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Guest dnslouise1

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Hey...I am also considering UMass. I'm hoping to visit in the next couple of weeks. Has anyone visited yet? Any thoughts on the campus, folks, area?

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Guest Debating

I went to visit a couple of weeks ago and it was cold, but very sunny (sun's a big deal for me). I loved the area, it's very rural, but there's a lot of small arts cafes and stuff like that in Northampton, and there's a shoping plaza with all the big names (Target, big movie theater, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, etc.). Overall, it seems like the emphasis is on local things, not big chains (I hardly saw any fast food chains), and was very impressed by the quality of the people in my department and the whole atmosphere. There's a lot of graduate students at UMass, so there's plenty of things targeter specifically toward grad students (including a lounge on campus, which serves beer at 11 am, LOL!). I liked it a lot, but it depends on what you're looking for. Let me know what you think when you go visit!

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Debating, your post made me happy. I was slightly concerned about moving from an urban area to more of a rural one, but it sounds like this is more college town-ish...and I like the emphasis on grad students! Yay beer! I am also impressed by the focus on local businesses, etc...Chili's, et al...frustrating and sad. I will post my thoughts as soon as I get myself up there.

Any thoughts on housing? That is one of my main concerns about a smaller, less urban area.

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lds,

I had the same concern about a rural area--I have spent my undergrad in the middle of nowhere, in a town with three bars (that's right, three), all of which are full of very inebriated undergraduates and I HATE it.

Social life has been a huge consideration in my choosing a graduate school therefore, and Amherst (and especially Northampton) was a very pleasant surprise in that aspect. Besides, with Boston and NYC within driving range, it's hardly a sacrifice of big-city life.

I was told by several graduate students that UMass undergrads are (this is a direct quote, no kidding) like "crazy monkeys" so I really want to find out about places to live targeted more toward grads, but I haven't had much luck in the City Guide forum so far...

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Well, it sounds like Amherst & Northampton are rather similar to where I live now, minus the crazy monkeys. Just a further drive to get to a city, but I am excited about the access to Boston and New York City.

I am still concerned about housing...I would love to be able to walk or bike to campus, but it sounds like living in Amherst may be a bit unrealistic. And I definitely don't want to live in the apartment equivalent of frat row. I just don't know -- being married limits options like renting a room out of a house. (Sun is a big deal for my husband, by the way, so the fact that you mentioned it specifically was encouraging.)

Debating, may I ask what program you have been admitted to?

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lds,

I know what you mean. I am not entirely sure I'd like to live IN Amherst. I have a feeling that's where most the undergrads are. I'd really like to find a community of graduate students or just young families since those tend to be pet-friendly as well and we'll be getting a puppy in the fall after not being allowed to have one where we currently live (YAY!).

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I'm going for English. Now that Duke's out, I think they really have a chance.

Debating, you had mentioned that UMass has a good number of grad students, so I'm hopeful that they'll have congregated away from bothersome undergrads. I will keep my eyes peeled when I visit, and I'll ask around to see where the sophisticated grad students live.

I wonder if I sound like a crotchety old lady wanting to live in a library or something. Ü

We may be getting a dog soon, too! We have wanted one for a while, but didn't want to make a commitment before having to move and all that. Fun.

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lds:

Maybe we'll have a few classes together. I'm in Afro-Am Studies. The program is interdisciplinary, so I'll have to take at least half of my courses in the English department. I'm also thinking of pursuing the graduate certificate in Advanced Feminist Studies.

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Lds: I live in Berlin, Germany. It would be too costly to visit the Amherst area. I trust what I've read online and my fiance and I are adaptable. Plus, I'm looking forward to living in a college town. (Los Angeles was far from it and living in Berlin in the winter has given me a great amount of preparation for Massachusetts weather.)

I'm a bit concerned about getting an affordable apartment, so I think we'll come to Amherst in early August. My fiance also needs to look for a job so the earlier we arrive, the better. Unfortunately, my current post-grad program doesn't end until mid-July.

Have you decided to attend UMass or do you have other offers you're considering? Is it just me or are Humanities stipends on the lower end? Budget cuts are hitting state universities really hard.

What's your area of interest in English? I'm interested in contemporary African American culture and literature, contemporary American literature, and visual culture.

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Guest undergrad near UMASS

lds and others considering UMASS as an option, I would not worry about the undergrads in general. Thanks to the Five College network there are more of us, but we tend to stay in our respective colleges after hours...too much of a hassle trying to get from one place to another using the PVTA (the bus). Also because most of the campuses generally try to hold a 98% on campus student community we all live on campus, except for thos UMASS undergrads (really don't know how their system works). AS an added bonus grad students, I have found to my own bewilderment, are encouraged to take courses of campus at the other four campuses, so mixing with us pesky undergrads is sometimes necessary...so be prepared for that.

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Guest Debating

Dear undergrad--I (nor any of the other posters I assume) have nothing against undergrads in general. My problem is finding a quiet place to live and sleep and be able to do work. Since I currently live in a dorm full of undergrads I have good reasons to believe that such a community is really loud (YAY for drunk people coming back at 2am and yelling at the top of their lungs). I don't mind mixing with "pesky undergrads" ;).

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Lila: I am very seriously considering UMass, and am visiting to get a better feel for the faculty and campus community, just to confirm that it's the right place for me. I'm waitlisted at another school, so I don't really have other funding to compare...it does seem a little low, but I am grateful for the tuition waiver.

I'm interested in narrative as well as contemporary American literature, but what drew me to UMass was its writing program -- I am hoping to combine literature and composition, and maybe hang out with Peter Elbow a bit. Ü

Undergrad et al: I am excited about interacting with undergrads -- one of my reasons for pursuing graduate study is teaching. I would just prefer a quieter place to live, is all...currently, I live next to a young professional couple who seem to think that Sunday evening at 7:00 pm is the perfect time to play their music as loud as possible, with the bass turned up, of course.

I appreciate those undergrads who have shared their experiences and knowledge of the Amherst area!

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Guest Debating

lds, please do share your impressions when you visit!

Does anyone have any ideas about what student life is like--in terms of intramural sports clubs or hiking, or arts/performances available?

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Guest Umass Grad

Hi All-

I just wanted to plug my alma mater. I graduated a number of years ago but I make it back to campus on a regular basis. Umass is a wonderful place-- warm people, great community and a number of things to do. Amherst is a classic college town. The housing is a bit expensive and you really should try to avoid a number of the apartment complexes. I would ask the department for a grad student's email address in which you can ask which ones to stay clear of and which ones are more grad student friendly. They tend to change every once in a while. Northamption is Amherst's funky twin sister. Great old houses for rent and a vibrant downtown. It is about a 15-20 minute drive (if there is no traffic) from Amherst.

A few things to know about the area-- there is nothing like Western Mass in the fall--- I truly miss the vibrant colors of the trees. Winter is cold but not midwestern bitter-- it is tolerable. The Fine Arts Center and the Mullins Center hosts usually the same concerts, plays, etc. that are offered in Boston. I grew up in Boston and I never found myself wanting for culture. In addition, there is hiking, white river rafting, skiing, etc. all within an hour drive.

The undergrads call it 'Happy Valley'-- and it is truly a magical place. Just keep in mind that there has been rounds of budget cuts... and interestingly, the Teaching Assistants are unionized (they are a local of the United Auto Workers!)

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Guest Debating

UMass Grad, thanks for sharing, I think it's great to hear from people who actually went there!!

Has anyone else gone to visit yet? I think I'll be sending in my decision form soon, it seems to be the best combo of school/place/community for me.

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I am flying up tomorrow, staying through Sunday. I plan to do a LOT of looking around, and will report back. :D

Loved the post from UMass Grad!

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Guest Nadine

Hi, I'm new here, and just found this thread and the thread about UMass community! I'm from Taiwan, will be graduating out of university this June. Really excited about going to U Mass, and I love New England, been there couple of times. The prospect of living within reasonable range to Boston is definately a plus, since it seems like a real nice place visit over weekends :D

I'll be posting more if I have other info.

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