When you go to college, you learn a lot more than what the professors teach you in stuffy classrooms. You learn a lot from different people who have had different experiences, and you learn possibly even more from your surroundings. Over the past semester and a half, I’ve been living in the great city of Boston on an incredibly urban campus (I’m talking only a handful of buildings on about one block where the longest distance you ever have to walk is about a five minute stroll). From this environment—especially because I come from a small, rural town—I have learned several valuable lessons.
City Lesson: Cities are scary, but not THAT scary
Life Lesson: Be confident
When I told people I was moving to a city, they were worried about me. I’ll admit I’m a small girl who probably couldn’t fight off many people, but the way people told me “Oh, be careful,” every time I mentioned the city, you would think I was moving to the most dangerous place in the world. The truth is, yes, cities can be scary. There are bad people and bad situations can happen when you are somewhere with a lot of people. But they aren’t actually that scary. Sure, there are probably places you should avoid while alone, and it’s always better to go places (especially at night) with another person. But if you spend every moment outside by yourself in fear of something bad happening, you will drive yourself into an unbearable state of paranoia. If you act like you know what you’re doing, people won’t bother you. A confident, city-smart person isn’t an easy target.
City Lesson: Public transportation is a blessing and a curse
Life Lesson: Appreciate things
The favorite past time of all Boston students: complaining about the green line. In Boston, we have a subway system called the T. The green line is the longest and oldest line, and obviously has a lot of problems. Since the line splits into four different ones at a certain point, you can’t just get on any train, and unlike the other lines, there’s no boards that tell you when the next train is coming. Basically, if you want to get anywhere using it, you have to account for about twenty minutes of waiting around at the station.
But honestly, public transportation is amazing. For a small fee, I can go anywhere in the city pretty quickly. Plus, I don’t have to worry about traffic or road conditions (well, to a certain extent—winter hasn’t been nice to the above ground portion of the T). We complain about public transportation a lot, but it really is a great thing to have. And that’s a lesson that can be translated into a lot of other areas: appreciate things.
City Lesson: Connections are everything. And everywhere.
Life Lesson: Don’t be afraid to start conversations
When you live in a city, you won’t just be interacting with the people on your campus. There are thousands of other people around you that have all sorts of jobs, experiences, and skills. When you’re in this environment, it is important to recognize the benefits of this—and also the problems. You could be walking down the street and run into someone that is working in the exact field you want to go in to, strike up a conversation, and suddenly have an internship. When you live in a city, you have to keep your eyes open and not be afraid to start conversations, because you never know where those conversations might lead.
City Lesson: Living in your college’s bubble is easy and a waste
Life Lesson: Put yourself out there
When you live on an urban campus where everything you could ever need is less than ten minutes away, it is really easy to forget there is an outside world. Even if you live in an amazing city, you find yourself doing the same exact things over and over again—and it’s awful. If you live in a city, you’re surrounding by amazing things, so go explore. Get out of the bubble and figure things out—find new restaurants, hangouts, museums, etc. You won’t regret it.