I left the last blog as we were preparing to set off to the ball. The boys were all apparently disappointed with the occasion, saying that the dancing was better last year (something I couldn’t really help fix) and the DJ wasn’t as good. So not a lot to report there – I’m sure you can well imagine the excitement for ageing teachers trying hard to stay awake sitting on a concrete floor amongst smoke and extremely loud music (I realise that description makes me officially old) with nothing but a bottle of water allowed by way of consolation.
But Tuesday was a good day – the juniors went off to compete in the Bowl and to collect their alpacas and the seniors caught an early bus to Boston. It was a lengthy journey and lots of people slept – my journey was made more interesting by Emerson providing a potted history of America for me (who had no knowledge of what had happened out here). I felt slightly embarrassed to be British as I learnt about some of the awful things my predecessors had done, but was very pleased to have now learnt some American history. Our tour guide for the Boston Freedom Trail was animated and fabulous and really knew her stuff. I was slightly embarrassed that I thought she was in costume, but the students assured me they were her normal clothes. We walked the Freedom Trail – a 2.5 mile trail of bricks through the town, stopping at various points to admire statues and buildings and hear about the Boston Tea Party (which involved enough tea for 18.5 million cups being dumped into the harbour) and the Boston Massacre which surprisingly involved the loss of only five people when British (sorry again) soldiers fired into a rioting crowd. Lunch at Quinsey Markets was memorable in terms of the volume of Mac Cheese (sic) that was cooked in front of us and consumed with gusto. We even got a box of Boston cream pies for dessert – I decided this was a justifiable cultural experience.
M.I.T. was next – I think I would have liked it more if it hadn’t been raining. I have many decades of Welsh rain to make up for and do struggle to remain positive when damp. I learnt that M.I.T. offers lots of different subjects (not just technological/engineering type ones, as I had previously thought) and that it has a strong rivalry with Harvard, particularly in the area of football. I was amused to find that sport does play such a huge part in university life here – apparently some students seem to get places based on their sporting prowess rather than for any academic reasons.
It rained even more at Harvard. Another fantastic tour guide, this time wearing a boater and mini skirt with wellington boots, which was quite fetching in a weird sort of way. She spoke of all sorts of famous ex-Harvard students I’d never heard of and we learnt about the many pranks the students play as well as some fairly strange Harvard traditions. The memorial hall we visited was beautiful, with lovely stained glass windows and impressive surrounds. The dining hall is apparently almost identical to that depicted in Hogwarts.
After a lengthy day of travel (it took us about two and a half hours to drive back to Yale) we were really tired and picked up our dinner at the Omni Hotel before waiting for the cultural fair to open. We met up with the junior team and were eventually let in to a beautiful ball room with chandeliers and the noise of thousands of students distributing ‘authentic’ things that represented their country. I was unclear about how typical the things they displayed were in terms of representing where they came from – the Australian stall consisted of lots of small koalas made in China and a blow up kangaroo, for example, but everybody seemed to have fun and it was good to see the boys meeting up and socialising with kids from so many countries all over the world.
Tomorrow will be our last day and we’ll need to pack up today, given that we are picked up from the hotel at 4 am. I suspect there won’t be much conversation on the journey to JFK.
Dr Julie Harris
Subscribe to receive latest updates from our blogs