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Jessica Santemma

Jessica on Campus

By Jessica Santemma

they 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.

Physical, Mental, Spiritual Health

formal, by university definition rather than a dictionary, is a semi annual party that all sororities and fraternities plan months in advance.  It brings closure to a semester and promises to end the year with a bang.  The decorations, food, and entertainment are slaved over by our social committees, while the rest of the chapter builds up the excitement by promoting the event to their friends and prospective dates.

Formal, by practice, is held right around the breaking point for many college-aged individuals.  It’s either right before or smack in the middle of finals, just as kids are learning their end of year grades and recognizing what they must do to make deans list or even simply to pass.   Not only is this recognition of just how much work will soon be due coming to life, but everyone in attendance has to find the perfect outfit, date, plans for before and after formal that their date will be comfortable with, and additionally continue to maintain their commitments to Greek life in general (i.e.- running a position and attending various events) and lastly work with various schedules to finalize all group project times.  Ill-fated parents in turn receive desperate phone calls from their children saying that they are so stressed out with everything going on that they don’t have time to do laundry, or, as many kids at GW use a service weekly cleaning service, even bring their laundry downstairs.  It’s an awful cycle, really, and I currently find myself stuck in it; I might fail my statistics class, I have a nauseating amount of test preparation and paper writing to begin, and I looked so fat in a grey formal dress I tried on earlier that had I been by the water someone would have surely thought I was a beached whale and tried to roll me back into the ocean.  To make matters worse, I just hung up on my own mother because her polite words of wisdom didn’t fix any of these things, and I’m sure our conversation won’t begin pleasantly the next time we speak.
In reading what I have written thus far, I cannot help but laugh at my pathetic self – what a drama queen I am!  I have an awesome and easy to please date to formal, just got back good grades on the finals I’ve had thus far, and have a wonderful summer planned ahead of me with a variety of exciting projects.  My clothes fit, so obviously I haven’t gained much weight at all, but when you’re feeling blue everything feels super exaggerated and like the end of the world, and I really shouldn’t be so worried about statistics because I have been doing a lot of work for the class and don’t even know my current grade…perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised!  In fact, if the time that I spent complaining about everything on my plate was spent on things like schoolwork and a trip to the gym, I’d be more productive and less stressed out.

But for now, just venting is enough for me.  I am much more calm and centered than I was when I sat down to write this article, so much so that I even considering calling my mom back because I gave myself a chance to breathe and release my anger and frustration on this article.  In a few minutes I will meet up with my sorority sisters to attend an event with all of GW Greek life, and can’t wait to see my friends.  I’m okay now because I used my writing as an escape to clear my head and balance myself – I did something I enjoyed that I can put my emotion into, which is the best way to center oneself and keep healthy.  Go for a jog, write in a journal, take a nap if you need to when you’re feeling how I was just an hour before.  Or, if you’re a teacher and love it, grade papers – if you’re a lawyer, file a case!  Do whatever makes you happy, because at the end of the day, you are the only person you can be sure to please.

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