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The First Year Experience: A hard-hitting – I promise – look at the first-year life
The latest installment in The First Year Experience series by By Melanie Biles ‘18.Read More
The First Year Experience: A just-as-hard-hitting look at the first-year life
As of last week, we have officially been “in college” for an entire month now. I know, I know, hold your applause; we have accomplished the impossible with grace and aplomb. I understand how impressed you are. Since the function of this section is to give an in-depth review of the true first-year experience, it is thus my duty as your friendly neighborhood staff writer to relay to you the top ten things that I have learned during my first four weeks of school.Read More
The first year experience: a still hard-hitting, less undercover profile of year one
By Melanie Biles '18
If I worked in Admissions, I would make a pamphlet about all of the most helpful things one should know before coming to Scripps. None of it would be logistical or concerned with academics or dorm life — there’s already plenty of information out there about all of that. No, instead, my pamphlet would include the most relevant advice like, “It is totally normal for the squirrels to lunge at you like that,” and, “Make friends in air-conditioned places,” and, “Do not — under any circumstances — go to lunch right at noon on days when first years have Core.”
Actually, there would probably be a lot of advice about Core. No Scripps experience is complete without the adventure that is the Core Curriculum, and yet there is little actual information out there ahead of time about what Core is. So far, it seems to just be a lot of having no idea whatsoever about what is happening.
If I had to summarize Core in one sentence, that sentence would probably be the length of Michel Foucault’s Discipline & Punish. It would also be just as complex as Michel Foucault’s Discipline & Punish. Core, I’ve learned, is an academic experiment in how much arbitrarily confounding material can be fit into the average eighteen-year-old girl’s head before she actually explodes. “Confounding material,” of course, does not just refer to theoretically-complicated books like Foucault’s but also to narratives like Jean Genet’s “The Thief’s Journal,” in which there are as many euphemisms for men sleeping with other men as there are aggressive squirrels at Scripps.
The Core theme this year is “Histories of the Present” with a specific focus on violence. While you, like me, may be wondering how the naked men in “The Thief’s Journal” relate to anything violent whatsoever, rest assured that after reading Foucault, it is impossible not to see violence everywhere. The coffee in your hand? Violence towards the barista. The textbook you are reading? Violence on the part of the professor. The fact that I had a deadline for this article? Definitely violence. Pretty much every part of life is a violent act intended to discipline everyone until individuality ceases to exist and we are all just part of one faceless society operating seamlessly to further the greater good. Or something.
In some ways, Core is a lot like the freshman experience in general. I am a fan of metaphors, and I think this is a good one (maybe not as good as Taylor Swift equating her fame to a guy walking around with a cat on his head but good nonetheless). In Core, and as a first year, you learn a lot of lessons that you never knew you needed but that end up being incredibly worthwhile. You are lost. You are confused. You interpret things incorrectly almost constantly. There is “no right answer,” but everyone else seems to know what it is. You have to be prepared to be really, really uncomfortable. Most of all, you have to remember that it will all be worth it in the end.
1 in 950: Laura Borruso ‘18
By Melanie Biles '18
From: San Juan Capistrano, California; Rennes, France; Sicily, Italy
Intended Major: Foreign Languages
What is your favorite subject?
In high school I took a class on marine science. I don’t know if I would ever pursue it, but I found it fascinating. Besides that, I love languages. French and Italian are my favorites.
Why did you choose to come to Scripps?
I came here for the atmosphere. Part of the women’s college experience for me is that everyone is here to learn, grow and become a better person. That said, there’s still balance in the social life because of the 5Cs. They also contribute to a feeling of diversity and multicultural interaction which I really appreciate.
Why is that so important to you?
My family is from Italy, I’ve lived much of my life in California and studied abroad in France so I know what it means to be a citizen of the world and to bring different cultures into one life. I wouldn’t be able to go to a school where everyone had the same background, outlook, identity and culture. It would be too boring.
How have you been most surprised by life on campus?
I think the most surprising thing is the independence. I’ve been away from my family before, but there’s never been quite this level of freedom. It’s really nice to be able to lead my own life based on what I want to do.
Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
I’d like to say my entire family. As I said, we’re Italian, which means that we’re always in each others’ lives, interfering in the best way possible. If I had to pick one person, though, I would say my grandpa. He taught me that with honesty you can succeed at anything. If you have to lie or cheat to achieve something in your life it just isn’t worth it. I’ve really kept that with me.
What was the most influential event in your life and why?
When I was a junior in high school I spent nine months living in France on study abroad. It’s a little bit unusual to go that young but it was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had. I learned so much about myself and the world in those nine months. Most importantly, though, France taught me that every person has a story and we can all come together to create a collective story that is so much better than any individual’s.
The first-year experience: a hard-hitting, undercover investigation of year one
By Melanie Biles ‘18
So here’s what I’ve learned about being a first-year: it’s awkward. Moving into your dorm and negotiating your space? Weird. Sleeping in a room with complete strangers? Uncomfortable. Trying to learn two hundred names in two days? Impossible. Just call everyone you meet Maddie, Sarah, or Ellie, and you’ll have about a 50% chance of getting it right.
Move-in day dawned bright and early as we all stumbled onto campus at 8 a.m. Even by then we were almost too hot to function (little did we know that it was only going to get worse). As everyone awkwardly went up to the roommates they recognized from thorough summer Facebook stalking and introduced themselves, Peer Mentors flitted about handing out keys and welcomes.
After a substantial amount of time getting lost down random hallways I found my way to my dorm room, newly-minted ID card in hand. Over the course of the next hour my three roommates arrived and we each laid claim to a bed and desk, passive-aggressively laying our possessions over the ones we wanted. Our parents, acting as pack mules for the time being, hauled cartons upon cartons up stairs and down hallways before dumping them in the room and going back for the next load. Thus began the adventure of fitting the belongings of four girls into one closet, two shelves, and four dressers. Though this was akin to storing the Atlantic Ocean in a teacup, we somehow managed and almost even made it to the opening speeches on time. (Emphasis on the almost.)
Fun fact: If you’re late to opening speeches they won’t have room for you in Garrison. Instead, you’re herded into an adjacent room where you watch all of the happenings on a huge projection screen with a mild lag so that you hear everyone in the actual Garrison applauding before the onscreen speaker says anything worth applauding. There’s also no applause protocol — do we clap even though they can’t hear us? For how long? Why?
In the time spent here we heard from four speakers about what makes our class just as unique as every other first-year class. It’s true — we have girls hailing from as far as Ethiopia and as close as Claremont, girls who danced and played football and squash. We have leaders of clubs and organizations and yearbooks and teams; first-generation college students and girls whose mothers, aunts, and grandmothers had come to Scripps. We are here to learn from each other, to grow, to change and to leave here better women.
And so it begins.