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Small handwriting sample of C.J.'s First-Year Student Journals, link to journals home page
Tom in his Longhorn Band uniform

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Detail of Tom's band uniform

5 December 2005

This One’s Optimistic

Everything is in its right place. Not a better way to mark the best semester of my life. In terms of life lessons, I’ve earned my fair share of wisdom. Imparted to me by good times, bad times, times in between and both sweet fortune and failure, I’ve learned more about the riches of life than I ever thought possible. I am at the university because of what’s good for me and for what’s bad. I’m here because this is everything I have expected it not to be. And because of good fortune none of this will end any time soon.

Entering orientation and the fall semester, I was under the impression that I would enjoy having all my courses in the early morning, leaving the rest of the day open. What I couldn’t see was myself making many great friends, being rushed into the fun of the university, Longhorn Band and the town and being so excited with all things new that I failed to realize what wasn’t being done, and that was coursework.

So I’m sitting here now in between cramming for exams knowing that I can still pass all my courses but that certain requirements may not be met. It is university policy that a ‘D’ is acceptable as a passing grade for all courses, though the separate colleges in the university may feel differently, particularly my own College of Communication. I’m just hoping to not retake a course that is in my degree track. I can’t imagine the implications.

But there is resolve. Blue skies again will rise.

The good news is that I’m working hard. It’s a relief to see myself trying to repair damages, and it’s certainly not as bad as it may seem. I’m not the first student to do this to myself, nor the last. I know it just takes a little more dedication to coursework, so simple to say.

Spring semester will be starting quicker than I can imagine, across the holidays and via a stop in California. (Hook ’em, Horns. Beat USC.) With the spring semester I’ll be able to redo what went wrong: namely, not taking care of my business. Too many early mornings I spent sleeping and not going to class. We’ll just have to change that next semester.

My next move is to use everything here on campus. There are so many buildings that are open to recreation that it’s both overwhelming and baffling. One such edifice I have recently become acquainted with is the Perry-Castañeda Library, commonly referred to as the PCL by students and faculty alike. Let me just say that during exam weeks when the library stays open 24 hours a day, you’ll never be so thankful to any service as you are to the PCL.

Also located directly next to my dormitory (next door, can you believe the accessibility?) is Gregory Gymnasium. Host to volleyball games and recreation alike, Gregory Gymnasium is a world of sport and fitness all its own. From the exercise track to the workout and weight rooms, I could simply enjoy a rigorous exhibition of racquetball with my friends. The university just recently finished its construction on the outdoor aquatic facility, complete with an Olympic-size swimming pool.

One center in particular I’ve come to enjoy, being the music buff that I am, is UT’s Performing Arts Center (PAC). The PAC consists of a number of theaters and concert halls on campus that play host to some of the most intriguing musical performances you’ll ever witness. This recent November, the PAC hosted such acts as Ben Folds and Aqualung (which were amazing, I might add). I’m looking forward to the Sigur Ros show in the fabulous Bass Concert Hall.

Attending these concerts and using such facilities has taught me that the more I am involved on campus, the more likely I am to be going to class, taking care of business and getting more out of my education and this university. It’s good to hope, and I’m still having lots of fun here.

My first semester was amazing. I had more fun than I could’ve imagined, doing everything I could think to do in this wonderful town. But having done everything this fall semester except what I was required to do as a student makes me want to do the right thing even more during the spring. It’s surprising to find that it’s not tiring going to class when I just go.

I’ll never understand why I didn’t do these things and more during the fall semester. It’s not like the rain every day made it hard to walk to class, although there were two campus closure days due to below-freezing temperatures. I found the hilarity in the situation only after having spoken with a classmate from Washington, D.C. It seems that when it drops below 32 degrees, Texans don’t know what to do.

What Texans do know is football, and so after we win the national championship at the Rose Bowl in January, I’ll check back in and tell you how it went.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments at

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