Metro, Featured Column, Column, Boston

What To Do When Faced With The Harsh Reality Of The BC Bubble

Unfortunately, my theory seems to apply to the lives of full-fledged adults, as well as to the lives of current students.


Maybe they have a vestigial memory of the stress they suffered when, not too long ago, they were in our shoes, or maybe it is simply the stress of the approaching holidays.

Or maybe it is the close of yet another year that whizzed by without bringing quite the accomplishment that everyone envisioned when the ball dropped 12 months ago.

But even with my theory, the number of bizarre things that have gone wrong in Boston over the past few days have shocked me. On Sunday night, an armed robbery took place in Brighton. On Monday and Tuesday alone, 80 Boston College students, later rising to 120, contracted a mystery gastrointestinal disease that may or may not turn out to be E. coli, a man stabbed himself near the Commons, scorched human remains were discovered under the Milton Bridge, and a fatal stabbing occurred in Dorchester.

Is the entirety of Boston having a synchronized freak-out rooted in the residual trauma of exams?

It got to the point where I completely avoided opening my newly-acquired Twitter—let alone checking my email—out of the fear that I would see another headline about the Boston area that would tie my stomach in knots.

After a few tortured minutes, I succumbed (and was greeted with a reassuring story about the vandalization of a stained-glass window in Brockton), but I began to wonder why exactly these headlines were making me so nervous.

Usually, I’m someone who walks down the stairs and imagines what would happen if I were to slip, tumbling down the steps and breaking various important limbs in my body.

I look at the people around me and try to remind myself that no matter how much time we spend together, most likely there are parts of them that I will never know about—and even parts of myself that I don’t know yet.

I try to approach the world with a low grade of pessimism, so that when good things happen, I’m unreasonably happy. I like to picture the worst possible outcome, but why, when I am faced with it now, do I find it so frightening?

And then I remembered the infamous BC Bubble.

As a first year student, you tend to hear a lot about the mysterious entity dubbed “the BC Bubble.” Upperclassmen warn you of its limiting dangers, and suggest frequent trips on the T as an easy solution. And so, in a concerted effort to seem like I have some handle on the tumultuous world around me, that’s what I’ve been doing.

For the short time I have been at BC, I’ve dragged my friends downtown to explore the city and find food, telling myself that at least this bubble is something I won’t have to worry about.

But maybe my perspective on the bubble that I’m trying to avoid is completely incorrect. Perhaps the bubble is more of a mindset of security than a physical confine spurred by a subversive desire to watch Netflix and the ease of having nine huge rooms within walking distance that serve food on a meal plan.

I have felt a wonderful sense of security at BC that I know I will never feel again once these four years are over. The warm feeling of safety is all-encompassing, for it extends beyond the physical world to the intellectual one.

Blue lights glow around the campus like a reassuring safety net, and even if you venture into the neighboring areas, there is a high chance that you will encounter similar security measures taken by the many other universities in the Boston area.

Boston is a peculiar city that, some of the time at least, can seem removed from reality. With the median age of residents at only 31 years old, and an overwhelming college population, it is a young city that allows transient residents (like yours truly) to get caught up in the invincible vivacity and fearlessness of the youth that surrounds them.

I feel like I’ve almost forgotten that I exist within a real world that faces actual dangers.

Reality does, however, peek through more often than not, and Boston has certainly seen more than its fair share of horrors over the past few years. I just have been lucky enough to only experience them as headlines that are quickly displaced and replaced.

If I have any intention of truly experiencing Boston, or any place for that matter, I need to see beyond the sense of security that my identity as a college student provides.

I can see the hazy outlines of the bubble that surround me, and I’m coming to the unfortunate realization that it will eventually burst.

It just might be less frightening if I pop it myself.

Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor

December 10, 2015