Open Thread: School’s In

Are you ready?
Publish date:
August 22, 2014
open thread, college, back to school, life changes, milestones

When I was a teenager, there was nothing I wanted more in life than to go to college. I watched my older brother and his friends escape our town for freshman year and return over holiday break, only to be way more into tie-dye than I thought possible. But more important, they also seemed way cooler than they were when they left. They were talking about bands I’d never heard of, movies I’d never seen, and books I’d never read. How did they become so worldly in such a short time? College, of course.

A year later, when it was my turn, I was climbing the walls until move-in day. Just to get the show on the road that much faster, I signed up to be an OWL, which stood for Ohio State Welcome Leader--basically, I was going to help fellow newbies move into their dorms. The senior students in charge of the OWL committee assured me that being an OWL would be a great way to meet new people and get acclimated faster. “You could make your lifelong friends on day one,” they intoned solemnly. Lifelong? Who wouldn’t want that?

When I got to my dorm (I lived in Ohio Stadium; at the time, it was a co-op dorm for scholarship students and offered a discount on room and board in exchange for housekeeping duties within the dorm), I was given a T-shirt and a plastic bin. “Wear this, put your stuff in this, wait for people to show up,” were the marching orders given to me a beefy pale guy, who did not seem to want to become my lifelong friend.

Another nameless/faceless person checked my name off a list and and pointed me toward my room. It was the size of a supply closet, but mercifully, it had a window, albeit one that was partially covered by bricks. I was lucky, though, that at least I had a window--many of the rooms in the stadium didn’t. That's right: You could have a dorm room without a window.

I stood in that empty space, listening to the noise of the other OWLs around me, and cried my eyes out. Sobbed. Bawled and bawled at the strangeness of it all, freaked out by the new smells, and wanted to throw up everywhere.

“Hey--you OK?” Standing in the doorway was another freshman OWL, a girl. “It’s all so f*&cking weird, isn’t it?” I sniffed and nodded. “Well, let’s just get it over with,” she sighed. “Come on.” And with that, I officially began my college years.

I would like to tell you that she and I became lifelong friends, because that would make this whole story so tidy. We didn’t. I lost track of her by late afternoon. I don’t even remember her name. But our brief interaction is seared into my memory, and I wish I could thank her for helping me pull myself together that first day.

Nothing can truly prepare you for college. It’s one of those life experiences that you have to figure out on your own--if college is even part of your life plan. What does this have to do with beauty? This story, nothing in particular. Although within a month of being away at school, I shaved my hair into an undercut and dyed it purple. But we're going to be doing some college-related coverage in a few weeks (once all the back-to-school noise has abated a bit), and it got me thinking about all of you out there who are going through/getting ready to enter your freshman year, and that maybe you want some advice/guidance?

So to all you current college people and graduates alike:

• What are some things you wish someone told you before you left for college?• What are the biggest misconceptions about college?• Did you have more or less fun than you expected?• What are some of the biggest beauty trends you're seeing on your campus?• Did you ever get really sick during college? What did you do? Did your school have a decent clinic?• What's the best piece of advice you would give someone about college?

And if you don't feel like talking about this, talk about whatever you want. The Open Thread is, you know, open.

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