My Winter Netflix Favorites 2017

This post is sponsored by Panasonic, but all thoughts and opinions are my own! Thank you for supporting The Wise Willow! 🙂

Happy December! I woke up this morning to the first snow of the season, and it made me feel all the more excited about the holiday season! My semester abroad is coming to a close, and amongst final papers and projects (and travel planning to return home!) I have been relaxing with my recent Netflix favorites.

This year, watching Netflix movies and shows has been one of my favorite ways to relax. I downloaded the app on my phone before my summer travels, and was able to watch my favorite shows on my long plane journeys! When I can, though, I love to watch Netflix on bigger screens like my laptop or the Panasonic Oled 4k TV. I have been watching a variety of shows, ranging from intense mysteries to holiday films. I wanted to share with you what I have been watching recently, because I have found a few amazing films on a whim!

Stranger Things 2

I joined the Stranger Things bandwagon quite late–I watched the first season right before the release of the second. I hesitated about watching it initially, because the premise reminded me of Super 8 (which was a movie that definitely freaked me out–I’m not much of a Si-Fi fan unfortunately). But I gave it a go and was captivated by the plot line. There were definitely moments when watching it alone at night was probably not the best idea, but I couldn’t help it! It was my go-to show for relaxing after a long day of classes this semester. Once I finished the first season, I went right on to the second!

I don’t want to give any spoilers for the second season, but I highly recommend that you watch it if you’re at all interested. The second season got even better (somehow!) in my opinion, and was something that I could talk about with family, friends, and people on Twitter as I watched each episode!

Riverdale

This is another show that I was a bit late with, but I decided to give the first episode a try in October and I haven’t looked back. I didn’t think it would be my kind of show (dark mystery and suspense) but I look forward to each episode of season 2 that is released. The next episode is coming out December 7th and the season ends on the 14th! I really hope there is a season 3 of the show, because I have come to love the characters and storyline. The second season has definitely taken on a more serious and intense tone (as many second seasons do), and every Thursday night I look forward to seeing what new developments are made.

Supergirl

This is another show that I didn’t think I would like as much (I have watched a few superhero movies and never felt completely interested in them), but it has been a show I enjoy watching when I’m looking for a more uplifting yet engaging TV show. I enjoy the humor and the plot in this show, and new episodes are released regularly!

Shadowhunters

This is a show that I have been watching since over the summer, and the third season is set to air on TV in April. The first and second seasons are available on Netflix, and I highly recommend starting them! This is more of a fantasy series, and because of that I wasn’t sure if I would like it (I read the book series and didn’t like the movie made a few years ago too much). But I’m so glad I started watching it because the character development is amazing, and the cast works really well together. The show is directed really well, and you never know what’s going to happen next!

The Spirit of Christmas

Last weekend I wanted to watch a holiday film, and I stumbled across one that was set in Vermont at an old in. From the Netflix description I thought it was going to be really cheesy, but I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did! When I finished watching it, I immediately messaged a fellow New England friend and told her she had to watch it (she also loved it)! The humor and plot was very engaging, and it was a great holiday find!

I am always looking for more Netflix recommendations, and would love to know what shows and movies you have been loving lately! Also let me know what you think of any of these shows if you start watching them! 🙂

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella.

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How I Prepared for my Study Abroad

This post is sponsored by ClassTracker, and I received a copy of the planner in exchange for my honest review. There are also affiliate links featured in the post, through which I may receive a commission for purchases made through them. Thank you for supporting what makes The Wise Willow possible! 

Where did the summer go? I feel like just last month I was leaving my room in college and getting ready for my summer travels! Now it is the 23rd of August and normally I would be moving back into a dorm on campus and getting ready for the semester. But this semester is different, and it’s hard to believe that it came so quickly. I am packing my bags once again and getting ready to go to Serbia for the semester! This can be quite the process, so I wanted to share how I’m going about it for anyone who might be going through the same thing!

Planning, Planning, and More Planning

A lot of planning goes into a regular college semester, and even more goes into a semester abroad. More extraneous logistics and details have to be figured out ahead of time, but it’s all more than worth it. However, I’m not one of those people who can remember everything that they have to do without help. Which is why I love planners so much! I was looking for a new planner to use for this school year, and the ClassTracker planner is the perfect fit.

I was looking for a minimalist planner that would allow me to write down everything I need to do in a way that would be easy to decipher when I take quick glances at my to-do list (has anyone else taken a look at their to-do list and felt completely lost?). I have made many lists that make it hard to remember what to prioritize and when, but the ClassTracker planner has many sections in the weekly layout for all of these details!

Each day I will fill in the top “remember to” panel with important logistics that are usually unrelated to my studies (for example, “remember to send _____ email or remember to go to the store to get more almond milk”). Then there is a space for “quizzes/exams/papers/projects” which I haven’t been filling out yet for the most part as I learn more about my classes upon my arrival.

The “assignments” space is the one I use the most at the moment to keep track of the pre-semester reading assignments and my progress. I write down the specific sections I am going to read each day to make sure that I stay on track. The bottom “activities” section is quite helpful for remembering what other commitments I have each day as I prepare to leave. The monthly pages let me plan big events (like my study abroad departure date!) and keep the big picture in mind.

Preparing to go abroad can be an overwhelming task, but planning really does help to alleviate a lot of the stress that comes along with it! From remembering what to pack to keeping up with reading, writing it down gives me peace of mind that I will have everything I need for my journey. I highly recommend this planner for all of your academic and activity needs! There are a bunch of colors to choose from (I chose the coral color and it’s beautiful!) and it’s perfect for all kinds of students!

Preparing, Preparing, and More Preparing

Now that I have written everything down, it’s time for the actual prep! I received an email to my campus inbox (make sure you’re checking that regularly even though it’s still summer!) about all of the last minute details I would need to know for my program. I joined the online group and printed out the materials that I would need to read over (orientation guides and logistics). They also supplied a list of required and recommended reading materials. A study abroad semester makes this aspect a bit more difficult, as I wasn’t sure whether to look for electronic copies of all of the books that I needed to save space and weight in my luggage. However, I know myself as a student and know that used hardcopies work the best for me.

With that, I went to Textbooks.com to look at the prices of their books and they had all but one of the books I needed. I spent $20 on six books and was able to get the other one quickly from Amazon! They arrived faster than I thought they would, which gave me time to start the readings for the semester and to really reflect on the material. I also bought sticky notes, BIC Atlantis gel pens in black (my favorite pens ever–I’m someone who never uses pencil so I go through pens so fast! But these last for a long time and are super comfortable!), and a five-subject notebook so that I would only have to worry about carrying one notebook around with me. I also picked up two composition notebooks for homeworks that don’t need to be submitted, as I can use the paper in the notebook to turn in assignments. The last part of preparation, and possibly the hardest part, is packing.

Packing, Packing, and More Packing

Since I have just arrived back home from all of my travels I am a bit more prepared than I normally would be to start packing. However, this journey is four months long instead of two months and requires more logistical thinking.

To start, I determined how many bags I would be bringing with me. This is a really important step, because it determines the amount of space that you have to work with. When I traveled this summer, I took three total bags: a small waterproof backpack, another slightly larger backpack from SOLO NY, and a SOLO NY duffel bag/backpack combo. This was perfect for two full months of travel–but since I will be bringing a few more things and school materials I knew I would need more space.

So I have decided to bring the following: my small waterproof backpack (this is the perfect bag for valuables!), a large backpacking bag from Eagle Creek (I got this from a thrift store for $30!), and a small rolling luggage piece for my books and other materials. Now that I know how much space I have to work with, I can start the more complicated part!

For clothes, I checked the forecast for Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo as well as the recommended packing list sent by my program. I allocated my entire backpack and a small portion of my rolling bag for clothing–given that I need four months worth and clothing for different temperatures. I also looked on Pinterest and through my copy of Organizing for Your Lifestyle (if you haven’t seen my minimalist travel tips check out the post here!) for packing inspiration and space-efficient ideas.

I am also bringing all of my supplements (I recently changed up the ones I am using due to what I discovered about my wellness and travel–post coming soon!) and will put these in the rolling bag. I highly recommend bringing all of your supplements and normal wellness remedies with you to make sure that you stay balanced among the changes that come with travel!

Finally, I made sure that all of my important documentation was copied and kept in multiple places to be on the safe side. I also made sure I completed all of my preparations for the semester, and had all of the materials that my program required (an unlocked smartphone that is SIM compatible, for example).

Are you studying abroad or preparing for a new semester? What are your preparation tips? Let me know in the comments!

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

 

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Planning for a New Semester: Start off Strong!

I don’t know about you, but ordering textbooks for a new semester makes me feel ready to start preparing for the months ahead! This morning I logged on to one of my favorite textbook resources, Textbooks.com. I was able to find all of the books that were on my required reading list at a very affordable price! Once I sent in the order, I knew it was time to start thinking about how to best prepare.

I am going to be a third-year in college (I have no idea where the time went!), and this semester I will be studying abroad! Since I won’t be returning to my home campus this fall, planning is even more important to make sure I start off strong. And as I’m sure you have noticed in many of my posts so far, I love planning on pen and paper. I have tried planning electronically, but something about writing everything down makes it easier to remember and organize!

Sara of College Compass has launched a printable planner that comes different formats for all students! I used to be someone who would open up all the planners in the school supply aisle and look at their formats, searching for one that I knew would work with my organization style. When Amazon became popular, I did the same thing online. It could take hours to find one that fit my needs, and sometimes the price tag would make me search longer.

When I write down assignments, I like to have vertical space for each class (otherwise I will get quite confused!). The College Compass planner includes a vertical format, both decorated (with amazing seasonal designs!) and undecorated depending on your preference. It also includes hourly and horizontal layouts, and both of those options also come in decorated and undecorated formats!

One of the other benefits of a printable planner is the options that you have to bind the pages together! I’m someone who loves DIY projects, and one of my favorite ways to personalize organization methods is to take a hole punch and some twine and bind the pages together with a twine bow. 🙂 You can also opt to bind yours with plastic or any other material that best fits your needs!

Having a printable planner also means that you can customize it as much as you want–this planner includes reflection pages (which I love, because it makes me think about all that I want to accomplish during the week!). There’s also an academic planning bundle that you can add to the planner, with assignment sheets (weekly and semester), grade trackers, fitness logs, and more! You can place these within the planner layout itself to truly make it your own too! 🙂

I’ve already started planning out the weeks leading up to my semester, and have filled the vertical layout with lists of what I need to prepare and remember to do! If you’re looking for a planner that can help you through your entire academic year, I highly recommend this one! There are just so many options, and you can design it any way you want (or change depending on what works best for your class schedule!).

To buy the planner and the academic bundle, you can click here! When you buy the planner or the academic bundle, you will get access to your own shop portal where you can download the files and use them to your heart’s content! The downloads never expire, so you will always have access to them.

What’s your favorite way to plan for the semester? What is your go-to planner layout and what do you use it for? Not sure what the best layout is for your study style? No problem! Take this quiz to find out what layout will work best for your needs! Let me know your result in the comments! 🙂

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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Reflections from a College (almost) Junior

I am normally pretty good about posting on a regular schedule, but I must admit that I have managed to stray from that quite a bit lately. I wrote my last post about two weeks ago, and since then life has become a blur of assignments, end-of-semester planning, and reflections on where I have been.

The other day, a stream of thoughts managed to pop in my head as I was packing up some of my belongings and planning for the end of the semester: “Awesome now I just have to fill out this brief form about storing my belongings for next year. Alright, let’s see, academic year 2017-2018, class year, um, third year—WOAH. Wait. What? Hold up.” I then sat in reflection for a few moments, amazed at how quickly life can pass us by. Memories from the past two years came pouring in, and I realized just how much has changed since I first set foot on campus.

Besides the fact that I am physically two years older (almost three, and 21, but that’s a reflection for another time!), I feel as though I have shifted my perspectives and visions. I laugh when I think about just how many items I brought with me my first semester of college, and how little I actually need to live on. I ended up falling in love with the unique charm of the older dorm on campus, after thinking I wanted to live in the new dorms all my years here. I ended up switching academic interests, finding my passions outside of my original interests. I focused on my passion for creative writing and turned it into an opportunity to build skills. And perhaps most importantly, I learned to love change.

I’ve talked about this before, but change is something that used to make me feel as though I had no ground to stand on. If my routine changed, it was as though someone yanked the rug of support out from under me and I was falling into uncertainty and fear. I would change the items that surrounded me, but never my surroundings themselves. Over the past few years I have done the opposite. I have thrown myself into situations that my old self would have nightmares about, situations in which I traveled by myself to stay with people I didn’t know and learn about things I knew little about. Situations in which I challenged my original opinions and purposefully went by myself to events that would allow me to expand my community. I abandoned my old routines and embraced discomfort and the unknown.

I never knew that I could grow so much as a person, and I know that the growth will only continue as I start to experience more of the world. I have become more aligned with body, mind, and spirit with my vegan diet, minimalist perspective, and spiritual path. Most of all, I feel as though I have a lot to be happy about. I think that the constant fear that I harbored within me put a limit to the happiness that I could experience. If something didn’t go to plan, happiness would most definitely not be the result. If I had to face a new experience, I would not enter with a happy outlook. But now, I realize that every experience gives you something to be happy about.

You can be happy that you found out something you don’t want to do again, or that you found out who you don’t want to be. You can be happy that you have the opportunity to take a warm shower at the end of a long day. You can be happy that you have a roof over your head, or a bed to sleep in each night. Most people have heard the saying “too blessed to be stressed,” and this rings true for so many aspects of life. Being able to experience academic stress, and to not have to worry about where you will stay for the night or what you will eat, is a blessing. Being able to experience what life has to offer is a blessing. This shift in perspective has meant that the last time that I had a truly terrible day was about a year ago. I have definitely had my share of bad moments in some days, but they no longer affect the day as a whole.

As I go into my third year of college, many adventures await me. New experiences, new places, new lessons. Though I still have to get through finals, I can’t help but be excited about the future and about the change that is yet to come.

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

 

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Being a Bawse

This post has not been sponsored. There are affiliate links within this post, which means that I get a percentage of a purchase you make when you click on them. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Wise Willow possible! (Also, as always, everything I promote I personally love! 🙂 )

I started watching Lilly Singh (aka Superwoman)’s YouTube videos way back in high school, during my homework breaks. I found her to be an inspiration, someone who was able to make me laugh and relate to her experiences. I followed her progression as a creator over the years, noticing how she grew as a person but always stayed true to the vision she had started with.

At that point in time, I had never thought of myself as a creator. In fact, if there was a project in high school that was described as a creative endeavor I would inwardly panic, thinking I had no creative ability whatsoever. I had always known that my drawing/painting/anything art related skills were far and few, not recognizing that there were other ways to be creative. I had boxed in a definition of creativity, and dismissed myself because I happened to fall outside of those characteristics.

I always love hearing how other creatives started their blogs, channels, and other media because these stories usually have something in common: whether they thought of themselves as creative or not, they recognized this ability and what they can share with the world. As I have said before, I had a lightbulb moment of recognition when I saw a Pinterest post about starting a blog written by the lovely Morgan Timm. It was as if I was seeing myself in a new light, suddenly remembering how much I used to love writing when I was younger. All of the journals, diaries, and short stories that would escape my imagination and leave imprints on the pages of my childhood. How I dreamed of becoming an author one day. All of these feelings came back in a rush, for they had been buried for so long.

I have seen a similar progression in my own creative endeavors from when I started until now. In August I will have been blogging for two years, and I find it difficult to put all that I have learned into words.

When I saw that Lilly had written a book (something I have always dreamed of doing!), I knew that I had to get a copy. I was fortunate enough to stumble across a signed copy, and could barely wait for it to arrive. It came to my campus mailbox this past Monday, and was one of the best ways to start the week. I started reading it with no preconceived notions of what to expect.

Words cannot even describe how I felt as I turned each page. It was almost as if I was hearing the echoes of my own heart. Each vivid page brought my own dream to life, and more than that it made me feel like I wasn’t alone.

To give you some background, I try to put my all into everything that I do and am quite busy as a result. I enjoy putting my best foot forward, but it hasn’t always been an easy journey.

In high school I was quite stressed. Beyond that, my life was void of the creative energy that fills every gap in my life today. I was trapped in the box that I had drawn around myself, committed to living a scholarly life that never tested my creative ability. Lilly describes her own struggle with feeling as though she wasn’t pursuing her passions, and just living a life she thought she was meant to live. Though she experienced this after college, I resonated with the idea completely. I was stuck in my own idea of what my best life was, restricting my own growth.

When I started my blog, I started to erase the box and draw lines in new directions. I journeyed into the unknown, guided by the creative voice that I had subdued for so long. Instead of critiquing all of my creative choices, I embraced them. I made mistakes, I learned, and most of all I loved. The color started to seep back into my world, and I could feel my creativity growing with each day.

Lilly took on creativity as a full-time job, and does an amazing job of balancing it all despite the criticisms that she receives. As a student blogger, it’s common for me to have my motivations questioned. My day is scheduled nearly hour by hour, and I am always reading, writing, working, and creating. There are many who don’t understand why I choose to spend this much time on creativity, but for me it can only be explained by passion. It never feels like work for me, and as I sit here right now typing in the early hours of the morning I feel surrounded by joy and positive energy.

Blogging has allowed me to embrace my true self, and erase the rigid lines I had thought were permanent. There were many creators who inspired me to take this leap, and I can only hope that I inspire others to do the same.

If you haven’t read How to Be a BawseI highly recommend that you grab a copy! I read it in one day, and haven’t stopped thinking about it. How have you embraced your creative self?

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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Advice from a Double Major

For this week’s post I decided that I wanted to focus more on my college life, seeing as the semester is already progressing to a close. It’s hard to believe that I am almost halfway done with my college experience as a whole! I’ve been a double major since October of this year (and an intended double major for quite some time before that!), and thought I would talk about all that I have learned.

When I started my college journey, I thought I was going to major in Economics and potentially specialize in studies of global development. However, as I progressed on my college journey and through my college classes, I felt a spark of passion for Religious Studies. I declared this as my first major in my second semester of college, and only then did I start to think that I might want to add another major to the mix. I had always been interested in politics and policy, and after taking a few classes officially added Political Science as a major last semester.

Being a double major is definitely not easy, but if there are two subjects that you are interested in it’s well worth the effort! Since my college does not offer minors, double majoring is an in-depth study of two disciplines. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

Be Prepared for Many Advising Appointments and Four-Year Plan Drafts

Planning for one major can be difficult in of itself, and planning for a double major is much like figuring out a difficult puzzle: it takes a lot of work to make it all fit. But once it does the effort is more than worth it! I think I have made about seven or eight full four-year plan drafts in my almost four semesters of college so far. I’ve made countless appointments to meet with both of my major advisers, and have also met with the career office and registrar. Because each major has different requirements, it’s important to talk with both of your advisers to see if a department allows dual credit for a class–that is, the class counts for major credit in both disciplines.

Think About the Type of Work that Each of Your Majors Requires

Both of my majors are reading and writing intensive, and because of this planning is key. I usually have a paper due each week at the minimum, plus reading assignments and other commitments. Using my planner effectively was a skill that I learned to value during my first year of college.

That being said, don’t let your double major prevent you from participating in extracurriculars and campus/community events! I volunteer and participate in a number of community organizations, have two campus jobs, and am on the student committee for one of my majors. I also blog and make YouTube videos. 🙂 But I manage to fit it all in, and still focus on self-care.

Don’t Let your Double Major Prevent you from Studying Abroad

This is important. I wasn’t going to study abroad because I thought that it wouldn’t be physically possible for me to fit it into my schedule. When people asked if I was going abroad, I told them that my double major was too full to let me do so. But I still decided to look at the programs being offered, and I found one that resonated so completely with the goals of both of my majors and my future aspirations.

Intrigued, I made appointments with both of my advisers and the registrar to see if it would be possible. And to my surprise it was! The application process was a bit stressful since I waited so long, so I recommend looking into it ahead of time if you have any interest in studying abroad. Don’t eliminate the possibility until you check the requirements! 🙂

Use Your Double Major to Pursue What You’re Passionate About 

A double major allows you to become immersed completely in two subjects that you’re passionate about. The downside to this is that there isn’t much room for exploring other classes or topics, but many colleges offer the option to audit classes you’re interested in! I’m taking 18 credits each semester this year, with Italian being the two credit class that I added on to my usual schedule. Plus with two majors you can usually take a wide variety of classes despite being “limited” to two subject areas.

Learn How to be Meaningfully Busy

When you pursue a double major, you will definitely be busy. Between all of your classes and appointments, scheduling will be an art! But there is a difference between being busy just for the sake of it, and being meaningfully busy. This might be one of the most important things that I have learned as a double major, because I definitely used to fill my schedule with things when I had the time. But now I have found out what I love to do, and how to prioritize what I love. I fill my time with interesting campus events, working in the community, classes, assignments, spending time with friends, and self-care. I am still very busy, but the nature of my schedule has completely changed.

I hope you enjoyed this post about being a double major! What have you learned in your college studies, or from being a double major? Are you looking to double major but still have questions? Leave a comment below or feel free to send an email! 🙂

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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My Journey in Essential Oils

This is not a sponsored or promoted post, all thoughts are my own. 🙂 

Exactly one week ago I received my premium essential oil kit from Young Living Essential Oils, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. As you know, I have been embarking on a number of new journeys and experiences this year and improving my wellness has been one of my main goals.

When adjusting to any new situation, or even to a subtle amount of change, keeping up with a wellness regimen can be very difficult. In my schedule, I find that sometimes it’s hard to momentarily pause and reflect because I’m often rushing from place to place.

I had been researching the benefits of essential oils for quite some time, not really sure if they would fit into my lifestyle or help me to achieve more of my wellness goals. Staying healthy in college is one of the most important aspects of student life, but it is also one of the most difficult.

At around this time of year, it seems as though stress and business all contribute to illnesses around campus. I’m always looking for ways to decrease my stress and remain more focused on each moment, and decided to take the plunge and invest in these essential oils. I couldn’t be happier!

It’s only been one week, but even in this week I have experienced quite a bit of stress surrounding class assignments and other due dates. When I first opened up my kit I was shocked at how much was in it! It inspired me to organize a space in my room for the diffuser and all of the oils, which is right at the foot of my bed on my mini fridge. 🙂

That first night I diffused Stress Away, and I woke up feeling very refreshed and rejuvenated! In the mornings (especially when I have earlier classes) I have been diffusing a mixture of lemon and peppermint oils as a refreshing and focus-centered combination. It has worked wonders for my productivity (sending emails, etc.) in the mornings, and I feel much more awake when on my way to class.

The day that I used the kit the most was this past Sunday, when I woke up with a horrendous migraine. I have used essential oil rollers in the past for my headaches, but never diffused oils to try to relieve the symptoms. I diffused a combination of oils throughout the day, focusing on the peppermint and R.C. (Eucalyptus) oils that usually help to relieve headache pain. I also applied Panaway topically with a carrier oil (coconut oil) to relieve the muscle tension and I was able to be productive for the second half of my day which was a huge game-changer!

As I write this, I am currently diffusing Lavender as a way to relax after a very long day. In times of stress due to deadlines and requirements, I have been reaching for Peace and Calming and Stress Away, and words cannot describe how these have changed my wellness routine. I have also been pairing essential oil diffusing with my meditation practice lately.

I’m so excited to keep updating you on my journey in essential oils, as it has far exceeded my expectations! I have a new Instagram dedicated to this wellness journey, as well as a new Facebook group! What have your experiences with essential oils been? Are you looking to integrate them into your own wellness routine? Feel free to leave a comment below or email me (thewisewillowblog@gmail.com) if you are interested in these oils, I’ve learned so much about them and would love to get you started on your journey! 🙂

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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My Minimalist College Dorm Room Tour

This weekend I felt inspired to film a casual vlog showing you around my college dorm room, and how I have incorporated minimalism into my daily life. This was the first casual vlog that I have ever filmed, and it ended up being 46 minutes long! I always wondered how people made such long YouTube videos, but now I completely understand!

I hope that you enjoy this more casual look into my daily life, and I would love to hear what you have been up to lately! Leave a comment below! 🙂

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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2017 Travel: The Solo Urban Code Bag

I would like to thank Solo for sponsoring this post, and thank you for supporting the brands that make The Wise Willow possible! All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

This year is already going by so fast! The months just seem to go by faster and faster, and before I know it I will be back to start another semester. This week I will be traveling for vacation before the new semester starts, and finding a bag that is perfect for travel can be difficult. Now that I am embracing a minimalist lifestyle, I was looking for a bag that would support my college and professional lifestyle.

I found the Urban Code Endeavor backpack while searching for such a bag, and knew that it would be perfect for my goals this year. I will be traveling more often, and going between work and classes during my everyday hustle. I bring my laptop with me everywhere I go, as well as charger cords, headphones, course materials, and vegan goodies.

Photo by The Wise Willow

The Urban Code Endeavor bag fits laptops up to 15.6″, which is perfect for me since I have a 13″ computer. It has a variety of pockets, which is what I love about it (because I love to have my cords, writing utensils, and snacks in separate places). The bag is made out of high-quality material, which is perfect for someone like me who may or may not carry around a bit too much on a daily basis. The zippers are sturdy, and there is a key chain hook on the front for displaying your favorite accessories. As a minimalist, I am looking to have multipurpose belongings that will travel with me wherever I end up going. And this bag does just that! It’s perfectly sized for the airport, and it’s front-facing pockets make taking liquids and other items out easy (especially for those stressful security lines).

One of the best features of the bag is its back and shoulder padding. I’m someone who gets muscle tension quite easily, and having a bag with great support helps to alleviate tension headaches and back pain from what I usually carry around on a daily basis (or long days of travel).

Photo by The Wise Willow

The look of the bag is perfect for anyone, and matches any outfit. I’m not generally a fashionable person (as people who know me well would say, I quite like to be tacky). However, this bag is stylish and matches even my craziest outfit combinations.

The bag has a five-year warranty, and is designed for city living. I plan on using it for all of my daily excursions and travel adventures! If you would like to learn more about the bag, click here! There are also many other styles to choose from, so you will definitely find something that suits your lifestyle!

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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Blogmas Day 8: Blogging in College

As the semester comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the transformative experience that it has been. This semester has definitely been the busiest academic semester that I have had thus far, but also one of the most rewarding. Many of people have asked me how I manage to blog in addition to my college work and schedule, and the answer is this: I love it. That might seem like a very straightforward answer, but the core of my blogging career is passion and inspiration.

Anyone who has found something they truly love to do will know exactly how this feels. In high school I watched many YouTubers create their content and show it to the world, and I always wondered how they managed to find the motivation to create and publish their content. Then I became a blogger, and it all made sense.

Participating in Blogmas has grounded my love for blogging, because I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was worried about committing to blogging every day, because it was hard enough sometimes to find time to blog once every week. But Blogmas has taught me that this is something I truly love to do, no matter how busy I am. I have found a balance between my passions for my academic studies, and my passions for my creative endeavors. I need both in my life, and I couldn’t imagine my life without the two together.

Blogging has transformed my mind, and in many ways has made my college career easier. From the minuscule details (I am now quite a fast typer, and am more drawn to creative projects than I was in high school) to the new ways of seeing the world, blogging has filled a gap I didn’t even know was there. I spend my study breaks in a way that makes me feel as though I am making a positive difference in my own life, and hopefully that of others. I’ve been able to pursue my love of writing, and develop interests I didn’t know I had (in graphic design, marketing, social media, and more). I’ve developed a community, and I have found my true self.

Blogging in college is by no means easy (for example, it is currently 2am as I write this post), but it’s something that has become second nature for me. I am always seeing life through a creative lens, and appreciating things I didn’t notice before. Blogging is something I look forward to, as I know I will be able to take a creative journey for an hour or two.

So how do I do it? I plan out my post(s) for the week using a blog planner worksheet, with goals, ideas, inspirations, to-dos, and more. I organize myself as much as possible, so that I know how to prioritize my week. I also recognize that blogging is a significant time commitment, and I’ve learned that I always look forward to writing posts no matter what time of day it is! I also engage with my amazing blogging community, to gain inspiration, feedback, and to learn about other experiences!

Multitasking has also become a must. I will often use blogging as a study break, but will listen to a podcast (such as The Accidental Creative, which has been my favorite lately) in the background to learn more about blogging as I continue my journey. I also make sure that I feel inspired by the post I am writing. I’m not afraid to temporarily move on from an idea in favor of another one; I simply let my inspiration guide my work. 🙂

I also make sure that I allot time for engagement with my social media accounts, and emails from my blog address. Blogging has many components, and all of them make wonderful study breaks during the day. Canva provides a soothing way to de-stress while making fun graphics, and writing allows me to reflect and be inspired by the life that I am living.

Blogging in college is hard, but it never feels that way to me. The saying ‘find a job that doesn’t feel like work’ applies perfectly to my blog (and to my academics) because I have found my passions. I hope you have been enjoying this journey with me, and I can’t wait to keep sharing my adventures with you! 🙂

©2016 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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Alyssa DeBella

21 | Lifestyle blogger | Minimalist | Dreamer ✨| Language Lover 💕| Animal Obsessed ❤️🐶| Double Major 📚| Vegan 🌱 |Traveler ✈️ (currently in: Europe)
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