About half an hour away from Wellesley’s campus, the Boston area is an accessible, vibrant and bustling hub full of educational and recreational opportunities for Wellesley students. In fact, many Wellesley students view Boston as their “extended classroom,” where they can explore new things, expand on the knowledge gained at Wellesley, and grow both personally and intellectually.
One of the key ways in which Wellesley students expand their academic learning in Boston is through art museums. The Boston area has the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Harvard Art Museum, which showcase a myriad of artworks from different time periods and cultures. Ria Goveas ’25, a prospective art history major, emphasizes that visits to art museums in Boston have helped her enhance her learning within the classroom.
“My art history class has enabled us to visit the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. We have learned about quite a few works in the Museum of Fine Arts in class, and it makes me appreciate them even more when I see them,” Goveas said.
The faculty in Wellesley’s art history department also encourage students to take advantage of museums by integrating museum visits within class assignments. Sarah Goldman ’25, another current art history student, corroborates this.
“A professor actually gave us an assignment to go to the Harvard Art Museums for a comparison paper that we did,” Goldman said. “So definitely, professors encourage us to use Boston as an extension of the classroom.”
Goldman also went on to describe how her visit to the museum shifted her perspective on what she studied in class.
“We actually had discussion in [my art history] class about whether or not the Benin bronze should be returned to Nigeria, because a lot of them were removed through colonization,” Goldman said. “Seeing a Benin bronze in the Harvard Art Museum definitely made me think back about the discussion in class. It made me realize that there should be more steps taken to return the bronzes back to where they were, because people deserve to see their own art history and culture.”
The Boston area also has a high number of higher education institutes. This provides Wellesley students with great potential for academic exploration. In fact, the College has also arranged for enrolled students to cross-register at many of these institutions.
Maria Vitória Moura ’24 reflected on her cross-registration at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
“I really enjoyed cross-registering [at] MIT. I always feel motivated to go there, even though the class is hard. It’s very motivating to see a lot of people [and] all your classmates there. You go and you take the bus and you’re travelling around — it gives you motivation,” Moura said.
Moura also emphasised how cross-registering at MIT exposed her to different research opportunities and perspectives on the classes she took at Wellesley.
“[Cross registering] is so different. You go there and see things from a new perspective and come back. It’s really empowering,” Moura added.
Students have also expressed how Boston has helped them grow their social network and learn from other students in the Boston area. According to the City of Boston, there are over 150,415 students at Boston-based colleges and universities as of 2019 — this opens up a myriad of networking opportunities for Wellesley students.
“It’s good to socialize with people from other colleges and get to know about their experiences as well,” Goldman commented.
“I really like that we have the bus, because it makes Boston very accessible. I have met people from other schools while waiting for the bus and also sometimes on Newbury street. It’s also easy to visit friends from my high school who go to other schools in Massachusetts,” Goveas added.
Given the vast diversity of cultural hubs such as the North End or Chinatown within Boston, students are also able to explore new experiences and learn about cultures other than theirs.
“I grew up in an immigrant house, and we would always eat Asian food. Some of the food that I had at home was very similar to the food in Chinatown [in Boston]. So it’s definitely good to go to different cultural hubs in Boston — sometimes, you can get food that tastes like home and sometimes you can get food from different cultures, too. So it’s just good to explore that as well,” Goldman said.
The Boston area serves as an important part of the Wellesley student experience. By exposing students to academic resources such as museums, cross-registration at other institutions, diverse cultures and a strong student network, the Boston area pushes students to expand their learning beyond the classroom walls.