Rhode Island

Before I left and went abroad, I had lived in Connecticut (Monroe, Redding, and New London), New York (Brooklyn), and Rhode Island (Providence). And while they all had their ups and downs, my personal favorite of these is an easy choice: Providence, Rhode Island.

Providence isn't a huge city by any means, with a population of about 200,000, but it comes with a tremendous character and uniqueness. During the time I lived there, there was never a shortage of things to do, and since the town doesn't really get any tourists, everything was open to the locals. This could largely be due to the fact that it is a college town, which by having five universities including Brown, it definitely is. But it is in the best way possible with music, cafes, and pubs all significantly less expensive than places like New York and Boston.

For me, though, there were a couple of things that stood out above the rest. The first of which is coffee. Little known fact, Providence has the most coffee shops per person out of any city in the country, and best of all, 99% of them are not chains with bland coffee like Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. My personal favorite, though, is one called Coffee Exchange (see 'Stories' section). Right when you walk in, you'll be greeted by the therapeutic scent of freshly ground coffee from countries all over the world. There will be dozens of choices from which to take your pick, and the small pastries they sell alongside are absolutely delicious.

And then, there's the live music. For a city that isn't all that big, Providence is crawling with live music venues, big and small. If you go out on a Friday or Saturday, you'll pretty much struggle to find a place that doesn't have a band performing. And I mean this in the best way possible, because the bands are fun and exciting, as opposed to pretentious and terrible. For example: It's pretty much a fun, welcoming atmosphere regardless, which made me feel at home right when I first moved in.

I guess the city lucks out being a college town in between New York and Boston, so it gets a lot of the action from the two cities for about a fraction of the price and without the crowds of tourists. There's no big city pressure either, so everything seems more fun and relaxed. I guess I can conclude by saying this: Imagine the quintessential cozy seaside town but with a vibrant culture and so many things to do. That is Providence.