While no one is arguing that college isn’t a part of reality for many young adults, when reflecting on university years, many recall the experience as a dream, an almost mythical experience. While slaving away at your nine to five in your postgrad years, you’ll likely reflect back on the good ol’ days of all-nighters, whether you spent them writing essays or tossing back cheap beer. Even if college wasn’t the best time of your life, there’s a positive nostalgia to those years. Reflecting back on my own college experience, whether I was having a good semester or a crappy one, there were so many quirks, experiences, and benefits that I just took for granted. As an only child, sharing a room in college was difficult at times, but there are evenings I fall asleep, bummed that I’m not doing so talking to the girl a bunk above me. There are afternoons I’m totally thankful that I no longer have to devour cafeteria crap, but on the other hand, I’m super sad that lunch isn’t always a social thing for me anymore.
College has its ups and downs. For some people, there are more downs than ups. Still, that mythical, magical era of studying all morning, sleeping all afternoon, and partying all night had so many aspects that don’t continue after you toss your graduation cap in the air. Now that I am a full time, somewhat functioning adult, I request that we bring these “college only” traditions and experiences into the postgrad world with us.
1. Thirsty Thursdays
I’m not saying that as adults we don’t get drunk on the occasional Thursday, but in college, Thursday night was the beginning of the weekend. In fact, was the pregame to the weekend. It still is today, but as a result, we’re headed into work hungover most Fridays. Wouldn’t it be marvelous if we could fix our work schedules so that we always had Fridays off?
2. Dorm Room Decorating
Dormitory decorating was the most liberal of all decorating because it was only made to last for nine months. That tapestry, those bed sheets – you might grow to hate them by May, but so what? So what if your tastes changed? There was always next year to find cuter curtains or a more functional trashcan. And that magazine collage mural that you spent all of September making with your roommate? Of course half would fall down by December and the rest would get torn down in May! Oh well! You loved it and every second of making it.
3. Casual Drunkenness
Being drunk in college was a given. You could walk into class hungover and your professor likely didn’t care, if he even noticed. Can you walk into your big girl (or big boy) job that way? Of course not! If you bumped into a friend any night of the week while roaming around campus, it wouldn’t sound completely weird to say, “I’m drunk.” Now you just look like an alcoholic.
4. Everything Was a Social Interaction…
Sometimes in college you really wished you could avoid people, but now that you live the closeted adult life, you sort of wish that everything was a forced social interaction. Back in the day, you couldn’t do your laundry or grab some food from the caf without running into someone you knew and having a ten minute long conversation. Now you spend your Sundays hungover and closeted in your bedroom. Maybe you did that in college, too, but at least you had your roommate alongside you to force you to talk to somebody.
5. …And Every Night Was a Sleepover
Maybe you grew to hate every roommate you ever had, but you can’t deny that you spent a few nights chowing down on pizza or just talking about life with your best friend in college. It was like the best parts of seventh grade mixed with alcohol and pregnancy scares and sorority drama. Anything and everything warranted a late night conversation. There were evenings you stayed up chatting in the dark to your roommate, one bunk up, about the meaning of life. There were also nights you stayed up crying and sipping wine while singing indie music or watching Disney movies. And usually, there were many of these nights every single week.
6. Hook Ups
Seriously. How much easier was it to meet men in college? SO MUCH EASIER. You didn’t even have to go to the bar. You didn’t even have to go to a party. You didn’t even have to log onto Facebook or OkCupid or whatever. They were just there. In your dorms, in your dining hall, in your coffee shop – in your vagina. Finding a man as an adult is super difficult, especially if you’re stuck living at home. But in college? Man, those were the glory days.
7. Sorority Sisters
No matter what your dilemma was, there was someone who would listen to you at any time of the day. So what if your twinnie or bestie or little or big was too busy to listen to you at the moment? There were x many other girls just a text message away if you needed them. And maybe you didn’t actually like all of them, but, like, you were sisters. They were there for you no matter what, no matter when. You still are sisters, but it’s different. You’re not always within a ten mile radius of one another, and if they’re bitchy to you, exec can’t comment on it at chapter.
Maybe you were never a Mean Girl, but wasn’t it nice sometimes to let your anger and angst out on someone else – AND TO GET AWAY WITH IT?! And please, don’t say, “Oh, no, we weren’t one of those hazing chapters.” By your senior year, you know you had your Regina George face on. And even if you were nice to the PNMs, you have to admit that whenever someone was in need of a late night snack, the immediate response was, “Let’s call a pledge.”
9. Mixers, Formals, Etc.
Sometimes it was just a party with your favorites and sometimes you got to meet new people. Sometimes you hopped from frat house to frat house, sometimes you attended parties in banquet halls and ballrooms, and sometimes you visited other schools. Whatever your adventure, you always had fun, and you always looked great doing it. Half of the rush was picking out your outfit for the night and making sure there weren’t any recent Facebook photos of you in it. Face it. Now you wish that was your biggest worry again, don’t you?
10. Theme Parties
From “Ugly Sweater” to “CEOs and Corporate Hos” – the themes were always fun and often misogynistic. Still, it was a blast to lose yourself in a costume for a night, to go all out and plan to match with your pledge class, etc. And of course you dressed up as a bandit and hooked up with a guy dressed up as a cop that one time. You were too drunk to roleplay that night, but that didn’t make it any less fun.
11. Shitshows Being a Part of Life
In college, getting drunk and falling on your ass wasn’t as embarrassing as it is now. For one, you didn’t have to go into work with bruises on your shin and explain it away. Same goes for hickeys. And your friends just laughed your shitshowiness off. They didn’t judge you – and if they did, fuck it, you saw them do the same exact things sometimes and were there to blackmail them if they laughed at you again. Puking in a bathtub, falling asleep in an elevator, making out with a random… Perhaps holding those titles doesn’t sound flattering, but back then you didn’t lose friends for your actions. If anything, you gained them.
12. Everything Being a Reason to Celebrate
This is the one rule I’ve definitely brought with me into the real world. When it comes to life, there isn’t a thing that’s not worth celebrating. In college, I remember drinking for things as trivial (read: important) as Lil Wayne’s freedom and as paramount as Bin Laden’s death. As an adult, too often we forget to celebrate both the little and big things in life as well as the things that are big on a world scale. We might take friends out in honor of a new promotion or invite people to our favorite bar for our birthday, but too many of us forget to indulge in a glass of wine simply because we made it to Wednesday without dying or just had a good fucking day at work. In my eyes, every day gives us a reason to celebrate, with or without alcohol. So I’ll drink to that!
What are your favorite aspects of college culture that you brought with you into everyday life?