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First impressions from a first-year

Published: September 13, 2013
Section: Opinions


I have to say I didn’t really come to college with any concrete idea of what it ought to be. I’d overheard vague descriptions of getting drugs, venereal diseases, one hour of sleep a day and live period instrument chamber music, but I never really went out of my way to inquire, and I can’t say I ever gave much thought to what exactly I was plopping myself into for the next four years. Almost three weeks later, I still can’t say I really understand what I’m doing here—though I do feel pretty good.

At the start of those weeks, however, I found myself thanking the Orientation Leaders kind enough to retrieve my stuff from my car and deposit it in my dorm. I’d just come onto campus with my family a little more than 30 minutes away from where I’ve lived since birth. No one knew me, and I certainly didn’t know them either; I was one of the 800-something first-years of the class of 2017 coming to settle the mighty halls of North and Massell quads and encroach upon the territory of a bizarre strain of semi-adult that physically resembles us but no longer calls itself “teenager” (you may be one of them).

With this in mind, I knocked on the door of where I planned to sleep for the next year. Shortly afterward, my new roommate opened the door and became the first acquaintance I’d have the fortune to make here at Brandeis. We agreed to have a symbiotic relationship in which I’d help him with his English, and he’d help me with my Chinese.

I was also rather pleased by college orientation. Originally, I thought it’d be a standard two-hour ceremony to welcome us in before booting us off to class, like in high school. I certainly neither anticipated such an elaborate, week-long event featuring nightly festivities or professional comedy shows, nor did I know of the existence of such a thing as a “mud party.” I have to admit that, though I was a bit unnerved by the sex presentation, I can’t deny that it made for some quality conversation.

Since that first week, I’ve bumped into a lot of weird things—things I never imagined witnessing myself. Maybe I’ve just mastered the art of college self-introduction (“My name is A. What is your name? I come from B. Where are you from, C? I’d like to study D.”), but there are still a few things that seem to stand out particularly well.

I’ve come to realize that though I’m essentially saying hello to everyone I see, I can no longer judge how old anyone is, since everyone here has (presumably) gone through puberty and is no longer physically distinguishable from one another. I’ll admit that I made the same mistake in high school here and there, but recently, I’ve found myself asking graduate students whether they’d just started college like me. But the upperclassmen have proven themselves to be extremely understanding and accommodating. It is a little funny reminding juniors that they’re in their twenties, though.

The first two weeks here have been something new. I’m still getting used to things, trying new stuff and running into surprises every day. It’s not what was going on in my head—considering, again, how there was nothing in my head—but I can’t say I’m dissatisfied with what I signed up for just a handful of months ago either.

I think I like it here. The place is neat, the people are nice, the classes are good, the food is edible and I’m brushing up against more curiosities than I can count. As for the housing, my roommate and I have locked ourselves out of our room more than once, and my room is slightly smaller than a few I’ve visited, but otherwise it’s a reasonably clean, habitable residence for me to lie down in sometimes. And though I don’t particularly like arriving late to a class and having to sit on the steps to hear the professor or having to walk across the school and up a bunch of hills to get somewhere, I once heard an OL say that I’ll grow to like that, too. It’s only been two weeks, but I think I’ll enjoy my time here. Brandeis, you have left a good impression on me (so far).