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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Boston offers students a wealth of opportunities

Published: October 25, 2013
Section: Opinions

Here at Brandeis, one might wonder what there is to do with a free day sticking out amidst the thick slurry of lectures, tests, clubs, homework and—for some—real work that is characteristic of everyday college life. When you finally manage to break the surface of that lethargic soup and find a bit of respite—say, a holiday or a weekend—you might realize you’re at a loss for what to do. Of course, you could sit around Sherman Dining Hall and converse with a bunch of random friends you’ll see there, their numbers constantly being replenished by new diners as they leave. Or, you could go to the Game Room and play some table games or video games. You could also sit in your room and watch TV or screw around on the Internet; but those are arguments for some other time. What I would like to relate to you, today, is my first experience within the city of Boston.

Among America’s great historical cities, Boston is relatively small and somewhat unremarkable beside all the fancy private schools that lie in its general vicinity. It’s home to around 650,000 inhabitants, its layout is fairly confusing, it smells of sewage in some places and it has some beautiful, canopied parks scattered throughout like sheets of moss clinging to smooth, gray, culturally significant rock. Most people will immediately comment on the aesthetics of the city and how impressive the parks are in the fall, and certainly they are. But I’d like to deviate somewhat from this and recount a few particular details regarding my time in the city. In fact, I’d like to tell you just what happened during this particular foray into the city.

At around 4:00 p.m., I got off the Brandeis shuttle and was walking around in a party of 10. One of the first things we came across was a Scientology information center giving out free DVDs. Curious as we were, we went inside and inquired just what exactly we ought to know about the religion, to which a representative replied, “Come over here. I have something to show you.” I couldn’t help but feel a bit uneasy as we walked across the room to a massive shelf exclusively shelved with the works of L. Ron Hubbard, facing a board that must have been at least eight feet long by eight feet wide. Expecting something momentous, I was disappointed when he grasped a book, opened it up to its front cover, and firmly pointed to the opening sleeve’s first paragraph. What I read sounded suspiciously similar to the Bene Gesserit philosophy featured in “Dune” by Frank Herbert.

We then went in search of a place to eat. Never having made restaurant reservations myself, I was unaware that almost every restaurant is strapped for vacancies on the weekends. Originally, we had made plans to eat at a very chic hot-pot restaurant by the name of Q Restaurant, but were dissuaded from that course of action by an estimated wait of three hours. Instead, we ate at an allegedly Korean restaurant entirely staffed by Chinese.

Following a surprisingly okay meal, we just started roaming about Boston aimlessly, bumping into things as they came and enjoying them while a master keytarist works his craft or a pianist managed to play just about every request given him in the background. For example, we came across a flat fountain that would shoot columns of water directly from the ground into the air in patterns, which we’d attempt to anticipate and pass through without soaking ourselves. Elsewhere, we encountered another gaggle of college students who had come down from Northeastern, some of them familiar with old classmates of mine and other members of the Brandeis collective.

We bantered for a bit until he propositioned a member of our group, which compelled us to leave. When a friend and I returned to retrieve a particularly expensive bottle of shampoo he’d bought, we noticed the man we’d been speaking to earlier unfurling a sleeping bag on the grass. For a moment we contemplated whether this man was a sort of modern day Thoreau; his tone of voice, body language and everything else made him come off as though he were completely satisfied with his lot and he even seemed to be going out of his way to live his life so. I legitimately thought he was joking with me the entire time I talked to him, amidst a backdrop of sweet night music.
Following that little conversation, the group found itself having only a few minutes to go before the midnight bus to Brandeis departed. As fast as we drove ourselves to catch it, we were unfortunately unable to make it; and we had to sit around for another hour waiting for the 1:00 a.m. bus to come around and deliver us back into the warm confines of Brandeis University, devoid of tipping, stately parks, proud vagrants and three-hour wait.
I feel that Boston nightlife is an underutilized resource which Brandeis students should be more aware of. To tell you the truth, even I originally thought going into Boston would be boring. What could you do other than walk about and admire the trees? Get on a Brandeis shuttle and you can find out yourself.