So strange to be in the young alumni tent, look around, and think “this is what it felt like when I was in college, these were the people.”
There’s something so special about this place. I am not one to wax poetic about locations — I am ‘transitory’ at best, but Brown is different. It isn’t until you leave that you realize not everyone treats their college, not just their ‘experience’, but the whole package, as something so … loving? happy? Not that everyone here is happy for four years, but even when you’re not excited for life, you can be excited for Brown, for the feeling that the school brings you. It’s the exact opposite of an impersonal, indifferent experience. How can you be sad when Ruth is so happy? Who else holds a flashmob for a departing president with a giant main green celebration with tons of legit free food and a crowd that is legitimately sad to see her go?
There’s definitely something to the ‘happiest college’ stereotype about Brown. Not everyone will love it, but the type that would tends to congregate here, and they cultivate a culture that, in retrospect, was shockingly unselfish and anti-gloryhunting, relative to what you’d expect from this type of school. All these stupid things that I worried about in high school (and now, after college) with people placing value on the dumbest things, being hypercompetitive about transitory shit, sticking their noses in places that they have no business being in, and puffing out their chests while darting their eyes at their neighbors… I forgot that I didn’t really deal with that for four years. It’s not that campus feels like a closed off bubble of happiness. It’s more that being here is always so comforting. Like returning home, but not even realizing that it IS ‘home’, because it feels so natural. How wonderful it was to arrive here four years ago and realize that academic success did not have to involve thriving off of negativity. And how much easier doing well in school became after that turned into the status quo.
It’s nice that finding alum in random places means that there’s a good chance this person a) had a good time in college b) actually liked the institution itself c) has really varied interests d) is actually good at these varied interests e) would love to hear about your own interests and f) could be obnoxious, but hey, the standards for people who aren’t completely terrible in the ‘real world’ are so low that I will take whatever I can get. There’s something to be said for NOT relishing in mutual misery as a bonding experience. And of course, there are annoying grads and assholes everywhere, but it’s almost awe-inspiring when even someone as misanthropic as myself finds that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Congrats, seventeen-year-old me. You made the right decision.