Madison: “Anticipation, Anxiety, & Varsity Blues”

My two days at #UWSOAR created a mixture of feelings for me, as I would be beginning the next chapter of my life: college. SOAR brought me the excitement for new opportunities that college would provide, and I was even more excited for my classes. I love school and even enjoy doing homework; the organization of tasks which needed to be done and the completion of them was something I found gratifying throughout my four years of high school. Therefore, when it was time for us to pick classes, I was definitely happy. On the first day of meeting with the College of Letters and Science honors group, I worked with an advisor to figure out what courses I should be taking to work towards my majors of interest–biochemistry and microbiology. I found this particularly helpful, as I was able to figure out where the courses I take this upcoming semester would bring me in my academic future.

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As I looked through the course guide on the first day of SOAR, I thought the diversity of courses available was incredible. While I’m almost certain that I will be double majoring in biochemistry and microbiology, the overlap between the courses required for both majors, makes it possible for me to study another subject I am interested in: anthropology. At the end of the first day’s scheduling session, we were told not to worry–or even think about–our schedule until we were going to be creating them the next day. As much as I wanted to follow that request, I couldn’t. That night I was anxiously planning, making lists of the courses I needed to take, courses I would like to take, and the number of credits I would be receiving for those courses. I knew I would be taking chemistry and math first semester, and, keeping in mind that I needed to fulfill the honors requirement by earning honors credit, I settled on Honors Introduction to Psychology. Later in the summer–after my SOAR session–I added General Anthropology to my schedule, which I’m taking for honors credits. While my academic advisors did not ask that we plan so far ahead, I already arranged what classes I wanted to take second semester. Even now I’m looking through the course guide, geeking out over classes I’ll be taking in the future, such as biology classes relating to oncology, genetics, and immunology. The Anthropology Department should know that I was ecstatic to find courses which peaked my interests, but was devastated to learn that the most recent semester “Seminar in Forensic Anthropology” was taught, was in the fall of 1996.

Some may say that I’m “jumping the gun”, but planning for my future has helped to ease my nerves of uncertainty. I liked to stay prepared and have a route where I know–to an extent–what is up ahead. SOAR really made me realize that I would be going to college in just a few months. Picking out courses and finalizing my schedule forced me to recognize that I will be on the UW-Madison campus in just a short while. For a while, the thought of going to college was pushed to the back of my mind; I couldn’t grasp it. But now, as I’m looking at my first semester schedule, I realize that I will be moving into my dorm and starting off the school year in a month with Class Act orientation. I am filled with both excitement and anxiety.

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Another memorable moment of SOAR was the cultural tour which reminded me how UW-Madison, like other campuses nationwide, was built upon and molded out of violence and racism. The events throughout the history of our campus were equally saddening and disturbing: a flawed Vietnam protest which killed a researcher, a tribe of Blackhawk Native Americans forced to retreat while students attend classes nearby (the “victory” commemorated with a plaque still present on campus), a university president who doubled as a member of the KKK, ignorant students who, while sitting on land forcibly taken from Native Americans, decided to take a Native American ritual and claimed it as their own, creating an unnecessary campus tradition. It was disheartening to learn of the hate and ignorance which occurred at this university, but recognition of these acts has inspired me to be a positive force on campus.

Earlier that day, I attended the research fair, grabbing fliers and brochures from the pre-health advising booth and the campus rec. programs table. I signed up to receive volunteer information from the Dane County Rape Crisis Center booth. The fair not only provided me with an idea of how many advising offices and help center there are on campus, but (just like scheduling my courses had) allowed me to recognize how close the school year was to starting. There were solemn moments which gave me the same realization; talks about alcohol and assault on campus, a parent’s inquiry as the tour guide led a group of us back to Smith at night.  They asked how well lit the walkways were around campus, and if there was any area that had no light at all.

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Overall, though, the moment which really brought me insight to the college experience was the dreaded singing of “Varsity.” With my arms around the shoulders of my brother on one side and a stranger on the other, the song spoke to the college experience. There will be things we don’t want to do (like singing while having our personal space bubble invaded). No matter how badly we don’t want to do these things, we will push ourselves to ensure we don’t go through the rest of our lives without the experience. Personally, I feel that way when it comes to the Badger games. Besides the fact that tickets are expensive, I’ve never been a fan of large crowds and loud noises. In fact, I’m actually looking forward to Saturdays when the dorm is silent and everyone else is at Camp Randall. That way I can study peacefully. However, incase I end up regretting my introverted decision later in life, I would like to go to a game some day. Perhaps next year…or junior year…maybe senior year.

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