As 700 prospective students visit for A Day on College Hill while another 1,500 students prepare to graduate and become alums, it is funny to stop and realize how cyclical Brown truly is. Each year, Brown transforms students into scholars and serves as a place where ideas form, dissipate and then re-emerge as novel a few short years later. Poetic waxings about Brown aside, there are not enough opportunities along this cycle to stop and reexamine one’s journey, to reflect and reevaluate one’s standing in the world.
As wonderful as school breaks are, students often spend this time developing their resumes or chasing accolades. While these pursuits are important, more students would benefit by slowing down on these breaks and reflecting. Students should consider spending at least one summer in Providence — not at Brown per se — to appreciate the city and their individual experiences on College Hill a little bit more.
Each summer, as Brown students distribute themselves around the globe, a couple hundred of us move out of our dorms and down a few blocks into old Victorian houses, either as leasers or as subletters. Reasons for staying in Providence range widely, including conducting research with a professor, interning for a local nonprofit or working to save up for the Expected Student Contribution. Whatever their reasons for staying, these individuals help form a community of Brown students who would never have otherwise met or interacted. A summer in Providence introduces them to housemates, co-workers and new friends. Summer disrupts seemingly fixed friend groups, encouraging all students to mingle across years, disciplines and experiences and form strong bonds that carry over into the next school year.
More importantly though, spending time in Providence — when Brown is not necessarily the focal point — is a remarkable opportunity to realize that Providence continues beyond Thayer, Angell and Waterman Streets. Providence is home to more than 175,000 dynamic people. Spending a summer in Providence is an opportunity for students to not only live in Providence, but also to contribute to our city’s community.
Instead of just watching Waterfire, consider volunteering for the organization and lighting those braziers yourself. March in the PrideFest parade in June. Use your free Rhode Island Public Transit Authority access to travel to small towns along the coast, see the Newport cliffs or go on a hike. Learn to survive New England humidity. By spending a summer in Providence, you have an opportunity to experience Providence’s culture in a way that seems nearly impossible during the school year — an experience that is but a mere walk or bus ride away.
Living in an off-campus house thrusts you into adulthood: for many students, its the first time they have cooked, cleaned and paid household bills themselves. Tranquil living requires you to learn to communicate expectations, rotate chores and coexist with your fellow housemates. These lifelong skills cannot be taught in a classroom; they must be experienced.
One of the most stunning realizations from spending a few months untethered to Brown’s campus in Providence is how small the campus truly is. Your life in Providence does not need to revolve around the Main Green or the Sharpe Refectory. At the same time, spending some time on campus outside of the academic year can help you appreciate the unique character of the Brown community.
This summer, like the rest of your Brown experience, is yours to shape. Spend it how you would like, but never take for granted the communities around you.
Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Alexander Kaplan ’15 and James Rattner ’15, and its members, Natasha Bluth ’15, Manuel Contreras ’16, Baxter DiFabrizio ’15, Mathias Heller ’15 and Aranshi Kumar ’17. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.