Between my “I still need a map to find Veale” and “I love Fribley” stage of the semester, I arrived at this school with so much ambition that I was borderline naïve. In my heart of hearts, I knew that I was going to buckle down. In no way was I going to procrastinate, I was not going to even think about skipping a class and I was definitely going to attend every single meeting of all the clubs I signed up for. I was here to learn but also continue on a journey of self-discovery.
With ambition also came worries. Who wouldn’t be the least bit scared when coming to college? No one ever wants to fail miserably on their first venture away from the supervision of an adult. A good chunk of the school’s population is highly intelligent and it is daunting to be thrown into an environment with them.
No matter the amount of worries that came up, I knew that it was my time to shine. I’ve had my days where I thought I was shining as bright as gold.
But let’s be real, the next few weeks will show me shining as much as an RTA train station.
I think the freshman class has shown evidence of “shining.” We’ve eaten a lot less ramen than expected and have also learned more outside of the lecture hall and MediaVision recordings combined. The adjustment to this university was gradual and almost unnoticeable if you weren’t asked to reflect on it. When walking into Wade Commons and seeing a friend working on a paper, all you have to do is give them that look and ask, “SAGES paper?” and they’d reply something along the lines of, “Damn SAGES, man!” From that moment, you both just related to the personal hell that you both are going through.
We’ve also learned that more drama comes from the laundry rooms than from any floor in the residential halls. The words that have been exchanged and the territorial stand-offs for machines rival any documentary currently on National Geographic. But even after surviving the ridiculous thought of 112 people sharing six washers and dryers, we were not prepared for the sloppy mess that is the bathroom.
You really have no idea how disgusting people can be until you are forced to share a bathroom. The amount of times I have exclaimed “Really?” at the ridiculousness I’ve seen is too dang high. Even after seeing enough hair balls to create a Furby and toothpaste globs that could collectively supply a dentist for a year, finding an unflushed toilet is still surprising. If you grew up in a culture that taught you to flush after every use and you still don’t flush, then you need to revisit middle school, because that mess is immature.
A big part of our shine ironically consists of accepting the times that we shine as bright an aluminum foil-wrapped brick. I remember distinctly seeing CaseCash as emergency money, L3 as a nice place to visit once a week and Denny’s being there for the occasional visit when I was tired of dining hall food. Now I’m down to $0.15 in CaseCash, the servers in L3 know me better than my own professors and I’m so comfortable in Denny’s, I go in pajamas and Crocs.
I’m not the only one. The consensus is that the freshmen don’t have much shame for most things anymore. We have spent such an embarrassingly large amount of time syncing our Tapingos together and timing how long it takes to get to Denny’s and back that it makes our study time pale in comparison. Even after reading all the BuzzFeed articles that are now funny because they point out our bad behaviors, we still don’t change our ways. The thought “Oh, college is for making mistakes anyway!” is all too common. And when you make a mistake, you just laugh it off and say “Well, that was a learning experience! Now I know better.”
One sad acceptance we’ve come to make is that college is a bubble. We have become so obsessed with our lives here, we cut ourselves off from anything happening in the real world.
I have said this once and I will say it again, college has proven itself to be nothing but a hot mess. From the lack of sleep to the hours I’ve spent staring at a screen stressing about what I need to do instead of accomplishing the task at hand, my experiences at Case Western Reserve University have been unexpected ones. If you were to tell a group of freshmen that orientation was only a few months ago, they’d look at you as if L3 Grille closed, Tapingo stopped working and they missed the greenie all at once.
On top of that, the semester is finally coming to a close. I can agree with my freshman counterparts that the end of the semester came quickly. All that I can ask myself after my few months at CWRU is, “What the heck have I done with myself here?” I have spent more time calculating what my grades should be to pass a class, finding odd sleeping spots, cleaning my room and surprise napping than I’d like to admit. However, I have noticed that change in college is inevitable. You really get to see how proactive you are and grow as a human being. I’m still a burnt mess, but a long way from the kid who joined clubs for free swag.
Stephen Kolison is a first-year biology student and member of IMPROVment. While confining himself to his dorm, he enjoys knitting while watching Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones.