Ok, I'm finally writing this blog about Boston. I went to Boston with all of the exchange students from CALS. The trip was organized by Christine Potter, our dependable exchange advisor who always has a friendly smile on her face. She prepared the trip for months. In the beginning, it turned out there was no hostel to accommodate the 30-ish crowd so she booked a four-star hotel in Cambridge. Yeah that's right, the hotel is on the Hahvahd and MIT side.
Taking a bus, the journey took us 6 hours from the backwater of Ithaca to the buzzing metropolis of Boston. According to Christine Potter, the drivers in Boston are insane. Most of the time when a car is trying to get over an intersection and fails, it ends up standing on the crossing, blocking the way for the poor pedestrians. The first night we went to a restaurant for dinner, Jonas ordered a German Guinness and got a pilsner, which was surprising cos pilsner should be Czech. Back in the hotel, me, Kedar, Jonas and Omar had to share the room and its two queen-sized beds. So we got both roomies and bedmates for the night.
On Saturday, we went to Harvard and MIT. Harvard Yard is such an oasis in the town. If you are lucky enough to get "The Hahvahd Tour"(Hahvahd is how you say it in South Boston accent), which we did, you'll get to know some interesting facts about the university. Our guide showed us the dorms where Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones and Al Gore lived. It turned out that Tommy and Al were roommates back in the 60s. When walking into the Harvard Yard, we never went through the main gate. The story here is for any Harvardian, you can only walk through the main gate twice: once as an incoming freshman, and once as an outgoing senior. Otherwise bad fortune will fall upon you, especially on the academic side. Matt Damon walked through the main gate too many times so he never graduated. However, if you get an Academy Award, you are pardoned from your failure.
Another landmark inside Harvard Yard is the Widener Library. It was opened following a solemn ceremony on June 24, 1915. The building commemorates Harry Elkins Widener. A 1907 Harvard graduate and book collector, he purchased and brought books from England to US year 1912. As you may've guessed, he took the fastest passenger liner he could find, and it happened to be RMS Titanic. Since Widener bought the first-class ticket, he was put onto a lifeboat when the disaster occurred. At that moment, Harry realized he had to go back and fetch some books from the cabin. By the time he made it back, all the lifeboats were gone and this guy became one of the 1517 casualties. Harry's mother, grief-stricken, donated $ 3.5 million to build a library after his son. According to the campus legend, three stipulations were imposed by the Widener foundation: first, the exterior of the library can never change, or its ownership will revert to the town of Cambridge. Second, there must be a reading room inside with a vase of flower, in memory of the late Harry Widener. Third, since Harry's mother never watched the Kate Winslet version of Titanic, she thought if her son could swim he could survive. As a result, all Harvardians have to take a swim-test before graduating. At Cornell we got something similar.
For more of my Harvard photos, please check out my album. We also went to MIT. If Harvard Yard is a garden, then MIT campus is an industrial complex. My first impression of MIT is that every student there is a tech-nerd. Another thing that MIT is known for is the hacks. Inside the campus building designed by Frank Gehry(the same architecture that designed the Dancing House in Prague), Stata Center, you can see the "police car" that was placed on the top of the MIT Great Dome back in 1994. That vehicle itself was actually a junked Chevrolet painted to match the campus police's patrol car. A similar hack was pull off on September 11, 2006. This time it was a "firetruck". I can consider MIT or Harvard as a place to get my PhD or postdoc, if I make it that far.
In downtown Boston we walked along the Freedom Trail and stopped at Quincy Market. Inside the market we found food from all over the world. Japanese sushi, Italian cuisine, Chinese stir-fry, and Boston lobsters. I bought a lobster roll for 15 bucks. But the day after, I found a 1.25 lb lobster for only $10! The lobster totally made my day. The lobster place, this Irish bar called Purple Shamrock is really good. If you have more time and money than I did, seek out Union Oyster House.