Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Campus Life

College is supposed to be the best time of a person’s life; little responsibility, a plethora of knowledge, football games every Saturday, late night trips to Waffle House, and lots and lots of partying (at public schools, anyway). But let me tell you what college really is.

For a young buck or delicate, doe-eyed girl fresh from the fields of high school, living on campus is a necessary experience in order to gain the full culture and wisdom college offers. To begin, you must find yourself a compatible (or on paper a seemingly compatible) roommate and a dorm in which the two of you will live.

The expectation: you’ll get to decorate your room so perfectly it could be a poster child for Vera Bradley. Reality: nothing matches a mint chocolate chip floor or sticks to a wall made only of 
cinder blocksExpectation: You’d stay up late talking to your hall mates and eating candy and you’d get to sleep in. Reality: Every night preceding a huge test, you’re kept from the sweet, sweet illusion of sleep until three in the morning by the loudest girls on planet earth, only to be wrenched from your peaceful dreams three hours later by your suitemate’s siren of an alarm clock. Should you be able to return to sleep until your ten o’clock class? Why, how could you while your suite’s shower runs with the intensity and sound of Niagara Falls.

Expectation: You’ll get some domestic experience by doing your own laundry and that no one steals anything because we go to a Christian school. Reality: the dorm dryers have only one heat setting and shrink your entire wardrobe ten sizes too small. And that moment you had to run to the bathroom, you come back to find you wet clothes on top of the dryer and your favorite socks with the owls on them sucked into the abyss that is dorm life.

When you begin college, you’re constantly warned about the freshmen fifteen and also about how terrible the cafeteria food tastes. Cafeteria food is a delicacy. And by delicacy, I mean the delicate balance in which you hang between starving yourself or torturing your taste buds for four years. (Maybe even longer, the memories are haunting.) There’s something to be said about the quality of food when being prepared for thousands of students. Who knew the sausage from breakfast could be turned into pizza for lunch and used again as pasta for dinner? Cling to Mama’s home cooking as long as you can, my friends.

A few good things happen while you’re in college. Every member of the men’s soccer team might run by you on the one afternoon you decide to study outside. But why dwell on the positives when you’re constantly running into couples sucking face at every corner of campus once night falls. When you finally do make it to your dorm, you’re faced with the constant struggle of locking yourself outside your room. But the best things college has to offer are the random safety drills. Fire drills that begin immediately when you get out of your midnight shower on the coldest night of the year or tornado drills that keep you crammed in a downstairs hallway for two hours with nothing but a bottle of water and bag full of hemp for bracelet making.

College is essentially a glorified high school with less sleep and much harder work that professors for some reason think you have time for.  Expectation: I’ll make lots of lifelong friends and get to participate in fun school activities. Reality: you spend all of your time studying, eating, and sleeping. Mainly mixing the eating and sleeping into the studying.

Expectation: I’ll get to take all the classes I've ever wanted. Reality: You take maybe five classes you actually want to. Expectation: All of my classes are preparing me for my future job. Reality: maybe five of your classes are preparing you for a little bit of your future job. 

Expectation: I’ll meet my soul mate the first day of school. Reality: you’re single all four years because every date-able person is already taken. Final expectation: I’ll be paying off student loans until I die. Final reality: I’ll be paying off student loans until just before die.

When you stop to think about college, you begin to ask yourself why you’re paying ridiculous amounts of money for books that are falling apart, why you have to take classes that won’t help you except maybe on Jeopardy, why you’re living in a building that is constantly falling apart, and why you’re stressed to the point of consuming dangerous amounts of chocolate and caffeine every day of the week.

I went to college because I thought it was prestigious and a necessary tool to do anything well in life. I went to college because it was expected of me. And while I have seen large improvements in some of my talents and skills, there are other ways that I could have improved them equally as much. I went to college with the expectation that college would be what I expected, and the reality is that it’s nothing of the sort. 

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