It’s that time of the year.
The semester is coming to a close here in the Orange Bubble. The New Jersey air grows more chilly than ever, just cold enough to make you rethink that night-time trek to late meal. More important, this is the time of settling back into university life, after a tumultuous period of mass transit. Within the span of a few months (October – January), Princeton students travel to take time off for Fall break, Thanksgiving break, and Winter break, back-to-back-to-back. But now as we return to our dorms and the holiday season wanes, we are refreshed, full of new travel stories, and ready for... okay maybe not quite ready for finals.
I’d imagine that these last couple months have been the part of the school year that my family likes the most (or, who knows, maybe dislikes the most), because it is the time when I visit home most frequently. For me, home is a five- or six-hour train ride down south, back to good ol’ Commonwealth – Virginia. By now, in my third year, I’ve gotten used to the routine – I know the route like the back of my hand, and could probably find my way from Princeton to Fluvanna county blindfolded. I’m used to all the Amtrak cars, the bustling transfers in Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, and the awe-inspiring countryside sights blurring by from just outside the tracks (though now I mostly sleep through them). But I still love the way we are able to get a glimpse into other people’s lives when we travel. For example, you’ll find that lots of college students travel around the same times, due to the fact that many schools’ academic calendars coincide. I’ve always thought it kind of fun to find myself on a train with a bunch of other kids from universities up and down the East Coast. During this time, cars, planes, and trains are filled with college students traveling back and forth between hometown and college town, and transit centers become a moving mosaic of students in various school colors and emblems.
Trust me, if there’s ever a time to flaunt your university gear, this is it. There’s just something really cool about walking through airports and train stations and noticing so many other kids representing their school on their chest – Dartmouth, NYU, PENN, etc. On my train ride back after Thanksgiving break, a girl sat a few seats away from me, napping in her Harvard sweatshirt. It’s interesting to see how in these brief moments of transition between our college and our hometown lives, we students are connected with so many others through our shared experiences. Our gear provides an instant and non-verbal way to realize these connections, and often lead to conversations and even new friendships on the paths between places.
And of course, it just feels good to go home for a bit and proudly display your Princeton orange and black.