22 August 2011

Got to love the First Day

I love the first day back at school!  All of a sudden campus is crawling with students again.  The freshmen are all stumbling around trying to figure out how to get to their brand-new college classes, the seniors are already showing up all jaded in pajamas like they couldn’t be asked, the grad students are trying to figure out whether to bother even printing the syllabus.  It’s a day full of adorable blunders and maddening accidental breaches of etiquette, and I can’t decide whether to stay indoors and weather the storm or go out on every class break just to enjoy the show.

I’ve seen nine First Days now at this university and they never change.  It’s so nostalgic.  Kids come by and try opening our lab’s key-locked door, and I’m reminded to go write the sign explaining that classroom ###-B is that-a-way around the corner.  11:35 rolls around and I panic and run out to grab a lunch before the classroom floodgates open for a nightmarishly crowded lunch break at the student union (it’s the only food the freshmen apparently know about).  The gym is off-limits this whole first week until the undergrads settle into their schedules and realize 3:00 is not an appropriate exercise time for them.  There’s no point at all to trying to bike around in the ten minutes before every hour, not when skateboarders and pedestrians have no idea yet where their right-of-way ends and the bike lane begins (come to think of it, I don’t see as many rollerblades around of late – has an era finally come to an end?). 

All around me I see kids sitting in hallways waiting for classes to start and I remember my first year here, little eighteen-year-old Kaitlin sitting anxiously in the hallway of the social sciences building trying awkwardly to figure out what to do with herself during the break between 9:00 and 9:50.  I hear them asking each other questions – where is this or that building, when is your lunch break, where do you go for good coffee – and I can practically hear myself trying to start up those same meet-and-greet conversations that for me never ended up going anywhere.  I miss my fellow first-year grad student, who showed up so cheery-faced in my first class of graduate school and with whom I shared all of my first grad school memories.  I happily fail to envy the other students in my lab, who’ve not yet moved beyond class-taking and have to run off with lunch in hand to sit through a four-hour lecture.

This ninth year is the last year for me, and I’m going to miss all of this First Day at College ridiculousness.  It’s been fun.  But THANK GOD I’m getting the hell out of here before I make it to ten.

UPDATE: I made it to ten.  Thank you, data collection setbacks.  Ten was the same as the rest, except that the incomers looked like children.


  1. Amen to that! Well put. P.S. You are inspiring me to use up my tiny bit of free time to write again.

    From the guy that was, technically, your first facebook fan,

  2. Ah yes, the first day...Apparently it is exactly the same all around the world. I have only seen six so far and there's still many more to come I wager. I'll let you know how I feel when I get to nine as well.