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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

My Brandeis experience: an overview

Published: April 26, 2013
Section: Opinions

Before I cross the commencement stage erected in Gosman and enter the world as a college graduate, I am thrilled to use this piece to reflect on my past four years as a Brandeisian. The lessons I learned during my semesters here were very much my own, and yet I believe they might be worthy of being shared. To all of you underclassmen for whom the college experience is still in the making, this is my advice to you:

Read the Brandeis police log every week. Even during the toughest weeks of the semester when you may feel like your UWS or organic chemistry professor is determined to deprive you of sleep, take the time to learn about the biggest offenses on this campus. Whether it be Ollie’s stolen (and later returned) gavel, an abandoned briefcase in the library found to contain a very healthy lunch, or stolen sugar packets from Einstein’s, it is impossible not to be amused by the happenings on this very peculiar campus. Use your study breaks to browse the log, and I promise you’ll be laughing.

Appreciate the things that you will only have access to as a student at this amazingly quirky university. This includes weekend trips to In A Pickle (in my unbiased opinion the best breakfast place on earth), bragging rights to one of the country’s best fencing teams, and the free Wi-Fi everywhere on campus. I know at times we can all be caught complaining about the shortcomings (especially when the BranVan is running late or when we haven’t seen the sun in 12 days), but take a moment to value all the resources you have as a student here.

Never live your semesters as a countdown. While it may seem gratifying to declare (most likely as a Facebook status) that you have just “3 papers, 1 exam, and 1 presentation until freedom!” college should not be endured like a sprint. Use your time at the end of semesters to appreciate how much you’ve learned, the new friends you have made, and the many combinations of meals you have created at Sherman.

Do something your high school friends would never believe. And make sure it’s legal. I danced in Liquid Latex (much to the horror of my parents), and knew it would be one of the only opportunities I would have to do something so out of my comfort zone that isn’t considered erotic. If performance is not your thing, there’s always the Quidditch club (I hear they’re frequently in need of a Snitch) or the opportunity to write an article for The Blowfish under a ridiculous-sounding pseudonym.

Explore the cultural smorgasbord of opportunities. Go to Chabad for Shabbat dinner or the Purim party. Paint others unrecognizable with colored powder at Holi. Celebrate Christmas with suitemates by hanging stockings from the sprinklers (but don’t tell your CA I said so). Take part in the weekly Peace Vigils, or follow the more passive route by napping in the Peace Room.

Immerse yourself in campus life. Sure, we’re close to Boston, but 20 minutes on the nauseating Crystal Shuttle stuck in traffic will make you want to turn around. Attend improv shows and go to undergraduate theater performances; after you graduate, they will be called comedy shows and off-Broadway productions and will cost a lot more than the suggested $2 donation. Be at every 24-hour musical—or better yet, be in it. Be that person for whom “Brandeisian” is not a definition but a synonym of your name.

Socialize with people with whom you have nothing in common. I have gained so much confidence here that I feel comfortable entering foreign social situations—a prospect that prior to college seemed unfeasible to me—and in doing so, I have met some enjoyably eccentric people and made some lifelong friends.

Look at that; I spelled “Brandeis.” A place that I will forever consider a home, a place whose architecture makes it recognizable from any angle, and a place whose community spirit unites all those who pass through the very green walls of the Shapiro Campus Center.