I was more than a little daunted when I made the first trek from the West Garage to Forbes on move-in day. It seemed like a universe away from university proper, perched on the side of Alexander Street, cut off from main campus by a quagmire of fences and yellow construction tape. There were 6-foot-deep holes here and there in the pavement, roped off by yellow tape, welcoming us to the land of Forbes.
I spent my first week nursing blisters from walking several times to and from Forbes every day for classes, club meetings and late meal. After that first week, I resigned myself to wearing my boring old sneakers instead of all the cute shoes I bought for college. For a notoriously slow walker like me, the trek was a marathon. That, combined with a paralyzing paranoia of being late, had me leaving 20 minutes early for classes everyday, ensuring my peace of mind as I slowly snailed along. On my second day of classes I woke up at eight, confusing the buzzing of a construction truck for the buzzing of my alarm clock. Getting places was a hassle because once I was cozily ensconced in my room, I didn’t want to leave again. I dreaded the long late-night walks to paint at the art studio at the far end of Nassau Street.
When classes started picking up in speed, and the weight of a million assignments hung heavily in my mind, the walks to and from Forbes became therapeutic. I began to enjoy the 15-minute breaks from constant stress. When President Eisgruber mentioned expanding Forbes as a possibility to increase the student body size, the knee-jerk reaction was, “Who’d want to live in Forbes?” I, or anyone else from Forbes, could answer that question. There’s something magical about living off main campus; I come back after a long day of classes to a place that’s familiar. I like the separation between school and dorms. At the end of the day, when I cross Alexander Street and see the familiar white paned windows and red brick walls, it feels like I’m going home. When I come back, my day is done. Though Forbes jokes are tossed around all the time for an easy laugh, there are benefits of living here that nobody else experiences. The popular conception that living farther away from everyone else brings us closer together is true. I find that I'm closer with people in Forbes because once we’re back for the night, we usually stay in and hang around. Instead of making the trek to Frist for late meal, we have study breaks in the Blackbox theater, stage impromptu ping-pong battles in the basement at midnight and watch Star Trek in the lounge until dawn. When I was choosing groups for Asian American Student Association projects, the Forbesians chose together and we ended up with a video production group who all lived in Forbes. My video group leader (who’s also in Forbes) told us that the same thing happened the year before as well.
I’ve come to terms with living in a different time zone. I’ve found it relaxing to be far away from where I have class, to live in a dorm that’s just home and not school. I’ve been looking out the window every morning when I wake up, and I noticed that there’s now a new fence put up across the street. When the new arts center opens up, I’ll be the first to see it when I open my window one morning. When there were gunshots reported in Nassau Hall, I felt a small twinge of smugness in being safe and sound in Forbes, far, far away from up-campus turmoil.
I’ve come to the conclusion that Forbes is a blessing in disguise. In exchange for walking 15 minutes to class everyday, I don’t have to worry about the freshman 15. It’s worth the walk and more for that chocolate fountain once a week, so for all of you non-Forbesians out there: I’ll see you Sunday.