Let’s get the formalities out of the way here, people. I know, if you’re considering going abroad and/or have read your way through this blog, you’ve seen various tips on applying and making the most out your experience. That said, I just have to repeat really fast how incredible going abroad can be. Lucky for you, COM makes it very possible.
Now that we have that covered, I’m here to offer up some advice to those who’ve just been accepted to the London program. First off, CONGRATS, you’re going to have the experience of your lives (sorry, I know, we’ve covered this. Last time, I promise). Anyways, in many ways, living in London is like Boston. You’ve already got the city life know-how’s down for the most part, and you already speak the language, so that adds an extra layer of comfortability.
That said, there are some things about London that are very different than the US, things you wouldn’t necessarily expect or know before coming here. Lucky for you, I’ve been noting some of these things down, and organized the top 50 into a nice, neat list for your scrolling pleasure. I’m sure there’s more than 50, but I’ll cap it at that as to not overwhelm you. Plus, it’s no fun if I ruin all the surprises.
London-bound friends, enjoy! And just make sure you know your lefts and rights before you get here.
- You probably already know this, but the British drive on the left side of the road. I’m only repeating this because it WILL confuse you and I do not want to see you get hit by a black cab.
- On that same note, pedestrians do not have the right of way. Don’t expect cars to stop for you at crosswalks unless the walk sign is on
- Check the pound-to-dollar ratio DAILY. London is very expensive and it’s easy to get suckered into paying $5.50 for a tiny coffee if you aren’t paying attention
- Speaking of coffee, your regular drip coffee is few and far between. Time to get really into espresso or do the budget approach (like me right now) and adopt a fond appreciation for instant coffee
- Street signs are usually attached to buildings, so be sure to look up when you’re looking for where to go
- If you think the squirrels in Boston Common are bad, just wait until you meet the giant pigeons and swans of all London parks
- Trash cans are basically mythical creatures, that’s how few of them there are
- Eggs: they are NOT refrigerated, and will likely be orange BUT they are delicious
- London is BIG, much bigger than Boston. Always check to see if where you want to go is a walkable distance first
- Restaurant service is much more relaxed. It’s usually on you to ask for the check
- Tipping is different than is the U.S. Tip what you’re comfortable with, but typically for dinner service, the standard is 12.5% (but be sure to see if your bill already has it included)
- It is never one weather pattern all day. ALWAYS have a raincoat/umbrella on you
- “Everybody Loves Raymond” is always on TV here for whatever reason
- Fries = chips and they are NOT as good as American fries (luckily, McDonald’s serves regular fries if you need a fix)
- The tube is awesome, but the etiquette is different than the T. Prime example: no one talks on the tube. As my marketing professor said when I asked her about it, “It’s just not done, darling.”
- Personal opinion: the peanut butter here is terrible
- When you walk into a building from the street, you are on the ground floor. What we consider the second floor is the first floor
- Oftentimes, you have to order drinks and food at the bar directly
- Not as many places are open late, so plan your late-night snacks accordingly
- Sometimes, you have to pay to use public restrooms (always have change on you)
- BU tip: washing machines are EXPENSIVE. Not saying to wait until you’re down to your last lone sock, but definitely wait until you have a substantial load
- Tea and scones are amazing in every capacity, I promise
- Coin and bill size is confusing. Example: the pound is significantly smaller than the 2 and 50 pence coins
- Emergency exits are green
- Lights turn yellow before they turn red AND green
- Cadbury is better than Hershey’s. This is a fact. Also, be sure to try a Cadbury McFlurry, it will change you
- If there’s one H&M nearby, there’s probably 6 others within a one-mile radius
- The British appreciate pastries at every meal and it’s awesome
- British people are quiet, but awesome, especially people who work on public transport
- Train language is very different. On the T, they’ll yell at you to get behind the yellow line. On the tube, it’s “please mind the gap”
- Be mindful of how much history is behind Britain every day, it’s really so cool
- Curb = kerb, tire = tyre
- Z = zed, a line = a queue
- The “@” button is in a different place on keyboards
- The British JUST got cookie dough. Currently being marketed (only) at Whole Foods as “an American delicacy”
- Uber may or may not be here when you get here
- Convenience stores are not always super convenient
- It never gets too cold here, but 70 degrees will feel hot
- Mail boxes: they look like large fire hydrants and are actually called post boxes
- Paper size is bigger (use A4 when formatting)
- The food here has few to no preservatives, which is great, but just buy what you need at the store because it goes bad fast
- Usually, grocery bags cost 5 pence each, so save money and bring your own
- Take-out = take-away, and usually prices between eating in and taking away are different
- Imperial College, which is right next to BU’s buildings, has the best farmer’s market on Tuesday. Would 100% recommend hummus from The Bow Belly
- I have yet to go to Nando’s *gasp* but that is a very big, popular chain here
- Tesco = Cit Co., Sainsbury’s = Star Market, Waitrose = bfresh, Whole Foods = Whole Foods
- Strikes are a big thing here, so always read up on the news and plan your trips accordingly
- London’s main airports for travel: Heathrow (you’ll be flying in here most likely, but you probably won’t travel to and from it as much), Stansted, and Gatwick. All of them take significant time to get to, so plan trips accordingly
- Citymapper and Sky Scanner are god-sends
- Always always use a private browser when searching for flights/trains/hostels (saves you $$$)
- BONUS: T.J. Maxx is T.K. Maxx, and the one by campus does not sell homegoods, like towels (you can get cheap towels at Sainsbury’s. Avoid being like me, who did not know this, went to buy one Marks & Spencers the first day, and ended up being stuck with a beach towel for the rest of the semester)
The summer internship madness is upon us here in COM, folks, and you know what that means! It’s time time to start your research, booking slots with the CDC for resume and cover letter review, and to start prepping your interviews!
Coming from someone who just completed this tiring process, I can tell you that nailing your interview is key. It’s the best opportunity – whether in person, over the phone, or via Skype – for potential employers to gage how well you mesh with their culture and converse under pressure.
It can seem like a daunting task at first, but the key is to prepare as much as possible, so try these tips below to get yourself confident for the big day!
This is key for all interviews. You should be walking into it with a deep understanding of the role you’re applying for, what the company is all about, and even a fair amount about who you’re interviewing with. Never hurts to do some digging on LinkedIn! For in-person interviews, be sure you have an extra copy of your resume, portfolio, or anything the interviewer asked you to bring. And for the love of all things good, make sure you know what time your interview is (and show up at least 15 minutes before).
Practice OUT LOUD
We all know practice makes perfect, but the best way to prepare for an interview is to be going over common questions out loud. I like to have the answers to common/anticipated interview questions written down in bullets (“Tell me about yourself.” “How did you choose this agency?” “What interests you about this role?”) and then use that as a baseline to practice out loud. This allows you to know what actually sounds good out loud, and helps you configure your response into a conversation that doesn’t sound scripted. Practice alone in your room, or grab a friend and make them listen to you for the full effect.
Ask Smart Questions
Before my first interview, I went to my faculty advisor for advice, and the best nugget he passed on to me was the idea that you show people how smart and engaged you are by the types of questions you ask. In doing your research about the company, find things you’re curious about (stray from the obvious) and ask your interviewer. I promise, they will be impressed that you cared enough to learn more.
Bonus Tips: Skype interview prep
- Dress professional…ish
- The best part about a Skype interview is you only have to keep it formal from the waist up. In my last two Skype interviews, I wore a nice shirt, blazer and PJ bottoms. No need for uncomfortable slacks or heels, but obviously keep this a secret from your interviewer.
- Take your surroundings into consideration
- Always take your surroundings into consideration. If you’re conducting an interview in your dorm room, try to position yourself in a way that your background is as plain as possible. Trust me, your interviewer doesn’t need to see every detail of the photo collage on your wall. As always, keep it ~profesh~. Also, make sure you turn off notifications on your laptop/phone, and make sure your roomies don’t walk in mid-interview.
- Adjust as necessary
- As we all probably know, Skype/Facetime can be tricky. Call a friend to check your connection beforehand so you can make sure your video and microphone are helping you out. And finally, if you know you are prone to fidgeting (like myself), put a sticky note over your face so you can focus on your interviewer.
Interviews can be tricky and nerve-wracking, but each one is a learning experience! If you practice as best you can and follow these tips, you will be guaranteed to wow any interviewer lucky enough to be talking with you.
When I first attended Admitted Students’ Day for COM back in April of 2014, I was blown away by the information I received from professors and COM Ambassadors about all the amazing organizations and opportunities that BU provided to help me advance professionally. Right off the bat, before I even started, I was told that getting involved in the college was the key to my success. I pocketed this information along with my excitement, and couldn’t wait to get on campus and try absolutely everything.
In a perfect world, I would have moved in and done just that, but as we all know, college likes to throw a wrench or two in your plans. My first semester ended up being a lot more challenging than I had anticipated (said every college student ever), from both an academic and social standpoint. I did not know who I was here; I didn’t feel like I belonged in any particular group, and my identity as a good student from high school didn’t seem to be transferring over here. I saw my peers, the same people I had met at Admitted Students’ Day and orientation, diving into everything COM had to offer, but my response to my tough first semester was to revert inwards and refrain from getting involved. My thought was that, if I could barely handle COM101, how was I supposed to commit time to clubs and organizations? With this line of thinking, I refrained from trying anything at all, and I was left wondering if my dream school was everything I thought it would be.
The next semester was not much better, but I got involved in Greek Life, which helped me to meet some of my greatest friends, and gave me a foundation upon which to join more on campus. I won’t take you semester by semester, as the culmination of this story is not until this past semester, but they followed in line with the passivity of my first year at BU.
By the start of my junior year, I was restless. I had met so many wonderful people participating in/running so much on campus and in COM, but even though they were my peers and close friends, they felt so far ahead of me in terms of involvement, that I was discouraged I would never catch up. A few weeks before the start of the fall semester, I thought back on Admitted Students’ Day and all the organizations, classes, and clubs that had been mentioned and I suddenly remembered AdLab. For those of you who don’t know, AdLab is the largest and oldest student-run advertising agency in the country. What better way to learn about advertising than to get involved here, right?
So I registered and when I showed up on the first day, I still felt so late to the party. I was surrounded by people who had already worked in agencies and had shining recommendations from professors here, some of whom were juniors like me. Instead of letting that get to my head, though, I tried to have a different approach. My peers are hard-working role models, why wouldn’t I derive inspiration from them? And from there, I tried to talk to as many people in AdLab as possible. I got to know people in my classes involved at the agency, and anytime I needed help or advice, I knew AdLab had someone nearby with the answer.
AdLab helped me see that there was nothing to be afraid of, but more importantly, it showed me that it is never too late to get involved in the right thing for you. My first semester of AdLab pushed me to work harder than I thought I could or wanted to, and despite my constant venting at the expense of my friends’ sanity, I gained practical experience in several arenas of advertising.
Most importantly, though, AdLab helped me learn how to get out of my own way, and that letting fears of getting involved consume you only perpetuates the cycle of never trying anything new.
No matter what year you are, what semester you are in, or whether you are on campus or abroad, don’t forget that it is never too late to find the thing that will have the biggest impact on your college experience, and even your future. You can never have too many hobbies, skills, passions, or friends, and with an open mind to try new things, you will only develop more of each of these.
If I could say it any better I would, but in perfect conclusion, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take – Wayne Gretzky” – Michael Scott.”
I’ll admit that I am one of those people who knew what they wanted to do since they were little. After getting past my Legally Blonde-induced Harvard Law dreams of fourth grade, I shifted my focus to advertising. I know, that doesn’t seem like a very natural progression, but it makes more sense if I explain that my uncle – one of my greatest inspirations – works in the industry as a producer. I grew up listening to his stories about bringing these amazing creative ideas to light, and I was drawn to it.
When I got to college, though, I was in for a bit of a wakeup call. Even though I had a creative spirit and an interest in the field, that didn’t mean I would be good at it. And this is a fear I think a lot of people in any creative field have to face. No, in COM, we may not six exams per class per semester, but learning how to be creative, and be talented, is an entirely different mountain to climb. It requires you to push your mind to places you never thought it would go, and that can be unbelievably challenging, yet is often not recognized as such.
Obviously, every person’s creative journey is different, but there are some remedies that can help most all of us. With that, here are some of the things I always try to keep in mind when I’m faced with writer’s block, rejection, or just plain old frustration.
As hard as it is, as attached as you get to an idea, as much as it may break your heart, sometimes you have to be realistic and scrap something you’ve put a lot of work into. Even if it may seem like your best idea yet, if it doesn’t reach people, have an impact, or make sense, sometimes it has to go. This may make you feel like quitting, but I can assure you that there is always another idea – a better one – around the corner. By allowing yourself to let things go, you can eliminate tunnel vision, and open yourself up to so much more inspiration.
That being said, sometimes scrapping work you care about is not your own idea. Rejection is hard in every situation, but it is just a part of the creative world. When a professor or boss rejects an idea you care about, it is bound to hurt you, and that is okay. It is your job, though, to find out their reasoning behind it, and learn from that information. You also have to realize that, most likely, they are not attacking your talent or dooming you to an unsuccessful future. The best creative people in the world, in all fields, faced rejection hundreds of times, but they let it shape their work into the art it is today. A thick skin is important, but don’t let it blind you to what you can improve on.
All of this is easier, of course, with a team. Full disclaimer: if you can’t value working in a group, creative work (besides painting, probably) may not be for you. That doesn’t mean you will love every group assignment or every partner you ever have, but when you work with the right people who are all determined to create something great, you will succeed. You’ll challenge each other to think outside the box, and when something doesn’t work, you will all help to find a solution.
Whether you’re working on something together or not, surround yourself with people who inspire you. They don’t have to be in a creative field, either! Find people who dare to dream far beyond their capabilities, and help push them there. Use their stories, their points of view, their strengths and weaknesses to help you craft a story, and pick you up when you’re down. Never close yourself off to meeting new people, because you never know who will become your greatest inspiration.
Never, never give up on being creative if that is what you want to do. The road ahead may be a very confusing one, but if you can try to keep these tips in mind, you can always find a silver lining, and turn it into a work of art.
Midterms are officially upon us, and while, as COM students, we often don’t have too many exams in our class schedules, chances are, there will be some large papers, tests, or projects coming your way in the next couple of weeks.
This can be a crazy time of year, especially if you’re in your first semester here at BU. Everyone is busy making sure they do their best, all while balancing a million different tasks, and trying to remember to get more than four hours of sleep and eat more than two Cliff bars between classes.
And to make matters worse, you have to compete with 32,000 other undergrad and grad students for study space. It’s the age-old story: you pack up all your study materials, a water bottle, some snacks, your headphones, and make your way to the third floor of Mugar only to find there is not a single study carol or seat available. This exact scenario happened to me my freshman year studying for finals, except then from Mugar, I made my way to the Boston Public Library just to find there was not a seat available there either. After spending two hours traipsing around the city, I was so frustrated, and then felt even more stressed after wasting valuable study time.
So trust me, I get that moments like this can be incredibly demotivating when you’re trying to maximize your time and focus. To help you guys from running into this same issue, though, I have compiled a great list of the best places on a BU’s campus to get the most work done, and to minimize stress.
If you like to study/work in absolute silence, go to…
- Mugar Memorial Library
- Okay so I know I just bashed Mugar a little bit, and it may not be my go-to study destination, but so many people at BU have great success doing work there. The first two floors tend to be noisier, with people printing, working in groups, getting library resources, and taking campus tours. Once you get to the third floor, though, most everyone is respectful and virtually silent.
- Large-dorm study rooms
- I had some of my best luck getting things done freshman year in the Warren Towers’ study rooms, especially the one’s right across from the mail room. It does get very chilly in there, though, which really motivates you to work efficiently. There’s similar study rooms in West and Towers, too, although I have found that the ones in Warren remain the quietest
- Top floor of Stuvi2
- I guess this falls under “large-dorm study rooms”, but it’s too amazing not to have its own section. If you haven’t been to the 360-degree study room at the top of Stuvi2, you NEED to find the time sometime this week to do so. It’s truly one of the most incredibly features of this school, and it makes studying just a little more bearable. Plus, if you haven’t taken a Boston skyline time-lapse from the 26thfloor, do you even go to BU?
- Your dorm room
- Sometimes, if you know it’s going to be impossible to find a spot anywhere or you just don’t feel like getting up (but still know you have work to get done), your best-bet may be to do some work from your dorm room. The main problem here is the potential for so many distractions, so get your roommate(s) to hold you accountable, and reward yourself for being productive. Plus, you get to study in pajamas, and that’s what college is really all about.
If you work better with a little noise, or need to work with a group, go to…
- The COM Student Lounge
- This is my all-time favorite place at BU to study, do homework, and do group projects. There’s comfortable seating, charging stations for your phone, and it’s super convenient if you have some time to kill before/after a class in COM. It’s usually pretty quiet, but everyone understands that people go in there to have group meetings, so there’s always some light chatter.
- The GSU
- The GSU can sometimes be like Mugar, in the sense that it can be hard to find a seat (especially one with an outlet), but if you get there at the right times, it can be a great place to do work and meet with a partner. You have easy access to hundreds of dining options, Dunkin’ OR Starbucks, and Mugar is right in the same building if you decide you want to work there instead. Last semester, during finals, I camped out in the Backcourt area of the GSU literally all day long (I had Rhett’s for all three meals), and was able to get so much accomplished!
- Side-note: the Buick Street Market is a smaller, West campus-version of the GSU and it is another great option!
- On-campus Starbucks’
- Okay, so this can be hit-or-miss. While I always end up here because I am a coffee fiend, I try to avoid the Warren Starbucks like the plague. The lines are always way too long, and it can get crowded. Some of the tables in the back, though, are actually kind of secluded, and not bad places to tackle a paper. You also get the benefit of being surrounded by coffee. That being said, I would definitely recommend the Questrom Starbucks first and foremost, followed by the one in West. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can run into me at the Starbucks near my off-campus apartment at 1304 Comm. Ave!
- Dining Halls
- Just one meal swipe to comfy booths and unlimited desserts, all in an easy on-campus location that you were planning to grab food from anyways. Plus, if you live in Warren, you don’t even have to leave the building! Need I say more?
Working hard in school can already be stressful enough, you shouldn’t have to worry about finding a place to study. So with that, I leave you with this list, and wish you the best on all upcoming papers, projects, and midterms!
This year, not only have I finally achieved upperclassmen status, but I am now proudly one of Allston Village’s newest residents. With two of my best friends, I traded in my extra-long twin bed for a queen, and my meal plan for, on average, three DiGiorno pizzas a week.
It’s been a blast getting to explore a new cultural hub of the Boston area, but it has not been all fun and games, living out in the real world. And with that, I give to you a comprehensive explanation of all the things that are likely to happen to you when, and if, you move off campus.
You Leave (Most) of the Rules Behind
So you’re finally out on your own, with no RA to remind you when quiet hours begin, or to confiscate the coffee maker you’re trying to hide under your bed. Sure, you still have neighbors, but chances are, the walls won’t be so paper-thin, and no one can stop you from blasting the Hamilton soundtrack at 2am while you and your roommates make brownies. Just make sure you pay your rent, and turn off the stove top when you’re done. And, of course, be sure to hop on the T for class early enough to get there in time!
You Get to Buy and Make Your Own Food
Okay, so this one could go either way. Chances are, you’ll have a fridge a little bit larger than the BU microfridge, so you’ll definitely have a lot more room for snacks and leftovers. And you finally actually make all those recipes from Tasty videos you have saved on your phone! It also means, though, that you have to make your own trips to Star Market or Trader Joe’s, to get your own meals and ingredients, and food can be pricey! Also, try to get yourself one of those metal stock shopping carts before you make a big trip to get food because you will likely underestimate how much food you need, and how heavy it is. So unless you’re looking to turn your trip into an arms’ day workout, carts are great to help you conveniently carry everything you need without spilling any containers of berries or breaking any eggs.
You May Run Into Some Critters
Not going to lie, it is hard knowing that BU won’t be there to protect your brownstone from mice, cockroaches, or other city-dwelling critters. If you happen to see one scamper across your kitchen floor, though, don’t panic! Your landlord or super can generally be pretty good about showing up at your doorstep with a can of Raid, some snap-traps, and little Roach Motels. Even though I’ve been a vegetarian for five years, and I hate the thought of hurting the animals that sneak into my apartment, even I admit that you gotta do what you gotta do to keep your home clean and pest-free. Then, just for good measure, be sure to get yourself some good cleaning supplies, and scrub your floors and countertops until they shine.
You Get to Explore a Whole New Part of Boston
Boston is an amazing city, full of rich American history with an incredible array of local shops, cafes, and restaurants that extends far beyond Newbury Street or Mike’s Pastry in the North End (nothing against Mike’s Pastry; it’s still delicious). If you spent the afternoon walking up and down Harvard or Brighton Ave, you could run into so many charming businesses with so much to offer. Just the other day, my roommates and I, in an effort to be trendy and see what all the fuss was about, headed over to Hi B3ar, which serves made-to-order Thai ice cream rolls. It was amazing to watch the employees diligently roll the homemade ice cream into neat little scrolls that, even though it looks like a killer upper-body workout. When you live off campus, you get to surround yourself with hundreds more of other trendy places like Hi B3ar, and be part of their story.
You’ll Never Want to Move Back to Campus
Compared to so many schools, BU has pretty fantastic on-campus housing, from the brownstones on Bay State, to million-dollar view of the Boston skyline from the high floors of Stuvi1 and 2. But there’s something about living out on your own with your best friends that BU housing just can’t match. Sure, you’ll spend plenty of time hanging out on campus in your friends’ dorms and apartments, using their guest swipes so you can take some free bananas for the road, but there’s nothing like coming home to your very own place, even if there’s a mousetrap behind the fridge, and you have a creaky tile in the bathroom. Your home is what you make of it, and chances are, you’ll make it so great, you never want to leave.
Now that spring break has come and gone, it’s crazy to believe that we only have a few weeks left of our spring semester here at BU. The remainder of the school year is time to celebrate and buckle down, with Marathon Monday and Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s to look forward to, but also final projects and midterms to tackle.
No matter what different struggles and excitements the rest of this semester has in store for each of us, the characters from Parks and Rec always have our backs. Because every day can’t always be a Leslie Knope kind of day. Sometimes, we all have to be Jerry’s.
- You realize how much you appreciate your professors who made your midterms before break
We take back everything we said about you as we crammed before break
- …And resent the one’s who saved them all for after·
HOW COULD YOU EXPECT US TO STUDY? WE WERE ON A BREAK!
- You start to actually think about how your favorite seniors are graduating
Try to avoid plots to make them fail out of classes so they have to stay another semester
- Attention to your grades becomes more important than ever
The quest for A’s is too real
5. But at least you can study outside!
Just don’t let Boston’s wind blow your study guide into the Charles
- It’s finally acceptable to get super excited for summer
When all you want is to complain about it being too hot outside
- But you’re still so happy to have these last few weeks with your best friends from school
Couldn’t have done it without you guys