The year is 1984. The legal drinking age in Iowa rises to 21. The state’s largest vendor of beer, according to legend, loses three-quarters of its customers. Two years later, the Grinnell College campus pub closes.
As my parents helped me unload the station wagon and carry my belongings up four flights of stairs on that hot afternoon in late August, the realization that this was the place where I would spend the next four years only added to my excessive perspiration. College. I was about to embark on the adventure of roommates, late night cramming, and defining myself.
I never expected it to be a one-year stint.
During the first-day orientation for Grinnell-in-London (GIL), one of the College’s oldest off-campus study programs, we received an exciting list of fieldtrips. In addition to GIL’s fabulous main dish of courses and internships, fieldtrips are the delicious dessert. Designed as essential parts of all GIL classes, fieldtrips add first-hand learning experience and broaden our views of England and Europe.
Issue: Spring 2009
Author: Ross Preston '10
Thinking back to the summer before I came to Grinnell, I recall an inordinate amount of anticipation for everything Grinnell-related that came my way. I would check my Grinnell e-mail account, only to find no new messages. I was constantly thinking of new things to bring to school. And I probably spent too much time on Facebook, discussing my excitement with future classmates.
I arrived at Grinnell my first year as a wannabe physicist and a wannabe writer, and I had no idea which of these subjects I wanted to follow. If I had been stuck with such diverse interests at any other college, I might have been in trouble, but at Grinnell this dilemma was not as serious as it might have originally seemed. By pure luck, I got the perfect first-year adviser to help me work through my science-humanities schizophrenia: Professor Paula Smith, an English professor who teaches creative writing. Her husband, Professor Paul Tjossem, teaches physics.
Grinnellians love to dress up. We embrace every chance to put away our homework and don the most ridiculous, fantastic costumes you’ve ever seen — and we do it at least three times a semester!
One of the first people I met when I came to Grinnell College as a student was my future friend Alyssa. As I hauled my huge bags out of the car, Alyssa approached me and my family with a big smile. “Hi! Welcome to Grinnell!” At first, I thought she was just volunteering to help first-year students move in, but later I found out she was my floor’s student adviser (SA). As my first year progressed, not only did I become close friends with Alyssa, but I also learned about the unique structure of residential life at Grinnell.
Issue: Spring 2009
When my fellow Alt Breakers and I started to give each other nicknames, I knew all barriers between us had vanished. It surprised me — after less than a week together on our spring break service trip, our group skipped the polite acquaintance period that exists after introduction and went straight to familiarity. After all, you don’t call someone “Creepy Voice” or “Lost in Boys” until you feel they won’t take it the wrong way. The nicknames signaled we had become family.