first week. second year.

Almost a month has gone by since I’ve been back in Boston, and almost a week has gone by since the first day of classes. RA training brought me back in the beginning of August for a whirlwind of 13-hour-days, staff bonding, and incoming freshmen. This jumpstart to the year gave me an opportunity to slowly transition from summer to school. Unlike other upperclassmen, I was quickly settled in my cozy (albeit tiny) room, back in the rhythm of living on my own, and ready to start classes with excitement rather than anxiety.

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After the official end of summer and the official start of classes, my feelings are of gratitude and anticipation. My RA experience has, more than anything else, reminded me how fortunate I am to be where I am and who I am. I’m also resoundingly thankful to have wonderful friends and professors who I can turn to and rely on during my time at BC.

This semester, I planned on taking Political Behavior and Participation and Computer Science, but a stressful life-planning-spreadsheet moment towards the end of the summer led me to drop those classes and switch them for Social Movements and Macroeconomics (both of which count towards my International Studies major whereas the other two classes don’t). And so far, I am pleased with my updated schedule, which also features Online Communication and Global Society and Western Cultural Tradition (my Honors Program class).

My new plan for college consists of two main priorities. First, I was accepted into the International Studies major at the start of summer, so finishing the major (and the 12 classes I still have to take for it) has become my number one priority. My number two priority–and I’ve previously gone back-and-forth on this–is to study abroad in London for the entirety of my junior year (which essentially eliminates a year of International Studies classes).

A year is a long time. And being back in BC this second time around has been so amazing that I’m already sad about it potentially being my penultimate year here. I will miss so many people. And for my close friends who are currently juniors, I will miss their senior years!

But going abroad is my priority. Not because this is my only chance to travel, but because it’s a rare chance to immerse myself in an entirely different culture (across the Atlantic Ocean) without actually paying to live there as a full-time adult. I want to experience living in a variety of locations and countries while I am still relatively free of responsibility, and this will be my first way of doing that. Plus, I will be physically closer to family than I am right now.

My convictions may waver this year, as the date for applying to study abroad rapidly approaches and my time at BC ticks aways, but as long as I stay true to my core values, remain connected to those around me, and do what feels right in the moment, I am confident that my college experience will continue in a positive direction.

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paper flowers, tacky glue

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Cut, curl, glue, pinch, cut, curl, glue, pinch. This has been my life for several hours over the past two days. Unattractive, off-white bricks line the walls of my “cozy” (small) dorm room. Seeing as the brick doesn’t entirely go with my white, orange, and grey color scheme, the large blank space above my two-seater sofa simply couldn’t do. But these paper flowers do the trick.

Thank goodness for my countless subscriptions on YouTube. When the video below popped up on my feed, I instantly recognized the solution.

This eye-catching yet relatively simple method of creating large paper flowers out of card stock and glue was ideal for me: a college student who doesn’t want to spend money on something she can make herself.

Because Ann Le’s video wasn’t step-by-step, the less entertaining video below was more instructive.

Some things I found helpful were:

  1. Use tacky glue. It’s amazing!
  2. Don’t bother with an outline or a stencil. Petals don’t have to be perfect.
  3. Cut out six petals at a time by folding and sandwiching the paper.
  4. Vary the petal shape for each layer.
  5. Six petals are easier than five.
  6. Fluff out the middle part to cover any visible seams or glue inside.
  7. Petals come in all shapes and sizes, so have fun with it!

Now all that’s left is to cross my fingers and hope that my assortment of Command strips will hold these petals up for the rest of the year!

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10 lessons from my first year at boston college

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1. There is more value to a college education than pure academics. As much as I knew that learning in college would transcend the classroom, it was only until second semester that I truly came to value the nonacademic side of a BC education, which involves the Jesuit concept of cura personalis (care for the whole person). It’s being attentive, being reflective, and being loving. Only through nurturing all aspects of my humanity – relational, reflective, physical, emotional – will I practice discernment and remain conscientious about how I choose to live my life. And to anyone who hasn’t been exposed to Catholic or Jesuit education, this all sounds a bit wishy washy, but it’s so rewarding to keep an open mind.

2. Mentors and sponsors are vital. One of my professors said that your primary job in college is to find mentors. I have been fortunate enough to find a few professors this year who I would consider mentors. Whenever I felt overwhelmed or troubled, or even when I simply felt like taking a step back from the business of everyday college life, I would shoot one (or all) of them an email and set up times to meet. Although I would sometimes leave slightly more confused than before, each encounter would challenge me to think more deeply about what I wanted from my four years.

3. It’s okay to not be a STEM major. Coming to accept the notion that I don’t have to be a STEM major in order to be “successful” in life has definitely been a process. Growing up in Silicon Valley, the prominent message is that science, math, and engineering are the most respectable and praise-worthy pursuits. But unless I follow what my gut is telling me to do, I am doing a disservice to everyone including myself.

4. Your first friend won’t likely be your best friend. In the moment, when you just want friends to hang out with, you can confuse a friendship of convenience (by location or necessity) with true friendship. The more common experience is that you begin to find your people after at least a few months, because that is when most people tire of portraying a facade and simply are who they are (or at least that’s what I found to be true).

5. One-on-one friend dates are life. My favorite way to spend time with someone is one-on-one. It likely has to do with quality time being my love language, but I love it when I’m hanging out with a friend and she isn’t checking her phone every five minutes. When you have someone’s full attention and you give someone your full attention in return, conversation flourishes and connections forge.

6. Dating for practice is a potentially great thing. How else do you end up married with children? How else to you figure out what you seek in a relationship? And college is the ideal time to practice: You are in a bubble with people your age who you know through, at most, a couple degrees of separation. It’s not as risky.

7. It’s hard but vital to say no. Extracurricular involvements can become a runaway train unless I learn to say no to things. And it’s tricky because there are so many amazing opportunities out there! But it’s ultimately a matter of priorities and giving myself the freedom to allow the experiences I do say yes to sink in.

8. Planned spontaneity is not that spontaneous. During the school year, I am dependent on my daily planner. The majority of my time is planned out with class, work, or activities. Even my “free time” is planned out. But that’s not spontaneous. And while I’m young and relatively free of responsibility, I can afford to be spontaneous (even if it feels against my nature). So I want to take advantage of unplanned spontaneity while I can.

9. -26°F is pretty very cold. Though this winter was apparently very mild, the one time the weather was ridiculously cold happened to be the night of a ball, so I was in a dress without any tights on at night. Running maybe 30 yards from the hotel to the Uber was the coldest I have ever been. I was running through an ice box. Unpleasant is an understatement.

10. BC is the right fit for me. I spent first semester trying to answer this question: Am I happy at BC? And I feel so fortunate to have discovered that the answer is yes. It took a catalytic experience like LeaderShape (a week-long leadership and community building retreat) for me to realize how many amazing people are at BC. It might not be the most academically prestigious school, but like I said in my first point, BC for me is more about all the other “stuff”. It’s about the relationships. It’s about the mentorship. It’s about the vocational discernment. It’s about Boston. It’s about the opportunities. And it’s about the people.

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