My early perceptions of college were shaped by the overpowering image surrounding one mythical building.
Since I can remember, my parents had waxed nostalgic on their hours spent in this edifice of edifices, this token image of institutions of higher learning.
Movies old and new alike paint a picture of a place chock full of sweater-clad coeds, their heads bent over great leather-bound tomes, their brows wrinkled in study, a place where a Q-tip rubbing against felt is said to elicit a chorus of shooshing from the studious.
I speak, of course, of the library.
The irony of my relationship with the library was that I didn't have one. I didn't go there. At all. Well, until the end of the year that is...
I entered the hallowed halls of the University of Pennsylvania this past September a sheep in the masses, overly enthusiastic, idealistic, and yes, harboring many ridiculously improbable expectations. Like that dining-hall food would taste good. Or that every moment of every class I attended would be enlightening and intellectually stimulating. And that all of my time studying would be passed, nose pressed hard to the page, in the great institution known as the library.
Van Pelt was just "that building" on Locust Walk to me -- one of hundreds on campus that I admired as I passed by, but nothing more.
I don't know exactly where my path and the library's diverged. From as far back as I can remember we were always on good terms.
Throughout my grammar school and high school careers, I visited my town's library for school-related projects. Perhaps I needed information on the specific type of animal skins the Lenape Indians wore to add that extra touch of authenticity to my third grade diorama. Or maybe I needed to get statistics on the average lifespan of an achondroplastic dwarf to complete my stellar AP Biology presentation. But never once did I spend time at my local library studying.
Naively expecting a change in my habitual simultaneous TV watching and studying that had so successfully propelled me through high school, I came to Penn with utopian visions of this place that had been so glorified by my parents and society alike.
But one week into classes, faced with my first "real" college assignment -- a short essay for writing class -- I found myself sitting at the desk in my tiny Quad single, the television on, my door open widely to welcome any hallway stragglers willing to be a party to my procrastination.
And so I remained for the rest of first semester, and a good part of second too. I didn't need to check out any books, and my old study methods were achieving the desired results.
It all changed one day, though, when I became fed up with my once cozy, now suffocating dorm room. I was perplexed. "Where does one go to work, if not their room?"I wondered.
And then I remembered talk of a place called Rosengarten, the mythical undergraduate 24-hour study lounge. I decided to make the trek down Locust Walk.
I like to consider that evening the turning point in my Penn career.
After finding myself a nice desk to sit at, I began to admire my surroundings. The cool, wooden desk afforded ample space for my books to sprawl. The chair was firm yet comfortable, the room temperature just right. Noise hovered at the perfect level -- I have never been one for silence. Practically everyone I knew was there. Like a veritable Goldilocks, I had found my home.
I was hooked. For the last two months of my freshman year, I worked and studied nowhere but my beloved Rosengarten. During finals, when not a chair in the coveted study area was left empty and I was relegated to the far less appealing upstairs lounges, I would run downstairs every half hour to see if I could nab a space.
There just is no studying like Rosengarten studying.
There just is no place like the library.
And, of course, in true fashion, my parents got a hearty laugh from the fact that it took me seven months to come around to what they had told me all along.Comments powered by Disqus
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