‘Cafeteria food does not normally include a sushi bar’
As we embark on new adventures and exciting post-graduate plans, we will encounter both pleasant and harsh realities of the “real world.” For four years, we have lived under the shelter of the “Wash U bubble,” often not cognizant of the world around us or easily avoiding confrontation with worldly issues. This is not dismissing the fact that many of our peers have served the St. Louis community in profound and meaningful ways. Rather, it is simply acknowledging that at the end of the day, we can all return to our relatively comfortable lives within the walls of Washington University. Although it may be difficult, here are a few realities we must face:
Every multi-million dollar building complex cannot be completed in two months. Washington University starts construction projects at the frequency that most campuses cut their lawns. None of us can remember a day when there wasn’t at least one ten-foot wall on campus encircling our latest addition-the Knight Center, Small Group Housing, Lab Sciences Building, Whitaker Hall, and Olin Library Renovations, just to name a few. And if you don’t take careful notice of your surroundings on campus, a building will rise before you know it (have you seen the new building on the corner of Skinker and Forest Park?). More often than not, you’ll find that outside the walls of our campus, construction projects may proceed painstakingly slow and WU’s back-breaking pace simply parallels our ascent up the U.S. News & World Report rankings.
Cafeteria food does not normally include a sushi bar.
Like all college students, we have voiced our fair share of complaints concerning food on campus. Have you eaten at another campus or general cafeteria? The truth is, our food is ranked number one in the nation for a reason. While common cafeteria options include mac and cheese, mystery meats, and overcooked spinach, we feast on salmon salad sandwiches, paninis, a salad bar with three types of lettuce/mixed greens, and made-to-order omelets. If you don’t appreciate it now, just wait until your freezer is stocked with Budget Gourmet and Michalena’s.
There is no “free” parking ticket.
I don’t own a car, yet even I have taken advantage of the “free” parking ticket the Transportation Department grants for your first parking violation. If you are able to elude the ticketing enforcers for the remainder of the year, the first ticket magically disappears. However, if you aren’t so lucky, you must pay for your subsequent tickets as well as the first one. While this policy has been beneficial for many during the last four years, if you receive a parking ticket outside the jurisdiction of the Washington University Transportation Department, you must pay it or take legal action to challenge it. Otherwise, as a few of my friends have learned through experience, ignoring parking tickets may result in fines exceeding $200 (for a $5 ticket!) or even arrest warrants. (Note: You also cannot charge your fines to your student billing account).
The density of amazing people at WU far exceeds the national average.
I spent last summer in Washington, D.C., among the thousands of interns. Although it was not difficult to find individuals with impressive râ€šsumâ€šs, it was far more arduous to meet people I wanted to befriend. My internship and residence kept me surrounded by a disproportionate number of lawyers and lawyer-wannabes, but it was then that I realized how unique the WU community is. Strangers hold doors open and smile in passing. People intellectually debate the war in Iraq one minute and play an intense game of Beirut the next. We compete with ourselves rather than one another. Unlike the previously stated realities, this notion is difficult to quantify because it is a connection that must be felt rather than simply observed. On this campus I have found the most incredible friends. People who challenge me to be grow and question who I am. Friends who remind me how to laugh and smile when I forget, forgive when I err, and defend me when I am wronged. These individuals have shaped how I see the world, and as we leave, I will miss the shelter of their friendships. Yet, wherever I go, I will always carry the spirit of their love, generosity, and kindness. I am already aware of how rare these friendships are, and unlike buildings, food, and parking tickets, they are a part of me that I can never leave behind.
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