Summer in the city: Family experience in Cambridge/Boston, USA

Boets_MIT As summer fades away, it may be time to share some experiences of family life in Cambridge, Boston. With my wife and four children, we had a really nice summer time and a refreshing cultural experience around the MIT lab and Harvard hospital that I am working in. Even though Boston feels very European, I must admit that the people are much more communicative and sociable than in Belgium. Also the fact that our entire luggage was lost on the flight and did not arrive for six days, certainly added to our integration in the neighborhood, as many neighbors offered us encouragement and clothes, sunhats and sandals to survive these first days (it was about 35° C when we arrived in June). TeunKever We live in a small street with a shared courtyard, and virtually all of our neighbors are scientists, professors or medical doctors. Although Cambridge/Boston is a world city, it still feels very manageable, like a village. Illustrative for this small-world feeling is the discovery that the neighbor next-door is the neurologist with whom I am currently having a scientific discussion in Science about the causes of dyslexia and another neighbor is the co-author of an autism paper that I recently had to review for a journal. walvis_skelet Boston offers a lot of scientific but also cultural opportunities. So, while I work in the lab, my family members attended about twenty museums and exhibitions (MIT Museum, Science Museum, Museum of Natural History, Children Museum, New England Aquarium, …). They also visited more than 50 (!) different playgrounds and parks, as literally on every corner of the street you encounter them. During summer many of the parks organize free child activities (sport and play and water games) and even picnics and concerts, which offer plenty of opportunities for integration. Likewise, becoming member of the public library system also offers many advantages. Besides the obvious possibility of renting books, films and music, the libraries offer many cultural and educational activities, like theater and Lego construction afternoons … Some of these activities are rather spectacular. For instance, if I would see an announcement about ‘Animals in the library’ in Belgium, I would expect a moderate afternoon about animal stories. Not here! My children were very excited to touch a living alligator, skunk, python, hedgehog etc. and get a detailed explanation of a biologist, all in the library. Finally, library member ship also offers coupons and considerable reduction for many museums, excursions and exhibitions. kidsBord In sum, living and working in this city is not only a professional enrichment, but also an inspiring experience for each of our family members. Next time, I will tell you more about the continuously great weather, whale watching, beavers, squirrels and snakes, and … possibly also about science … – Bart Boets, 2014 Fulbright Visiting Scholar, Cambridge, MIT – Harvard Medical School]]>