Looking Back as a Senior: Advice to My Freshman Year Self

By: Anna Natrakul (CAS ’22)

These are some things that I’ve learned throughout my time at BU, and I wish it wouldn’t have taken me this long to really embrace these tips!

Enjoy where you are right now

Be present in the moment without always planning for the next thing. Intentionally make time for moments of reflecting on how far you’ve come, whether this is by talking with an old friend, taking a walk, or journaling.

Sleep is NOT for the weak

Seriously, even if you might feel fine at the time, sleeping only a few hours per night is not something that you should be okay with or proud of. Create tangible sleep goals and hold yourself accountable!

Be more open to uncertainty

Don’t underestimate all the amazing people and opportunities that you will meet just by being willing to explore new things.

Say “yes” more…

Say yes to joining that club, meeting new people, and just in general putting yourself out of your comfort zone!

… but also know when to say no

Don’t put pressure on yourself to commit to things that you’re not excited about.

Spend some quality time outside every day

Yes! And don’t trick yourself into thinking that this isn’t “productive” enough for you (after all, being outdoors truly is productive for your physical and mental health).

It’s okay to live by a schedule, as long as your schedule includes time for you to relax

Regularly make time for the things that you enjoy but aren’t required to do. Try sleeping in, reading a book, catching up with family, or enjoying your favorite food.

Remember that you’re still learning

Soon you’ll look back and be amazed at all that you learned and how you grew in such a short period of time. Don’t be so hard on yourself and celebrate every small victory!

Be kind to yourself (seriously), and let your actions show it

Don’t only go out of your way to do nice things for others; also do nice things for yourself! And I mean REALLY treat yourself. Go to that symphony concert or ballet show you’ve been dying to see, go out for dinner after a difficult exam, take a break and have that movie night with friends.

By putting these tips into action, one thing I was able to do was create this painting of the Boston skyline (it’s the view from the 9th floor study lounge of Kilachand Hall) last summer. Making art has always been meaningful to me, but I hadn’t allowed myself the time nor space to truly enjoy it in a very long time. I hope that this advice can similarly encourage you as well!


Photo/Painting © Anna Natrakul 2022

What is Keystone? Takeaways from a Current Student’s Perspective

By Anna Natrakul (CAS ’22)

As a Kilachand student, you start hearing about the senior Keystone Project from the time you arrive on campus (or probably even before that). I was always excited about the idea of Keystone but did not truly understand the essence of the project until I started working on my own. As a current senior in the midst of my Keystone journey, here are some takeaway points that I hope will clarify what an amazing opportunity this is, and also get you excited about your own Keystone! 

  • Keystone is indeed a “senior project”, but not in the traditional senseWhile you gain important skills and meet certain expectations (setting a project timeline, justifying your needs for funding, collaborating with faculty, creating a deliverable, etc.), a major theme of Keystone is the agency of the studentYou have complete control in terms of shaping the project, from choosing your “pathway” to the nature of your work. You want to do Honors in your major departmentGreat. You want your deliverable to be a scholarly paper based on your ethnographic fieldwork? Amazing. You change your mind and want to create a book of poetry about your own experiences conducting the fieldwork instead? Also amazing. Although having all these choices can seem daunting at first, making your own decisions is ultimately part of what makes the experience so special. 
  • You get to choose your faculty advisorYou might send cold emails to professors you have never met or approach the principal investigator in the lab that you have worked in for years. And the way that you make this decision is… whatever feels right for your project!
  • You do not have to do a project within your specific major or collegeWhile my own research background habeen grounded in biochemical lab techniques, I chose to do a clinical data analysis project in the BU School of Public Health for my Keystone. I have limited experience in this sphere, but I am extremely interested, and my faculty advisor has given me helpful resources (e.g., relevant literature and tools for learning R) for learning along the way.  
  • You are thoroughly supported during the entire process. The Keystone process is built so that your KHC instructors and peers offer valuable insights along the way. When I was first reaching out to potential faculty advisors, some of the most helpful suggestions came from the peers in my KHC course that semesterThe KHC coursework also gives clear guidance and sets you up for organizational success, so that you do not get hung up on meeting rigid requirements. Instead, you get to focus on developing an impactful body of work that will make you proud! And to help you navigate roadblocks, changes in plans, or whatever questions you might have, you have a full team behind you. 

For more official descriptions and pertinent information, be sure to check out the Keystone Project section of the KHC website!  

(Some of) The Amazing Places to Study on Campus

By Anna Natrakul (CAS’22)

Although BU students have varying preferences when it comes to study spots, these are just a few of my favorites! I hope that this list will be helpful in finding your own favorite places to sit down and have a productive study session, whether when studying with friends or by yourself! They have been numbered in no particular order (although perhaps it is no coincidence that the 9th floor of Kilachand ended up as #1).

1. 9th floor of Kilachand Hall

Anna N 1 - 9th floor  Anna N 2 - 9th floor view

Ever since living in Kilachand Hall for my first two years at BU, this has been one of my favorite places to study (at any hour, because it is open 24/7)! The 9th floor is divided into two major sections: a quiet study lounge (perfect for getting in the right headspace for exams) and a spacious common area with additional couches (great for hanging out with friends in study groups). It has stunning panoramic views that include the Boston skyline and the Charles River! The photo on the right is the view from the 9th floor of a gorgeous sunset sky, snapped during my first semester.

2. BU School of Law Café

Anna N 3 BU Law 1  Anna N 3 BU law cafe 2  Anna N 5 BU law cafe 3

The BU School of Law Complex is beautiful in its entirety (photo on left), with tons of study nooks on its multiple floors. I especially love the spacious and bright School of Law Café on the second floor (middle and right photos), which feels like a breath of fresh air. The floor-to-ceiling windows let in tons of natural light!

3. Kilachand Common Room

Anna N 6 KHC  Anna N 7 KHC 2  Anna N 8 KHC 3

When walking into Kilachand Hall, you are greeted by the beautiful Common Room, a warm and inviting space with a piano and tons of comfortable seating. It feels like a huge living room, and this is where students often mingle, study, or attend Kilachand’s co-curricular events. I took the middle photo while taking a study break to watch a Super Smash Bros. match happening in the background, which just goes to show how versatile and well-loved this room is!

4. Yawkey Center for Student Services

Anna N 9 Yaw  Anna N 10 Yaw

This building offers amazingly bright views and is part of a building complex that includes the Educational Resource Center and Marciano Commons Dining Hall (both of which are great things to have nearby when studying)!

5. Mugar Memorial Library

Anna N Mugar 1  Anna N Mugar 2

This is one of the largest libraries on campus, so not only does it include lots of resources for doing research, writing papers, and finding books, but every floor has a different noise level, which means that you can choose to work anywhere from the bustling first floor to the silent upper floors! Work areas range from individual cubicles to common tables and lounge chairs. Most BU students would attest to Mugar being a place of intense productivity that has seen us through countless projects, papers, and exams.

Again, this list only scratches the surface of all the great BU study spots. Given this starting point, some additional places to explore include the new Howard Thurman Center, the tiny Pickering Educational Resources Library tucked in the basement of Wheelock College, and the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) Think Tank!

All photos credit Anna N.