At Colgate, groups across the university strive to make open spaces where students can gather and spend time together. Events are held in places like common rooms, the football stadium, and the Coop as a way to build community on campus. College campuses are not the only place that this takes place. Towns and cities of all kinds have open areas where community members can spend time together. Now that you've spent time in your abroad location tell us about these community spaces. Are there parks that you frequent? Sports games you've been to? Gone to events that gave you a feel of the community's priorities? Simply, tell us about where people gather.
During my time in Buenos Aires, I suppose I had two different experiences with where community members gathered. As I would walk to and fro class every day, I would pass by too many parks to count. People were always in parks together. They were eating food, reading, and exercising there. On weekends families would take over the parks with picnic blankets and soccer balls out on the grass. Markets would consume all the sidewalks surrounding a given park. Friends and families would all be roaming through the markets, head to a nearby restaurant for a meal or simply walk to the next park for a different market. Everything was open, green and high energy as individuals chatted with each other. On the other hand, my experience with where people gather was different in terms of my homestay family. My family didn't often go out to places to gather, instead, everyone just came to our apartment. Most of their extended family lived in the same neighborhood so they would come over at any given time to say hi, have a meal or hang out with the dog. Friends would come over to do homework together in the living room and everyone was always sharing mate while they worked. It was as though my homestay apartment was the living room of all the other family member's apartments. Nothing needed to be planned, everyone was always welcome.
At Colgate, a considerable part of my social life incorporates my participation in dance. I co-lead DDT, a hip-hop and urban dance group that prides itself in creating a space for diversity to flourish, as well as preserve and foster knowledge of urban dance. When I went abroad to Tunisia, I desperately sought to find a community where I could continue to dance.
Despite my broken Arabic and limited French knowledge in a country thousands of miles from Colgate, I found that community.
Coming from a small, contained, and familiar campus that I could probably walk with my eyes closed, I've felt like a newborn baby, staring at anything and everything. I'm fascinated by everything London, and I seem to account anything new to be because I'm in London. Quite literally, trash cans, mailboxes, supermarket aisles get me excited. In addition, the different neighborhoods in London are quite distinct from one another, so I couldn't get used to one area and apply that to others. But having been in London for a month now, certain areas are starting to become more familiar than others. I'm an aggressive walker. I'm also a little obsessed with my step count, which means that I'll opt to walk 2 hours to a market rather than take a convenient 30-minute tube ride. Most of my classes are in the morning, so I've taken full advantage of my afternoons to walk and get a sense of the area.
Some different neighborhoods in London:
Leaving campus frequently means that I've experienced "coming back" to campus that many more times. London is quite spread out, and most campuses are distributed through the city. Queen Mary is an exception and has a contained campus with a limited number of entrances. In a huge city with so much going on, it's difficult to find one space that becomes your own. And I don't want to be too confined to one area. But being able to return to my campus has given me a sense of comfort that has helped me when I feel a little overwhelmed by how much the city has to offer. If I come back to London in ten years, I think it's going to be this strip of area in East London that's going to allow me to "return".