Ah, university. The hallowed halls of higher learning. A place where knowledge is shared, intellect fostered. Well, if you were to stumble upon a university campus during the first week of September, it might seem that this description is sadly idealistic. Making a judgment based solely on that week would leave one with the impression that a university is a place where people run around acting silly for no apparent reason, pretty much all of the time.
The first week of September is, of course, frosh week. For a week that is supposed to help first-year students make a seamless segue into university life, frosh week is ironically disorienting. Despite claims that it would prove to be one of the best experiences of my life, when I travel back in time roughly a month to frosh week, I find myself not having a fantabulous time, but rather in the middle of the winter of my discontent. There was just something about frosh week – all the running around, yelling and screaming – that seemed immeasurably appealing to my peers, but made me want to run away and lock myself in a dark room where no one could ever find me, possibly even taking the added step of hiding under a table.
I can hear them now – the gasps of horror and cries of shock. That’s right, I hated frosh week. Exactly what was it, you may ask, that made orientation week – supposedly the most fun I could hope to have during my university career – such an ordeal that it made me utter those unthinkable words, “I can’t wait for classes to start!”
Well, it just wasn’t my idea of a fun time.
Now, I’m not opposed to fun. Far from it – I’m quite the advocate of having a good time. But, truth be told, I couldn’t find anything fun about any of the frosh week activities. For some reason, however every time I turned around, some enthusiastic-to-the-point-of-frightening individual was reminding me of what a swell time I was apparently having. My point, I think, is best explicated through a role-playing . Exercise
Imagine that you’ve just spent your first night in a strange and somewhat frightening place. You’ve slept fitfully because of your uncomfortable new mattress and close quarters, and you are awakened at the crack of dawn by a rude knocking on your door. Standing there is a stranger who orders you to get dressed (in the pre-determined colour, please!) and leads you and an army of similarly garbed, equally disoriented individuals off on a day that will consist of screaming and running around maniacally. Then, off to bed, and the same thing the next morning. Lather, rinse, repeat.
At least that’s how I experienced frosh week. Maybe I’m an eighty year-old in a nineteen year-old’s body or something, but to me, it wasn’t fun – it was prison camp. I don’t want to seem like a killjoy, and I don’t want to demean those who did have fun at frosh week, but I guess my biggest beef is that there was really only one type of acceptable ‘fun.’ To me, the frosh week experience really highlighted the need for conformity inherent in our culture and our generation.
When I wasn’t enjoying myself at frosh week, I felt somewhat shunned by the masses, and also found myself wondering what my problem was. The bottom line is that I didn’t have a problem – I just had a different sense of what constitutes a good time, a feeling that had to go unexpressed. I wish that frosh week could have been an opportunity for everyone to enjoy themselves, without feeling alienated or uncomfortable. I’ll let you have your fun, you let me have mine.