All posts by kepeirce

A Boston Spring

Spring is here! You can smell it in the air as flowers bloom and grills are finally uncovered. Boston’s springs are just as good as its falls in terms of atmosphere, things to do, and beauty. Like bears, we awake from our winter nap (or, more accurately, grumpy slump) to eat, play and relax in the sun.

Charles River

Some must-do’s are:

Boat around Boston

As the weather warms you begin to see more and more boats on the water alongside the straining college crews. The Charles River is a great place for casual boating adventures and, if you’re inclined, sailing lessons (we even offer some through BU). I like to pretend I’m a pirate.

See the seasonal blooms at the Isabella Stewart museum

This art museum has an amazing courtyard which, though beautiful in the summer and fall, is a sight to see in the spring. The courtyard features vibrant blue and white Hydeangea macrophylla along with other flowers with complicated names. A great place to sit and contemplate contemplating.

Cheer on the Red Sox

You don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy going to a game at Fenway. The fan culture is just as exciting as the game itself, sometimes more so. There is no better way to spend a spring afternoon than eating hotdogs, drinking beer, and cheering with friends. Everyone is going to be there anyways.

Take a trip on the commuter rail

As amazing as Boston is, sometimes you just have to get out of the city. The MBTA commuter rail can take you to some great towns both north and south of the city. Stroll around and shop in quaint towns like Gloucester or Newburyport. Head south to see the historic city of Plymouth. There are some nice beaches if you are looking for a quiet picnic and national parks and forests if you’re looking to stretch your legs.

Relax on patio bars

As the weather warms, restaurants begin opening up their patios back up for drinking and dining. Sitting in the sun and watching the city pass you by while you feast on various dishes is a great way to relax after a day of shopping. Favorites include: Charlie’s Kitchen, Noir, and Marliave.

Attend a festival

Spring is the beginning of festival season in Boston. From now until the end of fall you can pretty much attend one every weekend. We have everything from beer, wine and food festivals to film, art and science festivals. Right now we have Boston’s annual Independent Film Festival (where one of our professors is showing off her recent documentary).

These are just a few of the many things you can do during Boston’s spring. For more suggestions check out these lists:

So whether you’re visiting Boston, have recently found an apartment, or have already been here a semester or two take some time to experience everything it has to offer.

 

The Reason I Chose BU

My path to BU was a little different then my fellow bloggers. Firstly, BU was not my first choice. I had eyes for only one school – NYU. It was what drove me to apply to graduate school in the first place – I wanted to be a New York City gal.

However, a friend cautioned me not to put all my eggs in one basket and suggested two other top Communication schools I should try for. So I applied to NYU Steinhardt, Georgetown University, and Boston University and, low and behold, I got into all three. When decision time came around I hesitated. Shouldn’t I just check out these other schools before dismissing them off the bat? I mean I did take the time to apply and pay for the pleasure of it. So, when I got back from Spain I set off on a graduate pilgrimage.

My life changing decision

Overall, I loved them all, which made my decision even harder. I saw a metaphorical, yet all too real, crossroad ahead of me. Whatever school I choose would lead me down a specific path that would be hard to deviate from. Georgetown had a beautiful campus (think Harry Potter – I’m still waiting for my letter). The classes sounded extremely interesting and the professors were all big players in their respective fields. However, they were too politically oriented for my test as well as mainly theoretical.

NYU, my love, was, unfortunately, mainly theoretical as well. It was ridiculously (yes ridiculously) interesting and married closely to my undergraduate degree in anthropology (which is not the study of ants, people). However, it was just too academically focused. I knew if I went there I would be following a path that would inevitably lead to a faculty position at a university – which was the main reason I had decided not to continue my studies in anthropology. Also, though the people at the actual college were nice and helpful during open house, the admission people were a little off putting and I got the feeling that they didn’t really care if I attended or not.

BU, quite frankly, surprised me. One of the main reasons I never really considered BU was because of its close proximity to my hometown. I wanted to get out of Massachusetts, badly. I had been extremely pleased with BU’s admission process – I actually felt like they cared that I was interested in their school. However, I wasn’t really expecting their open house to affect my decision. I had, at that moment, decided to send in my deposit to NYU and was just going at the behest of my family. BU, however, seemed to know exactly what I needed.

Several keywords were emphasized throughout the event – practical experience, alumni network, support, bacon wrapped bread (truth). The professors were affable and the admission staff downright charming. During the breakout sessions the professors in my program, Communication Studies, were honest and encouraging. They made sure I knew what type of program I would be getting into – a practically oriented one. This was also the only open house that took 30 minutes to discuss, without prompt, how I could possibly afford the program.

After another week of hemming and hawing I sent in my deposit, to BU. For me, someone looking for a program that would help jump-start my career in Communication, this was the best and obvious choice. I have not regretted it since.

 

Relax and Lose Yourself

It’s over. The deadline has come and gone. You’re done. You have handed in everything they have asked for. Now you can finally sit back and relax. Or can you?

I remember how I felt the day I finally handed in all my application materials. There was a sigh of relief and a fleeting feeling of accomplishment immediately followed by nail biting anxiety… now I have to wait?! It was complete torture thinking about the 1-2 months I had to endure before hearing a decision that would affect the course of my life.

I had a terrible image of myself months later – twitchy, disheveled, one stenciled on eyebrow because I had nervously pulled it out, maybe carrying a plastic duck and making quacking noises under my breath as I stare fixedly at my mailbox. After considering if I could turn the one eyebrow thing into a new fashion trend, I realized dwelling on the committee’s future decision was unhealthy. I had done everything I could, given them everything they had asked for and put my best effort into the essays. I no longer had any influence over the process. So, rather than sit around waiting for the ax or congratulation balloons to fall, I decided to make myself busy.

I was fortunate enough to be in Spain at the time, so I bid tearful farewell to my ESL students, grabbed my backpack, and took off across the country.

Posing - see how much fun I'm having?! Wooo!

It was an amazing experience and, better yet, I hardly thought about graduate school at all. OK, that’s a lie, but at least I wasn’t obsessing over it (for which my eyebrows thank me). However, this might be a bit impractical for the rest of you so I have put together a brief list of suggestions.

  1. Grab an Internship – If you don’t already have one, now is the perfect time to get one. It will only help you by preparing you for your future academic adventure and introducing you to the field you are striving to enter.
  2. Start a Hobby – Get into rock collecting (a lot more exciting than it sounds) or finally start that band you have been talking about since high school. Studies are showing that interviewers are looking for more from candidates than work experience, they want to be able to connect with you. Therefore, if you have an interesting hobby/interest you will have a lot more to discuss, laugh, bond over.
  3. Write a Novel – “”How you uh, how you comin’ on that novel you’re working on? Huh? … Your big novel you’ve been working on for 3 years?” We’ve all wanted to at some point before talking ourselves out of it because no one will want to read about a lone gun slinging space captain who is unwillingly drawn into an intergalactic war and must fight her way to the truth all the while fighting with her need to stay independent…. Erm. Anyways, start one and, even if it doesn’t go anywhere, you’ll have a story to tell about the experience.
  4. Travel – Pack up your bags and hit the road, friend, you’re not meant for this small town crap *spits* (I need to stop watching TV). Plan some trips. They don’t have to be extravagant, just go somewhere you have never been. Who knows, it might turn into one hell of an adventure, or it might not.
  5. Volunteer – Go, improve your moral fiber. Give of yourself unto your community. This is good for several reasons: it distracts you, looks good on your resume, and you’ll be helping someone in need.

These were just a couple suggestions to get you thinking about how to fill up your time. If you have any suggestions or experiences you’d like to share feel free to leave them in the comments. I am all about vicarious living.

My Life: A Narrative

The long awaited and dreaded deadline is approaching. You’re excited, you’re nervous, you’re scared. You’re just a general hodgepodge of emotions. You might even say you’re in a glass cage of emotion.

You’re nearly done. You’ve taken the GREs; you had your transcripts mailed (all official like); you begged, cajoled, threatened your teachers/boss for a recommendation; you’ve even filled out the application and paid the admission fee. Now what? What am I forgetting? Oh right the writing requirements.

Most are fairly straight forward. What experience have you had in the communication field? What are some newspapers you like to read? Why is this program important? Check, check, and check. However, what the hell is this Life Narrative business? I remember asking myself that same question almost two years ago. After weeks spent cultivating my Statement of Purpose BU doesn’t even want it?!

“What is a Life Narrative? Are we talking a detailed account of the direction of my life?” I desperately typed to graduate services a week before the deadline. “It’s for the purpose of getting to know you. Use it as a chance to convey who you are and what your passions are,” they dutifully responded.

Sigh. I had really been looking for specifics; a road map of sorts, straight to the committee’s hearts. Alas, they were not going to lead me by the hand. So what did I do? I got real. I relaxed. I, wait for it, had fun with it. After the nail biting and constant rephrasing of my Statement of Purpose this was almost a relief.

For those of you looking for the road map I had so desperately wanted, I must dash your burgeoning hopes right now. Giving you a set of guidelines would actually be doing you a disservice. Why? Well as graduate services told me so long ago, this really is a way for the committee to get to know you and the experiences, passions, interests you can bring to the program. Think of it as being in lieu of an interview. This is your chance to truly stand out because, let’s face it, grades and writing samples never truly convey all a person has to offer. However, I will not leave you completely empty handed (after all there needs to be a point to this blog post). Here are a couple things to help you craft your winning narrative:

  • Be genuine. Don’t force anything. Just be you, not who the committee is expecting because, really, they aren’t expecting anyone. This program is composed of students from all walks of life- it keeps things interesting and you’d be amazed how much you learn from your peers alone. So Be yoU, because there is only one.
  • Don’t be afraid to brag. This was the hardest part for me, having been raised to be modest and accept that no matter how awesome I am, there is usually someone who is “awesomer.” However, you’re applying to a well-respected and highly competitive program that attracts highly intelligent and talented people. You need to show the committee that you are driven, confident and self-aware. Don’t be an ass, but don’t be afraid to say “hey, I helped build a self-sustaining village in Ghana and that’s pretty freaking awesome.” NOTE: I did not do this, but that would be freaking awesome if I did. I did get peed on by a koala once, but did I put it in my essay?
  • Be brave. If you have a unique approach to how you want to write this then do it or at least try it out. Get your creative on. The committee reads hundreds of Life Narratives so, if it works, it will only help you grab their attention. However, you also need to restrain yourself from going overboard. Remember, someone has to read this who probably has just spent the entire day reading other, over the top essays. You can be straight forward while still being creative.
  • Pick and choose the moments and characteristics you want to write about. We’ve all lived 20 years or more and have, therefore, amassed a decent amount of experiences. Just look at Bieber who managed to “write” an entire book on just 16 years. So, obviously, you have a lot to say, but you don’t have a lot of space to say it. So, pick and choose the moments and characteristics that stand out the most to you. Ask yourself what do you want the committee to know about you? What can you offer?

I hope this helps you as you begin writing your essays. Remember: have fun, be confident, and be creative. I mean, what do you have to lose?… oh right ;-) .

 

The BU Family

The relationships you develop in COM go well beyond networking. These are friendships you will most likely maintain for the rest of your life. Nor are they confined to your specific major. I have been lucky enough to develop strong friendships throughout COM’s graduate programs: film, TV, journalism. I even met the love of my life within these brick walls.

Family, that is what you get when you come to BU COM – one big, often dysfunctional, but altogether wonderful, family. Our bond is forged in sweat, blood, tears, and, yes, lots of alcohol. We support each other, laugh and cry together, we are, in a way, rediscovering ourselves together.

I have grown so much over the past three semesters, both professionally and personally. Some of it has been trying and, almost, debilitating – my personal life almost overwhelming my professional. I would not have made it through without the support of my BU family.

We are each other’s safety net, cheering squad, all of us wanting each other to succeed as much as we want ourselves to. I have never seen so much love and support in a program. I have never had so many people I could turn to for help (students, faculty and staff).

If I could only say one thing about COM it would be this. When you are accepted into your program of choice you are also accepted into our family. We are all here for a purpose, to better ourselves (in one way or another) and in this shared purpose are the foundations for some of the best friendships you will ever make.

This is what makes this post all the more difficult. We lost a member of our family today. Though only here a semester, he had become an integral member of the COM family. He was an amazing person, whose kindness and creativity will be greatly missed. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.