Ok, you’ve decided to come to Boston, the last great city on the East Coast. Before we move on, let us acknowledge that we live on the land of the Massachusett, the natives of this state. With that said, let’s talk about some tips on living in Boston. I’m assuming you’re either coming to school, internationally or domestically, or just moving in from job. Since I am an international grad student at Boston University from India, my tips will weigh in that direction.
- The Weather: If you’re coming in Fall, get a fan the first 1 month, it’ll be hot and you’ll need the fan anyway in a bit. Look for people selling it on Facebook groups, but even on marketplace, they’re not too expensive. Clothing wise: A bunch of relaxed fit t-shirts are important, and then when it starts getting colder, go to TJMaxx and get a couple of jackets (one for Fall, one for Winter). I didn’t need snow shoes because it didn’t snow much, but Columbia has decent boots for 70-100$.
- The Groceries: There’s a few markets where you get fresh produce, but I am lazy and never understood the charm of fresh produce when Star Market seems to be just fine. I mostly eat out, or when my girlfriend or friend cooks, I’ll eat inside. Works out fine, but you can be much healthier and save a lot more by just cooking yourself. Again, George Sherman Union has a bunch of good food options.
- On packing: I prefer to pack light, but my parents, being the typical Indian parents, with their best intentions packed heavy and kept sending me things. Unless you’re very attached to an Indian brand of food, I’d not pack any food. Utensils are cheap to buy in dollar trees (1$ for a set of spoons). Buying winter clothing from India is useless unless you’re from the Himachal (refer to point 1). Pack light so your flight is easy and good, but this is variable, if you feel more comfortable packing heavy, then do that. But if you’re stopped by TSA, it’ll be a tough time. Also: on Logan Airport, it’s 6$ to rent a cart to move your luggage. I didn’t have 6$ on me, so a nice man gave it to me.
- If you’re international: When you land, go get a sim card from any local store and then try it in your current phone. If your phone doesn’t support 5G, but works on LTE, you’re still good to go. 5G eats up battery, and I personally don’t use phone for high quality surfing, so never needed it. Once you try out your sim and it works, go to literally any Chase or Bank of America and open an account. For example, I wasn’t getting any appointments for Chase near BU on the commonwealth avenue because everyone was booking appointments at the same time, so I just went to Watertown and got it done.
- Re: Waiting: If you come from a fairly privileged life in, say India, you’re used to salespeople doting on you while you shop, you’re used to walking in to barbershops, doctor’s clinics and such. But here, in Boston, you’re on your own for pretty much everything. It’s a more equal society, so it’s pretty rare to find a shopkeeper following you around as you shop at H&M or something. I personally love this, it gives me space and when we’re all treated somewhat equally, we can all enjoy our lives a little bit more. In India, it is pretty common to snap or whistle at waiters, older folks especially do this a lot. Do not even think of doing this, be cordial. Ideally, you should bring this behaviour back to your country and treat everyone with utmost respect and etiquette, especially the people handling your food and such.
- Re: Tipping: 15-30% is standard, do not be the person who doesn’t tip, Indians already have a bad reputation. If you can’t afford to tip, avoid going out. Tipping is a part of the culture here, and you may have some problems with this (either based on your personal interest or more from an empathetic view that servers have to depend on generosity), but that won’t change tipping as a norm. So tip your share, don’t punish the servers for your disagreements with society. More here.
- Doctors and stuff: Make sure you’re 100% immunised for everything you need to be before you come to USA. Once you land, book a CVS appointment to get HPV and Flu shots. You should save your Aetna health insurance card on your device, you can get your insurance cards here (sometimes it doesn’t work, if so, call BU’s health office or whatever). Zocdoc is pretty solid for booking appointments in your network of insurance. US healthcare is expensive, there can be some waiting too, but it’s high quality. I was billed 250 for a bunch of vaccines (Varicella and stuff), but I had to pay nothing due to insurance. Oh, and also, never pay the first bill you get from your doctor. Always haggle - the only place you can haggle is here.
- On furniture: You need a bed frame, a comfortable chair, a desk, some lighting, an Alexa maybe, some bedsheets, a cabinet to store clothing and such, a mattress. You can get all of this facebook market place or every Thursday-ish when people put things to throw out (there will be a lot of things! We got a TV, a dining table, chairs, a single seater etc), but I’d suggest get some nice things. If you’re looking to buy first hand, here’s the desk I use, I got a chair from the street I just sanitised and use, but also have a simple Walmart office chair. BTW: There’s no Walmart or Ikea near Boston, but you can get deliveries. First move-in week is tough because deliveries take forever, but it eases out soon enough.
- Getting a laptop: Either FrameWork with a custom OS, or any M-series Macbook. M1 Macbook Air with 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD is my personal recommendation - get a 1TB Samsung T7 for like 50 bucks for extended storage. Go one step further - get an open box option. Surface is a waste because Windows is a useless OS unless you want to game, and Surface is horrible for gaming. An iPad for me was worth it for a while, but not anymore. Goodnotes integration is great.
- English names: Unless you’re super attached to your name, get an English name if your name isn’t Western/Catholic. I go by August, it avoids the usual Robert/Jim/Bob kinda names we Asians usually go for. Indians almost never have an English name, but I still wanted one. My full name is hard to pronounce, and hard names are hard to remember. There’s people from all over the world in USA, why confuse them all? Also - if your name is Aryan (a fairly common Hindu name), please do a 180 on it. You can’t call yourself Aryan in USA. Please don’t.
- Hygiene: USA has great products for hygiene (except for the jet spray). It’s usually not too hot or humid, bathing once or twice everyday is enough. Dryers and Washers are available almost in all units, wash your clothes twice a week. Dishwashers are great too, load it up daily. Trash goes out everyday, it gets picked up once or twice a week, some suburbs pick it up daily. Don’t buy too much furniture, divvy up your tasks. I am useless in doing this, but I’ve got great flatmates, so it works out fine. They do hate me, though, probably.
- Actually studying: Get ready to work. A lot. Every morning you’ll have some work or the other. Learn to use Notion and Google Calendar. Every meeting request can be handled via Cal.com. Ali Abdaal has an excellent video on how to study. Don’t plagiarise (copy) anything, doesn’t matter what, do not do it. Do not fake your results and conclusions. Do not be rude to people, and finally, do not be weird.
- Dealing with cops: Sometimes cops show up to your house when you’re partying late into the night, be cordial, and listen to their request (”can you guys stop” or “turn the volume down”). But in every other case, you should know your right. Law by Mike has an excellent video on this.
Knowing YOUR Rights When It Comes To Cops
In this episode, we answer Can Cops Take Your House? Should You Date A Cop? Can cops discipline a naughty child? Get all your cop legal questions answered! From do cops waste your tax dollars tiktok dancing, to the fifth amendment and civil forfeiture – our video covers it all! Don't miss your chance to be part of the conversation—leave your legal questions in the comments section and you might find it featured in our next video! 💬 Leave a comment to be possibly included in the next What The Law! 🔔 Hit the notification bell to stay updated on our latest videos! 👍 Like this video and share it with your friends who might have questions about the law too! ⭐ Become a member of THE INNER CIRCLE to get exclusive perks and a *better chance we will answer your question on the next WHAT THE LAW*! ⭐ https://www.youtube.com/lawbymike/join 00:00 What The Law Intro 00:33 Can Cops Discipline a Naughty Child? 00:59 Do You Need A Drivers License To Drive? 01:56 Can Cops Take Your Home? What Is Civil Forfeiture? 03:05 Cops Dancing Wasting Tax Dollars? 04:00 Can Cops Use Social Media To Track You Down? 04:23 Do You Ever Lose Your Cool With Clients? 04:44 What Happens To Your Rights If You're Dating A Cop? DISCLAIMER (Of course, I'd have one 😁) Hey, you might think that this info makes me your lawyer, but it doesn't and I'm not. Sorry, but I AM NOT YOUR LAWYER unless we have an engagement agreement. I am just providing public information here, like a library does, and am not providing you with legal advice about your situation. So, it would be totally unreasonable for you to conclude we have an attorney-client relationship just because you're viewing this information. #CopsAndTheLaw #LegalQuestions #LawEnforcementExplained #whatthelaw #Law #LegalQuestions #AfraidToAsk #LawyerAnswers #LegalMyths #KnowYourRights #LegalLoopholes
- Racism: You won’t experience racism too often, if at all, but it goes without saying that you should not be racist yourself. Indians can be pretty racist to black and chinese people specifically. Do not do that, both from a career standpoint and also from an ethical standpoint. You’ll make friends from every walk of life if you keep your mind open.