Carlee: Unpopular Opinion – Boston is a Better City Than London (Or it Could Be, Hear Me Out)

Last semester, I studied abroad in London, England, and I loved every second of it. The city was such a fun city to live in with an incredible variety of things to see and do. It has a culture like no other, the parks are beautiful, and the biscuits are to die for.

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By the time I made it back to Boston, I had a lot of time to reflect on my experience with London, everything that I saw there, and how the city made me feel. I love both cities so much, but my soul was leaning towards favoring the city that we call home.

At my internship this past week, I was asked to research local chefs and the restaurant scene in Boston. My findings led me to understand that Bostonians tend to think of each other in a lot that they do, building a strong sense of community. Each neighborhood of the city has its own way of giving back to the community, whether that be through family events, food drives, or climate action plans. There’s more of a sense of family amongst Bostonians, and we see that for ourselves every year on Patriots Day, or when the Pats win the Super Bowl (although not the greatest thing to celebrate in my opinion).

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Boston could be the better city for some to call home simply because of these two reasons:

  1. There’s that feeling of community (it’s family-friendly and makes the neighborhoods feel like home)
  2. It’s a compact city (you can walk or bike pretty much anywhere, and everything you need is within reach)

London, on the other hand, might be a bit overwhelming in size. I was there for four months, and I still did not get to everything on my bucket list. The size of London is definitely one of its beauties, though, as is its impressive variety of museums, mild weather, and smooth public transportation. Unfortunately, for some reason it didn’t give me this warm and fuzzy feeling that I feel in other places of the world.

So, this isn’t really about the city itself, it’s about the feeling. I know I could feel this way because I experienced London temporarily, as an outsider, and Boston is more familiar to me. Maybe I’m also only saying this because the view of the beautiful Boston skyline out of my StuVi 1 window has been feeding my soul. Plus, I have seen Boston in the summer when it transforms into a magical hub of lush green life, and I saw London in the fall, with winter fast approaching. There are a lot of factors.

Although it took me a bit to realize, I adore Boston. I’m actually from Philadelphia, which is up there on the list of greatest cities in the world, but that’s an argument for another day. After spending months in both London and Boston, they both truly have a special piece of my heart, but Boston took a bit bigger of a piece. I love it here, and I’m feeling so lucky to have been able to explore my passions in both places.

All the love, Boston. 🙂

Megan: Three Free Ideas for Valentine’s Day Fun

Ah, Valentine’s Day. The holiday that, despite being well-displayed, seems to creep up on me every year. It’s not until all the restaurants are booked and all the movies are sold out that I remember I need to plan something! Well, not this year! Gone are the days of overpriced, last-minute gifts and not-so-delicious CVS chocolates. Here are three free things you can do for Valentine’s Day, whether it’s just you, you and your best buds, or you and your significant other.

  1. Museums, Museums, Museums!

Did you know that The BU Arts Initiative provides students with FREE membership to some of Boston’s finest museums? Bring your BU Terrier Card to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Harvard Art Museums, or The Institute of Contemporary Art. And guess what? You don’t have to reserve anything! Just show up and enjoy some fine culture.

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  1. Music, Music, Music!

Another great BU Arts Initiative resource is the Boston Symphony Orchestra College Card which BU provides at absolutely no cost! All you have to do is pick up a BSO College Card and register it online. From there, free admission to concerts and open rehearsals is available. You can dress up in your finest clothes and fall in love with classical music this February 14th.

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  1. Books, Books, Books!

One of the perks of living in the heart of the city is the plethora of unique local businesses. This Valentine’s Day, head over to Trident Booksellers and Cafe for their free Trivia Night every Friday. The theme is always changing, so one week you might be the master of the subject. If you’re not a fan of trivia or would prefer a quiet night, you can try their Silent Book Club. At this event, everyone has an hour of silent reading, followed by a reading wrap-up with socialization and drinks. Nothing says “I love you” like cold, hard silence. 

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The best part about all these events, other than the price, is that you can go with anyone! Take your friend to the symphony or yourself to book night. But this year, the pressure is off. Good luck!

CA Megan

Evan: OMG, it’s Second Semester! What I’ve Learned So Far…

Hi! I’m Evan, and I’m totally new at this. COM Ambassadors, BU, Boston, basically everything that is going on in life right now. And, as a planner, it can sometimes be just a *liiiittle* stressful not knowing much at all. Sometimes I wish that people could just teach me how to do the things called “college-ing” and “adulting,” but since that never totally happened (and I am my own strong, independent, and somewhat thriving person!), that’s why I’m here right now. I guess you could call me your freshman-year fairy godmother, or something like that. If you, too, are also a little terrified and a lot excited for your future, this post is just for you.

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Without further adieu, here’s how to be a COM freshman, as Told by a COM freshman…

Don’t be afraid to ask your COM Ambassador for anything!

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Okay, so maybe we won’t all be able to give you the keys to our apartment, but we are always here for you. Our main goal is to make sure your start at COM is incredible, so you can love it as much as we do. Need a brunch buddy? We got that. Want to check out the coolest new independent films at Coolidge Corner? You can count on us. Looking for a friendly face to say hello to during your walk down Comm. Ave? We’re here for that too. Questions about your schedule? Check. But for more about that…

Pick your classes based on what you’re interested, and not on what anyone else wants you to be interested in.

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The HUB seems really confusing, I get it. But with the HUB curriculum comes the opportunity to take so many amazing classes that are completely unique to BU! My math class literally involved making lava cakes, ice cream, and boba (s/o PY 107: Physics of Food) and meeting a bunch of other amazing freshmen who also were a little scared of calculus. BUT, if calculus speaks to you, go for it! There is nothing that can stop you, and with all of the amazing programs at BU, I guarantee that you can complete your HUB credits and have an amazing time while you’re at it.

(I know it’s such a cliche, but) try new things!

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Never in 100,000,000,000 years would I have thought that I’d be acting on a TV show, or that the TV show would just so happen to be the nation’s longest-running college soap opera (…in the history of college soap operas? Shoutout to Bay State and BUTV10!!). And now, this semester, I’m planning on assistant producing a show for one theater group, doing hair and makeup for another, joining a sorority, and more. There are so many opportunities at BU, it’s practically impossible to not find your niche here.

Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone– or into the huge and fantastic city of Boston!

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Boston is an amazing city! Whether you’re coming from a big city– like I did– or you’re from a town with only one stoplight, Boston is the perfect not-huge big city. Especially with the MBTA Green Line that runs straight through campus, you can get to the beautiful parks of Chestnut Hill or the historic North End in minutes. And as your COM Ambassadors, we would all love to introduce you to the city we all call home!

And lastly… Be You!

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I know it’s cheesy, but this had to happen at some point 🙂 There is really no better place to learn and grow, and although I’m still a newbie, I can only imagine what’s to come!

Now that I’m officially 100 words over the word count, I think it’s time to go. But, as you’re COM ambassadors, we’ll still always be here for you!

Until next time 🙂

Becca: Please Learn from My Mistakes

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It’s my final semester here at BU. While I refuse to admit I’m g*******ing, I will admit to several mistakes I’ve made over almost 1,300 days at Boston University. While these are not detrimental, avoiding them can make your life so much easier during your time here. 

  • Don’t spend all the time with your roommates. 

I love my roommates. I’ve loved all of them and some are my best friends. However, living with someone will most likely at some point put them on your nerves. It may be for something really small, but you will still want to have someone to talk about it. If you only have your roommates, this time will be unbearable. Everyone needs other people to reach out to. Lucky for you, there are so many on-campus organizations that you can be apart to find even more friends. Then, if your roommates forget to take out their trash, you can brush it right off. 

  • Actually explore outside the BU bubble. And not just Back Bay. 

This one is hard to do after your freshman year. The more time you spend at BU, the less free time you have to explore all the amazing neighborhoods that Boston has to offer. While Comm Ave and Back Bay are amazing, take the Orange Line to Kendall Square or Red Line to the Seaport. There are so many unexplored places that lie just outside of the Green Line. Who knows? You may find your favorite place (mine is Brookline Booksmith or Naco Tacos). 

  • Take more than the required classes outside of COM. 

I was so excited to get into my advertising classes that I didn’t even explore all parts of the course catalog. All of my classes served a specific purpose or requirement they fulfilled. Of course, each one was so valuable. But, I often wonder about what classes I missed just because I was hoping they would fulfill a specific credit.

Invest in good shoes. 

I cannot stress this enough. According to all of my tech, I walk over an average of 60 miles a month, not including any time spent at FitRec. That is at least two miles a day; some days many, many more (and some days I don’t leave my bed). If you don’t have good shoes or socks, there will be a lot of times where the blisters catch up to you. Good shoes don’t have to be nerdy Dad shoes, there are plenty of stylish options that provide comfort and are still sleek. 

While there are many other things that I would consider mistakes, I wouldn’t change them. Those mistakes have made my time at BU as memorable as it has been. Many of them from my first year don’t even seem like mistakes. You may be tired some mornings and kick yourself when you are walking to your 8 AM lecture, but those nights are the ones to remember.

Gillian: Some Early Spring Self-Care Suggestions

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I’m sure everyone is acutely aware of the fact that Sunday was Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil decreed that this year we will have an early spring. For us BU students, that means getting ready for some balmy 55-degree weather and a revival of raincoats. Whatever spring might mean to you, I always take advantage of this transitory period from winter to spring to make sure that I am the best me that I can be! Here are some tips that I follow:

Spring Cleaning

It’s called spring cleaning for a reason. During the spring, I like to go through the material goods in my life and get rid of anything that doesn’t ~spark joy~. I recommend going to Buffalo Exchange and donating what I can trade for store credit and then using that store credit to purchase some new fun thrifty finds. When your friends ask you where you got that cool new jacket, you can impress them by saying it was a thrift store find.

Exercise

The return of spring has a way of making me remember how I can’t walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath, and how that’s not an ideal situation. Exercise, whatever the level, is important to your physical and mental health. I highly recommend yoga because it combines physical exercise with some meditation, nurturing every part of you. BU’s FitRec has yoga (and all other kinds of exercise) classes, as well as some semester-long PDPs. There are also some cool yoga studios nearby! Coolidge Yoga in Coolidge Corner and Down Under Yoga near South Campus both have “$30 for 30 days of unlimited yoga” deals! Spring score!

Fun Events

Spring brings along a lot of fun events, both seasonal and not. During this time of warming weather and allergies, I try to make sure that I have some FUN! From events on campus, like going to BU’s extracurricular theatre clubs’ events  -Shakespeare Society is hosting their version of Shakespeare in the Park later this spring – to events off-campus like going to Boston Women’s Market or to midnight showings of your favorite movies at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, Boston has a lot to offer!

Overall, it’s important that you are taking care of all facets of yourself at all times . Spring is a lovely, gentle reminder to do the things that make you happy and healthy. I will be doing my self-care – will you?

Carly B: How you can help the cause against climate change

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Climate activists have been sounding the alarm on climate change for over two decades, but the issue has only gained remarkable traction worldwide in the past few years, thanks in part to the dire report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN-funded coalition of scientists who produce ground-breaking reports on climate progress. In 2018, the IPCC estimated that we had 12 years to prevent global warming from surpassing 1.5°C pre-industrial levels. With two years down, we’re no closer to reaching our carbon emissions reduction goals, and as international negotiations stagnate, it’s time for individuals to collectively take up the fight to address climate catastrophe.

For those working in the environmental and energy sectors, the challenge can be quite frustrating. Scientists, economists, researchers, policy analysts, activists, and others have dedicated years of work and study to develop comprehensive solutions to our most pressing climate and energy challenges. Unfortunately, these solutions have been blocked by powerful corporate interests, international disputes on burden sharing, and an intense climate-denial information campaign.

But we’re still in this fight to save our planet and our civilization. There are several ways you can get involved locally, nationally, or internationally to help mitigate the effects of climate change and help protect the future of human civilization.

  • Take public transit or buy an electric car.

These might seem pretty self-evident, but carbon emissions from the transportation sector accounted for 29% of total greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. in 2019. Yes, it’s really time to make different choices in transportation.

Moreover, reorienting our energy matrix to depend primarily on renewable energy doesn’t guarantee we reach net-zero carbon emissions. In a country like Costa Rica, for instance, who has run on nearly 100% renewable energy for several years, 98% of the transportation sector still relies on traditional gasoline and diesel vehicles. Because less than 2% of Costa Rica’s transportation fleet is electric or hybrid, the country’s demand for oil and gas is actually increasing. Fighting climate change is also about electrifying every single other sector of the economy to ensure that our carbon footprint is heavily minimized or completely reduced.

Think more critically about your commute to work, school, or social events. Plan in advance to take public transit or walk instead of relying on Uber and Lyft. If you’re buying a car, prioritize electric or hybrid vehicles. Support local measures that invest in mass public transit, and avoid flying on trips if your destination can also be plausibly reached by bus or train.

  • Start making choices that reflect your commitment to sustainability.

From food, to clothes, to stock investments, you have the power to make conscious consumer choices. Moreover, it’s critical that consumers make choices that send market signals to companies that their clients prioritize sustainability. Stop buying into fast fashion and switch to produce and food products imported under fair trade regulations. Divest from fossil fuel stocks and instead consider investing in renewable energy. Donate to local, national, or international nonprofits and NGOs that are fighting climate change through innovative methods.

  • Reduce energy usage.

Energy efficiency is a growing industry that has become critical to reducing emissions, cutting energy costs, and creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs for American workers transitioning out of fossil fuels. Students and young adults might not have as much control over energy efficiency upgrades in their leases, but there are several steps you can take within your residence to help reduce energy usage. 

Turn off your lights before you leave or when you’re going to bed, and unplug appliances from the wall socket (including your plug extension or power strip). Even when they’re turned off or not in use, devices or cables plugged into the wall socket consume energy. Use energy-efficient light bulbs and invest in energy-efficient appliances. Adjust your thermostat, insulate your windows, and wash your clothes in cold water. Talk to your landlord about energy efficiency upgrades.

  • Get political. 

This doesn’t mean becoming a political junkie. You don’t need to understand the complexities of political theory and philosophy, nor must you keep up with every piece of legislation in development in state and federal government. But you must exercise your right to vote, and to exercise your right, you must be informed. We have dozens of policy solutions to the imminent threat posed by climate change, but ultimately we must start electing government leaders who will enact these policy reforms. However flawed our democracy might be, it is incumbent upon us as individuals to voice our opinions and elect the candidates that best represent our goals and interests.   

If you’re passionate about climate change – which we all should be, because it poses such an existential threat to our society – you can join the fight. Whether that means campaigning for a local election, volunteering on a presidential campaign, calling your representatives to urge them to vote on a bill or measure, or merely staying informed and researching the policy platforms that candidates have proposed, it’s important to be at least somewhat involved in our political process to help move this country in the right direction.

At the end of the day, we can lament our government for stagnating on climate policy, and we can scorn large corporations for failing to use their sheer volume of capital to invest in climate solutions. But it will take action by both the public and private sectors to start implementing solutions, and it’s up to us as individuals to help push both entities in the right direction.

Anika: BU-Specific Life Hacks to Stay Happy & Healthy

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It’s getting to be that time of year – the depths of winter are approaching, and we’ve found ourselves setting new goals as the new year and semester begin again. Here’s a list of tips and tricks I discovered in my first semester at BU that can help us all stay happy and healthy!

  1. Take PDPs at FitRec! 

The summer before classes began, I was shocked to learn that I could pay the same amount of tuition and take not one, but two more classes – and for academic credit! I took Vinyasa Yoga and Basic Conditioning, which were on alternating days and got me to the gym four out of seven days of the week. These classes are also a great way to make friends!

  1. Go for walks by yourself

What I love most about BU’s campus, or lack thereof, is the fact that it is a straight line. Some of my most relaxing moments last semester came when I was walking by myself along the long stretch of cars, buildings and trees that is Comm Ave. If you ever need to get some steps in or just clear your head, I highly recommend choosing to walk rather than taking the T or bus!

  1. Pet the therapy dogs at Hillel (rather than Mugar) during Finals Week

I, unfortunately, missed my opportunity to pet some much-needed therapy dogs last semester. The Mugar slots filled up almost immediately, and while I did sign up for about seven waitlists (I really, really wanted to pet some dogs), it was to no avail. I had friends that went to the session at Hillel though, and it looked amazing. Hillel is much less crowded and you don’t have to reserve a time, just pop in! Also, the location on Bay State Road is convenient if you live in East campus or want to go right after class.

  1. Change up your study spots!

You seem to be in the perfect study spot, but you’ve been staring at the same sentence for the past thirty minutes…you’d be surprised how much a simple change of scenery can help! Throughout my first semester, I never really had one single spot where I would go to study. But I did develop favorites for different kinds of studying — for example, Questrom Starbucks for quicker assignments, Mugar for intense research papers, and of course dorm sweet dorm if I was cramming something last minute. 

  1. Take advantage of free mindfulness practice!

Although they are not advertised nearly enough, there are a number of ways to get access to guided mindfulness practice through BU! Every Friday from 10-11am, Professor Brenda Phillips leads a meditation class at Robinson Chapel. Additionally, BU has recently given all students free access to the popular guided meditation app, Headspace! Last but not least, you can always add on a meditation PDP to your schedule!

Hopefully you find these tips useful for navigating your way through college life! And remember, your wellbeing always comes first.

Ali: Five Ways to Practice Sustainability at BU

With climate change looming large in the public’s mind, many people are making the switch to more sustainable practices to make a difference in the environmental impact they have. But what can you do as a college student to increase your sustainability? Here are six easy ways to practice sustainability at BU.

  • Buy pre-owned clothing and donate your unwanted items

There are a ton of fantastic thrift stores in Boston – go to them! If you want to be close to campus, Buffalo Exchange in Allston (180 Harvard Ave) is a great place to find nice clothes to update your wardrobe. The Garment District in Cambridge (200 Broadway) sells a variety of vintage clothing, as well as their infamous pile of clothing you pay for by weight, rather than item. If you’re planning to declutter your wardrobe this semester, consider donating your items (that are in good shape) to a local charity or thrift store. Goodwill in west campus (965 Commonwealth Ave) takes donations and is a short walk from central campus. Buffalo Exchange also buys used clothing for cash or trade. 

  • Invest in a reusable water bottle

Single-use plastic is one of the most common things that ends up in landfills, but it is also one of the easiest things to replace! Invest in a reusable water bottle to carry around throughout the day. Brands like Nalgene, HydroFlask, and Camelbak are popular choices, and you can find many options in most department stores. Consider buying an insulated bottle to keep your water cold all day! BU has a ton of water bottle filling stations throughout campus, so you can stay hydrated all day without using single-use plastic. Thirsty while you’re in your room? Get a brita pitcher to leave in your fridge for when you need it.

  • Turn off the lights when you leave your room, and unplug your chargers when not in use

One of the easiest ways to be sustainable while you’re in college is to unplug your appliances when not in use. According to Sustainability@BU, 10% of the energy used in the average American household can be attributed to items that are constantly plugged in. Not only does this waste money (assuming you’re paying for your own utilities), it’s also a big waste of electricity. Unplug things like phone chargers and lamps when not in use, or get a power strip with an on/off switch that you can turn off when not in use.

  • Take shorter, cooler showers

An easy way to save on water waste is to take shorter, cooler showers. While taking a long, hot shower may be tempting on a cold day, it can have a huge impact on the environment. According to the United States Geological Survey, showers can use 2-5 gallons of water per minute on average. By cutting your shower down by even a few minutes, you can make a big dent in your water usage. Taking cooler showers not only saves electricity, but it’s also better for your hair and skin than scalding hot water.

  • Buy reusable bags for shopping

As of December 2018, retailers in Boston are no longer permitted to distribute single-use plastic bags with handles. Bags must be recyclable, compostable, or reusable, cutting down on single-use plastic use throughout the city. However, paper and compostable bags now cost 5 cents per bag, which can add up if you find yourself shopping often. Some stores, like the aforementioned Buffalo Exchange, do not give out bags at all, and instead rely on patrons to bring their own. Buy a few reusable bags (you can get them for as little as 99 cents) and bring them with you on shopping trips. Not only are you saving money, but you’re saving the planet too!

Will: The Fruits of Labor – Pre-Packing Your Meals

Through the entirety of freshman year, I missed one thing the most. Was it love (Baby don’t hurt meeeee)? Was it the kindred friendship of my pals at home? Was it my sheer pride in the Central Massachusetts identity as Apple Country?

The answer is: no. It was my kitchen. Yes, I can hear you saying, “But Will, the dining hall is ~sOoOoOoOo~ convenient! How do you miss your… kitchen?”

Well, folks, here’s the thing: I’m a foodie. If you’re a foodie like me, the monotonous daily routine of eating the same jerk chicken with tofu, rice, and salad made me go a tad crazy. Yes, the dining hall is convenient. Yes, it’s a great way for me to not spend egregious amounts of money ordering out. However, I still missed being able to experiment, cook, and eat something which both filled me up and made me happy.

Thus, I decided to move into an off-campus apartment. I am currently a sophomore, and that which I loved most was making a truly triumphant return: the kitchen.

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(^Not my kitchen, but one can dream!)

However, after just a week, it became clear that the dining halls were a GENIUS idea! Although I love to cook, cooking takes what students like myself have slim to none of. What is that exactly? That’s right: time.

I went back to the drawing board; I needed a new solution. I was not going to spend money on dining hall meals because I do not have a meal plan, but I also did not want to starve throughout the day until I returned to the apartment. This is both unhealthy and, surprisingly, a very un-fun experience.

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(^A relatable tweet)

Then, I had a flashback: high school. As a human being with a grandiose stomach size, I needed something more than the chicken patty with a government-mandated, mouse-sized salad served at my local public high school. So, I began bringing in my own food to supplement it.

Huh? My brain began to toil as it calculated, re-routed, and combined past experiences with present-day problems.

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Then… An epiphany! A feat of brilliance which I will never return to!

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 The homemade lunch!

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 After this realization, I began making my lunches the night before and grabbing it in the morning before I headed out, and I continue to do it to this day! Not only is this doable in a dorm setting (at least if you’re a sandwich person like myself), but it’s ergonomic, economically efficient, and exquisite to taste. On top of that, I COULD MAKE IT MYSELF and NOT be a Hungry Hungry Hippo­­­TM all day!

Therefore, in conclusion, I cannot recommend enough that you make yourself a lunch at the end of your day. Set yourself up for a successful eating strategy the next day! It’s okay, you can thank me later.

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