My friend recently likened life on a college campus to living inside the computer game “The Sims.”Obviously, this comparison is not perfect because of minor details like our human freedom, or, more heartbreakingly, the fact that typing “rosebud” onto my bank statement will not make more money magically appear in my checking account. But I think that her analogy does get to the heart of the matter: That in a lot of ways, living on a college campus is like living in a mini-metropolis. Certainly I am biased, but I think this holds especially true for Georgetown. So many aspects of my daily life here are intrinsically linked to my peers and friends.
What, for instance, am I going to do when I leave college and encounter real issues with a bank? When I can no longer stroll into the Credit Union and bother a student working on the teller line, only to be redirected to a friend sitting behind the member service desk? When I lost my wallet a week into my freshman year, I frantically called my good friend who had just been hired asking him to cancel my debit card. (“Immediately! Right now! Drop what you’re doing! And can I borrow $20 for dinner tonight?”) Something tells me this is not how one proceeds with such things in normal life.
Or when I go to get a cup of coffee. I order from my friends so I can ask for just a little extra of this or less of that, imploring them (rather unfairly) to be fast because I have two minutes to get to my next class. And they understand — because they just came from class themselves.
I think about the day when I turn on the radio during my morning commute to work (this presumes, of course, that gainful employment is in my future … just go with me here) and I do not hear the voices of my best friends talking to me over the airwaves. Which of course also means that I will not be able to run over to the station and force my way into the studio to heckle the disc jockeys, or incessantly call in to request songs or extol the virtues of indulging a Taylor Swift weakness.
There are countless other examples of this phenomenon: Stopping to pick up groceries means chatting with friends in line or at the cash register; catching up on the news as written, edited and compiled by peers; going to hear a concert or see a play and waving to friends on stage, cheering on a team of your peers from the sidelines; grabbing dinner at a favorite local restaurant and having your roommate as your waitress.
And here in this mini-metropolis, (the “bubble” of a college campus that I heard so much about growing up), everything is possible. College life levels the playing field. The accessibility in this small corner of reality is unparalleled. Here pursuing absolutely every whim or small ambition involves merely sending out an email, attending a general interest meeting or chatting with a friend. As a result, the world we carve out for ourselves during our time here feels remarkably familiar; in many aspects, we are its only inhabitants (aside from the professors, administrators and countless other faculty who make all of this possible).
When my mom purchased our first PC before we even had the dialup Internet set up, she installed the computer program “Busytown,” based on the children’s books by Richard Scarry for me. I must have been around 5 or 6 and was positively enthralled as I watched the townspeople move back and forth across the screen, waving to each other and going about their daily lives, perfectly content in this little world of theirs. You could click on various options, visit various storefronts or homes, but often I was happy to just sit and watch it all unfold. I entertained daydreams about what it would be like to live somewhere like that. How ridiculously great that would be, having a sense of community, of belonging?
It seems like I encountered a breed of “Busytown” here at Georgetown.
Margaret Delaney is a senior in the College. I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE appears every other Friday.