By Theodora Blanchfield
My best friend went to college two years before I did. She went to Tulane University and came home for breaks with drunken tales of the fraternity mixers she went to with her sorority sisters. She seemed to be having the ultimate college experience.
When it was my turn to head off to college, I applied to Tulane and other “party schools”, hoping to be pledge a sorority and have as much fun as my friend was having at Tulane. My top two choices were Tulane and Bucknell University. I ended up getting rejected from both schools and went to what I thought was one of my “safeties” – American University.
What attracted me to AU was not that it was a party school (because its not) or not the fact that it was in DC (I didn’t even realize then how important it was to me to be in a city). I majored in foreign language and communication media – a program that combined a Spanish and a journalism major into one without having to double major. All the brochures and all the tour guides on campus also spoke of the importance of interning. “How cool,” I thought. “You get to have an adult job before you even graduate.” I don’t think I realized at the time that internships are usually unpaid. Still, I hoped that I could combine all this serious stuff with some serious partying on the weekends. And I reminded myself that even if I didn’t like it, I could transfer somewhere else the next year. In fact, I thought I would end up doing that.
My first week of college didn’t let me down. We went to different frat parties every night. I thought that would continue for four years. What I didn’t know was that usually only freshmen go to frat parties. Once you turn 21, you can start going to bars. In between that, there’s not much to do if you’re not in a fraternity or a sorority.
I got really excited when sorority recruitment, or “rush”, came around. I couldn’t wait to pledge a sorority. But because of a poor GPA my first semester, I was only invited back to two of the seven sororities – neither of the two were my top choices. I ended up dropping out of the whole process and was even more upset when my roommate ended up pledging.
I went out of my way that semester to make more friends. By the time the end of the year came around, I was sad to leave all my new friends. But at the beginning of sophomore year, I became bored and depressed and started requesting applications to other schools so I could transfer somewhere that would be a better fit for me. My best friend across the hall was interning and the words from the brochures and tour guides jumped back out at me. That might just be a good idea, I thought.
I started interning my sophomore year and had a total of four different internships by the time I graduated. I learned that you have to control your own destiny. If I had sat back and waited for friends and things to do to just present themselves, I would have stayed miserable. I probably would have transferred somewhere else. Instead, I decided to draw my own path. I interned and I wrote for the campus newspaper. I made different friends in all of these ventures and I enriched myself in the process. I stopped letting my expectations get the best of me, and I sat back and had fun!
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