Transfer students talk about life, love and CC
by Alex Kryzanowski, guest writer
“It’s not you, it’s me.” These are the words I would have used to break up with my first college. I was only seventeen when our relationship began, not even old enough to buy over-the-counter Sudafed (the good kind) or a jumbo magic marker in some rural areas of California. But even at seventeen, I was taken with its looks and charismatic ways when I first settled down with Scripps College, a small, all-women’s school near Los Angeles. After the excitement of the honeymoon period ended, though, the relationship grew tense. At some point in our troubled relationship I woke up, rolled over, took a look at my college in the harsh light of morning and asked myself what the hell I’d been thinking. At that moment I knew it was time to hit the road. The spark was gone, and I had to come to terms with the fact that Scripps and I really had nothing in common.
I decided to end things the summer before my junior year. By then, it was too late to run into the safe arms of some other college. I had to accept being independent for a while, and even though I had no idea where I was headed, I knew there was something better out there. Then I found Colorado College. CC was everything I’d always wanted: cultured, intelligent, good-looking, down-to-earth, and challenging. I had that unmistakable feeling that it was, dare I say it, the one. But before I get too sappy and start trading my bike for a white horse and writing Taylor Swift’s next hit single, I’ll get to the point: this is a polyamorous love story about breakups and rebounds, about leaving the tumultuous past for a better prospect, about transfer students and CC.
Originally, Scripps fit all the requirements of my teenage dream: sexy architecture, a great cafeteria, an active social life with plenty of free beer, a sensitive side that cared about women’s rights. As a bonus, I got along swimmingly with its friends, all of whom happened to live within a mile of one another: Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, Pomona, and Harvey Mudd. My biggest mistake, however, was looking at the surface and ignoring the substance. Would Scripps engage me in heated intellectual debate one moment and be able to forgive my political/religious/moral differences the next? Would it watch all the Star Wars movies with me in one sitting, or understand my fascination with great white sharks, the ultimate predators of the marine world? Would it share the basic need to get out and into nature if only for sanity’s sake? Could it sit in silence comfortably and appreciate the sight of a clear night sky? No, but it would throw fun parties and tell me how to get a great tan! If Scripps was the fling who took me out to fancy dinners, CC is the one I want to bring home to meet my parents.
Just like the lessons learned from failed relationships, many transfers have a deeper awareness of what they want in a school. Nobody’s relationship is perfect, and the same goes for colleges. We can usually tolerate the little things that get on our nerves. But often there are deeper issues that make us reevaluate our relationship with our college. There’s a big difference between having a partner who snores and a partner who snores, sleepwalks, and hits on your mom. Sometimes tolerating the shortcomings is simply more trouble than it’s worth.
The reasons people have for transferring aren’t always a school’s fault. Often, we are simply unable to be ourselves fully or feel comfortable at our colleges. “I didn’t see myself blossoming at my last school,” said transfer Anneliese Rice. “I hope CC will be better suited to my personality and encourage the person I want to become to emerge.” It’s easy to blame the other half for a failed relationship, but as Anneliese explained, some relationships just aren’t meant to be. I can’t say I’ve met a transfer who doesn’t have at least one positive thing to say about their last school. But often the process of deciding on a school is like a blind date: Sometimes we get lucky and get along swimmingly, but sometimes things are just wrong.
Some, like transfer Carter Umhau, see the vantage point of a transfer as a gift. “So much about college is about figuring out who we are, and for me, most of that knowledge has come from starting over or re-shuffling my life,” she explained. “It’s a shame some people don’t get to do that, because they don’t get the benefit of mixing things up.” As they say, variety is the spice of life.
Suzanna Brown, a sophomore transfer from Boston University, agreed: “We’ve already had a college experience, so we get a better perspective on what we want to take out of it.” We’ve already been through some of the most difficult parts, and although taking the plunge into a new school can be intimidating, we’re pretty likely to be happy with our new choice. If going to college the first time around is a pop quiz, transferring is an open-book, take-home exam. It’s still a test, and it might kick your ass, but this time we at least have access to the answers.
Junior Eliza Brennan-Pratt, who transferred from Bryn Mawr last year, explained, “Transfers ultimately understand what makes CC a special place in relation to other colleges. With freshmen, this is all they’ve known as ‘college,’ but as a transfer, you see how amazing college can be. Not all places are like CC.” Although it’s easy to wish we’d gone to CC from the start, that ability to compare two very different college experiences allows us to appreciate our new school even more.
Knowing what it’s like to be dissatisfied in a relationship makes being here even more exciting. Sometimes I find myself marveling at certain attractive qualities CC has that Scripps lacked, like a shared interest in creative writing, the block plan, being above sea level (not that I’m happy about the associated hangovers), having real seasons, sports teams that people actually support, the stunning Rocky Mountain backyard that CC boasts about so often (as it should), and, of course, a kickass student body that’s just “always down.” I find myself gawking at this foreign sport called “ice hockey,” contemplating at how shoes became optional, and constantly forgetting that Mountain Time is a real time zone, then laughing at how ridiculous the name Mountain Time is. Though many of these “new” surprises won’t be new for much longer, I hope the literal and figurative breath of fresh air that CC provides won’t fade.
Ellie Cole, a sophomore transfer, has been extremely impressed with CC so far. “I’ve had more genuine and interesting conversations with people here than I ever did at Colgate,” she said. A junior from Georgia Tech, Cyrus Elias, put it bluntly: “People are way cooler and smarter here than at my last school.” I’d say I’m not alone in thinking CC’s a real catch—fortunately for us transfers, there’s enough love to go around.
Despite my infatuation with CC, there have been drawbacks to jumping right into a new relationship. When we click so well, we run the risk of spending more time together than is healthy. As sophomore transfer Ned* learned, there’s a price to pay for spending every waking moment with your new college. “I partied every night first block,” he whispered, “and got incredibly sick.” Ned has had laryngitis for weeks.
On the other end of the spectrum are people like myself, who are concerned about how to spend time with a new love without stepping on the toes of the 2,000 other members of this relationship. Since I transferred as an upperclassman, it’s hard for me to make the social connections that would allow me to fully integrate myself into CC life. “It’s easy to isolate yourself as a transfer,” said Eliza, who now has her bearings here. “The reality is most CC students are really open to meeting people and making new friends, but you definitely have to put yourself out there. People won’t just flock to you . . . but once they learn who you are they’re more inclined to form a meaningful relationship.”
Another challenge I foresee is having too much in common with CC. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful to be able to relate to a partner about things such as (but not limited to): the Bay Area, people who know people from the Bay Area, SUVs, taking a gap year, Where There Be Dragons, STS9 shows, skiing, flannel, and an affinity for fine beer, but as we all know, sometimes those who are most similar to us have the ability to piss us off the most.
For every interest CC and I have in common, there’s just as much (or more) that surprises me. The same goes for the student body and the transfer students. If you’d like to know what it’s like to go to college in Spain, or how to take someone’s appendix out in Guatemala, talk to Nate Parish, a sophomore transfer. If you have any questions about attending art school on a Greek island, or a going to a Swiss work-study center for religion and philosophy, just ask Carter and she’ll gladly tell you. And it’s not just them—there are too many interesting stories to recount here about how the transfers got to CC. To summarize in Cyrus’ words: “We fucking rock.”
The tale of how transfers and CC found one another began with a breakup, and whether it was pleasant, civil, mutual, quiet, messy, violent, or completely out of the blue, the reality is that one relationship had to end in order for this one to start. Our exes may be our friends, our mortal enemies, or just a distant memory overshadowed by a newfound love, but hopefully we’ll be able to look back on them fondly and maybe even thank them for leading us, however indirectly, to CC.
Scripps, I had so many plans for us, but it’s too late now. As Ms. Swift would say, “watch me strike a match on all my wasted time / as far as I’m concerned, you’re just another picture to burn.” Oh, and you should consider quitting smoking—nobody likes being around you when there’s a smog alert. But like I said before—it’s not you, it’s me.
*Name has been changed.