College memories: Students reflect on ups, downs of UI experience

Senior memory photo illustration Steve Contorno

Senior memory photo illustration Steve Contorno

By Brittney Foreman

When it comes to college memories, people have different stories to tell. From wild times in the residence halls to late nights at the library, college moments are ones students will never get back but may always remember.

The good

Jonetta Harrison, senior in LAS, said summer on campus has been pretty laid-back. During the school year, however, especially in her freshman and sophomore years, she did plenty of activities.

“I think all the crazy things we did were in the dorms,” Harrison said.

What may be a resident advisor’s worst nightmare, Harrison said her and her friends would stand in the boys’ bathroom and throw water balloons at the people that passed by. But there’s more.

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“We used to go in each other’s rooms, take something and start running,” she said. “We used to throw floor parties in the lounge.”

For the lounge parties, Harrison said they would put up balloons and signs around the residence hall with arrows indicating the direction of the party.

“I had a lot of the RAs’ stuff in my room, markers, posters,” she said. “The RAs, they trusted us.”

She said that people came to the lounge at different times.

“Some people didn’t see the signs, they just heard the music,” she said. “We would make up stuff like, ‘Netta’s feeling sad today so we’re gonna have a lounge party.'”

If people were in the lounge studying, she and her friends would start setting up for the party anyway. She said she and her friends didn’t get a chance to politely tell the students to find another place to study.

“We’d just set up first, quietly, and then they’d leave … before we told them,” Harrison said. “They probably figured we were going to do something crazy.”

She also said, living in Weston, she got a chance to partake in a lot of free events.

“It was pretty fun. We went skating (and) to the movies,” she said.

Harrison said Weston had an activity called, “get on the bus,” where students would get on a bus without knowing where they were going. She said they’d go to restaurants and on pizza crawls.

“They had spa nights and stuff, just for us,” she said.

While college can be an opportunity to move forward, some students, on the other hand, experience setbacks.

The bad

Ian Brown, junior in LAS, said last year he had problems with his vision, which made all of his schoolwork much harder.

“(My) grades went down a lot and they’re back to leveling out now.”

He said he went to the disability office on campus and got things sorted out.

“My problem’s unusual in that there is no cure,” Brown said. “There’s a ghost image of everything I look at.”

He said that he has double vision, a condition that started nine years ago, left toward the end of high school and came back at the end of his freshman year of college. To correct it, he has to use a special prism attached to a pair of glasses. The prism causes bad migraines, Brown said, so he doesn’t wear it for long. As a result, it takes longer for him to do his homework.

“I take breaks so the migraines won’t be as bad,” Brown said.

Because of the condition, his grades last year were not up to par.

“There’s not much you can do,” he said. “Just gotta deal with it (and) hope it goes away again.”

The ugly

With the vast array of college moments different students have, some experience both the good and the bad at the same time.

“My best and worst memory are the same,” said Ashley Chan, senior in LAS. “My best memory was when U of I lost the (National final), because we got to riot,” Chan said of the April 2005 incident. “It was fun, but it was disappointing.”

Chan said she watched people destroy things.

“People set garbage cans on fire,” Chan said. “Someone broke a window in Lincoln Hall. Now everyone’s gonna think I did it.”

While at college, Chan has broken her silence.

“I think I’m better at expressing myself than I used to be,” Chan said. “What other people are thinking matters much less than it did in high school.”

Chan said, as a person, she hasn’t changed.

“I’ve always had a really strong personality, but … sometimes it was socially unacceptable in high school to act that way,” she said. “You obviously can’t tell people what you think in high school because you’re going to see them the next day.”

An opportunity to grow

Besides Chan, others, while going to college, have discovered different ways to express themselves and find themselves, too.

Oliver Silerio, sophomore in LAS, joined the Body and Brain club, a registered student organization on campus.

“I got really into it and I ended up becoming a leader,” Silerio said. He said he started doing yoga sporadically the summer before college.

“When I joined yoga I just thought it was a workout,” he said. “And then when I got to college I began to learn more about what (yoga was) about, because I started going to these workshops in Chicago.”

Silerio said the yoga they do in the Body and Brain club is called Dahn, or energy yoga. He said there are many Body and Brain clubs on campuses throughout the United States.

“You really get a good stretch and you feel more energized after every session,” he said. “Whenever you feel stressed, it’s a good thing to do.”

But there’s more to it than exercise.

“There is a philosophy behind yoga,” Silerio said. Yoga originated in India, but the specific style of Dahn yoga originated in Korea.

“The whole thing is centered with finding yourself,” he said. Silerio said being involved with yoga has changed him.

“It made me want to help more people,” he said. “There was a lot of love in this organization and it was all about helping others and … at the same time, trying to focus on yourself.”

Silerio also said he’s become better at speaking in front of a lot of students.

“I’ve become more of a leader through this and more confident in myself,” he said.

Finding oneself or finding a way?

As for finding oneself at the University, John Siy said, it can’t quite be done.

“You never completely find yourself, but you find aspects of yourself,” said Siy, senior in LAS. “You make realizations of who you are at the moment. You’re always changing, but … it’s about having a good foundation of who you are.”

While Siy may not feel a person can completely find him or herself, let alone in college, he sees the University as full of benefits.

“Illinois just tells you, from my experience, that the opportunities are there, but (the University) is not going to hand them to you,” Siy said. “You have to fight for them.”

He said his favorite year was his junior year because it was the most challenging one for him.

“I really enjoy classes and I enjoy learning,” he said. “I just don’t like being ignorant.” When asked, Siy said he couldn’t really think of any good memories.

“I only think of the bad ones, because you can learn more from the bad ones than from the good,” he said.

He said, however, that he has enjoyed his UI experience overall.

“I’m very happy that I went to the University of Illinois because I feel the education I have received has provided me with more paths,” Siy said. “It’s only the beginning.”