Exploring Boston by Means of a Sweet Tooth

Brianna Spiegel (SAR’24)

Everyone says that college is transformative. From shaping identity, discovering values, creating life-long friendships, and preparing for careers, I can say that my experience in Kilachand and BU as a whole has definitely led me to accomplish those big things. But what about the small stuff? I have found that college changed me in unexpected ways, like becoming a foodie.

Now, I know this may sound silly at first. Maybe you’re thinking, don’t college students just survive on late night pizza? (And I’ll have to agree, there’s nothing quite like ordering Domino’s cheesy bread with your dining points). Or perhaps you’re thinking about budgeting – and it’s true, finding the spots to get the most for your money can be tricky. But living in Kilachand Hall, I had so many nearby options to choose from. Being on Bay State Road meant being walking distance to Fenway, Newbury, and more. And if something was a bit further away, my friends and I were just a block away from Kenmore station, where we could hop on the T and go anywhere in Boston!

Trying out new food places became a way to bond with my suitemates, neighbors, and friends in Kilachand’s living-learning community. From deciding on the restaurant, finding a way to get there, ordering and sharing the meal, and reflecting on all of the flavors and combinations, I found myself growing to love this process. Food transformed into a social and cultural experience for me; it was a way to explore the many diverse neighborhoods of Boston.

Because it can be a bit overwhelming knowing where to start, I wanted to recommend a couple fun experiences to try, especially for dessert – because isn’t that the best part of the meal? More than just the food, I hope that these ideas inspire you to plan your own Boston adventures and make memories along the way. I’ll also provide some suggested ways for how to get there from Kilachand Hall (91 Bay State Road).

L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates – 220 Clarendon St

I remember when my floor’s Resident Assistant (shout out to Christian!) took us all to this lovely shop, and we tried its amazing hot chocolate. L.A. Burdick is unique in that you can order to suit your chocolate preferences: dark, milk, or even white hot chocolate! Also, don’t skip out on trying a few of their chocolate candies and truffles, which have really rich, complex and creative flavors.

How to get there: Take a left out of Kilachand Hall, then take a right onto Raleigh St. Once you hit the Kenmore T station, hop on the train and ride two stops on the Green Line inbound to Copley (from where it will be a 3 min walk). If you’re up for about a 20-minute walk, take the beautiful stroll down tree-lined Commonwealth Ave in the direction of the Common, or opt to do some window browsing by walking down Newbury Street, Boston’s famous shopping area. Newbury and Commonwealth run parallel, so you’ll take a right onto Clarendon St either way.

Bova’s Bakery – 134 Salem St

My friend and I stumbled upon Bova’s in search of cannolis but wanting to avoid the infamously long line at Mike’s Pastry. We were amazed to see such a huge variety of pastries and cakes in addition to the classic cannoli that the North End is known for. I recommend getting a few with different fillings to share! Fun fact is that Bova’s is open 24/7, so perfect for those late night cravings. The North End, also known as Boston’s “Little Italy,” is definitely a must-visit site for anyone coming to the city.

How to get there: I recommend taking the T from Kenmore. Make sure to get on the Green D line inbound, and you’ll get off at Haymarket from which it will be about an 8 min walk. If you’re up for about an hour – but very scenic – trek, head down Commonwealth Ave in the direction of the Boston Common. You’ll actually walk through the park, and continue onto Beacon St, taking a left onto Somerset Ave. Continue straight all the way to Sudbury St. Once you get to the Rose Kennedy Greenway, a big intersection with trees and benches, you’ll cross and head onto Salem St in the heart of the North End.

The 5 Best Items to Buy at Trader Joe’s

By Emma Hartman (ENG'23)

One of the great joys of living on BU’s west campus is shopping at the Coolidge Corner Trader Joe’s. Every week or so, my roommates and I pack up our rolling cart and make the trek to TJ’s for affordable food that we can make in our Stuvi 1 apartment kitchen. After months of research, I’ve taken it upon myself to compile a list of the 5 best items to buy at the Coolidge Corner Trader Joe’s. I am not sponsored by TJ’s, but I probably should be. These are just my (and my roommates’) personal and correct opinions.

1. Veggie Bites

As a pre-med engineering major, I know all too well how hard it can be to find time to cook healthy food once things get busy or exam season hits. On busy days (or days when you’re just feeling lazy and want to watch Netflix), veggie bites are the perfect low maintenance, high nutrition option. Throw them in the oven for 10 minutes and walk away (just don’t forget to come back). They look and taste like tater tots, but are loaded with broccoli, carrots, celery, kale, onions, sweet potatoes, and a shocking amount of other healthy ingredients. You can dip them in pretty much any sauce (my roommates and I have tried all of them) and if you’re like me, they’re guaranteed to brighten your day.

2. (Vegan) Kale, Cashew, & Basil Pesto

For something consisting of such simple ingredients, it’s shocking how versatile this pesto is. I love eating it with the Trader Joe’s cauliflower gnocchi (which, honorable mention, are a blessing to gluten free eaters like myself everywhere) and I put this in all of my turkey wraps and sandwiches. Even if you eat it everyday, this tiny tub will last a while and you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.

3. Scandinavian swimmers

Cousins of the Swedish fish, the Scandinavian swimmers are as delicious as they are addicting. I find it’s best to eat them with my friends while we spend hours on our signals homework to avoid consuming an entire bag by myself per sitting. I hesitated to include them on this list because their appeal is almost too strong. I speak from personal experience. My suitemate Steph has a tragic Scandinavian swimmers addiction and buys several large bags per week. The fish have taken over her life. We’ve held multiple interventions, but to no avail. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. Anyways, these are pretty good. I’d recommend them. Everyone seems to like them.

4. Any Trader Joe’s Salsa and Chip Combo

They’re a classic and dependable (and cheap) combo. Nobody says no to Trader Joe’s chips and salsa. For some reason, they’re just better than other chips and salsa. Perfect for nachos and you can enjoy them by yourself or with guests. Enough said. 5. Dark chocolate peanut butter cups I’ve always been a sucker for any combination of peanut butter and chocolate, but in this case, pretty much everyone agrees that these are amazing. I like to eat them while I study for exams for a quick sugar rush. Pro tip: put them in the fridge for a few hours. You won’t regret it!

Things to Do Around Boston

By Jackson Wallace (CAS'22)

One of the greatest advantages of going to school in a large city is that there are so many activities to do and places to go. Whether you are looking for something to do close to Boston University, something that’s a little further into the city, or something in the surrounding area of Boston, there is somewhere to go.

For places that are within close walking distance of BU, the closest would be Fenway Park, which is about five minutes from East Campus. Periodically, there are student tickets to the games available for $9, which are a great experience for a group of friends. The more popular games are usually harder to get tickets for, but if you are a big fan of baseball it can be quite thrilling to watch the Sox play in important games. Another place that is a small walk from East Campus is Trident. Located on Newbury Street in the Back Bay neighborhood, Trident is a bookstore that also doubles as a cafe. They also host fun events such as a trivia night. One final location that is not too far from BU is the Museum of Fine Arts. BU students have free access to the museum with their student IDs. There is a lot of art at the museum and most people will tell you that you’ll want to go multiple times to get a full experience, plus there are frequent temporary exhibitions.

A little further away (i.e. requiring serious dedication to walking or public transit) is the North End neighborhood of Boston. This area of Boston is famed for its Italian heritage with numerous Italian restaurants and pastry shops. To get there, you’ll likely want to take the Green Line down to the Haymarket stop. If that makes no sense to you, don’t worry; you’ll pick up the subway lingo in no time at BU. A location out further still is the Harbor Islands. These require a ferry to get to but are beautiful to hike around on.

A final location that, while not located in Boston, is possible to get to by public transit is Salem, Massachusetts. Getting to Salem requires taking the commuter rail. Once there, there is plenty to do in Salem, from walking around the historic town to shopping. However, be warned that it gets quite crowded (and spooky) in Salem the closer it gets to Halloween.

Fun Ways to Get Out and Explore Boston, Your New Home

By Charlie McMahon (SAR'23)

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!

The view in Copley Square in the late afternoon.
The view in Copley Square in the late afternoon.

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.

The view from the dock near the aquarium at sunset
The view from the dock near the aquarium at sunset.

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.

Boston’s Chinatown Gate
Boston’s Chinatown Gate

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.

You can't call yourself a Boston Resident without going to a Red Sox game at least once!
You can't call yourself a Boston Resident without going to a Red Sox game at least once!

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!

All photos credit Charlie M.