As the summer slowly comes to an end, I realize I’m about to start my last semester as a college student. I remember my first day as a freshman and how I almost cried 17 times before the day was over. I didn’t know how huge the campus really was or how much my tiny legs were going to suffer. It was a crappy day out, too. Rain was pouring over my umbrella and the poor thing didn’t last as a functioning object for very long. Worst of all, most of my professors didn’t show up and I got to the apartment leaving a trail of drips of water for nothing. Yeah, I also got sick.
That day kind of set the tone for my entire college experience. It’s not that I didn’t like my classes… I loved them, but the people… Ugh, the people! It shouldn’t be a surprise that a shy girl from Ponce barely made any friends in her four years at the best university on the island, the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus. San Juan was a scary place. It still is. I was a big fish in a tiny pond in Ponce but I felt like a goldfish in a shark tank in San Juan. Also, I never really got along with most of my housemates.
This is Mariela. One of the very few housemates I got along with. We tried opening a bottle of wine once… Using a shoe and a wall. Don’t ask.
I started to diet and work out a bit in January. I said goodbye to 2013 weighing 155 lbs. and was not happy at all. One of the changes I made was to start drinking water– a lot of it. Naturally, my body sent me to the bathroom at least every half hour. My 17 and 18 year old roommates took advantage of the situation by hogging the bathroom. I know this is going to sound a bit gross, but this is the place where I can not only be honest with myself, but with you guys as well… I peed in a tiny trashcan in my room.
I still remember the first time I had to do it. I could feel my bladder wanting to explode. I began crying quietly in my room and then I saw it, my friend, the trashcan. Luckily, I had dozens of grocery bags stored under the bed for some weird emergency, I guess. Boy, this was some emergency. It felt so nice to squat down and let go (I swear it was pee) and my tears were scared off by the smile that took over my face.
Like this story, I have many other [negative] experiences I enjoy sharing with people. They usually laugh at them and making people laugh makes me happy. But I often wondered if I had any positive college life experiences. As I look back, there aren’t very many but the few that I have are amazing.
Mariela, one of the few roommates I actually enjoyed spending time with took me to get my very first tattoo with a friend, Xaira. These girls are seriously the two most awesome people I know. They made the process seem less scary and before I knew it, I had part of a poem I wrote on my back. I may think it’s a little too big now but I’ll never regret it. It’s a reminder of one of the best days of my life. I got to skip my Social Science class. Nope, no regrets.
As the years went by, the sudden urge to do something interesting came over me. I thought about spending a semester abroad, but my social anxiety wouldn’t allow it. I settled for a study trip to Paris this past April. It really set me back financially but I would spend $4,000 all over again to get those 10 magical days back. Even just walking around in Paris was amazing. Everywhere I looked I’d see a couple smiling at each other, people proudly walking their dogs, gorgeous buildings and amazing street performers. I really felt like I was in a painting. Everything was art. Even getting lost was an art. Yep, I got lost in Paris. Thankfully, I was with my best friend, Nicole… That way, I couldn’t freak out all alone.
We decided to go into Notre Dame with a group of friends but we got out at different exits. After looking around for a while, Nicole and I decided to walk around like total tourists tightly holding our maps. Neither of us had a reliable sense of direction, so that didn’t work. I know some French, but when you’re lost in a foreign country, fright takes control of your mind. I couldn’t even remember how to ask where the metro station was. Où est le métro? became the answer to a trivia question.
After walking for the longest half hour of our lives, we finally saw a sign that read “Metropolitan.” We tried to act cool and contain our excitement but that didn’t really work. Acting cool with the situation didn’t work either when we got stuck going up the Eiffel Tower. After spending over an hour in line, we had two options: take the stairs to go up to what was once the tallest building in the world or take the elevator like the lazy-vertigo-fearing human beings we are. As you can imagine, many people want to go up the tower every single day, so they pack in as many people as they can into that elevator. My claustrophobic self closed her eyes and held on to the pole right in the middle of the sketchy elevator. Everything was great… until it stopped moving. Nicole looked and laughed at me but she wasn’t fooling anyone. I knew her pants were about to get brown as well. After a few and long seconds, it started moving again and we finally reached the top. I got to scratch an item off my bucket list.
The last days were the best because we got to do less tourist-y stuff. We went thrifting and I found incredible 80s pieces. Most of them are pretty big on me, but I learned how to sew this summer so I’ll be able to make them fit me! I’m so excited! The store is tiny and was really crowded at the time but that didn’t stop me! I don’t know why, my social anxiety almost disappeared in France. Probably because I was a tourist and didn’t care if I acted or said anything stupid.
I know this trip wasn’t exactly related to what the college experience should be but it’s the best thing I’ve gotten out of these past almost five years. I almost had a meltdown during the trip from Newark to Paris but I’d get on that flight again in a heartbeat to get champagne wasted during a Moulin Rouge show. Best night ever.
Sorry for the low quality pic but I didn’t want to take a big ‘ol camera with me to the show.
Yes, my college experience hasn’t been all that great. At least, it hasn’t been what it “should be” but I wouldn’t trade the years 2010-2014 for anything in the world. My devils-for-housemates gave me stories to write. The guys that got shot in front of my apartment showed me how precious and unpredictable life can be and my trip to Paris taught me to live life with no regrets… even if it’ll set you back $4,000. Money is one thing, life experiences are another. I’d rather have something to write about than cash in my pocket.
Up next: NYC!