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May 17, 1996 - Image 67

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-05-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

COI EGE BOUND

The Freshman
Experience

Coping with
bad roommates,
budgeting time
and money,
and learning
about the
importance
ofcaffeine.

ERIN R. SCHWARTZ

SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

I

have taken so many
360-degree turns since I
began college that I do
not even recognize the
girl I was my senior year
of high school.
I am about to become a junior
— at Emory University in At-
lanta — and in a few months I
will no longer be a teen-ager.
Those are a couple of really scary
thoughts. Two years from now I
will be heading out into the real
world.
I am a completely different
person than the one I was exact-
ly two years ago when I started
college. I have different dreams,
goals, hopes, fears and expecta-
tions for the future.
I realize that I am not finished
growing or changing, but for the
most part, the majority of my per-
sonality was formed in my first
year at school. It was the most
dramatic year of my life, filled
with many highs and lows, and
everything in between.
The first year of college was a
never-ending roller coaster. I ex-
perienced practically every emo-
tion possible — excitement,
nervousness, happiness, sadness,

anger, loneliness and fear. There
were many dips and curves, but
when I finally reached the end of
the ride, I found the most impor-
tant thing — myself
I would not change a single ex-
perience I had, including the
worst of them. Every day last
year I learned something new
which helped make me a
stronger and more confident in-
dividual. I distinguished between
the good and bad, the important
and the trivial, and I made
mistakes. In the end, I be-
came a new woman who
knows what she wants out
of life.
Perhaps the best way to
describe my freshman year
would be to list some of my
most meaningful experi-
ences, and the lessons de-
rived from them.

Lesson No. 1 — Living
with another person is
not. easy.

This is especially true
when the combination of
different social, economic
and religious backgrounds
are added in to the picture.
I had to room blind, but
I was under the impression
that I would be matched
with a Jewish New York-
er (my university is around
35 percent Jewish and a
large majority is from the
East Coast). I could not
have been more wrong.
Her name was Nan, and
she was a die-hard Irish
Southern Baptist. Besides
the fact that I could hardly
understand her (because of
her thick Southern drawl),
I had problems communi-
cating with her, too. We did
not get along in the least.
First of all, she borrowed
everything that was mine
without asking. I h ghly
recommend marking your
initials on every single one
of your belongings (clothes,

.

CDs, etc.) before it is too late. You
will be living with hundreds of
other strangers in a dorm and
you have no clue how they were
raised.
hi my case, Nan decided, with-
out consulting me of course, that
she would "borrow" my clothes
daily, despite the fact that she is
5-feet-11-inches and I am only 5-
feet-2. Slowly, I realized that my
other belongings were disap-
pearing as well.

It turned out that when Nan
went home for the weekends, she
had a habit of taking my posses-
sions with her. She also ate all of
my food, monopolized the tele-
phone, turned the room into a dis-
aster area and brought strange
boys home at all hours of the
night.
Worst of all, however, was the
time she almost burned the room
down. One night she left her San-
ta Claus hat hanging on her bed-

side lamp and it caught on fire.
The hall smelled of smoke for
days.
I have to make it clear that this
is not the typical freshman room-
mate experience. Most people
who room blind do get along with
each other, and the ones who
don't usually switch roommates
after a semester.
There were two reasons I de-
cided to stay the year. I had a
great freshman hall and all of my
best friends lived on either
PHOTO BY CHARLES M. RAFSHOON
side of me. I also figured if
I was able to stick the situ-
ation out, it would help me
in the long run. I thought if
I could handle living with
someone like Nan for a
whole year, then I would
have no problems with in-
terpersonal skills in the
working world.

Lesson No. 2 — Time
and money both have to
be budgeted.

Upon entering college, I
was suddenly faced with
chores that I never had to
deal with before. If I didn't
like the dorm food, I had to
buy and cook my own. I had
to do my own laundry, bal-
ance my accounts, pay my
bills and buy toiletries.
There was no one telling
me when to study, when to
go to bed and what to eat.
I had to learn the true
meaning of independence.
With all of these new re-
sponsibilities, along with
juggling all of my classes, it
was hard to balance my dai-
ly schedule.
There was always some-
thing I didn't have time to
do, and, as a result, I had to

Erin R.
Schwartz:
Formed by
freshman
experiences.

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