Springfield, MA: I was a bit apprehensive about meeting Jake, whom I would shadow for the day. I had been accepted to the School of Engineering and thought it would be helpful to go to some classes before deciding to attend. I prayed that my guide wouldn’t be one of those who doesn’t have many friends and goes to bed at nine. To my surprise, Jake was an extremely normal kid, not at all the weird, study-driven engineer I had pictured. On our way to breakfast, he said, “My friend and I were talking about how funny it would be if you turned out to be a really nerdy engineer, but you were probably thinking the same thing.” Chuckling, I told him he had no idea how right he was.
Scanning the cafeteria, I noticed no particular social pattern. Preppy students were sitting next to nerdy-looking kids.
“Physics in the morning is terrible,” Jake told me through a mouthful of corn flakes. “To be honest, I’d prefer to be anywhere else, but since you’re visiting, I’ll try to pretend that it actually interests me.”
After physics, we headed back to his dorm to kill time between classes. Walking down the hall, pretty much everyone’s door was open so friends could come and go as they pleased.
“For the most part, everyone is really cool here. Lately we’ve spent nights watching curling. We get pretty intense about a sport we don’t even understand,” Jake said. “Between classes I usually go back to sleep for a couple hours, or if a friend is around we’ll play a video game.” He handed me a Playstation 2 controller and while we were playing, a few floormates came in to watch and introduced themselves.
Jake’s last class was Calculus II, my least favorite subject, which ironically turned out to be my favorite class. The teacher was a man everyone referred to as Meesh who made many references to “the dude” and Clint Eastwood to keep the material interesting. I found myself paying attention, even though I had no idea what was going on.
After thanking Jake, my parents and I headed home. My first college immersion taught me a lot about WNEC and college in general. First, I realized that a college tour won’t help you decide whether or not you like a school; you have to hang out with the students. I also noticed that college kids seem no more mature than high schoolers; they like the same activities and have the same quirks. In the realm of universities, microwavable foods are king and video games are a necessity. Find out more at wnec.edu.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.