College is Fun, Part One

I mostly just added the “Part One” thing on the end of this title because it rhymed, but it is the first post about my adventures here at the University of Texas, and I thought I’d have some fun with it. WARNING: I am about to shove a ridiculously exciting first month of college into one blog post, so bring it on!

P.S. More adventures to come, I promise!

Turns out my roommate, Emma, likes food just as much as I do. We were basically meant to be.

Where to begin… The diversity and intrigue of the people that I have met is incredible. There are two types of people on this campus; the kind of people who make themselves yawn on purpose so that they have an excuse to close their eyes and avoid social confrontation with you in the elevator, and the people who will literally initiate a conversation with you about your opinion on the thought processes of squirrels in the twelve seconds that it takes to ride from floor two to floor four. Deep, I know. In all honesty though, almost everywhere I turn someone is learning something, debating something, hypothesizing, you name it, and it is incredibly refreshing to be surrounded by so much meaning.

Us Zumba-ing and also going blind because it was at least 400 degrees and the sun was ridiculous.

I tried to introduce myself to two young men during a meeting a few days ago, and after they returned a quick “hi!”, they both turned right back around and continued trying to solve some ridiculous equation they had created on the back of the handout.

“Is that for a class?” I asked.

“Nope!”

And they turned right back to what was apparently a ridiculous, unsolvable equation that was created solely for “fun”. In this sentence, I will express my appreciation for the relative lack of mathematical skills required for Public Relations, yay!

Regardless of how this specific encounter ended up, it goes to show what I mean when I say that everyone is working on something, and that there is this sort all-encompassing momentum of knowledge that, as nerdy as it sounds, I seriously cannot get enough of.

Seriously, what is up with my glasses?

The first week leading up to day one of class, everyone talked to everyone. There was this tacit “if I don’t introduce myself to every person within screaming distance, get their number, and friend them on Facebook, then I will be that person with no friends the second week of college and become a hermit” mentality. Everyone made themselves bubbly, and I’ll admit, I was no exception (although the bubbly-ness was nothing new for me). The university hosted plenty of “social events” so that our angst-y, freshman selves could fulfill this “task”.

Taking on the Goldfish!

A social event of epic proportions. Keep in mind that everyone in this picture is thinking, “WHAT IS GOING ON. MUST MAKE FRIENDS. DID I PICK THE RIGHT MAJOR? CAN YOU MAKE RAMEN ON A PLATE?”

By the end of the third night, I found myself with my roommate and five other people casually sipping on Wendy’s frosties at two in the morning and certain that this is a pretty nice place to be.

 

B-Tang and Peter

Classes started. They were ACTUALLY INTERESTING, and that is always a plus. My Perspectives of Deafness class has been one of the most eye-opening experiences for me, and I have learned SO many things about deafness (or Deafness, rather) and the mindsets, obstacles, and culture that accompanies it. If you have not, I highly suggest that you look more deeply into this topic. There is so much to learn and discover.

 

 

I have also learned that if you want to make people listen to you, give them a shirt. It does not matter if you have to dance, sing, or give them your social security number; I you promise a shirt, they become your slave.

So then I signed up for literally about 80 clubs, because I like to do stuff.

I applied to be a member of Texas Tower PR, a student-run public relations firm on campus for non-profits in Austin. I got in.

Click this picture to read an article that I wrote FOR Longhorn Life ABOUT Texas Tower PR. The irony : )

I applied to be an Account Executive to lead a team of Associates for a client called Teatro Vivo for Texas Tower PR. I got in.

I applied to be a staff writer for Longhorn Life, a monthly publication on campus. I got in.

I applied to be a member of the Freshman Founders Launchpad, a startup accelerator program specifically to provide mentorship and support to freshman students with a business plan aiming to launch and work with customers by the end of the year. I am launching a PR firm, named Damos PR. I got in.

I applied to be a marketing intern at the Frank Erwin Center, a concert venue downtown. I got in.

You are now aware of why I unfortunately had to give up doing Taekwondo…

Bear crawling in Texas Taekwondo!

The name tag makes it official, right?

 

I also just had midterms.

So now I am having a blast doing a billion things that I love, I just occasionally forget to eat.

 

Somewhat impromptu lunch dates!

My lovely roommate, Emma (right), the birthday girl, Barbara (left), and Umbrella (top).

 

One of my new-found friends turned nineteen, and so she requested that her birthday celebration include a trip to 6th street and to “try to get into clubs”. So we all went to Forever 21 and bought cute new dresses that “fit” the 6th street vibe (please keep in mind that I am totally making fun of ourselves here). Man, were we stylin’.

Of course it rains, and we are poor college students with limited means of transportation, so we trudged to the nearest bus stop (after the photoshoot, obviously) in our six inch heels and umbrellas. Yes, I hid some back-up yellow flip flops in my purse.

Okay, so then it got weird, extremely fast.

We go to the place we had reservations for, and it seriously is not looking like much of a restaurant, so we go downstairs to leave, and a man starts beckoning us to come into his “party”, as he preferred to call it.

More photoshoot! (operation flip flops is a go)

Keep in mind that he is motioning to a red curtain behind a door underneath the staircase, and from inside we can hear some ridiculous bass. A little sketch. We also have no idea what idea what we are doing, let’s be real here.

So the man continues to tell us that we should go to his “party” called “Vinyl” under the sketch staircase and what do we do? Go in of course, and oh my goodness…

The room couldn’t fit more than two cars, and is completely in red velvet. Walls, floors, ceiling, everything. There is a DJ in the corner, a bar in the other, and about 20 guys who were extremely not above the influence of something. I look in the other corner, and there are two dudes sitting in chairs mindlessly nodding their heads up and down to the beat, for the entire four minutes we were in there.

Barbara, Emma, Kaitlyn, Me, Hayden, Hana, and Devi on a mission!

This man came up to us holding a can and said nothing but, “it moo-s!” unceasingly while shaking the can near our ears (very much against our will). He then proceeded to introduce himself and hold out his hand for someone to shake, which of course no one was interested in, and so I selflessly sacrificed Barbara by pointing at her and saying, “It’s her birthday!”

Part “look at us and our food!” picture, but also part “we survived the creepy ‘party’ under the staircase behind the velvet curtain!” picture.

Don’t worry, she din’t shake his hand either. Then we escaped, and ate at Iron Cactus, which felt extremely pleasant in relation to what had just happened.

Then these rappers set up shop right outside the window, and made faces at us. It was awesome. So we feasted, and then proceeded to “try clubbing”. Again with the whole we have no idea motif. Turns out, most bars have guys out on the street that will tell you the first round of margaritas is on them if you go to the such-and-such bar. So we laughed and said “okay!” and then tried to go in, which obviously did not work. This process repeated itself about 6 times, and we decided to try one more place, which let us in for some reason but ended up being full of cockroaches (ew), and so once again we escaped.

 

COFFEE

Cookie Masterpeice

Emma and I baked cute little cookies the other day in our homey little dorm kitchen, and they were pretty tasty. We have also discovered coffee, and even though I don’t like it unless it is at least 50% chocolate, coffee is my friend. My favorite is when I can wake up on a Saturday at noon and not have to “worry” about anything besides croissants and remembering the difference between a latte and a mocha.

The most recent adventure took place at the Austin Startup Crawl, along with a few of the other Freshman Founders, where I was able to meet some incredibly talented founders and mentors in the startup community. We worked our way from Trendkite, a PR analytics company, to Mutual Mobile’s penthouse, and ultimately ended up at Capital Factory. Insights were gained and connections were made, and of course we also made full use of the complimentary photo booth opportunity. I also used Uber for the first time to get back to campus.

A very happy day!

Oh, and of course, we got into the Fall mood by baking some pumpkin pie and rice crispy treat pumpkins to celebrate the fact that it is no longer breaking 95 degrees everyday!

I have met so many absolutely wonderful people, and made so many memories already! I can’t wait to see what’s next! So that is the first moth or so in a nutshell, as I sit here telling you stories rather than focusing on actual homework that is due tomorrow. Sweet logic, right? I’ll have more stories soon!

You can follow me on Twitter @CambriaSawyer

You can follow Damos PR on Twitter and Instagram @DamosPR

Advertisements

Switching Gears

Alright, let’s change things up a bit! The blog took a bit of a hit with me finishing up senior year and applying for college and graduation and all, so now that I am a freshman again, and all settled at the University of Texas, let’s try this again.

I’ve got several things to share with y’all (like the accent?). Some will be little adventures that my UT people and I find ourselves on (and boy are some of those interesting…), some will be excerpts from the book I am writing about my family dealing with the wonderful combo of my unfathomably ADHD brother and Tourette Syndrome (yes the “I have a bomb!” incident in the airport will be told), and some will be my writing just for the sake of having fun, like the older posts on here. I promise we will have fun together, with so many adventures to explore. I’ll see you soon, I’m glad to be back!

Scarier Than Any Physics Test

Image

If no one has told you yet, I’m a bit of an English buff. I don’t dabble much in the world of math or science, nor do I care to. For myself and all of the others out there who’d much rather write a compelling novel than a 978 page thesis on how to build a rocket ship out of pond algae, we get each other, including our innate dread of physics tests. So if you’re one who finds themselves at home among the realm of nuclear astrophysics, you’re going to have to refrain yourself from judging me and the countless others who can attest to the fact that the prospect of an upcoming physics exam is not conducive to a good night’s rest. It is just horrifying to ponder on. And even then, after every sickening time I have been assessed on my physics literacy, I have never felt more fortunate to be exiting a lecture alive as did today, and we didn’t even have an exam.

I had been deeply investing myself in my quest to discover the exact proportion in which the displacement of fluids influences the effectiveness of hydraulics (thrilling, I know) when we were ordered into a lockout of the campus. All doors were locked, students passing through were ushered inside rooms, and the lights went out. We stood at once and were instructed by a faltering voice to occupy the utility closet at the back of the room. With a nauseating aura of familiarity, our minds instantly shot to the cliché report of a falsely concerned newscaster standing in front of police cars, ambulances, and weeping chaos. Behind that, a school. Why did I not have enough fingers to count the number of shootings recently featured in the news as I counterproductively fixated on the worst scenario possible this morning? Why did I even have to raise one finger?

Danger elicits a tiered set of responses. I learned that this morning. At the base, the most nonchalant of the three tiers is indifferent acknowledgement, and then come the other two, increasing in intensity as they do with height placement.

                                Fear or Emotional Overdrive

                Genuine Concern

     Indifferent Acknowledgement

Today, I passed through all of these, graduating from each of the first two until I reached the insight, and dread, of the third.

When news of a threat or tragedy reaches each of our spheres of awareness, we react minimally, unless it is our own. When we learn of a child who was shot and killed, our immediate reaction is to feel sorry for his or her parents rather than the child’s experience, and then forget after we’ve paid our “ethic dues” of the internal reflection of remorse which occupies a fraction of a second’s time – unless it is our own child. Our response to the distant loss of a stranger is more or less an indifferent acknowledgement, a simple nod of the heart at the close of which we resume our normal patterns of life.

I am not here to say that human nature is a deranged version of narcissism in which we live our lives as uninterested and self-serving beings void of empathy because our lack of interest in other’s tragic affairs. On the contrary we, excluding a few examples, are relationship-oriented, and for lack of a better description, love-loving people who experience authentic distress when learning of another’s pain. However, the time spent in this state of unease regarding the misfortune of someone not personally acquainted with us is almost infinitesimal in nature. On that note, I am also not here to propose that we are heartless individuals on the basis that we allot minute periods of time to sorrowfully reflect on these calamities. Individuals who choose to live above ground have to learn how to adapt to the ever-flowing influx of negative information. If they were to spend the time that a close family member does grieving for a lost soul every time one was reported on the news, theirs would be lost as well before they had time to live.

With that said, I am at a loss when it comes to finding a middle ground between not caring enough and caring too much. Is the reason that such horrific disasters can affect us so little because we’ve been desensitized by a perpetual tsunami of them? Should we care more than a few seconds of our day, or is the minimal regard to others’ pain the only way to protect us from the everlasting ebb of grief’s tide?

Of course, when enough examples of a specific type of incident accumulate in the mind’s queue, such as school shootings, the probability that we perceive for the reoccurrence of that episode in our own sphere of living grows astronomically higher. It is when tragedy appears often enough that we start to worry it could affect us somehow, that we experience an actual concern for the outcome of the event rather than a simple acknowledgement that it occasionally exists and happens to other people, or the second tier.

And then, of course, there is the appearance of legitimate fear or an emotionally charged craze. The lump in your throat, the uncontrollable pounding of your heart and within your temples, the overwhelming perception of doom, the whole deal. This is the feeling that occupied that closet. It seeped through the walls and pooled onto the floor, filling the room with a noxious gas of tension and terror. Immediately, I had gone from a general awareness that bad things happen to other people, to the slight concern that school shootings had become a common headline these days, to the ambush of terror as the last sliver of light was shaved off by the closing of that closet door. The image that haunted the mental theater of every human being in that room was that of an armed gunman patrolling the hallways in search of devastation. As we fought our own minds to stay practical and cognizant of our actual scenario, we began a losing battle and Aurora, Columbine, UT, Binghamton, Omaha, and Sikh Temple stampeded a victory lap around our psyches. Our mental states were utter chaos, yet the room was silent and still, intensifying the petrified atmosphere we had made for ourselves. I stood there, shaking, mentally tracing different routes out of the building, should the need have arrived.

It was then that a dread so deep that I have never before experienced entered into my body. I thought, this is what everyone at Columbine felt.  And honestly it probably didn’t even begin to match their horror, because we had hope, we had the grace of the unknown on our side. It was possible that the campus was not locked down because of a shooter (it can happen you know), and although we still pondered on the worst, those malicious fears could not be confirmed without knowledge. Regardless, the shame and disgrace and despair that I held for those children and my reaction toward them was tangible as I suffocated. A dreadful shock ravaged me as I made the notion that the kids in that school wanted so desperately to live and be anywhere but where they were, and they experienced this mad sensation of grief and crazed need to escape from their current scenario, yet no one else truly understood. I wondered if anyone cared enough to come and get me sooner than the officers who deliberated for hours around the perimeter of Columbine before deciding to enact a search and rescue through the gunfire. I stood in that tiny area of that closet, berating myself for not giving a whole heck of a lot of thought in regard to how traumatizing that experience must have truly been for them, because now it was happening to me.

It had only taken up the span of 10 minutes, the time we spent locked in our self-made horror. In only 2 minute’s time, after the threat had dissipated, everyone had gone back to their former, tier one mode, as their personal status returned to “Me, myself, and I are not in danger, but others might be”. My peers regarded the experience as a mere occurrence in another day of their life, as if to cover up the fact that they were terrified. It was almost as if the person who tried to express how they had felt was ostracized, because it was silly to have been so scared; everyone was embarrassed. No one would admit that they had ever felt insecure or that they had ever questioned their safety. All of them had.

A man discharging his gun at a homeowner several miles from where we were was the reason for our lock down, not an intruder roaming through the school and wielding a machine gun. But every student on campus assumed they would need to dodge a bullet or two, they assumed what everyone assumes today, that there is a shooter, and because of that, they cared. They cared a lot, because it involved them.

I walked out of that closet thankful for not having to endure any actual pain or tragedy, and also wishing that the fear of a public shooter was not so readily manifested in our society’s mind. I wished that no one ever had to worry about such a deplorable act taking place, and I wished that, when indeed one did take place, that people did not have to undermine the severity of it. In no way am I endorsing the sensationalism of the media, however the extreme nonchalance and minimal regard that so many give to this issue and many other dangers our society faces is not conducive to healing, prevention, or progress. People need to learn how to genuinely care, regardless of if it is for their own sake or not, yet not allow their fear and the intensity of their feelings to reach a point where progress becomes regression.

Our world needs to set its standard on the second tier of the response to threat; we need genuine concern. Not apathetic indifference spotted with occasional remorse, nor emotionally overcharged activists, but a point of compromise and efficiency. This caring is necessary, as Elie Wiesel upheld in his speech, “The Perils of Indifference”. We need to care, because one day, when you’re the one in the closet, you’ll be glad when somebody else cares that you are there.

I know I was, and the thought that those who didn’t care could be the ones making the decisions on whether to send aid to Katrina victims, continue providing unemployment, or whether to take me out of that closet was way scarier than any physics exam.