I’ve lived in Boston for two weeks now and to say that it is a culture shock would be a very large understatement. There are quite a few things I’ve learned in these two weeks; things that have surprised, annoyed, and impressed me.
1. Drivers here are nowhere near as bad as people seem to think. In fact nearly everyone I have come across has been considerate. I think the misconception of Boston (and more generally Massachusetts) drivers comes from the the reality that driving conditions and road types vary from one place to another. If you’re not from an area, you’re more than likely going to have trouble driving there. It took me a bit to adjust to the way the streets work here and I have no doubt that my adjustment has been problematic for the locals.
2. Nearly every gas station is full service. I may be generalizing here, but I have come across only one gas station in my somewhat immediate area that is self-service. It’s a ratio of close to ten to one here, which is something to which I am not accustomed. I’m the type of person who hates full service stations because I am put in a situation where I feel obligated to tip for something that I can easily do myself. No bueno!
3. There are more one way streets than anything else. It seems like nearly every single street in Greater Boston only goes in one direction, which for someone from Western Mass is very confusing and makes adjustment difficult. My guess is that in terms of urban planning, there is a very good reason for it, but I have yet to figure out what that reason is. Maybe it’s just because the streets are so narrow and compact.
4. The rate of obesity seems small here. I initially thought that there would be a greater distribution of overweight and obese people because of the mere fact that so many jobs here involve office work, which contributes heavily to a sedentary life. I guess I never really took into account the amount of exercise people get solely from walking and commuting to and from work. Parts of Western Mass are rife with people on motor scooters. Pittsfield has a motor scooter store right on one of it’s main streets; the very same main street where people ride their scooters up and down with no real destination. While some may actually have medical conditions, my guess is that many do not.
5. There is a Dunkin Donuts on every corner. Some corners even have two. Being that I am from Massachusetts, I am well aware of how we “run on Dunkins.” I had no idea, however, that it was THAT prevalent in the Boston area. I have at least a dozen all within a one mile radius. Imagine how much money Dunkin Donuts makes from the people of this city who are just too lazy to make their own coffee in the morning.
6. Everything is closer than it seems. I keep on flashing back to my freshman orientation at UMASS during the summer before school. The campus seemed immense to me at the time. When I returned in the fall and spent a few days on campus, however, I came to realize that the campus was nowhere near as large as I remembered it. Everything was within walking distance. While Boston’s many attractions aren’t within immediate walking distance, the city and surrounding area really isn’t that big. What makes it seem so much larger is the number of people and buildings per square mile. In actuality, Boston is arguably small.
7. If you want good food, you’re going to have to pay more. While out here I have ordered food from several places. Many of those places were on the cheaper side and epitomized the idea of “you get what you pay for.” In the past I came across numerous little gems where the food was great, the service was unbeatable, and the value was actually value. It will probably take some time to weed out the duds around here, but (from what I’ve gathered) if I want good food, I need to get over the idea that I can get it cheap.
8. Diversity is an essential part of the city’s continued growth. While Western Mass definitely isn’t a stranger to diversity and various cultures coming together, it seems like Greater Boston is home to even more cultures than I could have imagined. In my immediate area alone, we have countless individuals who speak languages from Spanish and Portuguese to Creole. The communities here are much larger than that of Pittsfield and offer more of a chance to interact with people of various backgrounds and ethnicity.
9. Boston is a proud city. Many of us think we understand the pride that this city exudes, but there is no way we can fully comprehend it until we’ve lived here, interacted with the locals, and experienced many of the things that the city has to offer. It may sound crazy, but in my two weeks here I can already feel the strength in its people and the solidarity running through their veins. The city continually shows it’s strength and the community is definitely not to be trifled with.
10. The possibilities are limitless. With any big city, opportunities are abundant and options are without bounds. When it comes to food, employment, entertainment, shopping, etc, you have more options than you know what to do with. Boston holds so much promise on so many levels; something that Pittsfield and many other western mass cities and towns lack. It provides the means to be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want to do. What could be better than that?
It’s definitely going to take some time to fully transition into big city life and find my niche in this little part of the world, but I have no doubt that with enough time and experience, I’ll find whatever it is that I’m looking for and maybe in the process find a little bit more of myself.
Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry