August 28, 2013

NPS: Netflix Positioning System — To All the Undeclared Freshmen

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Netflix can be your best friend and your arch nemesis who reels you in with its most random of recommendation categories that somehow really get you (Hello, “Amateur Detective TV Dramas”). When it does entrap you with those specific details that play to your mood, you can find the greatest gem, or the most horrendous piece of cinematic or television “art.” So as an avid Netflix binger, I am here to be your crack, I mean Netflix, spiritual guide. Please keep all arms and legs in the vehicle at all times.

In honor of all the freshies and my last O-Week (insert one perfect tear cascading down my face worthy of Denzel Washington in Glory), I urge everyone to check out the ill-fated television series, Undeclared. The show was created and produced by Judd Apatow on the coattails of his other short-lived series, Freaks and Geeks. As in Freaks and Geeks, you can find the young versions of the Apatow staples like Seth Rogen and Jason Segel, as well as then-relatively-unknown Jay Baruchel and Charlie Hunam. The show follows a group of four college roommates and their two female friends as they navigate their first year of college at the University of North Eastern California (definitely not as good as the South Harmon Institute of Technology in terms of fake college names) with all of its greatness and pitfalls. As much as it glorifies the partying and freedom associated with finally leaving home and living “on your own,” it remains pretty grounded in reality to typical college experiences, starting with its pretty average-looking cast. And as a new senior reflecting on my past years here at Cornell, I find it refreshing to see a show that plays true to all the awkward sexual encounters and relationships, the “reinvention” of oneself through clothing and style and the slew of other collegiate concerns.

So here are the top 5 lessons to get all of you freshmen through O-Week and beyond:

1. It’s fine to start college not knowing what you want to do with your life. Being undeclared could be the most freeing experience. I do not recommend dilly-dallying too much, but definitely dabble discriminately. Hey, I thought I was a science-y person until I got to organic chemistry and fell on my face. Now I live in the beautiful idealistic world of the humanities where I am happy even without the most solid of job prospects. Nevertheless, go in undeclared like Steven and make the most of what Cornell has to offer in terms of classes.

2. If you have decided to go long-distance with your significant other from home, respect the relationship. This can be done by not sleeping with someone else the first day you meet him/her, or by ending the relationship if you’re thinking about being with someone else. It won’t be fun either way, but at least you prevent your girlfriend/boyfriend from turning into Eric (Jason Segel), who preys on Steven (Jay Baruchel) when he finds out the truth about the sexual indiscretion between him and his girlfriend, Lizzie (who, by the way, came to school with a pillow with Eric’s face on it. Shaking my head there, Steven. Should have left crazy alone).

3. Actually, for relationships in general, always remember this gem from Eric’s dad (played by Ben Stiller in the last episode): “You know what a relationship is? Real Exciting Love Affair that Turns Into Ongoing Nightmare. Sobriety Hangs in Peril. Something like that; I got it tattooed on my back.” This isn’t college-age specific, but totally accurate in its own way.

4. In the very first episode, the boys decide to host a party in their suite, mostly to get girls, but also to meet people in general. Although pulling off a stunt as large as the party eventually became would not fly with most of your RAs, the spirit of it is important to understand. The next few weeks are all about meeting new people and stepping out of your comfort zones a bit. Keep your dorm room doors open, speak to other random freshmen (they usually look just as lost as you, so they’re easy to point out), and be open to everyone. This is one of the only chances in your life when you will to talk to randos without looking like a weirdo and make friends so easily. Cherish it and don’t let it pass you by. Cornell will inevitably kick your ass, so have a group of friends to count on to help you up after.

5. HAVE FUN! Undeclared shows you so many ways to have fun with friends in college. You never see them do anything too academic, but why be reminded of something that will make you miserable?  In any case, if you don’t make time for some whimsical and dirty fun, you will be stressed and miserable all of the time, and that’s not what your mental health needs. So take a night off every week and remember to breathe and be young. Make those crazy memories. It’s worth it, I promise.

And for the upperclassmen, I would watch the show as a way to go on a trip down memory lane and check off all the crazy stunts that are a rite of passage in college. Time is ticking towards graduation, after all.

Original Author: Natalia Fallas