A month ago, I moved for the first time in my life.
I grew up in a small surf town on the Central Coast of California, with a graduating class of 180 students. In Boston, everything is the polar opposite of my hometown.
Here are the five things that surprised me the most, and how I’m learning to live with them.
- The T
My mom always jokes that crossing Commonwealth Avenue is especially dangerous, as there are six things that can kill you: bikes, cars, and the T – and then again, coming from the other direction!
When I moved to Boston, I was overjoyed to have public transportation at my fingertips after living in a place where a car was necessary to get anywhere. I quickly learned, however, that the T is not reliable.
The weekend before classes started, the train I was on shut down in a tunnel; the lights and engine cut out in pitch black. The collective sigh of depressed acceptance from the other passengers was not reassuring.
Now, I make sure I leave extra time when I am taking the T to get somewhere.
- The Heat
Warren Towers was a sauna for the first few weeks. Unfortunately, I lived there – on the thirteenth floor.
Without AC, I was about ready to sell my soul to a dusty, university-issued box fan. Even in front of an open window, it just blew the hot air around.
In my hometown, it’s always 60 degrees and foggy, so the Boston summer heat felt especially harsh. I was appalled at how sticky and sweaty I would feel after just a few minutes in my room.
My solution was to find other places to study, like the blessedly frigid Computing and Data Sciences building.
- Communal Laundry
The first time I did laundry in Warren, the girl at the washer next to me was almost in tears. Her favorite white shirt had been stained a splotchy yellow. She claimed it was because she hadn’t separated her loads.
I heard horror story after horror story about the machines leaking water onto the floor, and even students leaving bleach in the washers. I waited for the heartbroken girl to leave.
Then, I did the naïve thing and threw everything in the washer, hoping for the best.
Honestly, I don’t know how it has worked out for me so far. I don’t separate by colors. I dry my delicates. It’s up to fate at this point.
I couldn’t believe my eyes the first time I walked down Commonwealth Avenue and spotted a little bunny hopping in the grass by the sidewalk. I didn’t expect to see any animals in the city beyond rats and pigeons, so this was a surprise.
I like this aspect of Boston. I find it endearing how animals can thrive in urban environments, and it reminds me of home. In California, I work at a summer camp where bunnies are raised.
I’ve also seen many turkeys and geese roaming Boston, but the rabbits are still my favorite. I just wish the city wildlife would stay still long enough for a photo!
In California, basements are simply not a thing. In Boston, they are everywhere.
The day before I moved in, my parents and I ate breakfast at a Cambridge diner, and I asked our eccentric waitress where the bathroom was. She told me it was down in the basement, and that if I felt like I was about to be murdered, I was in the right place! Lovely!
I was still confused, so our waitress led me through the kitchen, and down the world’s steepest, narrowest stairs, to the basement. I had to duck my head. Then, she pretended to turn into a troll and lead me to her lair, complete with a creepy Gollum voice.
I made it to the bathroom fine, but it was very strange… I guess I’m not used to Boston basement humor!