This post is for anyone who can take the MBTA subway or commuter rail (or even a local bus?!) and reach the Medford campus from home.
While Sharon, Mass, my hometown, is a lengthy thirty-ish miles from here, it’s just one shuttle ride to Davis Square, a short Red Line trip into South Station, and an easily nap-able commuter rail ride back to the station in the center of town. All together, one hour of travel time. I easily could have been a commuter student—heck, my mom works in Medford! I even worked within walking distance on campus the summer before my first year here. The entire time I was applying to college, I had this option. I had Tufts. I could practically live at home, but I wanted something more at first, you know? Besides the amazing cohort of Boston schools, I wanted to feel a fresh start, fresh air as I made a conscious step out of everything I used to know.
In the end, I remained close to home. I could have gone to schools out in western Mass or a few along the east coast, but those twenty four hours of my overnight experience as an admitted student at Jumbo Days erased all other opinions I had about Tufts being lower on my list just because it was so close and possibly not far enough for me. Even from my old work space in Medford Square, the Tufts campus does have its own breath and life to it that realizes a unique atmosphere—something that couldn’t be blown away by the high, harbor winds from Boston or my own nerves about finding myself in a space still so familiar. So what exactly was (and still is) in the air that convinced me?
Perhaps it was the late night card games playing Egyptian Ratscrew, rolling right off the couches in laughter whenever somebody slammed their hand on the table in error. Or maybe it was the core group of friends I made that I still can hit up a year later even if they ended up going to schools across the US. More than anything, actually, I think it was just the experience of being out at 1 AM, walking back to my host’s dorm at what is still a “reasonable” hour here. It really wasn’t the home I was used to, but it felt okay. It felt real, it felt like the world’s largest group of friends all decided to live on a hill together, which doesn’t sound real but you gotta take my word for it, there was just so much I enjoyed and wish I could have kept experiencing for the rest of my life, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself but I don’t know it was just so much coming at you sofastandmaybeImissedsomebutitwasalljustso—breathe. College can be the grandest time of your life to the point that it’s almost overwhelming. The best part? On this hill, people of all speeds, from near and far, are ready to ride these winds with you as slow or as fast as you’re comfortable with. The hand holding of home and high school ends, but now you get to choose with whom you’ll pass the years and share the laughs. You get to create your own home here (and keep the one close by in case you ever miss it)!
Slowly, as I experienced this home close to home my first year in college, the two went from starkly separate to constantly enmeshed in new, surprising ways. I started with mutual friends from people I knew in high school since so many students spent their summers working, learning, training in Boston. Then, as the unofficial tour guide for Boston in my friend group, the hometown advantage means you always get to pick what your friend group does on weekends in the city. Perhaps the closest to home? The fact that I’m going to be bringing my dance team (my own main friend group here) to perform at my brother’s wedding in my hometown this October?? More than just the entanglement of my old and new homes, never forget that being to able to go home whenever had several of its own perks: being able to drive my car up and take some friends either to the city or north to the foliage of New Hampshire, coming home during finals and just driving back once or twice for an exam, easily having the option to take summer courses, and always bringing (stealing?) food from home that won’t perish in the short ride back to campus. Even after this year is over, I’ll have plenty of friends on campus to visit who will stay for the summer sessions and most of my old high school friends to come back to and live up another summer with.
In essence, college can feel thousands of miles away even when it’s right next door. The time you spend here will be managed wildly different from home, almost like another timezone all together. Don’t worry about near and far too much (besides the clear advantages to staying nearby), and just because you might be able to see home from the top of our hill, doesn’t mean our hill can’t be your home too.