Second Time Around: Providence! A Quick and Dirty Guide for Transfers

Here you can get a glimpse of life at Brown through the eyes of a transfer student. I’m Ashlyn Mooney, and this is my Second Time Around.
“Uh, where’s AS220 again? Are we lost?” I asked, scrunching my eyebrows together and looking pleadingly at my new friend. We were walking down Empire St, fifteen minutes from campus in Downtown Providence. He looked at me pityingly.

“Oh yeah,” he said, “you’re a transfer.” He pointed to a packed restaurant three feet in front of us. “Ta -da! We’re standing right next to it.”Oops.

As a transfer,  getting to know the layout of Brown’s campus is your first priority. I spent about a week walking into the wrong classroom (“Is this Poetry??” “Nope. Abstract Algebra. Run, run while you can!”). I would ask approximately 1 out of every 5 passersby for directions. Fortunately, the awkward lost-duckling phase of the transfer experience is relatively brief–my fellow transfers and I soon found ourselves giving directions as if we’d built the place. Soon, the boundaries of the campus even started to feel constricting. What do to when campus fever hits? Go down, young scholar! Down College Hill, that is–if you’re itching to explore beyond campus, why not take advantage of what the city beyond has to offer?
Transferring to Brown means transferring to Providence, too.  It’s a strange town, to be sure–once the costume jewelry capitol of America (I kid you not), Providence fell on hard times during the 20th century. The city was famous for government corruption, state debt and a strong mafia presence. Providence itself takes up only about 25 square miles (for comparison, Los Angeles takes up over 500 sq miles, and Des Moines takes up 82). In the past two decades, however, Providence has experienced a Renaissance of sorts–a lively arts scene and a variety of gourmet restaurants have established themselves in the metro area, while festivals, concerts and farmers markets have quickly become yearly or weekly traditions. Below, you can find some of the best that Downtown Providence has to offer–check these spots out when you visit, when you transfer, and when you feel like you’ve got to take a break from campus!
A short walk down College Hill will put you right smack in the middle of Downtown Providence. If you’re interested in some fine dining, try Local 121, the Red Fez or Gracie’s. For more affordable options, there’s AS220 (which also hosts a variety of readings, exhibits and other cultural events throughout the year–check out their website!) or Olga’s (a great breakfast spot).
Looking for a study spot with good coffee? Small Point Cafe has free WiFi, and one of the baristas is a master at milk foam art pieces–snowmen, leaves, abstract squiggles, you name it and he’ll make it out of foamed milk. New Harvest Coffee just opened and serves up great coffee and tea from 7 am-11 pm every weekday.
If you’re out and about looking for some literary culture, check out the Athenaeum, one of the oldest private libraries in the country. Trinity Repertory Theatre is famous for its high-quality productions, and if the weather is warm then the Waterfire festival makes for a quirky, bonfire-filled night out on the canal.
Once you’ve explored Downtown, hop on a bus or catch a ride from a friend and explore the rest of Providence. Find great Mexican food in Olneyville, cafes and shopping on Broadway, and some of the finest Eggplant Parmesan this side of the Atlantic on Federal Hill. As a transfer, you still have time to explore what lies beyond Brown’s campus–Providence is worth the (tiny) trek!
That’s all for now, folks! If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email me at or leave a comment below. 

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