Photo by Mark Olsen on Unsplash

Bags packed, work delegated, family excited and mentally ready for the once-in-a-lifetime experience is what was on my mind as I made the final arrangements for my trip to the Harvard Business School (HBS) in Boston for the Advanced Management Program. In addition, two thoughts were at the back of my mind as I boarded the flight to Boston at the end of August. The first thought was from my company’s HR Director who, the day before had said quite a few times “You will love Boston.”

The other from a friend who had done the same program a few years ago was “You will enjoy running along the Charles River.”

Looking back to my stay in Boston, that has recently ended, I can certainly say that I fell in love with Boston and running along the Charles River was one of my highlights. As my short time in Boston was drawing to a close I was finally beginning to grasp what poet E.B. White meant when he wrote:

There’s something in the Boston scene

So innocent, so tranquil,

It takes and holds my interest

The same as any bank will.

For Boston’s not a capital,

And Boston’s is not a place;

Rather I think that Boston is

A sort of state of grace.

Harvard Square, only a short distance from the HBS campus across the Charles River, was a great meeting, shopping and dining place. The Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority’s system, more commonly known as the “T,” that was a confusing mix of stops and transfers, at the beginning soon became a trusted mode of transport after I bought my Charlie card and with the help of Bostonians and the subway map, learnt my way around the Green, Orange, Red, and Blue lines. A big lesson, learnt the hard way, at the beginning was the importance of deciphering whether I needed an outbound or inbound train!

It didn’t take long for me to figure out that sports are a major part of the Boston’s culture. I guess this is not surprising given that Boston is home to several major league sports teams, including the Boston Red Sox (baseball), Boston Celtics (basketball), and Boston Bruins (ice hockey) and the New England Patriots (football). I had an opportunity, with my living group,  to go to the TD Garden for the Bruins and Celtics matches and to the Gillette stadium for a Patriots match. For all the matches, I quickly became part of the screaming mass shouting “Let’s go Bruins!!”, “Let’s go Celtics!!”, “Let’s go Patriots!!” One thing is certain – Boston sports teams have a huge and dedicated following with fans that have a fanatical devotion to them.

During breaks from the case studies at HBS, Boston gave me, in addition to the opportunities to cheer for hometown sports teams, run along the Charles River, and to explore the life at Harvard Square, opportunities to relive history, immerse myself in the arts, explore museums and drink at a famous bar. The must-see sights and attractions in Boston that gave me these opportunities are:

  • Freedom Trail – a walk along the two-and-a-half-mile Freedom Trail was a great way to get acquainted with Boston and to efficiently visit the city’s bounty of historic landmarks.
  • Boston Public Garden – adjacent to Boston Common this is the United States’ oldest botanical garden.
  • The Faneuil Hall marketplace – this indoor-outdoor market was a great place for both shopping and dining.
  • Fenway Park – sadly I couldn’t score tickets to a Red Sox game. I made up for this with a behind the scenes tour of Fenway Park, the historic home of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox.
  • Museum of Science – the Museum of Science at Science Park with its more than 400 interactive exhibits, an IMAX theater and a planetarium was as good as it can get with museums for me.
  • New England Aquarium – once inside, I found myself immersed in an amazing watery world with sea lions, penguins, turtles, sea urchins, electric eels and anacondas. The green anacondas in the Amazon Rainforest exhibit were the highlight of my trip.
  • Museum of Fine Arts – I was enthralled by the Art of the Americas Wing and various other spectacular changing exhibitions.
  • Cheers Boston – famous as the inspiration for the television show Cheers that I grew up watching, the former Bull & Finch Pub, was a great place to visit with lots of souvenirs for sale and should I add, very expensive pub food.
  • Boston Harbor –The two hour luncheon cruise through Boston’s Inner and Outer Harbor was great! We had an engaging narrator who regaled us with all kinds of fun, informative anecdotes of Boston’s history. From the spacious decks, the views of Boston and its many highlights, including the USS Constitution, Old North Church, Boston Light and the Boston Harbor Islands made the trip memorable.

Boston is indeed a one-of-a-kind American city – an iconic city. In fact, it’s one of the world’s great cities. It has been said that one of the reasons the world knows Boston so well is that Boston opens its heart to the world. Boston certainly opened its heart to me and the many other students from across the globe that Harvard and other Boston universities welcome every fall.

Thank you Boston for being a great host city and making my time at the Harvard Business School memorable! I left with a piece of you tucked firmly into my heart.