Summer in Boston

This is my first summer as a Bostonian, and the final season in my first year here in town. I moved here last fall, I braved the winter and its blizzards, and I sneezed my way through the spring with the help of lots of Claritin. But now it’s summertime, and Boston is a very different place this time of year.

A big part of the difference is that Boston is chock-full of students for 9 months of the year. With over 30 colleges, there are 150,000 students living in the city.  This is what makes living here so much fun during the school year. With so many people of similar age, there is something fun going on 7 nights a week.  But when school lets out at the end of May, the mass exodus turns Beantown into a much quieter city…which is great!! Without actually going anywhere, I feel like I am getting a summer vacation right here at home. There are no lines to get into bars, I never have to wait for a table at restaurants, and the train is so empty I feel like I paid for a first class ticket. What is really great about the smaller crowds, is now that classes are out I actually have time to enjoy all the fun sites the city has to offer. We have been to Charlestown to see Bunker Hill. We have gone to Fenway to see the Red Sox. We went to Maine for a weekend where we saw a moose.  There is so much to see and do in the city and the surrounding area that it’s great to have the summer to explore.

There is work to be done, however. That’s what we are here for after all.

Plenty of BU COM Grad students stay here in the summer for internships. My buddy/classmate Greg works for the Red Sox television broadcast. My friend, and PR student, Emily is interning with a local PR firm. My friend, and Journalism student, Loren is working for a travel blog as their social media guru. I was lucky enough to convince the general manager of the campus radio station, WTBU, to let me do a daily sports radio show for the summer. Two of my fellow broadcast journalism classmates and I do a show Monday-Friday from 3-5 PM. The experience has been invaluable, as I don’t know many students who are getting the opportunity to do a live radio show every day. Between the hours of practice, the interviews we are doing, and the technical skills we are learning, we are getting a crash course in how to do live radio.

I have really enjoyed my first year in Boston, and each season has shown me something that I’ve never seen before. Fall was filled with new experiences, since I was just moving here and starting classes. Winter taught me what it really means to be cold, and that college hockey is amazing. In the spring the Red Sox got off to a hot start and showed me what it’s like to live in a great baseball city. And now it’s summer, and while the heat is giving me a true appreciation for air conditioning, Boston is proving to be a great place to live year round.

 

Finding Your New Home: Boston Housing

As an incoming graduate student at Boston University, one of the major steps that you will take will be finding a place to live. There are a number of options in terms of neighborhood, housing type, cost, roommates, etc. that will play a factor in your decision, but the best thing you can do is to start thinking about housing and working on finding a place as soon as you can.

As a student who just finished up my first year at BU, I will share with you a handful of things that I wish I had known when I was moving here.

Neighborhoods

Brownstone Apartments
BU South Campus

South Campus- is exactly what it sounds like, a portion of the BU campus, located just south of the College of Communication. The housing units are made up of BU owned brownstone apartments (studios and 1 bedroom units) that are about a 5 minute walk from school. The proximity to campus, and the fact that BU owns and operates the buildings are huge pluses. The only down side is that the cost is slightly higher than you will find in other neighborhoods.

Brookline- a very nice neighborhood south of campus. There are bars, restaurants, parks, good access to the C-Line of the Green Train, which runs right near campus, and it’s the birthplace of Conan O’Brien. The area is made up of some students, but mostly young adults and families, and has less of a college feel than other areas close to BU. Brookline is truly a great option for BU graduate students, but is also more expensive than other neighborhoods. If you are interested in Brookline I would suggest seeking a roommate to help split the cost.

Brighton- a couple miles west of campus, and is easily accessible via the B-Line of the Green Train. This area is mostly students, although there are some young

South Street

Quiet Brighton Street

professionals and families as well. Brighton is about halfway between BU and Boston College, so it is a good mix of students from both schools. The prices in Brighton are less than those in Brookline, and there are plenty of grocery stores and restaurants to amuse. Full disclosure, I live in Brighton and I really like it. The only downside is that it’s slightly further from campus than other neighborhoods where students live. My commute is about 25-30 minutes on the train each morning. If you don’t mind taking a little longer to get to school each day, then Brighton is a very nice option.

Allston- the area just west of campus. It is very convenient in terms of location to the school and there are many restaurant and shopping options. Prices are also pretty reasonable. Depending on what you are looking for in terms of your neighborhood Allston might be right for you. We do find however, that some graduate students don’t prefer Allston due to the high volume of undergraduate students and bars. I don’t want to discourage anyone from checking out Allston, or even living there, but for me as a graduate student it didn’t seem like a good fit. I wanted an area that is slightly quieter, which is why I picked Brighton.

Harvard Square

City of Cambridge

Cambridge/Somerville- These two area offer reasonable prices and lots of restaurants and shopping. The downside is that they are pretty far away from BU. You would have to plan for a much longer commute if you decided to live here, but it might be worth it in terms of apartment value.

Now how about roommates

As far as finding roommates there are a number of options. We offer a roommate sign up list in the College of Communication which can be found here.

Some students have found roommates through mutual friends, and others have used craigslist. But we suggest adding your name to the sign up list if you are interested in living with another person.

The process of searching

Once you decide which neighborhood you like, and if you want to live with a roommate, it is time to actually find a place. There are a handful of different ways to go about this. One way is to simply take to craigslist and try to find listings yourself. We have a number of students who have had success finding housing this way, but it can be tough due to the fact that most apartment complexes are run by management groups. What I did to find my apartment was contact a realty company. I used SCS Realty in Brookline, but I am sure other companies are similarly good. These companies work with the management groups to help find renters. The realty company will schedule a handful of apartment viewings for you in your chosen neighborhood and in your specified price range. While they do charge a fee for their services, using a realty company is an effective way to find a place.

We also offer help finding housing through the office of rental property management, which you can find here.

Also, if you can’t make the trip to Boston to search for housing and you are going through this process from another part of the country, we are happy to help. Sometimes realty companies won’t allow you to sign the lease without seeing the unit, and we are happy to go see it for you. We can text pictures and videos of the place to you, as well as offer our opinion of the value.

Hopefully this was helpful. There are a lot of great places to live near BU, now that you are armed with all of this info that I wish I had last year, you should have no problem finding a nice place to live.

 

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.

 

Choosing classes at BU!

 

Is it here yet?

So you’re newly accepted and anxiously waiting for September to start your adventure as a BU COM grad right? I thought so. You just want to skip right over summer and be here already. We know the feeling.

You may be wondering what classes you need to take and how to go about figuring that out. Well, step one -go to our website and click on your program. Then click under degree requirements. This is usually a great place to start. It tells you all your required classes and then some. I recommend getting all of your required classes out of the way first, especially if you’re like me and planning on going to London for your third semester!

Step two – speak to your department head. He/she will be very helpful in telling you exactly what classes you need. For example, for PR, CM 700 is only offered in the Fall. I emailed the head of the department, Professor Wright, and he essentially told me exactly which classes to take my first two semesters in order to ensure I’ll be on track for London. Because I’m in Public Relations, let me give you a preview of what your first and second semesters will look like to get the requirements out of the way.

Fall

  • CM700 – Financial and Strategic Management
  • CM 701 – Contemporary Public Relations
  • CM 722 – Communication Research
  • CM 707 (or) 705 – Writing for Media Professionals/International Students

Spring

  • CM 710 – Communication Theory
  • CM 742 – Media Relations
  • CM 709 or 715 – Corporate or Nonprofit
  • Elective

But that’s just an example for those in Public Relations. And if that’s your track, don’t take my word for it (I’m probably/and usually right), but I would definitely double check.

Step three: You’ll have an adviser assigned to you – usually a professor. He or she could be a big help also! And finally, step four: comgrad@bu.edu is always a huge help. After all, that’s what we’re here for.

Hooray, It’s LA!

Hollywood Bound

Here in the MFA section of Film and Television at Boston University, we get really hyped up about something most people our age find absolutely detestable as a conversational centerpiece–the future.  A case could be made that we’re all just too engrossed in our own work, but the solution may be more ridiculous: it’s our school. The Film and Television department offers a pretty sweet opportunity at the end of our program, one in which we can defer our graduation after taking an additional semester of focused classes and internships in Los Angeles.

This is a pretty big deal, as jobs in Hollywood are notoriously difficult to find.  When people say you need a friend in the industry, they’re not joking.  This program, though, helps us get a foot in the door.

Here’s how it works.  During your final semester, you send off an essay that details exactly what you want out of your future career and a portfolio of what you’ve done so far.  If you’re accepted, a representative from the BU in LA program, or in my case, the Writer in LA program, will come and interview you and help you find an internship or three.

It seems to me that the question isn’t so much why you’d want to do this, but instead–why wouldn’t you?

I’m a career-minded person.  I have a lot of trouble staying in the present with both of my personal and professional lives, and I’m always thinking more about the sale and production of my scripts than the actual writing of them.  As soon as I’m finished getting down the premise, I’m already thinking about shots, actors, and audience reception.  Now, this isn’t exactly a terrible thing, but it’s also not what I’m here to talk about.

This problem leads me to a few solutions.  I’m really interested in developing stories and structures for television.  I like thinking about how characters develop and change over time–after all, change is the essence of storytelling–so I’d love to get into a show-runner position.

Back up–how does this affect what I’m doing now?  My goals, for now, is to get an internship working in a writer’s room.  My philosophy is that the best work starts from the bottom, and being able to work my way up to the top, learning all the way, will make me more well-rounded in the end.   Being in graduate school has taught me a few things, and if you’ve ever spoken to me or read my other posts on this blog, you’ve certainly been beaten over the head by this before.

First, graduate school isn’t the end of your education, but the beginning of your career.  Second, it’s dangerous to have the attitude that the learning stops once you leave the school.  But that’s the really brilliant thing about this program.  Being able to get your start in a place like Boston is really essential, as you don’t have to fight ten thousand other filmmakers scraping for jobs, locations, and actors.  The opportunity to transition over to the land of the big dogs once you’ve had a chance to learn and expand in a free-form environment sets you a cut above everyone else that’s tried (and often, failed) to run out to LA with a suitcase and a dream.

The Writer in LA program, for me, just makes sense.   Hollywood is where the action happens–from writing to production.  It’s the place to be if you’re serious about filmmaking, and the opportunity to have someone hold your hand while you try to figure it all out is too good to pass up.

See you in Los Angeles.

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.

 

Making The Final Decision

A difficult choice

Choosing a graduate school is, unsurprisingly, very different from selecting your undergraduate institution. For one thing, your priorities are different. You’re much older, and with advanced age comes new, specific goals that you have honed over the course of your previous four (five…six?) years. Therefore, it is important to make sure that when deciding what graduate program to attend you don’t think of it as the same type of rah-rah rose-colored selection process as before. Think of graduate school as one final step into your transition to the working world, whether you are entering for the first time or looking for a career change. Five things to think about:

Cost: Like undergraduate work, graduate school often comes with significant cost. Let’s not fail to acknowledge the obvious. Tuition and student fees (and living expenses) are the elephants in the room when determining the right place to continue your education, and they shouldn’t be ignored. Loans are great — there’s a stigma to taking advantage of them, but they do help people who otherwise may not be able to afford a great education — but you only want to take out so much. Remember, you’ll need to pay back what you take out eventually. Don’t be afraid of loans. Most students here at B.U. take advantage of these, and we have a great staff to help you figure out all of the scary vocabulary, confusing percentages and indecipherable fine print. On the other hand, you want to take advantages of scholarships and grants, just like you did at your previous school. If a school is offering you a hefty scholarship, this will most likely be (and should be) a significant factor for consideration. Make sure to make the best decision for you, but be equally sure that you can afford it, either now or down the road when you start making repayments.

Location: The real estate matters. Remember, graduate school is about honing (there’s that word again) a refined skill that you are hoping to turn into a lucrative career. Part of that process is making sure you receive a first-class education, which B.U. and other schools provide. The other part of that is networking, which is one of the major keys to success. You aren’t just choosing a school for the information you are going to get in the classroom. The professors and career contacts and fellow students you will meet along the way are a big part of the graduate experience. To best take advantage of this, make sure that you are comfortable with where you are geographically. Boston is obviously a leading city for creative, innovative, entrepreneurial minds. Aside from the city’s undeniable intellectual clout, Boston offers a wide array of academic, social and cultural resources, including museums, PR firms, corporate headquarters, leading journalistic enterprises, history, entertainment, sports and much more. It’s hard to not like Boston once you’ve been here, but whatever your decision, make sure that you can make yourself feel enough at home to take advantage of your environment.

Who’s in charge here: Look up your future professors. Find out what their interests are. Here at B.U., we have some of the most welcoming staff members, from administrators on down, that you will find anywhere. Trust me. These people are ready to help you. They want to help you. If you find a professor with similar interests as you, ask what you can gain from their program. Make sure to do your research: find out who teaches the classes, what they’ve done, who they know. Ask them questions about their work, about their classes and the school. You can find out so much information this way, and all it takes is a quick email or a short phone call. Not only will you get a better sense of what a graduate program is like, but you will give that graduate program a sense of who you are. These connections are invaluable once you arrive on campus.

Think logistics: Once you decide that you like a certain program, you’ll have to start thinking of the practical necessities that are often forgotten in the decision-making process. Where are you going to live? How much does it cost for a typical apartment? Stake out each location and think ahead. Many schools, including B.U., have resources to help you with this sort of thing. Most of that will take place after accepting an offer, but it doesn’t hurt to start considering these factors beforehand.

Have fun deciding: It’s very easy to get stressed out while you are trying to decide between two or three (or more) terrific schools. When you find yourself on the verge of pulling out all of you hair, just remind yourself that two or three great schools want me to join their program! Getting admitted to graduate school is a great accomplishment and a pretty big deal for most people. Don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back. Don’t feel like you need to rush your decision. Think of how great your future looks. Daydream about the possiblilites, try to imagine yourself at each school, and find out what will truly make you happy as a graduate student. Once you do all of that, the choice will be a much easier one to make.

Good luck and enjoy the ride. It’s an exciting experience.

 

BU East Campus and Charles River

 

The Name of the Game

Suddenly, it’s two years ago.  I’m looking at graduate school, and I’m asking myself the big questions.

I won’t lie to you–when it came to my decision to apply to Boston University–I only had one thing in mind.  Success.  I searched for the top ten graduate schools for screenwriting and ran down the list.  I didn’t want to be in Los Angeles or New York City.  I didn’t want to be at a school that wasn’t going to set me apart.  I wanted to go somewhere I could write, get better at what I already did well, and push myself to be better than everyone else.

When I was thinking about graduate school, I wasn’t thinking about an extension of my undergraduate life.  The first day of graduate school was the first day of my new career.  The time for changing majors, taking throwaway classes, and sleeping late to avoid that eight-in-the-morning monster of a class had passed.  I knew that with every paper I wrote (and I wrote a lot of them), I’d be showing my expertise, knowhow, and intellect to people who would be paying attention and making a list.  I wanted to be on that list, because I knew who that person was–that person was capable of getting me where I wanted to be.

I knew what I wanted, and got the chance to take it–so I did.  I knew that in my field, a degree in screenwriting from Boston University was a big thing.  I mean, look at what our alumni have done.  Scott Rosenberg wrote High Fidelity and Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead. Bruce Feirstein wrote the three greater Brosnan-era Bond films and oversaw the production of L.A. Confidential. Richard Gladstein produced Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and The Bourne Identity.

I came to Boston University because I wanted to be the best.  I’m not there yet, but I’m getting there.  I’m making big connections, developing my craft in a way I didn’t think possible, and am well on my way to getting exactly what I want: success.

Boston University took me a long way in getting there.

 

Why I Choose BU

So squeezable

BU separated themselves by being personable from the very beginning.

When I was searching for journalism graduate programs, I sent out a handful of emails requesting information about the schools, the application process, and any other details that I may need to know. For the most part the schools I contacted replied back, but only BU answered each of my questions individually. It was a pretty small gesture, but for a nervous 27 year old who wasn’t even sure applying to grad school was the right move in the first place, it was much appreciated.

This level of one-on-one communication continued throughout the entire application process. From the consistent email updates, to the stress ball BU sent me as the application deadline approached, to the thank you letter they sent me once my application was completed, I felt like BU made a real attempt to connect with me. This connection continued once I was accepted. The accepted students dinner in San Francisco really meant a lot to me, as I was able to meet with a handful of current students as well as the Assistant Dean. I didn’t know what to expect sitting down for dinner with a group of folks from a graduate school, but very consistent with the entire process with BU, they were all incredibly nice. We chatted for a few hours, and when I walked out of the restaurant I was going to BU.

I’ve been here for 6 months now, and I am proud to say that BU is my home.

Why BU COM?

I pretty much knew I was going to BU the moment I got the acceptance email. As someone who is interested in public relations, it was difficult to find many programs that actually offered it as a course of study. Boston University was among the few – and the only one I applied to that actually called it what it is: public relations (not strategic communication).

But what really stood out to me? When I came to visit, I could tell the professors actually cared. They wanted to instill knowledge in you and help you succeed. Furthermore, I knew that if I went to BU, I would have a greater chance of coming out on top with a stronger competitive edge in the job market. The community of alumni was stressed as being one of the best, and I knew that being in Boston would give me many more internship opportunities than the other colleges I applied to.

Practical Experience... and supportive, high-fiving professors

But my number one reason for applying to BU in the first place? Being able to have the opportunity to build my portfolio. The emphasis on applied work was important to me when I have had zero public relations experience. PRLab, the oldest student-run PR agency in America, would give me a chance to work with an actual client and build a media kit. Because I’m in PR I can speak wonders of the program, but I’ll also note that it’s not the only program which is applied. From the friends I’ve made in other programs, I know none of them regret coming here. And I know they’ll all come out with work they can show off to their future employers.