Experiencing the country from the Bard College campus
By Laura Laman
There are many things to love about America. I am aware that this seems to be a bit of an unpopular opinion nowadays, within the borders of the country as well as outside. Shitting on America seems to be an easy thing to do. But still, now that I have successfully crossed the ocean for the first time in my life and spent a good three months in this country, I have encountered so many things that made me love America, and I continue to discover more everyday. Of course, I am also aware of the fact that my particular perspective is very much shaped by me being a young, white, European Liberal Arts & Sciences college kid (with the tendency to appreciate things), giving me access to some things that not everyone has access to, and receiving treatment in particular (social) situations that might in some ways be different than others. However, the things that I love about America are there, they do exist, I’m not making them up. So how about we focus on the good things that are out there? Here are some examples:
- Nature. I have done some amazing hiking in the Catskills, camping in Philadelphia, driving through Vermont, walking around the Bard Campus, and really, I never expected this country to have such an amazing nature to behold, especially in the fall. And I have seen nothing yet, I still have to go to all the National Parks that I’ve been reading about.
- Wildlife. Squirrels! Chipmunks! Skunks! Possums! Raccoons! Eagles! Deer! Beautiful creatures that I’ve seen so far on the Bard campus. Imagine the rest of the country! I still want to see those bears that are supposed to be around…
- Architecture. American houses with their front porches and countless doors, they’re adorable. And the skyscrapers that tower so far above you that you feel like a baby ant, they’re incredible. And then there are old, tiny churches, cute farms, hotels, museums and what not that just look really good.
- Small towns. Woodstock, Hillsdale, Kingston, Red Hook, Ithaca, Rhinebeck, and hundreds and hundreds more – they’re such a joy with their adorable little stores and pretty streets and houses and fun events happening all the time. I’m so moving to Woodstock when I’m old, I’ll join the drum circle every single week and play the harmonica while I watch the sun set in the mountains.
- Huge cities. Prime big city example New York City is everything that I imagined it to be, and more. It is a truly enchanted city where magic happens, if you look for it. The first time I went to ‘the city’ I ended up at this rooftop party in Brooklyn with cool musicians, artists, performers and whatnot after randomly meeting this cool architect (his name was not Ted), and it was legendary. And then there are the museums, which brings me to:
- American art. Why didn’t anyone tell me about those American painters before? Go to the American Wing in the MET and you’ll be surprised by the variety and quality of American art. Mind-blowing landscapes by Thomas Cole, Asher Durand, John Kensett and George Inness are some of my faves.
- Shape note singing. Definitely one of my absolute favorite discoveries is this age-old tradition of community singing that is open for everyone to join, which I did, and it was awesome. The music is beautiful and the people are fantastic.
- Target. Oh, the wonderful, over-oversized, consumerism on steroids. Take me to Target any day, any time.
- American pool table rules. You give your opponent the turn if your ball goes into the pocket by accident. Honorable!
- Diners. Drinking a milkshake and eating oversized dishes with your friends in one of the booths of your local aesthetically pleasing diner that hardly changed since the 50s is the true American life.
There is so much more; you’ll probably hear me fangirl about America when I return to Middy after Christmas. I’m afraid I won’t be able to talk about anything else, because boy, do I love this country!
Laura Laman, Class of 2018, is a Music History and Religion major from Huizen, the Netherlands.