Monday, April 26, 2010

ten things i learned in college

1. Sometimes you will feel awkward. That's okay.

2. Girls are aliens. That's okay too. You might even find that they're pretty agreeable once you get to know them.

3. Sentences can be as long as you like them to be. People will yell at you, but there's a rule. Once you know the rule, you can break it. That said: hold back sometimes. It's better.

4. If you can write a good enough paper, you can get away with reading one out of nine required novels in a class meant to study novels. You can even make an A in the class while your hard-working, disciplined friend gets gypped with a B+. Yeah, this is one of my more shameful moments in college. And for the record, the one book was actually half each of two different books. (To be fair, it was one of the best papers I've ever written.)

5. There are lots and lots of very skinny, very tan girls and no matter what you look like, it will probably be hard. Just remember you're pretty baller and beautiful.

6. There are a ton of really smart people. Do not be discouraged or imtimidated. Engage them, or be engaged by them. It really is fun. You'll learn more that way anyway.

7. It's not really that big of a deal. College, I mean. Let me explain this one. When I got back from Colombia two years ago, I didn't want to finish. I love to learn, I really do, and I could spend weeks and months reading about things I'm interested in. But I wanted to drop out and move to South America and my grades that semester reflected it. The thing is, though, none of what I've learned necessarily needs the academic environment. I'm a pretty proficient Spanish speaker now, but if I'd spent the last two years working in Colombia, I promise you I'd be fluent--maybe this is just how I learn, but I don't do much language learning in classrooms with textbooks. I do memorizing that might stick but doesn't help my communication which translates to my brain as a waste of time. Hence the wish to drop out. And with writing--well, I did learn a lot and I am a better writer now. But when I think of where I learned the most, I think of two TAs and a few professors. I don't think of workshops. I realize all of this sounds pretentious (in an inversed way like that one part in Good Will Hunting where Will tells snooty college dude that he could have gotten his entire Ivy League education in fifty cents in late fines at the library). I don't mean it that way, and I'm grateful. It's certainly good and certainly helpful, but it's not the be-all and end-all everyone makes it out to be.

8. So that said, it might be one of the best things you can do. I would do it all over again in an instant and I learned more in the last four years than I can articulate. And I don't recognize the kid that came to this school in 2006. I'm certain everything would be different, I wouldn't be going to Romania--possibly somewhere else, but not Romania--and--well, I don't even know how to say it. Almost every one of the people I love the most are here with me now, and without getting too much more sentimental, I'm glad for it.

9. Listen to what people care about, what they're interested in, what they're passionate about. I promise they'll feel loved and you'll feel free (you begin to realize that it's not really about you, anyway).

10. And last: pants are completely unnecessary. They are the bridles of society, the tool of the man. Take those things OFF!

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