Like many students when they decided to come to Colgate, I was pretty worried about living in such a small town. Worries about lack of activity, lack of food options, lack of a grocery store in walking distance were definitely on my mind as potential negatives to the school. Sure, Hamilton had charm, but what was more important –– charm, or a Chipotle?
Still, I sent in my early decision application and was thrilled to find out that Colgate would be where I would spend my next four years. I couldn’t wait to spend every Saturday at football games (I’ve been to one), join every club possible (I started out strong, but by senior year my involvement has certainly dwindled) and major in history (not my major). I even floated around the idea of getting involved in that Dancefest thing my tour guide raved about (I’ve been a dedicated audience member).
Clearly, things didn’t go quite as planned. Of the things I was most excited for, most did not come to fruition. But, the thing I was most worried about –– the small town –– turned out to be one of my favorites. To me, there is nothing better than going downtown and running into a friend, professor or classmate.
The feeling of knowing that wherever you go can certainly feel stifling at times, and I have definitely hit times where I need to get out of this town. But, seeing your professors walking their dogs when you hang out downtown; Running into that classmate who you worked on a group project with two years ago but haven’t talked to since; To me, it’s worth it.
That being said, living in a small town like this brings responsibilities. When it’s midnight and we’re yelling to our friends 50 feet away on Broad Street, we’re waking up those same people we love running into. When we leave our trash outside, it’s blowing onto those same people’s lawns.
Living down the hill has certainly made me think more about where we are living, but it was not until I talked to Hamilton mayor Bob McVaugh for a Maroon-News story that I truly understood the deep impact we can have. I’m ashamed that it took me so long to understand.
Presumably, many of us came here for the promise of community –– we wanted to be a part of this small town and engage with each other. But, that needs to include respect, at all hours of the day. We continuously talk about the “real world” as something outside of Colgate. But just because we like to talk about the Colgate bubble does not mean that we are separate from some real world or that our actions do not have real consequences.
Next year, pending employment, I will hopefully be living in a city. I will likely no longer run into people I know wherever I go, and that is one of the things I will miss most about Colgate –– and Hamilton. But whether in city or small town, it is important to remember that we are always in the “real world.”