July 07, 2011

A Year in Review, Brown

First off, I'd like to apologize for the untimeliness of this post in comparison to my previous review of Oxford. I guess this just goes to show you the impression that Brown has made on me. Before I get started with this post, I would highly suggest you read my previous posts about Brown.

In chronological order, that would be "Brown or Shit?" "Prove Your Worth," "Cynicism and Drive," and "Thoughts." I know that it is a lot to read, but this post may make more sense if you read those posts. Or it may not, I don't really know. Don't say I didn't warn you though, this is a long post.


Coming to Brown, I desperately wanted to repeat the success I had at Oxford. I had copied and pasted the same formula, hoping that it would still work even in the gloomy atmosphere of Providence, Rhode Island. I still had a Razor scooter. I still had my perm. I still had the same style of clothing. Superficially, I was still the same Oxford self.

But my mind really wasn't at Providence. It was probably somewhere stuck between New York, Oxford, Washington DC, and Aruba. I did not have the same drive as I did going into Oxford. Why is this? Many reasons. I missed my Oxford friends. I missed my now girlfriend. I missed the consequence free life I led.

At Brown, things became a lot more real. (Or at least, it seemed that way). Suddenly, I had internship interest meetings to attend rather than bonfires. I had cover letters to write and resumes to create. I had to apply to clubs and actually worry about getting accepted. Friends didn't come as easily because my reputation would never precede me. Brown was a much bigger pond than Oxford was.

As much as I'd hate to admit it, I was confused and scared. I spent a lot of my time on LearnLink, reading up on gossip and news about a school I no longer attended. I planned an impromptu visit because I wanted to see my old friends. My mind was really stuck at Oxford. And honestly, this was a natural reaction. The same thing happens to everyone when they leave something good and go on to something foreign and new. Like middle school, high school, and college. I'm sure you've been through it all many times now. But for me, Oxford was the first place I have ever not wanted to leave.

If you read my previous review of Oxford, you'd be able to see that by the end of the spring semester, I was quite enjoying my time there. I had great friends. I was doing very well academically. Professors knew me. I was in many extra-curricular activities. Pretty much the entire campus knew my face if not my name. (Maybe? Not to be too arrogant here.)

This, without a doubt, inhibited my ability to truly assimilate into the Brown society. I was incredibly lucky to have been placed into a great housing group who took me in without any hesitation. A great first birthday outing with empathetic and friendly people. Not to mention the best roommate I could ever ask for. In fact, my roommate was so great, I practically fell in love with him. And I don't mean that in the homosexual sense, but rather that I became very dependent on him.

This became painfully obvious to me when my roommate told me of his academic woes. He was in a position where if he failed another class, he would have to take an academic leave of absence the following year. At first, I was a bit unmoved. Then the realization hit me like a train. If my roommate were to leave, I would have no real friends. I panicked. I scrambled to make new friends in the small amount of time I had left. And definitely my second semester was light-years better than my first due to my efforts.

At Brown, people on a whole are more aware of post-graduation life than at Oxford. It was extremely frustrating to get used to and I have not completely adapted to it, even today. What does this mean? It means that there is more competition, more resume workshops, more networking kiss-ass, and more bullshit. It means academia and resume-building came before social interactions. It was really difficult to separate the fake friends from the real ones. And I hate fake people.

In fact, I still think a lot of people at Brown are incredibly selfish. It's difficult to describe in words, but something about the way people handle friendships feels artificial to me. Nobody really hung out. It was either partying or studying. And to me, neither of these really facilitate true friendship. If I wanted to hang out, I had to have reasons to invite people. I couldn't call up a person and be like, "Hey, where are you?" Because they'd only reply, "I'm busy, sorry." But are you really sorry? (Or really busy? Just kidding, Brown kids are busy as hell)

If I am walking with you, talk with me. If I get stuck in a crowd, wait for me. If I ask you if you want to get food, don't say "Yes" then go by yourself an hour later. If you see me outside the classroom, say hello! If you want notes or help, then ask me how my day was first. I know you're busy. We all are! Brown students are too fucking busy!

However, an enormous part of the blame goes to myself. I never truly went out my my way to socialize. How can I expect the same from my peers? While I can't really see how I act, I am aware of the fact that people perceive me as an apathetic jerk. I am trying to work on that. I blame myself largely for the less-than-spectacular experience I had in my first year at Brown. If it's any consolation, I've still managed to find a few great friends and made the best of my experience. I cannot wait for Fall semester and to live with my housing group. I've realized now that what was wrong wasn't the new atmosphere, the strangers, or Brown, it was me and my mindset.

I guess Brown is a small version of what life in the real world will be like. Until now, I've been living a relatively sheltered life in small recreations of society. Even now, commuting every day to work and back, I can feel the apathy in the air. The blank stares in the subway. The general disrespect of strangers. Is the world just filled with angst and apathy? Maybe it is. But if you have learned anything from my mistakes, you can definitely find your own group of friends. I'm sure most people live life that way. Defending from a world of apathetic strangers in a small tight-knit group of friends. But that's a blog post for another day.


On a side note, thank you for reading this long post.
On a side side note, if you are mentally stuck in a funk, I would highly suggest a physical makeover. I cut my hair during winter break and I attribute a large part of the comparative success of second semester to it.
On a side side side note, if you are an Oxford friend of mine going to Emory this coming semester, you may experience the same things as I have to some degree.

6 comments:

Mimi Hacking said...

yes, perhaps we will, but in a different way. remember that we will be entering a new atmosphere with not just only many very close friends but also with a whole peer group of students who are experiencing the same thing as well as others who have gone through the same thing. but i don't think that you were the same oxford self when you started at brown. i told you that when you visited over fall break, i hold to it now.

Echi said...

i totes agree with allll offf ittt. And I also just realized that cutting my hair short was kind of the starting point of better socializing efforts too!

Jeffrey Shiau said...

Oh Wonmin. how you visit me at Oxford every few weeks. I had no idea you missed me that much! haha.

Jason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason said...

I like this post!

ienthekorean said...

hmm, things to think about...

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