There are a lot of things that the pretty college brochures that will/have attacked your mailbox don’t show. Sometimes they forget to mention how outrageously pricey the school’s dining plans really are, and other times they forget to tell you that you might be the only person of color in many of your classes. There’s another thing that those perfect brochures also fail to evoke, and probably non-intentionally: the college’s student culture.

The brochures can say blah blah blah about how great and inquisitive students are at XYZ University, but they will never be able to capture the student culture accurately. There are many unspoken facets of college culture that simply cannot be recorded in a quantitative manner. You learn these ways once you get to the school. And well that, that can be really intimidating.

I still remember walking into our dining hall the first day I arrived. I stood in line to make my dining payment when the lady taking my payment looked up and said, “What?” I froze and said “What?” back. I had no idea what she was asking. I heard three kids giggling behind me in line while one of them whispered, “What a freshman move, doesn’t even know his dining plan.” I stood there embarrassed until someone else in the line came up to me and told the cashier lady, “He’s on the unlimited plan. All freshman are.” I smiled at the nice girl who had saved me from further embarrassment as I rushed away from the three other evil kids who had taken advantage of my freshman move and jumped on it. I realized then and there that there was more to the beautiful brochures that I have received in the mail. Besides the challenging academics, there would also be a challenging social life, a new culture which I was now part of and I had no idea how it worked.

Turns out though, that you have a choice. You can get to school and choose to assimilate to your campus culture. That’s great if your school’s current campus culture resonates within you and fosters your values, hopes and dreams. But if that culture doesn’t, don’t be afraid to create your own. For the past two years I’ve seen myself grow more intelligent, but I can’t help like feeling like I’ve also lost a part of myself: the kooky, crazy, and slightly delusional part of myself that I really feel makes me unique. I’ve spent too much time overanalysing everything about myself and trying to make myself seem “a bit more normal”, just so I don’t stand out too much, just so I don’t get called out like I did my freshman year in the dining hall. It’s a silly example, I know, but there’s a large issue at hand here. You can’t lose yourself because of what others perceive as socially acceptable/normal.
Take it upon yourself to create your own culture. Don’t be afraid. I’ll do it with you. Starting now.

“We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”Terrence McKenna


With hopes and dreams intact,