This is the first installment of the Thirsty Thursday series, a series of blogs discussing different aspects of college life from the perspective of someone who has been there, done that. Enjoy!
The first thing most people experience in college is independence. This starts before we ever set foot on a campus. The summer between high school and college is spent preparing. That means buying a new set of sheets and that twin xl comforter. Depending on what type of freshman living situation you’re going into, there’s also a ton of other things on the summertime shopping list. Towels. Wash cloths. Various eating utensils and cups. A small sampling of the things most people buy when they’re preparing to move out on their own, in addition to all the regular school supplies.
So you buy all of this stuff and wait. It piles up in a corner of the house. Then it’s loaded into the back of a van or truck or maybe even your tiny little car. When you next unload it, you find yourself carrying heavy boxes up flights of steps. If you’re among the fortunate few, you get to fight over an elevator with all the other freshmen moving in at the same time.
The room you move into is bland. The walls are white or beige, if you’re lucky. Everything is uniform, everything is standard, just waiting for your personal touch. I’ve always found it fascinating how different people take the same space and make it different, make it theirs.
The moment of truth comes when the RA hands you the key. The point of no return comes when your parents drive away, leaving all their hopes and dreams behind with you. And what is the first thing you do, newly independent 18 year old?
Go to Walmart.
Maybe it was just us but the first few days on campus saw so many trips to Walmart that we were all sick of the place within a week. And yet, going to Walmart became therapeutic as time went on. You know what else is the first exercise of independence that becomes therapeutic?
Going to Waffle House at 11 o’clock at night.
I can’t say why we went to Waffle House so much but my first year of college, I saw more of that place than I ever have in my entire life. I’d like to blame it on the crappy caf food and pushy friends, but the truth is that it was freedom. It was camaraderie. It was going where I wanted to go, when I wanted to, because I freaking could. It was long conversations that lasted well past the scattered, smothered, covered. It was the center of the storm, the moment of calm while we started on this road of who we hoped to become.
I’ve never gone to Waffle House drunk or with a hangover, I’m proud to say. True story.
So aside from Walmart and Waffle House, what else is there to being independent for the first time? No curfew. No parent banging on the door at 11:30 and telling you “GO TO BED.” Within my first week of college, I got into a very bad habit of no bedtime. Over the next three and half years, I averaged a bed time around 1am-2am. But I wasn’t getting up until 8, often later. 7am feels like an ungodly hour when you’re existing in the college biosphere. Or maybe that was just me.
We ate whenever we wanted. As long as we were within the caf’s normal dinner operating hours of 4pm-7pm, we were good. The dinner table at college is another post by itself. Coming soon…
Independence comes with its price though. Unless you went home every weekend or could bribe a roommate, you had to do your own laundry. You had to keep your stash of hygiene products stocked. You had to make sure you stayed stocked in drinks and snacks. That is, if you wanted a good quality of college living.
In a way, independence at the college level is fleeting and just the tip of the real iceberg. In another way, it’s a freedom you’ll never have again.
College was a unique experience, one I’m glad I have. It shaped me and changed me into the person I am now, and I’m excited to delve into the different aspects and experiences of it in this new feature for the Kelswitch. Until next Thursday, Thirsty Thursday over and out.