Mike on Mike: The Other Side

Stony Brook was a trip. It was so unlike what I had experienced at Nassau that I feel it would be dishonest to classify both as colleges. Nassau in no way prepared me for a “real” university. And very little of my complains have to do with academics.

There is so much about college life that demands adjustment, and for someone who has never had to adjust before, it was truly radical. I had never been overly outgoing, and had always had a sense of independence. So, when the university provided a campus tour, I skipped it and instead spent a day navigating Stony Brook on bike. It is a big campus and I saw a lot. There would be many aspects of the university that I wouldn’t discover for years (Roth and Kelly, for instance) but by and large, I had done quite the job.

The problem was, I missed out on the social experience of the tour. Actually, I had been scared of going through a tour without talking to anyone, and so had chosen my way to make it easier to justify not having met anyone. I still had, after all, my friends back home. And home was only 48 miles away…

What no one, and nothing could have prepared me for, however, was the experience of my first room mate. People who know me know this story, and it’s one that’s best told live. Let’s just say that what happened did not have a happy ending.

Back to the books: I was undeclared at Stony Brook, and taking Organic Chemistry. After taking it, I decided I was never going to do science or math again. The difficulty of Orgo (and my lack of interest in it) led me to explore my other options the following semester.

One of the last acts of my first semester had been to watch Dead Poets Society. It was that movie that triggered englishy things in my bones. It was then that I decided to change paths. I didn’t know what I wanted to do after school, but I knew I wanted to focus on something I loved while I was still in college. By the start of the next semester, I had lost my new room mate to the “AXP” fraternaty, coldly detatched myself from some of the only friends I had made, and was dorming solo. Such was the scene for my introduction to the school’s English department.

I think I was enrolled in nine credits of English that first semester, with another six in electives. I had no idea that I was about to fall into depression. I had no idea that I would meet a professor who literally saved my education. I had no idea how much people need friends.