Goeun Park: College opening plenty of doors to opportunity
When I matriculated to a small liberal arts college in sunny SoCal, I didn’t expect I’d be learning the cha-cha.
I also didn’t expect to be knee-deep in Ovid or sorting flies in a periwinkle lab coat or practicing how to longboard at 1 in the morning, all in the first week of school.
It’s only been two weeks since I left Detroit Lakes but it feels like I’ve been away for months. The more I familiarize myself here, the less I can visualize myself back there. Whether I want it to or not, Claremont, Calif., is becoming my second home.
Yet, my expectations for college have aligned poorly with reality. That is to say, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. I’m still not sure.
It’s one thing to shrug off the prestige and privilege that come with an institution like Pomona; it’s a completely different matter to not recognize a 7-Eleven or to never have eaten a burger from In-N-Out. I have a lot of cultural catching up to do.
I should explain why in the world I’m learning cha-cha. During orientation week, one of the deans made a heartfelt case in “exploring academic options” and “pursuing a breadth of interdisciplinary studies.” Since I’m still an easily influenced youngling, I eagerly nodded my head and signed up for Latin Ballroom Dancing, all part of my plan to do college right.
This, of course, turned out to be a fantastic idea — the class not only relieved stress but it justified my frequent visits to the soft-serve ice cream station. (Bless/curse you, unlimited dining plan!) Unfortunately, the poor male leads’ feet probably can’t say they agree with my sentiment.
Already, I’ve met people who I can’t believe I’ve been lived without for the past 18 years. The students I’ve met are wicked smart and even more passionate about causes dear to them. It’s incredibly humbling.
Speaking of super intelligent people, I wish I could quote my roommate, one of the most charming girls I’ve ever met, all the time. Yesterday, she exclaimed, “Do you lack all whimsy?” Today, when I asked her about college, she summed up my thoughts and said, “It doesn’t really feel like college, it feels like we’re at summer camp.”
I’m still not quite sold that I’m a college kid. Perhaps it’s because autumn, the back-to-school season, doesn’t seem to exist here. Early September feels like middle of July.
Nevertheless, I’m determined to become accustomed to college life.
Sharing a gender-neutral bathroom with six other people? No big deal! 95 degrees without a cloud in sight? Been there, done that. Sharing a room with someone I just met? Challenge accepted.
But waking up before 9 a.m.? You can forget about it.
Goeun Park graduated from DLHS and attends college in California.