You gotta have stuff by Mollie B. '06
Places to get different kinds of stuff around campus. And rudimentary directions, too!
I’m taking a break from my weekend of watching Lost episodes downloaded from iTunes and buying furniture for the new apartment to do a public service announcement on where to buy stuff for your future hypothetical dorm room.
First, the website for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is here and Google Maps is here. Learn to love these websites. I spent a great deal of the summer before my freshman year at MIT on the internet figuring out where my favorite stores and restaurants were, and how best to get there via public transportation.
Public transportation stuff
Public transportation in Boston is not as great as it is in, say, Washington, DC, but it’s good enough for you the college student. MIT is served by the Kendall Square stop on the Red Line, which is at the northeast corner of campus; other close stops are Hynes/ICA (right across the Charles River), Central (very close to Random Hall), and BU Central (across the BU bridge from the far west end of campus). The #1 bus stops at 77 Massachusetts Avenue and goes to Harvard Square in one direction and across the river to Dudley Station in the other.
As an MIT student, you’re eligible to purchase a discounted monthly T pass. If you don’t ride the subway enough for this to be worthwhile, you can just pay each time — each subway ride is $1.25 and each bus ride is $0.90.
Notice: The T subway map is artistically rendered and does not actually reflect cartographic reality in Boston. Once freshman year, I had gotten my hair cut near Downtown Crossing and thought I’d walk to Faneuil Hall for dinner. The two stops appear to be in a straight line from each other on the T map, so I figured I’d be fine. Yeah, not so much. I ended up getting lost in Boston by myself at night, which is not really a great idea for a girl, all things considered. (I mean, Boston is generally a safe city. But it’s still not a good idea to wander around by yourself at night.)
There’s a Target within walking distance of Andrew Station on the Red Line. (Actually, Adam and I found this Target last summer when we got lost on the way to the zoo. I get lost a lot.) If there’s anything you need for your dorm room, I’m almost positive you can find it at Target.
There’s also a Bed, Bath & Beyond right next to the Fenway Station on the Green Line D Branch. (This is not, incidentally, where you would go if you wanted to see a Sox game — you’d go to Kenmore Station.)
So far as I know, there isn’t a Walmart conveniently serviced by the T.
The closest mall to campus is the Cambridgeside Galleria. The Galleria is serviced by a free shuttle to and from the Kendall Square T stop, which comes every 20 minutes. I almost always take the shuttle, because I’m lazy, but the mall is definitely within walking distance of campus and it’s no problem to walk there. The Galleria has all of the clothing stores that I personally require, because I could live quite happily if every clothing store on earth except American Eagle, Victoria’s Secret, and Abercrombie and Fitch closed down. But it also has important stuff like a Best Buy, a CVS, and a Kay Jewelers (*hint to my boyfriend*).
Prudential Center and Copley Place (which is connected to the Pru through a walkway) are slighty higher-end malls. These are not really malls which have anything practical, so I’m only mentioning them for frivolous girls like myself who like to shop at Sephora, Jasmine Sola, and FCUK. And for frivolous girls like myself who like to window-shop at Tiffany. You can get to them on the Green Line, or you could take the #1 bus across the bridge and walk. The Boston East Saferide services the Pru as well. Or you could, you know, just walk.
There are also a lot of free-standing stores on Newbury Street and in the area around Harvard Square.
Star Market is right behind Random and is a general supermarket. Prices can be kind of high, but I think that’s true of most chain supermarkets. If you go at night, Cambridge West Saferide (the evening campus shuttle) goes right past it — you can catch the shuttle and not have to carry your groceries home. There’s another Star Market between the Prudential Center and Copley Place malls. Another thing — if you plan to buy a lot of groceries, you can do one of several things: steal a shopping cart (hey, I’m not advocating it, just saying people do it), buy a small shopping cart or share the purchase with friends (they sell them at Star for ~$25), or suck it up and carry your groceries all the way home. My favorite is option #2. Adam’s favorite is anything but option #3, because I always make him carry the heavy bags.
Trader Joe’s is more of a “niche” supermarket — they carry a lot of private-label foods and I suppose are geared more toward people who want to eat healthy food. It’s surprisingly cheap, considering how good (in both the “delicious” sense and the “healthy” sense) the food is. I would recommend it to anybody. There’s one right across from Prudential Center as well as another up Memorial Drive (go as far west on campus as you can on Memorial Drive, then keep going west for about a mile).
Haymarket is the farmer’s market in the city on weekend mornings. You can get great deals on fruit, vegetables, bread, and meat (ie 5 pounds of potatoes for $1… that sort of thing)… however, you can also get stuck with bug-infested or moldy produce. Try to go to the stalls that let you pick your own selection, and keep an eye out for the signs of older/rotting food. (I adore Haymarket. But I am also one of those people who really, really likes vegetables.)
Laverde’s is the grocery store in the student center. They have most of the stuff the average student needs on a day-to-day basis (and they take TechCash), but I wouldn’t advise buying all your groceries from them if you plan to cook. They have a very convenient location for most MIT students, and their prices reflect this. As far as convenience stores go, there’s also a 7-11 in Tech Square and MacGregor Convenience on the first floor of MacGregor.
If you like to order food (and really, what college student doesn’t?), I would suggest checking out Campusfood.com.
1. Anonymous asked,
If I got a 5 on the English Language AP exam but I just know that I won’t get a 5 on the Lit, do I still count as having passed the FEE?
To which another anonymous commenter replied
Anonymous, yes, passing either will place you out of FEE. From this link:
A score of 5 on either the Language and Composition or Literature and Composition test is considered equivalent to passing the Freshman Essay Evaluation (FEE). If you have passed the FEE , you are still required to take a communication-intensive subject your first year as part of the Communication Requirement. You do, however, have a wider range of communication-intensive subjects to choose from than students who have not demonstrated competency in the FEE. Scores lower than 5 on either examination are not considered equivalent to passing the FEE.
The FEE, for those who don’t know, is the Freshman Essay Evaluation. It’s not a huge deal, but if you fail it you’re required to take a certain writing-intensive humanities class first semester. Again, I will stress that it’s not a huge deal. So don’t start worrying yet.
But as Anonymous #2 pointed out, a score of 5 on either AP Language or AP Lit will get you out of the FEE. (I got a 5 on AP Lit, so I’ve never taken the FEE. Woot.)
3. A third anonymous commenter asked,
Even though you are graduating this year is there a remote possibility that you may be present during freshman or international orientation?
There’s more than just a remote chance. :) Actually, as I’m sure it will bowl you over with joy to know, Adam and I are moving to Westgate in three weeks. Westgate is also known as W85. So not only will I be here for Orientation, I will be living on the MIT campus all year! Hooray! Everybody’s welcome to come by the apartment and chat. I’ll probably have cookies.