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Continuing yesterday’s theme of “what I did on my summer vacation,” today we hear from Jeff, Roxana, and (almost) Dan.

First, Jeff, who definitely made the most of his summer:
Despite not having any exotic vacation plans this past summer, I had a great time.  In fact, I can’t believe summer has come to an end and students are already back on campus.   My vacation consisted of relaxing on the beaches of Cape Cod, where I spent a couple of weeks with friends.  Each August, we come together from various cities to spend a week in Provincetown (the best spot on the Cape).  Provincetown is quite an eclectic place filled with great restaurants, bars, entertaining shows, and beautiful beaches.  Aside from my time there, I spent a weekend whitewater rafting in Maine, a weekend hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and quite a few weekends on Rhode Island beaches.  I guess you can say I covered most of New England this summer.

While those trips were solely for pleasure, I also visited Washington, DC three times for Fletcher recruitment events, where I met many interesting prospective students, from all over the world, who were there for internships, educational programs, or full-time employment.  These trips are always fun, as I’m able to visit old friends, and I love DC in the summer.  (I’m a big fan of hot, humid weather.)  As always, I also ran into Fletcher students (both past and present) and professors.  It’s always nice to catch up on the fly while running through the streets.  Now I’m back in the Office preparing for my travels to Asia, Europe, and the Pacific northwest of the U.S., recruiting students for next year’s class.  Perhaps I will see some of you blog readers during my travels!

Next, Roxana, whose big summer activity was the result of many months of planning:
This summer was very eventful for me as I made a significant change in my life!  Friends and family from all over joined my fiancé and me in Nahant, MA for a wonderful wedding ceremony and reception.  Many of my favorite Fletcher student friends were also in attendance.  In honor of our multicultural backgrounds, we had a “Fletcher-esque” ceremony, which included a reading by Khalil Gibran, a hand fasting ritual, and jumping the broom.  The reception lasted well into the night, with a whirlwind tour of Boston the next day for our out-of-town guests.  For our honeymoon, we wanted to go to a country neither of us had been to before, and Costa Rica was the winner.  After a week in a rainforest at the base of the active Arenal Volcano, zip-lining, waterfall rappelling, and lounging in natural hot springs, I can happily say that Costa Rica was the best place I’ve vacationed at thus far.  Even after returning with the flu and pneumonia, I can’t wait to go back.

Last, I’m going to add a few words about Dan‘s summer.  As you may know, Dan Birdsall joined the staff in July, fresh from two years as a MALD student.  Just over a month after he moved into his office, he was off for a pre-arranged break.  Like Roxana, Dan was taking time for his wedding and honeymoon.  On Monday, Dan will tell you a bit more about himself.

 

If you’re applying to Fletcher this year, you’ll probably be in touch with members of the Admissions staff, and I want you to have a sense of the person at the other end of your phone call or email correspondence.  To reintroduce themselves, I asked my Admissions pals to describe their summers.  You already know what I did this summer (tromp around to colleges with my daughter…host Iraqis), so I’ll leave it to others to describe the summer.

First up, Laurie, director of the Admissions Office, and Fletcher’s resident wine expert, who describes her summer, as well as that of her hat:
My Fletcher baseball cap was used quite a bit this summer.  During the month of June I attended an APSIA meeting in San Francisco.  The location allowed me to spend the weekend following the meeting in one of my favorite places — Napa Valley.  The weather was perfect and the wine wasn’t bad either!  Then, at the end of June, I brought my daughter to New York City to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  Unfortunately, my Fletcher hat needed to block the rain, rather than the sun, during this trip.  We enjoyed the view of the Statue of Liberty on the ferry ride over, but she completely disappeared in the fog on the ride back.  Nonetheless, it was a great day of history.

July was filled with a hectic family reunion in Maine and a quick trip for Fletcher to Geneva, Switzerland, and Talloires, France (the home of the Tufts European Center).  During free moments, I grabbed my Fletcher hat and headed out to see the sights.  I almost lost my Fletcher hat in the wind in August,  as I learned how to drive a boat on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.  Thankfully, I was able to catch it at the last minute, and also did not crash the boat!  Last weekend was the final official weekend of the summer, as the academic year has started in full force this week.  I am not sure what fall weekends will bring, but sun or rain, you will find me proudly wearing my Fletcher hat.

Next, Liz, who probably has contact with more applicants than any of the rest of us:
For those of you who don’t know me, I am the Staff Assistant for the Office of Admissions.  In this role, I often serve as the “face” of the Office:  I’m most likely the first person you’ll meet when you walk in the door, the first person you’ll speak to when you phone the office, and the first person you’ll hear from when you email fletcheradmissions@tufts.edu.

For some Admissions staffers, this summer was filled with vacation plans, weddings, and honeymoons.  For me, it was a little less exciting, in that I didn’t really take a vacation this year.  Instead, at the end of April, my husband, Steve, and I purchased our very first home.  The home-buying process for us turned out to be long (over a year and a half of searching), disappointing at times (we had previously made five unsuccessful offers), and a huge learning experience (bad paint colors are not a deal breaker, but warped foundations are).  For most of the summer, Steve and I have been chipping away at projects both planned (painting and unpacking) and unplanned (backed up sewer pipes and ant infestations).  It seems our to-do list only gets longer, but we couldn’t be happier.  I look forward to the day when most of the major projects are done, and we can just live in our new home.

Last, for today, Kristen:
For me, summer was on the quiet side — nothing really blog-worthy.  I made it through a couple of very long books that had been weighing down my nightstand, had some nice weekend visits to family living near the beach, and enjoyed some Boston eateries and tourist destinations not on my usual route.  Just a plain ol’ summer kind of summer.  That said, it’s particularly refreshing knowing what lies ahead for all of us in Admissions.  I officially book-end our Admissions travel with a kick-off trip to Mexico City in August, and a final trip to India in November.  In between, my colleagues will be here, there, and everywhere.  The contrast between the quiet, local summer and the fast, international autumn, makes each one even more enjoyable than it would be on its own.

 

Our newest staff member started yesterday!  Dan Birdsall has moved into the space formerly known as Peter’s office, and he’s settling into his new professional life in admissions.  I’m going to ask Dan to introduce himself in the blog a little later this summer.  For now, I can tell you that he’s going to make an unmatched contribution when it comes to helping prospective students envision their Fletcher experience.  He spent two years developing this keen sense of what Fletcher’s about — as a MALD student!  Dan graduated in May, and (as an old colleague of Peter’s) was the first person knocking at our door to express interest in the job.  It has been many years since we had a Fletcher alum working in the Admissions Office, and we’re very excited to welcome Dan to the team.

 

To whom it may concern:

In your haste to grab a great new addition to your staff, you forgot to ask me for a reference for Peter VanDerwater, my colleague in Fletcher’s Office of Admissions.  No matter.  I’m sending you one anyway.

Peter has been our go-to guy for (among other things) the LLM program and online chats — both were new initiatives when he took them on — as well as any office activity that involves the creation of an acronym.  He’s thorough and attentive to detail in all that he does.  He’s a pleasure to work with — consistently putting 110% into his efforts — and he’s a complete professional.  But don’t let that fool you.  He also has a quiet ironic sense of humor that you can count on to make work more fun.

Peter is one of my favorite Fletcher people, and I’m more than a little sorry you have decided to pluck him out of our happy team here at Fletcher Admissions.  Finding his replacement will be no easy task.  Not only do we need an intrepid traveler, but we’ll want someone who can keep up Peter’s side of our conversations about restaurants, cooking (you might want to ask him about his moose chili), soccer, and live music, particularly of the swampy variety.

You may also know that your decision to encourage Peter to relocate means that Fletcher loses two staffers.  His wife, Leah, will leave the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.  That makes us doubly sad.  But I suppose I’m also glad that he has this new opportunity in front of him.  In fact, everyone on the staff is pretty excited for him.

I hope you have found this reference letter helpful, and I’m confident that you will be very happy with your decision.  Please remember to leave Peter plenty of time to visit!

Sincerely,

Jessica Daniels

If you’re one of the many applicants and students who have benefited from Peter’s Admissions years, feel free to leave him a farewell note in the comments.

Our last formal event with Peter will be at a wedding tomorrow night.  Roxana’s wedding to be precise.  Congratulations, Roxana!  Congratulations and good luck, Peter and Leah!

 

The final entry in the blog’s tourist-guide week goes to Peter, who takes you north and south with his suggestions.

It’s no secret that this region is somewhat obsessed with rivalries — from baseball (Go Sox!) and basketball, to chowder and cannolis, in Boston it’s all about loyalty to your team (or chowder purveyor).  While Massachusetts isn’t a huge state, it does have more than its share of coastline, which has helped create a rivalry of the geographic variety — the North Shore vs. South Shore. The North Shore includes coastal communities up through Cape Ann, while the South Shore extends down in the direction of Cape Cod — with Boston proper serving as the dividing line between the two.  The debate centers on important topics such as food, beaches, schools, traffic, and weather; and, it seems, everyone has an opinion.

Living in the Somerville/Cambridge area (north of the city, but just across the river from Boston), I’ve held out on choosing a geographic favorite for almost eight years, equally enjoying my time with friends down in Scituate and relaxing on Singing Beach up the coast in Manchester-by-the-Sea (yes, that is the town’s actual name).  It is hard to remain neutral forever, and eventually one thing tipped the scales:  the classic New England clam shack.  A few years back, I began to explore the various rustic seafood establishments scattered about the coastal communities of Cape Ann, and it has quickly become a favorite summer pastime.  I’ve enjoyed “No Nonsense, No Celery” lobster rolls at the Lobster Pool, overlooking picturesque Folly Cove, and delicious fried clams at JT Farnham’s, while sitting at a picnic table beside a salt marsh.  Even those with Southern (Massachusetts) leanings will (reluctantly) admit that the North Shore wins the debate in the clam shack department — in fact, there’s even a clam shack that is shaped like a clam box (the aptly named “Clam Box”).  While I still can’t say which establishment is the best — a classic New England debate in and of itself — I’m looking forward to conducting more delicious research this summer.

Note: Fletcher is on the Medford/Somerville line, which is just north of Boston and a short drive away from fried clam heaven!

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Continuing this week’s travel guide theme, I first want to suggest you check out the places Fletcher students have been visiting, in the second annual “Where is Fletcher” video.  On dry land, or underwater, those students get around!

But more locally, let’s hear from Kristen and Liz, who provide suggestions of activities that are easily accessible from campus.

Kristen recommends:
One of my favorite Boston activities is getting out and walking.  For an American city, Boston is very walkable, and taking the city on foot is one of the best ways to get to know each neighborhood.  Among my favorite pleasant-weather walks is to start on the Charles River near MIT and the “Salt-and-Pepper-Shaker Bridge,” and then wander down Mass Ave (no one here calls it Massachusetts Avenue — those extra syllables are too pesky).  Mass Ave has a great collection of watering holes (I particularly like the Miracle of Science), scandal-ridden ice cream shops, and Indian markets.  You can feel the personality of the street change from the quiet area filled with architectural behemoths around MIT, to the salty collection of characters at Central Square, to pure Cambridge academia at Harvard Square.

Liz says:
I don’t often get out into the city, as I live a little north of Medford, so I should really be taking suggestions from my peers on things to do.  However, there is one activity I’ve done a few times that I found to be fun and a bit different:  Afternoon tea at the Taj Boston (formerly the Ritz Carlton).  I know, it sounds stuffy and boring, but I’ve had a really great time, especially with a good group of friends.  The room is lovely and it has this sort of aura from another era about it.  I do enjoy tea, and they have a nice assortment to choose from.  (No Lipton tea bags here!)  Then there is the food.  I’m not much of a sweets kinda gal, but they have many different pastries, scones, and desserts to choose from.  Best, and what I really enjoy, are all the different types of finger sandwiches!  It’s a unique way to spend an afternoon in Boston with friends.  If you do get the chance, I certainly recommend trying it at least once.

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Boston is a very compact city:  Even if you’re here on a short visit, you can access out-of-town sites.  Laurie and Roxana want to sell you on a few of their favorites:

Laurie says:
One of the best things about living in the Boston area is that there are so many places that can be reached for a quick day trip.  Among my favorites is the southern coast of Maine.  Just jump in a car with a few Fletcher friends and, in about 90 minutes, you’ll be there.  I recommend starting with a long walk on Ogunquit Beach.  The beach is beautiful and you can walk about two miles along the sand dunes or the water.  The water is very cold (even in the summer), but that doesn’t stop people from riding the waves.

After your beach visit, head to Perkins Cove, where you’ll find some great restaurants with fantastic views, and cute little shops and galleries.  In Perkins Cove, you can take a lobster boat tour.  Or skip the tour and just eat some lobster.  From Perkins Cove, pick up the Marginal Way — an amazing one-mile path along the rocky coast.  Your next stop should be the Cape Neddick “Nubble” Lighthouse in York, Maine.  The lighthouse is stunning and the area near the lighthouse is a great place for rock jumping.  Not far from the lighthouse is Brown’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream, one of my favorite ice cream places.  (Maine Blueberry flavor is a must try.)  On your way home, you can stop in Kittery, Maine for great outlet shopping.  I hope that you decide to take this day trip — you will not be disappointed!

Roxana recommends:
While you’re a student at Fletcher, one of the things you must do is take a day trip to Salem, MA in October.  My friends and I have made it an annual tradition.  Rich with the history of Colonial America, and the site of the original Salem Witch Trials, Salem is especially fun in October for the obvious reason — witches!!  During your October visit, you can go to the Salem Witch Museum or the House of Seven Gables, take a Haunted Trolley tour, walk through the Burying Point cemetery, have your palm read by a real witch, and so much more!  There’s something different to do each time you go.  To get the full effect of Halloween without all the hustle and bustle of Halloween day itself, plan your visit for any other weekend in October.  The street vendors, the crisp fall air, and the beautiful Massachusetts foliage make a quick trip to Salem a must while you’re here at Fletcher!

 

Paul and I have English visitors staying with us this week — his aunt and uncle, Penny and John, who have never been to the U.S. before.  Paul is quite the energetic tour guide, and they’ve covered a lot of territory since arriving on Tuesday.

If you prefer to do your touring over the course of, say, two years while in graduate school (or even if your time will also be limited), you may want some suggestions of what to see.  Fortunately, my Admissions pals have volunteered to supply the blog with their ideas!  I’m going to start with Jeff, whose list happens to include Penny and John’s plan for today while Paul and I are working.  Jeff (who enthusiastically ignored my suggested word limit) writes:

How does one keep a blog entry concise when there is so much to be said about the topic?  While you are visiting or studying at Fletcher, there are many things to do on this side of the river, but you also need to take time to visit the other side (Boston).  I’m sure the ideas that immediately come to my mind are already on your radar screen, but I would be remiss if I failed to mention the Freedom Trail.  I love walking, and Boston is a walking city.  The trail covers many of the attractions you’ll want to see while in town, from churches to parks to graveyards to shipyards; it’s a great 2.5 mile walk around the city.

If you are more of the museum type, one of my favorites is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  Aside from the great artwork, the building itself is a sight to see — custom built with a beautiful garden courtyard in the middle.

Another place I enjoy visiting with out-of-town guests is the Samuel Adams Brewery, located in Jamaica Plain. (Jamaica Plain is a neighborhood of Boston only a few T stops away from downtown.)  The brewery tour lasts about an hour, a $2 donation is suggested, and tours culminate at the pub located inside the brewery with a few free samples.  While in the area (if you like nature), a stop at the Arnold Arboretum is a must.  The Arboretum is 265 acres, open from sunrise to sunset year round, with seasonal activities, walking tours and, of course, beautifully manicured trees and flowers.

Last, I would like to give a plug to the Boston Harbor Islands, made up of 34 islands, including 35 miles of undeveloped shoreline and 1600 acres of land.  If you are in town during the spring, summer or fall, and have a free day, you can hop on a ferry to one (or more) of the islands to hike, picnic, explore, kayak, fish, or swim.  Plus, there are two national historic landmarks on the islands:  Fort Warren is located on George’s Island and Boston Light is located on Little Brewster Island.  Only a few of the islands are accessible by ferry, while some can only be reached by taking a special tour.  However you get out there, it’s a nice way to take in a different view of Boston.

One last thing:  RESTAURANTS!  There are too many favorites to mention here.  Just stop by my office when you’re visiting, and I’ll be happy to chat.  Restaurants and food are among the most frequent topics of conversation between members of the Admissions staff.

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Veering away from useful information for a post, I thought I’d tell you about my lunch yesterday — not what I ate, but whom I ate it with.  Laurie and I both attended a luncheon for faculty and administrative staff members who have worked at Tufts for either 15 or 20 years.  Laurie was a 20-year veteran, and she achieved her status in a straightforward way — she took a job direct from her undergraduate studies here, and she never left.  Next thing you know, 20 years have passed.

My path was a little more zigzag:  took a one-year job, which lasted nearly 10 years, left for nearly two years, came back in a contractual set-up, finally was rehired in 2005, convinced the people who organize the lunch that this all adds up to 20 years, and attended.

A testament to the nice working environment we have here was the size of the Fletcher contingent.  Fletcher has grown in recent years, but is still quite a small place, which makes it surprising that there could be so many 15/20-year veterans.  In addition to Laurie and me, the 80-or-so person luncheon also included four other members of the Fletcher staff.  Fletcher is not only a happy place to be a student; it’s a happy place to work, too.

 

I want to devote a minute to Japan.  Fletcher has many Japanese students and alumni, and — most relevant for the Admissions Blog — there are many applicants currently in Japan (whether or not that’s where they originated) and from Japan (even if they are living elsewhere in the world).  The Admissions staff and all of Tufts University are shocked by the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami.  We hope that all Japanese members of the Fletcher family, including applicants, are safe, and we send our wishes and hopes for the country’s rapid recovery.

I’ll post a regular update on where the admissions process stands in a couple of hours.

 

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