Samantha: Little known but super fun places to take visiting friends and family

When family and friends come to visit, it’s easy to do some of the same, class “Boston” things over and over again. As a senior, my friends and family are pretty sick of the usual North End dinner, stroll through the Common and Newbury Street shopping spree. After four years of the same things, I’d be tired too! 

Now that I’m a “seasoned” Boston resident (or so I like to think), I’ve compiled a list of four new go-tos for when I have loved ones in town. (That aren’t walking on the esplanade!)

  1. Harbor views from the backside of the Institute of Contemporary Art

 For a beautiful view of the harbor, head to the ICA in the Seaport district! I like to grab coffee or snacks from the nearby Sorelle bakery and sit on the big, wooden steps that slope down from the back of the museum. Not only is it a pretty view, but the museum’s architecture makes for a great place to relax and catch up.

  1. Walk from BU to Central Square and back

The quickest way to Cambridge (aside from driving) is actually walking across the BU Bridge and into Central Square! Not only is the destination a great place to explore (and eat Toscanini’s ice cream), but the walk showcases some of Cambridge’s gorgeous, older homes and even some really interesting street art. 

  1. Night out in the South End

Make a reservation at one of the South End’s chic dinner spots for a nice, slow meal (I recommend Myers + Chang) and end the night with live jazz at the Beehive. It’s a “speakeasy” style bar and restaurant that features live music every single night!

  1. Small theater movie night

There’s something about a smaller, old-fashioned movie theater that can turn a rainy day into a fun one. Try snagging tickets at the Brattle Theater or Coolidge Corner Theatre, both of which show new movies, throwback films and limited release flicks.

Samantha: Off campus cooking: Recipes that are great for both your wallet and your palate.

Living with a dining plan can be lots of fun — unlimited servings of your favorite BU dishes, dining points to spend at your leisure and, of course, no dishes.

However, dining plans are sometimes excessive, expensive and not worth having if you live in an apartment. As a vegetarian, I also found myself having a hard time finding hearty meals on campus.

This year, I moved into my first on-campus apartment and therefore cook all my own meals. My roommates and I love cooking together and trying out new recipes, which makes each night exciting and fun. Although Gordon Ramsay never replied to my tweet asking him to judge our meals, I’d say we’re doing pretty great so far. The vegetarian meals we like to cook are healthy, inexpensive and require little-to-no prep!

Here are some of my favorites:

1. Homemade ramen (serves two)

Ingredients:

  • Miso paste
  • Ramen noodles
  • Sweet corn
  • Bean sprouts
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Enokitake mushrooms
  • Two soft boiled eggs (marinated overnight in soy sauce and water)
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Green onion

Method:

  • Sautee bamboo shoots, mushrooms, kale, carrots, bean sprouts and onion in a saucepan
  • Cook the noodles in miso paste
  • Serve immediately and garnish with egg

2. Roasted veggie bowl (serves three)

Ingredients:

  • Kale
  • Sweet potato
  • Carrots
  • Instant rice
  • Sriracha

Method:

  • Cube sweet potato and carrots, roast at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden
  • Sautee kale in garlic powder, salt and pepper
  • Microwave instant rice, top with vegetables
  • Add sriracha to taste

3. Sweet potato “nachos” (serves two)

Ingredients:

  • Sweet potato
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Black beans
  • Shredded cheese
  • Cilantro

Method:

  • Slice sweet potato into thin discs
  • Drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper, roast at 350 degrees until crispy
  • Add tomatoes, beans and cheese, put back in oven for 5 to 10 minutes
  • Garnish with cubed avocado and cilantro to taste

Samantha: Study Abroad Emotions

When you’re preparing for a semester abroad, it feels like you have all the time in the world. How will you pack clothing for four months in one suitcase? Which “must-do” lists are worth keeping in mind? How will you arrange your semester so you can try every cafe/see every museum/attend every musical all at once?

It’s stressful but exciting, and once you get to your destination you feel free. In my case, arriving in London brought about many emotions, but mostly that of anticipation — what will this semester hold? Now that I’m nearing my final weeks in the UK, I’ve come a long way since that initial anticipation. This semester has had ups and downs, so I present to you, a timeline of what it’s like to study abroad, month by month.

(the very end of) January

Wow! Look at you! You are living independently in a different country! And using the £! And taking the Tube! Maybe someday, you won’t need a map! So much to do! Get those to-do lists going! LONDON!

February

The dust has settled, and London feels more and more like home every day. Maybe you just booked your first EasyJet flight and coordinated train travel all by yourself. Or reserved an AirBnb. How independent of you! You aren’t stressed anymore, because you know you still have so many months ahead of you.

You finally have your favorite restaurants, coffee shops and bars. Maybe the barista finally knows your order? Take it all in, kid. London is finally your city.

March

Heck yeah! You’ve traveled a bunch by now, and are finally kicking butt at your internship. Your days are full, and you finally feel like a full-on Londoner! How will you ever leave?

That being said, the stress starts to sink a little bit by now, and you might start to panic that you won’t get to see everything that was on your list so many months ago. You start to methodically schedule your weeks — restaurants to eat at, museums you haven’t been to, shows that are leaving town all too soon.

April

You are starting to accept that in the very near future, the time will come to leave. You try to take it all in, enjoying springtime in London. You check off those last things on your to-do list, but mostly try to focus on the present — the sunny picnic lunches on Primrose Hill, the long walks through Kensington with your new best friends, the laughs you share over lunch with your co-workers at your internship.

“Someday, I’ll come back,” you tell yourself. And how lucky you are to have spent this time abroad.

Sam: Chrismas Carols with a Quirk

That special time of year has finally come around. Comm Ave. feels like an icy wind tunnel, holiday decorations are popping up around the city and Christmas music is constantly playing no matter where you go.

No offense, card-carrying carolers, but listening to the same tunes every year drives me totally bonkers. If you’re like me and want a change, you’re in luck! Below is a playlist you can jam out to all season long.

(Full disclosure: Sam is 100 percent Jewish, just really likes warm n’ fuzzy tunes)

Copacetic Caroling, by Samantha J. Gross

1. Wake up- Arcade Fire

2. Sloop John B- The Beach Boys

3. Santa Claus is Back in Town- Elvis Presley

4. Our House- Crosby, Stills & Nash

5. This Must Be The Place- Talking Heads

6. Whole Love- Wilco 

7. Homeward Bound- Simon & Garfunkel

8. Slow Pony Home- The Weepies

9. Tin Angel- Joni Mitchell

10. Other Towns and Cities- Camera Obscura 

11. Chicago- Sufjan Stevens 

12. White Winter Hymnal- Fleet Foxes

 

Samantha: Love in the time of Polar seltzer

I’ve read so many articles this year about the La Croix craze and how a sparkling seltz is scientifically proven to better quench your thirst. La Croix, la *yawn.* For me, it’s all about bae: Polar seltzer. One of my favorite parts about moving to Boston for college has to do with this bubbly drink and family-owned brand. I’m been absolutely hooked on this bubbly brand and if you know me, you can almost always expect to see a liter peaking out from my backpack. I even got a picture with the PolarBear himself last summer. Some experts say my teeth will rot out someday, but I try to live in the moment. I love Polar seltzer to the point where over winter break in Chicago, my friends and I drove to the only store we knew that sold this nectar of the Worcester gods. (They don’t distribute Polar in the Midwest, to my great dismay). I even posted a photo of our find, and Polar sent me a seltzer care package!

 

I’m not loyal to any one flavor, and I enjoy trying out the varieties that make special appearances from season to season. That being said, I do have a few staples I know I can always go back to in times of need.  I’m no expert in food criticism or the like, but here are my top five flavors of seltzer, ranked from best to still amazing.  (Disclaimer: I’ve tasted the majority of the 18 classic flavors and enjoyed them all. By no means is this list exhaustive, just cut down for the sake of space. I have yet to try some of the limited-edition flavors, like Egg Nog, Mint Mojitio and other questionable varieties.)

 

  1. Black Cherry

Oh, Black Cherry seltzer. My trusty pal. This is the flavor that my friends buy for me when I’m down or that I “treat myself’” to on a day when I think I deserve it. Some say it tastes like NyQuil. I say, it’s top-notch. Not too sweet, not too sour. It’s the perfectly refreshing drink to wake up your taste buds.

 

2.Lime

So light. So refreshing. This flavor is such a perfect drink to accompany a summer walk or a picnic on the BU Beach. As the Boston Magazine reviewer said it best: “10 out of 10. Would definitely drink this again.” It’s also the favorite of all my friends, so I think it’s safe to say that Lime is a crowd-pleaser at best.

 

  1. Strawberry Champagne

Every time I pull this one out of my backpack at school or work, there’s always one raised eyebrow in the room. But hey, don’t knock it until you try it. This flavor is as interesting as it is refreshing, and whenever I have the chance to snag one at the store, I do.

 

  1. Pomegranate

This flavor, in my opinion, is the fruitiest of the bunch. It even beats out some of the flavors that didn’t make my list, like Grapefruit and Mandarin. I really like this one if the store is out of Black Cherry or Lime, but it’s not usually my first pick. Still yummy though!

 

  1. Vanilla Pear

I’ve heard some say it tastes like a candle. Others look down upon a bubbly bottle that looks like dessert. I think that albeit the weird aftertaste, this seltzer is a sweet alternative to cream soda or the like. I’m a fan. Back off, haters.

Samantha: Five ways my co-op changed my life

As everyone is getting back into the academic mindset, settling their class schedules and falling back into their routines for the semester, my life has taken a slightly different path. My weeknights are no longer spent in study rooms or at club meetings. Instead, I spend my time at the city desk of The Boston Globe.

 

In lieu of taking classes this semester, I am on a 6-month metro desk co-op, reporting crime and breaking news. And guess what? They’re hiring! Here are my top five favorite things about the co-op program (aka reasons journalism students should apply):

 

  1. I’ve gained the greatest writing experience I could ask for. My deadlines are generally 10 to 20 minutes long, and I write so many articles a night! Not only have I become super fast at reporting breaking news but I’ve improved my AP style and writing fluency by a landslide.

  2. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the finest reporters and editors in the country! The Boston Globe is no small operation, and the experience of working alongside these talented folk has been totally inspiring. That being said, everyone here is so friendly and open, and I’ve really felt like part of the family since day one.

  3. Covering crime and breaking news has given me a perspective on a world many wouldn’t even know existed if they live in the BU bubble. I cover shootings, fires, robberies — you name it. Although the work is often sad or scary, it helps me realize that the world isn’t always welcoming and happy like a college campus. On the contrary, the sadness also makes me see the good in the world, especially when I talk to heroic bystanders or helpful neighbors who save lives every day.

  4. Although I admit that I miss going to class and seeing my peers every day, working 40-hour weeks and maintaining a busy schedule has prepared me for a post-graduation career in a way no classes or internships could.

  5. Living behind the scenes of a daily newspaper has totally solidified my goal of becoming a reporter someday. Not only do I see how the business of journalism is changing in the super-exciting digital age, but I get to watch happy journalists go home at the end of their shifts after they report pieces that affect the community and shed light on Boston’s most important issues. There aren’t words to describe how passionate I am about this field, and being able to put it to practice every day is something I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Sam: Why I take a one-second video every day

It’s come to that point in the year where writing “2016” on paper ceases to be awkward and it becomes more and more apparent that time is flying by. I just officially declared my major (Yay! Journalism!) and I’m looking for a summer internship, but sometimes it still feels like I never even graduated high school. Well alas, time slows for no one, which why I decided that this is my semester to record each day and hack into my memory instead of blankly watching my youth escape into the ether. Who wants to look back at college and only have documentation via Snapchat or Instagram?

At the start of the semester, I downloaded an app called 1SE, which stands for 1 Second Everyday. The premise is that I take a one second video every day and upload it onto the app, which has a calendar showing every day of the year and whether or not I shot a video for a specific day. I programmed the app to send me a notification once in the morning and once at noon, so I always remember to shoot my mini video. I’m no Film & TV student (to my FTV roommates’ disappointment), but the app is very easy to use and my iPhone 6 shoots video quality that, in my eyes, definitely does the job.

Since using the app, I take time from my day to reflect on the best clip to use. Sometimes it’s a clip of a super-exciting win at a hockey game. Other times, it’s just my co-editor at my newspaper making coffee. Some videos are memories I never want to forget, like sharing a Green Monster frappe at Tasty Burger with my best friend or FaceTiming my little sisters, who are back home in Indiana. Other videos are just simple moments, like friends blowing out their birthday candles or footage of the puppy who visits my office on occasion. No matter the quality or importance of the video, I appreciate taking the time to make my day memorable. Not to mention, I’ll have a really cool six-minute video by the end of the year, which is a pretty big return on a very small time investment.

As a journalism student, I’m constantly looking for opportunities to tell the stories of others in the community. But by stitching the little moments of my life into a single, continuous chronological movie, I am creating a personal narrative of my BU experience, which is chock-full of memories I definitely never want to forget.