Avery's friend biking into New London.

“It’s really not as far as you’d think.” I heard this numerous times before my first year at Conn, because I had explained to people my skepticism and doubts that the city of New London would be just out of reach for exploration and escape from the campus environment. I feared that I’d be trapped on campus with a small seaside city close enough to see from the top of Tempel Green, yet too far to get to without a car. Everyone told me that though New London is no New York City, it is an absolutely fine college town. In fact, odds are that if you’re at a small school like Conn you would probably rather not be located in a city like New York. New London is quaint and charming, an old fishing port which now services a few year-round ferries to local destinations. Coming to Conn I felt inspired to explore this little New England city which, with its interesting murals, whale sculptures and pretty buildings, begged for exploration.

Last week, on a typically “warm” late March afternoon, my friend and I got on our bikes and headed into town—an easy adventure that not enough people on campus take advantage of. We decided that lunch off campus at our favorite little cafe was a must on that particular afternoon. Because neither of us have cars, bikes were our only option besides walking would be too time consuming. 

The ride took us all of ten minutes. We arrived at the cafe glistening in a light layer of perspiration (the route is a touch hilly) yet still high from a merry, free haze induced by exercise. After locking up our bikes, we entered Muddy Waters Café. We sat and ate, and felt a wave of pride for discovering how easy it really is to get off of campus without a car. (Plus my friend being an Environmental Science major, reminded me of how much more environmentally friendly biking was; basically, it was a win-win). Over pesto, tomato and mozzarella sandwiches with a side of chicken curry soup we felt happy to be away from it all. Once we finished our food, we hopped back on our bikes and leisurely made our way back to campus.

As I sit and reflect on that simple afternoon, I remind myself how college students without transportation often feel that only a car can combat sedentariness. However, with some creativity and willingness to leave the bubble that college campuses can often produce, it is not a difficult task to find new places to call home. Whether it be biking, walking or even driving into downtown New London, the city is steeped in historical landmarks and charming little restaurants that may be less obvious.

The overall message that I’m trying to convey here is that although it may seem daunting to bike off campus, the feat is truly less deterring than one may believe. My initial thought when we first made the trip was, “Wow, that really took so little time and so little effort.”

So get out there and start exploring, because it’s too easy to get caught up in academic work and forget what other kinds of personal growth opportunities lay just behind the campus gates.