Amy: Get Your Netflix Queue Ready for Finals!

That time of year is back again…it’s that sweet spot between Thanksgiving and Winter break when all hell breaks loose and for a minute there you might not be sure if you’ll ever actually make it through the next two weeks. When that happens A) Relax (or try) because it will all be over soon and yes, you and your GPA will survive, and B) Find the best no-concentration-required Netflix movies to zone out to when your brain needs a major break. Here are my top 5!

1. John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid. So good. SO good. It may just be a taped stand up show, but if you love sarcastic humor, you’ll spend the whole thing just laughing until you cry. And living in Boston, who doesn’t love a good dose of sarcasm and cynicism.

2. A Cinderella Story. yes, yes, and yes. I’ll never understand how Chad Michael Murray doesn’t recognize Hillary Duff through that tiny mask, but that’s not your problem. Another classic, and who doesn’t love a good early 2000’s fashion flashback?

3. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. I’m starting to think I might have a bias towards early 2000’s rom-coms, but hear me out. Who doesn’t love the scene where Kate Hudson flips out at Matthew Mcconaughey in a vegan restaurant, then runs back to the kitchen to eat a burrito and watch sports with the cooks.

4. Love Actually. I know that everyone has very polarized feelings about this movie, but love it or hate it you’ve gotta watch it. And since the story bounces between all the different characters so many times, it’s fine if you zone out through half the plotlines!

5. Leap Year. Amy Adams, an Irish country man, and her Louis Vuitton suitcase making their way through Ireland so she can propose to her boyfriend on leap day (it’s bad luck to say no).

So if you’re thinking about watching Inception right after a monster study session, put it down, and check out these options. After working hard all semester, it’s okay to take a few moments in between the final study sessions to refresh and recharge!

Amy: Best Places to Study Away from Campus

As finals start getting closer and closer to us with seemingly no end to midterms in sight, you might be getting a little sick of all the quality time you’re spending in Mugar. Or for that matter, anywhere on campus. Sometime, you just have to get away to give your mind a refresh to study. Here are some of my favorite off-campus places to go when I need to focus.

  1. Boston Public Library: In the warm weather days, there’s nothing better than grabbing your textbooks and camping out in the courtyard. Between the fountain and the open air seating area, it’s a quiet peaceful environment that you absolutely can’t miss!
  2. BPL pt. 2: When it gets cold out and the courtyard is too freezing, try the reading room! It’s a beautiful room filled with tables and gorgeous architecture, for times when Mugar is just a little bit too much like Mugar. Watch out though, they won’t let you drink coffee in there!
  3. Barrington Coffee Roaster: 100% coffee friendly. This is a small coffee shop on Newbury St. that has a slightly slower bustle than Starbucks or Pavement. I can attest, the coffee is A+ and the baristas are super friendly. Plus free WiFi!
  4. The Thinking Cup: While there are a few locations of this one, my favorite has to be the one on Tremont St. Easily accessible from Arlington or Park St. stations, The Thinking Cup is another super cute coffee shop with a bonus view of the Commons.
  5. Trident Booksellers and Café: Just try not to get distracted by all the fun knick-knacks they sell. All in all though, a great place to go for some food, a coffee, and some quality time with your textbook.
  6. Brookline Public Library: WOAH. Another BPL. This one’s a little less crowded, and also super convenient for anyone living west or south of campus. The Coolidge Corner location is super accessible from campus!

Amy: Top 10 On-the-Go Snacks for long days!

Now that I’m a senior and living off campus, I don’t have a dining plan or dining points (it’s possible, but I chose not to) I love cooking, but sometimes I’ll be on campus for a long time and I’ll get hungry. On-the-Go snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated are a must for those days when you seem to be running from class to meetings to more class all day and want to make sure you’re still eating healthy!

  1. Granola bars. These are a goodie, but be careful of the kind you choose. I love KIND bars, Luna bars, and a good Trader Joe’s dark chocolate, walnut, and fig bar. YUM.
  2. Banana. Perfect because you don’t eat the skin, so no need to worry about wrapping it up when you put it in your bag! Be cautious not to squash it, but otherwise the perfect snack to keep you going for a few more hours
  3. Ziploc bag of cereal. Because why not breakfast all the time? My go-to is Cinnamon Life, but any good cereal is fun to munch on when your stomach starts grumbling.
  4. Baby carrots. You probably won’t want to leave these out forever, but they’ll survive a morning tucked in your school bag. Easy to eat anywhere, and great because you don’t have to eat them all at once!
  5. Veggie sticks and peanut butter. Step 1: put peanut butter in the bottom of a small jar. Step 2: stick veggie sticks (carrots, celery, zucchini) into peanut butter so they’re standing up. Step 3: close jar. Step 4: Eat and thank your past self for this DIY
  6. No bake energy balls. There are a zillion different recipes out there for these, but they all mostly involve oats, peanut butter, maple syrup or honey, and flavorings of your choosing. Get creative!
  7. Jerky. Okay so some people hate this one, but if you’re the kind of person who needs a little extra protein to get them through the day, this might be for you. Check the sodium content before you buy!
  8. DIY trail mix. This one is fun because there’s very little prep time, and you get to add whatever you want! My favorites: pretzels, almonds, cranberries, and chocolate chips.
  9. Peanut butter cracker sandwiches. Could also use almond butter or hazelnut butter. Spread on a cracker and make a sandwich. Voila!
  10. PB&B&J wrap. This one’s for bigger days when you might just need to pack an entire meal. Take a whole-wheat wrap or tortilla, spread layers of peanut butter and jelly, then top with sliced bananas. Roll up and enjoy!

Amy: 10 Things I Didn’t Expect to Learn While Abroad

1. Just because you're in an English-speaking country doesn't mean there won't be a language barrier. I'm in Dublin, which is basically as close to America as you can get in Europe, and I still find myself on Urban Dictionary or Google searching Irish slang almost every day. I love picking up new phrases (grand craic= great time) and it's a great little reminder that I'm in a totally different country.

2. As it's own country, Ireland is a baby, but as a society it's older than anything I've ever seen. This year is the centennial anniversary of the rebellion that STARTED the war that brought Ireland's independence from the UK. Politically we're less that 100 years old here, yet there are so many castles and monasteries that date back to B.C. years. It's a funny juxtaposition, being so close to structures built by Vikings and early settlers, and still being able to see bullet holes on states in Dublin from their rebellions and the war of independence.

3. Europe is so easy to travel around. I never thought I'd be 21 years old and be able to decide on a Monday that I'm going to fly to France the next weekend. Casually saying "oh, I think I'm going to Spain this weekend and then Italy the next" is totally normal around here and ITS UNREAL. I guess it's like taking a casual road trip to Canada when you're in America except so much cooler (sorry, Canada!)

4. Photo-storage is an issue. If you're thinking about traveling abroad, look into how much space is on your phone/camera, and then figure out the best way to store photos on your computer. Also, when you're deleting photos on your iPhone to create space for new ones, make sure to delete the photos from the deleted photos folder. It doesn't make any sense to me but you actually have to delete them twice to actually make space.

5. Because most of the BU programs are part class and part internship, we don't actually take classes with students at our host school. This makes it a little trickier to make friends, but totally not impossible! For example, our campus bar here holds an event every Tuesday called "shite night" that's really fun and that a lot of the local students go to. They basically just blast old music (think HSM and 90's pop) that everyone sings and dances along to. It's unlike anything I've ever seen in America but it's so fun because so many people go and get super into it. Learning about campus culture has been really interesting.

6. Being away has actually reaffirmed that I made the right decision when coming to BU. I've always loved BU and knew it was the right decision, but earlier this year I kept wondering if I would have liked being at a smaller school that wasn't located in a city. Living on a small campus and taking a bus into Dublin's city center has it's ups and downs, but it made me glad that BU has the best of both worlds when it comes to campus/city balance.

7. We're here for so much more than academics. The classes I'm taking are so great, but I definitely feel like most of the learning I've been doing is experiencing and adjusting different cultures. Getting lost in unfamiliar cities and adapting to foods and customs that I don't totally understand has given me a great perspective on how to handle tough situations and make my way through life wherever I am.

8. Your health is super important!! Between the classes, a new atmosphere, all the traveling, and spending so much time with the same group of students, it's easy for colds to catch on and spread. When one person gets a cold, it's super easy for it to spread to the entire program because our bodies are caught off guard with all the new things we're doing. I've learned that it's important just to be aware of what I'm doing and making sure I'm trying to stay as healthy as possible.

9. The grass is actually greener here. Like, in a very funny literal way, the grass in Ireland and VIBRANT and it's the most amazing ironic thing I've ever seen. You expect Ireland to be green and full of fields and sheep (which is true) but the grass itself is even greener. I'll never get over it. Also sheep are like cute little clouds with legs and they are super adorable.

10. Time will fly by! Okay, this one I knew, but it still surprises me how fast time is flying by. I'm about halfway through the program now and I have no idea how I'm going to fit in all the things I want to do before I leave. There's definitely a balance between taking advantage of the opportunities we have to see everything and not being so stressed about getting everywhere that you don't enjoy it. To anyone looking to go abroad, make a loose list of places you want to visit while you're gone, and then amend that list as you actually start to make plans. I've added and removed places that I want to travel to, but honestly there are no wrong moves 😉

Amy: Winter is (finally) Coming

It's been a weird, super warm fall, but I think we are all starting realize that winter is finally on it's way to Boston. Winter in Boston is a tough journey, but if you're prepared with the right stuff, you can make it a great season. I'm originally from northern Massachusetts, so coming into winter my freshman year I thought I had it all figured out. I was SO wrong. I never thought about the fact that at home, I was usually driving everywhere I needed to go all winter, so I never had to walk too far in a blizzard or in the freezing wind. Here are a few tips I've picked up on how to make winter more manageable:
1. Get an amazing pair of boots. You'll want boots that you don't mind wearing every day for about 4 months that can stand rain and snow. It's also good to have boots with some traction because there are certain areas of campus (looking at you, BU Bridge) that get super slippery. I'm a fan of Bean Boots, but any trip to REI or another similar store will give you plenty of options for great winter footwear.
2. When choosing a jacket, choose carefully! Boston is windy, especially during snowstorms. Getting a jacket that doesn't protect against the wind won't do you much good during the winter season here.
3. LAYERS ARE EVERYTHING!! Get ready for it to be beyond freezing outside, and boiling hot inside most buildings. It's annoying sometimes, but if you wear the right layers, you'll be prepared for both. It's better to pile on the layers to go outside than sit through freezing classes all winter.
4. Considerably one of the most important things: SmarTouch gloves (or whatever pair lets you tweet about how cold you are without having to remove your gloves to use your phone).
Stay safe and warm everyone! I'm heading abroad to Dublin for the Spring so good luck to everyone here and I'll see you all again in the fall when Boston is gorgeous and not trying to turn us all into icicles.

Amy: Throwing Away the Five-Year Plan

This is the time of your life when everyone from your parents to your first grade teacher to the cashier at the supermarket won't stop asking you what you want to do with your life. We all know the "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" question at interviews and on applications that somehow we're supposed to be able to answer as if we have a magic crystal ball into adulthood.
The weird thing is, up until a few months ago I was the five-year plan kid. I had my plan and my goals and my trajectory. I really thought I was set. Then, I started taking graphic design courses and that opened up a new world I didn't know I loved. After declaring my minor in visual arts I got to work thinking about a NEW five-year plan that involved jobs combining COM and design. Then, I moved to New York for the summer and realized that while NYC is so fun and amazing, it's not the place for me to live permanently. So that, once again, threw a wrench in the good ole' 5-year-plan. I'll be honest I was stressing out.
Somewhere between all the different 5-year-plans I was plotting out for my life, I decided to quit the planning and just let the pieces fall into place, and that was probably one of the best decisions I've made so far in college.
At this point in our lives, we're just getting out of our hometowns and starting to see what's out there in the world for us. This is the time to explore and try things out and NOT lock ourselves into a five-year-plan. I still don't know how to answer those questions in interviews, but for now I'll probably say something corny about finding fun adventures in life.
This whole post is a bit corny, but coming from a former "stressed-about-the-future" kid, it's so important. Throughout college you are going to have so many experiences and life changes that alter the way you want your life to be. Even if you know exactly what you want out of life, it's a waste of time to pretend you can predict the future and lay out exactly how it's going to go. Allow yourself to take alternate paths to success!

Amy: How to get away from the city without really leaving

Don't get me wrong, Boston is amazing and wonderful and full of all the great things that make us all love living here. Living in the city makes life exciting all the time. That being said, sometimes we all need a little break from the craziness. When the sweet sounds of Storrow Drive start to become more like a lullaby than noisy cars, it's time to find some space away from the city to regroup and think. Personally, one of my favorite things about Boston is that it's a city with so much nature all around. Here are just a few of my favorite spots near campus:

1. The Esplanade. Probably one of the easiest spots near campus. I love walking just past campus and finding a nice spot near the water to do some work. The esplanade stretches along the Charles for a several miles, which also makes it the perfect spot to go running with a great view!

2. Boston Common/Public Gardens. The Common definitely isn't always quiet, but it's a great spot to picnic with friends and hang out. Easily accessible by the Boyleston and Park St. T stops, but also a nice walk on a good day!

3. Mason Square Park. Step just south of campus into Brookline, and you'll find yourself in a beautiful alternate suburban world. One small beautiful park to visit is the Mason Square Park, located a few steps down Essex St. (turn south at 808 Gallery).

4. Emerald Necklace parks. The Emerald Necklace is a really cool long string of  parks and greenway that runs from Park Drive in South Campus all the way into Brookline. With over 1,000 acres to explore and fun events held at different locations along the parks, the Emerald Necklace never gets boring!

I also want to note that for those up for bigger trips, Cape Cod, New Hampshire, and Maine also have lots of fun parks and hiking trails that are often accessible by bus or train! Especially as we get into New England's most beautiful season, spend some quality time with the outdoors before we snowed in all over again.

Amy: Productivity Placement

After a semester of college one thing I've learned is that it's really important to study somewhere that helps you be productive. There's nothing worse than knowing you have to get a big paper done,  only to be distracted by your surroundings for a solid two hours.

  • For some people that means heading to the library where it's quiet and everyone around you is studying or getting work done too. Mugar is a great environment for people who really thrive in that atmosphere, plus if you get bored of your surroundings the Boston Public Library is just a few T stops away.
  • Similar to the quiet library but not quite as immense are the top floors of StuVi2, Kilachand Hall (known as Shelton to many students), and the 6th floor of 100 Bay State. These are quiet rooms where many students go to study, and they've got gorgeous windows that give you a great view while you work.
  • Personally, I choose to opt out of the library whenever possible and head to cafes and coffee shops where there's a slight buzz of conversation and music, but nothing too distracting. The environment is relaxing, but not so silent I feel like every sound I make is resounding through the room. On campus, Pavement, Starbucks, or Blue State Coffee are great options for cafe setting study areas. During finals week they're especially popular for group study sessions! Another favorite of mine is the Thinking Cup Coffee Shop on Tremont St. because even though I'm still studying, I feel like I'm getting away from the campus hustle on Comm Ave. (plus it's right near the park).
  • Another great, albeit seasonal, option is studying on the esplanade looking out at the Charles River. If you can resist the urge to lie back and daydream, the esplanade is a great stress-free study spot in the spring and fall!

Wherever you go, the only requirement is that it should be right for you! Don't force yourself to study somewhere that doesn't work for you. Everyone's got their preferences, and sometimes it's nice to switch it up and try out someplace new. All you have to do is grab your laptop and textbooks and go find your spot!