Life

The Colby Chronicles

Intro

This is part 2 of my college stories. Part 2 is all about one guy that I met at college, who I will call Colby, and all the awkward interactions I had with him. Just so you know, I decided to use fake names for everyone involved. Hopefully these stories are as entertaining for you as they are for me in retrospect.

The Motorcycle Story

I met Colby by accident, when I walked into my first ever class at college. I wasn’t sure if I was in the right room. It turns out he was just leaving at the end of a different class, so when I asked him if this was the right room for my class he didn’t know. Boring interaction. It should have ended there.

But I met him again, in the cafeteria, where he suggested I was stalking him because he saw me everywhere. Not the best way to start a conversation. We exchanged names and chatted briefly before parting ways again. So far so good, relatively commonplace conversation that was going nowhere.

The third time I met Colby was a different story. I was sitting alone at MAP cafeteria and he asked if he could join me. I said sure, why not. I’m shy but I don’t mind unexpected company. And what could go wrong? I didn’t know at the time this guy was a creep.

We engaged in small talk about classes and our differing religious denominations. (At my college, religious topics could end up being heated discussions, especially in this case since he was Protestant and I was Catholic, but we were both pretty chill.) Then he started talking about his motorcycle.

Now, I don’t care much about vehicles, so I was far from impressed that this guy had a pretty motorcycle. Meh.

Then he asked me if I wanted a ride on his motorcycle, and I said no, because I knew almost nothing about this guy and wouldn’t have wanted a motorcycle ride even if he was my best friend.

He continued to suggest we go on a motorcycle ride. He explained that he had once had a friend who was very shy like me, and that she had ridden his motorcycle and loved it. I declined again and again with decreasing politeness until he gave up.

After dinner, I had to go to Rathburn for a meeting, and he asked to escort me. He had no idea where Rathburn was, and I had a sense of humor, so I said sure. Unbenownst to him, Rathburn was the building right beside the cafeteria where we were, so all we did was walk outside and I was there.

The motorcycle nonsense didn’t end there. It turns out my mom knew a friend of his mom. They got to talking, and my mom found out that Colby doesn’t even have a motorcycle. I was more wary of him after that. I don’t know what he would have done if I said yes, and I don’t like to think of what could’ve happened. All I can say is, I’m glad I trusted my instincts.

The Cafeteria Story

Colby had a habit of asking to eat with me and my roommate Afina any time he saw us in the cafeteria. We attempted to avoid him after the whole motorcycle fiasco but were rarely successful.

Colby always wore this leather jacket, and one day he used it to smuggle food out of the cafeteria for his sick roommate. (This was before the pandemic, before there was takeout as an option.) He had asked to eat with us, and told us about what he had done. He had hidden napkins full of onion rings in his jacket, and for condiments had sucked ketchup up straws and bent the tops and hid those in his jacket too.

During the same lunch, he berated Afina for having an unhealthy salad. It was a salad that had hamburger in it, but she just shrugged and said she hadn’t meant for it to be healthy.

The Seduction Story

This one is Afina’s Colby story. She was in the cafeteria, and Colby sidled up to her and asked her if her hair was naturally curly. She explained that it was, especially if she had braided it beforehand.

Colby proceeded to ask her where she lived, and she said MEP. She politely asked where he lived and he listed off one of the men’s dorms and asked if she had ever been there. When she said no, he was astonished.

“What, are you saying you never go there to seduce the men?”

Needless to say, Afina tried to end that conversation quickly.

The Ice Cream Story

One time Colby asked my roommate Afina if he and his three friends could join us in our booth. We were in the line for icecream, and Afina just shrugged and said “Paige is the boss.”

Colby came up to me, and asked again. Now these booths are meant for four people max, and him and his friends plus us would be six people. There was no way I was going to let that happen.

Without looking up from scooping my ice cream, I said no firmly and ignored him until he walked away.

The Notoriety Story

One time I was eating with a group of four girls I did not know well. We got to talking about our strange experiences with a certain guy on campus. Twenty minutes into the conversation we realized we were all talking about the same guy–Colby, and that we all had experienced his flirting and strange behavior. It was certainly a revelation and we got a good laugh out of it. The girls all decided I was his favorite because he didn’t argue much with me. Lucky me.

Conclusion

Those are some of the most memorable moments I’ve had at Grove City College, even if they are not great memories. Whether Colby was holding the door open for thirty people or trying to hack the scheduling system for courses, he always made an impression. After sophomore year I never saw him again, so I assumed he transferred or quit. I’ll never know what happened, but I don’t mind.

Feel free to share your college stories in the comments!

Life

Stories From My College Years

Intro

On May 15th of this year (2021), I graduated from Grove City College with a B.A. in English. It was a bittersweet day. Not only was it the culmination of four years of effort, it was also the end of a treasured time in my life. I made so many friends at college who I will always appreciate.

The day of my graduation I had a headache from lack of coffee and allergies. My new dress shoes literally wore holes in two of my toes. The ceremony itself was boring, and the time afterwards was a rush of taking pictures and moving out. When I think back on my time at Grove City College, there are many moments I will always love to think about, but graduation itself will not be one of them. That being said, I am grateful that I made it to graduation despite setbacks due to the pandemic.

I found it kind of funny that we were told due to concerns about COVID-19 and people’s squeamishness, instead of a handshake the president would give us a hug and fist bump. First of all, how is that better from a contagiousness standpoint? Also, sorry, but a fist bump could never be formal enough for a graduation ceremony.

I was nervous when I finally walked across the stage to receive my diploma. I was told to flip my tassel to the other side of my cap before or after reaching the president. Because I’m me, I flipped my tassel the second I reached the president, no doubt right when the photographer snapped the picture.

With my graduation behind me, I can’t help reminiscing about some of the funny moments of being an undergraduate. I decided to share some of my favorite stories below.

The Perfect Horror Movie

One night near midnight during my freshman year my roommate and I were walking back to our dorm. Now, Grove City College is a very safe campus. But we got to talking about what we would do if we were attacked. Since I had dabbled in martial arts for years, I suggested I would use my lanyard with the keys at the end of it to strike at the attacker’s face.

We discussed different methods of self-defense, and then the topic changed to horror movies. We were going to walk in the dark area between the chapel and the dorms and we mentioned how it would have been the perfect scenario for a horror movie–us walking through the on-campus equivalent of a dark alley.

When we reached the poorly lit spot between the chapel and dorms, to our utter surprise a robed figure with a black hood emerged out of the darkness. He looked like the freakin’ grim reaper. We were speechless. Then I began to laugh. I laughed uncontrollably and didn’t stop until several minutes after we were safely in our dorm.

I learned later that there was a guy who liked to go around campus dressed in that fashion, completely in black with a robe and hood. Another time I saw him during the day, when it was a lot less intimidating.

Looking back, I am surprised I wasn’t more scared about seeing a grim reaper look-alike. I guess the situational irony was just too perfect.

Rooming Situation

Room Draw, when students at GCC chose their rooms for next semester, became the most despised time of the year for me. Besides finals of course. Two times I nearly ended up in tears at Room Draw and the third time was the best because I was absent.

The first time we tried to get nice rooms and accidentally ended up in the “mole hole.” On the website it was listed as a room on the ground floor. It was not on the ground floor. It was below the ground, a small room with no windows. We were thinking it would be a big room and had never even realized there were dorms without windows in the basement. There was a single bathroom with only one stall for the whole hall and pipes coming out of the hall ceiling.

Anyway, I called my mom and started laughing so hard about it that I was tearing up. My mom advised me to go back and ask for a different room, which I did when I had finally quit cracking up. We ended up in a decent room with windows. And as my roommate said, it had “beautiful bathrooms.”

The second time I had an all-nighter the day before, when I was working on a unit plan. I knew I had another long night ahead. The unit plan was made up of 9 lesson plans, each of which took 4-5 hours.

My roommate and two friends were counting on me to pick out rooms for all of us. None of them were available to go to Room Draw, but they wanted a suite. We were sure that we would get a suite since the year before even sophomores had been able to get suites.

We each had a number that would determine our order to pick a room. We went with the lowest out of our numbers which we were allowed to do since we were planning on being suitemates.

Long story short, all the suites were taken long before they reached my number. And when they finally reached that number, I found out I needed to get the lowest number from my two friends too. In other words, it was a mess and I was so tired and I had to get the number and then get back in line and pick random rooms for my friends.

I was so worried about what my friends would think. Because at that time, I barely knew them. They would not really be “my friends” until later. I only knew my roommate well, not the other two girls I wanted to have a suite with.

By the time I got to choose the second room, I felt like I was going to cry. The lady I told my choice to seemed to notice, and I blamed it on the all-nighter, which was no doubt partially to blame.

I ended up having another all-nighter that night.

In short, I associate Room Draw with bad memories.

Pledge Week

I had a good relationship with sororities and fraternities most of the time at college. Being an introvert who hates crowds and loud noises, I avoided them like the plague. They didn’t know I existed. Perfect.

Pledge week was like a thing out of my nightmares.

My friend and I learned quickly that we couldn’t be anywhere near the cafeteria during Greek dinners. Every time a new girl would come in, a sorority would say in monotone robotic voices, “Hello Miss Abigail…Hello Miss….”

There would be people in full mountain gear latching themselves to the stair rail and crawling up and down the stairs. Meanwhile, I am just trying to get root beer without making eye contact.

I did enjoy listening to the guys put on an impromptu play in the middle of the cafeteria, but that had to be the one greek-life-related experience that I somewhat appreciated.

All the other stuff involving people miserably wearing wrinkled, rotting carrots and carrying around skulls kinda made me uncomfortable.

One encounter with a fraternity during pledge week was the most memorable. My roommate and I were headed to Hicks cafeteria when we saw a line of men in masks and robes holding flowers. (This was before Covid-19 made masks all the rage.) We both sped up, but she was faster and made it through the door. I was not so lucky.

“May I escort you to the cafeteria?” one of the masked men asked.

I froze. My face was burning, and I sputtered out “Sure…” Why? Why did I say that?

He hooked his arm through mine and led me to the cafeteria. My roommate held the door open for us, grinning. I glared at her. The guy gave me a plastic flower. I almost threw it away when he left but ended up keeping it for a few weeks. I found it funny that it was the first gift a guy outside my family had ever given me.

The Creeking

I toured Grove City College the first time with my roommate and her family. The second time I brought my family along, but we got separated and they ended up going on the tour without me–they told me about their experience later. Right when the tour guide finished talking about what a safe campus it was, a bunch of college guys walked past chanting “wolf creek” and pitched someone into the creek. The timing made it hilarious. My family didn’t know this at the time, but it is a tradition at Grove City College to “creek” a man after he gets engaged.

Sour Patch Kids

I bought my roommate a massive bag of Sour Patch Kids for her birthday because I know she loves them. She graciously shared them with me. We made a game out of eating them. Since we both hate orange, we would reach in without looking and have to eat whatever we picked up. We both laughed when one of us got orange and had to eat it. I guess it was good we ate them. Otherwise we would have thrown all those orange ones away!

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my college experience. Let me know your college or school stories in the comments! P.S. I have another post coming about my college experiences, which I will call The Colby Chronicles.

Life

Surviving a College Semester (Pandemic Edition)

brown green and white textile

So much has changed with the rise of COVID-19. Everyday life is so different with all the social distancing, masks, and quarantine. Being a college student during a pandemic is…interesting.

As a student at Grove City College (GCC), I had the privilege of attending in-person classes and living on campus this semester. While many other colleges were resorting to Zoom, GCC decided to be stubborn and bring everyone back.

Even though we were all on campus, nothing was normal. From the beginning, it was established that we had to wear masks basically everywhere, even outside.

Anyone who visited my room had to wear a mask, but I didn’t have to wear a mask in my room even if someone was visiting. That doesn’t really make sense, but I guess they were trying to be lenient in some ways so people would be more obedient.

Some teachers said it was okay to eat or drink in their classroom, taking off masks temporarily to do so, other teachers forbade it. I sat as far away from everyone as possible in all of my classes, so I would eat a snack occasionally in the classes that permitted it.

The food at GCC has never been good. In fact, there are Instagram channels devoted entirely to showing pictures of terrible food served at GCC.

Although it was possible to dine in the cafeterias for most of the semester, all the food was made take-out style, in plastic or foam containers. These containers leaked and occasionally burst.

The portions of food given were determined by the staff.

For instance, I would say, “Can I have a few vegetables?”

The food worker would then give me a generous scoop of them. And then another. And then a third. It’s like they were so happy someone asked for a healthy food that they got a little overexcited.

The biggest consequence to there being all take-out was that there was so much garbage that the college resorted to dumpsters instead of trash cans. My roommate and I had a trash can in our room, and we had to take out our garbage every day because of the clunky, oversized take-out containers.

It’s sad, really. At some point the cafeterias stopped offering straws the same way they once did to reduce waste. It was laughable–students were throwing away hundreds of plastic containers per day, but at least straws were not part of the problem.

The cafeterias were also open almost the entire day to encourage smaller crowds. This meant they had less time for food prep, so they would copy a lot of the meals from day to day.

On some occasions, they would get creative, however. See that picture below? That’s Pumpkin Cheesecake pizza. Looks appealing, no?

If you go to GCC, don’t taste Pumpkin Cheesecake Pizza. If you avoid it, your taste buds will thank you.

It was actually kind of nice that they cleaned the tables after each use, though.

Events were cancelled the whole semester, and the gym was closed at different times.

I remember those first few weeks when there were a few COVID cases and many students, including myself, thought we would be sent home. Every week there were a few more.

black and white smartphone on white table

Students were frequently put in isolation. That meant they could only leave their room for food and had to take classes virtually until they were told they could leave isolation.

At one point, my class of 20 diminished to 5 because so many students were in isolation.

Quarantine was much worse. Then you couldn’t leave your room and just had food delivered. Some of the quarantined students had to be put in hotel rooms because the quarantine rooms at college filled up.

Students who were quarantined had to make lists of people they were in contact with for even a short duration of time. Those people were put in isolation. This was called contact tracing.

Near the end, the cases skyrocketed. We began to have about 20 cases every three days. The students were given an option to go home before Thanksgiving break, and I was one of those who did so.

My sister stayed as long as she could, but that was only until Thanksgiving break. No one came back after break. As planned, we all stayed home for the last week of classes and finals.

So, that was how my semester went. I was lucky enough never to go into isolation or quarantine. I was so happy to be on campus, and I hope I will be headed back to school in the spring.

Feel free to share your own quarantine experience in the comments!

Humor, Life

The Art of Bluffing (for Essay Questions)

person catching light bulb

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to be serious. Bluffing is a strategy that should only be used as a last resort, if you have no idea how to answer an essay question. Be sure to study hard for your exams and not wait until the last minute.

What is bluffing?

In this article, bluffing means writing an answer to an essay question as if you know what you are doing even when you have no idea what you are doing. This article will outline my top 5 tips for how to bluff an essay question effectively.

Tip #1: Show What You Know – “The Knowledge Dump”

File:The Battle of Gettysburg, Pa., July 3rd, 1863 MET DP831356.jpg -  Wikimedia Commons

With the blank page looming in front of you, it’s easy to focus on what you don’t know. Instead, take what little details you do know and emphasize those.

Maybe you don’t remember what happened in the Battle of Gettysburg. But you know what generally happens at battles–lots of casualties, bloodshed. And you know where it took place–Gettysburg, duh. Hopefully you remember it was a battle in the American Civil War, but even if you don’t, you could probably spin an answer worth a point or two.

If you do remember that it happened during the American Civil War, you could hazard a guess at which side won and what date. Give a date range when it may have happened if you’re not willing to take a chance.

For example:

The Battle of Gettysburg occurred in Gettysburg, PA around the 1860s (during the American Civil War). It was an occasion of great bloodshed and high numbers of casualties. It was a pivotal battle in the war, pitting the Union and Confederate soldiers against each other in what became a bloodbath.

Sure, it’s not long, but with bluffing you have to be satisfied with whatever you come up with.

Tip #2: Use Key Words – “Parrot the Teacher

close up of a yellow and blue macaw

Does your teacher have favorite words? Does the particular field you are studying have technical words or jargon you can fall back on? Maybe it’s an English class and you are given a vague prompt like “Compare and contrast Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.”

And oops, you happened to have only read the CliffsNotes. (Not that I advocate that in any way. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a masterpiece, and frankly, you are missing out if you haven’t read it.)

Instead of: Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are different in many ways.

Try: Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn are foils, polar opposites who are nonetheless are attracted to each other. Their personalities are complementary yet differ greatly.

Tip #3: Feign Confidence – “Show No Fear”

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Teachers can smell fear.

Nah, not really. But if you seem uncertain about your answers, they’ll be able to tell. Even if you have no idea what you are talking about, write it clearly and without hesitation.

Avoid saying that you believe or think something – if you write the sentence, it is already obvious that you believe it.

Avoid these words: slightly, maybe, seems, appears to, perhaps, may be, possibly, in my opinion, I think, I believe

Tip #4: Fill the Page – “Quantity, not Quality”

yellow rubber ducks

If you don’t know what to write, just write. Repeat the same idea in as many different ways as possible. Discuss how you feel about the topic, even if that does not seem relevant.

For example:

Evolution is built on the idea that changes in organisms and the development of species occurs through natural selection and chance. This, of course, means that the results could be described as accidental. If the results are accidental, this implies that there is no purpose behind design….

This example repeats itself multiple times with slight differences, filling as much space as possible with a single idea. It is not, however, completely obvious that this is what is happening.

Tip #5: Answer a Different Question – “Be Evasive!”

If you can’t answer the question given, answer a slightly different question you do think you could answer. This is not the easiest one to pull off, which is why it is number five. The reason is, most teachers realize you have neglected to answer the actual question.

Actual Question: Why does the author of the book we have just read make the curtains in the living room red?

Question you answer: What emotions are commonly associated with the color red?

Even though you will have evaded the question, it will sound like a thorough analysis of why the curtains were red.

Conclusion

Once again, this article is not meant to be serious. Bluffing is a strategy that should only be used as a last resort, if you have no idea how to answer an essay question. Be sure to study hard for your exams and not wait until the last minute.

If you’re a college student, good luck with finals!