Volume 96, Issue 100
Tuesday, April 8, 2003

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Not ready to be a Spoke in the wheel

Chiu on this
Andrea Chiu
C&C Editor

The smell of stale beer, clumpy fries and blurry nights. That's The Spoke. Four years of memories: O-Week, Rick McGhie and indie rock.

Experiences at The Spoke are a little different now as I finish my fourth year as an undergrad. Amidst the smokeless room and $1 beers, the bar is still a welcoming place for in between class drinks, but the atmosphere is different.

These days at The Spoke, my friends speak of the future with a new kind of energy: some with excitement, some with nervous fear, all with an element of uncertainty.

Perhaps it's the group of people I have been lingering around throughout my Western experience, but it seems everyone who is graduating this spring will continue their education in some way or another.

While this cliché may be true, and I don't doubt that my peers are in it for the education, I can't help but think we're also a little scared of adulthood. In true student fashion, I for one would like to procrastinate and take my time in entering this mystical land they call "the real world."

Calling oneself a student affords us opportunities and excuses that other people can't get away with. Take for example, last Friday afternoon:

I woke up in the morning with the intention of spending a good part of the day at the library working on an assignment. Of course, one thing (one $2 pint of Fosters at The Wave) lead to another (five $2 pints of Fosters at The Wave) and on Saturday afternoon I woke up to realize that I had drank for 11 hours straight.

As a student, these kinds of occurrences aren't uncommon. But we can blame (or thank) the community of friends from classes, soph teams, co-editors and folks from first-year residence. One of these familiar faces is bound to be present and attempt to woo you with "just one drink" – even if you only stepped into The Spoke for a CLT combo.

As you read this, these situations probably don't seem to be such a big deal. Random binge drinking and skipping class have become university clichés to the point that their debauchery doesn't seem to be so out of the ordinary.

These are the kinds of things that we as students get away with; in fact, it's expected of us. But take the "student" out of our lives and the afternoon boozing is no longer "cool" – it's actually quite sad and there's a name for it: "alcoholism."

So, no friends, I will not be rushing into the real world of nine to five jobs and hour-long commutes (drinking and driving do not mix). At least for the next two years, I will do my best at avoiding this rite of passage and continue calling myself a student. I will reap the health insurance benefits provided by my mother's employer until I'm 25. I would rather stack up student loan interest because, unfortunately, it is perceived to be more respectable than collecting welfare.

All the benefits of student life aside, the main underlying reason for my pursuit of even higher education is fear. I shudder to think of what life might be as a non-student. Would that mean I'm a real adult?

Nightmares of browsing the classified ads for months on end are what I fear most. A scary world of dead-end jobs or crappy minimum wage grunt work is what I foresee in a 22-year-old media, information and technoculture graduate's near future. Ultimately, school is a safety net, and calling myself a "student" sounds much better than "unemployed."

As I close this column, it's somewhat ironic that I will be heading downstairs to The Spoke to indulge in a couple more drinks. These are the days and we might as well enjoy them while they last. Who knows? Opportunity knocks at unexpected times and I could be sitting next to Peter Mansbridge on the CBC next week and may have to trade in my beer for a little responsibility.

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