Boston: 9 Realities You'll Need to Accept

Each city has its own unique quirks and Boston is no exception! Here are the top 9 realities of visiting (or living in Boston!

The MBTA is going to become a big part of your life.

Even if you choose to avoid using it yourself, you’ll definitely hear horror stories, encounter “Hotties on the T,” or have plans cancelled because the Red Line train your friend is on has stopped dead between Harvard and Central.

 

Groupthink is pretty big here.

I guess it exists everywhere, and maybe I’m just ultra-sensitive to it because I live here. There are a few “acceptable” ways of living your life, and if you don’t fit a mold, then you’re SOL (shit outta luck). For example, on a few dates recently, men have told me about the property they just purchased and were confused when I didn’t really care. In related news: I have a hard time dating here.

 

There is life outside the city limits.

Boston can be a pretty pricey place to live and/or visit. For as many sites and activities exist inside Boston-proper, there are equally as many (if not more) reasonably close outside the city. Don’t make the mistake of writing off an activity, restaurant, or cultural site just because it’s not within the Boston city limits. Boston is a super weird shape, so some things may sound further than they are just because they’re in another area. For example, from South Station to Harvard University in Cambridge will take just about 15 minutes on the T. On the other hand, the Sam Adams Brewery – which is actually in Boston – is about 25 minutes away from South Station on the T.

 

History becomes cool…. accidentally.

I’m not a huge history buff, but the little nuggets of history that I wander across are actually quite interesting. I walked to the post office one day and came across the site of the first intelligible phone call. And the site of the first public school in the US is right in downtown! There is even an alleyway art instillation that depicts Boston historical events through bronze brick inlays. Boston has huge historic significance in the US, but it seems that there is something of historic significance on every corner! If you're not keen to wander aimlessly, taking a Freedom Trail tour will give you a great lesson in some of the history highlights and cool lesser-known tidbits!

 

The accent both exists… and doesn’t exist.

There are a healthy handful of people with the true Boston accent. You’re definitely going to encounter them. BUT, there are lots of transplants and people who worked to squash the accent. You’ll find a lot of Matt Damon’s circa Good Will Hunting (which is actually a decently realistic view of Boston culture)… but if you run into a Ben Affleck circa The Town… you can slap them because they’re faking. And that’s annoying.

 

Boston Common vs. Boston Public Garden

Boston Common: The oldest city park in the US

The Public Garden is full of Beautiful flowers... and some guy on a horse

Yes, I understand that they’re right next to each other - but they are so very different. The Common (not Commons) is just that - a common space. There are loads of things to take in there: a splashpad and carousel for kids, running paths, benches for lunch, a handful of food stalls, tennis courts and baseball diamond, and an off-leash area for dogs. The Garden is an actual garden. I had someone ask me, after wandering around the Common for a long time, ask me what the hype was- they thought the Garden would look better because of the pictures they had seen. Well, turns out that this person had been in the Common the whole time and didn’t realize that the Common and Garden are two different places.

 

Giving directions will never be the same again.

We use landmarks and time to measure distance. If I’m directing you from South Station to Beacon Hill, I’ll tell you to walk on Summer - pass the Citizens Bank on your left - and then another on your right - then the Macy’s on your left – keep walking and cross towards the Boston Common (with Park Street Church on your right) – walk towards the gold dome (State House) – and facing the State House Beacon Hill is directionally on your left. SO.MANY.LANDMARKS. I had the hardest time understanding directions when a friend told me to “turn north.” What even….?

 

Lusting after Beacon Hill

Cool door in Beacon Hill

Once you walk through Beacon Hill for the first time, you’ll want to spend all your time there. The brownstones are beautiful, the shops are charming, and you can pretend for a little while that you’re rich. The (alleged) most photographed street in the US is in Beacon Hill - Acorn St. Just a word of caution: be aware that although residents of Beacon Hill are no strangers to tourists and people taking pictures, they're people too and thus, do not like having their privacy invaded. Admire, but be respectful. 

 

Sports are a huge part of the local culture.

Brock Holt prepares for his at-bat

If you’re in Boston and one of the local teams is playing, you should really make an effort to go. One really unique thing about the Boston sports scene is that there are multiple viable teams (and one fairly unfortunate soccer team-Revolution). No matter what time of year you’re here, you’ll definitely get a good show (if not by the athletes, then certainly by the fans!). Bruins / Celtics / Patriots / Red Sox

BONUS STRUGGLE:

Coffee, and burgers, and cupcakes, OH MY!

I never realized how lucky I was to live in Boston, a city of endless options, until I went somewhere where variety didn't really exist. Why is this a struggle, you ask? Well... prepare to never be able to settle on a place to eat. Sometimes, at work, I'll budget in a lunch out, and then not go out because I can't decide where I want to go! Absurd, I know. But for real.... Boston has a huge variety of eateries: from pastry shops and Italian eateries  - to Irish pubs and juice bars - to hole-in-the-wall taco shops and major restaurant chains. All this variety means one BIG thing for the consumer: the competition means that places bring their A-game always. There is a decent selection of gluten-free places and Boston is a very vegetarian/vegan-friendly city. Don't believe me....? Check out this crazy Google map I made of all the veg places!! 


  • What are some of the quirks of your city?
  • What is the #1 thing about your city that you brag about?
  • Are there any misconceptions about the place where you live? [Like, in Boston everyone asks "Can you really park your car in Harvard Yard?!" - The answer to that is no, btw]
     
2 Comments

Katie Dickinson

I'm an avid traveler, who picked up this wonderful addiction while living and teaching in South Korea, and being able to travel everysix months.  Now back in the states, I've started feeling antsy and trapped, so I decided to spend 2016 visiting some popular US destination cities.... all on a non-profit worker's salary! It really is possible to travel on a budget, the key is knowing how!