As a senior in my final semester at the College, I often consider which aspects of my four years in Ewing have shaped my college experience. I search the back walls of my mind for meaningful phrases spoken by professors, extra-curricular accomplishments and chaotic nights of drinking and diner-ing, but I always seem to return to one common concept — my friends.
I have been lucky in finding — and sticking with — a core group of guys who have been with me every step of the way as I slowly amble toward graduation. The eight of us, myself included, all met as freshmen on Travers 9, seven of us shacked up on Decker 6, and as seniors we continue to live in an off-campus house in testosterone-laden harmony. We scream in each other’s faces, verbally defile each other’s mothers on a daily basis and eat each other’s food, but the love is apparent … in guy world, anyway.
I’m not sure I would be who I am today without their sarcastic support, and their “man up” and “stop being a bitch” slogans, and this is a message to College students both under- and upper-class — never underestimate the influence those with whom you associate on campus have over you. It can be powerful.
Even for freshmen with inherent social phobias, I hope that you have branched out and connected with someone with whom you would never speak in high school.
Admittedly, my roommate through freshman and sophomore year would likely not have been in my circle of friends in high school. Entering college, we were opposites: I spent my teenage years playing baseball and listening to heavy metal music. Upon my first pre-college phone conversation with my soon-to-be roommate, I learned that he was in marching band and enjoyed “Norwegian gypsy rock.” When I hung up the phone, I was unsure of how I would relate to this person. Three years later, he is one of my closest friends, and I would do anything for him. Who knew that the oddball roommate who counted pixels and created computer games would be the same person to drive to campus at 4 a.m., pick me up and get Slurpees with me at 7-Eleven after I broke up with my girlfriend. Not me, but I know now that first impressions are worth their weight in feathers, and friendship can come from anyone.
As the years fly by — and for all the bright-eyed students with empty program planners, I can assure you that it does — if you find a group that you want to stick with, make it happen. Housing selection is approaching, and if your group gets varying lottery numbers, settle for wherever everyone can fit and live together. Just because a few friends got great timeslots and want to run off to New Res, don’t let them. Deal with Norsworthy or Centennial for a year. At least your group can complain together. My friends and I were fortunate to get enough good numbers to pull everyone into Decker, but I know this is a rare case. One of our close friends and one of my current housemates was left out and got a single room in Allen during sophomore year. To this day he complains about how he didn’t get to live with everyone else. Endure the dust and public restrooms for friends next door or down the hall. You will remember the conversations more than the hair in the sink.
Speaking of conversations, have as many of them as possible. This sounds obvious, but it is amazing what you can learn from people from varying backgrounds, and the beauty here at the College is that not only are you smart since you go here, so is almost everyone else. Where else are you going to find an abundance of individuals within your age group and your intelligence level? A better question: Who can relate to you, and to whom can you relate more than your peers at college? We hear the broken-record “college is about finding yourself” babble all the time. Do not go at it alone, because you are surrounded by people in the same shoes, literally walking in the same direction. You can use their help, and they can probably use yours.
The cliché is that the friends you make in college last a lifetime. Damn it, I hope so, because the bonds I have created with my friends here are stronger than any that I have built anywhere else. Some of the most meaningful conversations I have ever had have been over a death-brick Eickhoff burger, or lying prostrate on a futon in my off-campus house, contemplating life and love while compulsively flicking my cell phone open and snapping it shut.
I firmly believe that the lessons I have learned outside the classroom have been infinitely more valuable than anything I have been formally taught, and without the friendships I have enjoyed, I would not have grown nearly as much as a student, a writer and a person in general. Being a journalism major, I have learned plenty regarding writing and editing from my professors, but through my housemates, I have learned how to live as an independent almost-adult from a bunch of learning-to-be-independent almost-adults. We don’t always do things correctly the first time, and sometimes we end up lighting fires in the kitchen, but having someone next to you to put out the flames is a great thing.
Bottom line: Enjoy your time at the College and meet as many people as possible. Don’t be too cool for anyone and do not settle if you do not like with whom you eat your meals and spend your time. Branch out until you are happy. You’ll be happy you did. And for my housemates – Acap, Anthony, Basso, Chris, Daren, Eric and Justin – thank you for keeping me sane. I hope I’ve done the same for you.