Thursday, August 14, 2014

Packing Procrastination and Unsolicited Advice to College Freshman

The day that once seemed lifetimes away has finally arrived: leaving for college. I'm in the midst of packing procrastination and my room looks like a war-zone of laundry piles, nostalgia, and shockingly bare walls. I may be moving to Kentucky but I'm currently living in a state of denial. The reality of whats happening tomorrow hasn't really sunk in yet, honestly. Maybe it'll sink in when I've finished packing up the past 19 years of my life into cardboard boxes, or when I meet my roommate in person, or even the moment I'm waving goodbye as my parent's car drives away.


This summer I've been learning that "home" has a very changeable definition. "Home" used to be my old brick house with the creek full of crawdads and a death-wish steep hill where my brother and I would ride our wagon down with the kind of childish bravery that comes from never having crashed before. Then home was the log cabin full of books and pools of sunlight where I battled high school algebra at the kitchen table and spent hours exploring the woods in our backyard. In the past year, through spending time travelling abroad and living part of the summer in Kentucky doing an academic intensive, home isn't a physical place anymore. The first time you say "I'm going to my parent's house" instead of "I'm going home" is a curious feeling indeed. Eventually I'm sure college will feel like home but for now, "home" is in limbo. Home is not a house, an address, or a place; its where you and the people you love are.That sounds like something you'd find on a pillow but like most things embroidered on pillows, its true.


As an incoming freshman whose college experience thus far in life include a few duel enrollment courses and a summer intensive at my college, here is some unsolicited advice to college freshman everywhere:


1. Prepare to play more Frisbee in college than you've ever played in your life.

I can't explain why, but college students love frisbee. I dare you to find a college campus that doesn't, at any given time, have a slapdash game of ultimate frisbee going on. If there is a college in Antarctica i'm sure even they have a game of frisbee going on right now...just with a slab of frozen whale blubber or a rather squat penguin or something. Anthropologists have wondered for years what this young adult fixation is due to and it remains a heated debate in the scientific community. Is it that these academically brainwashed students feel drawn to such UFO-like objects? That the frisbee could be used as an emergency plate to hold free food? That its the cheapest game to play besides Red Rover? No one knows for sure but consider yourself warned.


2. You will walk. A lot. All the time.

Many colleges don't allow freshman to have cars and, even if you do have a car, often the distance between your dorm and class buildings falls just too short to justify driving. Brought a bike to school? Still gonna get exercise, sucker. But don't think of this as a bad thing: imagine the calves you can show off when you're playing frisbee on the quad.

3. Its ok to sacrifice some sleep to study but don't toss and turn over school.

Ultimately, life is about people. Education is a means to better your life and become a more enriched person so as to provide for a family someday, to have more time to spend with your loved ones. So yes, doing your best at whatever you put your hands to is important. But at the end of the day, what really matters more? Getting an A instead of a B on that Chem test or spending an hour reconnecting with an old friend over coffee? Do your best, study hard, then let it go.


4. Its ok to say NO.

It can be really hard to say no sometimes, whether it be to extra cookies, Netflix, or extracurricular activities. In college you're going to be invited to join countless clubs, committees, and causes. While you should say yes to new experiences and adventures, don't be afraid to say no. No to hanging out when you should study for a test, no to becoming part of a activism group against Mystery Meat Mondays, no to every single event with free food that your college is hosting, no to taking on more responsibilities than you can handle at once. Know your limits.


5. Choose friends wisely.

The people who you surround yourself with will, whether you like it or not, have a huge influence on your life. If you are close to motivated, studious people, your grades will reflect that. Just don't forget to also find people who have senses of humor, common interests, and who aren't too easily scared away by your weird habits. Oh, and finding friends with cars, abundant cash, and vacation homes in the Bahamas doesn't hurt either.



Don't question it, just get them. Go out today and buy cheap foam flip flops (the kind where the toe straps pop out after a few days) and try to forget the blissful days of shoe-less showering you once had the joy of experiencing. College showers are just like your childhood games of "Don't Touch the Floor, It's Lava!" except more like, "Don't Touch the Floors, Its Flesh-Eating Bacteria!" (Ok, not quite that bad. Probably. But I'm not about to find out.)

Well, its time to go decide the hardest part of packing for college: which books to bring and facing the truth that I can't kidnap my friends and bring them with me. Really though, I'm trying to pack light and just stick to the bare essentials: books, floppy sweaters, tea, peanut butter, my mini replica tardis, my popcorn maker, chocolate chip cookie baking mix, Pocky the Stuffed Panda, and enough tea and hot chocolate to drown eventual homesickness. I might not have room to bring much else but hey, who needs pants anyway?

In search of a Great Perhaps,