Mari Katherine Raftopoulos: College: It’s what you make of it |

Mari Katherine Raftopoulos: College: It’s what you make of it

Mari Katherine Raftopoulos

— Going to college is something that has been instilled in me since I was born.

And it came from more than my family. It is expected of this generation. We are expected to apply to 13 schools in the fall and take the SAT and ACT numerous times just to get a half a point higher, because maybe Harvard will take you off the waiting list.

It seems weird to nearly spend your whole life waiting to know where you will go to college.

When I went out on the college search, I first came to San Diego.

After three tours guided by overachieving students, I didn’t know where I fit in.

Did I want to go a college with a population five times that of my hometown, or something more intimate, where familiar faces are in the coffee shop, the Laundromat, the ice cream shop and the beach?

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College is what you make of it. Your college experience can be themed like a sorority dance. With a theme such as: If it’s not neon, it shouldn’t be on.

These themes could occupy your every weekend. But does that theme define you? This is the reason some people party their way through college, to disguise themselves from who they really want to be.

But, then there is the morning that you take of the four coats of makeup, that hideous neon fish nets and brush your teased hair. You realize, your life is no longer a theme.

This is the point where college is the most important. Beach day kegs, late night Taco Bell burrito runs and sleeping through classes put aside, they say college is the best four years of your life.

But that isn’t to say it might not come without challanages or questions. It easily could make some question if they or where they belonged.

I was lucky.

From the first day of my freshman year, I knew I belonged. The concept was easy. Be open-minded to everyone and everything because each person has something to offer or else he or she wouldn’t be here. But I was smart and used my natural instinct to judge character. The transition was smooth for me. So, I knew I was in the right place at the right time.

Now, as a sophomore with a rent payment, water bill and three unique roommates, I am beyond feeling like I belong in this area.

I am a resident.

It feels like home to me. How do I know? This city turned into a community. I go to the grocery store to see a familiar face. If I need some flour or eggs from my neighbor down the street, he or she would be happy to lend them to me.

And there also are the little things.

The other day, my roommate commented on the new scent of my perfume, noting that the musky vanilla smell that filled the room.

“You’re the type of person I could buy perfume for. I know your scent,” she said.

It might seem awkward, but this comment solidified our friendship. Because buying perfume for someone is like telling your best friend she has put on a few pounds; it is either hit or miss. It defines a personality.

And if you buy a tutti frutti scent for a dark woodsy scent girl, it could give the wrong message, that she is too prissy or a drama queen.

So, when my best friend said that she could buy perfume for me, I knew she knew me. And I knew I belonged.

Whether you were born a city slicker who named your stick-horse spot or a country bumpkin who fetched water from the well every morning, each lifestyle can instill a unique character within you.

So let college test that character.

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