The notion of the “Bucknell Bubble” has existed for a long time, but I feel like it has no clear meaning or connotation. I think most people believe the Bucknell Bubble refers to the sheltered Lewisburg area we live in, and the privileged lifestyle that many Bucknell students enjoy
No one will deny that Bucknell is located in a very rural area. Lewisburg is pretty small — the social party scene is geographically no more than one square mile. On weekends, students are limited to socializing in some grungy downtown houses, frat houses, or the two bars on Market Street.
It has been said that Bucknell has a very preppy, homogeneous student body. I won’t deny that I sometimes embody this stereotype. I remember when my best guy friend from home looked at a picture from freshman year of me with all my new girlfriends; he joked, “Marg, I can’t even tell which one is you!” And frankly, many of my friends do have blonde hair like me. And yes, my friends and I do have similar styles and tastes. Walking around campus you will inevitably pass dozens of girls in Barbour jackets and Jack Rogers sandals, and boys in J.Crew pastel shorts and Rainbows. While the preppy look has a presence on campus, it is certainly not everyone. For the longest time, I assumed the term “Bubble” just referred to the stereotype that Bucknell has a predominantly white student body and shelters students from problems in the real world by putting them in a rural environment.
About a week into winter break this year, I was doing some last-minute Christmas shopping. It was a dreary day, I was stuck in traffic, and my phone was about to die. Once I arrived at the mall, I was overwhelmed by masses of grumpy people with large frowns on their faces. While this may just seem like any other typical holiday shopping experience, that was the day when I think I fully understood what exactly the “Bucknell Bubble” meant to me.
The bubble is not simply a stereotype based on students’ attractiveness and sheltered existence. It hit me there in the mall that I was in fact living in a bubble, but not because I am surrounded by very attractive people and limit my partying to three downtown streets: within the Bucknell Bubble, you are surrounded by amazing people and opportunities. You live on a beautiful brick campus with your best friends, you have the ability to learn and grow, and you can take advantage of everything around you. You are greeted with a smile whether you are in the Bison or at a lecture. The bubble is like a fantasy world, and for me it is not based on the materialistic or geographic stereotypes. The Bucknell Bubble is ultimately a community where I, and I would imagine the vast majority of students, feel comfortable and safe: we are on a campus that encourages personal growth, despite its rural location. Never on campus would I feel the way I felt that gloomy day at the mall: overwhelmed, lonely, or unloved.
I will admit that there are times where I may be a little too cooped up in the bubble and forget about the larger, “real” world outside. However, bubbles are bubbles: they pop very easily. Students on campus are never so sheltered that they are oblivious to real-world events and tragedies. Furthermore, the fact that we live in a rural area does not prevent students from being exposed to novel ideas and theories, nor from making a difference with service opportunities. Bucknell may be preppy and isolated, but what is most important are the characteristics that the student body possesses as a whole. The fact that students here are happy, motivated, and friendly is what really makes the bubble a bubble. And who really wants to live in a city anyways? We have our whole post-grad lives for that. For now, I’ll continue to enjoy the square mile that is Bucknell, which I’ve loved from day one.