What’s my age again?

September 28, 2012

This is going to sound more like a personal rant than anything I’ve written before. But I can guarantee perhaps a few nuggets of wisdom by the time you’ve finished reading.

Alright, so you’re in college. It’s time to find yourself (whatever that’s supposed to mean). You do the going to class thing, you do the parents’ weekend thing, you do the football games in the student section thing, you do the Greek life thing, you do the party scene thing, you do the drinking thing, you do the drunken pictures on Facebook thing.

Do it. I didn’t do it and I don’t regret it because it’s not me. Try as I might, I’m destined to be a bookish nerd, and that’s what makes me happy. Hell, it’s part of what makes me who I am. But not everyone’s like that and college, even more than teaching you how to write a resume, teaches you about yourself. So do it. I’m not even telling you that you have to be smart about. Be stupid about it. Don’t get in a car or get yourself or anyone else killed. Those sorts of actions are beyond stupid–they’re reckless and dangerous and there’s no good excuse for them. But be the drunk person that confesses all of his deep-seated feelings, if you want. Be the person that dances like Carlton Banks when you’re drunk. Be the person that swears up and down she can jump from that couch to that couch and stay on her feet. Be THAT person. I imagine it’ll teach you plenty about yourself and the friends around you. So do it.

But please, for the love of all that is good in this world, get it out of your system now. Because nobody likes you when you’re 23 and you still act like you’re in freshman year.

I’m not saying you can’t go out (or stay in) and have some drinks and a good time after college. You should! That’s what all of these regrettable nights were training you for…so that you don’t go out with some friends from your new job and ask for Everclear.

The only reason that Old School’s funny is because it was out of those guys’ nature. They grew up and then revisited it. If they’d been keg-standing all along, there’d be no movie.

So this is the voice of your future conscience. Live it up and get it out of your system.


Hello Backyard

August 31, 2012

Hello Backyard

There’s nothing particularly relevant about this picture…I just like having a view so nice that it’s even pretty when it rains.

I really struggled to think of something to write about this morning. I kept trying to put myself in the shoes of the majority of the student body in an attempt to relate to everyone – to write about an issue or dilemma that most people might be facing right now.

But I found it just wasn’t possible. I thought back to when I was a freshman and a sophomore and my greatest concerns were getting a reading assignment done or making sure that I’d made dinner plans with someone later in the day so that I wouldn’t have to eat alone. Now, that I’m staring graduation in the face, my biggest concerns are meeting with my thesis advisor and figuring out whether it makes more sense to go for my master’s degree or just commit to get a doctorate.

A doctorate. Isn’t there some age minimum on that? Are you sure I’m allowed?

It’s a rare day when I can get 3 solid, well-rounded meals taken care of. When did I get far along enough to consider being a “Dr.” of anything? The exciting talk of the day with my circle of friends is no longer the party that was busted up last night in the building next door. Instead, I’m asking them how the graduate program is treating them and whether or not they’re going to take that assistantship they were considering. I’m more excited about getting up early on a Saturday morning to get some writing done at Barnes & Noble than I am about the get-together I was invited to Friday night. Something about it all just doesn’t seem logical because I don’t remember the change ever taking place…

But all that happened was the passing of time. I took classes, of course, and I did work and wrote papers and actively achieved things, but it was all under the influence of time. What’s so weird is that it happened seamlessly.

I know it’s only the end of week two, and things are still new and fresh. But if you pay close attention, you might already see time whizzing right by you. There’s something kind of nice about it though. It makes me feel like you don’t have to do anything extraordinary to survive and progress in life. You just have to take it one day, one assignment, one meal at a time. It might not always be going in a straight, direct line, but it’ll get you there.

Because as The Doctor tells us, “people assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.”

As a cozy touch to our apartment, my roommate and I posted a white board on the wall of our living room for grocery lists and things like that. But I’m not much of a list person so I’ve taken to writing little quotations from books or poems or songs that I come across.

Unless you’ve slept through the last 48 hours, you know that we’re dealing with essentially a monsoon. Don’t quote me on that, because I’m not sure what a monsoon technically is. But judging by the knee-deep water in front of the library yesterday, the situation has passed beyond that of “scattered thunderstorms.” My own trek from Edwards to the Student Center had my mascara running down my face, my shoes filled with water, and my books in a dire, sopping state. So when I got home yesterday, soaked and cold, I got on my laptop to find a scathing quote about how wearisome rain can be; something that included words like “drowning” and “drenching” and maybe an expletive or two. Instead, I stumbled across something that likened rain to “silver liquid drops” and urged that you let it kiss you.

I stopped being irritated. I changed out of my wet clothes, found an oversized sweatshirt, made a cup of tea and reconsidered things. I had decided at the beginning of the day that just because it was raining, everything would likely be a disaster. I had a conversation with a friend that left me irritated and offended, but now that I was warming up, I realized he was trying to make me laugh. There was a girl in my afternoon class that kept making stupid, irrelevant comments, but in reality, her points weren’t wrong. My car didn’t stall out in the river-road. My books and clothes didn’t get ruined. I didn’t drown after all.

I made a similar post about this a month ago…y’know, attitude shifting? Now more than ever, I think that it’s key. I’m sure when you bragged about going to college at the beach, you didn’t have torrential rain in mind. Maybe your classes are harder or more boring or less relevant than you hoped they would be. Maybe you didn’t magically become best friends with your roommate.

But you made it through week one. It took me a year to feel like I was taking the right classes and doing the right thing. It took me three to find a roommate whose company I really enjoyed. And it took up until yesterday to embrace a little bit of rain.

As always, if you ever need anything, be it an opinion, a bit of advice, or someone to get dinner with, let me know. Leave a comment, we can get in touch. In the meantime, give it some time. It’s the morning after Monsoon 2012 and  while it’s still grey and cloudy out, most of the water has drained away.

I loathe moving.

I don’t dislike it, I don’t hate it. I loathe it.

So this time of year, when it’s time to move into fall assignments, I fold my arms and pout like a child.

But I sucked it up and moved…just yesterday, in fact. Now, I’ve come to find that it might be one of the best moves I could have made. It’s given me a clean start for what will be my final year here at Coastal. 

I also got to meet my new RA who is, by the way, an absolute sweetheart. I hope for all of you that your RA will be just as compatible. From what I’ve heard, there are a lot of new faces in the RA crew, so I’m calling this year the “fresh start.” Granted, I didn’t always like the idea of fresh starts…

I have a younger sister who will be starting her freshman year here and she was saying just the other day that she was excited, yet still nervous. My initial reaction was to tell her there was nothing to be worried about. Then I realized that really wasn’t much help. I’m operating from the perspective of a fourth year student and third year resident, so of course there’s not much that I worry about because there’s not much I haven’t anticipated.

What my freshman sister needed was an open ear and some reassurance that her concerns weren’t unfounded but shouldn’t stop her from being excited.

I’m sure a lot of you, especially those that are freshmen, have been counting down the days that you can get out of wherever you are and start this whole college extravaganza. You’re ready to meet new people and discover new things about life.

But if you’re anything like I was, there’s something slightly intimidating about all of that newness.

You’ll have an RA there for you and you’ll have roommates and classmates and possibly even friends that are joining you here at CCU. But if you ever need anything, be it an opinion, a bit of advice, or someone to get dinner with, let me know. Leave me a comment, we can get in touch. I would have loved that kind of guarantee.

Q&A Session

August 3, 2012

As the semester approaches, I’ve been getting questions from prospective students about some of the ins and outs of living on campus. I figured it would be much more effective to share my answers here so that everyone can benefit. Even if you haven’t thought of these questions, I promise you could use the answers.

Question #1: I’m a freshman but I’ve been assigned to University Place. How hard is it to get involved when you don’t live on main campus?

My answer: This fall will make my second year living in UP and I’ve had no lack of opportunities when it comes to involvement. You’re surrounded by people, and not all of them are freshmen. Some (like myself) have been here for a while and have already gotten involved, so use them as a resource. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind. If you’re a little more shy and don’t feel comfortable asking to tag along with an upperclassman, look to your classes. Every degree program boasts either an honor society or a club, and while it might not end up being your cup of tea in the long run, it’s a prime chance to network and meet people. That’s really the key: MEET PEOPLE. If you can do that, it’s nearly impossible to not get involved.

Question #2: How approachable are the RAs and RDs?

My answer: super approachable. Granted, I’ve obviously not been the resident of every RA and every RD, but my experiences with them have always been positive. My RD during my first year was actually the reason I got an on-campus job with the housing department. And my RD this past year was great as well. Anytime I had a question or a problem, I knew I could go to him, get it solved, and then talk about what movies we’d seen recently. My RAs have been just as pleasant. In both situations, they understood that I was a bit older than the other residents and that I usually had different interests (being the nerd that I am), and they were always accommodating of that. I think residents sometimes see the RAs and RDs as some sort of patrol, ready to catch you for any little mistake you might even accidentally make. But while they’re on the lookout for legitimate violations, they’re mostly there to help you, and will happily do so.

Question #3: I don’t know any of my roommates. What happens if we don’t get along?

My answer: ah, one of the joys of growing up–learning to deal with less than pleasant company. I’ve never known my roommates ahead of time, and thus far, it hasn’t been disastrous. My roommates last year were three really sweet girls, but I didn’t have a lot in common with them. They were all younger than me and all of them were involved in Greek life, which I’ve never been into. But even though our interests and concerns were different, it didn’t mean we couldn’t live together. Part of me thinks it’s a good learning experience to figure out how to co-habitate with people you wouldn’t normally hang out with. And part of me understands that sometimes, that just isn’t possible. The first line of defense is communication. Your roommates are people too and probably understand where you’re coming from. In the event of serious conflicts, go to your RA. Chances are, they may have already noticed and have been thinking about a solution. And if not, they can bring it to your RD. There are tons of resources at your disposal for solving problems and I can’t recall a single time that someone had to deal with being miserable. Just talk about it. Communication is key.

See? I’m ready for your questions. Fire away.

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.

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?