The Urban College
Deciding where you want to go to college is a big deal. Not life or death. Just what kind of life. To a junior in high school the first thing out of most adults’ mouthes sounds something like: “Oh, you are so grown up! You must be looking at schools! Any favorites yet?” A sheepish, “No, still looking” or “Not sure yet”, might warrant the response, “That is just fine at this stage. Any thoughts of rural, suburban, or urban?” And so a seemingly simple question (that appears entitled to a seemingly simple response) demands an instantaneous and pressured answer, usually spewed out of the ever stressed high school student.
It’s summer after your first year of college, and you are free from the pressures of papers and tests, but have instantly lost the freedom of living on your own. No longer can you blast your favorite Spotify playlist, prompting equally loud music from your neighbors. No longer can you leave at ten at night and return drowsily to your bed at three in the morning. No longer do you communicate in a language comprised of strings of profanities. No longer can you sit on the crusty, old carpet in the hall with a pizza and a couple of friends, and enjoy a very literal midnight snack in the middle of finals week.
Here you are, sitting at home at ten o’clock on a Saturday night staring at the flickering TV, as you yawn and stuff your face with a handful of popcorn, one cheek pressed against the soft, familiar fabric of the couch cushion, your buttery fingers sliding on the buttons of the remote, skipping through over-played movies and reality show marathons.
While many students feel the withdrawal from going cold-turkey on the college lifestyle, everyone misses something different. Maybe the kids at the Big10 schools miss the Friday night lights. Maybe the liberal arts students miss their intimate campus, fueled by frisbee games on the lawn and luscious tress to read under.
But you city school kids definitely miss the city. You miss stepping out of your dorm and walking three blocks to the twenty-four hour bodega, or the pizza joint that’s open until three, but if you’re lucky they’ll let you in at 3:16AM, and give you an extra slice for free. And you miss sneaking into crummy bars under greasy restaurants, and the thrill that comes with being eighteen in a pub. And you miss the cars zooming by, and the public transportation that’s fast enough to get around, but slow enough to complain about. And you miss the shades of grays and blacks worn by buildings and people, and then the joy and refreshment of walking into a park. And you miss the street performers, who pull unsuspecting tourists into their acts. And you miss the surprise of a street fair or parade. And you miss the casual passing of a celebrity, as she walks her dog past the library.
So now you have returned to your childhood home, and are reunited with friends who have scattered across the country. Everyone laughs at each others’ stories about the dorms and classes and parties, but after the stories have been told, and the inside jokes reinstated, the boredom sets in. Because you can’t leave at ten at night with out questions being asked, and you can’t walk down the street to a pub for trivia and a couple of beers on a Tuesday. And forget about all those parties unless you’ve found a designated driver because you can’t walk or take the train home.
But hope is lost! In just three short months you’ll be back in the city and reunited with your fellow urban college friends. And dollar pizza will still be there, and that bodega owner will be happy for your purchases of Doritos and Four-Lokos. And trivia night will be more fun than ever because nothing is better on a warm fall evening in the city than a cold pint with friends.