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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 🙂

Three Running Routes by Campus

One of the nicest ways to explore a place is going for a run. Sometimes it can be a little daunting trying to decide what route to take, especially if you are in a new city. I wanted to compile a list of three of my favorite running routes (or walking!) for anyone who might be lacking inspiration currently. 

Jamaica Pond:

I ran this route for the first time over the weekend and was able to appreciate the sunny weather. I started the run going straight down Huntington Ave., turned on to the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, and circled back along the Southwest Corridor Park after running through Jamaica Pond. Mileage can be added by running further around or past the pond. If running isn’t your thing, making a day trip to Jamaica Pond can be super fun. Centre Street in JP has tons of shops and restaurants to explore.  

The Esplanade:

One of the most iconic running spots in Boston, the Esplanade, is located along the Charles River and is a favorite for many living in the city. About a mile away from campus, this location is great for a run or even to picnic at with a group of friends. Near the Esplanade are also the Harvard Bridge and the Longfellow Bridge, connecting Cambridge and Boston. These bridges have pedestrian paths that are useful for walkers, runners, and bikers. Similar to the Esplanade, the Cambridge side features well-kept paths for walkers and bikers. 

Boston Commons:

In the same direction as the Esplanade, Boston Commons is another popular green space in the city. The size of the park is 50 acres and is a great place to explore in any season. During the winter, the pond in the center often freezes over and can be a fun place to ice skate. As it is less than 1.5 miles from campus, it is an easy place to walk or run to. The Commons features many paths to jog along or benches to sit and people watch on. 

Second Co-op

Last year around this time in a blog I complained about missing the ability to wear sweatpants while on co-op…well, lo and behold look how the world has changed!

I am currently on my second and last co-op, working as a health consulting intern for Public Consulting Group and wearing sweatpants daily. In this role, I work closely with the financial aspects of Medicaid programs in schools, hospitals, and Emergency Medical Services. I am working remotely, which has its positives and negatives as many have found out this year. I feel incredibly lucky to have gotten a co-op this semester, but it has definitely been very different going through the interview and onboarding process completely online. 

For anyone who has interviewed in the past year, they know that online interviews can create an additional layer of stress. During my first co-op search, I never had to worry about my Wi-Fi connection, what background was behind me, or if my roommates would accidentally interrupt; however, this year those were all major concerns. For a few of my interviews, there was loud construction happening outside my apartment, so I had to mask up and conduct the interviews in one of Northeastern’s libraries. All of my interviewers were extremely understanding, but even so it left me a bit frazzled trying to be professional in an unfamiliar setting. 

In my experience, in the interview process, while taking online classes, or in meetings for work, everyone is extremely patient and compassionate when things go awry. Whether it is someone’s child or dog interrupting a meeting or issues with audio connectivity, people understand the stress everyone is dealing with. 

I just wanted to use this post to say thank you to fellow humans who have shown kindness during this year. Reflecting back a year ago, I realize how naĂŻve I was to complain about having to be a bit more professional than most college students. This year has given us all a bit of perspective and patience. (I say this now but who knows, hopefully in a year I can be complaining about not being able to wear sweatpants again:)

Ski Trip

The weather this year has finally started to feel like the quintessential New England college experience. We have had heaps of snow, which has been quite enjoyable for me as I am currently working from home and do not have to deal with any of the extra stresses snow sometimes creates. It snowed during my freshman and sophomore years, but never quite this much. So I decided to truly experience the Northeast and go skiing with friends. 

It had been a few years since I last skied, so I was very nervous leading up to the trip. We drove to Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire, which is about two hours away from Boston. After getting all geared up, I decided to take it slow at first and make sure I felt comfortable on the skis. For most of the day, I stayed on green runs (easy slopes) and practiced my technique. Although the day was filled with lots of falls (so many!), it was fun to start to get comfortable and pick-up speed. 

Cannon Mountain

While there are lots of options for places to ski on the East Coast, make sure to look out for places that offer student discounts. Luckily my friends and I were able to find a good student deal at Cannon, otherwise ski trips can sometimes break the bank. I also lucked out because I was able to borrow lots of gear from friends, as I had left much of my snow gear back home. Next year, I will definitely be taking it up to Boston!

I am really excited to keep skiing and experiencing all that comes with classic New England winters (I am hoping sometime soon I can also go cross-country skiing!)

Peace out Boston

A few weekends ago, my friends and I packed all of our gear into a minivan and left Boston for a weekend of camping.  We headed north, drove for about five hours, and eventually arrived in Penobscot, Maine. We found our campsite through Airbnb and it exceeded all expectations. The host had kindly put up lights for us so that we were able to find our way around when we arrived around 10:00 p.m. That first night was spent setting up tents in the dark, grilling hamburgers, and huddling around the campfire.

The next morning my friends and I decided to wake up early and watch the sunrise. Our campsite was located on a lake and had kayaks and a canoe, so we decided to take the boats out and watch the sky change color over the water. The still water paired with the rising sun was a truly ethereal experience. The calmness of the morning took a turn when my kayak decided to capsize. Unfortunately we had failed to notice the gaping hole in the back of the boat and I ended up taking a very early morning swim. Luckily it capsized not too far from the dock and I was able to swim/walk the way back to shore. The chilly Maine water was definitely a unique start to the day.

I spent the rest of the morning huddled by the fire, trying to dry off myself and my many layers of clothes. After repairing the kayaks, we spent the rest of the day paddling around the lake and hanging out on the island in the middle. The evening entailed listening to lots of music, much more time by the fire, and grilled chicken and baked potatoes. The weekend overall was very relaxing and a much needed break from the city!

Four or Five?

A five-year track at Northeastern is very common. Many students choose to take full advantage of the co-op program and participate in two or three, which can often extend the time spent as a Northeastern student. I am currently on track to participate in two co-ops over the course of four years, graduating with a whole year of full-time work experience under my belt. 

On tours, I often get asked: how is that possible?

Northeastern’s schedule can be a little different compared to other universities. Northeastern offers two summer terms, Summer 1 and Summer 2, where students can take classes in order to meet graduation requirements. Summer 1 classes run for two months, from May to June ,and Summer 2 classes are in July and August. This year these summer classes were all remote due to COVID-19, but normally Northeastern’s Boston campus is busy with students every month of the year. Over the summer, Northeastern also offers Dialogues of Civilizations. These programs occur across the globe and allow students to take two classes while immersed in different cultures. Whether it’s taking classes in Boston over the summer or taking classes with a cohort of students and faculty in another country, Northeastern offers many ways for students to stay on track for co-ops and graduation. I do want to clarify and express that all majors are different– some may be more strict in requiring summer courses, while others may leave it to individual preference. 

When I was considering Northeastern, I was hesitant about the unusual schedule compared to other universities; however, I have enjoyed the flexibility Northeastern offers during my time here. Especially after high school, I felt somewhat drained from constant classes. I have found co-op to be a refreshing change of pace, and I am looking forward to taking classes again this fall. Northeastern has an ever changing dynamic, which is really appealing to me. No two semesters feel the same and this variation keeps Northeastern feeling fresh every semester.

Learning in a Pandemic

Uncertainty feels ever present these days. Especially in regard to COVID-19, it can often feel like reliable information is hard to come by and that the news spreads misinformation instead of fact.

That is one of the reasons why I was proud that Northeastern offered a free, one-credit class on the pandemic during Summer 2. Open to all students, the class, COVID-19 and Pandemic Response: A Pop-Up Course, helped shed light on what was really occurring in response to the pandemic and how we can get involved.

The class met once a week for two hours over zoom. During that time, the instructor Patricia Case and the teaching assistants all did a marvelous job of incorporating discussions and panelists to curate thoughtful conversations. The first week consisted of an overview of the current COVID-19 pandemic and compared it to previous pandemics. In the class, we discussed the clinical presentation, epidemiology, and policies at the federal, state, and local levels in regard to COVID-19. The next session focused on current numbers, emerging infectious diseases, and economics impacts of the pandemic. In the following sessions, we covered a variety of topics that are impacted by the pandemic, including mental health, homelessness, people who use drugs, racial vulnerabilities, contact tracing, ethics, and where we go from here.

Our final paper focused on ways we could get involved through volunteering. As I researched opportunities, I realized there are simple ways everyone can do something to lighten the burdens this pandemic has placed on our society. There are a variety of remote opportunities, such as digitally connecting with elderly members of a retirement community to combat isolation, and also many in-person opportunities, including volunteering at food pantries. A simple way to help those around us is to check in on our family, friends, and neighbors. Connecting is an important step to combat loneliness during this time. Furthermore, asking neighbors who may be at higher risk if they need any groceries is another way to help lessen the burden. These are simple tasks, but kindness goes a long way, especially as we are all feeling extra stressed.

Times are weird. There is lots of uncertainty and confusion surrounding both the now and the future. But I was happy that Northeastern offered this class for its students. It felt reassuring hearing from experts and learning more about proper protocols.  There is much to learn from our current circumstances, especially as a public health student, and I feel fortunate to have been able to take advantage of this learning opportunity through Northeastern.

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.

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