There's something about the first week of college that reminds me of summer camp. Maybe it's the sun beating down, resulting in backpack-shaped sweat stains and a not-quite-pleasant musky smell. Maybe it's the girls walking around the UA Mall in outfits better suited for hanging out by the pool than listening to lectures. Or maybe it's just the fact that everything feels new and exciting. Whatever it is that is creating this crazy energy within a mile-radius of school, it's telling me that I need to do something.
I'm on a mission this semester, and it doesn't involve bicycles or white, button-down shirts. With 15 weeks left in my stay at the UA (one way or another, I'm not coming back), I plan on making the most of my life before I enter the extremely dreaded real world. I want to usher out the old by bringing in the new.
Each week I'm making it my goal to do something I've never done before, and then I'm going to write about it, gruesome details and all. I might decide to run away with the circus, or just eat nothing but circus peanuts for a week, but every column will focus on my adventures in spontaneity.
I'm not worried about running out of ideas. Aside from the fact that everyone I meet seems to have a suggestion as to what I should write about, I firmly believe that college is a time in which new things just pop up. Any recently graduated senior can recite the countless number of speeches they've heard regarding newfound freedoms to the point at which fact becomes cliché, but until those infamous "firsts" begin to pile up, the university life can seem more like a day care for the hormonally challenged than a place where personal growth occurs at an exponential rate. There are some new experiences that almost everyone encounters:
1. The first time you need to ask Mom and Dad for money.
The key to asking for money is keeping in mind that your parents expect you to be broke about 48 hours after they give you any amount. In fact, if you don't ask often enough, they'll probably assume that you're financially responsible, or that you're supplying your neighborhood with "knock-off pharmaceuticals." Either way, you're out of luck.
2. The first time your roommate "brings home a date."
If you don't mind sleeping on the couch, you have nothing to worry about; however, if you prefer the feel of cotton to upholstery, you need to put your foot down. Seriously, we all want to seem cool and "with it," but part of growing up is learning all about your personal boundaries and how to stand up for yourself. Your mom and dad can't fix a horny roommate for you no matter how hard they try. Which brings me to ...
3. The first time you realize that you are all alone.
Your new friends may be awesome, and they may hold your hair while you throw up, but will they make you your favorite soup from scratch and rub your back until you fall asleep? No, and if they do, that's sort of creepy.
The first time you get sick, or break up with a new person, or get a bad grade or can't find your iPod, you will be sad and you might even cry. Calling your parents is fine, but expecting them to fix everything (except for financial matters, but we've already been over that) is not. No one will ever replace your family, even if you wish they would, but creating meaningful relationships is a must if you plan on making it out in four, five or even 10 years.
College should be about more than textbooks and exams. It should be about figuring out who you want to be and what you need to do to get there. I really hope I figure it all out in the next four months. The events of this column should serve as a means for me to get there. I just hope you join me every week for the ride.