Alex Schiff: Out-of-classroom experience

BY ALEX SCHIFF

Published April 17, 2010

As my first year at the University comes to a close, I wanted to share some of the most interesting things my parents paid $50,000 for me to learn. Here are the top 15 “outside the classroom” lessons that I’ve learned during my first year at the University:

1. Working for The Michigan Daily is an excellent way to procrastinate on your homework while being able to convince yourself you’re being productive. Unfortunately, this doesn’t hold true for playing "Madden 2010."

2. Drinking only on days that end in “–day” is not the best compromise between work and fun.

3. If you can muster yourself out of bed around 10 a.m. the day after Halloween, it’s worth it. It’s the only day of the year you’ll see President Barack Obama perform the walk of shame through the Diag.

4. The new smoking ban on campus has caused quite a controversy, but I think we’re failing to realize the real rising danger: skateboarders. They are infinitely more annoying than the occasional smell of smoke, and I shouldn’t have to dodge rolling 12-year olds to get to class.

5. Since college started, I haven’t been able to study in a normal studying area like my room, a library, a lounge, etc. When I need to study, I go to a pub on South University called the Blue Leprechaun, my most productive spot on campus. But after about 10 p.m., the drunken customers become fascinated with the idea of someone studying in a bar and feel compelled to engage with you in conversation, limiting productivity.

6. Dorm life is interesting. In the span of 20 minutes one Thursday night, I played a game of putt-putt in my hallway, was given a free vegetarian pizza (that turned out to have sausage on it) and tied my neighbors doors together by linking closet “space savers” that had previously served no other purpose than to make my closet look like a war zone. Their new function was a vast improvement.

7. Soup cans are a perfectly legitimate way of supporting a broken futon.

8. Those — like your mom — who tell you you’re insane for supporting your broken futon with soup cans clearly don’t understand the awesome strength of Healthy Choice Chicken with Rice.

9. The most essential dorm room product isn’t ramen noodles — it’s duct tape. Sure, ramen noodles offer a cheap snack. But ramen noodles can’t manufacture a strategically placed cup holder against my bedpost.

10. It’s absolutely impossible to get anywhere off-campus by bus. And I prefer not to use taxis, as the last time I used one the driver told me he left his last job with another cab company because he “was in an accident and they wouldn’t let me drive the nice cars anymore.”

11. No Thai! is more effective at healing illness than any other medicine I’ve taken. If the University were really serious about stopping the flu, they would just give people gift certificates to No Thai!

12. We’re going to school to be lawyers, engineers, doctors, etc., yet judging by the computer screens during my Econ 101 discussion class last semester, the consensus favorite activity of University students is pretending to be a farmer. Once, someone asked me to borrow my MacBook charger so that they could continue playing Farmville until class was over. It was on that day that I lost faith in humanity.

13. The phrase “So while I was Facebook-stalking you in class yesterday…” has gone from warranting a restraining order to an entirely acceptable way to start a conversation.

14. There was nothing more euphoric than watching Tate Forcier literally be carried over the goal line like a crowd-surfer in the comeback against Indiana. There was also nothing more depressing than watching Tate Forcier fumble the ball in the end zone against Ohio State … besides his four subsequent interceptions.

15. Everyone is nuts about football here, but hockey games at Yost are the most fun sporting events I’ve been to at the University. Plus they had the added benefit of beating more than one Big Ten opponent this year.

When I enrolled at the University, I expected to study economics, learn another language and have a good time with friends new and old. At the end of my first year, I’m writing this column in a bar and I’m staring into a summer during which I will be leading The Michigan Daily’s opinion page. It’s been a year of new and interesting experiences, as any freshman year at college should be. But above all — I’m just glad I don’t go to Ohio State.

Alex Schiff is an assistant editorial page editor. He can be reached at aschiff@umich.edu.