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Hello!

Hi, welcome to my blog! My name is Gretchen and I am from Virginia Beach, VA. I’m a second year Health Science student, with a minor in Food Systems Sustainability, Health, and Equity.

Ask me any questions about:

  • The coop application process
  • Community service in college
  • Taking language classes at NU
  • Cool cafes in Boston!

I’m excited to keep you updated throughout my time at Northeastern and share why I love this school so much 🙂

A Wrap on Co-op

This was a bittersweet calendar notification to receive. Mostly because Friday wasn’t my last day of co-op.

I have enjoyed my past six months working at my co-op, and was even asked to stay on another month, which I am looking forward to. But seeing that notification reminded me of what could have been. I remember putting it in my calendar in January and thinking about all the experiences I would have between my first day at work and my final one. I was expecting my co-op experience to all take place in Boston, which was not the case. I was excited to go to work every day and have more time to explore Boston on the weekends, especially during the warmer months. I was looking forward to attending meetings and lectures, while sitting next to my colleagues and getting to know them more. But unfortunately, seeing that calendar notification just reminded me that this semester was nothing like I expected. 

For the past three and a half months, I have been working from home. While at times this has had its perks, it definitely changed my co-op experience from the one I was expecting. I am fortunate that I am able to continue to work during these challenging times and that I can do my job remotely and social distance at the same time. But I have realized that Zoom meeting burnout is real and that I really miss the social aspect and conversations I was able to have at work. 

Working remotely has changed what my job looks like a bit. Now taking notes during online meetings is a major aspect of my job, which I never had to do back in Boston. I have also had to juggle working in a different time zone from the rest of my colleagues, which has affected my normal routine. However, I am also aware of how fortunate I am to be in my position during this time. As a student studying public health, I have had incredible access to different lectures and meetings from public health officials during a global pandemic. I have also witnessed how the researchers I work with have had to shift their focus to meet current needs for data and include COVID-19 research into their ongoing projects, surveys, and clinical trials. 

Sure, I was hoping to experience all of my co-op in Boston and I miss going into the office everyday. My expectations have definitely shifted from when I first put that notification into my calendar; however, I have still managed to learn from my colleagues, expand upon my skill sets and knowledge of the research process, attend interesting lectures and meetings, and adapt to different working conditions. I still have one more month to go and I am excited to continue working remotely with my team. While it is not exactly the co-op I imagined, I am still proud of what I have learned and accomplished in this role, especially during these challenging times.

My Favorite Class at Northeastern

Spring semester of my freshman year, I walked into my American Healthcare Systems course with little expectations. Professor Bauer introduced herself and explained that this was also her first semester teaching at Northeastern and one of her first classes teaching undergrads. I was very nervous about what the expectations might be from a professor who had previously only worked with graduate students; however, it soon became my favorite class I have taken at Northeastern.

Part of the reason why I think I loved the class so much was that it was one of the first real public health focused classes I had taken at Northeastern. Before coming to college, one of the aspects I was most excited for was taking courses that actually interested me. Through readings, lectures, and discussions we dissected how our healthcare system functions and uncovered many of its flaws. I found the course fascinating and the lessons very applicable to everyday life. For example, knowing how our insurance works and what all the related terms mean has helped my understanding in numerous situations, whether it’s reading proposed policy changes or when filling out forms at the doctor’s office. Although I may be a nerd for anything related to public health, many of my peers who are pre-health found the course equally beneficial. We need future healthcare workers to understand how the system currently operates, so they can implement necessary changes. 

What is 'Medicare for all'? - CNN Video

Throughout the course, Professor Bauer also hosted many guest lecturers to talk about the topics we were studying. I found learning from professionals, who had years of experience in these areas, to be extremely beneficial.  One of our first assignments that offered an overview of issues in our healthcare system was reading the Time Magazine article titled, “Bitter Pill: Why American Medical Bills are Killing Us.” I was completely shocked while reading the article. I highly encourage everyone to read it, as it explains key issues within our healthcare systems that I believe many people are unaware of. It opened my eyes to the suffering of many Americans who do not have insurance and have to decide between receiving necessary care or enormous debt. 

I recommend this course and Professor Bauer to everyone because the course alerted me to many perspectives I had not previously considered on an issue that affects everyone. It helped shape my decision to continue studying public health because I do not want to live in a society where life-saving medical care can also be a financial death sentence. We need to make changes to our healthcare system and I want to be part of the generation to do so.

An Abrupt End to a Great Year

This past month away from Boston has given me ample time to reflect on the year and look through old photos and memories. I have decided to do a wrap-up of all the cool events I was able to attend at Northeastern this past year.

Homecoming Headliner:

John Mulaney and Nick Kroll performed live stand-up at Northeastern during our Homecoming celebrations.

In October, Northeastern celebrated homecoming with special events throughout the week. The highlight for me was the Homecoming Headliner show, where I watched John Mulaney and Nick Kroll perform live stand-ups and conduct a hilarious Q&A. The night began with a performance from opening act Emmy Blotnick. Extremely funny and very talented, Emmy was relatable to the crowd of college students. The whole event was hilarious and I don’t think I have ever laughed that hard for so long. It was an extremely memorable event and a great way to take a break from studying for midterms. 

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations: Samantha Power

Samantha Power visited Northeastern and answered questions during a live Q&A

Northeastern hosts an ongoing series, The Civic Experience, which brings in a wide variety of speakers covering different issues. In January this year, I was able to attend one of these programs, where Samantha Power, the former US Ambassador to the UN, was interviewed. It was a great opportunity to hear her talk about her career path and international affairs. She also took time to answer questions from Northeastern students.

Global Health Conference:

This year, I attended Global Health in a Changing World: People, Planet, Technology. This Global Health Conference at Northeastern, which is partially run by students, brought many different speakers to campus to discuss a wide range of global health issues. My favorite lecture from the event was a presentation by Dr. Andreas Pottakis discussing health concerns created by the EU migration crisis. 

Winter Walk for Homelessness

Boston Winter Walk 2020

Another neat event that I attended for the first time this year was the Winter Walk for Homelessness in Boston. I joined the event with a group of students from the Alliance of Civically Engaged Students. We participated in a walk around Boston on one of the coldest days of the year to raise awareness and money for those citizens of Boston that do not have a warm place to sleep at night. I thought this was an eye-opening event and plan on participating in future years, in support of those experiencing homelessness in our city. 

Climate Change Open Classrooms

Another really interesting opportunity at Northeastern is the Myra Kraft Open Classroom, hosted by the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. This is a lecture series that occurs each semester and is open to the general public and the entire Northeastern community. This semester, the series focused on Climate Change, and each week, they brought in speakers that discussed a wide range of topics related to the issue.  I particularly enjoyed this series, especially since I am on co-op and have missed the typical classroom setting. I highly encourage anyone in the Boston area to look into this ongoing series, which happens each semester.

Concerts

Northeastern’s Council for University Programs hosted many concerts this year, including Ashe and Maya Lucia.

This year I joined the Council for University Programs, also known as CUP. This organization hosts different programming for Northeastern Students, such as showing the new film, Knives Out. They also bring many different artists to perform at Northeastern. This year, the concerts included Ashe, Spencer with Julian Yeboah and Mint Green, STL GLD with Cliff Notez, Riz La Vie, and Zaia. I always enjoy going to these concerts because you get to be close to the performers as they are usually in AfterHours, which is a small venue we have on campus. 

Boston, I miss you.

Reflecting back on my time at Northeastern these past semesters, I am very grateful to all the opportunities I have had. Although I was sad my time was cut a bit short, it has been amazing to see the Northeastern community find ways to engage while social distancing. For example, events such as yoga classes, lecture series, and club meetings have been moved online so students and faculty can still feel connected. I am looking forward to upcoming semesters at Northeastern, especially with an enriched appreciation for the great community I have found there. 

Co-op 101

The prospect of co-op can be a little daunting to students. I know it was something I was nervous about, but luckily the semester before you go on your first co-op, Northeastern requires you to take an Introduction to Co-op class. The Introduction to Co-op classes at Northeastern are major-specific, so advisors are best able to tailor their advice. Because of this, all classes are a little bit different and I can only speak to the Health Science Co-op class that I took. Some programs have more structured timelines for application submissions and interviews. I will describe an overview of what the process was like for me, but bear in mind other students may have very different experiences. 

The semester before you go on co-op, NUCareers will probably become a staple tab, always opened on your computer. NUCareers is a database created by Northeastern and lists all available co-op positions. Before you get access to NUCareers, your Co-op Advisor will most likely meet with you one on one to discuss and approve your resume. I personally found this meeting extremely helpful, as she was able to give me insight into what employers are looking for and how to best position myself. Once my resume was approved, I was able to start applying, which was both daunting and very exciting. 

The application process differs depending on the job and company. The type of jobs you are applying for might also have different protocols. Some jobs require just a resume, while others might also need a cover letter. Some jobs conduct in person interviews, while others do video or phone interviews. Regardless, your co-op advisor is an expert on all these nuances and is there to answer whatever questions you might have during the process. 

In my experience, most of my interviews had pretty similar formatting. All of them consisted of a few members of the team interviewing me together. I felt prepared during my interviews as I came with multiple copies of my resume and had prepared questions I wanted to ask the employers. Although I was extremely nervous at the beginning of each of my interviews, because of co-op class I felt much more prepared and had an idea of what to expect.

While I was applying to and interviewing for co-ops on my own time, during co-op class we did activities to prepare us and listened to different speakers that would benefit us during our co-op search. For example, one day we did mock interviews to work on our interview and conversation skills. We also reflected on our strengths and weaknesses, to be able to best discuss those with employers. In terms of speakers, my advisor brought in different employers and upperclassmen, who had previously gone on co-ops, to share their experiences with us. It was interesting to hear about the hiring process from employers and get the chance to ask them questions. It was also beneficial to hear from upperclassmen and hear first hand accounts of what co-op is like. 

Although the co-op search can appear overwhelming, Northeastern simplifies the job search process through advisors, your co-op class, and NUCareers to ensure that their students are able to gain experiential learning outside of the classroom.

Why Northeastern?

As a tour guide at Northeastern University, I love to talk about my school, whether it’s explaining the concept of co-op to confused looking high school students and their parents or telling stories from my transition to Northeastern as a freshman. I always reserve the last stop on my tour to tell visitors why I decided on Northeastern. There were many reasons why I ended up choosing Northeastern, but to simply sum it up, I went with my gut. Throughout the entire college application process, I was always most excited about Northeastern. From first submitting my application to finally getting accepted, when I pictured myself in college, the visual always seemed to consist of huskies, co-ops, and Centennial Common. So my advice to any confused high school seniors is to trust your instincts. If I had followed this advice, I would have chosen to go to Northeastern much earlier instead of waiting days before the decision deadline, which probably would have made my last year in high school much less stressful. Alas, that was not the case, but I am forever thankful that I ultimately went with my gut feeling instead of staying in my comfort zone or following the footsteps of friends. 

To me, Northeastern represents something exciting and new. Not just to my freshman self, but I believe that with Northeastern’s unconventional class and co-op schedule it is a place that remains exciting and will never feel boring or antiquated. Fresh faces and new experiences come with each semester, which was one of the aspects I was looking forward to the most at Northeastern. I enjoyed my time in high school, but with the same group of students in most of my classes I was more than ready for change, which is why Northeastern was perfect for me. 

In addition to Northeastern’s innovative class/co-op schedule, the location also really appealed to me. Boston is a young city. Go to almost any cafe and take a look around, the majority of the customers will be under 25. Being an out-of-state student from Virginia, I knew I wanted to go to school in a lively city that I had yet to explore. After being here for over a year, I can say that Boston never disappoints. Every weekend there are always a slew of fun events to attend, such as food or book festivals. A “what to do in Boston this weekend” Google search has yet to fail me thus far. Boston is simply a city one can never be bored in. 

Another reason why I was and remain so excited by Northeastern is the emphasis on experience. If you have toured Northeastern at all, you have probably heard about the four pillars of experiential learning that it prides itself on: Co-op, Global Experience, Service-Learning, and Research. Unlike some of my peers, I have never had a singular vision of what my future career will look like. It typically changes week to week, depending on whatever latest career in the public health realm has caught my eye. So for me, the chance to go on co-op has been incredibly valuable. Getting to work as a professional before graduating makes me feel much more confident in my education, so I can tailor it to best serve me and take classes that are the most beneficial.

Additionally, even before applying to Northeastern I researched the different programs and majors and fell in love with the Health Science curriculum. Flexibility was essential to me because I did not want my undergraduate experience to be riddled with generic, irrelevant classes. The Health Science major at Northeastern has allowed me to take interesting classes, fulfill my minor requirements, and still graduate in four years with two co-ops. As a disclaimer, not all programs have the same flexibility, but I encourage anyone considering applying to Northeastern to take a closer look at different programs that might be of interest.

Finally, Northeastern’s campus has really become a home to me over this past year and a half, which is why I choose to come back every semester. The people I have met here have played a huge role in this, from the incredible professors I have had, who have helped shape my career path to the friends I made during orientation and still live with today. I hope through this post that anyone considering Northeastern has a good understanding of the aspects that most appealed to me. Furthermore, if any high school seniors are struggling with their decisions, I wish you the best of luck and just remember to trust your instincts. 

Bye Bye Bye Sweatpants

I will be honest, 40 hours a week can sometimes feel quite endless. 

The transition to co-op is a weird one. About a month ago, I started my first co-op at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health as the International Projects co-op for the Nutrition and Global Health Program. I was previously accustomed to having classes sporadically throughout the week, with time in between to do homework, nap, or go to the gym. While sometimes I miss this flexibility, there are also many perks to being on co-op. When I get home at the end of the day, I no longer have to stress about assignments or upcoming exams. Throughout the day, I don’t have the chance to grab lunch at Rebecca’s with friends or see them at random times in passing, but when I am home from work I have ample time to catch up, without having to make time to do homework. 

Another opportunity through co-op is the chance to get to know my coworkers. Working with a team that conducts and sponsors various research projects regarding nutrition and health all over the globe also means that everyone has had their fair share of incredible experiences and is a unique resource to gain insight into the world of both academia and global health. However, sometimes it is also crazy to me to have coworkers that are all so successful. Almost everyone in the office has their doctorate, so contributing to lunchtime conversations can be a little nerve-racking. I also find it comical being 15 years younger than all of my co-workers, especially when we talk about weekend plans and theirs all revolve around their kids and trying to find time to go to yoga class. Overall, I really enjoy working with my team and am looking forward to getting to know them over the next five months.

Another major aspect of co-op that I have had to get used to is the lack of sweatpants. Sometimes, especially when it’s a snowy, cold morning in January, it is completely disheartening to have to put effort into my appearance. Tragically the days of waking up at 9:00, rolling out of bed, grabbing a granola bar, and heading out to my 9:15 class are over. On the flipside, sometimes putting on “real people clothes” can at least make me feel like I am slightly more on top of it and together than usual.  

Although the transition can be a strange one, there are both pros and cons to being on co-op. I truly am thankful that I go to a school that places such importance on experiential learning, because it is not often that you get to test out a career for a six-month period to help decide if it is something that interests you. A month in, I am still excited by my co-op, but definitely think I now have a better idea of what I want out of future co-ops and jobs. I am hopeful that the next five months are beneficial and insightful, even if it means a lack of time spent in sweatpants.

A Collective Haul of Study Spots

In the spirit of finals, I decided to compile a list of my favorite places to study on and around campus. If you’re like me, then studying in a silent library is not the most ideal location to do work. So hopefully this list contains some insight into other study spots around Northeastern.

Spots on campus:

  • ISEC (Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex): Arguably my preferred spot on campus, ISEC has a great atmosphere and open layout that always help to channel my productivity. With six levels that each have multiple studying spaces, it is easy to find a place to set up shop. If eliminating noise and outside distractions is the goal, the bottom floor also has fun, egg-shaped pod chairs that do a good job of blocking noise. Cafe Strega is also located in ISEC, to accommodate any study break food necessities.  
  • Any empty classroom: Often forgotten about, empty classrooms can be ideal locations to do work with a group of friends, especially when Snell Library is overcrowded. Buildings, such as Shillman and Richards, seem to always have space available at night or on the weekends, making them good places to check. 
  • Afterhours: Located conveniently close to the Starbucks in Curry Student Center, Afterhours is a venue that sometimes features musicians or speakers. This location is fantastic for studying, as good music and coffee are both featured. The atmosphere is most similar to a cafĂ© with a calm, yet dynamic energy to it.
  • Tatte/Marino: While perhaps not the most obvious place to write an essay, something about the close proximity to all the wonderful pastries from Tatte and the active energy present in Marino creates an interesting, but productive dynamism. There are almost always tables open, unless you visit around noon on a Sunday when all the seats will be filled with the weekend brunchers. 
  • The great outdoors: In the rare event that the weather is actually warm in Boston, Northeastern has many outdoor spaces on campus to do work while enjoying the sun. 
    • Centennial Commons: A crowd favorite, Centennial Commons is one of the main green spaces on campus. Located next to Ruggles Station, students can always be found enjoying the nice weather in adirondack chairs or lounging in hammocks. 
    • The law library quad: Next to Northeastern’s law school, this quad has less traffic than most, making it a great spot to do work without being distracted by passerbyers.
    • ISEC: In the warmer months, tables are put up outside and making ISEC once again a fantastic location to do work. 

Places near campus:

  • Boston Public Library: One of the most magnificent buildings in Boston, the BPL has a gorgeous reading room filled with long tables and green lamps, making it an excellent place to study. The overall atmosphere feels much more like a museum than a library, which is why a study trip is the perfect excuse to go check it out and spend some quality time there. 
  • CafĂ©s: I have also found that cafĂ©s are great places to study, as they offer both sustenance and good atmospheres. Luckily, or perhaps not so lucky for my bank account, Northeastern is located close to many great cafĂ©s and bakeries. Here are some of my favorites:
    • Farmer Horse CafĂ©
    • Caffè Nero
    • Caffè Bene
    • Oakleaf Cakes Bake Shop
    • Pavement
    • Render Coffee
  • The Prudential Center: Another location off campus that is perfect for studying is in the Prudential Center. Although sometimes busy with frantic shoppers, there are lots of spots to sit, making it a nice place to get off campus and get work done without going too far. 

In conclusion, one should never feel limited by Snell library or dorm room common spaces. Northeastern is filled with great study spots, and is in close proximity to a wide variety of locations in Boston that will cater to all studying needs. 

Only at Northeastern

October 19th. 9:00 pm. Speare Plaza.

It is absolute madness, but it’s also one of the most iconic events of the year: The Underwear Run!

There’s a few things that scream Northeastern: the lunch rush at Rebecca’s, the Doghouse/student section at hockey games (that one physically screams Northeastern), and the annual Underwear Run!

Last year, I passed on this classic event, but after watching a massive swarm of students only in their undergarments, I decided I could not miss out again. So this year, I joined the madness! This tradition has been occuring at Northeastern for the past 14 years and to describe it as madness is honestly a bit of an understatement. If the prospect of storming the streets of Boston at night in minimal clothing at all intrigues you, then I highly recommend participating.

First, the runners form a mosh pit in Speare Plaza — complete with a DJ — where everyone participating gets hyped up and dances together. Then, once the enthusiasm has reached an acceptable level, the run commences and students proceed to the course. The enormous flock of runners take over campus, running past some of the most iconic spots, including Snell Library and Centennial Common. 

After passing through the West Village Quad, runners move on towards Huntington Avenue, where the Northeastern Police Department shuts down the street to traffic, so that students can take over. My favorite part was definitely running on Huntington all the way to the Prudential Center, where we passed by stopped cars filled with confused, yet amused drivers, many of whom l rolled down their windows to get a better view of the event. I high-fived many perplexed onlookers who, despite their confusion, still cheered us on. Continuing past the Prudential Center, we made our way down Hemenway Street and eventually made it back to Speare Plaza. Somehow throughout the entire run, I managed to not get separated from the majority of my friends, which was quite the feat. Even though the running stopped, the hype lived on and we rejoined a newly formed dance party occurring in Speare Plaza yet again!

Although it was a bit chilly at first, the entire experience was absolutely electric, and I can’t recommend it enough! I think I now have a new favorite Northeastern tradition!

An Andean Adventure

While it’s understandable that some might not want to spend their spring break digging a giant hole, I can’t imagine a better way to enjoy my first spring break at Northeastern! This past March I had the awesome opportunity to travel to Ecuador on an Alternative Spring Break (ASB) and volunteer with the Tandana Foundation. We spent the week in the highlands of Ecuador and worked with the indigenous community of MotilĂłn Chupa to dig a water reservoir system. 

Some of the challenges:

  • No showers for a week: While not the most “appealing” aspect of the trip, not showering for a week definitely brought me much closer to my 10 other team members!
  • The language barrier: Perhaps one of the biggest challenges (but also my favorite aspect of the trip) was the language barrier. Not only was the Spanish language barrier present, but additionally the community members speak Kichwa, a language indigenous to the highlands of Ecuador. While communication was more challenging, I also learned words in a language that I previously never knew existed.
  • The length of the trip: ASBs only last a week, and this was perhaps the biggest challenge of the whole trip. At the end of the week, everyone wanted to stay longer because our time in MotilĂłn Chupa had been so special. 

Some of the highlights:

  • The community: The warm and welcoming community of MotilĂłn Chupa was probably the best aspect of the trip. Playing with the kids and talking with the adults of the community was always fun and I learned so much from them.  On multiple occasions, members of the community cooked us meals and went above and beyond to welcome us. They let us into their homes and taught us some of their traditions, including how to make queso fresco (which involved cow milking lessons)! Their generosity made a lasting impression on me. 
  • The views: The community of MotilĂłn Chupa is situated high in the Ecuadorian Andes, which in my humble opinion might just be the prettiest place on earth. Waking up every morning surrounded by spectacular nature was an incredible experience and a welcomed change from city living. 
  • My team members: The ASB experience has been my favorite memory from Northeastern so far. Not only did I become close with the community members, but the bonds formed between my team members and I that week have proved to be lasting. Working alongside others towards a goal that is much bigger than yourself is very rewarding and a unique opportunity to make friends. 

Even if I was a little gross after a week of digging mud and not showering, ASB was an incredible opportunity and something I would encourage every Northeastern student to apply for.  It’s a great way to step out of your comfort zone and learn about a different community, while making friends along the way!

Unique Classes at Northeastern

Are you interested in a future medical career serving Spanish-speaking populations? Curious about how to say bunion in Spanish? Perhaps you are looking to up your Spanish “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” game? If so, say no more. Northeastern offers the perfect class for you!

This semester, I enrolled in Intermediate Spanish 1 for Healthcare Professionals. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was hoping to at least expand my Spanish vocabulary along the way. Having not taken a Spanish class since high school, I was especially worried about how I would fare during the lesson; however, immediately upon entering the classroom, the professor made me feel at ease and created an environment where I felt very comfortable participating. She was also very conscious of including every student in conversations, which immediately created a collaborative atmosphere. Within the first class, I learned numerous parts of the body, plenty of medical terminology, and a handful of diseases in Spanish for good measure. In addition to learning extensive vocabulary, in every class we expand on grammar and get the chance to practice medical situations, such as doctor and patient interactions. Outside of the classroom, we reinforce lessons we have learned through weekly blogs, where we write about different healthcare topics in Spanish, such as dietary norms or healthcare differences in hispanic countries. 

Prior to taking the class, I was very unsure of what to expect, but I am thankful that Northeastern offers language classes that have such a targeted and practical purpose. Some of my classmates, such as nursing or biochemistry majors, are particularly excited to put the information from this class to use during their future clinical co-ops. As I am interested in doing public health work at an international scale, I know that learning diseases and health issues in another language will be very relevant in my future career. 

Thanks to this class, I can now conduct a basic physical exam, understand different health emergencies, and contrast healthcare systems in another language. So whether you are just trying to add to your reservoir of random words you know in another language, or you have relevant career aspirations, I cannot recommend Spanish for Healthcare Professionals enough!

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