As the tensions continues to rise in the U.S. after Trump’s election, I have come to feel more and more strange about being at college, and more specifically a southern college.

As someone who grew up NYC, I was always surrounded by liberals who spoke out and protested for what they believed in. Whether I was part of a protest, witnessed a march, or just read an article about someone doing something that showed they cared and were ready to speak out, this strong presence of loud-mouthed bold New Yorkers always seemed to surround me in the best way possible.

Everyone always tells me that I lived in a bubble growing up, but I’ve never felt that to be as true than it does right now. Since arriving at Vanderbilt in the fall, I have felt more and more distant from the increasing amount of troubles arising in this country. At a time when I wish nothing more than to stand up for what I believe in and protest that for which I do not, I have felt my least able.

I am not saying Vanderbilt and Nashville have created no opportunity for me to show my support for the causes I believe in, because I know there have been various demonstrations, but I feel as though my classmates and I are so easily able to go about our weeks as if everything is as it should be. I read the news and try to stay as much up to date as possible on whats happening in the country, yet no matter how much I read, I’m still able to get up the next morning, walk to class, and not have this constant reminder of how the country is in serious trouble. Perhaps this is because I am a white cis-gender straight American, but it may also be because I’m no longer in Brooklyn where I would walk to school and see people of so many different backgrounds running local corner stores and restaurants, handing out fliers, and preaching on the street about who knows what! No matter if they were specifically referencing something that happened in terms of government policy or otherwise, I was reminded and aware of what was happening in this country because I saw the vastly different people that it was affecting.

Just a week ago, I stumbled upon an article titled “Thousands Rally in Yemeni Bodega Owners’ Protest Against Refugee Ban.” When I saw the title, I immediately knew the rally must have been in New York because they used the term Bodega, New York slang for a corner store. Upon reading the article, I saw that the protest was held three blocks from my high school. At that moment it really hit how is easy it was for me to be involved and have my voice heard in Brooklyn. I was surrounded by people who were always trying to speak their minds and their powerful presence brought me in with them. It saddens me to not be in that atmosphere right now, at a time when I need it most, but it also inspires me. I know that being away from that is not an excuse to stand by and watch as this country continues to change in terrifying ways. It should be and is a push forward to find those who share my beliefs and be those people that I always found so inspiring.