Category Archives: International student

Shining Sea Bikeway (Oyster Pond to Woods Hole)

I picked up my bike this week from the International Office’s bike loan program, which allows international students to borrow a bike for $15 (plus $15 refundable deposit). Andrew Beets was kind enough to meet me outside the pickup hours, which was very convenient because the past few days have been perfect bike weather. This bike is actually pretty impressive, offering a much more effortless ride than the cruiser I have in Toronto. Either they keep their bikes in really good condition, my bike at home is a deadweight, or its chain desperately needs replacing. Probably a combination of the three.

2013-06-04 11.58.46The Shining Sea Bikeway runs along Woods Hole, north nearby the Oyster Pond residences, then finally north into west Falmouth. Oyster Pond is only about 10 minutes (2 miles) away from Woods Hole by bike on the Shining Sea Bikeway, and the views are very impressive.

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Everything seems to be white and blue, including the fire hydrants!

I think despite the lack of a big city feel (which isn’t that big of a deal since I am inside the lab most of the day anyways), I am starting to fall in love with this place. How could one not after seeing this beautiful shade of blue, even on cloudy days?

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Sunset over Oyster Pond

Sunset over Oyster Pond

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It’s beautiful here!

I had just arrived over the weekend and am pleasantly surprised at how organized WHOI is at accommodating us. The security guard at check-in is on site 24/7 and ready to give you a ride to the Oyster Pond houses, where 30 SSFers, 2 guest students, and 16 graduate students will be residing this summer. I love this setup as encourages the SSFers to easily get to know each other and instantly immerse yourself in a group of interesting individuals. The residences are also surprisingly clean and spacious (but I may be biased since I live in a tiny apartment in downtown Toronto). Every house comes with a porch, huge living room, TV, two bedrooms, one bathroom, and holds four people. Since the Cape is a popular summer vacation location, the rent here is ridiculously high – our housing bill is $177/week, which translates into about $2800/month for this two-bedroom complex. Thankfully, WHOI covers this!

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Cape Cod is absolutely lovely. It’s also extremely windy – I am pretty sure I have sand blown in every nook and cranny of my clothes/shoes, and can really use some of my Canadian fall clothes right now. Nevertheless, the air smells of salt, the scenery is beautiful, and everyone seems to be enjoying their vacation homes in the Cape. For what a Torontonian is used to, the people are surprisingly friendly (greeting everyone you pass by on the streets) and the prices for staples are decently cheap (another fellow Canadian and I were gushing about our dollar’s purchasing power here relative to Canada). The closest town is Falmouth, about an hour’s walk away or 20 minutes by bike.

Falmouth's Main Street

Falmouth’s Main Street

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Beautiful summer homes abound

There are several settling in events planned for this week, including an orientation, housing check-in, making WHOI student cards, and for international students, a check-in with the international committee and an opportunity to rent a bike for only $15 for the three months! Once again, WHOI is very accommodating and the program is thoroughly-designed to make our time here as comfortable as possible. Looking forward to what the summer will unfold.

Visas and more

In order to receive your stipend at WHOI, international students must come under a J-1 exchange visa. The international committee completes a DS2019 form and pays for your SEVIS fee. Then they mail the form and payment receipt to you. You’d have to complete form SD160 and, as a Canadian student, simply bring all the forms to US customs for entry (in addition to this, non-Canadians are required to book a consular interview). I am very impressed with the organization of the international committee at WHOI and their speedy processing/explanation of US visa applications. It is definitely a better experience than that of my roommate’s, whose project was delayed for a month due to visa problems with another-US-institution-that-shall-not-be-named-here.

The program coordinator at WHOI, Michelle McCafferty, also made a SSF 2013 mailing list for the SSFers to contact each other. We made a facebook group and are sharing our arrival dates/majors/where we are from. Most people seem to be arriving around mid May to mid June and leaving sometimes in August. It is such a diverse group of people – can’t wait to meet them.

Ending on another happy note, I found a sublet for June 1st – September 1st (woo!), and booked my flights for those dates. This translates into 12 weeks at WHOI and 1 week of hanging around Boston/New York. Super excited… but for now, onwards to exams we go.

Pre-arrival logistics

Two weeks after notification of acceptance, I received an email for housing requests. Thankfully, the program is scheduled in a way so that students would be put in contact with advisors regarding potential projects and dates of arrival/departure prior to this. SSFers are typically housed in the Oyster Pond complex, in Quissett Campus. Although the housing office opens from 8-5 on the weekdays, the security office (where you check-in and get your keys) is open 24/7 so we can arrive anytime. I will be there from Saturday, June 1st to August 24th.

The beautiful Oyster Pond complex. Photo from WHOI website

Now it’s time to book flights – always the most exciting pre-departure part for me. For international students, Boston is easy to fly to. After arrival, the Peter Pan bus company runs bi-hourly from Boston Logan Airport to Woods Hole (return price is about $52). This is how I visited Woods Hole last summer and the bus is generally reliably on time.

It may also be a good time to figure out if it may be possible to buy a bike on Craigslist, since public transportation is deemed as inconvenient and Woods Hole is lovely to bike around. Also, the Oyster Pond complex is apparently almost an hour’s walk away from the WHOI village campus. However, Craigslist primarily contains listings in proximity to but not actually in Woods Hole (which may mean an inconvenient pickup/delivery). Maybe it is a better idea to have one shipped instead? Alternatively, the International Committee has a few bikes for that you could loan for a deposit, which I’m hoping that I could get because that would be much more convenient.