Ryan Chartrand

Welcome back, everyone.

It’s fall – autumn, if you want to sound fancy. School’s back in swing, for better or for worse. For the freshman wandering about the north end of campus, congrats on getting in to this lovely institution we call Cal Poly; you’ll get used to it. For everyone else, campus familiarity and the ever-present burden of some form of obligatory reading should be sinking back in.

Farewell, summer.

For once I am not mourning the loss. What are summers anymore, anyway? As one of the many 20-somethings who spent June through September working, summer wasn’t the leisurely three-month sabbatical it used to be in my pre-collegiate years.

What did I do this summer?

I spent a month at home (relaxing). I spent a week in San Diego with family (hot). I went to a Michael Bubl‚ concert (amazing).

Oh, and … I started seeing someone.

(I was about to write “I got a boyfriend” but really, that label is only going to be good for a limited number of years. But that’s a future column.)

I realize that generally speaking, initiating a relationship during summer is precarious at best. The concept of a “summer romance” isn’t associated with “fling” without reason. Hormones run as hot as Paso’s record-breaking 114-degree temperature this past July, and their effect on one’s higher reasoning abilities is akin to that of the intoxicant we college students are all familiar with.

Not that I’m saying hormones had anything to do with my personal experience, of course; I’m more wholesome than that.

Aside from the seasonal timing of the formation of a romantic link, the commencement of school presents all lovebirds, whether newly-formed or not, with potential difficulties.

The No. 1 problem: time management. As if the transition back into academia wasn’t enough, getting back into it with a relationship in tow is like jumping into double-dutch with a 30-pound backpack on.

Naturally, a relationship requires just as much concentration and study as a 400- or 500-level course, if not more (especially for the more academically lax among us). A romantic relationship will demand 100 percent of the two percent of your time you have left over after the full unit load, work, extracurrics, roommates, friends, family, finances, health, and anything else that makes it onto your list of things that press upon your neural transmitters.

Nevertheless, with 16 units of relentless major courses and everything else catalogued above, I endeavor to make this one work.

How, you ask? Or perhaps more importantly, why?

It’s the same question I posed to a friend when we were discussing fall quarter registration. For a little while he entertained the notion of a 19-unit load, along with his two part-time jobs and his extracurricular involvement.

“Why in the name of sanity would you do that to yourself?”

Because we as Cal Poly students, being of the brightest and most motivated minds, should be able to multi-task, piece of cake, no sweat. Right?

Here’s hoping.

Of course, we’re all here to augment our educations, gain practical skill to survive in that mythical “real world” that exists beyond the boundaries of campus, and heaven forbid, learn something. But all academia aside, the expectation to find “the One” during one’s college years isn’t easily ignored.

How else are you going to find “the One” if you don’t try?

A Ms. Pearson, physics and mathematics junior, expressed concern recently in a Letter to the Editor on the extinction of dating.

Well, Staci, I’m aboard – count me in on the movement to rescue dating from the endangered species list.

No matter what your class standing or your status, from freshman “Single” to super-senior “In a Relationship,” or as facebook puts it, “It’s Complicated,” the entities that are dating and relationships are real, and live on this campus, in this college town, too. Throughout the life of this column I hope to gain some insight on the enigma of romantic relationships, and I invite you to join me.

So I’ve decided to jump into my third year of college with a 30-pound backpack. As I am one of small stature and low upper body strength, and my skill with double-dutch isn’t outstanding, I’m certain it’s going to take quite a bit of energy and emotional resources. But hey, I’m a Cal Poly student – I welcome a challenge.

Sarah Carbonel is an English and psychology junior.

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