By: Aileen Maki
I was warned about the “Xavier bubble.” Four fateful years ago when I was a senior in high school, my mom bought me that giant Princeton Review “370- something Best Colleges” book so I could start narrowing down my choices for where I would spend the best years of my life. I remember reading a blurb from a student who noted that people often stay close to campus and that Musketeers tend to live in their own little world apart from the city of Cincinnati. Being a selfprofessed “city girl,” I told myself that would never be me if I decided to attend Xavier and continued on my college search with a degree of hard-headedness that only a teenager can enjoy.
Flash forward a month into my senior year at the old XU, and I am now essentially the mayor of that metaphorical bubble. I’ve spent my years here always telling myself that I “had time” to go out and explore the city and I’ve generally just stuck to the things I know. This past summer, I was fortunate enough to go to London with Xavier’s study abroad program and all my traveling in the UK and Ireland really showed me how much you can learn about a city in a short amount of time. How could I know so much about the streets of London and Dublin and not the city where I live nine months out of the year? As I boarded my flight back to America the last day of the trip, I promised myself that this year would really be different. Instead of thinking what a drag it would be to come back to Cincinnati, I decided that I would rediscover this city through the eyes of a tourist.
To me, traveling as a tourist means embracing everything a city has to offer and having a desperate desire to know as much as you can in the limited time that you have there. Certainly, I have more than a standard amount of vacation time left at Xavier, and many of you have even longer than I do. The amount of time isn’t the concern here but rather that inner Getting off campus: Cincinnati as a tourist fervor to discover and explore.
Even if you have lived in Cincinnati your entire life, seeing everything as if you are seeing it for the first time can give you a new perspective on the place you call “home” (plus, you are in a prime position to help your friends from out-of-town see the best the city has to offer). Attend festivals and events, explore a new neighborhood or see a show downtown. You can even just take a camera to one of the many amazing city parks and try to really see the beauty of the natural world that can be obscured by the metropolitan area. There are so many things to find beyond the confines of the Xavier bubble, and I know I will be challenging myself to see as much as I can this year. And whether you are a senior or an underclassman with a little bit more time, I would definitely encourage you to do the same.
I recently ventured to the top of Price Hill and saw the panoramic view of Cincinnati’s skyline for the first time. Unexpectedly, I had a similar feeling of wonder and amazement that I had felt whenever I thought about how lucky I was to be traveling in England. Sure, this little corner of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana may not be European or exotic, but every city has its own life and character just waiting to be found by the people willing to search for it. Friends, this is our town, and this is our year to discover it.
Aileen Maki is a senior psychology major from Beavercreek, Ohio. She studied in London, UK, for five weeks of summer 2013.