Dancing embers lick a scientific calculator into oblivion. Lecture clicker plastic melts into a charred “Case In Point”. In the back alley of our poorly insulated, sound-leaking, washing-machine-forsaken piece of… er, I mean, our apartment, Osker and I fuel a roaring bonfire of four year’s worth of undergraduate supplies.
“Welp, literally last examberdong ever,” I chuckle as I heave a stack of problem sets into the inferno. Osker executes his 304 textbook with a proud “CYA!”
Suddenly, Maggie squeezes between us and drops a mysterious object at our feet. In the flickering glow, I can barely make out my old Viterbi freshman orientation folder: its red corners bent and gold lettering faded, but reminiscent nonetheless of my eager introduction to USC.
Immediately, I’m whisked back to splitting the butt seam of my jeans while learning how to long-board, scrambling to BS masteringchemistry assignments before 11:59PM, and getting food poisoning from EVK’s eggs more often than I called mom.
With one nostalgic gesture, Maggie had reminded us that we are once again at an orientation. This time, however, there will be no more curves to a B+, no professors to cut us slack on an overslept final (twice), and most challenging of all, no midafternoon naps.
The curriculum will bring hard truths: the futility of keeping in touch with dozens of acquaintances we were “so close” to & the unending tug of war between between sleep, exercise, and Netflix. It will ask us to unlearn the mindless pursuit of resume-building commitments and shameless hoarding of free food. Actually, not giving up the latter.
Our impact will no longer constrained by 100-point scales or student government funding. Our growth will no longer be guided by antiquated, obscenely priced textbooks. Our wardrobes (fingers crossed) will no longer primarily consist of student org t-shirts and sunglasses from recruiting fairs.
Maggie’s burning message: we’ve not left the classroom, we’ve only just arrived–one with higher stakes and Uber rides we actually have to pay for.