Some things look fabulous on paper but in real life…not so much.
Such is the case with Williams College in the Berkshires. We are at that season of our lives where school vacations are used for visiting colleges. Our son Josh graduates next year so this week, we traveled to Williams and Brown University. The instant we drove onto the Williams campus, the first thing we noticed was how picturesque it was. The second thing we noticed was how empty it was.
“Is the semester over?” I asked my husband as we pulled into the parking lot of our inn.
“I don’t think so,” he replied as we rolled our luggage inside the inn that time forgot. The furnishings were circa 1985. Our large room boasted flowered wallpaper, a floral bedspread, and a bright yellow bathroom with bright yellow towels.
A trip to the front desk in the lobby yielded two suggestions for dinner. Mainly because there were only two restaurants open in town.
It was 6:00.
We were somewhat alarmed to suddenly hear the sound of loud angry voices with an Irish brogue coming from the bar area. Curiosity got the best of me and I crossed the room to see what was happening.
Turns out that a play was in progress. A sign trumpeting the name of the production was placed at the bar entrance. The actors were scattered throughout the bar while the patrons looked on.
Must be western Massachusetts’ form of theater art. The actors seemed quite talented and the audience as clearly enjoying themselves but I just found it to be the oddest thing.
We left the hotel and headed into town to the recommended restaurant.
Once again, the campus was nearly deserted.
We live in a town of 6400 people.
This place made our town look like Times Square on a Saturday night.
We passed through the bar on the way to the dining room. It was nearly full and the customers were loud.
By the time we were finished eating our dinner, the bar was crowded and several people were quite drunk. Josh theorized that it was because there was nothing to do in this town.
This was only Monday night! We could only imagine what it would be like on the weekends.
We had high hopes for the information session the following day.
Those hopes were soon dashed.
The man who led the session was very sincere and well-meaning. The problem was that he seemed hard-pressed to come up with even one valid reason why anyone should choose to attend this school. He spoke in a rambling monotone and was so boring that the majority of our group left. I looked longingly at the mom beside me who was able to read her Kindle because she was perfectly positioned to hide behind her son.
The very instant the session was over, we made a beeline for the car, as there was no way we were staying for the tour, as Josh declared this college to be “soul crushing.”
Doug and I had to agree.
When we returned to our car, this is the sight that greeted us:
The cat gazed at us with a certain air of disdain as if to say, “What are YOU doing here???” (Despite the fact that he was on the roof of our car!).
We couldn’t leave until he decided he was good and ready to get down from his perch.
As has been said, it’s a cat’s world. We all just live in it. 🙂
We were so happy to leave western Massachusetts behind and head to the lovely town of Providence, Rhode Island.
We all fell in love with the Brown campus.
The atmosphere on campus was electric, happy, and exciting.
It was the anti-Williams.
The information session was led by two bright-eyed, winsome students who immediately engaged all of us with their sense of humor and enthusiasm.
I practically fell out of my seat when they spoke of a most wondrous thing: there are NO general education requirements at Brown! None!
The student is free to design their own curriculum, taking only classes for their major and those that interest them.
Why did my university not subscribe to this amazing concept?!?!
All my life, I have hated math with the white-hot fury of one thousand suns.
Yet I had to struggle three times just to (barely) pass college algebra. It nearly gave me a nervous breakdown.
That alone would make Brown my #1 choice for a college!
As for Josh, NYU is still his #1 choice, followed closely by Brown.
If only he possessed ambition and had some goals. 🙂
We headed over to Thayer Street for lunch. On the way there, we heard the loud and clear voice of a street preacher on one of the corners.
Most people ignored him. One man openly mocked him from across the street, hurling insults in between taking deep drags from his cigarette. Others laughed in derision.
Still he preached on undeterred, inviting people to come to him to hear about Jesus.
I admired his courage.
After a delicious lunch, we drove through downtown Providence on the way toward home.
All in all, it was a successful trip.
I find that I am treasuring these increasingly rare times when just the four of us all together, knowing that this season of life when both our kids are living under our roof is rapidly drawing to a close.
My kids think I am being overly-sentimental and maybe so.
But a few decades from now, when they are making these same trips on behalf of their own children, they will understand.
How did it get so late so soon?
It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before it’s June.
My goodness how time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?