Sophia: Working Out is the Worst, Or Why You Should Join Club Sports

Let’s face it, staying in shape sucks. Sure, you know you should be hitting the gym more, but Boston gets cold! Who wants to walk to Fitrec when it’s 10 degrees out and raining? Exercise is essential for helping to fight off stress and keeping your body healthy though, even if forcing yourself to run is the worst. Fighting off the urge to stay in bed and hibernate in the winter gets so much easier when you have people to struggle with, and that’s where club sports comes in.

Since my freshman year, I’ve been a member of BU’s fencing team. The weekly practices have forced me to commit to spending time getting those endorphins flowin’, and I’ve met some of my best friends through the team. Having a commitment that I not only enjoy, but actually allows me to better myself and my health has been one of the most important parts of my life at BU. Despite all the benefits, so few of my friends in COM participate in Club Sports at BU, and to that I say it’s never too late!

BU has a number of Club Sports and intramural teams for just about every sport imaginable. Whether you’re a fiend on the ice or more into table tennis, there’s a team for you. Many are walk-on, and many give new members coaching so they can learn something new. When the mid-semester blues hit, nothing can bring you back up like the rush of a good work out, and nothing makes you want to work out like good friends. So get out there, try something new (like fencing!), help your body out, and make lifelong friends. Join club sports!


Sophia: What to do with all that time!

Class schedules are a beast of their own. A lecture at 10am, a lab at noon, and then nothing else until those sweet sweet COM night classes. Not to mention you're (hopefully) not taking all of your classes in one day, so you'll probably end up with weird gaps between classes. How do you fill this time? Too short to pick up a shift at work, too long to go wait by your next class, just the right stretch of time to leave you lost. Fear not readers! I've spent four years figuring out all the activities that can fit into those odd class gaps, and below I've listed a few of my favorites!

Bake cookies








I'm not a good cook. That said, even I can scoop dough and pop it in the oven. Pre-made cookie dough is your friend, although if you have the time to make your own more power to you. If you're one of the lucky Terriers living in a dorm with a kitchen, making a quick batch of cookies between classes is a nice way to shut your brain off for awhile. Plus, you get cookies.

Dogwatch outside COM


The people of Boston like their open spaces, and lucky for you COM student, we have an open space right outside our door! The COM lawn is a magnet for doggos, and with ample seating from various angles there's always a way to enjoy the company of these good boys. Beware! The winter weather is on the way, and with it the puppers appear less frequently. Get out there while you still can!

Listen to a podcast

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Okay, it doesn't technically have to be a podcast, but listening to something informative or just enjoyable is a great break from a day of listening to things that may not be quite so aligned with your interests. Personally, I listen to a Power Rangers recap podcast, but there are plenty of niches out there. True crime, Dungeons and Dragons, manners, history, everything on WTBU, the possibilities are endless!

Actually start on an assignment

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I had to put it on here I'm sorry, but if you have a free hour you probably could get a little work done on that reading you were assigned. We are students after all.

Sophia R: A Stray in Shanghai

As I took my sixth blurry far-away photo of a street cat on the way to class one morning, I had a realization. No, not, "I should stop using all my phone memory on cat photos", although that’s also probably true. I realized, that I was one of those street cats. No really, hear me out.

No matter where you go in Shanghai there are street cats roaming around, but all these strays have one thing in common, they found a place to call their own. From back alleys to fruit stalls, these cats all have a home. As an American living in China for the first time, I desperately wanted that comfort. Back in Boston I had a tight circle of friends, a great gyro place, a routine, but in Shanghai everything was new. The language was new. The food was new. The streets, the sights, the Ayis, all new. I spent the first week overwhelmed and lost. I worried these feelings would never go away, but I was quickly to be proven wrong.

One morning the perpetually sunny woman selling jianbing complemented my Mandarin. She did it offhandedly, and I’m sure she had said the same to every foreign kid who found themselves stumbling through an order at her stall, but I had never heard such sweet words before. Suddenly every little victory, from buying a flat iron on taobao to finding the best bao stall by campus, made me feel a little more at home. I developed a routine (which of course included the jianbing lady), and like the street cats I so love taking pictures of, I found my own little place in Shanghai. Now, almost two months into my time studying abroad, I can’t imagine having gone anywhere else.

While COM has five great study abroad programs, BU offers semesters on almost every continent for just about every interest. Look into where you can go. Madrid, Ecuador, and Shanghai, are just some of the many possibilities. You may just find a new city to call home, or better yet, some cute strays and delicious new treats.


Sophia: The Best Houseplants for BU Dorms

Unless you've got a service animal, BU dorms aren't particularly pet friendly. While the idea of sneaking your dog to school might seem fun in practice in reality there aren't a lot of options for the lonely college student. When the animal kingdom is out of reach however, look no further than the world of plants! The right houseplant can freshen the air in your room, give you something to care for, and of course, looks great! Whether you go full Poison Ivy, or are just looking for something small to start your new indoor garden, here are some of the best plants for BU dorms. 

1. Succulents and cacti

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Coming in an astounding variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, succulents are a great first plant. They're nearly impossible to kill. Succulents require little water, with most varieties only needing to be lightly watered once a week, and even with low light will be able to hang on through the Boston winter. Since you can find many very small succulents for very cheap it can be fun to get a few to fill a cute pot, or line up along the windowsill. Just beware if you go for one of the spikier varieties of cacti!

2. Pothos Ivy

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If you want more of a classic leafy green, pothos is a great hardy option. Pothos doesn't require a lot of light, and so can survive in even the dimmest Warren dorm room. As for water, pothos should be watered whenever the soil in it's pot fully dries out, in my experience every three days or so. As an ivy, pothos plants can have very cool tendrils grow out from them, so place it on a high shelf to really get that jungle vibe!

3. Snake plants

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If you're going for height in your home garden, look no further than the Snake plant! Snake plants grow up rather than out, with long green leaves. With a reputation for being hardy, Snake plants can survive in low light all throughout the coldest Boston winter. Much like pothos, Snake plants should only be watered after their soil has fully dried out, about every three to four days depending on the size of your plant. While you can get smaller started Snakes, I recommend going with a slightly taller, more mature plant, if you have the room. 

4. Spider plants

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Picture this, you have a plant, wow, amazing! Your plant makes you the coolest on your floor, but wait! Now all your friends want plants too! Enter the Spider plant. Spider plants often start sprouting smaller spider plants you can clip and give to your friends and roommates, meaning you can share the flora love! Spider plants like bright, but indirect light, and need to be watered about every three days.

5. Air plants

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Nobody, and I do mean nobody, can kill an Air plant. These guys don't need soil, and only need to be misted with water one every week or so. You can put Air plant in, on, or around anything. Geodes, frames, pots, your COM 101 textbook, anything. Much like succulents, if you're going with an Air plant you might as well go with more than one, because they can be found for very cheap and look great in a group.
While these are just some of the easiest and hardiest houseplants, there's a whole world of flora out there! Stores like economy hardware in Brookline, and Home Depot if you can go farther out of town, often have a ton of reasonably prices plants in a variety of sizes. If you're looking for something already in a cute pot and don't mind having fewer options, try Back Bay Florist on Mass Ave or Central Square Florist in Cambridge. Of course the internet can also be used for goods and services, and Amazon, Etsy, and Bloomscape all have great plants available as well. From my (obsessive amount of) plants to you, happy sprouting!


Sophia: What to Do With 500 Envelopes

Recently I had to mail in an application for an absentee ballot (make sure to vote kids!) and came across a problem, I own no envelopes. In the age of email the need to send a real actual letter is not an eventuality my stock of office supplies was prepared for, and so I did what any college student who suddenly needed snail mail would do, relied on the Internet. I figured I would use this one use of the postal service as an excuse to get some envelopes to have on hand, if for nothing else than yearly ballot applications. I selected a 50 pack on Amazon, hit order, and two days later received 500 envelopes. Turns out I am worse at numbers than I thought.
Now came the tough part, with 499 envelopes left unused, I needed to find a purpose for some of them or else lug around 500 envelopes through junior year and beyond. So I wrote letters. Grandparents, Dad, brothers, that one friend from high school whose address I actually knew, everyone got a letter. I will not lie, I put off some very important assignments to write letters, but once I started I just couldn't stop! It was fun to write down what had been happening to me recently, to update relatives I didn't get to see that often, and to spend some time thinking about friends and loved ones I missed. I don't often take breaks from the chaos of junior year, but writing these letters let me stop and reflect, and having an audience made me more motivated to write than I ever was with a journal or diary. It became a task I was doing for me, and I never stopped to think about receiving a response.
One trip to the mailbox and a week later, and I started receiving responses. I guess in the back of my mind I knew that was what occurred when you sent a letter, but in my frenzy to make use of envelopes I hadn't stopped to think about what would happen once my letters were received. There is no rush like opening a mailbox to find it full of letters, especially when all you usually receive is jury duty or Domino's pizza discounts. It made me excited to check the mail, and reading the letters I received was always a nice boost in my day. Hearing from friends and family is always nice, but being able to read and reread how they're doing is something special.
It's easier now to keep in touch than ever before, but sitting down to write shows how much you care, and makes catching up a little more special than before. So send letters. Maybe don't send 500 letters, but write to the people you care about. You'll brighten their day, and who knows! You might even get a letter in response.

Sophia R: Scores to Survive Studying

Finding somewhere to buckle down during exam season is important, but what do you listen to once you're there? I love film scores for when I need to focus and do some work. Scores are made to be driving, but not distracting, and sound great! Picking out the perfect study soundtrack can be daunting however, and searching the depths of Spotify for that one score that motivates you out of the hundreds of movies out there is an easy route to procrastination. Never fear, CA Sophia is here! I've found some of my favorite scores to keep you motivated no matter what you're doing.
1.) Thor: Ragnarok:
The score reflects the movie, and with upbeat electric steel-drum vibes, Thor: Ragnarok's score is as much fun as the film itself. This score would be great for when you need a quick energy boost to power through the end of a project.
2.) The Grand Budapest Hotel:
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Wes Anderson's scores are as quirky as his movies, and with a mix of yodeling and rhythm the Grand Budapest Hotel is no exception. The score doesn't change much in cadence or volume, so if you thrive in consistency this is a great score for you!
3.) Pacific Rim:
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Just as the movie Pacific Rim asks who doesn't love giant robots, the score asks who doesn't love electric guitars? One exciting riff later and you've got the rock-and-roll score to power through any paper.
4.) Whiplash:
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Sometimes you just want some jazz. More traditionally musical than the other scores on this list, Whiplash serves up smoother tunes and some bigger band bops to keep you on track.
5.) Speed Racer:
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You may remember Speed Racer from its brief partnership with the candy baby bottle pop, but what you should remember is the absolute banger of a score it provides. Big band meets classic rock meets the fast and the furious, Speed Racer will help you close the gap between you and the finish line in no time.
There are tons of other fantastic scores out there, but that's all for me! Good listening folks!