> En français : Boston

Hi, everybody!

I was in Boston on November 2nd, 3rd and 4th. The article is now published after a lot of delay; however this enabled me to write a article, with a lot of pictures: it will be easier to read than an exhaustive description of the trip. [All the pictures are mine.]

A reflecting pool along Huntington Avenue (designed by I.M.Pei for the Christian Science Church)

This trip was organized by the MISN (McGill International Students Network), as for the trip to New York City (in October). A bus was booked for the students and drove us towards Boston. We crossed Vermont and New Hampshire and that required a whole day (from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

Similarly to New York’s trip, we had to cross the border and the border guards were not really ‘nice’; but unlike New York’s trip, the trip was done during the day. Thus, I was able to take in the view. Vermont’s nickname is the Green State; New Hampshire’s one is the Granite State. These nicknames are highly relevant. Though most trees lost their leaves, forests were impressive, due to their size and their atmosphere (which was both enigmatic and majestic – I know, these two adjectives are antonymic). The bus also went through mountain passes. Most of the landscapes were grey, but these grey were very diverse.

Boston Common

Eventually (after several stops) we came in Boston. The group split in several smaller groups.

My first goal was the following: to eat lobster! However, lobster meals were too expensive. For instance, lobster strips for take-away cost about $18 (and you have to add taxes); a whole lobster probably costs even more in a restaurant. 😦 Therefore I preferred to eat a pasta-cheese-lobster pie – and obviously there was more pasta than cheese and more cheese than lobster (algebraic expression: pasta > cheese > lobster)… it cost $14 (including taxes).

My dinner: I had to imagine that there were lobster strips in the pie.

Nevertheless, we moved to a pub, where the other international students were already ensconced. I had had already dinner but I stayed with them. And my neighbor ordered a lobster. I did not pay but I took advantage of the view onto the lobster. 🙂 [Though I am 19, no one refused me entry to the pub… !]

Her dinner: LOBSTER!

The Freedom Trail

The next day we decided to follow the Freedom Trail – but I left the group and I decided to do it at my pace. The Freedom Trail is a touristic path in Downtown Boston, joining up the main loci of the Old Boston (most of these places deal with the Colonial Era and the American Revolution). A red line is drawn on the sidewalk along the trail.

Massachusetts State House. I do not understand why a tree is planted in front of the building…

In the Granary Burying Ground: the obelisk of the Franklins (the family of Benjamin Franklin… although Benjamin Franklin was not buried in Boston)

A Memorial for the Irish Famine

Faneuil Hall

Quincy Market

The USS Constitution

I visited the Old State House. This is the oldest public building of Boston (all the neighboring buildings are skyscrapers). It used to be Boston’s City Hall during the 18th and 19th centuries; now it is a museum for the American Revolution. On July 18, 1776, the Declaration of Independence of the United States was read from the balcony (the Declaration was ratified in Philadelphia on July 4). Note that a subway station is under the building – more precisely, it is in foundations of the building.

Hi! (from the Old State House)

Just a word about the Bunker Hill Monument: this obelisk commemorates the Battle of Bunker Hill (during the Siege of Boston in 1775 by the British Navy). The obelisk is hollow: you can go inside, and run up the 294 stairs (i.e. 67 m).

The Bunker Hill Memorial

Note that in souvenirs’ stores, items are subject to caution. On the one hand, I found a lot of T-shirts with a snake and the motto “Don’t threat on me” (the Gadsden Flag – i.e. the symbol of the Tea Party). On the other hand, I bought a compilation of Benjamin Franklin’s aphorisms… and many of them reject strongly any kind of governmental intervention. Even in Massachusetts (one of the strongholds of the Democratic Party), anti-state minds could settle easily.

Boston Universities

There are several universities in Boston and the surroundings. And some of them are the most world-renowned of the world: Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Tufts University, Boston College… Of course, you MUST visit their campus when you come in Boston.

I took the T (the metro of Boston) on Sunday morning, and I went to Cambridge (on the other bank of the Charles River). The first stop was in the campus of the MIT. This campus looked like a campus on Sunday morning: almost deserted.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Massachusetts Avenue

The MIT and its scallfolding

The Stata Center (by Gehry)

I also found this office. But I forgot my application form and my CV…

The Admissions Office of the MIT

In Sciences Po, there is a MediaLab but I did not really understand what a MediaLab is. I also found a MediaLab in the MIT, but it did not make me understand better what it is.

The Media Lab of the MIT

Then I went to Harvard. Harvard, the oldest and most prestigious university of the United States (oh, wait: what about Yale and Princeton?).

  • Now I must admit that I have been once in Boston. I was less than one year old. Nevertheless, my parents thought that it was necessary to bring me in Harvard: this could have increased my chances of studying in Harvard… (Obviously, they failed – nothing happened).
  • Now I must also admit that McGill is self-convinced that it is the “Northern Harvard”, and that Harvard is the “America’s McGill”. No comment.

Harvard Yard

Unlike other campuses, Harvard campus is mostly made up of small old brick buildings and lawns with trees. Most students live in these small houses. Squirrels also live on campus.

This is the statue of John Harvard. Do not pay attention to the inscription, because it includes “three lies” (the man is not John Harvard, he did not found Harvard, and Harvard was not found in 1638).

John H. and me

If you are not a Harvard ID holder, you cannot go inside the buildings (in order to prevent tourists from disturbing the students). Nevertheless, there is a Sciences Po graduate student – P.-A. – who is in exchange in the Harvard Law School. He made me visit the campus and the buildings. In particular, we went in the Gelber Law Library and the building of the Kennedy School of Government. 🙂

The Gelber Law Library

In the Gelber Law Library: « footnote sessions » do not make sense.

And eventually, I bought a Harvard Hoodie. Of course.


Are Harvard squirrels brighter than the other squirrels?

Boston Does Not Only Mean “Higher Education” or “American Revolution”

I also met another friend: Johan is also a third-year undergraduate student from Sciences Po. He spends his “3A” in Boston College. Since Boston College is very far from Downtown, we met in front of the Boston Public Library and we went to the Prudential Tower, in order to see the skyline of Boston from the “Prudential Skywalk”. However, night fell as we took the elevator (!) and there is no way to take pictures by night with my camera.

Boston Public Library

Charles River from the Prudential Tower

Copley Square and John Hancock Tower from the Prudential Tower

I was going back to the hostel when I found a cardboard sign on the sidewalk (on Massachusetts Avenue / Albany Avenue). Remember that this happened on Saturday; the presidential election took place on the next Tuesday.

The sign, in the suite of the hostel.

I also went to the docks. But again, it was by night. No picture was taken.

There are so many places where I planned to go, but three days were not enough. If I could go to Boston again, I would visit the Museum of Fine Arts or the Kennedy Library.

As I came to Boston, I was quite disappointed: I only saw highways, stores and factories. But this first feeling vanished quickly, as I discovered the sights of Boston, the old buildings, the university campuses etc. Boston is a pretty nice city. You just have to look at the front of the apartment buildings: they are spare and stylish.

Massachusetts Avenue


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