How to Remain Organized

By Carolina Becerril (SAR’22)

I graduated high school with both excitement and fear as I knew I was embarking on a completely unknown experience. While I was preoccupied with meeting new people and becoming as involved as I possibly could, I paid little to no attention to my study habits, organization and time-management skills. In my head, I had mastered them in the little time that 4 years really is, so really what was there to worry about? Turns out I just needed a little humbling. Over the last few years, I’ve taken the hardest lessons and turned them into tips I would give to first year students, just like you!

1. Find a system that works for YOU (aka what works for others might not work for you and that’s ok)

If you’re anything like me and love learning how others organize their work, you know that it’s easy to want to do the same for yourself, but that doesn’t always work. Some people can simply write down what they need to do on a sticky note, others can set reminders on their phones or even rely on their own memory. For me, unfortunately, that’s not the case. I personally heavily rely on my good old paper agenda for school work aka any assignments, projects, exams, etc. as well as any tasks I might have for my job as a resident assistant. In addition to my paper agenda, I use google calendar as my “master calendar”. I have essentially everything I do in this calendar: school, work, meetings, advising, clubs, etc. As overwhelming as it might sound, it has helped me remain organized and on top of what I need to do. However, this is what works for ME and I encourage you to try out different systems and truly understand what works best for you. Do your own research, watch youtube videos (highly recommend checking out my friend’s YT channel: Mira Dhakal) and try different combinations of different resources. It’s ok if things don’t work out the first, second, third, fourth time. I’ll talk about why you shouldn’t worry about this soon. Hold on tight for me.

2. Attend workshops offered around campus on time-management and organization

Boston University has a Center for Career Development that offers a variety of really useful and informative workshops on a myriad of topics. They often host workshops on time-management skills, studying strategies, organization, etc. I would highly recommend attending these as they are a great resource on campus! Additionally, you can always feel free to ask advisors for more information on this.

3. Have a designated work/study space

Something that I find is JUST as important as having a good organizational system is having a designated work/study space. I’ve found (especially during this pandemic) that it can get really tricky and overwhelming quite quickly to get work done when you mix your social or “me” space with your study space, like studying in your room. While that might work for some people, I think it is highly beneficial to separate your rest space from the space where you spend time working hard on assignments and studying for exams. It doesn’t matter what that looks like, it could be a library, a coffee shop, a study space on or off campus, just make sure you find a space that best fits your needs and goals!

4. Most importantly, be willing to fail

Something that I wish I would’ve understood my first year is how important it is to be willing to fail. I wish I would’ve understood that failure is your friend rather than your enemy. I think it’s important to know that finding what best works for you and what will yield you the best results (academically and personally) will take a while, and even when you DO find that works best for you, you might still have to change it! My willingness to try out different ways to stay organized has led me to where I am now, where I feel like I have a good system but I’m still happy and excited to see how this will change to make me a better student.

I hope this was in some way helpful. Don’t ever hesitate to ask for help and use the resource you have available to you. Good luck!

How to Pick Your Classes

By Jackson Wallace (CAS’22)

One thing that I wish I had known to think about a little more before I came to Boston University and Kilachand in particular is how to pick my classes, especially the first-year seminar. There are a lot of little things that one might not consider at first, so it can be important to sit down, think things over, and not just take the first cool looking class that comes to mind.

An aspect of particular importance is the Hub! Every class at BU comes with some Hub credits and you need to obtain a variety of these credits in order to graduate. So, before you pick a class, you should take a look at what credits you can get through the classes you’ll have to take in your major, as well as the required KHC classes. This way, you can start to get some trickier credits (looking at you, Individual in the Community) out of the way. Your seminar is an especially potent opportunity because a wide variety of classes with a range of credits are offered, many of which are much more interesting than Generic Class 100 you might take otherwise. That said, don’t be afraid to pick a seminar that you think will be cool even if it does not help your Hub (that’s what I and many others inadvertently do and we turned out fine), but it is good to keep in mind.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should prepare some backup classes. Sometimes, the class that you want to take will be all filled up by the time you register. Sometimes, the really interesting sounding class is not being offered this year. Or, most frustrating, you realize that the class is happening at the same time as a class you need to take for your major. So, it is a good idea to be prepared and have a list of classes you’d be interested in. Otherwise, you may get to registration day and find yourself scrambling to fill in a spot.

A final note to keep in mind is that you should try to make sure you have a good idea of why you want to take a class. There’s nothing worse than signing up for a class only to realize halfway through the semester that you actually detest architecture and want nothing to do with the class. To try and prevent this from happening to you, make sure you know what you’re in for, or at least have a system in place that can get you through tough classes. For instance, maybe you know the subject material is different from what you usually like to learn about, but you’re looking to balance out the other classes you’re taking. Or perhaps you have some friends who can help carry you through the class. No matter what, make sure you know what you’re getting into before you register for classes! And don’t worry, because you will have plenty of resources, from friends to faculty to Kilachand’s own advisors to help get you to that point.

(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.

3 Tips for Students Attending College During the Pandemic

By Yash Patel (Questrom’23)

Living through a global pandemic has taught us to value some of the most basic things we used to take for granted. Whether it’s going to class in person, or simply shaking hands with someone you meet. As a business student at BU, the pandemic has brought both new challenges and new opportunities in my college experience.

As the smart and dedicated BU students we are, learning to overcome these challenges is something we all learn in college. Personally, the pandemic has taught me to adapt to dynamic environments and make the best of what I have. Although the learning atmosphere is not ideal, I have managed to maintain my grades and continue to expand my extracurricular activities.

I spent my Fall of 2020 semester on campus and I am currently spending the majority of my Spring semester at home. Attending college on and off campus during the pandemic has allowed me to understand some key differences. Over the past year, I have developed a list of three tips for students attending college during the pandemic. These three tips have been the key to success for me in college over the past few months. They have allowed me to create new opportunities and maintain my well-being even during these unprecedented times.

1. Virtual Attendance

Although most students are discouraged when a class or club meeting is held virtually, I have learned to use this to my advantage. Virtual class means you can attend it from anywhere! No more waking up late and running to class. Sometimes I attend class in bed still under the covers (This is a bad idea. I fall asleep 90% of the time). Attending class virtually also means everything is recorded. This allows me to prioritize what is important. Just recently I had a midterm in accounting coming up. So I decided to study for it instead of attending my IS class. After the midterm, I rewatched what I missed.

Virtual attendance does not apply to just classes but also clubs. It allows me to expand my extracurricular activities. I have joined so many new organizations across campus because of the convenience of being able to attend their meetings from my own room. Not only that but career fairs and special events are also held virtually. There is no excuse to not attend them! It’s so easy!

2. Organize

This one might sound obvious but it is extremely important. Before the pandemic, I was always an organized student. I had a list of things to do throughout the day and I checked it off as the day went by. But attending college now is very different. On top of the list of things to do, you need some type of digital planner that keeps track of all the meetings you have throughout the day. A space where you can write down all the Zoom links for these meetings is very important. Some days I have more extracurricular meetings to attend than actual classes! Keeping everything organized is very important! I learned this lesson after having to scramble for Zoom links last minute and being late to meetings haha.

3. Take a break

Sometimes it’s a good idea to take a break. Even just a 30-minute nap sometime during the day helps. Sitting in front of a screen all day can be exhausting and it drains your energy. Take a nap or do something away from your desk. When the weather is nice, I like to ride my penny board up and down Bay State Road. Sometimes my friends and I go on bike rides on the Esplanade and into the city. These types of activities allowed my brain to reset. Although it sounded silly at first, but I realized this was one of the most helpful habits I learned to do as I attend college in the pandemic.

As life slowly returns to “normal,” my college life will forever be changed. I joined so many new clubs because of my ability to attend them virtually. I have learned to constantly check my planner throughout the day and add every little event to it. Lastly, I have also learned to do small things I enjoy for at least 30 minutes every day. As talented and innovative BU students, we have to learn to come up with small and simple solutions to continue to make our college experience a successful one. Good luck with yours and be sure to share any tips you have!

Riding my penny board down Bay State Road right outside of Kilachand Hall to take a short break.

Fun Ways to Get Out and Explore Boston, Your New Home

By Charlie McMahon (SAR'23)

Imagine this: it is a BEAUTIFUL blue-sky Saturday in September here in Boston. You have just moved into your dorm at Kilachand Hall and cannot get over those stunning Charles River or skyline views. You want to get out and see what Boston has to offer, but you don’t know exactly where to start. That’s where I come in! I have compiled a fun list of must-dos in Boston. As a lifelong Boston resident I know what’s good and what to avoid. So if you’re looking for some fun ways to make the most of those low key weekends in the city, keep reading!

First things first, after arriving in Boston, you are going to want to get a Charlie Card. These refillable cards are the best way to access public transportation (which we call the T) in and around the city. You can get Charlie Cards from T workers in many of the bigger train stations in the area (Back Bay, Park Street or even Kenmore) as well as the service desk at the Star Market in Fenway, the 7-11 on Jersey Street or the 7-11 on Massachusetts Avenue (we call it Mass Ave). After getting your Charlie Card loaded up, you’re ready to go exploring throughout the city!

After getting your Charlie Card, I would recommend hopping up on the Green Line at Kenmore and heading to Copley Square, home of the main branch of the Boston Public Library. You can soak in the beautiful paintings in the reading rooms and sit out in the courtyard on a warm afternoon. Importantly, you’re going to want to sign up for a Boston Public Library card. As an on-campus resident at Boston University, you qualify as a resident of the city of Boston, regardless of whether or not you call Massachusetts home. Now you might be asking “with such an amazing library system here at BU, why would I want to get a library card at the BPL?”

Although BU has many partnerships with nearby museums which I will go on to explain later, it is not an exhaustive list. However, having a BPL card offers you access to a database of museum passes for attractions all through the city! Card holders can reserve passes for the Museum of Science, the New England Aquarium and even access to the Boston Harbor Cruises to visit the Boston Harbor Islands!

The view in Copley Square in the late afternoon.
The view in Copley Square in the late afternoon.

After stopping in at the Copley Branch of the BPL, you can get back on the Green Line and head up to Haymarket Station. After a brief walk, you will be in Boston’s North End! Filled with history like the Old North Church where two lanterns were famously hung signaling the British invasion and referenced in Paul Revere’s famous ride. Stop in at Monica’s Mercato for some delicious sandwiches which you can eat along the Rose Kennedy Greenway. After lunch, you can visit Modern Pastry and Mike’s Pastry to get some cannoli. This is a hot rivalry for Bostonians. Everyone has an opinion as to which bakery has the best cannoli (insider tip - check out Bova’s Bakery on Salem Street if the lines are too long. You will not be let down).

Meandering out of the North End, I would recommend you start walking south along the water. You will come to the New England Aquarium which has a bunch of public docks where you can sit and relax watching the airplanes land at Logan Airport or admire the breathtaking views of Boston’s skyline.

The view from the dock near the aquarium at sunset
The view from the dock near the aquarium at sunset.

An alternate cultural experience would be to check out Boston’s Chinatown. There are so many amazing restaurants like the Gourmet Dumpling House, Hei La Moon or China Pearl. Tea-Do and Kung Fu Tea are also great stops for some boba or refreshing smoothies! If you’re going to visit Chinatown, make sure to stop at the iconic Chinatown Gate and walk through Chinatown Park.

Boston’s Chinatown Gate
Boston’s Chinatown Gate

Perhaps you don’t want to head so far away from BU. There are some really awesome neighborhoods to explore a bit closer to home!

Take the C-branch of the Green Line to Coolidge Corner to experience another of Boston’s beloved neighborhoods. This is technically in Brookline, but it is close enough to campus that I am still going to talk about it. On a rainy day, catch a movie at the Coolidge Corner Theater, a Boston-area cultural icon (and recently named one of the most beautiful movie theaters in the world!). Stop in at Zaftigs or Rami’s for a quick bite to eat before walking down to Amory Park to throw around a frisbee or just relax and soak up the sun! Check out J.P. Licks, a famous Boston ice cream chain for a sweet treat too!

Fenway is also a really cool neighborhood to check out and visit. Be sure to sign up for the $9 Red Sox Ticket program! Sox tickets can get expensive, so having the $9 program is an awesome college life hack. Whether or not you are a baseball fan, catching a Sox game at Fenway Park is an essential part of being a Bostonian and is not something to be missed.

You can't call yourself a Boston Resident without going to a Red Sox game at least once!
You can't call yourself a Boston Resident without going to a Red Sox game at least once!

Speaking of great student deals, BU has a partnership with many local museums like the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Institute for Contemporary Art. As a BU student with a valid student ID, you have free access to browse amazing collections to your heart’s content. Fun fact: the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum is home to the largest art heist in the world. When Mrs. Gardner established the museum (in what was at the time her home), she made a clause in the charter for the museum saying that staff were not allowed to alter her collections or rearrange any of the pieces. If that contract is broken, all the art must be sold and the profits are specified to be donated to Harvard University. As such, you can see the empty picture frames on the walls where the art thieves cut the paintings from the frames, eerily awaiting the return of the artwork.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Although Boston may not be a geographically huge city, there is no shortage of things to do or places to check out. The city is incredibly walkable and is becoming more friendly to bikers as well! If you like biking, check out the BU student discount for Boston’s Blue Bike subscription service!

So get out and explore what Boston has to offer! The city is eagerly waiting for you!

All photos credit Charlie M.

High School vs. College

By Cathy Cheng (ENG’23)

Thinking back to my senior year of high school, I remember being extremely excited ⁠— but, at the same time, so incredibly nervous ⁠— about what college would be like. I spent my summer browsing Pinterest for dorm ideas, researching study hacks, scrolling through social media, and taking more Buzzfeed quizzes than I care to admit…

But ultimately, even with all of that planning, my college experience was nothing like I had expected. So, to all of the high school seniors ⁠— or anyone else who’s curious! ⁠— here are some of the major differences I’ve noticed between my high school and college experiences:

1. Dorm Life

One of the biggest changes for me in college was dorm life. Even as someone who’s shared a room with their older sister for their entire life, I found it to be such a strange experience. For many of us, this may be the first time we’re living on our own. And while there certainly will be challenges along the way, take this as an opportunity to meet new people and also learn more about your own preferences!

2. Social Life

When it comes time to commit to colleges, chances are that you and your friends will be heading off to different places. While it can be difficult to adjust in your first few weeks and make new friends, just know that it does take time. But I’ve found that there many more opportunities to meet others in college, especially on an urban campus at a large university like BU. Be open to new experiences, but also make sure you’re keeping in touch with old friends!

3. Schedules

The summer before my first semester at BU, as I was planning out my schedule, I remember being so thrilled about just how much I had in my day. Everything had worked out perfectly: I was out of class by practically 1pm every day!

I was in for a wake-up call, however, when I met with my advisor: I hadn’t included a single discussion or lab.

Even after accounting for any discussions or labs, there are still some other differences. At my high school, students typically took 7-8 classes a semester. In college, that number falls to 4-6. And you have much greater freedom in designing your college schedule ⁠⁠— assuming your classes don’t fill up! Pro tips for planning your first schedule: don’t forget discussions/labs, take into account how far your classes are from each other on campus, and don’t forget to save time for lunch!

4. Classes and Assignments

Closely related to schedules are your classes and assignments. In most courses, assignments are usually due once a week. While that may sound like a relief, these are not designed to be completed the night before. So plan ahead!

And unlike at many high schools, there are rarely classroom copies of textbooks which can be rented out each semester. With 4-6 classes a semester, textbook costs can add up. Look into alternatives to buying textbooks new!

Finally, midterms aren’t actually...mid-term. Instead, many courses plan for 2-3 “midterms” (or projects) alongside a final. 

5. Resources

Now, that might sound like a lot at this point. And it can be. But at the same time, there are many resources that you have access to as a college student. On the academic/career side, you have your faculty advisor at your college (in addition to a peer mentor and Kilachand advisor at KHC!), office hours, the Center for Career Development, and career fairs. On the recreational side, you have access to the Charles River and the Fitness and Recreation Center! And there are plenty of other resources as well ⁠— be sure to check out the very first post on this blog!

One of my most intriguing memories is going with a friend to one of the workshops hosted by the Center for Career Development on professional dinner etiquette. If you ever get the chance, RSVP for free food and the chance to learn how to hold your fork...the right way.

6. Independence

I’ll end it off on a high note!

In college, you can expect immense independence. While it can be easy to get stuck on the campus bubble, put yourself out there and explore the city! And make sure that you take advantage of all of the opportunities that you’ll have in these next four years!

 

The Boston Public Library
The Boston Public Library. Credit: Cathy C.

 

Ultimately, no amount of reading or hearing about other people’s experiences can truly prepare you. Just remember: everyone is coming into college for the first time. It takes time to figure things out. But at the end of the day, remember to have some fun!

5 Questions to Ask Your Roommate Before Move-In

By Sophie Li (CAS'23)

1. What time do you wake up?

Although this will change each semester depending on when everyone has their first class, this is super helpful to know. Are they the kind of person who takes an hour to get ready in the morning, or do they roll out of bed and go straight to class? Since you will be sharing a suite in Kilachand, it’s important to discuss before any issues arise. There’s not that much space to get ready in the morning, and if one of you is a light sleeper, you’ll want to know so you can prepare your eye masks or ear plugs!

2. What time do you go to bed?

This falls in the same category as the first question but is just as important to discuss! If one of you plans on sleeping early but the other plans to stay up late, when do you guys turn the light off? Is the early sleeper fine with the roommate using their desk light, or should they plan to go up to the study floor?

3. Are you neat or messy?

This seems like one of the first questions that might pop into your mind, and there’s a reason for that! While you can definitely live well with one messy and one neat roommate, it’s nice to know what to expect, especially if this is a deal-breaker for you!

4. What is your least favorite chore?

A lot of the chores/cleaning tasks you’ll have to do are for yourself and not the whole suite, this is a good thing to ask. You might end up in a situation where you hate vacuuming, but your roommate loves it, and you can trade off on housekeeping tasks. Or, if you both hate doing laundry, you can remind each other and get those tasks out of the way together.

5. How do you feel about guests?

Although this question has become less relevant with COVID-19, it looks like the guest policy might be back by Fall 2021. Pre-COVID this was an important question to ask, especially if you had a really busy week coming up and didn’t want your roommate to have any guests over. But if the guest policies come back, this question will be more important than ever, because the number one priority is still staying safe!

There are so many more questions you can ask your potential roommate, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a good way to get the conversation started about living together so that you can both determine if you would be compatible. And as a quick tip: you can live perfectly with someone you aren’t best friends with, and sometimes you can’t live with your friends at all, and that’s totally fine!

Tips for Your First Year of College

By Marissa Carty (CAS'22)

Above: A view from the Esplanade. Just steps away from campus, the Esplanade is a great place to go for a walk and take space away from academics.


College is a thrilling time of discovery, surprise, and growth. But the transition is hard. Whether you’re moving to BU from across the world or you’re a Boston native, adapting to the academic, social, and lifestyle differences of college takes time. Here are my tips for a smooth(er) transition through your first year of college at BU.

1. Be Kind to Yourself

I was beyond excited to make the most of my every minute of college. I knew I would make friends quickly, start working on an impressive research project, and keep up a healthy routine of daily workouts on top of my heavy academic schedule and part-time job. However, my naive optimism was perfectionism in disguise. When I didn’t keep up with my workout schedule, I berated myself. When I couldn’t find time to commit to research my first semester, I felt like a failure. When I had a lonely night in, I told myself I shouldn’t be wasting time feeling down.

Over time, I learned to be compassionate toward myself and let myself make a mistake or have a bad day. The truth is, you’re going to have bad days, and that’s okay. When you do, remind yourself that the feeling won’t last forever and that you’re resilient for going through such a difficult transition. Everything is temporary, and it is alright if things are not going how you expected them to. That just means good surprises are around the corner!

2. Keep a Journal

We underestimate just how much we forget. The day I moved in, I took about twenty minutes to write in my journal before I went to sleep. I am so grateful that I did that. The days of college, especially your first year, go by in a whirlwind. You may take a lot of pictures or think that you’ll always remember the significant moments, but nothing can make up for a firsthand account in your own words of what happened. My journals are my most treasured possessions. I can read exactly what I was thinking after my first day of classes, what my first impression of the person who is now my best friend was, and how my perspective on home changed. I can also read about the day the Red Sox won the World Series and we paraded down to the Common until 2:00am. I promise, you will not regret taking a few minutes once or twice a week to write down your thoughts about college.

3. Utilize the Resources Available to You

BU has so many resources to improve the well-being of its students. Ask your advisor to chat with you about stress management. Go to events held by The Wellbeing Project. Reach out to Behavioral Medicine. Take a workshop or request a tutor at the Educational Resource Center. And remember that not all self-care has to be focused on academics or medicine! For me, taking dance classes (or other exercise classes called PDPs that students can register for), joining the meditation club (BU Zen), and signing up for a Writing of Poetry (CAS EN304) course made my first year enormously easier. Sometimes you’ll need help from the professionals, and sometimes you just need to make time for what you love.

4. Take Breaks

College moves at a fast pace. Cities move at a fast pace. New Englanders move at a fast pace. “The grind” can be self-destructive if we never give ourselves a break. When you have a massive to-do list, it can feel like you’ll never have time to take a night off of homework or go explore the city of Boston. I’m here to tell you that that’s exactly what you should do. Taking a step away from your workload restores you and helps you focus better when you return to your desk. When you feel overwhelmed, go for a walk along the Esplanade or facetime a friend from home. Not only will you be more productive when you have to get back to work, you will feel better overall. Academics are important, but they are not the only thing that deserve your time. I learned that the hard way, so hopefully my experience can help you.

Your first year of college will be challenging, but it is a challenge that you are up to. BU has so much to offer. Boston is the best city to be a student in. And you’re going to have a lot of fun. But you’re also going to have some bad days. Enjoy the good ones and keep in mind that the bad ones may be the ones that you learn and grow from the most. Good luck!