around school. You’re free to do what you like! Enjoy this new time in your life and try to look at it with a positive attitude. You’re blessed with a degree and an amazing education. Use it to your advantage and nothing can go wrong.

Lonely for Christmas: Two Views on Spending the Holidays Alone

Whether you’ve been single for years, or are just beginning the process of dealing with a breakup, the holidays can be a hard time for anyone flying solo. I’m here to offer you a couple of different viewpoints regarding what exactly can get you down and how to overcome it.

Question 1: What’s the worst part about not having a significant other during the holidays?

Scarlett: Bringing someone with me to my family gatherings is kind of like having a security blanket. I always have someone to sit with, talk to and come back to during the dinner or event. Normally I wouldn’t mind not having anyone to tag along to my family gatherings, but this year is going to be strange. I’ve just graduated college, so I’m at the age which involves a lot of my cousins and younger family members either having significant others, or being married. It’s weird showing up to things by myself. It makes me feel a little “out of the loop”.

Patrick: The worst part for me, I would say, is not being able to share the holiday traditions and those little memorable moments with someone. Having someone to take to Christmas dinner with the family has always had a strange appeal to me. Not to mention being solo on foggy evening walks in a snow covered park is a definite downer.  And you can’t forget always having to explain to Uncle Dave why you’re single.

Question 2: How many holiday seasons have you flown solo? How do you think this has shaped you as a person?

Scarlett: I am rarely without a significant other during the holidays. I don’t necessarily plan it that way, it just ends up happening. In saying that, I honestly think its hurt me as a person. Thinking that I have to have someone with me at a party or family gathering is a little ridiculous. I should be at ease around my family and friends, not clinging to my significant other. I think if I hadn’t had someone during the holidays, I might be a more outgoing person at these types of events.

Patrick: I’ve flown solo for what is about to be 24 holiday seasons. I think as far as shaping me, it has given me plenty of years in experience knowing what it’s like to show up alone to parties, events, dinners, etc. If anybody knows the struggle of a single Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it’s me.

Question 3: Do you have any advice for anyone that might be struggling during the holidays? How do you plan to have a great Christmas/New Year/Other Holiday?

Scarlett: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Don’t think for one second that you’re the only one out there that’s going through this “problem”. Embrace your singleness and take it as a chance to catch up with family members and friends that you haven’t seen in a while. You never know, maybe you’ll learn something useful that you never would’ve if you had a crutch tagging along. I plan to have an amazing holiday season by not letting the “alone” feeling get me down. TV commercials, advertisements, social media and other outlets will bombard us all with images of cute couples and happy families. It’s hard to cope with the thought that you won’t get that this year. I plan to keep in mind that I’m only in my early twenties and still have time for that in my life. If not this year, then sometime in the future. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Make the most of what you have (family, great friends, warm place to sleep at night, etc.) because some don’t even have that to be thankful for.

Patrick: Enjoy the time you get to spend with your friends. This may sound cheesy, but the older you get, the more you and your friends grow apart. Embrace and appreciate your friends during the season. It may suck seeing Frank and Stephanie cuddled up at the annual New Year’s Eve party, but you got it. You can do it. You have to realize that this is a time in your life where you are meant to be single. Take advantage of it. Go all out and enjoy the life you were blessed with. And as you can expect, hanging with my best friends is exactly how I plan to have a great Christmas/New Year’s Eve. There is always mistletoe and midnight to look forward to!

My Birmingham Weekend

Everyone can get a little tired of spending his or her weekends the same way. It’s good to shake things up a bit sometimes. So, this past weekend I took a trip down to Birmingham, Alabama to visit some of my friends from college. Friday after work I loaded the dogs up and headed out. Some of my plans were to watch an episode of the new Netflix series, Jessica Jones (more on that later) and take the dogs to a dog park since we don’t have any in my area.

I chose a dog park in Hoover, Loch Haven Dog Park, and it was the perfect place for Jazzy to roam. I was glad to see that the park was divided into two sections for small and large dogs. I ended up holding Gadget the whole time, and he was just as happy to watch from my shoulder. Everyone was so nice and all of the dogs were friendly and fun to watch. I ended up having a great conversation about my little pups with another family. It was a great time for all.

Sunday after church, I got to try one of the best brunch spots in all of Birmingham, FIVE. It had a definite “hipster” vibe and everyone there seemed super cool and interesting. The menu was short, but packed a lot of variety and attitude. I got my usual chicken and waffles, while Po got a breakfast burrito with hash-browns. My dish was definitely in the top 5 breakfasts I’ve ever had. The chicken was bone-in and had an amazing battery outside. The waffles were the perfect texture and they had added pecans on top. I tried a bite of Po’s and it was phenomenal. I plan to order his dish the next time I eat there.

Tip: If you plan to eat here, arrive between 11 & 11:15. Any time after that results in a long wait.

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And now, Jessica Jones. Po and I planned to watch an episode of the new Netflix show Friday night. What we didn’t plan was to binge-watch the entire season in three days. Here’s my overall opinion of the new series: Stop what you’re doing right NOW and watch this! Everything about Jessica Jones is amazing. Even with her powers, her character is gritty and real. The main villain, Kilgrave, is genuinely terrifying and evil, yet a part of you wants to (and can) sympathize with him. Netflix has always been able to make you love and hate the bad guys, and this show is no different. From the very first five minutes, you’ll definitely be hooked. Have you seen the show yet? What are your thoughts about it?

 

Disney for the Holidays

Disney World has always been a special place for my family. I’ve been countless times since I was a kid, and hope to go many more in the future. For the past few years, my family and I have spent our vacations in the parks during the holiday season. We usually go around mid-December and get back just in time for Christmas. This year, we tried things a little differently by going in early November before Thanksgiving. I have one word to sum up my trip: perfection. Here’s why:

Weather: The weather in Florida around early November is perfect to me. In Alabama, it’s just becoming cold, rainy and altogether annoying. Who wouldn’t want an amazing break of 70-80 degree weather and sunshine? I wore shorts, tank tops and t shirts the entire time. I even got to wear my Chacos again!

Atmosphere: Everyone loves Christmas decorations and parties, and Disney doesn’t skimp on that just because it’s November. They go all-out with x-mas cheer, parades, souvenirs and even the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! It’s a great time to go and get in the Christmas spirit without  the hoards of people.

Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival: The Food and Wine Festival at Epcot is usually mid-September — mid-November. Going in November gives you all of the perks without the horrible heat and sweating. I had never been during the festival before, and I have to admit, I loved the atmosphere. There were multiple “booths” set up throughout the World Showcase of countries that aren’t normally represented at Epcot. They give you a taste of that country with different foods and drinks. I think it’s a great way to try new foods that are sure to be authentic or close-to.

And to re-cap my trip, here are some photos of the magic. Enjoy!

Fall Skirts: A Southern Staple

Fall in the South is always a difficult time for outfit-planning. I scroll through my Pinterest pages filled with adorable outfits that I know I will be sweating from within minutes of stepping out my door. Us southern gals need to stick together in this weird November heat! I’m here to share some temp-friendly outfits that don’t skimp on the fall cute-factor. One such item that I always have in my closet is the fall skirt. They’re easy to pair with thinner layers for warmer days, and can withstand the frigid temps when a cold-front moves in.

One skirt I can’t get enough of this season is the button-front skirt.

They’re the ultimate throwback to the 70s. The camel suede skirt (from Topshop) on the left is super soft and comfortable. I can wear it with a sweater and tights on a colder day, or thin top and flats when that southern sun is beating down. On the right is the skirt I’ve been obsessing about for weeks. It’s from H&M and can be yours for $30 (literally, such a steal)! Though my skirt hasn’t arrived in the mail yet, I’m already planning so many things to pair it with. Just from preference, I probably wouldn’t pair these with tights, but a plaid button-up and cute scarf might be just the ticket! Look at how J from J’s Everyday Fashion blog wore it below. Too cute!

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Another skirt I found that’s a little more dressy is the wrap-skirt. I love how the extra layer of fabric gives this piece new life. The detailed wrap-skirt below can be worn with either navy or black, depending on what you have to pair it with in your closet. It’s another H&M find, and I plan to wear it for years to come. It’s also perfect for the office! The length is just right, and I wore mine with black opaque tights for some added warmth.hmprod (1)

 

And last, but not least, I’m completely in love with leather skirts. They’re sassy, but can be worn modestly, too, if you’re headed to the office. I own the skirt pictured below (H&M) and plan to wear it to work and on a night out with friends. It’s the right length on me, and I went a size up so it wouldn’t fit me so tightly. On warmer days, all you need is a cute top and some crazy flats. When the weather suddenly turns cold? You can go all-out and wear black tights, black boots and even a leather jacket for an edgier look. I plan to rock this skirt with flannel and converse in the near future.

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What’s Creepin’ in Your House…and Other Animals of Costa Rica By: Scarlett Robinson

Image          It’s been said that Costa Rica is one of the greenest countries on the planet and after my visit there for a month, I would have to agree. And what always comes with a green environment? Wildlife! Animals and nature are a part of life here. Don’t be surprised if you hear odd clicking sounds in your house or hotel room at night. It’s probably just the geckos in search of some bugs to eat. ImageThe people of Costa Rica, or Ticans, live in harmony with wildlife, which is something we are definitely not used to in the United States. They also make money from the environment. Manuel Antonio is a national park located inside the province of Puntarenas where you can take a short hike to swim at a beautiful private beach. But where parks in the US are free, this one is definitely not. Our guide didn’t mention a specific price, but it was implied that it wasn’t cheap. The trip was completely worth the money, though. Upon taking a few short steps into the gates of the park, we saw a beautiful three-toed sloth that was in full view.Image We also saw white-faced Capuchin monkeys and heard, as well as saw, howler monkeys.Image It’s such a blessing to see these animals in their own habitat. While on the beach, our guide Eric was lucky enough to spot a “Jesus Christ Lizard” and shortly after, three male raccoons came quite close to us in search of someone’s snacks to steal. If you are animal-obsessed, like me, then you will be in complete heaven here.

            As mentioned above, you don’t have to venture far to get up close and personal with nature. Almost every house has a pet. The huge majority of people have dogs, but I did see a few cats on my 30 minute walks to and from school during the week. I was blessed to live in a complex with three dogs and a small puppy. Gorda, a Chihuahua mix, lived in my house and was one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met.Image It was fun to sneakily feed her some of my scraps and watch my Familia Tica play and interact with her. I was also lucky enough to pass a field of cows most days on my walk to CPI. They’re much different from the Black Angus cows back at home and let you get super-close to them.

Butterflies, frogs, hummingbirds, and other types of birds can be seen anywhere at any time. I thoroughly enjoyed walking around the beach, my home city of San Joaquin de Flores or our hike down to La Fortuna because of the always-present creatures just within arm’s reach. This place is paradise to many people for different reasons but my reason would have to be the fascinating creatures living in harmony with all of the beautiful people here. Pura Vida!Image

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