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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Midyears in the wild; five observations

Published: January 24, 2014
Section: Opinions

Ever wonder what’s it like to be a midyear at Brandeis? For the average student, he or she will never be able to experience the constant welcoming remarks for the first two weeks, nor will he or she experience the extravagant first-year living arrangements. Some may say midyears are just lucky, others will note that being a midyear is a privilege. Whatever your stance may be, midyears are definitely a special bunch. Without midyears, Brandeis wouldn’t have the diversity it upholds nor would Brandeis feel like its usual community. Students anticipate the midyears’ arrival, and let’s be honest—who could blame them? Nevertheless, some may not realize that transitioning to a new environment can be a tough process.

Transitioning in the middle of the winter to a new institution can be very challenging for anyone; however, transitioning to Brandeis is a different kind of story. When I stepped on campus, I didn’t feel like I was part of a university. I felt part of a community. For current Brandeis students and future Brandeisians, it’s a wonderful concept to keep in mind that at Brandeis you feel at home. I’ve only been here for two weeks, and I already know the preferred paths to my classes, the connecting building between Mandel and Olin-Sang, and the warmer routes by going through buildings to avoid the cold, icy Massachusetts weather. I can certainly say that students on campus are willing to answer questions, and they will give their most genuine responses, which is a reassuring feeling. Yet there are still ways to distinguish midyears from first-years, and even from upper classmen.

The first way to distinguish midyears from first years is by sharing their cool first semester experiences. Somehow, midyears always have interesting stories to tell about their previous volunteer commitments, internship positions and traveling adventures. Every midyear whom I have met has always shared something remarkable that he or she embarked upon during their fall semester.

As for me, I enrolled in the Washington Mentorship Program with American University. Another nine Brandeis students joined me on the program. We took four classes: Politics in the U.S., Cross-Cultural Communication, College Writing and an elective class of our choice. I selected Comparative Politics as my elective, and I really enjoyed the concepts that the professor taught regarding the connection between pre-, current and post-democracy principles. In addition to our college courses, we also had an internship twice a week. I interned for a candidate running in the Virginia elections for the House of Delegates. Some of my friends interned on Capitol Hill for congressmen, and my other fellow Brandeis friends interned for nonprofit organizations in D.C. Upon my arrival on campus, I have learned so many more stories of people traveling to Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. Brandeis midyears have touched almost the entire world and make positive impacts by influencing change and bringing their inner social justice qualities. Regardless of the journeys midyears embarked on, more is on their way.

This leads to my second approach as to how midyears differ from first-years. Although midyears have been on many fascinating expeditions, midyears are constantly exploring and searching for new friendships, clubs and teams. Some of them are even auditioning for a cappella groups and theater performances. The great thing about Brandeis is that every person has a place to join, compete and demonstrate their talents. Although midyears search for new friends, you will never fail to see them walking in groups.

As a third approach, midyears enjoy socializing with each other. They like going in large groups of five or more to Sherman and Usdan for meals or even to classes. This is not to say that some of them do not like to be independent, but for the most part, many of them appreciate each other’s company. Since orientation, most midyears clicked instantly and are inseparable. It is actually nice to see how friendships formed from the very start, and it’s a wonderful thing to experience in the first few official weeks of the semester. Moreover, midyears have minimal to no drama in comparison to other first-years.

Midyears are better off than other first-years because of their disengagement with the drama act that commenced in the fall semester. Many first-years are soaked in drama from their first semester, but that is not to say they have it all figured out. Although many of them are stuck in their previous semester, by next semester, that will probably be us. However, midyears have the absolute power to refrain from such happenings. Beware midyears: This is your call to abstain from any possible drama-related issues. Luckily for us, we have some perspective from our own first-year friends who can warn us from getting too involved in the drama.

The fifth major way, and probably the easiest, to distinguish a midyear from a first-year is by housing. Fortunately, midyears live in the Village. The Village is comprised of juniors who study abroad and midyears and transfers who enter in the spring semester. Although the building is oddly shaped and divided into A, B and C houses, midyear students do not have to experience the first-year dorms in Massell or North. After visiting my first-year friends, I can confirm that the Village is by far a better selection. By the end of the day, midyears go their separate ways and hangout in the lounges. Let’s not forget how effective the fire alarms are—going off twice already. For the most part, the Village feels like home.

Receiving an acceptance letter to Brandeis is exciting, but receiving an acceptance letter as a midyear brings about mixed feelings. Regardless of how we reacted to the news, most midyears can honestly say that they wouldn’t have it any other way. The midyear class of 2017 is extraordinary, and we’re ready to take on any fork in the road and every opportunity given to us. As a midyear, I know I made the right decision, and I cannot wait to embark on my new Brandeis adventures.