The phrase “the Claremont Bubble” evokes a conflicting sense of claustrophobia and comfort within me. I’ve moved around a lot but always from one metropolitan city to another. My childhood consisted of endless nights in bed with the sounds of sirens and loud music lulling me to sleep. Nights in Claremont, on the other hand, are either filled with silence or the distant drone of “Mi Gente” coming from North Quad three times a week.
Bangkok was the epitome of a lively city, where weekend mornings were reserved for exploring crazy new restaurants like a ‘Little Zoo Cafe,’ or visiting street markets serving local delicacies, or shopping at second-hand clothing stores with intricate, hand-woven designs. The nights were centered around a rampant nightlife: Khao San Road, one of Bangkok’s most prominent party streets, is always filled with hordes of new people from around the world, curious to experience a vacation parallel to “Hangover III.”
In Claremont, our PG version of Khao San Road is the Village — the ideal (and most convenient) place to escape the 5Cs for a little while. It’s exciting to leave campus even just a mile out to forget about any impending homework assignments, to actually order food at restaurants, and most importantly, to remind yourself that the world consists of people other than college students, professors, and your parents.
But the Village swiftly morphs into a ghost town after the 8 p.m. dinner rush. I remember one instance when I left the cinema in the Village at 11 p.m., only to notice that the street was empty and dark, sans a few dispersed and dim streetlights. I don’t know why my friend and I thought it was a good idea, but we decided to walk back to campus instead of calling an Uber and ended up speed-walking, terrified that at something was going to pop out of the bushes. This isn’t to say that Claremont is dangerous; it’s just that in a big city, there are so many people out at all times of the night that you never feel like you could get abducted (without at least a few witnesses).
Despite the fact that Claremont is far from being the lively city that Bangkok is, there are certain perks about this place that make it home. For instance, I love the fact that now, my friends and I live close enough to each other that we can spontaneously go for night runs to Yogurtland, laughing and stuffing our faces. I love the fact that we can visit stores where the shopkeepers know us by name and greet us with familiarity, and most importantly, I love escaping the rest of the world momentarily. I love to sometimes feel suspended in time and forget that one day I’m going to have to get a life outside of college, where I’m going to have to find a job, and become financially stable independently.
It’s easy to overlook these small moments and how quickly these four years are going to fly by. I already know that I’m going to miss feeling safe inside this little bubble with people who have grown to become my extended family. So, as much as I miss the big city, there are definitely perks to living in Claremont. It’s also nice to know that if I ever crave the noisy nights and skyscrapers, LA’s only a train ride away.