With temperatures dropping, leaves changing and pumpkin-flavored treats all around, autumn has kicked into full gear. For people native to New England, that’s no big deal, but for students experiencing fall up north for the first time, it’s a stark change.
Jean Pascal Cyusa Shyaka, a student from Rwanda, described fall at home as the “short rainy season,” with temperatures around 15º C (or about 60º F)
“Having this kind of weather, it’s cold and breezy, it is kind of a surprise to me,” Cyusa Shayaka said. “Here, fall is kind of beautiful, I think, when the leaves start changing colors. At home, it’s pretty much the same, except for the rain. Otherwise, it’s pretty much the same all year around [in Rwanda].”
Cyusa Shyaka added that he was most surprised by how quickly the temperature fell.
“It’s kind of refreshing having the cold weather, away from … the sun and heat,” Cyusa Shyaka said. “I didn’t expect it to be cold like this, very cold all of a sudden. I expected the temperature to drop gradually … but it’s getting 8 or 9 degrees [celsius colder] all of a sudden, it’s kind of surprising to me.”
Natalia Atabaki, a first-year from Miami, Fla., shared that she is experiencing a similar seasonal shock at Tufts.
“I think people would normally associate fall with autumn leaves and also dropping temperatures, but fall honestly isn’t much of a change from summer in Florida,” she said. “I’d say the lowest it reaches is like 65 degrees, but even then, people still pull out their Uggs and huge coats, [which] is pretty comedic.”
Now that Atabaki is in New England, she has taken full advantage of the seasonal activities planned by the university, such as Homecoming.
“Homecoming in Miami is never fall-based at all. It’s usually associated more with football and then sitting outside in the sun,” Atabaki said.
Jade Altschul Matushenko, a sophomore and one of TUSC’s celebrations co-coordinators, shared that TUSC began planning for homecoming festivities at the end of June. Homecoming weekend began on Oct. 7th, and it was filled with events including Bingo, a “Homecoming Food Truck Extravaganza” and a homecoming festival.
When organizing the events, Altschul Matushenko shared that the team focused on providing safe and accessible venues for everyone.
“With things like Homecoming, the focus is much more on providing a place for people to hang out and [also] fun and safe alternatives to drinking and partying,” she said.
Altschul Matushenkocontextualized the homecoming weekend as a way to celebrate the fall season, on top of many programs and events organized by the university.
“It's a season that offers a lot of opportunities for connection and making friends, … we provide a lot of venues for people to get to know each, whether that be through food [or] activities,” Altschul Matushenkosaid.
Echoing Altschul Matushenko’s sentiment, Atabaki added that the university’s various seasonal social events help foster a sense of community.
“They’re great for community building, because now that we’re starting to get further into the semester, people have their set schedules and it’s harder to spend more time with friends,” Atabaki said. “I really like how Tufts is using its space effectively to allow a lot of people to go outside and spend time with each other during the school year, especially since pre-orientation and summer [social events] are kind of over.”
Although Chicago-native Lauren Zlotnik has experienced a typical fall before, not unlike that of New England, she still enjoyed all of the fall festivities that TUSC has organized this year. Zlotnik, a first-year, gave a special shout-out to the “awesome” grilled cheese at the Food Truck Extravaganza.
“It was fun to have all the community together and to see a bunch of people out and about, doing things,” Zlotnik said.
On top of the homecoming weekend, TUSC also organizes an annual apple picking event at Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, Mass. Anju Meyer, a sophomore and one of TUSC’s late night and weekend programs co-coordinators, helped organize the trip this fall. She was excited to plan the trip because of her experiences of going apple picking and baking apple pie with her family in New York.
“I’m just really happy that we are able to be a part of people’s first experiences with fall foliage and feeling the drastic change from a New England summer to a New England fall,” Meyer said. “ I grew up in Brooklyn, so I’ve taken that for granted.”
Meyer highly recommended apple picking at Honey Pot Hill Orchards to the Tufts community, sharing how the trip went this year.
“They actually had a really nice [space], they had this one section walking to the honey crisp apples, which are the best apples, I think, … and the leaves were [starting] to change,” Meyer said.
Meyer added that all 200 tickets for the event were sold, and each student received a bag at the event to fill with apples, a donut and apple cider. In addition to apple picking, students also explored a hedge maze at the orchard.
As an organizer of the event, Meyer reflected on how it went.
“I overheard [that] a lot of people were excited to go back and make apple pies with their apples and that just made me really happy,” Meyer said.
TUSC Fall Fest, another classic Tufts fall event, took place in September. The event took place on the Academic Quad on Sept. 10 and consisted of live music, free food, inflatable games, carnival booths and dessert trucks and was attended by over 2,000 students according to Thomas Grant, a sophomore, and one of the signature events co-coordinators who planned the event.
Grant explained that in the past, Fall Fest took place closer to the beginning of October, but was part of Welcome Week this year. This led to “a lot of discussion about ‘how much do we lean into the fall aspect of it,’ and whether we rename it or not,” he said.
Even so, there was a pumpkin-themed bounce house at the event to highlight its seasonal theme, which was appreciated by Massachusetts-native and first-year Justin McNamara.
“I thought it was really cute how they [TUSC] did it, … having those fall events [was] really cool, as [I’m] coming into college because in my high school that wasn't something that we typically had. And also it was just a good way to meet and explore new things on campus and meet new people,” McNamara said. “I also really liked how they had my inner child came in, … it was really fun.”
Reflecting on the event, McNamara shared his love and appreciation of the fall season.
“Everything about [fall] is just very perfect. … You can dress how you want, you can layer clothes, things like that,” McNamara said. “There are a lot of seasonal activities and you [are] getting closer to a lot of holidays, which is also really fun and cool and something to look forward to.”