Eliza: Get in the holiday spirit, even when finals are getting you down

Well Terriers, ‘tis the season and that refers to two things: finals and the holiday season. When I was younger, my parents always started playing Christmas music as soon as they could, and now it’s become a part of my usual routine every December. But with finals on the mind two, it’s important that the songs I’m listening to fit into my usual ~Mugar vibes~ playlist on Spotify. Below, I’ve listed ten of the songs I add every year. Because if I’m going to be studying, at least I can do my best to get a little holiday spirit into it.

White Christmas – Bing Crosby: There are countless versions of this holiday classic, but this one is my favorite. Most people don’t know the song debuted in the film Holiday Inn, which starred Crosby alongside Fred Astaire, before the film White Christmas made it so popular.

Home for the Holidays – Perry Como: Another classic, but this time I choose Como’s version because I grew up listening to this album on LOOP all of December. It’s also a great motivator to get my work done so I can be closer to being home for the holidays.

Peace on Earth / Little Drummer Boy – Bing Crosby and David Bowie: Who would’ve thought these two would be able to get together and make such a great song?

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Jack Johnson: Jack Johnson is a staple on any of my studying playlists, and his cute version of this song lets Rudolph stand up for himself in the end, which is (I believe) a totally valid update to the original.

Silver and Gold (Instrumental) – Decca Concert Orchestra: This is from the very old school animated Rudolph film and I will never stop loving it.

Carol of the Bells – Mannheim Steamroller: What do these guys do when it’s not the holiday season?

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Mariah Carey: Gotta include one from the holiday queen herself, but I resist All I Want for Christmas is you because it’s too much of a certified BOP for the library.

The Bells of Christmas (Greensleeves) – Frank Sinatra: I’m always surprised by this song, and I have a soft spot for Sinatra, so this one always works.

These are just some of the songs that make my finals cram sessions and late nights in the library seem a little more festive. What songs do you listen to during the holidays?

Eliza: Coffee Reflections

It may have taken until senior year, but I’ve finally accepted it. I’ll never be the type of person who wakes up early to drink coffee in my apartment, or even to make it and take it out the door with me.

I will always be the type of person, however, who rushes walking to see if there’s a chance of popping into a coffee shop before my meeting / class / COM building tour. I will continue to spend that $2-$5 almost every day, but I’ve decided that I needed to come to terms with my habit.

To be fair, the “treat yo self” movement has been around for a while, and I’ve indulged in a few cozy sweaters (for those Boston winters) or a dinner out (for when cooking like an adult is just too much) using just this mentality to justify it. But I never looked at my daily caffeine fix as a part of this philosophy, I just did it, every day, and felt bad about spending the money after.

In the grand scheme of my spending, coffee is definitely a drain on my wallet over time, but having come to terms with that it’s something that gives me joy, I’ve started to look at it as more of a lovely little bit of self-love, and not a irresponsible indulgence.

This all comes along with getting older, probably, but learning to “not sweat the small stuff” is something I try to work on every day. Of course, my inner perfectionist fights tooth and nail for every little behavior to be analyzed. Taking the drama out of little things, like buying a cup of coffee, means more energy and time to focus on things like school work, or even more simply on just enjoying the day.

The moral of this (caffeine induced) tirade is this: find something that makes you happy, and run with it. Because those little parts of your day have a way bigger impact than you’d think, and in the long run, coffee is always a good idea.

Eliza: BU’s New Pass/Fail Policy

I registered for my Spring 2017 courses from the café of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, between gapping at great works of art and iconic pieces of Beatle memorabilia (abroad is a weird time).  Somewhere in this art induced, fake intellectual atmosphere I made the choice to fill my last elective of college with Computer Science.

Don’t get me wrong.  Computer science is a great, and important, thing to learn.  But of all the incredible classes I could have taken, both within my majors and outside, I for some reason chose a class that would be completely out of my comfort zone and incredibly time consuming.

As a journalism major, a lot of my work experience has been at online magazines.  And while many of those had their own Content Management Systems, which just allowed me to input copy into nicely laid out boxes, I always noticed that a lot of the other writers were able to do basic trouble-shooting of format errors on their own.  Watching their skills helped me start to learn basic HTML, though I was certainly not trained.

Somewhere during the beginning of my internship in London I realized how marketable of a skill a basic knowledge of HTML coding would be.  That was the reason I chose to take Introduction to Internet Technology, also know as CAS CS103.  This basic level class provides overviews of the different codes and technologies that come up in working with internet programs.

There were definitely moments in the semester where I really started to regret deciding to push myself into this course.  But the value of even gleaning a little familiarity from it was undeniable.  The struggle came as I found this introduction level class pulling down my GPA compared to my other courses — the ones that were asking me to complete tasks more within my comfort zone.

It was around the time of peak panic (also known as right after the first midterm of CS103) that I got an email reminding student’s about BU’s new pass fail policy.  The program can only apply to classes that are not fulfilling some requirement, be it a liberal arts requirement or one for a major or minor.  Lucky for me, that was exactly what computer science was.

The program is meant to allow students to explore other area’s during their academic study without having to be concerned with the detrimental impact these courses could have on their overall GPA.  In my case, I am still receiving the benefit of learning basic things about internet technology from my computer science class, but when I do poorly on an exam or a homework because this sort of thinking is far outside my skill set, it doesn’t have to be something that causes massive stress. I, in turn, can focus more on the learning happening rather than panicking about getting good grades.

Though not all students have the time during their four years to fit in an elective or two, the chance to take these classes for pass-fail credit means a chance to take that class you’ve always wanted to but been to scared too.  Learning upper level statistics, or basic finance, can be something that isn’t going to ruin a GPA, rather it can be a true learning experience for a student looking to broaden their college learning.

Eliza: Things You Should Definitely Do When Moving Off-Campus

When I returned to Boston this spring semester, I wasn’t returning to living at BU.  Instead, I was venturing out one tiny step into the real world and moving into an off-campus apartment in the depths of Allston.  I took this tiny step into the real world because, in all seriousness, a vast majority of the nearby parts of Allston are mostly populated by BU undergrads, so it still feels like home.

Here, I strive to lay out some of the things you should make sure you do as you move off-campus.  Making it a smooth transition can make sure you feel at settled before classes start.

Do be sure to get a checking account set up, and get check books! A lot of landlords prefer to receive rent in checks, so make sure you have them for when the time comes around.

Do talk to your roommates about paying utilities (if you have them).  Also, make sure someone is setting up wifi, or else that first week is going to be seriously lacking in Netflix binging.

Do plan who is bringing what for the kitchen.  Moving in is hectic, especially if you’re going to have a lot of roommates, and it only gets more hectic if three of you all bring a blender (not saying we did this, not saying we didn’t).

And on that note…

Don’t overpack! Moving into a big off-campus apartment after years of living in a tiny dorm may make it tempting to bring a ton of stuff, but a cluttered living space can make for a lot of unneeded stress.

Don’t feel like you have to bring everything to Boston with you! There’s an Ikea relatively close, and most likely a roommate who lives nearby will have a car during move in week.  Just go buy things once you’re here!

Don’t spend all your money on take-out! There are so many great options in Allston for ordering food, but it adds up.  Take advantage of that kitchen you were so excited to have, once upon a time.
I’ve been so happy with my choice to move off-campus, and making sure to do little things like this made the process so much smoother for me.  If you can make it work, Allston is definitely worth the extra walk.

Eliza: Cool Things to do During Study Abroad; part 3756

So honestly, one of the coolest parts about BU in general (after COM, obviously) is our study abroad programs.  I’m just over half-way through my second study abroad with BU, and I have met as many students from other schools as I have from BU – a true testament to how amazing our programs are.

While my summer program in Australia was absolutely amazing (shout out to the Sydney Travel Writing program!), I have now completely fallen in love with London.  I’ll probably never stop talking about either program, so sorry to everyone I encounter for the rest of my life, but both trips have been everything I’ve hoped for and more.

Since arriving in Europe, I’ve had all sorts of grand ideas for big trips around the continent.  But I quickly realized that my bank account, and my time frame, meant that I was probably not going to be able to pack in all the touring I had dreamed of.

But because of this, I’ve begun looking for other trips to do more locally, and have been rewarded with some great experiences.  Here’s a few of the places I’ve visited, or am visiting, only a short bus ride from London.

  1. Cambridge University: Honestly, Cambridge is worth the hype.  I happened to visit on a beautiful day, and between the shocking lack of clouds and AMAZING chocolate cake I had that day, it was a success.  Before going, be sure to look into booking a tour on a punt, which essentially a far less glamourous version of a Venetian gondola.  But often university students drive the punts, and they’re the best people to show you around.
  2. Dover Cliffs and Dover Castle:  The White Cliffs of Dover are iconic enough to have an epic, lyricless, songabout them (which I confess, I only know from the smash hit video game Guitar Hero).  The castle that sits above them is one of the best preserved early medieval castles, and the area surrounding it has a history stretching from the castle all the way until World War II.
  3. Stratford-Upon-Avon: As my second degree is in English, you can be sure I toured Shakespeare’s Globewithin a few weeks of getting here.  But I couldn’t come all the way to the UK and not see his birthplace too! It doesn’t take long to get to the home of the bard, and if (like me) you know you need to make it more than a day trip, there’s tons of adorable and affordable bed & breakfasts you can book!
  4. The Cotswolds: This region of the English countryside is known for quaint cottages, rolling hills, and flowers.  Essentially, exactly what you’d imagine England to look like outside of London.  There’s tons of bus tours to this region on the weekends!
  5. The Lakes District: Probably one of the most underrated areas in England, the Lakes Region was once home to a slew of great English writers and poetswho were inspired by the slightly dismal, but still breathtaking, scenery of this area.  Another must for English literature enthusiasts, or just for anyone hoping to get out of the city.

The best thing about traveling to many of these places is that you can actually, in the end, spend some quality time in London on the weekend days you’re not busing out to the smaller cities.  It’s easy to travel so much during study abroad, but don’t forget to get to know that city you’re calling home for those months!

Eliza: Thank you, Trader Joe’s

Since moving into an apartment at the beginning of this semester, two things have become evident to me: I didn’t appreciate my dining plan the way I should have, and Trader Joe’s may or may not be the promised land.

My appreciation for Trader Joe’s comes largely out of respect for the way it has provided me with things to eat other than Annie’s mac & cheese (although I will never lie about the deep sense of love I have for that gift from heaven).  Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook – I find it relaxing and enjoyable – unfortunately between classes, work, exams, papers, and my rigorous Netflix schedule, the time isn’t always there.  I quickly found my saving grace in Brookline, thankfully only a short 20 minute walk from StuVi.

So, this is it.  My shout out to the frozen foods and snacks sections at Trader Joes, thanks for getting me through this semester with semi-proper nutrition and my sanity.  Late nights on the 26th floor of StuVi2 wouldn’t have been the same without Inner Peas and mandarin sparkling water.  Getting home late from club meetings or work would have killed me if not for frozen burritos and pineapple salsa.  Afternoons writing papers would have been much less enjoyable if not for frozen peanut butter cups (shoutout to my roommate for always keeping them stocked) and pre-brewed iced coffee.  It’s been a semester of the books, for the books, and by the books, and I couldn’t have done it without snacks. Here’s to study period and finals week, I can’t wait to snack my way through it.

Eliza: Flying Solo: Abroad Alone

In case you haven’t heard, study abroad is kind of a big deal here at Boston University.  We love it, we won’t stop talking about it, and all the cool kids are doing it.  For a lot of people, (especially Communications people), study abroad comes around during junior year, mostly second semester, and involved taking on some other city with close friends and peers.  Going into college I always knew I wanted to study abroad, but I also assumed I would go with friends and enjoy the time with people I already new, but now I am going off into a summer and semester abroad with only a few distant acquaintances.  Last year, I made the choice to go abroad my junior fall, hoping that some other friends would do the same. In the end, it turns out that they didn’t.

This coming fall semester I will be traveling to London essentially by myself.  I’ll have friends in Geneva, and Dublin, and Florence – but will be alone in London.  Sure, I was upset at first but then I really thought about it. It will definitely be tough at first but I am so excited for the chance to explore a city and to meet new people.  It will be a totally fresh experience, almost like starting college all over again, but I will still have my incredible support system back in Boston who will be only a call or text away.  Moral of the (annoyingly personal) story is that I’ve realized it’s totally ok to strike off on my own if it means pursuing what I want, which is exactly what abroad is.

Here’s a list of good things about going abroad alone:

  1. Choosing what sights to see and when to see them:   I tend to want to see everything always, and being abroad without any close friends will give me the chance to really plan my own travel.
  2. Meeting new people:  Being abroad without people I already know will really force me to meet you new people, and could help me immerse myself in the culture there more.
  3. Adventure: It’s out there! And as much as it might be scary, being alone will add another whole level of excitement to being abroad!

Eliza: What is “El Niño” anyway?

If you have left your dorm/apartment/bed in the past week, week & a half, you’ve probably noticed that the weather is, like, seriously wack.  And we’re not talking crazy rain or early snow – no that would be almost normal.  We’re talking it was 70 degrees yesterday, and it’s November in New England.  For those of you that are new, that is definitely not normal.

So yeah, global warming is real – but people also keep throwing around this “El Niño” term to explain the seriously weird weather.  I had barely any idea what it actually meant though, so I decided to investigate.

It turns out that El Niño is “an oscillation of the ocean-atmosphere  system in the tropical Pacific,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  And it seriously can change the weather around the whole globe.

For North America, it means different things depending on where on the continent you are.  In big news, it tends to mean a less severe hurricane season.  In the Upper Northeast it usually means a drier and warmer than average winter – meaning less snow.

I guess our random 70-degree days could have to do with this warmer winter that’s coming our way, and after last year, that doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, right?  According to the NOAA, there’s over a 90% chance that El Niño will last though winter, so that seems to makes sense.

HOWEVER: The other major weather predictor of the world, the Farmer’s Almanac, is predicting a winter that will be VERY much the same as last year. (Read: Lots of cold lots of wind lots of snow).  With these conflicting predictions, it’s pretty hard to say what’s coming.  At least we can definitely say that these days are super weird, but not bad either.

Eliza: Wait, I have to think about next semester already?

It may seem like the semester just started, but it’s already time to start thinking about the spring term.  Schedule planning has been available for a few days, and registration is going to sneak up in a flurry of colorful leaves and Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  For some people, it’s no worries – they know exactly what to do to stay on track for graduation, study abroad plans, or just their major. If you are not one of these people (I am not), then there’s a few ways to make sure that your registration process isn’t the most stressful experience of your semester.

  • Make an appointment with an advisor: This one may seem super obvious, but sometimes people forget that these amazing people are available to help you figure your life out. You can make an appointment by calling the office, or by stopping into Undergraduate Affairs during the week.
  • Check your curriculum guide: On the COM website you can find guides explaining what courses you might need to take for your major, or a guide to help remind you that you need to take another history class.  Either way, they can make keeping track of your progress way easier than just guessing.
  • Talk to your COM Ambassador: Especially if you’re a freshman, you’re COM Ambassador can help you out with figuring out what classes you’ll take in the next semester.

The most important thing about registration is making sure you don’t let it stress you out too much! It should be exciting, not terrifying, deciding what direction you’ll take with classes.

Eliza: #Networking

People talk about networking like it’s either something they are incredible at or as if it is the most daunting task to ever present itself. In COM, it’s at least something people talk about all the time, and for good reason. Sure, you could get hired simply off of a killer resume and your impressive COM degree, but it doesn’t hurt to work to develop connections.

Personal experience has shown me a lot about networking.  One: Because I’m just starting out, most of my connections are people my parents know or have worked with. Two: That is totally fine. There’s nothing wrong with getting a little help from your parents, especially if they have the network.

When I was applying for internships this summer, I had my eyes (and heart) on one in particular: working as an editorial intern at Thrillist. My dad is in marketing and my mom is a special educator, so I figured I wouldn’t have any connections in the editorial world. Plus, at first I resisted help because I decided I had to prove myself, blah blah. Wrong idea.

After some time had gone by, and I had heard nothing, and my dad was offering for the third time to look into connections, I decided to let him help. And from there I learned how insane networking can be (in a good way).

Turns out, a business friend of my dad had sat at the same table at a wedding as an editor at Thrillist. Yep – that was my big connection. None of them really knew each other that well, but it was enough to get my foot in the door. I met the guy for coffee, and within a week had heard back about my application.

That’s really what all this networking is about, getting a foot in the door.  Having the right network won’t get you the dream job, but it will definitely start you on the right path.