Friday, September 6, 2013

I Want to Go to College the Rest of My Life... or Not

There's something about Facebook that constantly reminds you of moments from your past that you either wanted to pretend never happened, or makes you depressed that they're over and you'll never experience them again. This weekend, I felt both of those feelings upon seeing a gazillion pictures of college students moving into their dorms. This week marks exactly ten years ago that I moved into a tiny room at Cazenovia College and began the first decade of my adult life (still working on that). 

Two years ago, I accompanied Steve and his family as they moved his brother into St. Anselm's in New Hampshire. On the drive up, I just kept thinking about how sweet it was to be a college student. You get to live next door to all of your friends and you spend a solid three hours a day in class, and the rest of the day doing whatever the hell you want. Immediately, I was a little sad that I was so far past that stage in my life that I was now closer to my thirtieth birthday than I was to those years. 

And then, we got to the dorm.

Immediately, I was reminded of why this situation is (and should be) only temporary. There are people everywhere. Like you live in a 12 x 12 room with another human that you have never met and you share a shower with at least twenty other people. As we walked down the halls and observed an assortment of kids bumping rap music out of ridiculous speakers (let's be real now guys, you're at a Catholic school in New Hampshire, not the Bronx) and smelled all sorts of upleasantries (ugh, boys), I realized that you couldn't pay me to go back there. 

Most of all, I couldn't help but think how different things were when I went to school versus kids that are starting now. I guess it's only natural, it's been a decade after all. But of course, I couldn't help but reflect a little bit, especially now that I'm looking back as super successful mature adult (right?).

ThenYou had to have a really deep, emotional goodbye with everyone because you will never ever see them again.

Now: You only really lose touch with people that suck, because technology makes it literally impossible to not continue your relationships. 

In the two days before I left for college, I literally visited each of my close friends and said a heartfelt goodbye to all of them, complete with tears. While a lot of my friends were staying at least in the state, I went to a school six hours away from where I grew up, which I assumed meant that I would lose all touch with everyone and they would forget I even existed. Now, if you can't bear to part with your BFF, you really don't have to. You could make a Facetime date once a week or write on their wall when something on TV reminds you of them. My first semester, a few of my friends and I actually wrote each other letters

every piece of mail i received freshmen year. yes, i am that cool.

I used a calling card to call my parents, but didn't have enough minutes to call my friends every night. Luckily, I had gotten a laptop for a graduation gift and this was the height of AOL Instant Messenger, so were slightly more connected than in the truly olden days (like, the mid-90s). 

But these changes are both good and bad for current college freshmen. It's good because when you're in a strange place and super homesick, nothing cheers you up more than getting a message from an old friend. However, if you let the fact that you can keep in touch with these people consume you, you'll never make new friends and you'll be that weird kid in the dorm that is obsessed with your old life, too afraid to move on and start living your new life. The good news is, that new life can include those old friends if you're not an asshole and keep in touch with people that matter. I did. 

Then: You furnished your dorm room with graduation gifts, hand-me-downs, and assorted tapestries. 

I think everything that I was allowed to purchase in my dorm room cost less than $50 and all came from Target. Everything else was a gift that I was thankful for, regardless of if it coordinated with any sort of scheme or not. That three-drawer plastic thing in the corner is still in my bathroom today, holding cosmetics and hair accessories. My room theme? Apparently, purple. And that's it. Nothing else. Just... purple. (And no, we're not going to talk about my affinity for baby tees.)

Now: You should either hire an interior designer or spend your first two weeks at school DIY'ing a blog-worthy student bedroom.

When I was preparing for college, I remember dreaming that I would live inside a perfectly coordinated dorm room right out of a Pottery Barn Teen catalogue. Just the other day, I saw an impeccably styled room on Apartment Therapy that I was shocked to find out belonged to an actual person. Like, an eighteen year old person.


I mean, seriously. It's a dorm, not a meditation room. And if you think there's room for extra furniture in a dorm room, you are out of your freshman mind. 

Then: You filled out your roommate survey and prayed that you wouldn't be paired up with a murderer. You spoke on the phone exactly once, decided what each of you would contribute to the success of "the room," and met for the first time on move-in day. 

My first roommate was from Maine. I don't even remember talking to her on the phone, but I do remember we met up with our families at Friendly's the day before we moved in. I also remember meeting her and thinking we had absolutely nothing in common, which I thought was weird, because I so carefully filled out the information on my roommate survey. I did get along really well with her mom, and realized that she was the one I actually should have been living with, because in a shocking twist of events- she filled out the form! Needless to say, we did not stay roommates and lifelong friends (which, unlike my husband, basically never happens). But the great thing about college is once you get the swing of things, you actually make friends on your own and are able to choose who you would be compatible with (like an adult! Crazy). 

my first chosen roommate kb- watts 216 fo life.

Now: Okay, so I don't know if that much has changed, because unless you are going to college with people you knew from high school, I'm pretty sure that they still randomly pair you up (no matter what you fill out on that stupid survey). At least now you can friend each other on Facebook and find out prior to living together whether or not they're a psychopath. 

I can't tell you whether it is better or worse, easier or harder to start college in 2013 versus 2003. I can tell you that if you dwell on the negative stuff, it's going to be awful no matter what. So relax. Use the Internet sparingly (unless it's getting ideas for your really awesome dorm room, something I did not have the luxury of) and sign up for every activity that allows you to meet people in person. DO NOT go home every weekend. If you need to do that, save yourself the money and commute instead of forking over more than what you would pay for rent in the city, just to live in a room with no shower. And I know it's impossible, but try, just try for me, please, to not do things that ten years from now, you will look at and be like wtf? After all, your shiz is already all over the Internet anyway. Think about how not to embarass your almost thirty year old self.

But just have fun. I know it's super annoying and every adult tells you, "this is the best time in your life," as they wistfully wipe away a tear, but seriously, they're right. You will never be able to nap midday just because you feel like it, eat a bunch of horrible food and only gain fifteen pounds, or live within ten seconds of your closest friends. So just enjoy it.

But don't be an idiot. I don't want to see any more of you on the news. 


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