By Joshua Turek
As I stood over the red-hot stove, white smoke billowing out of the pan, it became apparent to me that throwing a completely frozen tube of ground beef directly into a scalding pan may not have been the best idea. I furiously scraped the bottom of the pan, trying to remove the burning meat before more damage could be done. I opened the windows and turned on the fan, then stood back and looked at the mess I had created. A thought flashed through my head… am I really ready to live as a commuter?
The school year has only just begun, but already I can tell that I took the life of meal plans and short commutes for granted. In past years I never had to look far to find friends to go on adventures with like hammocking on Sem Hill or going to Perkins at 2am. When I was constantly pushing the limits to get to my 8am on time, all I had to do was walk (or run) three minutes to get to class. Meals never required any forethought, as I would just walk up to the DC, say hello to Geetha, and order orange kung pao chicken stir fry from a smiling Wing.
Life is different now. In an effort to save money and “practice” for life after Bethel, I have decided to live off campus. And while I am happy with my decision, no one ever said it would be easy. For example, on the first day of classes I packed my neurobiology and ecology textbooks, charged my Macbook laptop and filled my black 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix with gas. I got up at 7:00am, an hour before my first lab. After making a mediocre cup of Keurig coffee, I started walking out the door. Then it hit me… I needed to bring something for lunch. I raced inside, grabbed a chocolate chip granola bar, apple, and a package of Ramen soup. As I drove to school, I thought about how my meal was a far cry from the all-you-can eat buffet at the dining center. After lab, I hungrily opened up my lunch bag just to realize that I had forgotten a spoon and a bowl to microwave the soup in. Sighing, I hangrily closed my lunch bag in defeat. Adulting was going to be harder than I thought.
I take solace in knowing that I am not alone. I am one of many students currently learning new things about themselves and what the independence of college entails. Freshmen are adjusting to life away from their hometowns, making new friends in the 2.5 and walking along the train tracks to McDonalds at 11pm. Sophomores and juniors are attempting to balance friendships and heavy workloads, with Google Calendars filling up so fast sometimes if feels like they need to schedule time just to breathe. Seniors are trying to decide whether to finish strong or check out and start looking for a job. It may not be easy, but we are all adjusting to different stages of our college lives.
I am one of those seniors. The realities of life after Bethel are just over the horizon, and I am doing everything I can to prepare for them. Paying rent, buying and cooking your own food, and factoring in extra drive time just to get wherever you are going will be the new normal after college. With that said, if you hear any fire trucks going by in the near future, there is a good chance that I have just burned another one of my meals.