Shaun: Some thoughts on, and from, a co-op

I know what you’re thinking — aren’t co-ops a Northeastern thing? If I had wanted to take a semester off of classes to go work, wouldn’t I have gone to school on the E Line, not on the B Line?

Maybe, but hear me out when I say that, even for a BU student, a co-op can be a fantastic experience and a great way to break up the rhythm of classes. I’m doing a co-op this semester at The Patriot Ledger, a daily newspaper based in Quincy, Mass. that covers about 30 cities and towns south of Boston. That means I’m not taking any classes; instead, I commute to and from an office each workday like a (semi) adult. I still live on campus and eat in the dining halls, but I haven’t done a lick of schoolwork since May. 

I’m really happy that I chose to do a co-op, and while I know it’s an uncommon thing for a BU student to do, it’s something I would suggest considering if you have the space in your schedule. Many COM students will have that space, I’ve found, and it’s an experience that can show you firsthand what a future career could look like on a daily basis. 

Luckily, I still like what I’m doing — print journalism — after almost five months of doing it for 40+ hours a week. That’s the big risk you take with a co-op. It’s a bigger commitment than most internships are, so if you hate it, you’re kind of stuck for the long haul. But if you love it, I don’t think there’s any better way to get real-world experience in your field as an undergraduate student. 

I’ve also found that my co-op is a nice break from the rhythm of classes and, especially, exams. I know it’s midterm season on campus because my friends are busy studying, but for me, it’s just been like any other couple weeks. In fact, I’ve almost found my life has more structure nowadays than it did at any point before in my college career. I wake up at the same time, eat at the same time, commute at the same time and get home at the same time every weekday.

And I think that when the time comes, I’ll be more than ready to get back into that full-on college student rhythm. So yes, I know we don’t go to Northeastern. I know ours is the B Line, not the E. But consider a co-op, anyway!

Kaya: Biking Out of the BU Bubble

When I was a freshman, one of my first weekend adventures in Boston was on a bike: pedaling along the Charles River, ogling at the sights and navigating through the city’s West End where the Esplanade hits the Museum of Science. It was an amazing way to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time and to see the places that weren’t as accessible on foot or by the T.

But after that inaugural ride, biking in Boston (and borrowing my roommate’s bike) fell to the wayside as I grew accustomed to the wonders of the BU Shuttle and the far reaches of the Green Line. It wasn’t until this year, when I started my internship at America’s Test Kitchen in the Seaport (hey there, CA Jamey!), that I rediscovered the wonders of taking on the city on two wheels.

I use Bluebikes, Boston’s citywide bikeshare program, to get from point A to point B — and oh, what a difference a bike makes! Instead of squeezing onto a rush-hour train underground, I’m lucky enough to cruise past Boston landmarks like Fenway Park, Copley Square, and the Boston Public Garden as I pedal my way down Boylston Street. While walking through the city gives you the chance to soak up all the sights and sounds, there’s something blissfully breezy about gliding past buildings and watching the landscape blend together at a low-to-moderate speed. (Just keep an eye out for the cars, too). 

But the real magic of the bike is that it takes me outside the BU bubble — that cozy hub that stretches along Comm. Ave. and bleeds into the edges of Back Bay, Brookline and Allston. Biking takes me outside of the far reaches of the Green Line and into a whole experience of Boston. 

While riding to work, I get to watch Chinatown wake up and the throngs of people head to their offices at South Station. I get to marvel at the shiny, towering behemoths of the Seaport and take in the sights and the smells of the harbor while I get my blood pumping and wake up myself. The ride home is even better: I take the scenic route through the North End, fueled by the sounds of a lively neighborhood (I once overheard an outdoor opera concert!) and a whiff of something delicious from one of the dozens of incredible restaurants. These are places I probably wouldn’t stumble upon if I weren’t following bike paths and lanes, and gliding around from the perch of my seat feels all the more exciting in these previously-undiscovered areas. 

My ride home also takes me along one of the most beautiful stretches of bike path in Boston: the Charles River Esplanade (and during golden hour, no less!). Riding along the river — and dodging the occasional scooter-er — is a great way to decompress after a day at work, and it allows me to savor the sights and sounds of the city we’re so lucky to call home instead of tuning them out. (Yes, this blog is getting soft and mushy, but I’m a senior and I’m very soft and mushy!)

As the weather gets chillier and riding the T becomes more of a necessity, I find myself wishing I had started biking around the city much earlier than I did. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors: if you can bike, do. It’s a wonderful world out there — so strap on a helmet and see for yourself!

Lindsey: It’s Still Hot Out.

Welcome to Boston. The city where it can be 61 degrees and pouring one day and 80 degrees and sunny the next. Between your light fall jacket, heavy winter coat, t-shirts, sweatshirts, raincoat, sweaters (the list goes on, and on, and on), you need a lot of different garments to survive out here in New England. One thing I’ve been trying to figure out for the past three years is how to pack for school. 

As a notorious overpacker, I’ll be honest, I still haven’t mastered it yet. However, this year, I made a conscious effort to pack only what I needed and leave behind the unnecessary things. Here are some of my tips and tricks for packing to live in Boston weather:

Bring shorts, but not too many. 

Like I mentioned in the title of this article, it’s still hot out. But, the truth is, no one will notice if you’ve been wearing the same three pairs of shorts for the last four weeks (as long as you wash them). Just pack a few pairs of shorts, because unfortunately this weather is not lasting long. 

T-shirts are your best friend. 

Probably right now, you are sweating through two t-shirts a day as you walk to class like the rest of BU students. That’s fine because you need a lot of them. If there is one thing to overpack, it’s your t-shirts. Even after the weather cools down, classrooms turn up the heaters and it can get very hot inside (#layer). 

Your parents can mail you things. 

Also, if you just really feel like you don’t have enough summer clothes for now, have your parents mail you stuff. This is how I survived my first two years. And then, I mail back the clothes once I’m done wearing them. 

I hope you like jackets.

You need a lot of jackets. And, you’ll accumulate overtime (especially if you’re from a warm weather state, like me, and never have lived in the cold before). I like to bring a light jacket (like a jean jacket) to wear during the first month of school, a raincoat, a light down jacket for the fall, and of course, the heavy duty winter coat that you could survive in Antarctica with if you needed to. (Tip: Get your Antarctica-level coat during Black Friday over Thanksgiving! You won’t need it until December, usually.)

Buy storage zip pouches. 

Your dorms have little to no closet and drawer space, so having clothes for every season is hard to fit. If you decide not to bring home clothes over break, put your summer clothes in a storage bin or zip-pouch thing (they sell them at Bed, Bath, & Beyond) and store it under your bed. This way you have room for all the important stuff — those bulky sweaters. 

Although the fall weather and soon winter weather is fast approaching, enjoy this beautiful weather while you can and get some Vitamin D. Feel free to email me at lindseyr@bu.edu with any questions 🙂 

Sophia: What to do with all that time!

Class schedules are a beast of their own. A lecture at 10am, a lab at noon, and then nothing else until those sweet sweet COM night classes. Not to mention you’re (hopefully) not taking all of your classes in one day, so you’ll probably end up with weird gaps between classes. How do you fill this time? Too short to pick up a shift at work, too long to go wait by your next class, just the right stretch of time to leave you lost. Fear not readers! I’ve spent four years figuring out all the activities that can fit into those odd class gaps, and below I’ve listed a few of my favorites!

Bake cookies

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I’m not a good cook. That said, even I can scoop dough and pop it in the oven. Pre-made cookie dough is your friend, although if you have the time to make your own more power to you. If you’re one of the lucky Terriers living in a dorm with a kitchen, making a quick batch of cookies between classes is a nice way to shut your brain off for awhile. Plus, you get cookies.

Dogwatch outside COM

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The people of Boston like their open spaces, and lucky for you COM student, we have an open space right outside our door! The COM lawn is a magnet for doggos, and with ample seating from various angles there’s always a way to enjoy the company of these good boys. Beware! The winter weather is on the way, and with it the puppers appear less frequently. Get out there while you still can!

Listen to a podcast

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Okay, it doesn’t technically have to be a podcast, but listening to something informative or just enjoyable is a great break from a day of listening to things that may not be quite so aligned with your interests. Personally, I listen to a Power Rangers recap podcast, but there are plenty of niches out there. True crime, Dungeons and Dragons, manners, history, everything on WTBU, the possibilities are endless!

Actually start on an assignment

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I had to put it on here I’m sorry, but if you have a free hour you probably could get a little work done on that reading you were assigned. We are students after all.

Anna: A New Approach to The School Year

“This summer, I studied abroad in Madrid and it was an experience like no other…” 

…but studying abroad didn’t exactly “change” my life, it just brought to light a different side of me that was always there. My time in Madrid still impacts me to this day and is why I’m going about this school year with a whole new perspective! These are my biggest takeaways from this summer:

Becoming more aware of time

Studying abroad pushed me to be more aware of the time that I have (and as college students, we have very, very limited time!). My abroad program was only 6.5 weeks long–and while that sounds like a lot, it really isn’t. Coming back to BU, this realization of time pushed me to get involved with only the things I truly wanted to do and be with the people I wanted to be around. 

Doing things with confidence

I became more confident in who I am after this trip. Being in a country where no one knows you and you don’t have to fear that you look “weird” is a pretty great feeling. And studying abroad pushed me to be that person even in Boston. I became more grounded in my decisions and less afraid to speak up for the things I believe in. Once I started doing that, I not only became more confident but also happier!

Seeking adventures

A lot of my friends say I have the travel bug now because while my study abroad adventures ended when the program ended, the desire to explore the world continued. The northeast is a pretty great place to live, and as students, we have access to so many states and cities! Since coming back, I’ve grasped a new beauty for meeting new people and discovering new places. (It’s important to get out of the BU bubble too!)

Studying abroad was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. It pushed me in ways I could’ve never imagined both mentally and physically. The breakdowns I had made me stronger. The friendships I made, I know, are lifelong. Most importantly, studying abroad has given me a new sense of purpose for the rest of my college career at BU, pushing me to do the things that bring me joy!

Jamey: Commuter’s Test Kitchen

This semester, I’m an intern in the TV/Podcast/Video Department at America’s Test Kitchen, an independent multimedia company focused on a trial-and-error approach to the culinary arts. I’ve been working at their (incredibly cool) office/kitchen/studio space in the Innovation and Design Building at the Seaport, helping them with the production of one of their two cooking shows: Cook’s Country. ATK chooses their recipes very carefully by tasting and testing every ingredient to try to get the most delicious recipe. I’ve had the honor of working as a taster during my internship, and it is definitely the most fun task for which I have been paid. $12 an hour to try different types of chocolate cake all day? I’ll take it. If you join their website, you can see that they often publish TASTER’S REVIEW to announce their findings.

So far, working at America’s Test Kitchen has been an absolutely incredible experience, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. What I am not grateful for, however, is the commute to the Seaport from the Innovation and Design Building.

If you are not yet familiar with the geography of Boston, the Seaport is just about as far from BU as a place in Boston can be! So, for this blog post, I thought I would do a COMMUTER’S REVIEW in the style of an America’s Test Kitchen tasting review,

NOT RECOMMENDED: Uber/Lyft 

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While Uber and Lyft can be incredibly convenient services for short rides, it is very hard to get an affordable ride to and from the Boston Seaport. I have yet to see a price under $20 on either app around the beginning and end of the work day. On top of that, the traffic to get downtown can be extremely slow getting into the Seaport, so you will not save much time. 

RECOMMENDED: MBTA 

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The T may be the most obvious and popular choice for a commute from BU all the way downtown, and there’s a reason for that. Once you get the hang of it, the T is a wonderful and easy-to-navigate service that costs very little and can get you to the Seaport in about 45 minutes. However, you have to keep in mind that the trains can be extremely cramped between 8am-10am and 4pm-6pm, so be prepared with a Plan B if it’s too full! (Pro Tip: If the Green Line is too full, try to take the 57 bus down to Kenmore station and get on a C line train from there. The C line tends to be the least full!)

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: BlueBikes

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While BlueBikes have been on campus since my freshman year, I’m embarrassed to say I just discovered how wonderful this service was two weeks ago! I signed up for a membership after finding that the T was constantly full, and now I’ve biked to work almost every day. This option is the best because it never takes more than 40 minutes to bike to the Seaport, you can always rely on a bike station being nearby, you get in your daily exercise, AND it’s much more sustainable than any engine-run transportation! One thing to keep in mind is that you should not be using a BlueBike to get to the Seaport unless you are familiar with the route enough that you don’t have to look at your phone. GPSing while biking can be extremely dangerous. Also, NEVER bike without a helmet! In Boston, cars can get quite close to the bike lane, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

MK: Taking Courses Outside of Your Major

Here in COM we like to stay in our bubble of communication oriented people. Whether we’re exchanging headlines or memes, it’s pretty easy to get caught talking about the same topics with different people. When things start to get monotonous though, I feel like I always find myself diving into my courses outside of COM. I feel so lucky to go to a school with incredible programs across all colleges, and I can’t stress how important it is to explore courses outside of your major and college. 

Early on in my collegiate career, I remember my advisor confessing his favorite course to me: a Mozart course. Despite his business major, whenever he looked back on his favorite classes in college, the Mozart course always stuck out to him. Ever since we had that meeting, I’ve changed the way I thought about my course selection. Instead of focusing only on courses that could reap more practical, ‘real-world’ skills I tried looking for different courses, ones that piqued my interests outside of my desired career path.

We have our whole lives to learn plenty of practical skills in the workforce, we only get to take college courses during our years in college. Looking back on the past three years, my opinions have started to align closely with my advisor. Some of the most impactful courses I’ve taken, courses that I would deem my favorites, didn’t count for my major and existed outside of our COM bubble.

Josee: A Journalism Major Walks into COM and Walks Out … Not in Journalism?

When I entered COM as a freshman, I wanted to live, breathe, and die on the journalism hill. With my sights set on international correspondence, I wanted to become a digital journalist covering the world’s stories. I had a passion rushing through my veins and a plan set in my heart. 

After my experiences with The Daily Free Press, BUTV10, and WBUR, I found so many amazing mentors and upperclassmen who were driven, talented, and inspiring. If you want to study journalism, COM is definitely the place to be. I fell in love with covering stories around Boston. 

Writing for the Freep, I felt like a professional from day one, running around with a notebook and a lot to learn. With BUTV10, I started producing the daily news show The Wire in my spring semester, and it all started to become real. 

There’s a certain energy in COM. Sure, many of us run on little sleep and lots of coffee, but there’s a passion within the community. There’s this unsaid energy that is shared within your peers and your mentors. It’s something you can’t describe until you’re there. 

At the end of freshman year, with international correspondence in mind, I started planning my dual-degree in international relations. With an IR degree, I had the chance to experience the sort of deep background I wanted to bring to the news desk. In all my classes, I looked at the course objectives through the lens of a journalist. Remaining impartial but observant – thinking about how social sciences and communications can interact. 

Over the course of three years, including a semester in London and a summer in DC, I realized an evolution in my interests. At first it was hard letting go of my love for journalism. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it. But, through my internship experiences and international relations courses, I noticed that there were other avenues I had not discovered yet. 

As I continued to grow through my time at BU, as a person, as a student, and into a semi-adult, I realized that I had to come to terms with the fact that my dreams and aspirations evolved as well. Now, I would love to merge my two interests in IR and journalism. 

With the technical toolkit from COM and the academic background from Pardee, I want to use the power of narrative and storytelling to build bridges across borders. I’m not quite sure where it will lead me, but I definitely am excited.

Morgan: Boston, the secret music capital of the world?

Stand outside Marciano Commons and the sounds of Billy Joel or The Who can be overheard coming from Fenway Park. Right across the street, you’ll see the blue walls of the House of Blues. Cross the river to discover venues such as the Sinclair and Middle East. Wander down Commonwealth and you’re sure to catch glimpses of lines for the next show at Paradise Rock Club winding around Canes. Go farther west and you’ll find students looking for good food and partaking in the Allston Crawl mixed in with the crowd outside of Brighton Music Hall. Venture downtown to Tremont Street and the marquee lights of Royale, the Boch Center, and The Wilbur will draw you in. Jump on the T and hop off at North Station and catch the songs of artists at the top of the Billboard charts vibrating through TD Garden. And right here on our very own campus at Agganis Arena, unless the crowds are decked out in red hockey jerseys, it is safe to assume that our hockey arena has been transformed to house a big name superstar for that night.

Boston University may lack a football team or be far from extensive green space, but one thing we have in excess is accessibility to seeing live music—and thank god for it! School has been in session for just around two weeks and I have been so lucky to have attended two shows in that limited time period. I saw Pink Sweat$ and Tyler the Creator, and was able to get affordable tickets for them both. Concerts have a reputation of breaking the bank and it is understandable as to why that is. Musicians now-a-days are relying almost solely on streaming revenue to make money with the decline in physical record sales, which leaves artists making a fraction of a cent each time someone clicks their song on Spotify, Apple Music, or a like platform. In response, touring is what artists turn to make a more solidified income. As a result of this changing economy, I believe that artists are touring more than before, which has brought everyone from today’s biggest names like Post Malone and Lizzo, to smaller indie names like Mt. Joy (who I am obsessed with) or Omar Apollo to Boston’s venues.

It may seem like a trap knowing that all of these artists are performing so close to campus, when ideas of paying for concert tickets are overwhelmed with looming thoughts of paying for student loans, but live music is all around us and does not always come attached to a hefty price tag. I advise you look into artists playing at the smaller venues and listen to their songs. You may discover an artist that you end up loving and can have the satisfaction of saying you saw them (for cheap!) before they made it big. Personally I even prefer these smaller venues because you are able to have a more intimate experience with the performers often being just a few rows, or less, in front of you. Scrolling Facebook event pages or BU Free and For Sale pages can also connect you with students or others in the area reselling tickets for a steep discount because they can no longer attend for one reason or another. I did this for Tyler the Creator and was able to snag tickets for a quarter of it’s face value! The Boston area even has live jazz music at Wally’s Café or Beehive Restaurant, or if you’re looking for something completely different, Howl at the Moon features shows with dueling pianos. Another option is to take in the music of the talented street musicians that take over Faneuil Hall or Harvard Square. Boston may be known as “Beantown” or for being a “College Town,” but a layer of Boston that I believe doesn’t get enough credit is its abundance and love for good-old live, loud music.

Geneve: How to Make your Dorm/Apartment Look Home-y

I’m going to be honest with you. I’ve never understood why or how people can live with just plain sheets, three books on a desk, and a black lamp. Some people might say I’m extra. I mean, I won’t deny it. But throughout my three years at BU, I’ve had a great time putting up decorations of my favorite things and creating a space that I love coming home to every night after a long day of class and work. One really common misconception about my decorations is that I spent a ton of money in order to put everything together, but that’s just all false! I paid for all of my decorations myself, and as you know, #brokecollegegirl so these options are all super affordable! I also recycle decorations from year to year, which saves me a ton of money because I am not shopping like crazy every September. 

Marble contact paper

This is probably the one trick that everyone asks about the first time they step into my room. Since freshman year, I was inspired by my friend who attends the other BU (what’s up Ally!) who did this when she moved in. I used to get my marble contact paper from Lowe’s and actually pack it in my suitcase from home, but now I found that Target has rolls as well! I purchased this one and this one this one for my apartment currently. My biggest tips for putting the contact paper on is to cut it beforehand, use the grid on the back, and use an ID card to smooth out bubbles. If you can’t smooth them out, take a thumbtack and poke a microscopic hole to get the air out that way!

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Frames

I always thought it was B.S. that people put their wall art in frames, but it actually makes SUCH a big difference and makes your space feel more like home. The dollar store is actually just two blocks from where I live, so I get gold frames from there and print out designs I made on Canva. You can get super creative with this because you can literally print anything out and frame it for a polished look.

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Clear your desk

Since freshman year, I’ve always taken the desk hatch off my desk. The desk hatch is the shelf thing that most dorm desks come with, and most people will store books or decor on it. I promise you, after I’ve done this and told my friends to do this, not one friend has kept it on. When you take the desk hatch off, it opens up so much more space on your desk and makes it feel less claustrophobic and more inviting to do work on. You might wonder, where do I keep the hatch then? I’ve put it under my bed or in my closet as a shoe rack, wherever space allows!

Get a rug

I don’t care who you are, or what your style is. You can benefit from a rug. Rugs transform space instantly, help make cleaning for you easier, and make a great landing spot for your feet when you come home. Avoid white rugs, because although they will look nice the first few weeks you get them, they inevitably will start turning other colors. My go-to is a grey rug, because it literally never gets dirty, and doesn’t close in a space like a black rug would. If you’re feeling more fun, get a patterned rug. This is the only exception of having a lighter rug, because if there is a darker colored pattern on it, dirt will look less obvious. Also, don’t be afraid to have more than one rug in a room! It helps you separate spaces. For example, I have a smaller, shag rug right by my bed for my feet when I wake up, but a larger area rug right next to it. 

Wheels change your life

I got a three-shelf cart my freshman year and I have used it every year since then. There are metal utility carts, wooden carts, metal carts, and larger carts, so get any one that fits your style and taste. You can use them as a bar cart, as a bedside table, or a makeup station. The options are endless and they’re super easy to take apart at the end of the semester.

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Build your throw blanket collection now!

Throw blankets transform spaces, whether it’s your living room or your bed. They also keep you warm at night when the heat isn’t doing enough! They’re also great because they add a new layer to your bed and are easy to change up when you get bored, especially if you get a reversible one. My favorite throws are either fuzzy sherpa ones or knit ones. 

Lighting is key.

Most of the time, the dorm lights are really harsh and not inviting at all. String lights are a popular option to spice up your space. I used to use these globe lights in white because I thought they were a little more unique than the standard christmas lights. Since sophomore year, I’ve also been loving the pendant light, which is literally just an Edison bulb in a hanging pendant light that you plug in. I use a command hook to hang it off the ceiling and think that it gives off a more sleek, clean look than all-around lights.

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Display mementos

80% of the things I have on my space are things that remind me of someone, something, or a moment in time. I also love to display things that people gave me. Don’t get so focused on creating the “perfect aesthetic” and instead, choose some key colors to stick with and add in things that correspond and also remind you of the things you love most. For example, I bought this postcard when I visited the Camp display at the MET this past summer, the Kauai bracelet is something my mom got me as a surprise from our cruise trip to Hawaii, and the stone is from One Stone, a group I was in in high school that means a lot to me.

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Keep it level!

There’s now a level right on your phone with the “Measure” app, so you don’t even need a friend around to give you a second eye when hanging things. Just make sure your phone has the rotation lock off.

Functionality

Lastly, the most important part of your space is functionality. It might be a bit too late now to move stuff around, but if it’s not, consider it! Before I start unpacking in a new place every semester, I always assess the space to see how it may be more functional. The way the furniture was left by the previous person may not be the best way for the space to be optimized. For example, I always like to keep my dining table closest to the kitchen as possible. You don’t want to be walking through a labyrinth of couches to put your dinner on the table. Extra tip: in small spaces, you might be tempted to push all your furniture as close to the wall as possible to optimize space. It’ll actually look bigger if you pull each piece about 1 inch off the perimeter, because the space behind gives the illusion that there is more space than there actually is!

I hope these tips help you create a space you love! I’d love to see pictures of your decor and how you set everything up! Feel free to reach out to me glau99@bu.edu or via Instagram @genevelau!