Xander’s College Life – Chapter 2

A New Home! A New Family! (or not?)

“Courage is taking that first step, or a different path. It is the decision to place your dreams above your fears.” -anonymous

–so will I jump or not?

So I ask myself after reading the calendar/poster beside my desk. Here I am again at my nearly 1 year old Xanga, even in college! HA! That feat alone proves the point I made in my long delayed report for my indy.

And yep, I’m here now, in college, for the fourth day. And yes, it is a different world. I won’t even try to say it all—it is just such a HUGE change from home. It’s an experience to be had, not heard. Everyone seemed overwhelmed to a degree—some by the independence of living without parents, others by the bathroom doors that constantly remind us that we’re now women and men. And of course, there are those that have never seen Asians before and find us bunch rather hilarious. And then there are those that are from other nations. For me, the independence isn’t anything spectacular. I enjoyed a significant amount of independence back at home, so this isn’t too new—I don’t even think I’ll get homesick… even though I’ve already started to miss some people back home.

One big difference from high school is that the ethnic groups are far more pronounced. I remember when ISA started at North, and there were a few complaints that it seemed less inclusive (being a club geared towards a single race). Though all are welcome, the effect does sort people out into their own pre-personality groups. Along those lines, there’s a surprising amount of Koreans and Indians here. Not that I’m complaining.

I will complain about the HUGE number of Naperville people here. Right now, it seems almost as if the social groups of Naperville have been transposed onto a much larger campus; the cliques of high school are still around, and unlike those that are more scarce, and thus forced to make friends—the Naperville crowd seems to have brought along some exclusive nature. Sometimes I wonder how it would feel to be the only one (or two) from some unheard of school… and they see our North/Central crowd of kids. Initially, I had thought it would be awesome—people are naturally gravitated towards social groups… yet, now that I see it, it really just hampers individual growth. During “ Late Night,” UIUC’s version of Senior Celebration, I remember walking alone to the Union building, and suddenly finding a group of 40 or so Naperville people standing around. Some of these people were obnoxious as they are, and back at home, I had hoped that once they got into college out of their close knit groups of perpetuating arrogance, they would have to bring themselves back to the social table, and try to be good people again.

Naturally… at UIUC the population pool is large enough so that the old groups can reconstruct—but for some areas, it seems that entire cliques have enrolled together. And again, I’m not complaining. I’m glad to have a piece of my core group here with me. Yet… even now, I’m wondering if I should have just done a random roommate. The “Naperville-core” crowd will grow—by slowly attracting floaters in… but I had always dreamed (hoped/feared) of college being a new beginning—not just a new chapter. I envisioned finding new people—fresh, lol—the brand-new ready and wanting to make friends kind. The old friends? With goodbye seeming inevitable, I’d accepted essentially saying, “Thank you so much, I love you so much and I owe you so much, and I take a piece of you to the new world that I am to conquer”…and now, that incredibly meaningful sentence has lost itself among old friends. Sometimes I think it’s our group nature that precludes the truly independent good people from making themselves known to us… me. So far, the best new people I’ve met, I’ve met on my own—not while with my old group. And no, I don’t think that it’s selfish that I want to make my own friends. Wasn’t that what our “fellowship” had promised to do? Go far out and conquer new worlds, bringing back new things—yet what we’ve done so far was sit around, and let people come to “us”. Mleh. Count my blessings? Yes, I’ll do that. Perhaps next year, I’ll be the floater finding myself gravitated towards the people (after transfer). Hopefully there’ll be enough people, willing to talk to a new face. Adventure… that’s what’s missing in my new life.

Sitting through Freshman Convocation reminded me of North—in essence it seemed much the same, except much larger in scale. Overwhelming, the number of people just in our class. Apparently it’s the only time, between then and graduation that the entire class would be in one place. Funny how every time something like that is said, I keep thinking… perfect place for a terrorist attack. Always thinking in the worst-case… that’s so me. Still, that didn’t detact from the “awe” of being there–observe:

Assembly Hall–our new auditorium

People heading off to the “Picnic”

After this, the previous “awe-inspiring sea of orange and blue (look below)” aka our graduation seems almost… homely. After being here, thinking of Naperville North makes me think of home… the close knit nature of it all–haha, a HUGE difference from when I first got into high school. Now the fields of North, the halls, all seem so small, and closer to the heart.

After convocation, there was another “carnival” type activity, where I got a bunch of free stuff… though it’s not really free considering we’re paying $18,000 a year to be here. Still, the feeling of getting stuff never grows old. And look! I caught some fish too!

It was a lot of fun, and here I actually met some cool people. Whose names I always forget right before I see them again. I hate the feeling when the other guy/girl knows your name, and keeps talking to you, but you forgot theirs… soooo…. eeck… horrible!

And then there’s the social scene. Describing it… I’ll be very frank—a large , and I mean very large number of people drink—in quantity. Personally don’t approve, but I’ve long thought that drink in great moderation, with the right crowd, and right occasions is O.K. We visited an apartment party (oh, I just noticed I’ve been saying “we” a lot… tis true—we, as Napervillians travel together) on Saturday—essentially a get drunk and go crazy party… except most people were rather boring. We walked out of our dorm in quiet (there were only a few hundred freshmen on campus)… it seemed nice, cool summer night air blowing around… then suddenly around 6 th street, things changed. It started with a few people holding drinks going by… then as we went further into what might have been fratville, the quality of the roads changed, the grass seemed a little paler, and it got much much louder. So this was where everyone was. Guided by an older friend (my dear roommate’s bro) he took us to the party. I went with the idea of getting a taste of how these kids had their fun (you’ve got to be stupid, blind, or ignorant to think you can ignore the various aspects of college life). They were there for the manifest purpose of getting smashed. Seriously, I don’t get how people actually go to these parties to “meet” people. I took a sip of what was vodka spiked Hawaiian Punch and some odd lite beer. The punch was nasty, and the beer tasted like… crap. We left after about 5 minutes. Not for us… and definitely not for me. Being there only solidified my convictions to enjoy a relative-drink free college life. But this is where the old group of friends helps—I could see how someone, alone from out of state, might want to stay some more, and enjoy the “social” atmosphere—far more affected by peer pressure. Double-edged sword.

On Monday we visited an Asian-interest party. They went from dorm to dorm, giving out fliers. JLi was naïve enough to think that “nah—there won’t be any drinks”. Yeah. Right. The whole party existed for the sole purpose of getting drunk. It was better than the other frat party (ironic how after deciding not to get drunk at these parties just days before, we go to another one)—the people were… nicer, more open, but smoking and drinking as well. Mleh. The drinks actually cost money ($2) and came in the form of spiced rum (lol—after watching Pirates, and had a strong urge to try rum) keg beer, and “Jungle Juice”. Clearly they were trying to recruit people into their frat. Honestly, the jungle juice (spiked-punch) actually tasted okay… which bothered me. We left there too, in a slightly intoxicated state. Scary how easy it is in college… While we were leaving, the main dude there called out to us “Where are you goin? The party is here!!” We laughed and said it was cool—making room for others (it was really crowded). ‘The farther we were the better.’

(Back to the present… classes start tomorrow!!!! OMGOMGOMG… WAIT… noooo–it’s TODAY!!!!!–)


[NEXT SECTION–DORM LIFE– living with a hairy beast!]