• Finding the Beauty Wherever You Are

    by Emilie Conners

    A mountain meadow with the Smoky Mountains in the distance. Two young women, with their backs to the viewer, are jumping up in the air.

    I have had the privilege of growing up and living in two very special places thus far in my life. I spent the first half of my life living 10 minutes from the beach in South Florida and the other half living 10 minutes from the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. Living in two completely different places with contrasting environments has really helped shape my perspective and teach me about the value of finding the beauty wherever you are. Here are some of my favorite places to go in South Florida and East Tennessee, the different aspects I appreciate about both places, and what each has to offer.

    South Florida

    I grew up in Delray Beach in South Florida, near Boynton Beach and Boca Raton, and spent a lot of time at the beach. Delray Beach has a long street right near the ocean called “Atlantic Avenue”; this avenue has tons of restaurants, boutiques, and fun surf shops to look at. One of my favorite restaurants here is “Boston’s on the Beach.” It is right across from the ocean and offers some really yummy seafood along with some non-seafood options. Atlantic Avenue tends to be loud and bustling with people at night, but peaceful and relaxing during the day.

    Another one of my favorite places to go to in South Florida if you are looking for a nice beach that won’t be too crowded is: Gulfstream Beach. What I love most about Gulfstream Beach is that it’s not as crowded as some of the beaches directly by the avenue. It’s in a really beautiful part of town, plus the parking is free. If you happen to go to Gulfstream Beach, you should check out “Nomad Surf Shop” which is close by. They have great beach gear and beautiful surfboards to look at!

    East Tennessee

    East Tennessee is a lot different from South Florida. Obviously, there are no beaches but there are beautiful mountains and lots of wildlife to enjoy. My favorite part of living in East Tennessee is being so close to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and visiting this park is definitely a must if you are in town. There are lots of hikes to go on where you can see waterfalls and sometimes even spot a black bear on the way! However, if hiking isn’t your thing, you can always just drive along the loop throughout the park where there are incredible views and lots of deer, horses, and other animals to see.

    Another great place to visit is the Foothills Parkway. This parkway is a long road that winds through the Smoky Mountains with incredible views and plenty of places to stop and overlook the scenery. My best tip is to go before sundown so you can watch the sun set over the mountains. If you are not a huge nature fan, check out Market Square in Knoxville, where you’ll find lots of good restaurants and cool small businesses to check out.

    East Tennessee has a lot to offer and so does South Florida. I have learned that every place has something to admire and enjoy if you are just patient enough to look for it and find it. If you ever get the chance, I greatly encourage you to visit South Florida and East Tennessee.

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  • Overcoming the Pressure to Overachieve

    by Emilie Conners

    An open laptop on a bed. The screen is opened to a college webpage.

    The pressure to overachieve has definitely increased as social media has become more prominent for our generation. As students, it can sometimes feel like everyone is meeting their goals sooner than you and getting a ‘yes’ to everything they have tried for. However, it is incredibly important to remember that everyone’s path to success looks different and is on a different timeline.

    You Only See the Best

    As college students during this time, it can sometimes feel like everyone is getting their dream internship that turns into their dream job right off the bat. However, that’s just not the truth. This new sense of pressure to overachieve seems to be rooted from the fact that every achievement is posted on social media without the ‘no’s’ included. Seeing the highlights of somebody’s life without the lows can make it seem like everyone has it all together except you.

    Trust the Process

    This is why it is completely vital to try to not compare yourself to what your friends, coworkers, or roommates are doing and succeeding at in college. Trusting your own process and trying your best is all that you can do. A key thing to remember is that you are not on any kind of time crunch or perfect journey to success. There are going to be ups and downs no matter what and oftentimes doors close so that a better one can open for you.

    My best advice to handle the pressure to overachieve is to reflect on your own accomplishments, work towards your own goals and understand that your road to success won’t always be smooth and straight. And no matter how it may appear online, no one else’s will be either.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

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  • October 10th: World Mental Health Day

    by Emilie Conners

    A gratitude journal set against a dark grey background.

    October 10th is a day extremely important in bringing awareness to mental health. Over the years, this topic has become increasingly important as more and more people have been affected by issues surrounding mental health. If you haven’t been affected by mental health issues, chances are you know someone who has been. Each year, many college students experience mental health challenges that can be crippling to their quality of life. Raising awareness can help end the stigma surrounding mental health challenges.

    Mental Health Is Hard to See

    When you have a physical injury like a broken arm, it is usually visible to everyone; you can easily go to the doctor and get it fixed. However, it can be much more difficult to notice and fix a mental “injury”. Mental illness is often not noticeable to someone from the outside. This is why it is so important that more awareness is brought to mental health so that people will become more comfortable with speaking up about their struggles.

    It Can’t Stay “All in Our Head”

    Being self-aware can help you better assess your own mental health so that you can seek help when you feel less like yourself. Therapy is a great way to get started and can help you deal with life changes and better understand why you feel the way that you do. Someone who isn’t your friend or family member may be able to provide more objective feedback. Additionally, it is important to look out for your friends and family and make sure they’re okay when you notice them acting different. It is vital that your loved ones know that you care about them and that there are resources there for them if they need help.

    Destigmatize Mental Health by Building Awareness

    Overall, mental health is something that is still very stigmatized and oftentimes overlooked. The consequences of untreated mental health conditions can be severe which is why it is critical that people educate themselves on the matter and seek help when necessary. Showing the people around you that you care about them along with being understanding when someone comes to you with their struggles can make a world of a difference. World Mental Health Day is a great day to start becoming an advocate for mental health awareness.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

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  • Learning About My Ancestry via European Heritage Days

    by Emilie Conners

    Blog author Emilie as a young girl sitting on her mother’s lap on a couch. Next to them is Emilee’s Belgian grandmother.

    European Heritage Days are traditionally held each September across the European Union, and feature cultural events highlighting local skills and traditions, architecture and works of art. The broader aim is to bring citizens together in harmony even though there are differences in cultures and languages.

    These days have come to mean a lot to me because, while my father’s side of the family is from the U.S., my mother and her whole side of the family are from Belgium. It has always been really important for me and my family to acknowledge my European heritage, especially growing up in the States. Understanding and learning more about my heritage is something that I have come to realize is so valuable especially as I have gotten older.

    Digging deeper

    Growing up with parents from two different countries teaches you a lot about the importance of culture and the permanent stamp it leaves on your identity. When I was younger, I never really paid much attention to my Belgium heritage. because it didn’t feel as significant due to the fact that all of my mother’s side of the family still live in Europe and so we don’t get to see them as often. However, this doesn’t make my European heritage any less important; it just means I have to dig deeper to learn more about it.

    Learning to represent

    It wasn’t until I started asking my mom more questions about what her life was like as she was growing up and before she moved to America that I realized the impact of her life experience has on who I am. Knowing where you come from and the types of cultures your parents were raised in can help you better understand why you are the way you are, and how you got to be that way. The valuable stories, pictures, and glimpses that I get into my mom’s European customs help me better represent my family and my heritage.

    Keeping traditions alive

    Even doing something small like asking my mom to teach me a recipe her mom used to make helps me learn more about some of our Belgium traditions which are just as important as our American ones. Getting to experience two different cultures growing up is a beautiful thing to be explored, understood, and appreciated. I am so thankful for the different pieces of heritage that have come together to help me become who I am today. Additionally, I am thankful for my parents for always striving to show me the importance of both cultures and raising me to be curious about my roots.

    I would urge you to ask your parents about their stories, traditions, and ways that have made an impact on you. There is so much to learn about where you come from and what makes you, you. It’s never too late to start embracing your culture and striving to learn more about your family history.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

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  • Managing the Stress of College Life

    by Emilie Conners

    A water bottle and a writing journal set on a white blanket. The journal is titled “just breathe”.

    College can be exciting, stressful, fun, and overwhelming all at the same time. Enjoying your time spent in your college years while also taking advantage of the opportunities that are available to you is extremely important. Many of us juggle a part-time job or sport with a demanding class schedule that leaves us asking “how do I manage my stress during a time like this?” Here are some tips to help you balance all the pieces of your college life whether you’re an incoming freshman or you’re planning to graduate in the spring.

    Relieve Stress by Writing

    I have made a habit of journaling to help myself decompress during the week. Journaling can be extremely helpful for alleviating stress and anxiety. Some things I love to journal about are my goals, positive affirmations, and sometimes just thoughts to help organize my ideas. Starting your day off with journaling can help you begin your day in a positive manner.

    Sweat Away the Stress

    Working out during the week through an activity that’s fun for you can be a great way to let off some steam. Some ways you can do this are by taking a walk/jogging around campus, attending a workout class with some friends, or simply trying a new hobby like hiking or biking. Everyone likes working out in different ways and so there’s no wrong way to get your exercise in.

    Fight the F.O.M.O.

    Schedule time for yourself to enjoy moments with the people that are important to you. The “fear of missing out” is a common feeling among college students and can make handling multiple responsibilities nearly impossible. I have found that scheduling a dinner with your roommates once a week or coffee with a friend can make even the most chaotic weeks enjoyable and easier to get through. The people you surround yourself with are the people who help you become who you’re striving to be; don’t let those important relationships pass you by. However, it is also important to keep in mind that you shouldn’t stress about missing certain events, it won’t matter to you in the future and there will most likely be another opportunity just like it.

    The ultimate key to managing stress during college is not expecting yourself to do a million things at once. Just remember it’s okay to take some things off your plate if you feel overwhelmed or unable to complete everything you’re responsible for. College is all about taking advantage of opportunities and helping yourself become the best version of yourself possible. This takes patience, mistakes, and practice. Taking care of yourself is the first step to becoming successful at anything else. It is extremely important to value your mental and physical health before prioritizing your other responsibilities.

    Do you have a compelling story or student success tips you’d like to see published on the Pearson Students blog?  If you are a college student and interested in writing for us – click here to pitch your idea and get started! 

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