An open letter to Anywhere Off Campus

Dear Anywhere Off Campus,

This letter goes out to Demet’s Donuts, the beach out in Revere, the Brown Elementary School, coffee shops downtown and the random locations of cross country meets. I have you to thank for my sanity. Don’t get me wrong, campus is a wonderful place filled with beautiful trees, friendly faces, a colorful canon, wonderful energy and a million-and-one flyers I always mean to look at more closely. It’s a bubble that I love and am thankful to be in, but it’s also a bubble that is nice to step out of sometimes, too.

I don’t think I took any trips to non-Tufts locations until my third or fourth week here. When I did, I remember how weird it felt. All of a sudden, I was reminded of an entire reality (literally consisting of the rest of the world) that I had essentially forgotten about. I had forgotten about little kids who giggled and threw fits, the purposefulness of adults walking to and from work, the comfort in the familiar rhythm of conversations between elderly people. By stepping off campus, everything was put into perspective.

Most of the time, I’m at Tufts, talking to other Tufts people about Tufts-related things. The majority of my thoughts are spent on classes, homework, scheduling, social plans, etc. — all in the realm of college affairs. If I forget to stop, pause and zoom out from this tunnel vision, I start creating a world for myself where school is the world. Single tests become events of dire importance, I start describing my three-day busy stretch as hardship of epic proportions, the usual ups and downs of a week turn into dramatic victories and life-altering catastrophes.

I let my own context become so overwhelming that it begins to block out everything beyond my immediate surroundings. But then I step into an elementary school classroom, or a bustling coffee shop or a donut shop filled with retirees — and suddenly everything falls back into proportion.

Not only does getting off campus reorient me in the grand scheme of the world, but it also helps me see school as a more collective entity. “College” stops being synonymous with my assignments for the week and instead becomes an institution with big-picture foundations. I am reminded that I’m not studying just to do well on my next test — I’m studying to educate myself and to grow as an individual and to give myself the skills I need to contribute to the world’s beauty. And those — not the next grade — are what I care about.

My advice? Get off campus at least once a week. Explore a new part of Boston, hang out in a café filled with people other than college kids, do your homework on a park bench, reintroduce yourself to the infinite greatness of the world at large. For me, that means re-connecting with the rest of the planet, but it also gives me some pretty cool insight on our own little Jumbo world, too.


Clara Wagner