The Five Best Places to Study at BU

By Gabrielle Gewirtz CAS ‘24

As a new semester is getting underway, it’s time to revisit the best study spots on BU campus. BU is well known as a big campus, which can seem intimidating, but with this list, you are sure to find new places to help you crank out that paper that’s especially hard to write or just do some last-minute readings.

Questrom Starbucks

In my opinion, the Starbucks located in Questrom is the best Starbucks on campus. The coffee is great, and there’s usually good music playing. The booths are particularly comfortable to sit and camp out in, and it’s even more fun when you’re studying there with friends.

3rd Floor of Mugar Library

The first floor of Mugar is also a great study area but is usually incredibly crowded. The third floor, however, is usually less crowded and is a just as good, if not better, study spot. The rows of desks give you a bit of privacy while also being able to talk to the person next to you if you are with friends. Studying within the bookshelves also, at least for me, makes me feel more studious and gets me in the mood to do work.

1st Floor of CGS

This might seem like a weird spot, but the comfortable couches are too hard to ignore. I also really like the atmosphere; most people are also doing work, and everyone is usually doing something different, so this is a great space if you are working alone on an assignment.

CAS Think Tank

This is for all the people that need a quiet study space. The Think Tank is usually silent, and so this is a great place for people studying alone. There are a lot of outlets to charge any devices you have, and there are different seating arrangements (desks, chairs, couches) so that you can choose the spot that makes you the most comfortable.

Kilachand Common Room

This is not a quiet space, so if you need to be in absolute silence to do work, this is not the place for you. However, it’s always nice to go downstairs (especially if you are living in Kilachand) and study while also getting into conversation with whoever else is in the common room at the time. The close proximity to the kitchen is also really nice for eating snacks while studying.

I hope this list has helped you find new places to study, or even just new places to hang out. Good luck to everyone this semester!

A Summer in Boston – from a Fellow Premed

Emma Kraus CAS'23

My MCAT was scheduled for August 27th. This date was starred, circled, highlighted and burned into my memory in May as I moved into my sublet for summer 2022, a cozy but small apartment in Fenway. Thinking about it made me cringe and force myself to take a breath. It was going to be a long summer.

My study schedule was personalized for my learning habits and I had planned it out perfectly, but this doesn’t mean looking at a 5 days a week, 8 hour a day summer full of studying was anything to look forward to. I think I may have explored every nook or the GSU and Mugar Library, and by the end of the summer, I could tell you anything about that library (Floor 3 has the comfiest chairs, a women’s restroom and a water bottle refilling station but it often gets cold. Floor 2, however, is much more comfortable but no water bottle refilling station and floor 6 doesn't have large tables to spread out.)

Despite all my doom and gloom in the wake of my MCAT, I was determined to enjoy my summer as a college student in Boston. Twice a week, I worked as a medical scribe at a head and neck oncology clinic, and found so much joy in my work. I fell in love with gossiping at the nurses station, my coffee conversations with my PA and attending, and getting to meet so many patients who never gave up even when they had to undergo another round of chemo. Like many other rising seniors this summer, I got a glimpse of the “after undergrad” life, and it kept me motivated to finish strong, although I was already so eager to contribute everything I had learned to a world outside college.

My best friend, also studying for the MCAT while in her hometown Toronto, helped me make an Instagram account called @MCAT_caffeine where we would explore coffee shops in Boston and Toronto and share them with our followers (my mom and I think 6 other people?). I probably looked like a crazy person when I visited these places, sometimes crouching down to get a good picture of my latte or trying to discreetly snap a photo of the bakery items that day. But I didn’t care. I was finding happiness in the little things the city of Boston gave me that summer.

As I write this, I don’t know what score I received yet on my test. But I know I worked hard and tried my best. BU helped me prepare, and my desire to become a physician pushed me the rest of the way. Not to be dramatic, but there were definitely some low points. Looking back on the summer, however, most of what I can remember is kayaking down the Charles river, trying new coffee every week, going out to bars after I finalllllyyyy turned 21, and just being grateful to have the opportunity to experience Boston in a different light.

*Side note: if any reader has coffee questions, MCAT studying questions, or just any thoughts they want to share with me, I’d love to hear! You can contact me at my email: emmank@bu.edu

A Beginner’s Guide to BU Dining

Rebecca Sarkisian (Questrom'23)

Going to college and living away from home for the first time can be hard, especially when you think about not being able to have home-cooked food. And while nothing can replace a home-cooked meal, BU Dining does its best to keep you well-fed so you can focus on making the most out of your college experience.

As a freshman in Kilachand, you’ll be living in a dorm-style residence, meaning that you’ll be required to have a meal plan. BU offers a variety of different meal plan options, each carrying a different amount of meal swipes and dining points. Meal swipes get you into the dining halls, while dining points can be used at to-go style on-campus eating options.

Since my freshman year, I’ve been on the Unlimited Plan. While it’s not the most common option, I’ve found that it’s the best option for me since I typically eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the dining hall. I also sometimes like to go to the dining hall in the afternoon when it’s less busy to study and have a snack, which my Unlimited Plan allows me to do without worrying about wasting a meal swipe.

The main dining halls on campus are Marciano, Warren, and West. Marciano is right across the street from Kilachand Hall, so it’s where you’ll probably eat most of your meals. Marciano features two floors of seating and food options with tons of natural light (and a view of Fenway Park on one side of the dining hall). In addition to dining hall staples like a salad bar, deli, and grill, there’s also a vegan station and a gluten-free station to accommodate different dietary restrictions.

The meals at the dining hall have a lot of variety, but my personal favorite days are the dining hall events. Each Fall, all of the dining halls have Lobster Night where every student gets a full lobster. The dining halls also have other events like ‘90s Night and holiday events like Thanksgiving, Spring Brunch, and Halloween.

If you want to add some variety outside of the dining halls, you can use your dining points at to-go locations across campus. At the George Sherman Union, you can find Starbucks, Panda Express, Basho for sushi, Greens & Grains for salads, Rhett’s for burgers and chicken, and CRBC for sandwiches, along with rotating menus at Open Kitchen and The Market. There’s also Einstein Bros. Bagels in the basement of CAS, and Starbucks and Breadwinners in Questrom, along with more locations around campus.

There’s never a lack of good food at BU, but you can’t forget that you’re in the middle of Boston with tons of amazing restaurants as well! Make sure you explore the city and see what else there is to offer.


Image © Rebecca Sarkisian 2022

Favorite Study Spots on Campus

Hannah Martin (CAS'25)

Throughout my first year at BU, I have discovered quite a few spots on campus. Since it is such a large university, there are tons of places available for study needs. Whether you need to collaborate, a silent study room, or an area with white noise, there is definitely a spot on campus that will work for you. In this blog post, I’m going to share my favorite spots to study, and give a little reasoning for why they work so well for me.

1. Questrom Starbucks

Questrom! The building itself is a wonder to look at, and there are a multitude of spaces to finally finish that essay you have been putting off for weeks. I am quite literally sitting at a booth inside Questrom as I write this blog post. Some honorable Questrom mentions include the Pardee Library, and the common room found upon the entrance of the building. However, Questrom Starbucks produces productivity out of me which I have never seen before! I somehow manage to complete all of my work in just one sitting at a comfortable corner booth. Perhaps it's the caffeine readily supplied for me from my Grubhub app, but I like to blame it on the atmosphere itself.

2. BU Beach

Okay, so maybe this is a very basic place to put in a top five list, but it's basic for a reason! Everyone loves BU Beach on a warm, sunny Boston day. I like to go here with a few friends, pick up lunch from the George Sherman Union, and catch up on readings at a picnic table. The location is pretty central, so it's easy to stop by in between classes as well. I like to study outside, which I know can be difficult for some, but this is the perfect place for me to be productive while still getting some time outside.

3. Kilachand 9th Floor

As a KHC freshman living in the Kilachand Hall, this is the most accessible study spot on campus for me. The ninth floor in Kilachand Hall contains two rooms of different studying atmospheres. There is a silent room, which is where I go if I have an exam to prepare for, and there are also collaborative spaces that I utilize for group projects with other students. There is a beautiful view of the Boston skyline, which is an immaculate aspect of the location. There is also a common room on the first floor of KIlachand Hall, which is nice for collaborative projects or discussions.

4. CGSA

Found in the basement of the George Sherman Union, this one’s hidden! The Center of Gender, Sexuality, and Activism is a great place to take a break from the chaotic city of Boston to get some studying done. It is an inclusive and welcoming space, and perfect for anyone! I like to start on bigger assignments here, as usually there are only a few people, and I can easily focus. The CGSA is also home to many different clubs on campus, and available for students to just take a break during the day, or hang out with some friends!

5. Yawkey Center

The Yawkey Center is my final favorite place to study. It has such an open atmosphere perfect for any type of studying. There are beautiful views of the city, the CAS writing program to assist you in any written work, and the CAS and pre-professional advising offices. In addition to all of these resources, the best dining hall on campus, Marciano Commons, is on the first floor! I like working on all of the floors in the Yawkey Center. However, I definitely favor eating breakfast at Marcianos and doing my work early in the morning to have the whole dining hall to myself and only a few others.

Throughout campus there are tons of spots to study, or just hang out! These are just a few of my favorites, and I think they deserve a bit of hype.

The Five Best Items on the Bay State Underground Menu

Jackson Wallace (CAS’22)

I first heard of Bay State Underground from other incoming Kilachand students in the GroupMe we used to get to know one another. It had opened not long before our first year and everyone was sharing what they knew about it. Apparently, the menu was fantastic, with a lot of options beyond what one might expect from a traditional dining hall. When I finally got to campus, Underground quickly became a lifesaver Wednesday evenings, when I did not have time to go to the dining hall before it closed. I looked forward to ordering on those Wednesdays before trying to finish my work at a decent time. After a few weeks, I quickly figured out which menu items were worth their salt and which were better avoided. I will now pass this wisdom on to you.

Fifth on the list is Underground’s fries. If you’re looking to get a little side when you’re going with friends, then these standard cut fries make for the perfect dish. The fries have a good balance of crispiness and are salted to perfection.

The next best item on the menu comes off of the dessert list. Although there may be better cheesecakes to be had, for the price Underground’s New York-style cheesecake can’t be beaten. The graham cracker crust is well-constructed, the cake itself is delicious, and sometimes it comes with strawberries.

The third best item on the Bay State Underground menu is the quesadilla. Specifically the one with chicken. I find that the plain quesadilla is not filling enough for dinner, but once you add some extras it becomes quite the meal.

The cheesecake is actually only the second-best dessert on the menu. The real treat is the warm brownie sundae. Sometimes, you are in the mood for something chocolatey and sweet and that is exactly what this menu option provides. They even put whipped cream on the sundae. The only thing keeping this menu item from number one on the list is that sometimes the brownie is not the finest quality.

With all that said, without a doubt, the best item on the menu is the chicken caesar wrap. It is delicious, it is nutritious, and it's pretty affordable for what you get. If you check out Bay State Underground, be sure to give it a try.

Jackson

What I’ll Miss When I Graduate

By Morgan Donohue (CAS'22)

1. Being a short walk from just about anyone and anything

One of my best pieces of advice is that Google Maps lies about how long it takes to walk somewhere. On campus, your furthest walk will probably be no more than 20 minutes. This made getting to class, stopping for lunch, meeting up with friends, and studying so convenient, because your destination was never too far away. If something is a little far, the weather isn’t fantastic, or you’re looking to go off campus, the T runs right through campus and you can hop on with your CharlieCard. If you want to go even further away, there are several ZipCar locations around campus that make quick daytrips very convenient. I will definitely miss the proximity of all of the places and people I’ve grown to know and love over the past four years.

2. The Kilachand advising office

Being in Kilachand means that the Honors College offices are right on the first floor. This is where you can stop by for meetings with your Kilachand advisor and other members of the administration. Your Kilachand advisor is there to help you navigate your way through Kilachand and the Hub, but they are also there to support you as a person. I will absolutely miss going to the advising office just to chat, and having a dedicated advisor who was there to help me along the way.

3. Bay State Road

morgan1

When I visited campus for my first open house, there was no parking close to Kilachand, so my family had to park and walk back, all the way down Bay State Road. And boy was it worth it. Bay State Road is, in my humble opinion, one of the most beautiful streets ever. It is gorgeous in the fall when the leaves change color. It is picture-perfect in the winter when it snows. It is beautiful in the spring when the trees start to blossom again. Even if you’ve had a busy day and you’re exhausted, it’s hard to walk down Bay State Road and not enjoy yourself. I am going to miss running down the street in the mornings and admiring the gorgeous buildings on my walks home from class.

4. The Dog Pound

I was never a huge sports watcher, and I am still not, but I will make an exception for BU Hockey. I absolutely loved everything about hockey nights, eating dinner a little early so you can get the good seats, learning the chants, hearing the BU Pep Band, and getting Raising Cane’s afterwards. With a Sports Pass, you can get tickets to any home game you want, and I highly recommend heading over to Agganis Arena for some hockey. I am going to miss putting on my hockey jersey and cheering in the stands, but I hope to come back and catch the 2022 Beanpot Champions at another game.

hockeymorgan

5. My on-campus housing

I lived in Kilachand Hall my freshman and sophomore years, and I absolutely loved my room. I loved having a bathroom in my room, being across from the Marciano Dining Hall, and living close to the Kenmore T station. This year I am living in South Campus in on-campus apartment-style housing, and I love it! I get to cook my own meals, so I am learning new recipes all the time. I live in a brownstone, so I have those iconic bowed-out windows that get plenty of sunlight. Living on campus kept me close to my classes and my friends, and I was able to make dorms and on-campus apartments into comfortable homes during the school year. I am going to miss all of that, but especially my current apartment and its view of Beacon Street.

morganroom

6. Student discounts

Your BUID comes with a lot, and I mean a LOT, of perks. With your @bu.edu email address, you can get access to discounts for digital subscriptions like The New York Times and Spotify+Hulu, software packages like Microsoft Office and MatLab, and many online clothes retailers offer discounts after you verify your student identity. You can also get free or discounted admission to museums like the MFA and the Institute of Contemporary Art if you show your BUID or order online with promo codes. I am going to miss the savings, but mostly I will miss the easy opportunities to go and experience something new without a huge price tag.


Images © Morgan Donohue 2022 

Making the Most Out of College Visits

By Bridgette Lang (CAS'23)

After two years of virtual programming, many colleges are starting to offer in-person tours and events again. With so many colleges to visit and so little time, it’s important to make sure you get the most out of your visits. Here are five tips that will help you while visiting BU or any other school:

1. Make a pros/cons list

I probably looked a bit silly on my college tours, but after seeing another student do this, I decided to keep a notebook of the pros and cons of every school I visited. Start writing your list of pros and cons during the admissions presentation and then, immediately follow up after you’ve seen the campus. What did you think of the majors offered, housing, and extracurriculars? If you start making a list during your tour, you can easily reference what you wrote while writing your college application essays. It’s a lot easier to name what stood out about a school when you have a premade list! I also used this list when deciding where to enroll.

2. Sign up for a tour

You may be saying, “Duh! Of course,” because this tip seems like a no-brainer, but from speaking to my friends and family going through the college admissions process, not everyone takes a tour! You might be in a rush or only think you need to walk around campus, but taking a real tour can show you things you would have missed by yourself. Tour guides will show you parts of campus that you may just stroll by and not see. 

3. Get your tour guide or another current student’s email address

You’re bound to have questions later, and if you can’t find the answers, emailing your guide is a great option. It may seem a bit scary to go get their contact information, but you won’t regret it. You’ve already established contact with them, and generally speaking, it’s their job to help you. Whether you’re filling out an application or deciding what school to enroll in, your tour guide can give you a personal perspective of their experiences. 

4. Pay a special visit to your departmental building

If you have any idea of what you’re majoring in, check out the building or office that your classes will be taking place in. For example, if you’re studying business, you can swing by the Questrom School of Business, or if you’re studying political science, there will be a separate office just outside of the College of Arts and Sciences for that. You will likely be taking the majority of your classes in one building, so make sure you like it! Also, see if there are any bulletin boards or flyers. What are students in your major doing in their free time, and what kinds of events are offered? You might want to include that in your pros and cons list!

5. Visit the surrounding areas

After you’re done walking around campus, try to visit the surrounding areas in order to ensure you feel comfortable. One of the main things I paid attention to during my off-campus visits were if there were shops within walking distance. Would you feel okay traveling to this spot to get groceries, meeting your friends for coffee, or spending some time shopping? For some people, convenience and access really make a difference.


Photo by Jackie Ricciardi for Boston University Photography.

The 3 Questions I Get Asked at Every Admissions Event

By Catherine Devlin (CAS’22)

As a Kilachand Ambassador, I’m always impressed by the unique perspectives that each class of newly admitted students brings. Yet, despite the individuality of each new student and class, there are certain questions that remain consistent across years and admission events.  So, to close these matters once and for all, here are the answers to the 3 things that get asked at every BU admissions event:

Q1: How does BU not having a campus affect student life?

A1: This question always manifests in a vaguely passive aggressive form. We never seem to be asked to “discuss BU’s campus” in a general sense, but are instead called to account for what is framed as an obvious deficit. I completely understand the question. When I was looking at colleges, even once I realized that BU was the best choice for me, I still needed a moment to mourn the leafy oaks and grassy quads that had graced so many admissions pamphlets (and my subsequent dreams). Upon attending BU, however, I realized that the assumption that our school does not have a campus is not an accurate one. Practically every building on Comm Ave between Yawkey and West is a BU building, and when you walk down the street the air is alive with the energy of students hurrying to class, laughing with their friends, and earnestly discussing research plans with their professors. For a more picturesque walk, take Bay State Road instead, and enjoy the tranquility of trees in bloom and historic brownstones. The BU community is vividly apparent and accessible on BU’s campus, so much so that some of my fellow ambassadors have written their blogs on how to break out of the BU bubble! If you are worried about getting lost in Boston and not having a community to anchor you as a freshman, let go of that worry. BU might not have the traditional campus layout, but it definitely has a campus community. And that community is as strong and beautiful as any oak tree.

Q2: What is the Hub?

A2: As the first class to have gone through the Hub, I remember the vast number of information sessions and panels dedicated to explaining the system during Admitted Students’ Day and orientation. I also remember that, after all that, I still had no idea how to navigate the program. Now that I am planning courses for my senior year, I feel that I finally have a grasp on the Hub. Mostly. In the simplest terms, the Hub is BU’s gen-ed requirements. In order to allow students more room to explore different skills and topics, Hub requirements extend beyond specific course categorizations. For instance instead of having a history class requirement, you need to take a class that helps develop your “historical consciousness.” Some of the Hub requirements are more catered towards soft skills, such as “creativity and innovation” or “oral and signed communication.” But don’t let the fancy wording scare you! Kilachand will take care of most of your requirements, and the Kilachand advisors are great at helping you figure out how to fulfill those that are left over. Hub units can be earned through classes in your major and minor as well as electives and some AP classes, so there are a lot of ways to get it done and to explore a lot of different subjects while doing so!

Q3: Did you choose to be assigned a random roommate or did you request someone?

A3: This seems like a very specific and somewhat random question, but let me tell you I ALWAYS get asked this. I’ve found that when accepted students aren’t standing next to their parents, the questions tend to be more on the personal/social side than the strictly academic side. I think this is great! When a student asks questions about life at BU, I know that they are really trying to visualize themselves coming here, which is so important when choosing a school. To answer the question: I went random and it worked out really well for me, but I know people who chose and had great experiences as well (and of course less fortunate experiences for both random and choosing). It all comes down to your own preferences and what you feel most comfortable with. But the bigger reason I chose to share this question is because I want to encourage you to ask seemingly small questions like this! You are already into BU, so you don’t need to use admissions events to prove how smart you are (we already know that!). Take this time to ask things that are genuinely weighing on your mind, no matter how mundane they may appear. It will make your freshman year that much easier and more fun!

So there you have it! Those are the three most commonly asked questions, but there are lots more that come up frequently. To make sure you hear the answers to all of the most relevant admissions questions, and to have the chance to ask your own, connect with a KHC Ambassador, or attend one of our open house events! I can’t wait to see you on Bay State.

A Day in My Life as a Biomedical Engineering Major and Pre-med in Kilachand!

By Emma Hartman (ENG’23)

5:40 AM: I wake up. OK, OK: don’t panic reading this -- as hard as it is to believe, this is something I do to myself willingly and for reasons completely unrelated to academics. My favorite hot yoga class is at 6 am on Wednesdays at a yoga studio less than 5 minutes from my dorm. There are other yoga classes at normal times, but I really like this one.

6 AM: Hot Yoga! I started practicing yoga about a month ago to shake up my routine and quickly got addicted. I use it to manage my stress, stay in shape, and as something fun and COVID safe that I can do with friends.

7 AM: I take my time on the walk back to my dorm. I live in a safe area that’s incredibly pretty in the morning and I’m trying to enjoy it more. When I get back to my brownstone, I make some breakfast (I’m currently training in the art of microwave-based cooking) and shower before class.

Beacon Street in the morning, right by South Campus.
Beacon Street in the morning, right by South Campus.

9 AM: I arrive at the George Sherman Union (GSU), our student center, before my first class and meet up with my friend Sarah. Our Differential Equations lecture is remote learning only this semester, but we meet up to get Starbucks, catch up, and to take the class together in the library attached to the GSU. We claim that we keep each other accountable and focused, but we almost always wind up talking during the slow parts of class.

10 AM: Sarah and I leave the GSU and walk to our next classes together. I have my Cell Biology and Biotechnology lecture, where I run into Natalia, one of my friends from Kilachand. We met during our first semester of freshman year in a Kilachand seminar on Latin American music. I met a lot of engineers in that class since we all took it to fulfill the same HUB units. I still see a lot of them in my engineering classes or around campus!

Socially Distanced Biology Lecture in Agganis.
Socially distanced Biology lecture in Agganis.

12 PM: My lecture is over, and I want some lunch. Some days I’ll stay by Agganis Arena, where my lecture was, and eat with my friend Karolyn who lives in West Campus. Other days, I’ll head back eastward and eat with my friends Chloe and Sarah, who are studying at the GSU. No matter where I am, I always try and use meals as a time to see my friends.

1 PM: I head into the BU biomedical engineering research lab that I work in. We study mice to learn more about the neural circuits in the brain responsible for movement. Right now, I’m working with a PhD student on her latest project. Together we’ve been training our 3 mice—Matcha, Mocha, and Macchiato—to perform different behavioral tasks. Once they’re trained, we use electrophysiology probes and optogenetic techniques to record neural activity in different parts of their brains (basically: we stick a sensor into a genetically engineered mouse’s brain and choose what areas of the brain we want to record data from by using a laser to selectively silence groups of brain cells). I ask my grad student a truly annoying number of questions about the research, and she answers every last one because she’s genuinely happy to help me learn.

My lab mouse Matcha is in her tube and ready for training!
My lab mouse Matcha is in her tube and ready for training!

4 PM: It’s time to log onto Zoom for my HUB co-curricular, a course that I take in tandem with KHC HC 302. We teach Boston high schoolers about public health through a local program called Boston Area Health Education Center. It’s a great way to give back to the local community, learn more about public health and the Boston Public School system, and secure a coveted HUB unit.

6 PM: I log off of Zoom and knock on my roommate Iris’s door. We’re off to go find dinner so we can bring it back home, eat on the couch, and talk about our days. Sometimes we put on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy or the Bachelor while we eat

7 PM: I do some homework and answer some emails for my Girls Who Code club.

8 PM: I log onto Zoom office hours for my engineering mechanics class. I work on my homework and private message my friend Jenny, who’s also here because she’s struggling with problem #7 too.

9 PM: My roommate wanders back out to our couch and wants to figure out our weekend plans. We bring our laptops to the couch and work while we talk. Eventually, we either finish or abandon our work and just relax.

10:15 PM: I start getting ready for bed, write in my journal about the day, and look at my color-coded Google Calendar as I write in my planner about tomorrow. Tomorrow’s schedule is incredibly different, but no less exciting!