Kaya: Life Lessons from a Graduating Senior

As of writing this blog, I am just two papers and two finals away from graduation. Am I ready? No. Am I very soft? Yes. Will I be that one senior who graduated but still hangs around campus all the time? I will do everything in my power to make it so. A lot is uncertain right now, but I know one thing for sure: choosing COM at BU was one of the best decisions I ever made.

But there are some choices I wish I hadn’t made, or wish I had made sooner. From me, a graduating senior, to you, dear COM blog reader, a few life lessons:

  1. Join as many clubs as you can. Stick with the ones you love. You’ll be glad you did. 
  2. Prioritize your friends over (almost) everything else, old and new. Netflix can wait. So can your reading that’s due next week. (The paper due tomorrow? It can’t wait. Sorry friends.)

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3. If you think your shoes will be uncomfortable when you walk from one end of Comm. Ave. to another, you’re right. Sneakers are your friend. Wear them wisely. 

4. Spend a summer in Boston. Go to Shakespeare on the Common. Walk along an empty campus. Complain about the heat. Relish the heat. Fall in love with the city. Spend a summer at home, whatever home means to you. Reconnect with old friends. Check in with your family. Complain about having nothing to do. Relish having nothing to do. Rekindle your love with home.

5. Picnic on the Esplanade. Picnic on the BU Beach. Picnic on the COM Lawn. Picnic in Amory Park. Picnic in your dorm. Take the T to the beach and picnic there. Wear sunscreen!

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6. Talk to your classmates. Go to office hours, even if you don’t have any questions. Linger after class when you can. Get to know your professors!

7. Apply for your dream internship. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Apply for an internship you never thought you’d be interested in. If you succeed, you’ll learn something new about yourself and what you want.

8. The outlets at Pavement Coffeehouse are not as abundant as you think. Bring an extension cord and stick to the perimeter.

9. JP Licks Ice Cream. That’s it. That’s the tweet. 

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10. Re-read a book you read freshman year.

11. Dining points are not convenience points. Learn the difference, and spend wisely.

12. The mozzarella stick pizza from T. Anthony’s will not look like you think it should. Eat it after 12 a.m. and approach nirvana.

13. Go to a hockey game! 

14. Register for a PDP. Learn to rock climb, figure skate, or run a marathon. Brag about it to your friends. Get them to take a PDP with you!

15. The BU Shuttle will not arrive when you need it most. Buy a Razor scooter instead.

16. Take a deep breath. Take a sip of water. Take a nap. 

17. Become a COM Ambassador. 😉

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18. Oat milk is the best dairy-free milk.

19. Thank your professors. Thank your advisors. Thank your parents. Thank your friends. Thank your bus driver. Thank your clubs. Thank your editors. Thank your supervisors. Just say thank you!

(A big, big thank you to my fellow COM Ambassadors, FreePies, professors and dear dear friends at BU. I miss all of you dearly!!!)

Harper: How To Plan During Uncertainty

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As a transfer student, I’ve always spent a lot of time planning out my next “move” during college. I researched clubs, planned out my classes by semester, and thought about how I would spend my summer. Now, all that has been thrown up in the air. If you’re like me as someone who loves planning and finds security in it, here is how you can plan during this time of uncertainty. 

Tip #1

Find multiple ways you can spend the upcoming few months and see which one fits your situation the best. Look into online classes at your local community college or at BU and talk with your advisor about ways you can continue your education from inside your home. Apply for remote work or look into ways you can make a few bucks online.

Tip #2 

Write down things you have always wanted to do and see if there is a way you can put effort into them in quarantine. Pitch an opinion piece to your local newspaper or magazine. Make your family act in a phone-filmed short story. Maybe start a blog or a YouTube series. Dye your hair or learn a new skill for free online. Reach out to a local store and ask if you can pitch a PR plan to them via zoom during quarantine. 

Tip #3 

RELAX. Read a book, binge watch TV, sleep in, lay out and stretch your muscles, and do not feel guilty about it. 

Tip #4 

Know that wearing a mask, staying inside, and washing your hands are the biggest ways you can help the world get back to normalcy. Do your part, but know that right now is not in your control. Find hope and joy in the little things and take away stress from “planning”. 

I understand that there are people under a multitude of different circumstances and not all these tips, tricks, or helpful words of encouragement are applicable to everyone. When in doubt, reach out to your BU community for help during these tough and emotional times.

Meredith: Organization Really is Key (In-Person and Online)

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One of the best talents that I have utilized throughout my educational career has been my organizational skills. I have always been a neat person, but there are a few things even the messiest people can do every week to have the best shot at success in school. College can be really overwhelming and sometimes you will find yourself balancing a job, an internship, a heavy workload, multiple clubs, etc. As someone who puts a lot on their plate and is as involved as possible, I have perfected these organization tips to help simplify your life.

Tip #1:

Buy a planner. I cannot stress this enough; having a planner is the best possible way to keep track of everything going on at once. I like to buy planners that have a large calendar for the entire month and then have separate pages for each week. This way I can put important dates on my big calendar but keep a more detailed schedule every week. It also allows you to see your month at a glance and look into the weeks ahead! 

Tip#2:

Write everything down that is due that week with their respective due date in your planner. I also like to highlight certain assignments based on due dates and how urgently they need to be done. I find it so helpful to see everything I need to do in the week on one page. It is also so satisfying to cross it off once you finish it!

Tip #3:

To-Do Lists are your friend! I keep separate lists for separate activities such as school, clubs, workouts, my job, any meetings I may have, and just miscellaneous to do. I probably have an excessive number of lists, but I’ll always do whatever it takes to stay on top of things! 

Tip #4:

Keep a copy of the class syllabus on your desktop so it can be reached easily and quickly. Also, put all the due dates from the syllabus in your planner as soon as you have it. I check the syllabus at the beginning of every week as well, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I also keep folders on my computer for each class, semester, and year so I do not have random files and assignments floating around. 

Tip #5:

Save time for some self-care. You cannot do anything to the best of your ability if you are not taking care of yourself. Even though I keep a super detailed planner, I allow for some flexibility so I can take care of myself too. Don’t plan every day to the minute; that is too much pressure for any person. Just do what you need to so you can succeed during your college career while also being healthy and taking care of yourself.

Maddy: What Kind of Bread To Bake Based On Your COM Career

Baking bread in quarantine is the 2020 equivalent of a Victory Garden. It’s a convenient and fun way to provide yourself with sustenance and “reduce pressure on the public food supply,” because that’s a thing we have to think about now. So while we’re all watching our futures be canceled indefinitely, it is probably useful to brush up on our baking skills for when we inevitably have to become bakers in the post-pandemic world, at least until we are chosen to compete against Tributes from the other districts. And that’s on Peeta Mallark! Though you may not ever be a breadwinner, you can always be a bread baker, so here’s what kind of bread you should make based on what career you might have had if we weren’t in a pandemic.

  1. PR Professional – Whole Wheat

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Whole wheat gets a bad rap because it has a weird texture and it’s good for you, which of course makes it kind of gross. This is exactly why YOU, an aspiring PR professional, must give it a good name. Practice baking this bread in quarantine and maybe give it a nice rebrand so the millennials will buy it.

  1. Advertising Account Manager – Sourdough

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Like sourdough, I imagine this job is kind of tough. Also, sourdough is THE bread of capitalism. Don’t ask me why – I just know.

  1. Filmmaker – Banana bread

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This is barely a bread and it is useful to no one, but it is very nice and it makes life better, just like you will with your little movies.

  1. Documentary filmmaker – Rye

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This is a bread that is sometimes average and sometimes GREAT, much like documentary filmmaking.

  1. Journalist – Croissant

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If croissants even count as bread, they are the hardest bread to bake. It takes skill, patience, and LOTS of butter to get these right. The same can be said for journalism. Also like journalism, croissants will reveal the TRUTH…of whether or not you suck at baking.

Happy breadmaking!

Magdalene: An Untimely-Exit – A Thank You To COM

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Trying to articulate how I feel about the end of my college experience is challenging – particularly during this unprecedented and nerve-wracking time. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect.

I did not arrive at BU as a freshman; rather, after taking a gap year, I arrived as junior transfer student unsure of what to major in (i.e. feeling like a freshman all over again). The more years that pass from my time at my previous college, the more I’m tempted to look at it through rose-colored glasses. It’s important to note that I was unhappy there, however. After two years, I felt that I was floating aimlessly while simultaneously not feeling challenged. Despite my stagnation, I was terrified to break from it. When I finally had the courage to deviate from my mental confines, I experienced immediate relief – I went home happy to have a break from school and some much-needed time to reflect on what I wanted.

Turns out my time to think would progressively devolve into existential dread – often after 9 pm. I would scold myself for leaving behind something “good,” being a year behind my friends, and above all coming to the realization that I wanted to transfer. What if no other school accepted me?

I guess I eventually got tired of my exponential devolvement into nightly “what ifs.” I made a promise to myself that I would be productive. I was a freelance writer for my high school’s alumni magazine, was an event planner for a local artist, and babysat nearly every day to save money for the quintessential “I need clarity so I’m going to plan a trip to Europe phase.” Before I went to Europe to visit friends who were conveniently abroad at the time and who I could stay with (the only way I could afford this), I realized that I was doing a lot of writing, interviewing, and talking to journalists during my odd jobs – all things I derived a lot of enjoyment out of. So, I cracked open the Common App, something I had vowed to never do again, and applied to communication programs.

When I returned back from my amazing trip, I was anxious to see if I would be going back to the school I had outgrown. I was thrilled to see this wouldn’t be the case. I took time to visit the schools I was accepted to. I distinctly remember the day I visited BU. It was a cooler day in the spring but really sunny. I went on the campus tour and then afterward decided to pop into COM to take a look. My Dad and I were almost immediately greeted by a friendly man who walked out of his classroom, inviting us in. I was a bit too shy and above all surprised, so I said thank you and declined. I’m so glad that this was not my first and last experience with Eddie Downes. Eddie was my Non-profit PR professor and is a mentor to me. Recently, he wrote me a letter of recommendation that made me cry (in a good way).

I don’t care how cheesy, to me COM is community. I was intimidated coming in as a junior transfer, fearing I would be behind. I can say with confidence I have never felt so supported by faculty, staff, and fellow students alike. People in COM want the best for you. You’ll never be spoon-fed, but you’ll always be encouraged and guided with expertise and sincerity.

There are so many people I need to thank. All of whom I will when I set foot on campus again for Commencement. For now, I say thank you from afar. My past two years at BU have been some of my most formative thanks to the people I have met along the way. I’m sad the Class of 2020’s time was cut short, but I’m incredibly grateful for the memories I did create. Love you COM. Thanks again.

-Magdalene

MK: Disconnecting to Reconnect

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Sitting around a dinner table with friends, I started responding to an email. This transgression drew undue attention, and my friend shot his dagger-eyes at me. Pulling his hands in and pushing them out like waves, he said, “disconnect, to reconnect.” While sitting around a dinner table with friends — in a restaurant, nonetheless — feels antiquated in quarantine, the advice has stayed relevant.

Quarantined during a global pandemic, I’m sure that you’ll have no problem finding something to worry about. If you’re anything like me though, you still found plenty of things to worry about in the before-times. This time last month, my biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to find a restaurant reservation for my graduation in May. How naive! While a lot of those worries pale in comparison to the problems brought about by the coronavirus outbreak, some stressors seem to carry over.

I have always worried about minimizing screen time. Since high school, I have experienced anti-technology, borderline Luddite instincts — instincts whose origin I do not know and could not explain — directed specifically at my phone. Treating screen time reports like challenges, I would always look to decrease my dependency on the fruits of Steve Jobs’ labor. The results used to be palatable, and I understood the direct correlation between my time spent scrolling on twitter and my screentime report. I had control over the screen time and would shut off notifications as needed.

The coronavirus has complicated these weekly challenges. Gone are the days spent in rooms with classmates and professors, taking notes by hand, laptop shut, phone away. The landscape of our academic environment has taken a turn for the digital, and it’s difficult to peel yourself from the very screens that connect you to the outside world you used to inhabit. My work, school, and social life has moved entirely online.

Last spring, I challenged myself to turn off my phone for an uninterrupted hour every day. I remember that each phone-free hour was always refreshing. Whether I felt like I had cleared my head, or practiced productive studying, I learned the value of deliberate disconnection.

As students of communications, we are taught and trained to stay connected with the world at large. While normally push notifications from news, social media, mail, and messaging apps might seem overwhelming, these apps have taken on an increasingly central role in the time of coronavirus.

It’s important though, to distinguish the point at which our connection to the outside world brings us joy or anxiety. There’s no shame in turning off your phone or deleting an app. For now, disconnecting to reconnect doesn’t apply to dinners out with friends. Now, we can disconnect to reconnect with ourselves, with family, with a nice book. I see the irony if you’re reading this on a laptop or phone, but if my writing hasn’t driven you to unplug yet, maybe now’s the time.

Hannah: How To Travel From Your Couch

Recently, I have found myself talking to squirrels in the yard.

While social distancing is necessary, it’s easy to become stir crazy. Luckily, some amazing museums, zoos, theaters and historical sites are offering some fun (and educational!) distractions. Here are a few of my favorite places to fly to on the web: 

  • Take a tour of the Musée d’Orsay 

This Paris museum is in a former railway station, built for the Exposition Universelle of 1900. The building itself is a work of art. You can check out the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art in the world, from Degas to Renoir to Monet. Take the virtual tour here.

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  • Go inside the White House 

Take a tour of the different sections of the White House, learn how White House customs have evolved, and become inspired by its art collection. And with the app’s Presidential Lookalike feature, you can take a selfie and learn about the president or first lady you most resemble! Take the virtual tour here.

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  • Peruse the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met has over “5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy.” Look at Vermeer paintings, ancient Egyptian drawings on papyrus, Christian Dior designs,  and so much more. Take the virtual tour here.

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Watch a New York Metropolitan Opera

New York’s Metropolitan Opera is running nightly Met Opera streams, live streaming filmed HD performances. The operas begin at 7:30 PM EST each evening and remain online for 20 hours after. Learn more here

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  • Visit The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History 

Check out one of the world’s most visited museums! You can explore fossils, ocean life, insects, gems, minerals, butterflies and even past exhibits. Take the virtual tour here

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  • Laugh with Second City 

Watch an improvised show from the place where Steven Colbert, Tina Fey, Keegan-Michael Key and so many other famed comedians got their start. Second City is live streaming free comedy performances via Zoom. Their show, Improv House Party, allows you to watch performers improvise digitally. Learn more here.

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  • Check out some animal cams

Zoos and aquariums have animal cams that livestream what the critters are doing while we all are home. Check out some of these live cams:

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  • Visit the Sistine Chapel 

Have your breath taken away by Michelangelo’s renowned ceiling frescos. Usually the Sistine Chapel is filled to the brim with tourists. Virtually, you are able to admire the ceiling with the whole place to yourself. Take the virtual tour here

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  • Go to Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park 

Take a virtual ranger-led tour around one of the best known (and most beautiful) national parks. You’ll be able to experience fiery lava flows, leafy rainforests and even a helicopter flight over an active volcano. This is something you can’t miss!

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  •  Dive into Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary 

Be able to dive into the ocean for free (and without a wetsuit)! Virtually swim around soft corals, a 1942 shipwreck and the world’s only underwater research laboratory. Virtually dive here

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  •  Take a tour of the Great Wall of China

Walk around the Great Wall of China without even putting on your sneakers. Step into a piece of history that has been around for about 2,000 years. Check out the virtual tour here

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  •  Escape to Versailles

Tired of your house? Travel to a different (and no offense, probably fancier) place! Escape to the gilded home of French King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette (at least before the revolution). Explore the extravagant bed chambers, the hall of mirrors and the gravel paths of the royal gardens. 

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So, the next time you are feeling restless, instead of putting yourself and others in danger, travel from the comfort of your couch! Have fun sight-seeing in your sweats 😉 

Lindsey: Five Ways to Better Yourself in Quarantine

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In the last two weeks, the majority of published content offers endless ways to keep busy during the quarantine. But, there’s too much content. If you’re indecisive like me, its easy to default to the go-to activity: Netflix binging. 

Knowing BU COM kids, we like to be productive….at every waking hour. I’ve narrowed down a shortlist of ways to be productive in quarantine: 

  • Listen to a new podcast

Recently, I’ve become a podcast lover, especially educational podcasts. While going for a walk, sitting outside/inside, podcasts are great for letting time pass by quickly and with meaning. If you’re looking for an inspirational podcast, try NPR’s “How I Built This.” Each episode features a famous company’s start-up story (the Chipotle episode is great!). 

  • Learn a new skill…online

For a lot of us, our workloads are not as harsh as usual. With extra time, you can learn new skills to make you a better candidate in the professional world. For example, Google offers a beginner’s course in Google Analytics and Adobe Suite offers beginner’s course to learn design. All for free! 

  • Glam up: makeup YouTube tutorials

This is not necessarily academic, but it is self-help. Do you beg your friend every Saturday night to do your eyeshadow? Yes. Do you know the purpose of each makeup brush? I definitely don’t. Now’s our time. With hundreds of makeup tutorials out there, we can easily master the perfect day-time, night-time, natural look and start next fall with the best looks on campus. 

  • Master a new workout routine

Sitting all day is NOT good for your mental and physical health. Get your muscles moving with a little help from YouTube’s collection of free workout classes and routines. My favorites are 305 Fitness, Pop Sugar Fitness, and MadFit. All of these videos are 30 minutes are less, and are easy to integrate into your daily routine. 

  • Cook up a storm: new recipes

I’m a horrible cook. Since I’m not in my mini-kitchen in Boston for now, it’s the perfect time to learn basic cooking skills and impress your family, so next year you’re not stuck with microwavable ramen every night. Delish.com and BuzzFeed Tasty are great places to look for easy, no-time, yummy recipes.

Although we have more time on our hands than we’ve ever had, we are still living through a global pandemic and it is stressful. It’s important to not be too hard on yourself, and know it’s okay to have a lazy day. This list is for the days you’re feeling productive 🙂 Stay safe and healthy!

Yiwen: Five At-Home Activities To Prepare You For College

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Now that most of us are back home struggling to deal with crippling boredom during this quarantine, it’s easy to waste day after day doing nothing but sleeping and eating. For incoming college students, I figured I’d come up with a list of five things that you can do while at home. Doing any of these will ensure your college experience will be a much more fruitful time!

  1. Learn a new musical instrument

With so much time on your hands, learning a new instrument is definitely a possibility. I remember during my freshman year in the dorms, one of my floormates had a guitar and a bunch of us would always congregate in his room and vibe together. Being able to play a musical instrument is a great conversation starter, and it also gives you something to do when you’re trying to destress once you’re in school.

  1. Try Calisthenic workouts

Staying healthy is definitely something that is important to keep in mind when you get to college. It can be easy to neglect your health and spend day and night studying for exams, but having a healthy body can actually improve your state of mind. If you struggle to get up and get to the gym, doing bodyweight workouts are a great way to stay fit. Doing a couple pushups and ab workouts at home will help you develop a habit, so when you get to college you can do the same thing in your dorm room!

  1. Watch every movie/tv show ever

There’s Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and not to mention every amazing movie ever. Now, I’m not telling you to spend every waking moment watching movies, but movies and tv shows are a great conversation starter in college, and I’ve seen so many kids become friends over a love for a particular tv show. So figure out what that is to you, and who knows maybe the first friend you make will become your Netflix buddy!

  1. Plan your dorm room decorations

Having a well-decorated dorm room is a game-changer. Whether it’s having a comfortable environment to study in, or having a cool room where you and your friends can hang out in the late hours, I always admired people that had cool dorm rooms. Take the time now to come up with some cool designs for your dorm room, or find some cool lights and posters that make the room flashy, it’ll make all the difference when you move in.

  1. Spend time with family

Although this might not seem like a particularly exciting thing right now, this is one of the most important things to do. As cliché as this might sound, you will miss your family a lot more once you leave home and get to college. I have come to appreciate spending time with family so much more after going to college. So take the time during quarantine to enjoy mum’s home cooking, and mess around with your siblings. It may be annoying now, but you won’t regret the time spent with them now.

This is a chaotic time to be in, and it can be stressful to figure out what to do right now. Make sure to do what makes you happy, and just keep improving yourself. Look forward to the positive things that lie ahead of you, and stay safe and healthy!

Cam: Staying Creative While Quarantined

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I might be biased, but I think that COM students are some of the most creatively inclined individuals on the BU campus. Of course, we want to make sure that our inspiration doesn’t fizzle out by the time we return to Commonwealth Avenue. Recently, I’ve been thinking about how fed up I’m feeling creatively, and I knew that I couldn’t possibly be alone. So, I decided to make a list of some ways to exercise your right brain and still social distance in the process.

  1. Make super niche Spotify playlists

Most of us have seen the Instagram accounts that create the “niche” posts with extremely detailed layouts of objects and outfits that align with a certain personality, book, movie, etc. Well, what if you did the same with your favorite songs? It can be anything – from “Uncut Gems Alternate Soundtrack” to “What the COM Lounge Would Listen to If It Were a Person.” This is a great way to find new music, curate a cohesive product, and be as weirdly specific as your internal monologue wants you to be. Don’t forget you can make the playlists collaborative, too!

  1. Create a smash book

If you’re anything like me, you miss your display of posters, pictures, lights, and random little tchotchkes in your dorm room or apartment. One of the best – and portable! – ways to bring this home to your quarantine space is to make a smash book. Find an old, hardcover book, and decorate the pages however you choose. Pages can be painted, made into origami, ripped apart, used as a collage background, the choices are endless. If you fill out a page a day, you can have the coolest quarantine journal in history. 

  1. Make a short “film”

Is anyone else super confused about how we ended up in this timeline? Yeah, me too. While it might feel like we don’t get up to anything these days for the sake of flattening the curve, directing your own little movie might prove you wrong. Maybe you want to give an MTV Cribs-esque tour of your house. Maybe you’ve been working on a new character in your head. Maybe you just want to document the weirdest possible weeks you’ve experienced so you can look back on them later. Anything goes – maybe you’ll discover you were meant for film and TV all along.

In any case, these are weird times. It’s going to be difficult not to go a bit stir-crazy for the time being. When it feels like everyone is losing their cool, keeping your own can be as easy as finding a few minutes every day to have a creative outlet and make yourself laugh. As long as you keep those good vibes flowing, quarantine can only get more fun from here. Until we’re all back in the fall, keep COM and carry on.