Will A: Taking Advantage of the New Normal

Coming back to CoMm Ave? here’s how to make the most of It.

Boston University campus

Despite the onset of a new delta variant (among other variants) of COVID-19, vaccines have made huge strides in protecting against the disease and providing a way toward a future without COVID-19. 

This time last year, I was writing about ways to take time for yourself during quarantine in our first full-length, pandemic-era semester. After one year, the start of this semester feels different. From those who I’ve spoken with as the semester starts, a new energy is buzzing through the student body, as in-person classes, clubs and activities are making their grandiose return to our lives. However, the thing I’m most excited about is having the city of Boston back at our fingertips. Before the pandemic, I used every opportunity I could to travel all over Boston and explore the city that I’ve grown to love over my lifetime. As a Massachusetts native, it was a dream to live in Boston, so when the coronavirus hit and wandering the city was no longer possible, I felt like I missed out. Even prior to the pandemic, the “BU bubble” we often found ourselves in as we grinded through the semester, pandemic or not, can feel somewhat trapping. 

That being said, I hope to make up for that lost Boston time this year, and this is my encouragement for all of you to do the same! The T runs right through campus with both the Green Line train and buses, and the commuter rail feathers out to much of Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island. Put something on your weekly calendar to experience something new each week. It’ll take a little bit of effort to schedule things and get to where you want to go, and I’m certain doing in-person activities will be a bit weird at first. However, it’s absolutely worth it, and science agrees. Research shows that varying your routine and taking time to experience new things can improve your mood and your happiness. 

Explore with friends, visit a new neighborhood, eat at a restaurant (maybe venture to one you’ve only ever known through Grubhub) and, most importantly, have some fun! You always hear adults say that their college days were some of the most fun in their lifetime. Although the pandemic took away much of that time, this year is your way to get some of it back. 🙂

 

Will A: Podcast Tips

Tips for Starting Your Own Quarantine Podcast

By: Will Andronico Jr.

Like everyone else in quarantine, I began recording podcasts in my room to pass the time. Specifically (shameless plug!) we created WTBU News Today, a podcast that comes out every day covering news headlines in under eight minutes! We give short recaps on stories for you to start your day with.

We began this podcast last summer as a project for WTBU News, and it turned out to be super useful in staying up to date with all the goings on in the world. However, on top of that, I learned how to record myself well by using tools at my disposal when I’m not in the WTBU Radio studios in COM.

That being said, everyone in COM (or at BU, frankly) can become that guy who started a podcast during the quarantine! So, for those of you who have that spark but don’t know how to start, here are my top five tips for recording a podcast at home.

Use your phone or laptop to record yourself

Not everyone can find or afford a microphone with the highest quality sound out there. I know I didn’t, and I still often use what I have on me: my phone! That pocket microphone records some pretty decent audio for the home-podcaster.

If you’re recording with a group of friends or guests on Zoom, still do this! The audio quality is generally better if everyone records themselves separately on their phones. It’s a little extra work to sync the audio up later in the editing process, but your listeners (a.k.a., your mom) will thank you!

Find a small, quiet space that isn’t your bathroom

Unfortunately, your bathroom is much too echo-y to record in. I recommend the closet as your best bet, as the clothes will catch much of your stray sounds! If you don’t have a space like a closet or small room, a blanket over your head also works!

Get comfortable when you record

If you’re not comfortable when recording, you won’t sound very enthusiastic on the listener’s end. I recommend standing (or sitting up) so you can breathe properly. Sound the best you can be without sounding out of breath!

Get close to the microphone on your phone, but not too close!

Test your phone microphone’s capabilities beforehand. Find the spot where you aren’t so far away that you’re too quiet, and get progressively closer to the microphone until you start to peak (a.k.a., your recording gets distorted). Move about a foot back from there, and you should be set!

Adobe Audition is your friend!

As COM students, you have access to all of Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite – use it! Adobe Audition is a fantastic digital audio workstation that’s easy to use, and plenty of tutorials are available on Adobe’s site, YouTube and Reddit.

Alright, now go start the podcast of your dreams, and @ me in the promo tweet (@andronicowill).

Will: Me Time in Quarantine

cooking

We all gained an unlikely friend over the past seven months: quarantine. That nasty, no-good friend that we are obligated to hang out with for the foreseeable future. As someone whose calendar used to look like a failed game of tetris, having nothing to do for large swaths of time became oddly draining.

Under normal circumstances, I would talk to so people every day that I barely had time to think for myself. When quarantine hit, I had to rework how I went about each day, and I still struggle with that. Thus, I continue to actively work toward seeing the bright side of being inside my own head all day, every day. 

That being said, over the summer, I came to recognize that having free time for yourself amidst the chaos is gravely important. For many college students, including myself, having that “GO GO GO!” attitude all the time can become exhausting even if you don’t realize it. We all need time to decompress. 

It took me a while to figure out what that might look like on a day-to-day basis, but, eventually, it began staring me right in the face: cuisine. Food and drink. The culinary arts.

I chef it up several times each week, if not several times a day. Cooking is my time to relax and escape from everything for an hour or two. I enjoy all sorts of kitchen activities, whether it’s using a new method to brew coffee, dishing out some mise-en-place for an omelette with toast, throwing together a quick stir fry, or developing a dish for dinner that becomes more elaborate as the day goes on.

Cooking is a way for me to not only carve time out for myself, but it forces me to pay attention to the time and eat three square meals every day. 

In quarantine, every day seems the same as time blurs together. However, I cannot stress enough the importance of stepping back from your work a few times a day, regardless of what your method of relaxation is.

You’ll feel much better for it — trust me 🙂

Will: The Fruits of Labor – Pre-Packing Your Meals

Through the entirety of freshman year, I missed one thing the most. Was it love (Baby don’t hurt meeeee)? Was it the kindred friendship of my pals at home? Was it my sheer pride in the Central Massachusetts identity as Apple Country?

The answer is: no. It was my kitchen. Yes, I can hear you saying, “But Will, the dining hall is ~sOoOoOoOo~ convenient! How do you miss your… kitchen?”

Well, folks, here’s the thing: I’m a foodie. If you’re a foodie like me, the monotonous daily routine of eating the same jerk chicken with tofu, rice, and salad made me go a tad crazy. Yes, the dining hall is convenient. Yes, it’s a great way for me to not spend egregious amounts of money ordering out. However, I still missed being able to experiment, cook, and eat something which both filled me up and made me happy.

Thus, I decided to move into an off-campus apartment. I am currently a sophomore, and that which I loved most was making a truly triumphant return: the kitchen.

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(^Not my kitchen, but one can dream!)

However, after just a week, it became clear that the dining halls were a GENIUS idea! Although I love to cook, cooking takes what students like myself have slim to none of. What is that exactly? That’s right: time.

I went back to the drawing board; I needed a new solution. I was not going to spend money on dining hall meals because I do not have a meal plan, but I also did not want to starve throughout the day until I returned to the apartment. This is both unhealthy and, surprisingly, a very un-fun experience.

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(^A relatable tweet)

Then, I had a flashback: high school. As a human being with a grandiose stomach size, I needed something more than the chicken patty with a government-mandated, mouse-sized salad served at my local public high school. So, I began bringing in my own food to supplement it.

Huh? My brain began to toil as it calculated, re-routed, and combined past experiences with present-day problems.

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Then… An epiphany! A feat of brilliance which I will never return to!

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 The homemade lunch!

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 After this realization, I began making my lunches the night before and grabbing it in the morning before I headed out, and I continue to do it to this day! Not only is this doable in a dorm setting (at least if you’re a sandwich person like myself), but it’s ergonomic, economically efficient, and exquisite to taste. On top of that, I COULD MAKE IT MYSELF and NOT be a Hungry Hungry Hippo­­­TM all day!

Therefore, in conclusion, I cannot recommend enough that you make yourself a lunch at the end of your day. Set yourself up for a successful eating strategy the next day! It’s okay, you can thank me later.

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