There is no question in my mind that going to school in Boston was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. With over 80 colleges in the Boston area alone, chances are, if you aren’t going to school in Boston you know someone who does. With so many students flocking to Beantown, you have to wonder what’s so appealing about what’s come to be known unofficially as “America’s college town”. Well, I’m here to tell you.
I never saw myself going to school in a city. In fact, of the fifteen (yes you read that right) colleges I applied to, only two were situated in a city – Boston College and Northeastern – both in Boston and both neared the bottom of my list of desired schools to attend. As early decision college decision letters arrived, I found myself collecting more rejections than acceptances. It seemed that no one in my class, including myself, was getting into their top choices, so why would I hold out hope for a school I didn’t really know that much about. I even considered withdrawing my application from Boston College. Thank god I didn’t.
Even now, looking back in retrospect on my first year in Boston I still don’t think I’ve realized the full extent of the city’s magic. For the history lover, the city is steeped in rich cultural history dating back to 1630 which means that you’ll be stumbling down the Freedom Trail late at night, passing the cities’ various historical landmarks like Faneuil Hall while on your way to one of Boston’s many famed pubs. In spite of Boston’s lack of urban planning that accounts for the city’s general “crookedness,” the kind confusing and mystical nature of the “Walking City” will always be charming rather than frustrating and even if you hated your high school history class, something about the old soul of the city will never cease to amaze.
Not to mention that Boston is home to many of our nation’s “firsts” including the first college Harvard University, the first public park, the first chocolate factory, the first U.S. Subway system, and the first public beach. Which explains why Boston is still one of the country’s most cutting-edge cities in the country – as a home to nearly a quarter of a million college students just in Boston and Cambridge alone, we are America’s youngest major metropolis which means the freshest, most innovative ideas are starting in the minds of Boston’s students.
Oh, and did I mention Bostonians love sports? Well, that’s an understatement.When there’s no shortage of sports to watch and teams to root for, who wouldn’t naturally want to go to a Sox game at Fenway or a Bruins or Celtics game at TD garden, for discounted tickets nonetheless. In fact, psychologists report that living in an area with a deep commitment to and love of their home sports teams reaps major mental health benefits. Going through a collective experience of watching and rooting for a sports team in a community of like-minded folks can boosts self-esteem and contribute to the general betterment of social connections. Which explains why college students and adults alike bond over their deep roots in Boston sports – and if you think the Red Sox vs. Yankees rivalry is a big deal, don’t even get me started on BC vs. BU.
And if you’re like me, you’ll appreciate that Boston is ranked the #11 best city in the country for food lovers which means that when they say their clam chowder is the best, they mean it. Not to mention that while Boston is just big enough to attract national attention for its culinary scene, it is also small enough that local, fresh farms are less than 30 minutes away – so we don’t take the terms farm to table, and ocean to table lightly. I might be biased, though there is no shortage of Boston foodie Instagram accounts to back me up. Fact check – here, here, and here.
It doesn’t matter what school you’re attending or what you’re majoring in, there’s some aspect of Boston that enchants each new visitor, be it the trendy cafes of the South End, the deep Italian tradition of the North End, the great bars in Allston, or South Boston’s Irish heritage – together all of these small aspects create a place that is uniquely Boston.
Mark Twain once wrote, “In New York they ask ‘How much money does he have?’ In Philadelphia, they ask, ‘Who were his parents?’ In Boston, they ask, ‘How much does he know?’” In spite of Boston’s countless cultural attractions, it is for this reason that Boston deserves to be called “America’s college town” due simply to the fact that students come to the city to pursue their education – it’s as if the city was made just for us.
Image via Kerry McGauley