Mittwoch, 9. Oktober 2019

Day 15, September 28 - Day of Departure (TR)

It’s actually day of departure and absolutely no one is ready for that! Our last day started in the very early morning hours.
Secret Rock
In a little group we went to a viewing platform and we had an absolutely stunning view over Boston’s skyline. As usual, we sat down, talked about how unenthusiastic we are about leaving today and we were singing to our song Country Roads - which now will always remind us of our time there in the United States. Thereafter everybody went home to get some sleep before the last day really got started. I didn’t sleep in because I wanted to make the most of the last day. My day started with a delicious breakfast with some of our host brothers, host sisters and Swiss colleagues at Brother’s, a Greek restaurant.
Boston Skyline by night
There they served typical American food – there is no better way to start your day off! During breakfast we had some time to get the rest of the day planned. We decided to go to Market Basket to get some authentic American candies for our families and friends and afterwards we met some of the group at lake Quannapowitt. It was such a sunny and beautiful day to be outside. We gathered there and some played soccer, some were taking the last pictures with their host-sister/brother and some just enjoyed the weather.

Brunch at Brother's
Unfortunately, we didn’t have that much time because most of us had to get packed and prepare themselves for the return trip.
Time went by so fast and we all met at the airport where we had met the first time two weeks ago. It was crazy to think about these two very different situations: when we first met with such excitement and huge smiles on our faces and today it was a big mess of feelings. We were very sad that we had to leave but on the other side we were already looking forward to meeting again in April...

Lake Quannapowitt
For me it was and still is an ongoing amazing experience which I will remember for the rest of my life!


Samstag, 28. September 2019

Day 14, September 27 - Museum of Fine Arts (LB)

Sadly enough, this journey is slowly coming to an end and most of my friends aren't really happy about it either. Last night at my host brother's party, David saw a falling star and expressed his wish out loud: "I wish all Swiss students forgot their passports tomorrow at the airport, I don't want them to leave.” Nevertheless, today was yet another wonderful day.
Our day started like any other at the Commuter Rail Station in Wakefield at 07:25. We took the train to Boston city again, got on the Orange Line, got off at Ruggles and walked over to the Museum of Fine Arts.
Museum of Fine Arts
There, we had a guided tour. Our tour guide introduced us to some tricks and explained in detail with which technique some of the paintings were drawn. Many portraits were from the Renaissance period and were quite impressive. I myself do not belong to those students in my class who focus on creative design, nevertheless, I found it exciting and learned a lot.
On our way to the museum

After the tour we roamed the museum a bit longer, there is so much to see. During our last couple of hours in Boston some friends and I went thrift shopping again. On our way back to North Station, a strange and confused homeless guy suddenly approached us and wanted to talk to us. Even if it was very unpleasant for us, it is important to see that not everybody lives on the sunny side of life and that it is part of big city life as well. 
In the evening, we were in for the ultimate American experience: to go watch a football game. All the Swiss and the American students joined in this adventure and we had our last dinner together.
How sad, that we have to leave tomorrow. I expect the farewell at the airport to  be very difficult for all of us...

Reenacting the painting"The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit" (1882)

Donnerstag, 26. September 2019

Day 13, September 26 - Salem (MH)

It‘s the spooky season. Halloween is just around the corner and we got to see it in action today in Salem. We met at 7:25 at Wakefield commuter rail station, ready to embark on our one-hour train ride to Salem.When in Salem, we went straight to the Salem Witch Museum.
Salem Witch Museum
The city of Salem is famous for its Witch Trials that took place in the late 17th century. In the year 1692, 19 people got hanged because of they were accused of practicing witchcraft. The Salem Witch Museum tells the story of Salem during the time of the trials.
So let the fun begin: you walk inside a large room with all the lights turned off, sit down on a chair and then get to listen to the story of the Witch Trials. For each scene of the story, another spotlight is turned on some human-sized dolls on stages built around the walls. It was very well explained but the fact that we read the play ‚The Crucible‘ by Arthur Miller, which as we know is based on the Witch Trials in Salem, made it much easier to understand.

Street Art in Salem
After this show and the tour at the museum we walked over to the cemetery where some of the hanged people were buried. It was really fascinating to see a town like Salem, with all the little magic stores and the Halloween decoration. You can feel that Salem has an important place in history.
A moment of bliss at Salem harbour

Day 12, September 25 - JFK Library (SF)

JFK Library
Today we went to the JFK Library. It's the museum that got built in honor of former president John F. Kennedy after his presidency. What was most impressing to me at the first look was the construction of that building. There's a huge glass wall and the view of the sea from there is amazing. Inside they have many originals of his possessions and documents, as well as short movies about him. The life of great president Kennedy gets well represented. We learnt about the Cuba Crisis and it was very interesting to see, how he solved a problem that big without any violence. Most of us were amazed by the dresses of his wife Jacqueline, since they're amazingly made. I was wondering why they didn't mention his death and that his life came to an end that surprisingly.
The happy immersion travellers
Afterwards we had lunch, which was a lot of fun as well. We sat down besides the great building and ate and chattered. Later we got very creative in taking pictures - Mrs. Mac Farland started doing handstands and cartwheels as she's really good at that! Some of us joined and we had a great time.
Handstand quartette

In the evening we had dinner. I had my second Mac and Cheese- a food I really got to like here since it's very popular. I chose to go for a children's size and it was perfectly enough. At 9 o'clock we went to Ryan's house where we met some of the other students. The Americans did their homework and we got to chill. All in all it was an amazing day.

Inside of the JFK library

Mittwoch, 25. September 2019

Day 11, September 24 - Plymouth Plantation (EU)

What a surprise, it has rained for the first time since we got here.  But the day was still warm and sunny. On today’s plan was Plymouth Plantation.  It’s a historical museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts, founded in 1947.  It’s the spot where the first pilgrims from England landed on the American continent after their two-month journey on the Mayflower ship. The museum is a replica of the original settlement from 1620 based on first and second-hand records.
Our next adventure: ride on a school bus
We started the trip with a bumpy ride in an original American school bus. It was a little scary because we didn’t wear any safety belts and the bus suspension was not the best.  Nevertheless, it was a really fun ride and a nice experience, because every time we were about to doze off, we were shaken wide awake because of the bumpy highway.
When we reached the sight, we watched a documentary on the Native Americans who had lived there before the settlers arrived and how they dealt with the newly arrived Puritans. After the introductory video we headed out to the different stops on Plymouth.
17th century village
In the English Village there were a number of actors who enacted the villagers of that time. They were all dressed up in their traditional dresses. We were also impressed to meet some Native Americans, who told us about the history and culture of the Wampanoag tribe in a modern way. The Indigenous people lived along the coast during the growing season, planting their crops, e.g. corn and beans. Another important source of food was fish, herbs and wild berries. –

Modern Pilgrims

Wampanoag Homesite
The Native Americans were also experts at building mishoons, boats that they built by using fire to hollow out a tree trunk. - We could ask them any questions we wanted. Overall it was a very interesting and impressive trip and gave us a good insight into how harsh the living conditions must have been during those days. Half of the pilgrims, who had arrived in Plymouth, had died during that first winter.
Native American Woman crafting jewelry

Dienstag, 24. September 2019

Day 10, September 23 - Harvard Campus (FS)

Today we visited the Campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which was founded in 1638 as the first college in New England. It’s named after John Harvard, a donator of many books for its first library.
Ready to explore Harvard
Harvard is one of the world’s best known universities for their law and medical faculty. We were guided by a young student of Harvard. Ever since Harvard was founded the students have lived on campus, which is common here in the United States but not in Switzerland where most of the students live in their private apartments or at home. For their freshman year, the new students are randomly placed in dorms houses named after former Presidents of Harvard. For their second year, they will move to another dorm, this time in groups of roommates of their choice.
In the beginning, only young men were admitted at Harvard. After some time, Radcliffe College was founded. This was where women were allowed to take classes. During World War II there were only a few men attending classes at Harvard University because many were fighting overseas. So for the first time, women were able to take the same classes as the men. Finally, in 1999, the two schools merged together and everyone was treated the same.
One of the oldest buildings is Massachusetts Hall where the president has got his office today.
Harvard Memorial Hall
Another striking building is Harvard Memorial Hall. It contains a huge dining hall, a theater and a monument for the Harvard students who had fought for the Union in Civil War.
We saw a number of other beautiful brick buildings, one including John Harvard Library before it burned down and destroyed all the books and pictures of its founder. So nobody knows exactly what he looked like. So a relative of his served as a model for the favous John Harvard statue which is situated in the yard of the university.
Harvard Museum of Natural History
I was impressed by those old buildings which are still used today and by the diversity of the faculties and the many students, the 400 different clubs to join, the 70 libraries and the immense amount of books as well as the Harvard police.
After a short lunch break we visited the Harvard Museum of Natural History and its glass flower exhibit. We ended the day with a little bit of individual shopping before we returned to Wakefield and our host families.  

Montag, 23. September 2019

Day 9, September 22 - Beach Day (SK) (ER) (AH)

(SK) I think I can say that today was savored by all of us: It’s the last weekend we were able to enjoy with our exchange partners without any school stress.
To begin with, my day was pretty relaxing since I was able to sleep in and only by eleven a.m. we left the house. My exchange partner Kaylee (she’s the best) drove Joy, Márcia and me to Market Street, where we roamed the American stores which of course had negatively affected our poor wallets.
Parking Lot Market Street
After two hours, Kaylee came to pick us up again, since she was at an appointment. We went home, got our beach wear and drove to a beach called Good Harbor. While we were cruising down the road we were singing our lungs out to throwback songs.
Finally, at the beach we met the others, except for a few who had gone to the Patriots game. Sadly we quickly realized, after having a rather disturbing stench in our nostrils that there was, only 170 feet (~50 meters) away, a dead seal.
Good Harbour
We all felt uncomfortable so we left and settle down at another place. There we talked, swam and tanned while listening to mostly country music. To my sad realization, my Swiss peers were utterly confused seeing me wearing black long pants and a thin, I repeat THIN yellow sweatshirt and thoughtfully pointed it out throughout the day. It’s alright though, I’m known for always feeling cold.
Kaylee’s grandmother, called Memere, had her birthday that day, therefore Kaylee, Márcia and me left at around 5:30 p.m. I wanted to get flowers for her but sadly we didn’t have the time, so that’s why I gave Memere a Branche chocolate that I brought along from Switzerland. She was very happy about it. The whole family met up and they were all very lovely and super funny.
Memere's Birthday Cake
To top it all off we had an amazing coffee-blueberry-flavored ice cream cake! It was absolutely delicious, and therefore I went to bed in a splendid mood and a very satisfied tummy.

(ER) Today was a bit of a lazy day, because yesterday evening we had a little party at my partner’s house and I ended up sleeping until 11 AM. When I woke up I wasted some time on my phone until getting breakfast down in the kitchen. My host’s mother made us some French toast with bacon which was absolutely delicious.  After that we went to a friend’s house to watch a match of American football on television – Sunday is football day!
The local team, the New England Patriots, was playing against the New York Jets. Since the Patriots were visibly superior to the other team, the game wasn’t that exciting and we left after about one hour to go to the sea.
Good Harbor
There we met the other people from the exchange program who had already spent most of the day at the beach. It was really hot so I immediately jumped into the refreshing water. We threw some balls, played a bit of baseball and had a lot of fun in the water. But after a while we got hungry and drove down the street to get some sandwiches and pizza.
Back on the beach we ate and enjoyed the last shafts of sunlight. And as you can tell from looking at the pictures, the sunset was breathtaking. When it got dark it also got a little bit chilly so we dug a hole into the sand and looked for some sticks to build a fire.

(AS) Today was a beautiful day. The sky was blue and the sun was shining. It was a perfect day to spend some time at the beach. After everyone had had a delicious breakfast, we jumped into our cars and drove up to Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, Massachusetts. We found a really nice spot.
We were well prepared; some of us even brought some camping chairs and were ready to spread out their picnic blankets on the beach. The water was quite cold, so not everyone went into the water. Some just splashed around with their bare feet.
Beach Life
We listened to some music, played football, swam in the ocean and had a really good time together. The time went by so fast. People started to get hungry and went to get some food.
Then, at around 7 p.m. the sun slowly sank behind the sand dunes, the sky turned red and we got to witness a breathtaking sunset. As soon as it got dark, the guys went to look for some wood, which we then used for the bonfire. Unfortunately, there was not enough wood, so they had to get some firewood from the store. After they had brought back the fire wood, the fire was finally burning.
Someone had brought a guitar and we started to sing a few songs we all knew. It was a great way to round off a picture perfect day.

Enjoying the sunset
Unfortunately, we didn’t find enough wood so we went to buy some. First the fire wouldn’t start because it was really windy but after some time we managed to make a nice little campfire and listened to some music. That has probably been one of my favorite days of the exchange so far – it felt almost like in a movie!

Sonntag, 22. September 2019

Day 8, September 21 - Family weekend (AB) (AR) (CR)

(AB) Since today was Saturday, we didn’t have anything specific planned with the whole class and we had the possibility to create our program for the day ourselves.
After finally sleeping in again, which probably most of us enjoyed very much after the intense days of the past week, some friends picked me up at home and we went to get some bagels for breakfast at the “Bagels World” drive through, I got a chocolate chip bagel with cream cheese and it was probably the best thing I’ve ever eaten. 
The orchard
After enjoying our breakfast in the car, we met with a lot of other exchange students at Connor’s Farm for some apple picking. On the way there I realized, that the distances between different spots are so much bigger than in Switzerland, that’s probably why everybody starts driving a car at the age of 16. The farm was incredibly cute, but also very busy, because the weather was beautiful today; blue sky, about 30 degrees and no clouds. We walked through the orchards and picked some apples, always hopping from shade to shade, because it was so hot in the sun!
After filling our baskets, we visited the little farmers market and had some refreshing apple cider. Most of us wanted to go to the thrift store again in the afternoon, because the last time we went, everybody was so overwhelmed with the size of the store and just like that, we spent another two hours there and did some shopping. In the evening, all of us met for a little ‘get together’ party at the house of one of the American boys. It was really fun, we sat around the fire in the backyard, talked, listened to some music and ate pizza.
Food stalls
Now the first week here in Boston is already over, time is really flying when everybody is having such a good time!

(AR) I got up at 8 p.m. in the morning and had an excellent breakfast it was really delicious. After that we went apple picking, a tradition here in Wakefield. It was a lot of fun. Some students lifted others on their shoulders to grab the best apples so it was amusing to watch them even though we had to duck from the apples practically falling on our heads. It was quite warm so we didn’t stay for a long time. We bought some home-made donuts (of course their flavor was apple) and met some students from the exchange program. We chatted a bit and then got in the car. We drove to a very gigantic mall called Burlington. As we aren’t used to having big malls in Switzerland it kind of impressed me. As we just wanted to shop at Urban Outfitters we did a short stop there and headed to salvation army, a thrift store. We are not used to driving in Switzerland that often because most of us don’t drive and go by bike, so we really appreciate the car drives with some good music and nice weather. As soon as we got to Salvation Army we met other students from the program. We all went completely crazy in there because all the clothes are amazingly inexpensive and we got another 50% off because we already did get some original and extraordinary clothes last Wednesday. After that my exchange partner and me headed home, ate some lunch at 16:00 which is kind of bizarre and we got invited to a small party at Dan’s house because Lily and Hope just turned 18 that day and that was a lot of fun. We ate pizza and s’mores for practically all Swiss students it was the first time we ate it and it is so tasty, so it is definitely not going to be the last time. Then we drove home. Unfortunately half of our stay is already over some people are feeling nostalgic, some still feel the jet lag.

(CR) Today we had a day off, the weather was very nice again after the few colder days. So we decided to go apple picking to experience a typical American autumn farm day -  but with splendid summer weather. To start the day right, we decided to get bagels from Bagel’s World whose bagels are absolutely delicious, I recommend you try them when visiting the States.
After that treat we headed to the Connor’s Farm in Danvers. It was very busy there and the parking was on a dirt road so it was very bumpy which reminded me a bit of the experience on the whale watching boat ;).
The farm was very big and had a lot to offer like train rides for the kids or a lot of food stalls, and it was all cowboy-themed. After getting the empty bags we started to fill them with apples. We walked around the many rows of apple trees and were searching for good apples. The heat made us stop after a rather short while and with our bags full of apples we went to get the famous apple cider donuts, which again were so delicious that I have to recommend them as well. As you might have noticed we are eating quite a lot around here.
After apple picking, we wanted to go to this one thrift store called Salvation Army because we still had this 50% off card. So we all drove there and thrifted for a few hours. After that, we were all pretty tired so everyone went home to relax.
Guess what? At home we were to try yet another typical American dish, Mac and Cheese, which of course was also delicious.
We watched our favorite Disney movie Tangled and had our little girls night with
face masks and the like. After that, we headed to one of the exchange student's house to celebrate the birthday of two girls of the exchange program. It was a lot of fun to hang around with everybody and eat more traditional American dishes like smores, pizza, etc. After a funny night with lots of talking and laughing, everyone went home to rest and get some energy for another fulfilled day ahead.

Happy apple pickers

Day 7, September 20 - Whale watching (FB)

Boston Skyline
A rollercoaster ride – I think is a good definition for today’s adventure.
The jet lag seemed to have left all of us, as we looked quite fit when we met at the station early in the morning. We walked up to Bunker Hill Monument and climbed the 294 steps and enjoyed a spectacular view of the city. -Later on we went to the harbor.
At first, I didn’t know what to expect when I heard the term “whale watching”.
So, in case you feel as ignorant as I felt, let me quickly break it down for you. Whale watching consists of getting onto a big boat, driving high speed (for about an hour) to then reach a far-off place where you can see some whales. “No guarantee” said one of the staff member trying to explain to me that maybe we wouldn’t even see any whales. Leaving the port we could see the beautiful Boston skyline glowing in the vertically shining sun.
It was only after around thirty minutes that a few of us got sea-sick. While there were some people having a blast at the very front of the boat, there were some suffering in the back. We took turns taking care of the sea-sick and once the motions stopped, we had reached the place from where we could clearly see the whales. A guy speaking through a microphone directed our eyes to where we could see them.
I still can’t understand why the word “whale” is used for describing something bulky and dull. On the contrary these giants of the sea surprised me by their elegance. There was something about the way they gently moved right above the surface that made everyone on the boat take their phones out and record it.
Sun Fish

Besides whales we were able to see a few dolphins, seals and even a sun fish. It was a quite emotional day for us as a group, and it ended as a great experience!
Whale spotting

Freitag, 20. September 2019

Day 6, September 19 - Freedom Trail (KB)

Paul Revere House
Today we did our presentations, which we had to prepare in Switzerland, about the Freedom Trail in Boston. We met at 07:25 at the train station, but some people got there a bit earlier, because our host brothers and sisters had to go to school. It was very odd without them, because we got so used to being around them that it felt like something or rather somebody was missing and it was kind of boring!
The first place we visited was the Holocaust Memorial, even though that stop  wasn’t included as one of the attractions on which we were to hold our presentations. It was very overwhelming and I think of all the stops we visited, this one is the most unforgettable.
Faneuil Hall was next, but it was wrapped in an Ikea plastic bag and the shops inside were still closed. So we continued at the Old South Meeting House, went on to Kings Chapel and Burying Grounds, on to Paul Revere House. The next stop was The Old North Church and then across the bridge to visit the USS Constitution.
Bunker Hill would have been our last stop, but we postponed it to tomorrow since we were all very tired from walking and listening to our presentations and the guide’s tours.
Old North Church Court
During lunch break, some of us used the time to do a little bit of shopping. It was kind of scary for me, because I was afraid I’d get lost in Boston. But we easily found our way back to the meeting point.
After this first day in Boston I can say, the city is simply overwhelming and has a lot to offer!
Before heading back to Wakefield, we stopped at Market Street and watched some guys doing an acrobatic show on the turf. We did a lot of walking today, so in the end we felt a little exhausted, however the Freedom Trail was great and we rounded off the day with a relaxing evening back in Wakefield.
USS Constitution
Enjoying a short swing

Day 5, September 18 - Fieldtrip (ID)

State House Tour
So here we are at day five, a quarter of the way through our stay in Boston! Today was our actual first time IN Boston and it was absolutely beautiful. After we arrived at Boston Common, the teachers let us walk around for about 30 minutes. Most of us just got coffee and then we gathered back in the park and went up to the State House. There we got a tour guide, that told us all about the architecture, the history and some fun facts about the place. After that, we went back to the underground, a few stops further into the city and got out at the Charles river to get on the so-called Duck-Tour.
Inside of the State House
At first, it seems like your typical tourist-bus-tour around the city, but the vehicle actually turns into a boat, with which you can drive on the river!
The legendary Ducktour
Our group was split into two, each getting on a different vehicle, so we didn’t quite have the same experience as far as tour guides are concerned, or so I was told. What I can tell you, is that our tour guide was pretty funny but the other one apparently “disliked his job”. Well what can you do.
After the tour, everyone was starving and freezing, since the sun decided to hide behind the clouds at that moment. We finally made it to our lunch location, which was a place called Fire and Ice, where they have an all-you-can-eat buffet, that gets thrown on the grill for you. I think it’s fair to say that everyone was very thrilled and enjoyed the vastness of the buffet.
Fire and Ice
To burn the calories of our lunch, we then gathered at the library and were allowed another half an hour of free time in the city, so we got our exercise by walking to different coffee places.
Finally, after the 30 minutes of re-caffeineation, we made our way back to Wakefield with the train; from there we all parted our separate ways into the evening. What a day it had been!

Mittwoch, 18. September 2019

Day 4, Tuesday September 17 - Shadowing (MB)

Fenway Park
Like yesterday, today was dedicated to shadowing our host brothers and sisters. But as for today we didn’t go with our own hosts but someone new, to see a different schedule. Most of us got up really early again. But as the jetlag still is clinging on to us, a lot of us were already awake by the ringing of the alarm clock. The benefit of going to school that early is that you see the sun rising behind the train tracks at the horizon while driving to school. After another short lunch and some other impressions of the American school, we participated in some ice-breaker games to get to know each other better. Not only does our group harmonize really well but also we get along amazingly already.
Reading up on the rules of baseball
After school some of us went to Target to learn about another part of American culture. My host sister told me that they actually hang around in places like that, being loud and talkative. So this is what we exactly did as well. Our exchange partners asked if we wanted to try Cheetos, so we had our very first Cheetos. After being introduced to another American snack, our ways parted again and we met up later to go to the Red Sox game all together. Most of us dressed up in Red Sox merch. We travelled by train where we witnessed a beautiful sunset over the city. And then we set our first steps on the ground of Boston and went to the Stadium. We were all very excited and you could already hear us from a mile away. Fenway Park is actually the oldest ballpark around here. It was really impressive to see a stadium like this with all kinds of advertising signs, for example the red glowing Coca Cola sign. The atmosphere was captivating. Especially when the whole stadium was singing Sweet Caroline. Although singing might be an exaggeration. The baseball game itself was only secondary as most of us didn’t fully grasp it. With our train ride back home another day full of exciting experiences, laughter and good times found to an end.
Having a blast at Fenway Park

Montag, 16. September 2019

Day 3, Monday September 16 - Shadowing (JA)

Wakefield Memorial High School
On the program today was shadowing our host sisters and brothers at Wakefield Memorial High School. Most of us got up between 06:00 and 06:30 (which is really early for our standards). Our exchange partners drove us to school where we met at 7.20 for our short Swiss homeroom.
Going to school all day with our host sisters/brothers, we noticed how different their school system is from ours.
For example, they have a 4-minute break in between each block which makes the classes start at seemingly odd times like for instance at 9:51! Can you believe that their lunch break only lasts for 20 minutes? Or that only Mathematics and English are compulsory whereas all the other classes they get to choose and thereby basically create their own schedule?
But the greatest difference between their school and ours is probably the fact that the
students are not allowed to leave the school until they’re done! There are some guards for that purpose who make sure that nobody gets in or out of the building before school is over.
Later on, we met with our teachers and the American students held some presentations about the American lifestyle. They told us about their sports teams, traditional American food, school activities and much more.
I have to admit that I was a little bit shocked to see how thoroughly structured a school day of American students is.
After school, some girls were having dance practice. Some of the Swiss student watched them taking this typically American dance class where they did Cheerleading and other dance styles as well.
Later on today, we all went to watch the boys’ soccer game and then rounded the day off with a delicious meal at Fuddruckers’. We might have had a little too much food. That’s how we finished our first day of shadowing at an American high school! An experience both rich in fun and sugar!
US Presentations