My first summer in the Woo

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It is remarkable how a change in the seasons can transform the culture of a community in both drastic and subtle ways. Coming from a country that doesn’t experience too much variation in the seasons, I was fascinated by how the food, the clothing, the activities and the lifestyle of people changed from fall through summer. The greatest change that I have experienced at Clark has been over the summer. With one year at Clark under my belt, I thought that I had understood the culture. I thought I had cracked the code: Clarkies are a really involved group of people who are heavily invested in their academic/extracurricular/volunteer work, they are friendly and mix around but have their core groups of friends, and they tend to do a lot on campus. That’s what we are. But with the end of the school year and the beginning of the summer vacation, all that I knew of Clark changed significantly.

For instance, I had become accustomed to the fast-paced, über busy life that almost all Clarkies lead over the school year. Juggling classes and a crippling load of reading or writing with multiple clubs or sports, volunteering in the community, cheering on other Clarkies at sports events or performances over the weekendthe list goes on and on. It was strange to transition from such an active, busy life to the more relaxed, mellow days of the summer. No one is in a rush to get from one class to another and no one’s scrambling to shovel food down before heading out to a four-hour practice. Over the summer, Clarkies take their time to savor the weather, lounge out by the green and enjoy the company of one another.

This brings me to my next observation of the summer culture at Clark. We Clarkies are definitely a friendly bunch and have friends from different backgrounds and interests. Yet, it’s only natural that we gravitate towards an intimate circle of friends and don’t interact with those who have different interests than us on a daily basis. The summer changes this completely. As people trickle out and head home or go out into the world to do the exciting things that Clarkies do, the crowd that lives in the neighborhood dwindles. As a result, you get the opportunity to mingle with those you possibly may have never spoken to during the school year, and strike up friendships with people you may have spoken to only in passing.

My favorite aspect of the summer is that you have enough free time to get out into the city and explore the nooks and crannies of Worcester. From the multiple food and cultural festivals at Elm Park to trying out the local ice cream stores in Worcester, summer adventures abound! I have begun to compile a list of restaurants that I want to try out over the summer and it keeps growing longer and longer. Afghan food, Dominican cuisine, local diners, grill houses, Vietnamese food, dessert shops – it is physically impossible to sample all of these over the break, but I am determined to cram in as much as I possibly can. The collectives in the city are another fascinating element. Spaces such as The Shop host interesting exhibitions, activities and events on a regular basis. I plan on visiting The Crompton Collective next week, and I’ll share more about that then.

Summers in Worcester are a wonderful break from the typical school year and I am glad that I experienced it so early on in my college life. I can honestly say that I am going to miss everything about it come fall, but there’s always the next summer around the corner!

-Themal Ellawala

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