Auslandsexkursion Boston, MA, USA
Intensive Language Course of the 5th Year
in Boston, Massachusetts, USA
23 09 15 – 04 10 15
Ready for take-off
We were the first class in the history of our school who had the great opportunity to spend an intensive language course in the States, to be exact, in Boston, MA, for 12 days.
In the afternoon on 23th September, 17 students of 5th class accompanied by Mrs. Birgit Ulrich, our English teacher and three other attendants met at Vienna airport. There we joined the Forestry Technical High School student group with their teachers Mr. Jörg Niederhammer and Mr. Andreas Reinprecht.
Not only that our trip took many hours to get to US, but also we had a stop-over at London Heathrow airport and we had a late arrival at Logan International Airport in Boston.
Beantown or Lobstertown
Boston is the capital city of Massachusetts, located on the eastern coast and well known for many historical and cultural attractions. In contrast to other cities of the US, Boston is comparatively small with about 650,000 inhabitants in the centre. It is exceptional, though because of its quiet and clean surroundings. Its name Beantown derives from one of their traditional dishes, Bostonian bean soup. It is a simple dish, which apart from the famous Bostonian chowder, a fish soup with cream and mostly potatoes or the freshly caught lobster, are famous components of the local cuisine.
Language courses @ EC
Still a bit tired by the flight, we started our first day at EC, our language school. We had to take a placement test, which was necessary for our 10 days of intensive language training. Altogether, we were grouped into three classes which took place either in the morning or in the afternoon.
In school we learned more about Boston and the American lifestyle and at the same time we worked on our pronunciation and general speaking, as well as listening and reading competences.
On the last day at school we had our graduation ceremony, with music and speeches made by our instructors. Finally we received our certificates and took photos of this special event.
About our excursions
Apart from attending EC, we enjoyed a great number of excursions. We spent the first afternoon on the Prudential Skywalk, one of the highest buildings in the city. In addition to the incredible view, we got to know Boston and its history from up there. On the following day we explored Boston by a trolley tour, which is a bus tour where we saw all the important and interesting sights of Boston, e.g. the old State House, or the famous Boston Common, the Bostonian “Central Park”. On Saturday 26th we undertook a tour around the campus of Harvard University, which once was the first university in the US. And today still is one of the best in the country.
Everyone was looking forward to Sunday, though, when the day trip to New York City was due.
It took us about 3.5 hours by coach to get there. First our tour guide showed us lots of interesting places of the Big Apple like the Wall Street, Time Square and the Rockefeller Centre, where we enjoyed the view from the 63th floor. We also decided for a ferry boat trip around Staten Island to see the Statue of Liberty. Before leaving New York, we had the chance to explore the city on our own and had time for a stroll or a meal or shopping in 5th Ave; walking through the Central Park was also an option.
Back in Boston, our teachers then organised a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts and to the Museum of Natural History at Harvard. Both of them had really impressive exhibits, we could have spent many more hours in any of these places.
On a very bright and sunny Monday a speed boat took us far out on to the ocean for a whale watch. We really observed humpback, minke whales and dolphins, so closely, we could sometimes see their fins and eyes clearly.
Suitable for the incoming bad weather was an indoor activity on Thursday. So we went to Loews Theatre to watch a movie like "Black Mass" or "Everest".
The last activity for that week was going for a walk at Arnold Arboretum, which is a huge green natural reserve, way out of the city. This collection of over 2000 species of trees and bushes made a relaxing and quiet difference to the busy city.
Arriving at Boston, we were received by staff members of the language school and we got introduced to our welcoming host families. In groups of two or three students we were accommodated in one host family. In some of the hosts there were also other students from different nationalities. Spending time with the family was also a very helpful way to improve our English skills. Some families took their guests, so us, out for lobster fishing or even showed them their weekend houses at the vast beaches at the coast, e.g. in Winthrop.
Comparison of lifestyles – Bostonian versus Austrian or Styrian
The first thing we realized right at our arrival was the enormous friendliness of the Bostonians. For them it's common to talk to foreigners or to be helpful to people they have never met.
Another point is their daily routine. Compared to the earliness of the Austrians, the Bostonians get up late, but also work late. Thus, a common time to start is around nine a.m. and finishing time is hardly ever before 8 or 9 p.m.
Let's not forget about the different nutrition. Convenience foods, junk food and sugary food items are clearly more usual and popular than in here, but on the other hand international cuisine is part of their daily diet. No question, changing from Thai to Malaysian, Mexican or Japanese dishes from day to day is nothing special. Mind however, that none of these dishes is homemade, but picked up at the numerous self service restaurants in town.
Finally also many traditions and values of the Bostonians are different to the Austrian or Styrian way. What was striking, were the American flags as a sign of their national pride on most public buildings and also malls.
Was the excursion worth its effort?
Absolutely! Because of the tight organisation of a concise language programme and excursions, we could boost our English and get lots of impressions of Boston. Although it was not the cheapest journey, we shouldn't forget that it was an enormous chance to explore the US a bit in just 12 days. Those memories are precious - we all agree on that.
Johanna Derler 5. Jg.