Small Pond Syndrome

Why did you come to Acadia? I’m sure for multiple little reasons: the beautiful campus, the regional reputation, athletics, location, scholarships, or you’re just a big fan of mud sliding. Whatever you’re into man.

But it’s just that, it’s the little reason. I argue that being a small institution is one of our greatest assets not just inside the classroom but outside as well. Outside the classroom, meaning socially playing nice with the other kids on the playground, fosters an awareness for mutual respect.

My interactions outside of the classroom have led me to collect this extremely sophisticated and completely scientifically based analysis of our small school population before attending Acadia. Broadly speaking students usually fit around three points on the continuum on the confidence scale regarding making friends going into this university.

The first being you were a big deal in high school, came here with your buddies, and felt like you need to add one or two more people to the roster of your sick childhood squad. Acadia can offer you this convenient reality. Or, you may know people from playing local sports, or attended the same high school, but you are by no means close with anyone and are eager to meet lots of new faces. Finally, of course there is a population of students who don’t know a soul and making friends seems like a massive undertaking. This may be because you’re an international student, out of province, or you just like to keep to yourself.

Whatever your perspective is, Acadia can be a fresh start for you, and can act as an equalizer. The first few weeks of your first year can be very hard and this shouldn’t be glossed over yet, you will find it’s much harder to isolate yourself then you may think. I am getting acquainted with new friends already this year and I am going into the second month of my third year. Due to the small size, students can become more intimate with more people because you are frequently being put into situations with the same population of people. It’s a wonderful attribute of Acadia no matter where you began on the social continuum.

My roommate once chatted with someone at Shopper’s Drugmart standing in front of the chip aisle because she felt familiar enough with him. She always saw him at the library in the past and this was enough of a reason to critique chips together. They were both very perplexed at which chips make the best storm chips, which is the best PC brand chip flavor, and the classic conundrum of regular versus wavy cut chips etc. Classic chip struggles.  Just seeing the chip guy enough before said chip-run created a basis for a friendly conversation. I truly believe that Acadia/Wolfville are on the short-list of university towns where that is socially acceptable.

What we should remember is that although a friendly place, Acadia is a small pond. No no.  More like one of those fancy infinity pools that look off onto the ocean that really only exist on MTV’s “Cribs”, Oprah’s house, and affordable resorts. It has this small, rigidly defined population. Yet, it has a full vista view which alludes to opportunity commonly known as “the real world” and referred to as “adulthood”.

What about all the people I have successfully or unsuccessfully hit on? How often will I see them at this friendly, small school? You will see them what seems like everywhere (especially when you stink of Subway in the lib in between classes).

Here is a fun and simple equation you can do in your head: think of all the people you have either professed your love to, made out with, danced with at the vil and/or axe, stared too long at the library at, directed their naked butt to your bathroom, had full blown your-mum-and-dad-know-what-I-look-like-in-real-life relationships with, gone to coffee with, had a deep heart to heart after class with, or had an inexplicable crush on. Whatever experience you have or have not had. Then divide that by 6.46 km2. After you divide those awkward times by space (the square kilometers of Wolfville) you have your very own unique and customized answer! You are now a certified love physicist! Congrats.

Now, what do you do with that number? Be nice to each and everyone one of them no matter what the result of the situation is. You could be coworkers, neighbors, have all the same classes, or just like eating breakfast at the same time every day if you eat at Wheelock.

Laugh at their jokes, always say hi, and give them that follow back on insta. I can’t say that I always live by my own advice but I try my best. Shit, right when I was writing this I just avoided eye contact with someone while sitting in the BAC café I KID YOU NOT. Do what I say not what I do! You never know what may come of the situation. Inclusion is always the answer.  This of course also includes other acquaintances or individuals who you have not made a fool yourself of on a romantic level with.  It means be nice and remember everyone’s name that you have learned.

It may seem as though this town may seem suffocating at times. But what is really happening when you run into people is that you are reminded that each of them have feelings which you should respect.  No man is an island and everyone loves to be remembered. The small population is truly a good exercise in pushing yourself to treat others with respect. This lesson learned outside of class is one that is invaluable for the future and is served on a warm platter to us from yours truly, Acadia University. Right, so remember when you are heading to the swim-up bar in the infinity pool at Oprah’s house, give a polite hello and nod to all that are in there with you over these four+ years.