A Long Way from Home

I remember the exact moment when my dad left me my freshman year during my move-in day. It felt too fast, with an unfinished goodbye. He was saying his “fatherly advice” bit and, too soon, his Uber drove up and it was time for him to go. I struggled to comprehend the actual meaning of him leaving me behind, on a street in Boston I couldn’t name even if I tried. Although a part of me felt ready to “be an adult,” I also knew I wasn’t fully ready to be truly left alone, in a city I had only previously visited once before. I didn’t cry, but I felt like I should have. It was supposed to be a huge deal and I should have been immediately homesick; at least, that’s how everybody told me I should have felt.

I mean, I am from California, which, if you didn’t know, is kind of across the entire country. How else was I supposed to react?

Whenever I reveal I’m from California, I almost always get “that” look. A look that asks, “Why? Why on earth would you move to Boston? Why would you move from sunny Southern California to a place like this?”

The answer isn’t that simple. I didn’t move because I hate California. Who can’t be entranced by the cloudless, warm days and picturesque coastline? No, there were many more factors to my decision than surface level elements; I do have some state pride. Though I can’t exactly explain what caused my dire urge to leave the state, I can say – with full confidence – that I just didn’t feel like I belonged. Don’t get me wrong, I love going back home; however, I knew I needed a break.

Finally deciding to go to a college across the country filled me with so many emotions, the most significant among the rest being fear and excitement. Fear for being alone in a city, excitement for the new chapter of my life. Fear for the unknown, but excitement for it as well; this was unexplored territory for me, everything was so new I wasn’t sure how to even approach the idea of settling into a new place in the world. I was sure that one day I would be so homesick that I would beg to go back home.

But the day never came.

I waited and waited during that first full month, but I never experienced the homesickness that everyone told me I would feel. It took me until Thanksgiving break to realize that I never really was homesick. There is the fact that I could text, call, or FaceTime my family any time I wanted, which probably helps, but I never felt the urge to break down and ask for the next flight home.

I’m not exactly sure why this occurred – maybe it was Boston or, perhaps, the business of college taking over my mind – but what I do know is that I finally found myself in a space where I could do what I wanted. To think about the mere amount of possibilities available to me, now that I relocated to Boston, is so utterly overwhelming, yet also freeing.

What followed surprised me: when I returned to California, I missed Boston. I missed the independence I had. I missed the trees and the brick buildings. I missed the routine, the shops and the walks I had through the Common. Though I did miss my family and I missed my home, I didn’t feel the same as I did in Boston. Don’t get me wrong, I love living in California. Who wouldn’t? There’s no end to its bright, sunny days, there’s cool shop and plenty of things to do, but it just wasn’t the same.

All summer, I yearned for Boston. It was clear that Boston became my second home.

Moving across the country was probably the most intimidating thing I’ve ever done. Whenever someone asks me the question though, I never experience the feeling of intimidation. Instead, I feel pride in the fact that I was able to defeat the fear holding me back home; that I was able to do what many others cannot. I love my home and living in Southern California definitely had its perks, but moving across the country was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Many probably assume that I can’t survive the winter, but I want to try. My exploration of the city of Boston is still afoot; and I’m grateful for what is to come.

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The Salem Experience for $20 or Less

Come for the witches, stay for the tiny hand-blown glass animals.

image2.jpegThat’s not the slogan for the town of Salem, but it definitely is for my time there. I was initially interested in the grisly history of the witch trials, especially since it’s perfect for Halloween. I mean, the pivotal film Hocus Pocus is set there. But I must confess I spent much more of my time delicately combing through a tray of miniature polar bears and dogs and squids than I did contemplating the fickleness of humanity at the witch trials memorial.

Perhaps the most important part of my Salem adventures, however, is the fact that I spent less than twenty dollars for the whole day, train fare included. Here are my tips for how you can spend a day in the insanely-crowded town without breaking the bank!

1. Don’t buy your tickets on the train

Just go over to the little Charlie card ATM-like robot and buy a ticket. It’s a couple dollars cheaper, and those couple dollars can buy you a magical stone. A magical stone!!! More on that later.

2. The best souvenirs are also pretty cheap

Earlier — as in, immediately before this — I mentioned a little something about a magical stone. It’s time to talk more about that. I spent the unbelievable price of ONE AMERICAN DOLLAR on a stone that promises to increase my success, elevate my mood, and grant wishes. And it looks good doing it! This is an amazing and useful souvenir, especially since I’ve already gone a few days and haven’t lost it!

A lot of the stuff in the witchy stores in Salem is reasonably priced. So are postcards and little things like that. If you want a souvenir from your spooky journey you don’t have to break the bank!

 

3. Walking around is free

Tiring, yes, but free. Sometimes it’s like people forget you don’t have to pay for a tour in order to see stuff. The witch trials memorial is really amazing and right in town. The historical sights can be gazed at from afar with no added cos

t. There’s even the Salem Heritage Trail, which is similar to Boston’s Freedom Trail but distinctly witchier.

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And some of the most fun I had in Salem was walking around the stores. This is not because I am Isla Fisher in the 2009 film adaptation of Sophie Kinsella’s bestselling novel Confessions of a Shopaholic, but rather because there are a ton of cool stores in Salem. Some of them are so cool there is a line to get in! My favorite one was The Coven’s Cottage, and I chose to buy my magical stone from there because I liked the vibe. There are also wand stores, knick knack stores and bookstores, and all of these make for a fun browse!

4. Spend some money on the experience

For me, this meant forking over a couple of ones for a hot apple cider. 

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(Review: watery, but delicious!) For some of my fellow travelers, this meant fried dough, a book on Wiccan spells, a bandana for a dog or fifteen minutes with a fortune-teller. Some people enjoy feeling unsafe and frightened, and these people would not be able to visit Salem without entering the doors of one of Salem’s many haunted houses. There’s not much point to visiting if you don’t feel spooky or Halloween-y or, in short, Salem-y. So it’s worth it to shell out some cash for that One Thing.

In short: Salem is great and very Halloween-feeling and it doesn’t have to be expensive! If you plan in advance and consider what will make your experience really worthwhile, you can have a solid day for $20 or less.

 

Best Boston Attractions From a Professional Tourist

 

After living in Boston for almost three months, I still consider myself a professional tourist. Professional tourist, what’s that you may say? Well, since I am still new to Boston I wouldn’t consider myself a Bostonian, but I am also just not a vistor anymore. Therefore, I just consider myself a professional tourist now. Through these few months of having my own time to explore and having visitors come to town, I have come up with a list of my favorite places to visit in Boston.  

New England Aquarium 

Going to the New England aquarium proved to me that you are never too old for an aquarium. I recently went to the aquarium when my family was visiting and I’m not going to lie I was way more excited than my fourteen-year-old sister. Not only were there great exhibits, such as penguins and seals, but they also had very interactive exhibits. I got to pet starfish, stingrays and even sharks! And to top off the whole experience, it is located right by the harbor. So once you are done exploring the aquarium, go out to the harbor and take pictures by the beautiful waters.

Skywalk Observatory  

The Skywalk Observatory located in the prudential center has the absolute BEST views of Boston. The Prudential Center is a very feasible walk from Boston Public Library. On the 50th floor of the center lies the observatory.  The walls are all glass windows with a breathtaking view of all downtown Boston. There you can see Fenway, the commons, churches and the Charles river all in one place. I personally believe this is a must on anyone’s Boston tour agenda. The price of the New England Aquarium and the Skywalk Observatory is substantially cheaper with a Go Boston card.

The North End

If you are in the mood to try out some great food, go to the North End. I highly recommend going to Quincy Market for an array of choices. There are a plethora of food trucks and restaurants to pick and choose from, but what the North End is most well known for is the Italian food. You will find homemade pasta and Italian pastries galore there. You will not be disappointed by the homemade food there. But, be prepared to either make a reservation or wait hours for a table.

Boston Common

The Boston Common is definitely a must! Take a walk, have a picnic, or even take a swan boat tour during the summertime. Even though we become immune to the beautiful scenery of the Boston Common, your guests will definitely be blown away by the beauty. Even if the Boston Common isn’t one of your main attractions on the tour, use the commons as a detour and go through the gardens to get to Newbury street.

Newbury Street

If you are in the mood for great shopping and food, go to Newbury Street. Newbury Street varies from stores like Forever 21 to Chanel. When shopping, have a general idea of what stores you want to visit because if not you may become overwhelmed.  There are  also many different restaurants and desert places. If you have ever seen the TV show DC Cupcakes, then you must go to Georgetown cupcakes to try out one of the delicious desserts for yourself.  

The Boston Public Library

The library is one of my favorite places. One street over from Newbury Street on Boylston street lies the Boston Library. Take a walk through the magnificent interior of the Library and explore the beautiful architecture. Don’t forget to checkout outside too. The outside part of the library is equally as beautiful of the inside and will blow you away. 

Duck Tours- You see the duck tour buses everywhere around Boston, but the mere sight of them is not a good enough experience. A Duck Tour was one of the first things I did when I visited Boston and it made me fall in love with Boston even more. To start off the tour, you are assigned a driver and they are dressed up in character. I have seen “conDUCKtors” ranging from Duck Dynasty to The Mad Hatter. The tours take you all around downtown Boston and take you across the Charles River. This tour is a great way to get a great sense of the city and it’s rich history in a fun, entertaining way. 

These are most definitely not the only places you should visit while in Boston, there are too many places to fit into one trip but I personally believe that these are some of the best attractions. I hope my expert advice as a professional tourist can benefit you and your visitors, and that you will come to love this city as much as I do.

Getting the Most Out of Sweetgreen

Over the summer I worked at the Back Bay Sweetgreen location in Boston. My co-workers were easy to get along with and I got to have summer full of healthy food. I was interested in working for Sweetgreen because I had been a fan of their food for a long time. As someone who goes to college in Boston, looking for healthy vegetarian options, I was sold the first time I tried it. Working at Sweetgreen taught me a lot about customer service, multitasking and teamwork. However, I also learned all the ins and out of getting the most out of your Sweetgreen experience. Now that I’m going back to being a loyal customer, I’m so grateful for this knowledge.

The Sweetgreen App

This is an absolute must for anyone who wants to enjoy Sweetgreen on the regular. You can scan to pay and earn rewards as you go. It makes checking out a lot easier for everyone involved and you get neat perks.

Ordering online

Another feature of the app is the ability to place online orders for pickup. This means that you can skip the crazy long lines that Back Bay is famous for and get your salad to-go. You can still get bread and a drink too. I recommend getting double dressing! With online orders, you’re able to save your favorite salads and custom recipes right on the app.

Order a custom if you’re going to make more than a couple of changes

This makes it so much easier for everyone involved. The Sweetgreen team is always happy to go above and beyond for customers, but it’s also frustrating when you’re doing mental gymnastics to make sure the order gets charged right at the end. Swapping out proteins, changing a dressing or adding something is no big deal. However, if you’re going to switch three things out and then add a bunch more, do everyone a favor and order a custom salad. That’s what they are there for! It also increases the likelihood of you getting charged correctly for your salad. *Eggs and Cheeses cost the same so you can swap them out without changing the price of your salad*

Don’t be afraid to ask about the ingredients

Sweetgreen makes everything in house so a good portion of the staff is pretty familiar with the fine details of the food. They also always have a nutritional binder on hand just in case they don’t know off the top of their head. It’s always better to ask than risk your health! Sweetgreen wants people to be confident and happy with what they’re eating. The supervisors are trained to handle allergies so while not every employee can assist you, you’ll be in good hands.

The best time to visit

10:30-11 am and 3 pm or later is always going to pretty decent line-wise. 11-2:30 pm is the lunch rush which usually means a line out the door and around the corner. If you have the flexibility in your schedule to go at a different time you’ll be doing yourself a great service. It’s also a lot easier to find a table.

Spicy Cashew dressing is a MUST

The sweet and spicy dressing became an obsession of mine during my time at Sweetgreen. It’s not only great on salad (currently featured on the Thai Watermelon and Rad-Thai) but it is really tasty on the bread slices. If you haven’t had it before, it’s definitely worth trying your next stop in.

Sweetgreen has *five* seasonal menus

So, they have Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer 1, and Summer 2. This means new salads, ingredients and a new beverage. Right now they have Thai Watermelon, Peaches & Goat and Roasted Pepper & Feta. Oh, and the Watermelon Cilantro Fresca. One of the best parts about working at Sweetgreen is being able to try the salads in advanced. Take advantage of each season and try the new salads while they have them.

Don’t get stuck ordering the same thing

Before working at Sweetgreen, I always ordered the Shroomami. Every. Single. Time. I totally understand having a favorite order. The Harvest Bowl and Guacamole Greens are two of the most popular orders. However, with our custom and seasonal options, I highly recommend trying something new from time to time. I was constantly surprised by the flavor combinations that I liked and it gave me a way to eat healthy without getting sick of the same thing. You’d be surprised how many different ways you can eat salad!

Enjoy the sweetlife!

Taking Advantage of Boston’s Art Scene

Whether you are an art connoisseur or not, Boston’s art museums are a must see. Beautiful exhibitions are scattered all throughout the city and admission is free or discounted for all of them if you are an Emerson student! Here is a quick look at some of the great things these museums have to offer:

Museum of Fine Arts

Admission: Free with your Emerson ID

Must see: Egyptian Art Exhibit

One piece of advice: Plan to spend an entire day at the MFA…maybe even two. The MFA is the most classic museum experience on this list, showcasing a wide variety of artistic styles and classic paintings from different time periods. This museum offers art collections from all across the world to really put into perspective the vast array of artistic styles that exist. There are also photography exhibits, prints, drawings, musical instruments, and jewelry scattered throughout the museum.

It can be overwhelming how much content is inside the MFA, but each room deserves as much attention as the last.

Pottery at the MFA. Credit: Flickr.com

For all sports fans looking for something interesting…there is an exhibition all about David Ortiz that is open from now until September 4th. Tickets must be bought to view this gallery, but anything is worth it for Big Papi, right? Ortiz’s 2013 World Series MVP ring will also be on display, so get a close look while you can!

A rainy day is best spent at the Museum of Fine Arts, or multiple rainy days in a row!

 

ICA – Institute of Contemporary Art

Admission: Student discount with ID

Must See: Nari Ward: Sun Splashed

The ICA is a great place for college students to explore. The exhibits are fun, modern, and sometimes interactive. Each exhibit is important to view, many often presenting social and political issues in unique mediums.

This museum really makes you think about what you are seeing and how it can be interpreted to convey a bigger message. There is also a new exhibit by Dana Schutz being put up right now, set to open July 26th…even more new art to check out!!

ICA at night. Credit: Flickr.com

The large glass building overlooking Boston Harbor could not be more picturesque if it tried, and you could easily spend a whole day enjoying the incredible views. Aside from the amazing art, the ICA also holds outdoor concerts every Friday in July and August. These fun outdoor events feature new DJ’s every week and certain themed events to keep things new and interesting. The ICA always keeps me guessing, and I cannot wait to see what fun thing comes out next.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Admission: Student discount with ID (or free if your name is Isabella!)

Must See: Portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is like something out of a movie. The minute you step inside the museum it feels like you are taken back in time, admiring all of the beautiful paintings and scenery. The inner courtyard is breathtaking, and visible from every angle of the museum.

What makes this museum unique is that Isabella Stewart Gardner actually used to reside in the building before it turned into a museum, and still resembles a home in many ways. The tall ceilings and wooden floors add a homey feel to the artwork which is something you do not see everyday.

I highly recommend reading up on the Gardner heist before visiting, as it adds excitement and a bit of spookiness to your visit.

A great addition to the museum is the modern wing, which is the only part of the museum with changing exhibits. Set aside from the original building, this modern room showcases beautiful artwork and sculptures to add a modern twist. Next to the modern room is also the Gardner Museum’s incredible concert hall, which must be seen in person to truly admire. Isabella Stewart Gardner had a passion for music and this hall keeps her spirit alive in a beautiful space. The concert schedule and ticket options can be found on the museum’s website.

 

The Museum of Bad Art

Admission: Free museum passes can be requested.

Must See: “Dog” By: Unknown

After you have admired all of the famous pieces in the previously listed places…why not lighten the mood with this fun museum?? The MOBA gallery in Somerville is a private institution that is committed to celebrating bad art. Located in the basement of a theater, it is not the most glamorous of exhibits. That being said, it is definitely a memorable experience. It is a one of a kind museum visit and every piece of art is sure to make you chuckle.

Can’t get enough of the bad art? Have no fear, there is now a book available for purchase, “The Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks,” that showcases the worst of the worst, bottom of the barrel pieces of artwork.

Some pieces imitate famous works like the Mona Lisa, and with others it can be hard to decipher what is going on at all…

Quirky and humorous, the MOBA is Boston museum fun for all ages and a great way to lighten the mood after viewing maybe one too many gorey war depictions.

I hope this master list of Boston museum’s inspires you to view some new places and some very cool art.

 

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My Boston Favorites

I always talk about Boston – I literally never shut up about it.

My soul is full of pride to know that I grew up in this incredible city. And after watching the Marathon from the finish line this weekend, my heart has just burst from happiness, love, and pride. Although it is normal to love the place you grew up, I know that my love and pride surpasses that normal capacity.

And as I am turning 2o this summer, I have put together a list of my all-time favorites within the city of Boston. For the most part, I am a HUGE foodie which is the reason why a lot of my favorites are restaurants. Along with food, I love shopping and large hang-out places which makes my list a combination of hidden places and well-known parts of the city. The way I went about making my list is by creating a quirky, lil’ map through Google to actually pinpoint the places I am talking about AND to make it easier for you all to figure out where they all are if you decide to try them out for yourselves!

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A Newbie’s Guide to Subletting

For those of us who come from anywhere outside of New England, you understand the added stress of figuring out where the hell were going to go during the four month break we call summer. Do we go home and sit around with our high school friends, work at our old jobs and get antsy as we mark the days on the calendar till we can come back to school? Or, do we stay in Boston work our jobs here, take summer classes or try to even get an internship?

For those of you who prefer to stay in Boston there comes the added stress (and fun) of looking for a place to stay. Some may be lucky enough to have a friend’s guest room they could crash in over the summer. But if you are like me and don’t have that luck, you are forced to sublet. For those who don’t know what a sublet is, it is basically taking over the leaser’s rent for the months you need to stay in it. The time and price depends on what you coordinate with the owner.

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Commuting From Home

After going through a life-long search to find the perfect house for my family, I knew that there was no way in hell I would be able to live in apartment that I could pay for myself until I was a functioning adult. Most of this sentiment comes in part by the reality of getting zero assistance from my parents to pay for an apartment and the other fees that come with this responsibility. And since the cheapest apartment I have ever come across that is close by to campus costs $900 a month, I have decided to live at home for my junior year of college. I know, I know, I think I might have lost my mind but at the same time, I have no problem being a scammer.

For the most part, I am a home-body. I like the comfort of having a home or at least little pieces of comfort that remind me of home. And I have made myself quite the home here at Emerson but I am looking forward to having real food, free laundry, and a couch that I can lay on without disrupting someone else’s personal space. If it was up to me, I would gladly live on campus next year but that’s not possible as the junior lottery is a fake scam in itself and there’s not enough space for everyone.

What I noticed the most about making the decision to live at home is that I get a plethora of reactions from those I mention it to or those who ask about my living situation for next year. Overall, people tend to respect my decision but I have gotten a lot of confused facial expressions, some form of amusement, and a lot of questions. And for the purpose of this post, I have decided to share these quirky questions and give you my equally quirky but honest answers.

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Inside Emerson’s New Dorm Building

This past year, there’s been plenty of talk about the construction happening on Emerson’s Boylston Street campus. From the building of a new dining hall to Little Building being closed for renovations starting this May, to a new dorm building with its entrance in the Boylston Place alleyway—change is definitely coming to Emerson. But, how much do Emerson’s students actually know about these construction projects? Particularly, how much do students know about this new dorm building? Many students will call 2 Boylston Place their home come next semester, and yet they might not know much about what the Boylston Place dorm will really be like.

As a student who is now a junior, even I’m a bit confused about just what is happening with this new dorm building, regardless if I might not have the opportunity to live there. Still, I’ve been watching this construction happen since I started at Emerson. The sounds of drilling and workers shouting over the noise of their equipment have become all too familiar to my peers and me.

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The Bus Mishap that Shaped a Friendship

It was the start of Spring Break. In Boston, the sun had finally begun to shine warming the air to a beautiful fifty-five degrees. The city was flocking with families taking their kids into the Common to play, friends grabbing coffee and basking in the sun, and runners freed from treadmills going up and down the Esplanade.

Federica, my soon to become best friend, and I were all packed for our trip to New York, ready to visit what we both considered our future home. We’d both traveled before, but this was our first real girls trip, no supervision.

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