I’d Take This Over a “Night Out” Any Day

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It started out innocently enough. About three weeks ago, just before I was about to embark on my week of spring break craziness, my little invited me over for a nice dinner at her parents’ house. She informed me that a couple her parents were friends with, and whom I’d met before at a previous dinner, would be there. It seemed like a nice, relaxing evening — the perfect “calm before the storm” that would be my week in San Diego.

Boy, was I wrong.

On the evening in question, I joined my little, her parents, and family friends for a truly lovely dinner over a few glasses of red wine and champagne. Who could complain, honestly? And as pre-dinner cocktail hour, game hour, dinner hour, and post-dinner cocktail hour came and went, the family friends realized it was time to head home. The rest of us, however, were just warming up — my little’s parents included. So we did what any normal, fun-loving people would do: we invited more guests over.

Unfortunately for my little’s parents, that particular evening was a Sunday, meaning most of the working adult world had to get up and go to work the next morning. In other words, none of them were down for a little late-night Sunday Funday. Luckily, my little and I knew of a ragtag bunch of college students who were.

See, at this point in the semester , several of our friends had already departed for their own spring break excursions, and those of left in our college town formed a makeshift crew of misfits, dubbed the “Reno Spring Break Crew.” Side note: I was swiftly kicked out of this group text the moment I boarded my plane for San Diego.

Fast forward to the crew arriving. We showered them with the leftovers of the evening’s preceding events — remnants of food, wine, and dessert to catch them up to speed. Those of us who had been there the entire time (Ahem, yours truly) continued at the pace we had been all evening. Needless to say, things got out of hand pretty quickly.

Before we knew it, someone spilled red wine over a white table cloth, and my little’s dad got it in his head that he could complete that trick where one pulls a tablecloth off a table in one swift motion, as to leave the table setting completely intact. The first try wasn’t all that successful, nor was the second, or fourth, or tenth. By about his thirtieth attempt, however, my little’s dad was getting the hang out the maneuver, and by about his eightieth time, he had all but mastered it.

This continued for hours, and none of us grew tired of it. (Okay, maybe my little’s mom was slightly wary at first, but even she joined in the fun.)

By the end of the evening, we were sitting around the bar in their home, sampling shots of expensive foreign liquors, pretending to be interested in the “bouquet of flavors,” or whatever. The evening was perfect.

Fast forward to yesterday, Easter Sunday — exactly three weeks after the previously recounted evening. The same group of friends (plus those of us who had since returned from spring break), gathered at our friend, Taylor’s house for a day of brews, brunch, and bunnies.

After our Easter services ended, we all slowly began to trickle into Taylor’s — bringing with us an assortment of brunch foods, desserts, and drinks. We spent all day laughing, playing games, and enjoying the splendor of togetherness. As the day went on, as they all do, the crowd whittled away. By about 5 p.m., what was left was a core group of eight best friends (many of the same ones from the first evening), who spent the next seven hours bonding together.

Until about midnight, the eight of us sat around Taylor’s outdoor fireplace, reliving cherished shared memories, making plans for the summer, laughing together, and talking about the future. We shared blankets in the cold, downed a few beers, ate far too much food, acted silly at times, and grew closer than ever.

Those are the kinds of evening you can never replace, and you will never forget. Those are the types of evenings you can’t get from going to a bar or a nightclub. Not that I have anything against bars or nightclubs, but they can never produce the types of memories, love, and friendships that our friends made yesterday.

As my time in college winds down, I’ve realized that it’s not the college bars or the massive parties that I’ll miss. What I’ll truly miss are the irreplaceable nights with the people I’ve grown so close to. They say you can’t choose your family, but I know the friends that I’ve made in college are just that — my family. The core eight of us rely on each other on a daily basis, and operate as one. We believe in each other, support each other, and spend as much time as possible together, even if it means doing nothing for hours.

For anyone who thinks that people see college as the best years of their lives because of downtown nightlife, I urge you to reconsider your friends. Are they people you only drink with, or can you actually talk to them about real problems? Do you only see them on Friday and Saturday nights, or do you study together during the week? If, by the time you graduate, you don’t find yourself surrounded by a group of incredible, loving, fun people, then you haven’t taken advantage of what college has to offer.

To me, a home is only a home because of the people there. That’s why it was so hard for me to leave my parents’ home, because everyone I loved was there. Now, as I get ready to leave my college town — my other home — I find it difficult because it means leaving my other family behind. I’d give anything for another day like yesterday.

What does home mean to you? Tell me on Twitter and I might retweet you!

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The Torture of Waiting for Spring Break

 So unless you’ve been living under a rock or something, you know that NEXT WEEK IS SPRING BREAK. Which, of course, means that this week is one of the worst of the entire semester. I know that you’re probably just as done as I am right now (which would make you 500% done, by the way) so let’s skip the nonsense and jump right into why this week is the literal worst:

1. Midterms

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Exams, papers, projects, presentations, and generally hating life. There is so much to do, so little time, and literally none of me that wants to actually do anything. Midterms may even be more stressful than finals because I still actually kind of care at this point in the semester. Kind of.

2. Daylight Savings Time

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Why does this have to happen right before spring break EVERY YEAR? Beside the fact that we’re all exhausted, over-worked college students who don’t get enough sleep as it is, now, during the worst week of the year, you’re going to take away a whole hour of precious sleep from us? No, it’s fine. Why don’t you just announce a worldwide shortage on coffee while you’re at it.

3. What is sleep

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Okay, so this one is kind of a combination of numbers 1 and 2, but SERIOUSLY WHO HAS TIME FOR SLEEP THIS WEEK? *Sobs uncontrollably*

4. Thinking of all the other fun things you could be doing right now

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My spring break group text will not stop blowing up, my weather app says it’s 80 degrees and sunny in San Diego, and all I can think about is how in seven days, I will be lying in my new bikini on Mission Beach with a margarita in my hand and not a care in the world. Not to mention, the three-hour season finale of The Bachelor is on tonight (#TeamBecca), there is an entire new season of House of Cards I have yet to allow myself to watch, and with the nice weather the West Coast has been having, it’s PRACTICALLY DAY DRINKING SEASON ALREADY. Sigh. These will have to wait.

5. Dieting

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Dear Girl Scouts, why must you insist on selling cookies right before spring break every year? I currently have twelve boxes of Thin Mints sitting in my freezer, begging to be eaten, but I can’t even touch them until March 22nd, when I can drown my sorrows of returning to the real world by eating an entire sleeve in one sitting. Not mention, it’s Lent, meaning I can’t have chips or candy. PLUS, hello, I’ll be in bikinis all next week, so there goes any chance of me eating carbs anytime soon. I guess I’ll just cry and eat some carrots.

6. So close, yet so far away

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Everyone knows that spring semester is inevitably not as great as fall semester. There’s no football, and therefore no homecoming, and the general thrill of returning to your beloved college campus has worn off. This year has dragged on since August and we are all completely worn out. What we need is just one week to let loose and blow off some steam, but that week will come just about one week too late. In the words of Miley Cyrus, “I can almost see it, that dream I’m dreaming…” And that dream is spring break, and this week of pure torture is the only thing standing in my way. SPRING BREAK PLEASE COME SOONER.

Want to share in my glorious misery? Tell me on Twitter what your spring break plans are and I might retweet you!

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Your Guide to the 2015 Academy Awards

February 1st was perhaps one of the saddest days of the year this year, as it marked the official end of the football season. Baseball won’t start for a few more weeks, and honestly, who cares about basketball? With that being said, there is one good thing about this time of year, and that is award season!

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My favorite of the awards shows is the pinnacle — the Academy Awards — or as some of you miscreants prefer to call it, the Oscars. With eight incredible and diverse nominations for Best Picture, and five über-talented stars for both actor and actress, the 2015 Academy Awards are shaping up to be an exciting event. Let’s break down the nominations:

Best Picture

American Sniper — An intense drama about an American Hero with a beautiful family. And, um, hello Bradley Cooper! You can’t go wrong.

Birdman — A washed-up actor struggling with regret and ego problems? How original.

Boyhood — All you need to know about this film is that President Barack Obama named it his favorite film of last year. Do with that information what you will.

The Grand Budapest Hotel — If you saw The Royal Tenenbaums, then you saw this film. Next.

The Imitation Game — Fascinating. Enthralling. Brilliant. I only understood about half of it. Give it an Oscar.

Selma — I had such high hopes for this film, but unfortunately, I believe the filmmakers relied too much on Oprah’s celebrity to boost the film. Not enough artistic value to win an Academy Award in my opinion.

The Theory of Everything — A bit long, but beautifully done. This movie shows the untold romantic version of Stephen Hawking’s life. I would not be sad if this film won.

Whiplash — I’m sorry, which movie?

Best Actor

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher — It’s always a bit off-putting to see comedians switch into serious roles, but Steve Carell does an amazing job in Foxcatcher. A+ for sure.

Bradley Cooper, American Sniper — Very, very good. Better acting than I could ever do. But, dare I ask, Oscar worthy?

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game — Again, another great film, but I’m not sure Benedict Cumberbatch’s acting quite lived up to the brilliant writing and directing of The Imitation Game.

Michael Keaton, Birdman — I mean, yeah. I can see it.

Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything — HE PLAYED STEPHEN HAWKING SLOWLY DEVELOPING MOTOR NEURONE DISEASE AND IT WASN’T OFFENSIVE. IT WAS INCREDIBLE AND TEAR-PROVOKING. YES. A THOUSAND TIMES YES.

Best Actress

Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night — Snore.

Felecity Jones, The Theory of Everything — Yeah, it’s impressive the film was nominated for so many Academy Awards, but her performance was nowhere near as phenomenal as her costar’s.

Julianne Moore, Still Alice — I am not going to lie, I did not see this one. I won’t even try to fake a review.

Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl — Seriously? This film was way too Hollywood blockbuster to be worthy of any Oscars in my opinion. And her performance was just so…bleh. I think the Academy just threw it in there so both Best Actor and Best Actress would have five nominations.

Reese Witherspoon, Wild — She essentially carries the movie. The movie is just her, and it’s still riveting. This is a no-brainer.

Best Supporting Actor

Robert Duvall, The Judge — Eh.

Ethan Hawke, Boyhood — No.

Edward Norton, Birdman — Yes.

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher — Double yes.

J.K. Simmons, Whiplash — We. Are. Farmers. Ba ba dum da da da dum.

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood — Eh.

Laura Dern, Wild — No.

Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game — Eh.

Emma Stone, Birdman — Yes.

Meryl Streep, Into the Wild — What’s new?

Best Animated Feature Film

Frozen did not come out last year, so who cares?

Best Cinematography

Please, not The Grand Budapest Hotel. We get your weird style of filmmaking, Wes Anderson. We get it. Go home.

My vote: Birdman.

Best Costume Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel or Into the Wild. I would say Maleficent, but I don’t want anything associated with Angelina Jolie to win. #TeamAnistonForever

Best Director

Anything but The Grand Budapest Hotel. Okay, I really didn’t hate the movie, the style of it just drove me nuts. Like…why did I never feel settled into its plot or characters? Ugh.

…Beyond this point, who really cares? The only other part of the Academy Awards worth watching isn’t even officially part of the show — it’s the red carpet! Personally, I can’t wait to see what everyone wears.

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If you’re not into the cultural aspect of the Academy Awards like I am, you can still enjoy by playing a fun drinking game, like this one from BuzzFeed. The Academy Awards start this Sunday, February 22 at 7 p.m. EST. Lights, camera, action, cheers!

Who do you think will win in each of these categories? What are your Oscar party plans? Tell me on Twitter and I might retweet you!

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101 Ways to Enjoy Christmas Break

1. Listen to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You,” even if you have to play it on the jukebox at your local watering hole. Definitely not a true story…

2. Make a gingerbread house.

3. Read The Polar Express.

4. Go shopping for Christmas presents. Buy a little something for yourself.

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5. Bake some snicker doodles.

6. Watch my all-time favorite Christmas movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

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7. Wear one of those stupid ties with the Santa Clauses on it.

8. Find the perfect Christmas tree.

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9. Decorate said Christmas tree.

10. Send hand-written Christmas cards.

11. Wear an overwhelming amount of tartan.

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12. Make some peppermint bark.

13. Go see The Nutcracker Ballet live.

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15. Drink some warm apple cider. Fireball optional.

15. Sit on Santa’s lap.

16. Have a snowball fight.

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17. Turn off your television and have a real conversation with someone.

18. Bake a cranberry swirl cheesecake.

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19. Write and send your Christmas wish list.

20. Decorate you home with Christmas lights.

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21. Bake shortbread.

22. Make snow angels.

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23. Hang a wreath on your front door.

24. Watch Frozen. Bonus points if it’s the sing-along version.

25. Attend an ugly sweater party. Because that theme isn’t overdone or anything.

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26. Make Christmas tree ornaments.

27. Listen to Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song.”

28. Roast chestnuts on an open fire.

29. Give away unwanted coats, socks, etc. to the less fortunate.

30. Catch snowflakes on your tongue.

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31. Drink egg nog. Whether or not you spike it with bourbon, make sure you don’t buy any of that low-calorie nonsense.

32. Watch Love Actually. Tissues recommended.

33. Take a stroll down Main Street all decked out in holiday décor.

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34. Bake a fruitcake. Realize how disgusting it is. Throw it away. Wonder why that is a Christmas tradition in the first place.

35. Reminisce on Christmases of the past.

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36. Wrap Christmas presents for your loved ones.

37. Cozy up by a fire.

38. Eat a whole box of candy canes.

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39. Go see a nativity play.

40. Listen to Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka” and dream about a holiday on the islands.

41. If you live in New York City, take in all the wonder of Christmas in NYC. If you don’t, just dream about it.

42. If you can, go see the Rockettes live in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Otherwise, watch it online.

43. Watch Home Alone.

44. Watch Home Alone 2. We all know the second one was better, anyway. I mean, how jealous of Kevin McCallister were you during this scene…

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45. Bake some gingerbread men.

46. Give presents to your neighbors, your mailman, your paper boy, the security guard in your office building, and so on. Tis’ the season.

47. Go sledding.

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48. Go to your hometown’s Christmas parade.

49. Bake an apple pie.

50. Wish “Merry Christmas” to everyone.

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51. Play card games and board games with your family, like this Christmas trivia game.

52. Watch A Christmas Story.

53. Catch up with old friends over a drink.

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54. Decorate your home with fresh garland, Christmas decorations, and scented candles.

55. Watch the cartoon version of Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas on ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas.

56. Drink some hot cocoa.

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57. Attend a white elephant gift exchange party. If you don’t know of any, host one for your friends!

58. Watch Elf.

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59. Drink some Bailey’s Irish Cream.

60. Hang some mistletoe. You never know what could happen…

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61. Dress up your pets in silly holiday attire. Laugh. Snapchat it. Laugh some more.

62. Find a container of these cookies. Eat three before realizing they’re kind of gross. Wonder where they came from. Repeat.

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63. Watch Jingle All the Way. Wonder how Arnold Schwarzenegger ever became a governor.

64. Bake these yummy oatmeal butterscotch cookies from my friend’s blog, Fit Foodie Life.

65. Go ice skating.

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66. Keep an advent calendar countdown unit Christmas.

67. Donate to Toys for Tots or adopt an angel through the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas tree program.

68. Listen to Bobby Helm’s “Jingle Bell Rock.” Do the dance from Mean Girls. Or don’t. Whatever flies your sleigh.

69. Watch the cartoon movie Frosty the Snowman.

70. Build your own snowman.

71. Take embarrassing holiday photos with your family.

72. Pop lots of corn to make popcorn balls and popcorn garland. Try not to snack on the popcorn along the way. Fail miserably.

73. Watch The Santa Clause.

74. Drink a holiday-inspired Starbucks drink from one of their infamous red cups.

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75. Warm up some mulling spices to give your home a cheerful aroma.

76. Find out where Santa Claus is right now!

77. Bake a pecan pie.

78. Watch the black-and-white version of Miracle on 34th Street.

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79. Wear an ugly Christmas sweater. Have no shame in doing so.

80. Hang your stockings by the fireplace.

81. Go Christmas caroling.

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82. Make fudge from scratch.

83. Eat peppermint ice cream. Realize how terrible it is. Switch back to candy canes.

84. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen.

85. Stock up on holiday-inspired beers.

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86. Watch Die Hard, if that’s your thing. I’ve never seen it, but apparently it has some Christmas-y elements?

87. Go skiing or snowboarding.

88. Listen to Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”

89. Bake and decorate sugar cookies.

90. Pretend you’re a kid again and leave milk and cookies out for Santa Claus. Believe.

91. Read The Night Before Christmas.

92. Attend a Christmas Eve service.

93. Watch Disney’s Christmas Day Parade on tv.

94. Spend quality time with your family. After all, Christmas is all about togetherness.

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95. Watch It’s a Wonderful Life.

96. Drink some mulled wine.

97. Savor a lovely Christmas dinner with your family.

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98. Score some amazing deals by shopping the day after Christmas.

99. Start planning out your new year’s resolutions.

100. Ring in the new year with good friends, a sparkly dress, a midnight kiss, and lots of champagne.

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101. Relax and enjoy having no homework!

What are your favorite ways to spend Christmas break? Show or tell me on Twitter and I might retweet you!

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A Look Back at This Semester

It seems like just yesterday that I returned home from Washington, D.C., moved into my first apartment, and embarked upon my last Fall semester as an undergraduate. Sometimes, we all get so caught up in school, work, clubs, our social lives, our families, our relationships, and our daily to-do lists that, before we know it, an entire 16-week semester has passed us by.

If you read this post, you know that I love taking time to reflect. So, in the spirit of personal reflection, let’s recap this semester, shall we?

There were new beginnings…

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My bedroom in my new downtown apartment

And chapters closed…

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I turned 22…

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Oh, Zephyr Cove

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And caught up on much needed beauty sleep…

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There were surprises…

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Celebrations…

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And remembrances…

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In memory of the lives lost during the 9-11-2001 attacks

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There were big moments…

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Serving as the Chapter President for the College Republicans

With Reno's Mayor at the time, Bob Cashell

With Reno’s former mayor, Bob Cashell

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At the Nevada Governor’s Mansion before walking in the Nevada Day Parade

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With Nevada’s 2nd District Representative, Congressman Mark Amodei

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Presenting my “idea worth spreading” to the University of Nevada

Little moments…

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And sassy moments…

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There were group projects…

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Early morning classes…

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Long days at work…

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Long days in the library…

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And lots and lots of Starbucks…

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via Twitter

I spent far too much time with this guy…

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And not enough time with these guys…

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There were quiet indulgences…

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Christening my new apartment with a margarita

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And rambunctious ones…

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There were Sunday mornings in church…

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And Sundays watching football…

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There were campus events…

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Football games…

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Weddings…

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Festivals…

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Reno’s annual Italian Festival

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And birthdays…

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I added to my stuffed giraffe collection…

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And had a few good laughs…

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There were new places…

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Familiar faces…

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New friendships were formed…

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And apparently I took a selfie to commemorate it all!

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Looking back, I’m reminded of all the wonderful memories I made this semester. When all is said and done, I think this semester was a successful one, and maybe even one of my favorites. Clearly, I had a lot of happy moments, and I learned from my moments of doubt. I reminisced on the time I spent in D.C., and I made a little home in my new apartment. I must say, however, that my favorite part of this semester was being surrounded by such incredible people.

Now, I have one final semester of college to look forward to! Ahhhh, that feels so weird to say!

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What was your favorite part of this semester? Show or tell me on Twitter and I might retweet you!

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I’m Thankful For…

Last year, I decided that Thanksgiving is actually one of my favorite holidays. Compared to Christmas or Valentine’s Day, which each come with unrealistic expectations perpetuated by Hollywood blockbusters, Thanksgiving has relatively low expectations. Still, everyone in the nation is given anywhere from four to ten days off of work or school to relax over this All-American holiday weekend.

For college students, the day before Thanksgiving, commonly referred to as “Blackout Wednesday,” is all about reconnecting with high school friends at hometown bars we used to only dream about getting into.

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And let’s not forgot that the day after Thanksgiving is the official start of the Christmas season.

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But today, Thanksgiving day, is all about a few things: food, football, and family. Oh yeah, and giving thanks.

Being it my last year in college, I am thankful for the wonderful time I have spent at my amazing university, which I have come to love so dearly. I am thankful for this brief moment in time that I will one day view in hindsight as my college years. I am thankful for the here and now. I am thankful for the opportunity to actually be in college, furthering my education in pursuit of a career. I am thankful for all the doors that college has opened for me. I am thankful for everything I’ve gotten to do in college, and for getting to experience it all one last time.

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I am thankful for the friends I’ve made, the incredibly wise professors who have supported me, and for all the things I’ve learned from each of them. I’m thankful for those things I’ve learned outside of the classroom, which have helped me mature into the woman I am today. I’m thankful for each of the little ups, downs, twists, and turns that college has thrown at me because they taught me that I was strong enough to survive them.

Mostly, I am thankful for my parents, and all that they have given me. I am thankful for them providing me the means necessary to receive a higher education. I am thankful that they have always believed in my dreams, and that their dream is for me to be happy. I am thankful for the times they pushed me to keep going when I didn’t believe I could. I am thankful that they’ve always known I could. I am thankful for them answering my late-night phone calls, for helping me through my mental breakdowns, for proofreading my essays, and for helping move me in and out of my dorm room, sorority house, and very first apartment. I am thankful for the occasional Sunday morning money transfer. I am thankful that I can tell my parents anything, that I’ve always known that I am loved, and that my parents are proud of me, no matter what.

I am thankful that, for now, home is only a four-hour drive away, and that my agenda for the rest of the day consists only of cheering on the Niners and helping Momma Collins in the kitchen. Do you think she’ll like this turkey recipe I found?

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What are you thankful for this year? Tell me on Twitter and I might retweet you!

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Partner Post: You Don’t Have to Drink in College

This weekend, I abstained from drinking to test what a sober weekend in college is like. I was also lucky to be graced with the presence of my wonderful parents, Randy and Janet, this weekend. You would think their presence would make my sobriety vow easier, but then again, you don’t know my parents. #FamiliesThatDrinkTogetherStayTogether

Watch as I share what it was like staying sober for one weekend in college, the pleasant surprises, and what I learned:

It was certainly refreshing to discover that I do not need to rely on alcohol to have a good time with my friends and family. At the same, I believe there is a time and a place for everything, and when it comes to learning about the positives and negatives of alcohol, college is the perfect time and place. In college, you’re old enough to drink legally, yet your responsibilities outside of class are scare. You have a community of people who are going through the same things, so you can easily recover from your mistakes. Once you graduate, these factors change. Often times, those who don’t learn their limits in college will still have a wild phase, but likely at the inconvenient age of 30 or 50.

While I now highly recommend everyone discover the internal bliss that comes with abstaining from alcohol, I also encourage you to let loose every once in a while. Just check in from time to time and ask yourself, “Am I drinking out of desire, or out of habit?” Now go ahead and crack open that box of wine in your kitchen. It’s about to be a long week; you deserve it.

Special thanks to @KehoeFromReno for help with my blog tonight! Update: Brian’s blog, The Sober Semester, is now located on Tumblr.

What would you do during a sober weekend? Tweet Brian or me about it and we might retweet you!

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