After a full year of the traditional college homecomings and routine family gatherings, I have become accustomed to the bombardment of personal questions, as I’m certain every other college student worldwide has.
The one infamous inquiry that will never cease, “So, how is school?” does, in fact, still continue even after two whole semesters have gone by, and even after Rosh Hashanah break, when only two months prior I had just answered that exact same question to that exact same relative.
Sorry freshmen, but the interrogation is far from over.
But I have a few follow-up questions. Are anyone’s answers to the aforementioned question true? And the people asking the question, are they actually expecting the truth? Do they even care about the answer, or has it just become drilled into society and played on a broken record upon return?
From the very beginning and up until now, my answers have remained one-worded: “Good. Great. Awesome. Fun.” Oh, and of course an added, “thanks,” which actually means, “Thanks for asking, you stupid asshole; now I have to hold back my unyielding rage and waterfall of tears at this joyous family event because in truth, school’s not ‘good’ or ‘great,’ it just sucks.”
Don’t be alarmed. I love school.
But as a freshman, my predetermined notions of the “college life” greatly exceeded the reality. Last year, our week-long break in early September lent a helping hand to perfectly disrupting the already grueling process of making friends.
So, when I was back home that week for Rosh Hashanah, my aunt asked, “How is college?” My response of “Great!” was laced with a strained smile and widened eyes, hopefully masking the fact that I really had no friends, already failed a test or two and loathed sharing a room with a complete stranger, all in all making for a very miserable start of school.
Anyone who’s anyone could have, or at least should have, seen the anxiety behind my lie, but obviously, it went unacknowledged. My aunt walked away satisfied with my dishonest response.
I can’t even imagine the reaction to a truthful response by an unhappy first-semester college student, which actually is more common than not. But unfortunately, society has placed such high expectations on students going off to college that anyone who is unhappy in the slightest feels the need to avoid the truth at all costs.
We’re expected to fall in love with a completely foreign experience right away, to wholly rejoice in the absence of everything and everyone we knew and loved since childhood and embrace the terrifying reality of having a newly blank slate.
Now, as a sophomore, having happily established myself as a Binghamton University student, my “How is college?” responses are still unenthused.
I’m not an actress; I don’t know how to passionately proclaim my love for school without sounding like I’m trying to prove something.
In my opinion, that question is ambiguous and entirely open-ended. No one I have ever asked has legitimately taken the time to extend his or her response in any form of detail. It is always the same, robotic answer.
In addition to our newly established college student titles, we’re still people too, and sometimes just a simple “How are you?” will suffice.