Friday, May 05, 2006

Welcome to BU!

This article will be, in some part, in the BU-run student paper, The Source. Maybe.

Welcome to Boston University boys and girls. I'm sure you have all come from varying backgrounds, different suburbs, and ranging from all socioeconomic levels, such as the middle class to upper class. BU is rich with people from various races and ethnicities, such as Caucasians, Irish, Italians, and whites!

As you may have noticed, BU is an urban campus, centered in the lively city of Boston. By "lively" I mean an urban playground that closes at 2 AM. Only in Boston can you walk down a major street--Commonwealth Avenue--at 11 PM on a Friday and be the only person around. Parents, if you’re worried about crime, do not fret. There simply isn’t anyone out to commit any crime. I think there is a city mandated bedtime.

What distinguishes Boston from other major locales across the globe is its subway system, the T. It is a curious combination of the normal, underground subway system and an above ground trolley network. They work together to be as reliable as a compulsive liar. I warn you now: never depend on the T. There will come a time where you desperately need to get to class or across town and you will wait for twenty minutes only to have a double-car that is packed like Landsdowne after a Sox game go screaming by you. Oh, and it stops running at 1 AM. Get your walking shoes, folks.

Boston is also unique for its weather. There are two seasons here: Hot and Cold. These seasons have no boundaries dependent on the month. We know that summer will start in June and end in August. In Boston, hot and cold could fluctuate with no regard for the date! For example, this past year in January it hit 60 degrees on a Monday before snowing on Tuesday. You can't make this stuff up. This was written on a day where it was 83 degrees at noon and 55 degrees by dusk. My favorite is the fluctuation as you walk to class, when you're burning up in the sun and freezing in the shade. Don't worry; you get accustomed to the wackiness.

This fluctuation in temperature means that you should always be ready to dress comfortably on a day-by-day basis. I made the mistake of packing nothing but shorts when I moved in Freshman year, expecting to pick up pants when I went home in mid-October. It was 50 degrees by the second week. You will be living in a meteorological grab bag, so pack accordingly. Make your homepage and never trust the “hand out the window” check. Ever. I’ve lost many friends to extraordinary sweating when using that system.

As I mentioned before, Boston is a city that demands walking. I am sure this is by design as the streets are simply paved cow paths, an era that featured the horse-drawn buggy as the only sensible way to get around. Add the nation's worst drivers to this maze of pavement and you have a recipe for sure death if you try and drive to and from class. I have driven in Boston a few times and I thank God every time I make it out alive (Boston drivers were never told about the advantages of turn signals).

Cars are still a problem for pedestrians, as BU is peppered with very strange crosswalks. One particular problem is by the BU Bridge. Regardless of what the lights say, it is almost always a game of chance when you decide to cross the street. It is very easy to pick out who the freshman are early in the year because you guys simply do not know how to time your walk. Here's a hint: don't panic and stop in the middle of a 3-lane road when you're walking against the green light. It's not beneficial for anyone involved. With time and experience you too can laugh at those silly fools who all wear their orientation shirts like a uniform.

One trait that almost all BU students seem to have is not paying any mind to traffic and walking across the street, regardless of whether or not a car is barreling through. The common response I get when I ask about this dangerous behavior is, "well, cars are supposed to yield at crosswalks." Here is some simple math: the normal person is between 100 and 200 pounds while the average car is weighed in tonnage. I'm sure you won't care that the car that hit you is getting a hefty fine for not obeying the laws of the road while your collarbone resembles the end of a game of Jenga.

BU takes precautions to curb this "unsafe" behavior by enforcing a stringent policy with on campus housing. They keep things so incredibly safe that sometimes it is hard to actually get into the building where you live. The Terrier card is not just a way to use more of your parents’ money on items such as iPods, food, and cigarettes. It is also the only way you can get into your building to sleep at night. Without your ID card, you cannot swipe in to the building, and are immediately thought of as an intruder by security. Even in May when you have seen that same guard the whole year, he will probably not let you in. Who needs ease when you have safety?

A lot of people decide that it is a good idea to punch a hole in your Terrier card and attach your key through a key ring. The rationale here is you can’t lose your Terrier card if it is always attached to your key ring. While seemingly logical, there is a giant flaw in this thinking. You will lose your key and your ID card a lot. It just happens. The problem with the attachment system is that if you misplace one item, you lose the other as well. This poses a problem since you now not only cannot get inside the building, but you cannot even open get into your room.

Luckily for us Forgetful Franks and Frans, you can go to the RA office and sheepishly ask for the spare key to your room. Do not lose the spare key, because BU will change your locks and charge you $130 for it. They also have a tendency to not warn you, and if your roommate causes your lock to change without informing you, it tends to be a bit…jarring. Communication is a good thing people.

Your Terrier card is also your way in to the dining halls. Remember how great the food was when you ate there recently? Relish it, because it will never be that good again. Do not underestimate the power of your visiting parents (or as they are commonly referred to, “The Bill Payers”). The best I could say about the dining halls is that it is dorm food, and dorm food is the same everywhere. If there is a universal link between every college in the nation, it has to be the quality of dining. To pass the time, see how many days it takes until your burrito literally falls apart in front of your very eyes before you even lay a hand on it. If you live in West Campus or Warren, you have the best of the dining hall experience. Just do not expect to eat between 6 and 7 PM, for it is impossible.

The George Sherman Union is another on-campus hotspot when it comes to dining. You can spend all of your dining points on wonderfully prepared salads, turkey dinners with all of the fixings, or get a sandwich from Aesop's Bagels (but they don't have bacon, egg, and cheese, which is like going to a diner that doesn't serve fries). The GSU also has a Starbucks that takes dining points. If you only sort of enjoy coffee, enjoy your new addiction. If you love coffee, they are figuring out a way where you can swipe your card and have an IV on hand to pump the mochachino-latte-frappa-caffienated goodness straight into your veins.

There are a lot of positive things at BU, almost none of which I have listed here. This column is simply a counter-balance to all of the great points that are highlighted (over and over again) during your orientation stay. I love this place and look forward to another two years in the Boston University system (even with all of the Red Sox fans). Welcome to the place where dreams come true, Facebook is nearly a registered cult, and liberals run amok. Enjoy your stay.


Suzie said...

A few points.

a -- You forgot the French. DAMMIT. Nous n'aimons pas être oubliés!
b -- Turn signals are for the weak. I haven't used my blinker since driver's ed.
c -- Ew, The Source? Thou art better than that, Manton. Do the publishers even know what a copyeditor is? Have they SEEN a copy of the AP Stylebook? I bust a neuron every time I open that paper.

Anonymous said...

loved your piece...very pithy

Anonymous said...

Pittsburgh beats Boston's sucky ass. Busses stop running around midnight, and on most days, the city closes down at 7 or so. Yay!