As a native New Yorker and an occasional visitor to Washington, DC, I can appreciate the charms of both places. That said, I’ve lived in the Boston area for a long time now, and I really love it here. But at this time of year, newly admitted students still ask us about Fletcher’s location.
As far as I’m concerned, the blog has put to rest all questions about whether students find the internships or post-graduation jobs that they want. And I do my best during slow news stretches to talk about our lovely neighborhood. But I can hardly expect prospective students to depend on my opinion. They will want to hear the opinions of their peers. So I turned to the Social List with a simple question: What do you like about attending graduate school in Medford/Somerville/the Boston area? The answers fell into two broad categories: related to students’ academic work; and related to other aspects of their lives. Here are their answers:
Related to their academic work:
Boston is the hub of American academia! Living within such close proximity to so many students studying anything you can imagine makes for a unique social experience. Not only are there a multitude of schools within Tufts with which we regularly interact, but we are able to make friends with everybody from chemistry PhD candidates at MIT, to Harvard Law students, and everything in between. Furthermore, Fletcher students have the opportunity to cross-register for courses at Harvard and vice versa.
Boston is a student town. You are not going to find any other place that is as intellectually stimulating. On top of the amazing atmosphere at Fletcher, unique opportunities to get involved in events and conferences at Harvard, MIT, and BU, and working with professors and research groups at those universities, come up as a positive consequence of being based so close by.
I love the collaboration between different universities in the area. It increases the opportunities to find events, classes, and people interested in your field of study.
An unmatched intellectual community in the greater area, and the ability to use other schools’ resources, such as libraries. Lots of networking opportunities between classmates and contacts at other schools, and ability to get involved in other groups/institutes connected to those institutions.
When speakers come to campus, the distance from Washington, DC/New York encourages candid thoughtful commentary in a way I didn’t anticipate.
And the other aspects:
With easy access to the Red Line, the entire city of Boston is at your feet. That means plenty of great studying locations around the city (the Boston Public Library is a personal favorite), and an endless list of fun things to do with new Fletcher friends on the weekends. A group of us got together at the Frog Pond for an experiment in skating, something quite new for international students (and a few American students as well). We have museums, fascinating historical neighborhoods, restaurants, and shopping areas nearby if we want to take advantage of them — as a local Bostonian I certainly do — but Medford is quiet enough that you do not get lost in the hustle and bustle of a big city. That is a huge advantage when midterms and finals come around. In short, I love it here. Many of us will most likely live in larger cities later on in life, so I am happy to stay in Boston as long as I can.
I’ve found that most employers have been flexible about agreeing to do interviews (both informational and for specific jobs/internships) over the phone or Skype. I’ve done interviews with people in Canada, Mexico, New York, DC, and other locations without having to leave Boston. You just have to be flexible and creative about scheduling them. Also, after taking DC Metro pretty much every single day for the past seven years, not having to take Metro anymore is BLISS! I very much needed a break from the DC bubble, and living in Boston has been a wonderful experience.
Boston has all the benefits of a big city in a small city. The food in the area is fantastic. Lots of industries have sites in Boston, and people are friendly (don’t be scared away by rumors of gruffness!). Shorter flight times to Europe. Road trips to Canada, skiing in Maine, visiting the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Vermont, fresh lobster in Maine. You can easily drive to see the fall leaves. Who wouldn’t want to go to Salem around Halloween? Public transportation is good. Can get to the airport on public transport in 45 minutes.
The calm environment in which to focus on studies, with the knowledge that a big city is just minutes away on the T, allowing for great nighttime and weekend fun.
There are so many events, organizations, activities, etc. if leaving campus in the direction of Somerville/Cambridge/Boston, yet it’s easy to go trail running, biking, hiking, and so forth within minutes in the Medford direction.
Access to Boston, while also being in the Davis Square area (similar to the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn). There are many unique neighborhoods in this area including Inman Square, Porter Square, Harvard Square, and all of Boston!
A real campus where you can focus and study but with a real city close by.
Easy weekend getaways to New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Cape Cod, Berkshires, etc. –Convenient and relatively inexpensive airport for travel (i.e. frequent flights to DC). –Easy area to bike around. –Close to outdoors/outdoor activities.
Great neighborhood with much happening nearby! It’s a suburb: living costs are comparatively very reasonable and being away from the din of the city is perfect for research/study! Boston has consistently been rated amongst the top cities in the world for students, based on quality of living, employer activity, and affordability.
Proximity to Somerville gems like Highland Kitchen, 3 Little Figs, Backbar, Sarma, and more; the Boston area’s student-friendly nature (especially when it comes to café options and museum/movie/symphony discount pricing); the opportunity to live in a part of the U.S. your career may not otherwise let you experience; proximity and access to courses, speakers, and other opportunities at other Boston area schools.
I love DC, but I know it’s only a matter of time before my career will take me there. Boston, on the other hand, is a wonderful, complex, historic, and culturally rich city where I’ve never before lived and might never get the chance to live again. Location was one of the many reasons I chose Fletcher, and I’ve never regretted it.