The Top Experience Gifts to Give a Loved One

Some people are notoriously difficult to buy for. It may be they have everything they need already or they may not be particularly interested in material possessions. For these loved ones, nothing is better than an experience as a gift. Besides, experiences are far more memorable, they’re easier to personalize, and they can be affordable even for college students on a tight budget. Here are a few options to consider.

1. Be Tourists in Your Hometown

When you live in the same place for many years, it’s common to neglect some of the top tourist destinations right on your doorstep. Dedicating the day to being tourists can be great fun. Research activities to do together, such as museums and landmarks to visit, a new restaurant to try, and anything else that’s popular with visitors. If your hometown isn’t a big tourist destination, you could also do this in a nearby city or your college town.

2. Take a Class

Has your loved one always wanted to learn a particular skill or try a certain activity? Search for classes in your area or online and book one to take together. For instance, you could learn a craft, take a photography workshop, or try improv.

3. Have a Home Spa Day

There’s no need to spend a huge amount on a trip to the spa — you and a loved one can pamper yourselves at home. Purchase everything you need for a DIY kit, such as face masks, foot soaks, scented candles, hair masks, and more.

4. Go to a Concert

If your loved one likes many of the same bands as you, search for tours over the coming months to see if there’s a concert you could attend. You may find there’s a good option a few hours away, meaning you can turn the experience into a weekend trip.

5. Cook a Meal

Preparing a full-course dinner could be the perfect gift for a couple people, such as your parents. Create a menu for the evening that contains all their favourite dishes, including dessert.

6. Send Letters

It’s always a pleasant surprise to receive a handwritten letter in the mail. You could even make this gift extend for a few months by sending your loved one a series of letters, each of expressing your feelings or sharing memories. You may also like to ask your loved one to reciprocate, starting a letter exchange.

7. Read Your Birth Charts

If your loved one is interested in astrology, you may find it interesting to read your birth charts. This is a particularly good choice for a partner, as you can find out more about your compatibility. With just your birth date, time, and location, you can receive a reading from a professional or use a free resource.

8. Gaze at the Stars

Another way to involve the stars in a gift is to plan an evening of star gazing. Download an app to help you identify the constellations.

9. Bake Together

Purchase all the ingredients you need to bake cookies, cakes, or other sweets and bake with a loved one. You could use the opportunity to share recipes and techniques or have a competition to see who can create the best treat.

10. Go to a Comedy Club

Check tour dates for your favourite comedians or visit a local club to check out the up-and-coming talent — you may even discover the next big name in comedy.

11. Organize a Scavenger Hunt

An experience that works best with a group of people is a scavenger hunt. Create clues to send your loved ones all around your neighborhood. Lead them to a prize at the end, such as a lunch together at your favourite local spot.

Give yourself the gift of a better college experience by moving into off-campus housing. An alternative to Durham College residence with everything you’re looking for is Foundry 1805. Located just steps from North Oshawa campus, our student housing has spacious suites and study lounges. You’ll be able to relax, socialize, study, and live comfortably. Book a tour to check out the facilities before you sign a lease.


7 Strategies for Acing Your Finals

Even if you’ve attended all your classes and studied hard throughout the semester, it’s normal to feel a bit stressed right before finals week. Now you’re in the home stretch, but there are still a few things you can do to ensure you ace your finals.

1. Create a Study Schedule

It will be easier to stay on track if you create a schedule for yourself. Block out time each day for preparing for finals and make a note of exactly what you’ll be doing. For instance, instead of writing that you’ll study for a particular exam, specify an activity or section of the material. Be realistic when creating your schedule — both in terms of how much time you’ll need for each task and how long you can reasonably study without needing a break.

2. Prioritize Difficult Classes

There’s no need to divide the time in your study schedule equally between classes — if there’s an exam you know will be particularly difficult, make it your priority. Having a study schedule will help ensure you dedicate enough time to your most difficult classes, whereas if you only decide what you’ll do when you sit down at your desk, there’s a risk you could end up devoting too much time to the classes you like the most.

3. Study Without Distractions

Make every minute you dedicate to studying count by putting away anything that could be a distraction. For instance, keep your phone out of reach and don’t allow yourself to check anything unrelated to schoolwork on your laptop.

4. Come Up with Practice Questions

Come up with questions similar to those you may encounter in your exams and add them to flashcards. As well as creating your own questions, you may also find some you can use in your study guides and the quizzes in your textbooks.

5. Rewrite Your Notes

You’ve taken valuable notes, but simply rereading them won’t benefit you much. Instead, rewrite them into a condensed version with just the key facts. This will help you solidify terms and ideas in your mind.

6. Explain Concepts to Someone Else

Have a study session with a friend who is taking different classes than you and take turns explaining key concepts to each other. If you’re able to teach someone else, you can be confident you understand. You can also use this tactic on your own — you’ll just need to think about how you would explain. Whatever method you use, try to avoid looking at your notes when coming up with the explanations.

7. Focus on Your Health

You’ll feel ready to take on any exam if you maintain a healthy lifestyle leading up to your finals. Sleep enough, eat a balanced diet, and take regular breaks that involve some movement, even if it’s just a short walk to get some fresh air and sunlight. Whatever you do, avoid all-nighters — cramming tends to be ineffective and leaves you exhausted on exam day.

Having somewhere you can study in peace will make a big difference to your grades. Whereas your university may impose silence in dorms during the days leading up to finals week, you need to be able to study without distractions all semester. The solution is to move into an independent apartment, such as a room for rent. Oshawa, near OTU, has Foundry 1805. You’ll be living just steps from campus, but you’ll have a private or semi-private bedroom as well as the option of a study room in your suite. Apply now to take advantage of our lowest rates of the year.


The Best Budgeting Strategy for Your Personality

Everyone needs to learn how to budget, but you may find that some budgeting tips just don’t work for you. The solution is to match a strategy to your personality. Here are some different options to explore.

1. The Record-Keeper

Some people think they’re sticking to a budget — only for them to realize they have nothing left before the end of the month. If you find yourself in this situation often, you may benefit from taking detailed records. This is an ideal strategy for those who struggle to remember where their money went.

For this strategy to work, you need to track every expense down to the smallest purchase — after all, small things can add up quickly. Make a spreadsheet or use a note-taking app to write down exactly how much you spent and what you bought. It’s important to do this the moment you make a purchase or pay a bill, including monthly subscriptions. It’s best to keep the record in your phone, as that way there will be no need to remember to update your record later.

After a month (or perhaps even just a couple weeks), you’ll have a much better picture of how you’re spending money. You may discover that far more of your budget is going to certain activities than you realized. For instance, you may have developed the habit of buying snacks when you walk through a particular area of campus. Cutting out such expenses could lead to big enough savings that you’re able to save up for something you’ve wanted to buy for a while or have more spending money for fun.

2. The Envelope Strategy

You should use the envelope strategy if you’re trying to pay off debt, you want to pay more of your tuition now to reduce your student loan balance, or you’re prone to making impulse purchases. Originally, the strategy involved placing amounts into physical envelopes and assigning each envelope a different type of expense, such as debt, housing, food, or entertainment. You can adapt the amounts over the months after you gain a better idea of how much you need for each category.

Today, you can do everything digitally with a budgeting app. However, you may like to give the physical envelopes a try first — if this proves too inconvenient, you can switch to the app version.

3. The Zero-Sum Budget

The most complicated strategy is the zero-sum budget. Instead of spending money from this month, you rely on your earnings or allowance from last month. This is a great strategy if your income varies each month.

To use the zero-sum budget strategy, you need to assign every dollar you earn to a category, either using a cash envelope or a spreadsheet. As you’ll need to make sure you always have enough for the essentials, you may need to move money from one category to another if your earnings are lower one month or you have an unexpected expense. The trick is to only touch the money you earned from the previous month — not the current month. By using this strategy, you should find you avoid money problems and even build up some savings.

You’ll have more money to spend if you reduce your housing costs, such as by moving into shared accommodation. Oshawa students can find the perfect housing at Foundry 1805. We have various floor plans to suit all budgets, ranging from four to six bedrooms and with the option of either a private or semi-private room. Book a tour to see our suites and onsite facilities.


11 Ways to Have an Incredible Autumn

There’s no need to feel down that summer is over — autumn brings a huge number of opportunities when you’re at university. In particular, here are a few things students can do to have an incredible autumn.

1. Prepare Homemade Hot Chocolate

You’ve probably noticed that the instant hot chocolate you make at home tastes nothing like the beverages you find at coffee shops. However, it is possible to prepare delicious hot chocolate yourself. Instead of the packets you mix with water, you’ll need cocoa powder, sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and your favourite toppings. It takes barely any effort to make the drink — and it will definitely become something you look forward to at the end of the day.

2. Enjoy the Autumn Colours

There are many ways to enjoy the changing colours of autumn. If there’s a forest near you, a nature walk can be a great way to spend the weekend. Alternatively, you could head to a farm where you can observe the autumn leaves as you take a hayride. Farms also tend to have other activities, like corn mazes, apple picking, and pumpkin patches.

3. Host a Movie Marathon

A cold day when you and your friends would rather not venture outside is ideal for a movie night. If it’s near Halloween, a scary movie marathon could be perfect.

4. Attend a Blood Drive

Vampires are not the only ones who want your blood: there are always blood drives taking place that could benefit from a few more volunteers. Commemorate Halloween this year by donating blood, and consider signing up for alerts about when the blood drive is back in your area.

5. Knit Something

If you don’t know how to knit, now’s the time to learn. You could start with something simple like a scarf and give it to a family member or friend as a Christmas gift.

6. Have an Autumn Cleaning

Instead of waiting another six months until spring, give your apartment a deep clean now. You’ll be changing your wardrobe anyway — you may as well sort out the rest of your belongings. Throw out old papers you no longer need, sell textbooks from classes you’ve completed, and donate any clothing you’re unlikely to wear again.

7. Discover a New TV Show

You’ll likely be spending more time indoors over the next few months. Find a new show to watch when you need a break from studying.

8. Start a Craft Project

Another way to use your downtime is on craft projects. You could even make something to decorate your apartment for the autumn, such as a candle, wreath, or artificial flowers.

9. Press Autumn Leaves

While out on an autumn walk, pick up any particularly attractive leaves you find, take them home with you, and press them. You can use them in your art projects, make greetings cards, or just frame them as pictures for the wall.

10. Bake Some Treats

Baking is an ideal autumn activity because the heat of the oven makes your kitchen extra cozy. Top options to make are cookies, pie, and pumpkin bread — or you could even attempt caramel apples. Whatever you choose, it’s sure to be popular with your friends.

11. Learn the Thriller Choreography

You need to stay fit in the autumn, even when it’s cold or rainy out. A fun way to exercise at home is to learn the Thriller dance. If you start practising the choreography early, you’ll be able to show off your moves at Halloween parties.

To make not just autumn incredible but the entire year, move into a suite at Foundry 1805. Our alternative to OTU residence has everything you need for the ultimate student experience, including spacious bedrooms, study rooms, onsite laundry, and a wellness centre. Contact us to lease an updated apartment.