The Best Four Years of Your Life: Going Out, Staying In, and All the In-betweens

by The Cowl Editor on September 29, 2022


Most of us have a particular idea that comes to mind when asked to describe Providence College’s culture. I don’t think I’d be wrong to assume we all tend to think of Lily Pulitzer dresses, white sneakers, and seltzer cans littered across Eaton St. I think a lot of incoming freshmen look forward to the party scene here, and that’s great for them, but I’ve noticed that PC in particular, compared to other campuses (though maybe I’m biased), has a tendency to feel exclusive.

The weekend can seem daunting. You might feel pressured to dress a certain way, post on Instagram to show you’re being social, and check in with everyone you know to find out who’s going where. I felt like an outcast freshman year when I walked downstairs from my third-floor Ray dorm to the dining hall in my pajamas and slippers on a Friday night, and I thought of myself as someone who doesn’t care what other people think. Even if you’re that type of person, too, you might still experience the effects of feeling alone.

There’s nothing wrong with ordering take-out and having a movie night, whether you do it once in a while or every Saturday. There’s nothing wrong with utilizing the quiet, empty Great Room to get some work done or FaceTime your family (especially when the Christmas trees get put up and the fireplaces are lit). There’s nothing wrong with saying no—it doesn’t make you a loser, it doesn’t make you uncool.

A lot of us face the pressure from parents, too, who tell us college is supposed to be the best four years of our lives, and we better make the most of it (or else). I think a lot of us interpret this message to mean we have to always be going, giving one hundred percent to our social activity, never stopping to rest, to think about our physical or mental health, or to experience the less active parts of our campus community.

Did you know PC has a pollinator garden? I didn’t know until the end of my junior year; it’s behind Albertus Magnus. Have you ever stopped to watch the monarch butterflies that have made their home between Ryan and the art building? Have you checked out the gallery in Smith?

I have witnessed many of my fellow seniors stressing about how to make the most of their final year at PC. I worry that some will spend more time stressing about how to do that than they spend doing things they enjoy. I feel grateful that I have found my niche—I spend most of my weekends reading and editing the articles you see in these pages, and when I have time to spare, I like to take walks and play board games. I don’t think either of those things have any more or less inherent value than getting blackout drunk at an off-campus party (except maybe when considering the health side effects). The main point I’m trying to prove is not that there’s one right way to have fun, but that there isn’t, and if you’re feeling pressure to go out when all you want to do is stay in, then make your college years the best four years of your life by doing what is most enjoyable for you.