Julian ate Joe’s Pizza in New York, made friends with the cleaners and stayed in the home of the founder of Dropbox during his last three weeks in the USA. The final weeks of his research project to test self-made piezoelectric nanofiber sensors were tough. Read the third and last part of Julian Bos’ adventures in the USA.
3. Final Countdown!
Although I moved to an accommodation several dozens of yards away from Ashdown House, I continued to go on outings with my former roommate Gabriel from Singapore. Together we visited New York. Many bus companies offer trips to New York at the bargain price of 20 dollars, but hotel rooms in New York are expensive. After surfing the web, we found a good and affordable hotel in the center of lower Manhattan. We left early on Friday morning so that we could still enjoy some time in New York that day. After a four-hour ride, we got off the bus near Brooklyn Bridge. From this bridge and from Brooklyn, you have a wonderful view of the concrete jungle, which is Manhattan’s skyline with all its skyscrapers. We bought ourselves a weekend pass for the subway to travel through the city. New York is huge and has 8.5 million inhabitants, that is almost half of the population of the Netherlands. The subway enables us to travel fast from one tourist hotspot to another.
We visited the World Trade Center and the 9/11 memorial at the place where the Twin Towers used to be. This was very impressive. We took the ferry past the Statue of Liberty and tried to take a nice picture of it like most of the other ferry passengers. Visiting tourist attractions makes you hungry, but that is no problem in New York. All the world’s cuisines are represented there. After filling our stomachs with Ukrainian delicacies, we continued our tourist tour through the Big Apple. Our next stop was Times Square. The city never sleeps and Times Square is always crowded with people 24/7. There are so many huge billboards around the square that you feel the heat they radiate and there is hardly any difference between night and day. Because it was rather late, we decided to go to our hotel.
After breakfast, we headed for Central Park, where you can easily spend several days because there is so much to do. The weather was sunny with temperatures around 30 degrees. We would have liked to spend more time in the park, but New York has a lot more to offer. After a few hours in Central Park, we went to Times Square where we ate Ichiran in a Japanese restaurant Gabriel recommended. In this restaurant, you sit in a booth and press a button to order food. After a while, a hatch opens and your food appears, just like in Japan. Next, we walked past the Charging Bull in Wall Street and bought a slice of New York’s best pizza at Joe’s Pizza, which we enjoyed while watching a semi-professional basketball game. Our next stop was ‘Top of the Rock’, from which you have a great view of New York’s skyline. Of course, we could not leave New York without tasting typical New York bagels, so we had breakfast at a bagel shop next morning, after which we visited Williamsbridge and Chinatown. In Chinatown, we wandered around on a market and tried some food. Then our weekend in New York was over and we headed back to Boston because I had to start working in the lab early next morning.
During the last stretch of my research period, the work pressure increased, partly due to a few new research directions MIT Sea Grant’s director Michael Triantafyllou suddenly came up with. This kept me working in the lab from 9 AM in the morning until 2 AM at night. I became friends with the cleaners who came to clean the lab after office hours. I managed to complete the project in time and concluded it with the project defense. The professors and the director were very positive about my report and presentation. They were so much impressed by the quality and quantity of my work that they even suggested that I could publish an article on my project’s results in a renowned scientific journal.
As my rental period at MIT Edgerton had ended, I had to pack and move again. For the last three weeks of my stay in Boston, I lived in a normal house and not in a MIT dorm. I had found this address through hearsay and shared it with three other people. I was lucky because it is not easy to find a place to stay at the start of a new semester when new students come flooding into the city. The house was well-situated and its other occupants were pleasant. The founder of Dropbox also lived in this house and we occasionally received mail addressed to him.
After almost four months, it is now time to go home. It was a long period, but I clearly remember the start of my adventure. In hindsight, time passed very quickly. I enjoyed it very much, met inspiring people and made many new friends. Of course, it is also great to go back to the Netherlands and see everyone there again. I can look back on a great period in the USA. I learned a lot from my research at MIT. From traveling alone to the other side of the Atlantic and making all arrangements by myself I have learned that I can rely on myself. I gained a lot of experience and saw many great things. I will never forget this adventure.
I would like to thank everyone who made this experience possible for me: Innovation Cluster Drachten, the University of Groningen, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and FB Oranjewoud. See you in the Netherlands!
Julian's scholarship is made possible in part by FB Oranjewoud.