Above: Walking down Comm Ave during a sunset. The bustling atmosphere of students going about their day in West Campus really brings the city feel to life.
Boston is one of those walking cities. It’s walkable because things are close by, but it’s also walkable because the sights are so beautiful. Coming from a fairly small town myself, I was taken aback by the cityscape every time I walked to class in East Campus or to hockey practice in West. Many of you will start off your first year by walking around everywhere to get a feel of campus, and it’s the best way to do it! You get to explore the atmosphere and experience, firsthand, of life in a city college.
Whether you bike, skate, take the bus, or walk to class, there’s something for everyone. Since you’ll be living in the Kilachand dorm, you’ll be placed squarely in East Campus. If you want to make it to the other side of campus, it’s a short walk to the BU bus stop, or a pleasant 15 minute walk over. There are your Blue Bikes, where you can pay a small fee to borrow a bike if you’re really in a hurry; the bike lanes are wide and safe enough for bikers and the skateboarder/scooterer (is that a real word?). Alternatively, if you bring your own bike, Kilachand has a neat space to store it on the first floor. And of course, there’s the famous T that shoots down the entire length of campus. You can either pay per ride, or get a semester pass for unlimited use during the academic semester (found on the StudentLink). For those not familiar with the T system, it has stops all throughout BU’s campus, so it’s a quick and efficient way of travel. And not to mention, it goes directly into downtown Boston for a fun weekend with your new roommate(s) and friends!
The BU bus is my main method of transportation nowadays, since I have to travel back and forth from class to practice to research to home. The bus runs every day and during most hours of the day, so you can get around whenever you need to. You can download the BU bus app on your phone, and once you find the bus stops, it’s a piece of cake to catch a quick ride to wherever you’re going to. But walking has its perks too. You get to be surrounded by other students while walking down Baystate Road and admiring the beautiful scenery, or strolling past the BU Beach and the Esplanade, the GSU (George Sherman Union) building, and even Agganis Arena. Walking is both therapeutic and good for your health, especially after a year of staying inside. So whether you have your own wheels or just your feet, go out there and explore campus!
As I waited by the ocean-themed Ben and Jerry’s stand outside the Aquarium I grew a little nervous. I’d never led or even gone on one of Kilachand’s Walking Tours. For that matter, I’d never even been to the New England Aquarium before. How could I lead a group of nine freshmen expecting an exciting excursion and ensure that they weren’t giving up their Friday night for nothing? Of course seeing sealions, penguins, and water dragons up close is always breathtaking, but would COVID dampen the fun?
Easily, one of the best aspects of Kilachand is all the events the Honors College hosts throughout the year. From the Back-to-School BBQ, to Study Breaks, to screenings in the Common Room there’s always a chance at KHC to connect with friends (or make new ones) and enjoy some of the best food Boston has to offer. With the introduction of walking tours, KHC found a way to keep students connected with one another with the added benefit of getting to explore the city. Usually led by upperclassmen in the mentor program or KHC faculty, these tours offer a great way to escape the BU bubble and meet new people outside of your classes. Walks along the Esplanade, trips to J.P. Lick’s, and even tours of the New England Aquarium are only a sampling of the walking tours KHC students embarked on over the course of the last year.
As I mentioned, I’d never been to the Aquarium before, but I figured for my first walking tour I might as well go big. The Friday we went, the New England Aquarium hosted a special events night in which divers interacted with the 900+ species of animals held in the 200,000 gallon salt water tank that serves as the building’s centerpiece. Any worries I had dissipated with our stop at the first exhibit: The Manta rays. From there the entire event became an intoxicating blur of amazing sea-life, laughter, and pure awe. There really is nothing quite like meeting the eye of a 90 year old 550lb green sea turtle as it emerges from the water only feet away from you. Or looking down through the skeleton of a 35ft-long right whale to see penguins playing below. Of course no trip to the Aquarium is complete without a stop at the gift shop. Between stuffed penguins, whales, sea lions, octopi, and flamingos, with a few more walking tours KHC will likely be able to open its own faux-Aquarium. Even though walking tours were created as a solution to the limit the pandemic placed on in-person events, there’s hope that they will continue well into the future.
Fun Fish Facts
A collection of the most interesting facts we learned at the Aquarium.
1. Octopi have nine brains: a central brain and one in each arm. They also have three hearts: one heart circulates blood around the body while the other two pump blood specifically to the gills.
2. As reptiles, sea turtles breath air, but they are able to hold their breath for 4-7 hours if necessary.
3. Penguins’ tuxedo-like look is attributed to a camouflage technique known as countershading. When hunting for food in the water other animals looking up will have a hard time discerning a penguin’s white stomach from the sun. Meanwhile potential predators from the land and air will miss a penguin’s black backside in the dark ocean.
Imagine this: it is a BEAUTIFUL blue-sky Saturday in September here in Boston. You have just moved into your dorm at Kilachand Hall and cannot get over those stunning Charles River or skyline views. You want to get out and see what Boston has to offer, but you don’t know exactly where to start. That’s where I come in! I have compiled a fun list of must-dos in Boston. As a lifelong Boston resident I know what’s good and what to avoid. So if you’re looking for some fun ways to make the most of those low key weekends in the city, keep reading!
First things first, after arriving in Boston, you are going to want to get a Charlie Card. These refillable cards are the best way to access public transportation (which we call the T) in and around the city. You can get Charlie Cards from T workers in many of the bigger train stations in the area (Back Bay, Park Street or even Kenmore) as well as the service desk at the Star Market in Fenway, the 7-11 on Jersey Street or the 7-11 on Massachusetts Avenue (we call it Mass Ave). After getting your Charlie Card loaded up, you’re ready to go exploring throughout the city!
After getting your Charlie Card, I would recommend hopping up on the Green Line at Kenmore and heading to Copley Square, home of the main branch of the Boston Public Library. You can soak in the beautiful paintings in the reading rooms and sit out in the courtyard on a warm afternoon. Importantly, you’re going to want to sign up for a Boston Public Library card. As an on-campus resident at Boston University, you qualify as a resident of the city of Boston, regardless of whether or not you call Massachusetts home. Now you might be asking “with such an amazing library system here at BU, why would I want to get a library card at the BPL?”
Although BU has many partnerships with nearby museums which I will go on to explain later, it is not an exhaustive list. However, having a BPL card offers you access to a database of museum passes for attractions all through the city! Card holders can reserve passes for the Museum of Science, the New England Aquarium and even access to the Boston Harbor Cruises to visit the Boston Harbor Islands!
After stopping in at the Copley Branch of the BPL, you can get back on the Green Line and head up to Haymarket Station. After a brief walk, you will be in Boston’s North End! Filled with history like the Old North Church where two lanterns were famously hung signaling the British invasion and referenced in Paul Revere’s famous ride. Stop in at Monica’s Mercato for some delicious sandwiches which you can eat along the Rose Kennedy Greenway. After lunch, you can visit Modern Pastry and Mike’s Pastry to get some cannoli. This is a hot rivalry for Bostonians. Everyone has an opinion as to which bakery has the best cannoli (insider tip - check out Bova’s Bakery on Salem Street if the lines are too long. You will not be let down).
Meandering out of the North End, I would recommend you start walking south along the water. You will come to the New England Aquarium which has a bunch of public docks where you can sit and relax watching the airplanes land at Logan Airport or admire the breathtaking views of Boston’s skyline.
An alternate cultural experience would be to check out Boston’s Chinatown. There are so many amazing restaurants like the Gourmet Dumpling House, Hei La Moon or China Pearl. Tea-Do and Kung Fu Tea are also great stops for some boba or refreshing smoothies! If you’re going to visit Chinatown, make sure to stop at the iconic Chinatown Gate and walk through Chinatown Park.
Perhaps you don’t want to head so far away from BU. There are some really awesome neighborhoods to explore a bit closer to home!
Take the C-branch of the Green Line to Coolidge Corner to experience another of Boston’s beloved neighborhoods. This is technically in Brookline, but it is close enough to campus that I am still going to talk about it. On a rainy day, catch a movie at the Coolidge Corner Theater, a Boston-area cultural icon (and recently named one of the most beautiful movie theaters in the world!). Stop in at Zaftigs or Rami’s for a quick bite to eat before walking down to Amory Park to throw around a frisbee or just relax and soak up the sun! Check out J.P. Licks, a famous Boston ice cream chain for a sweet treat too!
Fenway is also a really cool neighborhood to check out and visit. Be sure to sign up for the $9 Red Sox Ticket program! Sox tickets can get expensive, so having the $9 program is an awesome college life hack. Whether or not you are a baseball fan, catching a Sox game at Fenway Park is an essential part of being a Bostonian and is not something to be missed.
Speaking of great student deals, BU has a partnership with many local museums like the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Institute for Contemporary Art. As a BU student with a valid student ID, you have free access to browse amazing collections to your heart’s content. Fun fact: the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum is home to the largest art heist in the world. When Mrs. Gardner established the museum (in what was at the time her home), she made a clause in the charter for the museum saying that staff were not allowed to alter her collections or rearrange any of the pieces. If that contract is broken, all the art must be sold and the profits are specified to be donated to Harvard University. As such, you can see the empty picture frames on the walls where the art thieves cut the paintings from the frames, eerily awaiting the return of the artwork.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Although Boston may not be a geographically huge city, there is no shortage of things to do or places to check out. The city is incredibly walkable and is becoming more friendly to bikers as well! If you like biking, check out the BU student discount for Boston’s Blue Bike subscription service!
So get out and explore what Boston has to offer! The city is eagerly waiting for you!
I am Susritha Kopparapu, a junior double majoring in Biology and Computer Science in the College of Arts and Sciences.
And I am Emily Oros, a junior studying Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering with a minor in biology.
We are both from Massachusetts and were roommates our freshman and sophomore years. Although we are no longer living together, we have become great friends and it’s all thanks to our time living in Kilachand Hall.
Watch our video to hear us talk about some of our experiences our freshman year!
You might have heard us talking about FIRs, who are Faculty-in-Residence. These are professors who serve as mentors and role models for the students in their living and learning dorm. They are always up for conversation, whether that be about academics, careers, or hobbies. In our experience, FIRs are a critical resource especially during the transition from high school to college, and the relationships that develop have lasting impacts beyond your freshman year.
Thanks for listening to us reminisce about the good old days :,)