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College without the stress

On a recent sunny afternoon in July, the Main Green was nearly as busy as when the trees first started blooming in April. Art students sat on the Quiet Green sketching the Manning Chapel, Frisbee players dashed around the University's lawns and construction sounds from Wilson Hall belied the peacefulness of the tree branches swaying in the breeze.

Many of the students lounging on the Green are high school students participating in Summer@Brown, while others are Brown students staying in Providence for the summer.

Deborah Gorth '09.5, who is living in a Governor Street apartment, is filling her days with both study and work. She is taking two classes, one in neuroscience and one in biology, and working at two labs doing biomedical engineering research.

Gorth admitted that her schedule keeps her busy - she woke up to study neuroscience on a Saturday morning - but she also said she is enjoying her summer in Providence.

"It's awesome," Gorth said. "It's a good mix of being productive and having fun."

Gorth brought a car to campus, so she has been able to venture off College Hill for weekend entertainment. She went surfing in Newport, explored rural South County and made plans to attend a Red Sox game in Boston.

Kaitlyn Laabs '09, who also has a car available, has spent much of her free time scoping out the state.

"I have a newfound love for Providence and for Rhode Island," said Laabs, a Herald sports staff writer. For her, one of the greatest benefits of spending summer near campus has been developing a new relationship with her surroundings. When she is not roaming Rhode Island, Laabs is studying for her American civilization class and working for WBRU.

"You've got no stresses of the school year, but all the benefits," Laabs said. She likes using her extra time to find new treasures in the area, from a great concert venue or a new restaurant to the perfect place for relaxing with a book.

But Laabs said it's the student culture that makes summer in Providence worthwhile.

"I've met so many awesome people I never would've met during the year," she said, explaining how easy it was to run into the same few people over and over again until friendships formed.

Though Adam Backer '08 does not have a car, he has also found ways to entertain himself and meet new people in Providence. Backer spent the past two summers here, and he said he can now navigate the city pretty well.

"During the year, I'm always in the same few blocks, but now I can walk farther and see more," Backer said. "There's more time to waste."

This summer, Backer's favorite haunt is the Steel Yard in Olneyville, a community space for teaching and creating art. At night, Backer said, the Yard often hosts parties attended by Brown and RISD students, as well as local artists and community members.

Though he ventures to Olneyville occasionally, Backer, like most Brown students, lives and works on the East Side. He is renting a room at Watermyn co-op, eating his meals at Finlandia co-op and doing electrical engineering research through a Royce Fellowship.

Backer said he is having more fun this summer than last, when he was spending all of his time researching, funded by an Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award, and taking an intensive emergency medical technician class.

The key to a good summer in Providence, Backer said, was setting aside enough free time to enjoy the social scene.

Gorth agreed. "Even cooking dinner is really a social event," she said. The only negative aspect of Providence in the summer, Gorth said, is the oppressive heat and lack of air conditioning.

Laabs admitted that apartment living has its challenges but said she does not regret staying in Providence.

"It's probably the best decision I made," she said.


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