All over the world, computers and the people who use them are in the process of recovering from a bout of the "SQL Slammer" virus, and College freshman Andrew Tejerina is recovering right along with them. With University Internet servers down for three days, Tejerina has barely been able to check his e-mail for what feels like eons. Right now, sitting in a chair by his desk, Tejerina shakes his head. His room is neat, but it certainly has the presence of a college student, with a belt slung over the ladder to his loft bed and a pair of fuzzy blue slippers by his desk. His roommate, a varsity tennis player who Tejerina likes but almost never sees, has a Giants poster up. "Is it working better in Woodland?" he asks of the Internet, frustrated. When he hears that the answer is affirmative, he gets slightly annoyed. After all, life in the age of Instant Messenger is tough when computers are broken. For Tejerina, e-mail and AIM are fairly important, as they allow him to keep in touch with lots of people outside of Penn, including his friends from high school and, when he has forgotten to call home for a while, his mom. Luckily for Tejerina, Internet issues are some of the worst of his problems. Tejerina has just gotten back from the gym, where he manages to exercise two hours a day, six days a week. Still, compared to many of his friends, he is "a lightweight." Most of the people he hangs out with work out for four hours a day and replace late night study sessions with running. One of his favorite stories of the year is when one guy finally conquered the treadmill in his college house's basement. "He always says he's running against the machine -- 'It's just me and the machine,'" Tejerina says. "One day, he was just running on the treadmill so long it completely broke. It just stopped working." Tejerina is silent for a second. "How satisfying must it be to run a treadmill to death?" he finishes, a big smile on his face. From working out to going out, Tejerina's friends are part of his favorite aspects of life at school. In fact, he's still really close to the guys he met at the beginning of the year. Sure, lots of people have told him that friends often change from first semester to the second. And others have warned him that he should keep his options open, just to make sure that the people he met early on, most of whom live near him, are the right friends for him. Still, Tejerina is pretty sure they are. He's happy with the way things are now, and he plans to keep it that way. "We're a pretty tight crew," Tejerina says of the bunch. He's munching a sandwich when Tyler Wallen, also a College freshman, saunters in and grabs Tejerina's Brita to fill up a water bottle. "When do you want dinner?" Wallen asks. "I don't know," Tejerina says with a shrug. "I just took a sandwich -- I was hungry." "How about seven?" Wallen continues. "Don't have an exact time or anything," Tejerina replies, with a bantering crack characteristic of him and his friends. Wallen, No. 4 on Penn's hockey team, asks where some of the other guys are. Tejerina explains that they are still at the gym, battling the treadmill. "Andrew is the quintessential Penn student," Wallen says, playing to the reporter. "He's a fantastic athlete, a wonderful musician, an all-around great guy." "I basically live in his room," Tejerina says, returning the compliment. "I have a key." Still, despite all of the good times, Tejerina is glad that first semester is over and that he has escaped an evil course load. "I was in Calculus 104, which was the biggest mistake of my life," he explains. He did not take the Calculus AP in high school but still decided to fulfill the College math requirement with 104 and not 103 in order to challenge himself. "I don't know why," he says. "I always hated math." Unfortunately, the time he spent trying to pass calculus took away from time he could have put into his other courses. He had no idea that college would really involve studying. Tejerina is continually surprised by how much work he has, especially because Penn has been given the moniker "The Party Ivy." His sister at Yale does almost no work and gets all As, so he did not expect to have to buckle down quite as much as he was forced to. Last semester, he almost never went out on weeknights because he had Spanish at 9 a.m. everyday. This semester is a bit of an improvement, but he is still not allowing himself to sleep in too much. "Being the dedicated student I am, I scheduled class for 10 a.m. everyday," Tejerina says. He figured that at least if he woke up early every morning, he would have empty afternoons during which he could be productive. But that has not worked out quite as he planned -- instead, he takes naps most afternoons. "I just end up justifying why I need to take one," he explains, jokingly perturbed. Still, Tejerina does not believe that last semester's less than stellar academic performance stemmed from a lack of effort -- he simply chose classes poorly. His roster for this semester, which includes two music courses and an introductory psychology class, excites him more. "I'm a music major who is also going to major in something else," he says. What the something else is, he is not yet sure. He is sure of what fraternity he is pledging, though. "Beta Theta Pi," he says, proudly. He and five of his friends decided to rush it together, and they all pledged. Choosing a frat was not a difficult task for him. By the time rush started, he had narrowed his choices down to two, and both of those houses' first closed rush events ended up coinciding. He was forced to choose which house to stick with early in the game, and he is happy and excited that he chose Beta. Rushing, of course, was a blast. "Lots of free food!" he says. He is not that worried about pledging, either. Two of his close friends from home are pledging Beta at Penn State, and though the process is notoriously worse at large state schools, both are surviving. Most exciting, perhaps, is the fact that Tejerina was asked to perform at a concert in Los Angeles. He still often plays the guitar and was overjoyed when a Penn graduate who works at Dreamworks saw one of his last interviews in the Daily Pennsylvanian and called, asking him to play at a PennFest concert in February. Then he learned that he would have to buy his own plane ticket. And miss classes. In the end, he convinced his parents that the plane ticket was crucial, and they consented to let him go. But his effort was in vain. He soon found out that there would be another PennFest in New York City and decided to wait till then to perform. That way, his parents would save money, and he would still have the opportunity to play guitar at a festival that promises to be a rocking good time. Tejerina should be pretty busy in the next few months, with pledging, a full course load, his commitment to the guitar and of course, his time with friends. Still, what excites Tejerina the most about his spring semester? It takes him less than a second to answer this one last question. "Spring break should be pretty cool," Tejerina says, and with that, he is off and running.
About this Series Each year, a new set of freshmen enters the University full of energy, enthusiasm -- and nerves. Ready to meet new people and experience new things, these college novices are embarking on a life-altering course. And this year, The Daily Pennsylvanian decided to follow three freshmen along for the ride. You will meet Justine Mumaw, Temi Omojola and Andrew Tejerina and experience alongside them the joys -- and pains -- of first-year college life, through articles appearing intermittently in the DP. As you read, please share your freshman experiences with us at the dailypennsylvanian.com freshman forum.Comments powered by Disqus
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