How to Safely Meet Up with Someone You Met Online

As a college student, you have a huge number of opportunities to meet new people. In addition to making friends on campus, you may meet people online, such as in virtual clubs, interest groups, and fandom spaces. It’s easy for these friends to become as close as the people you see on a regular basis. If the opportunity arises to meet up with online friends, you’ll definitely want to take it. However, there are steps you need to take to ensure your safety.

1. Check Your Friend’s Identity

There are several ways to confirm someone’s identity. For instance, you could ask to follow the friend on social media and check if the account seems legitimate. Even better, you could have a couple of video chats before you meet up. Online friends who are unwilling to do either of these things may be lying about their personal details.

2. Go to a Public Place

It’s best to meet in a public place — just in case the encounter doesn’t turn out as you expected. A good choice is a local coffee shop. Alternatively, if you originally connected over a shared taste in music, a hobby, or an interest, bonding at a concert or convention could be better still.

3. Arrange Your Own Transportation

Never rely on someone you’ve only just met for transportation. If you don’t have your own car, go somewhere you can reach by public transit. This will mean you can leave at a moment’s notice if you feel uncomfortable.

4. Involve Another Friend

It may be worth inviting another friend to come along with you, both for your safety and to prevent you from feeling awkward. Choose someone you believe will get along with your online friend — perhaps someone who is talkative and will keep the conversation flowing.

If you don’t want to bring someone with you, at least let a friend know where you’ll be. This is useful whenever you go out, but it’s extra important when you’re meeting someone new. You may even like to share your live location.

5. Prepare Some Icebreakers

Another way to avoid an awkward situation is to think about possible topics of conversation beforehand. Remind yourself that you do know this person — just because you’ve never met before doesn’t mean you’re strangers. Ask personal questions and continue conversations you’ve had online.

6. Have Clear Plans

Let your online friend know what you expect from the meeting in advance. For instance, make it clear where you’ll be meeting, how much time you’d like to spend together, and if anyone else will be coming along. Feel free to set boundaries and let your friend know if anything makes you uncomfortable. Anyone who’s worth spending time with will respect your boundaries.

You also need to have an exit plan — just in case. You could have an excuse in mind to use if you want to leave early or have a friend call or text you to give you a reason to leave.

If your meeting goes well, you may want to arrange to see your online friend more often. Once you get to know each other better, this could include inviting your friend over to your home. However, it’s difficult to entertain guests when you’re living on campus — which is another in the long list of reasons why you should find your own apartment. An alternative to Niagara College residence is Foundry Lofts. Our spacious apartments are ideal for entertaining. Plus, you’ll have access to common areas like the outdoor courtyard, movie theater, and fireside lounge. Book a tour to pay us a visit before you sign a lease.


Ways to Keep a Strong Relationship with Family in College

A big adjustment to make when you start college is being away from your family for prolonged periods of time. In addition to missing your relatives, you may find it difficult to maintain the same kind of relationship. This can be due to a combination of distance, your new freedom, and discovering more about who you are. It’s important to take steps to maintain strong relationships while still embracing your new life. This means discussing boundaries and potential areas of conflict before you go away to college.

1. Talk About Rules for When You Return Home

Depending on how far your school is from your family home, you may be paying your family visits on the occasional weekend or only going back for longer breaks. In either case, it’s important to know if you’ll need to continue to follow the rules you had during high school or if your parents will allow you more flexibility.

Furthermore, you should discuss whether your bedroom will still be your own private space. Your family may decide to use the room for another purpose after you move out, meaning you may need to share the space when you return or even sleep somewhere else. It’s useful to know this in advance to avoid surprises that could lead to tension — which is the last thing you want after being away from your family for several weeks or months.

2. Set Expectations for Communication

Your family members will want to stay in touch while you’re at college. Whereas this is important for maintaining your relationship, you don’t want keeping in contact to become overwhelming. Try to come up with a solution everyone will be happy with and that doesn’t take too much of your time away from college experiences. For instance, you could agree to a weekly video chat or to keeping your family in the loop with regular text messages.

3. Be Clear About Your Financial Responsibilities

If your parents will be supporting you financially during college, it’s important to be clear about how much you can expect to receive each month and if there will be any restrictions as to how you can spend the money. You may decide that the amount your parents are able to give you will be insufficient for meeting your needs or that accepting money will have too many strings attached. In these cases, a better alternative is to search for other sources of financing, such as through a part-time job or a scholarship.

Make the adjustment of being away from your family easier by finding a place you can call home while you’re at college. An alternative to Niagara College residence is Foundry Lofts.

You’ll have your own room in a fully-furnished apartment — equipped with everything you need to be comfortable. Plus, you can take advantage of some great onsite amenities, including a fireside lounge, fitness center, movie theater, and games room. Book a tour to see all the facilities for yourself.


How to Improve Your Credit Score as a Student

College is likely to be your first chance to develop a credit score. The choices you make now will have an effect on your life for years to come. For instance, by making smart choices, you’ll receive lower interest rates on loans, be approved for credit cards with better terms, and even find better housing after you graduate. There are several things you can do right now to improve your credit score.

1. Apply for a Secured Credit Card

If you have no credit history, it may be difficult to receive approval for a credit card. One solution is to take out a secured card. This type of credit card is connected to an account where you deposit funds. The amount you have in the account at any given time is the maximum limit on your card. You make payments just as you would a regular credit card — the funds in the account are purely for collateral. To improve your credit score, it’s important to always make payments on time and never to use the amount in your account. After a while, the creditor may even offer you an unsecured credit card.

2. Become an Authorized User on a Credit Card

An alternative to taking out a credit card yourself is to become an authorized user on someone else’s account. For instance, you could ask a close family member, such as a parent, grandparent, or older sibling. You’ll have your own card you can use to make purchases, but the primary account holder will be responsible for making payments. You should arrange to send your family member the funds to pay the balance separately.

To build credit in this way, it’s crucial the primary account holder always makes payments on time. A history of timely payments will appear in your own credit history.

3. Take Out Student Loans

Many students need loans to be able to pay for college. Although this will mean you have debt to pay after you graduate, it can have a positive effect on your credit score — provided you always pay the installments in full and on time.

It’s even better if you start making payments while you’re still in college. However, it’s still important to exhaust your other options first, such as by applying for scholarships and researching grants. This will help you avoid problems making loan payments.

4. Use Credit-Builder Loans

If you don’t need student loans, you could improve your credit score with credit-builder loans. This involves making monthly payments over a set period. At the end of the payment period, you’ll receive the amount you’ve paid (minus interest). The lender will report your payment history to the credit bureaus, helping you to improve your credit score.

5. Pay Your Rent on Time

Simply paying your rent on time can build your credit. You’ll need to ask your landlord to disclose your payment history to both of the credit bureaus to ensure your rent payments do form part of your credit score.

To be able to pay your rent on time each month, you need to find an affordable apartment. For Niagara student housing, look no further than Foundry Lofts. You can choose between a four- and five-bedroom apartment — whatever best matches your budget. Plus, all our apartments are fully furnished (including with in-suite laundry facilities) and rent includes high-speed internet. Apply now to secure the floor plan you want before they’re all sold out.


8 Alternatives to Travel This Spring Break

Although spring break is often synonymous with travel, taking a trip is far from your only option. If you’re unable to travel this year, there are several alternatives that can make for a fun or productive spring break.

1. Revisit Your Fitness Goals

If you had ambitious fitness goals at the start of this year but haven’t followed through with them, you still have the chance to get back on track. Start a workout routine you’ll be able to continue during the semester. You could hit the gym, search for fitness classes to attend, or create a workout you can do at home. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s something you’ll enjoy to keep the momentum going.

2. Invite Someone Special to a Picnic

Take a picnic with someone who also stayed behind for spring break. This is a great opportunity to catch up with a close friend or have a romantic date. There’s no need to go far or do anything extravagant — just grab a blanket and some tasty nibbles and head to your local park.

3. Spring Clean Your Apartment

Spring cleaning is essential when you’re a student — and there’s no better time for it than spring break. Go through all your belongings to see if you have things you no longer need, organize your desk, and do a deep clean of your entire apartment. Having a tidy home will make you feel better and improve your focus.

4. Reach Inbox Zero

It can also feel refreshing to clean up your digital life. Delete all the emails you no longer need and assign those you do still need to folders, until there’s nothing left in your inbox. Finally, unsubscribe to any promotional emails you don’t want to make it easy to keep your inbox empty.

5. Search for Volunteer Opportunities

If you’re unable to commit to volunteering on a regular basis due to other commitments, search for projects happening just over spring break. For instance, you may be able to volunteer with kids or participate in a charity event. Not only will you feel satisfied that you’re using your time for good, you’ll have something to add to your resume.

6. Watch, Read, or Listen to Something New

Find a new way to keep yourself entertained when you have some downtime over spring break. You could start watching a series everyone has been talking about, pick up a book you’ve been meaning to read for a long time, or try a new podcast on a topic you find interesting.

7. Spend Time with Family

If you’re able, try to visit your family over spring break. Even if you can only go for a day or two, spending time with parents, siblings, grandparents, or cousins is always worthwhile.

8. Make a Vision Board

A vision board is a great way to think about your goals for the rest of your time at university, your future career, and all the other things you want to achieve in life. Create a collage of pictures and words that express your ambitions and hang the board above your desk where you’ll see it whenever you start feeling demotivated about your studies.

Another way to spend spring break is to search for better student rentals. St. Catharines students can find the perfect home at Foundry Lofts. Our four- and five-bedroom apartments are fitted with modern furnishings, stainless steel appliances, and in-suite laundry facilities. Apply now to secure the floor plan you want.


7 Things to Do as the Spring Semester Winds Down

The end of spring semester is a milestone. You’ve achieved a lot over the past few months — now you just have one semester left before the end of the school year. There are a few things you should do as spring semester winds down to make your return to classes stress free and to prepare for success.

1. Sell Your Textbooks

The most organized students will already be looking to purchase textbooks for next semester. Sell any you no longer need to gain some extra spending money for spring break and to reduce clutter in your apartment.

2. Get Rid of Clothes You’ll Never Wear Again

Go through your closet to find clothes that are no longer your style. Throw out any broken clothing and donate the rest. An alternative to taking clothes to your local thrift store is to see if any other students would like them — perhaps you could even organize a clothing exchange.

3. Reorganize Your Bedroom

Rethink the layout and storage in your bedroom to make it more convenient going forward. There may be a more logical way to have your belongings that helps you study, clean, and stay organized.

4. Refresh Your Resume

Unless you’ve updated it recently, your resume is likely now out of date. It may not reflect the classes you’ve taken, the projects you’ve completed, or the volunteer positions you’ve held over the last few months. Make sure you include all your relevant experience and skills.

You’ll be glad you did when the time comes to apply for summer jobs and internships or if your campus holds a job fair next semester and you need a resume to give to employers.

5. Check How You Appear Online

Potential employers won’t rely on your resume alone when considering you for a position — they’ll also search for your name online. Run a search yourself to see if the results are what you want people to know about you. As well as checking for things you should delete, think about what you could add. For instance, you may like to update your LinkedIn profile or create an online portfolio.

6. Take Time to Relax

Spring semester can be hectic. Even though you’ll have the chance to rest soon, go easy on yourself during the weeks leading up to spring break to ensure you don’t burn out. For instance, spend some nights in watching movies with friends and make time for self-care.

7. Fit Workouts into Your Schedule

No matter how busy you are, it’s important to focus on your health. Find time to exercise on a regular basis — it’s a great way to clear your mind.

The end of the semester is also the ideal time to think about your housing situation. If you’re still living in a dorm, consider moving into an apartment. Foundry Lofts offers the ultimate Brock off-campus living experience. In addition to our spacious suites, we have some great common areas, including a movie theater, outdoor courtyard, and fitness center. Secure a lease before spring semester is over.


7 Ways to Limit Distractions When Studying

One of the biggest problems you face when studying is distractions. The people around you may be making noise or want to talk. You may receive a notification on your phone and want to know what it is. Even your own thoughts could take your attention away from what you should be focusing on. Whatever the case, there are ways to reduce distractions to improve your productivity and make the most of your study time. Here are a few strategies.

1. Turn Off Notifications on Your Phone

It can be tempting to look at your phone for just a few minutes in the middle of a study session. It’s extra difficult to avoid looking when you hear an alert. To prevent your phone from becoming a distraction, set up a study mode that will silence all your notifications and block you from opening apps unrelated to your studies.

2. Find a Suitable Place to Study

Experiment with different study locations until you find a place where you can study without becoming distracted. You may feel most comfortable at home or you may prefer to have activity around you, such as at a coffee shop. If you like company but want silence, your campus library could be ideal.

3. Use Noise-Canceling Headphones

If you have no option but to study where there are distractions, block out the sound around you with noise-canceling headphones. Some people find they’re able to concentrate best with white noise, whereas others prefer to listen to music. Figure out what works for you.

4. Keep Your Desk Clutter Free

If you’re studying at the desk in your bedroom, create an environment that helps you focus. Remove all your clutter — this means any objects you don’t need while studying. File away papers, throw out all sticky notes, and only have the notebooks, textbooks, and stationery you need at hand.

5. Create a Study Schedule

It’s easier to ensure you’re on track if you set an aim for what you want to achieve each day. Having a study schedule means you’ll assign a certain amount of time to a particular task — this could be working on a paper, preparing for a test, or completing a required reading.

Consider what time of day you’ll be able to best focus on this kind of activity and block the time on your calendar. Creating a schedule will also help you avoid forgetting something important and prevent you from focusing on the most appealing activities when you have more urgent tasks to complete.

6. Divide Large Projects into Small Tasks
Large projects can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re unsure where to even begin. Figure out how to split projects into tasks that will take no more than about 45 minutes. After you’ve completed one task, you can take a 10-minute break before moving on to the next.

7. Give Yourself a Reward at the End of a Study Session

Once you’ve finished studying for the day, reward yourself for staying focused with a small treat. Give yourself a bigger reward when you finish an entire paper or project.

You’re much more likely to face distractions when you live on campus than if you have your own room in an apartment. For Brock University off-campus housing, you have Foundry Lofts. You’ll be able to study in your fully-furnished apartment as well as in our private and group study spaces. Plus, when you need to take a break to relax or want to reward yourself for your hard work, you can head to the movie theater, games room, or fireside lounge. Book a tour to check out all the great amenities.


How Is Going to Grad School Different from Being an Undergrad?

One option after you graduate is to continue your education at grad school. This may seem less intimidating than entering full-time work because it’s more of what you’re used to. Nonetheless, there are some major differences between being an undergrad and a grad student that you should be aware of before you decide to go that route.

The Focus of Your Studies

As an undergrad, you’ll take classes covering a wide range of subjects to meet your general education requirements. At grad school, however, you’ll focus on a specific field that may pave the way for just a few potential careers. You’ll need to have an idea of what you’d like to do to ensure you choose the right program.

Personal Statements for Applications

When you applied for college, the emphasis in your personal statement was on showing you’d be able to manage a heavy course load, achieve good grades, and bring value to the institution. As well as academics, you may have talked about your experiences volunteering, in extracurriculars, and in other areas of life.

In contrast, the purpose of a grad school personal statement is to show how the program would help you meet your career goals. If the program has a focus on research, you’ll also need to discuss your research interests. For instance, you suggest an approach for the project you wish to undertake or talk about your work experience. It can also be helpful to mention particular faculty members at the university and explain why you would like to work with them.

The Complexity of the Courses

As you would expect, classes at grad school are typically more difficult than at undergrad level. In addition, the way professors approach classes tends to be quite different — there may be fewer textbooks and more analysis of source materials. There’s also more practical study with labs, practicums, and perhaps some teaching. All these opportunities allow grad students to demonstrate that they’re able to apply their knowledge.

Tuition Costs

Shorter graduate programs tend to have tuition fees similar to those at undergrad. PhD students, though, often receive funding — either from the university or from an external source — and may receive a stipend. This is important because they’re unable to work full-time for several years.

Self-Directed Study

Studying at undergraduate level is certainly a big step up from high school. For instance, it’s up to you to attend classes and study in your own time to meet due dates for papers or prepare for tests. The transition from undergraduate to grad school is just as big a jump: professors expect you to take initiative and work toward your own goals.

Free Time

A major aspect of college is the social side, partially because this is a time for discovering who you are. The hours tend to be longer at grad school, which leaves much less time for socializing. In addition, many students work part-time alongside their studies, which limits their free time further still.

To attend grad school, you’ll need to be among the top students during your undergrad program. This means studying hard to maximize your GPA and showing a commitment to your academics.

Having a comfortable apartment where you can study hard but also relax when you need a break is key. You’ll find Niagara College student housing that can provide you with everything you need at Foundry Lofts. In addition to a suite fitted with modern finishings, you’ll have access to a fitness center, movie theater, outdoor courtyard, and more. Start your application today while units are still available.


7 Kitchen Tips for Cooking at University

At university, you may have limited time, equipment, and funds to prepare meals, but you still need to keep your diet balanced and your tastebuds interested. Here are a few things you can do to improve your meals, even in the face of these limitations.

1. Use Your Coffee Maker for More Than Just Coffee

Whenever you need boiling water, turn to your coffee maker. You can prepare the carafe to prepare the classic ramen as well as oatmeal, rice, boiled eggs, vegetables, and much more. You can also reheat meat, fish, and other items on the bottom plate by wrapping foods in aluminum foil.

2. Save Some Ramen Flavouring for Other Meals

Every time you cook ramen, save a little of the flavouring packet. Just around an eighth of a teaspoon is enough to season dishes like pasta and eggs.

3. Toast Dry Ramen to Replace Crackers

One more way college students can use ramen is to fry the dry noodles on the stove. This can be a good substitute for crackers. Make your ramen crackers more interesting by adding some seasonings or sauces.

4. Allow Toasted Sandwiches to Cool Down Before Packing

A toasted sandwich can be the perfect meal to eat on the go, but if the bread becomes soggy, it’s quite unpleasant to eat. The solution is to allow your sandwich to cool down a bit before you put it in a sealed container. Otherwise, the steam will build up inside the container and then condensate into water when it touches the surfaces. The bread absorbs the water and turns soggy. If your toasted sandwich is cool when you pack it, however, you’ll avoid this problem entirely.

5. Substitute Butter and Oil with Mayonnaise

If you have something you want to fry but you’ve run out of butter and oil, turn to mayonnaise. It has enough grease that the food won’t stick to the pan and it adds some flavour.

6. Save Your Orange Peel

There are various ways you can use orange peel, rather than just throwing it out. For instance, you can make fruity tea by boiling orange peel in water for about two minutes. Sweeten the beverage with honey or sugar and add some spices to give it some extra flavour.

Another option is to use orange peel (or any citrus fruit peel, for that matter) as a deodorizer for your garbage disposal. Do this whenever you begin to notice unpleasant smells.

7. Add Fun Patterns to Baked Goods and Desserts

You can instantly make desserts more visually interesting by adding a fun design. Add swirls and lines with objects you already have, like toothpicks and forks. This is a great idea if you’re baking a batch of cookies to share with friends.

There’s no reason to be restricted to the basic facilities you receive in dorms — you can always move into an independent apartment. A top alternative to Niagara College residence is Foundry Lofts. Our suites all have large kitchens, fitted with stainless steel appliances, where you can prepare a wide range of meals. Book a tour to see all the apartments and onsite amenities.


How to Master the Art of Writing the Perfect Cover Letter

A skill you may not learn in any of your classes is how to write the perfect cover letter. Nevertheless, it’s a skill you’ll definitely need at some point — immediately if you’re applying for part-time jobs, later during your time at college if you want an internship, or once you graduate and enter the workforce. Although your qualifications and experience are crucial, it’s your cover letter that will ultimately determine whether an employer offers you an interview. Writing one may seem intimidating, but it’s actually quite straightforward if you approach it the right way. Here are some tips to guide you.

1. Choose the Right Font

Your favourite font can give your letter a personal touch, but there’s a risk it could distract away from your message or be more difficult to read than a classic choice. If you’re unsure, go with a safe option like Times New Roman.

2. Address Your Letter Appropriately

Find out the employer’s full name — you can search on the company website, on LinkedIn, or even ask a receptionist at the company. In addition, include the company’s address to emphasize that you’ve personalized your cover letter and not just sent the same one out with multiple applications. Finally, double-check all your spelling, especially the employer’s name.

3. Begin with a Formal Salutation

Open the letter with “Dear [title] [surname].” If you’re unsure about the employer’s title, a Google search or asking someone at the company is the solution once again. It’s particularly important to ask about pronouns when someone has a gender-neutral name, as misgendering the employer will certainly ruin your chances of an interview.

4. State the Purpose of the Letter

Your first sentence should state the purpose of your cover letter, even if it’s attached to your resume. Mention what position you’re applying for and where you saw it advertised. If there’s a reference number, include that — the company may have a large number of positions open at the same time.

5. Introduce Yourself

Provide a brief introduction to mention where you’re studying, your major, and any relevant qualifications you have. The first paragraph should be a brief summary to enable your employer to decide whether to keep reading.

In subsequent paragraphs, talk about your experience and skills in more detail. Pick out some qualities from the job description and provide real examples of how you meet the requirements. Avoid just naming characteristics without providing any evidence to back up your claims.

6. Explain Why You Want the Position

Specify why you want to work at the company, such as by explaining how it will help you meet your career goals. For instance, you could talk about the company’s mission or culture — you can find this kind of information on the “About” page of the company website.

7. Include Your Contact Information

Make it as easy as possible for the employer to contact you for an interview. Mention when you’re available for an interview and include a date when you’ll reach out if you haven’t heard back.

You may be able to avoid the need for a part-time job if you cut down on some of your expenses while at college, such as by finding a more affordable apartment. For Niagara College student housing, there’s Foundry Lofts. Choose between four- and five-bedroom floor plans to suit your personal preferences and budget. Apply now to secure a room at our lowest rates.


Affordable Ways to Decorate Your Student Apartment This Holiday

It’s common to start missing home as the holidays approach. To lift your spirits, take a break from preparing for finals and decorate your student apartment. You can achieve impressive results without spending much at all. Here’s some inspiration to get you started.

1. String Up Fairy Lights

Fairy lights are ideal for creating a warm atmosphere in your apartment after dark. You can string them up in all sorts of places, including around your bed, along the walls, and on the ceiling.

2. Put Reusable Stickers on Your Windows

Reusable stickers won’t leave a mark on your windows and will give your neighbours a glimpse of your holiday decorations. If you add some to the window in your bedroom they’ll be the first thing you see when you wake up and draw the curtains.

3. Scatter Fake Snow

Just a small amount of fake snow is enough to enhance the winter theme throughout your apartment. Scatter it on windowsills and along shelves where you have other decorations.

4. Set Up a Mini Tree

A full-size, real Christmas tree may be too expensive, but an artificial mini tree could be within your budget. Set it up in the living room where it will welcome guests and collaborate with your roommates to cover it in decorations.

5. Hang Christmas Tree Balls

Simple ornaments like Christmas tree balls are inexpensive and can instantly transform your space. If you buy them in bulk, you’ll have plenty to hang on your tree as well as around your apartment.

6. Make Snowflakes

You only need paper and scissors to make snowflakes. Hang them around your apartment with string or tape them to a wall. Creating some with roommates can be a fun activity to decorate your apartment together.

7. Holiday Cards

Make a display of all the holiday cards you receive. You could purchase a card holder to hang them on the wall or set them up on the coffee table in your living room.

8. Throw Pillows

Find some throw pillows with a festive theme for your couch or bed. If you already have plenty of throw pillows, buy just the covers.

9. Block Letters

Having a set of block letters is always fun. You can use them to create a seasonal message now and change to something else later.

10. Stockings

Hang a stocking for yourself and each of your roommates in the living room. Before you leave for winter break, you may like to all drop a few treats inside each stocking for each other.

No matter how much you decorate a dorm room, it’s unlikely to ever feel like home. Now is the perfect time to think about where you would prefer to live in the new year and start searching for student rentals. St. Catharines students can find modern apartments at Foundry Lofts. Not only will you receive your own bedroom in a spacious suite, you’ll also be able to take advantage of our onsite parking, movie theatre, fitness centre, and outdoor courtyard. Apply today before all the rooms are taken.