This is the first entry in what will be a regular feature on life in Boston—including Cambridge & MIT—mainly aimed at family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. (you know who you are) from Toronto—including Mississauga & UofT. The title comes from the nicknames Hogtown and Beantown. "Pork & Beans" is also a Weezer tune with a meme-packed music video, and the Bosstone musical joke was already taken.
My aims are…
- to give you a sense of what it's like to live here,
- to make you want to visit me, and
- to make sure I don't forget what makes home, home!
I'm also curious if more people will read and comment on these than on previous posts, i.e. if gonzo journalism will prove more engaging than my usual wonkery. At the same time, I'll try to avoid merely touristic content. Expect new entries once a week or so. Whether the two months since my 20 August arrival will ever get backfilled is uncertain.
Why I'm here (in 60 words or less)
I'm studying in the Technology & Policy Program (TPP), a two-year master's program leading to an SM degree. There's both coursework and research involved. It's part of the Engineering Systems Division at MIT, which also has a PhD program that I intend to get into. Why policy? Perhaps read more of this website.
MIT by the numbers
|Campus area||71 ha||68 ha|
Curiously, the UofT Engineering annual report (link above) cites a global ranking for the category of public universities, which excludes rich, private schools like MIT and results in a higher placement. But with roughly eight times the endowment (USD 8 billion vs. CAD 1.3 billion) and one fifth as many students as UofT, it's not a fair comparison. We also see that the graduate/undergraduate ratio is much higher here.
In this context you can appreciate UofT's plans to slightly increase the graduate student population at the St. George campus and shift some of the arts & science student body to the satellite campuses.
Other miscellaneous observations
- My residence is in a corner of campus, north of a cross-cutting rail corridor, that is populated by big biotech firms, small biotech firms, and biotech firms of middling size. These include Takeda Millenium Oncology, Novartis, Sanofi Aventis.
- There's quite a lot of craft beer in Boston, which is a good thing because the lowest common denominator (PBR, Miller High Life, Bud Light) is low indeed. Some good pours I've had are Harpoon IPA, 21st Amendment IPA and Green Flash Double Stout. Unibroue stuff also seems to be popular.
- More Mexican food than I've seen in my life, and less variety in everything else (especially Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian). I haven't found anything to match Ethiopian House or Mount Everest, and I am overdue to find a place to satisfy a phō craving. It looks like the nearest places are at least 2 km away. Burritos may replace noodle soup as a cheap staple.
- That other university has a dragon boat team, but MIT has none. There maybe be four teams in the whole city…if I've missed one. Compare with at least ten teams of varying competitiveness from UofT alone that show up at TIDBRF each June.
This is becoming a bit of a grab bag, and long, so I'll end here. The next post will be more focused on the student body, ESD and "freebies." If there are other things you'd specifically like to hear about please leave a comment!