College Student Survival Guide to Eating Healthy on a Budget

Let’s face it. Being healthy in college is pretty hard. We’re constantly in situations such as snacking on delivery pizza with our roommates late at night or gulping down sugary energy drinks to help us study. It’s difficult because these unhealthy foods and drinks are easily available to us and usually pretty cheap which complement our “broke college student” lifestyle.

Luckily, eating healthy on a budget is not as hard as you might think.

For the most part, people have a good idea what foods are healthy versus what aren’t. When choosing healthier foods to eat, it’s important not to make yourself miserable. I know spinach is healthy, but would I want to eat it everyday? Absolutely not. Eating should be enjoyable! Focus on what healthy foods you do like and eat those.

Making small changes in your diet can go a long way. Try having egg whites instead of the whole egg or choosing wheat bread instead of white. If there is something unhealthy you absolutely cannot give up then look for healthier alternatives. If you’re craving chocolate, go for some dark chocolate (which is better for your heart) instead. If you love potato chips then find the one lowest in fat and sodium and choose those. Baked chips, instead of cooked in oil, are also tasty alternatives.

If you like energy drinks, like I am guilty of, a great alternative is green tea. Green tea has almost as much caffeine as coffee and provides amazing health benefits. It’s also inexpensive. You can find green tea at any grocery store for about $5 a pack.

Photo credit: Janet Beasley
Photo credit: Janet Beasley

Farmers markets are a great way to find fresh locally grown fruits and veggies at a reasonable price.  Unfortunately, the Thursday Night Market we are probably most familiar with ends on Sept. 26.  However, there are some other options.  There is a year-round Chico Certified Farmers Market  from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at the parking lot on Second and Wall streets.  There is another Chico Certified Farmers Market from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wednesdays in the North Valley Plaza Mall parking lot on Pillsbury Road (adjacent to Trader Joes).  This market goes until November 27.

Another great place to do your grocery shopping is at Chico Natural Foods.  The store is located at 818 Main St. and they pride themselves on supporting local farmers and offering organically grown produce.  The store has a special co-op membership program where for $25 a year, members have access to member only discounts and monthly specials.  Students who are on financial aid and sign up for the program will receive an extra 5 percent discount for any product they buy.

With these tips, it is possible to eat healthy while in college.  It just takes a little dedication and knowing where to look.

Tips for Concert-Goers from a Music Lover

Many of my fondest memories were made at various music festivals and concerts. I’ve experienced a wide array of concert-going events and my friends often ask me to take them to their first big show because I “know the ropes.” Since I’ve introduced several friends to the wonderland of large-scale music events, such as Electric Daisy Carnival and Vans Warped Tour, I know my list of concert do’s and don’ts by heart.

Whether the show features rockin’ bands, upbeat electronic DJs, relaxed reggae or all of the above — it is always important be aware of yourself, your friends and your surroundings. Although the overall experience typically differs by show or music genre, a majority of my concert safety tips remain the same.

Here are my top five safety tips for attending music festivals:

  1. Stay hydrated: Concerts are hot and attendees often don’t realize they’re dehydrated because they’re having so much fun. I recommend buying a water bottle as soon as you enter the venue and refilling it often throughout the night. Water bottles are often overpriced at events but some event companies, like Insomniac Events, sell sustainable aluminum water bottles and offer refills. Although it may be hard to pry away from the music to replenish your water, your safety is worth it.

  2. Photo credit: Petras Gagilas
    Photo credit: Petras Gagilas

  1. Buddy system: Large crowds and loud music can separate groups of friends much faster than some may think. Wandering alone around a stadium filled with more than 100,000 people can lead to looking like a target for assault or theft. From the moment you walk through security to the point you get back to your hotel, make sure to have a friend with you at all times.

  2. Charge your phone: Refraining from posting about your amazing festival experience on Instagram and Twitter might be difficult, but it’ll be worth it at the end of the night when you’re looking for the friends who strayed away. One time I waited at a friend’s car for three hours after the show ended because both of our phones died and he forgot where he parked. Stressing out over losing touch with everyone else can definitely damper your fun.

  3. Know the venue: Festivals and concerts are typically hosted in large, confusing venues. This is especially true for festivals that feature multiple stages and require a lot of trekking from stage to stage. Luckily enough, most event promoting companies post a map of the show and set times ahead of time. I recommend taking a screenshot of the map and set times on your phone so it’s with you at all times. This also helps you plan out which artists you would like to see and know where they play ahead of time.

  4. Photo credit: Wil Kristen
    Photo credit: Wil Kristen

  5. Designate a driver: Don’t risk getting in a car with an intoxicated driver and don’t drive under the influence. Festivals and concerts often have a hefty police force surrounding the venue before and after events because this has become such an issue. If you can’t find a sober driver, remember that paying for a taxi is always more affordable than getting caught driving under the influence, which can cost thousands of dollars in California.

Taste of Chico: Local Showcase Makes for a Good Time!

The weekend of Sept. 8 my friends and I attended Taste of Chico, in downtown Chico, Calif. This event is the largest one-day food, beverage, music and fine art festival in the north valley that allows you to taste what Chico has to offer!

The Downtown Chico Business Association (DCBA), a nonprofit business organization dedicated to maintaining and enhancing downtown Chico as a vital retail and cultural center, produces Taste of Chico. All proceeds from this event help support the DCBA.

Taste of Chico is a Chico tradition and I am definitely going to make this a tradition of my own! This event is all about discovering new food and beverages that you enjoy. I was pleasantly surprised and found a few new restaurants that I will be going back to. Italian Cottage had delicious tortellini and Johnnies Restaurant and Lounge had great steak skewers that I would love to have some more of.

The food and alcohol ticket allowed me to have nine food tastes, eight alcoholic tastes and six non-alcoholic tastes. At first I thought that that would not be enough to fill me, but by the end of the day I had three food punches left and a few drinks to spare. I was stuffed! I recommend splitting a ticket with a friend next year.

This event is what Chico is all about, bringing the small town community together and having a good time. I highly recommend this event to anyone and can’t wait for next year!

group of friends at Taste of Chico
Photo credit: Amanda Papapietro

I Will Cross That Bridge When I Get To It

When last semester started, it was like any other semester for me. I wasn’t nervous to start classes, on the contrary I was eager to start. I love Chico State. But then this semester arrived, and I must admit, I was somewhat preoccupied. Why you ask? Well I am a graduating senior and this is my last semester.

I don’t know if such a thing exists, or if it is only me who experiences it, but senior year (especially last semester) creates nervousness among graduating seniors. I wonder why that is. Perhaps it is the uncertainty that comes with, “what I am going to do?”

I mean for four or five years or whatever number of years it takes us to graduate, we don’t worry about such things. We merely focus on going to class, earning good grades, going home and coming back and of course the occasional going out — but we don’t worry.

Then the senior year approaches and it brings an army of worries. Things like: “Is your resume ready? Is your cover letter top notch? Do you have any idea where you’re going to look for a job? Where are you going to apply? Are you really ready for life after college?” — you know, all the questions related to the “what are you going to do” category.

And I don’t even know if I have the answers for all those questions. It is something that keeps creeping in on me at times. I would say I would cross that bridge when I got to it, but I’m pretty sure that I have reached that bridge and I’m about to step on it.

I reminisce on my freshman year and how happy I was thinking I still had a long time before my graduation. But last semester I had my commencement ceremony, and this semester I am graduating. It is really true that time flies by fast. Though I don’t regret anything because all the decisions I took made me the person I am today. I go through changes all the time.

So I will cross this bridge and I will enjoy the journey. I know I will cross it successfully. I also know the future me will look back at this time and he will cherish it. I know he will say: “Dude, you rock!” because I will rock! Because this bridge represents another step to adulthood, so I will enjoy the journey over the bridge.


How to Procrastinate Productively

Procrastination… you know how it goes. You tell yourself Friday night that you are going to be super productive over the weekend because the week was too busy to get anything done. Then when you finally sit down to work you find yourself Facebook stalking, playing Candy Crush on your phone or starting an episode of Law and Order: SVU. When you finally realize several hours have flown by, you might feel better if you had at least got something done, right?


Procrastination is inevitable – so why not put it to better use? Here are my top five tips on how to procrastinate productively.

1. Get organized. Take this time to make a list of everything you have to do, saving the most important for last of course. After finalizing your to-do list, you won’t have to worry later that you have forgotten something and it will feel gratifying when you eventually get to crossing things off the list.

2. Go to the gym. If you have time to spend two hours on Facebook, you have time to fit in a work out. Besides, if you’re not going to get your class work done, you might as well work on your fitness. Those who are active and exercise are much more productive because being active reduces your level of stress.

3. Clean Up. Let’s just say, without procrastination my apartment would be a cluttered unorganized mess. There is always laundry to do, dishes to be washed, rooms to be cleaned and stuff to be organized and procrastinating your class work is the perfect time accomplish those tasks. A clean and organized space will make it easier for you to concentrate and be more productive.

4. Take a nap. Taking a 20 minute power nap is proven to boost productivity, so why not take a quick snoozer since you aren’t getting anything else done? But don’t forget to set an alarm because you wouldn’t want to sleep through the whole day!

5. Eat Something. You know you would use hunger as an excuse eventually, so you might as well get or make something to eat. Besides, in order to be productive you need to fuel your body.

As you can see, putting one thing off can result in the completion of so many other tasks! Now that you have accomplished so many things, you can finally sit down and finish your school work, because honestly, there is nothing else to do.

The Best Burger in Town!

After a five-year stint as a vegetarian, I now can’t go more than a few weeks without a burger. There’s something so satisfying about chomping into a truly great hamburger.

If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly searching for the perfect burger. Well, the wait is over! Here is my breakdown of the top five burgers in Chico.

1. Nobby’s, Nobby Burger: The Nobby Burger is no doubt one of the best burgers I have ever had. Come hungry, because after this monstrous 1/3 pound burger you will be stuffed! Not only does Nobby’s cook your patty to order, but they are most known for their “cheese skirt.” Yes, you read that right. Nobby’s grills the burger with fried cheese, giving it this delicious, crunchy, bubbly effect. YUM. Be warned, Nobby’s is cash only so come prepared! $

2. Sierra Nevada Brewery Co., Taproom Burger: The Taproom Burger is a fan favorite. A close second to the Nobby’s Burger, Sierra Nevada’s Taproom Burger is cooked to order, accompanied with melted cheese and local veggies, then completed with Sierra Nevada sauce, aka heaven. Their sauce is definitely the icing on the cake, or the sauce on the burger, I suppose. Sierra Nevada isn’t exactly in the college student budget, so keep in mind that you will be dropping double digits on a meal here. $$

3. Madison Bear Garden, Jiffy Burger: A Chico classic most beloved by college students, The Bear is a place to grab a meal with friends after work or between classes. The Jiffy Burger is a patty topped with creamy peanut butter, thick cut bacon and melted cheese. Trying this burger for the first time takes bravery, but it’s sure to become your new usual. $

Madison Bear Garden’s Jiffy Burger with fries.
Madison Bear Garden’s Jiffy Burger with fries.

4. Burgers and Brew, Spicy Guacamole Cheeseburger: This burger is large and in charge! A half-pound patty is cooked to order, smothered in homemade spicy guacamole, jalapeno mayo and pepper jack cheese. Served with a large portion of fries or a mixed greens salad, this burger makes a great weekend meal. For a vegetarian option, I suggest the portobello burger. $$

5. The Graduate Family Restaurant and Sports Bar, Uncle Melty: The Graduate rounds out my top five, but definitely does not disappoint. This burger is a half-pound patty, cooked medium, topped with grilled onions and American cheese, served on butter-grilled sourdough bread. The Grad is a great atmosphere to catch a game with friends or play one of their many classic arcade games. $

Leadership Through Service

“Hey HOBY! What do we think of our volunteers?”


“Outstanding!” — emphasis on the capital “O” — is a commonly used phrase to describe the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Foundation. The non-profit organization is an internationally recognized leadership foundation that targets high school sophomores. Founded in 1958 by actor Hugh O’Brian, its mission is to encourage the leadership potential of youth through local seminars facilitated by volunteers.

In 2004, I was given the opportunity to attend the Northern California seminar. At the time, I thought it would be a resume booster for college applications — nothing more. However, this experience largely shaped the person I am today.

HOBY is a unique experience. I would even call it magical. In just three days barriers are broken and lifelong friendships are formed. Ambassadors enter with the potential to be leaders, but learn how to utilize their personality traits to succeed as leaders through team building activities, motivational speakers and leadership through service.

Putting leadership training to good use by partnering with Sac Trees to add new life to a park.
Putting leadership training to good use by partnering with Sac Trees to add new life to a park.

One of the main tenets of HOBY is making a difference by serving your community. As college students, I feel like this is something that is easy to forget. We become so wrapped up in school work, friends and jobs that we forget to give back to the place we call home.

For nine years I have committed myself as a Northern California HOBY volunteer, hoping to enrich and engage the minds of young students. It’s exciting to see that spark ignite in their eyes as they learn how to reach their potential and I feel proud knowing I’m sending off a new batch of young leaders who may someday make a huge impact in the world. It’s a feeling that energizes me and brings me so much joy!

Working with youth is particularly gratifying because they can learn so much from your personal experiences. They’re still trying to figure out their paths in life and positive guidance from an adult can make a huge impact in their future choices. However, I learn just as much from them in return.

HOBY is my passion. I highly encourage college students to search for programs that involve mentorship because there is nothing more fulfilling than giving youth the opportunity to “empower, lead and excel” at life.

What’s your passion? I would love to hear from you about your volunteer experiences in the community.

Snapping Back Into School Mode

As we creep into September, it becomes evident that summer is coming to an end and fall semester is in full effect. Considering it is the second week of school, we should all be in school mode, right? Well, not exactly. In case you aren’t completely prepared for what lies ahead, I have a few tips to help you get there. It can be easy if you do it right. In fact, it can be kind of fun.

Make time to eat!

After a summer of spoiling yourself with delicious homemade food and restaurant meals, it can be hard to stock your own fridge again, let alone make meals. With schedules jam-packed with classes throughout the day, it can be hard to even find time to eat.

Here are some tips:

1. Try to buy snacks and small meals that are easy to bring to school or work. Vegetables, fruit, crackers, Trail mix, salads and small sandwiches are all great foods that you can grab-and-go.

2. If you are on campus all day, try using Wildcat Dollars to purchase food! By clicking here, you can add money to your student ID card and use it at any of the campus food stations.  They carry items such as fruit, sandwiches, salads, snacks, drinks and much more.  It is a quick and easy way to fill yourself up.


Find time to exercise

With a busy schedule, adding exercise into your daily routine can seem like a tough challenge.  Even though exercising can be a drag, especially when you’re tired, it can be a great way to de-stress, clear your mind and remain healthy. Here are several ways to get a workout in during the week.

1. Attend classes at the WREC Center:

The WREC Center is open every day of the week and offers over a dozen group exercise classes.  Each class ranges from 30 minutes to an hour and focuses on various aspects of the body.  A list of class descriptions can be found in the WREC section of the Associated Students website.  Make sure to check out the schedule to see which classes best fit your busy day.

2. Try exercising at home:

If you can’t make it to the gym, try simple exercises that you can do in a few minutes at home. I use the Nike Training Club app.  It serves as my personal trainer that is available at my convenience.  I can choose workouts that meet my needs, listen to audio instructions, track workout results and share workouts with friends.   The workout section of Pinterest has great workout routines as well.


Stay Organized & use apps!?

School calls for serious organization skills. Having a planner is the first step to organization. However, sometimes organization doesn’t seem like enough. Here are two apps that I have found extremely helpful.

1.Snap2PDF: I love this app. You can take pictures of anything, handouts, a page in a textbook, etc. and turn it into a PDF that you can then email to yourself. You can also create multipage documents that you can convert into one PDF instead of having a bunch of separate ones.

2. IStudiezPro: This app is great because it is tailored toward students and you can use it to manage your classes.  The app allows you up upload your entire schedule and then add individual assignments and notes into each class section.  It is a great way to stay organized and ensure you don’t miss assignments.

Vacationing on a Budget

With summer in full swing and then end of the semester quickly approaching, it’s hard not to begin thinking about summer plans. And if you’re like me, it may be the only thing keeping you motivated through the last few weeks of school.

Here are a few ideas for fun and affordable weekend getaways that will be great for the summer or any other time you’re in need of some rest and relaxation.

1. Adventure Outings Yurt in Lassen National Forest.

I will admit I’m not too fond of camping, which is unfortunate because it’s a great way to get in touch with nature and is the best way to save cash if you’re vacationing on a tight budget. I like being outdoors, having bonfires and hiking but I’m not so excited about sleeping on the ground, not showering and feeling like I might get eaten by a bear in the middle of the night.

This option is perfect for someone like me, who may be weary of the camping scene. A yurt is basically a wooden hut. You don’t need to set it up, and it comes with a wood stove to keep you warm. This provides an upgrade to the traditional camping experience. You still be at one with nature, but with a little extra luxury. The yurt is available through Adventure Outings at $50 a night, and is located in Lassen National Forest near Butte Meadows.

2. Aptos, Calif.

If you’re more into a beach scene, one of my favorite places to go is Aptos, Calif. It is the best getaway for a low-key and relaxing trip. Aptos is a small town about 20 minutes south of Santa Cruz. You have access to the Rio Del Mar Beach and other than that, what could you really need? Just relax and enjoy the sun!

If you’re looking for more activity however, you are just a short drive away from Santa Cruz, which has the Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Pacific Garden Mall and more beaches!

3. Vacation Rental by Owner

While this option is not exactly a place, it gives you the ability to go just about anywhere, with a large variety in prices and amenities.

VRBO or Vacation Rental by Owner is a website that allows people to put their homes up for rent; some are homes that are regularly rented out or maybe someone who is going away for the weekend. This option is perfect for the college student on a budget or if you’re just not quite sure where to vacation.

The other benefits of vacationing this way are more privacy, a fully furnished home and a vacation rental catered to you. You can search for rentals based on if they have a beach view, pool, are pet friendly and so on. There is something to please every person and listings as low as $40 a night!

The Final Countdown

For all of us graduating seniors, we have finally made it to the last two weeks of college.

At the beginning of my senior year I was in awe of how fast my college years had passed. To me it felt like there was no possible way I could already be a senior because the first three years literally felt like they flew by.

They flew, but yet I had experienced so much within those three years, like living in Whitney Hall for an entire year, making the best friends I could possibly imagine during my time in the dorms, spending a semester in Australia, traveling to England and Spain, landing a summer internship with Friends of the Arts and many more experiences that have shaped my college career.

Now, take how fast those three years went by and compare them to how slow my final semester has been. This semester has seemed to go by painfully slow. I think I caught a slight case of senioritis.

It doesn’t help that here at Tehama Group Communications we have a daily ritual of counting down the days until graduation. Each day the board is wiped clean and replaced with a number one less than the day before. When you spend a lot of time in the office it’s hard not to will that number to be smaller.

But, over the course of the semester the number has gotten smaller and I think it is actually what has kept me going. Coming into the office each day and seeing that number go down is a reminder that I am almost done and I just have to push through until that number hits zero.

As a senior who is still finishing general education requirements in their final semester of college, it has been hard to motivate myself to keep going. I am lucky to have been apart of TGC in this final semester because it has helped me stay motivated. This is real life experience I am getting and I am forced to stay on top of my work because I am helping to produce work for actual clients. Client work has translated into my school work and has helped me balance my time.

TGC helped me fight my battle with senioritis. My advice to any senior coming into their final semester is to get involved in a club or internship that you are truly passionate about. It will give your last semester purpose and help you keep that drive to finish strong.