While attending your average summer party, a rising college sophomore like myself will be asked the same two questions perpetually throughout the evening: One, “How was your first year at college?” and two, “are you excited to be going back to school?”. In an attempt to spare my acquaintance from the bursting floodgates of emotion and long stories, I’ve resigned to the uncomplicated answers of “It was a rollercoaster!” and “I have a really good feeling about this year”. I could launch into roommate horror stories and trepidations about my major and courses, but that tends to bum people out and then they’re sorry they asked. But if they’re up for more than a sound byte of an answer and they really want to know, I’ve got plenty to tell them.
As an only child with a love of peace and privacy, moving my life into a college dorm was overwhelming. I had anticipated the adjustment of sharing a room and using the communal bathroom, but there was so much more that I hadn’t anticipated and didn’t even consider. An example being the fact that my roommate found the love of her life living on our floor within the first few months and insisted on expressing their love most nights of the week. I essentially had two roommates as they spent every waking minute of the day in each other’s company and rarely ventured away from their daily Disney movie marathons. In high school I was that girl who debated the teacher in class and always spoke my mind, so why didn’t I stand up for myself? Because you don’t realize how essential privacy is to your sanity until you don’t have any. When a mere bathroom stall offers respite and reflection, the last thing you want to do is make waves.
Now let’s set dorm life aside and move on to the sole purpose of higher education, academia. As a freshman, I was required to take a base set of liberal learning courses a.k.a psychoanalytical and pseudo intellectual bullshit. In a place where I thought I was one step closer to thriving in the real world, I’ve never felt so detached from logic and reason as when I’m waiting out a four-hour lecture watching a pretentious, self-righteous professor talk themselves into circles. I’ve known I was an artist since I was 6 years old and shading my crayon stallion while my partner stuck her crayon up her nose.
But then, if all the core curriculum requirements were removed, then I wouldn’t be a well-rounded student, focus on the subjects I’m really interested in, earn my degree in two years, and save myself a good ten years of paying off student loans. But no, apparently that’s “narrow-minded” of me.
The saving grace of my year was truly theater, a passion I had pursued and excelled in throughout my middle school and high school career. Theater people are pretty much the same everywhere you go and they’re uninhibited friendliness was refreshing. I was among theater people, however, I came face to face with another aspect of college I was unprepared for. I had never gotten drunk or experimented with any drug in my life and tended to stay away from people who did. The lifestyle just doesn’t appeal to me, but apparently it appeals to my theater friends. I admit that it’s entertaining to be the only sober one at a party but it can be really alienating as well. It’s like college is one big over-compensation for every curfew, punishment, and moral instilled on these guys their entire lives. My parents whole-heartedly trusted me my entire life and I rarely let them down, so does that make me a straightedge party pooper?
Though I’ve painted college as my own personal hell, I haven’t yet mentioned some of the great things that happened like making the Dean’s list and finding a small group of great friends in the art department. I love my school for its happy students and friendly atmosphere. In all honesty, I am optimistic about sophomore year. I have scored myself a single room, which I am hoping will make all the difference now that I can come in after a long day and recharge my batteries in peace without the soundtrack of roommate “tickle time”. Perhaps my classes will be more major-specific and challenge my ability to think creatively. Maybe I’ll land an internship or join a new club where there’s a stud-muffin that isn’t gay or taken. Above all, I go into this year with no expectations, wanting to learn that I can get where I’m going in the place that I’m in and not lose myself along the way. So while everyone else at the summer parties rave about how “crazy fun” college was and how they “can’t wait to get back” I just say “it was a rollercoaster!” and “I have a really good feeling about this year”.
Liz Gerger is a student at The College of New Jersey, both she and her Mom, Sandy Gerger agreed to write about “Back to School” creating a perspective of this event from a mother and adaughter. We thank them for this wonderful contribution. For Sandy Gerger’s perspective on her daughter returning to school click here. Liz is an actress and story teller, available for kids parties as Lenape Liz, for more information click here.
Comedy and Tragedy Mask illustration is from http://www.fanpop.com