Sunday, June 10, 2007

Boston is the coolest

I thought I'd take some time to write about why I love Boston. I tell everyone I talk to that I like living here, but I haven't really gone into the reasons.

First off, it has a very diverse populace. This is very refreshing after living in Utah valley for so long where it seems like 90% are white/caucasian. Also, diverse population equals diverse restaurants. You can go out for any type of food you want (except for Cafe Rio). Last week I went to an Ethiopian restaurant and the week before I ate at a Cambodian French restaurant. You run into people of all ethnicities. In my lab alone, there are over 10 different nationalities. I am also beginning to consider Bostonians as a race foreign to me. They've got that strange, but interesting accent going on. Allow me to demonstrate. "I need to pahk the cah next to Hahvahd." Not everyone speaks like that here, but when I do come across it, it catches my attention.

I have discovered the joys of public transportation. I ride the train to work everyday. It is very refreshing to take a power nap coming to or from work. The train system is called the T here in Boston. When I ride aboveground, I feel like I'm back in Russia riding around on a tramvai. Underground, I kind of feel like I'm in a movie. Especially when I'm waiting at a stop, impressions of Ghost or Matrix come to me. So far, thank heavens, I've managed to avoid running into Agent Smith.

There are a lot of opportunities to talk about your faith with those who may not have heard that much about it. On the one hand, it's fascinating because people out there are often times simply curious about what you believe in and what you do. Sometimes this can be scary as the cold truth sets in that you are not that good at answering basic questions. For instance, in my lab Richard and I were talking about going to the temple later that night and someone else overheard us and asked point blank, "What's a temple?" I honestly could not answer that at that moment so I left it to Richard. It's one thing to answer those kind of questions as a set apart missionary, but to answer something like that in a casual setting is a whole different story. I definitely have room for improvement as far as talking with outward onlookers about the church.

It's a very transient place. I don't know if this is a good or bad thing, but you ask someone where they are from and they usually will tell you where they currently live. I kid you not, I went to a dance at MIT and one of my default questions is "so are you from around here." Almost all of the responses were along the lines of "yeah, i've been going to MIT for 2 years." or "yeah I live in suburb x of boston." The reason why, as I've come to find out, is because there aren't too many people who have spent their whole lives here. To avoid complications, they interpret this question differently than what I'm used to.

There are less hangups here about age, I've noticed. One thing that I've noticed in this area is that single people engage in activities regardless of how old they are. For instance, I went to a swing dance the other night which included all ages. I loved going up to older women and asking them to dance. (And I'm pretty sure they loved it too. ;)) Contrast that with girls and guys in their early twenties in Provo flipping out about not being married yet. haha But on a more serious note, there is less of a tendency in this area to over-focus on marriage. To a degree, I think this is a good thing.

The precipitation and humidity results in quite the green surroundings. You seem to hear the same descriptions about humid climes, so much that they may even seem to get trite. But they are so true. When it is hot and humid, you sometimes have a feeling that you're in a greenhouse. It's this sweaty, wet feeling that's only going to increase as the summer progresses. I've also experienced a couple cold days, nothing like winter. But technically, in degrees it doesn't seem that cold. But because of the humidity, it chills you to the bone. I don't know if I necessarily like the humidity, but the advantages of lush, green vegetation is definitely worth it. I was standing outside the Boston temple, (without my camera :( ) and I just saw miles and miles of packed, green forests. I even saw a raccoon that day, which was cool. I'm excited to get more familiar with the New England outdoors this summer.

Boston also has some interesting smells. First off, tons of people smoke. I kind of thought, living in Utah for so long, that smoking in the United States was kind of dying off. At least here on the east coast, it is alive and well. But the smell of cigarettes actually doesn't bother me. I am not addicted to it, but I don't mind the faint or lingering smell of tobacco. The smell of coffee is also omnipresent. You can see either a Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks on almost any block in Boston, and that is no over-exaggeration. Also, because this city is so old, (founded in 1630) it's got some interesting odors on the streets. I have smelt some smells that I thought only wafted in Russian stairwells. This is good though as you can then better appreciate clean air.

Finally, this city has some history in it. Where else can you drink a Samuel Adams while looking at his grave? Or visit the tree under which General Washington first took command of the American Army? Or visit Paul Revere's house? Besides the plethora of historical sites to catch in the Boston area itself, there are also lots of sites in surrounding areas such as Pennsylvania, DC, etc.

To sum it all up, Boston is cool. Come and visit if you have never experienced it. I'll leave the light on for you.