The Olympics started less than 24 hours ago and I’ve not left my TV unattended since then. I woke up at 6:30 this morning, unintentionally, and couldn’t go back to sleep because the cycling road race was on and suddenly, nothing seemed more important than these men on bikes. Any other time of year, I don’t follow cycling. I don’t follow archery, but I watched the whole men’s teams’ competition. I don’t follow volleyball, but I’m currently on the edge of my seat to see if the women’s USA group can beat the South Korean team. Something about the Olympics gets me invested in all of these obscure competitions.

I’ve always loved watching sports and the Olympics have never been an exception. I remember watching the opening ceremonies in Sydney, Athens and Beijing, all from the comfort of my living room. But last night, as Mary Poppins was battling off Voldemort, I wasn’t thinking about how whimsical and weird the whole thing was. Rather, I was reading an article about how certain Canadian television channels had cut out the whole segment dedicated to Britain’s National Healthcare System. And then later, I found a 5-minute-long tribute to London’s 7/7 terrorist attack victims that NBC had cut out and replaced with a Michael Phelps interview. I’ve never been much into politics because I loathe controversy, but I was moved to see Saudi Arabia’s first female competitors walking proudly along the track. I was excited to know that Palestine had actually qualified for an event and earned their inclusion. I was inspired to see countries that were sending two or three athletes grinning with pride. 

So how does this relate in any way to college? To you?

I don’t recall caring so much about the parade of nations in 2004 or 2008. I didn’t take interest in the stories of smaller countries and lesser athletes. I just wanted to root for USA and maybe an Australian or two. But this go around, I feel more aware and I can’t help but think that college has had something to do with that. I care more about the rest of the world. It seems silly to reduce the feeling to something so small, but it’s the truth. I’ve met people from all around the world here at Coastal. I’ve learned about the countries and cities and villages that they call home and I’ve found myself genuinely caring. I’ve been told about injustices and discriminations until I started to sympathize and want to take action.

You see, you can go to your classes every day and earn an A on every test. You can make the Dean’s and the President’s list every semester. As a self-attesting nerd, I’ve operated by these rules for the past three years. But even so, the more important things I’ve learned didn’t come from a book or a study guide. The greatest wealth of knowledge resides in the people around you. Make sure you go out and find them and I guarantee, it’ll be time well spent. You’ll see your whole world open up.

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Wing-Spreading 101

July 13, 2012

It never fails.

You’re a few months away from starting college, it’s the summer, family vacations and reunions happen and all of the sudden, every aunt and uncle you haven’t seen since the last family reunion starts asking you,

“Are you getting excited for college?”

I remember having some generic speech to respond with…something about how great it would be to live away from home but how much I would miss my parents. And then, as if we had rehearsed it, my dad would say,

“I can’t wait to get rid of her!”

And my mom would say,

“Oh don’t listen to him, we’re gonna miss her!”

Then everyone would laugh because my dad was such a jokster and he’d make another jibe about getting a dog to replace me and then we’d all go on our merry way; me thinking that my mom would get emotional when the time came to leave and my dad would be totally fine with his new dog.

I think the truth was that both of my parents were bummed to see me go. I know that they were excited for me, but as their oldest, it wasn’t a clean cut to let me go. Turns out they were just coping with it differently.

I’d wager a fair penny that every single parent out there is struggling with the idea of their baby leaving the house and spreading their proverbial wings…whether they express it or not. But I’m guessing they’ll probably express it.

Daily phone calls, constant emails and loads of notifications…how will you deal with it?

They’ll always be your parents and respect is still in order. But I found that this was a perfect time in life to become friends with them. Level with them. Maybe you’ve always had that kind of relationship with your parents and if so, that’s great. But if not, now is the chance to let them know you’re an adult with your own life and your own concerns.

You’ll always want their support and involvement, but…y’know…maybe from afar.

Wall Pond

July 6, 2012

Wall Pond

Initially, I fostered a lot of reservations about coming to Coastal. It wasn’t my original plan and it wasn’t, by any means, what I had dreamed of when I imagined college. I wanted a university with more than one library. I wanted a campus filled with people leaning against trees as they read and studied. I wanted an invitation to a classy, intellectual party every other night where like minds could talk about their big, worldly plans and ideas.

But sometimes life takes you elsewhere and you come to find that every situation is nothing more or less than what you make of it. Photoshop might be criticized for producing false expectations, but there’s a benefit to it as well.

If what you see before isn’t everything you expected it to be, then fix it. Find its good qualities and enhance them. Find the bad ones and leave them in the shadows. You might be surprised how similar the final product is to the image you first had in mind.

Happy July!

July 1, 2012

Aside from being Canada Day and another blistering 24 hours spent in a heat wave, today marks one more passed month of summer, and another day closer to the start of classes. We’re just over 6 weeks away from opening residence halls, only a few more orientation sessions remain, and I’ve already heard professors talking about their course plans for the fall.

Now while you’re trying to keep cool, I hope you’re also getting excited for classes to start. I keep thinking about the fact that this will be my last year at Coastal and I sometimes wonder if I got involved too late. I look back on my freshman year and realize that I assumed I had plenty of time– four long years to leave a mark. But in truth, those years FLY by.

So I congratulate you! You’re just getting started.

What’s your first order of business when you get here?