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For the final Qs&As, the Admissions Graduate Assistants will turn to locations — on-campus and off-campus, for study, housing, or simply learning about the area.  Don’t miss their previous advice on preparing for Fletcher generally and preparing for Orientation and classes.

What is your favorite place at Fletcher or elsewhere on the Tufts campus?

Brooklyn: Ginn Library has a no-food policy, which I wholeheartedly endorse because nothing is worse than trying to read for class with someone crunching in your ear.  However, there are times when I get really busy and it would be great to be able to do some work while I eat.  This is where the Mugar Computer Lab comes in!  Obviously, if you’re going to eat a whole meal, you might as well go to the café, but for snacking while reading, Mugar Computer Lab is the place to go.

Cece: My favorite place on campus is the roof area of the Tisch Library, called “Alex’s Place.”  It offers a gorgeous view of the Boston skyline and the Medford/Somerville neighborhoods since Tufts sits on top of a hill.  It makes a great reading spot or just a place to take a calming break from the library below.

Cindy: To be honest, I spend pretty much all of my time in or around the Fletcher building, but I don’t have a particular favorite place.  I guess I’d say my favorite is anywhere I’m hanging out with friends.  There is, however, a restaurant on the Tufts campus called Semolina Kitchen and Bar which has excellent food!

John: Hall of Flags during Social Hours — free food and great company — what could be better?

Do you have any tips for finding housing?

Cece: Fletcher Facebook pages and the Social List, Fletcher’s informal student listserv, are a good place to start a housing hunt if you are looking for places around Fletcher.  Alums, current students, and incoming students all post housing-related messages all the way up to mid-August, so don’t panic if you are not successful early on.  I would also say that living close to Fletcher is not the only housing option.  Many students live in other parts of Medford or even in neighboring cities like Cambridge.  The options are wide, based on what logistical arrangements you are comfortable with.  I live 25 minutes away from campus but I took the distance as an opportunity to get back to cycling and it has worked out.  Do keep the winter weather in mind as well — the cold and snow can complicate long commutes.

Cindy: I am in an unusual situation compared to most Fletcher students: I am married and have a dog and guinea pig.  Roommates were not the best option for us to keep our rent costs down.  I would highly recommend taking a trip to visit the area and search for housing on your own, or connect with other students on the Facebook group.  If you cannot visit, get in touch with current Fletcher students who have used trusted realtors, and maybe they can help you find a place.  Keep in mind that realtors typically charge fees.

John: The Social List and the Facebook group are both great resources for incoming students, but more important than the search medium is that you really think about what you want out of your housing in terms of price, roommates, and proximity to campus.  There are a lot of options that come online throughout the summer so you can afford to be a little picky, but I would also recommend being open to new experiences that may be different from your ideal housing situation.

Brooklyn: Coming from Washington, DC, I had gotten used to looking for housing closer to the move-in date, probably 30 to 45 days out.  In the greater Boston area, this is not how things work!  Because something like 90% of leases in the metro area start September 1, people will start looking for housing as early as March/April.  While you don’t need to start that early, the earlier you can start looking the better!

What location in the Boston area should students be sure to visit?

John: Beacon Hill is a cool historic district in downtown Boston.  It’s very close to other noteworthy spots, including the Massachusetts State House, the Boston Common, and Newbury Street.  Chinatown is a nice change of pace; there are some great restaurants and it’s a fun way to see a different side of Boston.  I also really enjoy Harpoon Brewery in the Seaport District.  Be sure to order one of their famed pretzels while you’re enjoying a beer!

Cindy: I love to sing, so I would recommend going to any of the karaoke bars in downtown Boston with your friends.  There are also some excellent local breweries if you’re into trying interesting beers, such as Slumbrew and Aeronaut.

Cece: The Boston waterfront (while the warm weather lasts) or any neighborhood near the Charles River is where Boston feels complete to me.  I love that this city has a great balance of urban and nature.  If you don’t feel like going as far as downtown Boston, you’ll find a lot to explore in Medford, Somerville, and Cambridge, all of which have their own vibe and charms.  Anybody new to Boston should definitely go on the Freedom Trail as well, to learn about the rich history of this city.

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Kaitlyn is a local — or almost local, given that her home area of Cape Cod is a region unto itself.  For her final post of this academic year, she has suggestions for summer fun to share with incoming students or anyone else in the region.

The warm weather is here!  And the sun’s returned with it.  It’s surreal to think about, but as of Wednesday, May 9th, I’m a Fletcher second year.  The last month of the semester was quite hectic, but we’re past it, and with half of us having graduated, it’s high time for celebrations — and taking advantage of the wonderful summer weather.  There are plenty of exciting things to do in Boston in the summer time.  Here’s my top five ways to take advantage of the sun.

1. Hiking in the Middlesex Fells

The Boston skyline from the Middlesex Fells.

Just a 15-minute drive from Fletcher, the Middlesex Fells consists of beautiful hills and forests that surround reservoirs and ponds.  This state reservation has bike and walking trails of varying difficulty, so you could do what I did in March and take an easy stroll around the lakefront, or you could try what we’ll be doing this week and hike up the hills for beautiful views of Boston.  The area is quiet and tranquil, with a visitor center, a zoo just to the north, and a boathouse that opens at the end of May for anyone interested in renting a kayak or canoe.  All the trails are loops, and the Fells website has estimated hiking times for each one.  Pack some snacks, some water, and a camera, and enjoy the great outdoors.

2. See Shakespeare on the Common

Every summer in July and August, the Boston Common (easily accessible by Park Street Station on the Red and Green line) hosts Shakespeare on the Common, where open-air Shakespeare performances go on in the early evenings.  It’s the perfect outing for anyone staying in the area for the summer or returning early from an internship.  This year, they’re performing Richard III.  Go early, bring a blanket or folding chair, and grab a good seat.  You can buy snacks from one of the vendors on the Common or cross the street and pick up something from one of the surrounding restaurants.

3. Kayak the Charles

The activity I most looked forward to during the week before graduation was joining other students for kayaking the Charles River.  It’s a fun daytime activity.  You can rent a kayak by the hour and see Boston from the river.  The closest starting place is in Kendall Square, just a few T (subway) stops from Tufts.  Go on a warm sunny day and be prepared for your Fletcher friends to splash you.

4. Take a tour on the Duck Boats

If you’d like to spend a day being a proper tourist in Boston, a duck boat tour is one of the best ways to do it.  The signature boats that carry our sports teams in parade processions will bring you all around the city to view historic sites.  Then, most exciting, they’ll drive right off the road and into the Boston Harbor (it never gets old).  So you’ll see Boston from the water, too, and maybe hear a story or two about the Boston Tea Party.

5. Walk the Freedom Trail

If you’re interested in being a tourist, or learning more local history, or if you liked my hiking suggestion earlier but would rather hike in the city, check out the Freedom Trail!  Just follow the red-brick road!  The Freedom trail is a 2.5-mile red-brick line that leads you down Boston’s sidewalks and to many of its historical sites and museums.  Go with friends or with a tour guide.  Who knows — you might even see a pilgrim or a revolutionary soldier.

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In the summer, I like to use my own activities to give readers a sense of the varied things we can do in the Tufts area.  I hope no one has interpreted my lack of weekend reports to mean that there’s nothing fun happening!  On the contrary, while I won’t try to reconstruct my entire summer, I’ll share a few highlights from recent weekends.

Earlier this month, I made my first-ever trip to a Frank Lloyd Wright house.  The only house designed by the famous architect in Massachusetts is a private home, but just about an hour away is the Zimmerman House, run by the Currier Museum in Manchester, New Hampshire.  The house is a good example of Wright’s “Usonian” style and is well worth the trip, as is the Currier Museum.  A real little gem of a place.

This past Sunday, my husband Paul and I headed over to our favorite Revere Beach for the annual Sand Sculpting Festival.  First (and briefly, because I’m fully capable of going on and on about it), I’ll just say that Revere is a wonderful spot for convenient beach access, clean sea water, and delicious Salvadoran/Cambodian/Moroccan/other foods.  And every year, there’s the Sand Sculpting Festival which, this year, really drew a crowd.  Once there, folks were greeted by a large sculpture of the USS Constitution.  (The actual Constitution recently returned to the water after a period in drydock for repairs.)


The “People’s Choice” award winner was a Tufts Jumbo-friendly sand-elephant family of three, napping on the beach.

In that photo, you can tell what a windy day it was from the kite surfer in the distance.  Dozens of kites dotted the sky by the time we left.

Those less inclined to kite surf and more inclined to eat could choose from lots of food trucks offering treats, some of which were more nutritious than these.


My summer weekends seem to be flying by, but there’s plenty going on here.  I’ll try to file one more weekend report before the end of the summer.  I never have enough time to write about our neighborhood during the academic year so now’s the time to suggest locations for you to explore.

 

This week, Tufts University released a video to welcome newly admitted students, and particularly international students, to all of its undergraduate and graduate schools.  Featuring several current Fletcher students, with Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti the first of the speakers, the video expresses a view that is fundamental to the university, and even more deeply embedded at Fletcher: We all benefit from a diverse international community.   Even the mayors of Boston, Medford, and Somerville joined in to reaffirm the welcome on behalf of our host cities.

I hope you’ll appreciate the message conveyed through the video.  Fletcher — and all of Tufts University — looks forward to welcoming new international students who will join us in September, and we appreciate those who are already studying here.

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Returning to the Fletcher Admissions inbox and the many questions within, Admissions Graduate Assistant Cindy tackles a student life question.

CindyNew Fletcher students often wonder how they’ll get around town without access to a car.  Have no fear!  There are plenty of options available for you to get to and from campus, and also ways for you to get to popular areas in neighboring cities.

Many students live within walking distance of the campus.  Depending on where you live, you might be separated from campus by a small hill, but students who live within walking distance are usually happy with their choice.

For those who live further afield, taking public transportation is the most common way to get around.  There are dozens of bus lines throughout the Greater Boston area, and it is relatively easy to check out the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) website and figure out the best routes to take from any location.  The bus routes that come onto the Tufts campus are the 80, 94, and 96.

Although it doesn’t come directly onto campus, the best option to go from Tufts to downtown Boston is the MBTA subway train — which everyone calls the “T” — from nearby Davis Square.  It takes about 20 minutes to reach the center of Boston, and along the way there are four stops in Cambridge, for those wanting to visit Harvard or MIT.  The option to take a bus or subway definitely expands the circle of convenient places to live.

Be on the lookout at the beginning of each semester for a notification from Tufts about purchasing a “Charlie Card.”  Students are eligible to purchase a discounted bus-only or bus/train pass at the beginning of each semester, which gives you unlimited rides.  Taking the bus or train expands the circle of convenient places to live.

If you would like to cut down on your walking and public transportation time, a great option is to bike to and from Fletcher and around the area.  It is definitely a cheaper way to go, and there are plenty of places to store your bike on campus.  If you are worried about the safety of your bike, I recommend purchasing a U-Lock and registering the bike with the Tufts Police Department.

If you do have access to a car, students can purchase a decal permit for parking on campus.  Parking is limited, however, and students may only park in designated areas around the Tufts campus, so many students think it’s best not to have a car.  If you’re in a pinch and need to get somewhere quick, Uber and Lyft are great resources, and they may provide discounted rates for students in areas near the Tufts campus.  This is a good option if you are cross-registering for a class at Harvard and happen to miss the bus one day.  The campus also has several Zipcars that you can borrow, if you have a Zipcar membership.  There’s even a Zipcar in the parking lot directly behind Blakeley Hall dormitory.

Last, but not least, Tufts offers a shuttle service, nicknamed the “Joey.”  You can grab the Joey right near Fletcher and take it to Davis Square.  It also makes several stops on the Tufts campus.

Despite the usual urban-area traffic, it’s pretty easy to get around the Medford/Somerville/Boston area.  Once you have lived here for a little while, you will figure out the best way to get to and from campus, and you’ll travel like a pro!

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When Americans think of Boston, I’ll guess that most of the out-of-towners immediately go to the city’s important role in the early history of the United States.  Visitors expect to absorb that colonial vibe, and the city accommodates them by dressing people up in 18th-century attire to stand outside tourist destinations.  And that’s all great!  The history of the city is truly special.

But I also think of Boston, along with many of the surrounding towns, as having the most European feel of all U.S. cities.  There are streets in the Beacon Hill area of the city that could have been borrowed directly from London.  Beyond the physical layout of the city, there are, of course, the people — and the area is home to a highly international population.

(A brief detour here to explain how the different towns and cities fit together.  There’s the City of Boston with its many distinct neighborhoods and a firm sprawl-preventing border of the Boston Harbor.  But then there’s “the Boston area,” which includes some of the surrounding cities, generally Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, and Newton, but it’s not an official designation and it may be defined differently for different purposes.  This description might be helpful for future Fletcher students.)

So now, back to the international nature of the place.  One day, some time back, I was clicking around online (as one does), nerding out over the statistics for different groups in the U.S.  My impromptu online research followed hearing several references to Boston being the home of the “third most” people from two very different countries.  The result of my casual research was confirmation that there’s a reason for the international vibe that I feel as a long-time resident.  Many of our neighbors with origins in other countries have been here for generations, while others are newcomers.

Some examples:

Despite our most untropical weather, Greater Boston is home to the third largest population of Haitians in the U.S.  As it happens, Massachusetts also ranks third among the states.

Ditto (third again) for Armenians.  (Massachusetts ranks second among the states.)  Boston has one of the oldest Armenian communities in the U.S.

I had already known about the Haitian and Armenian communities, so I continued searching.

Our own Somerville has the fifth largest Nepali community in the U.S.

And suburban Brockton has the U.S.’s third biggest Cape Verdean population, preceded by Boston in second place, with Massachusetts home to far more Cape Verdean immigrants and their descendants than any other statte.

Cape Verdeans are not the only Portuguese speakers around here, giving Massachusetts the largest community of Portuguese speakers in the U.S. (including immigrants from Portugal and Brazil).  When you add neighboring Rhode Island, our two small states leave even California in the dust.  Suburban Framingham and nearby Somerville rank fourth and fifth for Brazilian Americans.  The Brazilian and Cape Verdean newcomers expanded the existing Portuguese and Portuguese-speaking population.

After those linguistic or national groups that had seemed most prominent, I started hunting more widely.  I found that:

Massachusetts ranks fourth in the number of Dominican Americans.

And Boston-Cambridge-Quincy ranks ninth in the number of Guatemalan Americans.

Boston ranks ninth in the number of Puerto Rican Americans.

Massachusetts ranks fifth in the number of Israeli Americans.

North of Tufts, Lowell has the second largest Cambodian-American population, and Lynn follows with the third largest.

The Irish-American portion of the total Boston population is, at 15.8%, the second largest in the U.S.  The interesting detail about the Irish American population here is that we have both a traditional population (from 19th and early 20th century immigration), and also a newer group that arrived in the 1980s.

Among other traditional immigrant groups, Massachusetts ranks fourth in the country for Italian Americans, who comprise 13.9% of the population.

For a metropolitan area that ranks only tenth by population in the U.S., that’s a major presence for varied cultural heritage groups.

I realize that might be more than enough statistics for most readers, but if you’re interested in even more detail about Boston’s demographic profile, have fun with it!

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Patriots logoSo I’m sitting at the computer and, you know, reading applications while there’s a football game broadcast playing quietly in the background.  I switch over to watch the halftime show and then go back to what I’m doing.  Eventually, I realize that the hometown New England Patriots are really in a hole (a 25-point hole, to be precise), so I decide that my listening to the game is bringing them bad luck.  Maybe switching the game off will turn things around!

Some time after 11:00, I hear some cars honking.  What?  Could those be celebratory honks?  And could my timely actions have brought the Pats a win?  Why, yes!

Or maybe it was quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick, or whatever.  Either way, there are a lot of happy football fans around here today.  You can recognize them from their tired game-ran-late eyes.

Boston is an insatiable sports town.  Between our beloved Red Sox (baseball), Bruins (ice hockey), and Celtics (basketball) and the Patriots (loved locally but perhaps not universally), we have experienced incredible championship success since 2000.  And yet, there’s still enthusiasm for another game and another win.  Congratulations to the Pats and all their fans!

 

I’m just back from a few days away and while I scramble to take care of those matters that await me, I will put the blog aside for one more day.  Except…I love sharing pix of my local vacations.  So here’s what we found at low tide at Cape Cod National Seashore’s Coast Guard Beach:

Seals

Seals!  I was standing quite a distance away because the seals were on a patch of sand surrounded by water, but what you’re seeing in the photo is a continuous blanket of seals relaxing on a sandbar.  Cape Cod is the summer home of ever-growing colonies of harbor seals and grey seals.

Cape mapCape Cod is easily reached by mass transportation.  There’s a ferry from Boston to Provincetown, at the very tip of the Cape.  Then there are buses that run through the various towns.  Alternatively, there are both buses and a train from Boston to Hyannis.  With both history and natural beauty going for it, the Cape is on my short list of places students should visit while they are at Fletcher.  But why wait?  Plan a day trip to follow your visit to Fletcher during this application season.

 

 

The beginning of this week finds me in meetings a lot.  Nearly all day yesterday.  Nearly all day tomorrow.  And a chunk of today.  What’s a blogger to do?  Write about summer in the city, naturally.

This weekend, my favorite beach town (city, actually) of Revere hosted its annual sand sculpture contest and festival.  The one I liked best, and the winner of first prize, was this one:

Sand sculpture 2016
You can see more here.  Revere is easy to reach by public transportation from the Tufts campus.  While you’re there, do as we did and visit Thmor Da, a sweet little family owned Cambodian restaurant.  The food is delicious and they’re so nice there!  (The truth is, we were there twice this past weekend — one planned visit for dinner, and a second spontaneous decision to grab lunch.)

Dinner on Saturday was at Lord Hobo, a brew pub with a second brewery location.  Like many U.S. cities, the Boston area has a crazy, and growing, number of boutique breweries, including several in Tufts’ host town, Somerville.

And on Sunday, we meandered over to the new Harvard Art Museum, which is just the right size for a study-break length visit, and easily reached by subway from Davis Square.

I’ll be back later this week with the usual type of information or news — so long as my meetings allow me the time to write.

 

Throughout the summer, I occasionally take the opportunity to talk about “Our Neighborhood” by describing my own weekend activities.  Not the cutting-the-grass or scrubbing-the-floor type of weekend “fun,” but things I might do that visitors and students could easily do, too.  To that end, I usually focus on easy day trips, especially those that can be accomplished by mass transportation.

This past weekend, which included the U.S. Memorial Day holiday, delivered a little bit of every kind of weather.  It was outrageously hot on Saturday (a May 28 record-setting 92 degrees) but the temperature plummeted through the night and Sunday found us back in our sweaters, closing all the windows that had only just been opened.  Monday was less cool, but started off with a drenching downpour.  A little of everything, as I said.

So our weekend also included a little of everything.  We were hosting family (my mother-in-law) and friends (two college roommates from New York and San Francisco), and on Saturday we jumped on a ferry to George’s Island, one of several islands in the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.  The ride, which offers great views of the city, takes about 40 minutes and delivers you to a place that seems both far from the city and also, if you gaze over the water, close to it.

George's Island view

Yesterday, yielding to the soggy morning conditions, we zipped off to the Museum of Fine Arts, only to find a zillion of our fellow art lovers waiting in line on a free-admission day.  We’re members, so in we went, and we made a beeline for Megacities Asia, an innovative exhibit that evoked the changing nature of several of Asia’s biggest cities.  Here’s an example, from Seoul:

Megacities
The idea is that not everything that is green is truly “green.”  If you’re from the U.S. or from Korea, you’ll probably seem some products you recognize.

The MFA is consistently named among the best art museums in the U.S.  It’s a gem, with several extraordinary collections and I highly recommend a visit while you’re here.

I’m sure I’ll be back with more of the local activities that my husband, Paul, and I pursue through the summer.  Stay tuned!

 

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