By Daphne Chapline ’22
One rainy Sunday morning, I was walking back to campus from a yoga class at Claremont Yoga when I heard someone yell, “Daphne, wait!” I turned around and saw a staff member of Bert and Rocky’s, an ice cream shop in the Claremont Village. I ran inside the shop, she handed me some pumpkin bread and said “Here, on me!” As I ate my pumpkin bread, I chatted with her about new developments in my life in Claremont and, of course, about the new ice cream flavors.
This interaction may seem small (and frankly embarrassing, because it reveals how often I eat ice cream), but encounters like these with the people of Claremont each add to your feelings of comfort and happiness in a new place. Most of the staff at Bert and Rocky’s know my name; they recommend flavors they think I will like and ask about how school is and how I am adjusting. Coming from a tight knit community, this neighborly vibe in Claremont evokes thoughts and feelings of home. It’s no longer about just satisfying my ice cream craving, but also interacting with the friendly faces of Claremont.
I have also treasured relationships with the yoga teachers at Claremont Yoga in the Village (the downtown area next to campus), especially one who is also from the Midwest (yay for flyover states!). My yoga practice was something I was able to bring with me from my life in Oklahoma City, and having talented and open teachers was so meaningful to me, as I was very close with my yoga community at home.
Sometimes, when you spend so much time at the place where you study, you start to forget that you are more than a student. I’d like to think that I am more than just someone that spends a lot of time doing homework; I am also a friend, a daughter, a sister, etc. Being able to explore places off campus reminds me of that, it allows me to sink into a different part of myself.
Although getting off campus is a great way to take your mind off school and all the hard work that comes with it, I still enjoy engaging with the people, and, more importantly, the dogs of Claremont on Pomona’s campus. There is one man who I always see on the patio of the Smith Campus Center (a great place to study), who is always surrounded by his three dogs. He calls me “Oklahoma,” and I pet his dogs while inundating him with stories about my dogs back home. He even gave me a Christmas card, which, of course, included his dogs, and it is pinned right above my desk.
Interacting with non-students and the broader community connects me with the person I am at home: the one surrounded by her dogs and the one who eats ice cream with her dad every night. I think it is important to keep up traditions from your home life, big or small, that take the edge off the homesickness and permit you to be more than a student.
The Claremont community is extremely amiable and inviting. Many people in Oklahoma warned me that the people would not be as friendly in California, but Claremont has proven them wrong. This community is one of free pumpkin bread, endless dog kisses, and plenty of warmth and good-natured people.