My first Greek week

Adjusting to Greece has been, in short, absolute hell. I love it here, I really do, however, I am struggling like no other. I spent my first 5 days alone outside of school with the exception of the three times that I spent with my coordinating supervisor. Every other time I’ve been to a new country I’ve been with people. This time, I’m completely alone. When I’m alone I retreat into my room, watch TV, play on my phone and sleep. And honestly, that’s all I’ve done this week besides the time I was actually at school.

I arrived Monday night an hour late. I was picked up at the airport at about 10pm. I made it to my apartment and talked with my host and supervisor for a while and was finally alone at 11:30pm. I unpacked a bit and fell asleep.

The next morning, I was picked up at 3 to go walk by the sea, explore my community and get coffee. I told myself I would explore on my own beforehand as well as go grocery shopping. I left my apartment for the first time at about 1:30 and went to a corner store nearby. I bought bread, pasta, lentils, etc. They only had nonperishables.

On Wednesday, I woke up at 3:30 and was awake until the following night. I was picked up at 8:30 from my apartment and we drove to school. I met at least 25 different people whose names I couldn’t tell you now. I then on 4 hours of sleep, had to observe 5 classes during the next 6 hours.  I got home, cooked myself dinner and went to bed at 6:30.

Thursday I woke up at 1:30am and was awake, once again, until the following night. Never in my life has jetlag affected me this hard, or at all really. I watched TV and tried to go back to sleep, without prevail, until my alarm went off at 5:45 and it was time to shower. I drank an entire pot [10 cups] of coffee this morning and boy did I need it.

After school that day, I was told to get on the wrong bus and ended up in a suburb I’d never heard of [not that I’d heard of any of the suburbs in Thessaloniki] which was a 97-minute walk from my house. With no uber, lyft, or way to get a taxi, I walked to a shell station which had wifi, called my dad and sobbed. It definitely wasn’t a matter worth crying over but my sleep-deprived, caffeinated self needed a good cry. A woman who spoke perfect English came over, comforted me, and got me a cab home. I’m forever indebted to this woman. I got home this night, cooked dinner, and went to bed.

Friday morning was the latest I slept, waking up at a smooth 4:00am. I made coffee early that morning and got ready for school. Fridays, are my new favorites because I get to spend the majority of the day with the ELL teacher. Something about her is very comforting and I love being in her class. Friday evening, I took 2 Benadryl and went to sleep.

Saturday was really good. I spent the morning with the COST coordinator here at an open market [it reminded me of a market I frequented in Spain] and at a cute little coffee shop.  I got to spend the evening with 2 former COST students turned teachers as well as another teacher from America. We got dinner and drinks and the whole night was a ton of fun.

Sunday was a day just for me. I woke up at 11 [thank the lord for sleep], ate breakfast [pasta because I ran out of bread and I forgot that shops are closed on Sundays], and relaxed all day. I could have explored, I could have done anything, but I didn’t. I finally did a bit of schoolwork and activity planning at around 8pm but all in all, I needed a day to relax and I’m feeling much better about my time here. Albeit I’m still anxious about everything and afraid the students hate me as well as unsure about how I’m going to teach using a curriculum I have no practice in, but hey. I survived my first week in Greece and if I can survive the week that I did, anything is possible.

❤ Alicia

My new home :)

Hi all. It’s January 7th at 2:38pm and I’m sitting on my couch in my apartment in Thessaloniki, Greece. Traveling always gives me a reason to write. Traveling always gives me a need to write. My favorite thing to do when at an airport [not this time but I’ll get to that in a minute] or in a hotel or at a café is to write. We all knew that. Just wanted to give everyone an update about my current life, what I’m currently doing and another promise that I won’t have time to write a lot this semester with 12 weeks of student teaching, the edTPA, living in a foreign country by myself for the first time, etc. However, on my first and only free day that I have while in Greece, I wanted to take a bit of time out of my hectic day of grocery shopping, unpacking, turning an Airbnb into a home, and figuring out this new city that I live in to write a little bit.

This semester I have the amazing opportunity to participate in the COST program teaching Spanish and ESL at the Pinewood American International School in Thermi Greece, a suburb of Thessaloniki. I will be working with 4 [yes 4] teachers teaching grades K-12 in Spanish and English. I will also be completing the edTPA [basically a huge 3-part project that I need to do well on in order to graduate and become a certified instructor] during my time here which will take up a huge chunk of my time.

Finally, I will be exploring and living in Thessaloniki. I speak absolutely no Greek so with the help of Duolingo, my students, and the people I meet I’m hoping to at least learn enough to get by in my day to day life.

I’m absolutely exhausted from the past 24 hours of travel, middle seats, layovers, delays, and 8-hour time differences. I

I don’t know much of what this semester holds for me, but I do know one thing, I’m the happiest at 11:30pm when I first get to a new country.

Now, I’m off to have coffee and a walk along the sea with the coordinating instructor here in Greece. Here’s to writing at least a smidge more this year, ❤

Alicia

Mindfulness & life updates :)

I’m working on being mindful. Something that keeps me grounded is writing. I get a real sense of peace when writing and after these past few weeks I need a bit of peace.

It’s amazing what doesn’t happen even though you think it will. Balancing work, school, orgs, blogging, life after college, LVNG Limitless, exercise, eating, sleeping, having fun, and probably more is HARD. I will be the first to say it. This semester I will admit, my class load is pretty easy. However, I have three exams that I am taking in the next month that will determine whether I graduate and become a licensed educator or not. I spend almost all of my free time either doing homework, working, or stressing about what on this green Earth am I going to do after I graduate [not to mention the fact that I still haven’t received my placement for next semester].

In August, I had planned out almost all of my content for 2019. I had four and a half months of blog content READY to go for myself. The sole thing I had to do was sit down in front of a blank word document and actually do the writing. And, here I am, roughly a month later, with all of this blog content ready to be recycled for some other point in the upcoming months. Anyway, here’s a little life update // rant post that I know everyone desperately missed.

I started my senior year of college! YAY! I’m almost a quarter of the way done with my final fall semester of my undergrad career. Bittersweet, to keep it short. All of my classes are going pretty well, photoshop is a BLAST and I’m learning so much. The rest of my classes are a lot of reading.. which is what I’m using to justify the fact that I haven’t read for pleasure since the first day of school L

CHAARG is in full swing. I had my first small group [a group of 5-15 girls who get together at the same time every week for a workout, coffee date, etc.] on Monday! I have five ladies who I get to spend every Monday morning from 7-8am with AND I LOVE THEM. We wrote letters to ourselves on the first day and chatted for an hour and a half about anything under the sun.

Work is a lot. I’m working 25 hours a week at the campus market where I’m a manager as well as my Learning Community Leader job. It’s all fun and I love everyone involved with both of my jobs, however, it’s still a lot for me.

I still have no idea what side of the planet I will be on in the Spring. I’m really trying not to think so much about it because it’s something I can’t control and I’ve been trying to not focus so much on the things I cannot control, but COME ON. This is a BIG thing happening and I have absolutely no idea when I’ll find out where I’m student teaching in the Spring.

I’m sick again! A mere two days after I got off the antibiotics, I got congested again and I think I have, yes another, a sinus infection. At this point, I’m pumping Dayquil and Benadryl into my veins until I can see the doctor again and get this whole sinus issue sorted out. This isn’t anything I’m not used to though, so I’m not letting it put a damper on my final semester in Athens.

I got a pet! This is a bit of a complicated [and also sad] story so I apologize in advance if it makes little to no sense. At the end of every summer, my family and I head down to visit my dad’s side of the family for a weekend because they have this festival, carnival, parade, flea market shindig that we have always attended. At the carnival, there is always a cup pong type game where you have to throw ping pong balls into this little fishbowl, and you can win fish. They also have a special bowl on top where if you land it in there, you can win an iguana. Now, knowing me and my inability to say no to a cute animal, my family and I spent roughly $50 to win this damn iguana because I KNEW I would take better care of it than a five-year-old and their mother. Unfortunately, I did not win the iguana [I did win 18 fish so obviously I’ve learned one thing in college 😉 ]. This other boy who was probably my age or a little older won the iguana. AND THEN HE GAVE ME THE IGUANA. Honestly, the realest one Illinois has ever seen. I took that iguana home [much to everyone’s chagrin], spent roughly $200 on his terrarium, lamp, food, etc. and then he made the trek to Athens with me. Unfortunately, again, he passed away a few days after I got to school because he had stopped eating. I really should have expected this because carnivals take already sick animals for these games since they know most people would have killed them anyway [I will fight pet stores let me tell you]. Short story long, I had spent all this money on a now-dead iguana [RIP Spyro], so I got a Leopard Gecko. Her name is Apple and I absolutely adore her. She loves to cuddle on my shoulder and run around.

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So much love,

Alicia ❤

Why I’ve been sick for​ the last 11 months

In September of last year, I got sick. I’ve been sick ever since. I went to the doctor twice [once at school and once at home], got prescribed antibiotics twice, took the full amount of antibiotics, and… never got better. I’ve been congested for ten months and this past week I finally got an appointment with the ear, nose, and throat doctor.

After explaining my lingering congestion and misery, a CT scan of my head, and a very confused doctor on how I could have been this sick for this long and how antibiotics have yet to help, we still aren’t 100% positive on what is the matter with me.

One thing I know for sure: I am CONGESTED. Between the four pairs of sinuses that I have in my head, one single sinus was not completely filled with crap. My doctor showed me my CT and compared it to my mom’s [we thought we were having the same sinus problems… we were wrong] and the two are polar opposites.

My doctor declared that he could not give me a full diagnosis until my head had cleared up which will have to wait until Thanksgiving. He did, however, note that I have a partially deviated septum, which may be the cause for my inability to breathe out of my nose, I am a potential candidate for a sinuplasty [something us chronic sinusitis patients are told works miracles], and I was then prescribed three weeks of antibiotics and one week of steroids.

He then told me that when I return in November that one of two things would happen: he would be able to correctly diagnose my problem[s] because the lack of fluid in my sinuses would allow him to properly see inside my head, or, that I would be getting that sinuplasty whether I liked it or not so he could then 100% see what’s wrong inside of my head.

Well, I’m only on the third day of antibiotics and steroids and I already feel hundreds of times better. While I can’t breathe out of my nose yet, I can exhale out of my nose ad not need to blow my nose, I can breathe a lot better in general, I haven’t blown my nose in two days, and I have not felt out of breathe [something that’s been happening since I was in Spain] since the appointment.

Moral of the story today folks: when you get sinus infections every year [sometimes multiple times a year] and the most recent one doesn’t seem to go away, even with the help of many antibiotics, maybe you should schedule an ENT appointment sooner rather than later so your doc can get to the bottom of the issue ASAP.

Will update around Thanksgiving

❤ Alicia ❤

BTS Series: Guide to transferring Universities

I preach about how much I love Ohio University. Which I do, of course. However, I didn’t always have this bobcat pride that I do now. My first semester at OU was downright miserable and there were tons of times I reconsidered my decision to attend this school. Looking back on it, I don’t know how I ever felt this. On the other hand, I made a lot of mistakes my first semester that, had I known my parents would kill me if I wanted to transfer again, made me want to transfer schools for the second time. With the price of college these days, paired with students’ inabilities to choose their university [or major] for the ‘right’ reason, transferring has become quite the hot commodity. Whether you transfer from a community college or another four-year university, transferring can put a ton of challenges on the student, myself included. I want every single transfer student to love their new home [or hOUme in my case] and to not once regret this decision. So, here are my tips and tricks to transferring universities [that I wish I had when I did it].


Make a list of must-haves

My senior year of high school, a huge must-have for me was a football game. My freshman year in San Diego, I went to one football game. When I was college hunting the second time around, my must-haves were more focused on things that actually matters – the major I wanted [or majors I might want], the access to vegan food [OU is in the top five most vegan friendly college campuses in the nation], a wide variety of student orgs [I cross-checked orgs from both schools I applied to because I was very interested in a few… yes CHAARG was one of them], and finally cost. In the end, I chose OU because it as half the cost of the other school and I’m so glad I did.

Get involved

My freshman year I made roughly zero friends. I also only joined one club second semester. When I transferred, I joined orgs out the wazoo but didn’t really get involved until my second semester. Had I gotten involved my first semester and started making friends, I’m certain my first semester would have gone a lot different and never would have second-guessed this decision. Join clubs, go to meetings, go to events, talk to people!!!

Don’t feel pressured to rush

Rushing is a great way to get involved, don’t get me wrong. However, don’t feel pressured to do so. Just because half of your floor is set on joining a sorority doesn’t mean you have to as well! When I transferred, I thought the only way I would meet people would be to rush. I ended up dropping out on the last day because it wasn’t for me. Rush [and do everything else in your life] because you want to, not because everyone else wants you to.

You’re going to cry

I cried on my first day at OU. I cried weeks in, and I cried the second semester too. It will happen. Let it happen. Embrace it. Cry tears of happiness. Cry tears of sadness. Cry tears of everything in between.

You’ll want to go back to your old university

I missed San Diego when I moved into OU. I still miss San Diego now. It’s okay and it’s normal. You spent one or two years at this place, why wouldn’t you miss it?? I miss San Diego but I’m so lucky that I’m in Ohio now. I definitely want to go back to San Diego, visit my old campus that I know like the back of my hand. However, I’d much rather be in Ohio now and I’m so glad I am.

Get a job

My freshman year I didn’t get a job. I was ‘adjusting’ to college life. I SHOULD have gotten a job freshman year. I slacked off, spent way too much time watching Netflix, etc. When I got to OU, I got a job. With this job, came a newfound sense of responsibility. I had more responsibility and less time so I worked harder and more often and spent less time doing things I shouldn’t have been doing. I’ve also met some of my best friends through my job! Apply early and to multiple jobs so you’re sure to get one and that you can start right when school starts!

Put yourself out there

Going to college is hard. Transferring is even harder. You HAVE  to put yourself out there [in whatever way that means to you] in order to succeed at this new school. Do something you never thought you’d do, talk to people outside of who you’d normally befriend, add a minor just because you have free space and you want to… anything! Grab your new school by the horns and make it yours. You’ll find your rhythm and love this new place in no time.

BTS Series: College Packing List

Packing for college can be tough. What do I bring? What do I leave at home? Here is my ultimate college packing list from three prior years of tries and tribulations.

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Have you made a college packing list? Are ours similar or different?

❤ Alicia ❤

BTS Series: A guide to move in

The first real day on campus. Hauling your entire life up a ton of stairs [maybe with the help of an elevator if you’re lucky]. You’re sweaty, tired, and moving as quickly as you can to get moving in finished up. While I can’t do anything about tired and sweaty, move-in doesn’t have to be miserable!


Pack like items together

My biggest flaw freshman year was throwing whatever square items together in boxes surrounded by smaller items to fill in the gaps. When I got to school, I unpacked these desk items, but the things to hold my desk items were three boxes deep and I had crap out in my room until I unpacked every single box. I know it may seem easy to throw it all together, but you’ll thank your past self on move-in day when everything is in its place [labeled even] move-in day won’t seem like a big deal at all.

Coordinate move-in times with your roommate

If your roommate is moving in at noon, don’t also move in at noon. Having a room filled with boxes of one person is a shit show, but two? Absolutely not. Ask your roommate what time they plan on heading over to school and plan accordingly by coming two hours before or after they are getting there. That way when the second roommate gets there, the first roommate’s things are set up, put away, and the other roommate can work on filling the room with their boxes.

Get there early!

Be the first roommate !! Be !! The !! first !! roommate !!!! Getting there early will save you so much time and effort! You get good parking, no lines, extra help from move-in crews [if you have them] plus you get all the hard stuff out of the way in the morning, have time to take a good nap and then work on organizing and making your room your own.

Use those move-in bins!

If your dorm is lucky enough to have move-in bins… use them! Whether or not you have an elevator these will help you, especially if your car is parked super far from your dorm. Instead of making tens of trips back to your car, with the help of these bins, you’’ make three trips max. Also, with only one bin, your parents can make the trips to and from the car while you get a head start on moving your stuff in. When your parents come back with trip two, give them empty containers you’re sending back home to clear out space in your room. Just remember to give them back when you’re done, there are hundreds of other new students in your dorm wanting to use them as well!

Do the big things first

Do you have things like shoe racks or futons to build? Build them first! Are your clothes taking up half of your dorm? Put them away first! Little things like shower caddies, bedding, and décor do take up a significant amount of space but they can spend the early part of your time for move-in on or under your bed. Do bigger things that might require your parents help and you can save those smaller and time-consuming tasks for once your parents are gone.


I hope these tips help make your move-in day easy peasy!

❤ Alicia ❤

BTS Series: Things not to bring to college

I am the absolute queen of overpacking. I’m also the queen of packing lists. When I was preparing for my first year of college, I definitely overpacked. I also knew that there were a lot of things I shouldn’t have brought in the first place, so I didn’t. Today, I want to use my mistakes and my ability to read posts similar to this one to make a list of things that I believe are unnecessary for college [especially when living in a dorm].


Your entire closet

When I moved in my freshman year, I think I filled three suitcases with clothes and shoes. My sophomore year I bought 50 hangers and filled everyone. Did I wear all of these clothes? NO. I brought so many clothes I didn’t wear at home [which I’ve talked about before], which guess what? I didn’t wear at school. I brought a ton of T-shirts that I never wore [you get a bunch of free ones or you buy ones to rep your school at sporting events] because when I got to school I wanted to dress better than I did in high school and only wore T-shirts when lounging in my dorm or at the gym. Also, don’t bring non-seasonal clothing. Bring a few heavier items for those rare chilly October days but just swap out your warm clothes for cold clothes when you go home for Thanksgiving [or anytime around that].

Appliances

Not only is there not much room for appliances, but most universities prohibit any sort of appliance from your dorm room. Most dorms also supply you with a micro-fridge [microwave, fridge, freezer combo] so you have room to store and heat food. Don’t bother with bringing another fridge, toaster, blender, etc. because it will be taken from you during room checks. Always check university guidelines and only bring what you’re allowed.

Full-sized vacuum

Do you have space? NO. Do you have carpet? NO. Do you need a huge vacuum? NO. Most [if not all] dorms are tile [do buy a Swiffer you’ll NEED that] and even if you get a rug for your floor, buy a hand vacuum for when you spill popcorn at 2:00am and need to clean that up. A full-sized vacuum isn’t practical and 100% unnecessary. Don’t even pack it to begin with or your parents will be taking it right back home.

Pots and Pans

Microwave meals and dining hall food will be your life. Not only do you not have the longing to cook or the skills, you don’t have a kitchen. Some schools offer communal kitchens in dorms for students to use but these usually include pots and pans and baking sheets… the works. If you do plan on cooking for yourself a bit, make sure you check what your dorm // school offers kitchen wise as well as appliance wise. Then go ahead and purchase a few kitchen items if you need to.

Things you roommate has already bought

Before you go dorm or apartment shopping make sure you shoot your roommate a text message asking what she is bringing for the room and what you were planning on bringing. This prevents two printers, two Swiffers, two coffee makers, etc. It also saves up extra space in  your car for other things and in your dorm for the year. Texting your roommate is a win win!


Did you find any of these items to be necessities? Or are there any other items you found to be useless?

❤ Alicia ❤

BTS Series: Buy this, not that

There are hundreds of options for ‘things to buy’ for your college home. When making these decisions, here are a few things you should buy contrary to popular belief.


Buy a French Press, Not a Keurig

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One of my biggest regrets is buying a Keurig. They take up a ton of space, I only drink hot coffee in the dead of winter, and they can produce a TON of waste. Op for a more sustainable and small coffee maker such as a French Press. French Presses make a cup or two of coffee, they have zero waste AND CAN BREW ICED COFFEE. Once you perfect your perfect French Press cup of coffee, there is ~no~ turning back.

Buy Decomposable K cups, Not non-decomposable

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If you already have a Keurig [hi, me too], try to minimize that waste by buying compostable K cups. I get mine at Costco but Amazon has them too [same brand] and I’m sure with a bit of searching you can find your favorite blend of roast and save the planet at the same time.

Buy a Reusable Water Bottle, not a Brita Filter

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I bought a Brita for my freshman year of college and used it once. Then, I discovered the water bottle filler station on my floor and just used my reusable water bottle for the rest of the year. Then, that Brita sat on my fridge for the final 9 months of my time in San Diego. Before you buy things that are ~optional~ wait until you’ve moved into your dorm // wherever you’re living to see what luxuries you have. Then, you’ll save some money and space and will still be hydrated.

Buy Tide Pods,  not Liquid Detergent

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In high school [and today still] I watch hundreds of college dorm tour videos where YouTubers boast their new rooms. In every one of these videos, these girls had Tide Pods. Being 17 and very persuadable [and wanting to be trendy] I knew I had to have them. I love Tide Pods and I still use them today. They are quick and easy to throw right into the washer when you’re in a rush!

Buy a Wired Printer, not a Wireless Printer

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Both years in my dorm I had no printer for the first few weeks of my Fall Semesters. The reason for this, a wireless printer. Wireless printers need wifi to work, however, you cannot connect them to dorm wifi for some reason unbeknownst to me. So, until the USB cord came in the mail, my roommates and I were paying for printing. Just think ahead and get a wired printer to start, so you aren’t stuck without a printer for weeks like I was.

Buy a Mesh Shower Caddy, not a Plastic One

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This is something that a lot of people overlook. Shower caddies are necessities for communal showers and saved my butt during my first two years. The problem my freshman year, the plastic shower caddy took up so much space in my dorm and got everything wet. My sophomore year I decided to size down [about half the size] and opted for the mesh caddy. Not only can a mesh caddy be folded to fit wherever you need, but it is also full of holes that get most of the water out before you leave the shower so that you don’t have puddles in your room and aren’t slipping and falling in your room.


Obviously, to each their own, but these six things, while minor, greatly improved my dorm life and I would recommend them to everyone! What are some college item you would buy in replace of traditionally popular items.

❤ Alicia ❤

BTS Series: Prepping for back to school

Back to school can be stressful. Back to college can be even worse. Having to fit your whole life into a tiny dorm room or apartment may seem impossible but with these quick tips can make a hard day [or week] a breeze.


Make a packing list

In my opinion, the worst thing you can do is start willy-nilly packing the day before you leave for school. A well-thought-out and organized packing list is what every college student needs in order to have an easy move-in day. Once you’ve accumulated all of these products you’re bringing, group them together [bathroom items with other bathroom items, all of your clothes together, etc.]. This way you’ll know where everything is on move-in day and you’ll be able to unpack and organize your dorm or apartment with ease.

Don’t pack things you don’t use at home

My most toxic trait as a person is when packing for school, packing a shirt I’ve worn one time in the past two years ‘just in case.’ If I don’t wear it at home, why am I going to wear it at school? Don’t do it with clothes, shoes, books, etc. If you do not use something at home, don’t bring it to college.

Contact your roommates

Things you don’t need in a college dorm or apartment: 4 printers, 2 Brita filters, 45 rolls of paper towels, etc. When you find out who your roommates are [if you didn’t pick them or sign a lease with them] make sure you shoot them a text, email, or Facebook message to talk about what things you are bringing and what they’re bringing. That way, everyone is spending less money, packing less stuff, and will have more space in your new home to put things you really want.

Get into a routine

I know that as a college student you take advantage of having no commitments those following Monday mornings. That being said, I also know you’re staying up until the sun rises and sleeping the days away. Unless your first class is at 3:00pm [not likely] you have a big storm coming. By working on your sleep schedule and creating a daily routine [gym, homework, class, studying, eating, and everything in between] you’ll have a much better chance of transitioning to your school schedule instead of sleeping right through both of your classes on the first day of school.

Check all of your syllabi

Depending on your school and your professor, you might start using books [or having assignments due] on the first day of class. To prevent an Elle Woods moment, make sure you’ve read all of the syllabi for all of your classes, contacted professors with any questions, copied assignments and exams into your planner, and get to work on completing those summer assignments if you get them.

Explore ways to get involved

When I transferred to OU, the biggest thing that kept me up at night was that I wouldn’t make any friends or find an organization or job that clicked for me. I explored every single student org before deciding on a few, as well as jobs until I stumbled upon my current place of work. I applied for the job and joined the clubs through the school before school even started so that I could start making money and getting involved before I even started my first semester.


What tips do you have for preparing for a seamless back to college season?

❤ Alicia ❤