Hanna: Hothouse Goes Guatemala

A week ago, I was telling my photographer to get a tighter shot of the woman leading a female empowerment workshop for International Women’s Day. We were in Santa Cruz, a community on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, and the sun matched our spirits as we created a video that would hopefully bring the village increased funding for education and economic growth.

Yesterday, I was stuck inside my bedroom as snow and wind knocked against my window and barred me indoors. It was yet another snow day and I couldn’t help but text my filming team, “Why did we come back from Guatemala to THIS?”

After a bit of complaining about the ice and the cold, we realized that we should instead focus our energy on gratitude. After all, if it weren’t for our times in snowy Boston, we wouldn’t have earned the trip to Guatemala in the first place.

Yes, for this spring break, Boston University funded a trip to Guatemala for six students and the professor of Hothouse Productions. Hothouse is a class within COM, but to call it a “class” is a gross understatement. In Hothouse, students operate within a pseudo-production company. The executive producer? Professor Garland Waller. The network and source of funds and resources? Boston University. The production team of producers, photographers, editors, writers, managers, and more? Students.

Each year, Hothouse creates videos for real-world clients, all of which are non-profits or organizations involved in social justice. It’s genius – students work in a professional team, practice the role they hope to turn into a career, and use all they have learned in COM to give back to the world. Many thanks to Professor Waller for creating and leading such a program with such grace and compassion. If you want to use your Film and TV skills to make a difference, Hothouse is a class for you.

For the entire semester, my team of two producers, two photographer/editors, one photographer/location scout, two writers, and a production manager worked through the post-production process to plan our shoot. Our main client was Amigos de Santa Cruz, an organization who has helped the impoverished community of Santa Cruz establish self-sustaining education, health, and economic systems. Our video would play at the Guatemalan Embassy, various fundraisers, and online in an attempt to bring awareness and support to the mission. As we planned, we didn’t know what to expect, but we knew we were part of something important.

While I won’t go into the details of our experience (there are too many amazing moments that would take all day to write) I will highlight the takeaways for which I am most grateful. Firstly, Hothouse has given me true professional experience I know will transfer into my career. Professor Waller trusted us with each step of the process, critiqued us honestly and constructively, and supported us through every stressor or challenge that came our way. As a producer I was forced to balance kindness with authority when it came to leading the team, and I had no choice but to trust my own creative opinions and put them forward without hesitation. No other class has offered such a real-world opportunity, and much of the difference comes in that we were working with real clients, for a real purpose, with real people. To have had such an experience before even receiving my diploma is incredibly unique. I cannot wait to share these videos with prospective job options.

Next, Hothouse and Professor Waller have shown me that I can use my passion, my skills and my career to make a difference in more ways than expected. As the production rolled on, talks of future documentaries, charity-oriented production companies and Guatemala-inspired stories hijacked our conversations. We were energized to do more, and now we realized we could do that in this industry. Whether it be through a video for an organization we believe in, or through telling a story we believe should be told for the sake of greater good, we saw Professor Waller dedicate much of her career to creating a positive impact and that alone inspired us. Not a single student walked away without considering how they can do the same with their own careers, and I truly believe every Film/TV student should study with Professor Waller to learn from her example.  

Finally, Hothouse introduced me to people who are more than wonderful teammates. As we worked on the project and filmed for only a week, we immediately grew close enough to know we would want to work with one another again someday. For me, this is so indicative of COM in general. This college is not a competition. It is not a place to prop yourself up and spring forward to individual success. COM is a place that brings you to creative minds and devoted friends who want to work with you and support you all in one. This Hothouse team came together around a common goal and with a common passion. In the end, we came out with a project we were proud of, a group chat that will not quiet down, and friends we will hold dear even after graduation. While the professional experience has made me feel secure about my future, my confidence comes mostly from knowing I will never be alone out there. Whether working together or cheering each other on, Hothouse and COM have given me a strong, smart and energized group of wonderful friends. I couldn’t be more grateful for that and I cannot wait to see where we all go from here.

Hanna: The Final Countdown: Advice for Seniors from Recent Grads

I made it to my final semester of college and I am ready to EMBRACE IT. To help me get started, and to help other seniors who might be experiencing the same mix of excitement and uncertainty as me, I decided to consult those who are older and wiser. I am very thankful for the recent graduates who contributed their advice. Each one has set off on a unique path, but each shares the trait of inspiring an undergrad like me. I look at these adults and am gratefully reassured that while post-grad will not be easy, it will be an adventure to which I should look forward. In addition, they suggest that this last semester, and all of these four college years, are gifts, and I will definitely commit to taking advantage of this semester, my final Boston blessing.  

And so, without further ado, a collection of advice from recent Boston University graduates:

“Take advantage of all the resources you won’t have once you leave school. If you have a movie idea, you can get fancy cameras for free! Make it! And never get complacent! Stay focused on what you want after college and tackle it when you have free time.”

– David, COM 2015

“Be open to any career opportunity right out of the gate. Your first post-grad job won’t define you, and frankly, you don’t get to be picky just yet.”

– Kyle, COM 2016

“Go out and do the things you want to with the people you want to do them with before time/distance gets in the way. You’ll probably never be this close to so many of your friends again. Make it count.”

– Matt, ENG 2016

“1. Go to senior week events even if you think they’re lame. It’s your only chance to go to senior week events.

2. Don’t believe what people post on Facebook. Everyone’s lives will appear to be perfect this summer and that is a lie.

3. You. Will. Get. A. Job. (Let’s say that again for the people in the back). YOU WILL! Maybe it will take some time. Maybe it won’t be your first choice. Maybe you will hate it and only be there for a year. But you will get hired.

4. There is no shame in living with your parents post-grad and it is an INCREDIBLE way to save money if it’s an option for you.

5. Keep in touch with the people that matter. De-friend the people who caused drama in your life. Accept that if you stop being friends with someone, it doesn’t make your college relationship with them any less genuine.

6. You can change your mind. This is very important. Just because you majored in X doesn’t mean you have to do X for the rest of your life.”

– Rachel, SED & CAS 2016

 “Have a plan but be flexible. Know what you want to do when you leave, but at the same time let things happen as they happen.”

– Corey, COM 2016

“Make two lists. Make a list of all the things you told yourself you were going to do when you decided to go to school in Boston. Check off the stuff you did. Do the rest. Make a list of all the people you want to take with you into the next stage of your life (include friends, professors, people who aren’t at BU anymore). Carve out time to spend with them. Make sure they know they are important to you now so it’s easy to keep in touch later.

Also, look both ways before crossing the street. Twice.”

– Brittany, Sargent 2016

“Don’t worry if you don’t have a cushy job offer by May. You are smart, talented, and extremely capable. It just means the right job wants you to enjoy a little bit of your summer before you start being an “adult”. Embrace that freedom. I worked as a temp until landing a great job in September, and it allowed me to work flexible hours, volunteer, and visit new places I had never been before. My summer wasn’t focused on working crazy hours or dealing with a long commute, but learning more about what is important to me in a job position and what I want to really do with my life.”

– Maddie, COM 2016

“Use your BU ID for discounts as much as possible and try to start shifting important emails off of your BU address. Next, utilize BU resources because paying for the Adobe Photoshop Cloud is a really expensive joke. Finally, take advantage of Boston and all it offers. It’s so different from any other city (for better and for worse). The only-in-Boston Snapchat always offers really cool stuff to do, and so does Thrillist. Try to get out of the BUbble (see what I did there?).”

– Jose, Sargent 2016

“My advice for your last semester would be don’t stress about landing a job before graduating. Relax and have fun, because you literally have the rest of your life to stress about your professional career. My advice for after you graduate would just be to network, as cliché as it sounds.  I spent three months working some side jobs and just talking to and meeting with people, and for a while I wasn’t sure where it was leading.  Then I met the right person and got a job in the industry.  I think that sometimes when you don’t jump into a job right away and just give yourself some time, things happen organically.  It’s just scarier and more uncertain.  #characterbuildingamirite?!”

– Becky, COM 2016

“While I’m all for bucket lists, don’t get too wrapped up in trying to complete a list of activities you want to squeeze in before graduation. Of course you should go to all the places you never went or do the things you always wanted to do while in college, but don’t forget to spend time doing the things that made your college experience special.”

– Amir, CAS 2016

“Acknowledge that even when everything in your life has changed, you are still yourself. And if you know nothing else, you know yourself.”

– Rachel, COM 2016

“Don’t pigeonhole yourself and think that you exclusively need to find a job that is within the confines of your major. Don’t think that your major has been the only thing that prepared you for a career. Anything and everything you’ve done for extra-curriculars can shape your career too, and those things will be taken seriously if you frame them seriously on your resume. Next, it’s very difficult to truly listen to what other people have to say until you’ve experienced it yourself. There is only so much advice you can take before you become anxiety-ridden, so deal with the advice you have now, but enjoy where you are and face post-grad when you get there. Post-grad life doesn’t suck. Promise.”

– Lee, COM 2016

“Don’t stress about this last semester. If you are doing what makes you happy then that is all you can ask for.”

– Elliott, COM 2016

“I wish I knew that graduation was actually the beginning of something, not the end. Cherish your last semester and reflect positively on your college experience, but know that the real adventure is just beginning. It will be impossible to predict what the next five years will hold, but always be positive, forward thinking and hardworking and you can’t go wrong!

Also, embrace Cranberry Farms while you can.”

– Tom, COM 2014

Hanna: Writer’s Block and How to Knock It

It’s 12:48am. The dim glow of your stringed Christmas lights is the only sign of brightness. You hear a car drive down the street. It’s the first you’ve heard in hours. You focus on it, wondering. Where is it going? Why so late? Who is inside?

You realize your mind has drifted again and you jolt back to your computer. A Word Document with one scrawny paragraph stares back. The pulsing cursor flashes on and off, on and off, as if to say, “Yeah? Whaddaya got for me, hm?” Apparently, the answer is nothing.

We call this “Writer’s Block.” We hate Writer’s Block. As a college student, little can be more frustrating than an inability to pump out what seems to be, in a given moment, the most important project in all the land. Over my three and a half years as a Film and TV student, Writer’s Block and I have been acquainted many times. We’re buds, in an annoying sibling sort of way, with Writer’s Block always butting in and looming over my every move right when I wish it wouldn’t. Luckily, through pestering my professors and fellow aspiring creators, I’ve learned a few good ways to beat the beast.

1) The butt-in-chair technique

This technique is unfortunately more difficult when you are in a time crunch, a state in which most students tend to be. Nevertheless, it was suggested to me freshman year by Professor Chelsey Philpot, and when trying to knock something out, it tends to work.

I often grow fearful of stories when they turn into living organisms. Most recently I have been writing a pilot for a course, appropriately titled “Writing the Pilot,” and after completing three fourths of my draft, I stopped. The Celtx writing software tab stayed open but untouched on my computer. The characters poked at my brain, whispering, “Finish our story! Finish our story!” and I’d cover them through suddenly remembering that, “OMG, I need to get a head start on reading due next Thursday!” The story begged for an ending, but I would not go near it.

It had turned into a terrifying monster. Not only did it have a life of its own, but I just couldn’t face it. I had heard about writers meeting this obstacle: pushing out a piece like it was a child of their own and then watching it grow into a completely different species, out of their control. Here I was, faced with a normal yet horrifying form of Writer’s Block (I must admit, it did make me feel like a real troubled writer, biting my fountain pen as I sat with a pipe and a sweater vest in Maine) but I avoided the confrontation at all costs.

Finally, I accepted that the story must go on. I was in the unique position of receiving a time-sensitive grade for my work, and thus I had to pull it together.

I remembered the butt-in-chair technique: find a spot, sit in a chair, and don’t you dare get up until it’s done. Sounds cruel, doesn’t it? Don’t get up for a run to Starbucks. Don’t get up to answer the phone. “Can’t I go to the bathroom?” No, of course not! Ok, maybe, but only in dire circumstances and if you promise to brainstorm your next line of dialogue the whole time.

In sitting and forcing focus, the story reached its end, but this technique took more willpower than I’d care to admit. Still, at times of fear, remember that the story will flesh out in its entirety. Sometimes all it needs is a push from you.

2. Try free-writing. 

This can be applied two ways. If you are working on a project you simply cannot crack, this may help to get ideas flowing. Spend about fifteen minutes writing whatever comes to mind. Don’t worry about punctuation. Don’t worry about whether or not you make sense. Just get that pen gliding or those fingers taping. Write as quickly as you think. What you write may have no relation to your project; sometimes jumping to another creative outlet helps the original. On the other hand, you may jot down the problems you are having with your project and write every idea in your head, both the bad and, hopefully, the eventual good.

Free-writing can also be used as a preventative strategy against the Writer’s Block plague. By writing freely for a little every day, you begin to get more comfortable when you are working on something specific. For me, I don’t restrict myself to one type of free-writing. I try poetry, journaling, stories, and whatever else comes to mind. The most important part is that I only write for me. I’m not weighed down by the pressure of impressing a professor, getting published, or making my friends say, “Wow, you might amount to something!” I write to write, and as good old Malcolm Gladwell told us, you need 10,000 hours of practice to be an expert! Free-writing gets you closer to that, by about fifteen minutes a day.

3. Exercise

Whenever I am cranky my mother tells me to go for a run. It drives me nuts. Sorry if this suggestion does the same for you.

Sometimes you find yourself staring at the screen, distraction-free, focus centered, but nothing comes out. Every idea, every word, feels mechanic. You question why you’re even in this class or this business in the first place. Where did all your ideas go?

I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know they may blossom again after your blood gets flowing. Take the twenty minutes you would otherwise spend staring at your screen to go on a walk, a jog, or a bike ride. I’m a sucker for this whimsical female-centric workout website , full of fast but fun exercise videos led by two bombshell beauties whose abs will remind you why you’re a writer and not a fitness instructor (if you are both, I salute you).  Just do something to get your energy up and your mind clear, then bring yourself right back to your chair (maybe shower first) and refer to Tip #1.

4. Reread. 

If the problem is simply that the story seems to hit a dead end, head back up to page one. Especially with dialogue, I find that reading through everything out loud reignites the flow. I always end up reaching the point at which I left and saying another line that fits perfectly after the last. When you look at your work like a whole conversation, or a whole package, or a whole whatever it is that you’re writing, it actually gets easier to see its path.

In addition, this will often help you find other problems, or (gasp!) solutions. Whenever a scene or section is stumped, reflecting on the structure of the scene along with technical elements of writing may help you fix what you initially saw as a huge, looming obstacle.

When you don’t see a road in front of you, look back. I should put that on a bumper sticker.

5. Self Control

Once my boyfriend asked me, “Do you have self control?”

“Ex-cuse me?” I shot him a vicious glare. How could he ask such a rude and patronizing question? What had I done to deserve any hint of an accusation that I did not? Did he really have so little respect for me that he would unabashedly suggest that I-

“I mean the app! Oh my god, no, I meant the app called ‘SelfControl!’”

Crisis averted.

Ever since I have depended on the SelfControl app to keep me from my usual social-media-internet-black-hole tendencies. When you download the app, you write a list of all the websites you find distracting. Be honest with this list. Don’t try to tell yourself that you absolutely need Pinterest for your Graphic Design class.

Once activated, the app disables the sites you listed for the amount of time you set. Paper due tomorrow at 11am? I set SelfControl until 11:15. It is a great way to keep distractions away and keep your focus on the work.

My professor, Kam Miller, recently reminded me that our generation is psychologically triggered by the ding of a Facebook notification. It’s not our fault. It’s how we’re wired. The only control we have is to distance ourselves from those distractions when necessary. Try to do that. It makes a bigger difference fighting Writer’s Block than you might think.

6. Go to bed. 

Yeah, when it hits that hour, you’re not going to be happy with anything you manage to get down. It may not even come out in English.  Exhaustion will stunt your mind and it is important to know when to throw in the towel. That being said, there are two additional benefits to this aside from keeping yourself from morphing into a zombie.

Firstly, you’ll most likely fall asleep thinking about the project. Our subconscious minds are always solving problems, and it might just do so as you’re dreaming of the masterpiece you hope to complete. When you wake up, you may have a new outlook on the work that offers some pleasant surprises.

The second benefit is that you may have to wake up earlier than you planned to get it done on time. If you’re writing at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning, you will be shocked at the way your mind starts working. When you first wake up, your brain remains in the mode during which you dream, lending a hand to your creative juices and sometimes helping you get passed what you couldn’t do a day before. If you’re anything like me, that early hour seems daunting, but it is often the environment you need to get stuff going. Plus, you get a pretty sunrise! Writers love describing sunrises! Do that.

Well, my fellow writer, in whatever capacity you identify with that title, my thoughts are with you. Stick your butt in a chair if you’re scared to finish a project and turn off all distractions. If the juices still don’t flow, look back over the work, take fifteen minutes to free-write, go for a run or go the heck to sleep. Most importantly, remember that writing is a way to channel yourself, and that can never be anything but positive. Value your being and your mind enough to treat it to the joy of creation – that mindset makes the challenges all the more worth it.

Hanna: Listen to WTBU’s Hottest Radio Show: The BUchelorette!

I love talking about relationships, but I don’t always get the chance without sounding like a love-crazy dream girl. Most of us like to dish about the romance lives of ourselves and others, but while the topic is universal, sometimes it’s a hard conversation to start. What if you are talking to someone with a different sexuality than you and you’re not sure if your questions would be insulting? What if your idea of a good partner completely clashes with everything your friend is saying about theirs? Or what if you want to talk to your partner about something a little taboo (cough, sex, cough) but you just don’t know how to bring it up?

As a college student, I’ve faced all of these scenarios and more. While I’ve wanted conversations about love to continue (they tend to give me a guilty-pleasure feeling), they’ve often been cut short out of caution against awkwardness or personal disclosure.

Luckily, my friend Sarah Sosland felt the same. Sarah recognized how much people learn about themselves and others when discussing relationships, as well as how much fun they had while doing so. A member of improv group Liquid Fun as well as two student theatre groups, BU On Broadway and Stage Troupe, Sarah wanted to find a way to combine comedy and entertainment with topics of love and sex. Sure, relationships are pivotal to most entertainment arenas, but personal reflections about our own perception and understanding of love is much less common.

Thus The BUchelorette was born! COM’s radio station, WTBU, made room for Sarah’s radio show on Monday nights at midnight (ok, it’s technically on Tuesdays). Sarah’s show began with a matchmaking goal – she wanted to feature single contestants (a BUchelor or BUchelorette) and present them an array of potential partners. Through radio games based on that contestant’s likes and dislikes, the contestant, who remains blindfolded until the end, would choose a winner. The prize? One first date, paid for by Sarah herself.

The BUchelorette then evolved into an additional round table, which Sarah likes to call “the pound table.” The show is “sex positive,” meaning that it treats all healthy and consensual sex as a positive thing. However, Sarah’s show is unique in that it opens itself to all romantic and sexual opinions. Discussion panels have been increasingly diverse thus far, with perspectives from people with wide ranges of experience, relationship backgrounds, and thoughts about all things love.

Each week, the pound table features new guests and focuses on a different topic. The first episode, called “Worst Firsts,” centered around stories of first times that went terribly. The “first times” could be anything, from a first kiss, a first date, a first experience with something new, or even just a first celebrity crush.

Another episode focused on crushes, how people respond to them, and how personal crush stories have played out. Another aired on National Coming Out Day and featured stories about, yes, “coming out,” and living as someone of non-straight sexuality.

My favorite thing about the show is not that it’s hilarious. It’s not that it teaches me about relationships in this society and it’s not that it introduces me to many different types of people. All of those things ring true, but my favorite thing about the show is the way I’ve responded when it ends at 2AM. The BUchelorette has led to so many great conversations with my own partner that have made significantly positive impacts on our relationship. I’ve spoken with friends who also tune in, and we’ve explored ideas and topics that we probably should have talked about sooner. Sarah may not have expected her fun dating show to provide an outlet for people to express an important part of their lives in such a healthy way, but that is exactly what she’s doing each week.

Oh, and her first attempt at the BUchelorette game? The couple is still dating four weeks later. If you’re single and searching, you should probably give Sarah a call.

Check out The BUchelorette on their Facebook page and message them if you’d like to be part of the show. You can listen to past episodes here: http://spinitron.com/radio/playlist.php?station=wtbu&showid=2753 and you can tune in live at WTBURadio.org on Monday nights!

Hanna: A Vegan Senior

Here are two things I didn’t think would ever happen to me:

            1) I would become a senior.

            2) I would become a vegan.

Senior year of college was inevitable, but that did not make its arrival any easier to believe. To make the transition even more bizarre, I found myself having a strange burst of inspiration to try this new route to healthy living. I have had my fair share of food-related health goals in the past. I have gone weeks of cutting out bread, pasta, and other carbs I convinced myself were satanic, only to falter after a night out ended at T. Anthony’s. I tried Isagenix, a 30-day intensive eating system that provided meal-replacement shakes, guided cleanses, specific snacks, and a very serious limit on which foods you can and cannot consume (the only unlimited items were celery and cucumbers, basically crunchy water). This summer I tried a hip diet called starving-intern-living-in-New-York-City-by-herself-for-the-first-time. My internship provided enough of a salary for me to cut my parents slack and pay for my entire existence, but as soon as I excitedly headed to the store to buy ingredients for all the healthy recipes I had found on Pinterest, I learned the true agony of what it really takes to be healthy: lots and lots of money.

For example, every recipe I found on exercise-related sites suggested I incorporate chia seeds into my diet. Stick ‘em in your shake, in your oatmeal, in your salad, in your birthday cake (they did not suggest this but I’m sure the health icons of the internet wouldn’t shy away from doing that. If they even eat birthday cake). Do you know how much a small bag of chia seeds costs? DO YOU? Guess. Nope, more. At least where I was shopping in hipster little Brooklyn, those suckers were about $15! My resentment toward chia seeds has yet to shy away.

Needless to say, I took advantage of the free food in my office and ate a whole lot less due to my fear of losing all my money. I would suggest that others avoid this lifestyle.

Some of the diets were great. I lost some weight, I felt energized, but they certainly took a hit at my enjoyment and my wallet. Plans are expensive and the mindset they require was difficult for me to maintain. Everything was an uphill battle to reach the end of the 30 days, to win the internal war of “I shouldn’t eat this but I want to…” every time something tempted, and to fight off the guilt when I cheated. I was constantly struggling to stick with whatever I was trying at the time, and while my usual habits are inherently healthy (I am an active person who enjoys a good run on the Charles and the Warren Dining Hall salad bar) none of the plans became my lifestyle.

About four weeks ago, a new co-worker named Alex mentioned she was vegan. Yikes, I thought. How can a college student with a meal plan and zero income pull off being vegan and healthy?

“It’s such an awesome way to keep up your ideal health in college. And it’s cheap!”

That chick read my mind. I had always thought veganism, and even vegetarianism, would not be worth the costs; I’d resort to eating unhealthy snacks and too many carbs, I’d spend too much money, or I’d go hungry due to limited options on a college campus. But suddenly a person with my lifestyle was raving about it.

“I have so much more energy, and my body has been able to regulate itself in terms of eating enough, eating enough of the right things, and adjusting to the food I avoid now. There are vegan alternatives to everything, too, so while most of my diet is the right protein and nutrients and stuff, I can still have great food. Oreos are vegan!”

Oreos are vegan? Sold. Alex, my vegan spirit guide, encouraged me to start small with just a few meals for a week, but after that I was hooked. All of the mental struggles of previous diets disappeared when I didn’t even have the option to debate certain temptations. I didn’t feel a huge void without meat, and I felt way less bloated and gross from cutting out dairy (Sorry. TMI). Excessive vegetables became a great source of protein and fruit became a perfect dessert. Every now and then I allow myself to “cheat” out of convenience for others or, again, a late night ending at T. Anthony’s, but because my daily habits are so much more naturally healthy, I don’t feel the same guilt I used to whenever I slipped in a slice of pizza.

Alex was nice enough to share a little guide she’d made for how to keep it up in college, and I thought I’d share some of it here!

Breakfast

An essential start to your day! This should be full of carbs to power you through a workout or busy morning.

  • Cereal: grape nuts/rolled oats with almond or soy milk and lots of fruit
  • Oats: these should be your go-to breakfast, GREAT before a workout!
    •  Add-ins:
    • Maple syrup
    • Fresh or frozen berries
    • Cocoa powder
  • Hash Brown Waffle with mixed veggies
  • Fruit
  • Toast with jam, low-fat peanut butter, Engine 2 hummus, veggies, etc.
  • PRO TIP: your bananas should be a little spotty for optimal digestion and nutrition (they also taste better)

Lunch/Dinner

 The bulk of this should consist of a grain/starch, vegetables, and beans/legumes.

  • Basics: rice or potatoes, veggies (fresh or frozen, at least 2 cups), beans/lentils
  • Idea: Burrito bowl: rice, refried beans (TJ makes a great vegan kind), veggies, salsa, whatever you want!
  • Sushi wrap or bowl: rice with avocado/carrot/cucumber in a seaweed wrap or a bowl, add soy sauce, sriracha, wasabi, or anything else.

Flavor

Rice, beans, and veggies can get boring if you don’t change up the flavors you’re adding!

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Oil free dressings and sauces
  • Salsa
  • Hot sauce
  • Garlic powder/onion powder/paprika are my favorite spices to add while cooking
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Maple syrup

A lot of people think this lifestyle is “boring” because it can be repetitive, but most Americans cycle throughout the same 4 or 5 meals…just saying.

Reminders & Eating Enough

  • It is SO IMPORTANT that you are eating enough!!!! You shouldn’t be feeling weak or hungry and if you are, start eating more food.
  • A lifestyle change like this is a big adjustment and it takes some time and getting used to but it is SO worth it. If you are ever feeling unsure, remember why you are doing this and how great you feel, your body will thank you.
  • It does take a while to figure out how much food you need because you’re now eating much less calorically dense diet, give it time and do what makes you feel the best.
  • You should never feel deprived! If you are hungry, eat a snack!
  • Eat intuitively, eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full; don’t obsess about calories and macros. If you are constantly hungry/thinking about food, you aren’t eating enough.
  • If you are craving something specific, it’s ok to treat yourself (to a vegan treat, i.e. TJ’s coconut based ice cream/vegan snacks) every now and then but look for a healthy option most of the time.
  • Don’t be overly concerned about protein, if you are eating enough calories, you are getting enough protein.

Tips

  • Drink a BIG glass of water every morning right when you wake up! It’s a great way to feel awake, get your digestion going, and get hydrated!
  • Bring a piece of fruit or a bar with you everywhere you go! Being hungry sucks so always be prepared!
  • When eating out, breakfast tends to be the most difficult meal to order; my go-to is normally a few slices of dry wheat toast with jam or avocado or a bowl of oats with a big side of fruit!

Exercise

  • A high carb lifestyle such as this is actually ideal for active and athletic people, you will feel so strong and energized during your workouts!
  • CARBS are your main source of energy so try to eat a serving of whole grains/starches about 60 minutes before a workout.
  • You can have a serving of protein after a workout if you feel your muscles really need the help with recovering, but you don’t need things like protein shakes or powders as much as you may think.

And so, four weeks later, here I am: a senior vegan. Sure, it hasn’t been so long, but the improvements I’ve felt through something that has seemed so easy makes me confident in keeping it up. This is the first time a health change hasn’t been a conscious burden. I do not feel restricted about what I can eat nearly as much as expected, much thanks to the diversity of BU Dining options, killer salad bars, and the affordability of meatless options (really! Saving money is motivational! Woo!). I also have liberty to eat as much of the healthy stuff as I want…you can never have too many vegetables, so I really don’t ever feel hungry. Easing myself onto this lifestyle has been a very positive experience, and I’ve managed to do it at college no less. Hey, it also helps animals and the environment! With all my previous inhibitions busted, I can’t even remember many of the negatives.

If you’re thinking of trying vegan out, give the above guide a try, know that your food will not taste like cardboard, and enjoy the feeling of an energized, low-stress, refreshingly healthy lifestyle. Have a great year and stay healthy, kids.

Hanna: Classes

I wanted to take this blog post to give a shout out to my favorite classes/professors at BU! I know many of us have already registered for the Fall semester, but there still may be time to switch around a bit! Here are a few of the courses that have truly made my time in COM, and at BU, worthwhile:

 

  1. Creative TV Producing.

Professor Garland Waller is a gem. She is a talented producer with a phenomenal work ethic – one that I try to emulate every day. Every project we did felt practical and useful. I knew I would be able to apply everything I was learning to my work in the real world (gasp!) and that cannot be said about every college class. We focused on reality TV, talk shows, and documentaries, learning everything from pitches to premieres. I was challenged in the class. Her grading scale is based on industry standards and will force you to question everything you thought you could do well. However, the end result is improvement beyond any expectations, and possibly new found skills, goals, or interests you wouldn’t have stumbled upon otherwise! I will owe my career to this class, as well as to the genuine care and kindness of Professor Waller.

 

  1. TV Theory and Criticism.

This graduate-level course was TRICKY. Lots of readings. Many readings with big words I had to look up and look up again. But the discussions, contributions from other classmates, and chose subject matter by Professor Deborah Jaramillo (she’s amazing) were mind-blowing. I thought I loved being a Film & TV major, but this class gave me a brand new respect for the field and its possibilities. Especially during such a fickle time, media and television specifically are places to watch. I’m sure you already know that, but exploring the theoretical basis for how we got where we are, where we’re going, and what can be done to influence that future dives deep into scholarship and philosophy – all of which will challenge you intellectually. Sure, it took a lot of reading, but it took me to a new level in terms of my understanding and appreciation of TV.

 

  1. International Relations and Religion.

Maybe not for every COM kid, but if you’re an IR or Political Science minor/concentration, check it out! Professor Menchik leads this graduate-level course with great precision. He is subtle, but every move he makes guides the class toward very important, relevant, and innovative lessons. I personally love the study of religions, especially from an objective perspective, and this class has not only taught me so much but has given me many ideas for great stories…every COM kid’s dream! Religion affects the world on a larger scale than world leaders appreciate. Especially in global affairs, secularists often neglect the political role of religion, the influence of its philosophy, and the potential its study can have for improving relations. Maybe a Film & TV major can take that understanding and apply it to a project or two.

 

  1. Production 2.

I have this class with Professor Mary Jane Doherty, a funky and beautiful filmmaker who teaches you to work from your heart and your gut. It is important to come into the class with a strong foundation in the technical side of filmmaking, but you certainly do not have to know anything. You never will, and MJ knows this! She wants you to make mistakes as much as you can. This gives her opportunities to dance around the room as she points out to the class how that mistake could teach every single person a thing or two about film language. She loves the world and she loves to capture it with a camera. In a sense, she’s a cinematic choreographer with the ability to bring you into a world where you forget about the frame and the screen – a brilliant role model if I’ve ever seen one. More than that, she encourages you not to follow the herd. Try everything, find your fit, and allow that fit to work for you and guide you toward better versions of yourself. Those lessons are more valuable than anything I could find in a textbook.

 

  1. Writing the Situation Comedy.

Not only is Professor Loman a skilled professional with an IMDB list that will make your jaw drop, but he is fantastic to work with in a classroom! This class taught me what it might be like to sit in a writers’ room, surrounded by loony people trying to create and improve and improve and improve. For me, writing as a team was a brand new experience and one that I appreciated more than I could have expected. It’s incredible to know that you are all working together on a joke – that your initial idea could be just the thing that sparks the perfect punch line from someone else. I wrote a useable spec script in this class…that’s not too shabby! But more than that, I felt like my work inside the classroom mirrored what I may find outside of BU, and I did this while getting to know some wonderful, talented students in COM. Hopefully I’ll get to work with them for real someday!

 

These are just a few of the many inspiring classes offered at Boston University. I have been lucky to meet great professors, learn important lessons, and surround myself with enthusiastic students every step of the way. It even makes an 8am class or two worth it in the end!

Hanna: A Shout-out to Some Real Live Ladies

I was feeling a little insecure the other day, as we all sometimes feel, just because I was focusing so much on all of the, well, hot people everywhere. Instagram, Fit Rec, West Campus in general…I am lucky to have such access to beautiful people on a regular basis! While I have no negative feelings toward anyone because of how they look, noticing their cool outfits and flat abs and wavy hair and general awesomeness makes it easy to take those observations and use them to pinpoint all the things I think I don’t have in comparison.

Thus I was having one of those moments, blah blah blah, it happens, and because I wanted a pick-me-up and I finally had a free hour, I decided to catch up on Jane the Virgin, which, critics and I agree, you all need to be watching. Then I procrastinated on a paper for another hour to watch the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW, you’re killing the game), but I think it was well-placed procrastination. Both shows gave me a very important reminder that I would like to share with the COM Ambassador Blog community.

Gina Rodriguez and Rachel Bloom walk around all day with hit TV shows, Golden Globes, and gorgeous, normal bodies. Their love lives and friendships are thriving on and off screen, but characters in the shows don’t often describe their attraction to them in physical terms. These actors and the characters they play put an image in mainstream media that many of us need to see. “Healthy” can mean many different things for different people, and our heroes on screen should reflect that.

I believe that characters on television can influence our perspectives about any kind of person. In fact, I am planning to study “cultural others” in television comedy for my Kilachand Honors College Senior Research Project, and I want to explore how their portrayals potentially affected their acceptance in the American public at the time of their “otherness” (think homosexual people in the 1980s, for example). In my project, I plan to look at portrayals of specific ethnicities and how certain handlings of them in television can positively or negatively influence that group’s real-world reputation, but I’ll let you know more about that when the time comes.

This belief also translates into television and body image. Our perceptions of certain looks and figures can change if a certain look or figure is portrayed positively on a show we love. Gina Rodriguez in Jane the Virgin is a healthy Latina woman who does not fit the general mold of a Hollywood body type. She isn’t overweight, she just isn’t a stick, and I am constantly put at ease when I watch her form such a lovable relationship with the audience no matter what she wears or how she looks. She is objectively attractive in a realistic way, and her casting coupled with the admirable writing of her character sets us up to appreciate everything about her, both physically and internally. Every girl watching the show can be just like Jane. We can pursue our passions despite conflicting obligations. We can be selfless friends, daughters, mothers, lovers and fighters and we can attract others with our personalities, not our sex appeal.

There is an argument that Jane the Virgin is unrealistic. “No guy would wait for a girl to have sex until marriage,” they say, and I understand this idea, especially in a college environment. However, the point of the show and the positioning of Jane as a role model, to me at least, is not to inspire anyone to “wait until marriage.” It indirectly pushes the value of non-sexual aspects of ourselves and reminds us that all the things we love to find glamorous are wonderful, unnecessary bonuses. I know it sounds corny, but trying to be the very best versions of ourselves should be enough to impress everyone we hold near and dear. The people who love us should love us because of our values, behavior and personalities, not because our thigh gap is smaller than the girl on the elliptical next to us.

Rachel Bloom of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is just another example of a beautiful and successful woman who does not need a perfectly flat stomach to make an impact. I spend so much of my time worrying about how I’ll look next to other girls, and an artist like Rachel Bloom reminds me that my largest value comes in what I can create, not what I can wear. It is important to stay healthy because I feel best when I am, but comparing my “healthy” to that of others does me no good at all. In fact, it only takes time away from working on projects like those of Rodriguez and Bloom – why waste time worrying about my physical ranking when I could be focusing on all the things I have the potential to create? As long as I eat healthy enough to stay focused and sharp, exercise enough to stay energized and comfortable, and enjoy life enough to relax and trust my abilities, I’ll be the person I want to be no matter what body holds me up. If you ever forget that this is also the case for you, please head to The CW website to watch an episode about two wonderful, real women.

Hanna: Putting COM Knowledge into Practice

While classes are just about to kick off for most students, I am happy to report that I’ve been keeping busy in Boston for the past two weeks. Last semester, one of my wonderful COM professors put me in touch with a friend of hers…this friend happened to be the GM of Television Programming at WGBH in Boston. WGBH produces over 90% of national PBS content, and within a week of reaching out, I had clenched an internship for the spring! Teach-able moment #1: always ask your professors about their contacts. They have all worked in their fields or continue to do so, and they can almost certainly put you in touch with someone who can help you out. Having their reference always pushes your resume up the pile as well, and COM professors are more than willing to assist if you make your passion clear!).

Two weeks ago, I reported to day one of the internship. I would begin by working on Sing That Thing!, a reality competition program for high school, college, and adult singing groups throughout the northeast. At first I admittedly belittled the project – it will only be broadcast in nine states, and reality is not exactly what I want to do with my career. Teach-able moment #2 and 3: It is an honor to work on any project within television, especially starting out as a college student. Each one offers so much to learn in its own unique way, and it is so important to take advantage of what it can do for you. While an internship may not fulfill your life goal, it will provide a very necessary step in getting there. In addition, starting out on a smaller project is the best way for interns to get experience. The team on this show is plentiful and professional, but its lesser scale has allowed for more of my tasks to be hands-on. Just yesterday my boss considered me a Production Assistant instead of an intern, and larger, national program may have stuck me in the copy room a lot more than the set.

In addition to Sing That Thing!, I am looking forward to working on projects for the WORLD channel, a national news documentary channel with positive initiatives and lots of opportunities for someone like me. In only two weeks I have grown very comfortable asking questions, navigating the high-pressure environment of a television studio, and offering my own perspective. I’m starting to determine which areas of the production I enjoy and which I’d rather avoid, but I’m still making sure to approach the internship in as well-rounded a manner as possible.

To top off the experience comes the 4 credits I get to apply toward my Film and TV major! When interning, check to see if credit is available within COM. They are incredibly helpful in ensuring that you get the most out of the opportunity, both throughout your time there and in terms of your college education.

It is crazy to see the parallels between what I’ve learned in my COM classes and in this professional environment. Although I am learning a lot of new information, much of what I have been able to do at this internship is simply a practical application of what I have already learned from professors. This is wildly comforting as I reach the latter half of my college career; it’s a clear indication that what I learn in COM truly sets me up for success in the real world.

Hanna and another WGBH intern having fun on the set of Sing That Thing!

Hanna: A Look at BU Student Theatre

Patti Lupone.

Bernadette Peters.

Jeremy Jordan.

Angela Lansbury.

Aaron Tveit.

Sutton Foster.

Elaine Stritch.

Did any of those names make you swoon? If so, it is probably time for you to check out some of the BU theatre groups on campus. I’m not talking CFA. Those guys are fantastic and I encourage you to check out their season as well, but as a busy COM student, I only have time for the student-run theatre organizations.  These groups allow BU students studying other fields to learn about and participate in a wide variety of theatrical productions while balancing their academic lines. Since first semester of my freshman year, these groups have kept me sane. They have also given me some of the best friends I have in Boston, and I would love to use this post to support some of their upcoming productions (and maybe a few of mine…I have no shame).

Unfortunately, you’ve already missed two wonderful shows that went up over the last month. Over Parents Weekend, I was honored to produce Stage Troupe’s Seussical, a musical based on the books and illustrations of Dr. Seuss. Two weeks before that, BU On Broadway put up a concert version of Follies. I was in this one and it was an incredible and unique experience.

But you can’t see those because they already happened. I’ll move on to something more productive for the purposes of this blog. Here are list of upcoming productions you may want to check out!

Stage Troupe’s The Skriker

October 29-31

This is a staged reading that goes up the Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Halloween weekend. I’ll be honest…I don’t know much about this one. From what I’ve heard, it is edgy, spooky and insightful. It’s perfect for Halloween time. To make up for my lack of knowledge about the show, I’ve included the poster:

Stage Troupe’s Wit

November 5-7

I’m in this play! I cannot say enough good things about the script of this play about Margaret Edson. The show will resonate with English majors and students on the pre-med track, but it will also connect to anyone who has dealt with the struggles of humanity, cancer and mortality.  Death, really, but not in a gruesome way. Wit explores the journey to death (I’m not spoiling anything) of a stoic English professor who has never allowed herself to open up to human contact or kindness. She has buried herself in her scholarly analysis of poetic texts, and in undergoing chemotherapy, she receives the same treatment from research-hungry medical professionals. Her final hours lead to great enlightenment, both for her and the audience. It’s an honor to be part of this show.

BU On Broadway’s The Wedding Singer

November 12-14

Do you like love? Do you like music? Do you like Adam Sandler and big hair? This high-energy musical brings that good old Sandler/Barrymore movie to life. The cast is unbelievable and the story will make your heart warm. If you’re into fun, contemporary and upbeat musicals, this is among the best. Every member of the cast will make you laugh, and the night will be nothing but a good time. I’ll also be back stage on the Hair and Make-up team of this cool show, so if you come and notice any particularly brilliant hairstyles, you’ll know who’s talent is behind that. 😉

Stage Troupe’s Really Really

November 19-21

This is going to be a good one. This play explores the 24 hours after a typical college party. The play uses a potential rape accusation to explore many of the problems college students face. It deals with issues like stress, anxiety about the future, relationship issues, family ties, social standing and assault.  The show is raw, honest and critical, pointing out the flaws in our generation and encouraging the audience to learn from the performance. This show is especially good to see when you’re in college, and I know the cast and crew have really put their heart into it.

BU On Broadway’s A New Brain

December 3-5

This musical will be in the Agganis Student Theatre, a black box theatre that makes the performance very intimate. This eccentric show follows a disappointed composer (for a children’s television show) who can’t seem to write music that he finds satisfactory. On a lunch date with his best friend, he passes out right into his ziti and soon discovers he has an arteriovenous malformation…basically this means something is very messed up in his brain and he needs a serious operation to survive. As he contemplates his situation, he goes on a mental journey with his family and friends and discovers the joys of life he failed to previously appreciate. This cast is also spectacular and the experience will definitely be moving. I am so excited to see it.

Please keep in mind that these are the two theatre groups within which I am mostly involved. Other groups, such as Wandering Minds and the Shakespeare Society, have plenty of amazing productions too. No matter what you go to see, supporting undergraduate theatre is worthwhile. Students work so hard and so passionately to earn those three short nights of bliss, and usually, those performances are impressively good. If you are interested in attending any of these shows, google “BU On Broadway” or “BU Stage Troupe” for more information about tickets and locations. Also, let me know if you’re coming! I’ll probably be there, too.

Hanna: Why You Should Watch the Season 2 Premiere of Jane the Virgin this Monday, 9/8c.

Do you watch Jane the Virgin on The CW? You probably don’t. It’s on a network still aiming to shed it’s immature vibe and has an admittedly silly (yet wonderful) title. However, you should be watching, and as a Film and TV student here at BU, I feel it my duty to encourage you to do so.

Why You Should Watch It:

1. A BU COM alumna is on the writing team. I saw her speak at BU last year and we bonded over the fact that we are both #TeamMichael. Her name is Corinne Brinkerhoff and she is  my idol.

2. It’s based off a telenovela and plays with the genre in a super fun way.

3. Gina Rodriquez, who plays Jane, won a Golden Globe for her performance. It was well-earned; she is funny, charismatic and charming on the show and she never misses a beat. In addition, she is beautiful, but she doesn’t look the way you may expect a female lead to look. She is Latino and she is not a tall, blonde rail. She is healthy (and she always looks great in her cute dresses ugh I love her) and if you follow her on Instagram, you can see that she’s super powerful from her love of kickboxing!! Really though, they make Jane above average in her personality, work ethic, and commitment to her beliefs, not because she looks more like a Barbie doll than everyone else watching at home. Gina portrays this character beautifully, and her performance is one that no one should miss.

4. Hot guys. But not typical hot guys! Let me explain.

4A. Brett Dier, who plays Jane’s friend and ex-fiance Michael, is goofy hot. It is impossible NOT to fall in love with his charm and quirkiness and he can give hope to guys everywhere who may not look like Ryan Gosling.

4B. Justin Baldoni. Ok, he looks as good as Ryan Gosling. He’s the typical male model type, but the fact that he looks perfect makes up for it. His appearance also works perfectly with his character — his behavior stems a lot from how he may have been treated because of his looks, and others also expect him to be a playboy because of it. He defies a lot of those silly stereotypes by becoming a genuine guy, and as the sperm-donor of Jane’s baby (sorry, are my random hints about the plot confusing? Don’t let it intimidate you!) he definitely has a lot of touching moments in the show. He rocks.

4C. Jaime Camil is a Mexican silver FOX and I want to hang out with him very badly. In my opinion he is the funniest part of the show. He plays Jane’s telenovela-star father who was out of her life until recently, and throughout the season he and Jane’s mother were potentially falling back in love. Gasp! Such a telenovela. Anyway, he’s sexy and he knows it, and he contributes beautifully to the  generational aspect of the show.

5. Enough about hot guys, because even though they’re there, this show centers around the bond of three women. A grandmother, her daughter, and her daughter, to be precise, and they all live together to make the happiest of families. Jane’s mother Xiomara (how pretty is that name?) had Jane very young, but that didn’t stop the women from raising her to be a bright and balanced woman. Now they share a bond of friendship, support and understanding, and the way they handle battles together is inspiring. If you like empowered women, you’ll love them. If you like sentimental mother-daughter relationships, you’ll love them. If you love families, you’ll love them. If you love happiness, you’ll love them.

6. THE PLOT. All I’ll say is that it has an absurd premise of a girl artificially inseminated by a heartbroken lesbian. If I try to continue, you’ll think I’m insane. Somehow the writers created a twisted and constantly turning story, reflecting those of telenovelas, and made it a) understandable, b) riveting, c) tasteful, and d) incredibly high quality story telling. There isn’t a weak moment on Jane the Virgin, even when you think, “WHAT? HOW?” The strength of the characters drives each absurd addition and allows the audience to enjoy every moment, without scaring us away with its complexity. GENIUS I say!

7. THE PROGRESSIVE ASPECTS OF THE PLOT. The plot includes issues of gay marriage, highlighting that a lesbian character on the show is only able to marry in some states. After the Senate decision about national same-sex marriage, the writers tweeted the screenshot from that episode and remarked that they were VERY happy that that statement was now inaccurate. How cool.

They also deal with the issue of immigration, for Jane’s grandmother is not technically legal in the country. They touch on Christianity in the most subtle, interesting way, and they of course brought abortion into the mix while somehow avoiding an uproar. Although the show is not about a Latino family, it is about a family who is Latino, and the cultural insight that comes with the show is refreshing and necessary. Needless to say, the show does not shy away from social issues near and dear to our hearts, and it does so in a manner that seems to avoid major  conflict!

After a near perfect first season of killer acting and a stunningly crafted plot, not to mention a gorgeous AND human-looking cast, we can confidently expect a brilliant ride with the second. I want this show to succeed and I want you to help me make it happen. Tune in Monday 9/8 central or find it on Hulu, and if you like it or dislike it, reach out to me and let me know! The only thing I love as much as watching Jane the Virgin is talking about it.