Welcome, BU Economics graduate students! My name is Lee Tucker, and I will be serving as the peer adviser as of the Spring 2014 Semester.
About me: I am currently a third-year student in the PhD program. I'm an American of many persuasions; I was born on a farm in rural Pennsylvania, raised in upstate New York, did my undergrad at Carleton College in Minnesota, and spent four years working as an economic consultant in Washington, DC before beginning the PhD program. I work on research topics in development economics and labor economics, and when I have the time, I'm an avid swing dancer.
Although I began the PhD program in the Fall of 2010, I took one year off to work for the White House Council of Economic Advisers, for which I moved temporarily to Washington, DC. I am now back in Boston and on campus, working on my dissertation research. I'm excited to help you as a peer adviser.
How can I help you as peer adviser?
The peer adviser is a current PhD student, appointed by the department to help incoming students who are new to the surroundings by providing information regarding housing and general living arrangements during their stay in Boston. In addition, the peer adviser can advise you when it comes to general visa and immigration questions. Most of the communication between peer advisers and incoming/new students is in the form of email correspondence (i.e. you ask, I answer or refer you to the correct individual).
Here are some examples of some great questions that the peer adviser can help you with. Many of them already have answers located on this site!
- What neighborhoods do graduate students typically live in?
- Roughly how much should I expect to pay in rent?
- How do I find a roommate?
- What are some ways to get around Boston?
- What campus resources are available to me if I have a problem?
- Who do I contact about a visa-related issue?
How can't I help you as peer adviser?
Although I am able to help you with general questions or concerns regarding immigration matters, I am not qualified or responsible for dealing with formal requests related to immigration. For these types of matters, you should contact the ISSO, which is the main department of the school that deals with visa and immigration issues. Any formal requests must go through them.
I'm more than happy to help you with general housing-related questions. We are all aware that moving to a new city/country can feel overwhelming. The services of the peer adviser are meant as a supportive measure during your search. Our hope is that advisers can share their knowledge about the best way for you to go about your housing search, as well as general knowledge about living arrangements that should make your transition easier! However, it is not the peer adviser’s responsibility to find you housing. Looking for housing, once at a graduate level, is something that every student must go through “on their own.”
How can you make use of the peer adviser?
Step 1: Do you have questions or concerns regarding your move to Boston? First, read this website carefully. We have attempted to answer many of the most common questions here, which means that your question may already be answered!
As peer adviser, I receive many emails. I will always do my best to respond to your questions as quickly as I can. However, consulting the website means faster answers for you, and it means that I can get the questions of other incoming students sooner. Everyone benefits from this arrangement!
Step 2: Didn't find what you were looking for on the website? Please, Email me! I will happily answer your question.
I do my best to respond to all questions within a couple of days. If I have not responded within 2-3 days, please re-send your email. Even if I don't have an answer for your question, I will do my best to answer your email and give you suggestions for where to find an answer.
“Help! I need a place to stay! Where do I start?”
Because housing issues are a common concern, we have created a special Housing page. This will address many of your most common questions, and therefore this should be your first stop.
“OK, I have a place to live and I'm in Boston. What else do I need to know?”
Moving to a new city/country can be complicated. Fortunately, this website has lots of practical advice on transportation, banking, and other topics. Check out the page on Living in Boston for more!
Other pages and resources you should check out
In addition to the peer adviser, our department has a Graduate Economics Association (the GEA). While the GEA has many functions, one of its primary functions is to run a mentor program for incoming graduate students. A mentor can be a great resource if you have questions while settling into your graduate program and to life in Boston. I encourage you to check out the GEA website for more information on the mentor program, and to contact the GEA if you have questions.
Graduate Survival Guide
Another useful resource is Graduate Survival Guide. It is written by graduate students for graduate students. On the website you can find information regarding most things you need during your stay in Boston, for example housing, temporary housing, banking, health insurance and etc. The Graduate Survival Guide is written by people at SAGE (the organization of graduate engineering students) and the GSO (the organization of the arts and sciences graduate students).
BU Economics Google Group
The BU Economics Google Group provides a forum for people to post requests if they are looking for housing, a roommate or someone to look for an apartment with. Note that this group is for housing purposes only. The administration compiles its own email list. You can control how you participate in the list. For example, you can choose to receive any new postings via email or to only read them online. Receiving new posting via email will give you faster access to new information, though. Your email will only be used for peer advising purposes. Once you joined the group you can email your posts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to sign up for the Google group!
Get in touch with your classmates before the start of the school year
Other new students can be a fantastic resource. For example, you can help each other with housing and share tips. Perhaps you can rent an apartment together (which is generally easier than finding a room).
If you would like for your classmates to contact you, post your your name, a way to contact you (such as e-mail or phone) and anything you would like to be known about yourself on the Google Group (see above). Of course whatever you post there will be public so do not post anything you want to remain private. Also, be sure to indicate if you are male or female.
You may also wish to team up with students who have already entered the graduate program. When looking for housing, it is often a good strategy to team up with several other people first, and then look for an apartment together. This way you may have greater choice of places to rent. Teaming up can be possible even if some roommates are in Boston and some are still in their home cities/countries. Of course, any housing agreements reached between roommates over the phone or email should be taken seriously. For your protection, it is a good idea to back up roommate agreements with monetary deposits and signed lease documents when possible.
For more advice on this, check out the Housing page.
“I thought of something else that's not here”
Send me an email and I'll do my best to answer your questions and provide you with advice.