Tag Archives: explore

Why I chose Boston (and you should too!)

Written by Ece Gulsan, Chemical Engineering Ph.D. student

If you are new to Boston and have no idea what to expect from this beautiful city, chances are high that you are already confused because there are many different views about Beantown. Some people will tell you about the wicked cold winters and some will claim there is nothing to do here, but a considerable amount of Bostonians will try to prove to you that Boston is the best city in the entire world. For me, it was love at first sight. The historic red brick buildings, Fenway Park, beautiful public gardens, wide variety of restaurants, and iconic identity stole my heart. I had a chance to live in many different countries, but Boston is by far the only place I feel home away from home.

First of all, it is not Beantown: it is Braintown. The greater Boston area hosts many world-class colleges, which means thousands of smart, well educated, and intellectual people live within a couple of miles. While hanging out at your favorite brewery, you can meet someone who might be curing cancer for a living. You will learn a lot from your upstairs neighbor who is getting her Ph.D. in a comparative study of Turkish and Japanese Occidentalism. Or you can see a stranger reading a book about Marxist Histography on your subway (locally called the T) ride back home. Everybody is passionate about something, and the variety of their interests is mind blowing. Boston is obviously the learning capital of the world; living in such city always challenges you intellectually and keeps you stimulated.

Speaking of people, you might have heard that Bostonians are not as friendly as people from other parts of the country – which I strongly disagree with. Most of them are nice, say “thank you” and “excuse me,” and are happy to help you whenever you need. They say “stay warm!” during the winter as a way of saying “goodbye”, and I think this is the cutest and the most Bostonian thing ever! They just do not always look friendly from the outside, because you cannot possibly smile and survive a New England winter at the same time. Everybody minds their own business, which is pretty fair, but once you get to know people, they’re kind and helpful.

Fun fact: GQ once ranked Boston as the “Worst Dressed Town in America”. In my defense, I love wearing my Red Sox cap and Tom Brady jersey together, knowing that people will not judge me by what I wear, but by who I am. Plus, in the winter, it is way too cold to care about what I wear anyways. The first thing my Bostonian friends taught me was that layers are your best friends.

You will always see people going for a run early in the morning, and a snow storm is never an excuse to skip leg day. My 6:00 a.m. Rise and Shine yoga classes are always almost full, and I think this is refreshing. Boston locals are very health-conscious and it is very inspiring to live in such a community.

If you enjoy trying out new restaurants and bars, the city has a lot to offer. From authentic Vietnamese to hearty Mediterranean cuisine, you will find anything that you are looking for. Still not satisfied? New York City, the gastronomic capital of the East Coast, is just a bus ride away. 

You will never run out of things to do in Boston. If you are interested in art, the museums have a lot to offer, not only because they have magnificent collections, but also because they organize a lot of great events regularly. Check out Third Thursdays at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where you can learn how to make a Venetian mask or craft a Caribbean cocktail. Go to movie nights on Fridays at the Museum of Fine Arts. Are you more into self-development? Attend public courses organized by local universities. Attend Harvard’s mini-med school program for the public and participate in discussions with brilliant professors. Become a member of MIT Waste Alliance and meet ecologically conscious people. 

If you need a change on weekends, Boston’s location is hard to beat. Do you want to see fall foliage? Head to Vermont for a romantic weekend getaway, and stop by an apple farm on your way back home to pick some tart Granny Smiths. Do you want to ski? The mountains you hiked in September in New Hampshire turn out to be a fantastic ski resort. Is it starting to get warmer up here? Hop on the commuter rail to visit Rockport and take long walks right by the ocean. Is it beach time already? Cape Cod is waiting for you with its beautiful coastlines and amazing seafood, only a two-hour drive from Boston. 

Before I conclude, let me describe my perfect Sunday in my favorite city. Have a long brunch in Cambridge with your loved ones, and head to the Harvard Book Store to wander around bookshelves. Go downstairs for the used books section, leaving your expectations behind. Once I ended up buying a book about the feelings of octopuses, and now I know way too much about them. Stop by Tatte Bakery to grab a cup of coffee, and find a spot to enjoy your new-old book. Visit Somerville Farmer’s Market on your way home to buy some fresh produce for the week. 

You never know what you will find in Boston, but I am confident that you will love it here as much as I do. If you’re very lucky, you might even meet philosopher and linguist Noam Chomsky while waiting for your coffee (trust me, I’ve met him!). 

Finals Season is Coming: 5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress

Written by Amanda Wang, Innovation & Management M.S. 2019

Stress is a word that never leaves a college student’s dictionary. In April, when you find out you have tons of reports, assignments, and exams ahead of you, even the fact that the summer break will (eventually) come  barely helps. I have tried multiple methods from drinking too much coffee to watching a whole season of drama, only to figure out that neither pushing harder nor procrastinating longer would make a real difference to my stressed-out brain. 

Maybe knowing how to relieve stress is one huge part of ”adulting”. Now with almost five years of university life experience, I found five ways that work best for me and perhaps will work for you as well.

  • Write tasks down 

This might be the most straightforward way to reduce stress. Your brain is like a strawberry jam, and it is hard to figure out what you should do. Seems like no matter what task you do first, you will not be able to finish all of them on time. But is this the case? Or just because you do not know how much you have to finish by today, this week, and this month? The quickest approach to stop the panic is to write all your tasks and concerns down. After writing down the tasks quickly, you will find that many things are easier than you expected. Try hand-writing instead of plugging the deadlines into an Excel document (for me, Excel itself already looks stressful), as writing by hand can help the brain process  information and clean it up. Sounds cool, huh? Get down to write and see how amazingly it helps with your stress relief!

  • Chat with your friends

It is understandable if you want to be left alone when you are stressed, as social time can be tiring when you have tons of work to do. However, if you have a weekend or a day off, call a friend to grab coffee or food together! Trust me – once the conversation starts, you will feel much better. In addition, some coffee and food will help to create comfort and relieving environment. The time spent with friends makes us much stronger when facing stress. Many times, we just need a bit encouragement and we will have enough energy to carry on. Friends are the people we can seek encouragement from most directly and effectively. Don’t forget to help your friends when they are stressed, too!

  • Go outside

Try not to stay at home all day when you feel that you need some personal time. Instead, go outside. If the weather is good, do some exercise! Spring is around the corner (finally!) and I can hear the birds chirping in the morning. Outdoor activities can help you to gain energy, but even  going to the gym or shopping malls is better than staying inside your place the whole day. You may go hiking or biking around the  area near Middlesex Fells Reservation. Or simply take a day trip outside campus (see our blog ‘Escaping Campus: The 5 best day trips from Tufts!’). Enjoy the sunshine and nice weather!

  • Clean up your space

A messy living space will add to your stress level. To keep your mind clear, having a tidy space of your own is essential. I was amazed by the power of a clean home  after watching the Netflix series “Tidying up with Marie Kondo”. No need to throw half of your stuff away, just give yourself some organized space to work. Put stuff that is not frequently used back in boxes or drawers, reorganize your closet to get ready for the spring, do some laundry for clean towels and sheets – anything that you can think of to ‘renovate’ your space will significantly help to reduce the stress. 

  • Have some comfort food

Food is always comforting under the proper circumstances.  Try to make your favorite dish at home, no matter if it is eggs & bacon or some hot noodles with seasoning. I sometimes make Shakshuka, pasta, or Chinese noodle soups. Or, you can dine out at your favorite restaurants or explore new restaurants in the area! Remember, the idea is to eat something that will make you happy, but don’t eat food that is unhealthy as it will only add to your stress later on!

The National Parks of … Boston?

Written by Ruaidhri Crofton, History & Museum Studies M.A. 2020

What better way to learn and have fun exploring the outdoors than with a visit to a national park? The dizzying depths of the Grand Canyon, the majestic ocean vistas of Acadia, the stunning views of … Boston? That’s right! Even though an urban center like Boston may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a national park, the greater Boston area is home to over ten sites administered by the U.S. National Park Service. Though the majority of these sites are focused on preserving and interpreting sites of historic interest, the national parks of Boston also contain a number of opportunities for hiking, fishing, and even camping.

As both a history enthusiast and an avid national park visitor, I have been thrilled to have so many national park sites to explore in such close proximity to the Tufts campuses. However, with all these places to visit, deciding where to go and what to do first can be overwhelming. Having now visited each of these special sites, I have attempted to narrow down five of my favorite parks in the Boston area and provide some tips to make the most out of your visit. And the best part? Almost all national park sites in Massachusetts are free! Hopefully this will give you some inspiration and ideas for your next off-campus adventure.

Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, Boston, MA

Just beyond the hustle and bustle of downtown Boston is what feels like an entirely different world of peace and calm. Made up of 34 islands in Boston Harbor, the aptly named Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area offers opportunities for hiking, fishing, swimming, camping, picnicking, boating, and more! Catch a ferry from Long Wharf in Boston and sail out to one of the islands in as little as 30 minutes (don’t forget to show your Tufts ID for the student rate). Spend the day exploring Historic Fort Warren on Georges Island, hiking around a city dump turned nature preserve on Spectacle Island, or seeing the oldest lighthouse in the United States on Little Brewster Island.

Boston National Historical Park, Boston, MA

Yes, even the famous Freedom Trail in downtown Boston is a national park site! Walk the 2.5 mile trail to see historic burying grounds, view the site of the Boston Massacre, see the meeting house where the Boston Tea Party began, tour Paul Revere’s House, and climb the 294 steps to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument. Though all sites run by the National Park Service are free, some of the affiliated museums charge entrance fees (though all offer student rates with a valid Tufts ID).

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic SiteBrookline, MA

Just down the road from JFK’s birthplace is the home and studio of another notable Bostonian: Frederick Law Olmsted. Though many people are likely unfamiliar with this American landscape architect, almost everyone is familiar with his work, including Central Park in New York City and the Emerald Necklace in Boston. Tour the studio where many of the firm’s designs were drawn up and explore the beautiful grounds of Olmstead’s suburban home.

John F. Kennedy National Historic Site, Brookline, MA

Did you ever wonder what life was like for a president before they became the commander in chief? One of three presidential birthplaces preserved by the National Park Service in Boston, John F. Kennedy National Historic Site preserves the childhood home of the nation’s 35th president. Take a ranger guided tour to learn more about the family, see the bed where “Jack” was born, and learn about the Kennedy children’s dinnertime political debates.

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site, Saugus, MA

Perhaps my all-time favorite Boston-area park, Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site, is a faithful reconstruction of the wooden factory buildings used by European Iron Makers who came to Massachusetts in the 1600s. Explore the buildings to learn the origin of the term “pig iron,” view a blacksmithing demonstration, and hike the short nature trail along the Saugus River.

For more information on all of the national park sites in the Boston area and Massachusetts generally, please visit www.nps.gov/state/ma .

Getting to know the T

Written by Ruaidhri Crofton, History & Museum Studies M.A. 2020

Ask any Tufts student what their go to means of getting around is and their reply will almost certainly be: “why the T, of course”! The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is the agency responsible for providing public transportation services for the Boston area, including the subway (affectionately known as the T) as well as bus, commuter rail, and ferry systems. Though hanging out on campus is great, you’ll quickly want to get out and explore all that Boston has to offer and the T is one of the best ways to do it. As someone who uses public transportation on almost a daily basis for commuting to work, running errands, and generally having fun, I can attest to the fact that, despite the occasional delay, there is no better way to get around than on the T. Here are a few tips and tricks that I’ve learned about ways to make the most out of public transit in Boston.

Subway

Opened in 1897, Boston’s subway system was the first of its kind in the United States. Today, the system consists of five lines (red, orange, blue, green, and silver) that run through downtown and out to the many surrounding suburbs.

The line that many Tufts students are familiar with is the Red Line, which stops at Davis Square and is just a short walk from the Medford/Somerville campus. A ride on the Red Line can take you to some of Boston’s most notable universities, including Harvard, MIT, and the University of Massachusetts at Boston, as well as the Boston Common, the JFK Presidential Library and Museum, and the birthplaces of the second and sixth presidents of the United States: John and John Quincy Adams.

The Orange Line is also a key travel route for many Tufts students as it makes stops right at Tufts Medical Center in downtown Boston. Aside of commuting to classes and work, you can also hop on the Orange Line to see the site of one of the first battles of the American Revolution at Bunker Hill, watch a Bruins or Celtics game at TD Garden, or grab a bite to eat in Chinatown.

An easy transfer from both the Red and Orange Lines, the Green Line runs through several Boston neighborhoods and is the perfect way to visit the Museum of Fine Arts, catch a ball game at Fenway Park, do some shopping at the Copley Place Mall, or get some studying done at the Boston Public Library, the second largest library in the United States! Though slightly shorter routes, the Blue Line allows for an easy escape to the beaches of East Boston while both the Blue and Silver Lines provide easy access to and from Boston’s Logan International Airport.

Buses/Commuter Rail/ Ferries

In addition to running the subway, the MBTA is also responsible for running buses, commuter rail trains, and even ferry boats in the Boston area. The Medford/Somerville and Boston campuses are directly serviced by eight bus routes, and within walking distance of many more, that are great for making a quick run for groceries or taking a convenient “above ground” journey to the hundreds of tasty restaurants, nifty shops, and cool historic sites in the area that just aren’t served by the extensive subway system.

The commuter rail is similarly useful for making trips from Boston to places a little further afield than those served by the subway, including Tufts’ Grafton Campus on the Framingham/Worcester Line. The commuter rail is also useful for making a day trip to see historic Plymouth Rock, take a stroll around Providence, Rhode Island, and explore the bewitching city of Salem. Of course, you can’t forget about the ferry system with boats leaving from Long Wharf in downtown Boston that can provide you with an alternative route to visit the USS Constitution, take a hike on beautiful Georges Island in Boston Harbor, and yes, even get to Logan Airport!

Taking Your First T Adventure   

The number one necessity for taking a ride on the T is a ticket. Passes can be purchased for single-rides and short periods of time at all subway stations and multiple convenience stores near the Tufts campuses. However, many Tufts students opt to use a reloadable “Charlie Card” that can be topped up with funds as needed for bus and subway rides. Tufts also offers discounted semester passes to students for the bus and subway, commuter rail, and ferry.

Once you have your ticket, just pull up directions for the place you want to visit and away you go to explore the city! If you ever have questions or in need of directions, don’t worry! You’ll quickly find that many of your fellow “Bostonians” are willing to lend a hand and point you in the right direction. Happy travels!