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July 23, 2004     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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July 23, 2004

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PAGE 10B HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS By Daniel Fink College was supposed to be different. Sitting in my high-school chemistry class, 1 daydreamed about a place where people read Proust in between discus- sions about nihilism or tempered Epicureanism. I foresaw a place where great minds were nurtured and fed, and small talk was completely unnecessary. And so, when I drove up the path to my college and heard the cheering voices trying to coax embarrassed fresh- man into saying, "When I say BRAN, you say DEIS, BRAN- DEIS, BRAN- DEIS," I realized ! had it wrong. I had just received my first lesson at Brandeis: "Don't expect anything." Four years later, it is time for me to give something back, something that speaks to the most vulnerable of students: the First Year. For those of you graduating and college-bound, take heed of these notes and trust their truthfulness. Good luck-- and don't drink the punch. 1. It takes time. The first few days, weeks, and months even, can be incredibly difficult. It is challenging to balance the weights of academia within the context of an unfamiliar social setting. Be patient and don't put too much pressure on yourself to make immediate friends. The whole transition is a process and realizing that it needs time will help when life at college seems bleak. Things will get better. 2. Take a walk and open your eyes. It is easy to fall into a routine during the first few weeks but doing so might stunt your ability in connectingwith new people. Explore the campus and en- gage people in conversation. You belong there as much as anyone else. 3. Acknowledge your fortune. College students are some of the luckiest people in the world. De- spite work responsibilities, there is very little that you are accountable for. Take advantage of this and feel free to'explore. 4. Addiction is a very big problem in schools. Be wary of Pirate's Booty, Sour Skit- tles and anything else that takes less than two minutes and a microwave to eat. The "Freshman 15,"which refers to the notorious 15 pounds gained by many first-year students, is all too easy to put on. 5. Experiment with ideasl Don't be partisan. Take ad- vantage of all the informa- tion at your disposal and come up with your own ideas. You don't have to get caught up in the rhetoric of being a liberal or conserva- tive. 6. Explore your own spiri- tual identity. Being away from home will give you an opportunity to explore those aspects of Judaism that might have gone obscured. Experiment with ways of observing and realize that it's ok if your Jewish identity is constantly evolving. 7. Get out. Don't be a slave to your computer or your buddies on AIM. They aren't really there. Get outside and go to an event. There is no dearth of political, cultural, and artistic happenings on campus. 8. Make one class each semester your labor of love. It can be incredibly reward- ing to have an intense focus each semester. Let yourself be inspired. with professors. They are truly incredible people and, despite the arrogance of some, are great to talk to. They will also appreci- ate your initiative. Talk to them about anything, and then ask for a recommen- dation. 12. Ignore the hype. There will be a lot of freshman this year sporting I-pods. It doesn't make them any cooler than you. Seriously. 13. Try to eat breakfast. Sure, it's a trite instruction, "Four years later, it is time for me to give something back, something that speaks to the most vulnerable of students: the First Year. For those of you graduating and col- lege-bound, take heed of these notes and trust their truthfulness. Good luck-- and don't drink the punch." 9. Learn how to cook. Probably the most impres- sive thing you can show to someone you're courting are your culinary abilities. It's also just a lot better than anything you could ever purchase on campus. 10. Don't concern your- self with words like "ca- reer," "success," "401K," and "grad school." This is your first year. That time will come but for now just take it all in. Relax. Look around and realize that you are immersed in the bubble of academia. 11. Form relationships but breakfast often gets lost in the midst of late nights and those not-so- lucid mornings. It will make you a better person to start your day with energy. By the way, Twinkies do not constitute breakfast. 14. There are incredible people everywhere. Don't be discouraged by some- one else's denseness. You will find good people; just keep your eyes open. 15. Get ahold of the local art/music guide and get off campus. Campus life can occasionally be suffocating. The best way to alleviate the pressure is by going to new spots. It will refresh and revitalize. 16. Spend time in the li- brary, especially when you don't have to. College librar- ies are the most incredible monuments to the pursuit of knowledge and art we have. Co there when you don't have obligations and be amazed. Check out some- thing you've never heard of before. You don't even have to read it. 17. Be wary of any "club" that asks you to do '%tuff" to yourself so you can join. We're referring to humiliat- ing yourself in any way for the enjoyment of others. You're too good for that. 18. Drink with the sages. Go to a Purim or Simchat Torah celebration. You'll be amazed at how crazy these nights can get. 19. Take an art class. Don't be intimidated. With so much emphasis on intel- lectualizing, it is good to engage in something more personal. 20. Go abroad. One of the most incredible experi- ences you will have as an undergraduate is studying in another country. Don't worry; things won't be that dramatically different than they were before. Going abroad will give you amaz- ing perspective. I've never come across anyone who didn't have an incredible experience. Bonus tip: Call your parents. It's easy to get so wrapped up in your new life that you totally yourself. Don't. riod of adjustment also. Empathize situation and MOTHER. With this it would be mY send you off on Be prepared, days can be crazY. and know that to embark on an four it ends up seven years, I hoPe on being a doctor,0 we've Daniel Fink is where he spend. dining at get a date with This just might l This nally appeal lishedbl ish Family & also publishes Sh'ma and JFL addition t www. ( WWW. www. SocialActiO " to hell ism and Jewish their family- oriented tion and The to provide a families who may comfortable in these Our Hebrew school teachers are carefully, selected for their extensive knowledge of Juda- ism and for their dedication to children. Each teacher lives and breathes what he or she teaches, providing the best possible model for our stu- ents. In short, our teachers are as excited about teaching Through drama, song, art and stories we bring Judaism to life. Our innovative methods make learning fun and memo- rable. Through our mitzvah curriculum we emphasize each mitzvah's meaning for everyday life, in addition to the how- to of the ritual observance. OurHebrew language curriculum ensures that your child will be able to 'Siddur' (prayer book synagogue your child affiliates with later in life, she or of prayer with Jews around We believe that this, important event in the life young person, sh than rout memorization ing up to an anxiety,riddel recital of the Torah. Our gram delves into the true