1. Going abroad.
Going abroad was definitely the most influential decision and experience that I made during my college years. While it’s pretty much standard to hear “studying abroad changed my life!” from those that studied abroad, I can’t deny that I basically share those feelings. The decision made sense in so many ways: 1) I paid my state college’s tuition to go to one of the top 50 universities in the world, in Europe, for a year, 2) I lived with 5 – 10 (mostly) European students for 10 months, effectively providing me with the College/ Dorm Experience and sense of shared community which I had no real concept of before going abroad, 3) the coursework was about three times as hard, 4) I got to spend a year in Europe, 5) I got to have sex with European girls, 6) well, you get the idea. I consider myself extremely lucky to have gone abroad.
2. Smoking a lot of weed, drinking a lot of alcohol, and spending days playing video games and making music with my friends.
I know yesterday I said that I regretted spending a lot of money on weed during my college years, but I realized last night that college was basically the only time I had ever been allowed or had the privilege to basically waste entire days on what was essentially leisure: getting stoned, sitting around, playing video games, riding bikes. Aside from coursework and my part-time job, there was nothing I really had to do during my time off, and I could like, chill, hard. Before college, of course, I could hardly do that – my parents were not down with me smoking weed, first off, and second, they didn’t really let me waste entire days. And now I’m just incredibly busy such that wasting a day is called “vacation” and is an event that doesn’t come all that often anymore. I’m glad I got in all that leisure time before the real work began.
3. Getting extremely into music.
One thing I did in college was basically make it a goal to download as much music as I could and expand my library’s… oeuvre, if you will, to include so much music that when people saw my library they’d be like “whoooaaaahhh.” I’m serious. Admittedly, this project was a sort of unconscious ploy in my Personal Quest of Becoming Cool, but one of its side effects was that I learned about a shitload of both new and old music. It’s satisfying to have that knowledge now because it provides a lot of context, reference points and help in judging new music to which I’m introduced.
4. Having an entire month of black-outs.
I should admit that having an entire month during which I blacked out basically every time I partied (this occurred while I was studying abroad) was an almost entirely regrettable offense. However, there were two good things that came from that weird month: 1) I somehow managed to ‘bag’ my ex-girlfriend – who I would stay with for 2 years after that night – on one of my blacked out nights, and 2) I learned through shame and some pretty fucked up mornings that blacking out was, basically, Not Good. I probably should have known this before, uh, testing the waters of the “Black Sea,” but there’s nothing like experience to actually make someone desire alcohol less at a certain point in the night.
5. Doing a lot of different drugs.
Can’t say I “chased the dragon” or anything that dire but during university I was often game to use drugs and try new ones. I don’t want to paint a picture of myself as a stoner/ druggie freak during college, because that wasn’t how it was, but doing all those drugs (well, mostly mushrooms, really) expanded my worldview to include the experience of ego-loss and other sort of fight-or-flight/ existential curiosity that drugs often induce, that I probably wouldn’t have had, had I not experimented. As a result, I honestly don’t feel the urge to do drugs to have new experiences anymore – if I use a drug now, it’s just to relax.