Third year, third critique

By Emma Pulido

Freshman year first semester was kinda rough. In what I think is a common experience, I missed my city, I missed my friends, and I was freezing. I kept having to explain my slang words, and while I liked all the new people I was meeting, I missed the comforting familiarity of my friends from home. I was amused by the “clique” tables in Café Mac, since my tiny high school on Wall Street barely even had a cafeteria. Then, after first semester and going home for the first time, I was reminded of how much I loved my friends from high school and where I was from, but also, of how much I was learning to love Macalester. I missed my new friends at Mac, the funny nerdy jokes we would tell all the time, and everyone’s incredible drive and determination. Coming back to school, I had a renewed appreciation for what I had found here. As time goes on and I learn more and more about my peers at Mac, I become more and more impressed. It saddens me that some view the Macalester community in such monolithic terms because the people here are some of the most dynamic people I have ever encountered—and coming from a city of eight million somewhat crazy people, that’s quite impressive. It seems that everyone here has something surprising to share—the QU co-chair from the south who also occupies a first chair position in the orchestra, the incredibly driven student from Ohio who, by time of graduation, will have studied not one but two uncommon Eastern languages, the feminist volleyball player who started her own community outreach program between class, practice and dinner time. These aren’t the people highlighted on the homepage of the website; they are just the people I have shared group study rooms, freshman year dorm rooms and many Café Mac brunches with. The force with which people throw themselves into their commitments and interests here is notable. It seems as though almost everyone is a constant balancing act. The diversity of experience that our peers bring to Macalester is staggering, fascinating and informative. At first, I too saw a table of ‘jocks,’ ‘international students’ and ‘wanna-be hipsters.’ And I still do. But now I know that these are not single-dimensional terms. If we take the time to listen, talk and understand, we see so much more than that. It is human nature to seek the familiar, to be friends with those who have similar interests to yours. But the great thing about Macalester is that people’s interests don’t always line up with their ‘cliques’ because intellectual curiosity knows no bounds. Through classes, student organizations and just plain trying to be friendly, I have discovered people’s talents, passions and goals. We are all here to learn, not only in the classroom but out of it as well. My experience is not meant to discount the experience of others who perceive these boundaries to be inpenetrable. It is meant to show that these boundaries don’t need to be barbed wire fences. This isn’t to say that everyone is a super-involved super student, because they aren’t. Some people like to focus on school, or friends—we can’t all have five crazy talents! And that’s fine too. It also isn’t to say that the Mac community is perfect, because it’s not. Something obviously went wrong if incoming freshmen are feeling isolated and alone. Something is going wrong if there are continued instances of sexist, racist, homophobic and anti-semitic graffiti in communal spaces. Something is wrong when some members of our community feel like it’s OK to make reductive and derogatory statements to others. This can only be overcome if we try to understand one another, respect one another and learn from one another. Let your peers surprise you. The liberal arts experience is isolating practically by definition, but while we are inside this bubble, we should make the most of it by breaking down our stereotypes and getting to know one another. Between class, work study, doing group projects with some ‘jock’ friends, discussing reality TV with a ‘hipster,’ and meeting for weekly dinners with an ‘international’ friend, I’m pretty busy. But I’ll be sure to make the time. And I hope you do too. We only have four years here—and at the risk of sounding like a hopeless cliche—we should make the most of it. Welcome to Macalester. refresh –>