Free time? What’s that?

Some things are eating my time. More like devouring. College kids don’t sleep? Yeah, it’s true. For me, this is for a couple of reasons:

1. My job.My job as an office assistant, more specifically. Though I only work twice between classes and once after class, it’s still, you know, a time commitment.

2. Volunteering. I’m part of the Civil Engagement Program (CEP)  a community service initiative that requires students receiving full-tuition scholarships to volunteer at least 100 hours a year. I have to partner up with a local organization and work there at least five hours a week– so I’ll be starting next week with Sociedad Latina. I’ll be designing and teaching a biology curriculum to underprivileged Hispanic girls.

3. School. Naturally. Studying and schoolwork takes priority, and time.

All of these together I could handle pretty reasonably, I think. But then one more– just one more opportunity came by that I couldn’t let slip away.

It began before the school year even started:

I applied for the job and included the link to my own blog. Though I was in the mindset of my sister, who said:

As it turns out, my blog is good for something after all! Just recently, the professor running the study at Northeastern sent me an e-mail:

It’s a long story, but I would basically create a daily comic strip about a character trying to lose weight using the study’s cell phone app. I’m not sure how much more I can reveal, since this is a study-in-progress. More importantly, the professor is conducting the study with researchers from Duke University. If they didn’t approve of his idea of incorporating comics, I would be out of business.

So I created some sample comics and sent them in. And waited nervously for two days…

But then, I got:

So I need to create a year’s worth of strips– 365 comics– ASAP. It’s more or less like creating a newspaper-style daily strip, four panels, black and white, for a year. This is a paying job, which is beyond me– getting paid for drawing? Impossible! So now, I’ve got:

It’s a lot. But I’m too stubborn to give up any of them. I want to do everything! It’s a problem. But I’m super-determined to do this. I can do it. It just means less free time and less shut-eye. I think it’s a fair trade.

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Fighting the freshman fifteen

The freshman fifteen. That rumored fifteen pounds people gain as a new college student. We all know what it is. We know it’s coming. Heck, Wikipedia even has an article on it.

I didn’t exactly start off strong, either. I totally gained weight in Germany. And, I’m in love with dining halls. Every time I visited my sister’s college, I always asked to eat in the dining hall.

College doesn’t take it easy on you, either. First of all, dining halls are classically all you can eat.

Which means all you can eat cookies…

…ice cream…

Or, technically, frozen yogurt.

…pizza…

…and general junk food.

Dining halls often include healthy dining options as well. But keep in mind: these are options. Options that often look like this:

Secondly, the meal plan at NU works like this: you get, by default, 15 meals a week. If you don’t use your meals by the end of the week, they are null and void. 15 meals might not sound like a lot– about 2 meals a day– but trust me, two meals a day in an all-you-can-eat buffet is more than enough.

Because of this system, I often do this:

Finally, the NU meal plan comes with a set amount of “dining dollars,” or money that can be used at various food vendors near or around campus. My plan comes with $165 a semester. These dollars can be spent at places like:

Taco Bell.

Wendy's.

Three...

...different...

...Dunkin' Donuts.

I love all this. I love food, and eating, and eating at different places. But man, these meals plans make sure, for sure, that nobody starves. A surplus is more like it.

So I’m a little antsy. I fear the fifteen. But I gotta fight it! By doing stuff like:

1. Eating healthy (easier said than done)

2. Working out (goal: every other day! So far: not happening!)

3. Taking the stairs! (Which, in IV, you really have to go out of your way to do. There’s only one stairwell that can be used without setting off the fire alarm.)

This is not going so well. Oh goodness. I’ll try my best; we’ll see in a couple of months.

Awkward dancing at The Museum of Fine Arts

“College night.”

That seems to be a trend around here. Apparently, one in every five Bostonians is a college student. Target took advantage of this. The New England Aquarium is doing it too. The Museum of Fine Arts, though admission is already free for college kids, had its own college night, featuring live performances, free giveaways, and free food.

I missed all this, though. I came a few hours into the event– basically just in time for the… dance party?

It seemed kind of out-of-place in a museum, but indeed, in a large room on the first floor, music was blasting. Kids from colleges all over Boston were there. Girls were obviously dressed for a night on the dance floor.

I, of course, had no idea this was happening, so I was dressed like this:

It was okay, though. Me and dances just don’t mesh. Me on a dance floor almost always looks like this:

And that’s exactly what I did at the dance party.

I didn’t get the chance to explore the museum in full, but it seems like a pretty neat place. There’s a definite emphasis on sculpture, pottery, and other artifacts over just paintings. I thoroughly enjoyed the contemporary art exhibit.

It was an experience. I will definitely return one day! I absolutely love art so that’s another one on my list of places to visit while in Boston. (A list, by the way, that is pretty long. Which means more adventure in the future!)

I'm not sure what it is, but it's sparkly.

In which I get photobombed by a bouncer (recording MIXfest 2011)

Until recently, I’ve only been to one concert. That one being Coldplay, on their Viva la Vida tour, at the Hersheypark Stadium in 2009. They were amazing. Simply incredible. I listened to only Coldplay songs for the next month.

So after that night I wanted more. My sister likes to tell me about all the concerts she’s been to at her university, much to my jealousy. But now I’m in Boston, a big city! It’s sure to have live music.

And free live music!

MIXfest is one of those free concerts sponsored by a radio station, in this case Mix 104.1. The show is free, so attendance is high. I’m talking about the tens of thousands. My friends and I wanted to be near the front, so we arrived there four hours early. Even then, there were people there… protecting their territory.

I guess I can’t blame them. It got pretty crowded.

So we sat near the front and amused ourselves for a few hours. One of my friends is a HUGE Sara Bareilles fan. As she was one of the acts at the concert, I helped him display his love:

At 3:40 sharp, the concert began. Our warm-up act was Javier Colon, winner of the TV show The Voice. And indeed, he has a beautiful voice.

Next up was Michelle Branch. I have to say, she isn’t as good live as she is in studio. But she was good nonetheless.

Then, easily the act everyone was most excited for (especially my utterly romantically infatuated friend) Sara Bareilles:

All throughout this, I was trying to film the music and take photos. And I wasn’t in a bad position for it– right at the front, behind only two guys. But I’m short. My arms tire from holding a camera in the air. So my videos got constantly intruded upon, most often by this angry bouncer:

After Sara Bareilles was a relatively unknown act, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. I thought this band was just a filler between Sara and the last act, the popular Lifehouse. So did the crowd, which reacted unenthusiastically when the band came out. Wrong reaction. This band was electrifying.

By their last song, they had the crowd going. The band was so energetic, so genuinely happy to be on stage, and so in sync with each other, it was hard not to catch their enthusiasm.

And lastly, Lifehouse! All I can say about them: their lead singer, Jason Wade, is a good-looking man. So when he ran off stage and sang to the crowd (with the following photos showing how close we were to him)

…I pretty much did this:

Seriously. If you go to 1:12 of this video, you can hear someone squeal “Ohhh my god!” in the background. Yeah. That’s me. It was justified– they’re a fantastic band!

So that was the second concert of my life! All in all, pretty incredible. I’ll be listening to Lifehouse and Grace Potter for the next month or so, don’t mind me. Now if only the other concert venues in Boston were free, I’d be set…

So where do you kids go for concerts? Any bands you’ve seen, or want to see? Where’s the best place to buy tickets?

And if you want to see any of the (low-quality) videos I took, just go to my youtube channel!

Or just bask in the awesome that is Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. (If only videos could do the real thing justice…)

Newbury Street is not for poor college students

Newbury Street. It’s a popular tourist destination in Boston, known for its diverse shopping and restaurants.

This shopping also includes a Forever 21 and an H&M, so my roomies and I decided to make a day out of it. A girls’ day shopping!

Turns out, Newbury Street is just a little out of our price range.

As I failed to realize then (but I did later, thanks to Google) Newbury Street is home to many private boutiques and cafés. Those classy designer stores with the tailored suits and high-end clothing, I mean. This shop is pretty representative of what the stores on Newbury Street look like:

Newbury Street also features many Europe-reminiscent open-air restaurants:

And private art galleries:

We saw an “international poster gallery” and tried to get some prints for our dorm. No such thing:

Sales on Newbury Street often look like this:

Despite the general non-affordability, I’d recommend tourists to go to Newbury Street anyway! If you dig for it, you may be able to hit gold. (As my roomies and I did at the mainstream H&M.) Newbury Street makes for a nice walk, anyway– visitors can enjoy the laid-back, artsy atmosphere and beautiful New England architecture.

My roomies and I certainly enjoyed trying to figure out the more hipster stores:

So, kids, where do you like to shop? Where’s it cheap and where’s it good? Tell me, I could use the advice!

And then I unexpectly became an office assistant

I have a job!

A completely unexpected job. I barely expected to get employed my first semester of freshman year. Inexperienced college freshman don’t get jobs. There are more qualified upperclassmen all around us, after all.

But I lucked out! On the day I moved in, I, by complete chance, met one of the heads of the NU Procurement Office in the dining hall. Later I saw her again at the student employment fair. Some paperwork, some phone calls, some e-mails, and bam: I have a job. A job that no less than 230 people applied for!

If you know me, or my friends, or my career-oriented family, then you know I’m often like this:

So this is quite a stroke of luck for me. Extremely so; I need the professional experience for when I search for future jobs.

Thus, the gaps in my schedule will be filled with filing papers, sending faxes, and answering phones! I apologize in advance if I can’t update this blog quite as often. My goal is, at the very least, once a week! But, naturally, school and work come first.

My calc professor scares me

I took the AP Calc AB and BC exams in high school, so I can exempt the classes at Northeastern. However, bio majors have to take a year’s worth of calculus anyway– a specific course engineered to teach calculus as applied to biology.

Calc is my worst subject. Always.

And this is how my calc professor introduced the class:

He went on.

He went on.

By the end of his speech, I looked like this:

This class is gonna be a good time.

College kids inexplicably love Target

Kids pack for college. They move in. They forget stuff. It’s the inevitable fate of the college freshman.

Target knows this. Target capitalizes on this. They’re allowed to. It’s a free-market economy. So, as part of “Welcome Week” at Northeastern, we had this:

Target sets up special times where they invite students from one college to come to Target. It’s only kids from one school. There’s sales, they said. There’s music. Free coupon books. The day before, they had workers on campus handing out little Target bags and coupons. It’s enticing.

Which is why, at the time of Target night, we had this down at Forsyth Circle:

Target had ordered 12 buses to ship kids back and forth from campus to their store. My roomies and I had managed to slip into the front of the line, so we decided to go.

And when we got there? It was a madhouse.

It was crowded already. And got more crowded as NU kids started to file in. As Target had promised, there was music…

and free samples…

He gave us both two for our trouble. I continued to walk by that booth the whole night.

…and even a mascot.

But truly? Target night at NU is a tad overrated. For one, we might have been the only college there at the moment, but we sure weren’t the only college there that day. The shelves were ravaged. Some, empty. My suitemates failed to buy a full-length mirror because they were sold out.

Shower liners are in high demand, it seems.

Nothing was on sale, either. Those coupons? Not too good.

But it was a good time anyway. Nothing is more exciting than the atmosphere of rampant consumerism! Kids loaded up with Target goods. My suitemate bought over $200 dollars worth, I believe. I myself bought some Q-tips, makeup remover, and a box of crayons. This sight was common as we got back to campus:

In which I accidently buy a Cho Chang cosplay

I probably shouldn’t be allowed into thrift stores.

Why? Well, a week or two ago, I needed some dress pants. My sister, the shopping master, once managed to walk out of a thrift store with three designer pairs of dress pants for a fraction of the original cost. Amazing.

So I decided to follow suit.

But:

I blame it on the diversity of the thrift store. In a typical store, you only find current clothes, the latest fashions. In a thrift store, you don’t know what you’ll find. The unfashionable. The ill-fitting. The cast-aways of other people. But one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Thus, when I saw a black graduation robe, I couldn’t help but think,

I couldn’t resist. I couldn’t. I went off and bought a matching shirt

and skirt

and Ravenclaw-colored tie

and a cardigan, some leggings, and nice shoes, and there you have it: a rough estimation of Cho Chang’s outfit!

And, just because I’m that dorky, I decided that

Solution: make a wand. Out of wood. Hand-carved wood.

After quite a bit of effort, I finally finished. Chestnut wood is way harder than I expected. But at least, I have a costume for Anime Boston! (Am I preparing a bit too much in advance? It’s likely.)

My wand!

And here’s the finished costume!

Yup I'm a dork... just ignore me.

My dorm building is also secretly awesome

Living in International Village is actually pretty nice.

As I said in this post, International Village is a two-year-old residential hall open to upperclassmen and honors freshmen. It’s a bit isolated from the rest of campus, requiring a short walk across Ruggles Station to reach the rest of campus. Thus, Northeastern apparently designed International Village to be a sort of “campus of its own.” I wouldn’t exactly call it that, but it’s got some nice perks.

I mentioned before that the dorms are nice, but the building itself is too. We’ll start with the basics: International Village, unlike many of the residential halls at Northeastern, has air conditioning.

There’s a miniature gym for students’ convenience.

There’s a gorgeous bamboo courtyard nestled between the IV towers.

International Village is 22 stories high. It’s essential that we have multiple nice, fast elevators.

With 22 stories also comes a nice view. You can actually see Fenway Park from the upper floors of IV, whose bright lights stand out at night:

Those bright lights are Fenway Park, as seen from the 22nd floor of IV.

Boston in daytime. There’s a laundry room on the 22nd floor for kids to do their laundry and enjoy the view.

Every floor has an common area with a flat-screen TV.

Every even-numbered floor has a pool table.

But my favorite part of the whole building? Hands down the dining hall! IV’s dining hall, in my opinion, is the best on campus. It’s a certified three-star green restaurant (whatever that means) but more importantly, it’s unsurprisingly international-themed. The dining hall serves a variety of foods, including daily wood-oven pizza, Indian and Italian food, and my personal favorite…

Though I also dig that there’s sparkling water. I’ve missed it since Germany! However, the hall often runs out of milk, which is unfortunate.

Other features of International Village? A small computer lounge by the dining hall, which is nice. There’s some classrooms, though I have no classes here. IV is also “LEED Gold certified,” meaning it has green features such as “motion-sensor lighting, recycled building materials, low-flow showers and faucets, and a roof garden.”

So I rather like International Village. As my roommate aptly put it, Northeastern is “pampering” we IV kids. But hey, I enjoy it! Keep going NU!