Nina is from Switzerland, and has been studying at ELC Boston for seven weeks in our Intensive English Course. Nina is known at ELC for her enthusiasm for learning English as well as her friendly nature. Having visited Boston three times, Nina can give you recommendations for the best restaurants, fun activities and places to see.
Where were you born and raised? Give us a mental picture of the place.
I was born in Switzerland in a small town, so I was raised in the countryside. There’s not a lot of stuff there, a school, church, some small companies. There is a bigger town about 5 minutes away, so for your weekly groceries people usually go there.
What do you do for fun? What are your hobbies?
I play the flute and I play in a band with it. It’s a wind band, it’s not an orchestra, everyone plays a wind instrument. There’s about 40 people in the band. I’ve been playing since I can remember, maybe 2nd grade. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t play. We cover everything, classical music, modern, anything really.
What is your profession? What do you like about it?
I don’t have a profession yet, but I will start to study education as soon as I get home. I’m going to be a teacher and I’m really excited about it. I have already had the opportunity to experience some class hours because I did an after school thing, so I helped students with their homework from 2nd to 6th grade. I like being able to teach children something and to show them how cool learning can be. I want to motivate them to want to learn and to think.
Tell us about your family, do you have kids? Siblings? Pets? Do they live close to you?
I live at home with my family; my mom, dad, and one younger sister. My sister is 2 years younger than me, she’s still in high school. I don’t have any pets, we had rabbits a long time ago. Most of our family lives pretty close, like the furthest are about 1 hour by car. I do have some relatives in Boston, my dad’s cousins, and it’s been nice to see them and hang out with them here in Boston.
Why did you choose to study English in Boston? Did you consider other countries?
I knew Boston pretty well before I came here because this is my third time in the city. Obviously because of my relatives, I wanted to spend a little more time with them to be able to get to know them a little better. The first time I came to Boston was for vacation with my family, and the second time was to study with my sister. Now, I’m in Boston at ELC to practice my English more. Every time I come back, there are some places that have changed or new places, but it feels familiar now, almost like home.
What are all the ways that Boston is different than your city/town?
First of all, Boston is way bigger than my town and where I live, more or less, all the people know each other. So when you walk through the town, everyone is saying hi and asking how you are doing. Here, you pass thousands of people and you have no idea who they are or what they do or where they are going. So that’s probably the biggest difference. I like both big cities and my small town.
What were you most surprised to learn about the US or Boston? Did you experience any culture shock?
I wouldn’t say I was shocked by anything, maybe just how people don’t really care about other people on the streets. Like, you just walk by other people, but you never really notice them or care about what they are doing. It’s different than in my small town where you know everyone.
What do you miss most about your country?
What I really miss is stepping out of my house and being able to see nature and the landscape. Here, you can drive to places and go hiking or something, but I miss just being outside in nature every day. I also do miss the food a little. I would consider typical Swiss food to be like cheese, raclette, fondue. The food here is just so different. It’s hard to even make our Swiss dishes because the ingredients are just so different. When I go home, I want my parents to make me risotto!
What are your top three favorite places in Boston?
First, the Public Garden because it’s just beautiful. It’s kind of like in a bubble, you can calm down, take a little rest, be in your own bubble. The same thing with the Charles River and the Esplanade. They have many free concerts and tonight I’m going to a free zumba class at the Hatch Shell. I also like Jamaica Plain neighborhood in general. The houses are so unique there, they all look so different but they match together. It’s really cool there, almost like you’re in a different country. There’s also Jamaica Pond which is so nice.
Where have you found the best food from your country in Boston?
Whole Foods sells a Swiss cheese from the little town next to me where I live. It’s the real thing, but it’s a little expensive! There is the Swiss Bakers at the Public Market at Haymarket. I wouldn’t consider it really Swiss, but it’s close, and it’s pretty good.
Favorite moment in class at ELC:
This is a hard question. Classes are pretty fun, we are able to talk with each other, we talk about what we have done and experienced. The best thing is when you hear about what other students have done and you haven’t done that yet, and you get ideas for your weekend. It’s pretty cool. Everyone looks at Boston from a different perspective so it’s pretty cool.
Favorite activity at ELC:
The picnic was pretty cool! It doesn’t need a lot, we just sat outside, talked a little, met other students. There was also food, music and games.
What are some tips you have for people who want to learn English?
Talk as much as you can. Even if you’re talking with other people who are learning English as well, you have to use the language. You have to start thinking about what you’re doing and how to use it. You can be great on paper, but using the language with other people, even if you make mistakes is very helpful. Just try it!
What are your plans after ELC?
I’m starting university! The first real thing I’m going to do is go home and hope I’m not that jet lagged so I can see my family and friends.