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Falling in love with Aggieland

College Station is a simple Texan town.

As my TAMU admit letter arrived in the mail and I found myself dreaming about my new “home,” I imagined it to be the typical urban landscape, with skyscrapers fighting to control the skies and busy streets full of people rushing to their destinations, an image popularized by every piece of media that wants to show the hustle-bustle of America. I dreamt of stepping out of my apartment and catching the metro, going downtown to catch a play or lounge in a park or simply grab a bubble tea and watch the world go by in a quaint cafe. Perhaps I should have been more thorough in my research about this new world I was stepping into, instead of just looking at the course list and academics. As I lugged in all three of my 50 pound bags into my dimly-lit apartment, a rude awakening slid in coyly. “Hey…” it said. “So, how do you like where you are now?”

Mid-August in College Station felt like Gloom Central to me- the foreboding, overcast skies, the constant muggy weather, and my overall discomfort at being hoodwinked into coming to what seemed like a sad and empty town, weighed on me all the time. My dreams of exploring the town were quickly dashed when I realized that the Aggie Spirit buses were the only means of transport handily available to students facing a cash crunch. And as someone who loved walking around, seeing nobody stroll on the streets was a constant reminder of my new place of residence. Thrust into this new world of constant stress and pressure to keep up, I soon forgot about my naivety. This town seemed the very antithesis of the ideal metropolis I had dreamt of.

As I made friends and went out of town, and went on internships and explored other states, I came to the realization that I had misjudged this peculiar town harshly, in the very beginning. This tinted all my future experiences in it a depressing blue. College Station was true to its name- a town that housed a sprawling university and its incredible diversity of students, a town created because of the growth of this community and colleges. No other town I knew had the distinction of being born solely out of the needs of its people, and this endeared me to it. Having lived for brief periods of time in other cities in the US, I felt a sense of privilege coming back to Aggieland, where the AQI was always excellent, the roads were always well-paved and encouraged walking, the hot climate reminded one of home, and the buses were always turning corners, ready to escort you wherever. What felt futile to me in the beginning now gained meaning, making me appreciate this little town.

With this being my last semester in College Station, I can’t help but feel the sentimentality roll in already. Making friends over Tex-Mex meals, sitting in hammocks and watching the beautiful sunsets while talking about sweet nothings, bonding with other desis over steaming cups of chai at the end of a long weekend, walking around in Aggie Park and being comforted by the serene lake and breeze, grabbing a quick bite at Northgate and running right back to class, and enjoying the extra long evenings and daylight even at 8pm, has been nothing short of wondrous. Every international student wonders if they will be able to fit in, and whether their city and college of choosing will accept them the way they are. I had outright rejected the idea of this town ever being to my liking, but with time I have come to realize that College Station took me in the way I was, with no qualms. In this homogeneous sea of maroon, I blended right in. The town was always welcoming and every Aggie (student or otherwise) I encountered was willing to go out of their way to help me feel like I fit right in. This is a town that cares, and no urban metropolis would match up to that. It was easy to reject the notion of ever liking this town, but it was easier still to get rid of my bias and see the town for what it was.

College Station is indeed a simple Texan town, and I fell in love with its simplicity.

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