Burlington. Yes. BURLINGTON.
If you’re thinking of applying to Middlebury, you may (or may not) be concerned about its location. I know I was. Growing up in Seoul, South Korea, the word ‘rural’ wasn’t even part of my vocabulary. Transitioning from a place where I could walk out of my apartment, take 50 steps to the nearest 7-11 and get myself food, drink, maybe some ice-cream, hair-wax for the following morning, a toothbrush, etc… to a place where there isn’t a place to purchase coffee on Sundays was tough. That being said, we make do with what we have. During the longer breaks many people leave for New York City, Boston, or even Montreal. During the work(study)week, there are mini-excursions into the town of Middlebury.
But sometimes we need something in between. Get out of Middlebury (and the town) but don’t want to go as far as NYC or Boston?
The answer is Burlington. In fact, I go to Burlington every Sunday because the church that I attend is located there. During my routine visits, I’ve come to realize that in many ways, it is a great mid-way point between the BIG city and the town of Middlebury. There are things to eat, stores to visit, and friends to hang out with. Because UVM and several other colleges are located in or near Burlington , the city center gets quite lively at night and on weekends. There are definitely elements of Vermont — specialty stores, great maple fudge, and an overall liberal vibe. But you also see an variety of oriental cuisines, a Banana Republic, and even a Starbucks (though its undergoing construction right now). Couple that with the young crowd, street-performers, and ‘deviant’ individuals, in some respects thats all you need to feel like you’re outside of Middlebury. Given that its only an hour away, the commute isn’t too bad either — long enough to give you a sense that you’re leaving campus but short enough for the visit to be spontaneous.
Of course, as a metropolis-dweller my whole life, I probably wouldn’t be able to settle in Burlington. For one, its too far North for my comfort zone. But as a student at Middlebury, it definitely serves its purpose. A lot of us make a point to visit when we can (or when we need to) and sometimes we’re fortunate enough to discover some hidden gems like good restaurants or interesting stores. Oh yeah. One other nice thing about Burlington — parking is quite convenient. And yes, it makes a difference.