By Bemboli Mozagba – The Global Gazette (Boston Campus)
Whether it’s the wealth, cleanliness and safety of Cambridge, the quietness of Burlington and Woburn, or the liveliness of Chelsea and Quincy, the state of Massachusetts shares a constant condition and general sense of ‘calm activity’. In my opinion, this condition is seen in every facet of Boston’s existence, from local Bostonians themselves, to the business world, to the way things work here.
In terms of famous large cities within the United States, New York has the fast-paced and frenetic nature that people can see even in movies, which is reflected from the subways to the streets. Los Angeles is the vacation and sightseeing capital, as well as the home of Hollywood and most of its A-list actors. Boston is best known for the Boston Celtics basketball team, the Boston Marathon, and is home to Harvard and the MIT.
However, most people know very little about “The City of Kind Hearts”. Bostonians are extremely avid sports fans, whether that’s the Celtics, Bruins (hockey team) or Red Sox (baseball), with some of the most sports-savvy fans in America. You will definitely get a sense of this, being that Hult is a short 10 to 15 minute walk away from the TD Garden, the home of the Celtics and Bruins, as well as to large concerts and other events. In the “other” stadium – the historic Fenway Park – which hosts the Red Sox and is the oldest ballpark in the Major League Baseball (MLB), you get to see the current World Champions. One of the first things you would notice is the absurd number of runners on the streets, which you see literally at any time of day. Bostonians truly embody the athletic moniker you associate with their sports teams and the general atmosphere created here.
Boston is the closest thing to a middle child in the sense that it is great yet a frequently forgotten city in comparison to cities like Los Angeles and New York. In the summer, the Boston climate is one of warmth that allows for enjoyable activities like going to Carson Beach or visiting one of the many parks and outdoor markets found across Boston. An example of a famous park would be Boston Common, which is actually the first public park to exist in the whole of the United States and is the perfect place to visit in the Fall as you see all the trees appearing in various hues of yellow and orange. There are families and couples strolling about the park, people playing with their dogs, others just going for walks by themselves. This is all conveniently found in the middle of Boston.
The winter is fairly comparable to that of New York as it is “slightly” – extremely – cold. For anyone new to Boston, purchase your jackets early, as the prices are always cheap before winter begins to set in. Furthermore, for people who have never been to a snowy area, I sincerely hope you enjoy that experience. I know that for me it was quite exhilarating and exciting the very first time it snowed fairly heavily in Boston. *In South Africa, it has snowed twice since I’ve existed. However, those two anomalous occasions were 5 years apart and the snow did not heap to any great degree as it does in Europe or North America.
Boston is also home to many universities, start-ups and company campuses and headquarters. There are so many opportunities to network, from the various speakers Hult invites and the events Hult hosts, to places like CIC Boston and Venture-Café, to events held by other universities like Harvard or the MIT. Boston is truly a haven for learning and connecting. For example, I was able to tour the Google Campus here in Cambridge and learn a few things about its internal environment and some of the work certain staff partake in. General Electric, Microsoft, Liberty Mutual Insurance, and many, many other companies have campuses in Boston, too. Not to mention, various start-up companies that pop-up all-around the Greater Boston Area.
In terms of food, Boston has its famous clam chowder, any dish containing lobster (not from just anywhere like on the street – I learned the hard way), and Boston baked beans. My personal favourite is the clam chowder. It is a seafood dish that resembles a soup with soft pieces of the insides of clams and has a unique and really great texture and taste. I am personally not a big seafood fan, so if you are you will most likely love the clam chowder and if you aren’t, give it a chance and you may have the same reaction as I did: surprised satisfaction. Outside of “Bostonian delicacies”, another stark difference I noticed was in fast food chains. The notion of “supersized” meals and drinks which we don’t have in South Africa (and no, it’s not because we’re starving) was something you see plenty of in movies, nevertheless, when you see or try those meals in real life, it’s a very scary experience looking at the mountain of diabetes laying on your table. If you’re a fan of food experimentation, supersized meals could pose a definite challenge.
Finally, in terms of holidays, many international students who have not lived in the US before will experience Thanksgiving for the first time. The holiday is celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November and is a time for thanksgiving and sharing of meals where extended family and friends come together to share the table. If you do not leave for the break, then use this opportunity to have your own Potluck and enjoy cuisine from your friends who are literally from all over the world. Turkey is oftentimes shared. According to the history of the holiday, it originated from the fact that the bird is uniquely a North American bird, and colonists hunted wild turkeys in the early 1600s. I’m not entirely sure how many public holidays you have from wherever in the world you’re from, but personally, I believe the US has many public holidays. Unfortunately, at Hult (I believe it’s because we’re an international school) we do not have many of them off.
All in all, a few Returning Undergrads and new faculty will think I’ve done a relatively decent job of summing up Boston, and more specifically Cambridge, however, I assure you that this is merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of the various things one can do, see, and experience in Boston. I truly hope you enjoy or continue to enjoy the many things that the ‘City of Kind Hearts’ has to offer.