Currently viewing the tag: "Somerville"
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.
As someone who can fall victim to distractions, I’ve always valued the slightly-out-of-the-center-of-things location of Tufts. Students can focus on student life while on campus. Or they can wander a short distance from campus to surrounding neighborhoods with food, services, and fun. A short distance further off, they’re in the broader academic community of Cambridge. Or, with little fuss, they can take advantage of all that Boston has to offer. For starters, from Fletcher, it’s about a 15-minute walk to the subway (which we all call “the T”). Bus lines broaden the territory covered by mass transit (and make it easy for students to find housing with easy access to campus). Here’s what our options look like:
Buses 80, 94, and 96 actually come onto the campus, and the 87, 88 have stops five minutes from Fletcher. (Curtis Street and Packard Avenue bracket Fletcher on the Tufts campus. You can find the full map here.) So transportation links are pretty easy.
But what if all these multicolored noodles of bus and subway lines make it seem that traveling to Boston is a major expedition? Well, if you have a little time, you can always choose to walk or bike. Here’s one suggested route, for a day when you want to ice skate at the Boston Common (or, in summer, join the crowd of children splashing in the spray pool):
Sure, it’s five miles, but five miles seems like a nice balance — a quiet campus that’s only a long walk from everything.
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!
We have Norway maples around our house that provide wonderful shade in the summer, and hours of leaf raking in the fall. Bagging leaves was, therefore, high on the agenda for the weekend, along with cheering on Kayla’s soccer team during the final game of the season, and doling out candy to trick-or-treaters for Halloween.
But between those activities, we still managed to squeeze in a few unplanned extras. On Saturday, Paul and I decided to check out a new restaurant in Davis Square on our way to the movies. We had barely walked through the door when we saw friends of ours. Once we sat down, we spied one of this year’s MacArthur grant winners, whom we recognize because he works with our former next-door-neighbor. On our way out, we passed Tufts president Larry Bacow. Later, as we left the movie, we bumped into friends near the theater and, having walked them to their car, waved to yet another friend as she drove by during our trek home.
These are the days when, contrary to Somerville’s municipal status, it feels like a small town — the kind of place where you run into people you know wherever you go. I like that! But it’s also great to take advantage of all that Boston, our larger city neighbor, has to offer.
So off we went on Sunday. Hopped on the T and soon arrived in Chinatown for dim sum. When we walked out of the restaurant, I had a hankering for a cannoli. (Doesn’t everyone follow-up dim sum with Italian pastries?) A quick walk down the Greenway and we were in the North End, Boston’s traditional Italian neighborhood. Warmed ourselves with coffees and yummy cannoli at a busy but mellow spot.
Back on the T in time for Paul to carve a pumpkin before the youngest trick-or-treaters started ringing the bell. And we could hardly have forgotten about Halloween, as we passed witches, zombies, skeletons, one large elf, and a wookie on a Segway, as we meandered through this area where — depending on how you crunch the numbers — as many as 20 percent of residents are students.
All in all, a perfect small-town big-city fall weekend.
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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