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The Grass is Fresher on the Other Side

This article was written for CollegeTipsForParents.org by Kimberly Tran. Kimberly is currently a college freshman and attends college in Southern California.

After the whole pre-college spiel of rounding up the perfect schools, submitting undeniably gut-wrenching pleas for acceptance and deciding upon the make or break celebratory moment that defines the next four years of post-high school life, it appears that the mountainous pile of academic pressure is, for the time being, lifted. And that is relatively true in consideration to the long awaited and, quite frequently, necessarily extended summer vacation. Life doesn’t get any better than the anticipation of driving to an unfamiliar city, moving into strange living spaces and starting a completely different journey. And seriously, any kid can attest to that magical feeling of newness, whether he or she got into first choice college or only choice college.

College feels exactly like summer camp, what with meeting different people left and right and trekking up and down hills across campus to attend afternoon lectures, which are conveniently scheduled between passing period naps and last minute study crams. Academic competition isn’t necessarily the focal point of our education anymore because, well, we’ve already gotten into college; wasn’t that what high school was all about? We’ve gone through the heaves and sighs of parental expectations and accomplished enough to land ourselves in the midst of a prestigious institution. What happens now is on our turf and under our own supervision. And although many majors are still currently undeclared, it is commonly decided that, in the meantime, we’re here to let loose, to socialize, to experiment, and to basically make the best of what is given, whether it be a single, double or triple dorm room. It is reasonable, though, to assume that we strive to maintain the grades that will keep us here long enough to finish the ride.

If any college freshmen managed to get through high school without succumbing to any type of peer pressure, chances are, he or she may want to fall victim to those curious experimentations. And in the social scene of college life, it is highly possible to try and try again. Some residents in my building have already developed a notable reputation for themselves as they frequently hold hookah parties in the middle of our campus field. Hookah, or flavored tobacco, has recently become a huge craze among teenagers, so it is definitely not surprising to walk through a cloud of cherry flavored tobacco smoke on the way to class some days. Of course, this is on the open ended side of things since hookah is legal. I have yet to discover what other types of underground social networks are present within my brand new community.

In terms of public socials, colleges, universities and especially Greek life all want to pump up the “party central” status of the main domain. And as one of the largest public campuses in California, we definitely have to represent. Unfortunately, however, my college does not have the notorious Frat Row and parties are always held 10-20 minutes off campus. That doesn’t stop my colleagues and me from living up the night life though. In our case, the dreaded hand-off for a spicy weekend is shuttling, or in other words carpooling, to the frat parties. Especially with the high prices of many college parking permits, shuttling is basically the easiest and fastest way to get to where it’s cranking. It’s actually not as bad as it seems because as freshmen, we’re going to do whatever it takes to live up our first year, by all means necessary. So regardless of any rumors that this college or that is “socially dead,” it is almost always possible to find a rocking party to forget the next day.

It has been nearly three weeks into college life on the sunny coast of San Diego and to be honest, it has been “hella” crazy. From nightmare stories about horrible roommates to the process of making possible life-long acquaintances, I am pretty sure I can speak for most, if not all, dorming freshmen that it is about time we left our hometown bubbles of NorCal, SoCal, out-of-state or even international, and experience the same sun shining on a new beginning.

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