Jennifer Khirallah, Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. candidate
If you’re not used to winter in Boston, or even if you are, it
can be pretty tough to bear sometimes. Below freezing weather, unexpected
snowstorms, and high winds can lead to some negative feelings about the season.
However, there are some really fun things to do in the Boston area that only
can be done when it’s cold outside!
Whether you’re an avid ice skater or a novice, like me, ice skating at Frog Pond in Boston Common is a wonderful experience! Bring your own skates or rent them there, buy some snacks or hot chocolate to keep warm, and skate for as long as you like! They also offer college nights from 6:00-9:00 pm every Tuesday, which gives half-price admission with your student ID! On February 7, 2023, Tufts University students get free admission! Check out more information! For another fun skating spot, head to the Rink at 401 Park for skating and a beer at Trillium Brewery.
If you’re not into ice skating, there are a ton of nearby options
for skiing and snowboarding! Wachusett Mountain in Massachusetts, and Mount
Sunapee and Gunstock Mountain in New Hampshire are some notable local spots.
They offer a variety of different slopes for all skill levels, equipment
rentals, and lessons.
For warmer experiences, head to some of the many restaurants
in Boston that offer igloo dining! Enjoy dinner or drinks from your own private
igloo. Check out the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton in Cambridge or Envoy’s igloos
and Ice Boxes in the Seaport for these fun spots to hang out with friends!
Winter in Boston can be a beautiful experience if you find fun things to do with friends and bundle up when your outside!
Maitreyi Kale, Human Factors Engineering M.S. Candiate
believe that acquiring books and reading books are two different
and perfectly valid hobbies. Whichever one you’re after, the unfortunate
reality of being broke college students is that we probably cannot afford to
shell out hundreds of dollars at bookstores or on Audible to build the personal
library of our dreams. Thankfully, there’s plenty of free or low-cost
sources of books as a college student at Tufts/in Boston, and in this post, I’m
going to introduce you to some of my favorite ones.
student, it’s easy to forget that Tisch Library and Lilly Music Library (and
the SMFA Library in Boston) are not just great study spots but also, well, libraries,
i.e., excellent sources of free books! Use JumboSearch to look
at the library catalog or check books out in person. A fun and less well-known
hack is that if Tisch doesn’t have a book you want to read, you can actually recommend
a purchase, and I promise they want you to use this resource!
The Women’s Center and LGBT Center on the Medford/Somerville campus have mini libraries with books on topics relating to women, gender, sexuality, and more. While these collections definitely fall within a more a niche theme, they’re an underrated source of new reads from educational, to self-help, to cute queer romance books and much more for the Tufts community.
bring up this resource, people often groan because they think getting a library
card is a long-complicated process that involves visiting the library in person
and talking to human beings, but… guess what! There are other ways! As a
resident of Massachusetts, you can sign up
for a free eCard at Boston Public Library. This eCard gives you access to
BPL’s massive collection of ebooks and audiobooks, which you can access
conveniently through an app called Libby (see item 4). Of course, you can visit
the library by taking the T to Copley Square or Back Bay and acquire a physical
library card and borrow resources like books, DVDs, museum passes, etc. in
Another library to keep on your radar is the newly renovated Somerville Public Library on College Ave, which is super close to campus. On your next walk to Davis Square, stop by Somerville Public Library with some form of Photo ID and proof of address and ask to sign up for a library card at the front desk. Fill out a quick form and walk away with a library card that allows you to borrow not only from SPL, but also from any other library that is part of the Minuteman Library Network! You can sign up for a temporary card online, but you must go in person to obtain a physical library card. Alternatively, you can visit Medford Public Library in Medford Square, which is also within the Minuteman Library Network.
This is by far my personal favorite resource (when combined with the one above), and I still cannot quite believe it’s real. Download the app Libby on your smartphone or tablet, enter a library card number, and instantly acquire the ability to (virtually) borrow from your chosen library. Libby makes it easier to find your next read through features like filters, curated lists, and smart tags, that will help you navigate Boston Public Library’s extensive collection of ebooks and audiobooks! You can listen to borrowed audiobooks on the app, and ebooks can be read directly on the app or sent to your Kindle. In true library fashion, you do have to wait to borrow books sometimes and your (extendable) loan ends after 2 weeks, but if you’re indecisive like me, you’ll appreciate this natural narrowing down of options to choose from. I also always look out for the “Lucky Day” shelf, which lets you skip the line and borrow from a list of fairly popular books instantly.
If you’ve walked around the Medford/Somerville area, you’ve probably come across one of these cute tiny wooden house-shaped bookshelves on sidewalks. The concept is simple: take a book or leave one! I always feel like a winner when I find a free copy of a book that’s on my to-read list in a Little Free Library, but also equally so when I discover treasures, I might not have come across otherwise. Sometimes the books in LFLs have little annotations or dedications penned by previous owners, which always add a bit of meaningful magic to the reading experience. Find Little Free Libraries near you!
This section could be its own blog post, really, because there are several used or secondhand bookstores in the Greater Boston Area! You can also sell copies you own in exchange for bookstore credit that you can then use to purchase your next read. I’d recommend googling used bookstores in the area and planning a visit (maybe with friends!), but here’s some of the popular stores: The Book Rack, Raven Used Books, Book Wonder, Brattle Book Shop, Brookline Booksmith, Harvard Bookstore, More Than Words, etc.
I know Facebook feels like old news, but if you’re a college student, you probably use your account to access Facebook Groups, Pages, and Events specific to your school. If you’re looking for a particular book, consider posting an in search of, or “ISO” post on a Facebook group. Chances are, someone will comment or reach out saying they have the book you want, and maybe you’ll even make a new friend to discuss that book with! If you live on or around campus, I’d also recommend joining either Everything is Free Medford or Everything is Free Somerville, because these Facebook Groups are excellent for ISO posts like these and will significantly expand the reach of your request beyond just the Tufts community.
With the help of the above resources and more, I’ve managed to expand my personal collection of books, broaden my reading taste, and do some serious damage to my to-read list without emptying my wallet in the past three years, and I hope they help you achieve your bookish goals too!
As a student in the humanities, I am a book lover who likes to read all kinds of books, and my entrance to Tufts was a result of serendipity because of two books. The first, a collection of prose essays by Haruki Murakami, refers to his time teaching at Tufts. It made me curious about Tufts, and led me to search for Tufts online. And I found out that the Tufts motto is Pax et Lux. The unique mention of “peace” in the motto—which I understood from my one year of Latin study—was attractive to me as a humanities student. The second book was recommended by my good friend who studied history in a famous Chinese university. My friend and I are both interested in feminism. In a women’s history course, her professor led them to discuss the book Crossing the Gate to investigate daily life of ancient Chinese women. Coincidentally, this book was written by Xu Man, a professor at Tufts. I was excited that a Chinese scholar could be so proficient in English academic writing about Chinese history while gaining a high reputation in China. This definitely motivated me to apply to Tufts. Ultimately, Professor Xu Man has become my current mentor in the Department of History at Tufts.
Besides these two books, coming to Tufts was also out of practical considerations. My undergraduate program focused on liberal arts education, so I took many courses related to politics, philosophy, and sociology beyond my history major. Although my interest in a wide range of subjects enriched my experience and thinking, it also made me want to gain more skills in the area of historical knowledge acquisition. Therefore, when application season came, I decided to apply for the history master’s program to learn transnational history and historiography more systematically and improve my academic skills. At this point, Tufts’ MA in History program came into my consideration. Compared with the one-year programs in the UK and Singapore, Tufts’ two-year program gave me plenty of time, with more complete academic training. As one of the top universities, Tufts also holds rich academic resources and provides abundant opportunities in academia. My mentor from my bachelor’s degree also highly recommended Boston as a city to study the humanities in. Therefore, I finally decided to come to Tufts to experience this top academic training opportunity.
Although there are only ten new students in the History department, all of them have diverse backgrounds and different research interests, such as European history, women’s history, history of ideas, etc. In the mandatory historiography course, I have listened to the speeches of classmates from Harvard College and marveled at the questioning ability of doctoral candidates. As the only Chinese student, I was initially nervous in and out of class, but my professors and classmates were all friendly and open-minded. They have encouraged me, praised my presentations sincerely, and invited me to the party warmly. In addition to studying history, I’ve also taken part in a writing workshop held for international students from which I got to know some master’s and doctoral students from different disciplines.
Since coming to Tufts, I’ve been to Boston several times, taken a duck boat ride with friends, and gone whale watching. There are many opportunities to see musicals, concerts, baseball games, etc. in Boston, which made my Chinese classmates envious. Life in the suburbs of Medford is good and being at school is comfortable as well. As I am a liberal arts student, I am frequently in Tisch Library to read books and search for sources. When I am tired or stressed, I usually take a slow walk to enjoy the beautiful campus scenery, see the squirrels and rabbits on the lawn and take a nap in the chairs under the shade. The campus under the sun in September reminded me of summer dreams in many books, and the red leaves in autumn are also so pleasing. Thanks to my decision to Tufts, I am satisfied with my study-life balance in a foreign country.
Maitreyi Kale, Human Factors Engineering M.S. Candiate
ever wanted to scream into the void about your problems? Vent to someone who’ll
never gossip about you? Freak out about adulting in secret because everyone
else seems to have their life figured out? Or just have a listening ear in the
middle of the night?
the many perks of being a Jumbo is that you totally can! Ears for Peers is
Tufts’ anonymous, student-run peer support hotline, and you can call or
text Ears every night from 7 PM to 7 AM about absolutely anything. I’ve been a
part of Ears for Peers (E4P) since my freshman year (Fall 2018), and it is by
far the best most meaningful thing I do on campus. Why am I openly talking
about being an Ear, if we’re supposed to be anonymous? This year, I am one of
the Faces of Ears for Peers
alongside the wonderful Libby Moser, and we are the only two non-anonymous
members of the organization. You might see us around campus tabling for Ears,
spreading the word about Ears as a resource and giving out free merch. I love
being Face, because it means I get to talk about my favorite organization after
having been anonymous for three years!
A lot of students don’t know this, but E4P is available as a resource to graduate students, too (and we sure do need it). So if you need someone to talk to, you can call us at 617-627-3888, or text us at ears4peers.herokuapp.com/ every night from 7 PM to 7 AM. We’re working on making it so you can text the number as well, so follow us on Instagram @ears4peersfor updates on when that becomes possible! All Ears are Tufts students like you, so calls usually feel like chill conversations with a friend; we try our best to match the energy that you’re looking for! Since we’re fully anonymous and confidential, we’ll never know who’s calling or texting us, and you won’t know who you’re talking to, because our systems hide identifying information.
Ears are trained to handle a wide range of topics. With over 600 calls just last year, we’ve gotten calls about everything from relationship problems, to homesickness, academic troubles, to mental health struggles, and so much more. We’re familiar with Tufts resources on campus (and many off campus) and can provide personalized recommendations to callers if they’re interested. Despite being an Ear myself, I’ve called the line when I wasn’t on shift, because in bad moments, it’s comforting to know that I’m confiding in someone who doesn’t see me as a “burden”.
Curious about what it’s like to be an Ear – besides gaining access to a secret group of actual superheroes as friends? Ears take 4 shifts per month, either from 7-11 PM or 11 PM to 7 AM. Shifts are taken in pairs, so you’re never alone, in a secret room that has beds, desks, computers, snacks, etc. so you can do homework, go to sleep, or exchange life stories with the other Ear on shift. When the phone rings or the text line goes off, you pick up, help someone out, and experience the fulfillment that comes with it. Sometimes, you end up having a great, hilarious conversation with a caller and get mad that you’re anonymous and cannot be best friends with said caller. And every now and then, your friends might ask you where you’re headed in the middle of the night when you’re on shift or attending a meeting, but it’s a secret, so you get pretty good at thinking on the spot, I guess?
Being an Ear has made me feel so connected to the Tufts community. I love talking to our callers and texters and hearing about their lives, being trusted with their most vulnerable selves. Sometimes, we get callers who reach out frequently throughout the year and it is a privilege to watch them grow over time and support them through their Tufts journey. Sometimes, Tufts students call us because they’re worried about a friend and just want to help. Every day as an Ear feels like a celebration of the inherent goodness of human beings! Every so often, a caller is hard on themselves about difficult situations and emotions, and you end up saying something to them that maybe you needed to hear yourself. I remember being devastated about the end of my first relationship ever during my sophomore year at Tufts, and while on shift, I received a call from someone going through a breakup. In supporting the caller as they processed their breakup, I found myself telling them “It’s okay. I know it’s not okay right now, but some day, it’s going to be okay, and that’s what makes it okay” and realized that I actually believed that I’d be okay for the first time since my breakup… I’d really needed to hear it myself.
My favorite Ears tradition is The Gritch, which is a journal that sits in our room for Ears on shift to write in. The Gritch brings us closer together as a group, because we vent and respond to each other’s entries, and some Ears have even found love through writing to each other through the Gritch :’) Since Ears has been running since 1989, we have some Gritches from thirty years ago, and it’s super interesting to read first-hand accounts of what Tufts was like in the past! Like, I know it’s frustrating for us to deal with SIS to enroll in courses every semester, but did you know that in 1995, Jumbos used to line up outside Eaton Hall to register for their classes in person?! Can you imagine waiting in line for hours and only to find out that that course you really wanted to take filled up by the time it was your turn? It’s also fun to see what previous generations of Ears are up to now; Josh Wolk (A91), the founder of Tufts’ humor magazine The Zamboni, was secretly an Ear and wrote some of the funniest entries in the first Gritch ever. When I internet-stalked him (as one does), I found that he’s published a hilarious book called Cabin Pressure, which is about the time he returned to his childhood summer camp but as an adult counselor. A copy of that book now sits in the Ears room!
people ask me why I decided to continue doing Ears during my master’s program,
with everything else grad students tend to have on their plates. In an effort
to end my history of overcommitting and overbooking myself (classic Tufts
undergrad behavior), I promised myself to only give my time and effort to
things I cared about most this year; Ears for Peers has contributed immensely
to my growth as a person and my understanding of the human experience, so
continuing to be an Ear during grad school felt like a no-brainer to me. As a
bonus, some of my closest friends at Tufts were/are Ears, and our bonding
nights spent playing board games, doing paint and sips, chatting around
campfires, are some of my most cherished Tufts memories.
up in India, around a culture of shame and stigma surrounding mental health, I
craved a community that acknowledged its significance and supported each other
through these “hidden” difficulties. I feel proud to be going to a school whose
students have set up such a unique, wonderful resource to support its
community. I’m sure I speak for all Ears when I say: I know from personal
experience what a difference it makes to have someone be there for you through
a rough time. So, if you ever need anyone to talk to, know that we’re ear for
Cyrus Karimy, Biomedical Engineering M.S. Candidate
Even before my master’s program officially started, I knew I would need to up my game. I have always worked hard in my academic career. However, I felt like I needed to work smarter to succeed. Success for me now is more than grades. It’s overall positive mental health (and having time to focus on it), having time for my loved ones, going to the gym multiple times a week, truly learning the material at hand, and succeeding in my laboratory work. I felt that working hard without the addition of working smart did not leave enough time in my schedule to do the other things that make me a complete person.
In the second week of school, I decided to get ahead and schedule an appointment with the Student Accessibility and Academic Resources (StAAR) Center. The StAAR Center offers academic support through one-on-one academic coaching, writing consultations, tutoring, study groups, study strategies, and discipline-specific workshops. I went into my meeting knowing what I wanted, more time to do things that were important to me, but I didn’t really know how to get there. The StAAR center tutor was so kind and patient with me. In the first half of our session, we talked about who I was and what I was looking for. She quickly evaluated that I needed better time management, self-assessment, and breaking skills.
Self-assessment was step one. What do I need to succeed and feel ready each day? Figuring these out and having them as non-negotiable activities would keep me in a place I needed to be. It’s important to know what you need in your life so that you don’t burn out while staying as happy and fulfilled as you can. For me, it was asking myself who are the people that take me out of the capitalistic matrix we live in? What are the activities that bring me forward toward my career, mental, physical, and spiritual goals?
The activities I came up with are:
Developing a proper
morning routine to help me get in the best mindset I could for the day (stretching,
Going to the gym at
least 5 times a week keeps my confidence and health in check
Making time for fun with
friends and loved ones on the days when I don’t have classes brings me a lot of
Time to work on each
course during the week so I don’t fall behind on my classes
Dedicating time to going
to the laboratory for training
Developing a nighttime
routine that would help me prepare for the next day, and having activities that
calm my mind so I can fall asleep easier (meditation, staying off social media,
writing my schedule for the next day, etc.)
Now that I have my activities set up it’s time for step 2. With time management, I now take all the activities I mentioned above and plug them into my new schedule. I had been carrying around a small calendar and trying to squeeze my agenda into every little box that represented a day in the month. The tutor saw that and actually gave me a new calendar book, that had the month laid out on one page, as well as additional pages that allow you to really dive into detail with what you want to accomplish that day.
The setup I chose for the overall calendar (image 1) was only to write the big due dates and events going on in my life. I’d go into detail about what I was going to do each day in the focused daily calendar (image 2). This helped me stay aware of what was coming in the future while allowing me to focus on what was happening day to day in an organized and visibly pleasing fashion.
Step 3 is breaking
skills (how to take breaks efficiently). This one really got me. The first
thing my StAAR Center mentor told me is “don’t go on your phone, especially
using social media as a break.” This pointer has definitely helped me the most,
I didn’t realize how draining absorbing content is. I’ve been trying to look
outside my window, go on walks, or text my loved ones instead of going on
Instagram, Youtube, etc., for my study breaks. This hasn’t been the easiest
adjustment because I’m so used to going on these apps for my study breaks. I
wish I knew beforehand that this was not actually resting my brain.
Overall, I can see
myself succeeding more in my classes and life in general. I’m getting good
grades, I’m able to see the people that make me happy, my sleep has been
better, and I’m going to the gym more than before! My planning skills allow me
to get all the things done that I want to. It has taken some trial and error
though. I’ve been learning how much time certain tasks are going to take.
Sometimes things don’t go as planned, and that’s ok! That’s life really,
because nothing is perfect, including us. But what I’ve learned in these past
few weeks is if I try my best to generally prepare, I can’t ask more of myself,
and that’s good enough for me. Thanks for reading, until next time!
By Jennifer Khirallah, Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate
When summer comes to New England and you find yourself staying in the area, there isn’t a more beautiful place to visit than Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. Although the lake encompasses various towns, generally from Medford you would take I-93N to NH104 for about a 2-hour drive. Spanning roughly 70 square miles and reaching depths up to 180 feet, it is the largest lake in New Hampshire. It resides at the foot of the White Mountains, allowing for breathtaking mountainous views from all over. The lake also has over 250 habitable islands, so rent a house to enjoy quiet and seclusion.
There is something to do for everyone on this lake: water sports, boating, drinking, eating, and sunbathing! Various restaurants are accessible by both boat and car all over the lake. A couple of notable ones include Town Docks in Meredith which is known for its 1-pound lobster roll and frozen mixed drinks. Another one is Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough famous for its breathtaking views, make sure to book a reservation far in advance for this spot! If you’re looking for something more casual head over to the NazBar at Naswa, a beach bar in Laconia with live music, good food, and seating on the sand.
If you want to go for a boat ride and relax for the day, take a boat to a flotilla spot and anchor for the day to relax in the water with other boaters in the area! Some major flotilla spots are Braun Bay and Paugus Bay. To venture onto land, head over to Center Harbor for some shopping and ice cream!
Whether you’re going for just a day trip or staying a couple of nights, you can enjoy the beautiful weather, sunsets views, and food all along the lake. Oh, and don’t forget, on your way up to the lake make sure you stop at the Common Man Café for some fresh apple cider donuts!
Prior to coming to Tufts, I was so curious to learn what life as a graduate student was like. For me personally, graduate school at Tufts is quite a bit different from my experience at my undergraduate institution. For starters, my undergraduate institution was larger than Tufts, with many of my lectures having anywhere from 100-300 students in it. At Tufts, my cohort consists of only 32 people, and this group is sometimes split into even smaller groups for certain courses. The purpose of the first year of the Entry-Level Occupational Therapy Doctoral program is to create a solid foundation, making very unfamiliar concepts feel like second nature by the end of the first year. This allows us to enter our practice classes with an understanding of a lot of the basics of the profession, like how to write SOAP notes, common health conditions we’ll see in practice, and general developmental themes and theoretical models throughout the lifespan for children, adolescents, and adults. While my overall schedule may change a bit each week, this is what a week in my life is like as a first-year OTD student at Tufts.
On Monday mornings, I make my way up
to the library for my Topics in Emerging Practice Areas class. As someone who
has always been very focused on the idea of working in a more medical setting,
like a hospital or an outpatient clinic, this class has opened my mind up to
numerous practice areas that I did not know were possible for OTs to work in.
Many weeks, we have speakers come in to share about the emerging practice area
that they work in, such as working in homeless shelters, refugee health,
transgender health, and more. Throughout the semester, we are also working in
groups to come up with ideas for our own emerging practice areas, practicing
how to create an effective elevator pitch for our practice area, how to present
to stakeholders, and of course, considering how OT would be crucial to this
emerging practice area. My group’s project is focused on the idea of a canine
training program for adolescents in the inpatient mental health setting,
working on various occupations, such as education, vocation, Instrumental
Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), and social participation.
In the afternoon, I have my Occupation & Adaptation
(O&A) class. Last semester we had an O&A class focused on children and
adolescents while this semester is specifically focused on adults. Through this
class, we are learning about the developmental themes and theoretical models of
the adult life cycle, ranging from early to late adulthood while considering
physical, psychological, and social changes and the influences of numerous
factors on one’s life experience. This class has a service learning component
in which we volunteer with an organization in the community with the adult
population. This class also has a lab component, allowing us to take the
lecture material from earlier in the class and to apply our knowledge in a more
hands-on way, which I have found to be useful in really drilling concepts down
in my head.
Following O&A, the last thing that I have in the day is meeting with my Project Connect group. Earlier in the semester, a professor reached out to me and some classmates about being facilitators for Project Connect, an initiative through Tufts Counseling & Mental Health Services that allows graduate and undergraduate students to form meaningful connections with other students on campus. Each week, my classmate and I meet with a small group of graduate students to have guided conversations about our lives and experiences, working towards forming connections with one another. It has been a fun and enjoyable opportunity for me to interact with students from other programs that I normally may not have had the opportunity to meet.
Tuesdays begin with my service
learning placement for my O&A class at an adult day habilitation program
for adults with developmental disabilities. My co-leader happens to be the same
person I facilitate Project Connect with, my classmate and friend, Chloe. We
actually ran groups at our current site last semester too, though, at the time,
it was for our Group Theory class, where we were learning how to run effective
groups as future OTs. Last semester, Chloe and I focused our groups on
mindfulness and arts and crafts. Moving into this semester, we wanted to change
our focus to Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), creating weekly
cooking groups. Fortunately, our service learning site has an accessible
kitchen, allowing us to run these groups with a number of participants. We’ve
made everything from pasta to cookies to quesadillas. With each group, we must
use our OT-lens to adapt the group so that each person is able to participate.
These groups are a fun challenge for me and Chloe while also being very
enjoyable for our fantastic group members, who always seem to enjoy the process
from start to end–– though of course, eating is by far the best part.
Following our service learning placement, Chloe and I will head back to campus for our Clinical Research class. To be completely transparent, this course was one that I was pretty intimidated by as someone who has been awful at math since the first grade and is easily intimidated by statistics. Fortunately, this course is not just a lecture-heavy statistics refresher. We also have the opportunity to work on a group research project throughout the entire semester, using this to implement lecture material in a way that is more enjoyable. For example, at the beginning of the semester, we all stated our preferences for our research project prior to being grouped together, with the topics including perfectionism, sleep, mindfulness, and positive emotions. After being placed in the positive emotions group and taking a pre-test, my group and I found an evidence-based treatment intervention for increasing positive emotions in one’s life. We then implemented this intervention in our lives for one month, then we took a post-test to inform our research paper. Eventually, we will present our findings at the end of the semester.
I only have one class on Wednesdays,
my Health Conditions II class. This is the second of three required Health
Conditions courses, which are courses that focus on different conditions each
week that we will see as clinicians. We focus on the incidence and prevalence,
etiology, occupational consequences, short and long-term impacts, and OT
interventions associated with each condition. One really great aspect of this
course is that we commonly will have speakers come in from the community to speak
about different conditions or practice areas related to certain conditions. For
example, we have had OTs come in to speak about working with individuals with
spinal cord injuries/disorders and low vision, as well as professionals from
other fields, like a certified prosthetist to teach us about limb deficiencies,
amputations, and prosthetics. We have also had certain lectures in which we
learn about a specific condition, like stroke or Parkinson’s Disease, then have
a community member living with this condition speak about their experience and
how OT could help.
Following Health Conditions II, I have a mandatory open
block set from 12-1:20pm, which is a time that is set aside each week for the
department (including students) to hold meetings, speakers, events, and more.
Students in the OT program are automatically considered to be members of the
Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA), which is an organization that
will often bring in guest speakers for these open blocks and will hold social
After the open block, I walk back up to Bendetson Hall, as I am a student worker in the Office of Graduate Admissions. In this job, I do everything from administrative work, writing blogs, assisting with virtual open houses, and giving in-person or virtual tours to prospective and admitted graduate students. I loved my job working in undergraduate admissions as a campus tour guide at my undergraduate institution, so it has been great having the opportunity to continue this in graduate school.
My Thursday mornings begin with
Clinical Reasoning II, a foundational course that is focused on the evaluation
process, interviewing skills, documentation, and more. Prior to taking Clinical
Reasoning I last semester, the idea of sitting in a course like this sounded
like it would be so dry. However, these courses have turned out to be a
favorite of mine. Throughout the semester, I can genuinely see the improvement
that is being made. I feel more and more like an OT each week. Lately, we have
been focusing a lot on documentation, which is a really important subject area,
as documentation is necessary for insurance coverage, justification of
treatments, and more. My class has been practicing documentation skills through
simulation cases this semester, whether it be through a real patient that we
can access through an online video simulation library, or written cases. Each
week we practice a new skill, whether it be goal writing, SOAP notes, or
getting comfortable with using codes for evaluations and interventions in our
notes. These are all skills we will very likely use on a daily and even hourly
basis as future practitioners. I’m looking forward to seeing how I will
continue to strengthen my clinical reasoning skills throughout this course and
in future courses.
My second and final class of the day is my DEC Seminar I course. This course is the first of three courses that are aimed at preparing us for the Doctoral Experiential Component (DEC) portion of the curriculum. The DEC is a 14-week experience in our final year of the program where we’ll work on a specific DEC project. This semester, I am preparing materials that will be viewed when pairing me with my mentor for my future DEC project, such as an ePortfolio containing my resume, OT vision, clinical interests, and more. In this course, my class is often broken up into three smaller sections, allowing each student to receive feedback on ePortfolio materials and assignments in class from our professors and/or classmates, which is much less intimidating and doable with 8-12 people rather than the entire cohort. I have found this course to be very helpful for my professional development as a whole.
I actually do not have any classes on Fridays this semester! This means that I am able to work in the Office of Graduate Admissions in the morning, push myself to be productive and do some schoolwork in the afternoon, and then enjoy the evening however I see fit, whether that means I’m hanging out with friends or laying in bed watching Netflix to unwind after a long week.
My weekends vary from week to week,
though this semester, my friends and I have been making a more active effort to
have fun on the weekends. We will often take the Red Line on the T (the main
subway system for the Boston area) from Davis to places like Cambridge or
Boston to get food, explore the area, and more. There’s also a new Green Line
stop that is being constructed directly on campus, known as the Medford/Tufts
stop, which will be another great way to get into the city. My current favorite
place in Boston would probably be the North End, as I am a huge fan of Italian
food and this area is amazing for this. There are also so many great coffee
shops, parks, and places to hang out with friends as well. Of course, I’m still
very new to the area, so I have a lot of exploring left to do.
someone who spent the past ten years living in a rural town in Delaware, the
change of pace has been incredible. I remember getting to campus last summer
and sitting on top of the Tisch library as I talked to my friend from home on
the phone, watching the sun as it set over the city and the Boston skyline
began to light up beneath the night sky. I remember being so excited about the
fun and spontaneous experiences that were to come, like the Red Sox vs. Yankees
game my friends and I attended last minute for just $9 last summer. Being at
Tufts has allowed me to broaden my horizons, learning from faculty with
incredible connections and experiences in the field I am pursuing while being
able to gain valuable hands-on experiences from the very start of my program,
both in and out of the classroom. While my weekly schedule is jam-packed with
classes, service learning placements, and numerous extracurriculars, I am truly
so thankful to be here at Tufts.
By Jennifer Khirallah, Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. Candidate
The Graduate Student Council (GSC) serves graduate students across all areas in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), School of Engineering (SoE), and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts (SMFA at Tufts). The GSC is responsible for organizing events, funding student research travel, and aiding and funding graduate student organizations (GSOs). Some of the notable events hosted by the GSC are Pub Nights, the Annual 5K Run/Walk, Apple Picking, the Graduate Student Research Symposium, and many more. These events aim to serve the needs of all the students in these graduate programs by bringing them together, giving them tools to succeed, and connecting them with necessary resources.
I am currently the Community Outreach Chair on the GSC’s Executive Board (e-board) and thus have a unique perspective on how it runs from the inside. It’s amazing to be part of such a great group that serves such a large community. By being involved on the e-board, I see how this large organization runs in order to anticipate and meet every need of these students. In this role I have organized a clothing swap, a beach cleanup, a food drive, valentine’s day cards for soldiers, and the annual 5k (happening on 4/22/22)! These events have united the Tufts and Medford community to allow students to give back while having fun and meeting other students.
The GSC e-board members each play a
specific role in its smooth functioning. The President oversees all operations
and plans Graduate Student Appreciation Week. The Vice President aids the
chairs and runs the graduate student lounges at Curtis and West Hall. The
Secretary manages the social media, advertising for the GSOs, and curating the
newsletters. The Treasurer is in charge of managing the graduate student fund
and distributing it to GSC chairs, GSOs, and graduate student travel awards. There
are six GSC chairs that each aim to serve different groups and interests:
Academic, Arts & Humanities, Community Outreach, International, Social, and
Student Life. There are subcommittees of these chairs that have volunteers and
department reps that help out with organizing and planning events. If you’re
interested in getting involved in the e-board, there are elections on 5/3/22
and anyone and everyone is encouraged to apply for these positions! For more
information check out the GSC’s website
If you have any questions or
concerns about any aspect of your graduate life at Tufts, or if you would like
to become involved in the GSC, please do not hesitate to contact us on our
website. Check out Jumbo Life and the GSC
website and follow us on Instagram for
By Mara Tu, Urban & Environmental Policy and Planning MA Candidate
New city, new people, new neighborhoods, where do I live!
Looking for housing felt like a huge task to me. I was moving to a
new state, a new city, and I hadn’t looked for housing by myself before. The
sheer amount of housing options felt as threatening and overwhelming as an
oncoming New England hurricane each time I even attempted to start looking.
However, after going through the experience of finding housing in a pricey,
fast-paced market like Boston, I now feel much more confident and capable in
finding housing in the future!
A quick note: My journey to find housing near Tufts was rather
unconventional and honestly not recommended, so if you are looking for a
helpful guideline and steps on how to find housing, feel free to skip this next
section and scroll down to my suggestion on steps to finding housing near
The summer before my first semester started, I had already secured one roommate through a mutual friend who also wanted to live in the Somerville area. After feeling each other’s “vibes” out and confirming that we wanted to live together, we discussed our checklist for a place to live: budget (less than $1000/month per person), aesthetic (good sunlight was a must!), transportation situation (neither of us had a car so parking was unnecessary but we did want to be near a T stop), preferred relationship with the landlord (we wanted to be communicative with our landlord and to be able to actually contact them directly/not a big landlord), pet situation (neither of us had pets but we hope to get a cat someday down the line!), and other must-haves. This was important and so helpful to have some guidelines to narrow down our search for housing.
A month before moving to Boston, I had scheduled a day where I
would drive up to Boston and tour as many places as I could. After hustling and
emailing landlords/real estate agents through Zillow (no shame, I contacted at
least 20 different people to schedule a showing- many did not reply), I filled
up my day with 7 different viewing tours. Looking back, I recognize now that my
roommate and I are much pickier than I’d originally thought, as none of those 7
places really excited us/felt like they were worth the rent. We, thus, entered
September with no secured housing.
My roommate couldn’t move in until a month into the semester, so I had decided to crash with my sister’s ex for a month (don’t worry, they are still on good terms and have a wonderful relationship) while I continued to search for housing with an October 1st lease start date. I honestly don’t recommend this, since living temporarily with a friend threw me off in the beginning of the semester more than I had anticipated.
Yet, with a stroke of luck, I was able to get in contact with a real estate agent (a Tufts alum!) who was kind enough to show me about 10 listings within the span of 2 hours that included wonderful properties below our budget even (big shout-out to Maven Realty!). Within a few days, my roommate and I discussed the options, decided on a wonderful 3-bedroom home right in Davis Square at $875/person, and were able to sign the lease with a delightful third roommate. It felt like the wait was worth it and everything was meant to be when I found out that my landlord was, in fact, an alum of my program!
Tips on Searching for Housing as a Tufts Graduate Student
Before looking for housing, it was helpful to get some context in
knowing what situations other students were living in. The following website/social
media groups were really helpful to find housing options, possible roommates,
and open housing listings:
Suggested steps on how to find housing as a grad student at Tufts:
Criteria: Figure out your criteria for housing. Consider things like budget, location, if utilities are included, types of utilities, apartment/bedroom size, if pets are allowed, parking, in-unit laundry, if broker’s fee is on landlord or tenant, aesthetics, kitchen appliances, number of rooms, etc.
Roommates: If you already have roommate(s) in mind, great! Make sure you’re a good fit and have clear communication on the housing you are looking for. If you‘re looking for roommates, you can either visit one of the listed pages above and look for people posting about an open room to see if you are compatible or you might want to look for housing first and be the one making a posting on one of those pages to pick and fill in your future housemate(s)!
Search: With your criteria in mind, the internet is your oyster! Go ahead and get searching for housing through the abundant real estate websites/resources. A neat and very helpful tool I found was the Zillow Draw tool that allows you to “draw” a shape on the map of the geographical area you are looking in and save that search so that any time there is a new rental listing in your search area and in your search criteria, you can get immediate (or daily) emails about them. You can also potentially work with a specific realtor/real estate office if you want to make the process a little easier on yourself, so that they can use their database to connect you with properties that uniquely fit your criteria. If you are lucky, some landlords will pay for the broker’s fee, so you can ask your agent for landlord-covered broker’s fee properties only if you want to avoid paying an extra fee!
Touring: I personally really like seeing spaces in person, so feel free to book a tour to places you feel are a good fit/are interested in. You might even look at places at different locations or budgets if you are flexible about those things to see what different properties look like when you give a little in certain criteria. The Boston rental market moves quickly, so if you find somewhere that feels right, I’d say go for it!
Lease: When you have found the right living situation, make sure to go over the lease and even have a second pair of eyes go over it to make sure your needs/expectations from the landlord are met and that you are ok with the landlord’s requirements. When everything is all set, send over your deposit/rent, sign your lease, and get ready to move into your new home!!
Find out about the communication style/effort/basic background of the landlord. It is totally ok to ask the realtors about this. A bad landlord situation is no good!! If the landlord gets to know all this information about you, you have the right to know about them as well.
You will likely not find the perfect housing if you have budget constraints and that is ok! You might need to make a few compromises to match your budget.
The more roommates you have, the cheaper your housing likely can get.
If your other roommates can’t make an in-person tour, take videos for them.
If it doesn’t seem like too competitive of a property, you can negotiate! You might be able to get the landlord to pay half of or even the whole broker’s fee to bring down the cost a little.
After moving in, I highly recommend joining different Facebook community groups like the Everything is Free Somerville or Curb Alert Page for cheap or even free furniture! The Facebook Marketplace site is also incredibly helpful.
When I was in high school, I was known as the dental guy. I attended a vocational-technical high school where I took the typical courses that are offered at most high schools, like math, science, history, and English, however, I also had the opportunity to take dental assisting courses, even becoming certified in dental radiology when I was 16. Throughout high school, I had competed at the national level in Dental Science competitions through an organization called HOSA Future Health Professionals, even medaling in the top 3 in the nation two times. A fire had ignited deep within me. I was going to be a dentist, and no one could tell me otherwise.
Fast forward a few years and I was pursuing my undergraduate degree at the University of Delaware with a concentration in pre-dentistry. Among other prerequisite courses, I remember sitting in my Organic Chemistry class and constantly thinking, “This is not for me,” though I kept moving forward, nonetheless. At this point, I had convinced myself that I would be better off suffering through numerous dental school prerequisites that I was not passionate about rather than giving up on the career that I had been interested in since I was in the sixth grade. The idea of having to start over and find a new career path was just too daunting for me to even fathom, yet I couldn’t help but notice that the fire within me was slowly dimming.
In the Fall of 2017, this fear suddenly felt insignificant, after a tragic event occurred back at home, feeling like my world had stopped completely while the rest of the world continued to fly past me. As a result of this tragedy, my mom was critically injured, ultimately having to receive intense physical and occupational therapy. I watched her go from being intubated in the ICU to using a walker around the house to now being fully independent and working as a nurse again. My mom’s strength was truly undeniable. Her resilience inspired me and the work that her therapists did to help her to heal both physically and mentally opened my eyes to a new field of careers. By the winter of 2019, just months before graduating from undergrad, I decided to shift my focus to a career in the rehabilitation sciences.
When considering this new field of careers, I initially decided to pursue physical therapy. I had a general idea of what the role of a physical therapist was from accompanying my mom to physical therapy appointments when I was home from college. When I was younger, I even went to a PT myself for a rotator cuff injury. During my final semester of undergrad, I started volunteering for a few hours a week at the University of Delaware Physical Therapy clinic—a clinic run by clinicians and student PTs from the university. Being able to see patients on a weekly basis and ask questions about their treatment excited me. I ended up even attending a career fair held by my university for students to find jobs and summer internships specifically focused on PT. At this fair, I met numerous representatives from different companies and the small, welcoming family feel that I received from the Premier Physical Therapy & Sports Performance team pushed me to hand over my resume. Just around a week or two later, I had landed a job working with them as an exercise technician beginning a few days after my graduation in May of 2019.
at Premier was such an incredible opportunity for me. I was able to receive
hands-on experience working with patients, observe treatments being performed
by PTs, and ask as many questions as my heart desired. Though, I slowly found
myself gravitating toward the back corner of the clinic, an area where people
were constantly talking and laughing, even being referred to as the “fun
corner” by my clinic director on a few occasions. I began speaking with the
clinician working in this area, an occupational therapist working in hand
therapy as a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT). At this point, I knew almost
nothing about what an occupational therapist was, but I was interested in learning
In August of 2019, I began shadowing Katie, an occupational therapist working in both an outpatient setting and an acute care setting. I remember the very first patient that I had observed her working with, an individual who had experienced a stroke and was having difficulty performing several of their activities of daily living (ADLs) independently. On this day in particular, Katie was working with them to straighten their pointer finger, which was tightly flexed as a result of a trigger finger. Katie set up a Jenga tower and played with them, encouraging them to focus on straightening and using that one pointer finger specifically. On a different day, this same patient came in and stated that they were unable to buckle their seatbelt without assistance from their partner. Katie then brought us all outside, had the patient get into the passenger seat like they normally would, and then observed them attempting to buckle themselves. She quickly noticed that the center console was what was getting in the way and that once it was flipped up, the patient could fully extend their pointer finger, reach down, and buckle themselves on their own. Katie made treatment fun, but it still had purpose. She listened to the specific concerns and goals that mattered to her patients and did everything she could to support them so that they could live their lives to the fullest. After a few sessions of shadowing Katie, the fire within me that had almost completely extinguished a few years earlier was now ignited all over again—fueled by the idea of one day becoming an occupational therapist, providing holistic care and helping people to do the things that matter most to them.
Once I had officially decided that I wanted to become an OT, it was time to start preparing. I decided that I would take a full year to finish up my remaining prerequisites, gain hours shadowing in multiple settings, and continue to work as an exercise technician. In the fall of 2019, I was shadowing in a school-based setting, an outpatient setting, and a hospital while taking two classes at a local community college and working throughout the week. While things were overwhelming at times, I loved everything that I was doing and grew to appreciate how my schedule was structured despite having so much going on. In each setting that I was shadowing, I was learning more and more about how the role of the OT is similar over-all, but still noticing specific differences. For example, one morning I could be in a school-based setting observing an OT that was working on pre-writing strokes with younger children and the next morning I could be observing an OT helping a post-operative hip replacement patient to learn how to use adaptive equipment before being discharged from the hospital. I sometimes envied my friends who had done their observations over the summer during undergrad, not having to worry about schoolwork, work, and other responsibilities that I had at this time. Though simultaneously, I felt like this experience was incredibly valuable, allowing me to have time to really research a field that was new to me, giving me the opportunity to broaden my personal scope of what I understand OT to be.
The chaotic schedule that I had come to love was promptly interrupted in March of 2020, when the whole world shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was suddenly furloughed from my job, being promised that I would be brought back as soon as possible, though we all had no idea how long this pandemic would last. Suddenly, my busy days of work, school, and shadowing experiences had turned into monotony. I woke up at 9 or 10 AM each day, sitting on the couch and doing all my homework within the first two days of the week. For the rest of the week, I mainly just sat around the house, only leaving for daily bike rides around the neighborhood in an attempt to keep myself sane. One afternoon, as I was looking up information about different graduate schools, I decided to sign up for as many virtual information sessions as possible. I had attended almost 10 in a one-month period, eventually even having a pre-Zoom routine that I would follow. I would go upstairs about 15 minutes early, wash my face and brush my hair, put on a polo or a button-down shirt (though I was almost always wearing shorts or joggers from the waist-down), adjust the lighting in my room, and then pull up a master document that I had created with information about every single school I was interested in. On May 6th, 2020, I attended the Tufts OTD information session, knowing almost nothing about the program but knowing that it was a strong school overall. I still remember how friendly and passionate Jill Rocca was, an Admissions Coordinator for the OT department who had attended Tufts for her Post-Professional Masters and her Post-Professional Doctorate in OT. When listening to the current students in the program speak about their experiences, they seemed so happy with their decision to attend Tufts and seemed to have a lot of support from their classmates and faculty. At the end of this Zoom call, Tufts had risen to the top of my list and I was going to do everything in my power to try to be in their next cohort.
In June of 2020 I was finally called back into work, where I gradually went from working one or two days a week to working five days a week once I had completed my last prerequisite courses. I was the only exercise technician at the clinic and felt a bit overwhelmed. However, this helped me to work on my time management skills, prioritizing tasks, and working on my overall self-care before, during, and after work. In July, I began to apply to schools. I was only able to focus on applications in the evenings and on the weekends due to my busy work schedule. Nonetheless, I was diligent and submitted all my applications by mid-August since I completed my personal statement back in May and reached out to my references in advance.
Once I started to receive interviews, things began to feel so much more real and my Zoom meeting routine had now turned into a Zoom interview routine, requiring me to leave work early or come in late. In November, I had received my acceptance letter from Tufts and genuinely could not believe it—quite literally falling to the floor in disbelief when I had received the email. The conversations that I was having with patients at work began to shift from, “I’m preparing to apply to graduate school” to “I will be attending graduate school,” which was such a surreal feeling. As my last day of work approached and the reality of moving away for school truly began to sink in, I felt overwhelmed about finding roommates, buying furniture, making sure my financial aid was in place, and so much more—something that I had forgotten about after being out of school for a few years.
Something that I struggled with more than I was expecting was the overall adjustment to being a full-time student again. The first 6-week summer session of the OTD program consisted of an OT Foundations course and Gross Anatomy for the first half of the summer, then Neuroanatomy for the second half of the summer. While I had taken prerequisite courses a full year prior to this, I could hear the comments of people I had talked to in the past echoing through my head, telling me how hard it would be to get back into school after taking time off. Once the semester began, those voices progressively got louder. I felt lost navigating Gross Anatomy, as this course was so densely compacted with challenging material. I realized that my study strategies from undergrad weren’t holding up very well in graduate school and that I would need to adjust quickly. Though it took some trial and error, I eventually decided to make Quizlet flashcards, creating one study set for each lecture and one specific study set with all the muscles and their attachments, actions, and nerve innervations. I wrote most of my flashcards as questions, creating a practice exam that I could randomize and add images to if I wanted. I also carried around a small whiteboard and markers in my backpack, drawing the brachial plexus, arteries of the upper and lower extremity, and whatever else I needed to see visually over and over. While it was frightening to make these big changes so early in the semester, I feel like it was helpful to realize that I am not the exact same student that I was in undergrad. Similarly, the program I am in is very different from my undergrad program, which means that changes are to be expected.
Another challenge I faced when beginning grad school was my struggle with the overall transition. In undergrad I experienced homesickness in my first semester, though, after that I began to love college, the people I had met, and the freedom I had. When I started at Tufts, I assumed that it wouldn’t be so bad since I had already lived away from home before. Nevertheless, after just a few weeks, I quickly began to miss my family and my dogs. I was extremely nervous about having to meet so many new people in a graduate-level program. I had an overwhelming feeling of imposter syndrome, like everyone around me was so intelligent and had such remarkable life experiences, and I was constantly comparing myself to others. The times where I really struggled to get out of my own head or had trouble grasping concepts, I turned to the OT faculty. I appreciated their willingness to listen to me and to help me.
Some of these meetings were more personal and would range from talking about things I was struggling with in a specific lesson to delving deeper into what is important to me as a student and what I want out of my education. Fortunately, as time passed, these negative thoughts began to diminish, and I began pushing myself out of my comfort zone and immersing myself in the many great opportunities that are available at Tufts.
In the summer, I mustered up the courage to run for a position within Tufts’ Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA), and I was elected to the Student-Faculty Representative position for my cohort. I was so excited to have the opportunity to bridge the gap between my cohort and the OT faculty, working to make sure everyone’s voices are heard. In the Fall, when the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) was coming for an on-site visit with our program, I was one of the students that was selected to help represent the students of our program, which meant a lot to me. Though the most meaningful experiences for me, outside of my education, have been the close relationships I have formed over the months that I have been here. From the casual summer get-togethers with my cohort, to the Annual Fall BBQ and apple picking events hosted by the Graduate Student Council, to the tight-knit relationships I have made with individual classmate’s one-on-one. I genuinely feel like I have become a valued member of the Jumbo community, making Tufts feel like home for me.
Seeing all my hard work pay off, the loud voices of negativity within my head gradually silencing, and the support I have felt from classmates and faculty have proven that I genuinely deserve to be here. I now view the time that spent out of school as a positive. I had time to work out in the real world, make connections, and grow in a way that I may not have been able to do if I had come straight to graduate school from undergrad. Since starting at Tufts, the fire within me continues to roar as my passion for this profession only increases as I learn. I’m seeing myself grow into the clinician that I had hoped to become.