My First Day of College


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“College is nothing but high school with ashtrays.” My friend Ron left me with this original piece of advice before I left for college on August 30th. In the weeks following, this cliché would seem prophetic. It would not, however, be accurate today. It was September 1st, and I was officially a college freshman. All my dreams were to be realized. The halls would be paved with intellectuals, and the walls would be plastered with philosophers. State College was my Ellis Island. It would be a far cry from my high school, whose halls were paved with punks and whose walls were plastered with simpletons. The entire student body would be eager to debate and discuss the Bible, politics, philosophy — everything that I love to talk about. “State College is Plato’s academy reincarnated,” I thought to myself as I kicked and hopped my way into my left pant leg. No one could convince me otherwise. All of these things were true. They had to be: this is college. No nervous stomach, no second thoughts — just an anxious heart.

By 10 p.m. on August 31st, I was in bed. “You are going to be ready on Wednesday,” I said to myself. Granted, my first class did not start until eleven, and I had not gone to sleep earlier than two in the morning all summer. But I felt as if I had to be in bed by ten.

Time always seems to be the tortoise when you want it to be the hare. That was one of the many thoughts taking refuge in my mind as the clock ticked past 11:59 p.m. As the first hour began, I lay motionless on my bed of rocks. During this time, I became eerily familiar with my new ceiling. Its flawed construction, rippled paint, and simple off-white hue comforted me. These otherwise unnoticeable imperfections reminded me of home. Earlier that month, I exclaimed to my mother how eager I was to escape from the penitentiary that I called home, and now I was having nostalgic thoughts about it. I laughed at the glaring irony and slowly drifted to sleep.

By 10:45 a.m., I joined the procession of pupils on my way to my first college class. Uniformity among the masses seemed like one of the many luxuries that freshmen were not deemed worthy to have. (Kindness from most upper-classmen was one of the others that stood out on that day.

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) It seemed as if we all stood out in the endless parade of students. A starry-eyed young person, with a turtle shell for a backpack asking for directions, seemed to be the indicator of who the first-year students were. Like most people, I can be rather sheepish when the time is right; so, I found a security guard and asked him where I was supposed to go.

My first class was English composition in some place called Rankin Hall. “What a detestable name,” I thought. “I wonder if they throw all the freshmen in at least one class here to intimidate us.” Why else would they give such an awful name to a building? Who was the poor person who had to go through childhood with that name? All of these questions were immediately answered when I saw Rankin Hall. What a putrid site. This hidden gem is a dark, dank building connected to a parking garage that only enhances its pulchritude. It was 10:50 a.m. when I navigated my way through the steaming hot building and found the matchbox called room 022. This cozy little shack had no more than twelve seats (which would prove to be about seven short of what was needed), rickety flooring, and walls that were sweating as profusely as I was.

English was not the chore I expected it to be on the first day. All we had to do was give a brief writing sample to show what awful writers we had become over the summer. Afterward Professor Lanza let us leave. Because of a scheduling error, English was my only class of the day.

I remember walking out of Rankin Hall a bit unsatisfied. I wanted a little more. I felt cheated because my first college experience was sitting down on an uncomfortable chair, writing an essay that I was not pleased with. Nonetheless it was over, and I felt as if things could have been worse (mostly because I had not been maimed or killed). On first impressions, State College was not the den of scholars that I expected it to be, but I hope by the time I graduate, our school will gain that reputation.


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