The Beginner’s Guide to True Crime Podcasts

True crime is everywhere. It seems as if ever since the hit podcast Serial and Netflix series Making a Murderer, people have been fascinated with the nonfiction genre. True crime, in essence, studies real life crime, mostly in the form of murder. Though gruesome at times, it can be highly addicting, with consumers asking questions, wondering how someone could commit murder and, above all, why someone would do such a thing.

For those looking for the next Serial, it can be overwhelming with the high amount of true crime podcasts available today. So, here are some podcast recommendations for all of the truce crime fans out there.

With the topic of true crime, it should be mentioned that there is content in each of these podcasts that might be a trigger for some individuals. In many of the podcasts listed, there can be instances that might be too graphic and, just plainly, hard to listen to. Due to this, be extremely cautious around the subject and take care in choosing what you choose to hear.

My Favorite Murder // Weekly Minisodes on Mondays and Full Episodes on Thursdays // 131 Episodes // 30-40 minute Minisodes and 60-120 minute Full Episodes // Website

Taking a more relaxed approach to true crime, the comedy podcast, “My Favorite Murder,” is a great starting point for those who are just beginning to listen to true crime, as they don’t necessarily go too deep into the facts. Though it might be bothersome to those who would rather go in-depth into a story, the hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark are charming and, just plainly, hilarious, making the podcast definitely worth the listen. Coming out with episodes every Tuesday and Thursday, Kilgariff and Hardstark tell stories about murders, both cold cases and solved cases alike, and produce a commentary on the case at hand. Not only that, but they also discuss their personal lives and share their love for the subject by recommending other true crime media, wanting to be interactive with the mass audience around the world. In fact, every other episode is a minisode, where they read emails from fans about their hometown murders. The community around the podcast as a whole is truly great and interacting with fellow “murderinos,” as fans are called, makes the entire experience worth the listen.

Where to Start: Episode 10 – “Murderous TENdencies,” Episode 23 – “Making a Twenty-Thirderer”

Where to Watch: Apple Podcasts 

Dirty John – Completed Mini-Series // 6 Episodes // 40-56 minutes // Website

This podcast just ended its six-week run but binging it is more than worth it. In collaboration with the LA Times, Dirty John tells the story of a woman who starts to date a mysterious man from a dating site. Though he appears to be the man of her dreams, her children are suspicious and immediately worried for their mother’s well being. What unfolds is a crazy, unpredictable true story that can be classified as an online dating horror story. In an attempt to not include spoilers, that’s all that can be said, but the series is, arguably, one of the best of the year with it captivating story-telling and, ultimately, unbelievable series of events.

Where to Watch: Apple Podcasts, LA Times, Wondery

Sword and Scale – Biweekly on Mondays // 101 Episodes // 60-75 minutes // Website

With its declaration at the beginning of each episode, “A show that reveals that the worst monsters are real,” Sword and Scale takes things to the next level by producing haunting true crime events that can shake anyone to the core. While each episode varies in content, one thing is certain: there are truly terrifying people in this world. With many instances of extremely serious subject matter, it can truly be a hard podcast to listen to; however, what makes Sword and Scale stand out is that it’s more than just a commentary-style podcast. It goes deep into the case of the episode by including evidence like 9-11 calls, interviews, press conferences and more, and the host Mike Boudet even sometimes holds his own personal interviews with those affected by the crime at hand. With each unique episode, you never know what you’re going to get, and you never know what kind of horrors are lurking through your everyday life.

Where to Start: Episodes 33 and 34

Where to Watch: Apple Podcasts, Sword and Scale Website

Stranglers – Completed Mini-Series // 12 Episodes // 50 minutes // Website

As another completed mini-series, Stranglers follows the Boston Strangler. Though the case is 55 years old, the case has never been fully solved. This podcast attempts a new investigation into the mysterious circumstances of the crimes of the infamous serial killer. It’s extremely easy to get addicted to the podcast, with its professional and sleek production and its intriguing interviews. Instead of only focusing on the suspects and the case itself, Stranglers also goes into the journalists who broke the case and the victims themselves. The new take on the familiar format is refreshing, despite the case’s old age.

Where to Watch: Apple Podcasts, Earwolf, Google Play, Stitcher

Honorable Mention: Lore – Biweekly on Mondays // 71 Episodes // 30 minutes // Website

Though not necessarily a “true crime” podcast, Lore still produces the same kind of fascinating stories that any true crime lover can listen to. Every episode, host Aaron Mahnke spins a tale of folklore with subjects ranging from creepy creatures to haunted houses to suspiciously dark unsolved murders from places around North America and Europe, but primarily around the New England area. (Fun fact: Boston is a frequent location and the podcast even mentions Emerson in Episode 55.) Lore has received tremendous praise for its beautiful writing by Mahnke and the haunting score that plays in the background, creating a wonderfully mesmerizing podcast. In fact, Lore is so popular that the show has its own anthology series, which is now available on Amazon Prime. The production is incredible from episode one and, so far, Lore doesn’t cease to impress.

Where to Start: “Episode 8: The Castle,” “Episode 27: On the Farm”

Where to Watch: Apple Podcasts, Google PlayLore Website

With the amount of true crime entertainment, it may be worrisome that creators haven’t run out of content. Nevertheless, the fascination is still apparent and ever-present. Whether listening during a long commute or doing errands or getting ready for the day, the podcast medium can be a great way to soothe that addiction for the true crime lovers out there.

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The Suite Life: 7 Tips to live With Suitemates

Eight people and four rooms in one suite isn’t quite the ideal situation. Life in an eight person suite may not always be sweet but here are seven tips to help live with other suitemates. 

Set up a cleaning schedule

Living in a small space with seven other people can become messy really really quickly. With so many people, it is so easy to set up a cleaning rotation. What my suitemates and I do is assign everyone a cleaning day and then on Sundays we usually all tidy up our own personal dorms. Assigning everyone a day assures that the suite stays in a livable condition and messes don’t pile up.

Learn how to resolve conflict and communicate

Being in a brand new environment is hard enough, but living with 7 people you have never met in your life can bring some challenges. I am so lucky to have gotten suitemates that I get along with and consider my close friends, but that’s not always the case. It’s okay to not be best friends with everyone in your suite. It’s not okay to have conflict within a suite though. As a suite, you all should discuss your conflicts and decide ways to avoid future conflicts. As cliche as this may seem, have “team meetings.” My suitemates and I have them weekly and they are so informal but make such a difference in our suite.

Learn how to share

Eight different people equals eight very different possessions. As a suite, you need to learn how to share. Some things you definitely don’t need to share (like food) but other times it wouldn’t kill you to share a few things. For example, clothes are something that you can lend to a suitemate. But if you borrow clothes always make sure to ask first. One thing I always make sure I do is clean the clothes I borrowed before you return them. It’s a privilege, not a luxury to share, so make sure you are still respecting your suitemates.

Help each other out every once in awhile

Whether it’s marketing homework or makeup for a night out, help out your suitemates every once in a while. That’s one of the best parts of living with other people, being able to help each other out. If I’m having a rough day I know I can always go to one of my suitemates for help, and they know I would do the same for them. 

Don’t be afraid to set boundaries

After living in such a small vicinity with so many people, you may discover some boundaries you didn’t even know you had. For example, I am very particular and in a way possessive about my clothes (because I am so used to my sisters back home taking them without asking). From the beginning I just made it clear that I don’t mind sharing clothes, I just want to be asked first. Sometimes in our suite, it can get too loud, but we all know that we can always respectfully ask each other to quiet it down.

Split up who buys what supplies

 Toilet paper, paper towels, utensils, and basic cleaning supplies are the necessities in our suite. To make sure one person doesn’t buy all of the supplies, we split up who buys what. With a simple rotation of supplies, we make sure everything’s equal. We also have a whiteboard in our kitchen and we make notes on when we need supplies. 

Spend quality time with each other 

Actually spend time with your suitemates and get to know them. Have a pizza and movie night, or go for a picnic in the common. You got placed to live with these people so why not get to know them better? Also, living with your best friends just makes the whole experience ten times better.

I am beyond lucky to have gotten seven amazing suitemates. During this exciting time in college, being in a whole new environment has been challenging sometimes but my suitemates have made my transition so much better. I hope my seven tips were insightful and can help you and your suitemates have a suite life too.

Transferring is Haaaard

Let me paint you a word picture. Remember fall/winter of your senior year of high school? Ah, memories. Memories mainly of the grueling, painful, next-level difficult college application process. Perhaps you did not vehemently hate applying to college, and perhaps even did not irrationally procrastinate doing so whenever possible, but if that is the case then you and I are not the same.

Despite this immense struggle, I persevered and applied and got into colleges and accepted one with great joy and relief and thought that was over and done with.

But then I got to college, promptly helped myself to a heavier and more all-encompassing workload than the one I had in high school, and thought, Hey. You know what would be fun? Doing my least favorite thing I’ve ever had to do again, while also having a barely feasible amount of work.

Thus I started up that glorious process again, while living it up in the second semester of my freshman year of college! It was an utter blast, and I definitely didn’t stay at the library until closing three nights per week or anything.

In all seriousness, there is no human emotion on this Earth quite like logging into the Common App website as a college student. I have never experienced full-body disgust like I did at the moment I was forced to enter the abyss of the College Board website and once more pay $15 to send each AP score to each school on my list. (What on this great green earth could those fifteen dollars possibly go to? They don’t even have to print anything! Just inform four post-secondary institutions of the grade I received on a U.S. History exam I took three years ago, please!)

I am already way more excited about Emerson than I was about my last school (air of mystery here so as not to start any drama), which makes that terrible period of my human existence worth it. However. Things did not suddenly become easy, which was a disappointment because I hope constantly that life will abruptly transform into a 24/7 walk in the park.

Being an Emerson student is pretty great so far, but being a transfer student can be hard. It is often like being a freshman, but with none of the youthful glow and optimism. All the knowledge you built up about your last college is suddenly totally useless. (I haven’t needed to keep up a mental ranking of preferred shower stalls in the second-floor communal bathroom of my dorm building in five months, and yet here I am today, constantly aware that the one closest to the window is by far the best in terms of amount of space and adaptability of water temperature.)

But this breadth of knowledge is not the worst thing that does not transfer, because if you start attending Emerson YOUR GPA DOES NOT TRANSFER. This is truly the worst thing I can possibly imagine. Not only does it feel like all the work I did last year has disappeared before my very eyes, but I have much less time and fewer data points now. In other words, a required class I didn’t want to take in the first place suddenly matters a whole lot.

If there is one thing in the entire world that rivals the loss of my existing GPA for unpleasantness, it is having to make friends once again. As a process, it is so hard and weird! But here I am in a new city, at a new school, and apparently socializing is expected, or something. This is especially difficult because it is very tempting to lay on the floor and use Snapchat and Instagram to watch the lives of my friends from my last college and/or my friends from home as they happily begin their second year at the same school. With friends they’ve already made. What a luxury!

But even with all of those mildly depressing negatives, I still really recommend transferring if you feel unsatisfied. Because we all pay wayyyy too much money to get anything other than the best four years of all time.

Halloweekend 2017: Celebrating the Best of Horror

Let’s face it. Horror movies have a bad reputation. Recently, the genre has consisted of either a remake, a sequel, or, just plainly, an unoriginal, uninspired horror flick. In that way, it’s easy to forget how impactful horror films really were to the industry. Horror filmmakers weren’t afraid to break barriers and cause controversy. Because of these achievements, they have inspired countless horror films to this day, but, at times, it’s hard to find those original ideas.

So, this Halloween, celebrate the old and the new. This year, since Halloween is on a Tuesday, the “Halloweekend” is October 28-30. Each day represents a different horror subgenre and brings two films: the horror movies that have influenced many, and the newer horror comedies that prove that horror can still be original.

Friday, October 28 – Slasher Film: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)

The slasher film is probably what most people think of when a horror movie comes to mind. With so many out there, there are many patterns that far and few have been able to break. However, all of those – now redundant – patterns can be traced back to one film: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Before even classics like Halloween and Friday the 13th, Texas Chain Saw Massacre was the film that shocked and scared audiences everywhere – and still to this day. Not only does the killer himself terrify, but also the ambiance of the film. The direction of each element made a perfect horror film and still holds validity today. Without this classic, the genre would be entirely different – maybe even unrecognizable. Until then, not many took the risk of adding the immense amount of gore and intensity that Texas Chain Saw Massacre possesses. It definitely didn’t hold back on its general grotesque nature. Its mark is definitely seen in a numerous amount of films, including the next pick: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. This movie, in a word, is absurd. There is no denying that this is a goofy, unpredictable, crazy film. Even the title is questionable. Nevertheless, the hilarity is undeniable. Each and every turn the movie takes is absolute insanity, but that’s what makes the film great. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a satire of the “cabin in the woods” slasher film but doesn’t rely on overused jokes that can be seen in any Scary Movie comedy. Though not the greatest in the world, it’s still a fun watch, especially after viewing a film so gory and menacing.

Texas Chain Saw Massacre is available on Amazon Prime and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is available on Hulu and Netflix.

Saturday, October 29 – Gothic Horror: Nosferatu (1922) and What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

The next day centers around a creature that has been, perhaps, over-utilized over the past ten years: the vampire. Though the Twilight and True Blood series have made the monster into a love story, there was a time when people thought the creature was utterly horrifying – that time, of course, being in the 1920s. Nevertheless, Nosferatu is nothing short of a groundbreaking horror film in the silent era. Though it may not be everybody’s first choice for being on a horror movie list, the film still has its qualities that can get under a person’s skin. The film has inspired not only horror films but the film industry in general. Its ability to still be recognizable today, despite being made nearly 100 years ago, shows just how iconic the film really is. There are even elements of it in the other pick of the day: What We Do in the Shadows. Not only is it hilarious, but it is, arguably, one of the most underrated horror comedy films in recent history. The New Zealand film is a mockumentary on three vampires and, though it’s set in the modern world, these vampires are still stuck in the past. While still being able to have its fair share of scares, What We Do in the Shadows uses its smart wit and charm to its advantage, creating a fantastic balance of horror and comedy that not many are able to achieve. These two vampire features break the mold of the now repetitive vampire film and instead allow more originality in the genre, both with a classic and a dark comedy from 2014.

Nosferatu and What We Do in the Shadows are both available on Amazon Prime.

Sunday, October 30 – Movie Monsters: Night of the Living Dead (1968) and An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Ending the weekend is a pair of cult classics that have made their marks in cinema history. Featuring iconic movie monsters, they both changed the genre and the icon of their respective creatures for years to come. To start, Night of the Living Dead revolutionized the horror genre with its gory spectacle and grisly depictions of the zombie. Similar to what Texas Chain Saw Massacre did to slasher films, Night of Living Dead not only rejuvenated and recreated the zombie creature but also made its mark on horror film history by influencing many horror films known and loved today. Though an independent film, it was able to reach to wider audiences and allowed a breakthrough for horror that continued for years to come. Director George A. Romero’s reimagination of the zombie is what the modern iteration is based on, proving his contribution to the creature as a whole. The second movie also benefited from the film in that filmmakers were no longer afraid to show the far darker and grislier side of horror. An American Werewolf in London epitomizes the horror comedy in that it perfectly blends the two completely different genres, but it is definitely creepier than what a conventional movie in the genre would look like. It’s dark and, at times, even a little uncomfortable to watch with its captivating creature designs. Being one of the few horror films to have won an Academy Award, this film is credited as being one of the biggest achievements in makeup in film. Headed by Rick Baker, it was the first film to receive the Best Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar and was the makeup artist’s first of a record seven wins. The iconic transformation of the protagonist from man to werewolf is gruesome, yet utterly hypnotizing. It’s mind-boggling to think this was made 36 years ago with practical effects, making it, possibly, one of the best visual effects achievements of all time. The transformation scene alone makes it worth the watch, but the entire film deserves its spot because of its great impact on the horror comedy genre for years to come.

Night of the Living Dead is available on Amazon Prime and An American Werewolf in London is available on Amazon Prime and Hulu.

Though horror does have a stigma for being cheesy or rudimentary, there are still gems that prove that the genre can produce legitimate films for critics and for audiences. There is no denying that horror films are still a staple of the film industry and should be celebrated as such. Yes, there are many bad horror flicks to choose from and, ultimately, laugh at, but, this Halloween, celebrate the ones that were able to change how people thought of the genre.

How to Escape Your Syllabus Prison

College. It’s supposed to be the time when you find yourself, when you make your lifelong friends, when you come to terms with the fact that you’re going to be in debt forever and you’d best get used to the taste of ramen noodles because that’s about as close to luxury as it’s going to get for the next couple of decades. Yes, college is all of these things, but college is also something else.

It’s a two-to-four year period when you have so much assigned reading that it feels like if one more word is transferred from the page to your brain you may explode. So how, pray tell, is reading anything not listed on a syllabus possible when every day is an increased risk to your body’s stability?

It requires sacrifice. But not soul-sacrifice, thankfully, because the ability to find time to read for pleasure would be a fairly mundane thing for which to sell your soul. Save that for the big leagues.

 

1. Prioritize Reading

Between homework, studying, essays, socializing, and some light witchcraft, free time can be tough to find for a college student. This is already horrible because free time is the best time, but it’s even worse because getting free time when you aren’t used to it is a weird amount of pressure. For me, it usually goes something like this:

I have some time! Sick. I’ll just check in on a few things on my laptop….Oh, three years have passed? I’m now legally missing? So much time has gone by that the motivation to search is fading in the hearts of those who love me? Right, of course.

To avoid this Rip van Winkle-esque experience, pick up a book immediately. Your phone can tear that book from your cold dead hands.

You may even have to pass on social plans in order to read, which is always weird. RSVPing “nah” in order to read is so profoundly dorky that the person you are politely rejecting may struggle to conceptualize just what this means. But the only way out is through, my friend, and if you just keep on being a full-on dweeb once in a while your loved ones will take the hint. And maybe even remain in your life if you’re lucky.

2. Carry a Book with You

There are approximately one million pockets of time during the typical class day during which you can read at least a couple paragraphs. Examples: arriving to class early, one of those weird breaks very kind professors occasionally grant midway through a class, when that one student who answers every question finally fulfills their dream of forcing two dozen sleepy young adults to listen to them for a few minutes. This can be prime reading time if you have a book, or an e-book app on your phone, if you happen to be a person who reads for the content and not for the experience of a physical book.

3. Traveling

One fact of life is that people go places. If you are ever going to a place and you are not controlling a vehicle or the movement of your own legs, this is a good time to read. If you live off campus and commute to class on a train or bus or whatever – boom, reading time! If you live far away and find yourself on a plane – that’s reading time, baby. Take advantage!

4. Keep a List and Read Good Stuff ONLY

This point really only needs to be the length of a link, and that link is goodreads.com. Learn it, live it, love it. Make a list of 500 books you’re excited to read and then realize you’ll never have time to read all of them.

5. Try Different Formats

Audiobooks are technically books, and you can do more activities while you read them. You can keep e-books on your phone or laptop or even an e-reader if you time traveled from 2007, and then they’re everywhere you are. Two win-win situations.

Really, finding time to read is a personal thing. This is my way of saying, “Do not blame me if this doesn’t work. You have to do this yourself, and also I just tricked you into reading this whole entire post only to find out that it may not help you at all.” But I hope it does. Happy reading!

Sleeping Beauty: How to Cut Your Morning Routine in Half

8 a.m.s…you never want to wake up for them and you always want to wear your pajamas to class. But sometimes you have those days where you actually do need to look presentable. Maybe you have a presentation or a meeting, or just one of those days you can’t wear leggings. Here are a few tips to cut your morning routine in half.

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Pick your outfit out the night before (and actually try it on)– You would be amazed at how much time you can save by simply picking out your outfit the night before. After you think you have the right outfit, try it on. You may wake up in the morning and try your outfit and absolutely hate it. So save yourself some time and stress and make sure you actually like your outfit the night before.

Tips to picking out your outfit:

Here are a few tips to ease the lengthy process of deciding what to wear.

  • If you have the option to wear a dress, wear a dress- I know that may sound silly but dresses are the most simple outfit you can wear and take the least amount of effort to pick out. On days I do not feel like going through all the effort of picking out an elaborate outfit, I choose to wear a simple t-shirt dress and throw on a jean jacket. What I love about t-shirt dresses is that you can dress them up or down by how you style it. For example, for a more casual day pair your dress with a jean jacket and your favorite pair of sneakers. If you want to dress up more that day, wear a leather jacket and booties with your dress and maybe add some simple jewelry to top off the look.
  • Wear something with layers- Throughout your busy day you never know if you will be in a classroom the temperature of Antarctica or outside in the Boston Common. Instead of wearing a long sleeve shirt, maybe wear a short sleeve and a jacket. My personal favorite look is a graphic tee with a distressed jean jacket and skinny jeans. This outfit is versatile and looks stylish with or without a jacket.
  • Avoid prints, stick with solid colors- Solid colors are safer and you are least likely to change your mind in the morning. Some of my favorite go to solid colors are black, maroon and army green. These colors are all easily paired with a simple pair of skinny jeans. When in doubt, there is no shame in wearing black on black. Wear your favorite black top and black jeans. Wearing black on black is one of my favorite go-to outfits.

Skip the hot hair tools- If you skip using your curling iron or straightener, you can save more time and get more sleep. Some hairstyles you may want to try are: Ponytail, Top Knot bun, low bun, and side braid. My personal favorite is a top knot hairstyle. It is a simple, chic hairstyle that takes minimal effort. Of course, not everyone needs to use hot hair tools so if you have the option to wear your hair natural then I would highly recommend doing that.

Keep your makeup routine light- No one has time to do a full-glam makeup look in the morning (if you do, props to you that is seriously impressive). To keep your makeup routine as simple as possible, put on only what you need. For the mornings of my 8ams, I only put on moisturizer with sunscreen, foundation, mascara, blush, and sometimes and little concealer over blemishes. This routine takes at most 8 minutes.

With these few quick tips, I hope you can cut your morning routine in half and look like a “sleeping beauty” for your 8 ams. You would be amazed at how a few quick adjustments to your routine can save time in the morning. Now you can be stylish and fully rested to take on your busy day!

Being The Change

The events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia last week are nothing short of appalling. Watching the news has made me feel so incredibly sick. I’m upset, angry, and looking to make a change. As a young adult in the world today I am in an important place of power. I have the power to control the future of our nation by speaking up about important issues. I encourage you to do the same because every voice is valuable!

Take an inside look into what happened in Charlottesville by checking out this documentary created by VICE. The footage gives great insight into the minds of some of the individuals involved with the rally and how their actions affected those around them.

I hope this film made you just as upset as it made me. Getting enraged is what will spark the fire to make a change. I wish I could show this film to every single person my age to create a reaction. It is one thing to read a tweet about what happened in Charlottesville, but taking the time to put yourself in the shoes of those who were there when it happened creates a whole differe

This past Saturday there was a free speech rally in the Boston common, and I have never been more proud of my city. Hate was met by an outpouring of love. The counter protest consisted of at least 30,000 individuals marching to fight bigotry and hate. The rally was for the most part peaceful and no extreme acts of violence were reported by the Boston police. There is just as much room for love in this world as there is for hate.

Boston “Free Speech” Counter Protest – Aug. 19, 2017

I was feeling down and upset last week but after Saturday I felt my body fill up with hope. Boston proved that love can overcome hate.

As far as what you can do, reach out to Republican state reps and speak up about the change you wish to see in our government. Every voice is important and speaking up is the best thing you can do at this time. We must bring these issues to the attention of local officials who have the power to invoke greater change. Every individual can impact a bigger change.

Check out this link for more information: https://hastebin.com/tosetacemo.coffeescript

Resist, resist, resist. Combat hate with love. Persevere. There are things going on everyday that inspire me to take action and I hope that more young people will educate themselves and get involved because we are the change.

Harry Potter is for Adults Too

I remember when my dad stubbornly refused to read the Harry Potter books for years. Anytime my mother, sister, and I would encourage him to pick up the hard-cover 7-part series, he’d scoff and claim that Harry Potter is for kids. He was a fan of heart-racing action adventure novels, not some magical fantasy children’s series. Of course, I finally convinced him, as I can be quite persuasive.

Fast forward a few months. We are in line for the midnight premiere of the final film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Typical of my father, he has still not completed the series. However, he has become absolutely enthralled by the novels (a fact I would gloat about for years to come). He is mere chapters away from the last line, “All was well.” While my family friends, sister, and I wait in line in outside the theatre, we urge him back into the car to finish the book. Thankfully, just in time for us to enter one of the best movies of our lives, he had closed the cover and left it to rest in the backseat.

Harry Potter is not just for children, as proved by my skeptical dad. And here’s why:

The Characters

Everyone knows that the characters can make or break a show, movie or book. If the characters are lifeless and bland, they can make the plot fall apart at the seams. It’s also important not to confuse good characters with good character development. You don’t have to like them; you just have to understand and really experience them. What sets Harry Potter apart is its superior character development. Within chapters of meeting each character, you already feel like you know them. This can be shown by my distaste of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Being the obsessive fan I am, I wasn’t constantly repeating throughout my reading, “He/She would never say that!” When a series lets you connect with the characters on such an intimate level, it’s impossible not to be riveted by it. Whenever Harry does something unnecessarily brave (and borderline stupid), Hermione makes a matter-of-fact comment or Ron is just plain obnoxious, it just makes sense. And that’s a characteristic of a series that adults can’t help but enjoy.

The Action

Whoever claims Harry Potter is for children must have not read or seen the series. If they had, they’d recognize that every single book is overflowing with action, adventure, and violence. We constantly experience the characters looking death in the face and somehow warding it off. From facing three-headed dogs to being chased by enormous serpentine creatures to fighting dragons to battling dark figures, your head might spin from the danger with which many of the characters face between the ages of 11 and 17. J.K. Rowling scripts these action sequences eloquently. You feel the pulsating fear, the slow pace of the intense battles, and the heart-wrenching deaths of beloved characters. There’s never a dull moment. Some of these scenes may prove a little to frightening for kids, and that’s why they’re perfect for us fearless (ish) adults.

The Relationships

Nothing keeps someone hooked to a series quite like a well-desired relationship between two characters. Several of these occur throughout the series, but none other like that of Ron and Hermione. It’s an underlying idea that we see develop through each book. Watching the two grow from enemies to friends to best friends to something more can be simultaneously frustrating and exciting. You just want to shake them both and say, “Just go for it already!” But the years that spread out between them makes it all the more engaging. The woes of their inevitable relationship are entertaining to read, especially when they’re so obviously into each other but refuse to admit it (a.k.a. The iconic Ron and Lavender Brown relationship that left Hermione in pieces). A little romantic drama always creates a more exciting plot line and makes this series much less of a “children’s series.”

The Magic

The best part of Harry Potter, of course, is the incredible magic. J.K. Rowling creates a world that most of us would die to be a part of. Learning about spells, divination, and transfiguration in school rather than math, physics and English? Count us in! Rowling manages to take magical creatures and experiences that we’ve heard about as children and make them into a realistic world. For most of us adults, we’ve learned to accept that “magic isn’t real.” Maybe this is true and maybe it’s not, but Harry Potter makes us believe that it could be real. It helps us see an honesty in Rowling’s words, and not just view magic as silly magician’s tricks, ancient witches brewing bubbling potions, and meaningless Abracadabra’s. This type of magic actually makes sense to us, and we believe in the power of magic and how it can be used for the good and bad. With this, Harry Potter teaches readers a valuable lesson about the world. As Dumbledore says in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” It reminds us that not everything in the world is black and white; there is a lot of gray area that we can interpret in our own way. There is a beauty and mystery in the idea of magic, and Harry Potter gives us a reason to believe in something more.

So, next time you hear your mere Muggle friend scoffing about the ridiculousness of Harry Potter, remind them that it is so much more than a magical, fairytale series. It is packed with incredible character development, an intense and enthralling plot, riveting action and adventure, and a beautiful world of magic. Maybe this is just coming from a woman who’s read the series more times than she can count, but, in my humble opinion, there’s a lesson that we can all learn from Harry Potter about believing in what we don’t quite believe.

Getting the Most Out of Sweetgreen

Over the summer I worked at the Back Bay Sweetgreen location in Boston. My co-workers were easy to get along with and I got to have summer full of healthy food. I was interested in working for Sweetgreen because I had been a fan of their food for a long time. As someone who goes to college in Boston, looking for healthy vegetarian options, I was sold the first time I tried it. Working at Sweetgreen taught me a lot about customer service, multitasking and teamwork. However, I also learned all the ins and out of getting the most out of your Sweetgreen experience. Now that I’m going back to being a loyal customer, I’m so grateful for this knowledge.

The Sweetgreen App

This is an absolute must for anyone who wants to enjoy Sweetgreen on the regular. You can scan to pay and earn rewards as you go. It makes checking out a lot easier for everyone involved and you get neat perks.

Ordering online

Another feature of the app is the ability to place online orders for pickup. This means that you can skip the crazy long lines that Back Bay is famous for and get your salad to-go. You can still get bread and a drink too. I recommend getting double dressing! With online orders, you’re able to save your favorite salads and custom recipes right on the app.

Order a custom if you’re going to make more than a couple of changes

This makes it so much easier for everyone involved. The Sweetgreen team is always happy to go above and beyond for customers, but it’s also frustrating when you’re doing mental gymnastics to make sure the order gets charged right at the end. Swapping out proteins, changing a dressing or adding something is no big deal. However, if you’re going to switch three things out and then add a bunch more, do everyone a favor and order a custom salad. That’s what they are there for! It also increases the likelihood of you getting charged correctly for your salad. *Eggs and Cheeses cost the same so you can swap them out without changing the price of your salad*

Don’t be afraid to ask about the ingredients

Sweetgreen makes everything in house so a good portion of the staff is pretty familiar with the fine details of the food. They also always have a nutritional binder on hand just in case they don’t know off the top of their head. It’s always better to ask than risk your health! Sweetgreen wants people to be confident and happy with what they’re eating. The supervisors are trained to handle allergies so while not every employee can assist you, you’ll be in good hands.

The best time to visit

10:30-11 am and 3 pm or later is always going to pretty decent line-wise. 11-2:30 pm is the lunch rush which usually means a line out the door and around the corner. If you have the flexibility in your schedule to go at a different time you’ll be doing yourself a great service. It’s also a lot easier to find a table.

Spicy Cashew dressing is a MUST

The sweet and spicy dressing became an obsession of mine during my time at Sweetgreen. It’s not only great on salad (currently featured on the Thai Watermelon and Rad-Thai) but it is really tasty on the bread slices. If you haven’t had it before, it’s definitely worth trying your next stop in.

Sweetgreen has *five* seasonal menus

So, they have Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer 1, and Summer 2. This means new salads, ingredients and a new beverage. Right now they have Thai Watermelon, Peaches & Goat and Roasted Pepper & Feta. Oh, and the Watermelon Cilantro Fresca. One of the best parts about working at Sweetgreen is being able to try the salads in advanced. Take advantage of each season and try the new salads while they have them.

Don’t get stuck ordering the same thing

Before working at Sweetgreen, I always ordered the Shroomami. Every. Single. Time. I totally understand having a favorite order. The Harvest Bowl and Guacamole Greens are two of the most popular orders. However, with our custom and seasonal options, I highly recommend trying something new from time to time. I was constantly surprised by the flavor combinations that I liked and it gave me a way to eat healthy without getting sick of the same thing. You’d be surprised how many different ways you can eat salad!

Enjoy the sweetlife!

What I’ve Learned In 20 Years

Yesterday I turned 20 and I have had time to reflect on a lot of things. The greater part of the last 20 years has been filled with laughter, love, and adventure. Just the way I like it. I decided to create a list of lessons I’ve learned thus far to analyze how I’ve grown over the past 2 decades.

Failure is a Necessity

Recently I have been faced with a fair amount of failure and rejection but it’s only made me stronger. I hope for the best but have learned that I cannot control everything and failure is good for me. I have learned to appreciate the philosophy that everything happens for a reason. I can choose to focus on all of the negativity, but I’ve learned to move past it and continue working for what I want.  A lot of rejection in a row can take a toll on a person but rising up through the pain is such a rewarding feeling. There is hope out there, but only if you keep trying no matter how many people tell you no. Keep persevering and keep telling yourself you are worth it. I’ve spent hours creating cover letters for internships that never even got back to me. I applied to jobs where the interview went really well and still never got the position. I’ve come to realize that I’m not what everyone is looking for. There is someone out there coveting your personality and skill set, keep looking for it.

Love Gets You Through

No matter how many bad days I have, the people I love are always there to make me feel better. Keeping steady relationships with family, friends, a significant other — I believe those are the foundation of a good life. The people I trust are everything to me and having a solid support system has allowed me to learn more about myself than I ever thought possible. These people have taught me about what I need in a relationship and what I am expected to give back to maintain mutual trust and respect. If you give love, you will get love. Whether it’s with your friends, your family, or your significant other. There is always room to invite love into your life and I have learned to welcome the love with open arms. In a way I believe that love is at the center of human existence because it gives us a deeper purpose and validation in the world. There are most definitely times of heartbreak and loneliness, but no matter where those feelings fall they can be replaced with love. Friendship love is one of the most beautiful kinds because you pick your friends. When you score with someone who truly cares and understands you, it is quite an amazing feeling.

You Can’t Be Friends With Everyone

Work has taught me about this most. I worked in a restaurant for about two years and I most definitely did not like everyone I worked with. I had some great friends, but people who didn’t carry their own weight always got on my nerves. I learned how to take a deep breath, focus on myself and give my best personal performance. I did my job and I did it well, which is all that I can ask of myself. I’m not going to like everyone and not everyone is going to like me. That’s just the way life is and it took me a long time to realize that. In grade school you are, for the most part, surrounded by the same people who you’ve grown up with since kindergarten. When you enter the real world after high school there are people you’ve never met before that have no reason to dislike you, but will. I learned this lesson going into college and I have accepted the fact that that’s how life goes. I am myself and simply because of that people won’t like me…and it’s okay. This is a big one for me. In high school it was difficult for me to get caught involved with petty friend issues and problems with my family. Looking back on how I’ve matured since then is really a rewarding feeling because I’ve learned to brush things off a lot easier. I won’t deny that I’m a sensitive person, but I try to reason with my emotions to not take things too personally. When I’m faced with a problem I think about where the other person is coming from and how I can use that information to gauge the situation. This mental process helps me let things go a lot easier and in return lowers my stress levels. I used to take it so personally when a customer wouldn’t be friendly to me, but now I think about how I am doing my best and if they’re having a bad day I can’t change that and I hope they feel better. The more I think about letting things go and filling my life with peace, the more it takes form and happens.

Me Time

I am a busy bee all the time. If you aren’t busy 24/7 do you even go to Emerson? I balance my life equally between academics, work, friends, and myself. There have been many times when I forget to care for myself and I feel overworked very quickly. By age 20, two years into college, I have found a a way to prioritize myself as well. Taking nights off to drink tea and do absolutely nothing. The thought sounds disgusting… doing nothing.

However, I need to do nothing sometimes. Alone time is sacred to me. Just to unwind, yoga breath, and have everything be still for a little while. Boston is a fast paced city anyways so it can be difficult to take a step back. Find your happy place and soak in the solitude. This lesson might be the most important thing I’ve learned over the past 20 years. It has led to more happiness for myself and those around me. It allows me time to think about everything going on and evaluate if I am truly happy or not. I cut out any negativity and focus on all of the great things going on in my life. There is no better feeling than when you feel content with the decisions you’ve made for yourself. Don’t be afraid to be selfish!!!

I’m excited to be 20 and break into a new decade filled with new challenges, adventures, and life lessons. Expect another article in 10 years about what I’ve learned by 30…hopefully some of the lessons listed above will still ring true with me.