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Small handwriting sample of Ashley's First-Year Student Journals, link to journals home page
Ashley




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10 October 2005

Both Sides of the College Spectrum

I knew that by coming to UT I was going to see so much, experience new things and have to adapt to my surroundings, but there are some things that I just have not been ready for. I bring this up because there was one weekend in particular that sent me through the roof. It was so much fun and not to mention free.

The weekend that I’m referring to was the one in which the Longhorns beat the Ohio State Buckeyes. That night of the game, I chilled with a couple of friends in the dorm and I swear we were yelling at the TV like Limas Sweed could hear us saying, “Good catch, man!” At first we were a little upset because A.J. Hawk from the Buckeyes’ defense was shutting us down. I know this is a little off subject, but I wish I could tell native Texan and cornerback for the Buckeyes, Ashton Youboty, that he knows he should of picked Texas. He’s wasting talent over there at Ohio State.

OK, back to the live weekend. After the game, one of my friends needed to go back to her place of residence over at the Castilian, which is quite a walk from Jester East and West. By the time she wanted to leave it was about midnight. So I’m thinking to myself it’s after a game, there are going to be a couple of people lurking the streets, and it may not be such a good idea to have her walking by herself. So I made the suggestion for everyone to walk together. Once we got downstairs from Jester East, we saw a couple of people here and there and I realized, “Oh, it’s no big deal.” Then things started to take a crazier turn.

We saw people hanging out of cars screaming, “GO TEXAS!” and just yelling at the top of their lungs. Now let me tell you something about Austin and the student population here at UT. Once one person screams, everyone does. It’s that contagious. We were screaming and “hookin’ em horns” and really enjoying ourselves. But it didn’t stop there.

Once we had reached Guadalupe Street it was like a big block party traffic jam. That may not make sense to you but being from the Galveston area where I’ve experienced beach parties and Mardi Gras this almost felt like home, except with a whole lot more diversity.

The thing that tripped me out the most was the fact that there was a ton of people that took over Guadalupe chanting and shouting, “OU SUCKS! OU SUCKS!” You have to take into account that it doesn’t matter who UT is playing. OU will always end up getting into our rallies. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. If I were back at home or in Galveston somewhere the cops would have said, “All right, let’s break it up.” I swear it’s a culture shock, but then again it’s UT, the place that turns players into pros in athletics and academics.

OK, back to Guadalupe. Cars were blasting loud music and since no one cared that we were in the streets, my friend and I just starting going up to people’s cars giving high fives, screaming at the top of our lungs, and, oh yeah, dancing to their music. It was so fun. Guys were balancing girls on their shoulders like they were cheerleaders and someone was waving a big UT flag. You would have never known that the game was away in Dallas because it seemed like everyone was on this one street. Sixth Street in Austin didn’t have anything on Guadalupe that night. The best thing about that crazy Saturday was that it was free. All of these parties that the clubs and organizations offer can get a little expensive, (not like I would know), but this “street party” was free and the highlight of school by far.

I couldn’t resist. It brings back memories.

Now the crazy thing about UT is that it can be a little fickle. It’s like Saturday everybody was united and having fun, but when we get back to school those same high spirited folks will be like, “Move outta my way. I’m trying to get to class.” OK, maybe I haven’t actually heard anyone say this, but once Monday hits it’s like no one remembers anything. The masses just go to their respective buildings and receive their lectures for the day. Now that I’ve been here for a little minute though, things have been going just fine. I mean, the transition from high school to college has been pretty smooth. However, there have been some things that have worked my last nerve or just made me shake my head in shame. I hope everyone reads this and helps to prevent some of the things that chap my hide. You may say, “Well, look the world doesn’t revolve around you.” You’re right, but I’m not saying that. All I’m saying is there are plenty of people who feel the same way, but they do the same thing I do: grunt, groan, complain to others and move on. It’s time for me to say something.

Keep your cell phone off during class.

Not only is this disturbing me and others, but the professor as well. Now my professors have been really nice and haven’t really tripped when one or two cell phones erupted with all that chatter. But others may not be so nice. I heard stories where some professors will answer your phone and tell whoever it is that you’re in class, or will even take it and drop it in the trash. But please turn that cell phone off completely or put it on silent. Vibrate is annoying, too.

Keep a steady pace when going to class.

I know you may be saying to me, “If you get up early enough then maybe you’ll get to class on time and not have to worry about those people who like to walk slowly.” First of all, I get to class on time, but it’s just that the university is so large and there is a shortage of sidewalk, due to random trucks and vans parked everywhere. It’s not a good thing for a person, or people, to walk slowly and hold other people up. Besides I have three back-to-back classes that are not within close proximity to each other. Here’s an idea. UT should come up with a fast lane, a slow lane and a lane where people just want to stand and make pointless conversations. That’s all I’m saying. If anyone has been in an airport lately, they have those moving lanes that are equivalent to flat escalators that help transport people quickly to and from their destinations. That’s what we need. But then again, construction will make things even worse.

Please spare every eye and not wear “daisy dukes” if you have a little extra hanging.

I’m definitely not trying to be mean, but what I’m saying is that this is UT, not a Luke video. I know it’s hot as Hades in these parts, but please make sure you’re presentable. Wearing shorts are cool, but come on, we don’t want to see that.

Be courteous on the sidewalk.

Ever been walking with your friend minding your own business and some random person just runs into you and doesn’t acknowledge their wrongdoing? Well, if you run into someone just say, “My fault,” or something like that. From personal experience some girl just acted as if she didn’t see me, like I was the hollow man, and just ran into me like I was the Berlin Wall. I said, “Oh,” but that was most definitely the clean part. I don’t want to be the stereotypical “mad black woman” on campus but I thought that was so rude. My reflex was ready to act on impulse, but I had to tell myself, “Chill out, don’t hurt her feelings. Just go to philosophy class and learn something. You didn’t pay to jump on folks.” So my point: Even though this is a big school, take into consideration that if you run into me, I may not be so nice next time.

Squirrels, White Strings and Chain Smokers

This is the second part to the crazy/annoying things that take place prominently on campus.

One Word: Squirrels

There are so many squirrels on campus that some weirdo made up an organization to pay respect to them. The squirrels on campus are seriously going to school for free! They literally come right up to you like they’re going to say, “What’s up?” and walk with you to your class. However, those squirrels get very annoying. Let me provide a scenario. OK, so I’m walking to class, “La Dee Da Dee Dah,” you know, not bothering anyone and then all of a sudden I see a squirrel in this defense stance like he is about to attack. So I’m thinking to myself not to even look at it because if you focus on it the thing is going to do the unexpected. So I keep walking trying to avoid something that is 12 times smaller than me. Then, the little nut nibbler just scurried past me and made me jump right out of my skin. I swear it felt like my heart was taking a spinning class. I’m not afraid of a squirrel because that’s ridiculous, but I just want to let you know that they are here and will not be moved.

White Strings

I know you’re saying to yourself, “What in the world do you mean by white strings?” This is something that everyone on campus has except for me: an iPod. All you see are big sunglasses and white strings hanging from people’s ears. This goes for those wavy capris called gaucho pants, but that’s a different story that I’m not going to get into now. Meanwhile, I strengthen my neck with the huge earphones and every hour I have to change the CD. If you ask me, iPod users are lazy. But you know what I did? I went out and bought a pair of headphones that had a little white string. Hey, I may not have an iPod, but I do know how to improvise.

Chain Smokers

If you are allergic to smoke or just hate tobacco in general, then this little section is just for you. Just tell me something. Why is it that the moment you decide to breathe fresh air is when a smoker wants to blow the smoke? It goes all in your throat, you start coughing and the smoker will look at you like you are crazy. Why do people smoke cigarettes? These cancer sticks do nothing but kill your brain cells and some of mine, too. When asked, smokers will argue that smoking relieves stress. However, on a cigarette box it reads: “Surgeon General: THIS WILL KILL YOU!” It does not say, by the way, it will relieve your stress! My advice to you if you’re stressed and feel the need to smoke: Do yoga. You’ll feel great afterward and your lungs won’t blacken in the meantime.

This little section was just to inform you that on every corner you might see some random person with a cigarette hanging out of his or her mouth, white strings hanging from their ears and a squirrel chilling right next to them. Scary thought.

Dorm Room Woes

This is probably something that everyone needs to hear about: the problems with dorm rooms. Now, I am in no way, shape or form suggesting not moving into dorms. There are plenty of advantages to staying on campus, because, believe you me, I’ve spent many nights off campus and had to pack up, wait for the bus and head to school. But right now I need someone to share my pain.

The Dreaded Elevator

First of all, I live on the 13th floor of Jester West, the floor second to the top. The hardest thing to deal with is the elevator troubles. There will be ignorant folks who like to take the elevator up to floors two through five when they know they can take the stairs. It’s just so inconsiderate. We all want to get to our rooms, but on floors 10 through 14, it’s especially hard because we’re at the top. It’s the same way going down. The worst part is when you have to go to class and you’re impatiently waiting on an elevator, and once you get on, it stops on every floor. Then the lazy folks on floors two through five again want to go down when they know they can take the stairs and make my life, as well as others in those top floors, easy.

The Stench

The 13th floor stinks! It smells like feet, onions and Benadryl. I swear it’s not nice. You can be fresh from taking a shower and walk in the puff of odor and end up dirty again. Febreze is my friend because the floor doesn’t just stink…it stank. I’m telling you, when I use that word something is terribly foul. I’m not saying that every floor smells awful. I just want to remind you that Febreze should be added to your college checklist. Sometimes the bathroom is not the only thing that possesses God-forsaken odors.

The Ants

The ants rule the 13th floor hands down. They play volleyball, cat and mouse, and have parties ever night. OK, maybe I’m exaggerating, but they are prominent. You don’t even have to have food in your room. Apparently they like Lysol because I swear I have been wiping everything down. The most important thing to do if you notice you do have ants is to use our access to an exterminator. Just one phone call and your ant troubles are…no not over, just temporarily handled. What you will find out is that ants rebel.

OK, I know that this may seem like I’m complaining too much, but if I’m going through these things, I know that other people are feeling this as well. Don’t get me wrong; UT is beautiful. It’s beautiful from the architecture to all the different types of people who go to this school. However, if I only tell you the good stuff, you will have to find out the difficult things the hard way. Wouldn’t you like to be prepared? On a lighter note, I don’t want to leave anyone with the notion that I just like to point out the bad things. It’s not that way at all. Actually, there are a couple of things in particular that I have really appreciated and find to be very useful, and I plan to quickly share my wealth.

New-found Friends

It is a fact that you will make plenty of friends in college. Even if you don’t think you’re exactly a “social butterfly,” someone will speak to you and once you make conversation this person will probably become your best friend. The friends I have made are truly friends. They watch out for you, throw you birthday parties, help you study and the list goes on. Missed a classed? They will supply backup notes like you wouldn’t believe. This is college, my friend. It’s funny because most of the time the people you hung out with in high school were the people who were with you for shallow reasons. It’s because you were popular, knew the jocks or something of that sort. Here, it’s nothing but ex-jocks and cheerleaders, underground artists and so many personalities that those shallow reasons turn into matches made in heaven. I can remember when I wasn’t feeling my best and there were people who checked on me, took me into their home and lifted my spirits. On that note I would like to give a special shout out to….

Personal Space

Everyone needs their privacy and/or a place of “refuge” when relaxation needs to take place. This place has to be your second home to calm all of your nerves when your busy schedule starts to get a little stressful. Now being the nerd I am it would be pretty obvious that one of my favorite places to calm down at is the library. However, I beg to differ. The Business School is where I call home because it hosts the best places to study and relax. These places are the Millennium Lab, which is by far the best lab on campus; the Atrium, which is a place for group study or a “white noise” setting; and the Reading Center, which is the best place to study. You get no interruptions and a lot of work done. Trust me on this.

Organizations

OK, it may seem that I am a little bit on the boring side because I mention studying a little too much, but it’s not true. I have joined a couple of organizations that have also kept me a little busy, but they have both been very beneficial thus far in my college experience. UMOJA is a wonderful sisterhood organization that is very positive and uplifting. The best part of UMOJA is a section called “Girl Lemme Tell Ya.” What we do is discuss a topic that can be controversial, and it pretty much sets the tone for our week. It opens our minds and motivates us to continually be ambitious and to remind us why we are in school in the first place. So far, it has been a powerful experience.

I have also joined Innervisions Gospel Choir. Now if you need some fun and excitement and are not afraid of giving God some praise, then this organization is for you. This organization is not just a group of people, but a family. The first time I went to a choir practice people welcomed me with hugs. Handshakes are for strangers.

Writing Center

In my opinion I am a good writer. That is, until I get a paper back saying that I try to combine two complex thoughts together to form one confusing paper. So, what better place to go than the Writing Center in the FAC (Flawn Academic Center), and have someone edit for free. If you feel a little writer’s block coming on, this is the place for you. I swear once you’re in the seat talking to an experienced writer, ideas flow continuously. I’m definitely taking advantage of it.

Every place has its ups and downs and, of course, I’m pretty sure any newcomer is going to feel his or her own set of setbacks. But, I just want to do my duty to give both sides of the “college-experience” spectrum. Of course, there will be so many great things to occur during my freshman year, because the best is yet to come. However, every situation is not going to be so peachy keen.

E-mail me at xomosdefxo@yahoo.com.

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