Student Experience Blog

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5 Things I've Learned in the Past 5 Days

One of the many benefits of a liberal arts education is how well rounded of an individual you become. As I'm sure most readers know by now, the PEAK program is unique even among liberal arts institutions; not only are students undertaking a major course of study, they are also enrolled in three minors, all of which are in different fields. Take me as a frame of reference--I'm a proud Creative Writing major, but I'm also studying Human Biology, History and Interactive Journalism, and all of these go together way better than you'd think.

And aside from the academic side of things, there's no better time in life to gather life experiences than in college. In the week since I've returned from Spring Break, I've learned tons of stuff in both academia and the real world, and I'm pretty sure it would have taken me a lot longer to learn these things if I hadn't decided to enroll in college in the first place.

Here are just five of the many things I've learned in the past few days alone, in no particular order:

1. The unofficial national anthem of Australia is, appropriately enough, about a criminal.

The choral program just received new music last week, which we're going to be performing at the end of the semester in one of our biggest concerts of the year, the "World of Song" program. Just as our Feast of Carols is a huge production in December, World of Song is a pretty big deal in May, as every choir sings pieces outside of the fancy pants western tradition. This year, we're preparing folk songs from all around the world, including a traditional Japanese piece, a unique Cherokee tribal chant, an African processional, and the afforementioned unofficial Australian anthem, among other tunes.

Officially, Australia's national anthem is "God Save the Queen", but unofficially it's "Waltzing Matilda." It's an old folk tune that pretty much every Australian hears during Australian Day, and if you know anything about how Australia came together as a country, it's easy to see why.

2. Plumbing is something never to be taken for granted.

The Delt Haus has been having some major plumbing issues for the past week. Our pipes that lead to the main line aren't really that great. If I remember what the last plumber I talked to said, I guess our pipe is being crushed by some old tree roots underground, which makes it a lot easier for the pipes to be clogged and for flooding to occur. Usually we're pretty good about clearing the pipes regularly and making sure everything drains adequately, but we've had especially bad issues over the past couple of weeks. First our basement suddenly began flooding for little reason over Spring Break, and then last Tuesday it began to flood again even after we had cleared our pipes manually (which isn't a pleasant job, as you might imagine).

While we have a professional coming in at some point this next week and we've contained any major flooding, the residents of the Haus are currently on major water lockdown. Absolutely no flushing of toilets, discouragement of using sinks, "Navy showers" that can only last about 15-30 seconds...all of these things are necessary so that the guys who live downstairs don't have to canoe their way to class every morning. This is definitely a case of not knowing what you have until it's gone. Do you have any idea how annoying it is to have to cross the street late at night to find a working toilet? It's not very ideal. Hopefully everything gets fixed sooner rather than later.

3. Room Draw is actually a painless process.

Until this year, I've never had to attend Room Draw myself. Room Draw, or the assignment of on-campus housing for the next year, is often spoken of in hushed, worried tones, since some parts of Room Draw are ultimately down to luck. Every student who wants to live on campus is assigned a number based on how many semesters they've been a student at the college--older students get lower numbers, and thus can choose their rooms before the underclassmen. Naturally, some dorm choices are more popular than others, particuarly The Village apartments, Ketchup and Mustard, that are basically the Beverly Hills of campus housing. Having a high number means you might not get the room you wanted, which means you'll need to scramble to find a Plan B.

I've never actually attended Room Draw myself, since my freshman dorm was assigned to me in a separate process and someone else signed me up for my sophomore dorm (lower number students can sign up both themselves and their roommates, meaning only the student with the lowest number of the pair/group needs to actually be at Room Draw). This year, of course, I've been living in the Delt Haus and didn't need to go through Room Draw to do so. But a few weeks ago, another Delt brother of mine, Jonathan, approached me and asked if I'd want to try and get into The Village with him for our senior year As great as the Haus is, I couldn't deny how great of a living environment The Village is, so I signed up for Room Draw with the hope I'd get a low enough number to get one of the apartments. My number was lower than Jonathan's, so I went to Room Draw expecting things to be crazy, based on all the horror stories I had heard of process, but it really was quite simple. It was a matter of waiting for your number to be called, talking with the ResLife staff about your choice, seeing if there was still room for that choice, and then choosing a meal plan. I expected to have to jump through flaming hoops while juggling chainsaws, but it was actually pretty calm.

For the record, I managed to get the very last Village Apartment. One number later, and I'd be living in the Haus for another year. Jonathan and I seriously lucked out.

4. A huge number of 20th century American writers were alcoholics.

I just finished a research project for my literature seminar on Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner, primarily about Faulkner's problems with alcohol and all the trouble it caused for him. I won't talk through my entire report here, but Faulkner really had a problem. A third-generation alcoholic, Faulkner didn't consider his abuse as an illness, but instead unapologetically embraced it as a way of life, notoriously going on lengthy binges after finishing major projects (and sometimes casually sipping a hot toddy or mint julep as he wrote through his manuscripts). Faulkner wasn't the only writer of his generation to have such problems - Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald also had struggles with it - but Faulkner was the most open about it, and his is the best documented.

These men wrote masterpieces like As I Lay Dying, The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises, and The Great Gatsby, and they were able to do it even as they drank themselves into deeper and deeper holes. If men like that can produce work like that drunk, surely there's hope for young, sober writers like myself to replicate that success.

5. Sorority sisters are naturally predisposed to being awesome at Ultimate Frisbee.

One of the things Greek organizations love doing is getting together and doing some fun activities, and last Thursday, the men of Delta Tau Delta and the ladies of Kappa Alpha Theta decided to play a friendly game of Ultimate Frisbee at Hayman Field. Trust me, even though the teams were made up of both genders, it was the women who were making all the crazy plays. Maybe it's just because I'm super out of shape, but I could not for the life of me get downfield fast enough to stop the other side from getting points--the girls were just connecting too quickly for me to do much.

In any case, we took a fun picture afterwards, and followed it up with a feast of watermelon and cheesecake, which is the best combination of foods since peanut butter met jelly.

So yeah, now that it's Sunday, it's another week to learn more stuff. Here's to valuable lessons!

-Clayton Gefre

Clayton is a junior creative writing major from Meridian, Idaho.