We don’t come for the books

By Ryan Mayo

Ahh, another summer has ended and we have all been called back to our seasonal home in Hyde Park, to attend the 9th best college in America — at least according to certain rankings. What I don’t understand is why we actually do return each year like salmon going upstream to lay their eggs (I think that’s just creepy). Is there some carnal instinct that forces us to make the trek from different parts of the country (and the world) to the South Side of Chicago? Perhaps we enjoy tormenting ourselves with excessive amounts of work such as problem sets that take more hours than exist between classes. Maybe we just loathe giving up our personal study spaces in the Reg. (Don’t you hate it when someone is in your spot?)

After all, this place, the University of Chicago, is supposed to be a crossroads of brilliance, a melting pot of ideas, the sort that only come in italics and often scare people. This University has given the world atomic bombs, Kurt Vonnegut, big dinosaur bones, and all sorts of other strange things.

The school year is a wonderful time to make friends, to complain, and most of all, to learn. U.S. News and World Report ranks us highly for being an excellent place to learn various academic subjects, taught by world-renowned professors. The truth of the matter is, the professors don’t make the school what it is, nor do they teach us much of what we will remember after we leave college. The traditions, idiosyncrasies, and attitude of our University are all things developed and passed on by the students. If we want to compare our school to Hell, we do so with satire and style, if we wish to hold a scavenger hunt, it is done with unmatched wit. The academic subjects we learn in the classroom are not why we come to this school, because we could learn the same things anywhere. The friends we make, the people we talk with, the fun we have; these are the things that teach us to enjoy life, not hours of being lectured by a Nobel laureate. Learning how to write a thesis on ancient China or give an economic forecast are not the reasons we come to school each year; we come because we enjoy it.

There are things that can’t be taught in a class room, such as discovering how to think on your own or learning that O-aides stand a high chance of hooking up with first years. (Why else be an O-aide?) Look at the great things this University has produced – these things don’t come from books, but from people. If everything in life could be learned from a book, we would spend four years locked in a library instead. Yes, I know it often feels that way. When you feel this way, all you need do is step outside, look at the sun, then walk to the nearest coffee shop and strike up a random conversation. The books will wait forever, but the people won’t, so take the time to talk with people and enjoy life, even if it means surrendering your space at the Reg.