Your countdown app has reached its final date, your final goodbyes have been made and your car has been packed in places you didn’t know you could squeeze everything into. It’s time to live out your fantasies and move into the most beautiful place in the world where you’ll surely create a lifelong bond with your roommate and meet your future husband, an upperclassman football player who volunteers to carry in one of your boxes and, maybe you, too. You can almost hear Hillary Duff’s “What Dreams Are Made Of” bumping as you roll up to campus to start your dream life – the one that will totally go exactly the way you had planned, no questions asked.
Except, maybe not.
Here’s where I blame pop culture for doing you wrong; so many of your favorite movies and shows haven’t been telling the start-of-college story like it is. It’s unlikely that you’ll get a flash of your to-be sweetheart singing from a passing car and then live in a room straight out of IKEA like Beca from Pitch Perfect, or that you’ll meet two girls who are also enraged that sororities can’t host parties and thus join together to form your own in the first week of your new life with no obstacles such as social constructs or homework like Shelby from Neighbors 2.
I hope I am not the first person to release this information to a freshman reader, but the start of your college experience is going to be messy, explorative and unpredictable. Some of the only bits of entertainment media that may have prepared you for this are Phil Dunphy’s classic mistaking-his-daughter’s-roommate-for-his-wife mishap which ended by him groping a young girl to his horror, or the story of how New Girl’s Nick and Schmidt met, wherein a fat boy showed up in Nick’s dorm once and played along when he threw crackers into his mouth, thus sparking genuine companionship. College is weird, but you can make it wonderful, too.
Forget what you’ve read in any phony article that sounds remotely like “The 50 Things That Only Make Sense To Elon Students” — some bored girl who chooses to tell incoming students that her female peers only wear Lilly Pulitzer dresses to class and that finding a nice straight guy is like “finding a mythical creature” is just trying to make her school sound cooler and more intimidating than it is.
Elon is entirely what you make of it. Should you somehow decide to actually wear Lilly attire to class every day, that’s your choice, but no Odyssey article or teen flick can prepare you for the time ahead.
Keep in mind that this is an entirely new chapter in your life where you’re free to explore everything at your fingertips, and that everyone around you will be doing the same. So, break out of your routine, do the crazy things that you’ve been itching to.
Now’s the time to change your name, pick a new hair color that no one can hate on you for, take classes in a field you’ve never heard of and eat from the international station in Lakeside. I mean just really lose yourself out there. Some of the best memories of my college experience thus far have come from engaging in a conversation with someone of a different background, trying something crazy and new and not denying myself the advantages of going to a school with great people and resources.
So, lose your expectations and get exploring; this is your experience, not someone else’s. Chase a squirrel, start a conversation with the person in the toilet stall adjacent to yours, find your passion — there’s really no time to waste trying to live a fairytale or movie re-enactment. You only get one beginning.