‘Neath the Streets of Boston                                            by Patti Brugman

         I just returned from a college visit to the Boston area and am reminded again of how much you can learn by stepping foot on a campus. I am the kind of traveler who is not shy about talking to students.  I took a Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (MIT) student out to lunch and had a campus lunch with a student at Wellesley. On the way to Tufts, I talked to a girl in an ROTC uniform about her experience. I took campus tours and did drive-by visits. It all works to give an impression of what life might be like at these campuses.  Since all of the colleges I visited are absolutely perfect for the right kind of student, I’ll give a few snapshots of each over the next few weeks.

         When I got to MIT in late February, they were having unusually warm weather.  It was up to 40 degrees! I wore a hat, mittens, and long underwear, but the students just had their hands in jacket pockets.  The lighting was stunning and brilliant with sharp contrasts and perfect for photos.  The Stata Center, designed by Frank Gehry, was a fabulous “Toon Town” piece.  The student I visited said it was his favorite building on campus, the kind that brightens any day. Another fun bit of trivia is that the building known as 77 Massachusetts Avenue is nicknamed “the endless corridor” because it is connected with buildings that go in so many directions, that you can walk almost anywhere on the central campus without having to brave the elements for more than a step or two.  Central on campus is the Great Dome, which is sometimes dressed up to look like R2D2 from “Star Wars!”  We had lunch at Legal Seafood across the street from campus near the Kendall Station. Yummy food and great conversation with a bright young man who is in Air Force ROTC and crews, all while keeping his grades up in aeronautical engineering!

         The trains and subways are very easy to navigate in Boston.  I loaded a “Charlie ticket” with $20, which lasted for my entire stay, down to the last fare on the last ride.  And I went everywhere. The song by the Kingston Trio called  “The MTA” is about that man named “Charlie” who boarded a Boston train back in the 1940s, “and never returned” as the song goes. He couldn’t get off the train because the fare schedule had changed and he needed 5-cents exit fare.  All that has changed.  The subways are friendly and often musical as harpists, guitarists, violinists busk their way through school or early “careers.”

         Getting to know a college in a town far, far away, means getting to know the town a little, too.  Boston is a great city in a compact area.  It’s small by Los Angeles standards and charming by everyone’s standards.  One student I met said it cost him $7 to get from Brown University to Boston and the train took only an hour!  So maybe it’s time for you to plan a college trip for spring break.  More from my college trip next week.