Coming Full Circle on Campus

Finding your place at Boston College is a process that thousands of us have struggled with during our time here, whether it be the first few months for freshmen or three years and change for us old seniors.  

Something I found equally hard as a freshman was finding my places. That is, those places which were “mine,” that I would go to when I had a few hours to spare where I didn’t necessarily want to do work.

I lived on Newton Campus freshman year. This meant that every day I would take the bus to main campus to attend my classes, and back at night. Depending on the day, I might have been on main campus for only a few hours, or sometimes morning to night. Waiting for club meetings to start, going to office hours with my professors, or even attending an evening lecture all become a little more complicated when your home base is a bus ride away.

Because it was often easier to just stay on campus than to trek all the way back to Newton for a short period of time, I slowly began to look for places where I could park for a few hours to work or just relax.

I wasn’t alone in this. Between the other Newton kids, the students who commute, and the students living off campus, most people at BC have experienced the frustration of not being able to go home between campus activities.

For freshmen, it’s particularly difficult because you just have not spent enough time on campus to know exactly when certain places are crowded and what places to avoid. And hey, maybe even as a senior you never learn. This year, I have walked into the Rat after my Thursday 12 p.m. class, looked at the line, visibly cringed, and proceeded to my next class grumpy and coffee-less at least three times.  

And forget about the Chocolate Bar. My freshman-year self would have never hovered over one of those coveted tables as people were leaving. At this point, once I open the door to Stokes, I’m on a mission—and have yet to fail to get a table. I never gave my mom credit for her sixth sense in finding parking spots, but now I have decided that I have inherited it in the form of table hunting.

Nowadays, even if my room is empty, out of habit I will always make long phone calls outside. I am pretty sure I do this because freshman year there was never a truly viable alternative on main campus. And just by virtue of living on a communal hall, when I was on Newton I did the same as to not disturb my roommate. Freshman year this made me self-conscious, and I would often make my calls in relative privacy. Now, I essentially pace O’Neill Plaza people watching whenever I’m on the phone.

Because I had all this time to spend on main campus freshman year, I also got to learn about the little lounges and rooms seemingly everywhere. I would grab my overstuffed backpack after class and pick my spot to wait until my next obligation.

My favorite place to go freshman year was the seating area in the back of Stokes South. I would find my favorite armchair, and settle in for a few hours to read or do work. Sophomore year, my roommates and I got a not-so-spacious nine-man in Vandy, but if I had a chunk of time that I was not spending at the library or with friends, I was back there. Hanging out on campus completely lost its appeal because of the many times I was forced to wait for hours for my next activity.

The interesting thing about my experience freshman year was that even though I lived on Newton, I feel that I got a strong grasp of main campus as well. The hours before my Perspectives evening lectures, or my club meetings, led me to all different parts of campus.

I’m back to living on main again, but now I have found myself going back to these old spots in a way that I never did sophomore year. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of senior year, maybe it’s the realization that I only have a few more months left here. Sitting in the back of Stokes gives me a strange comfort in knowing how far I have come, and how much change college has brought upon me in terms of security and confidence. I resented the time I spent unnecessarily on Main while I was a freshman. Now, those old spots bring me a kind of comfort and assurance and I would not change any of it.

Featured Image by Meg Dolan / Heights Editor