GAP YEAR, Yay or Nay?


    Most students, including me, have considered taking a gap year at least once. This could be for any reason, personal or professional. But what is a gap year and does it affect students?

A gap year means taking a semester or a year off school, usually, after high school to pursue a hobby, travel, gain knowledge, develop a new skill, etc.  However, I must say, the effects of taking a gap year depend solely on student mindset. Taking a gap year can negatively impact students if they are not clear on what to do. There is a potential of wasting time if you don’t have any goals to accomplish in this gap year, transitioning to school can be difficult and traveling can be expensive. You might feel like you are falling behind and your peers are ahead of you. On the other hand, taking a gap year can be very beneficial if you already have a plan on how to spend this year off. Maybe you want to follow a secondary education and receive a certificate. Plenty of students decide to use this year to travel. Traveling and living in another country for a gap year can be a life-changing experience. Immersion in a new culture, learning a foreign language, and seeing the world through new eyes can lead to significant insights into your passions and goals (Mulugeta). Another focus would be volunteering. It is totally up to students how they decide to spend this year off, however, they should ask themselves, what are they trying to learn from the experience. This self-discovery, new experiences, are useful in the long run when students face the work environment. Mentioning all the skills they have developed in the resume, would make a good impression on hiring managers.  

Good News!!! 

There are programs that help students on what to do during this gap year. Planning is necessary but let’s be honest, it can be a real headache. Programs such as Nols, Warriors Academy, etc can save you the headache since they have planned the activities you will partake in. Some of these programs can be pricey however, there are programs like AmeriCorps that provide students from 18-24 years old an all-expenses-paid gap year including accommodation, board, and transportation in exchange for a 10-month commitment to national and community service.

(Mulugeta).Mulugeta, Mikael. “Should You Take a Gap Year?: BestColleges.”, 4 June 2020,

Here’s How to De-Stress for Finals

Photo: EnergepicPexels

That week of the semester is here: FINALS. This time of your “academic experience” is always dreadful, nobody seems to enjoy finals – unless you are Jimmy Neutron or other geniuses on television. Nonetheless, we’re all essentially students here (or if you are just reading along by) you can’t avoid these terrifying exams. As the saying goes, “a healthy mind, keeps a healthy body”. It’s vital that we take care of our mental health during this time of the academic year. Essentially, everyone wants to do well on their finals, but there is a better way to prepare than pounding energy drinks at 2 A.M. in the library. Take it from a student who is approaching in her final semester at UBALT – you can manage your stress level and still come out on top.

First of all, SLEEP. You hear it all the time. It seems like there is not enough time in the day to sleep for 6-8 hours, while studying for final exams. But making time to sleep can improve your academic performance. Don’t stay up late cramming, instead, start studying earlier so you can get your beauty rest! Time management is key here, as we’re all accustomed to it.

Second off, exercise and stay hydrated. Not only does this help you burn calories and help you get that “summer bod”, but (for some) it can be a form of therapy to take your mind off the workload. Working out releases endorphins (a chemical your body produces) which can make you feel positive and happy. This doesn’t mean you should go to the gym and pump some iron, you can also go for a jog outside, attend a yoga class, ride a bike, or play pick-up basketball. Either way, any physical activity (or at least breaking a sweat) can definitely provide a temporary escape from your responsibilities.

Even if you decide to go to the gym, keep in mind that hydration is also important. This can help boost your performance (mentally and physically) and regulate body temperature (for those having anxiety and sweat perspiration). There are lots of benefits to drinking water – that’s why your Mom and your doctor reiterates this so much.

Pro Tip: make sure to have a water bottle with you when you study!

Last, take breaks while you’re studying. Most students study for hours on hand, not leaving any space for their brain to rest. During these breaks, maybe grab a healthy snack and take a walk outside. You can even try listening to some calm meditation-style music. You don’t want to overwork your brain before a big test or presentation. Chances are, you’re not retaining as much information as you think when you pull an all-nighter or 24-hour study session in the library.

And finally, (for the love of God) do NOT procrastinate. I know it’s cliche, but sometimes simple reminders like this helps an ordinary girl like me. That text message and that notification on social media can wait. Stay focused and study on! Learn to balance your mentality, so you won’t feel burnt out and unmotivated to do anything. It’s okay to take breaks, but don’t prolong them.

Charles Dickens once said, “procrastination is the thief of time.” The majority of college students have procrastinated at some point and time (guilty). You will not accomplish what you wanted and you will feel guilty when the results come back.

Artjona Lireza is a staff writer for The Sting. She is a Digital Communications student at the University of Baltimore.

Best Food Spots Around UBalt

Photo: Louis Hansel – Unsplash

Aren’t you tired of trying to find a place to eat around UBALT? Well, lucky for you because I have a few suggestions for you. 

If you are a breakfast person and want to grab something quick near school, Belvedere Bagels and Grill is the perfect spot for you! Only a few blocks away from our campus, this place offers mouth-watering bagels and pancakes – such as Garlic, Salt, Multigrain, Poppyseed, Cinnamon, Raisin, Onion and more! Plus, your traditional homemade blueberry pancakes.

The interior of the restaurant is casual and quite simple. The restaurant has a rating of 4.5 stars on Google reviews – evidently, it is highly favored among alumni and staff here at the university. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, you cannot dine-in but I would not sleep on this place!

If you are into international food, Tapas Teatro Cafe offers a variety of food – from traditional Spanish food to seafood to vegan food. According to The Grub Factory, this restaurant is also rated 4.5 stars. 

“SO good! The vegan food here is impressively good! I eat mostly vegan (and sometimes vegetarian), and this food rivals (and surpasses) many I’ve had. We ordered a sandwich, vegan mac ‘n cheese with coconut bacon and each had a Kombucha to split. Flavorful. This food is made with love. Delicious. Seating is limited inside. You can order to take out. My recommendation would be to arrive early as this place gets busy, fast, a testament to how good this place is! We arrived around 5 o’clock, and it filled up quickly, and within half an hour had at least a dozen people arriving to pick up take-out orders. Highly recommend this place!!!” says one of the reviewers commented on The Grub Factory.

When you walk inside Tapas, you can’t help but notice the artwork and their captivating decor. The theme revolves around Spanish, African and Egyptian culture (including an artist named Docta Toonz). Definitely check this place out!

Sammy’s Trattoria is one of my personal favorites – since my tenure at UBALT. I consider this restaurant as one of the hidden gems in Baltimore. The simple ambiance is bolstered by traditional Italian food and a great selection of adult beverages. This is a great place to dine with old friends and meet new ones. If you love Italian food as I do, you must try their brick oven pizza. The taste is immaculate and (of course) very different from an electric oven pizza. Sammy’s Trattoria is also a few blocks away from the student center – approximately 0.2 miles away. You will be able to relax and enjoy some great food during your leisure time and in between classes once campus opens back up again in the fall. 

Other food places that I would recommend are 

  • Turp’s Sports Bar & Restaurant
  • Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant
  • Cafe 1908
  • Never On Sunday

Bon Appetit!

Artjona Lireza is a staff writer for The Sting. She is a Digital Communications student at the University of Baltimore.

Young adults are going back to their childhood homes. Here’s why.

Young adults have recently set a new standard of choosing to live with their parents. Normally, young adults leave their parents’ homes when they set out to establish their own. While many linger around their childhood homes when they complete school, it seems that it’s becoming increasingly common for young adults to stick around their old stomping grounds just a little longer. What may be the reasons for this increasing trend? 

Economic downtown

First, young adults live with their parents as a result of the economic downturn. The outbreak of pandemics such as Covid-19 may prevent young adults from moving to their own homes. When a pandemic emerges, new living arrangements are formed, impacting young adults and overall economic growth, hence preventing them from moving to their new homes.

Most of them are single

Secondly, young adults live with their parents because they are not married. The rise of single young adults and fall of marriage rates force young adults to live with their parents. Even when young adults stay single for a long period, they should not live with their parents.

The old family regression is pleasurable.

When young adults are aging, some routines which have not been there for some time, re enter their life. Such emerging routines during this stage of “adulting” strengthen relationships between parents and their children. Young adults get along very well with their parents compared to what may have happened during adolescence. This creates the likelihood of developing deeper connections and relationships. The likelihood of young adults living with the parents has also been influenced by social factors such as the cultural background.

Feeling of failure

It is hard to shake the fear of failure, which is derived from cultural programming. Many young adults think that getting out of their parents’ house is an essential component of entering adulthood. There seems to be a stigma when they fail to reach such milestones. The impatient tone is the order of the day among young adults. Further, the living standards of young adults may be experienced due to low-income households. In this case, young adults opt to live with their parents since the benefits system would reduce their payments.

It all boils down to economic, psychological, and social factors. Other young adults go back to their parents’ homes due to job loss, a failed marriage, or a desire to help parents who may be in need. 

Personally, I’m still living with my parents and one of the reasons is not being financially stable. This situation has its benefits, however I would much prefer to live alone and have my own privacy.

Artjona Lireza is a staff writer for The Sting.

The Color Theory: The 90’s Are Back

Photo: Joshua Rondeau (Unsplash)

Ladies, how many of you are digging through your mom’s closet right now? If not, you definitely should! As some of you may have heard, 90’s fashion has skyrocketed back into the fashion realm in recent memory. Fashion influencers and major celebrities, such as Bella Hadid and Hailey Bieber, are becoming “re-inspired” (as you may say) by hopping onto this nostalgic trend.

“The ’90s have had a long, bad reputation when it comes to modern fashion – the pieces associated with it remains among the most fun and offbeat in a woman’s wardrobe” (Lifestyle Asia Magazine)

When it comes to the ’90s, what is one piece of clothing that you think of first? Baggy jeans, blazers, starter jackets, fanny packs? The list goes on.

Photo: Cindy Crawford (CR Fashionbook)

Well, my curious reader, seems like baggy jeans are back in style and are here to stay in 2021. With our new way of living and working, baggy jeans seem to benefit us more in our present time. With its ultra-wide legs, baggy clothes give you comfortability without living behind the fashion. Many have embraced this ongoing trend, referring to this phase as one of their favorite clothing styles to date. 

The “baggy cut” seems like it is only exclusive for jeans. It meshes well with different types of pant material, such as: cargo, perforated, faded, asymmetrical, in leather or imitation leather, ripped, and color coordinated to complement various styles.

Photo: Nicholas Cage on SNL (Getty Images)

Since the reemergence of baggy clothes, other 90’s trends survived the test of time. Some may consider the sophisticated blazer jacket being a timeless gem – landscaping across all different kinds of generations throughout different eras. For all you fashionistas out there, you may have seen different levels of blazers making an appearance on the runway in many fashion boutiques and shows. Before, blazers with vibrant colors and loud prints were very popular – according to Darcy Schild and Erin McDowell from Insider

Nowadays, blazers are increasingly focusing more on simplicity with the use of solid colors (such as: black, beige, brown, and nudes). What makes this piece of clothing so timeless is its versatility. You can combine blazers with jeans, dresses, baggy shirts, graphic tees, or leather pants – for all you 90’s connoisseurs. If you want to be a lot more brave, you can wear a silky dress with a blazer and still look CHIC!

Photo: Victoria Beckham (Who What Wear)

Personally, I cannot live without a blazer in my wardrobe. The most recent combination I have done with a blazer was wearing it under a black turtleneck shirt, leather miniskirt, and a pair of Dr. Martens – otherwise, known as a pair of “chunky boots”. However, if you are not a skirt/dress person, a pair of baggy jeans would go perfectly well with your outfit of the day.

Happy Nostalgia!

Artjona Lireza is a staff writer for The Sting

Covid-19 has detrimental impact on college students with children

There’s no doubt that Covid-19 has impacted our lives in one way or another, but how has it impacted college students? How it has impacted parents that are also college students? 

According to Dr. Aleksander Aristovnik, during the lockdown students primarily raised concerns about their future career and study issues among other anxieties and frustrations.

One University of Baltimore student, who preferred to go by M.Martinez, said she finds herself having less motivation in a virtual environment. “It’s just not what I’m used to, and I noticed that last spring, also, I was not as focused, I was not as interested in the material, I wasn’t learning it as easily.” 

A’Ja Ross, a college student at Prince George’s Community College, said that the demands of remote learning and the lingering threat of Covid-19 have placed tremendous stress on college students across the country. 

But for those who are juggling their studies in addition to helping their school-aged children navigate virtual classes, this semester can be overwhelming. 

Another student at UB,  who preferred to go by M. Delgado, felt the same way. Delgado has two elementary school-aged children who are currently studying virtually as well, and she has a full-time job.

Delgado has to stay close to her children during the daytime, just in case they need any help with the assignments or they don’t understand something. After helping them, she rushes to go to work. 

The only time she has to focus on her studies is late at night and on Sundays. To add fuel to the fire, Delgado says that Covid has made it difficult to afford most of her expenses such as tuition, rent, internet, etc. “From March until May 2020 they closed down my job due to Covid-19. I have never been more scared in my life than at that moment. I thought about all the responsibilities I had.” 

That period was financially challenging for Delgado and it affected her studies as well. Not having a stable internet connection, she had to drop some of her classes. “I was supposed to graduate earlier but I didn’t want to fail any of my classes due to poor internet connection, so I lowered the risk by dropping two of my classes.” 

However, now Delgado’s job is opened back up and she is determined to graduate despite all the obstacles she has to face every day.

Artjona Lireza is a staff writer for The Sting.