Freshman, welcome to Case Western Reserve University! Home of the Spartans, crippling homework loads, nerds galore, mediocre nightlife (at best), horrible weather and a poorly planned university center!
You see, us Spartans like to complain. It’s what we do. We gripe and moan about this and that: the meal plans, the dorms, Cleveland. Nothing is perfect and rarely is anything good enough. State schools have better parties, better sports, better everything. Our high school friends never have as much homework. And why in the hell did we choose to study engineering or go the pre-med route?
Yet, here we are and here I am back at CWRU for another year, another round. Despite wearing two pairs of socks during the winter, ranting crazily after math has melted my brain and dealing with the glare on my laptop in the Tink, I’m back and hella excited for my senior year.
Complaining is a common pastime on campus and an easy form of solidarity. Complaining in print is a straightforward article to write. I guarantee that in each edition of The Observer there is an article of the complainitory form and I am a common participant in this practice.
But freshies, don’t fret and please don’t listen to us too carefully. Whining is just a façade, on the inside CWRU holds a special place in our heart.
Trudging through campus when the thermometer hugs zero and the RealFeel is frighteningly low will feel like an accomplishment, like you’ve conquered Mt. Everest. Sure, going to school down south wouldn’t necessitate mittens, wool hats, gloves, scarves, etc, etc, but you would never experience the overwhelming feelings of glee when Babs cancels school (we call President Snyder Babs, by the way) or the few days a year when fat flurries fall from the sky and the whole campus is a winter wonderland.
Sure, the meal plans are pricey, but the dining halls are home to some of my favorite underclassman memories. Leutner and Fribley are the perfect places to procrastinate and eat multiple meals in one sitting as friends continue to roll in. The people-watching scene is superb and desserts on open house day are the best. Roll into Leutner at 7:50 and enjoy your meal while the workers cleaning turn up the music and celebrate the end of the day. Their joy is contagious.
Weekend trips to state schools are a welcome respite: Halloween at Penn State combined with a home football game was a memorable weekend, to say the least. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights have more options week in and week out: it’s pretty great, for a weekend. Most of us sought out and appreciated our medium-sized school. People are recognizable and professors are personable. It’s a community, not a city.
I am continually astounded that I understand (sometimes) my notes of integrals, limits and differential equations. Many times I’ve been surrounded in a sea of notes, practice problems, textbooks and online solution manuals with my hands thrown in the air, swearing at homework problems that require me to do integration by parts (I have no clue). After a few tries, multiple erasures and usually the night before it all clicks. I get it and I love it. The feeling of accomplishment and real understanding is so real and so delicious. The exclamations of “I get it! I get it!” make the hours of confusion almost worth it.
So freshman, take the complaints with a shaker of salt. We’re a nerdy campus, but everyone knows the difference between “Star Wars” and “Star Trek.” Cleveland has its pitfalls but it’s cheap, easy to navigate and has plenty of things to do if you’re willing to take a ride on the RTA. Tink isn’t an ideal place to get anything done, but it’s a fantastic heated hallway during the six-month winter.
Take the semester to discover CWRU and Cleveland, ignore the haters and revel in the newness of college. Soon you’ll be complaining outwardly along with the rest of us but rejoicing when your mom’s SUV drives down Euclid and it’s time to unpack your life into a tiny dorm room for another year at CWRU.
Heather O’Keeffe is a senior studying biomedical engineering and minoring in sports medicine. Her grandpa swore no one ever came home to his fraternity house drunk (sounds a little far-fetched to Heather).