While many of my friends first learned about Bowdoin from college fairs or guidance counselors, I have known about Bowdoin for as long as I have been able to read. I live in Harpswell, Maine, on the same road as the Coastal Studies Center. I have had white cars and vans emblazoned with the black Bowdoin logo passing in front of my house for as long as I can remember. As such, I have known Bowdoin from the outside—the image presented by the College and the messages that it sends to the world. 

What many students do not know is just how much influence the College has on the surrounding community. I have fond memories of attending plays at Pickard Theater in my childhood, of learning to swim in the Bowdoin pool, of college students coming to work and volunteer in my schools. 

Many who came to Bowdoin decided to settle down in the surrounding community, and so many of my neighbors, teachers and even my dentist have been graduates of Bowdoin. When I received my acceptance letter, my school and my community celebrated with me, because I had gotten into the Bowdoin, the College next door, and the best school in the state of Maine. 
While the Bowdoin Bubble does a good job of separating the college from the community and the world at large, our particular bubble happens to be semi-permeable. The major happenings of the College often become front-page news for local papers—from protests to controversies to demonstrations to initiatives. Many of the more embarrassing moments in Bowdoin’s recent history, which older students recount to first years with a combination of amusement and embarrassment—I’m looking at you Crack House—have been dinner table conversations for me, all part of the community’s happenings.

Being a local, I have also grown up with stereotypes about my new home. Of college students as arrogant, as inconsiderate, as fast driving and hard drinking. Of students passed out in gardens and graveyards, of vandalized property and children being awakened at odd hours by the revelry of a college house party. 

Now, being a part of the community that I have grown up next to for so long, I find myself a visitor in my own home. When I hear someone refer to the locals as “townies,” I am taken aback by this patronizing name being given to the hardworking individuals I have grown up with my entire life. 

I don’t think that many of my fellow students realize just how much their words and actions reflect on themselves and on our community. While the Bowdoin Bubble may keep the outside world at bay, it does not prevent that world from looking in.