I’ve spent the last 4 years in graduate art admissions, after completing my MFA (’17) and Post-Bac (’15), I hear a similar story from prospective Master of Fine Arts students every year. Artists coming to grad school are looking to expand their voice, hone their practice, as well as find and develop a connection with a network of other artists.
The goal of a grad program in interdisciplinary contemporary art is to expand and refine who we already are as artists, and much of that can’t happen in a bubble, without our peers. The connections we make in graduate school, are more than colleagues in the classroom; our graduate cohorts become our support systems, our curators, our collaborators, our gallerists, our teachers, our recommenders, and (if we’re lucky) our good friends.
Last month, I stopped into the newly opened Nearby Gallery in Newton Center, for the exhibition opening of “In Mid Air”. Nearby Gallery was founded by Cal Rice (MFA ’18) and Sam Belisle (MFA ’18). The show was a fabulous and experimental collection of work, from 3 recently graduated SMFA at Tufts undergraduate students, Lightbringer, Calla King-Clements, Daria Bobrova. In the crowd of the reception, there were families, community members, and an assortment of SMFA alumni. At one point as a group of alumni discussed the show and gallery, I realized I was in conversation with MFA graduates from 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and a current MFA candidate, set to graduate in 2022. There is excitement in watching people meet, reminisce, and connect; artists sharing their work, talking about their galleries or studios, planning to collaborate, and celebrating the work of both the artists and their expanded cohort success.
What I love is that this group support is not an isolated incident. Each month artists of Boston flock to First Friday events in SOWA to see our peers in juried or solo shows. We work with SMFA alumni like Alexandra Photopoulos (MFA ‘10), Allison Gray (MFA’17),and Doug Breault (MFA’17) who run exciting galleries in Cambridge, like Gallery 263; spaces that offer opportunities to submit proposals or join group shows and residencies. We leave our studios and solitude to attend each other’s events, and to celebrate our work and community, creating lasting connections.
Each year, as I work to recruit and admit classes to the MFA and Post-Bac programs, I feel a little bit selfish (in the best way) to be able to invite in future members of our extended SMFA graduate cohort. I am excited this year to welcome to campus, the next class of MFA and Post-Bac students who will join our conversations, shows, and the greater community. We’re thrilled to have you.
Written by Amanda Wang, Innovation and Management M.S.I.M. student
I still remember my first day as a Graduate student at Tufts:
doing self-introductions with my 33 classmates in M.S. Innovation and
Management, which to me was something way outside of my comfort zone. Despite almost
20 years training in English and a decent TOEFL score, I could not even do a
self-intro with confidence and fluency.
One year later after the orientation, I no longer have to organize
sentences in my mind several times before I start speaking. Looking back, I
wish I could have known some of the ways to improve my oral English before I
came to the States. This is how I got the idea for this blog: to help my peers consider
multiple ways to improve their English speaking. I picked four of the most
important rules that I found essential. You do not have to follow what I
suggest here, as they can be very personal experiences that may not apply to
everyone. However, hopefully you can still find something that ‘clicks’ for
you, and figure out your own magical way!
Rule #1. Mistakes ≠ Failures
Yeah, I still make mistakes sometimes, but after all, I am not a native speaker, so it is totally fine. Being afraid of making mistakes is due to our high self-consciousness: ‘I MUST sound like a dumb person.’ Let’s take a step back from this scenario – have you ever talked to a non-native speaker of your mother tongue? Did you think in the same way about them as you imagined people would think about you before talking in English? No, because we tend to overthink that we are ‘being judged.’ Therefore, keep in mind that making mistakes is very natural. Plus, do not feel embarrassed if someone kindly points out your mistakes – that actually helps you improve way faster!
Rule #2. Talk, talk, talk
This sounds like a nonsense: how can I keep talking when I
am not THAT good at talking? Or after all, I am an introvert. I don’t even
enjoy talking to people endlessly using my native language. Why do I have to do
The best way to learn a language is to live in an
environment where you have to use that language to live. Now you are a student
in a university in the United States, which means you have the perfect
opportunity to practice. Try to speak up in the class, talk to your professors
and peers, or greet the barista you meet every morning. It is not difficult at
all if you follow Rule #1. Being an introvert, I finally realized that
‘introvert’ means that you spend energy when you gather with a group of people,
like at a party, but you can still want to do small talks. Lower your ego,
don’t be too self-conscious, and start the chat. The merit of talking is that
you also gain input from other people, so your brain will pick up some colloquial
expressions and turn them into your output in no time. Talk is a great and easy
way to learn new terms, as you do not have to memorize a vocab list.
Rule #3. Build a real network
Sometimes, becoming an international student also means you
left most of your old friends at home. Do not let loneliness in a new place overwhelm
you. Instead, build a real network here so that you really feel like part of
the community. How is this related to language skills? First, you have more
chance to talk, as said in Rule #2. Second, you can talk about the things that
you have a real interest in, make new good friends, and enrich your life
At the same time, as you naturally catch up with people in
your network, you will feel that your feet are more to the ground, and more
confident because you are more an insider of life here. I tried to catch up
with my professors, mentors, and friends this summer, and I can feel that I am
improving again. More specific to English skills, I also get to know people’s
interests and passions, and opportunities keep popping up during conversations.
If you’re not sure how to start the networking, check graduate school calendar
and go to events to add people to your network!
Rule #4. Reading and writing as a daily routine
You are being educated, and you want to speak intelligently. Sometimes, small talk seems to be fine, but what if you have a presentation or interview coming up? My suggestion is to benefit from reading and writing, and make it a habit. In the Tisch Library Tower Café, you can find all kinds of magazines and newspapers to keep yourself updated. Or simply download some news apps (FYI: all Tufts students have access to the New York Times through the Tisch Library). Do you have some novels written by American authors that you liked when you were a child? Find the English version and re-read it in English, you will remember better as you have the scenes in memory. The ability to generate pictures while using a language helps internalize the language and apply it quickly when you speak.
Like listening and speaking, reading and writing are great
companions. I have honed my English skills by being a blogger at Tufts Graduate
Blog. Writing as a practice gives me the time to organize my thoughts in a
logical way, and thinking in English while writing is a ‘double language drill’
for both speaking and writing. I am always talking to myself in English while
writing, and so both things become natural gradually.
To sum up, make the most out of your graduate journey at
Tufts, and always be confident as you are already a bilingual person (yay!). As
you practice, you will see a door to a broader world opening in front you.
Written by Ruaidhri Crofton, History & Museum Studies M.A. 2020
So you’ve been accepted to a graduate program at Tufts and you just can’t wait for your new adventure to begin! You’re starting to make travel plans and maybe even connecting with some of your future professors and classmates. Everything seems to be coming together, but you still have to figure out one of the more frustrating aspects of becoming a graduate student: housing.
As cheesy as it may sound, Tufts will not only become the place you go to school. For many students who aren’t from the region, the Boston area will also become your “home” for the next several years. With so many things to consider when looking for housing, the process of house hunting can quickly become overwhelming. As someone who has already been through the process of finding a place to live while attending Tufts (and is getting ready to do it again for the upcoming school year), here are a few tips and tricks I have for making your housing search as straightforward as possible.
1. Consider On-Campus Housing
The first thing to consider when searching for housing is the fact that Tufts does provide a limited number of rooms for graduate students on the Medford/Somerville campus. This is a great option, particularly for incoming first-years, as it eliminates many of the more difficult parts of finding a place to live. Because this housing is managed by the university, you won’t have to worry about finding available properties, contacting landlords, locating roommates, or buying furniture. You also won’t have to be concerned about not being able to view the room before you arrive. However, applicants for on-campus housing are selected via a lottery system so keeping other options in mind as a backup if you aren’t selected is wise. More information can be found on the Office of Residential Life website.
2. Do Some Online Searching
Luckily, the days of searching through crowded bulletin boards or looking for “For Rent” signs in windows is over as there are now a seemingly endless number of websites and resources available to students searching for off-campus housing. However, starting to search these sites for available rooms as soon as possible is ideal. Tufts offers a fantastic off-campus housing website for students to search for apartment listings and roommates in the Boston and Somerville/Medford areas. Other third-party platforms can also be helpful in finding good housing accommodations. I have found Jump Off Campus to be one of the more helpful sites for housing searches. Social media pages, such as the “Tufts University Housing, Sublets & Roommates” Facebook group, are also good places to find good housing opportunities both near campus and beyond.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Expand Your Search
Though living right across the street from campus and being able to roll out of bed right before class is nice in many respects, available housing options may not always be so convenient. Due to the number of rental properties immediately adjacent to the Tufts campuses and the fact that rent prices tend to be higher the closer you get to the school, you might want to consider expanding your search area to find better/more affordable alternatives. Looking in communities slightly further from Tufts may get you more “bang for your buck”. Utilizing public transportation can also make the distance less inconvenient and even give you a good excuse to get some extra exercise on your way to class!
4. Networking Works!
Many graduate students elect to live in shared accommodations with several other Tufts students. Not only does this often make housing more affordable by splitting the cost of rent and utilities between several tenants, it also provides you with a great opportunity to meet new people in your first year! If you happen to already know students currently enrolled at the university or who will be starting at the same time as you, chatting with them about the possibility of living together could make finding roommates less difficult/awkward. At the same time, connecting with students using social media or Tufts platforms is another way to find others who might be looking for prospective roommates and housing. Depending on your department, there may also be a way for you to connect with other students in your field. Though it certainly may feel odd at first, I can personally attest to meeting some great friends this way.
5. Know Your Budget and Your Preferences
With so many things to consider with housing, it’s easy to get overwhelmed! Before you get started looking for housing, make sure to identify what you are looking for in a prospective housing accommodation. Things like setting a budget and identifying preferences such as number of roommates, location, whether or not furniture is provided, etc. will be important to streamlining your search. Though it is unlikely to happen to you, it is also important to be aware of the potential for housing scams. Taking steps like viewing an apartment before signing a lease and knowing your rights as a tenant are important for having a pleasant experience in your new home. More information can be found on the Off-Campus Housing resources page.