Friday, July 19, 2013

Best of Boston

We woke up right on time today, and I felt so well rested. I couldn’t wait to start the day, despite the heat.

Not trying to repeat missing breakfast like we did yesterday, we stopped at a Dunkin’ Donuts on the way to Brandeis.

When we got to the school, we were almost an hour early. While we were waiting, I picked up a Theater pamphlet, and just looking at it got me excited! One section on the pamphlet covered the study abroad programs available to theater students, one of which is a program in England, “the drama center of the world.” I’ve always wanted to go to England to study theater because I feel like it is more prevalent in the English culture. If I went to Brandeis, I would definitely participate in this program!
Lake at Brandeis

We then went on a tour around the campus led by a current Brandeis junior, Matt. While we walked, we saw all of the buildings designed to resemble certain objects: the theater mirrors a top hat, the art museum a Polaroid camera, and supposedly one building is shaped like a Q-tip, but I didn’t see the resemblance. I thought it was very creative of the architects to build facilities so innovatively; I’ve never seen any other building, on or off a college campus, that bears resemblance to a particular object. Walking around the campus, I discovered that I was in love with the campus. All of the buildings are very open, with big windows and spacious rooms. Not only did I like the architecture of the campus, but I also liked the way all the buildings were spread out around the campus.
A beautiful room at Brandeis

While we walked, we learned that Brandeis is very focused on the community aspect of college, and has CA’s (community advisors) instead of RA’s. I thought that the collective identity that Brandeis upheld was really inviting, and a nice addition to the school. A friendly environment, Brandeis also has a special restaurant in which you can, “take your teacher to lunch,” all expenses paid. Meeting with a teacher in a more relaxed setting seems like a really easy way to get to know them, and sounds like something I would be interested in. 
Apart from having a friendly college community, the school is relatively small, with an average class size of 24, which can often lower to 19 or less. I think a small, but not extremely small, school would be a good fit for me because I would like to get the opportunity to get to know my professors, and I would like to be able to engage in my class discussion.

Matt explained that over 40% of students at Brandeis double major. Having a double major sounds appealing to me, especially if my majors were Theater and Film. When I asked Matt about double majoring in Theater and Film, he told me that it would actually be really doable because the two majors have a lot in common. I was relieved to hear that! I also asked Matt about the different opportunities available for Theater students, and he told me about the Undergraduate Theater Association (UTA), and the Brandeis Theater Company (BTC). The UTA is a theater club that is directed at students who are interested in theater, but want to pursue a major elsewhere. However, even Theater majors have opportunities to direct and write plays that will be performed. The BTC is targeted at more serious theater students. There you can submit plays that are reviewed by a committee, and if the committee likes your work, a professional production of your play will be acted at the BTC Theater. Having opportunities on campus to direct and submit plays is extremely important to me, and I feel like Brandeis can accommodate those needs.

Matt informed us that Brandeis is focused on interdisciplinary studies, meaning that various classes from different areas of study are in the vicinity of each other, and there are classes that combine the skills used in various classes. Matt explained that he once took a class called “Women in German History Through Film.” It sounded like a really interesting way to incorporate classes that I wouldn’t necessarily be drawn to, into a class I enjoy.

The Castle
Walking up a hill, we suddenly came to a stop in front of a giant… Castle. Everyone was really confused for a second, wondering why a medieval castle was on the Brandeis campus. Apparently, when Brandeis used to be Middle Sex College, and entrepreneur wanted to build something significant at the school, and make it more well known. His way of doing so was to travel to Scotland, hire painters to paint a castle he was fond of, and then have it built at the school. Because the architects built based on the painting, it was built from the outside in, and there are walls where there should be doors or windows, and oddly shaped rooms. There is even a room that is only accessible from the third floor window!

After the tour, we went to an info session led by a woman named Rebecca, the Associate Director at Brandeis. Most of what she talked about was similar to the info session at Wellesley. Rebecca also recommended that if you are seriously interested in the school, to definitely do an interview. I think I would really benefit from an interview, because I find it hard to express my passion about theater, film, and community service in just a one-page essay.
Side of the Castle

After the info session, we went to the bookstore and each got a t-shirt, except Julia, who got a football. I got a tank top that I will definitely have the opportunity to wear in this hot weather!

We ate lunch at a Mexican place, and then walked around Boston. We walked past a bunch of Red Sox signs, and I don’t care much for baseball, but it was still interesting to see all the culture. We eventually passed by a huge bus with the label “Yankee’s.” I didn’t realize who was inside, so I casually walked in front of the door, and bumped right into a Yankee’s player! I had no idea who it was, but it was cool.
Red Sox or Yankee's?

We then headed for Boston University for an info session, led by Caitlin, and alumnae. Like Brandeis, Caitlin explained that the teachers are very involved. She also mentioned that BU is the 4th largest private research institution in the country. Because of the school’s large number of research opportunities, research projects and internships are offered to all students. Some internships are even built into the programs, such as in the School of Hospitality. I really liked that certain programs were tailed to meet the needs of students who would like to pursue a hands-on experience in their major.

Caitlin also mentioned that, like most schools, transcripts are the most important aspects of an application, however, BU looks at one’s transcript within the context of one’s school. Something I found memorable and that I think I will implement into my applications is what Caitlin said in regard to the essays: “if your class threw all the essays into the gym, your best friend should be able to pull yours out.”
Art at Boston University

We then went on a tour of BU. I was surprised to find that the buildings were all placed on a long street, sort of like in a residential area. While we walked around the campus, I learned the difference between a dual degree, and a double major, which I had thought were the same thing. A dual degree means that you get degrees from two separate schools within BU, whereas a double major means that you get both degrees within the same school.

When we opened the doors to go back to the car from inside the air-conditioned buildings, it felt like the heat and humidity had smacked me in the face. It was such a drastic change of temperature that I still haven’t been able to adjust to. Today has been the hottest day out of the week so far, and I hadn’t packed any water to bring with me, so while we were walking around Boston, I got dehydrated and started to feel a little faint. I’ve never been in weather this hot before!

I had a great time touring BU and Brandeis today, and I can definitely see myself at Brandeis. BU does not have directing or playwriting programs, and it is a conservatory, which I really am not interested in.

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