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Teaching new dogs old tricks

September 6th, 2012

Four years and seven days ago, a chipper, young lad walked timidly (but excitedly) to his first day of classes at John Carroll University. Although nervous, he decided to tackle the whole “college” thing with an open mind and see where that got him.

It worked.

If you haven’t guessed, that dapper chap was yours truly. Needless to say, I’ve come a long way since then, and picked up a thing or two along the way.

So here’s your Bayer-Exclusive Starter’s Guide to College:

Tip one: Raise your hand, and open your mind.

My grandpa once said to me, “Brian, always, always volunteer.”

He proceeded to tell me that in the 1950s, his C.O. in the Marines gave him the same advice. Several months later, right before his crew boarded the bus to head to Korea, a lieutenant came into the room and requested four volunteers to go to another destination (details withheld); naturally, good old Papa raised his hand to volunteer, without any knowledge of this new assignment – he and three others spent the next four years in air conditioned barracks in Panama safely fixing weapons, while the rest of their platoon fought in Korea.

Although no one at JCU is trying to send you to war, the advice holds true. College is a time of tremendous opportunity, and you really never know where raising your hand might take you. For me, among many other amazing experiences, I was able to go on two separate trips to El Salvador and explore a beautiful part of the world that I didn’t even know existed.

Keep an open mind, and always volunteer.

Tip two: Own your body.

It’s true – your body is a sanctuary. But it’s a sanctuary where you can throw the wildest parties and have a rockin’ good time. So let’s break this tip into two fun and easy categories: Eating and Sex.

If you want to go to the cafeteria and eat soft serve for breakfast, lunch and dinner, go for it. You’ll probably get fat. Fortunately, a lot of people feel that big is beautiful, so pour some hot fudge on your ice cream and find yourself a lover.

If you don’t want to pack on the “Freshman 15,” many college students discover the majesty of exercise. Granted, exercise hurts; but there’s no greater reward than looking in the mirror after a session of power yoga, elliptical-ing or pumping iron and seeing your new, hot Greek god bod.

And, of course, there’s the famous “college hookup.” It’s Thursday night, you’re down at Coventry dougie-ing the night away, when suddenly that cute girl or guy from FYS is dancing with you. Cabbie D pulls up at the end of the night, and, by some miracle of college life, you end up in his or her room. What next?

Sex is a fact in college – and it can happen to you. Cheers. But, you should never do something with your body that you or your partner feels uncomfortable with. Just because it can happen, doesn’t mean it has to.

You should know what you are comfortable doing with your body and stick to that. Ladies, if you never want more than a kiss on the hand, don’t feel pressured to go beyond that. And gents, if all you want is a warm hug at the end of the night, don’t think you need to fulfill some stereotyped college quota of bedroom machismo.

Tip three: Boozing vs. losing.

Just like no one will stop you from binging on frozen yogurt for all your meals, no one is really stopping you from drinking either. Want a beer? Have one. Want 32 beers? Enjoy (the hospital, as they pump your stomach).

If you don’t want to drink, your true friends won’t pressure you. And more power to you for having the confidence to enjoy your nights without the nectar of the gods.

If you do want to drink, go ahead and have some good, old-fashioned, responsible fun.

The most important thing is to know what happens when you drink, know your limit and don’t be stupid. Alcohol is one of those things that could either make your night really fun, legitimately kill you or anything and everything between.

Moral – Be smart, have fun, don’t die.

Tip four: Let it happen.

College is life unabridged, and it really only comes once. If you’re a freshman, seize the next four years to define who you are. There’s no better place than John Carroll to learn how to “set the world on fire.”

Sophomores and juniors, you know the ropes. The time is yours to grow. Grow as a friend; grow as a student; grow as a leader; and grow as a person for others (go Jesuit or go home, right?).

And seniors – let’s do this thing!