Nearly half way through my first semester of college, I found myself trying to divine some cosmic answers about life from my bowl of cereal. Like a mystic scattering bones, I sifted my spoon through the peanut butter and chocolate flavors of the Reese’s Puffs, looking for some sort of fateful implication. Oh starchy balls of Red 40 and Yellow 5/6 dye, won’t you tell me what my future has in store? The cereal answered by becoming soggier. Soon the rioting of my slightly malnourished stomach overcame my pending existential crisis.
Surely I’m not the only college freshman yearning for something more than the trivialities of dorm life? Perhaps my experience is a bit biased; I have in fact started a semester later than everyone I’ve met. It’s seems as if they’ve all already been assimilated into some sort of social paradigm, and I’ve been thrust into a desperate game of catch up. The trek thus far is lonely, paired by an exponentially growing amount of school work. For the last several weeks, I’ve been stuck in a strange limbo state between the comforts of college and its discomforts, leaving me feeling occupied and productive yet not quite content.
The initial perks of college were made clear to me immediately, and the first two weeks I was absurdly happy. The new found freedom and independence of living alone was exhilarating, and my excitement to meet people and learn was surreal. These feelings were soon offset by the discovery of certain down sides. The food was my first realization. We are forced into what I can only call allowed extortion, paying $1,800 for three meals a day. This amount sounds fine on paper, but the food, for the most part, is awful. Hundreds of out of pocket dollars are wasted because almost everyone I know actively finds excuses not to eat in the cafeteria. The result, for me, is a constant feeling of malnourishment.
My second problem comes from trouble sleeping. Hours go by as I stare at the same, boring white dorm walls, waiting for sleep. This lack of sleep plus early morning classes create days where I experience the “Monday Syndrome.” You know, the feeling every person feels once their weekend is over. What’s topping it off for me, though, is an intense feeling of homesickness. Homeward excursions on the weekends (my school is 30 minutes from my Dad's house) offer an immense amount of relief to the stress of five days of being uncomfortable. It’s hard to feel comfortable in a living space slightly bigger than your own bedroom.
Is this all there is to college?
I don’t believe it is. Despite all of the lame inconveniences of such a crazy transition, there are a few things that make my experience incredibly redeemable. First and foremost is my exposure to classes that will help me figure out what I want to do with my life, a commitment that I am getting closer and closer to making. One such class I’m taking now is my Art History class. It’s one of the first classes I’ve been truly in love with; I’ve never been so fascinated with a subject before. The teacher assigned us to walk through a museum show of Paolo Veronese's work and write about it. I felt like I had caught a true glimpse at the man behind the paintings, his methods, and his goal in expression: to transcend the physical notion of beauty and connect with a deeper, metaphysics that hits you in your core.
The discovery of such a jewel of a class fills me with hope. The prospects of the future shine a promising light on the bleakness of the present. My high school friends and I are finally becoming real people, with real aspirations in a real world. In the purposeful swirls of the cereal's milky resting place, I look for times of contentedness: a nice living space, like minded company, invigorating learning, and by the grace of the gods… my own kitchen.