Columns, Opinion

RODRIGUE: College is a ‘place for everything’

As college students, we all have double lives, multiple personalities, collegiate neuroses ‘-‘- and for the most part, it’s all subconscious. This is because we live in the same place where we work, which is not-so coincidentally the same place we party. College is a strange bubble where we do in a 2-mile radius what most people do in an entire city. Such a lifestyle requires a strict credo, ‘A place for everything, and everything in its place.’
To the outside world, we probably seem like freakish, bizarre creatures. In no other societal group can every member aptly apply Freudian analyses to seemingly irrelevant Biblical texts and then spend several evening hours hovering dangerously close to the edges of buildings at rooftop parties in Allston without ever falling off, all in a 12-hour span. We’re business-in-the-front, party-in-the-back types. Hell, we play drinking games to the presidential debates, and then we discuss them the next day in political science.
And while we seem to have seamlessly integrated our top-of-the-line educations into our top-of-the-social-food-chain party lives ‘-‘- such that, Monday through Friday afternoons (with the occasional exclusion of Thursday nights) we’re exclusively academic (sometimes to the point of being pompous jerks), then Friday nights through very early Sunday mornings we degenerate to the level of ravenous beasts. Then we repeat ‘-‘- there are still a few kinks to be worked out.
One point of contention is seeing professors outside of classroom buildings. You all agree that it’s really quite jarring when you’re sitting on benches on Commonwealth Avenue with your friends, swearing and slouching and gossiping, and all the sudden your tweed-clad professor walks by and all you can do is wave nervously while his eyebrows knit wildly in confusion, as if to say ‘Why isn’t she reading?’ And all the while, you’re thinking, ‘Why isn’t he scratching his beard over a pile of ungraded midterms?’ What comes next?
Clearly, our compartmentalized minds can’t handle this cultural overlap ‘-‘- professors mixed in with students? In a social setting? No desks? But I thought they all plugged into wall outlets in CAS between classes to recharge. I thought on weekends they uploaded new software and got scanned for viruses. What would they be doing on sidewalks? In coffee shops? And why does this mess up our delicately balanced collegiate lifestyles so much?
Consider, even, Kenmore Square on evenings of Red Sox games. Hundreds of people walking west on Beacon Street with you for a little while ‘-‘- they talk about menial things and drink beer concealed in Nalgene bottles, while you walk alongside feeling anxious. It’s a Tuesday evening, a school night. Who are these mutants? You veer right when they go left toward Fenway Park, because you’re spending the night at Mugar and they’re doing who knows what and getting in their Hyundais and driving back to their homes.
Then there are off-campus jobs. While the work-study program was designed to function in step with our little campus routines, it’s also seriously flawed in the sense that almost no one ever secures a work-study job. So we migrate off campus ‘-‘- to stores and restaurants ‘-‘- to make a little money. ‘A few hours a week,’ we tell ourselves. ‘A little ride on the T, fold some shirts, get paid, go back to school.’ But if you’re one of the unlucky BU students who actually works an off-campus job ‘-‘- I work a repulsive retail job in Faneuil Hall ‘-‘- you realize how foreign it feels.
Because you’re not used to seeing adults who aren’t somehow administrative and children who aren’t being tutored by your friends. You forget that there’s an outside world ‘-‘- that there are people who still shop for pleasure on weekends instead of dancing to Daft Punk in crowded apartment living rooms with 500 of their closest friends. You forget that there are still a few middle-aged women out there who will talk to you without asking you to first write a six-page paper about patriarchal oppression.
And when you get back to campus after a day of work elsewhere, or when you’re recovering in the wake of an awkward extracurricular professorial encounter, you feel like you’re tripping dimensions. Because college is the only place in the world where you socialize where you work and work where you socialize. We’re smart people ‘-‘- we’ try’ to keep such things suspended somewhere close to the golden mean. But as is the nature of our universe, one little crick in the fragile balance of our routines indubitably causes a butterfly-effect chain of events that leads to oddities like Wednesday morning hangovers and Friday nights spent laboring in the study lounges.
But alas, we make it work for ourselves. The library has a talking room and a no-talking room, the shuttle bus runs late enough to facilitate any number of weekend activities and now there’s a Subway on campus that accepts Convenience Points. We may behave like paranoid schizos anywhere outside of the general Back Bay area, but that’s just our nature as college students. Must be something in the dining hall water.

Lauren Rodrigue, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, is a weekly columnist for The Daily Free Press. She can be reached at [email protected]

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