With my graduation next week, I find myself sad that I am leaving campus. College is the best time in anyone’s life. I learned a lot in college, not necessarily from classes, but from everyday experiences.

Paul Wong
Brenda Abdelall

1. A college degree doesn’t help you finish crossword puzzles

Yes, I am graduating and have yet to finish a crossword puzzle. I spent the past three- and-a-half years getting a college education and, on a good day, I can finish about half of a puzzle. On Thursdays, I find myself still grappling with Monday’s crossword that I buried in my backpack thinking I would come to an epiphany of what ‘palindromic parseghian’ means. Why don’t I know this stuff? Is there a class called, “Random information that you will never need to know unless you are bored in class working on a crossword puzzle?” If so, please let me know – I’ll come back next semester just for that.

2. “Oh baby you, you got what I need, but you say you’re just a “friend”…”

You really do meet all types of people in college. There are your true friends and then your “friends.” Your true friends are those that you spend the majority of your time with, the ones that you hang out with, live with and you know you will keep in touch with post-graduation. By “friends” I mean your classmates with whom your conversations never move beyond the usual, ‘How are you? How are classes?” There are the overly nice “friends” that you question their sincerity every time you hear them squeal, “Hey, where’ve you been? I missed you!” These are the ones that trick you. If you ask them for their notes when you sleep in through class, they come up with a million different excuses. If you ask them if you can study together for your upcoming exam, they are conveniently always busy. However, when they need something, they bully you and give you a guilt trip until you end up forking over your exam outlines even though that same person wouldn’t give you their notes. How nasty. Regardless, you learn in college whom you can trust, who is really there for you and who is just a “friends.”

3. There is always time for Oprah

I am probably the last person that should talk about stress. During exams, I’m an irritable mess. I cry when my computer freezes in Angell hall, I binge on junk food until my stomach is sick and I snap at everyone within a five-foot radius of me. I used to type up extensive outlines and study all night that I missed out on so much of college life. Only last year did I realize that if you chill a little bit, you can get so much more done and you become a much happier person (and my grades were actually better). Stress is really bad for your body. Too many of my friends have ulcers and other stress-related problems. What my roommates and I have discovered this year is that no matter how much work we have, how busy we may be, there is always time for Oprah. That one hour in which we sit down and talk during the commercials, catch up with one another, watching Oprah give away digital cameras and talk about love and relationships is probably the most relaxing and stress-free time of the day.

4. There is a world beyond our bubble

Ann Arbor is a safe haven for many of us. The worst thing we have to worry about living here on campus is having your bike stolen and getting a parking ticket. We don’t live in a war zone, under military occupation, nor do we work under oppressive conditions for five cents a day. Becoming active on campus will allow one to see the faces behind the news stories. The 98-year-old Palestinian woman shot to death the other day is an actual person, with a family and a story. We read about sweatshop laborers only if it’s newsworthy, but that’s someone’s reality. Getting involved in campus events really helps open peoples eyes. There are lectures daily on campus that many of us miss the opportunity to attend. As college students, we cannot let apathy and laziness get the best of us. With the divestment movement and the upcoming affirmative action case gaining national media attention, it is imperative that each student takes the time to research the issues and find where they stand and get involved.

Nine semesters later, the lessons that I learned did not come from any textbook. Rather, I learned how to survive through the stresses and drama of college life. Just remember: Take time out to enjoy college life, because it will fly by and you will miss it more than anything – even those damn crossword puzzles.

This is Brenda Abdelall’s last column. She can be reached at abdelal@umich.edu.

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