“This is Not My Sock,” and Other Tales From The Undergraduate Collective

By Sasha Duncan
  4 Min Read
Dirty Socks

A post-laundry room surprise.

There are experiences, few as they may be, that create a collective out of undergraduate students. Anywhere, everywhere. School newspapers may feature them as “You know you’re a student when…”. At this time of year, when resolutions wear off and the weather turns bleak, when you’re sick of the meals you eat every day and nauseous from bus rides, it’s warming to think of those around you, and all over the globe, who are experiencing the same thing.

You’re bonded to the other students who make the same observations: the undergraduate collective.

You know you’re sick of shared laundry when…

Post-laundry room. A hefty load of clothes strewn haphazardly over your mattress. Tossing clean clothes back into their rightful drawers (or positions on the floor). And then you feel it. It’s cooler than your comfortably temperate clothes. It’s nubbly and unfamiliar. Perhaps it has a certain… odor to it. And then your stomach starts to sink. A problem has surfaced with no good solution. A garbage can? A covert trip back to the laundry room? Your palms begin to perspire, you yearn for some Purell. But it’s still in your hand. Only one thing comes to mind, “this is not my sock.”

You know it’s time for a Redbull when…

Wakefulness comes quickly. It’s dark. But, wait, no it’s not. There is a slight and soothing light, that lulls your from your surprise. Your mouth is chalky (oh god, have you been snoring?). And your arms are stiff, numb, almost, as though a heavy weight has been resting on them. Still disoriented, you realize you’re upright, sitting in a slightly stiff chair, you shift. Look around. Someone else is asleep, just across from you. A student is crying, silently, behind a very large textbook. Glancing down, you see your own book, creased from where your arms so peacefully rested. Your writing is strewn backwards across your forearms (and possibly forehead) in pencil. Desperately searching your bag for anything containing caffeine, an embarrassed flush creeps up the back of your neck. You’ve fallen asleep pulling an all-nighter in the library.

You know this lecture is about to taken hostage when…

At first, you were relieved. The professor’s lecture was interrupted, perhaps to add some interest to… wait, what class are you in again? Anyways… your eyes dart to the uplifted arm that has caused your professor to pause, interested in this educational interloper. Craning your neck, you… freeze. Groan inwardly. Crap, it’s the “pointless question guy.” The peers around you shift uncomfortably. A voice cracks into the silence, using floaty adjectives, jargon you’re not even sure is correct, and going on and on and on and… oh, they’ve stopped. And asked a question that is completely pointless or maybe it has already been answered or maybe WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH THIS CLASS? You find yourself shaking your head, sharing knowing looks with friends or just the guy in front of you. Maybe you’ll tell your friends about this later, over lunch. Unfortunately, you have a lecture with that person.

You wish real-life people could be tagged, like on Facebook when…

That nervous flutter again. There’s a flash of recognition in their eyes, too. Is it? Could it be… that girl in your 9AM class? Or, is she always on your bus? And that guy… how do you know him again? Their names escape you, and you almost always glance down at your iPod, or across the street because, hey wait, is there something interesting over there? No. But now you’ve passed them. Possible awkward situation avoided. Oh, no. There’s another one… he’s from… History? Oh wow, look at that button, is it round? Make a mental note to start actually speaking to people… maybe by next year you’ll know their names (maybe).

You know you’re on a student budget when…

Heart racing, eyes darting left and right. How are you going to do this? You’re going to have to pick one of them, but which one do you need right now? Maybe… no. No, you can’t go without that. But then how are you supposed to… Exasperated, you run a slightly damp palm through your hair, and think about making a cool looking spread sheet. In front of you, your bank balance appears desperately low. You’ve paid rent, and tuition, and bought that thing that you absolutely could not live without (if only you could remember where you put it). And now it all comes down to this… textbooks and starvation, or food and constant confusion? You could always go to the library…? No. Who has time for that? Well, you still have those three boxes of pasta, and those carrots. How long have they been in there? Textbooks or groceries? The choice is yours.

Second semester. Halfway over. Just think of all the other experiences, unique and collective, to come in the next months.

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