Jessica on CampusBy Jessica Santemma
hey say college is the best time of your life, and I’d believe it. I am a freshman in the undergraduate program at The George Washington University and, could not be happier. Everything from the strong programs offered to the intense political excitement; the incredible friends I’ve made to the less than ideal food situation combine to make the GWU experience an intellectual, hilarious, busy and fulfilling one. My dorm, Thurston Hall, is so great and so intimidating. It houses 1,100 freshmen on 9 floors – wow. So many people are in the same place at once but if their doors are closed, they seem close yet far. Many of my friends outside of school have between 30 to 90 kids in their dorms – we have over 100 on each floor. It’s a factory, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Being at college and depending on myself for everything from getting a healthy meal to making a doctor’s appointment (though I admit still calling my Mom to intervene on occasion), I have learned a lot. I went to the same small school from age three to age eighteen, so faculty, students and parents knew each other pretty well. Now I attend a university with over 9,000 undergraduate students and what seems like limitless staff. Professors here don’t know “trivial” personal information that my grade school teachers knew, like that in fifth grade my dog died, my overall grades or social reputation. It’s the same way with the entire student body here at GW – everyone has a clean slate. You can be exactly who you want to be, be involved in exactly what you want to be involved in. It’s a very refreshing feeling that can be applied to any new experience, whether a new job, relationship, friendship or address and town. That experiences are precisely what you make of them. These changes, and by extension life, is all about pursuing your dreams, trying new things and practicing at them. We can fail and succeed at life, and take advantage of our surroundings and opportunities. That’s a beautiful thing.
Inauguration Story – Cake in my Face
hile Washington, DC is an incredibly exciting city to begin with, particularly this year has been amazing with the election of the first African-American US President, Barack Obama. GW’s campus is within the security perimeter of the White House and the National Mall, just three blocks from the White House and Washington Monument. Army tanks blocked off our streets during inauguration weekend. It was a little freaky to see such vehicles right outside our windows, and so thrilling to hear the hoards of people walking to the celebratory concert the Sunday before Obama was inaugurated and, to the actual inauguration all hours of the day and night. My friends and I made a point of attending as much as we could to celebrate such a momentous occasion. My Mom came to visit for the GW inaugural ball and actual inauguration. Now, although many youth and students are generally linked to voting for Obama, I am a registered Independent and voted for McCain because of my strong opposition to Universalized Health Care. To be honest, I’m not sure what I would have felt had McCain been elected, but I can guarantee that the Inaugural weekend would not have been nearly as exciting, no offense John. So many students and hopeful democrats felt that they had space to breathe at last, and even I couldn’t help but feel exhilarated by the excitement of it all.
Those who voted for McCain made themselves scarce until Election Day, and were pretty much only identifiable in front of the White House that night as wearing red shirts and not smiling. Everyone who had any remotely strong political opinion was not afraid to share it. On my way to my dorm room that night, I found myself face to face with two guys, presumably freshmen. One was holding a cake as if his arm were a slingshot and the food a projectile. I was standing a few feet away from my door and we were the only people in the hallway, so I smiled at them, feeling friendly from all the socialization of the occasion. “Who’d you vote for?” the guy with the cake asked. “Why?” I answered. At this point I knew better than to try to stand up for myself because I had realized that I didn’t know truly know enough about either candidate’s campaign to legitimately argue my selection – and he repeated his question.
“I won’t tell you who I voted for unless you tell me why you’re asking!” I said playfully, still smiling. “Because if you voted for McCain, I’m going to throw this cake in your face.” He replied. I turned and ran to my door, not wanting to lie and say I chose Obama, or be frosted and say I chose McCain. And he wasn’t kidding – SMACK!!! – I heard the sound of the cake and plate smash against the wall from the safety of my room. I waited until I heard the elevator BING, open and close, and silence in the hallway. I opened the door and saw the icing and top layer of the cake still stuck to the wall, the remaining layers and plate on the floor, and sprinkles scattered everywhere. The hall was a disaster that night, as roughly 900 first time voters were partying to celebrate what they had helped accomplish, and housekeeping must have overlooked the cake on the wall incident because it’s still there. Yes, frosting, cake bits, and granulated sugar particles, have been stuck outside my door since November 4th, 2008. I wonder if it will ever be taken down!
Maintenance came with a cement pick to scratch at the mess from time to time, though they seem to have given up. I’d pass them in the hallway and listen to them marvel over just “what the hell…(frustration and exhales)…this…(more groaning)…ew...could be,” but I was always afraid they’d think it was me who threw it. It is stories like these that make the college years so much fun – the ridiculous tales that really only make sense to those living it with decreased sanity as a result of socializing too much, sleeping too little and insane amounts of reading.