My experience in Boston began with Boston University’s First-Year-Student-Outreach-Program, more commonly known as FYSOP. FYSOP is a week-long volunteer program right before classes start for BU, and the main goal of the program is to get students involved in their new community of Boston — or become “active citizens” of Boston.
I was so excited to come to a new city and get to explore so many new places away from my home state — but after my fun-filled week of FYSOP, I quickly got swarmed with college work… studying upon studying upon studying with a lot of homesickness and fatigue thrown into the mix as well. I suddenly forgot that Boston is larger than just the 2-mile strip of Comm Ave that became all too familiar to me.
Spring semester quickly came around and was done before I even knew it! I did make more of an effort to get away from campus throughout my second semester, but I still felt trapped. I’m a very on-the-go-always-doing-something type of person. I enjoy being social, I enjoy walking around, and I most definitely enjoy finding new places and studying in new spots. So I made a promise to myself coming into my sophomore year at BU — make it a point to get off campus at least once a week.
It’s crazy to think I needed to tell myself to leave my “home base,” because if you asked my parents how they enjoy having me at home their answer would probably be, “even when she’s home we never see her! She’s always doing something!” But there I was coming back to my second home and promising myself that I wouldn’t be limited to Comm Ave as my social life.
And then sophomore year began just like freshman year… with FYSOP, this time around though, I was a staff. As the staff, two other students and I bravely and confidently lead 10 first years around Boston through public transportation to become active citizens through community service. A little secret though, the bravely and confidently part of leading was harder than expected.
But after that week, I felt more confident using Boston’s public transportation and I definitely felt ready for the challenge of getting off campus more. I refuse to leave Boston in a few years with the extent of my off-campus knowledge only being Cafe Nero near West and Fenway Park in East.
Credit: Stan Grossfeld / The Boston Globe
So here I am, a third into the semester already — crazy how time flies — and I have been successfully getting off campus. Instead of studying in the GSU, I run down to any locally owned cafe on Newbury, grab a coffee and do some work. Not only do I get a great coffee, but I also support local businesses, I get a nice leisurely walk where I can call family or friends, and I get just far away enough from campus that I am starting to feel like a real Bostonian. Other great places nearby can be found in Fenway and also on the other side of campus in Allston.
I’ve ventured further downtown on the weekends to explore farmer’s markets like SoWa’s market and restaurants in the North End. I’ve started days in Faneuil Hall and ended up in Cambridge by hopping on and off the T and wanting to find interesting places to eat or shop. There are also great day trips around Boston accessible through the commuter rail and buses — such as Salem (a great place during Halloween season), the Cape, Rhode Island, and New York City!
There are ENDLESS possibilities of places to eat, shop, and study all around Boston if you aren’t afraid to get a little lost and discover the places true Bostonians go in their free time!