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Freshman Fifteen

Off Campus | September 14, 2010

The first semester of freshman year can be overwhelming, to say the least. Sometimes the stress of getting adjusted to campus life can keep you from finding some of the most interesting off campus spots. Here are fifteen great reasons to take a trip outside the Tufts bubble.

1. Dave’s Fresh Pasta. Sometimes you need something a little more flavorful than Dewick. This Italian grocery/sandwich shop combo in Davis Square is stocked with freshly made pasta, local produce, artisan cheeses, handcrafted breads, and all the fancy and expensive groceries you could imagine. Dave’s also offers at least ten different and unique sandwiches, each one a delicious combination of carefully chosen, fresh ingredients.

2. Berryline. Boston’s options for frozen yogurt are on the slim side (although the new Pinkberry opening up on Newbury Street may spark a new craze), but Berryline stands out. With locations in both Harvard and Porter Square, it’s close enough for a study-break trip. The flavors vary seasonally, but at the moment include coconut-almond, peach, original, and ginger-mango.

3. Boston Public Library. Coming from a girl who has never willingly set foot in Tisch, you know this place has to be good. The Boston Public Library may be the prettiest, most academic feeling library of all time. The sunlit courtyard and cozy, book-walled reading rooms make this one of the best places to do work when you’re feeling particularly uninspired. During midterms, instead of hitting up Club Tisch, take the subway out to here, and study in this quiet monument to academia.

4. Soundbites/Ball Square. These two restaurant neighbors have been fighting it out for as long as anyone can remember. Ball Square has slightly better food, Soundbites has a slightly nicer atmosphere, but both restaurants are minutes from campus. They have huge breakfast menus—they serve lunch and dinner, but breakfast is the star here—with gigantic portions at college student prices.

5. Danish Pastry House. There is no excuse not to go to the Danish Pastry House. Just a block west of Mail Services, this café is hands down the closest coffee shop to campus. Aside from a wide variety of European-inspired pastries and baked goods, the Danish Pastry House also makes a great cup of coffee, six different types of iced tea, and a grilled cheese sandwich that would put The Commons to shame.

6. The Somerville Theater. This little movie theater in Davis Square is often unfairly overlooked in favor of the bigger chains in Harvard Square. The  $5 weekend matinee tickets are complete bargain, and the concessions stand sells ice cream. The theater hosts a variety of film festivals throughout the year.  September 24th is the first day of the annual Terrorthon, nine days of cult classic and new horror films.

7. Mike’s Pastries. It’s Mike’s. You just have to go. For those of you who aren’t from the Boston area, Mike’s is a famous Italian pastry shop in the North End of Boston. They have every Italian pastry imaginable—the oversized chocolate peanut butter cups are a must.  Go pick up an assorted box of sweets and become the most popular person on your hallway.

8. When Pigs Fly. This bread shop in Davis Square not only has an adorable name, but a wide variety of seasonal breads and treats.  Instead of stocking a box of cereal or a granola bar for breakfast, buy a loaf of bread and make toast. When you’re reaching for a bag of Oreos way past midnight, have a slice of apple raisin bread instead. It’ll significantly reduce the post-study break snack binge guilt.

9. Diesel. The Starbucks in Davis Square can get absurdly crowded on weekends, and when that happens, just turn around and go across the street to Diesel. It’s an independent coffee shop where the front wall is a sliding garage door, the coffee is fantastic, and the food is actually edible (ahem, Starbucks).

10. L.A. Burdick Chocolate Cafe. When you feel brain dead, overwhelmed, and like the sky might actually be falling, head over to Burdick’s in Harvard Square. Chocolate solves all problems, and Burdick’s has European chocolate pastries, chocolates, and nine varieties of hot chocolate. Get a hot chocolate, and take a mental health break.

11. Prudential Center. Yes, there is a mall by Newbury Street, and yes, you can get to it on the green line.Davis and Harvard Square can take care of most shopping needs, but Prudential is perfect for when you just need an old-fashioned mall. With stores like Sephora, SAKS, and Aldo, you can make a whole day out of coming here.

12. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. If you’re willing to take the green line all the way out to this museum, the 15th century Venetian style building is worth the trip. Unlike the cold, sterile atmosphere of most museums, the Isabella Stewart Gardner feels like the home of a distant, fabulously wealthy relative with a penchant for fine art. Admission for college students is $5, and anyone named Isabella gets in for free.

13. MFA. If you take an art history class, chances are you will probably end up going here at least once. It is a more typical museum than the Isabella Stewart Gardner, but the collection of Impressionist pieces here is simply astounding. When you’re feeling stumped and need some inspiration, come here and stare at a few Monets.  Admission on Wednesdays after 4 pm is by suggested donation, AKA free.

14. Poor Little Rich Girl. Shopping in Davis Square can be as frustrating as trying to figure out SIS for the first time. One of the most reliable shops is Poor Little Rich Girl, a consignment store where you can find both ‘80s sailor dresses and ’50s Yves Saint Laurent blazers. You may have to dig, but you can always find some treasures.

15. Black Ink. This curio shop in Harvard Square is the perfect place to find impromptu birthday presents and trinkets to decorate your dorm room. It sells everything from whale-shaped bottle openers to weirdly shaped erasers, and it’s all affordable and guaranteed to make you smile.