It had only been a few minutes since I left my building, but I had already begun to regret my decision to spend the afternoon into the city. The gray sky had given way to drizzly rain and my mind was pondering everything else I could be getting done if I were holed up in my room with the short fiction of Edgar Allen Poe or studying in Bapst Library. But it was too late to back out now. My friend and I were already on the Commonwealth Ave. bus, heading to the train for some shopping in the city.
By the time we reached Newbury Street, the sky was already clearing up and the area was abuzz with tourists toting cameras and maps, girls with shopping bags, couples walking young kids in strollers, and dogs of every breed. Saxophone music floated through the air, and before we knew it, the sky was bright blue.
We walked in the sunlight, ate gelato scooped into the shapes of flowers, tried on prom dresses tongue in cheek, window-shopped, and stayed until past dark. By the end of our day, Newbury was aglow with string and lantern light. Hungry from a day of walking, my friends and I discovered the Dirty Water Pizza Co., where we ate thin crust pizza by the slice right in front of a bay window overlooking the street. We chatted and people-watched. It was my cheapest Newbury Street dinner ever, but it was also one of my best. By the end of the day, my feet were sore and my belly was full. I had found a dress I liked for $3. It was a good day.
By now, you may be wondering why I am telling you this and why you should care about my day at all. Like most of us, I have been to Newbury Street many times before. I did not discover a new Boston neighborhood or see any brand new sites. This was not a trip about getting something I needed or accomplishing anything useful, but as we jumped on the B Line heading home, I still couldn’t help but think, “Why don’t I do this every week?”
Life at Boston College is often so busy that it can be easy to stay on campus each afternoon and weekend, stuck in a repeating cycle of time spent in the library, at the gym, or watching Netflix. Even if one is presented with a free afternoon or a sunny Saturday, opting to stay on campus for a break often seems easier and more relaxing than a trip into the city, and at times it probably can be. But the same old routine keeps us well within the invisible confines of the so-called “BC bubble.” The bubble can be a nice place, but within it, we often forget to stop and breathe, especially during midterm season. Taking a break right on campus is not much of an escape when all your books, your laptop, and next week’s essay prompt are within reach on your desk.
For the sake of our sanity, especially on a suburban campus like ours, college students need to change it up: to eat something different, walk somewhere different, see different people, and hear different sounds. Away from the chiming of the Gasson bell tower, my mind felt more relaxed and restful than it had in weeks. Outside of campus, the temptation to go through my flashcards again was gone and my mind was left free to just look around, take it all in, and truly enjoy the present. We owe it to ourselves to, at least every once in awhile, separate ourselves from the everyday routines and demands of a college student.
So next time you have a little free time, don’t force yourself to get ahead on work or go to the gym. Instead, get some real fresh air—the kind that comes from somewhere a little different. Get off campus and do something you don’t do every day in a place you don’t go often. For those few hours, know that work can wait, and give your mind a well-deserved rest. You can expect it to be good for your soul and worth the trip.
Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Editor