Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Family First

            A burnt out college junior, a budding freshman, and two recent empty nesters try to make dinner plans: this is my current family dynamic.  I’m not going to lie; it can be stressful spending time with my family.  My parents go to sleep no later than 11.  I go out no earlier than 11.  My sister likes kale.  I like cheeseburgers.  Often, I find that I have very little in common with the people that shaped me.
            As you grow up it’s easy to forget how you got to that point.  I certainly do not spend a lot of time thinking about my elementary school days.  Even less often, however, do I take the time to remember life back at home with my family.  Between exams, and projects, and the disheveled calendar that is my social life, I rarely reminisce about Wednesday nights back in Pikesville.
            A home cooked meal.  4 people crowded on one couch around a grossly outdated EDTV[1] (that stands for enhanced definition; you’ve never heard of it because they only made them for about a week).  Maybe 24 is on, or The Office.  My sister pops popcorn and dad scoops ice cream.  Perhaps we’re playing Scrabble (I’m probably winning).  It’s nights like these that make me miss home.
            My parents don’t party.  They don’t eat Domino’s.  My sister doesn’t drink Budweiser or play FIFA.  They won’t come to Mardi Gras or see the new Fast & Furious movie at 10:30.  Yet, I can’t hold that against them.  The truth is, we’re all at different places in our lives, and that’s okay.  The challenge is remembering the things we have in common and searching for new ones.
            I’m going home this weekend, and normally that’s stressful for me.  There’s something about living under my parents’ roof that undermines my basic independence.  Nevertheless, I’m excited to be back in Baltimore.  After all, it only takes a few moments to remember how much fun we had together, back when school was around the corner, and family TV night was a highlight of the week.
            So, I urge you to take a minute and remember your childhood.  No one’s was perfect, of course, but if you dig deep, I’m sure you can smile about the time when you were cared for by people who loved you unconditionally.  Call your parents on the phone.  Meet them for dinner.  Send your sister a stupid snapchat.  NO matter where you are in your life, these are the people who will truly always have your back, and the biggest mistake you could make would be pushing them away.

[1] Note: that TV has since been replaced.

Monday, March 23, 2015

I Should Have Been An English Major

            How do you measure the accuracy of a printing press at a newspaper publisher?  That’s the riveting question that my professor is attempting to answer in front of 50 students for my operations management class.  I look around the room and see hardly an interested face.  In my limited field of view, at least 6 Facebook pages are open.  A few students have their cellphones in their laps, happily texting away.  One dude in the front row has dozed off at least 4 times.  A handful of students appear to be taking notes.  I listened for a while, but then I found myself typing here.
            I don’t blame the professor.  He’s brilliant; a mathematician by trade, he is extremely overqualified to teach this dumbed down statistics class for business students.  His heavy Eastern European accent doesn’t help his cause.  I actually find the material mildly interesting, but the huge disparity in mathematical aptitude amongst the students necessitates that the concepts are introduced at the pace of a snail.
            I’ve been taking classes like this for two years now.  It’s not that I abhor my coursework; much of it, I find quite interesting.  Add that to Goizueta’s prestige, and the assurance that if I put in the effort, I have a pretty good chance of finding gainful employment, my business school education certainly seems worthwhile.  Still, instead of taking notes on the statistical significance of systematic process data, I’m sitting here writing this post.
I’ve prepared half a dozen presentations this semester.  I’ve taken four exams.  I’ve memorized the phases of the moon and the winter constellations.  I’ve researched affordable legal services and the health insurance market in America.  I’ve put in countless hours delving into topics that couldn’t mean less to me, or my future.  Nevertheless, to this day, I haven’t written a single paper—not a report, not an essay, not even a reading response.  Almost three months into the term, I’ve yet to use the one skill that I’ve put the most time and effort into improving, my one true passion.  What kind of undergraduate education does not require its students to write more than a paragraph at a time?  So, when people ask me how I like the business school, my response is always exactly the same:

I should have been an English major.

Monday, March 16, 2015

It's Not What, It's Who

            I’ve travelled all over Europe.  I’ve been to Mardi Gras three times.  I’ve pledged a fraternity (RIP).  I’ve attended countless baseball games, and concerts, and festivals.  I’ve gone to many classes, and, of course, I’ve also skipped a few.  In short, my college experience has been a marathon, to say the least.  Only recently, however, have I come to the conclusion that what I’m doing is far less important to me than the people I’m doing it with.
            This year I spent my spring break in Miami, and it was fun.  I got plenty of sun, enjoyed fine food and drink, and spent a little bit more money than I would’ve liked.  All in all, it was a good break, a nice change of pace from class and studying.  But you don’t want to hear about my trip; that would make Student Parking Only no better than the worst abroad blog.
            I’d rather tell you about Saturday night, when I had safely returned to Atlanta.  Following 11 hours of driving, I was pretty worn out, but when my friend gave me a call and asked if I was going out, I said, “sure.”  After all, I was still technically on vacation.
            By any standards, the night was a dud.  12 guys and 3 girls at the pregame was a bad start.  To make matters worse, when we arrived at Maggie’s, the average age was about 35.  Half our group left shortly thereafter.  This was by no means cut out to be a night for the record books.  Yet, for me it was.
            The few of us who stayed at the desolate bar made the most of it.  I threw some songs on the jukebox, we cracked jokes, and Alexi narrowly avoided a fist fight with a middle-aged man.  When we finally decided to leave, we went back to my apartment and stayed up til 4 AM, chatting, telling stories, and listening to music.  By the time we all called it a night, we could hardly keep our eyes open.

            In the end, I did nothing of particular consequence on Saturday night, but nevertheless, I had a smile on my face the entire time.  I can’t say the same for my week in Miami.  So, next time you’re making plans, I encourage you to worry less about the question of what you’re doing.  Who you spend your time with is everything, so choose carefully.