Hello freshmen, frosh, oh confused ones, you’re finally on campus getting your heads filled with a three-day propaganda extravaganza otherwise called CI.
You’re feeling pretty good about your decision to spend the best years of your life in a place known for its fogginess and its bottom, which, did I mention, is just a couple blocks from the White House; and gobbling up everything your CI leader says, from how great the food is to what a diverse mix of students you’ll meet at GW, which, did I mention, is just a couple blocks from the White House.
Well, the fact is, there’s no reason your GW experience shouldn’t be everything it’s built up to be, but there are a few things your brief introduction to Foggy Bottom hasn’t taught you.
First, get familiar with the acronym, JAP. If you’re from the North, you’re probably filled with a great sense of dread, telling yourself, but this is D.C., below the Mason-Dixon, the nation’s capital, there just can’t be any JAPs here. Well brace yourself young G-Scrubbers because you’ve just entered a private school, a very expensive one at that, with a majority population of students from, guess where, the North!
For those who are clueless right now (welcome, fellow southerners) the term JAP refers to a Jewish-American Princess, but it holds a much broader and less discriminating definition here at G-Dub. While JAPs are traditionally females who carry a thick Long Island accent and a big pocketbook, there are many exceptions. I opt for a Jeff Foxworthy-esque approach to properly explain this special big-money breed:
If you dress in tight black pants and a pastel tank-top to go the grocery store, you might be a JAP. If you take calls on your cell phone in class, you might be a JAP. If you think your black Steve Madden flip-flops and Kate Spade purse give you that big-city-money look all the guys drool over, you might be a JAP. If you whine, in a painstakingly high pitch, that your daddy doesn’t love you because he limited your credit card purchases to $500 this month, you might be a JAP. Note: the term JAP has no connection to Japanese people, and does not necessarily hinge on religion, place of origin or even sex.
If you don’t get the picture, just hang outside during Thurston move-in and watch the freshmen wearing those big, gaudy Gucci sunglasses with a platinum G on both sides. It’s an eye-opening experience for freshmen unaware that New York and New Jersey suburbanites rule the GW experience.
My advice for dealing with this unique species: don’t discount anyone until you’ve gotten to know them a little bit – people do sometimes surprise you. But for those who don’t, thank them for paying full price so that you could get your scholarship and go meet more humble folk.
Now, to tackle that slogan that fills every freshman with hopeful glee and excited anticipation for the coming years: Something Happens Here. You’ve read it on fliers, banners and in heart-warming letters of congratulations, and you’re constantly assured that these three words encompass what the next four years will be like; but you’re still wondering if it’s really true. Does something really happen here, and if so, what exactly is it?
The answer is yes, lots o’ stuff happens within these 18 blocks (which, by the way is sure to increase, so don’t be surprised). Yes, we get loads of famous speakers on campus. Yes, there are lots of opportunities to get involved on campus, to join a student group or, uh-hem, a kick-ass student newspaper (not The GW Journal) that will expand your horizons unlike anything else in D.C., and hob-knob with some very impressive faculty members. Yes, every internship opportunity you can imagine is at your fingertips. And yes, there is more to do in this city than you could possibly have time for in four short years.
But there’s a catch: this something doesn’t happen automatically, you have to make it happen. You might as well get used to hearing students whine that they pay too much money to be having such a bad time, that the night life sucks in D.C. (my suggestion: head to Nation, on Half Street, Friday nights), that there’s nothing to do here. You may soon become one of those whiners, but if you are, just ask yourself if you have gone out to conquer D.C. and make an effort to make this city, and this campus, fit your needs.
Okay, diversity of student population, check; Something Happens Here mantra, check. That only leaves two things: red tape and bad service.
If you don’t know by now after dealing with financial aid and possibly trying to snag some faculty advice on which classes to take, GW is all about red tape. Our president, Stephen Joel Trachtenberg (get familiar with the name, or his nick-name Biggie Joel) even jokes that GW should have been voted the #1 school for red tape, instead of our less prestigious #17 ranking. Problems sometimes take weeks to fix, phone calls sometimes take days to be answered and lines, oh the lines at GW. Lines for food, lines for advising, lines for housing, lines for freakin’ elevators.
It takes a patient and humble breed to survive the GW experience. If you think you’re $35,000 tuition check will buy you some common courtesy anywhere on this campus, just run back home to mommy right now and find yourself a nice rural liberal arts school. But the experience makes you tough and puts hair on your chests (sorry, girls).
Okay, so it sounds a little bleak and you might be second-guessing this plunge into the depths of Foggy Bottom, but it’s better to know these things going in. As I anticipate meeting the new faces of GW and corrupting as many as possible, welcome freshmen and congratulations. And, remember, don’t let JAPs taint you, get involved with campus life, get yourself an internship and spread your bright-eyed, bushy-tailed spirit.
Special note to freshmen headed to Thurston Hall: make us upper-classmen proud, continue the frisky traditions of one of America’s most sexually active dorms (although we call them residence halls) and pull a prank on Trachtenberg when he spends the night this year – your first challenge.