One of the hardest parts of college is leaving your friends. You go to this new exciting place full of crazy experiences and new adventures, and it can seem hard to make time to keep up friends from home. How can you possibly begin to describe a day in which you discussed the categorical imperative, learned about telomeres, went to a lacrosse game, and made the perfect sundae at Late Night all over text? And obviously no one has time for phone calls. For better or for worse, lots of my friends have lost touch with their “home-friends”. I’ll admit it hasn’t always been easy, but I think I’ve been able to keep in touch well with my best friends from home. One of whom, my friend Rebekah, I got to visit this weekend in my first experience of non-Hopkins college life.
Rebekah’s been one of closest friends for almost 5 years now. We met at camp, and have spoken with one or two exceptions, literally every day since. Whether one of us is traveling, studying, or just extraordinarily busy, we’ve managed to text/Facebook/chat/skype/phone call almost every day. So it’s fitting that my first visit to another college would be to visit Rebekah in Binghamton!
This past weekend was our Fall Break, so taking advantage of an extra day off (thanks Hopkins) two friends and I made the 6 hour trek all the way up to Vestal, NY. I knew visiting a college with 13,000 undergrads would be quite the shock coming from Homewood, where a walk across campus takes ten minutes, but I was definitely not prepared for what I was about to experience.
After catching up, a brief tour, and an all too brief nap, Rebekah and I went to the Binghamton Chabad house for Friday night dinner. Free Shabbat dinner at Hopkins draws I’d estimate around 100 students. Chabad at Bing had over 400, and that was a slow night…
The huge school definitely wasn’t for me. Walking around campus, at a mixer, even at Chabad dinner it felt easy to get lost in the crowd. One of my favorite things about Hopkins I realized, is how personal it feels. It’s nice that anywhere I walk on campus I can find a friend to talk to, anywhere in the library I can sit down and work with someone I know. That sense of community appeals to me.
Bing has a campus culture much like Hopkins. Pasquale’s pizza serves up a late night slice for cheap, though I’d take a Uni Mini schwarma any day. The library has its own social scene and on campus dining halls have their own celebrities though none as sweet as Ms. Gladys.
The differences though are striking, a lot of people I met expressed frustration with academic flexibility, and difficulty finding research opportunities. Huge class sizes were also a turnoff for many, and while Hopkins certainly has its own issues, I’m lucky to feel academically satisfied here.
Aside from my visit reaffirming my love of Hopkins, I was so happy to get the chance to see Rebekah.
The beautiful thing about long distance friendships are that when you meet up, it’s like nothings missed a beat. Seeing Rebekah for the first time in a few months felt like I had just seen her a day ago.
We went to a local diner, relaxed, and there was no pressure to “catch up” because we had made the effort to keep in touch with one another.
I hope when you’re in that situation dedicated Hopkins Interactive readers, you too will make the effort to keep in touch with friends. Not only so you can go visit and experience a completely different kind of college experience, but so that you have some form of continuity before, during and after your own experiences.