The first week of college is here, so the Observer staff is providing you with some tips to get your through the first week/month/year.
Dear Class of 2016,
College. The best years of your life, they say. Four years to cram in enough experience so you come out on the other side an adult.
I read recently of prep services being administered on campuses nationwide, to prep students for Greek Rush weeks. It seems you can pay someone to teach you how to make pleasant small talk, assemble inoffensive outfits and help dissolve your budding passions and interests into sound bytes that will get you past the first round of bids.
I'd never hate on the Greeks. I appreciate a good party and the fraternity and sorority ragers are too essential to not remain neutral on the topic. But your university days are as much about majoring in your own development as a career path, which is why those consultants creating armies of pre-approved sorority zombies and frat-gangs makes me a little sad.
I wanted to list the college clichés I think you should avoid, but I know my protesting won't do any good. You will have to learn the hard way, like we all did, that you should find sober friends to hold you upside down during your keg stand, or that "panty-dropper punch" is a definite red flag.
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You are entering a season of firsts: First roommates, first legal drinks, first loves. It's exciting; you shouldn't have to pretend you already have it all figured out. You'll come to realize that figuring much of anything out is a futile exercise.
My sophomore year of college, a friend deep in a homesick and heartbroken funk ached to put his feet in the ocean so much it became irritating. Sick of it, one night we were headed to dinner and I took a detour on I-45 straight to Corpus Christi. It was one of the first gut instincts I ever truly acted on. In the middle of the night, we tip-toed into the freezing surf, he looked at me and just said, "Magic."
I came back from that trip new, formed into a person who trusted her gut and a little closer to the woman I would become. Those consultants are going to tell you to, "Be yourself!" But if I might suggest a variation on that theme: "Become yourself."
All that said, when you order your first drink in a bar, make it a beer and a shot of whiskey. Just trust me.