In a simpler time, when I was younger and dumber and not yet an alumnus of the University of Chicago, I worried that the best time in my life would be the period from mid-December of my senior year of high school until I moved into my dorm room. It was perfect. I could wear a college hoodie as a substitute for a personality. I could fantasize about conversations on the quad about Plato. I could bask in the warm prestigious glow of UChicago without doing a lick of work. But I’ve learned since then. I’ve gained the wisdom that only someone who has fulfilled their Civ requirement with Mesopotamian Lit has, and I’ve returned to share it with you: O-Week is the best your life will ever be.
Let me take you inside the game. When you get moved into your dorm. You’ll meet your housemates and make your best and only friends for the rest of your life. You’ll never make another. And as time goes on, those friends will fall away. One will turn into a fitness guy who tries to eat 18 hard-boiled eggs a day to meet his protein goals. One will die in a tragic belaying accident that you won’t be held criminally or civilly liable for, but you know in your heart it was your fault. One of them will turn you down when you try to kiss them after completely misreading a vibe while jamming out to Drops of Jupiter. And that’s just who you lose in the first year.
But what about your classes? You must feel that you’re on the cusp of a great intellectual awakening? All those classes that sounded so exciting when you picked them with your advisor? Human Being and Citizen? Self Culture and Society? Turns out all those great books suck. You know who wants to read Nicomachean Ethics? A fucking nerd. It just feels good to say you’re gonna read them, which is what O-Week is all about. And you know how you were gonna talk about Plato on the quad? Well, he’s a double whammy, because not only is he a nerd, but turns out he’s fasc.
And what about your romantic life? Few know this about O-Week, but it’s actually the only time you’re allowed to have sex. Afterwards, well, I’ll spare you the gory details, but let’s just say in my day Dean Boyer held a lot of keys. Pro tip: make sure you remember to pick yours up before graduating.
Don’t even get me started on post-grad life. You take the entry-level finance job thinking you only have to do a few shifts as a human footstool, but that’s never the truth. It’s 20 hours a week. You move away from Hyde Park, the greatest neighbourhood in the world, and have to settle for NYC. And you have to talk to so many people who don’t get your classic “I Kant Even” jokes.
So take this as a warning, first years. Live your O-Week to the fullest. Make friends. Do an O-mance. Pretend you like Hegel. Because it’s all downhill from there. Sooner than you realize it you’ll be an alumnus, hoping to run into Dean Boyer at alumni weekend so you can ask him about your key.