Monday, September 30, 2019

[PROVIDENCE] Brown Campus Tour

Coming back to the Philippines and starting anew meant losing my travel perks. I only get five VL credits a year now in my current job. I told myself that I can lose all those travel perks, but defo NOT New York. I need my annual Broadway fix to maintain my sanity. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t squeeze in a city or two nearby for that one week in the Big Apple. For this year, I’ve decided that an Ivy League campus tour is in order. And so I planned accordingly and booked the bus tickets. Brown – Yale – Princeton, then!

When I was younger, the idea of doing post grad abroad was part of the long-term plan, but having forced myself to pursue a field of study I’m not interested in, suffice it to say that I’ve screwed up my chances. That doesn’t mean that I can’t hang out at the campuses, though, right? While it does make me feel old with all the young students all around, it does give me that sense of wonder still, the kind that makes you want to go back to the academe to pursue higher studies. Hey, we can always dream! First stop, Brown.

I didn’t really know that Brown existed until Emma Watson, aka Hermione Granger, decided to take a break from Hollywood and get a degree there. She chose Brown instead of a British university. Cool. Nor did I know anything about Rhode Island aside from it being a relatively smaller state in the US. The good thing is that the state capital is also home to the Brown University campus which meant both could be visited on a daytrip if you just want to roam around. How was it then? But first, how to get there.

Most people fly in to Boston and take a bus. From Manhattan, though, you have several choices for bus rides. I chose Peter Pan because their schedule jived with my intended travel date. The trip takes almost 4 hours on the I-95, passing through Connecticut before reaching Providence and heading towards Boston in Massachusetts. If you want to walk around Downtown, then tell the driver that you are getting off at the Rhode Island Convention Center. From there, everything’s just a stone throw away.

As for me, my rhinitis was acting up so I had to get some anti-histamine first, which I easily found at CVS at Providence Place, Rhode Island’s largest shopping mall. They also have a variety of cuisines at the food court and I got my fix of Thai fried rice to go with my meds. They also have Macy’s, an IMAX cinema, and a lot of stores if you want to go shopping. Go to the topmost floor and you will get a good panoramic view of Downtown Providence as well as the river from the mall’s tall glass windows.

Adjacent to the mall is the Rhode Island State House, majestic up on the hill with the typical white dome begging for an alien spaceship to destroy it. Sorry, every time I see a capitol dome like that all I can think of is Independence Day. Or was that Mars Attacks? According to Wiki, this is the fourth-largest self-supporting marble dome in the world; the second in the US. I thought the US Capitol in DC held that record. Despite being such an imposing monument, the area was empty when I was there aside from another tourist taking a selfie.

Right across the street from the Capitol and the mall was a large green area which I later found out to be named Station Park which is right next to Waterplace Park that serves as an entry point to the river. Woonasquatucket they call it. It snakes along Memorial Boulevard before converging with the Providence River and running south. I guess this is why I prefer Providence over New Haven or Princeton as far as downtown areas of these Ivy League universities are concerned. I’m a sucker for walks along the river!

Crossing over to College Hill brings you to the vicinity of Brown’s campus which is not that far from the Rhode Island School of Design, another prominent institute of education in the state. Brown’s campus is a lot smaller than I thought it should be. Climbing uphill and seeing a particularly Ivy League-ish gate, I went in and processed the view. The brick red façade was all over the place complemented by the green of grass which the campus has no shortage of. Where are all the students, though?

Well, it didn’t take long for me to find them. Just a few backflips away from that gate was Brown University College Green, an open space flanked by the university’s old buildings in all directions but one. Here, you see many students rushing to their classrooms or just laying on the grass having a picnic or chatting with friends. You can stay here for a while if you want to imbibe that uni campus culture you were part of decades ago. Just relax and go people-watching. Bring some snacks and drinks if you like.

As with many other universities, Brown has buildings all around the area, even leading back to downtown. Some of them are colonial houses that are now used as department offices for different colleges and faculties. Over all, I liked the vibe. I also liked Downtown and how everything seems to be walkable. It’s compact like that. And of course, you always have the river if you want some quiet alone time. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll end up here doing a post-grad degree. After all, doesn't Brown have the best postgrad degrees in Portuguese on this side of the Atlantic? Hahaha, dreaming is free.

[PROVIDENCE] Brown Campus Tour

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