Anneliese: Make the Most of Abroad

Hello from the future, my sweet Terriers! It’s currently 10:08am on Saturday, October 4th in Auckland, New Zealand, while it’s 5:08pm on Friday, October 3rd in Boston. Weeeird right? It’s also strange to think that my school semester here ends in 3 weeks, since I started in mid-July, and you guys are only a month into yours. Talk about trippy. (If you didn’t pick up on it, that was an extremely desperate pun because, you know, “trippy,” like I’m on a “trip” since I’m studying abroad. I’m sorry.)

Anywho, I’m not going to write an entire blog entry trying to convince you to study abroad by telling you how beautiful and wonderful the experience is. I’m sure most of you don’t need convincing and I think everyone understands how awesome it is to get to live in any country of your choice for 4 months. However, I do want to share with you the ways in which you can make the most of your time abroad and how you might deal with some unexpected challenges.

Pick where you want to go and avoid tagging along with friends.

This was the toughest one for me. I’ve been obsessed with New Zealand since my senior year of high school—take one look around my apartment and you’ll pick up on the Kiwi paraphernalia lying around. But most of my closest friends are film majors and will be spending their spring semester in LA. Since this is my senior year, it was hard for me to decide to essentially spend my entire senior year without them. I was so close to ditching New Zealand and going to LA in the spring for that reason, even though I have no desire to live and work in LA. Luckily I have the most awesome friends who told me that they would shun me if I didn’t go to New Zealand, because they knew how important it was to me. Yeah, it has been insanely hard without them—especially for someone as sentimental as I am. But I’ve kept in touch with everyone and I know I will see them in December when I head back to Boston. I’ve also made amazing friends here in Auckland, with people in the program, as well as with Kiwis I met through class and my internship.

Do some research and make a list before you go.

Make a list of places you’d like to visit, events that may be happening, or restaurants you want to try before you arrive in your country of choice. I made a list before coming to New Zealand and though I definitely won’t hit all of the spots because I’m so busy with classes and my internship, it’s a good thing to have on quiet weekends when my roommates and I feel like we’re getting lazy. Here are some great websites for travel advice: www.matadornetwork.com & www.lonelyplanet.com

Say YES to everything.

Well, say “yes” to everything within reason. This is something else I struggle with since I usually overthink everything and I consider myself a reserved person. But I made a promise to myself that I would say yes to every opportunity that pops up, no matter how far out of my comfort zone or scared I feel. I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job of it so far: I’ve jumped off a cliff into the black sand dunes; I’ve driven on the “wrong” side of the road; I couchsurfed with strangers in Melbourne; I’ve been on some really awkward—and a few nice!—dates with random Kiwis. I plan on backpacking in the South Island by myself and skydiving in Queenstown and maybe getting a tattoo. (Just kidding about that last one.) I realized early on that my time in Auckland is basically a reprieve from my real life in Boston. Who cares if I have embarrassing moments or I make some mistakes? None of that (within reason) will affect anything back home, so now is the time to try new things. I’m proud of myself because I feel as though I’m becoming more assertive and independent, and those qualities are something that will come back to Boston with me.

Save up your money before you go.

As I mentioned, studying abroad is kind of like a break from real life where you get to try all kinds of new things. Unfortunately, experiences can be quite costly. You should really save as much money as you can before you go so you are able to say “yes” to every opportunity. I lucked out a bit because the American dollar is stronger than the Kiwi dollar, so when I think I’m spending $75 on a ticket to Hobbiton, I’m really only spending $58. Yeah, things can be expensive in New Zealand, especially groceries—$4 for a single cucumber!—but after speaking to my friend who studied abroad in London, it’s definitely cheaper overall than places in Europe.

Meet and hang out with locals.

It’s so easy to hang out with your BU group when you’re abroad, and there’s nothing wrong with that. My two roommates and I do almost everything together. However, we’ve also made friends in classes, through our internships, and from going out and about. Kiwis are notoriously friendly and we’ve been lucky that it’s been so easy meeting people. My roommate and I started going to pub trivia every Thursday at The Fox, where we’ve made friends with another team and have beers with them after each game. And today I’m going to a picnic birthday party for a make-up artist I met on a film shoot through my internship. Our Kiwi friends have pointed out cool bars and restaurants we wouldn’t have found on our own, suggested day trips for us to take, taught us the best public transit routes, and introduced us to different neighborhoods around Auckland. Having friends outside of the BU group makes me feel as though I’m really living in Auckland, rather than visiting, and it’s comforting.

 

Yes, I miss my family, my friends, Boston, and BU terribly. But I wouldn’t trade my experience here in Auckland for anything, because I feel like I’m taking the time to learn how I want to live my life and become the kind of person I want to be. And that’s the true luxury of going abroad, because you don’t have that kind of time in the chaos of real life.

 

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Me and my couch surfing host Laura enjoying hot donuts at Melbourne’s Victoria Markets.

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The unreal Uretiti Beach

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The Auckland skyline

Anneliese: Boston Outdoors

Currently sitting in the sun as I write this blog, I’m so obviously inspired by this gorgeous weather. Now that spring has finally sprung, it’s time to start taking full advantage of the great Boston outdoors.

 

SoWa Vintage Market

SoWa open-air market is now up and running again after a brutal winter. I took my COM freshman group in the fall and it was fantastic then, so I can’t wait to see what’s in store for spring. There’s a delicious farmer’s market portion of the bazaar, as well as vintage treasure and handmade art vendors. Even if you’re not looking to shop, you should definitely hit up SoWa to check out the awesome food trucks and local music!

 

The market is open every Sunday. More info at the following link:

http://www.newenglandopenmarkets.com/sowaopenmarket/

 

Amory Park, Brookline

Obviously, there’s Boston Common and the Boston Public Gardens, if you fancy a stroll in the sunshine. However, one of my favorite nature-y spots in the city is Amory Park in Brookline. There’s a cute pathway through the trees, plenty of green space to play a game of Frisbee or some soccer, and—best of all—there are always tons of dogs around. It’s quieter than the Common, and I love sitting beneath the giant maple trees while looking up at the gorgeous Brookline homes.

 

Located at 45 Amory Street, in between the Hawes St and Kent St T-stops.

 

Lunch at Dorado

For some reason, I equate good weather with Mexican food. My favorite Mexican place in Boston is Dorado, located just past Coolidge Corner. They have amazing fish tacos, the BEST guacamole (sorry, Chipotle lovers), and seasonal fruit juices—the watermelon juice was super weird and super delicious. Stop by Dorado to sit outside at one of their adorable picnic tables while sipping Coca Cola from a glass bottle. How quaint.

 

401 Harvard St., Midway between Beacon & Comm Ave, Brookline, MA 02446

Anneliese: Registration Survival Guide

Ah, the possible pain or glory of spring registration. For underclassmen, the day can seem daunting, as you are often left scrambling after upperclassmen claim the seats you were coveting. Here are some tips and reminders to keep you from having a meltdown when the melee begins.

1)   Wi-Fi or Die

Okay, so that’s a little dramatic, because you won’t sustain any bodily harm during registration. BUT, you want to make sure you have the most pristine Wi-Fi connection during your fated time slot. You don’t want to miss out on your ideal schedule simply because those annoying, little bars are blinking.

2)   Back it Up

Make sure you have a back up in case one of your preferred classes fills up. Then, have a back up for your back up.  And maybe even a triple back up. Better to be safe than sorry.

3)   Brunch it Out

My friends and I had a pre-registration brunch to help cope with the stress of choosing classes. It sounds stupid, but hey—if we couldn’t have the class we wanted, at least we had pancakes. Pancakes, and each other to rant to about the ordeal we had just survived.

4)   Gimmie a Break

Just because registration is over, doesn’t mean you should lose all hope. Winter break is basically the flea market of course shopping, with people dropping classes and picking up new ones during this time. The victory of claiming your desired class is made even sweeter, since you really have to wait and hunt for it. Crappy metaphor aside, my point is: Stalk the registrar over winter break.

5)   Don’t Sweat it

Even if you don’t end up with all of your number one choices, don’t freak out! BU offers a wide range of great courses with awesome professors, leaving you with a better chance of having good ones than bad ones. Who knows—your favorite course of the semester may even end up being one you hadn’t picked initially.

Happy registration, everybody!

 

Anneliese: Moving In

So, I just moved into my first apartment. Even though I consider myself logical and well equipped in the domestic skills apartment, I’ve definitely learned a lot since I moved in two weeks ago. I’d like to share my newly acquired wisdom with those of you considering off campus housing in the near future.

1. Avoid large, time-consuming DIY projects

Apparently, I watch way too much HGTV, and consider myself the Jonathan Scott female equivalent (Property Brothers, anyone?). As a poor college student, I accepted all of the beat-up, free furniture family and friends offered me—and then I decided to rehab it. My projects included sanding and staining an entire dining room set, as well as distressing and painting a dresser, desk, and bedside table. Thankfully, my parents talked me out of reupholstering the couch. I don’t necessarily regret revamping my furniture, as it turned out really lovely in the end. However, I did spend the last three weeks of summer in the garage, covered with sawdust and paint, and gagging on paint/stain fumes. I really would have preferred spending that time with my family. So, my advice? Stick to one statement piece to rehab—rather than the furniture for your entire apartment.

2. Bring a brother (and his friend)

My family drove from outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with a U-haul to move me into my apartment—I had a ton of crap. Movers can be expensive, but it’s near impossible dragging furniture up to a third floor apartment without any help. Luckily, I have a generous brother, who offered his assistance, and persuaded (blackmailed, probably) a friend to help as well. The two of them miraculously hauled a dining room set, a couch, three armchairs, a bed, a dresser, a desk, and a nightside table up three flights of stairs. And it cost my parents only a six-pack of beer and a couple of pizzas.

3. Sign up for a laundry service, if your building doesn’t have washers/dryers

I scoffed at the idea when my roommate first mentioned using a laundry service—how extravagant! Then I considered schlepping my laundry up and down all of our stairs, and around the block…in a Boston winter. Then there was the hassle of having enough quarters, the inconvenience of sitting at a Laundromat for two hours (when I don’t have enough time in the week as it is), and making sure I have enough laundry detergent and dryer sheets. I checked out the service my roommate was planning to use; you choose a day, the service picks up your laundry, washes/dries it per your instructions, and delivers it two days later.  After doing the math, I realized I would be spending about only $1.50 extra per load—totally worth it, considering the convenience.

4. Bring a toolbox

Did you know that a vacuum cleaner doesn’t come assembled? Maybe that’s a dumb question, but I definitely didn’t know. Thankfully, my aunt gave me a stocked toolbox equipped with screwdrivers, a hammer, and all. So far, I’ve used it to put together the vacuum cleaner, assemble a bench, and hammer in a nail that was sticking out of the floor. Needless to say, it has been useful.

5. Command strips, command strips, command strips

Command strips (with or without hooks) will become your best friends, especially when you’ve just moved into an apartment you don’t own and your landlord would appreciate you marking up his walls. We have command hooks in the kitchen, adorably displaying our oven mitts; I have command strips in my room, sticking my posters to the wall; we have command hooks on the back of the bathroom door for our towels. The possibilities are endless. Stock up.

 

Anneliese: Summer Reads So Far

As a working girl this summer, I have an hour commute to and from the office. A lot of people would complain about the travel time, but I don’t mind because I don’t have to drive; instead, I take the commuter train that drops me off a quick seven minute walk away from WXPN, where I’m interning (see my previous blog for details!). I love taking the train for the following reasons: I’m not required to be awake during the ride–yay for not risking falling asleep at the wheel!; there’s excellent people watching (I’m looking at you, lovely bearded man with a penchant for plaid); and, when I’m not catching up on sleep or checking people out, I have ample reading time. Seriously, I haven’t had this much time for pleasure reading since high school.

For those of you searching for a good read for your own morning commutes–or for the beach, you lucky kids!–check out what I’ve read so far this summer:

1) Nobody’s Perfect: Billy Wilder, a Personal Biography by Charlotte Chandler

I received my first introduction to Billy Wilder in my junior year of high school when my film studies teacher showed us Some Like It Hot, Sunset Boulevard, and Stalag 17. Wilder instantly won me over with his quick-witted dialogue, deep understanding of human nature, and original stories. I’m not a huge fan of biographies (I actually think this is the first one I’ve ever finished), but I sped through Mr. Wilder’s in a couple of days. The biography commences with Billy’s humble beginnings growing up as a Jew in Galicia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and moves through his extraordinary career one film at a time. The biography is written through Billy’s own words, as he recounts his tales to Chandler, and is bolstered by the memories of some of Old Hollywood’s greatest stars–Groucho Marx, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Gloria Swanson among them. Billy Wilder was an incredible filmmaker and led such a colorful life. The biography is a must-read for all film buffs, but would be enjoyable for and accessible to even the most casual reader.

2) Fargo Rock City by Chuck Klosterman

I’ve been a longtime fan of Chuck Klosterman, having read Chuck IV; Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs; Killing Yourself to Live; and Downtown Owl over the years. He’s probably one of the most politically incorrect, yet hilarious and intelligent writers I’ve ever read. Fargo Rock City has been sitting on my shelf for the past four years, but I had never gotten around to reading it because it didn’t interest me at all; the topic of the book is social commentary about hard rock–specifically metal–framed by Klosterman’s memoir of growing up as a metalhead in rural North Dakota. Sure, a fair amount of the metal references soar so far over my head, but this is a book I can enjoy purely for style and voice. I received multiple dirty looks while sitting in the quiet ride car of the train and chuckling at phrases like, “That leads us back to Ozzy Osbourne, who was rarely boring and usually hilarious. At various times in his career, Ozzy has behaved like a satanic pope.”

3) A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Fire & Ice, Book 5) by George R.R. Martin

Yes, I’m one of those awful people who reads Game of Thrones. I don’t even know what to tell you about this book, other than it’s just under 1000 pages, and I read it in a week. So, yeah, it was really good. Martin’s series is so much better than its HBO counterpart (but that’s always the case for book-to-tv/film adaptations); the show skims only the surface of Martin’s highly complex world, and that’s a shame because it’s in the tiny details of his plot that we uncover the most intriguing mysteries. C’mon, there is almost two months of summer left–you have time to catch up!

4) L’ecume des Jours (Foam of the Daze/Froth on the Daydream/Mood Indigo) by Boris Vian

I ordered this book on Amazon for two reasons: 1) The novel is the source material for Michel Gondry’s (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Science of Sleep) new film, and 2) As a French minor, I wanted to keep in practice over the summer. The book is a surrealist work and tells the story of Colin, a wealthy and extravagant young man, who marries Chloé, the woman of his dreams. The couple should live happily ever after, except Chloé falls ill while on their honeymoon, as a water lily begins growing in her lungs. The novel mocks existential ideologies (Vian loathed Sartre) and is full of double entendres and wordplay. Between the dense content and my shoddy knowledge of the French language, it’s slow slow going, but I’m really enjoying the novel. I’ll probably read it in English after I finish the French version to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I’m super stoked to see Gondry’s film adaptation with Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou! (Check out the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4HIAwI4irs)

 

Anneliese: Resisting Temptation at WXPN

A couple of days ago at my internship, I was organizing the mail when I came across the yet-to-be-released Sigur Rós album, sent from the band’s label. I was so tempted to pop it into my computer and give it a listen before anyone else, but (being the conscientious worker I am), I dropped it into the proper box, consoling myself with the fact that I had at least seen it before anyone else and that I’d probably be able to pluck it from the freebies bin a couple of weeks after it dropped.

That’s not the only temptation I’ve faced at my internship. Oh no, there are plenty more. For one, I had to resist the urge to storm Joshua Radin’s tour bus when we had to very kindly ask his driver to please move it so that Portugal. The Man could unload their van. I then had to restrain myself from begging Portugal. The Man for autographs as I guided them into Elvis (our largest studio) and assisted during soundcheck. (At least I got to witness them autograph our studio wall!)

I’ve also had to practice self-control when typing up scripts for the World Café because all I want to do is Google each and every new artist I come across and see how I like their music. In that situation, I tell myself that I will get to hear the songs when I log the World Café shows in two days time and I force myself onto my next task.

I guess I should place these temptations into context, so you can follow me. This summer, I’m a World Café Programming intern at WXPN, a public radio station based in Philadelphia. The cool part about my internship is that I’m not an intern solely for the station itself, but for the World Café program, which is produced at WXPN and aired nationally via NPR affiliates. On the show, host David Dye interviews various artists and has them perform some songs live in the studio. So far this summer, I’ve seen Portugal. The Man, La Santa Cecilia, Big Country, KT Tunstall, and The Handsome Family featured on the show. I’m most looking forward to seeing Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin!) and Edie Breckell at the end of the month when they come here to promote their new folk album.

I work at the station 9am-4pm, Monday-Thursday with an hour long commute each way with no pay, so I have to work my real job as a receptionist at hair salon Fridays and Saturdays to support my groovy lifestyle (hah). When I cringe each morning as my alarm goes off at 6:15am and I brood about how I probably won’t get a seat on the train, I remind myself about the perks of my internship: The free music and mini “concerts,” the relaxed and friendly work environment, and the invaluable experience I’m gaining. I feel so lucky to be working with people who are so passionate about music and the future of public radio. I’m also given a lot of independence and responsibility, so I really feel as though I am actually making a difference here at the station.

I hope all of you are enjoying your summers and keeping busy! Though I’ll be sad for my internship to end in August, I miss Boston and I’m looking forward to the fall!

 

Anneliese: Planning A Dinner Out in Boston

My birthday is coming up in two weeks, and with all of this end of the year chaos, I’ve been struggling to plan the perfect night out. I have my list of go-to restaurants, but I want to try something new for my birthday. However, for any of you who are also struggling to plan something special for a springtime birthday or just a final, end-of-the-year hoorah, maybe my list of favorite Boston spots will inspire a fabulous time for you and your friends.

Saus

33 Union St, Boston, MA 02108

This tiny, Belgian-themed joint by Faneuil Hall was probably my best Internet find EVER. The menu is scribbled on a chalkboard that wraps around the wall above the chefs’ heads, and features poutine (French fries drowned in gravy and topped with cheese curds), frikandels (not quite sure what they are, but they’re delicious), and, of course, Belgian waffles topped with homemade ice cream and your choice of saus. For those 21+, they have an extensive beer menu of high quality international (but mostly Belgian) brews that you have the option of turning into a beer float. The ambience of the place is great, with French comics covering the walls and indie rock sailing from the speakers. However, it’s quite small inside, so be prepared to lunge for the first open table you see.

The Friendly Toast

1 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02139

(Kendall Square)

The perfect word to describe The Friendly Toast is kitsch (and I mean that in the most unpretentious way possible). The walls are lime green and covered in all kinds of bizarre junk you’d find at a flea market, the plates are mismatched, the seating is straight out of a 1950s diner, and there is a giant, smiling cheeseburger sculpture that watches you as you eat. The experience of eating at The Friendly Toast is enough to draw me back time after time, but the menu itself is beyond amazing. The flavors of their dishes are as mismatched as the décor (fries topped in bleu cheese and provolone, which you dip into a spicy, strawberry habanero sauce), and they serve breakfast all day. The restaurant presumably takes its name from its friendly (and quirky) staff and the multiple kinds of delicious breads that are baked there daily. Fun fact: It’s also conveniently located across the street from Kendall Square Cinema.

Five Napkin Burger

105 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02199

I try to avoid chain restaurants, but Five Napkin Burger is so great that I’ve made an exception. I will attempt to lure you in with two words: S’mores milkshake. There, are you convinced yet? If not, to state the obvious, Five Napkin Burger has some of the best (and probably most sophisticated) burgers in Boston. I actually had the fish tacos, not a burger, when I went there the first time, and they were amazing. Fish tacos are tricky and there are so many things that can go wrong in their preparation, so when I find a place that serves them right, it instantly win a spot in my heart. It also just feels really cool inside the restaurant, with subway tiles, dim lighting, and artsy light fixtures.

The Squealing Pig

134 Smith St, Roxbury Crossing, MA 02120

Even though it’s located down the street from the Museum of Fine Arts, The Squealing Pig is kind of hidden down a side street—but thank God I found it! The pub-style menu features a dozen or so sandwiches and toasties (I personally love the grilled salmon BLT) that are made with fresh bread from Iggy’s Bread of the World in Cambridge. They also have awesome pizzas (gorgonzola sirloin steak, fig and prosciutto, grilled asparagus, just to name a few) and a great seafood menu. There is one dessert on the entire menu, a Mars Bar toastie, which is a Mars Bar (essentially a British Milky Way), topped with bananas, grilled between two waffles, and served with homemade whipped cream and strawberries. If the menu isn’t enough to pull you in, they have live music five nights a week, including Folk Off Thursday, featuring Mike Barrett, “World’s most outrageous folk singer.”

 

Anneliese: Super Songs for Spring

Spring is here! Well, that’s what March 20th claimed, anyway. However, the snow that’s currently on the ground (and the snow that is supposed to plague us for the rest of the month…) isn’t doing much to evoke those cheerful feelings associated with this lovely season. It may be a while until we see those flowers bloom, can whip out the sandals, or make use of the new Jamba Juice at the bottom of Warren, so I thought I might offer a music playlist that will add a little spring (see what I did there?) in your step!

1. “Sweet Road” – Animal Collective

2. “Surprise Hotel” – Fool’s Gold

3. “Jogging Gorgeous Summer” – Islands

4. “When U Love Somebody” – Fruit Bats

5. “This Is What I Said” – Cloud Control

6. “Ten-Twenty-Ten” – Generationals

7. “Come On” – I’m From Barcelona

8. “Fireworks” – Polock

9. “Cameras” – Matt & Kim

10. “Mama’s Mad Cos I Fried My Brain” – Turbo Fruits

11. “Australia” – The Shins

12. “A Hiccup in Your Happiness” – The Lucksmiths

*All of the songs are available for streaming on the free version of Spotify—I recommend creating a playlist and giving it a listen whenever your spirits need a little lift!