The Swatties.

July 28, 2008

These last two days have been hugely wonderful. Yes, mainly because of the George Michael concert. However, I have also had the opportunity to talk to some of my soon-to-be classmates. The overall message has been the same, that Swat is an awesome place, and I don’t need to be so stressed.

It was just so nice to finally get to talk to some of the people I’ll be spending years around. One of the three I talked to, Dina, is in my class, which is pretty cool. The others, Anna and Esther are my CA’s for orientation, both transfers. My entire orientation group is full of transfers, I’m one of eighteen as it turns out. I think that’s a record number of transfer students admitted. Everyone I’ve talked to seems like a lot of fun, and they’ve all told me to just forget about the math placement test, which is a HUGE relief. It’s amazing what a difference hearing from classmates can make. I’m planning on Facebook searching the rest of the transfers, and seing how their Swat experience has been so far this summer.

And just for the record, I’m way more excited and apprehensive (in a good way) than stressed! I don’t want to come off as neurotic and way too uptight, I just inevitably write more when things are stressful. 🙂

Anyway, I’m going to bid this entry goodnight before my laptop dies.

A very good night to you,
The Transfer Student

Side note – yesterday morning, I awoke to a face full of blood because I dreamt I was the Joker, and pulled out my nose ring with the strength of an ox to show that I could do crazy things without getting hurt? Yeah…turns out I’m not the Joker, it hurt a lot, and I’ll have to get it re-pierced. Goody.

So I just got back from a George Michael concert in Philly.

As in THE George Michael, the man, the legend, that awesome guy that hasn’t toured in 20 years.

It was pretty much amazing, and if you weren’t there, you should be insanely jealous of me. The only way the night could have been any better would have been if he had performed the Wham! Rap.

So anyway…this has absolutely nothing to do with my college experience, I just wanted a public forum in which to brag about how much more awesome my parents and I are. What did you do with your parents this Saturday? 😉

Anyway…this was a really mean blog to all you unfortunate souls that didn’t get to experience what I just did, so I’ll leave you with this:

Cheers!
The Transfer Student

The Famous Frustration.

July 24, 2008

As anyone who has ever heard of Swarthmore knows, the classes are hard, the coursework is harder, and the years you spend there are a blur of nearly constant, frenzied attempts to claw your way to the top of an ever steepening slope of grades.

I haven’t even arrived on campus yet, and I’m already feeling frustrated.

Included in the Swarthmore mailing I discussed in my previous blog was the math placement test. Well, this test is nearly all calculus! And I have never taken calculus! The last math class I took was precalculus over a year ago, and I have successfully blocked all memories of that trauma from my mind. Now I am torn between trying to teach myself calculus in order to take this placement test, and not taking the math placement test so that I can be taught calculus by a professional.

And then, yesterday, I receieved a brief, one-page letter from the Dean’s office. It stated that they were concerned with my decline in academic performance during my second semester, and expect me to come to Swarthmore with renewed vigor. Let me clarify this “decline” in performance: first semester, I took the maximum courseload available and got straight A’s. Second semester, I received special permission to take more than the maximum courseload available, and got three B’s and two A’s. Meanwhile, I was volunteering after class as a literacy tutor, and living on my own 3,000 miles from where I grew up. My cumulative GPA for my freshman year was 3.7. I don’t really consider that a significant decline to warrant a letter.

So not only with Swarthmore deliver on their promise to take up all of my time this school year, they have successfully rendered the rest of my summer impossible to enjoy.

Is it weird that I feel like more of a Swattie now?

Screaming, frustrated, and still yours,
The Transfer Student

I’ve gotten in the habit of checking my Swarthmore email, even though at this stage in the game, there has been naught to really find. Today, however, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had gotten an “Academic Mailing” from Swarthmore.

The letter opens with, “Dear Class of 2012,” as about half of my mailings from Swat are. The other half of the things I get have salutations reading, “Dear Returning Students”. I get about twice the amount of Swat mail as any other current student I think. It’s indicative of the entire transfer student experience at Swat, I think. According to everyone I’ve talked to amongst my dad’s Swat friends, there were about two transfers their sophomore year, and none past that. I know the program has been expanded, but the less than twenty transfers per year make it a very surreal, strange experience. I have much less of an idea of what to expect than the class of 2012, or the returning students. It’s almost as if I have to read all the mail I get from both sides of the fence, and some kind of middle to reside in.

But anyway, according to the email, I can now get my phone number, take the math placement test (oh joy!), set up my Blackboard account, and soon take other placement tests.

Apparently, I’ll find out about my housing and roommate very soon…I’m hoping that they’re not withholding that information because I haven’t gotten my medical forms in…that would definitely suck.

In Bel Air news, I’m about to go out with Jess to see my friend Kaytee. We became really good friends when she was a senior and I was a junior, but obviously I haven’t seen her very much since the move to Portland. Being broke is kind of a drag right now, because I’m not sure how many times I can invite people over to my parents’ house without seeming like I have agoraphobia. So I still haven’t seen bunch of people from home, but hopefully I will before I leave for Swat. I’m also taking Jess and Chad sometime this week, I can’t wait for them to see how beautiful the campus is.

Yours,
The Transfer Student

The Summer…So Far.

July 21, 2008

The summer so far has been hot, humid, and largely fruitless. It’s hard to believe that I’ve only been back in town for two weeks. My time home feels like an endless chasm of painstakingly filled out restaurant applications,  only to be handed off to someone who says, “Actually, at this time, we just hired four servers, but if you come back in August, we should be hiring again.”

I’ve never had to look this hard for a job before. I got my job of two years’ on the spot, and Friendly’s was always a place I could go back to for some fast cash. But things were bad before I went back to Portland in May. People were not tipping, generally irritable, and there were always eight servers on the (very small) floor. Besides, I’ve always been determined not to be one of those people that becomes old enough to work in a “real” restaurant (i.e., outside of the Harford Mall and serving alcohol) and yet goes back to Friendly’s instead. Well you know what they, well I, say…pride over poverty.

Besides failing to get a job, I have been seeing friends and family, which is nice, and putting myself on a diet and exercise regimen, which is not. I’ll detail the former, and more pleasant of the two first.

I’ve spent most of my time with Jess, my best friend since the fifth grade. Right now, her husband is in Afghanistan, and with me having been gone for eight months (and about to leave again), we’ve been soaking up as much time together as possible. I’ve also been able to see my two best friends from high school, Rachel and Kayla. Kayla is also transferring to another college this year, after being accepted to and subsequently hating her dream school, Loyola College in Baltimore. So next year, she will be a sophomore transfer student at American University, a great school in DC that I was seriously considering before I heard from Swat. Rachel commutes to the College-Formerly-Known-as-Villa-Julie, which is putting her right on track for her dream of becoming an elementary school teacher. I have to admit, I’m a little jealous of her. She seems to be the only one of my friends that didn’t have an absolutely horrendous time at “real college” her first year, and one of the only people I know that have any clue what she wants to do. My conversations with people usually go something like this:

Conversationalist: So where are you going to school?
Me: Um, well I spent last year at a community college in Portland, OR, and this year I’m transferring into Swarthmore.
Conversationalist: Oh yeah? Where is that, what’s your major?
Me: It’s right outside Philly…it’s a good school…um, political science as of now.
Conversationalist: Wow, that’s great! Political science, you gonna go into politics?
Me: NO, well, I don’t know uh, maybe law school, I don’t, excuse me.

I had the pleasure of having that discussion with at least ten people on Friday, at my mom’s book release party. Thursday marked the publication of her first novel, which I am SO excited and proud of her for. And may I just point out to anyone that stumbles across this, it is available as an eBook here.

And onto…the diet. While I am not a heavy person, I am the heaviest I’ve ever been. Plus, I would like to be a little healthier. So I am on a quest to lose a little weight, and get into the habit of exercising. Hopefully, by August it will be enough of a habit that I can keep it up even when I go back to school.

This weekend was probably the most fun I’ve had this summer, the east coast part of it anyway. On Saturday, following the previous night’s book party, Kayla and I traipsed into Philadelphia to vist her sister and get a new cell phone for Kayla. On the way back, the exit for Swarthmore, that big, bold, exit 3, was too much for us to resist. So we went to the campus, parked, walked around, and looked at…well actually, we have no idea what we looked at, but we did see a lot. Even walking around on the campus didn’t really make it real to me. I’m not sure when it will become real to me, probably somewhere around the second week when I rip out enormous clumps of my hair and run screaming across Parrish beach because the sheer workload has finally broken my fragile spirit. While it may have still been a surreal experience, trekking across the various paths through my home for the next three years, it was a great experience. I couldn’t wipe the huge, goofy grin off of my face.

On a complete side note, yesterday I went with my parents, boyfriend, and best friend to see The Dark Knight. It was, as everyone in the free world knows by now, incredible. I was, however, incredibly saddened by Heath Ledger’s extremely untimely demise. The night before, I had watched 10 Things I Hate About You with a group of my friends. I have been in love with that movie and Patrick Verona (Ledger) for nearly a decade. A lot of critics and moviegoers seemed shocked that Ledger put on such an amazing performance. I, however, have never seen a Ledger role I didn’t like. I can be accused of having a soft spot for him, having been exposed to him at age nine when I was very impressionable, but all I know is that the world lost an incredibly gifted actor this year.

That’s about it for all the updates. I really do have to get all my Swat forms in soon, I’m just waiting for my physical, having accidentally missed my appointment today.

I wish I could find just one other, single, solitary transfer student in my class on Facebook.

Until then,
The Transfer Student