Dyveke Weissbach, a graduate management student from Grenoble EM, shares with us her experience at Bentley University.
After loads of school and visa paperwork, I could finally prepare my actual departure to the United States. I had bought my adaptor, found my passport, prepared the visa and travel plans, sorted out my summer and winter clothes for Boston, and finished my luggage. Finally there it was: I landed in Boston, Massachusetts!
Arrival at Bentley
When arriving on campus at Bentley, I met all other 25 exchange students from Spain, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Brazil, China, Singapore and Australia. We were all dispatched on campus in the various housing facilities. I stayed in a so-called “Suite”, which I shared with one direct roommate and 3 other girls, with whom we shared the living room, kitchenette and bathroom. The kitchenette consisted of a sink, a micro wave and a fridge. Of course you could also ask for an apartment including cooking facilities, which I didn’t choose because of the price. Another option was to live off campus, but I personally don’t recommend it, since you definitely need a car and the price won’t be any more affordable. Also, living on campus is surely a unique opportunity to integrate you best in the American student life culture and campus life.
And besides, you have plenty of things to do on campus! First of all you have the dining hall where most of Bentley’s students are having breakfast, lunch or/and dinner. If you do not dispose of a kitchen, it is mandatory to get a meal plan. It has a great variety with some good food (particularly vegetables and fruits) and some less good food, as usual in American university dining halls. The good point is that you also have other restaurants on campus: Dunkin’ Donuts, Einsteins, Curritos, and other, where you can find smoothies, American sized coffees, bagels, burritos and so on. If you take a meal plan you get some “Falcon Funds”, and you can pay with these for these restaurants on campus, the post office or other facilities. Oh, and don’t you worry! If ever you feel like eating too much, we have a great gym on lower campus. It is huge; you will find what your heart desires – even if you are not a big fan of gyms, you still have the opportunity to do laps in the swimming hall, play on the running/soccer/rugby or basketball court or playing Lacrosse. And everything within a quick five minutes walk from your dorm – amazing, isn’t it?
Close to Boston downtown
And well, it is extremely easy to go to Boston. There is a Bentley shuttle going from 7am to 12pm, or 3am on weekends. It takes a 30 minutes ride to Harvard Square, from where you can take the T (Boston subway) to Boston Downtown, or just stay at Harvard Square and have a walk around Harvard University and the riverside. Sometimes on weekends we would also go to New York, there are buses going for little money to the Big Apple, taking 4 hours from Boston. Whatever you do, you cannot do else but loving your stay in the States!
So, why did I choose Bentley? Well, one of my career plans was to get fluent in English. And one of the continents I never have been to before and fascinated me were the United States. Also, I can really imagine going there for making a living after studying, since I love the working culture and the optimism reigning in this country. And not to forget, Bentley is in New England, one of the best places of America’s study culture: Harvard University, MIT, Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern and several more are just in the neighborhood – which makes Boston a great student friendly environment. Bentley itself is Finance and Accounting oriented, but I had, except for a great international finance course, only Marketing, Management and Spanish classes, and I truly appreciated every single class I chose. Overall, Bentley has a great courses offer.
Everything in XXL !
From a culture shock perspective, it is for sure less spectacular than when I’ve been to Hong Kong for example. Of course, cars in the US are twice as big as in Europe, brands are new all over the way, milk and juice bottle were hard to find in a 1 liter size, and supermarkets are just incredibly huge. But nothing to really worry or be shocked about. Burgers, fries and drinks also get bigger, especially the more south you go. Last but not least, the chicken wings were more like the size of an entire chicken, but well, that is the way the US citizens love it – everything in XXL! Not to forget, Americans are the only ones converting everything in only-in-the-US existing measures: from liter to gallons, kilograms to pounds, grams to ounces, meters and centimeters to feet and inches, and kilometers and meters to miles and yards. And of course they also use Fahrenheit instead of Celsius.
I already spoke about what to do on campus. In Boston there are also great places to visit. As it is a city built after Irish inspiration, you will find plenty of charming buildings; visit China Town and the Financial District of Boston, as well as its seaside with its little cute harbor. You can for instance make boat trips to the surrounding islands. And if you want to travel, Boston is a good place to be. Its airport has a great choice of destinations and you can find cheap flights thanks to airlines such as JetBlue, Delta, or Spirit Airlines.
Renting cars is quite cheap compared to European standards. Thanks to these travel facilities, I could manage to travel two weekends and one whole week to New York, travel down the East coast from North Carolina, through South Carolina and Georgia to Miami, Florida for another week, and a three weeks West coast trip at the end of the semester. Really, travel as much as you can during your stay, since this will probably be the best occasion you will ever have. And it makes you recognize how different the American culture is in its various states.
Now, I have nothing more to add but to tell you: have a go and experience yourself this great opportunity you have to discover the United States! You surely will not regret your choice.