No, not the Student Activities Fair. Anything but that, please.

While most of our peers seemed to be having a good time chatting up peppy club presidents, I was having a meltdown.

The excursion had begun innocently enough: “I want free cookies,” my roommate announced. Yes, another roommate and I agreed. Free things are good. We donned our sunglasses and struggled up the hill to campus, an activity that would account for our entire exercise regimen that day. As the front gates came into view, something felt odd. Where were the people? Why was campus so quiet?
I had anticipated the event would take place outdoors, in that yard thing past the main gate, where we would be able to escape from any overly enthusiastic club recruiters. There would be no shortage of air, and no risk of dying in a stampede. We would stock up on free snacks, refuse to give out our e-mail addresses, make a quick getaway and settle into a table in Lauinger Library.

Clearly, I had never actually been to one of these events before. As a socially awkward transfer student, I have long been averse to large gatherings of Georgetown students. Having never lived in a freshman dorm, I often feel like I am missing some key element, like I’ve shown up late to a lecture. So I spend my free time sitting in my room combing my hair over my eyes and writing emotional poetry.

Just as we were reminiscing about the good times we had in Henle avoiding feral rodents and always registering our parties, the swarm appeared. Thousands of students in graphic T-shirts with baked goods and causes were approaching us, spilling out of the dense crowd packed into the Leavey Center. With a persistence that I can only muster when I am being graded or paid, they had meticulously outlined their missions, values and interests on colored poster board.

I should have known it was not the best environment for someone with claustrophobia and a hangover. But lured by the aroma of brownies baked from scratch, we entered the fray, and things took a turn for the worse. Though I tried to keep up with my friends, we were quickly separated.

Lots of strangers were being friendly to me, and my dehydrated brain was not coping well.

I needed a distraction. But everyone was concentrating his or her energy on other people’s problems — teaching English to inner-city schoolchildren or raising money for cancer research. What about my problems? I whined to myself.

I ambled around the tables, trapped in a sea of strangers who were standing way too close to me. I was frantically texting my friend, who tried to explain to me how to leave. You just go down the stairs, she informed me.

Somehow I managed to escape through the hotel and wandered back to my house.

“How are you recovering?” my roommates asked.

“I’m still processing my emotions,” I replied, huddling under a pillow, processing my emotions.

I talked to more Georgetown students at that Student Activities Fair than I did all last year. Even though I scared most of them away, I learned a valuable lesson on Sunday: Georgetown is full of some smart, creative people who can handle hangovers much better than I can. The fair was a serious struggle for me, but since I survived, I might even go to a basketball game this year. Because that’s what college is about, young freshmen: challenging yourself.

KARA PANZER is a junior in the School of Foreign Service

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