First of all, this was an amazing weekend - the Drag Show was absolutely crazy, in an awesome way, the gender movie night, where Normal was shown seemed to go really well, Convo was really amazing and the Admissions Panel and Drag Panel were each really exciting. There's a new group that's talking about body positivity that's great too. All in all, a good weekend. In light of the Admissions Panel, I want to address a question that came up:
How do you deal with being plopped in the middle of nowhere, in a relatively homogeneous place, far from any major cultural centers?
First, this entry has a bit of bias due to my ownership of a car on campus. However, I will try to address the public transport available to students without cars or driving friends. Anyway, I come from an incredibly homogeneous background - 92% white, upper middle class, snobby,(although the sources for us being voted the snobbiest high school in the USA are questionable at best, some say Larry King, some say Dave Letterman) overachievers, with a parking full of BMW, and Lexus brand cars, not to mention with close to 40 offered AP tests (not all of them got enough people to make as classes, but still), and a graduating class of close to 1200. For me, Carleton was a breath of fresh air. There are certainly pretentious people and those who still act like high schoolers, but they are definitely the minority. There are far more international, minority, economically different, and ideologically distinct people here than there ever were at my high school. However, I understand that some people come from the middle of Chicago or New Orleans, or any other large city with all kinds of people, 18 million things going on at night, and places to go 24 hours a day.
Northfield is not exactly a thriving, sprawling metropolis, but it has charm. I think of it and campus as a safe home base where I hang out on a regular basis, and then make occasional forays into the wider world - usually the Twin Cities, but occasionally even Chicago or Madison. This suits me - I like having a relaxed, homey, familiar place, with three bars in walking distance, a bowling alley, and a movie theater that got converted into a Culver's. It's not the most hopping place, but there's plenty going on at Carleton to almost always keep me satisfied. However, this week, I am going off-campus 2, maybe 3 times, to go to other places in Minnesota.
Tomorrow, Wednesday night, I am leaving with Ruth right after class to go to a store that sells Carhartts (heavy duty work pants), and then heading to St. Paul to go see Death Cab for Cutie with Cold War Kids and Ra Ra Riot, which is going to be amazing, I hope - I love DCfC and RRR, and I have heard good things about CWK.
Friday night, I may or may not be going with a group of people to see a drag show in Minneapolis (we really liked the one this weekend), which looks to be so much fun - I really can't wait, because if we decide not to go Friday, we'll go some other weekend, and the options on campus are pretty great - Battle of the Bands will determine which campus band gets to perform at Spring Concert, and the Cave is hosting Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin - you should totally look them up if you're into indie pop, or anything that appears on OC soundtracks (bad show, decent songs).
Saturday night, Nightshade is going up to Chaska, MN (another sprawling metropolis), to perform at Jackie's (our soprano) UCC congregation on Sunday morning. We'll be going and spending the night at her house, and then performing an hour of music for them. This is going to be really exciting, since we're going to watch a King's Singers dvd and possibly Wedding Crashers or O Brother Where Art Thou. However, even if I wasn't going to her house, I could attend another awesome show at the Cave, which is hosting Wye Oak and Pomegranates. Alternatively, Campus Activities is having a "Knight Bus" go to Uptown St. Paul. It leaves around 8 or something and returns at 1 or 2. This is a pretty great idea, considering the last Saturday bus gets back from St. Paul at 10pm.
Northfield's bars are also really accessible for those of age, and they have events like Karaoke, Trivia, half priced nights, etc. For the under-21 set with no car, it's a bit harder. Campus Activities has begun doing a movies bus up to Lakeville every other Friday, and they have the running co-op bus (which has much improved weekend times, giving you more flexibility in planning).
As for homogeneity, I've personally always found that the ideas in your head represent diversity far more importantly than the color of your skin or the money in your pocket. I think country of origin is usually a pretty important factor, but I crave good discussion and challenging ideas more than showing off how diverse my friends are visually. I suppose I'll get people who disagree with my belief, but I think diversity of background, whether it be family life, a cool job, and interesting outlook or experience, or, of course, ethnic identity is really what a college wants. That is one thing I think we have. We tend to be pretty liberal, but there are all kinds of rationales, all kinds of dissenting thoughts, all kinds of interpretations of the same reading in class, and all kinds of personal experiences. That's something we've certainly got.
Lastly, Minneapolis/St. Paul are major cultural centers. They have all kinds of events and activities, from sports to art, theatre, and nightlife. As college students, we often find it difficult to do our research on where these things are, but once you start digging, there are plenty of things to do if you know where to find them.
PS - Good luck to all you high school seniors (and parents) out there deciding on where to spend the next 4 years (or two, just a few terms before transferring, etc.). My brother is deciding between his top two choices right now (he's not considering Carleton - probably doesn't want to be at the same school as me).