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Nov 26 2017
by Neeti Joshi

Why College Students Should Spend Time Off-Campus

By Neeti Joshi - Nov 26 2017
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I’m very fortunate to be at a college in a major city; it means I never get bored. My college campus is essentially one with the city, which makes it even easier for me to go out and explore. During my first week, I wouldn’t come back to my dorm until 2 or 3 a.m. sometimes because I’d spend all day taking advantage of my newfound independence and freedom (so much to do, not enough time to do it). Because of my daily endeavors, I think I can say with confidence that not only have I adjusted to the college life, I’ve also adjusted to the city life; but that isn’t true for many of my fellow schoolmates.

My roommate, for example, never goes anywhere in the city besides buildings and areas affiliated with our university. I’ve noticed that most students don’t leave the vicinity of our campus unless they are required to do so. And usually, they are only required to do so if it relates in some way to the university. Going out on their own, seeing the world through a lens that isn’t college related, is not such an easy thing for everyone to do. And most colleges in the country make it difficult to do so as well, because many campuses have closed gates that distinguish the campus from the rest of the area, making students inclined to just stay on campus.

However, my school is a little different. We don’t have closed gates. We don’t really have much that distinguishes our school from the rest of the city. Which is why I think it’s very important to take advantage of it. Just because we’re college students doesn’t mean we have to make everything in our lives about college. People say that going to college is your first time stepping into the “real world” and seeing how the “real world” works. However, the “real world” isn’t a bubble. It’s a place full of different people, communities, cultures, backgrounds and methods of communication…the list goes on and on. Colleges are typically bubbles, since it’s one community full of people who often share common aspirations and values. In order to experience the real world—and also college—to the fullest, it often becomes necessary to step beyond college.

It doesn’t have to be big. Not everyone needs to go all out the way I did if they realize it’s not for them. It can just be a coffee shop a few miles away from campus that isn’t really affiliated with your college in any way. It can just be a bookstore, a park or something that truly makes you feel like an adult. Many students live off-campus, but they still spend all their time on campus if they aren’t home. Instead, it might be beneficial to explore the area near where you live, just as a way to feel like more than simply a college student.

Leaving campus doesn’t even have to be something you need to do as an adult! More often than not, you’re doing it as a kid! Having fun, exploring, going on adventures and seeing new things—those are all things we haven’t had time to do in so long. Those are also things we probably haven’t wanted to do in so long because although many students come from families that move frequently, many also come from areas where they have spent their whole lives. Coming to a new place is usually reason enough for people to channel their inner playfulness and curiosity about the world. And, again, not everyone goes to a new or unfamiliar place for college, but the environment in which you’re placed is inevitably going to be different so you’ll be seeing a familiar place through an unfamiliar lens which can be very exciting in and of itself.

And I realize that spending time outside of your college may not be something you necessarily want to do. As I said, it isn’t for everyone. And sometimes, the specific school you’re at may make it harder or more inconvenient to leave campus, sometimes due to the fact that everything you’ll ever need is within campus. So it may not happen for everybody. However, I think it’s important to point out that trying it out once never really hurts. Ultimately, we are all students and that should be our priority as people in college. But before students, we are humans. Humans with the desire to experience life in whichever way we please. So whether or not people decide to venture outside of the comfort of their college campuses, it’s important to remember what life, adulthood and having fun are really about.

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Neeti Joshi - New York University

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