What started in Brussels, ended in Boston. Who knew that a walk to the train station in Brussels after a Fulbright reception, could end up in a joint New Year celebration in Boston 7 months later. As we both didn’t have any plans for the New Year’s holiday, we decided to meet up and have a Belgian reunion in Boston. That is the beauty of being a Fulbrighter, allowing us to connect within and across borders in often unexpected ways and turn these connections into great memories. With this blogpost, we like to share some of these memories.
Together we explored Boston in 4 days and walked around 40 miles in the footsteps of the first European settlers who arrived in the new world in the course of the 17th century. As we walked along the freedom trail, we visited historic landmarks and learned about the history of the United States. Did you know that John Harvard is not actually the founder of Harvard University or that the Boston Common is the oldest public park in the United States? Now we do!
It seems clear that George RR Martin found inspiration in the Bostonian culture for his phrase “winter’s coming”. As the first snow just arrived, we took snow boots out of the closets and prepared our winter gear. Luckily it was just a sprinkling of icing sugar. But the cold was very much present, which resulted in frequent stops at the Starbucks café to heat up with a nice cup of hot chocolate and a loaf of lemon cake.
During our long walks, we were able to compare our experiences with American culture. We both had a great time in the United States so far and met a lot of interesting people from all over the world. We also found out that we share a common interest: food. Luckily, Boston has a lot to offer in this respect and we were able to enjoy typical local dishes such as lobster sandwiches and clam chowder. At the same time, we were reminiscing our Belgian roots and craving real Belgian fries with mayonnaise.
We had such a fun time together that we decided to extend this friendship with another visit. In February we will meet in Dallas, Texas, the land of cowboys and rodeos, but apparently also a booming place for young professionals. This adventure is far from over for the both of us and we will continue to share our journey with eachother, family, and friends (Fulbrighters and non-Fulbrighters). Happy New Year from Boston!
Steffie Junius, 2015-2016 Fulbright visiting researcher at Harvard Medical School
Charlotte Reypens, 2015-2016 Fulbright visiting researcher University of Texas at Dallas