Monday, November 3, 2008

Since I am a notoriously slow blogger and my sweet, baby girl is something of a writer, herself, I asked her if I could share some of her work with you. I’m so glad she agreed.

Impressions of College LifeBy Anna L.
So, this last week I was anticipating a lot of questions about college life. It was this anticipation that prompted me to write down my observations. Without further ado, here is my little dabble into pseudo-editorial writing. I guess.

The rain forests aren’t in danger of disappearing. They are just in the process of migrating to Columbia, SC. Don’t believe me? Let us consider the similarities: The rain forest is a humid place. Columbia definitely has that area covered. I don’t believe there has been a single day with humidity below 89 percent. The rain forest is abuzz with the sounds of birds and insects. Indeed, Columbia, or at least parts of the USC campus, seems to demand the use of earplugs. Yes, animals, I understand that it has recently rained and is unbearably hot, but must you serenade us students as we hike to our different classes? And if you absolutely must, is there any reason that you can’t keep it down to a level slightly below ear-bleeding? Yes, Columbia is what one who has never been outside of the continental US might imagine the rain forest to be like: Hot, muggy, humid, steamy, hot, noisy, wet, hot, unpleasant, hot.

Speaking of animals, the squirrels in Columbia are just a little too comfortable with people to lend one peace of mind. Truthfully, the little buggers are downright terrifying. Should you be unfortunate enough to come across one of the furry fiends, DO. NOT. MAKE. EYE. CONTACT. Especially if they happen to be holding any kind of food – an acorn, a stray French fry, the remains of that freshman that just couldn’t get away in time. There is some sort of genetic quality about these squirrels that is just off, they don’t look like regular squirrels; they are more like the carnival workers of the rodent world. Sure, you know what they are by looking at them, but you still don’t quite know what else they could be. The squirrels are only rivaled in numbers by the cockroaches. All the t-shirts and posters that say “Go Cocks”? Yeah, those are actually shortened versions of “Go away Cockroaches.” If not, they should be. The little critters are everywhere. But if you see one at night, your new friend will kick them. Because he has a new mohawk and that’s the kind of things guys with mohawks do. Maybe.

A world of dining opportunities await you…in theory. Having a meal plan is a pretty nifty thing. You just swipe your card and voila! Your meal is paid for without the hassle of waiting for change, or even signing a receipt (a feat that not even Visa has managed yet). But speedy paying is about where the convenience ends. Should you want lunch, there are a few on-campus options with a decent location. You have an always crowded cafeteria, which those pressed for time usually avoid. Then there are your “fast” food options. Old favorites like Burger King, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Chick-fil-a are in a line just waiting for you to choose. Of course, everyone else has to choose too, and as we should all expect, everyone else also just happens to be in a cheese pizza mood. On days when you don’t particularly feel up to the limited selection of the steady familiars, there are some slightly slower options, that are just as frustrating. Pandini’s is a “fast” food Italian restaurant, similar to Fazoli’s. Word of advice: don’t get the pasta. Even if it has just come off the stove, through some natural phenomenon, it will be cold. The pizzas are pretty good, but ridiculously large for a single serving. Then there is the joy of supper, or lunper as I like to call it (because it comes at that odd time between lunch and supper). Yes, lunper is available (at Preston anyway) from 5:15 until 7:45. Which makes sense, because everyone knows that college students are all in bed by ten or eleven, and couldn’t possibly be hungry again by that time. Preston dining is good for certain types of people. You know, the ones that will randomly sit with a stranger, introduce themselves and strike up a conversation, all while you have grains of rice stuck to your lips. If, like me, you prefer to keep socializing and rice eating (I say rice because it is always the first thing in the line of food), Preston dining is a place you go to eat (because you have to) and awkwardly stare at your friends, who are also enjoying some sort of rice dish.

Meeting people is not so much a difficulty as it is an annoyance. Believe me, I never lack for companionship. In fact, I look forward to the times when the only person I have to talk to is myself…not that I…do that. All sorts of people will shove their way into your life, whether it be the indie music obsessed Yankee that thinks you are musically deprived because you, like most everyone else on the planet, haven’t heard of such obscure bands as Smoosh or TV on the Radio. Then there’s the guy of indeterminable age, who dropped out, but still likes to hang around campus and publicly kiss his girlfriend. (“You can’t spell “pretentious” without “Preston.” Actually, Chief? You can.) And don’t worry about no one knowing your name. In some of your smaller classes you will be forced to go around and introduce yourself. Repeatedly. Sometimes using visual aids! Not enough personal contact for you? How about assigned seating in a class of almost 400? That way you will be sure to meet your neighbors over the course of 15 weeks.

Reliable internet service? We don’t need no stinkin’ reliable internet service. Apparently a college campus – the campus of the state’s flagship university, no less – is not able to keep its servers up and running. Have there been some mysterious power outages? Solar flares? Maybe the wires are just melting in the heat. Whatever the problem may be, they really need to get their act together, as the professors - You know, the ones responsible for passing or failing the students - Yeah, they kinda like to give assignments through the internet and e-mail.

You will walk. A lot. This will not be lessened by associating with people who live closer to the state of Georgia than they do to the rest of the campus. These people will, for some reason, want to hang out with you. At their place. Oh, and did I forget to mention the stairs? As South Carolina is not a plains state, and as Columbia is in the Sandhills region, there are a lot of hills. Many of these hills are far too steep to be traversed using sidewalks alone. No, they must have stairs of varying widths and steepnesses (have a new word). Elevators do not help. Why? Because to use one without looking like a jerk, you must either have poor or no usage of your legs, or be a human version of a pack mule. What if you don’t fit either qualification? Then take the stairs you pansy! If you are fortunate enough to be on semi-level ground, you still have to beware of the bricks. Brick walkways are nice to look at, but they lose some of their appeal when they are coming towards your face at the speed of “trip” because you decided to answer that text message while walking. Enjoy your concussion, Grace.

Dorm living is very much like staying in a hotel. The walls are thin, and there always seems to be some idiot running up and down the halls at one in the morning. Not that you are asleep. The fan – which is your only way of controlling the temperature – has most likely done its job overly sufficiently and has thus turned you into an icicle. If the cold hadn’t woken you, the person flushing the toilet two floors above you would have. Which brings me to the plumbing: like all hotels, the shower head in the bathroom is designed for people under five feet and six inches. The water pressure is sufficient, but it won’t be winning any awards. Of course, the fact that the water is always hot makes up for this. Except for the early mornings, when it isn’t.

Washing dishes in a dorm room sink sucks. Yep, it really, really does.

Being a scholar does not improve your sense of direction. At all. In fact, it may make things worse. Imagine, if you will, a person who has had to drive everywhere since they got their license. Naturally, this person may get lost a few times, but as she (or he) would have to drive all of the time, she (or he) would quickly learn where to go. Now place this individual in a setting where she (or he) doesn’t drive but about once a week. This is just asking for the person to never become acquainted with a city that is, in theory (a theory which I don’t buy anymore) laid out on an easy-to-navigate grid. Ha! I say. Ha.

College doesn’t really change you. At least not right away. You will still think and believe the same way. The same things will still annoy you. You won’t go to sleep any earlier. You will still like the same books, movies, shows, and music. Your family will still be the most important thing to you. You will still be a picky eater, and you will still prefer cereal over a hot meal. You will laugh at the same things. You will still be the crazy person that you have become in your life thus far. No, you don’t really change. What does change is the atmosphere. Though you will still think the same way, you may be more open to someone else’s opinion. If something annoys you, you won’t be as quick to roll your eyes. Sleeping habits aren’t something that are really up for debate, but you will appreciate the need for sleep a little more. Your tastes will be the same, but you might be a little more willing to branch out if that means a better conversation with someone in the future. Family ties won’t change – they are too solid, but you may take more of an effort to stay in touch. You may be a picky eater, but you may try to behave like an adult and actually attempt to eat a vegetable every now and then. You will laugh at the same things, but may find yourself laughing more often (sleep deprivation has a tendency to make everything funny.) You won’t magically become sane; you will just realize that there are a lot of nut jobs that are worse off than you are.


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BeeMusing by Beverly Lane is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.