Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Moving to the city

James Fagan

Posted on October 16, 2017 in Perspectives
By USM Free Press

James Fagan

I am a first year student at the University of Southern Maine, and the changes that I have had since coming here are probably the most abrupt changes I had in my life. This does not only apply to how much I read books of my choosing, the amount of time that I spend sleeping and, sadly, most of all, how much time I spend with my Golden Retriever. There are also many other changes, such as the amount of time I spend on a bus and a renewed search for music to listen to. Moving from such a small place to such a new and big place as USM, and especially Portland, has been a vast change in, not only my habits but in my lifestyle, as well.

I come from a small town, with a population of about 4,200, in Central Maine called Dover-Foxcroft. Dover-Foxcroft is host to a semi-private high school that has students from the surrounding towns and a dorm for students from different countries. Despite having students from different towns, and even different countries, everyone in Dover-Foxcroft seems to know one another. If I were to look into a crowd in Dover-Foxcroft, nine times out of ten, I could walk into the crowd and start a conversation. No matter how much I love college so far, that is not always something I can do in Portland. While I love meeting new people, sometimes seeing a familiar face is nice, too.

Coming to a place as big as Portland has been a huge change in the type and size of community that I am used to. USM is very different from small town Maine because if you want to go out for the day, you can. Where I am from, you have to take a forty minute drive to get to the nearest Walmart, which many people have to go to in order to get their weeks groceries. When you are in Portland, you can feasibly get a Subway sandwich, some Halloween decorations from Target and go shopping with some friends at the Maine Mall in the same day.

Another big difference between living in Dover-Foxcroft and living in a place like USM is the amount of cars and traffic. Dover Foxcroft has two stoplights throughout the entire town, not much traffic to stop at those lights and it is small enough to walk just about anywhere in the town that you want to go. In Portland, if you want to go somewhere, you may have to take a bus or get a ride from a friend. In Dover-Foxcroft if you see a car, it is either in a driveway or en route to its destination. When you are in Portland, cars line the sidewalk with no one in them, waiting for the owner to have use for them.

Though living in a small town in central Maine and living near Maine’s biggest city has, thus far, proven to be very different, there are several ways in which these two different settings have been very similar. No matter where I have been in Maine, most people are incredibly welcoming. Anywhere you go across the pine tree state, people are willing to help. Multiple times since coming to USM, I have seen people offer to help change a flat tire in the parking lot outside of the Woodbury Campus Center. I have seen students start study groups to help others pass their exams. And even just last week, my sociology class explained what “the door yard” is to our professor from out of state. So sure, Dover-Foxcroft is very different from the USM community, but in some ways—in the important ways—the people in these distinct places share the same spirit of community.

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