Let’s be real — Wheaton is not exactly located in a bustling city. Norton is borderline rural. In walking distance, we have CVS, Walgreens (an ‘upscale’ CVS) and Bagels & Cream. Bog is technically only open to seniors, and I am definitely not a beer person. So, although I do love a Thai Iced Tea and an everything bagel once in a while, I find myself constantly feeling trapped at Wheaton as an international student without a car. There just isn’t much to do around here other than hanging out with friends on campus. I am constantly dependent on others to drive me to places that are not accessible, always hoping that they choose an activity that is enjoyable for me too.
So, I decided to figure out ways to get off campus as many times as possible. There are four destinations that I can get to relatively easily. These destinations are not close to Wheaton in any way and are not places I can call “always fun.” But, they are the best we have. So, in this article, I am going to talk about ways to reach them and what you can do there.
Providence is about thirty minutes away from campus but with traffic, budget around fifty minutes of travel time to get downtown. You can always take the MBTA from the train station in Mansfield, which takes about thirty minutes as well, but be wary of traveling after sunset. It is not my favorite destination, because the crowds can feel unsafe, and there isn’t a lot to do there. The mall is a grander version of the one in Foxborough, and I never like to pass up on Auntie Anne’s pretzels. You can take a walk along RISD or check out Brown. There are also a couple of nice restaurants on Thayer Street! In the winters, you can try out the ice skating rinks if they are not too crowded. As always, going down for a meal and a movie is a decent way to spend time off campus.
Ranking – 1.5/5
3. Patriot Place Mall
This is the perfect place to go if you do not have much time on your hands but really need a break. Located in Foxborough, the mall has an outdoor food court, restaurants, cafés, live music, department stores, and a movie theater. You can get to Foxborough in fifteen to twenty minutes by car. Or, you can take the GATRA Go which is free for Wheaton students. You often need to wait a bit for the GATRA though, and since it might stop to pick up some other people on the way, I would recommend budgeting extra time. Once at the mall, you can shop around for clothes, grab a bite to eat, and then catch a movie. Still, I would not recommend going to Patriot Place too many times — it can get old very quickly, and I can guarantee each time you go to watch a movie that is not from Marvel, you are going to be the only one there.
Ranking – 2.5/5
Boston is a bustling big city with a lot to do and is accessible via the train as well. It takes about fifty minutes. You can take a walk in the Boston Common or do a photoshoot in Beacon Hill (make sure to try Acorn Street). You can always walk down Newbury and go shopping, or get Boba and sit in cafés with a steaming hot latté. Thankfully, Boston has great public transport, so you don’t have to Uber often. Otherwise, you can always walk places! It is a very pedestrian-friendly city and feels quite safe. I find myself going into Boston to meet friends or to simply have a nice day to myself where I can be around new people, check out stores or just take a walk. Be prepared to spend a whole day in Boston though, especially if you are going on the weekend, because trains are very limited.
Rating – 4/5
1. New York City
If you know me, you would know why I saved the best for last. I absolutely love New York City. It is such a breath of fresh air after being at Wheaton for so long. Not only do I get to meet my friends, I get to go wherever I want, whenever I want. If I am heading to see the sunset on the Brooklyn Bridge but decide I want to get a cookie first, I just hop off the subway, walk to my favorite cookie shop, and then hop back on. I do not have to rely on anyone to share my interests or to even get me places.
The independence I feel when I am in Manhattan is truly astounding and something I lack at Wheaton. When I am with my friends, we can get places incredibly quickly and easily, and we can even part ways for a bit to meet at a Broadway show or a rooftop bar later, all because of the subway system. New York is incredibly pedestrian-friendly and I find myself walking for hours on end exploring the city or doing fun things with my friends. Manhattan and Brooklyn are goldmines for people like me who are always eager to do something new and exciting!
I can take a ceramics class or go on top of The Edge, check out a cool new café or do a therapeutic “Paint and Sip” session with my closest friends. I am always escaping to New York every other weekend, and as a senior, I have Thursdays and Fridays off! Unfortunately, to get to the bus stop, I need to rely on friends to drive me or Uber there, which can get expensive. However, the Peter Pan bus is among the cheapest buses available and it goes directly to Manhattan, so it’s worth it! Yet, if you do not have friends or family to stay with in the city, it can get unreasonably expensive.
Ranking – 4.5/5