Four years after permanently moving to the UK from Boston, I came back to the city for a short trip.
I was surprised at how emotional the visit was, since I have no regrets about leaving the US.
Boston has become a mini New York City and the food is as good as it was nearly half a decade ago.
The last time I stepped foot in Boston was 2019, the year I graduated college.
At the time, I had no regrets about leaving the US. After spending four years studying at Boston University, I felt ready to come back to London for multiple reasons, most importantly being closer to my family.
But in April, I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Boston with my college roommates, one of whom still lives there. I was excited to reunite with them in our old stomping ground but was unsure if Boston would be how I remembered it.
That said, there was definitely something special about coming back to Boston – and there were a few things that surprised me about the city. Take a look.
I was surprised that I'd forgotten how beautiful New England looks from above.
My flight from London Heathrow to Boston Logan left at the crack of dawn but I failed to catch a wink of sleep on the journey out of sheer excitement. That said, being awake – as well as having a window seat – did have its perks because it meant I caught every glimpse of our descent into New England, which was far more beautiful than I'd remembered it.
Views of deep-blue coastal water gave way to tree-lined beaches, then the harbor and the cityscape in the morning sunlight. I hadn't even landed yet and I was already flooded with nostalgia.
Boston has become a mini New York City, but still seems like an ideal place to raise a family.
One thing my best friend from university who still lives in Boston kept telling me before I visited was just how much the city had changed in the years since I left. It's a mini New York City, she would say, and I didn't believe it until I was there myself.
From stunning new high-rise apartment buildings to fun boozy brunch spots, I definitely got a sense of what she was saying during my visit. But at the same time, I was surprised at how much of a family-oriented city Boston is, which I gather was only surprising to me given that I was a college student who only really associated with other college students when I lived there.
While on a stroll from Newbury Street through the Boston Public Garden, I came across so many young families enjoying the sunshine and lush green spaces with their children and pets, who were free to play openly. In a way, it made me think that Boston has a pretty perfect balance between city living and spaciousness, likely making it an ideal place to raise kids.
You never get over the shock of how old you feel visiting your college campus, years after graduating.
On one of the last days of my short visit, my college roommates and I took a walk across our college campus, which felt totally different and unchanged at the same time. There were new buildings erected that were under construction the year we graduated and some of the older spaces, such as one of the dining halls, had changed in layout altogether.
But the most surprising thing was how much I felt I'd changed as a person walking around campus.
As a college student, I had no idea what the future had in store and my world pretty much existed in the bubble of the college grounds. Being back four years later, I was surprised at how acutely aware of how much I'd grown up. Seeing students walking into the library and their dorms, I felt older and somewhat out of place.
And nothing quite confirmed that as much as seeing the flags of the graduating classes currently enrolled at the university. As a member of the class of 2019, it was pretty wild seeing that the current class of freshmen is set to graduate in 2026.
Food in Boston is just as good as I remembered it to be.
Sometimes things seem better in retrospect than they were in reality.
That was a fear I had when it came to recalling how incredible Boston's food scene was. From classic New England dishes such as lobster rolls and clam chowder, to non-traditional meals such as ramen, I hoped my memory of how delicious Boston food was stacked up to how it is today.
Thankfully though, the food was not only as good as it was four years ago but I even tried a few dishes I avoided back in the day, such as selections of tinned fish and oysters, that were out of this world.
From going to restaurants I'd never been to, like Saltie Girl, to returning to my college go-to Holly Crab, I was incredibly pleased to find that seafood – and food in general – in Boston was just as delectable as I remembered.
The sunset over the Boston city skyline is still one of the best I've ever seen.
Thanks to my experience on Semester at Sea, a study-abroad program aboard a cruise ship, I've been lucky enough to see some pretty amazing city views in countries all over the world.
With that said, I was surprised at how special the views of Boston are, especially at sunset. Taking them in from my friend's apartment on the last evening I spent there, all the memories of seeing the sun dip down over the view of the Charles River from our college dorm came flooding back.
When I left the next day to catch my flight back to London, it was one of the moments that stuck with me the most from the visit. Ultimately, coming back to Boston was a much more nostalgic trip down memory lane than I'd anticipated – and my biggest takeaway is that I won't wait four more years to visit again.
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