R U There, Doc?

Our Weekly Digest

Every week, we’ll be sending you an email with our favorite news stories, events, and overall advice for getting through school in one piece. Enjoy!

R U There, Doc?

Can apps replace your doctor’s appointments? It looks like it.
With various health startups now offering ‘virtual visits’ with a real certified doctor, it is becoming easier to get treated without the stress of the commute, wait time, and appointment scheduling. Basically, you can get checked with a few taps on your phone to get connected with a medical professional.

Opternative is a startup that offers full eye exams from the comfort of your phone or computer! The process is quick with the Opternative eye exam, which is as accurate as an in office exam. It’s amazing when you think of the machinery that usually is involved with eye exams. Within 24 hours a certified ophthalmologist will review your results and even can write a prescription, without ever having met you in real life.

You can see a doc virtually for things other than eye exams as well, and you get matched with the first available doctor, communicating through through video conference. The doctors can write prescriptions for you virtually too! Some companies don’t even require a facetime – Zipnosis offers treatments for pink eye or other common ailments all through text. Amazingly, they also can provide prescriptions. R U There Doc?

While virtual visits do save time and energy, it’s possible that these types of services will become the new normal and could lead to major changes in how we treat ourselves in the future. So no worries about eating a apple a day – you can just facetime the doc from your couch.

Free College. No, really.

In incredible progressive education news, all public universities in Germany are now free, and not just for Germans. Anyone from around the world who chooses to study in Germany can get a full higher education, and graduate without owing any tuition. That’s right, debt free. This is a big deal, as student debt is one of the major issues in the United States – most private universities in the USA cost an average of $36,000 a year, with state schools for in state residents averaging about $10,000 per year. Even with that hefty home state discount, recent grads usually find themselves owing a good chunk of change.So how much is currently owed? Well, in the United States student debt is at about 1.3 TRILLION dollars, so getting an education is not cheap. This is also a 6% increase from 2015, so it’s not looking great.

Some American students have already decided to take the plunge and suit up in lederhosen, getting a great education in Germany. There are currently over 4,500 Americans enrolled as full time students in German universities, an increase of 20% in the past 3 years with projections showing that spike to continue. We can only hope that when they come home to visit they’ll be the ones buying the drinks at the bar. After all, they can afford it, they’re graduating debt free.

How long does it really take to build a habit?

Think you’ve got a bad habit? Me too… but what does that even mean?A habit is basically an automatic behavior you do without even consciously thinking about it.

In more detail, it’s a psychological pattern that starts with a 3-part process called a ‘habit loop’. This process includes a cue/trigger that tells your brain to go into autopilot. Then there is the behavior itself, and finally the reward feeling your brain associates with the habit. And so the cycle continues.

Habits develop in the part of the brain called the basal ganglia, which also helps develop emotions, memories, and pattern recognition. While we can develop bad habits, there are also good ones, like flossing every night, or reading before bed. Don’t worry if you don’t currently do anything like this, it’s not too late! You can train your brain to actually build a habit and research shows it takes about 66 days. No worries if you miss 1 day – a few cheat days did not prove to ruin the habit-building overall.

It’s not easy. Committing to something when it’s not your norm is a lot of work, and the 66 day number is just an average – it can be more or less. If you make it 66 days though, that 20 minute morning jog that you hated the first 40 days will be almost automatic by the end. Let’s hope this works, because I need to get in shape before New Years – almost 66 days away. Wish me luck!

Cuba Libre

The embargo is over! Guantanamo Bay is closing! We can now go to that beautiful little island country off the coast of Miami that was forbidden fruit for so long: Cuba.
But not so fast – just because the United States and Cuba are friends again, there are still restrictions. Before you plan your Spring Break, it’s important to know a few things.

As an American, you will need a visa to visit the country. Luckily, this tourist visa is very easy to acquire and can actually be done through your airline, for an average fee of $50 or $60 dollars. With plenty of airlines gearing up to start flying directly from the US to Cuba, there will be a lot of assistance in figuring this out. Delta Airlines even has a specific ‘Cuba Desk’ for any traveller that calls with questions about their trip, and can sell you the tourist permission over the phone.

When in Cuba, it is important to remember that things are a little more old school – as in almost frozen in time, thanks to the effects of the embargo. While it is romantic to see a city with colors and old classic cars still being used as the norm, remember that Cubans themselves are still sometimes missing certain products you wouldn’t think twice about, because they have been cut off for so long. Olive oil for example, is something Cubans request and can’t get enough of, because they don’t have access to it. If you’re thinking of bringing gifts, here are some of the most desired by the Cuban people.

Aside from how much fun Cuba will probably be – I can’t be the only one who saw Dirty Dancing Havana Nights, right? – when you get ready to head home be careful. There are also restrictions on what you can bring back with you. Cuban cigars, some of the the most highly desired products from Cuba, have a limit. Travelers can only bring back $100 worth of the cigars or Cuban rum. Bummer. But it’s a start.

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