To be clear, I fucking bleed New York. I’ve got an aggressive allegiance to my city, and I can’t imagine kicking it anywhere else post-graduation. That unequivocally stated, I’m happy I elected to go to school in the middle of nowhere. In fact, I think that as a city kid it was the only thing to do for college—to venture out of my concrete bubble (and into a different, decidedly greener one) for four years.
Inevitably, a generous handful of city dwellers who venture out of the five boroughs for their freshman year of college wind up at NYU or Columbia for their sophomore year. And I get it… I really do. These are the kids who are most vocal about their frustrations with the tedium of life in their small college towns. They’re over The Bar before they get there and roll their eyes at The Townies before they even meet them.
After the first semester of my freshman year here in my own little Western Massachusetts globule, I was well on my way to becoming one of those kids. I griped endlessly about what I quickly—and, mind you, entirely fallaciously—decided was a place utterly devoid of culture and energy. And most of my friends from home who’d ventured into a similar sylvan unknown shared my malaise. We missed our city. We missed Duane Reade, Central Park, and overpriced cigarettes. We missed taking cabs to school and resented receiving shit for our need to conceptualize mileage in terms of city blocks.
Over Thanksgiving break, I decided that I’d had enough. I’d given my school a decent, honest shot. Eleven weeks against that bucolic backdrop, and I was bored. Transferring to Columbia would be the simplest solution; I was experiencing severe urban separation anxiety, and there was no fucking way I could I sleep without the soothing sound of sirens for another three-and-a-half years.
And just when I started filling out transfer applications, something totally outré happened: I made friends. Friends that I liked. And, yes, I’m aware that may sound consummately lame. But the truth is, for those first few months of school, I was so focused on convincing myself that I had a shitty existence in this small town that I’d resisted making genuine friends—friends that would rapidly affect my apathy and prove to me that this small, shitty town and the college that claims it have so much to offer that city schools just can’t. A campus—a real college campus—forces you to be a college student and to experience college rather than something that more closely resembles bar hopping (i.e. floating around lower Manhattan from class to class) than it does going to college.
Being on a campus, preferably one nested in a valley between some stupidly sensuous purple mountains, is what college should be. Not clubbing and cabbing your way to your diploma. I’ve realized that the next three years will be the only time I’ll have to be deliciously disconnected from the buzz of the city. College—the last official chapter before real, terrifying adulthood—should be experienced on a campus. Not in a city.
Oh, and it makes going home that much sweeter.
Featured image courtesy of Forbes