2022: my first full year in boston

Like every year, 2022 was filled with plenty of highs and lows. But unlike the last several years, 2022 was the first year when I truly lived away from home for most of the time, since the last several years of graduate school for me have been disrupted by COVID.

Living away from home is hard to say the least. But so many good things have come out of my decision to move to Boston, so I wanted to take a moment to celebrate all of that and my first true year of adventure in 2022.

2022 was a year of many firsts. It was my first year living in Boston, over 3,000 miles across the country from my home in Seattle. It was my first full year of grad school when I was able to go back to classes in-person after the pandemic- something I feel very lucky for.

Going through my 2 year Master’s program when I wasn’t able to see or talk to the other people in my program was pretty rough. One of the reasons why I picked my program at BU was because this program felt like a very tight-knit and supportive community, so it was really important to me over this last year to get to know everyone and make connections in my program and in Boston generally.

One of the best parts of doing grad school in Boston is how easy it is to network and build community. I’m so lucky because the people in my program have been awesome. Even when I was first moving to Boston, several people offered lots of advice to help me find an apartment, to look at apartments with me, and even to help me move in and this was before we knew each other well enough to be friends!

During my first year, everyone in years above me was always willing to help with homework, share resources and in almost every sense has been supportive.

This was also the first year we were able to travel to attend an in-person conference! This was my very first CDS, and my first-time visiting Madison, WI.

I presented two posters, one about my Master’s thesis project at Villanova University about children’s science learning from television media, and another poster on behalf of the Child Cognition Lab, about our Evolving Minds curriculum project.

The four of us that went from our program at BU also made it a point to visit the weekend farmer’s market and as many different local coffee shops, bars and restaurants as we could manage. Even though this was an academic conference, it was also a nice little break from usual research life.

a year filled with so much good food!

Even though I technically went to school in the Philly area for 2 years and the Seattle area for 4 years, I (sadly) didn’t explore either city very much. Despite calling the Seattle area for my entire life, I’m not the right person to go to when it comes to finding cool places to eat and explore.

I didn’t want to make the same mistake in Boston, especially since I’ll be here for at least 5 years.

There are still many places I have left to try, but I decided to make brunch a priority. I love brunch. There’s just something about dressing up, eating breakfast food, having fruity drinks and spilling the tea (iykyk) that brings the kind of joy that cannot be found elsewhere.

If I had it my way, I’d be at brunch every single weekend, especially because there are so many great places to brunch in Boston. My top places this year were:

ArtBar: Their chicken and waffles is the absolute best, they are right by the water and they have some of the best seasonal cocktails

Trident Booksellers: While I didn’t love the food here as much as other places, I love how cozy this little bookstore is! When the weather is nice they have outdoor seating and since this place is right on Newbury it’s a good opportunity to people watch

Cafe Landwer: This place is good any time of the day, including brunch. Although their food is good, what I loved the most was their nutella latte, and this other blue cocktail they had with gummy fish in it. I think it was called the Fishbowl?

Some of the other spots I tried include Frenchie (which had really great croissants, mimosas, and this yummy nutella and banana crepe), Sonsie (great mimosas), Tatte (relatively common in Boston but great food and good vibes), Flour (their chicken tikka naan sandwich is so good), Milkweed (everything is good, but they get crowded!) and the Friendly Toast (can get a bit crowded but also really good).

And brunch is obviously not the only meal I eat, there are tons of places I haven’t even mentioned. And there are still so many places left to try! Some other places I really enjoyed include Thaitation, which is my new favorite Thai restaurant in the Boston area. There’s also tons of cafes and coffee shops I really loved.

If you need coffee, in terms of coffee chains I think Cafe Nero is my go-to spot in Boston, followed closely by Pavement. If you’re looking for a more unique coffee experience, I really love Cafe Phinista in Fenway, which is a French Vietnamese style cafe. If you’re looking for Indian food, nothing beats Punjabi Dhaba in Cambridge.

I’m hoping to try more pizza places in the area next year, and I have yet to explore Boston’s North End!

playing tourist in boston

Boston is such a beautiful city, and one of my favorite things about it is how close together everything is. Because of that, and because of how easy it is to make connections across different institutions, in some ways it feels a lot more close knit than what you might expect out of a city.

And there’s no better way to see a city than to drag your friends out to come see it with you! I had a few friends come to visit me this year, so I took advantage of these visits to see places I might not ordinarily make time to go to.

My favorite museum to take friends to is definitely the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. This museum is small so you can see all of it within a couple hours, and it has the most beautiful courtyard. It’s also the site of the biggest art heist in American history. There are lots of museums you can visit for free as a BU student. For BU students this museum is free, and for anyone with a valid student ID tickets are only $13! The Museum of Fine Arts is also free for BU students! But this museum is fairly large, so I’m definitely planning on making another trip. The Boston Public Library is free for everyone, and is also a must-see. They also have afternoon tea (but it’s $50/person), but that’s something I’m looking forward to doing sometime in the future.

There are also other ways to get around and see Boston on a budget (which I haven’t taken advantage of yet but plan to soon!). For example (as this reel points out), having a Boston Public Library card can get you free tickets to the Science Museum (come say hi!), the Aquarium and inexpensive tickets to the ICA.

Boston also has a lot of beautiful waterfronts. Seaport is a must sea (lol) while you’re in the city, but there are lots of beaches that are just around the corner and accessible by commuter rail, like Rockport and Nahant. The commuter rail is only $10 on the weekends for unlimited rides. Plans for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are in the works for the next couple years as well!

But what was i actually doing in grad school?

While I have been having a lot of fun this last year, hopefully it doesn’t sound like the only things I’ve been doing this last year have been eating and going around to fun places. There was a lot of progress on the research front, too!

When I first came to BU, I was really interested in exploring how social identity influences the way that people think about science. More specifically, I was really interested in answering the question of why some people love science so much while some people don’t trust scientific information or scientists, and think that science is boring or difficult.

The research that my lab does focuses generally on how children reason scientifically when it comes to lots of different topics. For example, our educational curriculum intervention project, the Evolving Minds project, examines children’s learning about Evolution by Natural Selection. The research that is led by the other graduate student in my lab, Lizette, focuses on children’s reasoning about the earth and the natural world.

I found that my research interests about children’s scientific reasoning were more closely aligned with some of our lab’s other work, on how children perceive different kinds of explanations when it comes to learning science. I combined this with my interest in the role of identity on children’s science learning.

Based on these questions, I currently have 2 projects– one for kids and one for adults and kids– up and running at the Boston Museum of Science. Our research team has been at the Museum almost every weekend since last summer, and we’ve had the opportunity to interview lots of kids and adults and learn about how they think about science topics.

In fact, within the last year my research team has interviewed ~200 participants for my studies, and probably ~300 or more for our labs’ research projects. Even though interviewing participants can be tiring, it is probably my favorite part of the research process because it is an opportunity to see how people think about and respond to the questions we ask them, and the responses that people give can often spark new research ideas. And, getting to hear from kids is so much fun! Sometimes I wonder how I would respond if I were an 8-year-old doing one of my studies.

Apart from interviewing participants at the museum, my grad school life this last year has consisted of classes, a few presentations, mentoring undergraduate students, collaborative meetings, and lots and lots of writing. It’s been hard for me to say no to lots of opportunities because there’s so much going on! But overall I’ve been having a blast, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

opening an etsy shop

One of the things I’m most proud of this year was finally starting my Etsy shop. I’ve been knitting these scarves since 2019 as a way of relieving anxiety, and when I started my Master’s at Villanova I started selling them to whoever wanted one. I’ve been thinking about starting an Etsy for at least a couple years, but got overwhelmed every time I thought about it because running an Etsy shop is a whole other job in itself!

But, since the only New Year’s resolution I had for 2022 was living my best life, I just decided to go for it.

I named my Etsy shop, Sudha Scarves, after my paternal grandmother who loves crafting as well, and who loves children and might be the only other person in my family who has studied child psychology and development at least to some extent. I wanted to use this Etsy shop to donate towards this cause.

I set a goal of raising at least $300, and though I didn’t meet this goal after subtracting the costs for all of my expenses, I still learned so much and I’m looking forward to continuing this project next year. In February 2023, some of my scarves will be sold at the Thomas Jefferson High School annual auction.

What I’m looking forward to in 2023

My goals for 2023 include traveling to more places on the east coast, trying more delicious food in Boston, and, on a more professional level, trying to identify ways to better manage my time. It’s crazy to think about everything that has happened in this last year, but I’m looking forward to another year of moments worth celebrating.

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