Top 5 Novels About College Students

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Long nights spent studying, laughing with friends over lunch in the cafeteria, fighting your roommate for the remote control, writing papers in the library: these are some typical college experiences. For most people, college is a short but profoundly impactful time in their lives. Whether you’re in college now or not, reading about college students and their adventures can be a fun pastime.  Take a look at these 5 books that capture different and intriguing college stories.

*Book descriptions are by the publishers c/o the library website.

 

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality, their lives are changed profoundly and forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill. Read Olivia Chin’s review here.

 

Nada by Carmen Laforet

In Barcelona, in the wake of the Spanish Civil War, Andrea, a young university student, moves into a strange, gothic house inhabited by a volatile array of aunts and uncles in order to attend college.

 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life–and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, immersed themselves in the series when they were kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Her sister has grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told her she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone, and can’t stop worrying about her dad. Can she do this? Read Olivia Chin’s review here.

 

Normal People by Sally Rooney

At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school football team, while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers–one they are determined to conceal. A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

 

This Side Of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This Side Of Paradise recounts the story of Amory Blaine as he grows from pampered childhood to young adulthood and learns to know himself better. At Princeton he becomes a literary aesthete and makes friends with other aspiring writers. As he moves out into the world and tries to find his true direction, he falls in love with a succession of beautiful young women. Youthful exuberance and immaturity give way to disillusion and disappointment as Amory confronts the realities of life.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Beach Reads For Spring Break

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With spring break comes much-needed time away from school and (hopefully) some beautiful weather! If you find yourself with some free time this spring break, you may want to pick back up the tried-and-true habit of “reading for fun.” We’ve compiled a list of the best “beach read” books in the library so that you can read by the water this break (or travel to fun places through the world of literacy, even if you’re still in your dorm)!

 

Out Of Africa by Isak Dineson

Author Isak Dinesen, whose real name is Karen Blixen, tells her story of the 17 years she ran a coffee farm in Kenya, Africa. This book is a well-written classic that will take you to new places.

 

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

From the author of the bestseller The Girl On The Train, Into The Water is a tale of suspense and mystery. When two people turn up dead in the local river, who will discover their stories?

 

The Paris Wife by Paul McLain

What would it be like to be married to a struggling author in a new city? Historical fiction fans may enjoy this novel’s fictionalized look at the life of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson, with a focus on their time in Paris.

 

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin Craig

On a remote island estate, Annaleigh Thaumas, the sixth-born of twelve sisters, enlists the aid of an alluring stranger to unravel the family curse before it claims her life. This retelling of a Grimm Brothers tale is hauntingly interesting.

 

Collected Stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Dive into the world of magical realism with Marquez’s unique storytelling. These short stories will keep you interested without taking up all of your vacation time.

College Student Christmas Gift Guide

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When it comes to Christmas gifts, finding a quality, unique gift can be a bit daunting, even if you’re shopping for the people you know best. That’s why we have compiled a list of 5 top-notch gifts to get any college student in your life.

  • Blobfish Plush: for the Stuffed Animal Enthusiast

Despite what some people may say, no one ever truly grows out of enjoying a good stuffed animal. Bonus points if the animal in question is a very quirky deep-sea fish. This stuffed blobfish is the perfect companion in a college student’s dorm whether they be a zoology major or simply a plushy enthusiast. With rave reviews, this less-than-perky pink pal is a fantastic addition to your Christmas repertoire.

 

 

  • Scratch-Off Map: for the Globetrotter

As a fan of travel myself, I can say with utmost certainty that you know someone with a serious case of wanderlust. For those of us with the need to scratch the travel itch, this scratch-off world map is a must-have. Not only is it stylishly designed, but it also serves as a wonderful personalized reminder of the places we’ve been. For those of us with cross-country ambitions in mind, there is a state scratch-off version too. Will Christmas wonders never cease?

 

 

  • 40cean Jellyfish Bracelet: for your Eco-Friendly Friend

With plastic pollution at an all-time high, it can be incredibly disheartening to think of how little we can do to help our planet, but there is a way to spread a little green Christmas cheer. The 40cean Jellyfish bracelet (as well as their other products) are sold to fund efforts to clean up our oceans. For every one of these adjustable, stylish, 100% recycled material composed bracelets purchased, 40cean removes one pound of plastic waste from the oceans and protects our marine life. Save the turtles (and time with your Christmas shopping too) and give this gift to a green guy or gal.

 

 

  • R2-D2 Sweater: for your Cozy Nerd

Sweaters are a timeless classic in the winter gift-giving season, but don’t just settle on your average sale rack staple this year. With the new Star Wars movie just around the corner, give your droid-loving friend this cozy R2-D2 sweater (provided by every nerds’ trusted resource, ThinkGeek) so the Force will be with them even when the warm weather isn’t.

 

 

  • Fujifilm Instax Mini Camera: for your Trendy Shutterbug

As polaroid style cameras become more popular, it’d be a shame not to include this wonderful little camera into the selection. The Fujifilm Instax Mini is a small, portable, and easy-to-use camera that is not only all of those things, but is also quite stylish. Coming in several adorable pastel colors, this camera is easy to use with several exposure settings and a sensor indicating which one is best for the lighting of any particular situation. It comes with an attachable close-up lens and easily fits into any backpack or tote. As someone who owns one of these cameras, I can only offer it glowing recommendations. Some of my favorite photos from my trips came from this camera, and the small film is very scrapbook-friendly and comes in a variety of styles. (I’m quite partial to this Gudetama one.) This camera is the perfect addition to any amateur photographer’s collection.

Featured Book: “Getting From College To Career” by Lindsay Pollak

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There are 90 pieces of advice in the book Getting From College To Career by Lindsay Pollak. However, the author herself says to scan through her book for advice that relates the most to your specific situation- you don’t have to read the entire book, although that might help! Essentially, this book is for helping college students to launch their careers. Whether you’re a traditional or nontraditional student, a minority or majority ethnicity, etc., there is advice here for you.

My personal favorite lines of wisdom from Getting From College To Career are about taking action:

The worst mistake you can make is not to take any action at all . . . Once I started making some phone calls, meeting some people for lunch, and sending out my resume, I built momentum and began to find opportunities. The minute I took action- any action- things started happening.

Pollak encourages college students to get out there and try new things, since you never know what might lead to a job opportunity. During your time in college, you should take advantage of your professors’ knowledge and their connections to potential employers. The university staff and faculty want to help you succeed, so it doesn’t hurt to ask questions! For Union specifically, the Vocatio Center is a great place to go for resume help, on-campus jobs, and future career prep. As Pollak says, “Do not pass GO, do not collect $200, until you’ve visited your school’s career services office.”

For more advice on what you can be doing to prepare for your next job, check out Getting From College To Career. It’s available in the library in the LB section (click this link to see the call number).

 

How To Make Time For Reading As A Busy College Student

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I’ve worked in the library for several years, and one thing I hear a lot from students is “I wish I could read that book, but I don’t have time!”

Now, I’m not here to give you a lecture on time management, or to tell you to stop doing homework so that you can read for fun! That’s definitely not what you should be doing as a student. However, I do think many students would like to find the time to read in their busy lives, so here are a few tips on how to squeeze in some reading time.

 

Read on-the-go.

Did you know that you can download eBooks from our library website? Once they’re downloaded on your Kindle, phone, or laptop, you can read the eBook even if you’re online. This is a great option for time spent waiting in line at Barefoots or sitting at the doctor’s office- those few extra minutes could be reading time!

 

Read on breaks.

From Christmas break to summer break, there’s usually a few hours to spare for leisurely reading. When I look at my Goodreads statistics, I can see that I typically read the most during J-Term, when I have a few days off of work and a less hectic schedule.

 

Read during meals.

Meal breaks are a great time to read a quick chapter or a few poems, especially if you find yourself in Cobo at a time when none of your friends are available for lunch.

 

Read before bed.

If you tend to reach for your phone before you turn out the lights, maybe you could reach for your book instead! If it’s a physical book, then its pages won’t emit sleep-disrupting light like screens do.

 

 

But what to read?

5 Financial Tips For College Students

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Recently, I have taken the Personal Financial Management class here at Union, and as I am about to graduate in the spring, I have begun to think more and more about more and more of my own finances. Here are 5 tips in personal finance:

1. Pay in cash.

If you can, try to pay for things up front and in cash. Whether it is a new phone or a new car, try to use cash. As college students, we probably already have thousands of dollars of debt anyways. We really don’t need more.

2. Pay off your student debt ASAP.

Becoming a college student is one of the best decisions you can make in your life. It can also be one of the most expensive. Once you graduate, it is important that you live meagerly and attempt to pay off your debt in a timely manner. The longer you wait, the more debt will accrue.

3. Save, save, save.

Once you start paying off your debts, you can start allocating your money to other things. One important tip I have learned is that you can just start saving the money that you were already using to pay off your debts. You already know how to live without that money, so maybe you can keep living that way.

4. Start investing early.

One of the classic and most important financial tips is investing early. Putting money into a 401K or mutual funds is critical. Money you invest now will grow exponentially, and being financially aware now can legitimately help you to become a millionaire by the time you retire.

5. Give to charity and to the Church.

This is something you should already be doing. God has told us that we should give a portion of our earnings to God. This is the most important tip I can give you. Give, not only because God will reward you, but because we are called to.

 

There are many other tips out there! Learning how to create a budget, creating an emergency fund, treating yourself every now and then, having small side jobs, and writing down your goals are just a few others. More than anything, the most important thing is to be responsible with the resources given to you!

 

*written by Donny Turner

5 Steps To Study Abroad

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So you want to study abroad? You’ve fantasized about traveling to far off places, experiencing the culture, speaking a new language, and tasting foreign cuisine. However, despite the concept of living abroad making you starry-eyed, you may not know the best way to start planning such a trip. I recently returned from a six-month study abroad in Tokyo, and I am going to explain the steps I took to get there.

Step One: Deciding Where to Go

For some people, deciding where they want to travel is a no-brainer. For me, I had been interested in Japan for about as long as I could remember, so it had been my travel goal from the start. For some, the decision is not so easy. It can be daunting to pick one place out of the entire world to choose. To help you pick, making a list of your interests and expectations can weed out some options. Love soccer? Check out places in Europe or South America where the sport is popular. Noodles are your favorite food? Italy or a country in Asia might be your best bet. Even your dislikes can help you choose a place. Afraid of tsunamis? Avoid beachfront locations. Don’t want to learn a new language? Go somewhere that you already know the preferred tongue. After you’ve compiled your list, then you can work on the next step.

Step Two: Finding an Academic Program

If you’re lucky, your school will have a program available in the country you want to visit. If you’re not so lucky, you’ll have to be a bit more creative. If you don’t want academic credit, you don’t have to worry about finding American accredited programs, but you may also have difficulty finding scholarships. If you need academic credits, find programs that are either accredited or have connections to an American institution that can transfer those credits for you. You’ll want to contact that particular institution at this point and ask if they allow students at other institutions to concurrently enroll. This is what I did when I studied in Tokyo. I attended an international language school called KCP International but had my course credits transferred through Western Washington University. It may cost an extra fee to do this, but it shouldn’t cost a fortune, and it will open up the opportunity for a variety of academic scholarships.

Feel free to communicate with your study abroad advisor during this process. They are a wealth of information about a number of options you can choose regarding the international study. Once you’ve chosen an institution, bring it up to your advisor so that they can clear it.

Step Three: Bureaucracy, Bureaucracy, Bureaucracy

This is the part that will wear you out if you’re not careful. Between your school, the U.S. Government, and the government of the country you are visiting, you will have plenty of paperwork and requirements you will have to figure out. I cannot stress enough that you need to GET STARTED EARLY! It took me around two full years between initially talking with my study abroad advisor to actually departing for Japan.

Depending on your stay, your steps will be different. Is your country on good terms with the United States? What kind of travel insurance is the ideal one for you? Will you be flying or using some other mode of transportation? Will you have to apply for and receive an international visa? Where is the nearest consulate for your destination country? Can you bring prescription medications and, if so, how much? Will you live in dorm housing, a homestay, or will you have to arrange housing for yourself? Will you need to research and request for disability accessible amenities? Do you have to make down payments on anything for your trip? When is the best time to book travel tickets? All these and many more are questions you are going to have to figure out during the prep stage.

Use government web resources, your university staff, and your international contact to address unexpected questions. You may need to get a physical or vaccines depending on the country or program you attend, so be sure to get that done well before your trip. If this step is done well, it can save you a lot of headache down the road.

 

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Step Four: Raise Money

While you shouldn’t wait to start building your savings, you’ll probably need to apply to a program first in order to apply for some scholarships. As boring and annoying as applications can be, it can make or break your finances. I was able to receive several thousand dollars in funds from outside organizations and federal and university scholarships. Your advisor can probably recommend some scholarships for you, but a quick internet search can provide country, language, or field-specific scholarships to apply for.

Keep good track of what you’ve applied for and received, as well as application and disbursement deadlines. For many scholarships, you’ll probably need a transcript as well as letters of recommendation. I recommend getting these one time and then saving the copies to send off to however many scholarships you apply for. Many scholarships have other requirements such as writing papers after the study abroad, completing service projects, or even working for a specific entity for a specified amount of time, so please read the fine print of whatever you want to apply for. For extra liquid funds, some students get help from family members, start crowdfunding campaigns, or work to build up savings. Between my savings from two summers and winters of interning and delivery driving, as well as a generous gift from my grandparents, I had enough cash to pay for my program fees and live comfortably in one of the most expensive cities on earth while only taking out a small safety net loan. As long as you’re willing to set realistic expectations and work hard, you likely won’t have too much difficulty getting the funds you need.

Step Five: Getting Ready To Go

You’ve gotten your passport and visa, you bought your plane tickets months ago, you’ve made mental lists of everything you want to see and eat once you arrive, and you’ve even been studying your target language with renewed vigor. Now you just have to make sure your affairs are in order.

If you have a long layover before you reach your target country, I highly recommend getting a hotel room near the airport. I made the mistake of booking a sixteen-hour layover in Shanghai Pudong Airport after my fifteen-hour long-haul flight betting that the in-airport hotel would have a room available. Upon fumbling my way through Chinese customs and immigration, I hoisted my luggage on a cart and made the incredibly long trek to the hotel only to find that they were completely booked. None of the seats in the airport recline, so I was reduced to lying on the floor of the very cold international terminal, using my jacket as a blanket and maneuvering my travel pillow into a very uncomfortable headrest. All and all it was miserable, and the few hours of sleep I did get left me sore, stiff, and cranky just in time for my flight to Narita Airport.

Also, don’t forget to go to your preferred local bank and request currency for your target country as well as any countries you stop at in between. You don’t want a delayed flight to make you choose between the unfortunate airport exchange rate or starving to death in terminal C. Always remember to weigh your baggage in both pounds and kilograms before you leave and to pack only what you need. Don’t be like me and pay an extra hundred dollars on overweight charges because of a pair of ice skates I only used once.

Make sure to read up on your airline carry-on policy and to pack your carry-on bag in such a way that you can easily access its contents. You’ll also want to check the country safety rating provided by the state department for your target country and all countries you’ll stop in. The rating for China went down just a few days before I was going to leave the country. This allowed me to decide against my plans to visit the city during my layover. Look up the country’s emergency numbers before you leave and research sim card options online. I purchased a data-only sim card for my time in Japan and it was a more cost-effective tool than buying a sim card with data and a cell plan. Ultimately you’ll have to choose which option best fits your location and budget. Once all your incidentals are in order you are ready to go! However, no matter how prepared you think you are, life will still find a way to bring in odd, confusing complications to your trip. Just remember to remain flexible, and that this will probably become a funny story in a month or two.

Wherever you decide to go, I wish you the best of luck and happy travels. Studying abroad can provide a rich experience that you can learn so many things you’ll never find in a book. I know I enjoyed my experience more than words can say. If you found this useful, don’t forget to share this post and check out what else we have on the Union University Library Blog.

Bon Voyage!

 

*written by Ruth Duncan