Rutgers is Disney World. Each campus is a different kingdom, connected by a bus system that’s finicky at best and exasperating at worst but always takes you to your destination. You spend a lot of time on transport here, bobbing your head to your music or playing Bejeweled on your iphone. But honestly, when those doors slide open and you step off, you enter into a world entirely new. And it is enchanting.
At the involvement fair, I signed up for everything that interested me. A swarm of welcoming emails with dates, times, and locations for organizations that I no longer remembered or held any interest in assaulted my inbox. Women’s ice hockey? Sorry, but I haven’t played an organized sport in four years. And as I scrolled through the endless emails, noting dates and times and locations, my gut sank as I realized that none of them were on my home turf. There wasn’t a single organization that met on Cook Douglass.
So everything I had signed up for, everything I had psyched myself up for and squealed about at the involvement fair was out of bounds. To me, a girl who’s classes, dorm, and sister were all on Cook Douglass, getting on a bus was an uncomfortable endeavor. So, for the first two weeks of school, I sat in my dorm and caught up on American Horror story. Around me was the sound of doors slamming open and shut in my hall and the roar of the buses outside my window. I was cocooning myself in the safety of Cook Douglass. It just wasn’t worth the trouble, I convinced myself. Anime Club, Literary Magazine, Poetry Slam, Taekwondo, the dogsitting club – I would would go on without them. I could live without them all.
Eventually, this Cook Douglass fantasy that I had spun for myself shattered. I had taken up the class of my dreams, the one class that I anticipated so greatly, I would conquer my fear of the bus system. I took up a creative writing class.
For the first time on a Wednesday night, during rush hour, I took the bus by myself. There was no sister to tell me where to get off, no orientation leader to herd me out, and no friend to sit next to. And the world didn’t end. In fact, I caught up on my favorite supernatural podcast.
I had finally reached Magic Kingdom, and I had done it by myself. After this, the opportunities lined themselves back up, all in order. I go to College Ave again on Tuesday nights to help edit the school’s literary magazine, then again on Wednesday for the poetry slam, and then again on Sundays for morning yoga and to see my best friend. Nothing’s off the table – sometimes, I even go to Livingston just to eat Sbarro. And honestly, the bus drivers are some of the nicest, most dedicated people you will ever meet.
The Rutgers bus system is a necessary evil. The only thing that separates me and everything I could ever ask for is a smelly bus ride. Sometimes, I have to sprint across the lawn for it, or bump elbows with strangers, but it’s better than confining my entire life to a single college campus. Unless that campus is College Ave. But even if that were the case, I would have to take a bus to Cook Douglass for Swing Dancing.