Before you even arrive at GW, you were bombarded with acronyms, dichotomies and inconsistencies. You are told that “Something happens here,” but when you arrive at Colonial Inauguration to the singing and dancing Colonial Cabinet, you wonder if this is what happens here, and if so, what the hell are you doing here? You couldn’t comprehend why www.gwu.edu, my.gwu.edu, and gwired.gwu.edu all have to coexist. You thought that people came to GW to get engaged in politics or experience the culture of a bustling city. Instead, you realize that you are surrounded by a sea of Ugg-wearing, Gucci bag-carrying princesses that descended on Foggy Bottom like a plague worthy of inclusion into a Passover seder.
If this is how you feel, I can commiserate – I hated CI. However, I learned a valuable lesson. I discovered that everything at GW is inherently neutral. It is how we confront each situation, each person and each day that makes it positive or negative. I had a terrible attitude at CI, and this inherently neutral experience became negative for me. Luckily, there are so many things going on at GW that it is easy to find a few neutral situations that can turn into positives.
Is Thurston a good or bad place to live? Well, it depends on who you are and what you make of it. Of course, some of you will have terrible roommates. Will you waste away in your room wishing you had gotten into HOVA, or will you use the time that you don’t want to spend with your roommate to explore the amazing museums and sights of this beautiful city.
Did you get stuck on “the Vern”? Sure, the daily shuttle commute is less than desirable, but you live in one of the most beautiful parts of the city. Swim in the pool and play Frisbee in the open fields. At least you won’t have to compete for space with the thousand or so students who pack University Yard every time there is even a forecast of a chance of sunshine.
Don’t really like any of the people you met the first few weeks of school? No problem, rush a Greek-letter group. If you end up enjoying rush, you will find friends for a lifetime. Even if you don’t end up joining a fraternity or sorority, at the very least you will enjoy a week of free food and events.
The wisest thing anyone can do at GW is to never take anything at face value. CI should teach you this first and foremost. When you return to campus in the fall you will probably realize that the CI world was a fabricated fantasy land to wow you and your parents and make you feel better about the extra mortgage you had to take out to pay for this education. So now, after this initial shock, take GW for what it really is.
Explore the diversity of the people that surround you in your dorms and your classrooms. Some of the faculty here is first rate, so engage your professors in discussions beyond the classroom. When you find something you really enjoy studying, professors can transcend the student-teacher relationship to become a friend, a guide or a mentor.
The best part about CI for me was that between the laserlight show, the over-caffeinated cabinet members and the lack-luster social events, I fell in love. No, I didn’t meet the girl of my dreams at CI. In fact, I don’t even remember any of the girls I met in my two and a half days of purgatory. My love affair was and still is with this city. Though I enjoyed my trips home throughout freshmen year, each time I took that walk back to Thurston from the Metro stop, suitcase in hand, I looked up at the IMF buildings that formed my neighborhood and I realized that this place truly felt like home.
Don’t forget where you came from, but realize that GW is your new home, at least for a few years. Embrace what it and the city truly have to offer you. Whether or not you enjoy CI, the years ahead have a lot to offer. Take GW for what it is, all things being neutral, and make them positive. It’s up to you to make this next four years the best you’ve had yet.
-The writer, a junior majoring in international affairs, is the Hatchet opinions editor. Ladies, he can be reached at 202-994-1312. Anytime is the right time to call.