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A toast to college

If you know the show well enough, you can compare any situation in life to something that happened on “Seinfeld.” Have you had an overbearing boss? Have you had relationship problems? Have you accidentally picked out toxic envelopes for your wedding invitations that ended up killing your fiancé? Aside from the last one, you can probably relate to everything happening on screen.

Except for this one exchange. In the episode called “The Calzone,” George is talking about his job with the Yankees and he says to Jerry, “You know how these inter-office politics work.” Jerry cheerfully responds, “No, I don’t. I never had a job.”

These days—after nearly a year of trying unsuccessfully to find any kind of job—there’s nothing I wouldn’t give to be able to say, “I never had a job” and not feel bad about myself.

Looking for work senior year sucks. You just want to enjoy your last few weeks and months in college, but there’s this giant weight on your shoulders that hangs over everything you do, and there’s no guarantee there’s something on the horizon. When you come to Duke, you’re led to believe there is something certain out there after graduation for everyone, but the fact is, it hasn’t mattered that I’ll graduate from Duke with excellent grades and a strong resumé. My parents paid this University hundreds of thousands of dollars for me not to get a job.

Don’t tell them that, though. I love Duke, and even though there’s a lot I would change about this place—like the fact that in order to work for Duke Parking and Transportation Services, you have to forget all social norms associated with respect and decency—much of what this University offers is unforgettable.

The highlights, stream-of-consciousness style: sprinting from Bell Tower to Brodie Gym to play basketball in the winter freshman year, then trudging to Cosmic later in the night. Living in section. Watching my friends Blaze the Stage. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. That first game in Cameron. Really, any game in Cameron. Tailgate. Busch Light. Brass Monkeys (that’s when you drink a 40 down to the label, then fill it up to the top with OJ). Erwin 54. Grandma’s Pizzas from Cinelli’s. Chasing pretty girls in white dresses around the Homecoming ball.

Learning how to spell Krzyzewski, Oghobaase and Zslinszka. Purposefully spelling “Plantation Pancakes” as “Pantation Plancakes.” The Pelicans, By the Sea Motel, Derriere and everything else associated with Myrtle Beach. Road trips—notably those to see Jay-Z, NASCAR, the Miami Hurricanes football team, the Duke basketball team, Smith Mountain Lake, Washington, D.C., Nipple Mountain, the city of Atlanta via MARTA only, Blowing Rock and more.

The list goes on, of course. We all have our own unique memories about what Duke has meant to us, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that academics in no way cracked the list above. Maybe that’s because of what a fake student I’ve become this year—The Chronicle long ago replaced classes as my main intellectual outlet, to the point that I’ve had roughly 12 academic meetings this entire semester—but Duke isn’t about what goes on in Perkins or BioSci. For me, it became about what was going on in the common room in section, the first lot in the Blue Zone (on certain Fall mornings) or in 301 Flowers.

That’s not to say that I ever forget about the bigger picture. On the cruise I went on with my fraternity brothers over spring break, we were frequently drinking, and so we frequently gave impromptu toasts. This one member of the group would toast to the most outlandish things, but the toasts would always end the same way: “….And to being in college,” he would conclude.

So before I exit, a toast: To my brothers in AEPi, to my friends at The Chronicle and all over campus and to my loving girlfriend; to the beauty that is Duke’s campus on a warm day in the spring; to the 2010 national champion men’s basketball team; and to the hope that the friendships I’ve made here in fact become life-long friendships, the way old people always say they do. But more than anything, I’d like to make a toast to five little words that I’ll always remember: to have been in college.  

Gabe Starosta is a Trinity senior. He is the outgoing sports editor of The Chronicle.

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