Back to School, Again: Tailgates, Technology, and Times Past
by Dave Cavnar
Posted on 9/3/2015
This Friday, I’ll be returning to my alma mater, Western Michigan University, with some college buddies. We plan to engage in the age old tradition of tailgating prior to watching the football game between the Broncos and the Spartans of Michigan State University.
I haven’t been back to Kalamazoo (yes, that is a real place) in years, and the prospect of returning to my old stomping grounds has gotten me thinking about all of the students who are currently moving into dorm rooms for the first time and the general bustle and energy that envelopes college towns all over the United States this time of year. I vividly remember the palpable feeling of excitement that swelled in my chest in the waning days of Summer, each of the four years I attended Western.
I can picture pulling up to the dorms in a car full of my stuff: a hand-me-down futon, laundry hampers overflowing with clothes, rolled up posters, and all of the other paraphernalia that would fill the room I’d be sharing with a high school friend of mine.
The questions running through my head on those first days were never-ending: What does a college freshmen need in their dorm room? Will we already have internet hooked up? Is my second-hand laptop fast enough? Will my Xbox (yup, the original!) connect with my roommate’s bulky old Samsung TV? How far away was the cafeteria from our room? Will our hall neighbors be people we can get along with? The questions never stopped. But slowly, the answers presented themselves.
I hate to pull the, “Back in my day…” card, but I did just own up to the fact that my game system back then was an original Xbox. I was still rocking a Nokia cellphone (this was a bit before the Smartphone era). In fact, it was in that first semester of freshmen year that my roommate suggested I check out this new, exclusive-to-college-student website called Facebook. Yes, I was among the first wave of people to get to experience the joys of receiving a friend request, get tagged in a picture (not always a good thing), or see who had just entered into a relationship (or left one). We got DVDs and rented video games from a video store next to campus and my parents could call me on the landline in the room. Not many people had phones with cameras, so you didn’t have to suffer through watching people take an absurd amount of selfies.
Oh, the good ol’ days.
That being said, students these days have an incredible variety of resources to pick from. Affordable flat-screen HDTVs, plenty of amazing game systems, powerful tablets that can fit easily into a messenger bag yet can hold a semester worth of recordings (in case you fall asleep in class). The level of connectivity that we have access to in today’s world has provided current college students with an unprecedented ability to research, compose, and present just about any assignment given to them, all from a simple laptop.
Now, if I can remember correctly, the biggest challenge will be bringing yourself to buckle down and get those things accomplished before heading out to enjoy the warm late-Summer air and the lingering green in the trees. Before we know it, Fall will be upon us and we’ll be breaking out hoodies, sweats, and our warm hats.
Before that, however, I will have the chance to take a walk down memory lane, and probably chuckle at how young everyone looks. If you’re one of those younger people and reading this, just take a look at all the high school freshmen at your old school and you’ll understand how you look to me now. It’s all part of the whole growing up process. Enjoy it. And enjoy your fresh start at whichever school you’re attending!