Steven G: How to make the most out of Plan G

How to Make the Most of Plan G

By: Steven Gelman

This semester did not turn out how I planned it—at all. 

Here’s how this semester was supposed to go, my Plan A:

I would spend my spring semester abroad in London. It would be my first time traveling abroad, and certainly the furthest I’ve ever been from home. I would live with my current roommate (and fellow COM Ambassador) Nick, and I would intern at a production company or newspaper in London. I’d finally get to have that unforgettable “abroad experience” everyone loves to talk about.

But, as you know, some things got in the way. There was a small (maybe kind of big) global pandemic. My plans were ruined—or so I thought. It turned out that closing some doors actually opened new ones.

When the pandemic hit I immediately began brainstorming new plans. Plan A turned into Plan B, then into Plan C, and so on. (I think now I’m somewhere around Plan G.)

Eventually, I found an open door— a fellowship program working with WBUR, Boston’s NPR affiliate, and one of the country’s best public radio stations. The program is a collaboration between the Department of Journalism and WBUR, and is geared towards students interested in public radio, podcasting, and multimedia journalism (students like me!) COM’s WBUR Fellowship program was one of the opportunities that made me decide to go to BU. You can read more about the program here.

But, being so focused on my Plan A, I had forgotten about the opportunity—I simply didn’t have the time to participate in the fellowship if I went abroad. But after the pandemic hit, and when the fall semester rolled around, I applied for the fellowship, fully confident I’d be rejected and move on to Plan H. But I moved to the next round. And then I moved to the next round. And then before I knew it, I got the fellowship. I finally had my plan, my Plan G.

Of course, Plan G came with its own set of Covid-19 safety precautions; the fellowship was, and still is, remote. I was worried this would lessen the quality of my fellowship experience, but I was very quickly proven wrong. It was amazing to see how effectively the newsroom was able to run remotely. I quickly learned the ropes and got to help produce segments with everyone from Dr. Fauci to Ibram X. Kendi to Boston’s first Black, first female mayor, Kim Janey. We also were able to host weekly “Ask The Docs” segments where listeners call in with their questions related to Covid-19 and vaccines; it has been so rewarding providing this public service to Boston residents at a time when they really need reputable information from medical professionals. This experience has been so rewarding, and I can’t wait to continue it in the summer. And none of it would have been possible if I didn’t lose my Plan A. 

So, if I’ve learned anything from this past year, it’s that you shouldn’t worry about your Plan A. Because there’s always a Plan B,  Plan C, and so on, until eventually, you find your plan G. 

Steven: Reflections on an Unprecedented Semester

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With final exams upon us, I wanted to take some time to reflect on this ~unprecedented~ semester. This semester taught me a lot about myself, and I wanted to share what I learned with all of you. I hope that my experiences help you all as we head into the next semester. So what did I learn? I’m glad you asked! 

1) It’s okay to not have a 5-year-plan

Prior to the pandemic, I was the type of person who always had to have my next move planned. I had a pretty clear plan for what I wanted my next couple of semesters at BU to look like I’d stay in Boston and be a FYSOP coordinator over the summer, then stay in Boston in the fall, and then go abroad to London for the spring semester.

When COVID hit, those plans quickly went out the window. The FYSOP program went remote, and I was no longer able to stay in Boston for the summer. Then, the abroad program was suspended for the spring semester. My plan A quickly became a plan B, and then a plan C, and so on (I think I might be at plan G by now).

In the past, not having a plan would have terrified me. But this semester taught me that it’s okay not to know what the future holds, and that freeing yourself from your plan A can actually open up a lot of new opportunities that you didn’t even know existed. 

2) Get comfortable with having to adapt

The pandemic was definitely a crash course in adapting to new circumstances. Being a Journalism and Film & Television double major, most of my classes were hands-on and production-based, or they required me to go out into the community to report. 

I was worried that these classes would not be able to function with the pandemic going on, but what I soon learned was that there was so much you could still do during the pandemic as long as you got comfortable with adapting to the circumstances.

 I was able to go out and report, work on productions and shoots, and still do what I would’ve done during a traditional semester, it just required wearing masks, staying socially distant, and using hand sanitizer before and after using equipment. 

3) You have to learn to learn from a distance

This semester also taught me how to learn virtually. I realized that learning online can be difficult and distracting, and it required some extra effort on my part to get what I wanted out of my classes. I had to relearn how to take notes, rid myself of distractions, (I would lock my phone in my closet) and take advantage of virtual office hours. Figuring out your habits while learning virtually can help a lot as we head into the next semester!

4) Everything starts with self-care

This semester also taught me a lot about self-care. I definitely found myself overwhelmed by the state of the world. When life feels like you’re living in a history book, it can be difficult to focus on your own needs. I found it helpful to take time to disconnect. No phones, no screens, and ABSOLUTELY no Zoom. This went a long way in helping me keep sane this semester, and also gave me more time to focus on my personal relationships with friends and family.

5) You can still get a lot done during a pandemic!

Despite the circumstances, I was still able to do some of the most rewarding work I’ve done so far at COM. I got to make a documentary about love and relationships during the pandemic. I wrote a feature-length screenplay. I reported for an entire semester on a community leader from Roxbury who’s been running her organization through the pandemic. I took some of my favorite classes at COM so far, and I never would have thought I’d be able to do as much as I did this semester!

Ultimately, this semester taught me to be grateful; to be grateful for my friends and family, for the opportunities available to me at BU and COM, and for the opportunity to learn in such an unprecedented time. This semester was difficult, but it was rewarding, and I’m excited to see what the future holds (whatever that future may look like).

Steven: Why do FYSOP?

Hey guys! I hope you’re all enjoying your summers! For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Steven Gelman and I’m a Junior studying Film & Television and Journalism. This summer, I’m serving double duty as both a COM Ambassador and a FYSOP Coordinator! For this blog post, I wanted to talk a little bit about FYSOP, what it’s going to look like this year, and why you should participate in it!

The First Year Student Outreach Project, or FYSOP, is an annual service learning program for  incoming first-year students. This is the 31st year of FYSOP, and for the first time, it is a remote experience. This shouldn’t discourage you from participating, though. I am super confident that this year’s FYSOP will be an invaluable opportunity for first-year students to connect with your peers before arriving on campus, all while learning about your home during your time at BU, Boston. So, why do FYSOP? Let me tell you:

1. You can connect with students before arriving on campus

When I was a first-year student, my biggest concern was finding friends. Thinking back to my experience, it’s hard to imagine never meeting anyone in person before arriving on campus, which is exactly what many of you are experiencing. If you feel the same way I felt about wanting to connect with other students before arriving on campus, FYSOP is a great opportunity to meet some fresh faces before classes start.

2. You will get to learn more about yourself, BU and Boston

FYSOP will be your first opportunity to get to know your new home during your time at BU, Boston. You will get to know the different communities that make up Boston, interact with many community partners, and learn more about one of seven social justice focus areas! (My focus area is Youth and Family Advocacy, and we’re pretty awesome). If you have any interest in getting to know Boston better, I’d highly encourage you to participate!

3. It’s $10 (yes, $10)

FYSOP is literally $10 this year. That’s the equivalent of 4 trips on the T, a quesadilla at Bay State Underground, or a plate of Panda Express at the GSU. At that price point, FYSOP is super accessible for anyone who wants to participate.

4. You can participate from your bed

With FYSOP being remote this year, you truly can participate from anywhere. Everything planned for FYSOP is also going to be recorded, so if you’re an international student, you can participate too!

5. You get a T-Shirt

That’s right, FYSOP is only $10 AND you get a T-shirt. What more do you need to know?

For me, FYSOP was just what I needed as a first-year. It helped spark my love for community service and social justice, allowed me to make friends before classes started, and taught me a lot about myself and my role in the community. If you have any doubts about participating, I’d encourage you to go for it! I promise you won’t regret it 🙂

Steven: CLUBS CLUBS CLUBS (clubs)

Clubs open so many doors for you at BU and in COM, and for me,  clubs have helped me find friends, gain professional experience, and find communities of like-minded people that have made this big campus feel so much smaller. I wanted to share my experiences with clubs on campus my first-year at BU, so hopefully you can learn from what I’ve learned. So without further ado, here is what I’ve learned about all things clubs.

The best thing about COM is its clubs.

Yeah, I said it *drops mic.* COM classes are great, don’t get me wrong, but the best experiences I’ve had as a student so far have come from the clubs I joined. As a Freshman, I signed up for both WTBU & BUTV10,  our radio station and television station, respectively. These clubs are fun, but they also have academic value; through BUTV10 and WTBU, I figured out I really wanted to be a Film & Television major instead of a Journalism major. Without these clubs, I probably would have still been undeclared right now.

Clubs give you professional, hands on experience as soon as you arrive on campus.

I was amazed by how quickly I got hands-on experience through clubs. My third week at BU I walked into a radio show with no idea what being an intern entailed. I quickly found out that being an intern meant I was actually speaking, on-air, with a group of strangers I had literally just met. Within a year, though, those DJs became some of my closest friends, and I was SO much more comfortable using radio equipment and speaking to an audience.

At BUTV, I was immediately trained to use cameras, hang lights, set up boom microphones, and use recording software. The best thing about the television  programs at BUTV was that I was able to dabble in many different aspects of television production, and find what I was interested in.

Clubs can help you find friends with similar interests.

Some of my best friends have been made through clubs at BU. Equally valuable, these friends are now professional contacts for my future career. I can’t understate how important clubs have been for me in making a campus of 16,000 undergraduates feel smaller. I truly feel like I’ve found a community through the clubs I’ve been in, and made my transition into college as smooth as possible.

Joining clubs and finding out what you’re not interested in is equally valuable as finding  out what you are.

Perhaps the strongest piece of advice I can give you is that even if you drop a club, you still  learned something. I dabbled in Journalism-oriented clubs my Freshman year, only to realize it wasn’t my main interest. I soon found that my academic interests weren’t aligned with my extracurriculars, and this realization helped me decide on changing my major. So dive in; join that acapella groups (even if you can’t sing), try out for that comedy group (even though you’re not funny), and find your COMmunity.