10 Things I Learned As a First-Year

Cullen Building Has a Very Tall TowerWhen I applied to Southwestern as a senior in high school I had no idea what I was wanting out of college. In January of 2008 Mr. Monty Curtis interviewed me, and it was because of his persona, of his character, that I quickly became interested in Southwestern, despite my lack of knowledge about a “liberal arts education.” Being a first-year at Southwestern has allowed me to enjoy (or hate) a wide variety of characteristics about SU. Here’s my top 10.

College is about climbing stairs. That’s right, no one ever told me—and this is SU, where no building has any floor higher than three stories up. Still, every day we climb stairs. Pardon the environment, but I love taking the elevator, even though it’s still such a hassle and time-consuming. Being in college is definitely about walking up and down, down and up, up and down flights and flights and many (many) more flights of stairs.

Southwestern students study (pardon the alliteration). Not everybody at college studies, but us Pirates are obsessed with studying. I personally love it. I was and am a huge nerd, and SU is apparently a perfect fit for bookworms.

Teacher-to-student ratios matter. There is nothing more enjoyable in the academic setting than being able to sit in class of under 20 people and discuss philosophic thought, political theory, and the like. Being able to converse, to have discussion, puts a large amount of responsibility on the student, but I’ve seen that it’s very worth the conversation that develops from it.

Professors are people, too. They are here for students: they help us academically, personally, and intellectually. Despite coming from a small high school where teachers were often parents of friends and/or coaches in a very personal setting, the professors here at SU have been more than anyone could ask. They, right or wrong, can overstep their boundaries and help with personal problems, or even just be a friend to you. This is not at all what I expected when I had the stereotypical view of a teacher professing to a 200 person class in a lecture hall.

Parties happen. Everyone knew that SU is a small, protecting environment. It doesn’t have the alcoholic reputation of UT or Texas State. Nevertheless, parties happen at college, no matter which college someone attends. Sure, we only have them on weekends or on Wednesday night study breaks, but I (naively) didn’t think that such an intellectual community would have the atmosphere for parties, drinking, and even drugs that exist here at SU.

Dating is scarce. Most of the students at my 500-person high school were matched up in some relationship form or another. Not at SU. There’s more PDA (public display of affection) in the halls of my high school than in the dorms at SU. It is not very regular that you view a couple walking down the sidewalk holding hands. Perhaps this is because of the offset female-to-male ratio, but nevertheless, I definitely envisioned college to be filled with many more couples than what I’ve seen here at SU.

The Common’s food gets old. Okay, so sure, some of us might have known this coming into SU, but me?—no, not really. I eat pizza every day at the Commons. It gets old. Compared to the limited choice of food in high school, the food at the Commons seemed grand. Nope. Mistaken.

SU is highly religious. I was very appalled to learn how many people here are non-religious, or, at the base, non-Methodist. On paper SU seemed like a private school that just didn’t want to declare itself as a Methodist university, and while most of the people here have been raised religiously at one point or another in their lives, there is a vast amount of non-religious students. I’m okay with that, I just didn’t expect it.

SU is about writing. SU, aside from most of the natural sciences, loves for its students to write essays. Personally I love this, but high school was very caught up in the multiple choice tests and the short answer response. Not SU. We like to write essays here. (Good).

What goes around comes around; Mouthwestern. As stated before, I came from a small town where everyone knew each other and where the Thursday newspaper was too late to catch up on all the gossip. I heard about SU being dubbed “Mouthwestern,” but it’s so true. Professors know about you, students know about you, administration knows about you.
No doubt, my first year at Southwestern has been fascinating. However, there are so many things about Southwestern—or even about college in general, I suppose—that cannot be put down on paper (whether it can’t be captured or whether it’s politically incorrect to write these things is a question to think about).

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