Popping the Bubble

Haley Pelletier '17

Have you ever heard of the "Olin Bubble”?

The concept of the Bubble captures some of the quirks of spending so much time on a ~370 student campus:

  • You start to know everyone.  Even if you don't know them personally, you recognize their face, and you probably know their name.
  • Your routine becomes seeing the same people and the same parts of our small campus on a daily basis.
  • If you aren't careful to keep up with the news, there's a real danger of losing touch with what's happening in the world outside of Olin, which is a scary thing.

While there are certainly some really cool things about having such a small campus, as Lauren highlighted in her blog post, there are also some downsides.  After a while, the Bubble can start to feel a bit isolating, even suffocating.

This was how I started to feel during my second semester at Olin.  The magic of first semester began to fade with the end of Pass/No Record, and Olin's charm started to wear off a bit.  This was due in part to the fact that I hardly ever got off campus.  Save for the occasional midnight IHOP run and the one time I took the train to Worcester to visit a friend, I pretty much didn't leave.

Things changed when I brought my car to campus sophomore year.  I was able to get out and explore the surrounding towns whenever I wanted!  I could also drive myself to the T to get into Boston.  My world was opening up and the effects of the Bubble were lessening.  I realized that, while I loved Olin dearly, it was important for my well-being to shake things up once in a while.  The important thing here isn’t the car, but the revelation it inspired.  While it might offer more autonomy, you don’t need a car to get off campus.  We have Go Bikes so people can ride into Needham, Wellesley, or wherever.  We have the “HelpMe” and “Carpe” email lists so people can send emails asking for rides and advertising trips off campus.  And we have legs!  There are definitely a few things within walking distance of Olin, though exactly how many will depend on your definition of "walking distance."

What I hadn't anticipated, however, was finding something new and intriguing right here on campus halfway through my junior year.  At this year's SERV auction, I won an item called "Exploration of the Great B-yond."  This was an item that was being passed down by the previous winners, fellow OLINsider bloggers Michael Sheets and Anne LoVerso.  Essentially, it was a guided tour of Parcel B (the woods behind the dorms) that would highlight a variety of strange and intriguing sights.  Having lived in said dorm buildings for 2.5 years and having journeyed through Parcel B on various occasions, I wondered how many things could possibly be hidden there that I didn't know about.  As it turned out, there were a lot.  While I can't divulge all the mysteries of Parcel B, I will say that we saw the remains of three rusty old cars, and I still have no idea how they got there -- they were in some pretty dense pockets of forest!

The moral of this story is that too much of the same thing is never good, no matter how wonderful that thing might be.  While I think we can all agree that there are a lot of incredible things about Olin, it's important to remember that it's not perfect, and the Bubble is a great example of that.  With some creativity and initiative, however, the Bubble is nothing to fear!  Where there’s a will to get off campus, there’s a way.  And who knows-- you might even find something new and exciting right here on campus when you least expect it.

Posted in: Haley '17