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I hear a lot of chatter from admitted students that they will be kicking off an apartment hunt during their spring visit to campus.  Ariel is here to help you start your search.  If you have questions about local housing, please leave a comment below, and Ariel will respond!

Dear Ariel:  I just submitted my confirmation that I will be attending Fletcher in the Fall!  I would like to live off campus.  How did you find an apartment?

Most Fletcher students live off campus in the Medford/Somerville area during their two years at Fletcher.  My first step was to find my roommates, which I did through the Fletcher admitted students portal.  We were all first-years — two MIBs and two MALDs.  Then, because none of us were based in Boston, one of my future roommates took a trip up to Boston from DC to search for apartments.  After visiting several apartments she saw listed on Craigslist, she was eventually led to a realty company.  (In starting your search for an off-campus apartment, Craigslist will become your best friend.)  Through the realty company we located an apartment about a 10-minute walk from Fletcher between the campus and Teele Square.  Our four bedroom, one bathroom apartment is $550 per month per person, not including utilities. We signed the lease in mid-June for an August 1st start date and had to pay half of the broker’s fee.

Keep in mind: Living close to Fletcher is a great option for your studies.  It cuts down on your commute and can make life easier, especially when group meetings or study sessions run late into the night.  Some students do live in Boston proper, but not many.  Also, expect rent prices to run anywhere from $550 – $800 per month.  One-bedroom apartments are typically significantly more expensive.  If you have Fletcher friends who are second years, reach out to them to see if their apartments are available for the fall.

Some other things to keep in mind when looking for an apartment in this area:

  1. Is there a broker’s fee?  Some landlords will waive the fee or split the fee with you. It can save you a lot of money if your landlord agrees, because generally the broker’s fee is equivalent to one month’s rent.
  2. Is there a security deposit?  Generally, you will need to pay the first month’s rent and a security deposit at the time of signing.
  3. Does your apartment have oil or gas heat?  Oil heat is extremely expensive during Boston’s cold winters.  If you find an apartment that has gas heat, it might be worth paying a little extra in rent each month, compared to paying a cheaper monthly rent in an apartment with oil heating.
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Medford-Somerville mapAs I mentioned, last week was spring break for students.  Roxanne used her time to write about how she likes to spend her Sundays when not on vacation.  She also suggested that I explain why we refer to the campus as being in Medford/Somerville.  This old map shows why.  The dotted line is the Medford/Somerville boundary.  The highlighted portion is Fletcher field, and the F represents Fletcher (though not to scale).  So you can spend happy hours walking on and off Fletcher field, crossing town lines as you do so.  (Medford.  Somerville.  Medford.  Somerville.)  But back to Roxanne.  Here’s her prescription for a perfect spring Sunday:

As I write this blog post, I am pretending the winter is over.  The snow melting in the driveway co-exists with buds on trees, and the part of me that was looking forward to experiencing four distinct seasons upon her arrival in the Northeast is ready for the next season to arrive.  I have cherished the long, slow, beautiful Boston fall and the accompanying foliage, the many snowflakes of winter and the legendary Fletcher Ski Trip and snowball fight they inspired, and I am now ready for the river to thaw.  In the spirit of sharing what I am looking forward to in the Fletcher neighborhood, here is a glimpse into what would constitute my perfect spring Sunday in Medford/Somerville.

First, a sacred ritual of the weekend: brunch.  Better yet, an affordable, graduate-student-friendly brunch.  Sound Bites and its stuffed French toast are favorites, as are their bottomless coffee and the Syrian managers with whom I reminisce about our time in Aleppo, particularly at a time when Aleppo is the site of much heartbreak.  Renee’s Café, open from Wednesday to Sunday, is another favorite local business, whose menu is colorfully handwritten onto a chalkboard and whose staff members fill a weekend with smiles.  And if you are in a rush and must skip sit-down breakfast, you have to stop by Magnificent Muffin, where the line snakes out the door for the yummiest muffins and iced coffee in the neighborhood.  Now, allow me to cheat for a minute and veer away from my weekend plan, and say that if this were the middle of the week, you would not be able to skip Masala. On weekdays, their $8 all-you-can-eat Indian buffet, with free servings of garlic naan, is a culinary highlight and the warmth of the Masala employees is equally memorable.

Back to the vision of a sunny spring weekend, though….The kayak that is defrosting on the balcony wishes to go for a float down Mystic River, around the corner, perhaps all the way to Mystic Lake.  And if we are in more of a biking mood, the Minuteman Bikeway is — you guessed it — around the corner as well.  Middlesex Fells Reservation is a terrific place to hike, and the watertower at the top offers beautiful views of downtown Boston.

Speaking of downtown Boston…on the first Friday of the month, a number of Boston museums — including the Museum of Fine Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Art on the waterfront — offer a “Night at the Museum,” with DJs, wine, and an opportunity to wander through the galleries with a different ambiance.  Museum admission is free with a Tufts ID — and while you are exploring, do not miss the courtyard of the beautiful Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

At this point, you have likely run out of weekend time, and that is before I have had the chance to share a few other Boston favorites:  bookstores, cafés, experiences around my former neighborhood of Harvard Square, and all the talks, panels, and events happening at the many universities around town.  Stay tuned for more tours of the area, and hopefully, for some images of spring to complement the photographs of Fletcher seasons.

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Although I often pick up a piece of Fletcher news (or, more often, newsy tidbit), it’s not realistic for the Admissions Blog to cover everything going on here.  Thankfully, blog readers do not need to remain ignorant of interesting events — there are plenty of other sources for you.  Here’s a partial list.

Fletcher’s News & Media page, produced by the School’s communications office.

Facebook pages for the School, Admissions, as well as some offices and student groups, in addition to Tufts University.

Twitter feeds for the School, Admissions, and the University.  Additional Twitter feeds pop up as needed for a conference or other event.

The Tufts Daily — all the University’s news in a student-produced paper and web format.

If you’re a prospective student and you want to know more about the communities that surround the University, most local newspapers have detailed websites.  Though each of these locales actually has more than one news source, here are a few links to start your research on Fletcher’s closest neighbors:  Boston, Medford, Somerville, Cambridge.

Keeping up with all those sites and sources should give you a sense of what’s happening on campus and in our neighborhood.

 

Sure, it’s already pretty busy inside the classroom, but during the next two weekends a group of students will participate in the Fletcher Mediation Practicum, four days that will equip them with conflict resolution skills.  Once the skills have been acquired, the practicum “graduates” will apply them by mediating actual cases in court.  Though many Fletcher students have a law background, mediation is a related skill that doesn’t require prior experience in a law field.  The practicum is offered by the International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program and MWI, and organizers say it will include, “demonstrations, coaching through simulations, and interactive lectures to impart step-by-step knowledge of the mediation process.  Participants also learn how to handle difficult personalities, ethical dilemmas, and mediator biases, all while improving their personal communication skills.”  Those are skills well worth developing for professionals in or out of international affairs!

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A public service advisory from the blogger-in-chief, in answer to the question that seems to be on every caller’s mind this morning.  What time is the deadline?  The deadline is 11:59 p.m. EST (GMT-5) tonight, January 10. 

And now, we return to our regular content.

My short blog survey last fall yielded many useful topic ideas.  And then there was this one:  breweries.  While I don’t know why someone thought this was a topic of vital importance to the blog, I nonetheless am happy to rise to the challenge and, moreover, to demonstrate the topic’s relevance to the Fletcher community.  I realize this frothy post might not be what you were expecting on the day of our main application deadline, but when better to distract ourselves?

So, breweries.  While Boston is not traditionally one of the main commercial brewing centers in the U.S., we nonetheless have rich local offerings.  To get you started, I’ll note four breweries in particular:  The big guys, Harpoon Brewery and Sam Adams Brewery, both in Boston; and two Somerville-based nomadic tenant brewers, Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project and Somerville Brewing Company.  For a more complete reckoning, refer to the BeerAdvocate list.  A beer aficionado could happily drink local for the length of a Fletcher degree program.

But what if our aficionado wanted to talk beer with other students.  Well, then, membership in the Fletcher Fermentation 101 club would be a must.  The mission and guiding principle of the group is:

Fermented products know neither time nor borders, and have been shared and enjoyed by many cultures throughout history.  Fermentation 101 seeks to create a knowledge-sharing community at Fletcher that teaches and learns about the multifaceted wonders of fermentation.  We explore all of the possibilities of fermentation, which include beer, wine, cider, cheese, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, kimchi, yogurt, and tempeh. Our club hosts popular “beer and cheese pairings” each semester, as well as other events such as sourdough bread making, yogurt making, beer tastings, and private tours of local breweries. All members are encouraged to share a curiosity about fermentation and a desire to be involved in the greater fermentation community around Boston.

Finally, dear blog reader who challenged me to write about breweries, there’s this.  The Boston Globe recently ran comprehensive lists of the area’s best beer bars, and followed up with the honorable mention selection.  Many of these locales are within two miles of campus.

So there you have it.  Breweries and a connection to the Fletcher community, even if the only admissions link is that we could all use a distraction today.

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This is one Monday when I regret that I try to confine chatter about my weekends to the summer, yielding to more significant admissions-related topics in the fall.  But if I were to write about my weekend, I’d have plenty to recommend to current and future students, such as dinner in Chinatown, a trip to see the cranberry harvest on or near Cape Cod, a stroll or bike ride along the Cape Cod canal, dinner at a new Davis Square restaurant, or a bike ride at the new North Point Park.  (Add in some housecleaning and it’s no wonder I’m happy to be sitting at my desk right now.)

But, like I said, there are more significant topics to cover, such as today’s application deadline for January 2013 enrollment.  We enroll only a small MALD class in January, which is just as well since half the staff is currently on the road and our ability to read a mountain of applications would be constrained.  The January application pool is just the right size for the available workforce.  On the other hand, we have a tight timeline — both to enable the admitted students to get ready to join us in January, and because we have our next deadline on November 15 for Early Notification applications.  Heading into the heart of the admissions season!

 

Summer’s over, and I know it’s time to move on from writing about what I did on the preceding weekend (final summer beach visit, dinner at Upstairs on the Square, wash windows :( ), but that doesn’t mean my enthusiasm for the many things you can easily do in this area is diminished.  And better than my limited activities list is another, which I have written about in the past, but which merits a second post.  Johnny’s Boston Events Insider compiles the most unusual list of area activities and, if you subscribe, emails a list every week (or so).  Here are some highlights from this week’s email.  (Details about each can be found on the Boston Events Insider website.)

Somerville Riverfest
Arlington Town Day
Dancing Under the Stars at Seaport
Dine at Dusk
South Boston Street Festival
Billerica’s Yankee Doodle Homecoming Festival
Wings of Freedom Tour
Civil War Re-enactment
Fish Box Derby Race
Eastern States Exposition
Corn mazes!
Starry Starry Night at Davis MegaMaze
Mercedes Day at the Larz Anderson Museum
The Raven’s Trail: A Walking Tour of Poe’s Boston
MassCann Freedom Rally
Squash Showdown@Symphony
Lebanese Day
Adventure Race – Hosted by Single Fit People
South End Open Studios
Battle Road Homes Open House and Historic Trades Day
Norwood Day
Harvard Fall Festival
stART on the Street
Endless Summer Waterfront Festival at Nantasket

As you can see, whether you want to stay local (Somerville RiverFest) or take a drive into Massachusetts farm country (corn mazes), there is something here for you.  You may wonder, “Who is Johnny?”  I have no idea.  A guy with blonde hair who has made a mark by compiling a list of events.  In the area?  Check it out.

 

I’ve fallen behind on my favorite topic — reporting on my weekend activities.  There were two weekends spent with the students we hosted (quite a bit of shopping, a trip to the beach, a boat trip to George’s Island), and more beach on a beautiful morning this past Sunday, but recently the weekends haven’t seemed blog-worthy.

This coming weekend, though — definitely worth a mention.  For the second year, Boston will host a visit by world class cliff divers.  Yes, Boston — a city that barely rises above sea level at its highest point — is the host of the world series of cliff diving.  How? you wonder.  The divers leap off a platform on the cantilever roof of the Institute of Contemporary Art.

I would really like to go — partly because I like to watch diving, but mostly because cliff diving in Boston is a crazy idea.  Alas, I won’t be able to be there, so I need a blog reader to go and tell me about it.  Or don’t tell me about it, but go anyway, because it’s got to be something special.  That’s why I’m writing about it on Tuesday — to give you the best chance to organize your weekend around the diving Saturday afternoon.  (Send pix, please!)

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One of the activities that has kept me busy in each of the last three summers has been hosting students from Iraq who are in the U.S. for a program on leadership.  The Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program lasts about a month, including a week in Vermont, a week in Washington, D.C., and about two weeks in home stays in one of several American cities, accompanied by U.S. students.  My daughter, Kayla, participated three summers ago, and interned with the program this year.  The students just left Boston yesterday, following a farewell meal we were able to arrange for the 12 participants and five host families at Tufts on Sunday evening.  (The program is sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the Embassy in Baghdad.)

During their month in the U.S., each of the students is asked to consider writing a blog post, and this was the entry of one of the Boston-based students, though not the one who stayed with us.  I thought blog readers might be interested in this unique view of the area’s history.

 

Is it possible that I have not yet waxed rhapsodic about the farmers’ market this year?  I went, as I always do, to the Davis Square market yesterday and there was a real August-worthy bounty awaiting me.  The piles and variety of produce increase week-by-week until there is truly more variety than a shopper could need.  The market is located close to campus but, more to the point, convenient to the parts of West Somerville/North Cambridge where students tend to live.  For those in other neighborhoods, there are markets all over the area.  In fact, there are several other markets that I could (and sometimes do) shop at, but the one at Davis is my favorite.

The vegetation wasn’t the only highlight yesterday.  I also ran into two Fletcher friends — Elke, a PhD candidate, and Lauren, a recent MALD graduate.  Such a treat to catch up in my favorite Wednesday location!

Because I haven’t managed to post earlier this week, and prospects aren’t looking good for tomorrow, either, I’ll run through a quick update.

♦The Admissions Office will soon be back to full staffing.  We have spent a lot of time interviewing jobs candidates and I look forward to introducing blog readers to our newest colleagues soon!

♦The pre-session starts Monday!  Required for incoming MIB students but available to interested students in other programs, the two weeks of the pre-session are filled with serious study in a somewhat relaxed summer atmosphere.  Here’s the description of their course:

The pre-session folks tend to cross through the Hall of Flags without drawing much attention, but we know they’re there — and that the full crop of incoming students will follow only two weeks later.

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