Dear My Fellow USC Undergrads,

I hope your summer was everything you hoped it would be and more (all 17,380 of you).

I imagine you jet-setting – taking advantage of SOAR or SURF or whatever ways you convinced USC to fund your (“research”) trip to the Maldives/Ghana/Abu Dhabi/Brazil/ugh wherever I’m jealous regardless.

I see you spending long hours at an intern desk, thrilled for every day you don’t have to make coffee (even though I’m sure you know exactly how many packets of Splenda your boss likes).

Intern/assistant life is so glamorous

In my mind’s eye, I watch you lazing on the beach, subtly giving the bird to the portly man wearing UCLA apparel. You look good! Tan, but not TOO tan. Well done.

Yes, I hope your summer was everything you hoped it would be. BUT IT’S OVER NOW, SO LET’S MOVE ON.

All oiled up, welcoming us back.

After two years of completing GEs, I’m finally in classes I thoroughly enjoy. I look forward to class. I like doing my homework. The Promised Land of higher education is finally leading to intellectual self-actualization. It’s exciting.

What’s nice about all these classes (that I thoroughly enjoy) is that most of them are taught by professors who don’t allow me to use my computer. I’m taking handwritten notes in those black and white composition books. It’s like I’m twelve again. Or Harriet (the Spy).

Classy notetaking 2k12

 I know you, USC students. I am one of you and I know us. I know the “glance at my News Feed while fake typing and nodding at whatever the professor is saying” trick. I’ve done the “look at as many puppy gifs as humanly possible during this incredibly boring lecture” bit. I’ve even made the rookie mistake of accidentally playing a Spotify song when opening my computer a couple of times.

“Yes, Professor! Not only do I bring my desktop to class, but I’ve only been invited to twelve events by random people in the USC Class of 2014 group so far this lecture! I’m so happy about that! Oh and of course I totally agree with that valid point you made earlier!”

I’ve been there. But now I’m not even allowed to be there anymore.

I’m done bragging about the fact that I really like my classes. I know some of you still have “BLAH 101: My Professor Can’t Project” or “Introduction to Irrelevancy” to complete.

You can do the Internet thing. You’re semi-addicted. We all are (unless you aren’t, in which case… how did you even find this article?)

Or you can mix it up.

I don’t know about you, but I approach every new school year like the actual New Year. I set goals and resolutions and convince myself that THIS will be the year that I stop feeling self-conscious about the way my voice sounds in a lecture hall. I will never spend $9 for a sandwich at Seeds again! I won’t ever have another Leavey Night. (Let’s ignore the fact I’ve already been four times this semester).

I’m here to help you break the Internet-in-class habit.

Here are five things (other than peruse the Internet) to do in an unbearably boring class:

1.     Daydream

I am really, really good at daydreaming. Between napping and scraping the last spoonful of Nutella out of the jar, I would say it’s my number two useless skill.

If you are bad at daydreaming, I’m here to help you. There are a number of angles to approach the daydream from, so I’m only going to list a few:

  • You are the person you most wish you could be and you are having the best day eve
  • You are yourself with the person you most wish you could be with and you are having the best day ever
  • You’re winning a Really Big Award (take your pick: Oscar, Grammy, Nobel Peace Prize, BET Award for Entertainer of the Year) and give a really profound speech
  • You are in a room full of puppies and you get to play with them all day
  • You are an astronaut
  • You are Beyonce (or Jay-Z… Or Blue Ivy… Or all three.)
  • It is ten years from now and you are super successful (alternatively: it is ten years from now and you are super unsuccessful as a means of counterintuitive motivation)
  • You are Gabby Douglas and Mckayla Maroney simultaneously AND you must gymnasticize your way down Trousdale
  • You’re suddenly Dr. Doolittle and get to talk with a campus squirrel
  • You get to yell at Chris Brown for five minutes without repercussions
  • You have to be honest with everyone you’ve interacted with all day – what would you say to them?
The best “daydreaming” result in Google images.

 

2.     Come up with Halloween costume ideas

It’s late-ish September. You only have about a month to figure out what you’re going to wear at the end of October.

Girls – I want you to do better than you usually do. I get that minimal is generally the way to go, but if you’re going to look like that, at least do something creative with it. If you’re just planning on wearing a bandeau and sparkly shorts, pretend you’re a broken disco ball or something. I don’t know.

 

Duh.

Guys – I don’t know. Do more, I guess.

 

The quintessential male Halloween costume.

3.     Think about your next meal

This was particularly useful when I was a freshman eating at the dining halls because I could imagine my options. So if you are a freshman – THINK ABOUT ALL THE THINGS YOU HAVE THE OPTION OF EATING. Imagine the combinations. What will taste really great after this awful class?

If you cook for yourself, try to be Nicole Lee. (If you don’t get the Nicole Lee reference, get your shit together and meet Nicole if only so you can salivate over her hunger-inducing Instagram photos).

You know, standard college apartment fare.
(Courtesy of Nicole Lee’s Facebook page)

 

Somehow my bowl of Cheerios makes me feel inadequate. (Also a Nicole Lee original)

4.     Practice your autograph

I’ve been practicing my autograph since I was nine (in the margins of notebooks during class, let’s not get too delusional here).

You know what? We’re going to be USC alum. A lot of USC alumni end up signing autographs. You can never be too prepared. What if one day a random kid sees you running down the beach in an old Visions and Voices T-shirt and assumes you’re famous because you went to the same school as one of these people? Or what if one day you are one of those people?

You’ll remember this article and be beyond grateful that you practiced your autograph on the back page of your Mead notebook/paper you just got back in class.

 

5.     Listen to what your professor is saying

I know… This is really asking a lot.

It’s not like USC costs $50,000+ a year and if you calculate it out, you’re probably paying several hundred dollars for this lecture you’re not listening to.

Bueller?

I get it, your professor is not the most engaging speaker. She has a slight lisp. Or he doesn’t enunciate and it takes too much effort to understand what he’s saying. Or he does that thing where he clicks his pen every ten seconds and it gets really annoying.

Shockingly, if they’re teaching at USC they probably DO KNOW WHAT THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT. And it’s probably semi-worth your while (and very worth your (or more likely your parents’) $$$/GPA/future dinner party conversation) to listen!!!

Fight On etc. etc.,

Cailin