Just Touched Down in Londontown: Cheers, London

By Margaret Waterman, Staff Writer
@mh_waterman

The iconic Tower Bridge in London, my home for the past four months./ PHOTO BY Margaret Waterman

The iconic Tower Bridge in London, my home for the past four months./ PHOTO BY Margaret Waterman

I am so thankful I chose to study in London. Immersing myself in British culture has been an adventure and I am so grateful to have been able to do so in such a beautiful, historic place. I feel extremely lucky to have been able to call such a lively and diverse city home.

My decision to study abroad at all was made on a complete whim: I emailed my favorite professor one day about it and he told me he studied overseas and it was the best choice he ever made. Signed, sealed, delivered. I also love travel so, truthfully, I didn’t need much convincing. I studied the study abroad page so carefully that I memorized its content. From there, I narrowed down my choices and eventually had London in the top spot.

Less than two weeks after I applied, I was accepted — the rest, as they say, was history.

I came abroad with two main goals: to get to know London and to see Europe. I like to think I accomplished both — I traveled almost every weekend and spent my weeks taking advantage of what my home city had to offer me. Plays, museums, pubs, restaurants — I saw as many as I could as many times as I could. I made British friends. I grew a working network.

My internship, seven weeks at an absolutely amazing company in downtown London, was an extremely important part of my overall experience. Without it, I wouldn’t have really understood what it means to be British and what Brits think of Americans. I also wouldn’t have seen as much as the city as I did, considering how many outings my colleagues and I took. I also mastered the London Underground due to my commute.

Outside of England, I saw different cities and different countryside towns. Ireland, Scotland and Wales are all stunning and surprisingly different facets of the United Kingdom. Outside of Great Britain, I was lucky enough to see parts of Hungary, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Vatican City. While I can’t pick a distinct favorite, there wasn’t one place I disliked.

In addition to new experiences through my visiting various places, traveling in and of itself was important: I learned how to travel on a budget and in the most efficient way. I also learned how to travel with big and small groups and where and when each was possible.

It can be easy to grow tired of what you know so well, easy to be bored with the routine and with the usual. I came to London with the hope of renewing my appreciation for the world around me. I wasn’t depressed or unhappy (far from it), but for whatever reason, that passion had escaped me slightly — unpaid internships, countless hours clocked at work and my demanding extracurricular schedule left me exhausted.

My London experience has strengthened my appreciation for home and for my surroundings, and has inspired me to go out and see more of the world. I have so many more places I hope to travel to and so many things I want to accomplish in the coming years.

For now, I’m looking forward to spending some time back on American soil. Home might not be uncharted territory, but it’s an adventure in its own right.

Pop Culture Countdown: Prince George on US Weekly and “Parks and Recreation” season finale

By Danny McCarthy, Staff Writer
@thedanosaurus

Hello! Welcome to the Countdown, where we discuss some of the things that happened this week in Pop Culture! Are you excited? Of course you are! Let’s get down to business!

6. Us Weekly is accused of photoshopping a picture of baby Prince George:

I can’t believe that this is really happening. The photo was originally taken at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia. The original photo shows Prince George with dark eyes, pale cheeks and brown hair, but his Us Weeklydoppelganger blushed on the cover with rosy cheeks, and lighter eyes and hair. I know that airbrushing is not uncommon, but I feel like if anyone could get away without some tweaking, it would be a baby.

5. Katy Perry releases the music video for “Birthday”:

The music video for Katy Perry’s song “Birthday” was released this week, and it was … interesting. The video follows Perry as she dresses up like five distinctive characters and proceeds to ruin five separate birthday parties. She grinds up on geriatric men, eats mice and causes a car accident. But it’s all good, because in the end she revealed her true identity and everyone went cray-cray! The song definitely takes a different direction from Perry’s usual “cupcakes and sparkles” persona. The star, who recently revealed that she’s on Tinder, showed her pranking side in this music video, and it wasn’t the worst.

4. Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis welcome baby Otis:

Aww! I love it when cool celebrities have kids together; it means that I have more cool celebrities to look forward to in the future! Sudeikis and Wilde, who started dating in 2011 and got engaged in January 2013, welcomed their first child together, Otis Alexander, this week. Wilde revealed her due date on the Golden Globes red carpet, telling Ryan Seacrest, “May the fourth be with you!” Well, it looks like baby Otis isn’t a huge Star Wars fan, because he came early! Congratulations to the whole Sudeikis-Wilde family and hello to baby Otis!

3. One Direction releases the “You and I” music video:

Another music video this week (and spoiler alert, we’re not finished). One Direction’s “You and I” music video, from their album Midnight Memories, came out and it has already stirred up some controversy. I didn’t realize at first, due to being mesmerized by Liam’s cool new beard and Louis’ gross, old-man hair, but the video is strikingly similar to Clubfoot’s “Everything You Wanted.” The use of digital effects and overall feel of the two music videos are very similar. While no one has filed for any sort of creative infringement lawsuits, Clubfoot is asking fans to tweet at One Direction with #nodirection to bring the issue to 1D’s attention. What do you think? Too similar or just too much drama?

2. Beyoncé releases the “Pretty Hurts” music video to the world:

So this might not be news if you’ve already bought the classic album, but if you haven’t, bask in the glory of “Pretty Hurts,” the first song off Beyoncé’s titular album. And since it’s Beyoncé, we think any news of hers is breaking news. The video is visually stunning and thematically powerful. It shows the ups and downs of judging yourself based off looks, and Beyoncé, who is poked, prodded and evaluated throughout the entire video, is having none of it. Beyoncé released the video in conjunction to her appearance on this year’s cover of TIME for the issue on the most influential people in the world. With the release, Beyoncé is asking all of us to reconsider what we call “pretty,” and what the word should really mean. Beyoncé, as always, you are my queen. Thank you.

1. “Parks and Recreation” had its sixth season finale:

The NBC hit “Parks and Recreation” wrapped up its sixth season, and it was a majestic whirlwind of emotions. Now, this one is a major spoiler alert, so don’t read any further if you haven’t watched the episode! The last few episodes of the sixth season have been impressive enough: Leslie is revealed to be pregnant with triplets, the Unity Concert is drawing closer, and Leslie’s deadline to make a decision about leaving Pawnee for a new job inches closer. In the finale, a lot of these questions are answered, and it threw me through a loop. The Unity Concert is a success (as we knew it would be), and Leslie manages to get the National Parks Service job and stay in Pawnee (and we knew she should) but then there’s a three year TIME JUMP ! That’s right! The seventh season of “Parks and Rec” will take place three years into the future, skipping over the bogging-down “Leslie pregnancy” story line and showing Leslie like she always has been: kicking ass, taking names and balancing everything. I cannot wait for the new season to start.

Three music videos, a season finale, a little prince and a little baby! Wow, what a week it’s been! I hope you had fun reading the Countdown this week, and I hope you watch all the videos and episodes I’ve talked about. Anyway, I better get going. So much to do (aka Netflix to watch), so little time. Goodbye!

In Biz: A semester in review

By Emily Overholt, Staff Writer
@EmilyOverholt

Exploring the merits of sleeping in v. actually going to class./ PHOTO via Emily Overholt

Exploring the merits of sleeping in v. actually going to class./ PHOTO via Emily Overholt

So here we are folks. One full semester of InBiz back in action. Are you proud? I’m proud. I thought for my final blog I’d take a stroll down memory lane with you through my weird business-like rants.

1. I talked about skipping class and what it costs you for tuition. This blog was 100 percent per my father’s request and definitely a criticism of my own habits. Although I am proud to say I have attended 99 percent of my classes this semester, a new all time high. Sure it took me almost all of college to get here, but it’s the thought that counts.

Why this post worked: I had to do math. It was relevant. I had to learn how to blog.
Why this post didn’t work: I had to do math. Ouch.

2. My first adventure into the listicle was inspired by trying to buy lottery tickets with convenience points. I learned that I have slightly more respect for Buzzfeed because being witty is hard. I also learned that Tumblrs that make gifs often have names we can’t publish. Way to go Tumbr.

Why this post worked: Listicles! Gifs! The constant lament that I can’t buy beer at the BU Pub with monopoly money!
Why it didn’t work: I’m not actually that funny. Sorry guys.

A "Game of Thrones" GIF for the listicle because, well, "Game of Thrones"./ GIF VIA reactiongifs.com

A “Game of Thrones” GIF for the listicle on finding a subletter because, well, “Game of Thrones”./ GIF VIA reactiongifs.com

3. In March I decided to complain about Slate complaining. I know, super meta. Sure, I may have thought of this blog by idly scrolling through Twitter and picking the first thing I could have an opinion on, but that doesn’t mean my strong feelings about Slate are any less real. Seriously, ask me about Slate some time. I have a lot of feelings.

Why it worked: I was forced to analyze other people’s convictions as well as look at how marketing works. In a lot of ways I had to think the most for this blog. Maybe Slate did win in the end.
Why it didn’t: Unless other people also noticed that Slate wouldn’t stop beating a dead horse, I probably was typing into the abyss.

4. And finally, my penultimate log was about Game of Thrones and finding subletters.

Why it worked: Game of Thrones
Why it didn’t: No one contacted me to sublet me apartment…

Thanks for InBizing with me!

Boy Scouts shut down troop due to gay scoutmaster

By Katrina Uy, Staff Writer
@katreenz

The Boy Scouts of America./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Ted Eytan

The Boy Scouts of America cause controversy due to its new policies./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Ted Eytan

Last week, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) shut down a troop in Seattle for refusing to get rid of its scoutmaster, Geoff McGrath, who is openly gay.

Pack and Troop 98 are sponsored by the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church. In late March, upon discovering McGrath’s sexuality, the BSA demanded that the church remove McGrath, but the church refused.

Just last May, the BSA decided to break its 103 year-old ban on allowing openly gay youth from becoming members. However, the ban (which was put into effect on Jan. 1, 2014) did not extend to its adult gay and leaders, leaving many (myself included) in confusion. It even caused some sponsors, like the Walt Disney Company, to cut off all funding to the BSA starting in 2015.

But how can an organization decide to open its arms to only openly gay youth but not its openly gay leaders? It certainly seems like taking one step forward and another step back in an endless waltz of discriminatory actions.

Despite the BSA’s controversial ban, Rev. Monica Corsaro, the minister of Troop 98’s host church, admits that the church and the troop knew about McGrath’s sexuality, and that choosing him as their scoutmaster violated the BSA’s policy.

In a statement, Corsaro wrote, “We didn’t choose Geoff McGrath as a political statement. We chose Geoff because he was the perfect person for the job, an Eagle Scout himself . . . [who] has mentoring and leadership skills that someone taking on this role needs… The Boy Scouts of America need to recognize the growing number of churches whose beliefs include all people. And by all, we mean all.”

Although the BSA has given the boys from Troop 98 the opportunity to be placed in other troops, Corsaro has said that they will continue to meet next week, whether they wear uniforms or not.

Lol Thursday: Brozen, a love story

By Ann Singer, Staff Writer
@annmsinger

What do you get when you put together two good-looking athletes and a rendition of a “Frozen”song? Over one million views on YouTube of course!

Matt Kilby and Brad Borosak, both US Navy baseball players, released a video of them lip-syncing to the song “Love is an Open Door,” which has gone completely viral, garnering the attention of Good Morning America on ABC. Even celebrities like Zooey Deschanel have shared the video on social media.

In the video the two men perfectly lip-sync every line, getting the timing down perfectly. Matt Kilby syncs to Kristen Bell’s character Anna, and Brad Borosak plays Santino Fontana’s character Hans. The two men somehow get every emotion, every croon and affectionate side-glance right on, making this performance so much more adorable than any other “Frozen” rendition on the Internet (and there are are a lot of those floating around).

The video came to be because of the crush Kilby and Borosak share of one of the characters in the movie: Elsa. When trying to expose a fellow friend to the phenomenon that is “Frozen,” Kilby came up with the hashtag “Brozen,” as in bros who watch Frozen, and the video was born.

The video was originally shared just between teammates and Facebook fans, but with some urging the men shared it with the public, much to tremendous approval. See for yourself how two men who serve our country and play ball have shared their other talents. Enjoy!

New app makes sure you get home safe

By Kyra Louie, Staff Writer
@beammeupkyra

“Text me when you get home,” is a phrase that we often give and receive when we part with friends and family at the end of a night.  I’ve used it, you’ve used it, everyone’s used it.  But most people forget to follow up once they do actually get home safely.

With the SMS app Kitestring, this will no longer be a problem.  Kitestring is a free web-based “safecall service” that allows its user to send automated text messages to themselves and their emergency contacts.

When Kitestring is used, it allows the user to punch in their destination and how long their trip will take (30 minutes, 2 hours, etc.).  If the user does not return home by the time previously estimated, they can ask for extra time.  If the user does not respond to the checkup text within a few minutes, Kitestring sends out a custom-made text to your assigned emergency contacts to let them know that something might have happened.

The user can set up their own personal check-in-word, so that if an attacker has struck, they cannot check-in for the user.  There is also a duress code, which is used in case the user is actually in trouble. If the duress code is sent as a reply to the check-in text, the app pretends like the user checked in, but actually alerts the emergency contacts that they might be in danger.

As beautiful as this app sounds, it’s not perfect. If the user’s phone dies, and they miss the check-in text, the distress text will be sent to their emergency contacts. Also, there will obviously be times the user does not remember to reply to the check-in text, or ask for more time, which will result in another text sent to their emergency contacts (followed by unnecessary panic).

Depending on the situation, I get very frustrated when my friends don’t text me that they got home safely. For all I know, something could have happened and I would be devastated to learn that something did happen and I thought it to be forgetfulness.

Even so, it’s a really practical app.  It could save someone’s life, and it is worth investing in. Kitestring is a free app, so, as far as I can tell, there isn’t really any reason not to give it a try.

Student project aims to combat racism on campus

By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer
@jacobca1995

I am too, NYU aims to combat racism on campus./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user DryHundredFear

Despite better efforts, racism still exists./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user DryHundredFear

Nine students at New York University recently banded together to form the “I, too, am NYU” project. The organization’s goal is to bring a voice to the campus’ many racial minority groups and illuminate the discrimination that such students frequently face.

The inspiration for the project originated from similar actions taken by students at universities such as Harvard and Oxford. Involvement in the mission came after the college’s president, John Sexton, proclaimed in a university-wide speech that “there is no racial majority ” on the campus. Needless to say, many students felt insulted by such a remark, as it minimized the importance of race and glossed over prejudices that still exist today.

The project’s most powerful element comes in the form of photos that have since been publicized by means of various social media outlets. In the pictures, each individual holds up a whiteboard on which he or she has written some of the racist or stereotypical remarks that have been addressed to them.

One black female student wrote down a comment made by her white male roommate, which reads “There’s no such thing as a black pretty girl.” Another student wrote down the words of a concerned parent who didn’t think her daughter would get into the school because the school was “letting in a lot of foreigners.”

Along with the photographs, the organization crafted a proposal asking the university’s administration to be more open in regards to issues such as race. Though their efforts are quite recent, the group has been met with large amounts of both support and criticism.

Most of the disapproval comes from those who claim that racial tension has been the only result of this project. Others are upset at how the project represents certain racial minorities better than others. On both accounts, I find these criticisms to be quite wrongheaded.

In regards to racial representation, the group itself wisely pointed out that the project is still in its early stages. Hopefully, as it continues to expand with new participants, it will not be long before a full spectrum of racial diversity is expressed.

However, it is the comment concerning racial tension that I found most disconcerting. By unveiling the discrimination that still exists in our current culture, these students have illustrated a problem that is often thought to be antiquated or irrelevant. Though prejudice is not as blatantly malicious as it once was, it is still an issue that demands to be addressed. Therefore, these students are not causing racial tension. They are simply uncovering an aspect of society that is all too often ignored by many people.

I was deeply moved by the project, and I hope that their efforts are rewarded by the presence of a more racially harmonious campus environment.

Spotlight: The return of Edgar Allen Poe

By Stacy Schoonover, Staff Writer
@stacyscootover

The FreeP's take on Poe./ PHOTO BY Maya Devereaux

The FreeP’s take on Poe./ PHOTO BY Maya Devereaux

The goal to bring Edgar Allen Poe back to Boston has finally been reached! The Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston has been raising funds to install Stefanie Rocknak’s Poe Returning to Boston statue, and they finally reached their goal last month.

Rocknak’s statue, chosen from 265 different proposals, shows Poe walking and holding a briefcase with a raven by his side. It’s currently being constructed at New England Sculpture Services in Chelsea, Mass.

Poe, famous for his dark and captivating tales such as “The Raven” and “The Fall of the House of Usher,” was born in Boston in 1809, which the foundation wanted to honor and recognize. Other states show memorials and museums of Poe and his accomplishments, but until now Poe has been kept quiet in the Boston community.

The statue will be installed in Poe Square, located at the intersection of Boylston Street and Charles Street South. Former Mayor Thomas M. Menino dedicated the square, near Poe’s former residence, in 2009, shortly after the Poe Foundation formed.

Thanks to a year of fundraising and a $10,000 grant from the Lynch Foundation, the funding goal of $225,000 has been reached. This money was needed to fund the fabrication, transportation and installation of the statue. It will even cover the maintenance of the statue after installation.

The statue will be revealed at 2 p.m. on Sunday October 5, 2014, just a few days before the 165th anniversary of Poe’s death.

However, here at the FreeP, we were thinking of our own way to honor Poe before October. We thought of locking someone behind one of the walls of the FreeP, putting a beating heart under one of the desks in the office or even keeping a pet raven. But we settled on making a statue of our own. Enjoy.

How to Live to Senior Year: Bell Peppers

By Sabrina Katz, Staff Writer
@sabrina_katz

What's your favorite way to eat bell peppers?/ PHOTO BY Sabrina Katz

What’s your favorite way to eat bell peppers?/ PHOTO BY Sabrina Katz

Unlike their picante cousin the jalapeno, bell peppers are a mild, sweet pepper that are used widely in savory dishes. These green, red, yellow and orange veggies are crunchy and delicious, making them the perfect raw snack to munch on or use as a base for another dish.

Bell peppers are packed with vitamins C, A & E, as well as nutrients called carotenoids (they give bell peppers their colors!) and flavanoids that the body uses as antioxidants.

In addition, bell peppers have sulfur-containing compounds that are linked to cancer-fighting health benefits.

Remember how I mentioned jalapenos before? Well it turns out that capsaicin, which is responsible for the spiciness, is also present in bell peppers — which is great because it has been shown to reduce bad cholesterol and ease inflammation.

One reason bell peppers are one of my favorite foods is because they are so low in calories (about 30 for a whole cup!). Plus, they’re fat free, cholesterol free and sodium free.

Raw peppers may contain all of these nutrients, but cooking them strips them of some antioxidants. Don’t let this deter you — bell peppers should be eaten in every which way, be it sautéed, grilled, caramelized, raw or stuffed!

Fortunately, the dining hall always stocks bell peppers in the salad bar and often uses them in their dishes.

If you don’t already, here are some simple tricks for fitting bell peppers into your meal plan:

  • Dice up some bell peppers from the salad bar and add them to tuna or chicken salad
  • Grill bell peppers at the Warren Towers Mongolian station
  • Eat them raw with carrots and dip them into some creamy hummus
  • Stuff them in a wrap with other raw veggies for a fresh, vegetarian sandwich

What’s your favorite way to eat bell peppers? Let me know in the comment section below!

The aftermath of Columbine, 15 years later

By Shivani Patel, Staff Writer
@shizupates

Fierce debate surrounds the gun control issue./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Josh Lopez

Fierce debate surrounds the issue of gun control./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Josh Lopez

This past Monday marked the 15th anniversary of the shootings that took place in Littleton, Colorado at Columbine High School. Two high school students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, opened fire on their school, killing twelve people and wounding over twenty. They then committed suicide in the school, leaving the tragedy that is Columbine behind them.

Since then, a total of 29 notable shootings in schools have occurred across the country from 1999 to 2012.

Let that sink in for a moment.

These 29 shootings span 13 years — U.S. citizens have witnessed this many tragedies.

The ages of the shooters themselves range, but what I find incredibly disheartening and tragic is that one shooting (although less fatal than some) involved a six-year-old boy shooting one of his classmates.

There are two sides to the issue of gun control. There are those for increased restrictions on gun usage, and there are those against adding restrictions to gun usage. The latter is spearheaded by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

With recent shootings, like the one that took place just last year at Sandy Hook Elementary, the NRA has been criticized for its support of the use of firearms. In their defense, they claim that in pushing for more gun control, the Second Amendment right to bear arms will be put in danger.

According to their website, the NRA has implemented programs such as the “Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program,” which is designed to train kids from K-6 to not touch a firearm if unsupervised and to alert an adult immediately, or the “Refuse To Be A Victim” seminar, designed to teach anyone how to attain personal safety at all times.

Remember that six-year-old boy I mentioned earlier? He did the exact opposite of what the program preached, and the boy’s relatives were convicted of leaving a firearm where it was easily accessible for children. With this situation in mind, it is difficult to trust the effectiveness of the program, when it has proven not to reach its entire intended audience.

At the same time, by instituting gun control laws, the purpose of a firearm for use of self-defense is defeated when there are so many rules and regulations.

I find the debate interesting, but with the ever-increasing worry about future shootings, it is necessary for both sides to come together and figure out a solution before the situation becomes even worse.