As the school year begins anew, Vassar’s campus is flooded with new faces. Between the incoming first-years who are excited to be away from home and the exchange students sharing the campus for a semester or two, one group of faces stands out more than the others: transfer students.
Coming from places as far afield as New York City, these seasoned college veterans are, once again, attempting to make a place for themselves at yet another school that abbreviates every single thing. One transfer student, an incoming sophomore, shared her experience of starting anew.
“It’s all the little things, you know? Like that our IDs are called VCards, not MCards, or that it’s VCash, not MCash, that we use to pay for laundry. Those things add up over time. You’ve been so used to doing things one way, and now you have to change everything. In my dorm at my old school, for example, we had gender-inclusive restrooms, and here all the restrooms are gender-neutral. We also had an art installation with every denizen of Hell mentioned in ‘Paradise Lost’ instead of a garden with every plant mentioned by Shakespeare. So that’s an adjustment.”
While the meal plan is new even for returning Vassar students, the sophomore has had a hard time adjusting from her previous meal plan. She shared how difficult it is just to figure out where she might possibly be supposed to eat.
“So, at my old school, we had two different cafeterias, and Vassar only has one, and that kind of throws me off. Where am I supposed to go when I want to eat pizza with a slightly different crust? I just wandered around campus my whole first week trying to find a second dining hall,” she said.
Lack of dining options is not her only obstacle to a balanced diet. The sophomore recalled, “For two years, the abbreviation ‘The Deece’ has meant ‘Disciplinary Center’ to me, not ‘All Campus Dining Center.’ I was on probation for my whole first year, so I was there a lot. It smelled like cheap incense and spilled Italian dressing. It was grim. Every time someone here asks me if I want to go to the ‘The Deece,’ I scream and run away,” she said.
Classes hinder her ability to navigate Vassar culture as well.
“There are only like 30 people in my biggest class. I don’t even need to bring the binoculars I bought for my freshman writing seminar last year. I can actually see the professor. She keeps looking me in the eyes and addressing me by name. It’s weird. She does it with everyone. It’s like she’s obsessed with names. I told her super briefly that I was going to New York for the weekend, and not only did she give me a list of art installations on the intersection of gender and jean-pocket depth that she said could not be missed, she also asked me how my trip went before class the following Tuesday. Why would she remember an undergrad’s weekend plans? Doesn’t she have a team of graduate students desperate for her attention?” said the sophomore.
Weekend activities also bamboozle this transfer student:
“At my first college, the on-campus club was called ‘The Bridge Cafe,’ and the coffee shop was called ‘The Mug.’ So last Friday night, I showed up turnt to The Bridge Cafe here, and no one was there. It was only one a.m., so I waited for about half an hour. No one showed up, so I just went to Sunset Lake and dangled my head off of the bridge there, which I guess is a thing people here do for fun? Someone said it is referred to as ‘waterfalling.’ We did a similar thing back at my other school, but it involved a funnel and the women’s rugby team, and we called it ‘flip cup,’” she said.
Getting involved in social life on campus has also proven particularly difficult.
“Why do they say ‘orgs’? Why not just ‘clubs’?” asked the sophomore.
Recently, this transfer student has been seen around campus carrying a hamper into the Old Laundry Building, and asking people which building Sander’s Classroom is in.