51 Brandeis University Life Hacks
I may be a Brandeis Alumna now (wow that’s weird to say), but classes start tomorrow for my fellow Brandesians so here are a few life hacks for getting through Brandeis college living. Really, even if you don't go to Brandeis and you're at another college, many of these could probably be helpful (or so I hope!). Sooo let's get it.
Use your points for breakfast and snacks — if you live on campus, you’re required to have a meal plan so I suggest using your very limited, and quick to go, points wisely. If you live in the Mods, Grad, or Ridgewood and have a kitchen, opt for the meal plan with the lowest meals and the most points and make the most of your kitchen AND MONEY.
Invest in a crockpot. You don’t need a kitchen to throw ingredients into a crockpot, and no, everything you make does not have to be soup. Youtube or Google easy crockpot ideas with whatever meat or not meat you choose. Separate your meals into containers and voila you have food that’s not dining hall food.
Go to Market Basket, not Hannafords. No, Market Basket is not sponsoring my website. Market Basket is just significantly cheaper than Hannafords. So much cheaper that I could get twice as much food there as I could at Hannafords. Take the BranVan to the Walgreens stop and then an uber or lyft to Market Basket, it’s about $2-$3 both ways and well worth the extra money that you save from going to Hannafords.
THE DOLLAR STORE IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. We all want to be bougie but in reality, you are broke stop playing. Go to the dollar store for Tupperware, toilet paper, nail care, laundry detergent, snacks, aluminum foil and aluminum pans, sandwich bags, trash bags, trash cans, brooms, etc.
Use a timer for your laundry so people don’t touch your clothes or leave them sitting on top of the washing machine. Also, it’s just courteous to the fact that other people need to do their laundry too. And don’t leave your laundry basket just sitting in the laundry room, unless you want to buy a new laundry basket because it will get taken.
DON’T USE THE SHARED REFRIGERATOR IN YOUR BUILDING PEOPLE WILL TAKE YOUR FOOD -- I will be making a post on how to meal prep specific to being in college but while we’re on the topic...Invest in a mini fridge to keep with you throughout your years. If you can’t afford to store it or don’t have anyone to leave it with while you’re away from school, opt for selling it, someone definitely needs one.
GO TO THE INDIAN MARKET ON MOODY STREET FOR VEGETABLES AND FRUITS THEY COST LESS DOLLARS. Enough said.
THERE ARE ACTUALLY GOOD RESTAURANTS IN THE WALTHAM/NEWTON AREA. There are many Mom & Pop shops all throughout Waltham that are absolutely delicious. Taqueria is one of them, as well as Joseph’s Two. In A Pickle will be advertised to you over and over and over…Joseph’s Two is better in my opinion though. The Local is a restaurant in West Newton that’s great for a nice dinner and fresh, quality food. I discovered this places via my professor only this year. Wish I knew about it so much sooner.
Take a bus to NYC or anywhere really. Sometimes Brandeis life can get monotonous and make you a little stir crazy. If you’re feeling like this, or if you just need to get home because you live in New York, Go Bus is a very convenient way to get to NYC for a cheap price, get your tickets home in advance and head to the Newton station like not even fifteen minutes away from Brandeis by car.
Dining halls are not going to be open over holidays and are not reliable in that way, and if they are, it’s often only Sherman that’s open and a star-trek across campus to get to it. Stock up on snacks in your room.
Use the commuter rail to get into Boston quickly if you need to, it’s a tad expensive, but convenient at times and takes you straight to Porter Square, which you can then use to take the red line to South Station.
Bus 553 runs into Boston and picks up across the street from 567 and by the track, it goes straight to South Station.
FRIENDS -- If your friends visit you, don’t make them take an uber from the airport or South Station, tell them to take the red line from South Station to Harvard Square and hop on the free Joseph’s shuttle to meet you on campus. Saves about $60-$70. (Unless you got it like that WHICH I DIDN’T AND DON’T HA).
Also! Invest in an air mattress for company.
The Stein actually has good food.
Invest in durable winter boots if you haven’t already. October is often Winter in Massachusetts so don’t waste time bringing your boots to campus.
Buy granola bars and keep one in your bag always — there’s a BJs nearby to bulk up on travel food for when you’re rushing to class or need to replenish after all of that cardio walking up and down Rabb steps. In fact, it’s a good idea to just buy certain items in bulk in general, like toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, hair products, snacks, pads/pantiliners/tampons, etc.
Find a place on campus that you are comfortable studying in. For me, this was my room always always. Sure college aesthetic is the library is nice to study in but I could never get work done in the library. You will have to study, so find that spot and make it your own.
Brandeis is not a party school, dude, I’m just saying it straight right here for you. Odds are if you’re looking to twerk sum’n, try staying up with people who go to other schools like BU or UMass so you can do so.
Put a command strip or pushpin by your door to hang your keys so you never forget them, or blatantly hang your keys on your doorknob.
Buy air fresheners. Just do this. Don’t be stank, y’all.
If you live anywhere that’s not the surrounding Brandeis area, consider getting a storage unit so you don’t have to rebuy things every year. Some stuff is actually so cheap it’s worth rebuying like a trash can from the dollar store, but storage squad and collegeboxes are also good tools for moving and storing things.
Invest in a microwave and a mini fridge, don’t bother splitting with someone and then fighting over whose it is later, and please don’t just throw it out and buy a new one.
Brandeis has a Facebook page called “Brandeis Free and For Sale” where you can post things you no longer want, or buy things people no longer want. Use it to your advantage.
Put dryer sheets in your laundry basket to absorb odor from your clothes so you don’t stink up your room and irritate your roommate.
Don’t wash your clothes on Sundays. Everyone washes their clothes on the Sundays. Wash on the weirdest days like Tuesdays or Wednesdays.
As a former BranVan manager I guess I gotta say BranVan is the highest paying work-study job on campus. You don’t have to be work-study to work for BranVan. It’s also convenient as far as being able to pick when you work a shift and better managing your hours with whatever your hectic schedule may be. I took a 5 course workload every semester at Brandeis, double majored and double minored, worked two jobs, and had leadership positions. Being able to pick when I could work really paid off (See what I did there). And if it’s pride you’re worried about as far as driving a van as a job, then your pride is legit getting in the way of your paycheck. Just saying.
You need to talk to your professors & staff members. Professors and staff members are people. Professors and staff enjoy being talked to. They are both resources and can give you advice, recommendations, gifts, love, apologies, kindness, and like many other human things because again your professors and staff members are people. Visit during office hours, take the time to send an e-mail, give extra appreciation during your rushed lunch in-between classes.
Be a little assertive over your future. If you send a very important or pressing e-mail to someone and they don’t respond to you within 2-3 business days and you are on a college campus why are you not in their office??? Take the trip, I’m sure it’s less than 15 minutes.
You will sometimes be the only person of color in your classrooms. People will say off the wall shit. If it’s in your mental health and best interest to stay quiet and say nothing then do so, however, if it’s not, there should in no way be a problem with you voicing that someone has made a racist remark, or one that’s sexist, transphobic, xenophobic, homophobic, and many, many more. Time and time again I encountered scenarios that required me to either shut up or speak up. The former being applicable when I wanted to keep in mind the energy I expelled. The latter being in mind because it’s a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) and you still have a right to exist and get your education. And honestly, sometimes you have to hold your institution, classmates, and professors accountable for all of the diversity they preach and rave about. Check out my posts with The Odyssey Online for more on my experience of being Black at a PWI.
WHOA STUDY ABROAD HOW DID I ALMOST FORGET THIS ONE. I have a whole blog on the mind-blowingness that is the study abroad experience. Here’s the link. Please, please do this while you are in undergrad and have the opportunity to do so. It is terrifying. I cried the night before I left and laid on my mom’s stomach and so much before then too but guess what everything worked out just fine and I am so glad I went, honestly changed my life. And yes, you can study abroad and still graduate on time.
There is a patient first urgent care right down the street from Brandeis by the Panera and Chipotle. Newton-Wellesley hospital is a seven minute drive away and Brandeis Public Safety will escort you there if you cannot get there otherwise. There’s a great gynecologist in Newton, talk to the health center for recommendations on specialists too.
USE THE GYM. Gyms cost typically $10-$25 a month depending on where you go and what your membership is. Brandeis’ gym is free (Jk it’s included because you go there). But still. Need I say more.
USE FREE TRIALS OF THINGS. Take advantage of your student status for Spotify, Microsoft Suite, iTunes, Adobe Creative Cloud, Amazon and more.
Don’t buy books from the bookstore unless you have no other choice — you often have the choice of using the library’s very handy Interlibrary Loan (ILL) where you can get books from nearby universities for a certain period of time. Some are renewable, some aren’t. Here’s the link. AND CHEGG.COM WHICH IS BAE.
One thing I regret not doing in undergrad: Paying off my Unsubsidized Loans. Not everyone will have loans, but if you do have unsubsidized loans, they are accruing interest from the moment you take them out, meaning while you are in school. If you have a job, which to be honest you really should, for both experience and learning to manage money, try setting aside money to knock out some loans while you’re in school. Everything postgrad is not guaranteed or definitive. It’s often very up in the air until you get really settled. Which takes time. So for my post-grad peoples, it’s okay. We got this.
Buy a planner and write out your classes, or use your phone. This just helps implement organizational discipline and I think is a good skill to keep in mind for life post-grad too.
Don’t be afraid to use tutoring services. You will have to knock your pride in order to better your education. Tutors are literally there to help you and without my tutor my sophomore year, I would never have passed economics (Please don’t ask why I was taking economics I still really do not know).
It’s okay to study one thing, and it’s okay to study several things. I was a double major and double minor at Brandeis and I’m very satisfied with the education I received, even though I begrudgingly think about my loans. I didn’t know what I really wanted to do until my second semester sophomore year. You don’t have to know right away. There is so much self-discovery to do, it’s damn near impossible. However, if you do know, props to you. Just don’t knock someone who may still be going through their own process.
Everything you go through is your own. Grow through it. It’s so easy to compare yourself to your peers in the close-knit community that Brandeis can sometimes be. It’s okay to go through literally every aspect of your undergraduate career. I wouldn’t trade a single moment of it, throughout all of the pain, anxiety, depression, happiness, laughter, self-discovery, whatever. The process was my own to become a new version of myself. As you go through yours, remember to harbor love for yourself and to believe in all that you are capable of. You decided to be there for a reason, don’t forget what that is.
Student Support Services Program. I always gotta shout out this one. The Student Support Services Program (SSSP) at Brandeis is designed to assist low-income, first-generation college students with their transition into college via financial, mental, emotional, and academic means. SSSP was and always will be my everything and my community. Regular admins like myself can apply to and be a part of the SSSP family and get the assistance you need.
You will sometimes, or oftentimes, feel out of place. You will feel this in many nuances and many facets of things. If you were a low-income college student like me, you will feel financially out of place. This school is home to many affluent folk who don’t understand what that is. Money will be thrown around like it’s nothing as people drive in their Lambos around the campus loop with no purpose at all other than to show off. You will feel out of place if you are a student of color, specifically a black student. As a shout out to a not-so-younger me, all I have to say really is: Be Unapologetically Black. Please take pride in your presence there. You truly, truly belong exactly where you are.
You’re not going to find any good black hair care products in Waltham, there isn’t a Sally’s nearby so if you bring your hair stuff with you and find someone on campus who does braids, sew-ins, or is willing to flat iron your hair if that’s what you want. You could also save money by investing time into learning how to do your own hair on Youtube. Practice makes perfect as with everything.
Take time to actually explore Brandeis’ campus. So you don’t get lost in all of the Shapiros tbh.
Take advantage of the Rose Art Museum. It’s a whole museum sitting on a campus like don’t ignore that.
Find your community. Everyone will seem to have a group they belong to that exists within the larger Brandeis community. It is okay if you go your freshman, sophomore, or even Junior year without finding out what community you truly feel you belong to. Don’t rush to try to be a part of someone else’s group. You will find what resonates with your identity on your own time.
Don’t just use college resources to help you, help the college resources help you. This one breaks into two parts, specifically for the career center and the other for the Brandeis Counseling Center.
If you go to the career center for help, it would work in your favor to have an idea of what you’re looking for and how an advisor can best assist you. However, sometimes, you really don’t know what you need, you just know you need something -- which is absolutely fine. Yet, taking out a little time to brainstorm what you may and may not be interested in can help you in your meeting with a career advisor.
I frequented the counseling center often in my final two years at Brandeis simply because I finally bit the bullet and realized that I was not able to meet my self-care needs all on my own, and therefore needed more help. I realized that taking care of my mental health required me to unlearn toxic ways and observed behaviors. I found counseling to be the most helpful when I knew how to tell my therapist what was bothering me so they could then help me identify with it and myself further. Conversations with yourself are important and your relationship with your therapist isn’t going to be like your friend’s. Do your best to get the best out of that relationship.
You do not have to know everyone on campus and everyone on campus does not have to know you. It is okay to choose anonymity sometimes.
There will be one glorified couple that seems like the ideal #couplegoals. Do not glorify them. It is more than okay to be single even in the face of everyone all booed up during cuffing season.
Learn to say no. The college culture, especially at Brandeis, can often have you doing 10 million things all of the time and leaving you exhausted. It’s okay to say no to events, activities, lunch dates, study dates, whatever. You don’t have to do everything to be something.
And lastly, you do not have to have everything figured out right now. There is literally no way to have it all figured out because you are still growing and maturing and trust me, you will not leave college the same person you entered as. Embrace whatever change and failure may come your way. It is the crux of your greater self and success.
I can’t think of any others right now!! I hope this post was helpful in someway to someone reading or hoping to/planning to attend Brandeis, especially as the school year gets to a start. If anyone has any questions about anything specific or has any tips on what I should’ve included in this list, feel free to ask/comment in the comment box below.
End quote J.K. Rowling because it relates to the final hack: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.”
Hope y’all have a great start to the school year and maintain the momentum throughout and if you find yourself faltering, I hope you find the strength and patience within yourself to let yourself rest or keep it pushing, whichever you may need at the moment.
P.S. If you wanna stalk me on social media feel free to add me on Instagram: @converseandkettlekorn & Twitter (which I don't really use but yeah might start) @ashmae1120