August 04, 2017

Amazon Prime Student: Why It's Worth It

Growing up in Trinidad, I didn’t get to shop as often as my American friends did. Sure, we had malls - but our store choices were far more limited than the average mall. And ordering something online was not only expensive, but took forever too! When I first moved to the US 5 years ago, I was most excited about being able to use Amazon. I mean, I had used Amazon many a time over the years before - to buy camera equipment, books and what would later become e-books when I finally purchased a Kindle - always shipping whatever purchase to my sister’s house in the US and making her fill her suitcases with my goodies when she came to visit.

So when I finally moved to the US, I was just so excited to be able to go online and order basically ANYTHING at the touch of a button, knowing it'll take a matter of days (instead of the weeks it would take to reach me in Trinidad). So naturally, when I moved, I signed up for Amazon Prime Student because helloooo Free Two-Day Shipping is just ALWAYS a good idea!


So over the years of Amazon Prime Student, I've come to love the service and all it offers. I'm always the one convincing friends to join Amazon Prime Student, and they always do after they hear all the reasons why I love it, and I wanted to share it with you:


ONE: FREE Two-Day shipping // Ok, so chances are you already knew this one... but, it’s worth mentioning if you’re not aware. Amazon Prime Student members receive unlimited FREE Two-Day shipping on millions of items across Amazon (if you're an online shopper like me, you KNOW shipping can cost a pretty penny!). So basically, you can get whatever it is you need, right when you need it! In my four years of college, I’ve ordered basically everything on Amazon, from a curling wand to a pack of granola bars, and from a cell phone case to the textbook I needed for my paper due in two days (And YES, I have ordered all of these things on Amazon Prime Student… I have no shame in admitting that I ordered granola bars online... when you’re a hungry college student sometimes there’s just no time to go grocery shopping!). So needless to say,  the free two-day shipping your with Amazon Prime Student membership is a GODSEND! There’s nothing like the panic of needing a textbook for class and realizing the rush shipping price is out of this world. With an Amazon Prime Student membership, you have the ability to ship textbooks in two days for free.


TWO: Exclusive deals, sales and specials // Yep, your Amazon Prime Student membership includes more than FREE Two-Day Shipping. Not only does Amazon celebrate "Prime Day" which is a one-day shopping event with huge savings and specials solely for Amazon Prime members, but almost every time Amazon has a sale, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday for example, Amazon Prime Student members have access to some of the best deals 30 minutes before non-Prime members do. I almost always save my big purchases, especially electronics, for those big sale days - and I’ve gotten amazing deals! Plus, Amazon Prime Student members receive unlimited access to over a thousand books, magazines, articles and more with Prime Reading.


THREE: Prime Photos & Prime Music //  To be honest, I forgot the fact that my Amazon Prime Student membership included Prime Music. I recently decided to give it a try, and I’m seriously hooked. Think no ads, handpicked playlists and over a million songs to listen to, all included with your Amazon Prime Student membership! And don't get me started on Prime Photos - also known as the GAME CHANGER if you're anyone who has a smartphone and is constantly hit with the "no storage" message - yeah, you know the one. As a Prime Student member, you get access to unlimited cloud storage for safekeeping of your pics.  I used to spend $3 a month for a photo storage platform and STILL ran out of room on my phone because I'm a photo hoarder and I'm not ashamed, so thankfully I no longer have to choose between that irritating storage message and keeping these photos and memories to look back and laugh/cringe in years to come. Definitely an added perk to the membership!


FOUR: Prime Video // Like you, your mother, and your best friend, I watch TV shows and movies like it’s my job, and I’m always looking for new things to watch. So when I discovered that my Amazon Prime Student membership came with Prime Video, well Jesus take the wheel, I was hooked. Not only do I have access to a huge movie library, tons of cool documentaries and a wide selection of new and old TV shows, but I also get to watch some of the Amazon original shows, like Catastrophe, Transparent (which won a Golden Globe) and The Man in the High Castle (which won an Emmy)! So, clearly, this is good TV. The best part? Guilt-free TV-watching because it’s already included in the membership you’re paying for, so you can binge happily knowing you’re saving yourself money each month!


FIVE: Amazon Prime Student pricing // It's all of the goodness of Amazon Prime for students who are #ballinonabudget (like we always are!). And you can qualify for Amazon Prime Student no matter what kind of student you are - traditional, part-time, community college, graduate, etc.. which is just amazing because I can't tell you how many "student services" only accept students in traditional four-year programs. Students get a six-month trial at NO cost to them, and even better, the Amazon Prime Student membership is 50% off regular Amazon Prime pricing, which means that even after the six month trial, you're still paying less than you normally would. Uh, helloooo? Talk about a good deal! (Start your Amazon Prime Student six-month trial, at no cost to you, here)

Do you use Amazon Prime Student? What's your favorite part?


Thank you to Amazon Prime Student and Her Campus Media for partnering with me on today’s post! All thoughts and opinions are my own.  

Image Map

April 24, 2017

Balancing Work, Life AND a Side Hustle

If you remember reading the lessons I've learnt in four years of blogging, you'll know that blogging takes a TON of work. So it shouldn't be a shock to anyone that finding a way to balance your life, and a full-time job or school, plus blogging or another side hustle, feels like it's damn near impossible sometimes!

Sometimes, there's just too much that demands our attention and there's way too little of us to give, and that's okay! It's important to recognize that we aren't superheroes, and we can't do everything, even if we want to!

So because I spent the last four years balancing (at different points): a blog, full-time school, on-campus jobs, a sorority and other campus (over)involvement, a full-time job, a side-hustle job, AND somewhat of a social life, I've decided to share my little secrets. No, it's not easy.. but is it worth it? Absolutely!


1. write it down // whatever it is, just write it down. I ALWAYS have a notebook on me because thoughts always pop into my mind at the most random moment. Whether it's a blog post idea, a marketing concept for a client, some ideas for my day job or a meeting or appointment that I scheduled, I write everything down, along with little to-dos and reminders for each "category" and it saves my life! It's the first step to getting my shit together, something that's definitely necessary to do everything!


2. take care of you // it's overwhelming as it is to do one, but trying to juggle all three on top of everything else you have going on is a whole different ball game. Try to take some time for you, and find the time to do the things you enjoy doing or you'll be on the road to burnout in no time. And make sure to take care of your body. I am the most guilty of sacrificing sleep when I have so much going on, but it's so importan to ensure you're taking proper care of your body! Whether that means eating a salad for lunch, drinking more water, getting those 8 hours in or going for a run after work, the more you take care of you, the more energy and strength you'll have to keep going and be even more productive.

3. know your priorities // maybe you're willing to write one less blog post this week if it means making it to your best friend's birthday dinner, and maybe you're happy to skip the gym to finish up that blog series you're working on. Know what you're willing to give up to achieve what you want, and honor them! So if that weekly TV show on Monday nights (Bachelor, anyone?! #TeamRaven) is important "you time", then by all means take it!

4. it's okay to say no // hey! you do A LOT! so yes, while you'd love to volunteer to run that charity bake sale, or you were asked to take on more responsibility at something you're involved in, don't say no right away.. consider it! BUT, if taking on more responsibilities is going to make one of your priorities suffer, then know it's okay to turn down the opportunity. I was always a "yes man" and I got seriously burnt out at 21 years old. First came the panic attack, then came the emotional breakdown, and then eventually I barely wanted to do anything. So, if saying "yes" adds way too much to your plate and sacrifices your emotional health and sanity, then say NO!

5. schedule schedule schedule // I cannot stress this enough... scheduleeee! The only thing that really keeps all my shit together when I'm taking on a million tasks, is the fact that I use a planner. Writing down everything from random notes, to-do's, appointments, meetings and important dates, and so so so much more keeps my life in order and my brain from being pure mush.

I've been a longtime fan of Erin Condren's life planners for quite some time as you well know by now, and I've tried the different layouts but I kept coming back to the vertical layout. Now, instead of being broken down by morning, day and night, the three sections are blank, for you to use however you want. Personally, I break it down by category: blog, work and personal. So I know at a glance what each "section" of my life requires from me for the day!


Plus, with customizable stickers, bright pens, snap-in dashboards and personalized covers, it's the perfect accessory to organize your life, and I mean every part of it! Interested? Take $10 off your first Erin Condren purchase!

-- 

So there you have it.. the key to staying on top of everything and somehow staying sane! These are the years for the full-hustle, side-hustle and every kind of hustle! Go forth and slay, ladies! 


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Erin Condren. The opinions and text are all mine.



Image Map

March 29, 2017

4 Lessons I've Learnt in 4 Years of Blogging

Four years ago, after countless back and forth and should I, should I not's, I sat down, opened my laptop and created this blog.

This little space on the web started off as a way for me to keep writing and showcase my writing skills, in the event that I wanted a portfolio to work in NYC one day. I originally thought of calling it Sights on the City, but it just didn't sit right.

But in the past 1,460 days, this changed from being a place to show that I could write, to the place where I needed to write. I've opened up about love, friendship, loss, rejection and perspective. I've showed outfits I've worn and trips I've been on. I've shared all of my go-to secrets and hacks for beauty, fashion and more. I've lived through the better part of my college experience with all of your eyes on me.
In the past four years, The Caro Diaries became my baby. My first-born child - complete with all of the stress, tears and frustration that sometimes accompany real children. But like an actual child, there are always the good moments, and when they're good, they're great. Working with some of my dream brands, meeting some incredible people, learning so much more about writing, editing and digital media than I have in any classroom - I've experienced all of these things and more in the lifespan of this blog.

But perhaps the most important thing that The Caro Diaries has given me is confidence. With every word, paragraph, post, I find the confidence in myself to continue writing, to hit publish and to share a (usually hidden) part of myself with the world.

In honor of four years of blogging, I'm sharing four lessons I've learnt about blogging, the industry and all the good, bad and the ugly!


1: It's OK to put your life first // Yes, while blogging can be a full-time job, it often isn't for everyone, and it certainly isn't for me. So sometimes - in between your real full-time job, or school, or involvement, or boyfriends and girlfriends, or family, or a social life - blogging can fall behind on the priority list, and that's okay. In order to have a lifestyle blog, you have to live! So stop apologizing for putting yourself and your life before the blog - remember your content is always better when your life is content.

2: It's A LOT of hard work // I think the biggest misconception is that having a blog is soooo easy, and all you have to do is take a few pictures, write a few words and boom, you're on your way to a full-fledged income. No. Just, no. It doesn't work that way. Blogging is difficult, and it becomes even harder when you're monetizing your platform. In any given blog post, there are 2 to 3 hours of work on the back end that you don't see going into it. Taking photos, photoshop and creating graphics, writing and editing countless times, making sure every little detail is just perfect - and then the social media promotion comes: twitter, facebook, pinterest, instagram, linkedin, youtube.. you name it, we're on it and we're working our asses off to make sure you see the links that brought you here. So yeah, definitely a lot of work!

3: Don't compare yourself // These days, everyone and their mother has a blog - all because of the glamorization of the industry: going to fashion weeks, getting free clothes and cool products, getting paid lucratively to post about brands you like. So it's easy, really easy, to fall into the comparison game. This blogger is working with this company, this blogger got a comped trip to a European city, this blogger made enough money in one post to file taxes next year. Stop, just stop. In order to be really and truly successful in blogging (and by that I don't mean making money, I mean enjoying blogging), you need to figure out who YOU are and what your blog is. Stick to who you are - write in your natural voice, blog about your style.. your readers are your friends, and just because 8 people on your Instagram feed have worn a choker or an off-the-shoulder top in the last 20 minutes, doesn't mean you need to suddenly post chokers and OTS tops too, especially if it's not your style.

4: It's SO much more than just a blog // I started this blog not knowing what to expect and what would come out of it. What did come out of it were some lifelong blogging friends, a ton of marketable skills that helped me land my dream job, and a redefined love for writing, in a whole new way. Yes, while The Caro Diaries is a series of pages and posts and pictures, it's way more than that. It represents my passion and all of my energy going into one huge project. It represents countless hours of brainstorming, note-taking, conferences and meetings, phone calls and emails, and jotted notes in the middle of a night just in case the idea may leave before the morning. It represents years of love and hard work and talent, shared in every single post. So yes, it's SO much more than just a blog - it's an extension of yourself, and every part of you that you want to share.

So, as I turn the page and start another chapter, I'm excited. I know that while I may not have the time to write every day as I always want, there are so many more crazy things to be expected. And while I know that nothing lasts forever, I'm ready to watch my baby grow, flourish, and take on a life of its own. And until that day comes, you can find me here - sitting behind my laptop screen, like I was on that very first day, and as I will be until the very last.


Image Map

March 24, 2017

Perspective

I cannot lie to you. I've written this blog post at least ten times since January 1st. I open the page, begin to type, and then delete every word that spills out. I don't know how to express what I want to say. That can be a scary thing, being at a loss for words. It doesn't happen to me often, and I'm an over-writer.. once I start, I cannot stop. But, the words aren't coming to me right now.

And that's part of the reason why I haven't written much over the last few months. Not the entire reason.. but definitely a big part.
<image via>
At the start of 2016, I penned a very open letter where I spoke about feeling inadequate, not good enough, like a failure. I ended positively, sure that 2016 was going to be my year. That's a joke, wasn't it? I don't think 2016 was anyone's year!

I mean, I had a good year: I finished off an amazing senior year, traveled to Puerto Rico and the Grenadines, watched my sister get married, and graduated from my dream school. But the world faced a lot of tragedy and immeasurable loss, and sometimes we can't just forget about those things in favor of the happier moments.

So on New Year's Eve, as we celebrated the end of 2016 with lots of champagne and friends, and the countdown began, I felt relieved. Unlike 2015, I wasn't feeling uneasy about the coming year. I was happy to get rid of 2016, despite all the good that I may have experienced, I was ready for a fresh start.

Now 2017 hasn't been all roses and daisies, don't get me wrong. The last few months have been a whirlwind - I lost an uncle way too young, I lost a friend even younger, I saw heartbreak and tragedy in the eyes of the people I love. To say 2017 has been kind to everyone would be a lie.

But as I surrounded myself with family and friends at a fancy restaurant on December 31st, I had hope. My cousin - yes, the same one I sobbed to in the bathroom just one year prior - looked around for me as the countdown began, nervous to see what state I was in. But I was in the middle, screaming the number louder and louder the closer we got to midnight, dancing surrounded by some of my best friends, and happy - gosh, I was happy!


And why shouldn't I be? Yes, while life wasn't perfect last year.. it'll never be. So as we prepared to go into 2017, I let it all go. I found myself embracing the moment instead of worrying about what's to come. Because life is beautiful, incredible, magical - and no matter how much we plan for it, there'll always be something that makes us take a right turn, or a left turn, or sometimes just go around a roundabout for a couple minutes.

At the end of 2015, I got my first ever job rejection. I keep bringing this up, but it was a monumental moment for me. I mean, it wasn't my dream job, and it wasn't the be all and end all. But I was gutted - a sign that I wasn't good enough, even after all of my years of hard work, internships, too-much campus involvement, and even this blog.

I graduated, however, and got an incredible job at one of the top advertising agencies in the country - I got to write ads I'd see in magazines and in the newspapers, and hear on the radio and be surrounded by my work. But, as life would have it, I wasn't content.

I struggled for a while with this. Am I just bored? Isn't this what adulting is? Jobs aren't supposed to be exciting every single day, right? And that's right... but I felt a greater sense of belonging elsewhere, and I had decided on a Tuesday evening at the end of November that I would start to look elsewhere for jobs, knowing fully it may take months for me to find one considering the state of our economy.

That same night, I got a phone call from a friend of my sister's who knew somebody who was hiring and she thought I would be perfect for the job. Without knowing my struggles, she asked if she could recommend me. Two days and an interview later, I was offered the job on the spot. And by Friday, another opportunity presented itself to me: an opportunity to spearhead a digital movement at one of the top newspapers - something I had only ever dreamed of doing.

So as I struggled to make a decision, between an incredible job, and something that was quite literally my dream job, I took a step back. I weighed my pros and cons, and then I threw out that list and went with my heart. (oh, and I went with the newspaper job!)

And then I laughed. I laughed for all the times I cried leading up to this moment, unsure of what I wanted to do, where I would go or how I would get there. I laughed for thinking that one job rejection defined me, all of my years of hard work, and all of the years to come. I laughed for all of the struggles and frustrations I'd experience in the future, wanting to remember this moment. And I laughed for my heart, because I needed it.

So with 2017 starting in 10...9...8... I still laughed. Because surrounding your life with joy is definitely more beneficial than worrying unnecessarily. And because, even when we want to, sometimes there's just nothing we can do.

<image via>

I'm a firm believer that your enjoyment of life is based entirely on how you look at your life in general. I know, as someone with crippling anxiety, that's a bold statement to make. But if there was anything that I learned from 2016, it's that sometimes things don't always turn out the way we want them, but if we look closely enough - squint, even - we can find the joy in it.

Perspective can be a hell of a thing. Sometimes, you can be in a situation and it can feel like it's the end of the world.

And guess what?
It's not.
<image via>

Image Map