The Emerson community thrives on its innovative ability to rise, empower, and change the world around them, which begins by embracing your creative passions as an Emersonian graduate student, right here on our Boston campus. The past five months have most certainly been trivial and nerve-wracking, as our campus family have been embracing lion pride far apart, and away from each other. But, despite the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to connect, collaborate, and generate ideas to fulfill our call to action in the ever-changing spaces around us. To maintain our close-knit community, we have put together a series that provides advice on all things Emerson, grad life, and adjusting to city-living in the historic town of Boston. From making friends to learning the MBTA system; from budgeting to managing a full course load; from landing internships to sharing our favorite hang-out spots, we’ve got you covered.
Advice to you, from us, these are the Zoom Diaries.
EPISODE ONE: ADVICE ON ADJUSTING TO EAST COAST LIVING
This week’s topic surrounds the subject of moving from the comforts of your hometown to the hustle and bustle of Boston, Massachusetts. Our community hails from all around the world, which makes our campus incredibly diverse and rich with a plethora of incredible cultures. Two of our very own student Ambassadors, Sofia and Junbo, both discuss what it’s like moving from one coast to another, as well as making the move from one side of the world to here.
Name: Junbo Huang
Hometown: Fujian, China
Miles from home: 6,082
Program: Strategic Marketing Communication, MA
“Don’t let fear overtake you in this new environment.” This was the first piece of advice Junbo had for us when we spoke to him about his initial move from Fujian, China, to Connecticut, where he completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Connecticut for Communication and Psychology.
He admits that embracing the unknown isn’t nearly as simple as it sounds, especially for international students coming to a different country for the very first time. “It wasn’t an easy transition. At first, the language, the culture, the food, and the people- things are not so easy for Chinese students to adjust to in the beginning.” But, after joining clubs and organizations that he was passionate about,he began to build his home away from home. Emerson is filled with clubs and groups for the entire community, which allows our graduate students to be a part of campus life, and embrace lion pride.
When Junbo moved to Boston to begin his Masters in Strategic Marketing Communication at Emerson, he explained that the move, while difficult, was a bit easier than the first time around, as he had experience from his time in undergrad.
“Let yourself walk out of your comfort zone.”
One of Junbo’s hobbies is photography, and he would often take an afternoon off of his other obligations to walk around his new neighborhood and pick a new place that he had never been to, with his camera in hand. “You can get lost,” he joked, “but at the same time you will see things that you don’t expect.”
Junbo also explains that it can be extremely difficult in the beginning to acclimate to a completely different environment and culture that you aren’t used to. While he is used to living in a larger city, everything else just falls into place: making friends, joining clubs, finding yourself, it’s all a part of the Emerson experience.
Weather is also a crucial factor to consider when moving to a state on the east coast. Nor’easter’s are no joke! The weather is always sunny in Fujin, according to Junbo, and when we asked what his most important piece of advice would be to incoming students moving from far away, he immediately stated: “It’s really cold here. You need to prepare for winter, and the best season to shop for a winter coat is actually not when they’re going on sale. Wait until late October or November when it’s actually getting chilly. That’s when the prices go down.”
“I feel like I am home again, because I make home where I am.” Junbo is completely right! Being away from your home, your family, your childhood friends, it can all be extremely overwhelming. But, a home is not a place; it’s people who embrace your dreams, your goals, and your unique identity.
Name: Sofia Marlin
Hometown: Gainesville, Florida
Miles from Home: 1,213
Program: Creative Writing, Fiction concentration, MFA
Sofia is currently working on her third year as an MFA Creative Writing student at Emerson, and she highly recommends utilizing the Facebook groups that the Emerson community has. “There’s an Emerson Graduate Accepted Facebook page, [and] there’s a Boston Housing Facebook page... They’re all really helpful. People often post looking for roommates, as well as just looking for housing… and then of course Emerson’s Off Campus Student Housing Office is really helpful as well.”
She expressed that one of the things that she was more stressed out about was finding housing, as well as finding roommates who were in the same program. After using these resources, she had made two new friends who were not only in the same program as her, but they are all still roommates to this day! These platforms can most certainly come in handy, especially if you are moving to Boston from out of state.
Then, there’s the city-shock of public transportation. The MBTA, otherwise known as the “T,” is Boston’s underground subway system, and if you’re a new and incoming city-dweller, Sofia has you covered. “Once you understand that there’s an inbound and outbound- that becomes really clear, and we only have a few different lines. So, it’s actually not as maybe complex as what you’re used to, or what you’ve heard about big cities.”
“There are some apps you can download that tell you when the buses and T’s are coming which I found pretty helpful. I think that people who live in the city have that understanding that sometimes the subway or bus is running late. So I found that a little bit of leniency to whether you’re meeting people, whether it’s jobs, etc., is [helpful].”
Sofia is very much involved with the Boston art and music scenes, which is such an incredible thing to have access to.“One of the things I wish I had thought about when I was moving here is how important and how rewarding it is to get involved in the city, in the community, whenever you move to a new place.” Boston has so much life; there are things to do for everyone, no matter the passion.
“If you’re into music, there’s so many amazing music opportunities going around in the Greater Boston Area. Whether it’s local concerts or whether it’s kind of the underground techno scene…” She also excitedly expressed her enthusiasm about the arts and accessibility that comes with being an Emerson student: “As Emerson students, we have free access to all of the museums here, the Museum of Fine Arts is especially beautiful.”
She was also in agreement with Junbo on the weather, as she hails from the warm climates of Florida. “Have one really good, warm winter coat, gloves, a hat… get used to layering.” She isn’t kidding, folks- she has a bucket of scarves to prove it!
All in all, Sofia absolutely loves the Boston culture, and is absolutely thriving as an Emerson graduate student. “Find little secret spots.Getting involved can be really vital and really rewarding!”
Have questions? Want to chat about starting your very own Emerson adventure? Make a virtual appointment with our Graduate Admission Student Ambassadors!
About the Author:
Hanna Shemke is a second year Publishing & Writing student at Emerson College. She works in the Graduate Admissions Department as the Marketing and Communications Assistant, and she is also the Digital Marketing Coordinator for Emerson’s graduate journal, Redivider. Currently, she is at home in Michigan, where she is working remotely on her thesis with her two-month-old kitten, Max.