Why the Grass is Truly Greener on Our Own Side at Amherst
Issue   |   Wed, 03/21/2018 - 00:04
Photo courtesy of Jingwen Zhang ’18
The rural town of Amherst boasts pristine natural scenery and a level of seclusion that are often underappreciated by members of the college student body.

Amherst is a great little town. Nice restaurants, friendly people, fresh air, squirrels, trees, rocks ... Really, when Amherst promised us the best of all seasons with plenty of snow, amazing fall colors and lush green spring leading to summers spent outdoors, it wasn’t joking around. Every day Amherst surprises us with its ever-changing wealth of nature; we can’t help but be grateful for the quiet lives we are able to lead on the college’s private grounds.

But then again, even the greatest of communities has its share of negatives. And for us, this consists of the few students who complain about the very things that make Amherst College the great place it is. “Amherst is so secluded. There’s literally nothing to do here.” We’ve all heard or seen these students at least once throughout our college careers. They walk around campus with their perpetually-dissatisfied expressions, grumbling about anything and everything from sloshy snow to black ice. They’re too busy complaining about what we don’t have — shopping malls, clubs, skyscrapers, fancy restaurants — to realize all we do have. This article is here to remind us of the bountiful benefits that come with being on a small, rural campus — a little nudge in the right direction to help these malcontents realize the true beauty of our tiny, secluded campus.

“____ is so far. I can’t walk all the way over to _____ from here.” Fill in the blank with any location on campus, and we get one of our most popular grouch lines. Complaining about having to walk long distances is a classic, especially during the snowier winter season. But of course, the truth is that no place is really “far” for us — everything’s well within walking distance. Enjoying the ability to roll out of bed five minutes before class starts and power-walk across campus to class in time may be the first step in realizing how lucky we are.

With a small campus comes a small student population. We may all start off our first year on campus a little anxious that we won’t fit in or find our group of friends, but by the end of one semester, there is hardly a face on campus that we don’t recognize. Every walk to Val or class means bumping into someone we know, and each time we exchange our awkwardly-mumbled greetings, we can’t help but feel a huge surge of human warmth and connectedness. Just imagine being on a big city campus where people can actually walk around without having to make split-second decisions on whether or not to say “hello” to a semi-friendly acquaintance. How terribly lonely that must feel.

Amherst’s charms extend beyond our campus grounds. The quintessential New England town we are situated in comes with everything we might ever ask for — a bank, barbershops, a little indie cinema and, of course, plenty of restaurants close by, each with its individual appeal.

Not only does our town’s secluded location guarantee a noise-free, tourist-free and pretty much anything-new-or-distracting-free environment, it also means we have the pleasure of getting to know our town like the back of our own hands. Plus, the static nature of this college town means we save an enormous amount of time and effort that would otherwise have been spent trying to decide on the next exciting activity. In Amherst, we know exactly what our town has to offer.

Last but not least, our rural location ensures that we lead frugal lifestyles. As broke college students, it’s truly a blessing that Amherst is free of anything valuable enough to spend money on. Our only expenses comprise of getting things from the vending machines while doing our laundry, printing papers, occasionally going to CVS to treat ourselves or going to restaurants on those extremely rare days when Val happens to fail us. We don’t have any concerts, clubs or fancy Instagram-worthy restaurants to spend crazy sums on or at, and so most of the times, our wallets and bank accounts are safely lying dormant.

We say the grass is always greener on the other side, but for us lucky Amherst students, that is simply not true. Not only is our grass greener, our autumn leaves crisper and our snow thicker — Amherst also comes with all the irresistible charms of a tiny rural campus.