The First-Year Experience: The Bubble

Some day, I plan to write a book that contains all of the things that people have told me that have turned out to be false. The most important section would be unintentional falsehoods. For example, when I was touring colleges, almost every tour guide told me that their school was “super close to downtown” and that getting to the nearest big city was incredibly easy and something that was done every weekend.

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The First Year Experience: Investigating Scripps life at the ground level

Coming back from break is hard, but for some reason it wasn’t too bad this time. It could be that we finally have access to Pitzer brunch again, or maybe the freedom to leave on a weeknight without having to undergo a CIA-level investigation from our parents. It could be that we were all tired of sleeping in rooms by ourselves and eating homemade meals, though that seems unlikely. In my opinion, the best part of coming back is how everyone has reacted to the weather.

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The first year experience: a still hard-hitting, less undercover profile of year one

By Melanie Biles '18
Staff Writer

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.

The first-year experience: a hard-hitting, undercover investigation of year one

By Melanie Biles ‘18
Staff Writer

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.