Currently viewing the tag: "Medford"
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.
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.
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!
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.
I hear a lot of chatter from admitted students that they will be kicking off an apartment hunt during their spring visit to campus. Ariel is here to help you start your search. If you have questions about local housing, please leave a comment below, and Ariel will respond!
Dear Ariel: I just submitted my confirmation that I will be attending Fletcher in the Fall! I would like to live off campus. How did you find an apartment?
Most Fletcher students live off campus in the Medford/Somerville area during their two years at Fletcher. My first step was to find my roommates, which I did through the Fletcher admitted students portal. We were all first-years — two MIBs and two MALDs. Then, because none of us were based in Boston, one of my future roommates took a trip up to Boston from DC to search for apartments. After visiting several apartments she saw listed on Craigslist, she was eventually led to a realty company. (In starting your search for an off-campus apartment, Craigslist will become your best friend.) Through the realty company we located an apartment about a 10-minute walk from Fletcher between the campus and Teele Square. Our four bedroom, one bathroom apartment is $550 per month per person, not including utilities. We signed the lease in mid-June for an August 1st start date and had to pay half of the broker’s fee.
Keep in mind: Living close to Fletcher is a great option for your studies. It cuts down on your commute and can make life easier, especially when group meetings or study sessions run late into the night. Some students do live in Boston proper, but not many. Also, expect rent prices to run anywhere from $550 – $800 per month. One-bedroom apartments are typically significantly more expensive. If you have Fletcher friends who are second years, reach out to them to see if their apartments are available for the fall.
Some other things to keep in mind when looking for an apartment in this area:
- Is there a broker’s fee? Some landlords will waive the fee or split the fee with you. It can save you a lot of money if your landlord agrees, because generally the broker’s fee is equivalent to one month’s rent.
- Is there a security deposit? Generally, you will need to pay the first month’s rent and a security deposit at the time of signing.
- Does your apartment have oil or gas heat? Oil heat is extremely expensive during Boston’s cold winters. If you find an apartment that has gas heat, it might be worth paying a little extra in rent each month, compared to paying a cheaper monthly rent in an apartment with oil heating.
No, this isn’t a case of Admissions staff amnesia. Many admitted students, waitlisted applicants, and prospective applicants will pass through our neighborhood in the coming months, and you may be wondering just where, exactly, I am (or, more generally, Fletcher is).
Fletcher is on the Tufts University campus in Medford/Somerville. Medford and Somerville are two of the small cities ringing the bigger city of Boston, and the border separating them runs right through Fletcher. Though a lot of students live in Medford (and I have my hair cut there), I think it’s fair to say that for social activities, students are oriented toward Somerville and beyond. Here’s how it looks on a map:
The marker is pointed at Fletcher, and you can see all the different towns that surround us. Notice that a little map like this one can also include Logan Airport, as well as Mystic Lake (convenient for biking, swimming, etc.). So I’m not going to argue that Fletcher sits in the center of a giant metropolitan area, but I can tell you that there’s a fantastic variety of easily accessed spots. You want to shop for local produce at a farm, hang out at a beach, and dine downtown in a single day. Go ahead and make your plans — it’s all doable!
When people talk about Boston, they sometimes mean the city alone, but they’re often referring to a broader area, which could include the inner-most neighbors or more. The population of Boston proper is just under 600,000, about 20th by size in the U.S. The population of Boston plus its nearest neighbors (including Medford and Somerville) is about a million, and “Greater Boston,” stretching out a little further but still within easy commuting distance, is about 5 million. For a small city, we’re rich with universities, museums, theaters, restaurants, and all the trappings of urban life. But being a small city, it’s also easy to head out of town and hike, bike, and otherwise recreate.
We’re often asked what it’s like to be a student here. Personally, I think there’s a great balance between the opportunity to focus on student life on a leafy campus and access to those urban trappings only a short subway ride away. The best of both worlds!
Continuing on the theme I started yesterday, I thought I’d provide one piece of info key to navigating the local landscape, and that is “the square.” Look at Trafalgar Square in London, or Tiananmen Square in Beijing, and you’ll see a space that is, at least, rectangular. Not so our local squares. Davis Square is sometimes drawn as this little guy, with two legs, two arms, and two (what?) sticks coming out of his head. Not rectangular, and certainly not square. The “squares” of Somerville or Medford (or Cambridge, for that matter) are the intersection of several streets. Closest to Tufts are Somerville’s Davis, Ball, and Teele Squares, plus Medford Square in Medford.
Now you have the essential knowledge that will enable you to understand Fletcher students when they tell you where they live, or the location of their favorite restaurants.
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