An Unusual College Visit: Chaos in the Calm

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Police Officers guard the Boston bomb site on Friday, April 19.

By Rachel John

Originally published May 2013

No one really expects something interesting from a college visit except maybe a tour of the campus dorms or free college merchandise. I thought my campus tour at Northeastern University in Boston would not be any different, but  to my surprise, I visited Boston on Friday April 19th—the day alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was on the run.

Though I was aware of the Boston Marathon explosion, I did not truly understand the gravity of Friday’s situation until I intently listened to radio news with my father for four hours straight. The words of every reporter of every station were almost engraved in my mind.

The older brother, Tamerlan, died in a firefight last night while remaining brother, Dzhokhar has escaped. Authorities suggest that all residents stay inside.

After a few hours, it was announced that Northeastern’s campus was closed. In fact, every university was closed. When we reached the city of Boston, every business was closed except our hotel and a few hotels nearby. The usually infested streets were now only speckled with a few police officers on every block corner.

Was I in the Twilight Zone?

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Handwritten condolences adorn the fences guarding off the Boston bomb site on Friday, April 19.

The absence of civilians gave the town an eerie glow though the displays of the city’s attractions and stores were perfectly kept from the previous day. There was nothing to do except watch the news in the hotel lobby with a few other hotel guests. Throughout the chaos, I was comforted by my father and a warm sandwich from the only open food store in our area- Dunkin Donuts.

Then, I proceeded to watch television news for about three hours straight. I memorized the faces of the three innocent victims and bomber Dzhokhar.

After more reports were gathered, it was announced that the police force surrounded the Watertown area, away from the heart of the city of Boston. At that time, my father and I decided to go out. The streets were getting fuller though not teeming. A new group was occupying the streets- the journalists. Across almost every block a news group from a different station set up to interview affected Bostonians. I saw local stations, FOX News, NBC, and CNN News reporting live.

While constantly refreshing the New York Times app on my phone, we visited the area where the Boston bomb exploded. I could not help but recall the three innocent faces on the television screens. About an hour later, Dzhokhar was captured, and this trapped city seemed to shout in joy, in relief, in unison.

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