There has always been something about living in the city that has been a dream of mine ever since I was little. When I watched the brief, but the good run of The Carrie Diaries on The CW I felt somewhat of a connection to Carrie Bradshaw. I always dreamed of living in big cities like New York or London, but all of the cities I had dreamed of calling my home were not only far from my hometown, but the cost of living there was outrageous. Little did I know there was a city within an hour of where I lived that would become my home away from home- Cleveland.
Like most who grew up in Northeastern Ohio, trips to Cleveland were frequently made throughout my childhood for countless baseball games and other events. We had all grown up in the shadow of the big city. So as the visits to the city continued, the smell of the city, the lingering smog, and the nasty attitudes of the city natives became a welcoming change from the small suburban towns we were all accustomed to. The bright, friendly neighbors in your cookie-cutter cliché suburban neighborhood where all the houses were identical with pristinely cut grass were not for you. The neighbors were overly happy- they could shove their sunshiny attitudes up where the sun don't shine. The city was so much more than all that- it was a big diverse city with an equally diverse population and things to do. It called to you.
So, like me, when it came time to start the infamous college searches, looking at colleges that were in the middle of nowhere made you miserable. The thought of being surrounded by cornfields with nothing to do the moment you stepped on campus made you cry. The universities were perfectly fine- for other people- but they just weren't places that could become a second home. Due to this, a lot of colleges were not even considered, let alone visited, when it came down to it. Choosing to come to CSU has been the best decision I have made in my life because not only has it led to great opportunities and even greater friendships, but the location is amazing.
You would think that once you start to live and go to school in the same city that it would get old and that you would run out of things to do. When there isn't an event on campus, there is a concert, sporting event or flash mob going on. There are a dozen theaters and museums in the city with ever-changing plays, movies, and exhibits. For the days that you don't have money to spend, there is something to do too- from volunteering or even walking around the city taking pictures- there is literally always something new to do or explore. To say you're bored clearly means that you are new to the city.
One of the biggest culture shocks that come with moving to a big city from a suburb is public transportation. Driving in Cleveland is simply out of the question when you are perfectly capable of walking or, better yet, taking the bus. I know I am not the only one who was in complete shock the first time they stepped onto a Cleveland RTA bus or any big city bus for the matter. The people on the bus are very diverse which in itself is a shock from the typical suburban town. Everyone can tell you are new to the city because you do not know where to get off and are constantly looking out the window trying to find the street signs, and you do not fully understand that the bus drivers like to stop frequently and fast. But as time goes on, you learn to love and appreciate the bus because it can get you across the city in a fraction of the time it would take you to walk and it shields you from any type of weather that is not ideal- which is never a shock in Cleveland.
Yes, the city is scary at times, but I have yet to feel genuinely unsafe in the city near my college campus. There is always a risk of crime wherever you live, but Cleveland is not the dangerous city that everyone makes it out to be. The police force is not perfect here (but honestly, where is it perfect) but they have really stepped up their game in the city since the RNC last summer, as well as on campus this past semester. The issue of safety has always been my parent's- especially my mom- biggest concern. Compared to the big city, I am just a tiny girl. Knowing that by simply opening an app on my phone I can have the police come to where I am in minutes has put them at ease a little bit. I know it is my parent's job to worry about me, but I have yet to feel unsafe in my environment.
Another great thing about the city is that it never truly sleeps. Now compared to cities like New York and Chicago, Cleveland is a 9 to 5 city, which is true to some degree. After 5 pm, the businessmen leave their offices and head home to the suburbs, but the city dwellers are still around. I personally hate being alone, it has always been one of my biggest fears. Being in the city means that you are surrounded by a diverse crowd of people during the day, and can see people riding their bikes or walking around at night. There is something oddly calm about knowing that even a big, busy city can never be truly calm at night, there are always people in the city.
Going to school in a city is truly an experience like no other. There are countless opportunities the city can offer anyone. Hearing stories from my friends or other people about how at other colleges students are drinking until they drop at random frat houses off campus because there is nothing better to do gives me a sense of pride for being in a big city. Partying is always a given option at any college, but it is not the only option while attending a big city college. Once in a while a party can be fun, but what is the fun in not remembering a good portion of your time in college when you can go out and explore the city making memories that you will keep for a lifetime.
Being able to walk to a museum to see priceless artwork, see world renowned plays, concerts and sporting events every weekend is a surreal opportunity. The experiences are even integrated into the classroom- professors will call for papers about your experiences going to these museums and seeing the orchestra perform. The jobopportunities aren't limited to on campus jobs either. On-campus jobs and house parties are no longer the cliché at a college in a big city where the best opportunities begin off campus.
Attending a college in a big city has given me countless stories and pictures to show my family when I go home. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.