- Plan time in your schedule for self-care. I often book myself for hours non-stop during a day and forget to schedule time to decompress, grab a snack, and just mentally prepare for my next task.
- Pre-plan breaks while studying. I’ve often get goals for myself such as taking 10 minute breaks after studying for 50 minutes straight. Whatever your time constraints allow, pre-planning when you’ll take breaks can be an easy way to remind yourself to relax.
- Keep in touch with friends and family from home. I know I never call my parents enough, but when you take a break for a phone call to check-in, you can ground yourself and distract yourself from stress for some time, while also making your family happy.
- Find indoor activities that calm you down. Whether it’s finally buying that adult coloring book you’ve always wanted or solving a People magazine crossword puzzle, find things that can calm you down while you stay cozy and warm inside of your bedroom.
- Take deep breaths. It can often be really overwhelming to get stressed out with everything going on, and when stress builds up it can definitely cloud your ability to think straight. Taking a pause to inhale deeply 3 or 4 times can really ground you and help calm you down after a stressful time.
Fall is one of the best times of the year for music fans in Boston because tons of bands are visiting the Northeast while on tour, following festivals like the CMJ Music Marathon in New York City, which I had the pleasure to attend on behalf of WTBU. While you should definitely go out and watch bands that you may only get to see once a year, it’s important to also remember the countless bands who call Boston their home and play here year-round. Boston Hassle Fest, a weekend-long showcase of the best (and weirdest) Boston has to offered just ended, but don’t worry - I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite locals who you should definitely get out and see (probably playing some venue in Allston sometime soon).
Last fall, I took a fascinating class called Urban Sociology (SO 244). One day, we had a guest speaker who was an expert on Boston come give our class a lecture. To start off, he gave us a blank map of the city of Boston and told us to fill in all of the city’s neighborhoods. Like most BU students, I quickly found Kenmore/Fenway, Allston, and I managed to scribble in Brookline. Yet, after that, even if I could name other neighborhoods, I had no idea where they were.
As BU students, I’m sure we’ve all heard of the “BU Bubble” - an imaginary boundary that includes our campus and nearby areas - that BU students never seem to escape. During my sophomore year, I realized how true this assertion was, and I took it upon myself to explore the actual city of Boston before I graduated. Here are just a few spots that I’ve loved exploring that aren’t so close to campus.
Overview: Jamaica Plain (JP) is an eclectic community that truly has a small-town feel. The neighborhood, with large LGBTQ+ and Latino communities, is a diverse conclave with a very activist-minded vibe. This is exemplified by some of the shopping spots in the neighborhood, such as Boomerangs, a thrift store whose proceeds all benefit the AIDS Action Committee.
Favorite Spot: It’s honestly hard to pick. Although the first ever J.P. Licks ice cream store is located in JP, I’m going to go with the Jamaica Pond for this one. If you’re looking to feel like you’re away from the city for a while, the Jamaica Pond is a beautiful getaway, while miles of running/walking/biking paths around it.
How To Get There: Getting to JP is a little tough. However, there are several stops on the Orange Line that will land you in JP, including the Jackson Square and Forest Hills stops.
Overview: Often referred to as the “Brooklyn of Boston,” Somerville is a trendy, hip neighborhood home to a lot of recent college graduates and young professionals. Just past Cambridge, Somerville has a number of excellent restaurants and cool sites to visit.
Favorite Spot: By far, my favorite place to visit in Somerville is Union Square, especially during one of weirder community festivals they have. In the past, I’ve been to Fluff Fest - a festival dedicated entirely to marshmallow fluff. A few weeks ago, they hosted Pity Party, an event celebrating sadness and sulking. Definitely check out a calendar to see what cool events may be coming up soon.
How To Get There: Somerville is a bit tricky. But, if you hop on the B line to the Chestnut Hill Ave stop, you can hop on the 86 bus and be there in a few minutes!
Overview: I mean this in the best way possible, but if you’re looking for a crowd of weird people, Cambridge is the best place to be. And no other area of Cambridge exemplifies that like Central Square. With a mixture of restaurants, concert venues, and small shops, Central Square is an eclectic group of both college students and older adults.
Favorite Spot: Out of the Blue Too is an art gallery and concert space in the heart of Central Square. It’s one of my favorite venues to visit because it usually hosts local bands in a small, intimate setting. Plus, there are a ton of really cool art piece along the walls, so you can peruse some cool art while listening to great music.
How To Get There: It’s super easy! Just hop on the 47 bus, which has a stop in South Campus close to Warren Towers, and you’ll be there in 15 minutes!
Overview: Many BU students talk about being afraid to visit Roxbury, but it’s actually a very welcoming and warm community that deserves more attention than it gets. Roxbury is the heart of the African-American community in Boston, with many family-owened establishments and a vibrant community-feeling.
Favorite Spot: I love the Hayley House in Roxbury, a great cafe with some of the best quesadillas I’ve had in Boston. The Hayley House often has spoken word poetry nights, which are a must-see!
How To Get There: Roxbury isn’t super accesible via public transportation, but there are several stops on the Orange Line which can get you there if you have time to spare.
It’s time for your first big midterm. You’ve known the date of the exam ever since your professor reviewed your syllabus on the first day of class. In fact, she’s even brought up the date in class several times to remind you. She’s also warned that this is an exam you cannot begin studying for the night before. However, time has magically flown by and it’s the night before your exam. It’s extremely easy to panic in these situations, but as someone who has been in your shoes countless times before, here are a few tips:
Chose Snacks Wisely
If you’re up late at night, you’ll undoubtedly get hungry. And it’s super tempting to run to CityCo at 1 AM and grab your favorite chips. But if you’re going to be up late, remember that your body will respond to the foods that you put in it. Healthier snacks may not taste as great as Doritos, but they’ll give you the energy you’ll need to continue doing the readings that were assigned to you weeks earlier. Plus, they won’t make your crash the way junk foods do.
Chose A Good Study Spot
One of the biggest obstacles to studying can be choosing a bad spot. It’s really important that you take the time to learn about your studying habits and what works best for you. If you like nosier places, picking a spot in your dorm or in the GSU may be better than going to Mugar. Although it can be scary to go places alone, it’s definitely more important that you don’t study with friends who distract you.
Take Timed Breaks
When you’re cramming late at night, it can be easy to think that you can’t take any time to stop because you have a ton of information to learn. However, if you don’t take any breaks, you’ll easily burn out and not remember anything you’ve been studying. My best piece of advice is to set a timer and schedule 10 minute breaks every hour (or whatever intervals work best for you). If you time your breaks, you’ll prevent yourself from procrastinating for too long.
Remember to Sleep
It can definitely be overwhelming when it’s 4AM and your exam is only hours away. However, if you don’t sleep for at least a little, your brain won’t retain any of the information you’ve stayed up cramming. At a certain point in the night, it’s important to grab some shut-eye for at least a few hours so you’ll have the energy to get through the actual exam.
Lastly, yet probably the easiest to forget, is that it’s important to breathe while studying. Looking at the amount of information you have to remember can be scary and overwhelming. Yet, you’ll accomplish nothing if you just freak out about all of the things you have to do. When you find yourself panicking, pause and take a deep breath. Then just start reading one page at a time.
Obviously, the best way to avoid all of this is to actually begin studying before the very last minute. Yet, it happens to all of us sometimes, so just remember that you’ll get through it if you take everything one step at a time. Cramming is extremely stressful and no one loves it, but there is definitely an art to it that you’ll learn as a college student.
- Online Radio Newsroom (JO 435)
- Ever wonder what it's like to produce a radio broadcast like you hear on NPR? We have a class for that! In online radio newsroom, you'll have two-and-a-half hours to produce a 30-minute radio broadcast with your classmates. It sounds intense, and it is, but every week you'll get a different role on the team, and by the end of the class you'll have a number of great audio packages that you can use when applying to jobs and internships.
- Hitchcock (FT 535)
- Obsessed with movies made by Alfred Hitchcock? Ever want to take an entire course on his work? Next semester's film analysis course will be solely focused on the work on the "Master of Suspense."
- Media Disruption (CM 561)
- Are you a PR/AD/Mass Comm student looking for a way to break through the mold of traditional media? Then take this special topic course in mass communication that is being offered in the fall. Besides, you'll sound cool to your friends when you say, "Sorry guys, I have to head to my media disruption class."
- Urban Sociology (SO 244)
- In urban sociology, you study the way cities affect the way people interact with each other. I took this class last fall, and during one of my favorite lectures in the course, we examined the suburban lawn and how it affects relationships in suburbia. For one assignment, I had to sit at Central Square for an hour and people-watch to get field notes. This is a fun way to fulfill your social science requirement!
- The Politics and Policy of HBO's The Wire (PO 313)
- If you're a fan of HBO's intense drama "The Wire," then this is the perfect course for you. Taught in the political science department, you watch the entire series and then have discussions and assignments about the policies and politics discussed in the show. If you're great at binge watching, this might be the perfect class for you.
- Intro to Creative Writing (EN 202)
- You may be worried since we have 4 English requirements as COM students. However, a super fun way to fulfill one of those requirements is to take Intro to Creative Writing. Whether you're an aspiring poet or you just want to try writing your first play, this class is an engaging and creative way to fulfill one of your freshman/sophomore requirements.
- Existentialism (PH 248)
- Curious about what "existentialism" actually is? Ever been inspired (or creeped out) after reading Nietzsche? Not sure of what any of this means, but interested to learn more? Then the existentialism course being offered in the fall by the philosophy department might be the perfect fit for you! We all have to take at least one philosophy class to fulfill our requirements, so why not take a class where some of the topics discussed include depth, superficiality, boredom, anxiety, and adventure.
- Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and other Natural Disasters (ES 140)
- Although many of us COM students may not be too scientifically-inclined, we do need to take at least one math, computer science, or natural science course in addition to our statistics requirement. A super interesting way to fulfill that block in your courses would be to look over at the earth science department. While fulfilling a general education requirement, why not explore super interesting disasters like earthquakes and volcanoes and learn the science behind them?
The summer in between high school graduation and my first semester at college was by far the best summer of my life. Since many of you reading this blog are about to embark on your last summer before stepping foot on Boston University’s campus in the fall, here are a few things that I did last summer that truly made it amazing and that I highly recommend you try as well:
Spend time with your friends without your cell phone
Since many people in my group of friends were going away to college, we knew that we had to make the most of the summer. Thus, we invented a game whenever we went out to a restaurant that prevented us from using our cell phones. We would put all of them in the center of the table in a pile, and the first person who touched his phone would have to pay the entire bill. Since all of the phones were together, when one phone vibrated, we had no one idea whose phone it was. Needless to say, no one ever touched their phones, but it was great truly being in the moment with friends instead of just being on our cell phones, since we knew our time together would soon end.
Spend an entire day at a lake or a beach
If there’s a lake or a beach near you, spend an entire day there. Just marvel at the beauty of nature. BU is a city-school, and although you can definitely find places to be with nature in Boston, there’s nothing like a warm day swimming, playing volleyball, and basking in the sun.
Read that book you never got around to reading
As an avid reader, one thing that I have found very difficult in college is finding free time to read. My roommate often notes that he brought ten books to college to read when he had free time, and has not managed to touch a single one all year. So, if there’s that one book you’ve always wanted to read and just never got around to doing it, now is the time to pick it up!
Spend time with your family
This might not sound like the most fun thing to do on this list, but it might be the most important. Yes, I know. Your parents can be very pestering and your siblings might get on your last nerves. However, in just a few months, you won’t see them everyday anymore. I understand that going out with your friends is extremely important, but don’t forget about your family this summer. You will miss all of them, even that one crazy aunt you have.
Travel around your hometown one last time
I grew up in a small-town in New Jersey, and I’ll admit it - I was one of those kids who spent all of high school impatiently waiting to get out of my town. However, in retrospect, my hometown gave me countless memories and truly made me the person I am today. The night before I left for BU, I got in my car and just drove around. I went down side-streets that I played on during snowstorms, I drove by my elementary school, I went past all of my friend’s houses that I spent numerous hours in, and I visited my high school football stadium one last time. Trust me, if you can drive around your hometown before you leave for the fall, you should do it. And while you do, remember this quote: "You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.”
It’s that time of the semester again - papers are due, exams are coming up, and life just seems extremely chaotic all the time. Studying can be extremely stressful, and before you know it, you can spend hours with your face buried in a book. My friends and I have established a bizarre way to relieve stress during our study sessions.
When the clock hits a new hour, we all stop studying and get up and just dance to one song. It might sound really silly, but taking 5 minute breaks to just move around and act like complete idiots really does help us relieve stress. It’s great to forget about all of the work we have to do and all of the information we have to memorize and just have fun.
Since I strongly believe you should try it some time, here’s a list of songs that are particularly great to dance to:
- Let’s Dance To Joy Division - The Wombats
- Dancing On My Own - Robyn
- Dance, Dance, Dance - Lykke Li
- I Am The Lion King - Papa
- Swing Tree - Discovery
- Don’t Slow Down - Matt and Kim
- All Of This - The Naked and The Famous
- D.A.N.C.E. - Justice
- 3AM - Kate Nash
- Tennis Court - Lorde
- Airplanes - Local Natives
- Air Balloon - Lily Allen
For an aspiring publicist, I’m a pretty awkward guy. However, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to avoiding as many awkward social interactions as possible here at BU. Here’s a few that might help you out:
- Take the stairs as often as possible. It’s a proven fact that elevator rides are extremely awkward 99% of the time.
- Try to leave your dorm before the class change time. Here on campus, classes are let out 10 minutes before each hour and a massive crowd of students takes over Commonwealth Avenue heading to their next class. In order to avoid the huge crowd (and the huge potential for awkward social interactions), leave your dorm a little bit earlier.
- Always wear headphones while walking to class. That way you look busy and people will be less likely to come up and talk to you.
- When a professor is looking to call on someone for an answer in class, immediately put your head down. The first person who makes eye contact with the professor will be the person he or she calls on.
- Always have your cell phone easily accessible. When you’re walking down a hallway in the College of Arts and Sciences or when you’re just walking down Commonwealth Avenue, there’s an 85% chance that you will walk past that person that you met one time, but don’t remember their name and are unsure if you should say hello to them. Therefore, always have your cell phone nearby, so you can pretend to be texting someone instead of making eye contact with that person.
- A general rule: AVOID EYE CONTACT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE!
- If you’re eating alone in the dining hall, bring a bunch of textbooks with you and spread them out over the table so you look extremely busy, even though we both know you’re not studying at all and you’re probably watching something on Netflix. Then, put your book bag and jacket on the chair across from you so it looks like you have friends.
Last but not least, don’t overthink things! People on campus are just as worried as you are, and most people are too busy to take notice of the small, weird things you do. If something awkward does happen, if you laugh it off, others will probably laugh too! Don’t sweat the small things, and be as friendly as possible. People are a lot nicer than you’d think!