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Archive for 'live better'

the only advice in college

Get some sleep. Your health is the most important thing. Sacrifice some sleep. Your grades matter.

Cram. It works. Don’t cram. It doesn’t work.

Sit in the front of the class—ask questions, get known, discuss. Sit in the back of the class—you’re the most comfortable there and you can listen and read.

Meet anyone, everyone, anytime, every time. Network—the more the merrier. If you’re happy with the small group of friends you have, stick with them—they’re the ones who matter.

Pick the best and toughest and/or most well-known professors. They’re the most inspirational and you’ll learn the most and probably get a better recommendation. Pick the easiest professors. Are you really stupid enough to ruin your GPA by choosing good but tough professors?

Talk to your roommate about dorm issues you’re having. They’re gonna get worse. Ignore the issues. Is the conversation really worth it?

Keep in touch with your hometown friends—they know you best and they’re an important part of you. Cultivate college friendships—you’ve changed and you’re in a new place.

Party, go out, explore the town, stay in to laugh with friends. This life is about people and about having fun—right here, right now. Study, focus, lock yourself in the library. This life is about work and planning for the future.

Start a club, get an internship, get involved. When you graduate, job interviewers will ask you what you’ve done, not be picky between your 3.0 or 3.5. Be on track with good grades, good relations with professors, and good research experience. When you graduate, grad schools you apply to want to see solid academics.

I guess the only advice in college is:

Listen to yourself. What’s your mission? What’s your purpose? What’s best for yourself? What makes you happiest? Only you know what’s best and only you are in control of your life. Stay true to yourself—but when something whispers in your ear that you might be wrong, don’t be afraid of listening to it. Change a bit, experiment, balance.

– by Nathan Chow
Boston University Class of 2009

Help me give $50,000 to someone who found my $40

Update: The project below was a success! Terri went on to win the grant. She had a huge support network and also worked hard in public relations. My friends, readers, and I were just a small part of the hundreds or thousands of Terri’s supporters in her victory. We will never know how big of a difference each of our daily votes made! Thank you to everyone who participated!


Dear Readers,

Do you believe in karma? Do you believe that good things come back to you? Help me make a statement about that.

I need as much help as possible on a little project of mine, and I would really love to ask for a favor from all my hundreds of readers, including you.

First of all, helping is free and will take 5 seconds a day. I promise.

(Vote at You can vote every day until 6/17!!)

If you’d like to help but don’t have time to read my personal story, scroll down to the very bottom with “How to vote.” Otherwise, sit back and enjoy this ride that people have called “amazing,” “sweet”, and “touching”:


In April, when I visited Philadelphia, I lost some money for the first time in my life (actually the first time I lost anything!).

I’ve always considered myself to be one of the luckiest people I know. So as luck would have it, this was also the first time I ever packed two blank checks on a trip. I put an extra $40 and two checks in a beautiful and lucky Chinese red envelope and put that in my bookbag.

When my friends and I were buying Philly subway tokens, I was getting something out of my bookbag and must have dropped the red envelope. Throughout the day, I wasn’t aware I lost it, since it was meant for extra and emergency cash.

A few hours later, I received a Facebook message from a Terri Shockley, someone I didn’t know. She had picked up the envelope just because it looked pretty, found money inside, and found my name on the blank checks inside. Then she did her best to search for me online to return the envelope. (I thiiink I’m easily searchable, but I still thank her for all the time and effort she took in tracking down and pinpointing a Nathan Chow.)

I was back in Boston by the time we were able to talk on the phone about how to get the envelope back to me. Apparently, while she was searching for my name online and on Facebook, she also saw the video of my TED Talk on character education! She said that I must be someone who deserved good things to happen to me. We had a conversation about kindness, karma, and character education before I gave her my address to mail the envelope back to me.


Ever since being Facebook friends with Terri, I found out that she’s the Executive Director of Philadelphia’s Community Education Center, “a non-profit, community-based arts and education center whose mission is to strengthen the sense of shared community and culture among peoples of differing backgrounds and cultures through the arts.”

Awesome! Sounds like something I would participate in.

I also found out that the Community Education Center is currently in a challenge to win a $50,000 grant for renovations and new supplies.

There are ten similar organizations around the country in this challenge. The top five with the most votes will get the grant.


Terri Shockley, thank you for your kindness on a small level and for your passion for leading such an amazing non-profit arts center at a large level!

You’re the one who deserves good things in return!

I am inviting all my readers from across the world and all 1700 of my Facebook friends and their friends to vote for your center to get the $50,000 you deserve!

Thank you for such a warm and lasting memory of the City of Brotherly Love!! =)


=== In short: ===

– A stranger found my $40 and took the effort to track me down to return it.

– This stranger, Terri Shockley, leads a community arts center for dance, music, theatre, and much more. Her Community Education Center is in a competition to win $50,000 for renovations.

– In the competition, only the top five centers will win. Terri’s has been swaying back and forth between 4th, 5th, and 6th place!!

––> We need YOUR help to vote for the Community Education Center, for me to thank her for her small good deed, and most of all, to make a strong statement about how good things flow in the world!

=== How to vote: ===

Take 5 seconds to go to Enter your email. Press Submit. Then press Yes. That’s it!

– I purposely shortened the long link (originally to the address above for you to memorize and visit whenever you’re bored!

You can vote EVERY DAY until 6/17 (coincidentally Boston’s area code!).

– It is legal to vote with more than one email address! Vote five times a day until June 17th! Remember, the center just needs to be in the top five by 6/17!

– You won’t receive anything in your email.

Invite lots of your friends too! Getting 50 new supporters is like voting 50 times a day!

– Join all the supporters through Facebook at this event:


Thank you for your help and for believing in karma. I’ve always believed that there’s a secret society of positive and all-loving people who love to give and serve––and that, magically, all the best things in the world usually happen to them.

By voting every day, helping here, and inviting all your friends, may all the best things come back to you too!! =)

Love Always,
♥ Nathan Chow

college rejection time: your life is over

Hey high school seniors, it’s April. Colleges just decided your fate for the rest of your life. If you didn’t get into your top choice and you think your life will suck, you’re absolutely right.

A recent study by the Department of Education showed that where you go to college is the most accurate predictor of success in the future. If you want to strut in your best business clothes every day for the rest of your life and shove past people on the city streets while talking on your cell phone to your significant other about how you’re 2 minutes late to your next boring meeting and that, no, you actually do not have time to see your injured son in the hospital today, tomorrow, or anytime soon—and everyone thinks this is success, right?—then it is absolutely essential that you get into your first-choice college.

The study shows that an overwhelming majority of such people (for convenience’s sake, a year after the study, they coined the word “tool”) went to the college they most desperately wanted to attend—and that if the college was ranked in the top 10 by the U.S. News magazine the year they enrolled, then their chance for success and wealth was exponentially greater.

But the study dives deeper and addresses more than just wealth, impressive titles, and “success.” Even if you’re one of the very very few people in the world who just want to be happy (c’mon now, who wants that?), the national overplay of college decisions this month will still color everything you do for decades to come. The conductors of the study analyzed the art of starving artists who do what they love to do and whose happiness levels were higher than the average person. They found that, whether in paintings, novels, or songs, the second most common underlying reference, motif, or theme was college admissions (of course, by far, phallic objects remain number one).

In the last part of this groundbreaking study, interviewers asked over a thousand people on their dying beds what their greatest regret was in life. More than two-thirds responded that they still wish they could rewind back to high school and do everything the white bread way, put a check mark next to everything they were told to do, and get into a better college they could brag about on their resumes for the rest of their lives. They said that they might’ve found a different—and probably better—calling in life if they attended a better college and that being stuck with an alma mater that was only ranked #11 has given them hot flashes and reminders of their inferiority throughout their lives, often leading to serious stress, destructive behavior, and even diarrhea.

The conclusion of the study? If you received a skinny envelope from a top-notch college, then you are screwed with a capital S.


Happy April Fools’ Day!! =)

I certainly hope that was quite obvious.

Whether you’re applying to colleges, applying to internships, or applying to jobs, no matter what stage of life you’re in, just remember: big names, rankings, titles, fame, grades, salaries, and promotions don’t matter much.

People, purpose, laughter, and love matter so much more. People for this interconnected world. Purpose for having a sense of direction and meaning in life. Laughter for enjoying every day to the fullest. And love for caring deeply about anyone and everyone. They’re what life is really made of.

You may or may not have tried your best in high school. That’s behind you. And you may or may not have been accepted into your top-choice college. Just lead your beautiful life wherever you end up going, whether top choice, second choice, or last choice. Enjoy what you were given. Make the most of any route. Look forward to a fresh start. May you always make all the difference you can with all your gifts to the world and in whatever situation you are in. That’s your choice—not anyone else’s.

– by Nathan Chow
Boston University Class of 2009

7 Ways to Get Your Roommate to Leave You

Haha.. this is a funny article I found on my friend’s college blog:

Enjoy the laughs! =)

Best Wishes,
Nathan Chow
Boston University Class of 2009

Master Checklist for Dorm Packing

Packing for college and don’t know if you’re forgetting something?

This is the single most comprehensive dorm packing list that exists. All the other ones neglect something that another listed, but this is a combination of them all.

Thousands of students have used this list over the years, but I still caution: You don’t need everything here. Before you pack something, ask yourself if you really need it. I guarantee that every year you’ll get wiser and pack significantly less and less. Try your best to just do that now.

This list is not a “buying list.” You’ve probably had the good sense to buy and pack the absolute essentials, so this list is more of a checklist to keep you sane the moment before you leave home. This is everything you could possibly need. That doesn’t mean you need everything though.

My recommendation is to copy the list and paste it into Word. Then delete the stuff you don’t use and have never heard of. Then print that personalized list out. But of course visit here again in the near future or share this list with others. This blog runs on visits. =).

Also note to yourself:

  • which items are easier to purchase upon arrival,
  • which items are easy to improvise (after getting take-out or visiting restaurants for a while, you’ll probably have enough napkins or food storage containers),
  • which items are easy to share with or borrow from roommates and floormates (It’s also a good way to meet the ones you haven’t met yet!—even the ones who look as if they sacrifice squirrels but turn out to be super friendly. Okay, I digress.),
  • and which items can be brought with you later, exchanged from home later, or shipped later, such as winter clothes.

Other notes

1. Remember to check your college’s housing site to see what’s not allowed. For Boston University’s:

2. Have a list of serial numbers, makes, and models of all expensive items. Have one hardcopy in your dorm, one left at home with your parents, one as a computer file, and one emailed to yourself. It’ll help in case of a robbery. You can also take pictures of the items.

3. If you think I forgot anything significant, please leave a comment!

Aaaand on with the list already:

Important General Stuff

wallet, purse, hand bag
ID, license, college ID
cash, change, credit cards, debit cards
glasses, contacts

Basic Kitchen Stuff (even if you won’t have a kitchen)

— Necessary: —
forks, knives, spoons (silverware or plastic)
Ziploc® bags, various sizes
reusable water bottle
— Good to Have: —
paper plates
plastic cups
chip clips, clothes pins, twisters
— You Decide: —
microwaveable bowl
thermo cup/mug
food containers
can opener, bottle opener, corkscrew
water purifier/filter/pitcher
sponge and cloth for dishwashing
wet wipes

Additional Kitchen Stuff (if you’ll have a kitchen)

— Necessary: —
ceramic plates
pots and pans
dish detergent
hand soap
paper towels
— You Decide: —
plastic wrap, aluminum foil
kitchen towel
dish cloth
oven mitt
coffee maker (only allowed at BU if you’ll have a kitchen)
blender (only allowed at BU if you’ll have a kitchen)
hot plate (only allowed at BU if you’ll have a kitchen)


— Necessary: —
general medication (Tylenol®, Aspirin®, headache, cough, pain reliever, eye drop)
your prescription medication
— You Decide: —
non-perishable food: noodle cups, canned foods, soup
candy, cough drops, gum, mints
snacks, popcorn, cereal, etc.
bottled water, bottled drinks, soda
tea bags, powdered drink mixes
protein mixes

Room Needs / Storage

— Necessary: —
alarm clock
bags: garbage, plastic, paper
small wastebasket, small recycle bin (or improvised with a paper bag)
photos of family, friends, pets
— Good to Have: —
night light, flashlight
all-purpose cleaner
Lysol® / disinfecting wipes (clean the desk on move-in.. you really don’t know how few showers the previous inhabitant took)
dry erase board and markers
storage bins, stacking baskets
air freshener
— You Decide: —
bedside lamp, clip-on lamp, desk lamp, decorator lamps, extra light bulbs (In some BU dorms, a desk lamp is provided.)
over-the-door hooks, adhesive hooks
desk chair seat cushion/pad (sometimes the dorm chairs want to abuse your butt)
desk chair (BU has them already, but I’ve seen some students bring more comfortable ones)
bulletin board and push pins
shoe rack
closet organizer
closet add-in shelf
various organizers: for CDs, for papers, for cosmetics, etc
tools, screwdriver, hammer
RackRaisers®, bed risers
bunking kit
bookcase (BU provides a small one on your desk that should be enough)
dust wipes

Computer Stuff

— Necessary: —
laptop, battery, AC adapter
CDs: your favorite software, emergency startup CD, backup of most important files (keep a copy at home)
ethernet cord, modem
headphones or earbuds
portable USB flash storage drive
— You Decide: —
mouse, mouse pad
laptop case, laptop bag
desktop computer, monitor, keyboard
tablet, iPad
Kindle, Nook, eReader
blank CD-Rs
CD cases
laptop lock
printer (you may want to share with your roommate or use your college’s printing labs), extra ink cartridges, blank printer paper


— Necessary: —
surge protectors / extension cords
cell phone, cell phone charger, accessories, and a contract that says you will call home every now and then to talk to those loved ones called parents
— You Decide: —
camera / digital camera
camera accessories: memory card/stick, upload cable, camera battery, battery charger, photo software CDs, other camera accessories
PDA, electronic organizer
battery charger, rechargeable batteries, extra batteries
favorite movies
mp3 player, earbuds, cord for charging/uploading, accessories
audio recording device
CD player, cassette player, headphones, favorite CDs and cassettes (CD? cassette? people still use those?)
land phone, answering machine, phone cord (along with other items if you’re from the Jurassic era)

Linens/Laundry Supplies

— Necessary: —
sheets (for most colleges, including BU: extra long)
comforter and duvet cover
clothes hangers
laundry bag/hamper/basket, pop-up hamper
laundry detergent (liquid or convenient tablets)
fabric softener
— You Decide: —
small pillow, headrest pillow
mattress pad / egg crate
laundry stain remover
sewing kit
lint brush
drying rack

Bath and Toiletries

— Necessary: —
towels: body, hair, hand, face, extras
shampoo, conditioner
body wash, or soap and soap container
toothbrush (and extras), toothpaste, toothbrush case
bathroom cup
dental floss
comb, brush
razors, electric razor, shaving cream, aftershave
nail clipper, nail file
extra eyeglasses, case, cloth
contact lens solution
contact lens container
shower shoes, flip-flops (if communal bathroom) (your feet will thank you)
shower tote/caddy (if communal bathroom)
— For Girls (and for guys who wish to pack too much) —
pads, tampons
nail polish, nail polish remover
hair dryer
hair straightener
curling iron
makeup, cosmetics
— You Decide: —
body sponge, back brush
mouth wash
hair gel, pomade, mousse, hairspray
facewash, acne cream
lotion, facial moisturizer
sunscreen, suntan lotion/spray
perfume, cologne
cotton swabs/balls
small mirror
bath robe
Band-Aid® bandages
suction hooks
bathtub scrubber (if your room will have a bathroom)


— Necessary: —
sweaters, hoodies
sneakers, comfortable walking shoes
jackets: light, heavy, rain
dress shoes
dress clothes
1 set formal/business attire
1 set semi-formal attire
— For winter: —
winter coat
— For Guys: —
— For Girls: —
— You Decide: —
slippers, flip-flops, sandals
hat, cap
bathing suit
sports equipment: shin guards, helmet, etc.
gym/athletic clothes
hairbands, hairpins
— For Parties: —
Clothes that barely cover anything

Office/Desk Supplies

— Necessary: —
assignment book, planner
lined paper
pens, pencils, pencil holder, sharpener, eraser
Scotch® tape
— You Decide: —
notebooks: new, old (the bio class you took 10 pages of notes for could still be used like new—please learn to reuse!), composition notebooks
binders, dividers
colored pencils, markers, crayons
highlighter pens (multiple colors)
heavy duty tape, masking tape, mounting tape, duct tape
tacky adhesive
stapler, staples, staple remover
paper clips
rubber bands
Wite-out® (yeah, there’s no H. who would’ve known?)
hole puncher, 3-hole puncher
index cards
Post-it® notes
stamps and envelopes, standard size and paper size
labels of various sizes
adhesive hooks, tack
graph paper
book light
book ends
small memo books / Moleskin books
typing paper holder/clip
stackable desk trays
hanging files or folders, folder storage bin
combination lock

Papers, Books, and Documents

— Necessary: —
textbooks for your classes
phone/address book, important phone numbers, contact list (all of this can be digital)
maps of the campus, of the city, and of public transportation
insurance card/papers/forms
checks, bank stuff
any documents your school told you to bring (as far as I know, BU doesn’t require any special documents, other than your college ID for returning students)
— You Decide: —
old notes from previous classes that may be useful
course catalog
dictionary, thesaurus
reference books
guides/instructions for laptop, digital camera, cell phone, graphing calculator, etc
some of your favorite books
high school yearbook, BU Freshman Record
college phone/address directory
phone card
social security card (probably don’t need it)
renter’s insurance
car insurance, registration (if you’re bringing a car)
Visa information, citizenship info, alien info
passport (if you’re considering traveling for Spring Break or other breaks)
financial aid forms (leave a copy at home if your parents will need them for reference when they’re renewing your aid in the spring)
road maps for how to get to the school.. (or a female driver who’s willing to ask for directions when you’re lost and it’s already the second day of class and you’re gonna fail and you wasted $50,000 in tuition just because a male driver was too macho to ask for help)

Misc Things

— Necessary: —
suitcases / luggage bags / duffel bags (for going home during short breaks)
house key
any necessary items for specific classes (especially art classes and gym electives, such as ice skating)
any necessary items or books for your culture and/or religion
— You Decide: —
quarters (most of the big BU dorms have change machines)
key chain / lanyard
favorite mementos/souvenirs
stuffed animals
ear plugs
sleeping mask
patches, thermal patches for aches
beach towel, swim cap, goggles, swimming gear
bug spray
Neosporin®, Imodium®, Pepto-Bismol®, Viagra®, and so on…
condoms, birth control pills, contraceptives (and a copy of the movie “Juno”)
pregnancy tests
favorite board games, electronic games
deck of cards
items for your hobbies (such as musical instruments or sports stuff)
sports equipment (basketballs, volleyballs, and a few other items can be rented for free at BU’s FitRec gym)
car, keys, GPS, EZ Pass
bike, skateboard, roller skates, roller blades
bike lock, cover, pump

Shared Items (check with roommates to avoid duplication)

— You Decide: —
microwave-fridge aka microfridge (can be rented at BU for about $225—split it with roommates/suitemates)
microwave (not allowed in a BU dorm, but you can bring one and share it in the common room)
TV, TV cable, remote
DVD player, Blu-Ray player
DVDs, Blu-Ray movies
video game systems, controllers, games
audio equipment
air conditioning (not allowed at BU)
handheld vacuum (can be borrowed for free at BU’s RA offices)
small brush and dustpan
bathtub scrubber
area rug
iron, ironing board
floor lamp, tree floor lamp
TV/snack tray
fold-out chair
full-length mirror
shower curtain (most BU dorms and apartments have them already)
curtains (most BU dorms have them already)

Absolutely the Most Important

1) a desire to learn, grow, take chances, change, develop, socialize, network, meet people, have fun, get inspired, get empowered
2) a desire to cherish your college experience from Day One! =)

– by Nathan Chow
Boston University Class of 2009


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