Snowy landscape with marble buildings

Going on Exchange in Winter

Books on shelves forming aisles and lining the walls.
Who doesn’t love browsing through bookstores when it’s freezing outside? Photo: Muriel Heitsch

Hi everyone!

Now that spring is knocking, I wanted to give you an idea of what to do when you land in a new country in the middle of winter! Even though it might be tough at the start, there are a large variety of different events you can go to when it does get too cold and dreary to go outside. Below is my list of fun things to do, even (or especially) when the weather is dull!


Luckily, with a student ID, it is not uncommon that museum admissions are free or at least reduced in price. Discounts may also be available if you have a local library card. I recommend checking out websites and asking around to get an idea of possible discounts and of course to find out what museums may be of interest to you!

Display of objects in glass cases with an informational poster behind them.
The museums in Boston are definitely worth a visit! Photo: Muriel Heitsch

Some of the museums which often show up at the top of the tourist lists for Boston are the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) and the MIT Museum. A visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum takes about an hour or two, whereas the MFA and MIT museum are much bigger, containing many more exhibits and one could easily spend a whole day at each. Especially the MIT museum has many interactive features and touches on several important ethical aspects in research, leaving a lasting impression!

Another thing to look out for are special offerings. For example, some Harvard museums host art nights (from 5 to 9pm) on the last Thursday of every month and entrance is free!

Musicals, Ballets and Shows

Hall with a high-rise ceiling with dangling chandeliers and marble columns lining red walls.
The entrance hall of the Boston Opera House. Photo: Muriel Heitsch

I believe anyone you talk to in Boston will say you must go to the Boston Opera House at least once. I went there with a friend during my first month in Boston and it was truly spectacular!

This tip is not limited to Boston – a visit to the main site of culture is a great experience in a lot of different cities! A tip to save some cash is to go to the ticket counter before the start of the performance, ideally on a weekday, and ask for rush tickets as these are often significantly reduced in price. In Boston, these are only 30 USD for students and we had truly amazing places.

Local Celebrations

Two men looking at the camera in a bar with two plates of chicken wings in front of them on the table.
Watching the superbowl in a bar with friends was truly a highlight! Photo: Muriel Heitsch

I much recommend keeping track of the holidays and important dates for the locals! Here in Boston, this included the Lunar New Year festivities, St Patrick’s Day and the superbowl! The latter was held on Sunday, the 11th of February this year, and was definitely a cultural immersion not to miss! If you are in a country where it is a big event too, I recommend booking a table at a sports bar for the full experience weeks ahead because the bars will get full! Regarding Lunar New Year and St Paddy’s, two of my previous blog posts were about them, so I won’t go into more detail here. The blogs can be found under: Celebrate Lunar New Year in Boston! and Boston’s take on St Patrick’s Day.

Cafés and Restaurants

Chinese food on a table.
Amazing Chinese food. Photo: Maren

If you just feel like a relaxing day, there are usually a variety of different cafés and restaurants you can go to with friends or just to study. Since Boston is quite a big city, you can find basically all kinds of foods, ranging from the Swedish semla on Fat Tuesday (Fettisdagen) over Vietnamese food to amazing Mexican tacos. Cuisines may also vary throughout the city. For example, in Boston, if you are craving Italian food, I recommend paying the North End, also known as Little Italy, a visit and, in turn, Chinatown is fantastic for Chinese or Vietnamese cuisine. Personally, I prefer smaller cafés to chain stores and my favorites so far are definitely a café specializing in crepes and a café which provides an array of board games, both close to Coolidge Corner.

Conferences, Lectures and Talks

This is one for the nerds, which I won’t even pretend I don’t belong to. (And also for the hungry, because there is almost always free food.) These events are typically held in the evenings or during lunch on weekdays, so perfect for meeting new people and networking during a short break during or after work. Sign up for emailing lists when you’ve found an association whose events you find interesting!

Speaker presenting graphs in front of a crowd of people.
One of the talks I attended in Cambridge. The speaker was truly inspirational. Photo: Muriel Heitsch

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