Monday, August 5, 2013

Memories of a College Freshmen

Being awesome in my dorm room
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

I have several friends on Facebook who are about to send their children off to college in the next few days, and of course that got me to thinking about the good ol' days.  Back in May 1991, I was preparing to graduate from high school.  My plans were already made.  I was going to attend the University of Missouri-St. Louis.  It was a 30 minute drive from my parents' house, so I'd live at home and save money.  Then in two years, I'd planned to transfer to Southeast Missouri State University.

My roommate & me
It was the perfect plan in my mind, but something didn't feel right about it as the end of high school grew closer.  I don't know what it was, but in a last minute move, I applied to SEMO and hoped I'd get accepted.  It was the 11th hour, as I sent in the paperwork on the LAST day of my senior year of high school.  Luckily, I got in and I'd be in for the adventure of a lifetime.

I can not sing the praises of Southeast loud enough.  I loved my four and a half years there.  I remember move in day back in August 1991.  My parents and I lugged all my stuff up six flights of stairs.  Those items included a roll of carpet, a college boy fridge, TV, VCR, boom box, and a typewriter.  No CD player.  No lap top or word processor.  I also had a milk crate filled with wrestling magazines because there was no smart phone or Internet in those days.

Just a few friends hanging out
I lived in the residence hall known as Towers West my freshmen year.  Because I wanted a friend of mine from high school, Jim, to be my roommate and he'd been accepted months before me, we ended up landing on the smoking floor.  At first, I wasn't a fan of this, as neither of us smoked, but the Tower was full and the 6 West was the only floor that still had a double vacancy.

Living in the dorm (I know the University prefers the word residence hall) was a blast.  It forced me out of my shell.  I got to meet people I wouldn't normally meet.  I remember late nights of playing spades, drinking Boone's Farm wine, and telling stories.  Thanks to the power of social media, I've been able to reconnect with several of those old friends from 6 West.  I don't regret a single moment from those days, I had fun, but I also stayed focused on the reason I was there, my education.

Cardiac Hill & the Gum Tree circa 2013
The Towers were located right outside the infamous Cardiac Hill.  Most of my classes were located just on the other side of that hill, so several times a day I would huff and puff my way up it.  I recently went back for a visit to the campus and hiked the hill again.  I think it's gotten steeper.  At the top of the hill, you're greeted with the Gum Tree.  It's exactly what it sounds like.  It's a tree plastered with ABC (already been chewed) gum.  I stuck my first piece to that tree nearly 22 years ago, and back in January I did it again.

I am so glad I ended up on the academic path that I did.  Leaving my family and going away to school was one of the best things to happen to me.  There's an instant gaining of independence.  You have to make the decisions about what time your classes will be, when you'll go to bed, what you'll eat for supper.  If you skip class, there's a price to pay.  Professors aren't going to hold your hand and make sure you're turning in assignments.  College is a time to grow up (although there's plenty of time for fun too, don't get me wrong.)  I had one professor who would ask, "Do you know the difference between a high school senior and a college freshmen?... 3 months."   That is true, but I think when you're making your own decisions and then face the consequences, by the time that first year is up, you're a whole new person.

The girls of 8 East
There's another reason I'm glad I attended Southeast when I did.  At the end of my freshmen year,  I ended up meeting my wife.  We had our first date in May 1992 and have been together ever since.  The floor she lived on in the all girls dorms was our "sister floor."

Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg on my experiences at SEMO.  I stayed in the Towers for two more years, moving to South and that's where the real debauchery started.  (I kid, kinda)  After that, I went on to become a founding father of the Mu Kappa chapter of Sigma Nu fraternity where more friendships were born.

Bottom line, I loved college and to anyone who is reading this and about to start their college career, I wish you the best of luck.  Have fun, study hard, and find the people who will be positive influences in your life.

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