Oscar-Worthy Releases of December 2017

December is finally here and so is the end of 2017. In the film industry, most look to this month as being the time when the next year’s Oscar contenders shine. Though there are many other worthy films that came out earlier this year, these are the newest competitors for the 2018 awards season to see later this month. 

Darkest Hour – December 8

Gary Oldman’s interpretation of Churchill has been getting so much Oscar buzz that he is a shoe-in for a Best Actor nomination. Taking place immediately before WWII, Darkest Hour depicts Churchill’s efforts to slow the impending war from happening. Churchill, however, must decide whether he wants to negotiate with the Nazis or follow his own values and rally his new nation. Oldman’s complete transformation into Churchill is uncanny and, because of it, it might finally get him the Oscar he has deserved for so long.

The main contender in Darkest Hour is definitely Oldman in his portrayal of Churchill. Though it’s going to be a tight race for Best Actor, he has been a frontrunner for quite some time.

The Disaster Artist – December 8

Similar to Tommy Wiseau’s participation in The Room, James Franco directed, produced, and starred in The Disaster Artist, a film based on the making of the infamously bad movie, The Room. Departing from the rest of this list, The Disaster Artist is a comedy, which might bring some variety to the Best Picture nominee list. Though it might not immediately be seen as a true contender because of its genre, it has been noted to be a dark horse in the race, meaning this film might just surprise everyone in its success during next year’s awards season.

The Disaster Artist has been receiving a lot of attention, especially towards James Franco, in recent independent award ceremonies. This could be his chance to receive nominations for not only Directo but also Best Actor.

 The Shape of Water – December 8

Guillermo del Toro’s newest film received tons of praise in its festival debut and continues to garner love from critics. The Shape of Water is an unconventional love story between a mute named Elisa (Sally Hawkins) and a sea creature who is in danger from the evil Strickland (Michael Shannon). Though a fantasy – a genre that does not always get enough appreciation during awards season – del Toro’s consistently fantastic art direction is bound to get recognition from the Academy. The Shape of Water’s outpour of critical acclaim puts it in the front-runner’s spot and could be the first fantasy since Return of the King to receive the biggest award of Oscar Night.

For some reason, there has been a lack of nominations for The Shape of Water, much to the dismay of many critics. Nevertheless, the film could still shine not only in the directing and acting nominations – particularly for Hawkins and Shannon – but also in the technical awards like Best Original Score, Art Direction and Visual Effects.

Call Me by Your Name – December 22

Many critics have already noted Call Me by Your Name as being the next best coming-of-age classic. An LGBTQ romance, Call Me by Your Name has the potential to break boundaries once again for the LGBTQ community, as Moonlight did earlier this year. It follows seventeen-year-old, Elio (Timothée Chalamet), in Italy during the summer of 1983. During his time there, Elio meets and eventually falls for an American named Oliver (Armie Hammer), his father’s assistant. Its fantastic casting and beautiful cinematography have also been receiving non-stop critical acclaim, making this film a force to be reckoned with.

So far, Call Me by Your Name has been extremely successful in the awards circuit. Chalamet is the one to beat for Best Actor, as he continues to be celebrated by critics. Call Me by Your Name and Lady Bird is the two front-runners for nearly any award this upcoming year, as both coming-of-age stories have proven themselves as the most worthy competitors of the year.

The Post – December 22 (Limited; Wide Release: January 12)

Merely by saying it’s a Steven Spielberg film starring both Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep indicates an Oscar contender. The Post is a film about the Watergate scandal and the Washington Post’s involvement in the release of the tapes. Streep plays Kay Graham, the country’s first female newspaper publisher, and Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, an editor at the newspaper, as they both work together to form a battle with the government. With his past repertoire of biopics, Spielberg proves, again and again, to do no wrong in this genre. Along with a stellar cast and highly relevant subject matter, The Post is looking to be a major competitor in next year’s Oscar race.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to say that Spielberg has the opportunity to grab a Directing nod and Streep and Hanks to grab their own acting nominations. Though there haven’t been any screenings as of yet, their credibility due to their past credits allows a great probability for nominations their respective categories.

Phantom Thread – December 25

Yet another great film collaboration, this time in the form of director and writer Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis, gives Phantom Thread a high probability of being a nominee. Exploring a topic seldom seen in film, the film takes place after WWII in London where a famous fashion designer named Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis) meets Alma (Vicky Krieps), who becomes his muse and eventually disrupts his day-to-day life due to his infatuation. Day-Lewis never seems to fail in his impeccable delivery as an actor and he doesn’t cease to amaze both audiences and critics. Since this might possibly be his final role as an actor, it would be ludicrous to think he would fall short of people’s high expectations. With such a great director also attached, Phantom Thread will be a tough film to compete against.

Anderson’s track record in past Oscar ceremonies would say that he is guaranteed a writing nomination and Day-Lewis always seems to wow the critics. Since reviews have not been released yet, other categories are less certain. However, based on reputation alone, it is apparent that there will be more to be had for Phantom Thread.

With so many great films both throughout the film and in this upcoming month, it might be overwhelming to catch up on all of the contenders.

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Movie Websites for the Bored

Winter has officially hit Boston. With the cold spells in the city over the past couple of weeks, it has become harder to be outside than during the warmer months, which means staying inside for long periods of time. With this, figuring out what to do all day can be unbearable, especially if you have nothing to do.

However, there are some solutions. For all of my fellow movie lovers, in particular, there are many websites to get addicted to when trying to pass time. So, here are some different sites to check out this winter when we’re stuck inside all day.

Keep Track of the Movies You’ve Watched

Letterboxd

For those like me who like to rate movies and keep track of what you watched, Letterboxd is the best website for you. Unlike merely rating and writing a review on IMDb, this goes beyond that, as you can makes lists for yourself and the community, you can follow other reviewers, and it even tells you where the movies are available to watch. It’s an extremely helpful tool for those who care about knowing what they’ve watched in the past and, at least for me, it’s fun to look back at what I’ve seen.

Flickchart

While not as sleek a website as Letterboxd, this is a website for those who are completely bored. Flickchart is a film ranking website where two movies are put head-to-head and you have to choose which one you like better. In this way, it keeps track of what you’ve watched, and, overtime, it’ll tell you what movie you possibly like best, based on how many times you thought the movie was superior to its opponent. For some strange reason, it’s super addicting and lures you in as soon as you choose the first poster displayed on the site. When you eventually get out of the routine of ranking, looking at your own statistics makes it seem worth the trouble of spending time doing such a mindless act.

Figure Out What to Stream

JustWatch

Have you ever wanted to watch a movie, but it wasn’t on Netflix? Well, maybe it’s somewhere else that you didn’t think to look. But, instead of forcing yourself to go through each streaming service, JustWatch can tell you exactly where to find it. Just type in the movie and it will tell you exactly where you can stream, rent, and buy the movie. It’s extremely helpful and simple for those looking for something to stream and even does TV shows for those looking for something to binge.

What the Hell Should I Watch on Netflix?

I found this website years ago and whenever I use it, I’m not disappointed. All you have to do it indicate what genre you want to watch, and it will generate a movie for your viewing pleasure. You can also choose Random if you want a complete shot in the dark, but that’s up to you. While that does seem pretty risky to immediately go for the first movie it shows, it also allows you to choose a different random film it should generate. It mostly consists of fairly unknown films, so there’s a chance that you’ve either never seen it or even never heard of it. To fix that, they provide a trailer, brief summary to entice you, and even its Rotten Tomatoes score to prove that their recommendation has had some critical praise. It is, of course, not a perfect solution to the question “What the Hell Should I Watch on Netflix?” but it’s a good way to find out about new movies that were not quite as mainstream.

Before the Theater

RunPee

I’m sure we’ve all been in this situation: you’re sitting in the theater, having already finished the liter of water or soda, and you feel the sensation of having to go to the restroom. Unfortunately, though, the movie just started. So, the question becomes, “When should I go to the restroom?” RunPee gets information from people who have already seen the movie and tells you the best timeframe to go to the restroom. It’ll even give you alerts if you choose to tell you when a good scene to skip is coming up.

Does the Dog Die?

This a little sillier than the rest, but is nevertheless helpful, especially for those who don’t want to see a specific thing in a movie, TV show, or book. Though it started with just answering the question of whether the dog dies, it also has other categories like whether it has clowns or jump-scares or other possibly fear-inducing or triggering things. It’s always updated, so be sure to check this out before you watch the movie in the theater or at home.

While these websites are great to browse for when you’re bored during the winter days, they can also be helpful in keeping track of your watching habits and knowing what you’re about to watch. Hopefully, these websites will make your viewing experience just a little more fun.

Black Friday Shopping Guidelines

Since 1952, Black Friday has become a holiday of its own for the consumers of America. The term was originally used to describe the crash of the U.S gold market in 1869. The term “Black Friday” was later used as a way to refer to the day after Thanksgiving when retailers went “into the black” or made a profit. Today, Black Friday is a day that has turned into a full-out, strategic shopping adventure. Whether you go to Target or Walmart, some sort of calculated strategy needs to be put in place. Here are a few tactics to tackle your Black Friday Shopping:

  1. Make a game plan- A game plan is vital to Black Friday shopping. A game plan includes a shopping list, list of stores you want to visit, and you may even want to include in itinerary. The more organized you are before during this chaotic day, the easier your shopping experience will be.
  2. Figure out your needs and wants- We all have things we need, but we also have things that are more of a want. Now the tricky part is distinguishing the difference between a need and want . . . My personal advice to you is to put the people you are shopping for first, and then put yourself second. Although there will be many tempting items that you will just need try to find the self-control you have deep down and remember the others you are shopping for. By shopping for others on Black Friday, not only will you save money but you will get your Christmas shopping done early! Now you will save money and stress. Of course this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t splurge on something for yourself, but always keep in mind your needs and wants.
  3. Research, research, and research some more- I cannot stress this tip more . . . do your research! Prices fluctuate from every store. One store may have a packaged deal or an exclusive product that you wouldn’t have known about without looking up prices. Also, search for the store policies at the stores you plan on shopping at. Some stores may have limitations for certain items, or some may match the lowest prices of other stores. Doing your research is always advantageous, so research, research, and research some more!
  4. Set a budget- Setting a budget can be a daunting task. Personally, I set a budget with a little bit of “wiggle room” and set it at a the price that I can comfortably spend the most. I do this so I am not tempted to spend too much money, but also so I don’t feel too confined. Make sure you stick to your budget, and make sure it is realistic for your shopping plan. It is definitely okay to underspend, but you may regret overspending.
  5. Decide how dedicated you want to be- There are many levels of Black Friday shoppers. You have the “oh I just want to check out a few stores” shoppers. You have the “I have a list and I know what I want, but it’s okay if I don’t.” Then you have the “I’m camping out all night for this 50 inch, $100 TV” shoppers. Whether you are a spectator or a camper, figure out how dedicated you want to be and then plan accordingly.
  6. Find Apps- Surprisingly enough, there are apps for Black Friday shopping! Disregard my sarcasm, but there are actually three specific apps that I would recommended: ShopSavvy, Black Friday App, and Nifti. These three apps are great tools for your shopping trips. ShopSavvy allows you to scan the barcode of a product to find the best price. Black Friday App shows all the Black Friday deals and also includes store times and information. The app Nifti tracks prices based on historical data to see if it really is a good deal. I would highly recommend downloading at least one of these apps to make your life easier.
  7. Maybe online shopping is a better alternative for you- If none of these tips seem appealing to you, then maybe you should opt for online shopping. There are many Black Friday online deals, but if you simply don’t want to shop the day after Thanksgiving then there’s always Cyber Monday.

I hope these tips will help you with your Black Friday shopping. Best of luck to you and whoever else dares to face the craziness that Black Friday brings.

Must Watch Female-Led Netflix Originals

With the amount of coverage about severe misconduct in the entertainment business, the industry has obtained a bleak shadow over its content. It’s easy to get caught up in the scandal and think poorly towards the industry, thinking nothing good can come from these tragedies.

To combat these thoughts, some lean towards distraction to ease their minds. Netflix has become a great tool for distraction, but, with so much content and so little time, it might be difficult to sort through the binge-worthy content to completely immerse oneself in the television world. But, in relation to the allegations being exposed every day, let’s focus on shows specifically led by females. Let’s focus on the ones that uplift the female protagonist rather than make the female “lead” a side character or a mere plot device.

So, here are some of the best and some new Netflix Originals with strong female leads.

Jessica Jones (1 Season)

Arguably one of the best shows currently on Netflix, Jessica Jones defied expectations upon release. With great action and a stellar lead by Krysten Ritter, the show has yet to be beaten by any other Marvel show. Over the span of the series, private investigator Jessica Jones must defeat Kilgrave (David Tennant), a mysterious man from her past that continues to threaten her, no matter what she does. With diverse and complex themes and storylines, the show doesn’t cease to amaze, making it highly addictive. It’s easy to fall in love with the character of Jessica Jones, despite her misdoings. The show’s premise should be kept mysterious to keep intrigue and to keep the show from getting spoiled so there won’t be much more said about the plot, but this is definitely a must-watch, even if for those who aren’t necessarily a superhero fan. Though there are obviously superhuman abilities within the show – Jessica herself has super-strength – it doesn’t get bogged down with the super-ness and focuses on characters and each of stories rather than making it merely about the action of it all. To put it simply, it is a fantastic show that is easily binge-able. Also, the second season is currently in production, so it’s not too late to get caught up before the next season’s premiere.

Wanted (2 Seasons)

This series came up seemingly out of nowhere, but it definitely one to watch. Wanted follows Lola (Rebecca Gibney) and Chelsea (Geraldine Hakewill), two strangers who witness a murder together when waiting for the bus. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the two get kidnapped and then blamed for a murder they didn’t commit. Seeing the two female characters bond and, ultimately, show their strengths in their best ways is refreshing, especially since romance is not the prime reason for their partnership. While the two definitely have their weaknesses, they also have qualities that make them stand out from the typical female protagonist. Lola and Chelsea allow themselves to be imperfect since perfection is not a reality. It’s nice to see a realistic portrayal of female leads rather than forcing them to be the best people in the world. Their flaws make them intriguing and make viewers yearn for more.

Alias Grace (Limited Series)

A newer series, Alias Grace is a Margaret Atwood adaptation about Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon), a woman accused of a murder she does not remember committing. Ten years after her sentencing, she is approached by Dr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft), who wants to help her regain her memories of the day she supposedly committed the murder. Since it seems as if men lead every show about crime, this one with a female protagonist is a great sight to see. The mystery of whether she committed the crime creates that tension that’s so intriguing, making the audience wish for immediate answers.

Godless (Premieres November 22)

This compelling series looks to be a great new addition to Netflix’s already great resume of originals. Taking place during the 1880s in the Midwest, Godless centers around the town of La Belle, New Mexico, a town that Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell) discovers is completely run and made up of women. Though this is all that has been released about the series, the interest is still rampant on this show. With a great cast – including Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery – and an idea that begs to be seen on television, Godless could be Netflix’s best next series. Thinking about the time period and pairing it with this concept of a town led entirely by women makes for great drama and action to come.

She’s Gotta Have It (Premieres November 23)

Based on his 1986 film of the same name, Spike Lee returns with his new show, She’s Gotta Have It. The series follows Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise), who has three lovers: Greer (Cleo Anthony), Jamie (Lyriq Bent), and Mars (Anthony Ramos). Looking to be yet another great new Netflix Original, She’s Gotta Have It takes the typical romance and turns it on its head. Instead of having a woman chase a singular man, Nola is strong and firm in her own beliefs. She appears to be a great and complex character, making her an example to follow for future female leads in television. Though not much is known about this series as well, it’s a great sight to see a female character so different from anything else seen on recent television. Hopefully, it will bring a new perspective to femininity and allow people to hear new voices of those like Nola.

It’s stressing to see so many entertainers being accused of horrible things. So, let’s focus on the female protagonist for a change. Let’s uplift the image of women in television, ones who are strong and prove that female-led TV works. Netflix has been great at providing this kind of content; let’s boost its popularity and give these women the acknowledgment they deserve.

Boston Common Dogs: An Investigation

I walk through the Boston Common bare minimum twice a day. For better or worse, I spend a significant portion of my life traversing the paths of the oldest city park in the United States.

Today, we’re focusing on the better, and that better has a name. Dogs.

I may not love walking through the Common all the time, but something I do love is that it is constantly filled with dogs. Small dogs and big dogs and puppies and the dog-elderly, most of them off leashes, all of them having a full-on blast.

But I have had a lingering question on these walks, a question of such deep significance it refuses to leave my mind for longer than moments at a time:

Are these planned dog playdates? Or spontaneous friendships forming between dog-strangers?

Despite my inherent reluctance to speak to the glamorous dog owners of Beacon Hill, it was time to investigate.

Thankfully, we live in the age of the Internet, and I was able to conduct an exhaustive investigation using only my laptop and the need to know whether there was an online dog-owner community I could stalk in order to be aware and later take advantage of the most dog-heavy hours.

My research began with the extensive and pretentiously-written Parks Rules and Regulations of the city of Boston. Immediately, I was given the shock of my life; Section 5 includes the statement, “No person shall, in any public park […] have or allow any animal, except a dog on a leash no longer than eight feet.”

It was a concept I had never considered. Were these dogs committing acts designated as illegal by Boston Parks and Recreation? Am I witnessing the cutest, fluffiest residents of Boston break the law on a daily basis? I had to find out more.

I delved into Google, finding only a Yahoo group called “Boston Common Dogs,” the last post of which was seven years ago—a user called CoOlBoY writing about parrots, for some reason. It was a dead end.

My first real clue came from an elegantly-designed website called Bring Fido, dedicated to giving tips to dog owners on ideal locations. Information on the Common was extraordinarily limited: a single review, a single photo, and a single sentence description. Although the photo is full-on amazing (see above), I had eyes for only one thing: the answers and new questions contained within that one statement of description.

“There are dedicated hours where dogs may play off-leash, but they are welcome leashed at all times.”

It was a lead if I’d ever seen one (which, in my limited investigative experience, I had not). If I were to find these off-leash hours, would they correspond to the heavenly times when hordes of dogs frolicked together, free in the oldest city park in America?

This question led me to the site Fido Loves, essentially a more long-winded, less well-designed version of Bring Fido with a very similar but more fragmented name.

The revelations contained within the essay-length entry on the Common were twofold.

First, the reveal of a private Facebook group: The Common Canine. It’s uber-exclusive at only 648 members, and Fido Loves cautioned, “It is a group open only to local dog owners in order to keep discussions focused on the needs of Boston dogs.” As I sent my request to join, I was overcome by thoughts of how to slip in unnoticed. Perhaps I had a picture with a dog I could change my profile to . . . Maybe a quick post stating, “Wow, I love taking my dog, who I definitely own and who definitely exists in the city of Boston, to play in the delineated areas allowed by Boston Parks and Rec.”

Deep within this train of thought, I received a notification. After 15 seconds (presumably dedicated to an intensive examination of my Facebook profile) I was admitted into the Common Canine.

A scan of the last few months of posts revealed four equally important facts.

  1. No concrete meetup time planning occurred.
  2. There was still a sense of community within the dog owners of Boston Common that could only be created by regular dog/human bonding.
  3. Every time a new member was added, a post was made greeting both the two- and four-legged, and I needed to get the dickens out of this group before I was discovered.
  4. The excellence of the dog pictures and the rigor with which dog-related events were shared convinced me there was no way I could leave this group.

I had never felt more undercover detective-y (and therefore cool) in my entire human existence.

But Fido Loves’ Bible-length posting contained another revelation within its millions of words: “Dogs are allowed off-leash during the morning hours between 5 am and 10 am, and then again in the evening between 4 pm and 9 pm.”

The investigation was complete. There was only one thing left to do: Trawl Boston Common at optimized hours for dogs to pet—now equipped with the knowledge only the Common Canine could grant me.

The Unqualified Winter Survival Guide

With the changing leaves, the brisk weather and the changing time, it can only mean one thing: winter is coming. Though it might be a normal occurrence for some, those who grew up in warmer climates, like myself, might see the actual winter as an intimidating venture. Helming from Southern California, I never had to put salt on my porch or scrape my windshield before driving to school, so, coming to Boston for the first time last year, I was fairly helpless in figuring out the whole winter thing. Over the course of a couple of months, however, I was able to figure out some key elements to surviving the ominous winter, at least, for those who never experienced it like me. So, keeping each part of your body in mind, here are some tips to surviving your first winter, just from an unqualified source.

Head

A hat is probably one of the simplest ways to keep warm in the winter. You’d be surprised how cold your ears can get when the wind is especially heavy. I never expected to want to wear my beanie every day, but it proved to be something I made sure to bring whenever I went out for the day. If you like listening to music, try investing in some over-ear headphones too. Those keep your ears extra warm and can make your music sound even better.

Torso

I have to admit, I hated the idea of wearing layers. It seemed uncomfortable and cumbersome, especially since it takes time out of your morning to put it all on. Despite this, layering is absolutely essential for surviving the coldest of days. Your body won’t regret it, especially since sometimes even a heavy jacket won’t cut it. I’d recommend buying as many flannels as you want because those are great tools for layering. I bought mine from Duluth – since they make actual flannels as compared to other stores where they make sheer ones – but there are, of course, many other brands to choose from. I also put tank tops underneath to layer it up, as the top layer can easily cover them, but they at least give a slight layer to warm you up. On a side note though, I’d recommend buying a longer winter jacket, so that it covers more than just your torso. I bought mine from Eddie Bauer, but others are available. This is just a precaution to make you more comfortable and so that it allows a little more coverage on your body.

Hands

I hate to say it, but gloves are a must. Like layering, I hated the idea of wearing gloves. Even before coming to Boston last year, I hated wearing them and thought they were a pain, especially if I wanted to do anything with them. But, alas, you have to protect those hands. Without them, your hands can dry up very quickly and they can even get numb with how cold it is outside. It’s better safe than sorry to protect your hands, so gloves are your best bet.

I also learned something that is extremely important: lotion. At this point, I try to remember to put it on every day because it never occurred to me just how dry the winter is. Because of the drastic change of weather, your skin, especially your hands, is susceptible to drying and cracking, which can also be terribly painful. How you can get around this is to try and use lotion to mend your hands, because even gloves aren’t 100% impenetrable. Trust me, your hands will thank you for it. I use Lush’s Charity Pot every night – or, at least, whenever I remember, because I’m still learning with this one. A little goes a long way, so even buying the smaller version can last you a long time. While a little on the oilier side, it helps quickly and can smooth out your hands right away.

Legs

The annoying thing about the legs area is that it is not much you can do about keeping them warm. You can, of course, wear thermal gear to keep warm. The best tip to give is to stay away from denim because as soon as it gets wet, it stays wet and cold for the rest of the day. Also, that longer coat that I covered earlier could be really beneficial. While it won’t cover all of the legs, it will partially cover them, making the cold at least a little more bearable.

Shoes

I never realized just how wet snow was until I came back to my dorm drenched in snow. For those like me who like to take their shoes off once they get inside, try to take off your boots immediately, as stepping in that cold water on accident is not a fun thing to do. Have an area set up to store your winter clothes once they get wet from the snow, that way, nothing else gets wet while they’re drying for your next use.

Don’t ask me how or why salt helps during the winter, but you’ll soon find out that salt gets everywhere during the winter. You’ll be able to see giant bags of salt by entrances of buildings, ready to be used for the next snowfall. The bad part about this is that salt can be harmful to your clothes. You can especially see this on some cars, where the salt has damaged the outside of the car. Because of this, be mindful of what you’re wearing, with shoes being the priority, since they’ll be directly touching the salt.

With All of These Recommendations, Buy the Essentials Early

The last thing you want to be is unprepared for winter. So, be sure to have everything bought and ready to go long before the season really sets in, especially because things can sell out easily. Also, look out for those sales, as winter is not a cheap holiday. Some of the major essentials might be a winter coat, winter boots, gloves, a hat, and thermal sheets for your bed.

Winter was such a new experience for me that every day was a new adventure. Though there were definitely times where I was missing home with its 70-degree winter, I was happy to be able to be a part of a snow-filled winter. It might be expensive, but definitely worth it.

Student Saving Secrets

I have hit that point in the semester where I am desperate to save as much money as I can. I have thoroughly researched student discounts in three categories- Fashion, Food, and Entertainment and Travel- to take advantage of every possible discount as I can as a college student. Here are my many student savings secrets…

Fashion: When it comes to buying clothes on a college budget, it can be rough. My personal favorite store for trendy clothes for an affordable price is Boohoo. For great shoes that may not be the ideal price but are great quality and are very durable, Steve Madden is the perfect store.

  • Boohoo: Boohoo 35% off purchases for students. Boohoo is a hip fashion retailer that has the latest trends at reasonable prices.
  • Express: At express they offer 15% off online and in-store purchases.
  • Forever 21: For students, Forever 21 10% off full price online orders.
  • Levi’s: Levi’s gives a 15% off online and in-store discount on purchases.
  • ModCloth: For vintage shopping, save 15% on all clothing at ModCloth when you register as a member.
  • Steve Madden: With your college ID offer 10% off in store. Now it’s nearly impossible to say no to the shoes you absolutely “need”
  • Madewell: Students can get 15% off at Madewell by simply bringing an ID.
  • Kate Spade: Kate Spade gives a 15% discount when you show your ID upon checking out.
  • Topshop: At TopShop,  Get 10% off online and in store.
  • J Crew: At any J.Crew store, you can get 15% off all full priced items by showing your ID.

 

Entertainment and Travel: As a college student, traveling is a necessary part of the college experience. Especially since Boston is so close to many other major cities, using discounts from Amtrak and Greyhound is a must. Also, for streaming music, Apple and Spotify both offer student discounts. For those who read Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, those publications also offer a discount for students.

  • The Wall Street Journal: For students, it is $1 a week for both print delivery and digital access of The Wall Street Journal.
  • Apple: At Apple, students can obtain a discount of up to $300 off a MacBook. Also, a pair of Beats wireless headphones is complimentary when you buy a Mac or iPad Pro.
  • Apple Music: Apple offers Apple Music for $4.99 a month for students, and they give a three month free trial.
  • Spotify: Spotify gives students have access to Spotify Premium for only $4.99 a month.
  • Amtrak: As a student you can get discounts on train tickets by receiving 15% off on Amtrak
  • AMC Theaters: On Thursdays with your school ID you can get discounted tickets at AMC Theaters.
  • Greyhound: With a Student Advantage Discount Card from Greyhound, you save 20% on Greyhound travel fares.
  • Cinemark: With your student ID, you get a special student rate at Cinemark theaters.
  • New England Aquarium: At the New England Aquarium, students are able to purchase discounted aquarium admission tickets.
  • Amazon: Amazon offer a discount to students for free two-day shipping for six months, and discounted Prime.
  • The New York Times: The New York times offers their paper at just 99 cents for the first four weeks and 50% off the regular rate after the four weeks is up.

 

Food: There is arguable nothing better than free or discounted food. Here are a few restaurants that offer special discounts and free items for students.

  • Arby’s: At certain locations with your student ID, Arby’s offers a 10% discount.
  • Buffalo Wild Wings: Get a 10% discount off wings with your student ID at Buffalo Wild Wings.
  • Burger King: That burger and fries are 10% off when you show your ID at select Burger King locations.
  • Dairy Queen: Dairy Queen offers a 10% discount for students with ID at some locations.
  • McDonalds: At McDonalds, a McFlurry or burger comes with a 10% discount with an ID.
  • Pizza Hut: Depending on the Pizza Hut, they offer a 10 to 20% off pizza.
  • Qdoba: At Qdoba, they  offer a free drink when you purchase a meal.
  • Subway:  With your student ID at some Subway locations, you can receive 10% off your subway meal.
  • Chick-Fil-A: At various Chick-fil-A locations, you can get a free drink by showing your ID.
  • Chipolte: Most Chipotle locations will offer a free drink with your meal when you show your ID.

For savings on everything, here are two helpful websites for college students that I found:

 

Hopefully these saving secrets for students can help you save money and maybe now you will actually have enough in your bank account to splurge.

Reasons to Survive a Boston Winter

I hate winter with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. (This is symbolic of the complete lack of the sun we all know and love, and its replacement with a pale, watery impostor.) Winter is dry. It is cold. All the good stuff dies or hibernates, the latter being a skill I’m attempting to attain through the consumption of approximately one million Reese’s Peanut Butter Trees and a long nap. Now, moving to Boston means not only will the winter itself probably be worse, but so many of the things I love about living here will be brutally taken out by bare minimum four months of bitter, bitter cold.

In an attempt to curb my intense dread, I’ve compiled here a list of the summer-to-winter transformations of some of my favorite Boston places. Maybe this winter won’t be bad. I guess. Especially if this whole hibernation thing goes to plan.

 

  1.  Boston Common Frog Pond

I walk past this shallow, manmade, frog-less body of water every day of my life. Children may or may not be allowed to play in it; it’s difficult to tell because I have seen both a) don’t go in the water signs and b) children in the water. But good news! Instead of just being a sad, empty cement pool, IT WILL TURN INTO AN ICE SKATING RINK.

This is very exciting news, not because I enjoy ice skating, because I do not enjoy anything that makes me fall painfully and publicly only to land on a cold, hard surface, but I do appreciate watching people ice skate significantly more than I appreciate gazing at a cement landscape. Can’t wait until they start freezing water come mid-November.

The Boston Common Frog Pond Ice Skating Rink (rolls off the tongue) also has College Nights! Bring your college ID any Tuesday night (while school is in session) for a reduced ticket price.

 

  1. Boston Common

This isn’t an all-winter-long transformation, but at some point in February 2018, the Boston Common will become a winter wonderland. Albeit one teeming with screaming kids. It’s called the Children’s Winter Festival, and there are slides and refreshments and general wintery glory. Yes, it does say “children’s” in the name, and yes, that does mean it is intended entirely for children, but in past years there have been concurrent events for ALL people, like free skating camps (for all ages!).

Also, if you tell them you’re a child at heart, are they really going to prevent you from entering?

 

  1. The Esplanade

The Esplanade is a beautiful park that runs along the Charles River, and I quite frankly failed to see what its appeal could be in the winter months. Thankfully, the Esplanade website has a list of wintery suggestions, and one of them is snowshoeing. Apparently, snowshoeing is something I have wanted to do for my entire life without being aware of it, because I am VERY EXCITED about this idea. Granted, this, along with other activity suggestions like cross-country skiing, rides on the concept of a lot of snow. That’s already a plus side of winter. But it’s still cool!

Plus, the Esplanade is beautiful and snow is only going to make that fact truer.

 

  1. Sledding

The best transformation of all, I believe, is the transformation of the hellish hills I have to ascend every day into perfect sledding terrain. (This falls apart if I think about what it will be like to still ascend those small mountains when they are covered in snow and ice, but I’m trying to block that out.)

Sledding is one of my favorite parts of winter and the biggest positive I’ve seen thus far of living at the apex of a hilly nightmare is that I can sled with incredible convenience and ease.

 

  1. HOT CHOCOLATE

You may be thinking, “How is this a transformation?” I’ll tell you. It’s a transformation from me ingesting a variety of beverages, such as water, into me just drinking hot chocolate all the time because it is the best liquid in the world. According to the Internet, there are many, many, many prestigious and delicious hot chocolates in the municipality of Boston, like Taza Chocolate Bar’s create your own (they also sell churros!!) and Tatte’s white Belgian hot cocoa.

I would like all of them, please and thank you.

To update: I still hate winter. However, the intensity with which I am dreading it has decreased to some extent. Because now I have snowshoeing and hot chocolate and sledding and watching people fall while skating on my way to class on the brain.

 

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

There’s a shocking degree of disagreement over what makes an ideal chocolate chip cookie. Some people are confused, and believe the word “cookie” means “top of muffin” or “weird small cake” – these individuals shall wander through life in search of soft cookies. Some people are wrong and/or masochistic, and lead joyless existences filled with crispy cookies. For whatever reason, this group is unwilling to recognize that chomping down on a handful of gravel mixed with brown sugar would fulfill the same craving. And finally, some people are correct and know a chewy cookie to be not only the most satisfying of all cookie textures, but to be the best food on Earth.

It may surprise you to discover that I am of the latter population.

I spent much of my summer seeking cookie enlightenment. I was born granting chewy cookies their due respect, but I had another, far more broad quandary.

What makes the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe?

After trying over a dozen recipes, sustaining several small bruises to the hand, and somehow avoiding a salmonella diagnosis despite probably consuming a dozen raw eggs through cookie dough eating . . . I have an answer. We’ll get to the highlights in a moment.

But first, IT’S RUBRIC TIME.

CHEWINESS

(duh)

FLAVOR COMPLEXITY

(A good chocolate chip cookie does not taste like dough and chocolate chips, because boring. A quality CCC (a slang term I am attempting unsuccessfully to start) also has a caramelly/toffee-y taste from all the ingredients blending together perfectly. Insert chef kissing his fingers here.)

CHOCOLATE CHIP-TO-DOUGH RATIO

(This varies from person to person, but I happen to think that less is more when it comes to chocolate chips. Like, if I wanted a bite of pure chocolate, I would eat chocolate and stop wasting my time. I wanna taste that cookie!)

EASE OF BAKING PROCESS

(I hate effort. If the process takes like a million bowls – and I don’t mean “dry ingredients in one, others in another,” because I never do that – or ANY CHILLING OF THE DOUGH IS REQUIRED, I’m out.)

UNCOOKED DOUGH QUALITY

(Dough should be either really good – yum! – or not great – then I won’t eat it. But it should always be worse than the cookies themselves. Otherwise what is the point of baking it at all, and dough does not keep like cookies can, so I just have to sit there and eat three dozen cookies’ worth of dough??? Come on.)

 

  1. Betty Crocker’s Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewiness: 1.5/5

Flavor complexity: 2/5

Chocolate chip-to-dough ratio: 4/5

Ease of baking process: 5/5

Uncooked dough quality: 3/5

Overall: 15.5/25

This is an eh cookie. It is extremely easy to make, but also every single bite you take of it will remind you of how easy it was. This cookie screams “I had all the ingredients already and I didn’t have to chill the dough or anything.” It is not chewy. Flavor complexity = dismal. But sometimes you are baking cookies because you need to eat 18 of them and everyone knows that when you make something yourself the calories don’t count because you created it. For that task, this cookie will do the trick.

 

  1. The New York Times’ Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewiness: 4/5

Flavor complexity: 4.5/5

Chocolate chip-to-dough ratio: 5/5

Ease of baking process: 1/5

Uncooked dough quality: 4/5

Overall: 19.5/25

There are just . . . way too many inaccessible ingredients in this recipe. It may be that I forced myself to not love these cookies purely because I will never, in my life, have a type of flour on hand that isn’t all-purpose. This recipe calls for both cake and bread flour, and never ever ever in a million years even if hell froze over and my horoscope begged me to invest in diverse grain powders will I have either of those. Let alone both. It’s just financially irresponsible and, even worse, unnecessary. But this recipe is brought up on the Internet all the time and I want to be on trend so here we are.

  1. Sugar Spun Run’s Worst Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

Chewiness: 5/5

Flavor complexity: 5/5

Chocolate chip-to-dough ratio: 5/5

Ease of baking process: 2/5

Uncooked dough quality: 4/5

Overall: 21/25

The thing about the quest for a perfect cookie is that it, like so much of life, is futile. There is no such thing as the perfect cookie, because this one is full-on delicious and yet is so inconvenient to make that I have time for easily one to three existential crises in the process. Do not believe the time estimate that the evil blogger behind this recipe gives, because it would be wildly inaccurate EVEN IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO CHILL THE DOUGH. Yes, you heard me correctly. You have to chill the dough. Nobody ever, in the history of the world, has been baking cookies and felt okay with an extra 30 minutes tacked on just for a bowl to sit in a fridge. And who knows how much of my love for these cookies comes from my susceptibility to the reverse psychology in the name? I don’t exist in a vacuum, guys. Scrolling through fifteen pages of “best chocolate chip cookies ever” recipes does something to the mind.


So there it is! The sum total of my summer cookie quest. I am sure the question is one that will never be truly answered, and I will try new recipes until the end of time, never quite satisfied, but at least for now I know that Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips are the best kind. In the meantime, send your best recipes my way; I will be in a kitchen somewhere having an existential crisis while my dough chills for 30 minutes. (THE CONCEPT OF CHILLING DOUGH IS THE DEVIL’S CURSE UPON HUMANITY.)

A Long Way from Home

I remember the exact moment when my dad left me my freshman year during my move-in day. It felt too fast, with an unfinished goodbye. He was saying his “fatherly advice” bit and, too soon, his Uber drove up and it was time for him to go. I struggled to comprehend the actual meaning of him leaving me behind, on a street in Boston I couldn’t name even if I tried. Although a part of me felt ready to “be an adult,” I also knew I wasn’t fully ready to be truly left alone, in a city I had only previously visited once before. I didn’t cry, but I felt like I should have. It was supposed to be a huge deal and I should have been immediately homesick; at least, that’s how everybody told me I should have felt.

I mean, I am from California, which, if you didn’t know, is kind of across the entire country. How else was I supposed to react?

Whenever I reveal I’m from California, I almost always get “that” look. A look that asks, “Why? Why on earth would you move to Boston? Why would you move from sunny Southern California to a place like this?”

The answer isn’t that simple. I didn’t move because I hate California. Who can’t be entranced by the cloudless, warm days and picturesque coastline? No, there were many more factors to my decision than surface level elements; I do have some state pride. Though I can’t exactly explain what caused my dire urge to leave the state, I can say – with full confidence – that I just didn’t feel like I belonged. Don’t get me wrong, I love going back home; however, I knew I needed a break.

Finally deciding to go to a college across the country filled me with so many emotions, the most significant among the rest being fear and excitement. Fear for being alone in a city, excitement for the new chapter of my life. Fear for the unknown, but excitement for it as well; this was unexplored territory for me, everything was so new I wasn’t sure how to even approach the idea of settling into a new place in the world. I was sure that one day I would be so homesick that I would beg to go back home.

But the day never came.

I waited and waited during that first full month, but I never experienced the homesickness that everyone told me I would feel. It took me until Thanksgiving break to realize that I never really was homesick. There is the fact that I could text, call, or FaceTime my family any time I wanted, which probably helps, but I never felt the urge to break down and ask for the next flight home.

I’m not exactly sure why this occurred – maybe it was Boston or, perhaps, the business of college taking over my mind – but what I do know is that I finally found myself in a space where I could do what I wanted. To think about the mere amount of possibilities available to me, now that I relocated to Boston, is so utterly overwhelming, yet also freeing.

What followed surprised me: when I returned to California, I missed Boston. I missed the independence I had. I missed the trees and the brick buildings. I missed the routine, the shops and the walks I had through the Common. Though I did miss my family and I missed my home, I didn’t feel the same as I did in Boston. Don’t get me wrong, I love living in California. Who wouldn’t? There’s no end to its bright, sunny days, there’s cool shop and plenty of things to do, but it just wasn’t the same.

All summer, I yearned for Boston. It was clear that Boston became my second home.

Moving across the country was probably the most intimidating thing I’ve ever done. Whenever someone asks me the question though, I never experience the feeling of intimidation. Instead, I feel pride in the fact that I was able to defeat the fear holding me back home; that I was able to do what many others cannot. I love my home and living in Southern California definitely had its perks, but moving across the country was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Many probably assume that I can’t survive the winter, but I want to try. My exploration of the city of Boston is still afoot; and I’m grateful for what is to come.