Tips and Tidbits New Students in Boston Should Know

Hello, freshmen. Rather than gain 15 pounds, here are a few pro-tips to survive and thrive your first year of college.


Layers are your friend once the cold weather comes, because don’t worry, winter is definitely coming. / Fall foliage photo via Shutterstock

1. Know your amenities. Every school has its perks, and the sooner you find yours, the better your experience on campus will be. Plus, your fellow freshmen will be super-impressed. Example: MIT has a tunnel system you can use to commute between buildings during cold winters. It’s very “Mischief managed,” if you catch my drift.

2. Get a Boston Public Library card. Sure, your school ID already gives you free admission and discounts to some local museums, but having a BPL account handy means that you can reserve free or discounted tickets for your friends and family as well. Some rules apply, so check the website for details and participating venues, which include the MFA, ICA, Museum of Science, New England Aquarium, and more.

3. Do not gain the freshman 15. Boston is an active city, so whether you keep fit by jogging along the Charles, joining the November Project, or squeezing in those 10,000 steps, there’s really no excuse to let yourself go. #SorryNotSorry. Just for you, we asked 10 seniors to share the health tips they wish they had known when they were freshmen.

4. The T is your friend…until it isn’t. In the late 1800s, people were all, “Whoohoo, we have North America’s first subway system!” Fast forward to today, and “first” often feels like “worst.” When the weather is nice, walk or bike. Pay attention to MBTA alerts, and know when there’s a game happening to avoid the crowds.

5. Hubway is your friend. Bicycling is arguably the best way to get around the city. But seriously, wear a helmet.

6. CollegeFest is September 13, 2014, at Fenway Park. Expect socializing and swag.

7. These are just a few of the nearly naked things that happen in Boston, if you’re into that sort of thing (you are):

• Santa Speedo Run
• No Pants Subway Ride
• Cupid’s Undie Run
• Northeastern’s Underwear Run
• Naked Bike Ride

8. Keytar Bear is perhaps the city’s biggest local celebrity. The beloved busker performs while dressed in a Ted bear costume. After he was attacked earlier this year, the public banded together to show their support at a benefit and fundraiser. At the event, officials declared May 8 “Keytar Bear and Abby Taylor Day” in Cambridge.

9. These are just a few of the celebs who are from the area:

• Ben and Casey Affleck
• Matt Damon
• Mark Wahlberg + all those other Wahlbergs
• Steve Carell
• Amy Poehler
• John Krasinski
• Mindy Kaling
• B.J. Novak
• Conan O’Brien
• New Kids on the Block
• New Edition
• Denis Leary
• John Slattery
• Uma Thurman
• Taylor Schilling
• Louis C.K.

10. If you’re on Twitter, consider following local favorites like @UniversalHub and @BostonTweet. We’re there too, of course.

11. The mayor of Boston is Martin J. Walsh. We call him Marty. He’s relatively new, taking office after Tom Menino, who led the city for 20 years. You might remember Menino as the mayor who told Chick-fil-A to skedaddle.

12. The governor of Massachusetts is currently Deval Patrick. “Currently,” because it’s election season. You’re in college now; pay attention.

13. Shop like a pro. The sales tax in Massachusetts is 6.25 percent. Or you can go to New Hampshire, where it is zero percent. Newbury Street near the Public Garden is where you’ll find the likes of Valentino. For affordable high-end, check out the brand-new crop of outlets at Assembly Row. And for the really affordable, if you dare, you can wade through the trenches of the Garment District. Your obligatory four-story Forever 21 is at 343 Newbury Street.

14. Play like a pro. Once you get tired of the running-and-yoga grind, try something new—that’s what college is for, damn it! Take a dance class, attempt stand-up paddleboarding, go climbing at Brooklyn Boulders, or even learn some Parkour. For forest fun, grab some friends for a day trip to Ramblewild, a 900-acre forest adventure park that opened in June.

15. Finally, no, you cannot park in Harvard Yard. Don’t even ask.