And so must our epic 2006-2007 school year.
You’ve seen it coming. The weather’s warming up, the cicadas are burrowing out from the underground (plague much?), and you’re too broke to stomach another Flat Top birthday dinner (yet have somehow stockpiled enough alcohol to make Dillo Day a virtual brain-cell genocide). The memories have been good and plenty. The work’s been hard, but the weekends have been kind and that, for you, is enough. Time to pack up the twin XL sheets and call it a year, right?
Maybe you’ve been spending too much time in Slivka, because the correct answer is “No.” Think of all the things you have always wanted to do here, whether it be on campus, in Evanston or in Chicago. Before you kiss your friends goodbye to an oversentimental Vitamin C song and once again surrender your rights to dear old Mom and Dad, whether this be your first or last year at Northwestern, there are certain things that everyone should do by the end of the year.
Even the administration thinks so. Look, they cleared your entire class schedule next week. Sure, they call it Reading Week and say it’s in the vein of studying and higher knowledge and yada yada yada, but you know they really just want you to have a good time and destroy some public property. Yeah. I’m pretty sure they sent me a memo about that. Emphasis on the public property.
So wake up before noon. (Yes, I know I’m asking you to do the impossible, but bear with me. You did this all the time in high school. It will come back to you. I promise, it’s like riding a bicycle.) Do all the things that you always wanted to, but were too busy dorking out to get around to. I have compiled a list of what I think everyone should do by the end of the year, and I have to say, it is mighty good.
Go on a joy ride
During Winter Quarter, Ms. Badass Roommate and I borrowed a friend’s boyfriend’s car and drove to the legendary, second-to-none breakfast temple we folks call the International House of Pancakes.
Now, chocolate-chip pancakes smothered in blueberry syrup are worth getting excited about as is, but afterward my roommate, friend and I decided to take a ride around Evanston. Maybe we missed driving (God knows I almost ran about a dozen red lights), or maybe it was the music playing at a volume that keeps hearing-aid companies in business, but it was one of my favorite moments of the entire year. We slowed the car on Sheridan to, uh, make friends with some gentlemen on the sidewalk; we found the ridiculously beautiful Baha’i Temple just north of campus; and we cruised down Sherman, Orrington and the other streets we usually only see on foot.
If you don’t have a friend with a car, make one. Getting drunk at a frat party might be your standard for fun, but I like this because it’s reminiscent of home: driving around, knowing there’s nothing to do and just enjoying each other’s company.
Change your major
Always knew you wanted to be a biomedical engineer? Take Reading and Writing Poetry. Can’t wait to be the champion of a whole new women’s movement? I hear Multivariable Calculus is a blast.
You’re in college to learn the three R’s, sure, but you’re also here to learn about yourself. If you fence yourself into one category (“I’m a math person” or “I can’t write a paper to save a dying orphan”) then you’ll miss out on all the opportunities our curriculum provides. I’m not saying you should drop out of McCormick or Medill or whatever, but since you have the rest of the year and all summer to play around with your courses, why not sign up for something you never thought you would be interested in?
Besides, if the Women’s Studies/Art History double major isn’t it’s own wingman, gentlemen, I just don’t know what is.
Eat somewhere in Evanston (Chipotle doesn’t count)
Yes, you’re on a meal plan and yes, your hard-earned cash goes exclusively toward shoes or liquor, but we’re living in the dining capital of the North Shore.
Koi is an open-air sushi and Chinese food restaurant on Davis Street that’s relatively cheap, considering how classy it is, while Cozy Noodle & Rice serves up American kitsch and amazing pad thai at even more amazing prices. The point is, though, for you to explore Evanston yourself. If you’re a SoCammer like myself, take a shuttle to Noyes and discover its food fare. Or just try to get lost in Evanston, and you’ll be surprised at how many delicious, affordable options there are.
Loyalty is one thing, but you’ve been a presence in the BK Lounge enough this year. Tell the bouncer that you need time to discover what else is out there. He may cry, but in time he too will understand.
Paint the Rock(s)
If you’re in the Greek system or a high-profile club (or if you’re just an idiot like us on the Allison 4th floor), you’ve probably painted the Rock this year.
You know, that big hunk of amethyst between Harris and University. You may have heard of it.
But if you haven’t painted it yet, you really ought to. If you’re a senior and haven’t, then… well, I don’t really know what to say. Yes, it’s overly woo-school-spirit and you’re so over silly undergraduate traditions, but really, when are you going to have a chance to be a silly undergraduate again? You can paint it for whatever you want, but the bottom line is paint it.
I am a big fan of the rocks on the lake shore. During exam week of Winter Quarter, I painted a rock as a one-year anniversary present for my boyfriend. It’s nice to walk along the lake shore, look out over the messages and murals, and know that you’re a part of that. (And yes, I’m getting soft. What of it?)
Or just paint a hate message. Whichever.
Make a contact
If all the kids here who got rejected from Georgetown taught me anything, it’s that it’s all about who you know. Medill makes it pretty easy for us kids: Our lab instructors are editors and higher-ups at big Chicago publications, and we get set up with internships our junior year.
No matter your school, year or situation, it’s nice to have someone willing to write you a recommendation or introduce you to a potential employer. So trounce into your respective department’s office, make nice with the secretary and set up a meeting with some bigwig.
An interesting way to do this, actually, is to attend a Twelve Strangers dinner put on by the Northwestern Class Alliance and the Northwestern Alumni Association. I randomly went to one Fall Quarter and ended up eating dinner with the dean of McCormick. It was fun times, I tell you. Fun, confusing, scientific times.
Have a slumber party
My birthday was during Reading Week of Fall Quarter. So what did my friends and I do? We had a slumber party in the Core, of course. At midnight we ran outside into the first snow of the season. It was perfect.
You don’t have to be losers like us and go to the library, but you should have a slumber party, with or without alcohol. Pile a bunch of blankets, cots and pillows into someone’s room or the lounge or even the hallway, pop in Wedding Crashers, play Apples to Apples (yes, Helen Keller was very insightful) and watch the sun rise.
The year is ending, but the antics need not. Spend Reading Week doing something truly memorable. When I look back on all the trips down the Red Line, hazy walks down Sheridan at 3 a.m., the impromptu dance parties to Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend,” the BK runs, and all the other stupid things I did this year, I’m excited for all that’s left to do in the next two weeks.
If nothing else, there are locusts to battle. Seriously. Locusts. Someone call Pharaoh, because we are in for an interesting two weeks.