Good morning Miami. It’s time for another story. This week, we’ve chosen one you’re probably quite familiar with.

Once upon a time, students lived in red brick buildings. Trees of red, orange and yellow dropped clusters of leaves, painting the sidewalk autumn. The students walked to class, worked out at the gym and attended club meetings. They spent hours studying for exams, sipping on coffee and writing essays at the last minute. This was college in its finest form.

It was a great place to be most of the time, but every once in a while, something just wasn’t quite right.

The reality of living at college is probably something we don’t take enough time to think about. Everyday, we wake up and go to class, our schedules varying a bit depending on the day of the week. Every day, we’re surrounded by people within a 4-year-age range. Every day, we walk the same sidewalks and eat the same types of food. I’m not saying this is bad at all, but it can get tired.

I got a taste of this restlessness a few days ago. It was Friday and I’d woken up at 6 a.m., gone to a club meeting and spent three hours finishing my statistics homework. The perpetual drizzle of rain for days and the fluctuating temperature clouded my mood. I didn’t feel like going to the dining hall for the same type of food; I needed a break. More so, I needed a break not only from my routine, but from Oxford in general.

I texted my friend to see if she wanted to take a Target trip the next day and she immediately agreed. It takes about 40 minutes to drive from Oxford to Hamilton, but the drive is simple and the landscape is pretty. Time goes by almost too fast.  

We listened to music and chatted about school and life, and I realize that I had shaken off that clouded mood. As cornfields flashed past the car windows, I relaxed and left worries of my psychology research paper and three-part video project for journalism back in Oxford.

We ate lunch at Panera and I realized I haven’t stepped inside one since the first week of August. I glanced around and it took me a moment to adjust to the atmosphere. A toddler wearing jeans and a shirt and teeny tiny gym shoes gave my friend and I a huge smile. A middle-aged woman and her son shared a table. An elementary school girl sporting a red soccer uniform and a ponytail sat diagonally from us with her parents.

It sounds silly, but living in Oxford everyday, it takes me a moment to adjust back into the real world. The real world where the people on the sidewalks aren’t only 18-22 years old. The real world where preppiness isn’t the governing dress code. The real world where the biggest concern isn’t studying for tests or getting ready for a frat party.

It’s a good wake-up call.

After lunch, my friend and I made our way to the promised land: Target, with its glowing red letters welcoming us inside. Within 15 seconds, my friend spotted the half-price Halloween decorations and began to browse.

She ran through her shopping list, which stretched from soap to broccoli.

I combed through the sweater section. My friend tried on a coat. I looked at Christmas decorations, distracted by the selection of glowing ornaments. My friend found a bag of broccoli and, on a whim, bought a bag of different-colored miniature peppers.

A couple aisles over, we heard a high-pitched scream from an unhappy toddler. Thinking of all the stress left at school, my friend jokes in response, “If that isn’t me.”

We’re walking to the registers to check out when my friend noticed I hadn’t put anything into the basket. “Didn’t you need anything?” she asked.

I thought for a second and realized I really didn’t need anything at all. I went grocery shopping a week ago, and no matter how tempting Target’s selection of anything and everything might be, I didn’t really need any material things.

What I actually needed was a break, and luckily for me, that’s basically free of charge.

The moral of the story is to remember that it’s okay to take a break. I love Miami, but I call it “the Ox-box” for a reason. We see the same people every day, we go to the same classes every week and the scenery doesn’t really change. It is a bubble. A bubble I love, but a bubble nonetheless.

Do something different, go somewhere different and switch up your routine. It’s okay to step outside that Oxford bubble every once in a while. You’ll be glad you did.

dattilec@miamioh.edu

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