On a brisk Thursday evening last semester, a few friends and I trekked out to Boston for a change of scenery. While we had no plans other than to continue working on our seemingly never-ending amounts of homework, Boston had other, much more exciting plans for us.
We planned on grabbing a quick dinner and then finding an interesting spot to get some work done, and came across a place on Newbury Street. After spending too much on dinner — how typical — we needed to find a place where we could work for free. Walking a couple of blocks lead us straight to the Boston Public Library, which quickly, and for good reason, became our new favorite study spot.
When first entering the Boston Public Library, many people walk into the Johnson building, a modern part of the library that is reminiscent of any public library. It’s nothing too exciting, but is still a space where many people choose to visit and work. However, in my personal opinion, it pales in comparison with the McKim building, which we found purely due to the fact that one of my friends had grown up right outside of Boston and vaguely remembered spending time in a large study room called Bates Hall as a child.
While looking for Bates Hall, we walked through a stunning open courtyard into the McKim building. The McKim building, which was built in 1895, feels as if you are stepping into a European city. This part of the library is filled to the brim with art. Imagine sweeping marble staircases, huge pillars and beautiful hand-painted murals. At first glance, this building appears to be an art museum rather than a library.
We wandered through the building in awe, finally making our way up the stairs and straight into Bates Hall.
“[My first impression was] a large hall upstairs with long wooden tables and green glass lamps; the warmly-lit room is lined with bookshelves and full of students quietly working,” said Thea Feldgoise ‘23. “The space is beautiful and somehow makes me much more productive. Something about sitting in that peaceful room motivates me and keeps me focused.”
As we worked in the room that seemed to be straight out of a Harry Potter movie, I couldn’t help but stare at the high arched windows and admire the beautiful architecture. How cool was it that this library was not only a study space, but basically an art museum. Two for the price of one, but free! A few hours into my homework, we suddenly heard warning bells go off throughout the entire building. Realizing that the library closed at 9 pm, we left and headed towards the bus stop. Unfortunately, as every Wellesley student knows, the LoMo seems to run at the most inconvenient times. We quickly realized that the next bus wasn’t for another hour.
Instead of sitting and shivering at the bus stop, we decided to continue walking to keep ourselves warm. Fortunately, as we walked by Berklee’s campus center I had to use the restroom. Entering their student center for the first time was a complete accident — a serendipitous event, if you will. As we walked into the student center, we saw a bulletin posted about their Caf shows. Like the rest of our generation, we shared the opinion that there is nothing better than a concert, especially when it’s free.
Caf shows are hour-long concerts given every Wednesday through Sunday night by the immensely talented Berklee students. Every night a new student-led group performs, and all music genres are fair game. The shows run from 10 to 11 pm and take place in Berklee’s dining hall, which is a large open two-story room that looks out through floor to ceiling glass windows onto Massachusetts Ave. Their dining hall doubles as a place for students to eat and hang out during the day and transforms into a concert venue at night.
When my friends and I stumbled out of the cold and into the dining hall, we did not know what to expect at all. The first Caf show we went to featured a band singing original contemporary songs. The performers had friends come out of the crowd and sing duets. I was so impressed with the effort and dedication that the group performing put into their show. Since that first night, we have gone back three times, each time bringing new friends and listening to new genres of music. The community at Berklee seems to really put their energy into making these shows fun and worthwhile. Eliza Roy ‘23, a friend that I brought to a Caf show, was able to listen to live bluegrass music for the first time and “couldn’t believe how fun the atmosphere of the concert was; this is something I would’ve paid money to see.”
There is genuinely nothing better than going into Boston and finding new and fun things to do there. Taking the time to get to the city can really spice up a dull, monotonous school week. No matter how much you LOVE Wellesley, at some point or another it is definitely worth your time to get on the LoMo and make your way to Boston. Whether you need a change of scenery to get some work done, want to blow off some steam at a mini-concert or take some pictures to spice up your Instagram feed … all of this and more is just a “quick” LoMo ride away!
Best of all? It’s completely free.