By Carl Legg
Last March I had to make a difficult decision. As much as I wanted to stay at the University of Maryland and its nearby city of Washington, D.C., I knew it was not a realistic option. I could not act as if I was in a position to succeed at such an enormous school. Coming to Canisius and Buffalo has been a culture shock, to say the least; my experiences could not be more different.
I needed this change, though. As much as I loved Maryland, it had its flaws. I needed to transfer to a school where I did not have to walk a mile to class each day. I needed to be at a school where I could have meaningful relationships with my teachers and actually have them notice when I could not make it to class that day. I could not stay lost in the crowd of 27,000 undergraduate students.
Buffalo has welcomed me with open arms. To quote my Journalism professor and Buffalo News Editor Bruce Andriatch, it is a “city that feels like a small town”. From the sports to the food, it is easy to feel involved with the community here. I am beginning to understand what Mr. Andriatch meant when he said, “No matter where you go around the world, there is a Buffalo connection.” The people of Buffalo can easily relate to each other from all they have gone through together in this city.
I had gotten my fair share of Washington D.C., though. The University of Maryland was on its subway line, so my friends and I would go in on a weekly basis. There was always something new to do in a city so full of culture. From Georgetown to Chinatown, there were always new foods to try, new museums to explore, and new people to meet.
Ben Jaffe, a longtime resident said, “The best aspect of D.C. is, and in my opinion always will be, the diversity of the people who live there. You find people from all over the world who bring different perspectives and who bring different parts of their culture. You can find a bit of every part of the world in D.C., and that will always define it. Everyone can find at least one part of D.C. in which they can feel at home.”
My favorite event was the Cherry Blossom festival at the start of spring. Out of nowhere, all of the flowers bloom around the National Tidal Basin. It looks as though it is straight out of a painting. The FDR monument is so stunning that I am almost glad about the enormous crowds. On a clear day, you can see it looming over the water signifying how great the man himself was. The flowers were impossible to not get lost in. Many cities have a festival like this, but none is the same as the capital’s. Everyone deserves to see it once in their life.
I have not had the pleasure of exploring downtown Buffalo yet, but campus life at Canisius has been better than I imagined. The clubs and sports are not as big as at Maryland, but there are the same opportunities and passion. I was amazed at the new Hiking club’s turnout at its first meeting. Despite having 24,000 less students, one hundred of my fellow classmates that showed up rivaled Maryland’s own.
My favorite part of campus, though, is the people. Every day I try to go out on the Quad and read a book. I hardly ever do because I always become engaged in conversation with those walking around. It is so easy to start a conversation here and I’m fascinated by people’s stories. I have had conversations ranging from sports to personal lives. It is hard to feel lonely here; everyone has each other’s backs.
The University of Maryland will always remain a part of me. It has to; they brainwashed me. There are schools with school spirit and then there is the cult of the Terrapins. Everyone showed up to sporting events for the opportunity to go crazy with pride for the Red and Gold. There would be people lining up nights before basketball games to get courtside seats. There was an unspoken rule that students did not sit during the games. You had to be screaming, chanting, or dancing at every possible second.
I will never forget what happened after we beat Duke my freshman year. I could not get a ticket so I was watching it at a nearby Buffalo Wild Wings. (I know, it does not even come close to Duff’s.) People were going crazy inside the restaurant as we slowly started to realize what was happening. After the hugs and screaming were over, my friends and I knew we had to get back to campus.
The streets were packed with students. It was complete chaos. A level of pride had boiled up in all of us and it was exploding out. Fireworks were going off, lampposts were getting knocked down, and everyone else was laughing and dancing in pure ecstasy. When the basketball team showed up, we treated them like gods. As reckless and crazy as it all was, I never wanted to leave.
I did not expect the same experience from Canisius, but I do miss it. This small Jesuit school is different, but I have found that it can be just as fun. People are outgoing in different ways. The bonfire last weekend is a great example. What I imagined to be a small opening week activity actually had a tremendous turnout. As I saw Niagara’s logo go up in flames, I knew I would be able to form connections over this rivalry, too. I knew I made the right decision coming here, and I look forward to what the year will bring.