A Brit in Boston

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First things first, it has to be said; the Bostonian accent is literally ridiculous, I can’t take it seriously for a second. Like when they speak to each other do they not realise how clichéd and hilarious they sound? My first impressions of the city though… it’s cool! I like it a lot. In the past couple of months I’ve heard myriad contradictory comments on the place, so it was difficult to have any expectations. The past few days I’ve enjoyed some exceedingly clement weather, that has made exploring the city a joy. It’s unseasonably warm for this time of year, when the leaves are changing, producing a riot of colour. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen; walking along the Charles River, which is lined with foliage of red, gold, orange and green… glinting skyscrapers standing triumphant behind, reaching at an azure sky. Europe doesn’t do skyscrapers in the same way as America, so this little country bumpkin from rural England is unceasingly impressed by them!

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The first day I spent getting my bearings of the city. There isn’t a better way of doing it than by walking the freedom trail; a several mile walk that goes by 16 of the most historical sites in Boston, that together weave the story of how American Independence was first conceived, and later, achieved. It’s a bit jarring for me reading about how the British were the villains this time, because I’m used to it being the Germans or the French, but it’s the age old story of fighting oppression and standing up for what you believe in, so I suppose it’s kind of inspiring. It definitely makes Boston the perfect place to start my US trip. Ended up across the river in Charlestown,  where I had lunch (and my first alcoholic drink in America) in one of the oldest buildings; George Washington himself once visited.

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Massachusetts State House, the first stop on the Freedom Trail. The gold dome was visible from all over the city!
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Statue of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers, born in Boston (but apparently he hated it here so moved to Philadelphia)
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Statue of Paul Revere, one of the greatest and most famous patriots in American history. Nope, I hadn't heard of him either. He warned people about an attack from the British or something...
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The USS Cassin Young, a destroyer that served in WWII and is now a museum ship at Boston Navy Yard
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The Bunker Hill Monument (not the Washington Monument) in Charlestown

That evening I took it easy, as I was still adjusting to the time difference. Even though the hostel is one of the priciest I’ve ever stayed in, I have to admit its super nice. I’m used to more cheap and cheerful places in Eastern Europe, but the facilities are flawless and the staff are very helpful, and friendly, on the whole.

I wanted to get up early the next day so I’d have time to explore Harvard and MIT. I don’t want to go on, but a recent survey ranked my university joint second best in the world (with Cambridge) so I wanted to take a glimpse at MIT, the one that pipped us out of 1st place. And people go on about Harvard; oldest uni in America, hugely esteemed institution blah blah. My brother recently went to see it and said “It’s just a university.” And you know what, he’s not wrong.

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Harvard Yard, beautified greatly by the spectacular Autumn foliage

Harvard isn’t as beautiful as you might expect. It’s probably about as pretty as the University of Birmingham, and when was the last time anyone said anything complimentary about their aesthetics? So it’s the oldest uni in America. Well Oxford and Cambridge are like 400 years older. The foliage was indeed lovely but that’s it. I got a free student led tour by Sebastian, a maths student from Texas. He told several amusing and slightly dubious stories about the place, but I expect they were probably made up to appeal to tourists. Apparently they have to graduate outside, even if it’s raining. It’s no Royal Albert Hall, that’s for sure!

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The Statue of 3 lies; John Harvard, who founded the university in 1638. Except the statue isn't of him. And he didn't found it. And the uni wasn't founded in 1638...

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I thought MIT was a lot cooler, therefore proving I’m a huge science nerd. It’s big, modern, with a dash of kind-of-old, with some cool sculptures. Imperial is still better in my opinion but it’s possible I could be biased.

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MIT campus. Packed full of nerds but I liked it =D

After finishing there, I crossed the bridge and walked back to town along the river. Checked out some of the most charming streets and read my book in Boston Public Garden (the place in Seth MacFarlane’s movie Ted when they first meet that guy who wants to buy Ted for his son). Did a pub crawl that night, meeting Australians (they really are a plague) and Mexicans. I don’t really feel like going crazy for parties just yet because I have to save my energy for the next two months. Boring I know. I’m just enjoying taking it easy, seeing the sights, reading, listening to music and eating some good food. And taking pictures. They’re good right?

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