Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Ashley Jackson

Hi guys, I’m Ashley, and I am brand new to grad school and Massachusetts! I am in the MA for Children’s Literature, and I could not be more excited to have the opportunity to study at Simmons. I expect to learn a lot here and network to meet people. I am truly stoked to have the chance to focus on Children’s Literature and see where that takes me (publishing hopefully!).

I was born and raised in Texas and have lived there my whole life. So, this is quite the experience for me. I have spent quite a bit of time in England, so I’m not 100% in culture shock, but Boston is different than Austin; in a good way (hello snow)! I cannot wait to explore the city more and see what New England is all about. I am married to the coolest guy, and we have two dogs. Besides sweeping up fur in my spare time, I enjoy taking the dogs to the park or for a hike, swimming, and baking vegan treats. And of course, reading. My favorite genre currently is fantasy.



Entries by Ashley Jackson

  • House Hunting

    This summer I decided to stay in Boston and look for a house to move into for the next couple of years. I can only compare this experience to my time I looked for homes and apartments in Austin, so let me tell you the number one thing I have noticed, broker fees. Boston is expensive enough already and to have a broker fee’s, it really adds to the moving expense.  According to an article  published in April 2018, Boston ranks #7 in most expensive cities to live in. The article states the average rent is $2100. In Austin, the rent is expensive, but not quite as much, and there typically is not a broker fee included.  The property managers pay the brokers themselves.  It was quite a shock to see so many places that require a broker fee! However, there are search engines that allow you to choose houses that do not have broker fees.  You will need to be prepared to have patience and compromise and some of the requirements you may have…

  • Bookshops

    It is toasty outside guys! I took a rare day off last week to go visit a few bookshops in the Boston area and cool down out of the heat as my apartment does not have air conditioning. Who needs an excuse to visit a bookshop anyway? A quick Google search for used books leads me to Brattle Book Shop in downtown Boston. It is one of America’s largest and oldest bookshops in America! Established in 1825 and in the same family since 1949. I was in for a surprise when I went because I was really looking for newish books that were on sale.  I didn’t think I would come across beautiful antique books.  I kept thinking, wow, this would be an excellent place for aspiring writers to find a book about an obscure topic who want to research the old fashion way. I have a new interest in human anatomy books, and their section here was small and very old.  Rubber bands held the leather covers to the books, the paper was brittle…

  • Our Neighbors at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

    Hi guys! This week I took the opportunity, as a fairly new resident to the Boston area, to explore our neighbors at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  I have heard a lot about this museum and have been itching to get over.   First things first, Simmons students get in free! I was prepared to pay the much-discounted student price of $5, but the lovely girl at the desk said no fee with my student ID! I believe this is true for the Museum of Fine Arts which is nearby as well.  It’s a gorgeous building and was Gardner’s home as well.  She traveled the world looking for fine art, collected it, and brought it back to Boston to display in her house.  She picked where each piece went so it is unique in that way and unlike any museum I have been to.  Her pieces are amazing.  I often found myself wondering how they shipped some of the pieces over to Boston. Now for the juicy part.  This museum is home of many works of…

  • Books and Adaptations

    Hello again! I am back in Boston as of late last night (early this morning) and they weather is gorgeous.  I read many great books while abroad including a thriller/mystery series. My sister-in-law had obtained a collection of books from the UK author Ann Cleves. These books are great mystery books and the Vera series has been made into a television series in the UK (which we can watch here in the States on Hulu).  These series remind me of Agatha Christie series with Hercule Poirot.  Great for summer time beach reading of you’re into that sort of thing. Reading these books got me thinking about books that have been adapted into television and movies.  I feel that most popular books have now been adapted into a film or television series. Often, people only know about the adaptation before learning that it was a book first (with the exception of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games). The Divergent series, The Maze Runner series, The Book Thief, and Riverdale as well as Lemony Snicket as Netflix…

  • E-Readers, Tree Books, Libraries & Traveling

    Currently I am in Manchester England.  The UK is a place I visit often as my husband is from England.  I was never much of the E-reader type.  I like to hold my books, collect them, smell them, all the things people like us in the LIS & Children’s Literature programs are all too familiar with.  I tried E-readers in the past and could never get behind them.  It didn’t feel real.  Even traveling back and forth from the UK I would lug Jonathan Frazen, Stephen King, or any of my 350+ pages of YA books across the pond.  My in-laws and husband would smile at my efforts and my diligence in my devotion to the book I was reading. (The idea behind Frazen was that if I brought a long enough book I wouldn’t have to bring several smaller books, logical right?) I did begin to utilize the public library system over here, which was a huge help and downsized the small personal library I brought with me everywhere.  Plus, it was interesting exploring…

  • Simmons Connect

    I wanted to mention how helpful Simmons Connect has been for me this semester.  It was my first web-based experience with Simmons (other than simmons.edu).  This is where you find out your registration start date and times, how you register for classes (very important), view your schedule, check your email, find events happening around campus, access campus print (another super important one), any way you get the idea.  Access to Simmons Connect keeps you on schedule with the school, but another aspect I really like is students can post things here (through a mediator of course).  People looking for babysitters, jobs, sublets, and important updates you need to know such as the library only being open to students during finals (don’t forget your student ID!).  I found my summer sublet here from a fellow student who is in the Social Work graduate program.  I really like knowing we can sublet from other students; it feels a bit safer.  When you are new to a city, craigslist can be a bit daunting with unfamiliar locations, safe/unsafe…

  • Everyone’s Talking About It…Wrap up + Career Fair Tidbits

    Yep. How can we not talk about it?  One more semester (or the first as it is in my case) almost in the bag! One step closer to graduation and that coveted degree for us all.  I finally got into a routine with my school work, work, and how to make free time for myself about four weeks ago, just after Spring Break.  Funny how that works, but I will not argue about the end coming near.  It is a strange mix of stress and glee for me.  It is probably the only time I try to finish a paper early so that I can wrap up my semester early! This never works for me by the way, though I do feel the motivation to get on top of the work rather than the other way around. This semester it seems that spring has decided to come the last couple weeks of our semester as well.  I will not complain about its delay, at least it happened! The flowers were planted and blooming before the…

  • The Boston Marathon!

    The Boston Marathon was yesterday and what a day for it! Being a new resident of the Northeast, I was not too keen on how big of a deal this was for the residents of Boston.  Of course, I have heard of the marathon, it is major, but being in the city to experience it first hand was a whole other thing.  Restaurants and bars offer free food and drinks to the runners, my local nail spa provided free manicures if you had a runner’s bib, and that’s what I noticed just walking down Beacon. I have the pleasure of living only steps away from Beacon Street (not too great for studying- those cowbells are loud!), one of the last major stretches to the finish line on Boylston. First, the weather.  Holy moly. I am not a runner, but I can imagine this wasn’t the most ideal condition for 26.2 miles of running.  What I understand is the streets are usually full of people cheering on the runners, but with yesterday’s conditions, there were still…

  • Comprehensive Reading List and Learning to Love Old Genres

    Are you an avid reader and stuck in a genre? I certainly was before I attended Simmons. I have my preferred genre’s and have difficulty convincing myself to read something different. Especially when it comes down to books I read for pleasure.  In the Children’s Literature program, you will be reading a lot of books.  I was so overwhelmed at the beginning of the semester, the few books I brought with me from Texas to read in my “spare” time sat on my little bookshelf collecting dust.  Each week I had anywhere from two-five books to read. While these books are young adult books, some of them falling into my preferred genre, there were some I was not too excited for.  It had been quite some time since I read anything outside of fantasy so when books like The Boxcar Children (a book I loved as a child), Little House in the Big Woods, or Happy Endings are All Alike showed up on our reading list, I was a bit apprehensive.  However, as each week…

  • An Apprehensive Baseball Fan

    Baseball Season is upon on. Opening games were just last week! I was never one to really watch baseball on television (so long!), but I did enjoy watching the World Series last year (ASTROS!).  I do enjoy going to games because everything’s more fun in person in my opinion.  Plus, it’s a chance to drink beer and partake in the food I usually would not. Hello junk food! I learned a bit about the game by watching the World Series, which I mean, the most elementary fundamentals of the game. Enough to watch, cheer, understand, but still feed my always curious brain so I can ask ridiculous questions most baseball fans will roll their eyes at. I don’t care because it’s a learning opportunity. Right? I have a feeling that this year things will change for me as a baseball fan.  The Red Sox are literally just around the corner from us here at Simmons, and it’s across the street from my work, so I am expecting to be inundated with all things Sox this…

  • New Student Orientation and Meeting People- Make Friends!

    If you get the chance to attend Simmons, try and go to the new student orientation.  It’s a great opportunity not only to see the campus and introduce yourself but to meet fellow students who are new to the program as well. This has been a lifesaver for me, mainly because I moved up here not knowing anyone.  There were only four of us at the Spring orientation, and we all ended up being in the same classes.  I feel that this has made us into a little pack this semester where we help each other in a variety of ways. One way, being new students and new to Boston, we can chat about challenges we encounter living in Boston. Most of these conversations have to do with the MBTA system and apartment searching.  I’m currently grilling my friends from the ‘burbs about what they like, don’t like, and how the commute is, because, in case you didn’t know, Boston is a wee bit expensive guys.  Look for roommates if possible! The other super important…

  • Free Books and SLIS Resources

    One thing I am really enjoying about the Children’s Literature program here at Simmons is the ample opportunity for free books.  The SLIS classrooms are in the same building as The Horn Book Magazine, which is a bimonthly literature magazine that was established here in Boston.  They always have a cart outside their door that has free materials to take such as Advanced Reader’s Copies (ARCs). It’s a great way to see what new material is being written about.  Even if you do not pick up any of this material to take home, it is a great resource to have for browsing. Along with the Horn Book book cart, there is also the Book Nook.  It is a small space on the third floor just outside the offices where you can sit and enjoy a book from the rather extensive collection of new Children and YA books on the shelves. This is a non-circulating library, but you are always welcomed to come in a choose a book to sit and read anytime you like.  These…

  • Why I Chose Simmons

    I came across Simmons when reading a snippet on Kristin Cashore’s blog. She mentioned she got her M.A. at the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College and I thought, “Any school that incubated and turned out this type of creative author has to have something special going for it.”  I was currently an undergrad at Texas State University and put Simmon’s in my “Some Day” folder I have filed away in the back of my head.  Fast forward five years and I am half way through my LIS degree at University of North Texas.  I took a children’s literature class and during my first research paper I knew I wanted to learn exclusively about children’s literature and all that encompassed it.  I did enjoy the LIS program, but I thought, if I am going for my dreams, I am going all the way.   I researched more into the school, requested packets of information (which I received in abundance) and did a little outside research about different authors who attended the program. I…