Archive for College

Dream ONondaga

In one week, I’ll be returning to the Inception-like dream world that is college. Although I’m eager to be back at my second home, thinking about the upcoming year has put my mind in a Leo DiCaprio-like limbo.

While I’m stoked for what’s coming, it’s hard to remain in the moment. There’s no escaping the reality that this is my Syracuse University Farewell Tour, and no science fiction subplot can hide the fact that my future has never been closer to the now.

College is essentially one enormous “pre-game” that helps make your cultural, intellectual, and social integration into the real world less awkward. I still feel like an incoming freshman at heart, but no college kegger can compare to the wild party I’m about to join – a true “rager” called life.

Nevertheless, with only two semesters until graduation, I’ll strive to work and play harder than ever. Balancing academic responsibilities with the freedom from other demands is the best way to make these last months as exciting and memorable as my first days (back when I was a naive, orange lanyard-wearing neophyte in Brewster Hall).

College is also a place for students to pursue their life’s dreams in a dream-like atmosphere. The idea that “anything is possible” applies more here than anywhere else (except for maybe inside Christopher Nolan’s head).  While there are differences between dreaming while awake and asleep, our conscious goals and subconscious fantasies have much in common. We all want to visualize our happy dreams coming to fruition without interruption or nightmare. We also want to make discoveries along the way.

With this in mind, I’m excited to embrace new challenges, relationships, and ideas before my Syracuse dream comes to an end. I plan on “Carpe Diem-ing” my way through new experiences, while also making time for familiar friends and routines (as well as few Keystone Lights).

Although I’m starting the year with a positive outlook, I’m concerned that I won’t be able to accomplish everything I’ve set out to do in (and after) college. Dreaming big could ultimately set you up for big disappointments. I also realize that my determination alone may not be enough. While hard work can get you an A (at least in “Living Writersclass), it cannot guarantee success and fulfillment down the road. Still, there is no better time to explore the depths of our own curiosities and desires.

While my childhood dreams were shaped in Long Island’s Nassau County, my hopes for adulthood have been molded here in Onondaga. Syracuse University has provided me with liberation from adolescence, as well as a bridge to my life’s true journey. While a Magellan GPS can’t help anyone  arrive at a rewarding personal destination, maybe dreams can.

Inception, Hollywood’s biggest summer hit, teaches us the importance of adapting to life’s changes. With big changes on my horizon, I was moved by the idea that we are better served confronting our realities than looking for more convenient (or in the movie’s case, imaginative) escapes. Still, it’s beneficial to note how the blockbuster film also shows us that dreaming is often breathtaking, confusing, emotionally charged, and unpredictable. Sounds a lot like real life to me.

Chill, Hippies.

Hippies annoy me. I’m not talking about the politically-charged, Joe Cocker-loving, tie dye-wearing hippies of the ’60s. I’m referring to  the confused, politically-ignorant, Dave Matthews Band-idolizing, “legalizing Marijuana will save America” quoting, Birkenstock-flopping modern sort.

There was a time when hippies actually fostered positive discussion and action in our country. Nowadays, college-aged poser hippies often make America’s youth appear apathetic and misguided.

“Puffing the Magic Dragon,” wearing Che Guevara t-shirts (why?), disliking George W. Bush without legitimate reason (“he’s dumb” isn’t enough to justify your sentiment), and having a Bob Marley poster in your dorm room doesn’t qualify you as a “true” hippie. Actually, this just makes you a tool.

"Get Up, Stand Up" Now leave your dorm...

"Get Up, Stand Up" Now leave your dorm...

Today’s hippies are essentially walking contradictions of those from decades ago. Instead of taking to the streets with a united goal for change, many now stay home and bitch about problems they know, or do little about. Sadly, most of those who actually do possess knowledge fail to constructively apply it.

I believe that the single most powerful force inhibiting our nation’s political, social, and economic progress is our impracticality. It’s impractical to expect comprehensive reform overnight (with regard to any major issue, including health care, war, corporate greed, etc.). It’s even more so to anticipate action from others when you yourself are unwilling to make compromises.

Vegetarians criticizing meat-eaters for their roles in animal cruelty should instead preach support for the companies who do things more humanely. Environmentalists should put their money where their mouths are, and quit following Phish across the U.S. in their fume-emitting vans (how do all of these “hippie” folks afford tickets to all of these jam fests, anyway?).

Phishin' for Meaning?

Phishin' for Meaning?

Real hippies once knew how to blend their idealism with realism.  They stood together and illuminated a generation’s conscious restlessness through speech, song, and collectivization. To them, Dylan and Marley were ambassadors of compassion and peace, not just for the pot that they famously smoked.

College campuses were once the place for hippies to be themselves. Today, however, it seems like too many students are just the opposite.

The Orange Blues

Ciao. I’m writing from my abroad home in Florence, Italy after an exhilarating, recent weekend excursion to Amsterdam. While Holland’s capital is well known for its green (Cannabis and locally-brewed Heineken are both legal for those over 18 and 16, respectively) and red (the city’s Red Light District is world famous), I spent much of my trip with Orange on my mind.

iAMISSING 'Cuse

I AMissing 'Cuse

My current semester in Europe has been an eye-opening experience that I will always treasure. I’ve escaped my comfort zone, met interesting people, and have had a blast while traveling throughout many beautiful cities like Rome and Pisa. Still, as with most choices in life, studying overseas has had its tradeoffs.

While I thoroughly enjoy exploring the world, it is hard being away from the Syracuse University friends and lifestyle I’ve grown to love.  Giving up a semester on campus is indeed a sacrifice, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about school daily. In addition to missing the routines and people back at SU, being thousands of miles away from one of the nation’s top-ranked college basketball teams has made my European experience bittersweet.

Despite all the wonders of modern technology, the six-hour time difference and my apartment’s lack of a television have made keeping up with the Orange a grueling task.  Italy’s weak Internet signal makes streaming online broadcasts virtually impossible, and scrambling to local bars to catch live games has been incredibly chaotic. Sure, it’s cool watching games in a foreign place, but it’s impossible to do so without wishing you were packed in the Carrier Dome’s student section watching the action in person. Italian soccer matches are definitely intense, but not quite the same.

Is Fiorentina Purple the new Orange?

Throughout my time at school, I’ve attended virtually every home basketball game. I’ve even followed the team on the road to Rutgers, Seton Hall, and Madison Square Garden to show my support. Not being in Syracuse for the College GameDay rout over Villanova made me feel record levels of what I somberly call “The Orange Blues.” Still, I’m trying hard to keep things in perspective. I’m enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity while doing my best to fully experience another.

I always believed this year’s Orange team would be successful, but Coach Boeheim’s squad appears to have what it takes to be special. Watching Syracuse contend for a national championship while abroad was never something I gave much thought to, but now I’m starting to prepare myself for this very real possibility (winning the upcoming Big East Tournament would certainly help the team’s chances).

Could an Orange title run simultaneously make me feel better and worse? While I’m whole-heartedly pulling for SU, I can’t fathom what it would be like to miss the on-campus celebration. It’s tough wanting to be in two places at once. Still, viewing this year’s basketball team as an added bonus to my abroad experience is a good way to appreciate all that I have going for me on two continents. Perhaps it’s also the only way to cope with the onset of what the Italians would refer to as “Marzo Madness.”

Wesley Johnson

Syracuse forward Wesley Johnson

Final Thoughts From Syracuse…For a While

I have mixed emotions writing my last ever blog post from inside the ZBT fraternity house at Syracuse University. I’ve “lived in” for the last three semesters, and can honestly say it’s been the time of my life. While posting up in this house with thirty plus friends (brothers does sound a little corny), I’ve never had a dull moment. With all of the male (and female) bonding that’s taken place within the walls of my favorite decrepit slum, I’ve come to truly appreciate everything about fraternity life and the collegiate experience as a whole. 

With no R.A, no parents, and virtually no rules, some may think it’s crazy for me to give up another potential semester of living in the house.  In the spring I’ll be studying abroad in Florence, and while I’m appreciative of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I do consider leaving Syracuse a big sacrifice. Giving up four months of college hooliganism and the lifestyle I’ve come to love isn’t easy. No matter how many grand cities and sights I visit in Europe, I can’t imagine that any will be quite like the place I’ve called home for the majority of my time at SU.

Some may call my departure bittersweet, and it is. I, however, prefer to look at it as the very definition of a tradeoff. I’m giving up something I love, even though I’m getting something rewarding in return. It’s like the time I got a new car after selling my first one (a white, two-door, 1994 BMW 325). While the saying “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” didn’t really apply in this situation (my Beamer’s engine pretty much blew up six hours before the car was scheduled to be inspected…tear, tear) it certainly does today. Life couldn’t be better for yours truly right now, but I’m gambling that my Italian adventure will be equally unique and memorable as the time I’ve spent in my animal house.

I have full confidence that I will do the abroad experience the right way. I’ll meet new people, learn a new language, and eat the world’s finest cuisine. Still, I’m sure I’ll always be thinking about my ZBT boys, our fraternity vernacular, and our beloved chef Fred (I’ll miss his morning ritual of howling”eggs up” after tending to the grill).

Snapshot 2009-12-21 22-20-40

Myself, Fred, and fellow ZBT brother Tyler Gildin

I guess the end of this semester marks a pivotal turning point before another major turning point in my life. After my abroad experience, I’ll come back to Syracuse as a senior. Then, even more nostalgia will kick in (with a side serving of anxiety). As my fear of aging is well-documented (check out an earlier post fittingly entitled “On Aging”), it feels good to be self-reflective. Hell, I’m starting to become more and more like the Wonder Years narrator every day (the show’s grown-up protagonist was voiced by none other than Daniel Stern, AKA… Home Alone “Wet Bandit” Marv). I doubt Kevin Arnold went on to do the whole fraternity thing (thankfully the writers spared us from a Saved By The Bell- like “College Years” spin-off), but if he did, I’m sure he would have eventually shared my sentiment. After all, this whole wild chapter in my life wouldn’t have been half as fun without “a little help from my friends.”

Film Icon Daniel Stern

As I finish typing this at my fraternity room desk, I’m a little bummed that my time living here is over. Simultaneously, I’m psyched to share some of my upcoming, worldly experiences with y’all. Doing so will both help me document my travels, and allow me to maintain a routine I’ve enjoyed here on the fraternity homefront. 

I’ll Remember My First Beer

My 21st birthday is on Sunday. Check out my column about this upcoming milestone in Syracuse University’s Daily Orange.

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