Alone in Boston: Pt. 2

As the third of four sisters, I never really had much alone time. I grew up constantly surrounded by my siblings. We shared bedrooms, clothes, sports teams and even entrees at restaurants. 

My eldest sibling, Randi, was always the ring leader of us sisters. Seven years older than me, Randi was typically put in charge of watching us while my parents worked or went out. To her, watching us was an annoying chore. For me, it felt like a privilege to be in her company. 

Randi is a perfect embodiment of a first child. She is cool, unique and beautiful. She often diverged from what was popular or trendy and instead acted like a tomboy, wearing baggy clothes and hanging around her guy friends. Her creativity showed through her art; her bedroom walls covered in graffiti depicting skulls, guns and surrealist bubble letters that seemed to drip off the canvas.   

I didn’t just admire Randi, I wanted to be her. I spent much of my time modeling myself after her. I would sneak into her closet and try on clothes way too big for my middle school body, listen to 90s rap music and watch reality TV on MTV.

The bits of my personality I didn’t get from Randi I got from my other sisters. I never really felt like I could truly be me and instead hid myself behind my sisters’ character traits, quirks and mannerisms. 

College was the first time I really experienced independence. There was no more following blindly in Randi’s footsteps or stealing my younger sister’s jokes. I finally had a space to myself, a place where I could be whoever I wanted to be.

My first week of college was rough. After many days of forced Welcome Week activities and exhausting social interactions I was ready to start transfer applications and call it quits. It wasn’t until Matriculation, over a week after I first arrived in Boston, that I made my first friend.

Thousands of students funneled into Agganis Arena. The ice of the hockey rink was covered in grey mats and thin folding chairs, all pointed toward a stage with a dozen people in black and red robes standing behind a podium. 

There was no order to the seating so it was by chance that I ended up sitting next to Mia, my future first friend at BU. President Brown droned on in the background as Mia and I bonded over our struggles transitioning to college.

From there Mia introduced me to a few other girls she met. Together we attempted to explore and understand the frat parties at BU. Not knowing enough people to get us invited, we wandered the streets of Allston and looked for houses with people buzzing around the outside and lawns covered in red solo cups. 

Mia has always been brave and a leader. I would hide behind her as she walked right up to the guys at the front door and convinced them to let us in. 

Mia and I were fast friends but aside from the few nights a week we’d hang out or go out, I still had hours of freetime to fill. I wasn’t used to having this much time to myself and I wasn’t sure what to do. 

As a new student in a new place, the best thing you can do for yourself is explore the city that you’re in. So that’s what I did. I used my love of shopping as an excuse to get out of my dorm room and off campus. 

I would spend hours roaming up and down Newbury street, ending up in places like Boston Common or the Theater District. Everywhere I didn’t walk I took the train. Soon I was an expert on the subway system in Boston, knowing each of the stops on the Green Line and which lines went to which areas; the Red Line for Harvard, the Blue Line for the airport, the Orange Line for Back Bay. 

Walking and shopping quickly became a habit. The days I didn’t have class I spent walking around Boston, familiarizing myself with the city and trying new places. Some of my favorite spots included thrift shopping at Vivant Vintage, sipping smoothies from Emack and Bolio’s and reading at Brookline Booksmith.

Photo taken by: Toni Baraga

Doing this helped Boston become a home. It also helped me learn to love spending time with myself. Being alone was no longer a drawback, it was a necessity. I was independent and powerful, going out on my own volition and not because someone else was leading me there.

If  you’re a new student struggling to adapt to your new environment, I suggest exploring your city. Try out local restaurants, venture off campus and into different parts of town and chat with as many people as possible. It’s easy to be uncomfortable in places you don’t know, so make an effort to know your city. 

College is truly a fresh start. It’s a place that can help you discover who you are and what you like. In astrology, your ascendent sign is how others perceive you, your moon sign is who you are on the inside and your sun sign is who you become. College is the place where you grow as a person and finally become your sun sign. As scary and difficult as it might be, try to be excited about all that the future has to offer you in a place where you can finally find your identity and become yourself.

  • Attending college in a new place can be very scary. Exploring your city is a great way to become more comfortable and familiar in this new place. Try exploring local favorites for shopping, eating and coffee.
  • College is great way to find your independence and blossom into who you really are. Try to find ways to enjoy spending time with yourself, whether that involves shopping around town or exploring local parks and trails.

My name is Toni Baraga and I am a senior in COM at Boston University studying journalism with a minor in archaeology. I have a passion for writing and I believe that everyone has a story. I have worked as a reporter for various newspapers, such the Somerville Journal and Boston University’s Daily Free Press. I grew up in St. Paul Minnesota and reside in Boston.  

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourages them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing, and services.  At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.


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