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Gottlieb: Escape Durham, explore the Seacoast

The Durham 500

By Greg Gottlieb

It was during my college orientation weekend almost four years ago while dining with my father in Portsmouth, overlooking the Piscataqua River when he said to me, “Make sure you take advantage of living where you’ll be living for the next few years of your life. Don’t just live in Durham or live on a college campus; live on the Seacoast, live in New Hampshire, and live in New England.”

Although the comment was made in passing, I immediately knew what he meant and it was a piece of advice that I am thrilled to have heeded during my time here.

College campuses are sort of like big, conglomerate monopolies in and of themselves. The free market model of business with which we are blessed in this country is responsible for this. Entrepreneurs see opportunity for success in our super-concentrated market of relatively like-minded consumers and thus, a cyclical, yet static, business environment targeted specifically at us, thrives. A college campus has all we would ever need to live: coffee shops, laundromats, bars, eateries, convenience stores, groceries, banks, and fitness centers. Without the intention, our campus seems to trap us and leave us without the time, energy, or necessity of getting away from it. When my dad gave me that advice, he was telling me to avoid precisely this phenomenon.

There is one thing, however, that neither the university nor Durham (beyond a jog through College Woods or a walk along Oyster River) can really offer us: exploration.

When a visitor drives into downtown Durham, they can pick up on a particular aura about it. Even in the dead of winter, they can sense that they’ve arrived on campus and can feel the youthful, perhaps errant, atmosphere that abounds. However, when you are living that college reality every day and make no time or effort to explore what is just geographically beyond it, you’re quickly desensitized to that feeling.

Whereas many students have the luxury of having their own personal transportation, others do not. Fortunately for them, however, it doesn’t seem much of a challenge here to find your way. Public and personal transportation services (like Uber or our very own Wildcat Transit) offer more routes and services than you might realize if you’ve yet to utilize them.

Some schools are located near beaches or in the mountains; we have both. Some schools are landlocked in the middle of a particular state; we’re just minutes from both the rocky shores of Maine and the cities of Massachusetts. Some schools are particular to either city- or country-life; meanwhile, tree-lined, nature-filled Durham is only a short drive away from views of the stately, concrete buildings of the Boston skyline.

You’ll tell your children about the pastimes you engaged in on this campus; everything from the college bar scene to lying out in the grass in front of your dorm building during the first and last few weeks of the school year. These memories will be ingrained in your mind and you’ll remember them distinctly forever. With all that is available to us in this beautiful and bountiful part of the world in which we are lucky to live, you should ensure to make memories therein during your short time at the University of New Hampshire.

Greg Gottlieb is a senior hospitality management major who comments on noteworthy topics in the UNH and Durham communities. Follow him on Twitter @GPGottlieb.

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