The Boston University Dining Experience

April 20, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges, Reviews

You constantly hear about students bitching and moaning about their college’s dining services. For Boston University students this is rare– I mean we pay $60,000 a year for a reason right?

As with most colleges, BU meal plans are divided into a number of meals at the dining halls, and some sort of point system. Boston University has three dining halls and a plethora of other options that accept dining points.

Marciano Commons aka 100 Bay State, aka Hundo BayBay is the newest dining hall at BU. It is a massive building with fancy fixtures and modern furnishings- nothing like you would think a college dining hall to look like. There are tons of options, and relatively healthier ones compared to the other dining halls. There is also this super high-tech finger print system used to enter the dining hall that makes you feel like a badass secret agent.

Marciano Commons

Marciano Commons

The two other dining halls are located inside freshman dorms, West and Warren. West is a great place for athletes to go considering it’s right next to the athletic facilities. I do not think it’s anything special, but it is definitely convenient. Okay, to be honest, and I’m probably going to get a ton of haterade for this, (and even more for using the word haterade) Warren dining hall is the BEST. Mac and cheese bar? Pasta everyday? Make your own stir fry? Yes please. Warren is an extremely underrated dining experience and where I spend a good amount of my time.
If you have any dietary restrictions, BU tends to be pretty accommodating. As a vegetarian, I was scared to come to college. I thought I would be living off salads and peanut butter sandwiches. To my surprise, every dining hall at BU has a station that is vegan everyday. There are also other options that are vegetarian or vegan. Unfortunately, the gluten-free options are not as extensive at BU. Every dining hall has some sort of “gluten-free closet” filled with safe foods. My advice to those with gluten allergies is to get a meal plan with more dining points than meals, so you do not have to be stuck eating the dining hall’s limited options.
Dining points are a point system built into your meal plan. There are so many places to use your dining points. The George Sherman Union, or the GSU, is a building in central campus with a food court that accepts dining points. Other places also accept dining points. For all you caffeine-addicts, certain Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts accept them. You’ll find other hidden treasures on campus that accept dining points, such Buick Street Market, a mini-market perfect for picking up a frozen dinner or toilet paper. Oh, and Dominos accepts dining points. That’s right, you can order pizza, have it delivered and pay with your student ID. College is awesome.

Union Court at the GSU

Union Court at the GSU

Like anything you eat for months, you’re going to get sick of BU food sometimes. Being in an urban area, BU has many restaurants directly on campus. Stopping by Chipotle after a long day of class is always a good idea. (Chipotle is never a bad idea.) If you want to prepare your own food, or do not live in the dorms, Shaw’s and Trader Joes are both walking distance from campus.
With the diversity of food at Boston University, the freshman 15 can quickly turn into the freshman 50. So take advantage of all the options BU dining has to offer, but makes sure to include the healthy ones.

by Maura

Traveling with SU

April 19, 2014 in Campus Life, Events, Travel

SU Snow Jam Trip to Canada

SU Snow Jam Trip to Canada

Syracuse University is only a short distance from my hometown just south of Boston. Luckily, it’s only about a 5 hour drive to get back and forth over breaks. However, my freshman and sophomore years, I didn’t have a car and traveled on my breaks either by train, bus, or carpool. The differences between the three are time and cost. Trains are the cheapest option and are far more comfortable than busses, but usually take the longest. Plus, they are notoriously unreliable and are delayed or late more often than not, sometimes for hours. It’s taken me 14 hours to get to Boston more than once. The busses are more expensive than trains and insanely cramped, but they are a shorter, more reliable trip – only about 7-9 hours. When it comes to time, cars are still the best option. It is the most expensive since gas prices are through the roof, but it is by far the fastest and most comfortable.

SU is pretty accommodating when it comes to traveling home. It provides a free shuttle bus to and from the train and bus station before and after breaks, you can buy your tickets a head of time in the student center instead of having to do it online, and they even provide their own discounted busses that will provide transportation to larger cities like Boston and New York City. The carpooling option is a great one as well that many people either don’t know about or don’t make use of. There is a ride-share Facebook page as well as a cork board in the student center on which you can post your information (travel dates, locations, contact information) if you need a ride or if you have extra seats in your car. Charging each passenger 20$ is a great way to pay for gas and they get a cheap ride.

Syracuse University is pretty empty over summer, winter, spring, and Thanksgiving breaks since a good percentage of students are within fairly easy ground travel distance. Other long weekends such as Martin Luther King Day, Easter, and other smaller holidays are less empty since most people don’t bother going home for only 3 or 4 days.

I go home for almost every break, but go on vacation every now and then. Winter breaks, I ski in Maine or Canada. Summer I’ll usually spend between Maine and home, though this summer I’ve been given the amazing opportunity to work an internship in Manhattan. Spring break is the most popular for students to go away on trips. Florida, the caribbean, cruises, and down south are some of the best places to go. There are also SU sponsored spring break trips with Habitat for Humanity as well as trips to hike the Grand Canyon or the San Juan River, and trips over winter break to ski in Canada at Mont Tremblant.

But I have to admit, getting a group of friends together, staying at school, and having the whole campus to yourself can be a lot of fun and super cheap.

SU Grand Canyon Hiking Trip

SU Grand Canyon Hiking Trip

Mitigating Your Debt: A Survival Guide to US College Tuition

April 18, 2014 in Academics, Colleges

This method just doesn't cut it anymore.

This method just doesn’t cut it anymore.

The cost of College in the United States is ridiculous, as these articles from The Guardian, International Business Times, and The Economist more than show. It’s a situation that needs the change.  Sure, getting a four-year degree is valuable and can broaden your perspective immensely, but the cost is sometimes too much given the relatively poor returns.  Working summers and limited hours during the school year doesn’t cut it for most American college students these days. And degrees don’t always equal decent jobs.

Still, too often the blame for not being able to pay for education falls on the student. If you can’t land a job after graduation, well you must not have picked the right school or chosen a good major. If you are really in debt, you clearly didn’t try hard enough for scholarships, or didn’t work enough during the summer, or any number of other excuses.

But the blame shouldn’t fall on students, or parents for that matter.

Student loan debt and tuition rates are rising across the country. No one can predict (or wants to predict) the devastating consequences of when that bubble pops. But there are ways that you can try to mitigate tuition costs in the mean time. None of them are fun or easy. Some are impossible given your circumstances. But there are ways to make the cost of college…a little less daunting

Prepare with AP’s and dual enrolled credits.

A lot of colleges accept AP, IB, and dual enrollments credits from new students in some form or another. Taking enough of these college credit courses in high school can help these students get their degree earlier of free up time for cheaper, part-time semesters.

Buckle down and work during the summer.

Not everyone is lucky enough to live close enough to an internship that they can do that for a whole summer. And for those students that don’t, summer jobs are an important way to start preparing for student loan payments. I worked two jobs the summer before I studied abroad to make sure I had enough money to go. Now I am considering doing it again as I approach senior year. Having money saved up for when loan payments start coming due is a good strategy to make sure you can pay them for a while if you can’t find a job directly after you graduate.

Pay sooner rather than later.

Start paying off your loans before you graduate if you can. And pay more per month then your loan company recommends. That way not only do you start chipping away at them, you can also mitigate the effect that interest rates will have on what you owe.

Apply for all the scholarships.

This isn’t exactly realistic. Students are often so stressed with school work it’s hard to think about extra essays or applications for scholarships. But fit in time for them if you can, especially over the summer. If you manage to land one it could seriously help out your life.

Go Abroad.

Seriously. Some international fees for overseas schools do end up costing less than tuition at a U.S. school. (Private moreso than State) so if you think you are responsible enough to study in another country, consider it as much as you possibly can. Some schools do also accept federally funded loans which you can check here.

None of these suggestions is a solution. A solution would be to increase the ability of university programs to prepare students for jobs and open up opportunities for internships that could pay students as well as train them. An even better solution would be to bring down the cost of college.  Hopefully we’ll get there someday. Hopefully.

Meet Sal

April 18, 2014 in Academics, Alive Campus, Campus Life, Career, Colleges, Sports

Sal

Meet Sal

Meet my friend Sal-  a Cambridge resident and business management student in his senior year at UMass Boston. He landed at UMB because of two things: the location and the price. His hobbies are playing pick-up basketball, enjoying good food, being outside, and being surrounded by his friends. Oh, and you didn’t hear this from me, but he’s a sucker for a lady with an accent. Aren’t we all.

While pick-up basketball, good weather, and foreign women are all fantastic, they aren’t the type of thing that are typically labeled a “passion”. So I asked if he had any passions, and he answered with only one- music. “My passion is writing music, as well as playing guitar and singing…I love to listen to different music and to write new lyrics”.

Sal bedroom

Practicing Guitar

Sal has been in bands in the past, but now records solo. His bedroom, which is filled with high-tech gear, is his studio. The walls are full of posters and hanging instruments (a few guitars and one mandolin). He’s played at multiple spots in the Boston area, and is always looking for new venues for his acoustic set, although the majority of the crowds he entertains are friends and acquaintances.

Playing for Friends

He’s shunned if he goes to a party without it

Although his passion seems to be taking a bit of a back seat as graduation comes around, the after-graduation plan is to get into a well-paying job that allows some involvement with his passion, music. “My goal out of school is to find a well paying job that I enjoy.” he said. “I’m hoping to go into the creative side of marketing or direct sales. I held a marketing and sales internship for a year during the end of my junior year through fall semester of senior year selling and marketing solar energy for United Solar Associates.”

While he takes his studies in business and marketing very seriously, he hopes to eventually use his business skills in finding a job in the music industry. Sal’s aspirations to make the jump to the music industry are what drives him to succeed. “My dream job would be an A&R representative for a record label, or to manage artists. Something along those lines.”

But for now, the mission is to enjoy the rest of his college days. “Time has been going by so fast lately,” he said to me in his car, a red Ford Explorer made in the late 90′s. (Which he proudly says runs “like a top”).  Graduation is right around the corner, and Sal isn’t one to take being a college student for granted. “Right now I’m looking forward to Bruins playoff hockey, the Red Sox this year, and making the most of the rest of my college life with my friends”.

 

College Humor: A Method to Explore College Life

April 18, 2014 in Alive Campus, Reviews, Videos

There are a lot of great and funny videos on YouTube about college life and college humor, here are 4 videos I consider not only funny, but also contains an important message about college life.

  1. College Life in 6 secs (Funniest Vines) – VineHeaven

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IS2G7xZ8ypY)

This video is a great way to explain the eating habits of some college students in 6 seconds: eating ramen noodles for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sometimes as a snack in between. I know I am one of those students who is lazy and would rather eat ramen noodles than to walk all the way to the cafeteria and get a nice and healthy meal. True, I do not live on campus right now, but I had lived at a college campus before and this was my lifestyle. I had a pack of ramen noodle in my room and ate it when I was hungry. It is fast and easy to make and it tastes great. Not all college students eat ramen noodles because cafeterias are becoming more healthy with a variety of delicious and great meals.

  1. Honest College Ad- CollegeHumor

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbsdlSpA2GU)

CollegeHumor has a lot of funny videos about college life that are worth checking out. I pick this specific video because it shows how through college advertisements all college students are tricked into applying different colleges. In this video, you get to see and hear some of the real meanings behind a college advertisement that every college students realizes after they finish their first year of college.

Check out the Videos made by CollegeHumor

Check out the Videos made by CollegeHumor!

For example, many colleges use actors claiming that they are real students attending their school, to trick high school seniors into believing that at their college, students are having fun. Talking to some of my friends, we have come up with the conclusion that colleges are just about making money and not providing a great education and experience each students deserves, but this statement can be debatable.

  1. Rant: The Type of Girls I Cant STAND in College- Kendall Rea

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muzpcUompMY)

I chose this video because it shows a real college student talking about her class experience. During college you are going to encounter people who you cannot stand and like. For example, this college student, had an online class and one of her classmates in this class was drunk during their class section and made a fool out of herself. Her comments were illogical and ridiculous. This video gives you a real life experience of college life and how to deal with situations you encounter during college.

  1. “College” – Comedy Short Film- AdamKoralik

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSH1gSY10rA)

This short film tells a story of a professor who has only one student enrolled in his class and that student is not a great one. The message I got from this video was that colleges with a really big class size have a disadvantage because students can hide or skip class and the professor will not know. Compared to a small class size, where there is a closer interaction between student and professor and there is a less change for a student to skip class or walk out because they do not want to be in class.