Straight up, I didn’t think that grad school was for me. The original plan was to graduate from UW-Madison as an English and creative writing major and get out there in the workforce immediately after graduation. I was ready to say goodbye to Madison, hop a plane, and aggressively search for writing and editing jobs. The mere idea of more schooling sucked the life out of me and I didn’t even do any research about the option of graduate school until the summer before I started my senior year of undergrad. I was on a family vacation in Boston and, on a whim, decided to tour Emerson College. It is one of the only programs in America offering a masters degree in publishing and writing and, what’s more, has a solid reputation for landing students jobs in their fields during the program and/or after the two years are up. I figured that I had nothing to lose by at least checking it out and taking a tour.
Here I am slightly more than one year later and I think I made the right decision. Maybe I’m not psyched about the idea of being in a classroom for two more years, but I am psyched to be learning from the best in the business and having assignments that actually mean something to me and don’t feel like busywork. Everything that I have been learning and doing in my classes is relevant and generic lesson plans don’t apply here (goodbye, undergrad. Yes, I’m throwing shade). For my magazine writing class, I am writing two articles: one 2500 word features piece on Boston book culture and another 1250 word profile on the Allston-Brighton neighborhood. I am passionate about both and am hoping to get them published by the end of the semester in magazines (fingers crossed).
I definitely expected to like Boston before I moved and was already kind of familiar with the area- not enough to navigate the T without checking Google maps about ten times per sitting of course, but I prided myself on knowing where the popular spots in the city were. Last summer, I thought to myself “I could live here. I could actually live here and love it.” For years, I’ve wanted to escape the Midwest and make a move out east or west. In terms of career opportunities and personal growth, I felt stagnant and always sort of knew that I didn’t just crave a change of scenery, I needed one. That isn’t to say that I don’t miss my friends and certain aspects of being back in Madison, Wisconsin (my home town) but I know I made the right decision in coming here.
One thing about Boston that really sticks out to me is the book culture. For everyone who thinks that book culture is dead, think again. Take a stroll around Boston and I guarantee that you will change your stance on that belief. Bookstores thrive here and I’m not just talking about Barnes and Noble or the occasional used book shop. No, I’m talking about bookstores like the Brattle Book Shop, Brookline Booksmith and Harvard Book Store with selections rivaling Barnes and Noble’s and booksellers who personally take the time to review stacks of books and organize author events. The Harvard Book Store, for instance, has five hundred author events this year. Five hundred! Unfortunately, classes, writing, and editing have kept me insanely busy and I regret to say that I will not be able to go to the author event where Celeste Ng reads excerpts from her book, Little Fires Everywhere. She is a brilliant author and that book has been on my to-buy list for weeks now.
My roommates and I live in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood, which is pooling with students, and is also technically Boston (which is also confusing as all hell but I kind of just roll with it now when people ask where I live). The neighborhood is hipstery and full of thrift stores, cafes, and nightlife that gets wild (from what I can remember after midnight anyway…). I learned about the infamous “Allston Christmas”. No, it doesn’t involve any snow (I mean, unless a blizzard strikes in early September. I suppose stranger things have happened in life). I happened to miss this year’s Allston Christmas, but essentially it goes until September first, AKA the day when the majority of students move into their apartments before starting classes, when people leave their furniture or whatever else they don’t want on the streets for others to take. This would have been very useful for when we needed new living room furniture, but we managed to get the majority of our furniture for free because one of our roommates is mad thrifty.
My favorite part of the city is definitely the Harbor area. Maybe it’s cliche, but lord is the Boston Harbor charming. I’ve always been drawn to the coast and the Boston Harbor does not disappoint. If you’re into indigo water dotted with sailboats and panoramic views of the Boston skyline, you’re in luck, because the Harbor has all of that. Sometimes I go to the Harbor with a notebook or book just to have some clarity. There is always a plethora of benches to sit on, even on weekends. It’s a great place to reflect and let your thoughts roam freely in your mind.
Copley Square is a close second when it comes to favorite city spots. For one thing, Copley Square is home to the Boston Public Library. You don’t even need to go inside the library to understand the hype behind this literary marvel: it’s painstakingly obvious just by looking up at the building and trying (and failing) to capture the whole structure. I had to do a combination of a squat and a kneel just to get the ideal horizontal image and it was quite the quad and thigh workout. Studying in the library’s courtyard has proven to be especially enjoyable and I’ve caught myself staring at the fountain for minutes at a time- it’s no wonder I don’t get a lot of writing done when I’m there. For city views, Copley also has the Prudential Skydeck Observatory, a tower with views of the entire city (and students get an admissions discount). I met a charming British guy up there and completely missed the social cues of him asking me out, but that is a story for another time.
Most of the occasions that I have been on Newbury Street have been rain-ridden, but the street is charming rain or shine. Stores like Zara, H&M, T.J. Max, and Trident Booksellers dominate the beginning of the street and as you stroll, the stores become more and more high-scale. I’m talking Hermes and Valentino territory- where you’ll want to spend big bucks, but any shopping you do there will likely only be of the window variety.
To be honest, I miss Madison more than I thought I would. I’m not sure what I was expecting. As an introvert (and a painfully awkward and anxious one at that) it takes me a while to warm up to new people and make close friendships, so I think that I severely underestimated how difficult it would be to start over in that area of my life. I think about my friends and family back home every day and I’m sure my best friends have grown tired of me hitting their phones up multiple times a day. That being said, my roommates are awesome and I’ve met many great people in my program and around the city.
I’ve got to go write an article now and will cease to have any kind of social life until Halloween, but I’m looking forward to seing what these two years have in store for me and keeping you all along for the ride of course.
Until next time,
~ The Caro Chronicles