The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Living in the Middle of Nowhere Isn’t So Bad

Lauren Stewart

When I first arrived at Colgate University last year, I was in awe that the closest Starbucks was 45 minutes away. A part of my daily routine for as long as I can remember has been picking up my caffeine every morning before school started, giving myself a few extra minutes to drive into my town center to fuel up. I did this without even thinking sometimes; it was so habitual.

I’m not going to lie — I missed my daily green tea lemonade shaken with light ice and having fast food and drinks at my fingertips. I missed getting anything and everything I wanted within ten minutes of my home.

I grew up in Westchester, New York (or, as we locals like to say: I grew up forty minutes away from New York City), so the norm was an overwhelmingly fast-paced lifestyle. You could feel the stress in the air as you walked around my high school. School felt like a constant competition with your peers for who could take the most honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes and ultimately get into the most prestigious colleges.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a great high school experience and made friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. However, when the college search came around, I knew I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone and go to school far from a city. Colgate checked off many of my college non-negotiables: rural location, liberal arts education, small student population and engaging alumni. All of these factors led me to the small town of Hamilton, and I couldn’t be happier.

Living in Central New York was an adjustment. I knew New York was big, but I never anticipated how diverse of a place it was geographically. Even as a born-and-raised New Yorker, coming here caused a slight culture shock.

When I moved in, my parents and I decided to eat at a local establishment and were baffled that we had to wait an hour to receive our seemingly simple meal. My parents, also having grown up in New York, eagerly checked their phones, watching the time pass and worrying about how I would have enough time to move everything in before orientation started. At this moment, I realized that in being wired to a fast-paced and fast-service lifestyle, it’s easy to lose sight of the current moment by constantly worrying about the next thing. Although initially an annoyance, I knew I would grow fond of Hamilton’s more relaxed nature compared to the setting in which I grew up.

After this realization, I quickly began to appreciate the small businesses in Hamilton and the surrounding areas and slower pace of Central New York. I went on more walks than I ever did in my hometown. Rather than walking near strip malls and highways, I meandered through the orange- and yellow-hued leaves, the myriad of dairy farms (that can be really smelly, by the way), and even by the beautiful Lake Moraine, only ten minutes from campus.

For the first time in my life, I felt fully immersed and appreciative of the environment in which I lived. This newfound appreciation and emphasis on a slower-paced lifestyle changed my perspective for the better, reminding me of the importance of simply taking a breath and realizing that life isn’t all about worrying about the next thing I should be doing, but rather about enjoying the now.

When a simple errand at home would take me five minutes, sometimes here it takes me twenty minutes. I feel myself getting frustrated at the workers and wondering what’s taking so long. Other times, I wish I could hop into a car and get to Starbucks and Chipotle within ten minutes rather than forty-five. These feelings are fleeting, though, as I would not trade my college lifestyle for the world.

Everyone always says that college is the time to try new things, push yourself out of your comfort zone and find who you are. I’m not quite sure I’ve done all of these things yet, but I am sure that I truly appreciate living in a more rural area than I’m used to. I have the rest of my life to explore new and exciting cities that are bustling with activity, but, for now, I couldn’t be happier with my quaint college town and small community — even if that means driving forty-five minutes for Starbucks.

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About the Contributor
Maya Egan
Maya Egan, Assistant Commentary Editor
Maya Egan is a sophomore from Rye, NY with a concentration in political science and a minor in English. She has previously served as a staff writer for the Commentary section. On campus, Maya is an executive member of a Greek letter organization

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