Nothing brings clarity to a Northwestern student quite like being home for the holidays with a refrigerator full of your parents finest beer. Here are the observations of one Wildcat on life on the outside.
1. Nobody will compliment you on how good you look ever again*
Maybe you’re like me and were in peak physical condition sophomore year of high school. Maybe you’re also like me and your body stopped changing for the better by the time Wildcat Welcome Week rolled around. Or maybe you’re like me and just not that good looking to begin with. Either way, you can kiss those “oh my god you look so great!”s and “wow, bro, you lift?”s and “hey, so the thing is, I never would have broken up with you outside of Six Flags Great America’s Raging Bull if you looked like that”s goodbye. Your physique has started what promises to be a decades-long decline, and all that you have to look forward to is people poking your love handles and observing how fat you’re getting. But hey, making donuts with your belly is pretty fun, right?
*Caveat: Until you’re about 75, at which point every day you’re still sucking breath means you look great
2. There are, like, seemingly twenty different conceptions of what constitutes a “Northwestern man”
Everybody thinks they know who the quintessential Northwestern man (or wo-man) is, but nobody seems to agree. Here are some of the main archetypes I was able to identify this break:
The Stephen Colbert: A renaissance man with a nerdy streak and flair for the dramatic. Quirky but able to connect with others, the Stephen Colbert is smart but not a Try Hard.
The Try Hard: Also known as the The Girl Who Dumped You Outside of Six Flags Great America’s Raging Bull, the Try Hard is probably a) blonde, b) pre-med, and c) just so stressed out right now trying to balance midterms and pledge family dinner and Students For Humane Neutering and picking out the perfect top for recruitment. Avoid discussing how pretty/talented/employed/engaged her friends are at all costs.
The Gordon Gekko: Part of Northwestern’s veritable army of economics majors recruited by Goldman, The Gordon Gekko will stop at nothing to make sure the rich get richer, the Sigma Nu’s get douchier, and the poor don’t get health care.
The Pre-Med: The only thing more frightening than 8am orgo is the thought of these students one day handling the lives of other human beings.
The Soul-less Shell of a Hipster: Most likely found longboarding in jeans that will make your swimmers shrivel or loudly discussing the relative merits of Bradford Cox’s solo work (if you don’t know who that is, then congratulations, you might be a Gordon Gekko), the Soul-less Shell of a Hipster’s attendance at NU probably prevents him or her from actually achieving proper hipsterdom, but that won’t stop them from ironically taking at least one course on the ethnomusicography of pre-Victorian Era feminism.
SESPians: Whether they’re LOC future consultants or social policy majors politically to the left of Mao, SESPians have two things in common: an inability to do upper-level math, and reminding you of SESP’s free candy.
The Medilldo (female): A close relative of the Try Hard, The Medilldo has been set on a position with Marie Claire since the fourth grade and won’t let any trivial obstructions or Medill’s incompetence or difficult classes stand in her way. Think Anne Hathaway in Devil Wears Prada, but with more spunk and less pay.
The Medilldo (male): Similar to his female counterpart, just replace Marie Claire with ESPN and Anne Hathaway with Mike Greenberg. Unless they’re doing an IMC Certificate, in which case this bro just really wanted to go to undergrad business school.
While all of these archetypes are 100% true with absolutely no ambiguity whatsoever, the prevalence of these stereotypes is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, we’ll be explaining ourselves for Rod Blagojevich forever. On the other, how many Peabody’s has a graduate of Wash U ever won?
3. You like some home friends more than you remember
They’re the ones who teach you Magic: The Gathering covertly in your basement and don’t tell others you think it’s actually kind of fun. The ones who insist on buying you a tequila shot or three, no matter how cheap the tequila is. The ones who remind you that there is a world outside of Northwestern, and it is enjoyable.
4. And some home friends less
You know who these “friends” are, even if they don’t quite yet. Most likely friends of friends or friends of The Girl Who Dumped You Outside of Six Flags Great America’s Raging Bull, no matter how great your bonds of friendship once were, they have since dissolved as you’ve grown to recognize how little you want to be friends with them. Avoid mixing these former friends and the aforementioned cheap tequila.
5. You can get away with slipping out a “Merry Christmas” here and there without existential terror
There’s nothing quite like the safety and relief afforded by your WASP suburb, sheltered from the fear of being reminded “well, it’s not my holidays” for having the temerity to wish another human being Happy Holidays. If this seems offensive, maybe I’m just bitter about Yom Kippur forcing me to stay an extra week at home in September.
6. People want to know where you’ll be next year
“Oh, I don’t really know what I’ll be doing next year, Drunk Republican Uncle Ron. I mean, I know that I’ll be hitchhiking my way across the nation in search of the American Dream, I just don’t quite know where I’ll be hitchhiking to yet. I’ve always wanted to see San Francisco, but it really depends on whether or not my Grandpa’s Christmas check clears this year. Your guess is as good as mine, but I’m thinking I can at least afford a bus ticket to North Platte and just kind of hoof it from there.”
You jackass, Drunk Republican Uncle Ron.
7. Northwestern’s a pretty great place
We’re all extraordinarily fortunate to attend this school, and that becomes all the more apparent the more time you spend away from NU. No school has a more invigorating intellectual vitality combined with unique personality, filled with 8,000+ (mostly) brilliant undergrads doing fascinating things at a school that has a perfect balance of work and play. Even if our football team sucks a bag of koala dicks every now and again, we’ll still come out and support a team that embodies our school spirit of striving to be elite in all things, from athletics to musical theater. What’s best, though, is the ethos at Northwestern of pursuing the myriad of interests held by Northwestern’s crazy-diverse student body (extracurricular-wise at least, if nothing else). It’s a community where students thrive and you meet some of the smartest yet most personable people assembled who will change your life and provide the most important aspect of your education at Northwestern–learning from the people around you.
Keep on keeping on, Northwestern. And for the love of God, cancel classes on Monday.