List: I’m becoming nostalgic for college in the present moment

Luxuries I’m actively enjoying and reminiscing about while presently engaging with them:

  1. A meal plan. If I choose, I can spend about 16 points per day on pre-made food. That’s usually pretty good. And somewhat healthy. And readily available. All day. The next time this happens may be if I ever enter a nursing home… or camp (let’s hope for the latter.)
  2. A house with heat that I can crank up without worrying about expense (room and board covers it.) This is not to say that I don’t wear copious layers or go to sleep bundled up like an infant, but compared to my experiences in other places (e.g. home), the ability to saunter over to the thermosdat and effortlessly raise the heat above hibernation-inducing is absolutely divine!
  3. A residence that’s four minutes from my science classes, three from the grocery store, three from the gym, four from many other classes.
  4. A campus whose grocery store is a yuppie’s dream: practically all organic or local or cruelty-free or vegan or gluten-free or without preservatives or a big mix of those factors. Of course, that means that natural peanut butter is eleven dollars, but the fact that I’m practically required to indulge myself in these culinary treats is quite a luxury. How can I complain?
  5. Professors who are practically celebrities. My friend’s advisor is a climate change econ advisor to the president. A professor for whom I’m devising a project and was a former lab assistant was the advisee of Richard Lewontin and TA’d for E.O. Wilson. Two other evolutionary bio profs were at Harvard getting their grad degrees at that time as well.
  6. A student body that struggles to contain their exuberance for life by constantly breaking the Rule of 7 and using their non-existent free time to manage musicals, clubs, movements, volunteering, bands, projects, companies, you name it… I know that each person I pass while walking from my house to Usdan has a fascinating story and set of passions that led them here. I wish I could get to know them all. But because that’s not really within my time limit, I’m satisfied with knowing the stories of a portion of them and dreaming about those of they who remain.

Mirrors

Despite the fact that I did not bring a floor-length mirror to college this year, I have a feeling that the next two semesters will bring an unprecedented amount of self-reflection. (Was that a really corny opening? It seems like a typical way to start an article. Maybe it’s both.)

Since it’s the start of the semester, I’ve been meeting with a gaggle of professors to discuss employment and projects. Today I met with one who used to make me nervous. He’s not the only one who did: When I went to office hours or spoke to profs after class, the authority complex would kick in and my confidence would waver. I’d remind myself of their higher status and that I should be as humble and appreciative as possible. Today, when I saw that one prof, he very vocally exclaimed how much “older” I seemed. Twice. His intentions were extremely pure, but it almost felt a bit confrontational… similar to if someone goes over the top when complimenting someone on losing weight, to the extent that they question how they were received “before”.

Anyway, that sort of weakens my next point, but I’ll say it nonetheless: I think that studying abroad gave me a thicker skin. I’ve noticed that my level of social anxiety has plummeted compared to last year.

Finally, it seems that someĀ of the strongest informants of how and how much I’ve changed may be my companions. It must be pretty noticeable!