Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

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Moving Across the Country

In September, I moved to Boston from Texas so I could attend Simmons and try and get a real winter. I'm only 3 months in and it's already way colder here than it ever gets in Texas.

I wanted to go over some of the things that were part of the challenge of moving here and how Simmons helped me with the move. The major thing was finding a place to live which can be difficult wherever you go. Finding a comfortable space that is also affordable is a challenging process. Thankfully, Simmons has a really great listing that students can access that lists available places within the area. It took me a while but I managed to find a little place in West Roxbury that a Simmons alum owns and managed to find a great roommate.

The next thing to deal with was how to get to school and figuring out public transportation for the first time. In Texas, there's no real convenient transportation service because everybody has cars and because Texas is such a big state. Its challenging and frustrating at times but getting to learn the MBTA has been a fun thing to do as a way to learn more about the city.

Finally, deciding which classes to take and which ones are required has been a major point of moving to Boston. As an Archives and History student, I have some structured courses that are required but I have enough flexibility to be able to take courses that still interest me like an upcoming one called Moving Image Archives that fits very well with my interests and eventual career goals. Moving across the country has been a challenge but I encourage everybody to do something similar at least once to get yourself out of your comfort zone and see how other places are similar yet different.

 

Boston | Resources | SLIS | Students | Weather


Going Home and Going Online

I got back from winter break a little later than everyone else since I had my brother's wedding to attend the last week of January. If anyone needs a refresher (I'm sure I mention it in nearly every blog post) but I am from Florida, and in true extra Florida fashion, my brother got married on a 3-day Disney cruise to the bahamas. It was fantastic, I got to spend quality time with my own family and my new sister-in-law's family, most importantly though I got to spend that time with family in the sunny caribbean.

I mention this lovely vacation not to brag (that's a lie, I am totally bragging about how great Florida is) because in order to spend the most time with family over break and for the wedding, I decided that this semester I will be taking classes fully online!. It just made the most sense given that I wanted to spend as much time as possible home in Florida. Which is one of the great things about Simmons, they offer nearly all the core course needed for the program online!

So this semester I am enrolled in LIS438 (Introduction to Archival Methods and Services) and LIS439 (Preservation Management) both key courses in the Cultural Heritage concentration. This is not my first time taking online classes but it has been quite a while especially considering that the only other time was when I was 19, in community college taking 100 levels courses over the summer.  My biggest concern is probably obvious but self-motivation is a very important part of taking online classes. Simmons online course are asynchronous so you don't have a specific time where you have to sign-in to "attend class". You do have deadlines like any other course but the great thing is you don't have to get up super early to try and beat rush hour traffic to make it to your class on time or rush to campus after work to make your evening class.

I'm only on my third week but so far the experience has been going pretty well. I'm naturally a night owl so I like being able to watch lectures and do assignments on my own time but I can't stress how important it is to stay on top of deadlines for online courses. I'd argue it's more important than face-to-face course since you don't see you classmates or professor around in person to remind you of what's coming up. So far though both my professors have been great about emailing and messaging us through moodle with updates and reminders, but I constantly find myself referring to my syllabus just to make sure.

I also want to say how important it is to take breaks when doing online courses. The first week I was quite overambitious and thought I could crank out my assignments in a day if I devoted all my time so that I wouldn't have to worry about them leading up to the cruise. Annnnnd that lead to a wonderful migraine and even more stress. So seriously remember to pace yourself and take breaks, learn from my overconfident idiocy.

A final word of advice, which seems kind of obvious, is to not just hole up at home doing your classes. Sure, I may have decided to take online classes Spring semester because winter in New England is criminal but I am not doing myself any favors academically by sitting in bed on my laptop trying to write a reflection on agents of deterioration. Get to a coffee shops, a library, or a community work space. A change of scenery really helps perk you up and re-energize you to get back to work (caffeine and the social pressure of having others working around you certainly helps too).

 

Classes | Online | SLIS | Students | Weather


First Weeks

So it has been a crazy few weeks! 

First, the weather has been insane.  We've had super cold weather, we've had snow squalls, we've had ice, we've had rain, we've had sun, we've had wind, and yesterday the high was 63 degrees!  We've had a little bit of everything!  Will the weather ever make up its mind?  Every day is a surprise!  I thought one of the things about living in New England was guaranteed freezing cold weather all the time in the winter, but the past two days have proved me wrong (although I'm certainly not complaining because I did not enjoy the snow squalls last week, and I do not want anything similar to the polar vortex the Midwest experienced). 

The first few weeks of class have been going great!  As you know, I'm taking LIS 451: Academic Libraries this semester.  It's my first elective at SLIS, and my last blog was posted on the first official day of my class, so I didn't have many details to share, but now I do!  The material for this class is so, so interesting, and because I work in an academic library, it is very relevant to my life now (and it will be relevant later if I decide I want my future library career to be in academic libraries), and I am really happy I chose to take this class this semester.  I've learned so much already.  We've talked about mission statements and goals, understanding student audiences, outreach to students, and so much more.   Also, even though I'm taking this class online, there is so much participation, and I do not feel disconnected from my classmates at all.  So far, this feels to be the most participation-heavy online class that I've taken.  However, there was something that seemed a little strange though: in most of my online classes, there was an "Introduce Yourself" forum where you get to "meet" all of your classmates.  This class didn't have that; however, we did have an introduction forum for our group project, and our participation/activity forums have been very lively which I have really enjoyed!  

 I can already tell that I'm going to need to be at the top of my time management game this semester with all of the projects, readings, and weekly assignments.  There are so many projects in this class.   However, every single project, every single assignment, and every single reading has a purpose in this class (and in every class at SLIS).  One of our projects is a mini-grant writing application--that is so useful, and I know I will use that later in my career.  Our big semester-long group project is a Committee Group Project, where we all sign up for a committee and we submit a written report, a presentation, and we all take turns being chair and submit a chair report.  Committees are how work gets done in academic libraries, and in universities in general, and this will be so helpful for my future. I've said it before: there is no busy work at SLIS, everything you do for homework is like professional development, and I know that is the case with this class.  Even though I know this class is going to be a lot of hard work, I'm really excited to be taking it, and I'm excited to learn more!

Online | SLIS | Students | Weather | classes


A Fall Outing

I went on a wonderful fall outing this past week!  Ever since I moved to Massachusetts I've been working on trying to explore the area more.  I research things to do and places to visit online, I ask classmates and colleagues where to go, and sometimes I just stumble across places as I go about my day.  One thing that several people told me was that I couldn't go through a fall in New England without a trip to an apple orchard.  I've noticed that there is an abundance of apple orchards near where I live, and it feels like there are far more here than there were North Carolina.  This past week, I decided to take the advice that was given to me and I visited an apple orchard with my family.  We went to Tougas Family Farm in Northborough, MA.   At the farm it is currently apple and pumpkin picking season.  During other times of the year, you can pick other kinds of fruit such as strawberries (early June to early July), cherries (late June to mid-July), blueberries (early July to early September), peaches and nectarines (August to mid-September), and blackberries (early August to early September).  We came home with a pumpkin which is now sitting proudly on our front porch and a ton of apples.  Seriously, we have so many apples.  The last time I went to an apple orchard was for a field trip for school when I was very young and I just remember picking like one apple but when you go with less people, you have to pick more apples.  The farm also has a Farm Store, where you can buy baked goods such as pies and apple cider doughnuts.  We bought both pie and doughnuts, and both were gone fairly quickly.  They were so good.  I haven't had apple cider doughnuts in years.  The farm also had some animals like goats, pigs, and a llama.  They had a very interesting structure for the goats--they had a bridge for the goats that went up in the air, over the path for the human beings, and back down again into a different pen, so there could be a goat walking above you.  Even though we came for the apples, I must admit, I was kind of excited for the animals.  Living in a world of watching baby animal videos on Youtube, it is fun to see the animals in real life.  The people I spoke to were right- fall in New England is not complete without a visit to an apple orchard.  If you have a chance, you should visit one before fall is over!  I'll leave you with some pictures of my outing! If you want to learn more about Tougas Family Farm (the orchard I visited), click here.

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Fun | New England | Relaxing | Weather


Summer is Here!

Within the past two to three weeks the weather has finally warmed up!  Today it was 85 degrees outside!  Can you believe it?!  I can barely believe that just a few short weeks ago I was wearing a parka.  Practically overnight all the trees have leafed out and everything is now so green.  It just suddenly appeared.  This is the weather I have been waiting for!  However, as I am writing this post, there is currently a tornado warning and it is pouring rain, so I guess I can't have everything. 

As I mentioned last time, I'm done with classes and I have a bit of a break before my next class starts on June 19, so I'm taking advantage of my time off to try and discover more of Massachusetts on the weekends, as I am kind of new to the area.  Also, once class starts, I still want to try and explore while the weather is nice.  A few months ago, I found the Massachusetts Office of Tourism and Travel's website while working on an assignment for class, and now I've been using it while looking up places to visit, things to do, and where to eat.  Also, they have a culinary tourism section of the website that has a calendar of food fairs and festivals, if you're in to that like I am.  My goal is to try and explore as much of Massachusetts as I can, whether it be further away, or just close to home.  I'll keep you updated with my discoveries!

Also, a quick note about my blog from last time.  I wrote about Tempests and Slaughter, Tamora Pierce's new book.  I mistakenly wrote that it was released in November 2017.  It was actually released in February 2018.  Sorry if there was any confusion!

Fun | Summer | Weather | classes


The Boston Marathon!

The Boston Marathon was yesterday and what a day for it! Being a new resident of the Northeast, I was not too keen on how big of a deal this was for the residents of Boston.  Of course, I have heard of the marathon, it is major, but being in the city to experience it first hand was a whole other thing.  Restaurants and bars offer free food and drinks to the runners, my local nail spa provided free manicures if you had a runner's bib, and that's what I noticed just walking down Beacon.

I have the pleasure of living only steps away from Beacon Street (not too great for studying- those cowbells are loud!), one of the last major stretches to the finish line on Boylston. First, the weather.  Holy moly. I am not a runner, but I can imagine this wasn't the most ideal condition for 26.2 miles of running.  What I understand is the streets are usually full of people cheering on the runners, but with yesterday's conditions, there were still so many people out with cowbells and cheering.  I happened to be in one of the less populated spots, so I made a point to go out and cheer these people on. I had the opportunity to run inside, warm up my hands, shake off the rain, and regroup, however.  It is amazing how the community comes together, conditions aside, to support everyone.  I imagined due to the horrific events five years ago this has created an even stronger community. The police and military presence made this all too real. However, it was a great comfort knowing these professionals were there to support and take care of the community.

Now that I am a Boston resident, it felt great to come together with Bostonians and people from around the country and world (!) to show support for these athletes.  I believe we had a student or two from Simmons who participated in this race as well. How amazing is that?

 Here are a few photos I snapped.  Desiree Linden! First American female to win in 33 years!

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Boston | Fun | New England | Weather


An Exceptional February Day

Today, I had the supremely cool opportunity to join a group of my classmates on a tour of the Boston Athenæum (courtesy of the Simmons Panopticon chapter--y'all rock!). Also, spring decided to pop its head in early with sunshine and warm temperatures, so I was more than happy to don a peekaboo dress and roam into the city.

The Athenæum is one of the country's oldest libraries, and is filled with floor after floor of amazing pieces of fine art, as well as extensive circulating and special collections. A couple of my favorite bits of the afternoon included viewing part of George Washington's personal library, and also getting to browse the original card catalog, now very much a relic of times past and tucked away in the building's basement. 

Sitting pretty at 10 ½ Beacon Street...a cousin of Platform 9 ¾ perhaps...the Athenæum is located in one of the most historically rich parts of the city, and is itself a distinguished cultural heritage center. I trust the patron goddess of wisdom was pleased to be involved as the namesake.

I snapped a few photos when I wasn't too busy picking my jaw up off of the floor, which y'all can see below. Enjoy! 

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Events | Fun | SLIS | Students | Weather


Winter in Boston:

Winter in Boston:

The Autumnal colors left, and the chill air changed, carrying the scent of frosty leaves, and a crispness that makes it hard to stay outside. Here the wind sweeps in, and that combined with the wet cold makes the feeling of cold settle in your bones whenever you go outside. Everyone walks around in a bundle of coats, scarf, gloves--and yet, they are still very stylish. Fashion,it seems, still applies even when one must layer constantly. 


02-13photo1.jpgI also found the winter weather to be very mercurial, shifting constantly. One day it is rainy and cold, another day sunny and chilly, then rainy and warm, or perhaps snowy. The snow here comes in bursts and then doesn't stay long, it turns to ice, or is washed away in the rain. I keep finding new things to marvel at as far as the weather is concerned.

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Boston | New England | Weather


Staying Sane (and Productive) in the New England Winter

This is the New England winter in a nutshell, courtesy of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day:

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We're approaching that part of the season when it really does feel like winter is all you will ever know. The New England winter is soooo long. You can expect everyone to start talking about and anticipating spring around mid-March, but the spring-like weather won't actually show up until May. It is not uncommon to have snow in April. So if you're thinking of moving here from a warmer location: you've been warned.

That being said, there are a lot of healthy ways to cope with the winter and you certainly do not have to love the cold to love New England. Here are a few of the tips and tricks that I have found effective for chasing away those winter blues:

1. Embrace the beauty and necessity of winter.

Every year I have to prepare myself mentally for the winter ahead. Accept the fact that it's going to be very long and very cold. Now look for the beauty in the season. Winter can be very restful and peaceful. Things slow down. Take a cue from nature to slow down yourself and observe how the light and the landscape changes in winter.

2. Take in lots of hot beverages and warming soups.

I drink a lot of herbal tea in the winter. It's soothing and comforting and I believe in the healing properties of the herbs. I also enjoy a cup of my homemade hot chocolate most evenings. The kind I make is dark and not too sweet and full of antioxidants from the raw cacao powder (or at least that's what I'm telling myself). It's a delicious indulgence suited only for winter. Soup is a great way to get your veggies. It is easy to make and has infinite possibilities.

3. Use music to focus and lift the mood.

Obviously this is good for any time of the year, but I find it especially important in the winter when the whole world seems to be waiting, holding its breath. You want to crawl under the covers with a good book or movie, but you've got work to do. Playing some cheerful and bright classical music helps me focus and stay on task.

4. Don't forget to exercise!!

Exercise is harder to do in the winter but all the more important. The science is overwhelming: exercise has been shown to benefit almost every aspect of your life, giving you better sleep, a stronger immune system, and increased brain function. I strive for some kind of exercise every day, usually in the form of a workout video on YouTube. There is much wisdom in the maxim: Take care of your body and it will take care of you.

5. Find an enjoyable inside hobby.

We spend a lot more time indoors in the winter. Sure, you could sit and stare at your phone or read a good book, but I find it better to challenge myself and try something new. The novelty will benefit you when the world outside is one vast expanse of grey and brown. Think of a skill you'd like to learn or a craft you might like to try. Maybe it's juggling, or doing a headstand, or knitting, or origami, or anything else. The possibilities are endless and the internet places all the resources you need right at your fingertips. Guaranteed there's a blog or a YouTube channel out there for anything you could think of.

So there you have it - some of my best tips for staying sane and even productive during the long winter months. It doesn't sound so bad now, does it? Just don't ask me about it at the end of March - it's likely I'll feel differently.  

Boston | New England | Weather