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I've lived in the Boston area for the past two years, and although I considered it a quaint town, it by no means compared to my exciting home city of New York. Now, truthfully, I haven't ventured very often to the other side of the Charles River. In fact, in the past two years, I haven't often ventured outside of Harvard Square.
Sure, I had taken the standard first-year trips to the North End for dinner at La Famiglia's, or to China Town for a birthday dinner at Chau Chau. I often joke about how I pledged to discover other night-life options besides the Grille this school year, and how the two attempts I made to gather a group of friends and go out into Boston drastically failed.
The first time, we ended up eating pasta at Bartley's: worse than dining hall food.
The second time, we actually made it to the city, waited on line for 20 minutes in the freezing cold by some cheesy night club and then turned around and went home.
This summer, I vowed, would be different from the previous two years. Living in an apartment off-campus, I would not be experiencing the typical, sheltered life of a Harvard student. I would be living on my own in a city with new and numerous possibilities.
Without school work and without demanding extracurricular hours, I would get to know Boston. I would make the city my own so that finally, if someone said to me, "It must be so nice to go to school in such a great city," I could agree without sheepishly responding, "I really wouldn't know. I don't go into Boston very often."
The perfect opportunity arose when my research brought me to the State House Library to find information on the Massachusetts public school system. After gathering numerous statistics and journal articles, I decided to walk to J.P. Licks, an ice cream parlor on Newbury Street, which probably has the best frozen yogurt in the Western Hemisphere.
Walking past the State House by the Commons, I passed a neighborhood of narrow, cobblestone streets and red brick brownstones. Within the neighborhood was a street filled with stylish boutiques and trendy, outdoor cafes: Charles Street. I decided to abandon my walk to Newbury Street, a relatively familiar place, to explore this beautiful but foreign section of the city.
What I love about exploring is finding something, whether it be a store, a street or a neighborhood that completely characterizes a city. I found the real Boston on Charles Street in Beacon Hill.
Every city has its tallest skyscraper, its shopping district, but what distinguishes Boston from other cities are its evident and inspiring historic neighborhoods.
On Charles Street, the gas lamps and the branching, narrow, winding, cobblestone streets reminded my of the city I imagined while reading my favorite childhood novels like: Little Women and Johnny Tremain.
Walking down Charles Street, I could envision its society 100 years ago with its community newspaper, local grocer and horse and buggies driving through its cobblestone streets.
Walking through the historic neighborhood, I not only found a lost era, but I found a store that sold J.P. Licks frozen yogurt. I felt rewarded for my curiosity. To mangle the words of Robert Frost: I took the road less travelled, and that made all the difference.
I was angry at myself because this whole year, I had been to the State House a number of times for work and had never explored past the library and the Park Street T Station.
During the year, we live in a bubble sealed off from the outside world. We have our endless work and friends to keep us busy. Harvard Square provides a self-sufficient neighborhood with all the essentials: The Gap and Urban Out-fitters and thrilling night-life at the Grille, the Bow or Spags.
I became so busy during the year, that I forgot how much I love to go out to dinner or even to a movie with friends, or how wonderful it is to read a book that I don't have to write a paper on the next day.
Staying in Boston for the summer, I have relearned how to enjoy myself. I have regained my curious nature and broken out of my hibernating shell. By winter, my exploratory energy will probably fade with the first snow fall, but before then I still have a few days to visit Mount Auburn Cemetery and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. And to eat lots of ice cream.
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