Boston is by far the most balanced quality-of-life city I've ever been to. By “quality-of-life,” I mean you can live your life without the fear of violence. In Brazil, I’ve gotten used to always being “alert”: I have to watch my purse while walking in the streets and never ever walk alone at night. All this was normal for me and, to be honest, I didn’t realize how stressful it is. On the BU campus, gradually, I relaxed and changed my modus operandi. It will be hard to accept anywhere else different from here again.
Once you enter New England you will fall for this very unique and historic place that, even rarer, has a great appreciation for its history and traditions. Its architecture combines the best of the old and new and you can also see this in terms of tradition and tolerance. Bostonians have an admirable civic spirit and are pleasant to deal with.
You're at the subway station, waiting for the “T” (Boston’s subway system). Then, while in the station to buy your ticket, there is a Bostonian in the way trying to find some penny inside their pockets. You wait for him to step aside. Then he realizes that you are there and rises to his feet, consternated, saying: “Sorry! Sorry!” It’s not a big deal, I can wait. But here, phrases like, “I’m sorry,” “Excuse me,” and, “Good morning,” are used all the time. I am almost embarrassed by such consideration. I know I shouldn’t get impressed with such kindness and politeness, but, believe me, not every place knows these words.
Speaking about the T, the public transportation here REALLY works. It is clean and comfortable. If you live on campus, the shuttle can take you anywhere related to your academic life, on time.
Punctuality. I learned a lot about it here. It's simple. If a meeting is scheduled at 10:30 it will start at 10:30. During my first months here, I felt funny when someone apologized about being late five minutes. In Brazil, five minutes late is to arrive on time. In my country, if you invite your friends to your birthday party at 8:30, in reality, you are expecting them to show up around 9:00. Here in US it doesn’t work like that, even if you are very busy or very important. This is something I learned from the Americans: be on time. Punctuality is a sign of respect.
Moreover, I’ve realized since being here that there’s no such thing as the “Brazilian Way” around here. Americans follow the rules "by the book." This lack of flexibility can be annoying, but it's better this way, because the rule is applied and equal for everyone. You know what to expect, and it's fair.
Lastly, I learned that things that seemed trivial to me in Brazil, such as having a clean house, washed and ironed clothes, and a perfectly made bed, are a real luxury. Here, this type of service is very expensive. Therefore, I have to admit that taking care of domestic services by myself somehow made me a better person. Of course I miss my housekeeper, but living in a dorm gave me a different perspective of life, made me more practical, more settled, and more independent. And that's good.