My Fulbright Story: 2nd Impressions

Some say that you should always make a good first impression. For the most part, it’s true – we all want to show the best version of ourselves in the first instance. 

But the truth will be revealed with time. 

Having lived as a Boston local for a few weeks now, there’s a number of things that I missed or didn’t bother noticing the first time I was here as a tourist. So what are my second impressions? 

COVID-19 Preparedness

Arriving at LAX was certainly a bit of a culture shock. Let me demonstrate. 

Sydney Departure Gate (left) and LAX Departure Gate (right)

Above is the departure gate in Sydney vs Los Angeles. Suffice to say, I have truly arrived in the land of the free. 

But that wasn’t what surprised me the most. Back home, we have had many ‘supply issues’ with shortages of face masks and most recently, the rapid antigen test debacle which led to regulations that prevented retailers from selling tests over 20 % of the recommended retail price

In stark contrast, I have been greeted (at least in Boston) with a degree of COVID-19 preparedness that is unmatched with that of Australia. From vending machines with ample medical supplies, to free N-95 masks for the Boston community, and free and well-coordinated COVID-19 testing procedures at university campuses, I have been amazed at the fluidity and foresight of their operations, all of which we can learn from. 

Winter Wonderland 

When I was first in Boston, I caught a glimpse of snow which sprinkled the city. Fortunately, within a few days of arriving, I got to witness a real ‘flash freeze’ – an intense snowstorm that saw up to 12 inches (~ 30 cm) of snow! As someone who has never experienced snow, let alone knee-deep snow, I savoured every moment of walking in and taking plentiful photos of this charming winter wonderland.

Copley Square taken two days apart

However, once the honeymoon phase was over and I got to see the true extent of the snow damage on cars and roads, I can’t help but think of how frustrating it would be to shovel snow just to get to your car. I suppose the grass is greener on the other side? 

Tip on surviving the Boston winter season: I suggest investing in a good pair of winter boots and jacket as the temperature averages -10 degrees Celcius and the snow makes the pavement really slippery. I was recommended Dr. Martens and have loved wearing them every day – the sales lady said that these boots can last more than 25 years if worn properly! As for jackets, North Face and Canada Goose can be frequently spotted but wearing multiple layers is also a great option if you want to fine tune your level of warmth. 

All-time Advertisements

Watching cable television can be great. I’ve enjoyed 3-hour back-to-back reruns of Friends and Modern Family as well as blockbuster movie marathons like Harry Potter, Fast & Furious, and Mission Impossible that casually grace the screen.

But there is one thing that I just can’t wrap my head around. Frequent pharmaceutical ads. Direct buyer-to-consumer ads that educate the viewer on prescription medicines that they can ask a doctor for. These include for a variety of illnesses such as Crohn’s disease, depression, psoriasis, migraine, arthritis, obesity, and Multiple Sclerosis. (yes, I’ve watched that much cable where I’ve seen all of these ads!)

Upon further reading, it appears that the United States and New Zealand are the only two countries where such advertisements are legal. Further, despite billions of dollars spent on advertising every year, investments into research and development of medical drugs only account for ~ 1 % of revenue. Whilst arguments for include greater public education on medical illnesses, I believe we should trust our medical professionals to do the job that they were trained to do. 

But what are your thoughts? What has surprised you the most? Let me know in the comments below!

Leave a Reply