Ok, this one is mostly for future exchange students: the things you might want to know about Boston, UMass and life in America - list :) I might have to make it two lists actually.... let's start with the city!
Sightseeing in Boston:
Boston is great, but it's actually smaller than some might think. A lot of things can easily be reached by foot or the T, even the popular sights! If you prefer to be driven around, there are a couple of city tours which will help you get a first orientation for the city. Here are my must-sees in Boston:
Harvard Square and Harvard University - come on, you're here, you might as well check it out :) There's always something going on at Harvard Square, they have everything you could possibly need and the food is pretty awesome too! They also have a little store with foreign specialties, so if you absolutely cannot live another day without Milka, check it out!
Copley Square and Newbury Street - two things that can easily be combined. Copley Square has two pretty churches which are always worth a visit as well as the Boston Public Library, which is a bit of a must-see. Right next to it runs Newbury Street, which starts out at Boston Public Garden as a bit of an expensive shopping street but eventually changes to more affortable shops and craft shops towards the end. It also has some nice little cafés and outlets that are worth checking out!
Prudential Center and Hayes Convention Center - not far from Copley Square is the Prudential, which is basically a small shopping mall on the ground floor of two big office buildings. They also have a scenic lookout on one of the top floors, if you're looking for the bird perspective. More importantly, they have a cheesecake factory as well as a food court, The body shop and a catwalk over to the Marriott hotel with more shops including GAP, American Eagle and Victoria's Secret :) I spend way too much time there! My personal favorite is the Starbucks IN Barnes&Noble (bookstore!) that serves Cheescake Factory Cheesecake *happy*
Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market - the place to be on a sunny day! There's always something happening, its nice to shop here and it's in the harbor area (yeah, I know, me and my harbors) so it's just right down my alley. Not far from it is Haymarket, where you should do your fruits and veggie-shopping since it's a LOT cheaper than in the stores! Haymarket is open on Fridays and Saturdays and its always pretty crowded but also a lot of fun! They also have some nice gift shops as well as little craft shops inside Quincy Market and you should check out Red Barn Coffee Shop in Faneuill Hall - my personal favorite!
The North End - not far from Haymarket (just across the Greenway, actually) is the North End. If you like Italian food, this is the place to be! (If you don't, you're weird...) needless to say I am VERY happy whenever I'm in the North end ;) Not only can you meet actual Italian people here, you can also follow the Freedom Trail and learn a lot about Boston's history! Plus the brickstone houses are just so pretty! AND they have Mike's Pastry :D
Boston Common and the Public Garden - right in the middle of the city are the two parcs Boston Common and the Public Garden. The Common is more... well, common and very open and perfect for a nice stroll between shopping springs, the Public Garden is a little fancier (SO pretty) and just absolutely awesome! A real oasis in the city! They offer swan boat rides here, which apparently are a hit with the tourists... Also, right next to the Common is Beacon Hill, which is always worth a tour, and there is city hall with its golden roof and lots of colleges and dorms around the parc, so even if you're just people watching, it's always fun!