The Cavalier Daily
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First-year fledglings find way around nest

WE MADE it. We're finally done. It's taken awhile, but now there is no more questioning, no more confusion. It feels good to be done. And we only have three more years to go. That's right, our nine-month stay as first-year students on Grounds at Mr. Jefferson's University is over. During this time we've learned so much, and although we have yet to experience the upperclass years, this has been our greatest feat -- acclimating to life here. There are many things we've come to know and understand about college life. For you soon-to-be-graduating fourth-year students, see if this brings back any memories.

It took about a month to happen. Right around the beginning of October we stopped raving that the dining halls were all-you-can-eat and starting complaining about the excessive amount of Pepto-Bismol and Rolaids we had to purchase with Plus Dollars at the Root Cellar or University Bookstore. We began to venture farther and farther away from Newcomb and O-Hill like fledgling chicks learning to fly for the first time. Second semester we got even smarter. We just stopped going to the dining halls.

Speaking of the Root Cellar, we learned that proximity isn't necessarily worth the 200 percent hike in prices. As for the Bookstore, by second semester we knew to do push-ups all during Winter Break in order to be able to trek back to the dorms with bags full of books.

Speaking of a trek, the Lawn really isn't that long of a distance, and being naked really isn't that big of a deal.

It doesn't matter how many fraternities you went to last night. No one wants to see all the marks on your hands the next morning. It's not the end of the world if you don't get in to the party; there is always one next door that's nearly identical. Keg beer is keg beer, and drunken dancing is ugly no matter which dance floor it occurs on.

We're never going to be too old to play Nintendo.

Over first year, we've learned that high school issues were pointless. There are now much bigger things to talk about than who is dating whom, where the party is this weekend, and which teacher makes pornography on the weekends. Sexual assault and rape occur much too frequently, affirmative action is going to be a hot topic for a long time, and it is a very big deal if you cheat on an exam. Mommy and Daddy can't provide shelter anymore -- neither literally nor figuratively.

It is possible to have a four day week. Just learn to master the art of strategic scheduling.

Though high school was a bubble, so too is the University. But national events outside that bubble do affect us. There was a national primary, riots broke out only two hours away in Washington, D.C., and Elián went back to his father. Those weren't just distant incidents to watch for a while and then forget about like a sitcom episode. They will have long-lasting effects that we need to understand. We need to find a way to see beyond the bubble boundary and learn what's going on in the world.

Bathroom posters covered in statistics are never going to make first-year students stop drinking.

Having a roommate can go two ways. She may be courteous and friendly. She may end up being your best friend you can share anything with. She may respect your privacy and space when needed. Then again, he may be the devil incarnate. He may elicit shivers when he enters a room and send animals fleeing when he goes outside. He may never shower nor clip his toenails. Either way, we learn that everyone is different, and respect is underrated.

The walk of shame is indeed a shameful, shameful thing.

We don't need a student ID to get on the bus. We don't need a driver's license to write a check at a local vendor. We do need an identity that remains steadfast throughout any trial and tribulation, as this will stay with us long after we graduate.

Love at first sight happens ... until the beer goggles come off.

Everyone dresses up for football games, and everyone has a great time. Everyone should be able to go to basketball games, but everyone doesn't get a seat. Everyone knows the Good Ole' Song, and singing it isn't just for sissies. Everyone should cheer on the lacrosse team as they become national champions once again this year.

We are Wahoos. We are Cavaliers. We are a community that lives together, but we are not a mob that thinks, acts and dresses alike. We have different colors of Abercrombie shirts and different types of black party pants.

The term apathy gets thrown around a lot. We get cast in a bad light for not taking a stand on enough issues.

The visits to our old hometowns will be great for catching up, but we will always be anxious to come back to where there is a great community of students, a horde of things to do, friendships to make that will last a lifetime, and a newfound sense of permanence. We always will be ready to come back to Charlottesville -- to come home.

(Brandon Almond is a Cavalier Daily associate editor.)


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