College is a lot like living in a snow globe.
How, you may ask? Surely I don’t mean that it traps you in a little plastic dome, free to wander around like the snowman from the Pixar short until you see a plastic mermaid in the next globe over and want desperately to escape.
In a sense, this is exactly what I mean. When you’re inside, life is fantastic. Campus becomes this comfortable bubble filled with a constant cycle of classes, meals and repeat. Friends distract us from the stress of exams, perhaps too often at times, and a lot of the world fades to the periphery. Ironically enough, what is supposed to be preparing us for our entry into the “real” world ends up shielding us from it. Dorms replace houses and dining halls replace home-cooked meals with family. Suddenly our daily interactions are only with people aged 17-24, with a professor or two sprinkled into the mix. For four or so years, our perspectives are shaped almost entirely by our peers, which is both a blessing and a curse.
But then comes the day when someone shakes it all up into a chaotic, unexpected storm. Whether it be a jarring news headline or a family visitor, we receive the reality check that we need to be reminded of the world off campus. When the snow specks finally settle, we are presented with a clearer view of what lies beyond the security of the snow globe. A reality that exists just outside of our own, one that we will very quickly be thrown into. A waving mermaid, if I may, that presents life beyond college’s snow globe-like nature.
Therein lies the importance of getting yourself off campus. Not to a nearby restaurant where fellow students hang out, nor to a concert that only college students would attend. Rather, find your way into the communities that surround our campus, where the world’s activity isn’t solely driven by millennials. While what we learn and discover at school from classes and peers is valuable, hiding away on campus (whether purposefully or not) prevents us from experiencing true independence, where we can actually start to figure this confusing world out.
So if you didn’t get a ticket to see Waka Flocka Flame perform at Fall Fest this weekend, never fear. A door to the best Saturday of your life may have just been opened. I can’t tell you where to visit and who to talk to; you’ll have to figure that out for yourself. Simply remember that Medford, Somerville and Boston are all waiting for you to step outside your snow globe and discover what is hard to see from up here on the Hill.