Student Profile

The Exchange Student Experience

The Boston area is amazing for many reasons than just its inhabitants. There is an event for every type of individual.
Written by Oscar Bonet

Cambridge, MA, is not my first residence in the United States. During my years as an undergraduate student in San Sebastian, Spain -my home town-, I was given the opportunity to study abroad. I had numerous possibilities from which to choose, but my inner Computer Scientist felt compelled to pick Santa Clara, CA.

So, I relocated to the heart of Silicon Valley for a full term in 2017. I was beyond excited to live the ‘American student’ experience. I was 22 years old, living in a fairly small town, though relatively close to two main US cities, San Jose and San Francisco, dream cities for many. Being a foreign student, just for five months in the area, and obviously on a tight budget… I could not be independent enough to explore Santa Clara’s surroundings as I pleased.

As an exchange student, the experience you gain from the abroad program is in no way comparable to that of a full-time student. Your mindset is just different in the sense that you feel that your time there is fleeting as if you were on vacation. I did travel to a few places nearby and outside of California, but my mindset remained the same: I didn’t belong here, and I knew this experience would be over shortly. Don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful experience there, and I would choose that same location over again if I had the option (I suppose having Silicon Valley on my Resume played a part in that decision). But I can see now that attending University as a full-time student in Cambridge is a very different experience.

The Full-time Student Experience US owed me

Once back in Spain, and after some years working for a reputable last-mile logistics company, I felt the need to pursue a Master’s in Supply Chain Management to expand my knowledge upstream and broaden my Supply Chain scope. There were certainly many options, but none was as MIT. I will not go over the whole application process and how that changed my life. But I am sure you can re-live the thrill of that entire process.

And there I was, eager to return to the United States, back to university. This time, 3,000 miles away from my first home in The States.

The Arrival to the Boston Area

I have been in the Boston area for barely a month, but I can tell why QS Ranking placed Boston as the number one student city in the United States and 10th worldwide.

Since I landed, I had this strange feeling that I bear with me still. I felt incredibly welcomed as if I belonged here. If we stop to analyze it, the amazing number of universities in the area creates a great young and international atmosphere anywhere in Cambridge/Boston. With over 32 universities nearby (National Center for Education Statistics), a mix of cultures and languages is guaranteed. That cultivates an attitude that favors tolerance and openness to learn from the rest. It might be a very simplistic example, but I could link that culture of respect to bicycle acceptance in the city. The sense of safety while you ride far and wide is worth highlighting.

A Boston for everyone

The Boston area is amazing for many reasons than just its inhabitants. There is an event for every type of individual. I was especially surprised by the variety of musicians who perform here, from Latin superstars to absolute rock legends. And the city itself is beautiful and full of entertainment for any plan you seek. Go on a picnic to the Boston Esplanade, facing the Charles River, while you watch the MIT sailors, with the MIT campus in the background. Alternatively, visit one of the many museums nearby if you feel your hunger for knowledge is never quenched. If you feel like enjoying the night, there are a good number of clubs you can check out as well.

Boston and Cambridge are the right examples of the kind of cities you want to live in as a student.