02 March 2010

La Vie Boheme or Classification Nation

Today I attended a play at nearby Emerson college. My friends Nathan Stanley and Amelia Harper performed excellently (good job guys!). But this post is not about one play in particular, but about the subculture that surrounds theatre in general. Arriving early and alone, armed only with an orgo textbook (which is not appealing) I had ample time to people-watch. The creatures that I observed truly fascinated me.

The girls I saw were not dressed flashily. Most had a mild air of superiority about them, and maybe a nose ring. Some were sporting scarves. They all knew each other. They wore overwhelming, but nice-smelling perfume.
The guys were, for the most part, gay. They interacted with each other and the girls in an open way that you never really see on most college campuses. They wore tees and zip-up sweatshirts that made them look way more casual than people usually look here.
Most people, guys and girls, had really fashionable eyeglasses. I mean, really fashionable. The girl in front of me had bright pink frames. They absolutely put mine to shame.

What do I make of this? This artsy, bohemian culture is way different than anything I usually come across at Harvard. It amazes me that an entire college can be largely characterized by this one subset of people. Are all universities like this?

Let's take Harvard to use as an example. I mean, the easy thing to say is that the people that go here are the "intellectuals" of our society. But compare us to a school like MIT (which is right down the river) and the students look like apples and oranges.

At places like Williams (which is definitely full of intelligent people), students walk to class in their pajamas. But at Harvard? If you're not showered and dressed in your Sunday best for your 9 AM class, there's always a little bit of judgment going on. Upper middle class attitude dominates the social scene--if you don't come from a wealthy family and private school, you're expected to act like you do.

I think that most college campuses can be characterized in a similar way. My POINT, however, is that I think that people let their school shape who they are to become in more ways than simply their education. It's true that we're all just 20 year olds (more or less)--how different can we be? But in the context of one's university, a lot of change is possible. I find myself restricting the number of days I let myself wear sweat pants and sneakers to class. I take international diversity for granted. I've bought into the final club thing.

At theatre schools like Emerson, students will similarly find themselves slowly blending into the liberal atmosphere that surrounds it.

Should we make a conscious decision to stop this process? I don't know. We chose our schools for a reason. Just don't let yourself get to the point where you alienate yourself from the millions of other college students out there.

A baker's dozen,


1 comment:

  1. But I think that one of the aspects of diversity at Harvard is that you can find your own microcosm of a world of a "theater school" or "bohemian culture" or "nerdy...whatever" if you find the right crowd and social scene... They definitely exist. And I like it because at Harvard, you have the capacity to immerse and emerge from the different scenes at your will, rather than being surrounded by it all times like at other schools