By Bilal Adamjee ‘24
I love the beach. When people ask me, ‘What brought you to Pomona College?’ the beach always comes up. The beach does remind me of home – that, and the warm weather and palm trees. It was honestly a big factor in deciding where I wanted to study when I first started my college applications in high school.
I was born and raised in Kenya, where I’ve spent half my life in the coastal city of Mombasa, where, like Claremont, it’s hot and there are many palm trees (though I still can’t decide whether those in Claremont or Mombasa are cooler). I grew up within five minutes walking distance from the beach in Mombasa, and, while the nearest beach from Claremont is about a 40-minute drive away (don’t be fooled like I was), visiting the beach while at Pomona has been a unique experience all in itself.
One of my very first trips out of Claremont was to Santa Monica Beach with friends. When I first plunged into the Pacific Ocean, it was cold, and I mean COLD. This tropical boy was not ready for freezing water — it’s not warm like the Indian Ocean at all. But it was also a special moment. When I first touched the West Coast water and found myself wildly splashing around with my friends (most of whom were international students like me), the fact that I was playing there, roughly 9,900 miles away from the beach where I had grown up, the cold water shook reality into me and cemented the fact that I had made it, we had made it. Here I was in college finally, in a new country, ready to start a new chapter in my life.
So, to me there’s been something special about leaving the kind of tucked-away bubble of the Claremont Colleges every now and then, and venturing out to explore more beaches on various sports trips, road trips, and other getaways with friends. These adventures are a constant reminder of who I am and where I’m from, where much of my childhood was spent running along the beaches at home, taking long walks with my family, and where I found my first love. Since then, I’ve visited Huntington Beach, Laguna beach, and the beach in La Jolla, and there are many left that I’ve yet to knock out. In the meantime, I’ll keep acclimating to the icy wrath of the Pacific breeze.
It’s worth mentioning, too, that at Pomona College we do have a beach: Walker Beach. At least, if you replace sand with wonderful grass and the view of the horizon with a spectacular view of Frary dining hall and dusk setting over the Claremont Colleges, it’s a special kind of beach.
The times I’ve had venturing out to beaches or kicking back on Walker Beach have deepened my sense of natural belonging, community and true friendships here. It’s truly a beautiful harmony that Pomona College offers, unlike any other school, a harmony that balances Pomona’s robust and rigorous academic environment and one where you can have peace of mind. You can lay back and enjoy moments with yourself and with others, as much as focusing on your GPA and future career. You can feel alive, inside and outside of Claremont, like the feelings I have when at the beach.
Experiences at the beach have helped me create a home away from home. Do you love the beach like I do?