Spring Break – Boston, MA

As the title suggests I went to Boston for Spring Break! Not only did I venture south across the US-Canadian Border, but I experienced the home of some of the top Universities in the World, the Boston Celtics, Red Sox, as well as Irish Americans, the Freedom Trail, the Boston Massacre and many more historical sites associated with the American Revolution. For a complete American history imbecile like myself, it was a steep, but interesting learning curve.

So my journey began in Montreal at Lionel Groulx Metro Station, where Jonathan, a friend of an American I met last year on exchange at Glasgow, was driving two other Boston bound friends to the state of Massachusetts. This would be my first rideshare; a cheaper and faster alternative to taking the bus or train. The premise being that a driver is going from A to B at a certain time, he then posts this on Craigslist and passengers sign up, paying a reduced fare in comparison to Greyhound. For example, this journey only cost me $40 for a 6h+ one-way journey.

Anyway, the journey went much quicker than expected because of the awesome company, plus, Jon is a humanized version of Wikipedia. This is how I learnt about and even visited the border town of Stanstead. Due to a border surveying error the town is split in two, the international border runs through individual homes, so that meals prepared in one country are eaten in the other. Crazy eh?

The US border is pretty strict for foreigners, lots of questions and finger print taking, but if you’ve got the right documentation it’s legit. Compared to a bus, it probably saved me an hour because they have to interview everyone, so being in a car of 4 was pretty handy. Oh, and it costs $6 US to cross the border. They’ll give you a green ticket which they staple in your passport, which is valid for 3 months, but you have to hand this in at the Canadian border on your return, unless you know you’ll be back to the States before then.

Upon arrival in Boston, I was pointed in the right direction towards Boston College, where I would be staying with Andy and Rich, friends I’d met up in the hostel in Montreal. The public transport isn’t as good as Montreal, but they don’t have to suffer -30 oC winters, so it’s understandable. All I had was an address, as I didn’t want to use my cell abroad, but I bumped into some friendly BC students straight away who told me the way. I did however have to make a few phone calls eventually, which resulted in a $70 more than average bill- not cool!

So the 1st night, Rich took me and Margot, my Dutch travel companion who came down on a later rideshare, to a Frat-style party. The drinking age being 21, and me being 19, this made sense. Definitely an experience, but crazy busy, full of drunk freshmen. So afterwards, I went to find Craig- a fellow Glasgow Uni student, who showed me the delights of an alternative form of Beer Pong. I can’t remember the name, I just know that I’m a pro! It was short, but sweet. But, Craig’s coming up to Montreal next weekend, so i’ll be sure to show him a good time here.

During the day, we did all the historical sites, and there’s a lot! Just following The Freedom Trail takes up most of the day, but we also visited the prestigious Harvard University. It’s ok I suppose….it’s no McGill. Randomly we bumped into some fellow McGillers next to the statue of John Harvard, the founder. We went for lunch, shopping, and then back in time for dinner with Andy. Who then took us to an International house party somewhere near campus. I’m always amazed how small this world is, but Margot met a fellow Dutchman from her Uni, and I met another fellow Glasgow Uni student, Mark. It was definitely cool to meet all these international students from Boston College, but I also felt totally out of my depth, like being back in the 1st week of uni. I’m so used to knowing everyone, or at least recognizing some faces, but here, it was the complete opposite. It was cool though; I got chatting and met some French people who knew my French friends back in Montreal.

I have to also add that I met some fantastic Americans! Firstly, Andy and Rich our hosts, but also their roommates, girlfriends and everyone else who I met whilst at BC. Everyone was super-friendly and welcoming. And a word of advice, I think Americans like the British accent even more than Canadians, which I didn’t think was possible!

For our final night, me and Margot attempted to cook Fish & Chips as thanks, however, there seemed to be no supermarkets, so after half an hour of searching I found a Chinatown supermarket. Not recognizing the fish, apart from Cod, I ordered a couple of lbs, but, a fellow shopper translated the fishmonger’s response, “you have to take the whole fish”. The reason for this…The fish was still alive, in a tank. Soooo, I ended up with a 6lb cod and a sack of potatoes. On the tram back to Boston College, my plastic bag started twitching…strange because the man had just smashed a mallet over the fish’s head. It wasn’t just twitching though, my bag was physically wriggling, and all the other commuters started giving me “fishy” looks. Obviously the fish was dead, but it was still sending nerve impulses…Having never filleted a fish properly, I quickly decided to just oven cook this beast. And, eventually, the meal was a success!

Next Stop, NEW YORK CITY!

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