It’s been a strange month, trying to transition back into the Davidson routine. After a semester abroad, it’s almost like I’m a freshman all over again, stumbling into a community of new faces where everyone seems to know each other and I have to rediscover my place on campus. The problem sets, the overscheduling, the work-hard-play-hard atmosphere – this is the Davidson I knew, but reuniting after a long absence is not instantaneous.
That’s not to say it’s been difficult or disappointing to come back. On the walk between Chambers and Commons (probably about three minutes) I say hello to no fewer than five acquaintances, all smiling warmly back at me, just because it’s Davidson and hey, when we see someone we recognize, we greet them. Sometimes we don’t know how we know them, but that doesn’t make the greeting any less cheerful. And so I remind myself: that’s why I’m here. Sure, I’m not hopping trains anymore to explore a new European city every weekend, but I am in a place where I can tell we’re all genuinely happy to have each other here.
It’s a thought that keeps me going on the frigid walks home every night. Which leads me to the other new experience in my life this semester: living off campus. Although Davidson guarantees housing on-campus for any student who wants it, a tiny minority of us choose to venture out into the wild unknown, a full three blocks from campus (two if you take the short cut), and live like real adults in a real house. Crazy, I know. I probably wouldn’t have done it if the friends I’d planned to live with hadn’t all gotten so excited to live in a house. I mean, now I have to do mundane, depressing, real-world things like cleaning dishes, paying bills, and – perhaps most daunting of all – doing my own laundry. Well, technically I could still bring it on campus to the laundry service and avoid that chore, but it’s just as easy not to.
But in all seriousness, living in a house has been a great new adventure here at Davidson. The house was just renovated and it’s beautiful, clean, perfect for our needs and impressively cheap. Sometimes our beautiful campus can feel like a world unto itself – a common problem at small colleges – and it’s good to get a bit of perspective by engaging with the outside world a bit, and having to figure some things out on my own. The extra element of freedom and the slightly expanded horizons that come with living off campus are especially welcome after a semester abroad, when I had a whole continent at my whims. I was afraid Davidson would feel too restrictive after a semester of travelling, but I’ve put that worry well behind me now. Between four incredibly interesting classes (I’m not kidding, they’re actually fascinating), singing, piano, rehearsing for a musical, catching up with old friends, partying, building snowmen in the front yard, and just chatting in the Union, I don’t know why I ever thought I’d be bored or limited back at Davidson.