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A Whole New World

August 23rd, 2013 apcook15

So as I was scrolling through Facebook the other day, I saw a post from the College’s page asking alumni and current students to offer the incoming freshman class some helpful advice for the fast-approaching move-in day. Besides the immediate, knee-jerk reaction of asking them all to pronounce it properly as WOO-ster (Wor-ches-ter is the single easiest way to identify yourself as an out-of-town freshman), nothing sprang immediately to mind. For having lived it all myself only a mere short two years ago, I came up blank on any useful tips the Class of ’17 could use on their first day. Then I realized: my problem wasn’t that I couldn’t think of anything – it was that I was thinking of too much. There were pages of things I could offer to both students and parents, but if only I had some means of writing it down in readable form for them all to see- waitasecond……
As a product of 90s pop culture and as an English Major who’s been taught that when presenting an argument, the more quotes and outside sources, the better, I couldn’t just spew my advice laundry-list fashion. No, no; I’ve called in some of the greats to help me here, people. If you take any exception to what I say, take it up with them. I’m simply the humble messenger. Lots of people approach move-in with a LOT of trepidation. The list of things to go wrong seems to get longer every time you think about it. Here are a few of them, maybe spelled out for you by my friends and I. Bear with me until the end, though; it all has a fairy-tale ending, I promise. Ladies and gents, here’s Freshman Move-In day – Disney style.

Hello freshman. Yes, you, freshman. This is you. You are walking onto campus for the first time as a student. Savor this moment.

This has probably been on your radar for a while. From the grueling admissions process last year to the agonizing wait time for that acceptance letter to what’s probably been the longest summer of your life as you tick down the days on the calendar, waiting to finally join those lucky, lucky kids up on Mt. St. James… You’ve been looking forward to this.

The day has finally arrived, and you’ve darn-near packed up everything you’ve ever owned into the family car. You drive onto campus, unload it all, then discover from your cheerful RA that your room is up on the 4th floor. Do you need help with the bags?

Here’s the big moment: the first meeting with the roommates. You’ve been able to make contact via Facebook, or Twitter, or carrier pigeon, or some other preferred means of communication and have ascertained that they are, in fact, human. Possibly even normal. You never can tell, though, until you meet someone in person, so you’re a bit anxious. When you make it to the room, you discover that they’ve made it there ahead of you, and seem to have filled it already with an impressive amount of awards and/or personal miscellany. No pressure.

Lots, actually.

They’re there too, and you’re finally able to shake hands in person, as you drop the accumulated total of your life’s possessions on the floor in their suitcases. THIS is the kid you’re gonna be living with for a year? You start having second doubts immediately. Suddenly, the room-for-one occupancy of your own bedroom becomes more appealing than it ever has. Spending a whole year with a stranger(s)… Eesh.

It’s probably just nerves, you think to yourself. Nothing a good shower can’t fix. So you head down the hall to the bathroom – but waitasec. These aren’t your home bathrooms. These are dorm bathrooms, and they’re definitely gonna take some getting used to. You warn yourself, proceed with caution…

Back home, mom and dad are doing rough. The house just seems empty now. You may be their first one out of the house; you may be their favorite one (we won’t tell the siblings, don’t worry). There’s a definite you-shaped hole for them now.

Now it’s time for introductions. The rest of your classmates are all moved in now, and you figure it’s time to branch out and start making some connections. You’re nervous though: a total fish out of water, and for some reason you just have a tough time getting across. Maybe these people aren’t getting the best first impression of you?

If you’re science-minded, you stroll along to the top-notch lab facilities, and can’t help but think of the cutting edge stuff that goes down in here.

Yes, this will one day be me, you decide.

If (like me) you’re more liberal arts-minded, you instead meander into Dinand Library. SO-MANY-BOOKS – - – SO-LITTLE-TIME

Then, an upperclassman walks by. Dang, this guy looks cool. Better not act like a freshman around him, you think to yourself. Act like you know what you’re doing, follow along, and hope that one day you’ll be at this guy’s level.

Can I let you in on a secret, though? That upperclassman who seems like they have it all together? He probably didn’t become best friends with his roommate overnight (heck, they may not even have been best friends at all!). His calfs didn’t develop ex utero to climb Mt. St. James’ (seemingly never-ending) slopes, or up to his room on the 4th floor. The shared bathrooms? He had to adjust to them too, but they became routine in under a week, and he shared them with some of the friendliest people he’s known in his life. The awkward stage of, “Me Tarzan, you Jane?” I’d argue that’s half the fun of meeting new people, and faster than you think you’re both spreckenze the same language. And hey: this is college now. You’re not here to compete with anyone for anything anymore. You’ve made it now to the show, and this is 100% about you. You’ve all made it here – you’re all exceptional. Your job now is to find out to just what extent exactly, and let me promise you – exactly 0.00% of that has to do with anything other people are up to. Mess around in Yzma’s lab… Get lost in the Beast’s library. A lot of the stone cold upperclassmen retain that same sense of wonder for those resources around them; it’s just that kind of place. You’re not the first to do this, you see, and you certainly won’t be the last. Everyone’s gone through this rite of passage and come out golden on the other side, seemingly despite the odds, and if I had to place Vegas numbers on YOU, I’d bet you won’t be an exception.

So take a deep breath. Relax. Tackle this with an open mind and a positive attitude. Everything’s gonna be fantastic. From my own experience, and from the experiences I’ve seen others go through, this all ends with a happily-ever-after.

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