Stacy: Things to Know About Studying Abroad in Washington DC

“Abroad” usually means across the pond or even across the border… but I chose to stay in the U.S. and study abroad in D.C. for the fall of my senior year. This was 100 percent the right decision for me. And yes, there is more to D.C. than politics and the National Mall.

The first two things people will ask you are, “Where do you work?” and, “Who are you voting for in the election?” It takes some getting used to, but you are never not networking. You will hear the word networking more than you hear your own name. But it is so fun to be in the D.C. bubble. You are right where the magic happens (or doesn’t happen depending on how you view Congress) and you won’t find a better place to experience policymaking and politics up close.

The Metro is more efficient than Boston’s T system – without a doubt. But the escalators to and from the underground platform are about a 2-minute ride if you don’t walk. So naturally, half of the metro-goers walk. The best way to indicate if someone isn’t from D.C. is how he or she maneuvers the Metro escalators. The left side is for walking, and the right side is for standing. Don’t mess this up or you will get yelled at.

Another thing to know about the Metro is that it’s sometimes more expensive than Uber depending on how far you travel. So before going underground, check Uber Pool to see if it would be cheaper, and it sometimes is.  Now, if you plan on Ubering in D.C… it is a city divided into sections. So when you’re Ubering or using Google maps, never leave out the “NW” or “NE” at the end of the street address because you will end up somewhere across the city. I learned the hard way…

This is very important…. Happy Hour is a thing! Yes, alcohol is exciting, but there is FOOD during Happy Hour too. My favorite experience in Happy Hour so far is at The Hamilton because they have a sushi bar… where there is sushi Happy Hour every day from 3-7pm. Half priced sushi people. It’s a big deal.

It is impossible to be bored here. There are things happening at the national level every day. This is the hub of international and national organizations. There are think tanks everywhere, free museums across the city, networking events and screenings for documentaries and movies all the time. But D.C. also has elements of a normal city, such as theatres, sports, nightlife, parks, shopping, etc. You can’t be bored here.

I know I said there is more to D.C. than the politics, and this is true. But don’t worry; you’ll still get your Frank Underwood experience. In addition to the politics, there is a city with its own culture here too. From one street to another, the vibe of D.C. changes completely. If you love the combination in Boston of history and modern day – then you’ll feel at home here in D.C.

I know D.C. isn’t the European adventure that Lizzie had in the Lizzie McGuire movie, but you will gain so much in this program. You will learn more about our country than you thought you could, you will gain professional skills from BU workshops and networking events and you will experience an intense internship that will give you more skills than a classroom ever could. You can always have a European adventure later in life. BU D.C. is preparing me for post-grad life, and I feel more confident about entering the real world after going through this program.

Zach: How To Make Your CAS Focus Apply to Your Cool COM Major

So, I’m sure all you freshmen/potential are freaking out about what the CAS focus is? Well, in short, is a series of 3 classes in CAS in any subject. A lot of the time, people turn that into a minor, given that CAS minors are usually 5-6 classes. You really can do anything. It’s really freeing. As free as a COM major can be, being able to pick another subject to delve into a little bit is also cool. I have a love affair with Spanish, and I knew going in to college it would be my minor. However, I did not realize how much it would intertwine with my TV studies.

 

First, I took classes that interested me and related to my career. So far, I’ve taken a Spanish Through Performance and Theatre, and Spanish Film & Media. Both related, pretty obviously, to my major. In my Spanish theatre class, we would do improv (woohoo!) and write plays in Spanish. They didn’t have to be perfect, but they did help me improve my Spanish a lot. In that class, I got an introduction to Spanish Films. That class was so enjoyable that I then took Spanish Film. We took in depth works that ranged genre’s and also the body of work of Alejandro González Iñárritu. It broadened my understanding of the stories being told and introduced me to a genre I really love: magic realism.

 

This upcoming semester, I plan on taking the next step. I will be studying abroad in Madrid, and I hope to intern while I’m there. I would love to work on a telenovela or Spanish news broadcast. While I won’t be studying in a COM specific abroad program, I will be applying my Film & TV major abroad. I hope to completely invest myself into watching Spanish television to get an understanding of what people are watching outside the US, and what from the US they are watching.

 

This blog post tbh is just me geeking out because I love Spanish and I love TV, find a CAS focus that you love, and the connections with your major will follow.

Donald: Advice to My Freshman Self

In just a few weeks, I’ll be walking across Nickerson Field in a red cap and gown and leaving BU, a place that has become a new home for me for the past few years. Graduating college is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever experienced. It makes you feel super nostalgic and reflective.
Thus, leaving behind the COM Ambassador program, a program that has allowed me to meet many students who have walked through the doors of COM and attempt to give them advice (even though I’m still trying to figure out my own life), is another example of a very difficult goodbye I’ll have to give.
If I could do college over again, there are definitely a lot of things I wouldn’t do. I probably wouldn’t have gotten a dining plan with a lot of meal options (the GSU seriously has the best food on-campus), I would not have left my bass guitar at home freshman year, and I would have moved off-campus earlier. While this list could go on forever, I’ve decided to list the 6 major pieces of advice I’d give to my younger self in the hopes that they may possibly help an incoming freshman next year.
1. Get off-campus more!
I didn’t truly venture into the city of Boston until later in my sophomore year. I regret not going to more concerts and shows and art galleries in the city so much earlier. Boston is a fascinating city, which is constantly attracting different speakers and celebrities all the time. Explore! And no – going to the Boston Common (while fun) does not count as exploring the city. Venture to the Jamaica Pond and attend Porchfest, a summer concert series on the front porches of people’s houses. Venture out to Quincy and visit some cool shops. BU has an amazing campus, but you’re only in Boston for so long. Take advantage!
2. Don’t be afraid of upperclassmen
I spent a lot of time freshman year looking at upperclassmen, especially seniors, and wanting to befriend them but being afraid that I was too young or too much of a freshman to actually hang out with them. Little did I know, when I just asked to hang out, many upperclassmen said yes. As an upperclassman now who hangs out with freshmen, I’ve learned that class years really don’t matter. All of those fears you have about going up to someone “cool” shouldn’t be real! Upperclassmen have been in this city, and at this school, longer than you have. They can give great advice and show you the ropes while you’re still adjusting.
3. Leave room for electives outside of your major
If you only take required classes, you’ll miss out on the array of amazing and interesting courses offered all over the university. Maybe you’re a PR major who takes photojournalism just to learn how to take better photos at family parties. Or maybe you take a course in the College of Fine Arts just because you were never able to. Try to budget room in your schedule to have fun and take classes you’ll enjoy – even if they don’t satisfy a requirement. I took a course called Urban Sociology my sophomore year. Even though it did not count for a requirement, it is still one of my favorite courses I’ve taken at BU and has reshaped many views I’ve had about urbanization, how cities function, and my role as a citizen in a city.
4. Changing your major is OK
This is something that can NEVER be said enough. I think what makes students more anxious than actually satisfying requirements after changing majors is telling people (or coming to term yourself) that you’ve changed your mind. But that is OK! While the logistics of changing may be more or less difficult depending on when you decide to do so and what you decide to change to, follow your passions. Major in whatever program makes you the most excited and has the most interesting classes. And even if that major isn’t in COM (which I surely hope it is), that’s ok too! What matters is that you’re happy and excited about classes you take.
5. You learn a lot more from talking to people than any class you’ll ever take
While my last two points talked a lot about classes, I just wanted to remind you all that there is so much you gain from BU outside of the classroom. I changed my major to journalism after getting involved with WTBU and meeting amazing mentors who talked to me about the program. After meeting leaders in non-profits at the Community Service Center, I’ve decided to pursue a career in service work and education, rather than journalism. I’ve learned more about systems of injustice from interviewing people around Boston than I have in sociology courses. While classes are important and have given me a huge intellectual and academic understanding of the world, meeting actual people – whether BU students or members of the Boston community – will stay with you much longer than any classroom lesson. The world is filled with amazing people and make the extra effort to go out and say hi before you graduate.
And lastly, have fun! College will fly by before you know it.

Donald: Best New Music of 2016 (So Far)

Although we’re only three months into 2016, some amazing albums have already been released by my favorite bands. Since we’re quickly approaching project and exam period, I figured I’d share some of my favorite album releases so far so you can find some new jams to study to. From punk to electronic, there’s bound to be an album on this list that you’ll love (and probably sing along to in the shower if you’re like me).

  • Porches – “Pool”
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhG83uHDMkI
    • Although Porches’ old music verges along the indie/punk genres, their latest album takes a strong electronic turn. With catchy drum beats, heart-wrenching lyrics, and even some exploration into autotune, this album is great to play in your room and dance along to.
  • The Frights – “You Are Going to Hate This”
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0e_mhn4VN7U
    • Despite the title of the album, I’m sure you’ll love this new record by The Frights (who’s drummer is COM Alumni Marc Finn)! The west coasters provide some great angsty surf punk tunes, which are great to study to if you’re in a time crunch and need a push to work a little faster.
  • Bent Shapes – “Wolves of Want”
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AshIe3g4GHI
    • Boston natives Bent Shapes have just released their first new album in three years, and I can guarantee that the wait was definitely worth it. The indie rock band frequently plays shows in Boston, so if you haven’t had a chance to see them yet, definitely check out their upcoming tour dates.
  • Frankie Cosmos – “Next Thing”
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQnOjZ5SKAg
    • Frankie Cosmos is one of my favorite twee bands in existence. Her lastest album, full of 1 or 2 minute songs, is impossible to turn off once it’s on. The heartfelt and powerful lyrics, the beautiful voice of lead singer Greta Kline, and the cute and innocent sound of the album makes it fun to listen to over and over again.
  • Jawbreaker Reunion – “Haha and Then What ;)”
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1U4Uw3lKY7U
    • If you’re going through a break-up, or are just generally have one person in mind that you’re really pissed at, the newest Jawbreaker Reunion album is perfect for you. The all-female band delivers empowering music that can make even a broken heart sound fun.

Joe: Why you SHOULDN’T study abroad

Imagine leaving everything you know behind to live in a foreign place for four months? Well, hold on to your hats, kids, because this guy did just that and moved to this tiny little place called London. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t. But I’m here to tell you why you shouldn’t abandon everything you know for an experience abroad. You will hate every second of it and have so much regret, continuously counting down the days until you’re back home living with your parents.

Trust me.

First of all, London is D I S G U S T I N G. There are so many scenic landmarks to photograph that you’ll be too overwhelmed. And sometimes the sun comes out and it’s warm and it’ll make you go “WHYYYYYYY????”

Secondly, there is nothing to do here. It’s unbearable. There’s only so many times you can go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, Borough Market, Camden Market, Portobello Market, Shoreditch, SoHo, Chelsea, Oxford Circus, ride the London Eye, see Big Ben, explore the South Bank, go to Brighton Beach, etc. before you get tired of it all. The lack of things to do here makes London incredibly boring.

London is so segregated from the rest of Europe that it’s almost impossible to travel beyond the UK. A 3-hour train ride just to get to Paris…seriously!?! Truthfully, I’ll settle for nothing longer than 2 hours and 59 minutes.

(P.S. The pizza in Florence is literally so gross that you’ll contemplate how lucky you are to never have to see it again)

Everyone here speaks English and it’s sooooooo inconvenient. To be able to understand what everyone is saying all the time is not exactly what I had in mind when fantasizing about my time abroad. And the people are a little too friendly. It’s like they’re overcompensating for that time we dumped their tea in a certain harbor. Or their overzealous imperialism.

And lastly, it sucks because I’m further than I’d like to be from the greatest man on the planet and my real life role model, as pictured below.

So, in conclusion, it’s probably best that you just don’t come here. I’ll stay and carry this burden for the both of us.

 

Emma: New Semester, Newfound Love for My Planner

Hi everyone! My name is Emma, and I am so excited to be one of the new COM Ambassadors. The whole process of becoming a CA has helped me fall even more in love with COM, but today I want to give a shout-out to my other true love: my planner.

Before, you scroll down or look up a video of goats in pajamas (the Internet is a wonderful thing), just hear me out. With the first two weeks of class under your belt, the spring semester is officially in full swing, and if you’re anything like me, it’s going to be a busy one. But in no way does busy have to mean bad! And one of the best ways to ensure that, is by getting organized.

This is where your planner comes in! Before you contemplate destroying your syllabi and taking a series of denial naps, grab a pen and try to map out your schedule.

With your planner, you can keep track of class times, assignment due dates, club meetings, professors’ office hours, and cool COM events in one, accessible place. Sure, a ten-page paper may seem overwhelming at first, but when you have all of the components of your schedule written down, it’s easy to see where you have time to work on it, even if it’s just 20 minutes a day. Then, you can space out the workload and see when you can drop in and ask the professor for help, if need be.

Also, writing things down really holds you accountable. Assignments and obligations are always there as soon as you open your planner, and only you can make them go away by finishing/acing them. It is so satisfying to finally get to cross off a major final project or presentation from your planner. More importantly, when you look back in your planner on a nearly impossible week, it just acts as another reminder that you are a rock star and can do anything.

And, sure, if you are more tech savvy than I am, you can do all of this on your phone and/or laptop. But then if you do that, you don’t get to pick out a planner with a super awesome cover design, which, I argue, is possibly the best part. Frankly, you will be missing out.

It is a brand new semester full of opportunity and great achievements to be made. Just don’t forget to try to stay organized, break down assignments little by little, and seriously make time for that video of the goats in pajamas. That one is a no-brainer.

All I can hope is, that by the end of the semester, you and your planner will have started a love affair of your own.

 

 

Joe: Where Has The Semester Gone

The fall semester is almost over which is insane. For me, the arrival of Halloween basically solidifies the fact that so much time has passed since classes began and that winter break will be here before you know it.

I partially blame the New England weather and the abrupt changes in seasons. One day it’s 75 degrees and sunny and the next its windy and cold and you’re just trying to not fly away on your walk to class (even though you want to fly away because you consistently have homework and test and projects).

The rush of the semester always makes me feel bad because I always set a list of things I want to do and then never accomplish them. Especially when it’s the fall and around Halloween and you’re trying to be festive but just can’t seem to fight the inertia of your room/bed.

Anyway, to make yourself feel better and revel in your accomplishments, here is a makeshift list of all of the things I planned on doing this semester and have yet to do.

 

1)   Watch “Hocus Pocus”

2)   See Jimmy Fallon receive some comedy award from the Harvard Lampoon

I don’t want to talk about this one because it makes me sad.

3)   Eat at Charlie’s Kitchen

Buzzfeed recently brought this place to my attention even though I live less than 3 miles away from it. I’m such a quirky millennial.

4)   Eat more ice cream

It’s getting cold, which means that eating ice cream is only socially acceptable for so long. As much as I try not to conform to societal standards, there’s nothing worse than eating ice cream while it snows and getting shifty eyes from strangers on the street.

5)   Cook chicken parm in my apartment and pretend to be a real adult for one night

As you can tell, I’m S T A R V I N G while writing this and all I can think about is food.

6)   Go apple picking and get lost in a corn maze

Apple picking does not seem like a fun activity to me but it’s a staple of fall and I’m trying my best to make my life into a romantic comedy. Also, what kind of blog post would this be from me without a Taylor Swift GIF?

7)   Go to Kane’s Donuts

I’m still hungry, if you couldn’t tell. I’ve tried to go eat these ~world famous~ donuts three times now and every time they have been closed. I think it’s a sign from the heavens.

Anyway, long live and prosper. Keep it real. Don’t be like me and actually go outside and live your life and do fun things. I, on the other hand, will continue to be stressed out consistently and never getting anything done. What’s falling faster, the leaves on the trees or my GPA? (just remember that grades do not guarantee you a job so…)

Kerri: My Five Regrets

In a few days I will be done with my undergraduate career. No more classes, no more daytime naps, no more weekday Netflix binges. Even though I am very excited to graduate and enter the working world, there are a few things that I wish I did during my time at BU. So, learn from my regrets young ones!

 

  1. Not doing FYSOP.

All of my friends did FYSOP and got involved as staff leaders as upperclassmen. I have only heard great things about the program and SO many of my friends met their closest friends during that time. Also, I hear it’s an absolute blast.

 

  1. Not attending any student theatre productions.

Take a Friday or Saturday night to appreciate the talent here at BU. I wish I went to a production during my time here.

 

  1. Not utilizing the resources at the career services until my senior year.

Although I am one of the lucky seniors who have a job locked down for after graduation, I wish I had started my career journey earlier. The COM Career Services is awesome for internships, cover letters, resumes, and connecting with alumni!

 

  1. Not exploring Boston while it was still warm out.

Especially after a winter like this year, you really will appreciate the warmer months in Boston. I never took the time to go out and really enjoy the city while it was above 60 degrees! Take a blanket and a book and read along the Charles River. Or take a walk along the Freedom Trail. There is SO much you can do outside in this city!

 

  1. Not taking advantage of student discounts!

What else can I say… we are all broke college students! TAKE ADVANTAGE- by your senior yea, you’ll be searching  for any and all discounts.

Eliza: Warmer Weather, Colder Snacks

With the weather growing warmer places like the COM Lawn and the BU Beach start to become crowded as we all crawl out of our hibernations from this terrific and terrible winter. For me, warmer weather means the transition to iced coffee and more importantly, iced cream. As an East Campus resident, one of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday is wandering down the uneven sidewalks of Newbury Street. While it may be known for its clothing boutiques, the coffee and ice cream scene at Newbury leaves nothing to be desired.

A short walk down the street, one can find the relatively new Barrington Coffee Roasting Company. They opened in December, and I am disappointed to say I just discovered their little coffee haven. With huge windows and tables outside (both with great wifi), it’s a wonderful place to spend an afternoon working on these final assignments. Their iced coffee is absolutely killer. They offer a super cool variety of coffees, including their “Steampunk” varieties, which they will gladly explain to you as they did to me. The Thinking Cup is a longer walk, but if you’re looking for sweets to accompany your coffee they have incredible macaroons that are totally worth the trip. They make their iced coffee with cold brew, and it goes great with whatever sweet you choose for the afternoon.

Continuing down Newbury, one can find Boston staple Emack & Bolio’s Ice Cream. Known for their fun flavors (which are all also incredibly instagram-able), it’s a great way to spend an afternoon, or to take a break from studying for exams. Personal favorites include Espresso and Chocolate Addiction, but there’s a fun flavor for everyone. For those who are looking for something a little fancier, Amorino Gelato has high-class flavors, many with names I would never even try to pronounce – like Cioccolato Ecuador Pure Origine. It’s a bit more of a splurge, but during the study period and finals week it might be worth it!

Separate than just study locations and study break options, Newbury is just generally a great place to spend these warm days. And with the semester winding down, these little excursions are a great way to spend some time with those people you might not get to see for the whole summer.

Zach: Making Extracurriculars, Not Extra Stress!

There is something that separates COM students from students at other schools, they are involved, and they are busy. While the former is a fantastic thing and is what makes BU so freaking special, it results in the second thing. It’s hard. You’ll go to SPLASH at the beginning of first semester and get wildly overwhelmed about all the amazing things you could be doing on campus (at least I did, but I also get overwhelmed about everything). At SPLASH, I signed up for everything and I still get emails from all of them. Like seriously, I need to unsubscribe to the Inner Faith Gospel Choir’s newsletter and I have no idea how. But anyway, I did end up joining a lot of those activities, and now as an almost sophomore (WHAT OMG PLEASE STOP!?!?), I think I’ve figured out a few things to help you manage your extracurricular schedule. 

Pick one or two groups that are most important to you, and arrange your schedule around them.

I have done this with Liquid Fun and BU on Broadway, making my nightly rehearsals my conflict for other things. So sometimes I can’t make it to a meeting for another group, but people usually understand because these are groups where you are working towards a product, instead of just meeting to discuss updates on what’s going on in the group. It’s important to not make every group the most important thing to your schedule. It’s great to pick a few things to put above others, but you need time to breathe.

Put it all in a planner! 

I rely on my iCal religiously to make sure I am places on time (even though I’m still never on time… whoops), and I set alerts before hand. I have different color coded calendars to make sure all things work out. It de-stresses me to look at my calendar and know things have been sorted out a bit. Pro-tip: download the app “Fantastical” it makes entering events waaaaay easier.

It’s okay not to do everything.

I had to quit a bunch of things that I had intended on doing at first, but once you get in he swing of things you realize how incredibly often things can and will conflict and you have to figure out what is going to be important. At the end of the day extracurriculars are here to make you happy and to enrich your experience at BU, and while we are fortunate enough to have such a vast extracurricular community, you don’t have to do all of it to get the full experience.