Writing My BU Journey

By Katie Pond, SED 2017

IMG_3047I started a blog last September, marking the start of the semester I took off before transferring to Boston University. Going into that semester off, I was still unsure about whether I actually wanted to transfer. I wasn’t even sure that taking a leave of absence was the right choice, but maybe I just forgot that I had mono for weeks. I made the right decisions for myself, but at the time I felt like I was failing an essential part of my life by veering off the four-year path. I started my blog to vent about my situation and to feel connected while I was isolated.

On my blog, I wrote about everything: why I took leave instead of catching up later, how I both liked and disliked so much about my school, what it was like to work while my friends were at college, and why I was terrified of “giving up” and transferring. When you invite your entire friend list to read your thoughts, you tend to think through them a little more. Writing helped me organize my ideas and feelings, and I figured out what I really wanted from college.

I transferred to BU in January because it was a big school in cool city with great academics. I felt like BU attracted the kind of students I wanted to be around, and I was excited to start. However, transferring is no easy thing to do; it’s really hard to feel like a freshman for a second time. Making friends is hard. Transferring credits is hard. Then, on top of that, you still have to be a student. I was tired and lonely and constantly stressed, but as much as I wanted to quit, I also wanted to stay. Before, I was so confident about why BU was right for me, but those reasons weren’t necessarily keeping me here. There was something bigger about BU that made my gut tell me to stay even though I felt so worn down.

Of course, I took my confusion and I wrote about it. Through my writing, I noticed something. Even though I was stressed out a lot, I was never hung up on one thing for too long. I would write about a problem, but then I would write about how someone helped me solve it. When I randomly went home for a week due to stress, my professors were understanding and accommodating. When I was confused about my transfer credits, the Office of Student Services in SED actually reached out to me and helped me figure things out. When I was lonely, I got to go to class and have conversations that were far from awkward small talk with class friends. BU was fixing my problems, not causing them.

Writing helped me understand that I was right to choose BU, not because of its size or location, but because it’s where I’m comfortable. The only reason I sought help for anxiety was because I realized in my writing that I couldn’t blame my bad feelings on BU. As I said, transferring is hard. Transferring and finding out that you have anxiety is very hard. But through all of these things, I’ve always had and will continue to have someone in my corner at BU. I feel at home here—even when I’m not at my best—in a way that I simply never did at my old school. I feel at home because BU treats me like family. Yes, I belong at BU, whether or not I can perfectly describe why. Either way, writing somehow led me right where I needed to be.

Katie Pond is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in Math Education

10 Personal Favorite Places to Study – On and Off Campus

By Alisha Parikh, SED 2017

Alisha ParikhStudent Village 1, 26th Floor Study Lounge
33 Harry Agganis Way
I don’t usually study in quiet areas, more often coffee shop-like atmospheres. However, this study lounge on the 26th floor provides couches and tables in a quiet setting with a panoramic view – with views of the city of Boston, Nickerson Field, and the Charles River. I often come here when I need to be most productive or when I plan to study for a lengthier period of time. This study lounge is also extremely spacious, which contributes to an overall feeling of calmness. Since it is located in an on-campus housing facility, the hours are essentially 24/7 and you don’t need to necessarily live in StuVi to be able to study here!

Blue State Coffee
957 Commonwealth Avenue
This coffee shop is one of the places that I often go to study during finals. In addition to smaller, two-person tables, Blue State also has a larger table that allows you to spread out your work or that is conducive to studying with others. With a variety of different types of food and coffee, this location is a great place to grab a bite and some coffee while studying.

Pavement Coffeehouse
736 Commonwealth Avenue
Since my freshmen year, Pavement has been one my most commonly visited coffee shops. With a location in the middle portion of campus, it is easily accessible regardless of where on campus you may be. The coffee shop has tables and couch like chairs in the back section that make it easy to work on my own without distractions or with one or two other people. Though there is a variety of food and coffee, I usually stick to the Spanish Latte, which is a great choice if you have a sweet tooth!

Starbucks
874 Commonwealth Avenue
700 Commonwealth Avenue
595 Commonwealth Avenue
As a BU student, you almost immediately learn that there is a Starbucks in every portion of the Charles River campus. I enjoy studying in each of these locations, primarily because of the environment or ambiance. I am a Starbucks lover, and with my Grande Iced Caramel Macchiato and Banana Nut Bread in hand, I could spend a few hours studying in any of these Starbucks locations. Each one has a different feel and is in a different part of campus, so I never feel that it becomes too mundane.   

Howard Thurman Center
775 Commonwealth Avenue, Lower Level
This is another one of the quieter areas that I find myself working in when I need to get a lot done. Also centrally located, the Howard Thurman Center provides couches and a few tables for students to study. There is a great selection of teas if you are a tea lover! The Howard Thurman Center is one of the locations that is unique to Boston University and brings diverse students together through various events and discussions creating a ‘Common Ground.

PAL Study Lounge
771 Commonwealth Avenue, 3rd Floor
Though I have only been here a few times, I found myself being productive during those times that I was here. I almost never study in Mugar Library, but with a study lounge like this on the third floor that is much more conducive to group work or studying with a group of other students/friends, this is the one place I would study in were I to come to Mugar. The PAL study lounge is especially conducive to group work also because of the white boards that allow students to show their thoughts and work to other students and discuss ideas. 

Einstein Bros Bagels
725 Commonwealth Avenue
I come here for the iced coffee – Vanilla Hazelnut Latte – and whenever I do, I end up staying to get some work done. With an extremely convenient location within the College of Arts and Sciences, this is where I would come to study before, between, or right after my classes. I highly recommend Einstein’s for those breaks between classes as I often find myself in or near CAS. Of course the bagels are a must, and with such a variety it is easy to find something tailored toward your preferences.

Pickering Library in SED
2 Silber Way, Basement
As an Early Childhood Major and coffee lover, I obviously love and appreciate the fact that this is the only library on campus with picture books and one in which you can get free coffee (as long as you bring your own mug!). However, Pickering definitely has more to it than just picture books and free coffee. Tables and soft couch-like chairs offer comfortable places to work. Since I am in SED a lot of the time, Pickering is a convenient place to study if I do not want to walk anywhere too far. 

Bruegger’s Bagels
644 Beacon Street
As a coffee lover, I was surprised to learn that I love the taste of Bruegger’s Hot Chai Tea – perhaps because of how sweet it is. In addition to great bagels and chai tea, the employees are extremely friendly and recognize my face whenever I go here. Bruegger’s has booths, but also tables right near the window that are ideal for people watching as you study (which I am guilty of doing every time!). This place is one that I usually go to when I am stressed, tired, or just have had a long day – the people working there always find a way to bring a smile to my face as soon as I enter, and sitting by the window on a sunny day with my bagel and chai is a great way to wind down and relax.

Thinking Cup
85 Newbury Street
This is the one location that I absolutely love studying in that requires planning time for – though a quick trip on the T or ~20 minute walk. For this reason, I usually come here Saturday mornings and stay for a few hours. However, be sure to bring work that will not require Wifi – I am usually still quite productive working on essays or any reading that is not online. My favorites here are the French Hot Chocolate and an Almond Croissant. If you are new to Boston or unfamiliar with the Thinking Cup, this is a must!

Alisha Parikh is a junior in the School of Education, majoring in Early Childhood Education 

Back to Kindergarten

By Katarina Kretchman, SED 2016

Katarina KretchmanYou most likely don’t remember a lot about the good ole’ days–your time in kindergarten. You probably don’t remember how you learned to count, or how you learned to read. It is hard to put yourself in a kindergartener’s shoes because you were a kindergartner over a decade ago. As an early childhood major, I am particularly interested in how young children’s minds work and what it is like to be a kindergartner. What they are thinking when they hear “Count how many you have here”? How do they feel on the first day of school when they are walking in the hallways with older students towering over them? I like to ask myself these questions as I learn more about how young children learn. I know that I learn best through direct experience, and so do children. After all, there is no substitute for experience.

So how better to learn how children learn than to experience it for yourself? Early childhood majors have the opportunity to see learning through a young child’s eyes in the required course EC453, better known as the Kindergarten half practicum. Students are placed in kindergarten classroom around greater Boston to learn from an experienced teacher. You’re always learning from your cooperating teacher, but I have learned that each student teaches me just as much as my teacher.

In the moments when I can connect something I learned in my courses as a student at Boston University to a situation in the classroom is when something just clicks for me. The fieldwork component is accompanied by two seminars: a weekly lecture about literacy and social studies in kindergarten through second grade, and a weekly seminar exploring the importance of science in young children’s education. So far, my favorite thing about this science class is that we have the opportunity to engage in science activities from the perspectives of a college student, teacher, and a child.

Our first activity involved planting mini gardens. Professor Marcia Edson presented us with a petri dish containing various seeds. We were asked what we noticed about the seeds, an open-ended question that generated a discussion about their similarities and differences, as well as hypotheses about what species of seeds they were. We planted the seeds in recycled containers while our professor asked us questions to gauge what were thinking. We made observational drawings of the seeds in many stages of their development, including when they sprouted then grew into towering plants on our dorm room windowsills.

During this experience, we discussed how we felt during the activity, what we were observing, any predictions we had, and most importantly, how we would facilitate this activity for young children. This far into our coursework as seniors, we were able to separate ourselves from an experience and ask ourselves “what might a child be thinking during this experience” because we have background knowledge in child development, have had the mentorship of experienced teachers and professors, and now are having the experience of working closely with students in classrooms.

Professor Edson could have just given us an activity plan for growing mini gardens and explained what children could learn, and we would have learned something. However, by allowing us to experience the activity ourselves and by guiding us to reflect on the experience, we gained more meaningful knowledge about lesson planning, the importance of science, how to engage in the various processes of science, what hands-on learning looks and feels like, and much more.

During the activity, I felt as though I was a child planting for the first time. I was seeing what it might be like to be a kindergartener, as Professor Edson guided us through what we thought the first steps might be. I was able to use all of my experiences to imagine what it would be like to be a kindergartner watching her bean sprouts transform from a tiny bean into giants. This experience made everything I learned during it more meaningful, and when the children in the classroom I’m student teaching in plant their own seeds, their experiences might be more meaningful because they have a student teacher understands that there is no substitute for experience.

On Wednesdays and Thursdays when I work with my kindergarteners, I can imagine what they’re thinking, using my background knowledge of child development and early childhood, and I can differentiate my teaching in the moment based on what I think a child might respond positively to. Sometimes I’m wrong, but sometimes I’m right. Watching my coursework tie into my experiences in the field directly is an invaluable experience. In May when I’m looking back on my four years here at BU, I’ll be thinking, I had to go back to kindergarten to get here today.

Katarina Kretchman is a senior in the School of Education, majoring in Early Childhood Education

Exploring the City at Your Fingertips

By Joliette Mandel, SED 2018

Joliette MandelI was recently talking to one of my friends who attends a Big 10 school. He was shocked when I told him that no, we do not have tailgates or football games or homecoming weekend. He could not imagine going to school without these types of events. What I had to remind him, and sometimes myself, is that our school boasts a completely different host of opportunities because we are smack in the middle of Boston. I feel so blessed to be able to hop on the T for just $2.10 or walk a few blocks to find tons of restaurants, shops and a multitude of activities and events happening in the city.

Columbus Day weekend was beautiful this year; mid-70s with the sun shining down as though it were barely the middle of September instead of mid-October. My friends and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and we headed down to the South End Open Market at SoWa. SoWa is a very trendy area filled with art galleries, and every Sunday from April to the end of October, a multitude of food trucks, artists and entrepreneurs set up to sell their products.

First, we indulged in the glorious food trucks that you will see driving throughout the city, but can rarely catch at the right time. I had a goat cheese and chicken salad from the Dining Car and it was amazing. I have decided that I am definitely buying lunch at the Dining Car every time it parks outside of the School of Education (as many food trucks do throughout the week). My friend also got some soba noodles from the Bon Me truck and she seemed to be in her own version of heaven. We then all got cookie sandwiches from the Frozen Hoagie truck. Let me tell you, I love all desserts and these were spectacular. I had cookie dough ice cream between two chocolate chip cookies and the cookie dough was the real deal. These are only a few of the options that the food truck portion of SoWa has to offer.

After we were fuller than we had intended, we ventured into the farmer’s market only to be tempted by more food and an abundance of produce. Families strolled through the market with their little children and gleeful dogs, and I could not have been happier. We wandered around and looked at the artistic part of the market. I was blown away by beautiful handcrafted jewelries, ceramics, photography and so much more.

The SoWa Market on Sundays is not an experience to be missed, and I highly suggest going with an empty stomach. Being at the market reminded me of one of the reasons I chose Boston University; I can leave campus in my spare time and be immersed in bustling cultural events whenever I like. Boston is a place to be explored and I don’t mind putting my studies on pause for a few hours every week to do so.

Joliette Mandel is a sophomore in the School of Education, majoring in Elementary and ESL Education

Don’t Stress

By James Teixeira, SED 2018

TeixeiraCollege can be an extremely stressful experience. There are what seems like a million important decisions to make – some that could have a lifelong impact. I’ve met an overwhelming amount of people who all seem to have their lives figured out. From the kids who know they want to be high school U.S. history teachers to those who are on the pre-med track dreaming of a prestigious medical school. Then there are people like me who have desperately tried to figure things out and always come up short somehow.

Every day I decide on a different career. I’ve explored teaching, psychology, law, the medical field, and any other major profession you can imagine. Pressured by outside influences like what my annual salary will be or where I want to live or what I want to be doing for the rest of my life make deciding on a career a daunting task.

Growing up I always wanted to be teacher, but other people don’t always have the best reaction to this aspiration. They say things like “you’re going to be miserable” or “how will you survive on that salary?” People have even asked me “If you’re going to go to BU why wouldn’t you choose a more prestigious career?” It’s unbelievably hard to have a clear head when there is pressure coming from every direction. After a lot of soul searching this year and some help from the Career Development Office at BU, I’ve come to a few conclusions.

First, it’s okay to not have everything figured out at this stage in your life. So many people have told me to find my passion and follow my heart. It turns out that finding your passion isn’t always the easiest thing to do, especially when you have the weight of a decision that affects the rest of your life on your shoulders. I’ve always dreamed of being a teacher, but I let myself get lost in the judgment of everyone surrounding me and the worry of what my quality of life will be. It is important to not to let outside factors contribute to your decision making.

Last semester, I attempted to embark on the pre-med track to fulfill the expectations of the people around me. I convinced myself that it was what I wanted to do until I realized that something was missing – that something being the burning flame of passion and excitement for the career ahead of me.

Lastly, it’s okay to explore a subject you’re interested in without having a clear destination in mind. Your bachelor’s degree does not set in stone your path in life. My journey so far at BU has been one of exploration. I know for a fact that I want to work with kids someday, and although I’m not totally sure what I want to be doing, I know that graduating from the School of Education leaves me with more options than I had previously realized.

My one piece of advice is to never let anyone devalue your ambitions – you have to make the right choices for you in order to live a satisfactory life. I have always aspired to make a difference in the lives of children and some day I will attain that dream one way or another. For now, I am making the most of attending the amazing institution that is Boston University.

James Teixeira is a sophomore in the School of Education, majoring in History Education

I Don’t Do It for the Money

By Sarah White, SED 2016

Sarah White“I’m not doing it for the money, though,” I find myself saying yet another time with yet another smile on my face.

But behind my smile, I feel slightly annoyed. When will I stop being told how little money I’ll earn through the education field? When will I stop needing to defend my choice to pursue it as my career path anyway?

And I hope that you’ll ask me why. If not for money, why am I here? Why am I working so hard?

I’ll tell you.

I do it for the real smiles and the hearty laughs of my students. As they find joys in small moments, they often remind me how wonderful the simple pleasures in life can be. Just this past summer, I thought that air-conditioning in the building would be the best thing that could happen on the hottest day of the year, but my students thought differently. All they wanted was a frozen popsicle with their lunches, and when they got it, I never saw more satisfied faces.

I do it for their bad days, too, though. I want to teach middle school, and often I hear “good luck dealing with their moodiness!” when I tell people. For those who think that, I genuinely thank you all for your well wishes. I’m sure that I’ll need them. There will be challenging days. But I was a middle school girl once, and I know for a fact that having an adult who cares enough to turn your bad day into a good one makes all the difference.

I do it to make those bad days a little less bad. Maybe I can even turn it into one of those good days, with smiles and laughter. Or maybe not. But I won’t know if I don’t try.

I do it because that student over there? She was reading well below her grade level when I first met her. Now? She just finished her first chapter book on her own, and she was ecstatic.

I do it for the times a student says, “Thank you, Miss White.” Once, a boy earned a 98 on his history test. I’m his English tutor, and he said his work with me helped him with the short answers. He said he knew I’d be proud. I was.

I do it to tell students that I am proud of them. I want to encourage them, to push them further and harder than they think they can work, and I want them to understand to force them to see potential in themselves, and to challenge themselves as a result.

I do it because the moment a student makes a realization, finishes a problem, understands what you’ve been saying for months – the moment he does it on his own is better than hitting the jackpot in the lottery.

I do it because despite the hard parts – the late nights lesson planning, those same lessons that don’t go as planned, the students, parents, and administrators who may challenge me, the students who challenge each other, the problems I may both create and solve – despite all of that and more, I feel I have a purpose.

I do it because someone did it for me. Someone pushed me to read, to write, to problem solve, to think critically, and to push myself to be a better person. I want to do that for someone else.

I don’t do it for the money, but I am doing it to invest in the future.

Sarah White is a senior in the School of Education, majoring in English and ESL Education