A week ago, I officially completed my studies in Durham. Graduation was very bittersweet for me, and most of my classmates probably felt the same way. During parts of the ceremony, I was either staring into space, looking at the awesome hats and robes the professors were wearing, or just silently contemplating whether or not I had the full college experience. I've heard people say that it is pointless to ruminate over the past and we all should just stay in the now and plan for the future. I have no idea how to live in the now, and I just barely can organize my future. I mostly just think about the past. I could probably stop this habit through intense training and meditation, and I just may, but at the same time...I'm a writer. I think about the past. That's part of my job.
It eventually dawned on me that my college experience was atypical. I invested most of my time into extracurricular activities, and not drinking or doing the required readings for actual classes. I didn't really like getting drunk every single weekend either (although, I somehow developed a reputation that I did), but the entire campus body did. I often felt like I was some sort of muggle for not going out all that often, but I did have friends and I was usually invited somewhere every weekend...I just didn't want to go. That's what worked for me. I liked my "me" time.
This leads me into my first bit of advice: find a routine that works for you. A University campus is a pretty awesome thing. Being a freshman in college is truly your first taste of the "real world" yet it isn't real at all (the real world doesn't have free condoms every where you go; it just has them in one or two places and it is super awkward asking for them). You now have to develop your own modus operandi and the best part is that the modus operandi could be made up of literally anything you want it to be! You could show initiative and get up at 6am and go to the gym before your 8am math class that you will never ever miss even though you know all the material, OR you could sleep until 1 in the afternoon, skip class to smoke a blunt, and go out every single night looking for either some people to have relations with or more blunts. The latter routine is risky because you may find yourself uttering the phrase, "I'm shooting for a D-", over and over again. In college, your mom or dad won't wake you up to remind you that you have to get up and go to school. You're kinda sort of on your own, so arrange something that suits you and what you want to get out of college.
Speaking of what you want to get out of college...picking a major. The New Hampshirite posted a blog earlier about determining how to pick one. I'm paraphrasing (and censoring myself a bit), but the gist of that entry was "what do you like to talk about?" I think that's the best way to go about picking a major. Seriously. The money be damned. You can't take money with you and even HAVING a BA in ANYTHING will probably land you a job somewhere. I don't believe there is such thing as a useless degree. The only way a degree is truly useless is if you didn't care about the degree. You may not make much money as a social worker, but you're helping people and that's way more valuable than money, no matter what your Dad or your Econ major friend tells you. I was a communication major because I wanted to have both the English background and the understanding of media theory as well and I like talking about writing and I like talking about how the liberal media is screwing us over and making it impossible for conservatives to get their voice out there since they own absolutely no soapbox for us to stand on.
Being an active part of the University community is huge. I probably sound like a guidance counselor that you're fairly ambivalent towards, but what Mr. or Mrs. Whatever said is true. There is an organization devoted to most things worth devoting yourself to on a college campus, and if the thing you want to be most devoted to doesn't yet exist, you can make it yourself. That's what I did (no, I never got rejected from the improv group on campus, but I heard that I have through the grapevine...I never tried out for it, so take that haters!) and my group has been fairly successful only after a few years. Most things do exist, however and you have no excuse to be bored on a weekday night. Join up with the radio station or the outing club! Show that you care about the environment or Darfur. Join NORML or the group that organizes concerts and comedians (lord knows CAB needs all the help they can get...sorry, I couldn't resist. Don't stalk me on Facebook and everything will be okay, other organizations).
Another piece of advice I have is don't be racist.
Here is a cliche for you to keep in mind about college: "expect the unexpected." College is really an isolated part of society where the only thing that ever seems to go wrong is that it rains on a Friday night. You're going to meet so many interesting people, and you may even stay friends with them for life. You also will hear things about people you probably never thought you would hear about anyone. So, if you're into gossip, college is a blasty-blast (and who ISN'T into gossip, I mean HELLO!). You will also see things you never thought you would see. I thought I'd never see a 20-year old woman walking around in nothing but three, flesh colored band-aids down Main Street (oh, Halloween in college, I'll miss you most of all). I never thought I'd see two cops racing each other on Segways. I never thought I'd see at least three dozen kids eat asphalt on long boards over the course of a week (that bottle of oil was the best purchase I ever made, thanks BP!). I never thought I'd see a star university athlete peeing on the statue of the school mascot. College is a sideshow that you get graded on.
I'm gonna shift gears a bit and make this more like "The Sunscreen Song..."
Don't take any crap from anybody. I don't mean kick someone's ass if they offended you. I mean stand up for yourself, you always have that right.
There are three essential things to have in a dorm room. Ibuprofen, shower shoes, and a hammock. The rest is just details.
Leave your beanie baby collection at home. Those aren't cool anymore.
Keep in mind that cliques still do exist in college, and it can be like high school sometimes. I think that's because our generation is more geared towards a high school mentality about social situations, but I digress.
Seriously, don't be racist. Or homophobic. No one likes that.
Participate in a protest. It doesn't matter what it was. What's important is that you went against authority and exercised your rights as an American. Use your freedom of speech (unless you're being racist, then shut up).
Eat junk food. After college, that's gonna have to stop since our metabolisms will catch up to our consumption habits not long after graduation, so enjoy it while you still can.
Try some drugs. Most anything is okay in moderation. D.A.R.E. doesn't update their facts and marijuana won't kill you. Just don't make a habit of it and, I can't stress this enough...don't do heroin (unless you want to start a really awesome band...just kidding...don't do it, it's not worth it and grunge is dead....just like you will be if you try heroin).
If you're going to travel abroad, don't do it your senior year, especially second semester.
Go to at least one social a semester. Your RA will totally appreciate it. You get bonus points if you don't go drunk.
And finally...this one is crucial: Be yourself!
Now, to sum all of this up, I just wanted to thank The New Hampshirite for doing what he does with this blog and it was a pleasure to call you a co-worker and it's even more of a pleasure to consider you one of my closest friends. I'd like to thank LadyMeow for bringing all the attention she brought to the blog and Rusty for making me laugh hysterically with his last blog title.
As for me, I will be creating my own blog within the next week or two. It'll be pretty random, talking about everything from sports to politics to video comedy sketches. I would appreciate it if even a quarter of the UNHblog readers swing on by my site from time to time. I'll try and update it daily, but that depends on my work schedule and other things of that nature.
Thanks for reading everyone; it's been real. And remember...when it comes to college...
(Just ignore that he says high school. It means the same thing.)