Laurel: Cheap things to do This Winter in Boston (when the weather is frightful and far from delightful)

Oscar animated shorts at the ICA

With dates now through mid-March, catch up on all the buzz-worthy films up for top marks at the Oscars. With your student ID tickets are only $5 and it’s the perfect way to spend a chilly afternoon or evening.

Ansel Adams exhibit at the MFA 

The MFA always has fun pop-ups, rotating exhibits and after hour events. Most of the time their special events also offer special discounts for students, if not totally free with your ID. Grab a friend and go explore the short lasting Ansel Adams exhibit before it goes at the end of February! With contrasting old vs. new this exhibit is not only absolutely beautiful but fascinating as well.

Highly discounted workout classes

There are so many fun workout places that offer very cheap classes for students. You can even try out class pass completely free for a whole month! Keep an eye on fan favourites like the HandleBar who not only has a great student discount but has been known to offer free rides to students during finals. You can also check out Power Rowing in Brookline who offers cheap unlimited classes to students! Forget staying warm in winter, work up a sweat instead!

Movies at Coolidge Corner with a discount on ice cream after from JP Licks

Coolidge Corner is arguably the best movie theatre in Boston! The old-time theatre feels with the classic film format is impressive on its own. Make a night of it and keep your ticket stub to get a discount on ice cream at JP Licks afterwards!

Dare I say it, sporting games

This may be very obvious considering we have a plethora of teams here in Boston, but seriously there are multiple ways to grab cheap tickets last minute to games for the Celtics and Bruins. The Beanpot tournament is every February at TD Garden which is a nice change of pace for BU students. If you can’t go to the Beanpot, tickets to hockey and basketball games at BU are always free!

Cheap tickets to the Theatre 

Check out the various theatres in downtown Boston. Most of them have affiliations with colleges in the are and offer wonderful student discounts! An Inspector Calls is a classic coming up next month at Emerson’s theatre and student tickets are a steal!

BU Arts initiative newsletter 

The BU Art initiative sends out regular newsletters featuring awesome art activities going on in the week. Some are completely free to BU students! Last semester I took a calligraphy class where I left with my own calligraphy set! Sign up to receive updates on film shows, art pop-ups and more!

Explore Boston’s Cafe Scene 

Boston has great cafes, especially in the greater Boston area, so make a day of it and explore the surrounding towns through coffee shops, you may discover places that you would have never known where there. And while you’re at it let me know your favorites because I survive on coffee and hot coco in the winter.

Laurel: How to Be Fashionable and Sustainable

Given the recent midterm elections, it got me thinking a lot about policies, especially environmental policies. To me, some of the most important votes are the ones about our environment and how we choose to treat it. Thinking too much about its current state of the environment could get you depressed quite easily but what always uplifts me is the amount I can do as an individual to change that.

Now, we all know by now to use a reusable water bottle, take reusable grocery bags to the story and so on. There are tons of tips and tricks to make your life more sustainable: use a soap bar of shampoo to not use a plastic bottle, ditch those plastic straws. But did you ever think about the clothing you wear daily is both capable of harming the environment and helping it depending on how you shop?

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Clothing is being vastly overproduced around the world with many of the unsold items being wasted. This creates a chain of problems for the environment especially considering how harmful some clothing material can be to the earth when not disposed of properly. That is why I have made the conscious effort to shop more sustainably and have created a short list of the brands you can shop to do the same.

 One of the easiest ways to keep on trend while remaining sustainable is by shopping at stores that make their clothing out of recycled materials. One notable company is Everlane, who now makes winter coats out of water bottles. Of, you can opt to shop local with a brand that uses old fabrics, deconstruct them and turn them into something new like Elliot Clothing who uses recycled materials such as repurposed raw silk.

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Then, there are other brands that don’t produce the item you want until you buy it. What that means is that they are not overproducing so their materials will not go to waste if no one buys a certain style. Though this slows down the buying process, it forces us to think about how much we buy compared to how much is produced. A great brand that keeps demand and supply curve steady is Only Child based out of Oakland, CA.

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Some of the biggest negative environmental issues that arise from clothing brands are poor factories that pollute the air and create unsafe human working conditions. Everlane has been transparent about their factories and working conditions making a movement to be completely plastic free in packaging while creating safe environments for humans to work.

 Other notable brands that focus on environmental sustainability are Reformation, J. Crew and Madewell. Both J. Crew and Madewell have made strides toward sustainable clothing by repurposing old jeans to insulate houses and creating eco-friendly jeans. One of the easiest forms is simply shopping at local thrift stores and repurposing clothing so it does not add waste to the world.

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I encourage you to take more care in where you shop. Anything from workout leggings to swimsuits are being made out of plastic that is repurposed. There are so many more brands trying to create a world of fashion sustainably.  

Laurel: Why I Started Reading (For Fun!) My Senior Year of College

Over the summer I had a serious thought: When was the last time I read a book for pure enjoyment? I honestly couldn’t tell you. I can tell you the last time I watched Netflix as a form of procrastination, but I never read a book when I have nothing else to do. Sometimes I think it’s because with school work and the amount of reading I am assigned that it feels like extra “work” to read any more. When watching a show, you can just let your mind relax. But is that still a valid excuse to not read?

 This summer I decided it wasn’t. Something that students might not know is that we are also eligible for a library card from the Boston Public Library (BPL)! So, I decided to go to the library and sign myself up!


Another reason I have always avoided reading was because I never knew what to read. What do I like? What will I stick with and finish? What genre is entertaining to me? There are so many endless options that I could never figure out where to start.

 Luckily for me, the BPL has a shelf in the front called “Lucky Day.” It’s a shelf that the library fills with popular books, most of which have a waiting list to read. They take the books out of rotation to give other people the option to read them if it is their “lucky day.” That’s where I started.

 The benefit of the “Lucky Day” section is that you only get 14 days to read the book as opposed to the normal 30-day rental. You also cannot renew the book, unlike normal rentals. This forced me to read my books in a rather short time frame. That really got me on a roll.



 Instead of finishing my day with some Netflix, I read. I found it relaxing and a nice quiet change of pace. I went to coffee shops to sit and read. I found new parks to read in. It got me out and about, enjoying things at a slower pace than I am used to.

 It was more of a personal goal of mine, to feel more connected to something. I almost viewed it as a form of personal growth. What I didn’t expect was to tell my friends what I had been up to and realize they had been reading for enjoyment all along and had plenty of recommendations for me. One of the most helpful recommendations I got was to download the app Goodreads where you can connect with friends and see what they have read, how they rated it, what they are reading, and what is on their reading bucket list. It doesn’t get more fun than that!

(You can also scan books and find other ratings and reviews to see if it sounds like something that is interesting to you!)

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But this isn’t just to convince you to download an app or even to tell you to start reading, though you should as the famous scientist Carl Sagan wrote that there are more books in the world than anyone could ever possibly read so you really don’t want to miss your chance to read the small percentage that you can. Instead, I wrote this because the best thing I have gotten out of my new reading endeavor is the book clubs I’ve gone to, sitting on coffee shop patios bonding with strangers over the same emotions and reactions to the book.  The people I’ve interacted with at the libraries whether it be the librarian that always helps me find the book to the old woman I sat with as we read for hours. Or the deeper level of friendship my friends and I share over our book preferences and so on. Me stepping out of my comfort zone, trying something I knew wasn’t my strong point (I’m talking to you elementary school Laurel with the low-level reading comprehension) and really enjoying being unplugged and relaxed from the world and school.

We have such little time to enjoy college and the four years feels like two by the end of it. It would be a shame to not continuously try something new, whether it be something as small as reading for pure enjoyment. I hope you too find something that excites you like I have and brings you closer to the community around you as it has for me. Happy reading!

Laurel: NYFW Essentials

New York fashion week has come and gone, but its trends will last forever...or at least for the spring season. 

Whether you care about staying on top of the trends or not, we are all sucked into the rabbit hole of the aftermath of fashion weeks around the world. You may think you are being original when you buy 90’s wear at the store, but the only reason it is being sold to begin with is because of the influence of these major designers. It’s a never failing and everlasting marketing mastermind that has been constructed and tailored by the fashion industry. 

So, since it’s not going anywhere and we are never going to stop buying clothes why not embrace it? Here are the top trends from fashion week and a guide of how to take the runway and make it wearable. We all know, thanks to celebrities like Lady Gaga and Rhianna, sometimes runway outfits can be a little....out there so I've given you some ideas on how to transform them into your wardrobe.  

First things first, gone are the times of your jeans being the dreaded and uncomfortable wardrobe essential and welcome to the bold statement pant. Otherwise known as “fancy pants” quite literally, these are anything from jeans to embroidery, fringe, flare or even ruffles. On the runway, you may find sheer or even two different colored legs and if that is a little too far out of your comfort zone, stores like Anthropologie and Madewell have you covered with some spiced up basics. 

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Moving on we have a personal favorite of mine...pastels. Who doesn’t love a good color scheme and a color coordinated wardrobe? You may laugh now but when you tailor your wardrobe colors to complement each other your outfit possibilities multiply. On the runway, you may find head to toe one solid and baggy pastel ensemble but stores likeAritzia offer a more refined and sleek look for everyday wear. 

Fashion Week 2 pastel

Next up we have bright bold and the way to tell when someone over edited their Instagram picture...saturated! This is a fun twist to include in your spring wardrobe and especially as we start itching toward those summer months and beach vacations. What better way to daydream about a tropical oasis then dressing like you’re already on vacation? If all saturated isn’t your thing try bold tops with a basic pant or vice versa. If bright is your enemy but you want to stay #hip then opt for a colorful statement jewelrypiece instead. 

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Finally, one of my personal favorites—fringe! Fringe is the new black if you ask me. Now this one can be done in many ways. Wear it head to toe like the runway models or get a ~fringe-y~ bag or accessories. Either way you’re going to look like the coolest kid on the block!

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Now, go forth fashionably.

Laurel: Food For Thought: Getting Deep in those Philosophy requirements

I sat in the COM advising office, talking to my advisor about the various general requirements I had yet to complete. As he went through the last few that I needed to finish, it never dawned on me that one of those random courses would alter my perspective on life.

This isn’t one of those moments where my life was forever changed and a whole new world opened up. Rather, it was a moment that I had realized what I have been doing wrong since I started as a freshman here at Boston University.

Philosophy 110, Great Philosophers as it’s called on the registration form. I thought it would be easy—I was wrong. I thought it would have no benefit to me—I was wrong. I thought that it would be the least of my worries that semester and that I could fly by focusing more of my energy in my communication classes, where my passion really was—as the theme continues, I was wrong.

When someone asked me how my classes were I described myself as being captivated by philosophy. I never realized that argument was such an articulate and intricate part of philosophical framework. Top it off with most of the philosophers we studied being dead, it left us as a class full of students searching to make sense of the arguments, getting stuck in the loopholes, and trying to put ourselves in the shoes of Descartes to figure out what he really meant by, “I think, therefore I am.”

But, as I said. This isn’t going to be about me preaching how important it is to get to know your professors or the best classes are the ones you enjoy. You should know that, it’s all good advice, but what I’m here to tell you is the best classes, the absolute best lessons, are the ones that tell you everything you are doing is wrong.

Existentialism is the study of the meaning of life. What is the purpose of life? What happens after life? All questions that people yearn for the answer to. Albert Camus gave me no clarification on the deep, forever uncertain questions I have, but he gave me a slap of reality that we are asking the wrong questions. First things first, Camus says its essential to acknowledge your own death and until you do so, you will never fully start living.  Okay, so great, I’m telling you that we are all going to die, at some point, in some way, we will all die eventually. But, it gets better (slightly more depressing, but indeed better). It gets better in the sense that we are all going to die eventually and to top it off, life is meaningless. Now, before you freak out on me and tell me that there are plenty of things that give your life meaning, let me try to convince you that you too are wrong.

There is an absurdity that Camus found in life. The absurd is evoked when you recognize that eventually you are going to die, but yet you still fight for a meaning of life. In other words, you recognize the ultimate death we are all faced with but yet you continue to take life too seriously. There is a certain futileness and pointlessness to life since eventually we will have worked so hard for it all to be over. To Camus, and now to me, it is absurd, pointless, silly even for us all to be so caught up in the importance of our lives, so concerned to accomplish some greater meaning and worried about our relevance when we are gone, it is all nothing more than absurd.

I warned you…depressing I know. But now I’m going to cheer you back up. You may be asking yourself how then, do you live a life that is not absurd and that is not pointless? The answer is as simple as it seems, embrace the absurdity. To put it more clearly, recognize. Recognize that you are nothing more than a small speck in a huge world and that this world is just one planet in a solar system positioned in a galaxy of infinite worlds and possibilities and possibly infinite galaxies. In all the spans of history and all the life that has yet to come coupled with the vastness of the universe, our own personal lives are completely irrelevant. We are a speck of matter surrounded by infinitely more matter and infinitely more time. However, if we choose to acknowledge that, if we choose to recognize the silliness of taking our lives too seriously, we no longer live in the absurd.

To put it simply, I know my life will result in death, I am aware of it and I know that all this hard work and stress will amount to my death as well. But because I can recognize it, I am not living an absurd life. The problem with most people is that they take themselves and their lives too seriously. It’s unfortunate, really. Because when you begin to take it too seriously you lose the fun, the light heartedness and the ease that life is supposed to have.

I’m most certainly not saying “don’t work hard” or “forget it all, nothing matters,” but what I am say is: when your life feels like it’s too much stress, you’re too overwhelmed, and it doesn’t seem worth it, you have to remind yourself of the bigger picture, that none of this truly matters in the scheme of reality. What matters is that you enjoy it. Allow yourself to recognize the pointlessness and let that be a source of comfort when you take it all too seriously. It’s not the best solution, but I take it to heart to remind myself “Why the heck am I freaking out about this?” or “Why aren’t I just enjoying myself when that is the only thing I truly have control over?”

It’s not the warm and fuzzy answer I was looking for when I pondered the meaning of life. But I appreciate the bluntness and I respect the reality of the theory. We have very little control over our existence, so take the little we have and enjoy it.

Laurel: What I Learned Traveling Alone During Study Abroad

This past summer I studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland. Of course, I made great friends and got to know the various people in my program, but I also wanted to take myself out of my comfort zone and do the things I wanted to do even if it meant I…dare I say it… did it alone. But, this isn’t going to be a ground-breaking post about the beautiful ways I found my “real” self and explored the depths of my personality while growing like a butterfly grows out of their cocoon. Instead, I’m going to tell you that it is and isn’t all it’s cracked up to be all the time.

 1) It is a learning and growing experience

When you venture out on your own, in a place you have never been or are unfamiliar with it can be intimidating, but you will learn a lot about the place, the people and yourself. As cliché as it sounds, the time to yourself to explore a new place will lead you to also explore yourself. This can be anything from building your confidence in asking people for help, getting comfortable with the ever-dreaded eating alone, and learning or expanding your limitations.

 2) It’s not always all it is cracked up to be

 You can go on the internet and read thousands of posts just like this one. The main difference will be every post glorifies traveling alone. In reality, things may go wrong, you may get lost, you might miss a train and you might come home wishing it went differently. That’s when the personal growth kicks in and you have to force yourself to look at the positives. That’s easier said than done, just like it is easier to travel with a buddy rather than alone because maybe that means you don’t get lost or you have someone else to blame when you do. Regardless it may not be sunshine and roses, but odds are there were moments of clear skies and at points you could smell the roses.

3) You may feel lonely and that’s okay

(If you are ever feeling too lonely while traveling solo, find an animal to feel instantly better)

Sometimes when we are surrounded by friends and company it becomes easy to forget how comfortable that makes us because it feels like second nature. So, when we venture without our comfort blanket of company, it can be jarring. It’s okay to walk around and feel lonely that you don’t have anyone to talk to. Similarly, it is okay to sit at a restaurant and feel a little blue that everyone around you is joking and laughing with friends. It is in that moment that we can appreciate the time we spend with friends and also push ourselves to be more open and outgoing.

4) You will do what you want on your own time and that is freeing

This is possibly the best part of traveling alone—you are on your own time. That means you can see what you want when you want and don’t have to compromise your plans to adjust to someone else’s. Go eat where you want, however much you want and be happy that you have the freedom to do so.

5) You will slow down

When you go alone and have the downtime of eating by yourself and walking without someone to talk to, you would be shocked at how much more you see. Whether that be observing the people, places or both, when you slow down, you will gain a whole new appreciation for the place you are in and that is what you will cherish most.

 6) It will be humbling

When you go through all of the ups and downs of traveling alone, it becomes a humbling experience. You gain more appreciation for your friends, you respect the place you are in, and greater appreciation for every other person you see traveling alone.

7) The biggest challenge will be finding a person to take that cute not candid but candid photo

Enough said. It’s always awkward to ask a stranger to take fake candid of you “exploring a castle” or “laughing with a latte.” Sometimes you get lucky and find the other solo traveler willing to take your picture if you take theirs, but there is no guarantee. So, if you want pics to prove it you have to suck it up and ask… especially if you’re like me and want to prove you found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

8) You are 1000x more likely to meet people and connect deeper

 When you travel alone and go to restaurants or cafes it makes you way more approachable to the locals than you would be with a group of people. This opens the door for you to connect with people and learn about them in a way you would never be able to before. The only caveat is you have to put yourself out there to get anything in return.

Traveling on your own can be the most challenging, yet personally rewarding experience you have. Do not be afraid to experience the highs and lows to learn about yourself, the city and those around you.

Laurel: Anything but Square: Union Square Donuts Review

Union Square Donuts are not anything like your local neighborhood donut shop; that is unless you can find a maple donut with actual bacon on top. Odds are, you won’t. Union Square, located in the Boston Public Market, Somerville, and Brookline, offers its customers a vast array of decadent flavors that will keep people begging for more. Anywhere from coconut to sugar raised to seasonal flavors such as orange cardamom and poppy seed—Union Square has it all!

I have brought every family member who’s come to visit me to Union Square and every reaction is the same—they fall in love. My aunt even took a box home to the rest of her family so Union Square ended up in California!

My previous visits had been about the enjoyment of eating a donut, but this time I went to perform a formal taste test so you all can indulge with confidence!  I brought my friend along with me, a notorious picky eater, so if he was impressed, we can all rest easy. I was tempted to walk on the wild side and try the Boston Cream donut, but my childhood roots pulled me to the birthday cake, a classic cake donut with chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkles. Justin, my trustworthy companion, opted for the classic sugar raised, a donut tossed in cinnamon sugar. We were both thoroughly impressed at the lightness of the donuts; they were not dense and did not leave you feeling stuffed with carbs. The chocolate was rich and flavorful and the cake donut had the classic texture and consistency. The sugar raised was light and fluffy with the perfect coating for flavor. Overall, we were very impressed and already planning our next trip.

Union Square prides itself on their unique in-house recipes using wholesome ingredients to make fresh donuts daily. Their care and attention to detail is evident in every bite! Go forth and explore the upscale world of gourmet donuts in your local New England.

**Aside from fancy flavors, Union Square offers vegan donuts to accommodate donut lovers of all dietary needs. **

Laurel: A Guide to Navigating the Historic, Ever Trendy, Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill is perhaps the most history entangled one-stop-shop Boston has to offer. With its prime location surrounded by the Boston Common, Massachusetts State House, and the Charles River Esplanade, there is no better place to spend your day.

One of Boston’s most historic neighborhoods, Beacon Hill houses about 10,000 of Boston’s finest among the luxurious, aesthetically pleasing, quaint brownstone setting. Filled with rich history and just steps away from the heart of the bustling downtown, Beacon Hill has become an oasis for the local, the tourist, and the resident.

You don’t need to study the history books to learn the context behind the cobblestone alleyways or who designed the English style brick buildings. Rather, take a stroll up and down the streets to read the history plaques for yourself. When you’re there, you may come across anything from Mount Vernon housing six of Boston’s most prominent citizens way back in 1795 to a few of the first free-standing mansions that housed some of the most famous revolutionaries throughout the century.

Tour the State House, walk the streets, or play in the park. Afterward, meander along Charles Street to fully experience the charm and delight for yourself.

First, take a stroll through the tiny yet charming Deluca’s Market. Go in the summer months to find cute flowers lining the sidewalk or pop in during the winter to browse the character-rich aisles.

Keep your head on a swivel as you continue walking through the blocks. On your way, you will find some of Boston’s best cuisine. Try The Paramount for the best comfort and breakfast food all day long. If you are looking for some pizza, try Figs or pop in three doors down to The Upper Crust. (Maybe you have a pizza showdown with all your COM friends!) If you are in need of a classy brunch stop or a romantic dinner, try Beacon Hill Bristo or wander into one of the endless amounts of Italian restaurants ranging from casual to gourmet.

Whatever you do, do not forget to stop by Tatte Bakery for the best vanilla latte, pastries and brunch to propel you into a life of bliss. The owner designs each Boston location down to the tile on the floor. When it comes to Tatte, the line is indicative of the quality—worth the wait.

When your tummy is full, Beacon Hill still entertains. Walk around and find alleyways such as Acorn Street for the perfect photo opt to capture your aesthetic. Explore the beauty and get lost in the cobblestone.

Don’t be afraid to stop into the shops. The boutiques carry anything from home decor to casual clothing, even pure cashmere! There will always be something for everyone. Find your dog a cute new leash or leave with a pair of skis from the local ski shop. Keep walking to find the classic J.P. Licks for some ice cream and cross on over to the esplanade or work your way back to the park. Either way, Beacon Hill is a great way to spend a day. Relax, walk around, read through the history and discover the best qualities (both touristy and not) that Beacon Hill has to offer.