It feels like a blur, that first day. A monumental day in the history of your eighteen years, and yet it’s nearly impossible to separate each moment from the next. One minute you are uncomfortably crammed into a minivan, wedged between plastic stackable shelves, craning your neck to catch a glimpse of Healy tower as your dad navigates the family through the Key Bridge traffic, and then, before you know it – “Hi! Hello! Hoya Saxa! Welcome to Georgetown!” Her lipstick smile is intimidating; her enthusiasm, overwhelming; her cartwheels, unnecessary. You take your nametag, map and piles of folders from her outstretched hands.

“Don’t you forget, the NSO BBQ is later on today!” Has she really just grabbed your shoulders? French manicured fingertips dig into your arms. You reassure her that you will not, in fact, forget about the barbecue. “Hoya Saxa! Welcome, welcome,” she has pounced on another unsuspecting first year. You turn and walk back to your dorm, fast.

And then, there you are, in a narrow stairwell, literally flattened behind a stack of crates. Back bent, muscles strained, you carry pieces of your life, boxed in cardboard and bubble wrap, seven flights of stairs because your dad felt the campus move-in system could not possibly be as efficient as his own and, of course, elevators are too slow and too crowded. And now your mom’s crying because she realized you forgot a lint-remover; and just then the most beautiful girl you have ever seen walks by and smiles. Did she notice your biceps (thank you, summer gym membership!), or does she perhaps find humor in the purple vein pulsating madly from your forehead as you hunch over, on the verge of collapse from the weight of a TV, or maybe she was only stifling a laugh since she, no doubt, overheard your little sister ask if you remembered your extra-strength acne medicine?

At last, you stagger into your new room, dropping your belongings on the ground. As you look about the small space, you notice that your roommate, or Luke Skywalker himself, has already claimed his territory: one bed draped in Star Wars sheets, one wall papered in Star Wars posters, one dresser cluttered with Star Wars figurines and oh look, a light saber! A loud cough and the unmistakable sound of a throat clearing the airways of phlegm interrupt your thoughts. He crosses the room slowly and sniffs loudly. Bony fingers shake your hand: “Would you mind terribly if we keep the windows closed? Allergies, you see.” He licks away the ooze dripping from his nose, and you do, clearly, see.

And then somehow you find yourself seated Indian-style in a grassy nook on the outskirts of campus, surrounded by twelve strangers – some smiling nervously, excited for the meeting, others too cool for the impending introduction rituals. But it starts out nice and slow, and you’re actually enjoying meeting new people. “Joe.Village C West. Boston. Well, outside of Boston,” the responses roll off your tongue.

How many hands have you shaken? There’s Mike with the Phillie’s hat, Pat with the red hair and, ah yeah, Michelle with the stilettos. Tired of repeating yourself yet? Nah. It is all there, written on your nametag; but for some reason they still ask, and you don’t mind: “Joe.Village C West. Boston. Well, outside of Boston.” It’s easy.

But then, oh, then come the icebreakers! Suddenly you are attacked, bombarded with information coming from every direction – first names, last names, middle names (it never lets up!) cities, states, countries (where is Sri Lanka anyway?), ages, birthdays (“Shut UP! What a coincidence! My birthday is in April, too!!”). Dizzied, nauseous even, you try in vain to keep it all straight: was it Jason that mentioned surfing? Should you ask Tom, or was it Tim, which dorm he’s in? Is everyone from Jersey?

And, no, before you even have time to think, it’s your turn. What to say? It’s all about first impressions. You want to be interesting, memorable. But not too interesting, not too memorable. Do you want to look smart, seem cool? Should you crack a joke? Everyone likes the funny guy. But there’s also a lot of unforeseen pressure for the person initially pinned as the funny guy. Are you quick enough, will you be able to live up to the whole funny guy reputation? Course, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it, that is really important. Don’t be too eager. Just stick to the basics.

“Joe. From Boston. Well, outside of Boston.”

Good. You’re done. Moving on. But what’s this? The NSO leader has not taken his eyes off of you. Oh God. They’re all still looking. They want more. You got nothing. You are sweating. Why are you so nervous? Do you look nervous? Tim, or Tom, or Todd, adjusts his baseball cap. Stiletto Heels Girl (what was her name?) crosses and recrosses her legs. She is bored. You are boring her. Quick. Anything.

“Uh . From Massachusetts, that is.”

Right. Good one.

The day continues on and night slips in unnoticed. You remember saying your final goodbyes to your parents. Dad slapped you hard on the back, wished you luck and reminded you that he is not spending $35,000 for you to [insert word of choice] around. Mom re-made your bed, kissed you on the cheek and promised to mail you a replacement lint-remover. Now they are gone. You stretch out on your bed, muscles finally relaxing. Throughout the entire day, everything inside of you seemed to be on edge, holding its breath. You let out a sigh, content to be starting out on a new adventure. A whole world awaits you, and you look forward to tomorrow and to the year ahead. Eager for morning to come, you lean over to turn out the light. Your roommate, sniffling, is gazing upward at a life-size poster of the scantily dressed Star Wars heroine, Natalie Portman. aybe he won’t be so bad after all.

Polly Burokas is a junior in the College and can be reached at burokasthehoya.com. FOCUS WITH BUROKAS appears every other Friday.

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