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Opinion

UW-RF offers more than cows

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September 22, 2006

It was more than four years ago, but the thoughts and feelings crisscrossing my mind remain vivid. Along with my father, a couple of blue storage totes and a few bucks in my pocket, I made the three-hour trek from my northern Wisconsin home to this campus for move-in day. Like many others, I had a glaring perception of what college life was supposed to be, and that sparked curiosity. As I neared River Falls, however, that curiosity grew into skepticism.

I wasn’t very content with my college choice at the time, and the discomfort didn’t completely set in until I passed ShopKo that autumn day. I had heard that the “Moo-U” campus life could get quite dull, and I didn’t know if I’d mesh well with anyone. A few months into classes, I was still convinced I was going to transfer away from this hellhole (my former perception).

That first semester seemed to drag on, but I came to realize there is more to the River Falls campus than its less-than-stellar reputation would lead future and current students to believe. There are quality educators here with important things to say. Parties are bountiful; people are sociable. Numerous student organizations, activities and athletics offer something for even the most reserved students. Sure, we have a couple of stinky lab farms, but isn’t it cool to see those horses galloping down by the intramural fields?

In actuality, the UW-RF college experiences are as reputable and meaningful as any other university.

The trick is finding ways to be a part of those experiences. I see there is a night football game here at the end of September, which is sure to attract a well-lubricated, energetic crowd. And UW-RF might not have the means to produce the big headliners found at the U of M’s annual Spring Jam, but there is a great lineup at the amphitheater at the beginning of October, Mason Jennings included.

Everyone can find something wrong with a college campus, but not everyone tries to make their college experiences any different. Try to have fun instead of moping around like third graders without play toys. Those all-important experiences are here; it’s just a matter of grabbing a few friends and indulging.

Students who think and behave similarly are going to repeatedly run into the same people in class, at the library, on the intramural fields or even eating in Rodli. Social interaction will be valuable for an entire lifetime because meeting cool people continues throughout a college career. Time spent creating and maintaining friendships in college could be the most worthwhile investment of all.

My father, like most fathers, could sense my uncertainties on that move-in day four years ago.

“Relax,” he told me. “College is about learning how to drink beer and make love to a woman.”

Thanks, Pa.

I was hoping for something a bit wiser at that heightened moment, but in retrospect, perhaps his words hold more truth than how I originally interpreted them. Certainly there is more to college than learning how to drink and make love, but the experiences one encounters in college are every bit as rewarding and significant as anything learned in class or read in a textbook.

So be a part of them.

Ben Jipson is a student at UW-River Falls.