I recently had the fortunate opportunity to participate in the CRA-W Grad Cohort for a third and final time. I love this program because not only do we get to meet a lot of amazing women grad students in computer science and get some really valuable advice on grad school, we also get to visit some really neat places. Last year's event was in Seattle, and the year before that in San Francisco. This time around it was held in Boston, and I loved learning all about this incredible city in every spare moment we had!
One of the highlights was the Freedom Trail Walking Tour. I must admit that I am not terribly familiar with American history, but no matter - on this tour I learned how it all began! The stories behind the American Revolution were as exciting as they were interesting. (Our amazing tour guide in full period costume probably had something to do with that.)
Stepping onto the USS Constitution, build in the 18th century, was also something else. Sure, a lot of the wood would have been replaced as it rotted, but it's still the same ship built all those years ago - at least in spirit! I can't help but imagine all those men who fought on this Navy Frigate, and I can't help but notice how much I would hate to have been one of them.
Finally, before heading home, we made sure to stop by Harvard and MIT. At MIT we stumbled on a public panel called The Veritas Forum. We arrived when it was more than half over, so we only saw the moderator ask questions from her iPad as the audience tweeted them. The four panellists were MIT professors - two Christian, and two atheist - who debated over issues of religion. It was so refreshing to see a respectful and insightful discussion on the subject. We even met a French exchange student questioning his own faith after the talk, and had a real intellectual conversation with him. MIT is definitely a place I feel like I could fit into.
We didn't have much time to spend at Harvard, and it was past dark. It was neat to stop by the main square after seeing the campus in so many movies. We also checked out Memorial Hall, but could only see the lobby as a concert was going on at the time. We explored the basement where a student-run pub lay hidden in the depths. I struck up a bit of a conversation with the bartender to get a feel for what students are like there. (As you might expect, they are really no different than anywhere else.)
I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked Boston, and since it's actually relatively close to home, I think I might try to bring my husband there for a visit in the next few years.