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The college survival guide

Tips for students who want to make it in school CL-style

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Ahhh, college. The best four (or five or six) years of your life ... or so they say. Freedom, parties, football games, drunken one-night stands; or is it more so about exams, professors who won't cut you any slack, hangovers and learning to live on a tight budget?

Ehh, no one said college was easy. For you students going or returning to school this fall, we asked the Creative Loafing summer intern squad to compile some tips to help you make this year a success. We think they know what they're talking about, but if not, that's OK. College is all about living and learning, right?

Schedule your meals around happy hour

Surviving college on ramen noodles, take-out and cafeteria food can be rough. Scheduling your budget around happy hour is a great way to minimize your food budget. Boardwalk Billy's (9005 J. M. Keynes Drive) has happy hour Monday through Friday with the best wings and shrimps 45 cents can buy. Cedar Street Tavern in Uptown (120 N. Cedar St.) is another great spot to hit up, with food and drink specials every day of the week. (Jaya Muldrew)

Research your professors

Use Ratemyprofessors.com to find professors whom previous students have deemed easy to get along with and whose workloads aren't too bad. Take as many classes with them as possible. Nobody, especially not an employer, looks to see if you had difficult professors, and most of the time they don't care what classes you took. They barely even look at your GPA because they're too interested in whether you went to a rival school or not. College is about earning a piece of paper. You learn the essential stuff on the job or, if you're smart, at an internship. (Taylor Greer)

Protect yo'self

Charlotte crime is on the rise, so be sure you're fully equipped to defend yourself from a dangerous situation. Home break-ins are also on the rise. A dog, Mace, pepper spray, or a man are all good investments to ensure your safety. Always pay attention to your instinct and surroundings. Remember you can never be too safe. Your first instinct is usually right and there is no such thing as a "safe" area. It's always better to be safe then sorry. (Muldrew)

Proceed with caution when smoking indoors

For those smokers who might be taking the risk and puffing inside, be sure to place a towel at the bottom of the door to block the threshold opening. A wet towel around the smoke detector will help prevent smoking from affecting the alarm. Remember that dorm rooms come equipped with smoke detectors that signal if removed from the ceiling -- even if there is no smoke. If the windows open, crack the window to create circulation and blow smoke through a "filter." Make a contraption using an empty paper towel roll with a dryer sheet attached to the end with a rubber band -- it will minimize the smell if smoke is blown through the tube. If you have problems with your RA, just smoke at a friend's house. (Taylor Khoury)

Use feminine wiles to hail cabs

Have your hot female friend wave down a cab Uptown because chances are if you are a guy, the cabs are going to keep it moving. (Mike McCray)

Get a driver

As if you haven't heard this enough: Use public transportation. Learn how to use the LYNX (light rail), trolley or the CATS bus system. These are all sufficient forms of transportation that make traveling to work, shopping, school or wherever you need to be day-to-day easier. The LYNX Blue Line light rail service has 15 stations between Uptown and I-485 at South Boulevard. CATS has more than 40 routes available to passengers. The Charlotte Trolley runs all through Uptown and is free to everyone. Transportation is available on the weekends for both LYNX and CATS, while the Trolley is only available during the work week. To find schedules check out www.charmeck.org/Departments/CATS/Home.htm (Muldrew)

Be centered, do yoga!

College years may pack on the pounds with low-budget foods and beer, stress from friends and family, and freedom from home. Take care of your mind, body and spirit by practicing yoga. Make time each week for a yoga class at a local studio (Yoga One, 8th Street Studio, The Breathing Room, etc.) and center the chakras (energy centers) in your body. Yoga creates balance and focus, synching the mind, body and spirit as one. Yoga classes are also an opportunity to meet new people and get away for a while to have time on your own. Try out a few classes at different studios, and find a style that fits your life. (Khoury)

Check out the drive-in

I might be one of the few people born after Thriller to have ever even been to a drive-in theater, but the Belmont Drive-In is definitely worth checking out if you're a broke college student (like me). The movies may not be the week's big opener, but any time you get to see two to three movies that are still in a theaters for $8 per car load, it's worth making a trip to Gaston County. (McCray)

Groove to local, live music

Go out on your own or with a group of friends to a live show to take your mind off classes and careers. Find some culture, groove to live tunes and meet new people at a concert at one of the local venues (The Double Door Inn, The Evening Muse, Neighborhood Theater, Visulite Theate, Smokey Joe's Café, The Milestone, etc.). Regularly check Creative Loafing for info about upcoming shows in Charlotte. Support the local musicians or participate in the scene -- go to open mic nights at The Evening Muse or sit in at a "crawl jam" in NoDa. (Khoury)

Be ready to road trip

The beauty of going to school in North Carolina is the assload of colleges we have in state and in driving distance. Chances are, if you're from here (or even if you aren't), you know someone who goes to school right up I-85. So you'll never miss out on Franklin Street at UNC-Chapel Hill on Halloween, A&T's Homecoming, the constant parties at East Carolina and the secret stash that is Appalachian State. (McCray)

Fake the drunkenness

Appearing drunk is a lot of times more fun than actually being drunk. You have an excuse to dance like an idiot. You hit on people you really think are hot -- not someone you settle on because you can't see straight. People let down their guard when they're drunk, so you can learn all kinds of things while keeping your secrets to yourself. You remember clearly how stupid everyone else acted while you kept your cool. Best of all: There's almost no chance of you bumping uglies with an ugly or worshipping the porcelain god. (Greer)

Insure your loans

Loaning money to friends is perfectly OK as long as they have easy-to-"misplace" collateral like iPod earphones, phone chargers or a computer mouse. We've all been told that allowing friends to borrow money will ruin a friendship, but what if you "insure" your investment? I'm not saying you should trade the money for the earphones. No, that'd be too easy for them to sidestep. I'm suggesting that the so-called friend's earphones, charger or other small essential item somehow disappears when they most need the item if you don't get your money back by an agreed upon time. You plead ignorance, they pay up and the item shows up. All's well again. (Greer)

Make friends in high places

Become buddies with someone who goes to Johnson & Wales -- preferably someone dabbling in the culinary arts ... for obvious reasons. (McCray)

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