UCF’s ‘Boomerang Generation’ saves money by staying home

College students have a lot to juggle between school, work, internships and more. But the current generation isn’t just juggling – they’re boomeranging.

The “Boomerang Generation” refers to young adults who leave home, go to school and then return back home after graduation.

According to Pew Research Center studies, 29 percent of young adults in their late 20s and early 30s live at home. Of this group, 78 percent are satisfied with their living situation, and 77 percent are optimistic about their financial future.image-1

But what about students 18 to 24, still in school and commuting from their parents’ home to UCF?

Shaun Milosevich, a digital media junior, plans to move back in with his parents for the duration of college.

“I basically can’t afford to live on my own anymore,” said Milosevich. “I’ve had to work just about any time that I wasn’t in class in order to afford rent. However, now that I’m back as a full-time student, I don’t have the time to put in more work hours to afford living on my own.”

Milosevich said that he won’t have to contribute rent while he lives with his parents, as he will be focusing on school full time. Pew reported that 48 percent of “boomerang kids” paid rent to their parents while living at home, and 89 percent helped with household expenses.

Diane Prather, a sociology faculty member who teaches a Family Trends course, said in an email:

“If the parents are having them pay a nominal fee in rent and help with chores,” she said, “the young adult has a better chance in being a successful student, as they have learned how to be responsible.”

Lisa-Marie Rieckhoff, a hospitality junior, doesn’t pay her parents for rent, but does pay gas, tolls and car insurance to cover the cost of commuting. She currently works two jobs to cover her expenses, and to save for the future, she wants to pick up a third job.

“I had to understand that financially, living away from home is not an option,” said Rieckhoff. “For now, I’m living there while I focus on budgeting and making sure I have enough money eventually to pay my own rent, insurance, phone and car.”

Rieckhoff hasn’t always lived at home while in college. As an out-of-state student from Wisconsin, she stayed on campus for two years before returning home after a difficult sophomore year. Rieckhoff almost did not return for her junior year. But then, her father earned a promotion that relocated her family to Orlando, giving Rieckhoff the opportunity to return to UCF as a commuter student.

“If I hadn’t been able to live at home, I definitely wouldn’t have come back to school,” she said. “I could live there until graduation but after … I’d just feel ashamed of myself. It sounds dramatic, but I want to be an adult living on my own.”

Rieckhoff prefers living independently, but is among the 48 percent of “boomerang kids” who indicate that their living arrangement hasn’t affected their family dynamics.

UCF commuters pay $47.94 for decals to park on campus for one semester, compared to $2,470 to live on campus for one semester.

UCF commuters pay $47.94 for decals to park on campus for one semester, compared to $2,470 to live on campus for one semester.

Timothy L. Johnson II, an interdisciplinary studies junior, is among the 24 percent who have had a positive experience living with their parents as an adult.

“I get to help my parents out with certain things as they get older, and it slows the empty nest thing they will go through,” he said. “Plus I know it makes them happy.”

But even in a mutually beneficial situation, Johnson said that the “bad stigma” of living at home after graduation would encourage him to move out.

“In America, we have this idea that if you still live at home after graduation then you aren’t really adjusting to adult life. It’s seen as childish and adolescent,” he said. “…Honestly, I think it’s kind of ridiculous, but it is what it is.”


Secret menus exposed: UCF-area menus open to students’ creativity

Image from Hackthemenu.com

Image from Hackthemenu.com

Without glancing at the menu, you order: four beef patties, four slices of cheese, bacon and special sauce loaded between two sesame-seed buns.

When quick service restaurants such as Burger King promise you can “have it your way,” it’s no surprise that some students may opt to customize their order to create something like the BK Quad Stacker described above. From coffee to pizza to burgers and more, local restaurants and chains may provide what have been popularly described as secret menu items.

On April 5, Business Insider reported its top five secret menu suggestions for McDonald’s. These tips were found through the website hackthemenu.com, which states its purpose to provide, “details, recipes and prices about the most interesting and tasty secret menu items available at all of your favorite fast food restaurants.”

UCF students don't have to go far for custom Starbucks drinks — they're available in Knights Plaza in Barnes & Noble.

UCF students don’t have to go far for custom Starbucks drinks — they’re available in Knights Plaza in Barnes & Noble.

At UCF, several on-campus and nearby restaurants are listed with secret menu hacks, including Burger King and McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks and Panera Bread.

Marilyn Solorzano, a nursing sophomore at UCF, works for Starbucks in the Barnes & Noble located in Tower 3 of Knights Plaza. At this location, Solorzano said that she had frequent requests in the previous two semesters for non-menu items. She said that while baristas at Starbucks must learn how to make both the hot and iced version of many standard menu items, she enjoys making new creations for customers.

“It’s pretty cool. Sometimes I don’t know how to make something and they’ll look it up on Google, and I’ll make it for them if we’re able to,” she said. “As long as it’s not a Frappuccino, we’re good.”

Solorzano said that because her Starbucks is located in a Barnes & Noble, she is unable to customize certain drinks, including Frappucinos. So if you’re craving a cotton candy Frappuccino — a vanilla bean Frappuccino with extra pumps of raspberry syrup — head to an off-campus location.

Solorzano said that it does take longer to make an unusual request, but she appreciates the creativity.

“It makes it cooler cause you learn new things [as a barista],” she said.

Not everyone agrees that putting a new spin on an old menu benefits the employees.

“Alterations and substitutions like ‘Can I get extra “x,” or can I get it without “y”’ can be one thing, but an entirely different issue arises when asking the worker to make off-the-cuff items that they simply cannot make,” said Charlie Korba, a current Valencia College student transferring to UCF to study premed. “All it seems to do is take up more time for the workers, which isn’t good, especially for a busy location like the campus.”

Korba suggests that students follow his example by ordering the components for his or her specialty order separately to assemble on their own. At McDonald’s, for example, Korba said that he would create what is known colloquially as a “McGangbang” by combining two McDoubles with a McChicken stacked between them.

Katelyn Smith, a psychology senior at UCF about to begin a master’s program in the field, previously worked at McDonald’s on Alafaya Trail. She corroborated Korba’s suggestion and said that asking for unusual orders slows down the staff and may cause a manager to get involved.

Whatever you order, just make sure you clearly tell the staff what you’re asking for, and you’re on your way to enjoying a creative new twist on familiar franchise dishes. And if you need some suggestions to get you started, Business Insider recommends a Pie McFlurry. Blend one McDonald’s pie with the McFlurry of your choice for a unique dessert that’s your little secret.

UCF’s SGA presidential candidates share plans for campus life

The UCF campus may see a pedestrian walkway across Alafaya Trail or more LGBTQ-community inclusion, depending on the outcome of this year’s Student Government Association elections. On March 11, the SGA presidential and vice presidential candidates participated in an involvement debate in the Key West Ballroom where they discussed their goals and experiences regarding campus life. An official presidential debate between candidates Weston Bayes and Jessica Gottsleben will be held March 18, and voting opens for students March 24.

Pre-debate prep: While the candidates prepare, supervisor of elections Kathryn Andriotis speaks with moderator and fellow election commissioner Leah Chakoff  (on stage) before beginning the involvement debate on March 11.

Pre-debate prep: While the candidates prepare, supervisor of elections Kathryn Andriotis speaks with moderator and fellow election commissioner Leah Chakoff (on stage) before beginning the involvement debate on March 11.

Bayes partnered with Sydney Altfield for a campaign based on the slogan “stand uknighted.” Bayes serves as Senate President Pro Tempore, Activity & Service Fee vice chair and previously served as the homecoming comedy knight director. Altfield is the president of Alpha Phi Epsilon, a member of the library advisory board and previously served as the homecoming concert director.

“All of the different places that I’ve put my foot through the door have definitely shaped my leadership skills,” Altfield said.

Gottsleben and running mate Lucdwin Luck could be “revolutionizing knighthood” if elected. Gottsleben is the student director of Knightcast, sits on the library advisory board and served as vice president of Honors Congress. Luck is a brother of the Theta Chi fraternity, works at Transfer & Transition Services, is the secretary for Student Veterans of America and is himself a U.S. Marine Corp veteran. Gottsleben said that her ticket represents all Knights, as she is non-Greek, and Luck is a non-traditional, 28-year-old transfer student.

“I’m a servant leader, so I do not serve for myself,” said Gottsleben. “If the student body wants something, that’s what we want to deliver.”

Both campaigns agreed on the importance of delivering a safe environment to students.

“We look at safety, but we don’t realize that there’s things that we can’t see. Yes, we can try to handle safety that is directly on campus, but what about off-campus housing communities?” said Gottsleben.

Bayes countered by explaining his ticket’s plan for off-campus safety. He and Altfield proposed a walking bridge over Alafaya Trail that would allow pedestrians to safely cross the street.

“You’re crossing almost six lanes of traffic trying to get to campus from off-campus housing, and that’s so dangerous, and every Knight should feel safe when they try and come to campus,” said Bayes. “It shouldn’t be a hassle; it shouldn’t be a danger; it shouldn’t be a risk if you try to come to your own campus.”

Election season has arrived, and so have the campaign promotions. Weston Bayes and Sydney Altfield are running against Jessica Gottsleben and Lucdwin Luck for SGA president, and voting begins March 24.

Election season has arrived, and so have the campaign promotions. Weston Bayes and Sydney Altfield are running against Jessica Gottsleben and Lucdwin Luck for SGA president, and voting begins March 24.

            Though both candidates also stressed the importance of inclusion, Gottsleben and Luck emphasized this goal particularly toward the LGBTQ community. When introducing themselves, Gottsleben and Luck stated their gender pronoun preferences as “she” and “her,” and “he” and “him,” respectively.

“The LGBTQ+ community of UCF is my family, and I want to make sure that non-gender-binary students for once have a voice and that their trans issues are for once respected on campus,” she said.

Gottsleben and Luck seek to make the Safe Zone program as inclusive as possible, as she said the former ally program was misrepresenting the meaning of being an ally by giving the perspective that cisgendered, heterosexual people could not respond accordingly with the needs of the community.

These goals are just some of many platform points that the candidates will promote throughout the campaign.

SGA President Melissa Westbrook attended the event and advised that, while they are campaigning, candidates should “do it with passion or not at all.” The outgoing president also endorsed Bayes and Altfield as her successors.

“I’m fully standing behind them and giving them my 100-percent support,” said Westbrook.

To Russia with Love: UCF student interns abroad

Through much of February, the world will focus its attention on Russia for the winter Olympics in Sochi. But Shannon Payne, a junior anthropology major, will be focused on Russia even after the fanfare dies down.

Payne will be traveling to Moscow this summer to work in the U.S. embassy as a Department of State intern. As a cultural affairs intern, she will work for 10 weeks doing tasks including preparing remarks for meetings, taking notes, meeting with exchange groups and assisting public affairs officers.

Shannon Payne

Shannon Payne, an anthropology junior, researches and compiles notes as part of her Global Perspectives at UCF spring 2014 internship.

Payne said she’s looking forward to her trip, and is grateful that she won’t be in Russia during the Olympics.

“It’s a little scary, just because this is the first time I’ve really been paying much attention to the politics behind the Olympics, but, I also feel like this is the first time that there’s been so much politics involved in the Olympics,” said Payne. “I feel like this time it’s just one thing on top of another.”

The 2014 Olympics has caused political concerns. According to PolicyMic.com, Russian law bans communicating to minors the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.” Anti-gay laws have resulted in protests regarding the treatment of gay Olympians.

But Payne’s internship begins in May, and by then, the Olympic buzz will have faded. Though, that doesn’t stop Payne and her family from worrying.

“The first thing that my mom said when I called her and told her I got the internship was, ‘oh, I was hoping you wouldn’t get it,’” said Payne. “She doesn’t want me going to Russia. There’s a lot of safety issues; I’m worry about getting robbed; I’m worried about blending in.”

However, Payne should be prepared for the challenges she may face thanks to the education and experience she has received at the University of Central Florida.

Payne is currently in her second semester as an intern for Global Perspectives.

“The Global Perspectives office is sort of all things international,” said Jessica Gagnon, the program’s public affairs coordinator.

Gagnon said that internships are comprised of three pillars: office, research and events. For her research, Payne is studying the European Union and Russia and is creating weekly current event briefs.

If Global Perspectives has prepared her to speak the language of international relations, UCF’s Russian program has prepared her to speak the language of the people.

Payne has taken four semesters of Russian –the most that the school offers. In order to take her language skills further, Payne is considering taking an independent study with Russian professor Alla Kourova in the fall.

“It will be interesting to have an independent study with her because then for myself –she took four semesters in Russian, she spent internship in Russia, and it will be from the point, not only as a professor, but from the point of research even for me to see how she progressed,” said Kourova.

Payne characterizes herself as determined, and if she applies this work ethic, her language progression may be apparent upon her return.

“I just try to give my best; whether it’s in terms of schoolwork or friendship,” said Payne. “I try to give the best that I can, and if I try to do something and it doesn’t work out, at least I tried my hardest –then I can’t really hold it against myself.”

But, she might have to worry about her professor’s expectations.

“I mentioned to Shannon … ‘I’m going to be very hard on you this semester because I don’t want my friends think, “she did not teach you well enough to use Russian,”’” Kourova said.

A Hike in the Homeland

Looking down at my feet, my formerly white sneakers had adjusted to their surroundings. Matching the high walls of sandy mountain rock, my well worn shoes guided me through crevices on a hiking trail just outside of an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Sizable pebbles slipped beneath my soles, causing me to question my balance and my decision to voluntarily participate in a two-hour hike. I am not a hiker. I had to purchase a pair of sneakers before traveling to Israel because I had not owned a pair since my feet stopped growing.

Yet on this Saturday morning, I discovered my own bravery, borne out of the nonstop adrenaline I felt from traveling internationally for the first time.

As American Jews traveling through the West Bank, my group was warned of the dangers that local settlements could pose; yet, I drifted with a couple friends along the path briefly ahead of our tour guide. Had we matched their pace, I still would have noticed the herd of goats chewing on a meager supply of desert foliage. However, I might have missed the chance to interview the Arab boy who sat on a rock beside the animals. Through the help of an Arabic-speaking friend I asked how old the boy was, if the herd belonged to him, and where he lived. The boy remained still, answering quickly; the goats were his father’s, they lived nearby and he was tasked to graze them. I inquired if he attended school. My friend translated, turned to me and shook his head, indicating that the boy did not. For 10 days in Israel, I had discovered its land, people, language and lifestyle.

But on the last day of my trip I encountered the face of the West Bank. A young farmer’s son destined one day to become a farmer’s father.

I only witnessed a moment of this 12-year-old boy’s life, a monotonous chore at that, but it was a solemn reminder that Israel is not alone in the Middle East. He watched without interrupting as my group collectively photographed his livestock, standing slightly too close. Even without a translator, I could understand that this did not bother him nor did he bother us. For a brief moment in the desert a group of Americans, Israelis and an Arab all coexisted in a Promised Land.