Cornfields, tractors, horses, cows and unending country roads: the many splendid components of Hamilton, New York. These are the majestic wonders of upstate, if you will. It is definitely a change for students coming from relatively metropolitan areas—you won’t find a Starbucks at every corner, a train station down the road or skyscrapers that force you to strain your neck looking up so high. In Hamilton, we are lucky to have a few charismatic cafes, a traditional style movie theater, and a Price Chopper that’s open 24 hours! It may seem daunting, but with the right mindset, it can come to feel as satisfactory as any bustling city of your choice.
The most significant piece of advice I would give to those who are still disoriented by all this small-town charm would be to make use of the resources that exist off-campus. Flour and Salt has bagels and treats of all kinds that mimic any bagel shop in NYC. In fact, they actually have more vegan options than your average big-city bakery. If you are looking to showcase your aesthetically-pleasing latte art, go to Rye Berry and you will receive nothing less than a city parallel café Instagram post.
If you’re missing out on the lively farmer markets around your city, make use of the farmer’s market in downtown Hamilton every Saturday morning. If you are longing for the diverse cuisine of the city, look no further than Utica Street, Lebanon Street or Broad Street for your choice of of Main Moon, Royal Indian Grill and Friends and Pho. If you cannot stop reminiscing about Target runs with your friends back home—try Big Lots! It doesn’t have the red bullseye, but it has lots of hidden treasures and will feel just like your Target adventures back at home. We do what we can.
All of these things are great ways to make this rural upstate land feel like a traffic-crammed cosmopolitan hub—full of action and excitement. But at the end of the day, there is a reason why so many students love being in this isolated, simple and remote town. We get feet upon feet of snow each year, we usually stay on campus to do most activities and going to the closest Chipotle requires a road trip—but this makes Colgate the special place that we love so dearly. Our inability to escape so easily is what fosters the tremendous sense of community and home that exists here.
Nothing can truly replace walking past a stunning view of Taylor Lake and the colorful hills behind, or running into a friend, professor, or advisor while on your way to the Coop. It is not the drives to the Hamilton Eatery or Kinney’s Drugstore that we will remember, but rather the familial dinners at Frank, the group study sessions at Case, the enthralling sunset watching, the acapella concerts and DanceFest in the chapel and the high-spirited hockey games at the arena that we will remember most.
This place has character that is hard to find elsewhere. And frankly we don’t need the distractions of urbanization that would only force us to lose touch with the tight knit community that we really have. That’s what makes it home. For that, I am, and know everyone will be, eternally grateful.