When you arrive in Boston your college advisor will tell you about the Freedom Trail, the Sam Adams Brewery tour, and Faneuil Hall. What she won’t tell you is that Paul Revere’s house is small and boring, the Sam Adams people don’t give you nearly enough beer, and Faneuil Hall is a hell hole. Fear not, freshman friend, this town is much more than these places. For example, did you know that Boston has 34 nearby islands on which to frolic, swim, and hike? Okay, so you can only legally check out 31 of them. And if you don’t own a boat, it’ll probably be difficult to get to all but seven. But George’s Island is home to Fort Warren, a Civil War prison/training ground filled with tons of secret passageways; Little Brewster boasts the country’s oldest and last remaining manned lighthouse; and Lovell’s Island offers camping and an unsupervised swimming pool. (I will repeat that — unsupervised.)
— Ian Sands
If you don’t like the weather . . .
Right about now, the wind is probably gently lapping your shoulders, the sun shining delicately, and you’re thinking to yourself, “Hey, this weather isn’t too bad.”
Maybe you’ve even convinced yourself you’re prepared for the meteorological split-personality disorder that is a New England winter. You’re not.
Every November, a dark cloud descends on the city and stays until Memorial Day, bringing slicing gusts, and rain/sleet/hail/snow that splinters sideways and soaks your feet/ankles/calves/knees while you wait 30 minutes for an above-ground train.
You can’t fight it; you’ll barely even survive it — in fact, you’ll likely get deathly ill at least once per season. The very least you can do is buy yourself a ridiculously heavy jacket — or 10. Plus a face mask, industrial snow boots, and long underwear. You’ll be the happiest looking fool trudging to and from class.
It’s not all bad here, though: the tundra does thaw. And when it does, the ducks and duck boats will return, the flowers will bloom, and it will become unbearably sticky, sweaty, and humid, but also pretty nice. (By then, you’ll probably already have packed up your igloo and headed home.)
— Vanessa Czarnecki
Age of exploration
From 2000–’04, I was at Boston University, just 20 minutes or a short T ride from Somerville, but I didn’t know a single thing about Davis Square until I moved there after graduation. Not about the coffee at Diesel, the fried pickles at Redbones, or the literary treasures McIntyre and Moore bookshop (sadly, it’s gone now). Similarly, the wonders of Jamaica Plain (City Feed sandwiches, Milky Way dance nights, Boomerangs bargains, or the Southwest Corridor’s green space) remained foreign to me until I lived in JP from 2005–’06. I wish I’d done more exploring. Gotten on different- colored Ts going in unfamiliar directions; put my I’m-choosing-an-urban-school-environment-over-a-bucolic-campus-setting money where my mouth was. It’s great to know Allston, or Cambridge, or Back Bay like the back of your hand, but this city — and your college experience — is bigger than that. Also, I wish I’d gone to class more. But that’s lame.
— Deirdre Fulton