Oh, Hello There!

12:40 AM

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College makes me feel this way.
I think of the ride between Hillsdale and Home as the Wood between the Worlds. It's a neutral space unbinding on my life trajectory. I just can't figure out which of the two H Places is Narnia. Certainly Home seems slower compared to Hillsdale, but hollering siblings and real food and an implicit anathema on alarm clocks is definitely magical.

But I must be honest: I adore college life. If the two sob-story blog posts implied otherwise, I apologize for my deception. I only find time to write when life gets traumatic. It's probably a good thing, or else I'd fill up every scrap of paper with college memories -- so much so that I would cease to be a college student and become a full-time recorder of Hillsdale's awesomeness. That would entertain you, no doubt, but I'd rather live those experiences than observe them. However, now that the family is in bed and my first semester is behind me, let me share with you the highlights of college.

The Dinner Table

There are three types of tables in Hillsdale: round tables, long rectangular tables and big square tables. The reason you need to know this is because we had to calculate how many people can fit around each and which table type best suits our purpose. What is that purpose? It's not eating -- of course it isn't. It's cramming all our friends together in as close a range as possible so that we can sip tea and laugh for about an hour and a half -- the average length of mealtimes. Our table is known as That Guy -- you know, the loud, obnoxious, prone-to-throw-balled-up-napkins guy. We spontaneously clap just to get the whole cafeteria to join in. We host pun wars, pitting the resident pun specialist against a lesser-known but equally sharp wit. We argue theology and philosophy and Dr. Who. We reenact the popular YouTube video of the week and quote Monty Python. We occasionally critique papers while ignoring those who create a drink out of all the juices, candy-colored drinks, soda and tea that Hillsdale offers. We refuse to drink said concoction until peer pressure wins. And we offer hugs and encouragement to whoever slips in and out of our table.

If you plan on visiting me at Hillsdale, you will end up sitting at The Dinner Table. Be forewarned.

The Room

I swear I clean my side of the room at least once every two weeks, and the second I come back from classes, everything creeps back onto the rug. Of course, this bothers not me nor does my roomie care in the least -- our principle point of similarity. Did I mention my amazing roommate? No one else tolerates my obsessions and oddities like she. We send each other to bed, drag the other away from studies and friends (whichever seems more appropriate) and never fail to forget to answer text messages from the other. She convinced me to try swing dancing and my first all-nighter, and I -- well, I'm sure she can list several matters where my craziness has corrupted her. 

The Elevator

In the student union, there is an elevator that opens and shuts on its own with nobody inside. I cannot explain this, and neither can anyone else. 

My Study Spot

Of course, I thought I'd study in the library -- it seems so studious -- but I can't stand the library. Heaven is too loud, with people chatting on cell phones and printers going off every ten seconds. Purgatory contains all the theological books: it really is a punishment to write a million pages about something far less interesting than all those books. Purgatory also contains the gerbil cages -- a.k.a. study rooms where people can stare at you from the outside and pity your existence. Hell has no windows and all the math and science books -- fitting. It also has a book cart named Lucifer. 

Needless to say, I don't study in the library on any of its three levels. I study in the student union. Actually, I don't study; I pretend to study in the student union, but what with the elevator and friends coming in and out and bothering me with interesting questions and problems, I usually don't get any studying done until I trek back to my dorm and lock myself away from the world. 

Just kidding! I'm not that distracted. Not always. I usually sit in the same spot in the union from the second I get out of classes to the moment I must needs go to bed. People comment on it. It's the only way I get anything done.

My First All-Nighter

Technically, I've fallen asleep through both of the all-nighters I pulled -- the first being a missions trip to inner city Detroit, the second being dedicated to writing a paper due the next day. I have no need of all-nighters because (A) I work on papers for about two weeks; (B) I said I'd never pull one; and (C) I love sleep. However, I had several papers due in one week along with tests and lots of reading and finals to study for, so my roommate and I threw a paper writing party in our room. Three of our friends joined us, bringing balloons, coloring books and studiousness/spontaneity. We placed a blank whiteboard on my roommate's bed, which, being a relative whiteboard, could say anything we wanted it to say -- even contradictory things. That encouraged us. We ate Pop Tarts and drank soda (my first sip of Diet Pepsi killed me). We called on each other for morale support and appropriate words. And we even banged out some killer essays. 

I call them "killer essays" because as of today, we have not heard whether they really were amazing or if they killed our GPA.

Midnight Shenanigans

During finals week -- which isn't as bad as Hell Week, the week right before finals where the first all-nighter took place and all the teachers decided to make you cram two weeks' worth of homework into one -- but that trauma is now past, and I'm not talking about it anymore. During finals week, we -- the compatriots of The Dinner Table -- delegated certain times for shenaniganizing. Don't question our neologism nor our foolishness at staying up until 3 am multiple nights. Once you've experienced studying for the same final all day long, you'll understand the need -- er, compulsion -- to go crazy.

In any case, shenanigans: we're all good kids, so our shenanigans involve questionable activities such as baking cookies at 2 am to pass around to anybody walking home at that hour; sliding around the student union in our socks; reading poetry and Winnie-the-Pooh aloud; and climbing trees. Sumo wrestling might have occurred one night, but I had nothing to do with that (except laughing when I should have been compiling an annotated bibliography). At those hours, we also consume Arizona tea and ice cream in excess.

School

Oh. Right. School. I love school. I try not to talk about it too much because you have probably not read the Western Heritage Reader with its curious footnote about claws nor have you heard Dr. Smith read Purgatory in a Gollum voice nor have you climbed four flights of stairs to your professor's office to chat for hours about Stoicism. I don't wish to make you jealous -- or confused, which is more likely. Actually, I hope to remain so enigmatic about the Hillsdale education that you cave into your curiosity and audit classes just so you too can join the Hillsdale arguments on Hobbes and Aristotle. 

Actually, I'll talk about education and such important things in another post. All you need to know right know is that Margaret Thatcher (who literally is a lady of steel on the campus quad) has feet thrice the size of mine; that the chicken and fish in Saga look very similar but aren't at all on the same level; and that once upon a time, my next-door neighbor brought home a pet leech from the science building. Welcome to Hillsdale.

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7 impressions

  1. Sounds like you're having a blast! I miss you! <3

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  2. Your "The Diner Table" sounds a lot like the group of friends (which I later learned to call "the 'fam'") that I got dragged into my sophomore year at Calvin, only a great many times more so (possibly because the "fam" had been an established group for a year already and might have toned itself down a little?). There's only one kind of table in the Calvin dining halls, big round ones, but we routinely dragged two or three together to make enough room for everyone.

    Speaking of elevators, though, one of my first experiences as a member of the "fam," other than the daily chaos that was mealtimes, was an "elevator party"---packing everyone into the big elevator that's attached to the pedestrian bridge connecting the two sides of campus over the Beltline and engaging in conversation and whatever other activities someone thought of for a couple of hours, every once i a while hitting the button to make the elevator go up or down.

    In my long and unhappy history with "all-nighters", I don't think I actually managed a true "all-nighter" until after I graduated from college. (Except when I kept Easter Vigil alone in the third-floor lounge of my dorm my freshman year of college.) Every time (I can recall), whether by design (as in high school) or by sheer dint of exhaustion, I'd head to bed in time to get a few hours of sleep. And then I'd be (I thought) fine until sudden weariness would hit me about one in the afternoon, which in high school was the middle of my last class of the day (which that year was AP calculus, making procrastinating on AP English papers until the last minute and pulling all-nighters an even more foolish idea than it otherwise would have been).

    Actually, your comment about "chat[ting] for hours about Stoicism" does make me somewhat jealous, since one of the free lectures I went to my sophomore (?) year at Calvin that has stuck with me most (which isn't much---I really should have taken better notes) was a fascinating talk on the Stoics, and what little I remember from that talk is essentially the sum total of my knowledge about them ... but that's my own fault for majoring in Computer Science rather than one of the humanities, I suppose.

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  3. I can never read the word "compulsion" now without hearing Christian's voice saying it in my mind. Compulzhun, instead of compulshun. Man, I miss having the Bergmanns in the musical. *Sigh*

    I MISS COLLEGE! Reading this post made me remember my college days as if they were yesterday. Okay, so it was pre-Youtube and Dr. Who was taking a lengthy hiatus, but other than that? The same.

    Jonathan, when were you at Calvin? I went to Grace Bible College in Wyoming (MI), but I had several friends at Calvin. We all waitressed together at the Arnie's which used to be on Burton & Breton. (Shoot. I miss Arnie's now, too. I could really go for a Dutch Chocolate Torte.)

    Bailey, I'm glad you adore college so much. I knew it would suit you! Let's get together for coffee (or Diet Pepsi?) before you go back.

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  4. Ooooh I'm jealous. My friend is at a Christian university, and I visited her there. It looks like yours sounds. :) I am taking online university courses at home, so I have to do my studying alone. But I probably get more sleep. ;) Enjoy your holidays!

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  5. Hee Hee! Glad you like college!! Sounds rather a lot like my freshman year!

    And...oh dear me...SAGA. What horror. I am sorry that you have to go through that too....We too at LeTU have 'Bon Appetit' to complain about. I don't think they are any worse than any other cafeteria..maybe better...but after a while you get really sick of it! (Or, is Saga still your current food provider? They were our old one and the dining hall got irrevocably named.)

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  6. @Jenny, I was at Calvin from fall 2005 through spring 2009. So "quite recently."

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  7. @ Jonathan: Ah. I was at GBC...ahem...not so recently. In any case, it's nice to "meet" someone who has the same stomping grounds.

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