Going off Grounds
Being back this fall has led me to realize I have a case of Peter Pan syndrome. If there were a Neverland for college students I — along with every frat boy — would definitely be there. Living in my own apartment off Grounds with my own bedroom and bathroom feels weird. I have nostalgically decided to dedicate my first column to the newest members of our community by passing on a little wisdom on how to take full advantage of first year from yours truly, an eternal first year at heart.
My number-one piece of advice would be to get off Grounds and go exploring. It’s so easy to get caught up and forget there’s a world beyond the over-stimulation atmosphere of first-year dorms. My favorite days were spent on random adventures like calling Wahooptie Taxi and taking the iconic purple paddy wagon with a bunch of friends up to Carter’s Mountain for apple picking (and more importantly, the deadly apple doughnuts), or going to Splendora and splitting the eight-flavor sampler with a friend. I may also be guilty of getting one just for myself. Every weekend there’s a farmer’s market and free yoga on the Downtown Mall, and if you’re looking for something closer to home, try the University Art Museum.
Escaping Grounds every so often also includes going home for fall break. Book your ticket now. I don’t care if you’re from Juneau, Alaska; it will be worth the fare and time it takes to get home just to snuggle in your bed with your dog and eat something other than O-Hill’s PB & J. If you really can’t make the voyage home, try and make it to someone else’s home, so you won’t have to be around when this place turns into a ghost town.
When you’re at school make sure you’re doing what makes you happy. Not your grandmother or your uncle or even your mother. If you want to be a glaciologist in Antarctica, major in environmental science, kiss premed and pre-Comm goodbye. If you really want to join the Quidditch team, forget about U-Guides and Honor Committee applications. Don’t feel the need to do whatever everyone else does. I have no idea what possessed me to think I would be able to be an active member of the swing dancing, scuba diving and outdoors clubs, especially since my version of the great outdoors consists mainly of watching Hulu on my apartment patio. Make the theme of your year about quality over quantity and embrace individuality instead of following the pack.
Lastly, but most importantly, own your awkward moments. Seriously, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about here. The thing about first year is that everyone is faking it — everyone. No one knows what he’s doing and everyone, without exception, makes himself look like an idiot at some point. I personally had the lovely experience of slipping on a pool of spilt milk in the dining hall and face-planting in front of the whole lacrosse team. My first year also would not have been complete without falling down the stairs in the lecture hall in Wilson Hall during my giant intro biology class — needless to say, I am no longer on the premed track. And of course there’s that classic moment when a UTS bus passes some poor girl attempting to discreetly make the walk of shame home in a cocktail dress and calls her out with a nice loud honk. Thankfully that wasn’t me. There is not a student here who hasn’t had a similar situation. Everyone will forget but you, and soon you’ll be laughing at yourself like everyone else.
Regardless of what happens this year I hope above all you remember the grass is not always greener on the other side of the Lawn. That’s a lesson I could use as well. Four years is too short to sweat the small things. So sit back and start soaking it in.
Anne-Marie’s column runs biweekly on Tuesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.