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Why I Love the DUO Binder (And Why You Will Too)

The Duo Binder
When I heard about a new student-designed binder, I couldn't wait to find out more information. As a student, staying organized is always at the top of my mind. It is my great honor to introduce my fellow students to the coolest organization system out there: The Duo Binder! The Duo Binder is perfect for organizing notes, syllabi, and other worksheets for all of your classes. Each binder has three rings to hold loose-leaf paper for your notes and an expandable folder system that can hold various other papers. They don’t call it “Duo” for nothing, folks! It's the perfect way to stay organized because everything fits comfortably in one binder. No more forgetting important papers in your dorm! Keep reading... Full posts →
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College Tip: Rent an HDTV with campusTVs

It happens every year: that awkward conversation between you and your roommate(s) about who is going to get a TV for your dorm or apartment. You consider splitting the price of a TV, but then realize…what are you going to do with it at the end of the year? You consider skipping the TV altogether, only to discover that Homeland, The Walking Dead, and American Horror Story are all coming back for their new seasons this fall. To avoid all this hassle and confusion, campusTVs has come up with a solution.

With campusTVs, you an07.28.14 Campus TVs Final Creatived your roommates have the option to rent an HDTV for the year! This way, you can split the cost without worrying about what will happen come the end of the semester. You know how we feel about rental textbooks, and we have a good feeling about rental televisions too! On top of the obvious convenience factor, they also offer free delivery, setup, and pick-up so you don’t have to worry about transportation logistics – especially nice if you live far from school.

And for those of you that can’t live without your Game of Thrones or Orange is the New Black, you can upgrade to a Smart TV by adding a Roku Box. This allows you to stream to all your favorite TV shows and movies right from your Netflix, HBOGo, HuluPlus accounts and more! Just remember to study in between!

Plus, signing up is simple. Head to campusTVs’ website and select which options work best for you! Then, sit back and relax – your TV will be delivered, set up, and picked up for free!

Just imagine, you won’t have to deal with those difficult conversations between you and your roommate(s) and your TV will be delivered, setup, and picked up for free!

Written by Guest Blogger, Kat P.

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An Interview with Marvel Editor-in-Chief, Axel Alonso

We had the opportunity to pick the brain of Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Axel Alonso. He gave us the inside scoop on everything from the changes coming to some famous Marvel characters to advice for college students pursuing their dreams. Keep reading to find out what else we learned from one of the most important people in the Marvel Universe.

He may not be one of the actual Guardians of the Galaxy, but he’s definitely one of the most important people in the Marvel Universe. Two of our very own Barnes & Noble College interns got to chat with Mr. Alonso about some of his advice for college students, the new Guardians of the Galaxy film, and how he got to where he is today.

Marvel Entertainment Interview - Header

Chloe will be graduating from Penn State University in May, while Dan is a rising sophomore at Emerson College. Both are interning with Barnes & Noble College this summer.

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C: Guardians of the Galaxy is hitting the big screen, which opens up the “cosmic” part of the Marvel Universe. How were the Guardians selected for their own feature film?

A: The Guardians provide a doorway into the cosmos and an opportunity to tell widescreen space opera stories. It effectively broadens the canvas of the Marvel  Universe that’s on the big screen. Plus, they’re diverse and they’re fun and they’re family friendly. Especially Rocket and Groot, who I expect will be break-out characters by the end of summer.

D: It seems like comic book fans feel very connected to these stories and characters – perhaps more so than in other genres. Why do you think they feel that attachment?

Marvel - Character QuoteA: Marvel characters endure because people can relate to them. People fall in love with the character inside – the tights, the costumes, and the powers are just window dressing. If you take a look at the biggest Marvel characters, their interior lives are every bit as dramatic and fascinating and appealing as their super hero lives. Tony Stark has an insufferable ego and is vice prone, Thor has daddy issues, Peter Parker won’t stop sulking about the fact that he got his Uncle Ben killed and he’ll never atone for that fully. I think that these are human journeys, universal journeys and it’s because the characters have warps, because they have flaws, that there’s virtually a character in the Marvel Universe for everybody.

D: That’s very interesting. Do you think that this sort of connection that fans feel with these characters contributes to the success of the movies and the comics?

A: Without a doubt. I think what Marvel Studios has done a wonderful job of doing is translating decades worth of stories into one digestible, easy, Cineplex-friendly story. If you had told me that virtually everyone in the world would know who Iron Man is ten years ago I wouldn’t have believed it, would you? He was a second- or third-tier super hero, and now is so perfectly real on the big screen that virtually everyone knows not only what his powers are, but what makes him tick when he’s not wearing the armor. Marvel Studios never lost sight of the fact that it’s the characters in the costume that matter most. The characters aren’t defined by what they can do, it’s what they do do. 

C: As Editor in Chief, it’s your job to make sure the comic books are at their best and that the characters’ adventures across each page keep readers coming back. How involved is your team when it comes to the film-making process?

A: Senior editorial staff, we contribute to the creation of what are called character bibles at the pre-production phase…which is to say we’re consulted to discuss what you call sort of like the immutable truths of each character in their universe. What are the essentials – if you’re going to do Iron Man movies these are things you can’t lose: these qualities, these ticks, these supporting characters. We do that and we frequently read pre-production notes, see designs, and read script drafts at various stages. On occasion we provide feedback notes, but we don’t have any authority over any aspect of production – that’s Kevin Feige and his crew. That’s their domain and they’ve done a real terrific job of… translating our characters to the big screen.  That’s the way it works. 

D: On the topic of those characters, Marvel has never shied away from diversification – which we love. Thor will now be featured as a strong female hero. Captain America – formerly The Falcon – is African American. Is that diversity a decision made within the book’s story line that is carried over to film? Or is that a decision made for the film only?

A: It’s made for print. I keep my job based on my ability to work with my staff and our writers…to tell enticing stories that bring people to our comics and wanting more.  Any changes that we make as a group are made with print in mind. What Studios wants to do, that’s up to them. That said, these changes, the female Thor and Falcon becoming the new Captain America, they were not an editorial edict. These came about because the writers had ideas for a shake-up that they thought would make for cool stories. What they did is that they sold those ideas to their direct editor, who in turn sold it to me, who in turn looped in my boss – the publisher. They said, “this is what we want to do, yes people might yell, yes it’s controversial, but here’s why.” Those changes came about to affect publishing. Whether or not they make it to film, that’s for the studio to decide, but I’m sure they’ll be watching the public response to what these publishing moves mean to see how fans react. I know that the actor who plays Thor [Chris Hemsworth]… at Comic Con when he was asked about the female Thor [he] said “that would be my Academy Award”.  I think it’s safe to say that Studios is aware of what we’re doing.

D: Speaking of actors, you mentioned you don’t have control over what the studio does. But as a personal preference, do you have any actors/actresses in mind that – as an editor – you think would fit these roles?

A: To be honest, no.  Every once in a while it might happen, but I’m hard pressed to think of an example where a particular actor has come into focus. Obviously, some writers in their scripts might specify, “think Sean Penn” or what have you. Apart from Mark Lewis saying that Fury might look like Samuel L. Jackson, we don’t really get that specific. 

C: Are there any Marvel characters that you’re hoping will eventually make it to film?

A: For me, yeah there’s a bunch. But I’ll start with Black Panther.  He sports the best costume in all of comics, it’s all black. He’s always been one of my personal favorites. He’s a little stronger than a really strong man, super athletic, he’s brilliant and he’s got lots of gadgets so he’s a little bit like MacGyver with superpowers. I really like the Black Panther and I would love to see him on the big screen. 

D: As someone who has so much experience in this industry, you’ve probably seen it go through a lot of changes. With technology evolving, how do you make sure you stay relevant and innovative?

A: You stay relevant by not being afraid to take chances. In this case, by not being afraid to embrace technology and being an early adapter. Marvel’s always been an early adapter on the digital front. We were one of the first to embrace traditional digital comics as a format and we’re currently the only ones pioneering a new comic book form called Infinite Comics which are comic books made specifically for hand held media devices. They’re not digital comics, they’re not just comics reformatted for a tablet…sized down for an iPad screen. They’re comic books that use the tablet as the canvas and all the digital tools like a paintMarvel - Tune them Outbrush. The writer and artist collaborate to take a look into everything digital has to offer and the result is a thoroughly unique reading experience. The reader scrolls through the comic book and there’s panels and captions and balloons and we’re even experimenting with audio, but the reader controls the pace of the reading experience. They are reading, it’s not animation. It’s about motion and special effects that just aren’t available on printed page. That’s one prime example of how we’re experimenting with technology to tell stories and we’re not afraid to make mistakes, we’re not afraid to spend money, we’re not afraid to lose money as we get better and better at doing this.  

C: As someone who has worked on characters such as Spider-Man and the X-Men, is it still exciting for you to see them come alive in film or in these new digital media apps?

A: To be honest it’s not that surprising, at least now. This is modern mythology featuring characters who really capture the imagination of 7+ generations of readers…and this is across multiple media platforms, comics, novels, animation, TV – live-action TV of course – and now the perfection of the movies that technology has caught up with. It stopped surprising me once Ironman stuck, if that’s a good way of putting it. Once we saw how a character like Ironman could stick I ceased being surprised. It started being like a rolling stone at that point…independent movies that function like puzzle pieces of a larger whole…I just think the sky’s the limit.

D: Before you got into this industry, were you into comic books?

A: When I was a little boy I was way into them. I used to buy two comic books every Friday afternoon when my grandma would pick me up after school….and that’s how I got introduced to comics…I loved them up until my pre-teens when I discovered girls and basketball. So I got out of comics for a while, although, truth be told, I did find copies of the Heavy Metal comic book being put out at the time and I kind of liked that it was crazy fantasy. And I rediscovered comics when I was in college and I’ve been back ever since. I never ever dreamed of working in comics, but I was a fan. I especially think that when I got back into comics in college, I happened to wander into stuff like Alan Moore and Frank Miller – who were, of course, seminal creators…so it was good timing for me to fall back in love with comics.

C: When it comes to editing comics, what process do you go through? How do you eventually land on a final product?

A: Speaking as an Editor, I’d say that the most important thing is that I look at a character and ask myself what types of stories are there to tell…obviously, if you have a character named Captain America who is dressed in red, white and blue, you’re probably going to tell stories that have something to say about America as opposed to the cosmos or Norse mythology…Apart from that, there is a rule I live by that there is no one way of doing things…for me I think that it’s really about just understanding that you have to trust your gut and start by understanding who the character is in the world and then what story you want to tell and then sticking to it.

D: You mentioned that people relate to characters because they can see a piece of themselves in them. Which character do you most relate to?

A: *Laughs* My quick answer to that is the Hulk because he has anger management issues…but I don’t know that I relate to any one character. I do know that when I got into comic books, my favorite characters were never what you would deem the most popular at the time…the Black Panther, Shang Chi, Luke Cage, Iron Fist…their powers were more downsized, more street-level, maybe a bit more realistic….But, I usually related to characters that were a little bit smaller scale-wise and a little bit more of an outsider.

C: Being Editor-in-Chief at Marvel Comics is what a lot of people would call a “dream job”. What are some challenges you faced when working to get where you are  today?

A: I’ll start off by saying that as a kid I never considered that comics…were a career option. My education and career path took me into journalism and from there I landed at DC Comics…and through fate I ended up at Marvel. …the initial challenge was working for low-pay and long hMarvel - Work Hardours and feeling overqualified – because it was a very weird move to go from being fairly successful in journalism to starter-level in comics. But I stuck with it…If I think about the challenge you always face in the creative field, it’s just sticking to it. You’re always going to hear a lot of chatter, you’re always going to hear a lot of voices…angry at you, who question your judgment, who don’t like what you’re doing…and you’re going to hear them loud. And I think you just have to tune them out…do what you think you should do and trust the voices of a few people whose judgement you trust. You’ve got to be willing to get fired to get promoted (*Laughs*). If you play it safe, you’re never going to get anywhere.

D: At Barnes & Noble College, we work with a lot of students. What advice would you give to them about chasing their dreams and staying motivated?

A: Everybody’s different. I tell them pretty much what I tell my son, who is 11…work hard at something you love. If you love doing something…you’re going to put in the hours and get better and better at it, simply because it won’t feel like work. You put in those hours, which means you’ll get better…you’ll hear it…you’ll get rewarded for it. Bottom line, boiling it down – work hard at something you love. 

Sounds like some MARVELous advice (sorry, we couldn’t resist!). For those of you who are new to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy series, we suggest kicking off your adventure with Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Avengers (sold in all Barnes & Noble Superstores and select Barnes & Noble College Bookstores – see your store for details). 

Marvel Entertainment Interview - Where to Start

Do you have a favorite Marvel character or series? Post a comment below and let us know which is your top pick!

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Back to Campus Checklist

The new semester is slowly – but surely – sneaking up on us. It’s easy to procrastinate when it comes to preparing for the new term, but we’re here to help you get ready sooner rather than later. Avoid the last-minute scrambling and take a look at our checklist below. Then, when it really is time to head back to school, you can focus on fun (rather than stress).

First, things first…

Before You Get to CampusThere are a few things to get done before you even set foot on campus. Afraid you’ll forget something? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s get started:

1. Order your textbooks.

2. Create a packing list to stay organized (look below for a great list to get you started!)

3. Purchase the items on your list that you don’t already have.

3. Spend quality time with your friends and family.

4. Eat at your favorite restaurant at home.

5. Make a picture collage to hang in your dorm room.

6. Talk to your roommate and get to know each other.

7. Schedule (and attend!) all necessary doctor appointments in and fill out any forms you may need.

8. Take a relaxing day off and enjoy a day trip to the beach.

9. Get a fresh new haircut.

10. Decide if you need a credit card or debit card.

11. Update your music.

 Next up…

Time to PackPacking to head back to campus can be stressful. What’s the good news? It doesn’t have to be! Check out our list below to help you get started…

Packing ListNow that you have a general idea of what to pack, you need to think of how to pack. Packing efficiently will save you time and precious space in your suitcase.

Packing Tips!

  1. You do not need to bring every single thing in your closet! Chances are you will get a bunch of free t-shirts during freshman year; so don’t feel the need to pack every single one. Additionally, there’s a good chance you’ll visit home during Thanksgiving or Fall break, so hold off on packing all of your heavy winter items until then.
  2. Be practical when you are packing! If you didn’t wear something in high school, you probably won’t wear it in college. Consider donating unused items instead.
  3. If you can, keep your clothes on hangers when transporting them to school! It will save you so (re: SOOOOO) much time by not having to un-hang and re-hang all your clothes.
  4. Check to see what your school provides! For example, some schools may provide a microwave in a common room. Knowing this will save you money and space in your car when packing.
  5. Coordinate with your roommate. Make sure you know what he/she is bringing so that you don’t bring duplicates.

You’ve done all of the planning. You’ve packed your suitcase(s). Moving on to…

When You Arrive on CampusYou made it! You’ve arrived on campus and you’re ready to start the new semester. However, there are a few things left do before the new term kicks off.

  1. Pick up your textbooks. The campus bookstore often gives you the option to pick up your order in-store…for free!
  2. Get your student ID card if you don’t have it already.
  3. Organize your room. Make sure everything is in order for the first day.
  4. Map out your classes so you know exactly where to go. Avoid the terror of walking into the wrong lecture hall.
  5. Keep your door open and start meeting new people!
  6. Check out your college bookstore and get a new t-shirt to display your school pride.
  7. Look at your school’s calendar for upcoming events, like homecoming.
  8. Think about how you will get involved! Check out different clubs, sports, or Greek life and see which interest you.

You’re all set! Get ready for a great semester ahead.

Written by Guest Blogger, Kat P. of Elon University

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College Move-In Day Essentials

Between the packing lists, the checklists, the textbook lists…you probably feel like it’s impossible to forget anything you might need for your freshman year. But then, move-in day comes along and you’re left wishing you had a few extra things with you! To prevent this from happening you, we made a list of things to help you avoid those feelings of “I wish I brought that…” on move-in day!

Item #1: Tape Measure – Most freshman dorms tend to be on the smaller side. Therefore, it is key to have the perfect furniture arrangement. An easy way to do this without wasting time and energy on moving desks and beds all over is to bring a tape measure! Simply measure the item you plan on moving and see if that length fits in the spot you want it…before you haul it across the room.

Item #2: Handtruck – Moving in as a freshman, I guarantee your car will be filled to the top with all of your college stuff. To avoid making one hundred trips back and forth to your car (not to mention avoid any potential back pain the next day), invest in a handtruck! With these, you can pile up heavy boxes and crates and easily wheel them to your dorm room. Plus, most handtrucks will fold up so you won’t have to worry about sacrificing any room in the car. These work very well with mini-fridges and other heavy appliances.

Item #3: Mini fan – No matter how high the air conditioning is on in your dorm (if there IS air conditioning), it is going to be hot! With everyone moving in at once, the hallway becomes very hectic with people moving things in left and right. To stay cool amidst the craziness, I recommend bringing a mini fan that you can simply pull out anytime you need a wave of cold air.

Move In Day EssentialsGeneral Tips:

  1. Wear comfortable clothes and sneakers! You are going to be moving boxes and other college supplies, not going to a fashion show. Your feet will thank you later.
  2. Bring water! Trust me, you will need to stay hydrated. Keep some water on hand to stay cool.
  3. Know where you packed scissors! Chances are you are going to need to open things once you arrive. It will save you time and stress if you can easily access them!
  4. Label everything! Someone else will probably have the same plastic drawers or lamp as you. To avoid any confusion, label all your things with your name and dorm room/number. Also if anything gets lost, they will know where to find you!
  5. Breathe! You will have all year to make sure everything in your room is just right. There is no need to stress over little things or get upset if you don’t like how something is arranged, you can always move it!

Written by Kat P. of Elon University

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The IT List: Full Steam(punk) Ahead!

One trend we are loving for fall is steampunk. Now, there’s a good chance you’re thinking, “What is steampunk?”. We like to think of it as what the past would look like if the future had happened sooner. It’s a style that emerged from a sub-genre of science fiction that mixes the Victorian Era with the Industrial Revolution (cool, right?). It might seem intimidating at first – the intricate designs and costume-like silhouettes – but you don’t have to go full-blown Helena Bonham Carter to rock this quirky trend. Find out how we pull style inspiration from all things steampunk

One way to make a trend like this more wearable is by working it into your accessories. I like to think of this method as “catwalk” to “sidewalk”, a way to make couture more everyday. I’ve pulled together an “inspiration board” to help you kickstart your journey into the world of steampunk.

Steampunk Inspiration Board

Shop The Look: Ring: Etsy ($33) Pocket WatchEtsy ($24.75) Velvet BootsModcloth ($120) SunglassesAliexpress ($4.31)

Being the college-loving bunch that we are, we also can’t resist the steampunk-inspired school supplies from Pierre Belvédère. In particular, we’re big fans of the Agendas pictured below.  The best part? They’re available at your campus bookstore!

Pierre Belvedere Beauty Shot

How do you plan to work some steampunk into your every day style? Post a comment below!

Written by Guest Blogger, Chloe L. of Penn State

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5 Benefits of Coconut Oil

Recently, I’ve been very into natural and homemade solutions for every day needs.  I’ve found that coconut oil works wonders for so many different things! I came across an awesome article (find it here!) about various uses you might not even have thought of. Here are my top five favorites:

1) Make-up remover: apply coconut oil to a cotton ball and use to remove eye make-up, lather it on your face to remove face makeup

2) Skin Moisturizer/Lotion: It leaves your skin feeling incredibly smooth!

3) Shaving Cream: Coconut Oil as a shaving cream is perfect for people with sensitive skin.  It helps hydrate your skin as you’re shaving!

4) Clean Your Makeup Brushes:  A great technique for keeping your make-up brushes free of bacteria!  Mix antibacterial soap with coconut oil into a cup, swish your brushes around, and let them sit for a few minutes.  Fantastic!

5) Fighting Dandruff: Massage coconut oil into the scalp!

Find out a few other genius uses for it here. Do you have any suggestions?

Written by Guest Blogger, Ilana S. of Rutgers University

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“Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks”: Banana Boats

One thing I missed the most during freshman year was my mom’s homemade cooking and yummy snacks.  I remember finding myself dreading another meal at the dining hall or having the same boring granola bar. All I wanted was a tasty new recipe to try that would switch up my repetitive meal routine, despite the limited resources I had (from living in a college dorm with a meal plan).

Ultimate Dining Hall HacksIf only I had the Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks by Priya KrishnaFilled with tons of quick and easy recipes, this book offers college students a way to break free from everyday dining hall foods and snacks by turning them into delicious cooking creations.  As an added bonus, many of these recipes are so simple that you can make them right from your dorm room!

One recipe that jumped out at me immediately was for the scrumptious and clever snack, banana boats!  Besides the fact that you can customize these to fit your tastes, this is the perfect simple and fast snack to make any time of the day.

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

- Banana
- Toppings of your choice (Great options include coconut shavings, chocolate chips, granola, nuts, or M&Ms.)
- Microwave

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. Use a knife to make a slit in the banana peel by cutting it down the length of one side.  Use your fingers to slightly pull open the top of the banana.  Do not remove the peel.
  2. Fill the banana with your toppings.
  3. Microwave the banana for 30 seconds at a time about three times, or until the peel is dark and the toppings are slightly melted.
  4. To eat, use a spoon to scoop the filling out of the peel.

For more amazing recipes be sure to pick up your own copy of Ultimate Dining Halls Hacks by Priya Krishna. You’ll find everything from mango parfaits, to pizza bagels, to mac and cheese. Basically, she’s covered how to take breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack needs to the next level!  Trust me, for those days when all you want is your mom’s homemade cooking, you will be so happy you have a recipe book like this during your college career.

Written by Kat P. of Elon University

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World Cup Finals Preview

After one of the most memorable World Cups in recent memory, it is finally down to the final two teams.  Each match seemed to be more exciting than the next with upsets and drama at every stage of the tournament.  In the end, it’s all going to come down to one game on Sunday though.  On Sunday July 13th at 3pm, Argentina will take on Germany for the most coveted trophy in all of soccer.  Germany is heading into the final game after playing one of the best games in German soccer history.  They dismantled the home team favorite Brazil 7-1 (yes, seven to one) and seem to be reaching their peak at the right time.  After a shaky performance in the group stages and some unconvincing wins in the elimination stages, this German team is finally implementing the efficient style of play that the world knew they were capable of.  Their semi-final win against Brazil will be talked about for years to come and Germany hopes to carry the momentum from that win into the finals (hopefully, without letting it inflate their egos too much).

It’s very important that the German team goes in with level heads. After all, they will be going up against what might be the best player in the world right now, Lionel Messi.  Messi is hoping to put himself in the “best-soccer-player-of-all-time” conversation and adding a World Cup Championship might give him the boost he needs – especially since he’s already the dominating playmaker and scorer on the team. Argentina is coming off of a very (re: very) different semi-final game than Germany.  Their game against The Netherlands ended in a penalty kick shoot out after both teams failed to score a goal during both regular time and overtime.  The lack of goals was the result of a deliberate strategy by The Netherlands.  They sacrificed much of their offense by having one man stay near Messi at all times, with others quickly swarming whenever he got the ball.  Because they had to pay so much attention to the Argentine, it was harder for them to push men forward and develop any sort of serious offensive threat.  The game plan worked at first – Messi never had enough room to have a shot on goal.  However, Argentina won the shootout, ultimately punching their ticket to the finals.

It will be interesting to see what strategy Germany uses in the next game.  The Netherlands proved that paying extra attention to Messi can stop him from taking over the game, but at the sacrifice of applying serious offensive pressure. Because Brazil’s Neymar was injured for the semi-final game, we did not get to see how Germany would have handled a single player who poses such an offensive threat. However, Argentia will have to make sure the defense is on point in order to avoid any potentially dangerous turnovers. During the Germany vs. Brazil game, the defense lacked organization and the Germans used the confusion to create space and complete plenty of passes.  Germany did an excellent job of converting a Brazilian mistake into a goal in the semi-finals and will look to do the same against Argentina.

This final has the potential to be an extremely exciting game.  The well-oiled machine that is team Germany will look to take down a man widely considered the best soccer player on the planet. Will Messi take over and really cement himself as one of the all-time greats, like fellow Argentine Maradona or Brazilian soccer legend Pele?  Will Germany sacrifice some offensive firepower to contain him or will trying to contain him be their entire strategy?  Will this “golden generation” of German players leave their mark on German soccer history by finishing up with a World Cup victory?  All these questions will be answered in what’s shaping up to be an extremely competitive World Cup final.

Written by Guest Blogger, Jared B. of Vanderbilt University

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Staying Inspired During College

With readings, exams, and extra curricular activities on your plate, it is very common to feel overwhelmed and exhausted by all of the work that we have to do.  Especially during freshman year, when students are still adjusting, it is difficult to stay calm in moments of distress.  Don’t worry though; I have some great tips for you to keep you inspired and feeling strong when things get hard at school.

Number one; create an inspiration board and paste it on your dorm room wall, ceiling, computer background, or anywhere else you feel that you will see it most.  On your board, make sure to include a variety of pictures and phrases that emit positivity and your vision of happiness and success.  For example, put some pictures of you and your friends smiling and laughing together, a picture of a career you may want to have one day, your favorite animal, etc.  This may seem like a silly idea, but seeing these images around you on a daily basis will serve as inspiration for you to work harder in everything that you do and remember what it is that you are working for.  Also, during those times of crisis, such as finals week, you will be able to stay strong, knowing that all of the things you love and want to have are on their way if you keep working hard.

Number two; make it a part of your college life to – every so often – go to a new place or interact with new people.  It is so easy to get stuck in a routine and feel uninspired, which can make our crises seem even worse.  It is important that, as college students, we try new things…clubs, food, talking to new people even when we feel very shy, etc.  These new opportunities will keep us inspired and in a better mood so that when crises strike, we will know how to handle them head on!

Number three; what better way to calm a crisis than to avoid one in the first place? A great way to prevent crises from happening is to keep yourself in enough of routine.  Your day does not need to be 100% scheduled, but it is important to keep yourself somewhat structured and organized so that you can get a good amount of work done each day without saving it all for the last minute, which could cause a lot of potential stress.

School can definitely be a bit stressful sometimes, but it is important to remember to remain calm and inspired through these difficult moments.  Live your college life with inspiration, structure, and goals, and you will be sure to have less stress and crises in your life.  Good luck!

Written by Guest Blogger, Ilana S. of Rutgers University

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Beach Bag Essentials

Summer has arrived and it’s time to hit the beach! Now that you’ll be having some fun in the sun it’s important to be prepped and prepared with the perfect beach bag full of your summertime essentials. Here are some of the things that I like to keep stowed away for my beach days:

This straw tote from Target is super chic and since it’s black it matches with everything! The towel is a fun pop of color and very fitting for the beach with it’s fish scale pattern.

As I’m sure you all know by now, sun protection is super important! I opted for this Hawaiian Tropic spray on sunscreen in SPF 50 (gotta protect my Irish skin). It’s super sheer and it smells like coconut, yummy! The EOS lip balm also has SPF 15 to protect your lips AND it smells just like lemons. To protect your eyes, always keep a pair of sunglasses handy. These reflective pair from Nasty Gal are stylish and functional.

Since you’ll be in the sun all day, hydration is super important – so grab a reusable water bottle and fill it to the brim with ice water. Also, it’s good to keep a snack handy. I am in love with the pomegranate blueberry pistachio KIND bars.

In the beauty department, water proof mascara is everything! Lights, Camera, Splashes by Tarte is amazing. It stays put through sweat and salt water. Don’t forget to throw in some hair elastics. I know I always find myself tying my hair up when I’m out in the sun. Try to find a pair that won’t cause breakage to your strands.

Last but abso-LUTELY not least, a beach day wouldn’t be complete without a good book. I highly recommend The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (I’ve already read it four times). And after all, the book is always better than the movie!

What do you keep in your beach bag?

Shop the look: Fishscale Towel from Target ($14.99), Nasty Gal Sunglasses ($18), Target Merona Straw Tote ($27.99), Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Clear Spray SPF 50 ($7.99), EOS Lemon Drop Lip Balm with SPF 15 ($3.29), Pomegranate Blueberry Pistachio KIND Bar ($1.39/bar), J. Crew Water Bottle in Soft Mint ($19.50), Scunci No Damage Hair Elastics ($2.99), Tarte Lights, Camara, Splashes Waterproof Mascara ($20), The Fault in Our Stars by John Green ($9.99)

Written by Guest Blogger, Chloe L. of Penn State

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