Search Results for ‘skype’

Quick Fixes for Winter Break Bummers

Let’s face it–two or four full weeks with the fam can get a little rough sometimes. Sure, time flies when you’re having fun, but what about those sticky situations that make everything just a little… lame. Here’s how to deal so you can enjoy these homework-free weeks of winter break!

Your mom has jam-packed every day with three hundred activities, and you have no time for your plans.

Have a little heart-to-heart, and explain that you’re excited to be home, and had hoped to be able to spend time with friends AND family. Ask your mom which activities are most important to her, and ask her which days you can skip out to meet your friends to catch a movie and wax nostalgic. The key is being willing to participate in the most important stuff (and have a good attitude about it–brownie points!).

Your family’s plans are, frankly, non-existent.

Take matters into your own hands. There are all kinds of activities going on this time of year–some cool, some dorky (my hometown does an annual dry boat parade… I’m serious…)–so get your siblings out of the house and go do something. If they won’t join you, round up some high school friends to go instead.

Bummer: Mom and Dad are cracking down on the “House Rules” now that you’re home for a few weeks.

While it’s reasonable that they have some house rules that must be followed, see if you can bend or stretch the ones that are really cramping your style by talking it out (and, obviously, talk to the more lenient parent!). For example, if your ‘rents insist that you’re home by ten, explain that you’re usually out later at school, you’re careful and cautious, and you’re willing to call in a few times between ten and (insert your reasonable but later curfew here) so they know you’re safe. If they’re still being stubborn, see if they’ll up the time if you have people over instead of going out.

Bummer: You miss your significant other who’s back home, too.

First: you’ve got technology, so use it! Make a Skype date for a night or two (or more) during the week, and take advantage of email, phone calls, and text to share whatever goofiness is going on at your place.

Second, get old-school romantic and write a love letter or two. It may sound cheesy, but I submit that there is nothing as heart melting as getting a hand-written letter from someone totally crush-worthy.


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2 comments December 16th, 2010

5 Techie Freebies I Couldn’t Live Without

Maybe that’s a little bit of an exaggeration, but nonetheless, here are the 5 freebies that make my little geeky heart go pitter-pat. 🙂

Photo Editing and Beyond
Photoshop’s Younger (Freeware) Brother. I heard about the Gimp way back when I was in high school, and to be quite frank with you, I wasn’t impressed. Yes, it had most of the features that Photoshop had, but the usability was terrible. Several versions later, its almost unrecognizable. I downloaded it last week (my PS Elements didn’t have the features I needed) and I absolutely love it. You might have a little learning curve if you are switching from Photoshop, but remember–Photoshop is hundreds of dollars, and the Gimp is free, so a little extra tutorial skimming isn’t so bad.

Yay Browsers
Browsing, Google Style. If you’re still browsing on IE (which keeps having security issues–yikes!), its time to take a look at what else is out there. My two primary browsers are Firefox and Google Chrome–both great browsers–and I have to say Chrome is my fav. It is more streamlined (you can run a google search right in the address bar) and has all the features you need in a good browser. Word of warning, though: Chrome is still new on the scene, so every now and again it won’t be able to load all the features of a site. Which is why I have my handy dandy Firefox standing by. AND both of them focus on keeping your browsing secure.

Internet Radio
Out of the Box. When I moved last summer from the jam-packed airwaves of San Diego to a quiet little spot on the east coast, I was a little disappointed at the slim pickings on the radio. Thank goodness for Pandora, which creates “stations” based on songs I like (and remembers what I dislike). Not only do I get to hear my old favorites, but it introduces me to new favs in the genres I’m interested in. Downsides? The occasional ad will play (and they have ads on their sidebar while you’re listening) and you can only play 40 hours of music per month for free.

Blogging Software
Send it to Press. I’ve used lots of different blogging platforms, but WordPress is by far my choice for free blogging software for anyone who will be blogging from their own domain. With tons of themes and plugins (and more every day), constant updates to make it better, and a user-friendly interface behind the scenes, it is the real deal, and it doesn’t cost you anything. One note, though–if you won’t be running your blog from your own website, I’d recommend using Blogger, which is easy to customize (there are whole blogs about customizing blogger!) and gets better with each update.

Video Chat & More
Share and Share Alike. I’ve mentioned Skype several times before, because I love it, but when they introduced free screen sharing, too, I really felt bitten by the love bug. Now I can video chat with friends (free!!!) anywhere AND use screen sharing to teach my dad how to work his iMovie without having to make a trip home. Oh Skype, you are just dreamy.

(Want more tips on great deals and freebies? Find out the 10 software freebies every student should know about, or learn how to get free food in college or how to trade books, DVDs, and video games online and get something new-to-you for just the price of postage!)

Are any of these freebies on your love/hate list? I’d love to hear your take–or find out which freebies YOU can’t live without–so fess up!

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1 comment April 12th, 2010

5 Ways for Any Personality to Give Homesickness the Old One-Two!

After the busy buzz of Welcome Week activities and the whirlwind of the first few days of classes, it’s not uncommon to get a case of the blues. Living on your own–and trying to make a whole new group of friends!–can be overwhelming. Add that to missing your family and friends from home, and you’ve got a full-blow case of homesickness.

Here’s how to punch homesickness right in the (figurative) nose, no matter what your personality type.

Type-A Go-Getters

For a former ASB President/Football star/lead in the school play like you, college is a wide wide world of opportunity.

Start the year off right by getting a weekend crowd organized. Celebrate the end of the week by throwing a bonfire, s’mores roast, or cookout while the weather is still nice, and invite as many people as you can. Use your leadership skills to get food, music, location, and rides organized.

Having so much to do–and something to look forward to–will help get your mind off that pesky lonely feeling.

Want a bigger challenge? Figure out how to show an outdoor movie.

Shy Guy (or Gal)

If you’re a naturally shy person, breaking out of your shell in a brand new place may be more than a little challenging. Luckily there are some less in-the-spotlight ways for you to beat the homesickness bug.

Start by trying to meet some people–even if its just a few people you can chat with and sit by in each class. Consistent interaction with fun people is a nice energy boost on a rough day. Also, find out what intriguing clubs or sports are on campus, and try to hit a couple of meetings or games. Be confident, and when you’re feeling scared, remind yourself that you can skip out any time.

Meeting people takes time, so while you’re working on that, keep up a steady stream of contact with your already-established friends. Video chats can make you feel like you’ve just had an hour of hang time with your BFF, and emails or texts keep you in touch at the click of a button.

Above and Beyond

Just a few more ideas to get you out of the rut…

  • Helping Hand. One of the best tactics for overcoming homesickness–or any form of self-pity, really–is to focus your energy outward. Instead of worrying about how you feel, focus on how the people around you are feeling, and try to help them out. Whether you’re complimenting your roommate’s shoes or volunteering at a retirement home, making other people feel good will help boost your own mood!
  • Work Through It. While I still encourage you to take time to meet and greet new people and create a friend base at school, on the really bad homesick days, you can decide to throw yourself into your studies. And if you have a career goal in mind, put more energy towards networking, interning, and volunteering so you can get a handle on your future.
  • Touch Base. Just because you’ve moved doesn’t mean you have to give up the relationships you already have. In fact, as you become an adult and pursue a career, you may find yourself moving several times. Keep the love (or friendship) alive by remembering birthdays and keeping in touch via facebook, texts, phone calls, emails, Skype, or whatever works best for you.


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2 comments October 1st, 2009

Bump the Post-Break Blues!

By now most of you are heading back to school, settling into the dorms with your new toys from the break, and if you’re anything like me, you’re feeling a little post-winter-break slump. Sure its great to be back (well, minus the homework bit), but all that bonding with family & friends you did over the holidays might leave you feeling a little lonely.

Make a Skype Date

I have just gotten on the video-chatting bandwagon (I picked up a webcam on a Black Friday shopping trip), and it is so much better than talking on the phone! The coolest part? Motorola has a video phone that costs about $800, but you can get a pretty good webcam for only $30.

Then just hook up to a free service like Skype or Gmail Voice & Video chat and start talking face to face–and don’t forget to make sure you get some face time with Rover if you’re missing your pup! (I was super homesick for my dogs, and I am not afraid to admit it!) Moms & dads tend to be pretty excited about video chat, too–I just showed my dad and he thought it was awesome.

Mail an Old Fashioned Snail Mail Letter

I am a firm believer that a good piece of mail can turn a bad day into a good one–so give someone’s day a lift (and help ensure you’ll get some mail of your own) by sending off a bit of snail mail. Send mom a postcard, write a letter to your BFF during class, or pen a love note to your crush–then stamp it and send it off!

Have a Long-Distance TV Party

Lost of shows are just starting up after the holiday break, but being apart doesn’t mean you can’t watch LOST with your kid brother anymore. Make a phone date and watch together, or if you’re in a different time zone, wait until the next day and log on to the web to watch the latest episodes together. Most TV stations air full episodes on their websites, or you can try one of my new fav sites,, which has full TV shows (new and classic) and even full length movies.

How are you kicking the post-break slump? Help me out–I need to do it, too!

a girl with a phone by mzacha

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2 comments January 14th, 2009

5 Ways to Kick the College Homesickness Bug

Fighting off homesickness is often one of the biggest challenges of moving away from home-especially your first year of college-which is why I’ve written a couple of articles about how to deal with it already (see the first one here and the second one here).  So if you’re feeling a little out of your element, or just missing your summer crush, here are a few ideas to help you out of the slump:

1.  Connect

Meeting new people in college can make a huge difference in your comfort level-a friendly face in the caf or having someone to talk to in class really takes the edge off a bad day.  Wondering how to go about forming these connections?  Check out my past post about how to meet people in college.

2.  Reconnect

Moving away from home doesn’t mean you have to cut all ties with your family & friends.  It seems like every day there are new ways to keep in touch.  You’re undoubtedly IMing and emailing already, and I’ve suggested phone calls, a group blog, and text/pix messaging before, but why stop there?

Keep your friends updated (and keep up on their news) in real time with Twitter, connect with groups & old friends on Facebook, and if you just need to see a friendly face, try using Skype to make free video calls from your computer.

3.  Make Yourself at Home

Feeling out of place in your new environment usually makes homesickness worse, so try to make your dorm room “home” ASAP.  Make your side of the room your own with familiar photos, bedding, and knick-knacks, and try to learn your way around campus so it feels natural for you to be there. (Check out my post about dorm dĂ©cor on the cheap for inspiration!)

4.  Journal

It’s perfectly normal to feel some apprehension or loneliness when you find yourself in such a brand-new situation, but that doesn’t mean you’re itching to spill your sorrows to your roommate.  If you’re too shy or uncomfortable to talk about missing home, don’t bottle it up!  Get your feelings out on paper (or computer screen) by keeping an informal journal.  You don’t even have to keep what you’ve written-sometimes writing just helps you get it out of your system.

If you aren’t the paper-and-pen type, try Xanga, Blogger, WordPress, or LiveJournal-you can make all of them private if you want to.

5.  Plan a Party

Having trouble meeting people or getting enough interaction with your peers?  Plan a party!  (Not only will it help you meet people, the planning process will keep your mind occupied during quiet hours).  It can be anything from the traditional definition to a casual movie night or a screening of the season premiere of your favorite show.  Your campus should have space available for you to reserve, or you can talk to your RA about using a common area in the dorms (they could probably help you publicize it, too).

Make sure the word gets out via email, posters around campus, Facebook, Twitter, etc. (and if you can, get people to bring food)!

photo: dear memories 2 by lusi

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4 comments September 8th, 2008

50 Smart and Easy Ways to Save Money in College


Finding college a little more expensive than you expected? Check out these tips to help you save cash during the college years—I’ve used a lot of them myself (and now that I’m paying of student loans, I’m finding even more!)

School & Textbooks
1. Try to get a tuition discount. (Fox College Funding’s founder, Deborah Fox, talks about how to do that on her Pay for College blog—look there for other good college & money saving info).

2. Check if your job has tuition assistance or education reimbursement program—if it does, use it!

3. Check to see if your 4-year college will give you credit to take lower division classes at a community college. They cost less to take, and should be basically the same classes.

4. DON’T buy textbooks from the campus bookstore! They are almost ALWAYS overpriced.

5. Buy your text books used ( compares prices on a lot of sites for you), or to save even more, ask your professor if you can use an older edition—those are usually MUCH cheaper.

6. Sell your textbooks at the end of the quarter/semester. You’ll probably get more selling them online than you would selling them back to the school.

7. Apply for scholarships–and increase your odds by applying to quirky scholarships that apply to you, or to local ones. They have a smaller applicant pool, so they’re easier to win!

8. Use meal points or other college meal credits that are built into your fees to their fullest (you probably won’t get a refund at the end of the year).

9. Buy store brand groceries for things that taste the same. For example, store brand cereals sometimes don’t taste as good, but I haven’t noticed a difference in canned goods, pastas, and salad dressing.

10. Buy bulk packages of the things you use the most—toilet paper, shampoo, soap, etc.

11. Don’t use paper plates and plastic utensils if you have to buy them, just wash some dishes instead. Little luxuries like disposable utensils add up.

12. When you go shopping, make a list of all the meals you are going to eat for the next week first. Buy ONLY what you need to make those meals.

13. Don’t shop hungry, and don’t give in to the impulse buys at the checkout stand.

14. Buy groceries that are on sale, but DON’T buy things you don’t need just because they’re on sale.

15. Learn how to eat well (as in real food, not ramen noodles) cheaply. Check out these $3 recipes from Cheap Eats for starters.

16. Buy local produce at a produce store or farmers market. It is fresher AND cheaper. In San Diego we have a store called Henry’s–you can also try to find cheaper fruit & etc. at stores like Trader Joe’s.

Transportation & Travel
17. Gas is expensive. Take the bus (a lot of colleges offer free shuttles or bus passes—check with your school’s transportation department).

18. Carpool and split the cost of gas. This is especially good if you’re taking a long road trip.

19. If you still need to buy gas, check to find cheap rates in your area.

20. Use student discounts when you travel. Check with the bus, train, or airline you are using, or use a student travel site like

21. Share a room. It’s tempting to pay the extra for your own room, but unless you REALLY need it, you may as well share. It’s good practice at getting along with someone, and it costs less.

22. Fight yearly rental increases if you live off campus! Landlords and apartment complexes will usually lower your rent increase if you just ask. Tell them you want to stay in the complex, but you can’t afford so much of an increase—they will usually compromise with you.

Utilities & Phone
23. Reduce your electricity bills: turn off your computer when you’re not using it, turn off lights when you leave the room, unplug appliances you aren’t using.

24. Track your cell minutes diligently so you don’t get charged extra. Better yet, cut down your cell minutes use and get a cheaper plan. Cut down on the frills (like texting or video messaging) that you don’t need, or see if you can get them for free.

25. Calling information? Don’t pay a fee! Call for free information at Google’s (800) GOOG-411, or another free service, (800) FREE-411.

26. Use free internet phone software like Skype to make free computer-to-computer phone calls (it will help cut down your phone bill!)

27. Use the internet at school, and skip getting it at home. Doing that saved me about $30/month.

28. If you’re buying software, hardware, or computers, check out Fry’s Electronics ( They often have rebate deals that allow you to get software for free.

29. Use to find coupon codes for thousands of websites—That College Kid used it to save $70 on her textbooks.

30. Refashion old clothes (or thrifted clothes) into something you love. Check out Wardrobe Refashion and T-Shirt Surgery for inspiration, and get free patterns at Burda Style.

31. Make your own gifts. Check out these DIY gift roundups: for girls, for guys, for kids, & for teens/twenty-somethings. I made a gift for my brother this year that he LOVED, and it cost less than $5 (you can find it in “gifts for guys”–its the Monster iPod Cozy).

32. Buy the floor model for expensive items (but make sure it has a warranty). I got a floor model mattress for a few hundred dollars cheaper.

33. Bargain anywhere you can! It never hurts to ask for a lower price. I’ve gotten discounts on mattress box springs, a motor scooter, and my car just by talking the salesman down!

34. If you have a credit card, use it like a debit card—never spend more than you actually have in the bank.

Credit, Fees & Bills
35. Understand what your credit score is, and keep it healthy! It will help you save money later when you’re looking for low interest rates on car or home loans.

36. Pay your bills on time, always. Late fees for most credit cards START at $20—they could be more.

37. Ask to have yearly or monthly fees waived from credit cards or bank accounts. The worst case scenario is that you get a “No,” the best is that you save those fees!

Food & Entertainment
38. Check for student discounts at museums, zoos, restaurants, and movie theaters. They may not be listed. The San Diego zoo had a deal that allowed me to get a year pass for just a little more than the price of one regular admission, but I had to ask for it—the deal wasn’t listed.

39. Don’t eat out. It adds up quickly, and if you’re not getting fast food, you have to add a tip.

40. Use the gym at school, or exercise for free at parks or beaches.

41. Make your own coffee, or at least skip the $3 lattes.

42. Find free, legal music downloads instead of paying $1 per song. has free downloads for students, and Librivox has free audiobooks.

43. Borrow books and movies from the library instead of buying them or paying a rental fee. Return them on time.

44. Buy discount movie tickets at Costco. They have discounted tickets for chains like Edwards and AMC.

45. Go to matinees, and take advantage of your local theater’s cheaper days—our AMC shows movies for less than half price if you go before 11 on a weekend morning.

46. Try to find a local discount movie theater. We have one on campus! The movies are a little older (almost ready for release on DVD), but still fun to watch on a big screen.

47. Avoid buying snacks at the movie theater; they always overcharge you. If you really want something to munch, pick up some goodies at a grocery store beforehand.

48. Sign up for freebies with your favorite restaurants. Two of my favorites–Pat & Oscar’s and Quizno’s–send out coupons via email, and you can get a FREE “Love It” (medium) size ice cream at Coldstone if you join their birthday club. Mmm!

49. Ask for a lower rate on hotel rooms and rental cars. Since they are travel industries, they are more likely to give you some kind of discount. Be polite, not pushy.

50. Look for freebies in your local paper or school paper: Some museums are free on certain weekdays, some bands play with no cover charge, and your college will probably have some free events for students. UCSD has at least two free concerts with big name artists every year.

Did you like this post? Subscribe to keep up to date with all my latest tips! Enjoy!

Photo: Piggy Bank 1 by Lynne Lancaster

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21 comments January 28th, 2008


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