Oh How I Love Google Apps

On the wonders of organization, planning, universal formats, and syncing to the cloud

Alright, I promise I’ll write about the awesome and not-so-awesome things I’ve been getting up to in Vienna soon. It’s just a lot of material to sort through and organize since I don’t want to make the Study Abroad section of this blog into a typical recap of my days here but more of a tailored collection of pieces targeting specific topics that are relevant and useful too. So this one is about organization, and how I need to do more of it here.

When you first transition to a new “chapter” in your life (i.e. a new semester of school, starting a new job, studying abroad, etc.), things will be hectic. There’s no getting around that. There are new “rules” to figure out and abide by, new processes for even the simplest of tasks, new people to meet and understand, and new routines to establish and follow. It’s difficult and stressful. I’ve been here for two weeks now, and I’m just starting to get used to some of the idiosyncrasies of Austria, WU, living on my own (though I’ve done that before), various people I’ve met, and my incredibly long summer vacation—my classes don’t start until October. (Somehow I’m going to finish all my classes in 10 weeks?!)

Most of the other exchange students are taking a pre-semester German language course, which I mentioned in the exchange program intro post, so a majority of students are off learning the noble language of Österreich while I just while away the time alone in my apartment. Oh how sweet it is to sleep in!

Just kidding. I’m a compulsively busy person and constantly stress about things I want/should/need to do so I’m still up at 7:30 AM. It’s not the healthiest mentality and something I’m working on, but for now, just assume I’m always busy doing something.

Currently, I’m juggling:

  1. taking five marketing courses at WU
  2. being on the executive board of two clubs back at USC: Vietnamese Student Association and Traditional Chinese Dance
  3. editing episodes for a YouTube series called The Adventures of Serena Berg
  4. managing a food Instagram—follow us @cravemavens—with my friend Han
  5. establishing this blog
  6. trying to learn photography and front-end web development on my own
  7. networking/recruiting for internships next semester and summer 2017
  8. reading more books for pleasure
  9. keeping up with/starting new television series
  10. exploring Vienna and Europe
  11. having a social life (hah!)

No big deal.

Most people take their semester abroad as a break from typical school/life stress but I can’t seem to do it. Again, I have a problem.

2016-09-22_11-19-08That’s where organization, and specifically Google Apps comes in! If you’re a USC student, you get almost all Google Apps included with your myUSC account to be seamless integrated into your USC email experience. Meaning you get Google Calendar, Drive, Keep, Hangouts, Maps, and Photos along with good ole Gmail; YouTube too, but that’s irrelevant. You also get Inbox, which is an email client that’s way better than Gmail. Use it.

I assume most people know Drive and the convenience and productivity it provides, but if you don’t, get on it. As a university student, Google Drive is imperative for storing and sharing files, collaborating with other users on projects with live editing, and accessing files on a variety of devices. Nearly everyone has a Google account so sharing and editing files via Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets has become much easier and faster than using Microsoft Office. Though they’re not as rich in features, these apps are more than enough for the common student and lifesavers for student organizations to organize files and collaborate remotely (ahem me ahem).


Now not as many people know about Google Calendar, Keep, Photos, and Hangouts. Here’s why you need to use them.

  • Calendar:
    • Synced across multiple devices (yes, even on iPhone!)
    • Color coordination for different events (12 to choose from)
    • Reminders
    • Google Maps integration
    • Shareable calendars (i.e. calendars for VSA, TCD, projects can be shared to multiple Google accounts)
    • Widgets to embed calendars on websites
  •  Keep
    • Sticky notes
    • Checklists
    • Media integration (photos, videos, links)
    • Color coordination (same as Calendar)
    • Synced across multiple devices
    • Shareable notes
    • Tags/labels
    • Reminders
    • Archive


  • Photos
    • Free storage in Google’s photo format
    • Cloud storage/syncing
    • Shareable albums
    • Fun stylized photos and movies created by Google
    • Searchable by keyword
    • Easily add file info
    • Free up so much space on your phone!!
    • This: 9 Funny Things I Found on Google Photos


  • Hangouts
    • Free video calls to other Google accounts
    • Better than Skype for large groups
    • Fun stickers, drawings, and animations
    • Free messages via data to other Google users

I swear this isn’t sponsored by Google, though I wouldn’t be opposed to it. I just really love Google products.


Nearly all of my “organizing” happens through Google, which makes transitioning to a new “lifestyle” much easier. It certainly helped me get adjusted to living in Vienna. Like I said, Drive helps me keep up with VSA and TCD affairs, Photos is great for saving all the pics I’ve been taking, and Keep is wonderful for taking notes for blog posts and making grocery lists. Oh, and Maps is a life saver but that’s a given. Everything syncs to one account—or multiple if you make several email addresses like me. It’s wonderful.

And Calendar is amazing for keeping track of all the busyness that is my life. I put all my classes, orientation events, personal appointments, and other things in it to keep me up to date with all my obligations. All color coordinated of course!

It even does cute things like use graphics for events it recognizes!!

So here’s my life tip. It applies for studying abroad but also any “transition” in your life. Find your routine. Figure out the rules of your new lifestyle, find out what works for you on most days, try to incorporate as much of your previous routines as possible, and be flexible to new processes. Once you have a routine, life is a lot easier. Organization, consistency, and rhythm reduce stress by making big changes less daunting.

Bullet journals are great organization tools if you like doing things analog.

It took me about two weeks to develop the bones of a routine, but living here is a little easier and less overwhelming now that there’s some consistency. Usually I’ll wake up, exercise a bit, make breakfast, do “computer errands,” watch too much YouTube, edit videos, go to orientation program events, and hang out/explore Vienna with friends in the evening. This is all going to be overturned once classes begin, but that just means finding a new routine. Until then, happy organizing peeps!





    1. Oh man. I totally get the waiting for the “major chapter” to start a bullet journal too. I actually haven’t started one because I get too lazy to set one up. For now, I’ll just keep things online. Thanks for reading the post!!


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