Regardless of your personality type, the first few days of college can prove hectic for anyone. From the confusion over how to pronounce “Usdan” to the anxiety over making friends, the first week of Wesleyan is a chaotic time marked by a slew of new emotions. However, alongside these new emotions comes the best part of college: new experiences. While the ability to meet new people and live independently is great, what really seems to get new frosh hyped up is the fact that they can finally go out and party.
You know it, I know it, we all know it. While college is a great place filled with oodles of unique things to try, the first thing many freshmen want to do once they are living sans parents is go out and get “lit.” Who’s to blame them? Regardless of the level of partying that one did in high school, nothing really compares to being surrounded by hundreds of like-minded and unsupervised young adults. Add to that the stereotype of college parties that is ubiquitous in the media and you get a group of 800, newly independent and highly thirsty teenagers who feel like it’s their God-given duty to drink an excessive amount of Vodka and go dancing.
Their optimistic idea of what Wesleyan nightlife will be like, however, quickly comes into conflict with what Wesleyan nightlife is actually like. For many first years the buzzword when it comes to Wes parties is Fountain, the (in)famous avenue on which many senior houses are located. However, the Fountain that is described by many upperclassmen, where parties are constant and amazing, is often not the Fountain that many first years encounter. In fact, most of the frosh I’ve met have described Fountain as dull and dead, devoid of any fun or alcohol. The negative image that many first years have of Fountain, however, is not actually the fault of the avenue itself, but is instead a product of simply being a first year. What makes Fountain so bland and boring for first years is exactly what makes Wesleyan so daunting and difficult.
One of the main parts of entering a new community such as Wesleyan is the fact that in the beginning, you’re just another freshman gremlin without a clue as to what’s going on. If you don’t know anything about anything, then you don’t know where to find a party. Let me paint you a word picture: It’s 10 p.m. on your second Saturday at Wesleyan. You just used Coca-Cola you stole from Usdan to chase the fifth shot of Vodka that your cool friend with a fake bought from Metro Spirits. The night is young and so are you, and your inebriated brain wants to go dancing. Where do you go?
To most freshmen there is only one option: Fountain. Since the first-years just arrived at campus mere weeks ago, nobody really understands how the social life here functions. While students are aware that the program houses and Alpha Delta exist, they’re more opaque than Fountain. Additionally, since most frosh interact with their own year, it’s hard to get an “in” with an upperclassman. Because all the first years are equally as confused, they all end up migrating towards Fountain and squeezing like horny sardines into whatever house has multi-colored lights on.
This situation, while common, has another slightly less common cousin, in which the frosh form a conglomeration not inside a house, but on its lawn. This bizarre occurrence also has its roots in a common freshman trait, namely not knowing their place. I don’t mean this in a rude way. I mean that so soon after matriculating the new students just don’t know how things work. Most freshmen haven’t been here long enough to really feel like a part of the community, so they don’t feel like they belong yet. To a kid straight out of high school, the idea of just walking into a stranger’s house is a daunting one. What if it’s a private party? What if it’s only for a specific sports team or club? What if it’s all seniors? These and other questions like them make partying on Fountain difficult for first years, and often lead to the lackluster experiences that some students have expressed.
The point that I am trying to make, however, is that it’s not Fountain that sucks, it’s being a freshman that puts a damper on your partying. While college is a wonderful place, being in an alien environment, being unsure of how things work, and simply being the new kid all suck. But, since time has a way of progressing, all of these afflictions are merely temporary. Bit by bit, drunken night after drunken night, you’ll start to figure things out. You’ll start to become invested in the community. And one Thursday night you’ll take your fifth shot, slam your glass down on the table, and exclaim, “I know where we’re going tonight.” And then, my friends, you’ll truly be a Wesleyan student.
Daniel Knopf is a member of the class of 2022 and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.