After my library internship at the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg I went to Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts to follow some history courses. Soon after arriving I concluded that I had chosen the wrong winter to come to Boston: it would turnout to be the snowiest in history. After some days off because of the heavy precipitation, the snow is slowly melting and that also means reflecting on my first months here.
I decided to study a semester in the United States hoping to get another perspective on and more profound knowledge of the history of the US. My expectations were high and I hoped to meet academics and students who could share some of their ideas with me. However, after starting my first classes I discovered that most students did not know that much about their own history. This meant that in some classes we had to start with the basics again. Furthermore, I noticed that most students did not have a history major, but just decided to register for the course, because they had some free choice credits to earn.
While this interest in other disciplines is of course wonderful and should be encouraged at all times, it also forms an obstacle. A certain amount of students in my class lack basic research skills often used in historic research or even other liberal arts and sciences. For me this was to a certain extend a disappointment, but also made me appreciate education in the Netherlands –something often taken for granted and even more often criticized – more. On the other hand I also enrolled in the non-history course ‘Public Policy & Black America’ myself. This gave me an opportunity to learn a lot about the United States today and some complexities, which always attracted me in their history, but still exist now.
My semester in Boston also enabled me to visit the capital of the United States: Washington, DC. No only was I astonished by the amount of (free)museums this city has, I also did not expect the famous monuments and buildings, such as the Lincoln Memorial and the Capitol to be so impressive and big. My visit to the National Archives also sparked my interest. Unfortunately I was not able to visit the actual archives, but this leaves me with even more reasons to come back one day!