On Getting Away

Over the weekend, a swarm of prospective students surrounded our campus, full of questions and expectations. They struggled to differentiate the yellow Keefe Campus Center from the yellow Loeb Center. They paused by the dozens of identical brick buildings, trying to assess the merits and disadvantages of this school while cautiously walking around campus, unable to know where their path might take them. The new adventure of college awaits them, as well as all the mysteries surrounding it.

However, for us students at Amherst, being on campus is no longer an adventure. The fastest paths to Val from our respective dorms are already ingrained in our muscle memory. Spending time on campus risks developing an autopilot and automation that deprives us of the mindfulness of our surroundings.

In thinking about what we can learn from these eager accepted students, the Editorial Board urges us to resist the mode of autopilot that comes from significant time spent in one place. This can come in the form of taking a few hours, or a few days, to travel off campus. This move can be to somewhere as close as Northampton, or further, like New York City. Bring homework and learn in a different environment, or take a moment to live outside of the stresses of school. We all need to get away from the insular experience of Amherst to understand our society at large. We need to remind ourselves of what it means to exist outside of simply being a member of the Amherst community.

While away, try to adapt to the new environment by losing the sense of security in exchange for exploration. Allow yourself to get lost in the moment without an agenda or résumé building goal. Let your senses take over as you simply allow the world to grab hold of you. Go for the food that’s available or the memories made along the way. Restore that eagerness to meet new people that came when we were pre-frosh and form connections outside of your comfort zone, connections that get lost when we become complacent. Maybe after you return, you’ll have a refreshed outlook on Amherst as well.

If getting off campus isn’t an option, find a way to make this campus new again. Go visit a new dorm or take a path that you normally don’t. Talk to people who aren’t in your immediate friend group. Take advantage of those events on campus that you always skip because you have too much homework. Revive the wonder that the pre-frosh have, and map it onto different aspects of this campus. Admitted students weekend isn’t just a time to make fun of the naiveté of high school students. It can serve as a reminder of how we should view our campus — as bursting with possibility. By looking at this campus through the eyes of those eager pre-frosh, maybe we can regain some of their hope and excitement and bring it back to our current experience.