Atomic Habits by James Clear

Typically this isn’t the book I would generally want to read because I don’t think it’s entertaining reading about psychological ideas. However, this book came across me when I saw it at my friend’s house and asked to borrow it. The beginning of the book made it to the point where it wasn’t tolerable to read that I ended up sectioning different parts every night for me to read in order to just get it out of the way.

As time went on, I kept an open mind reading this book, to see that the information was only trying to help me. Atomic Habits turned to be one of my favorite reads this year. I’ve learned so many valuable lessons through this book especially how to maintain/break habits.

James Clear cleverly uses athletes, comedians, big brand companies to help the reader get a grasp for how they became so successful. He documents a four step process to make habits more versatile in the daily use: making it obvious, making it attractive, making it easy, and making it satisfying. Just by reading about how to maintain a habit, inspired me to start fixing a routine and lifestyle that best suited me.

If you are interested in a book that can truly changes your perspective of life I recommend reading this book. Habits are more then they seem and help dictate the way you decide to live your life.

-Madison C.

Atomic Habits by James Clear is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

What you Should do During Summer Break

School’s out means for those of us still receiving an education summer break starts. Summer break is the most amount of time a student is gonna get. Many of us especially before we’ve graduated high school don’t know what to do over the long summer break. Many have trouble being productive or finding something to do. With fewer responsibilities, you are given more chances to work on yourself. Summer is the best time to deal with all the personal problems you’ve been dealing with.

You can always try and get a job. If you are old enough getting can help you get real-world experience and spending money that you can use while you are out with your friends. Though it’s also the time that you can spend time on your hobbies without worrying about wasting time. One great way to spend your time over summer break is to volunteer. Without any responsibilities from school, you can spend your time volunteering for programs you care about and want to help. Not only will it help your college aps but also makes you feel better about yourself when you know you did something good for your community.

Another activity you can spend your time on is learning a new language. This goes especially for those of us kids that have one or two parents that can speak the language, you can’t. Like when you are at a family gathering but your aunts and uncles speak a different language. Or when you live in an area that has a lot of speakers of a different language. Even if you relate to none of what I just said, learning a new language is still a great way to spend your time. You’re still learning without doing something super academic. Also, learning a new skill set can not only help you or save you time in the future, but also gives you a sense of achievement.

The last thing that is great to learn over the summer is to learn how to cook. For those of us that don’t know how to cook, you’ll most likely eventually find times in your life that you have to cook for yourself. However, by the time that happens some us still can’t make a home-made meal for ourselves. We all know that home-made meal are cheaper and sometimes tastier than eating out. When you’re a broke college student living in an apartment, we’ll all learn to appreciate the skill.

These are my suggestions of what to do if you’re having trouble figuring out how to spend your summer break. However, you don’t have to do any of what I suggested- it is your summer. Though, you’ll probably not regret learning new skills over the summer.

-Luke G.

The Galactic Starcruiser Hotel

I recently got back from a family vacation, where we visited the Disney parks in Orlando, Florida. As a grand finale for our trip, we stayed at the Galactic Starcruiser.

For those who don’t know, the Galactic Starcruiser is a Star Wars themed hotel where you can role play as either a rebel, a scoundrel, a First Order supporter, or a Jedi Knight. The more you interact with the characters in the hotel, the more plot is revealed to you. The main plot that everyone knows is that you are all on a space vacation ship called the Halcyon. Everything seems normal onboard, but a First Order lieutenant is commanded to join the passenger on the Halcyon to monitor it for rebel activity.

From there you can either choose to join the side of the Resistance or the side of the First Order. You can also play both sides and be a double agent, leaking information to the other side. In addition to your initial choice, you can train with the Saja to become a Jedi, join Raithe Cole’s gang of scoundrels, join Sandro’s musical group, or help two mystery characters make a love connection.

While I loved this experience very much, there are a few things that I would change about it.

First of all, the plot is too centered around the Rebellion. What I mean by this is that most of the activities onboard are for the rebels; like secret meetings, a heist, and defending the ship from the First Order. There are also two surprise rebel guests that come about, who you won’t want to miss.

Secondly, it’s too hard to join the First Order. There are only three First Order characters you can interact with; Lieutenant Croy and two Stormtroopers. Only Lieutenant Croy is able to give you missions, and he is incredibly hard to contact. Over the course of a full day where I was actively looking for him, I only saw him roaming the hotel about three or four times.

Finally, I think that there should be less big plot lines and more small ones. By this, I mean that there should be more side quests to fill time. On the Starcruiser, there was one main plot that moved very quickly and was really hard to keep up with, so I think it would be better if there were small chunks of plot that intersected towards the end.

Though I would have changed a little bit about the Starcruiser, it was definitely an unforgettable experience. The characters were all great and friendly, the decorations were amazing, the food was very creative, and it had really impressive modern technology. If I have the chance, I’ll definitely go back again to try another path, but in the meantime I’d highly recommend it for you all!

The Easy Ways to Escape Boredom

Now that summer is coming up I know that I will eventually get bored and sit scrolling on TikTok for hours on my bed. But come on, there are better and more productive ways to fill the time than mindless scrolling. I admit I also can spend hours on my phone even if I know that I am not gaining anything or even being entertained in some cases. I then develop the ick feeling of being bored, unproductive, and tired that most of you have probably gone through.

One way to get rid of that feeling when it seems like there is nothing to do is to reorganize or redecorate my room. Go through all your photos  and print them out to arrange on your walls or orientate your furniture. You can put together a collage or bulletin board with random things around your room or redo your bulletin board as I do. Then wipe down all your counters and vacuum your floor so your room is fresh, clean, and has a new atmosphere. Sometimes to get rid of the ick feeling of boredom, cleaning your room to perfection is the trick. 

Sometimes if it gets really bad, I give myself a mini spa day. Start with taking a long refreshing shower or bath, deep conditioning your hair by doing a hair mask. Then leave the shower and complete a skincare routine. Put on a face mask or moisturizer so your face will feel clean and fresh. Next up, give yourself a manicure, pedicure, or both. You use your hands and feet every day, freshen them up and it will feel great. 

When laying on your bed on your phone, force yourself to stand up and do a workout. This doesn’t have to be a high-intensity weightlifting workout. Do some yoga and meditation by finding different videos on YouTube. Yoga and meditation help clear the mind and stretch out your body that has been sitting down for hours. For all those people with lingering stress, yoga will help relieve a lot of the tension built up in your body. Or go for a walk or light jog outside or on a treadmill, giving yourself some fresh air and also forcing your body to be active. Although it will be painful to start, once your workout, whatever it may be, is over, you will feel much better.

I know most of these suggestions seem very basic, but when someone is addicted to their phone and has been stuck inside for hours, many people develop this gross feeling that is hard to go away. Over time, I have found that completing these different activities can help motivate me and honestly get rid of that gross feeling.

-Lilly G.

Investing Time in Learning a Language is Worth it

12 Compelling Benefits of Learning Foreign Languages
Learning a new language has many benefits.

Studying a world language takes away from a large quantity of a student’s time that could be spent on core subjects, extracurriculars, and sports. The time spent memorizing vocabulary and learning how to communicate in the desired language adds up to be a lot that takes away from a student’s personal, family, and school time. Not to mention, will the hard work students put in even benefit them in their future? However, there are some substantial benefits and advantages that come with learning a world language. Investing time in world languages is a necessary skill for students to learn in school because it will benefit them in future jobs and give them a different way of thinking.

Firstly, taking a world language in school will benefit students in the future, such as when they are applying for a job. Individuals have more opportunities for jobs if they are bilingual. For example, according to the report Not Lost in Translation: The Growing Importance of Foreign Language Skills in the US Job Market, “Over the past five years, demand for bilingual workers in the United States more than doubled. In 2010, there were roughly 240,000 job postings aimed at bilingual workers; by 2015, that figure had ballooned to approximately 630,000.” Taking the time to learn a foreign language in school has a great advantage and comes back to benefit the individual later on in life. The number of available jobs for bilingual people is exponentially growing and by the time students have graduated college or high school, there will be even more positions available for them in multiple professions. In addition, according to an infographic of the world’s top languages, three million out of seven million people speak one of ten languages out of 6,900 spoken languages on earth. This illustrates the importance of needing to know multiple world languages so one can communicate on a more extensive scale. By absorbing a language, individuals will get to communicate with others in the language they learned, which also leads to the next advantage of practicing a foreign language in school.

The second benefit of investing time in taking a world language class during school is it will expand one’s thinking skills and will allow one to communicate with others on a much broader scale. Understanding different languages allow for different ways of thinking. In addition to thinking and communicating skills, individuals will also be exposed to many different cultures around the world. According to Liz Reisberg in the article Foreign Language Should be Mandatory, “Studying another language (or two or three) increases the effectiveness of cross-cultural communication, not only in knowing words, but in developing a deeper understanding of language generally and its relationship to culture.” Learning a language not only benefits one in understanding words and how to communicate thoughts, but it also gives one a sense of what life is like in other parts of the world. Knowing different cultures allows for more abstract ways of thinking. Also, according to the Foreign Language Should be Mandatory article, “Without some exposure to a foreign language, how would anyone develop any understanding or insight about the cultural dimension of language?” Learning a language sets one up for success in the future. One should immerse themselves in the culture and language to truly receive all of the benefits.

Studying a world language has many benefits. However one may say that a student has other time priorities and learning a language won’t come back to benefit them later in time. Many often forget the language after coming out of high school and never use it again. As stated by Art Caden in Should Schools Require Foreign Language? Doubtful., “For the average American, studying foreign languages in school is a waste of time given all the other things she could be doing.” However, the author of this claim does not realize the job benefits that come with learning a language. Individuals who are bilingual have a significant advantage over those who are not in obtaining a job. Investing the time now will help students in the future. Additionally, one will not forget the language once graduating high school if they use it nearly every day in the bilingual job they receive. In conclusion, world language education is necessary and should be mandated as it will benefit students’ future jobs and will immerse them in a different way of thinking.

-Abby V.

Coping with Stress and Emotions

Lately, in my personal life, I’ve been experiencing a lot of stress and emotional mood swings, so I thought I’d share how I’m dealing with it. As a teenager growing physically and emotionally every day, I’ve recently been feeling a lot of confusing and unexplainable emotions. I’ve also been extremely stressed with school and the excessive workloads I’ve had to deal with, especially as the school year begins to come to a close.

With the help of all my loved ones, I’m doing much better now and I’m really enjoying myself amidst all the homework and stress. Without further ado, here are four ways to deal with stress and difficult emotions.

1. Write it down! When you are feeling stressed or confused, try writing it down on paper, whether it’s in a long paragraph of thought, a free verse poem, angry bullet points, or indecipherable scribbles. It feels great to release your thoughts and emotions, and you can really get creative with a pen to paper. Also, you can just throw away or shred up the paper later!

2. Talk to someone about it! One thing I’ve realized is that keeping secrets to yourself will not help. Bottling up emotions just consumes you and makes you feel so much worse, and you will feel disconnected or isolated from your loved ones. Mine have always been there for me, and I’ve found that they definitely have my back, and I can trust them and just have a nice long talk about my life with them. Talking to someone you love is a huge help.

3. Do something/find something you love! One of my favorite ways to spend my free time is listening to music. I love music because it puts me in a good mood and takes my mind off of whatever is going on at the moment. Do something that makes you happy, like reading a book or watching a nostalgic movie!

4. Don’t get distracted from your work! When you’re doing homework or trying to get something done, don’t let yourself be distracted. I’ve found that in the past, having my phone beside me when I’m working is an extremely unproductive arrangement. Every time I get a notification, I pick up my phone and can’t put it down for a long time. Recently I have been putting my phone far away from me when I work, and I’ve been so much more productive. Also, in the cases that I am productive and get a lot of work done, I’m really happy with myself and I allow myself to feel good and have a good day.

I hope this helps! Good luck!

-Lam T.

College Stress: Tips While You Wait for Decisions

Applying to colleges is stressful. But what many don’t tell you is that waiting to hear back, and then having to pick a college, is even worse. I was lucky enough to hear back from my dream school in December. But many of my friends don’t have that same luxury. Though we all finished our applications around the same time, many of them have to wait until March to hear back from all their schools. After that, they then have to go through the process of which school you want to go to.

On top of the stress of the waiting game to hear back from schools, you’ll have people at every corner telling you whether or not you should go to this school or that. Everyone around you is lobbying for their favorite. Parents, of course, usually want their kids to stay close by. Relatives are hoping you’ll be near them. It can be hard to block out the people around you and figure out what you truly want for yourself.

When you have more than one top school, it can be hard to find the one for you. I always recommend that my friends visit the schools they are most interested in. That way, they can get a feel of the campus as well as some of the people they will be surrounded with for the next four years of their lives. On top of that, make sure you do really good research on the living situations, meals, and transport on campus.

I found that the two most important things when I was picking a school were extracurricular activities and job opportunities. I wanted to make sure that I had fun on campus and would have things to do outside of just going to school and the occasional football game. Perhaps even more important than that was that I would be able to get job experience while on campus, whether it be internships or even just making connections with people in my industry. 

So even though college can be stressful, hopefully you have some tips to help you pick the right school and relax a little while you wait for colleges to return their decisions. 

-Danielle B.

Digital Leadership Workshop Program for Teens

Happy February, everyone! I am Tran Nguyen, a girl scout of Troop 2279, located in Santa Ana, CA. As a senior in high school, I am currently working towards my Gold Award, the highest award in the Girl Scout program.

During quarantine, everything was closed. Due to everything being canceled and closed, we couldn’t earn service hours or perform community service, and this went on for about 6 months. We didn’t know what else to do with our bucket-load of free time that we had during quarantine. We teenagers love spending time on our devices, and our parents couldn’t tell us to get off and do something productive easily. Social media is a HUGE part of our lives. But what if I told you that we, as teenagers, could use social media in a better way?

As a student who has struggled with procrastination and social media addiction from 8th grade to junior year in high school, I understood what it was like to be unproductive and how it was a challenge to balance school, extracurricular activities, and social media platforms. After learning about social media marketing and diving deeper into that skill during quarantine, I was able to find that balance. Knowing how many teenagers also struggle with finding that balance, I wanted to help them through my workshop program.

My online program, the Digital Leadership Workshop, aimed to show and help the teenage population become more aware of how they can use social media as a tool instead of something to waste time on. This program did that by teaching the basic skills of social media marketing — a skill where one could use social media to help other communities, groups, clubs, charities, organizations, businesses, and even grow him/herself to serve the people in his/her community.

The Digital Leadership Workshop taught basic skills of social media marketing including:

  • defining a target audience
  • how to run a business page on social media
  • how teenagers can apply these skills to help others in their community
  • and how advertisements work on social media

While collaborating with the Central Library, I was able to share these skills with up to 10 people, and their awareness about this subject grew from 50% to 85%. I would like to thank the Mission Viejo Library and Mr. Allen Kesinger for giving me the opportunity to share my expertise with the teenagers there. I know I didn’t get much of an audience throughout the duration of my workshop program, but the feedback I received was very insightful. It helped me to become more aware of how I can make the program better for future teenage audiences; I look forward to presenting at more locations.

Thank you!

–Tran N.

For more information, please see the flyer above or click to visit the website.

Summer Programs for Current Juniors

As a junior in high school, the college application season is right around the corner. Although applying to college may seem like a daunting and overwhelming tasks, there are many resources and programs designed to help students achieve their dreams and be accepted to their top schools. Personally, as a first-generation student, I had no guidance from my parents or siblings on how to apply to college or what to do in order to be seen as a competitive applicants. As a result, I would like to share some of the programs that have helped me through this difficult process and even boosted my college applications.

Hispanic Scholarship Fund Youth Leadership Institute

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Hispanic-American students succeed in college and beyond. As a junior, one is given the opportunity to be a part of this amazing organization by applying to their Youth Leadership Institute, which is a five day program that takes place over the summer. The requirements for this programs are that the applicant must have at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale, be of Hispanic Heritage, be a current junior, and plan on applying applying and attending a 4-year university after high school. The program is a highly selective one given that it has around a 10% acceptance rate and has a national pool of applications every year. The program selects students that have demonstrated amazing academic achievement and leadership in their communities. The YLI is currently sponsored by two schools, the University of Chicago and the University of Southern California.

I had the amazing opportunity of attending the YLI at the University of Chicago this past summer and met many incredibly driven and talented individuals. Although the program is usually in-person at the sponsored colleges, because of COVID, the program was online this year. Nevertheless, the spirit of the YLI was definitely felt. I was able to receive invaluable guidance and information regarding the college application process through my mentor as well as the various presentations given throughout the program. My favorite part of the program, however, was being able to speak with high-achieving Latinx leaders, executives, and professionals. Their stories were very inspirational and allowed me to see people with similar backgrounds as me that have been very successful. Overall, this program was life-changing and allowed me to see myself as a competitive applicant at top institutions. I highly recommend that any ambitious Latinx juniors apply to the program.

UCI High School Institute in Law

The UCI HS Institute in Law is a 5 day program designed to introduce high school students to the profession and study of law. The program is somewhat expensive ($1100); however, if you are really interested in attending and are unable to pay the full price, UCI has an application for a full scholarship. The program itself does not require an application. The only requirement is that one must be currently in high school.

Due to COVID and other complications, the program was unfortunately cancelled. They replaced it with a one-day preview of law school. However, I’m sure that the in-person and full program is very informational and have heard that it is great for those aspiring to pursue a career in law.

I completed both of these programs the summer before my senior year; however, there are many other programs that I wish I would have known about and would have loved to have attended. To name a few there is the USC Bovard Scholar program, Dartmouth Bound program, and College Prep Scholar program among others. I highly recommend applying to these programs and researching some do your own if you are interested in applying to top institutions. They are very inspirational, informative, and look great on college applications.

-Yvette C.

Cough and Cold Season: How do I Avoid it?

It is officially a cough and cold season everybody! With the new stands of covid spreading along with the yearly flu, it is very important to know how to stay safe in a time like this. Unlike normal flu seasons, Covid-19 is still as apparent as ever, making the process of taking precautions even more serious. Here I am going to let the public know, or remind them, of the important precautions that should be taken to accommodate the flowing viruses.

First and foremost, wash your hands!! Whenever you get home from school, work, or an event, the first thing you should think of doing is washing your hands. I know that saying this sounds like a no-brainer, but most people do not wash their hands when they get home. To put into perspective, all of the bacteria from all the different places you touched that others have also touched are all on your hands. If you were to eat, all that bacteria that may carry viruses will go into your system, which is not good! By consistently washing your hands, you are minimizing the chance of exposure.

My next precautionary step is something most people do not think of, which is disinfecting your phone. For most, their phone is like an extension of their body, meaning it travels everywhere with them. People also tend to always place their phones on tables, bags, and other dirty surfaces. When doing this, your phone picks up more bacteria than you could think of and is dirtier than a toilet seat. Now that you are thinking about all the places you have left your phone at today, think about how viruses could be on your phone, which you touch every day. To prevent your phone from causing a cold, always keep it when you get home. This means taking a disinfectant wipe and cleaning off your phone, killing all of the bacteria that had collected on your phone throughout the day. This way the bacteria is not transferring from your phone to your hands, which could cause you to get sick.

My last step may be the most important, that is to get the flu or covid vaccines. I am fully aware that vaccination has become politicized, but I am merely speaking from a neutral perspective, a health perspective. If you can find your local CVS or Walgreens, make an appointment to get the flu or cold vaccine. This way if you are exposed to either of the viruses, your body will have some immunity, and either you will not get sick, or you will experience symptoms that are a fraction as bad as they would have been without the vaccine. This way your immune system is built up and ready to face the virus that may enter your body. 

These are my helpful tips to keep you guys safe during this fall season!

-Lilly G.