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Three years ago when I started this blog as a sophomore at Boston University, I couldn’t even imagine how soon I would be writing this:
I graduated from college!
As I reflect back on my experience as a Bulgarian coming to the States for university, I feel that I have accomplished some very significant achievements. I immersed myself in the American culture, conquered a few personal goals, and even managed to learn a thing or two about Marketing and Management.
This is my list of the greatest things I did while studying in America:
Soak In the American Culture
2. Went to two Red Sox games, a Celtics game, a Giants game, and a BU vs BC hockey game
3. Watched the Superbowl twice
4. Went whale watching near Cape Cod
5. Saw the Blue Angels in Florida
6. Went to several Broadway musicals in New York, The Blue Man Group and the Boston Pops Orchestra in Boston, drag queen shows in Provincetown
7. Played the slot machines in Las Vegas, Foxwoods, CT and Mohegan Sun, CT
8. Witnessed Obama’s election, learned a lot about American politics, and was there when the global financial system crashed (this is not necessarily my achievement)
9. Interacted with the US military and learned a lot about the philosophy of the enlisted, ROTC, and those who support them
10. Learned about ADHD and how common the misuse of Adderall is at universities
11. Did a pull up at Muscle Beach, LA
12. Partied all night long in Miami
13. Ate like an American: tried Twinkies, s’mores, New England clam chowder, Main lobster, Cajun cuisine and jambalayas, Tex-Mex fajitas, lots of bagels with cream cheese, San Francisco crab bisque in a sourdough bowl, (ate and shucked) oysters, hotdog at the ballpark, salt water taffy, Reese’s peanut butter cups, cranberries (even visited a cranberry bog), a ton of salad dressings, avocado on everything
14. NEVER TRIED A PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SANDWICH (I just realized that! Must fix that!)
15. Went to some of America’s most beloved chain restaurants: Hooters, Jamba Juice, In-N-Out, Bubba Gump, Hard Rock Café, Krispy Kreme, The Cheesecake Factory
16. Bought something from Abercrombie and Fitch, American Eagle, American Apparel, and Urban Outfitters
Enhance My College Career
17. Met interesting people from all over the world
18. Tailored my education to the area of business and the industry I’m interested in and landed my dream job
19. Had an internship every semester and summer
20. Picked up a third foreign language, Russian
21. Became good friends with some of my professors
22. Visited some of the world’s top universities: Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford, Brown, Berkeley, and Columbia U
23. Joined several student groups
24. Went to frat parties and witnessed a lot of MIT frat hazing
25. Attended a house party that got busted by the police
26. Played beer pong, cups, and gunshotting during 21st birthday celebrations
27. Used a fake international ID to get into clubs before I was 21 (very offended because I had been clubbing in Bulgaria since 16)
28. Spent spring break in Cancun with the entire US college population
29. Got my university to pay me for tutoring Writing 100 and Writing 150 students
30. Was in the top 7% of the class.. who would have thought?
Travel As Much As Possible
31. Travelled all over the East and West Coast: Niagara Falls, Walden Pond, Salem, Boston, Plymouth, Cape Cod, Provincetown, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Providence, New Haven, Pittsburgh, State College, New York, New Jersey, Miami, Orlando, Pensacola, New Orleans, Jackson MI, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Cancun, The Bahamas, Sierra Nevada, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Lake Havasu, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Big Sur, Monterey, Berkeley, San Francisco, Palo Alto, San Ramon, Lodi, Napa and Sonoma Valley, Point Reyes.
32. Had a road trip on Route 66 as well as on Highway 1 (in both directions)
33. Soaked my feet both in the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean
34. Took advantage of Boston University’s study abroad programs for a semester in London and in Madrid, where I even lived with a Spanish family.
Get In Some Thrill:
36. Overcame my fear of the deep, learned how to swim (freestyle, breaststroke, back and butterfly), and won recognitions for second and third place at a swimming competition.
37. Learned to sail a flying junior and had an amazing time sailing on the Charles every spring and fall
38. Constantly challenged myself with something new: Tried fencing, kickboxing, African dancing, belly dancing, pole dancing, snowboarding (I’m yet to perfect that!), jet ski, catamaran, windsurf, sea kayak, coasteering (jumping off rocks into the freezing sea with a wetsuit), flying a Navy flight simulator and a Cessna
39. Completed an AFF skydiving course and am currently on my 11th jump
40. Got a Massachusetts ID
41. Received a social security number
42. Filed my taxes (only twice though, should have been four times, oops)
43. Got called for Jury Duty
44. Visited the Sam Adams Brewery
45. Went to a Wal-Mart
The juniors at Boston University’s School of Management refer to this time of the semester as Hell Week. As the deadline for our Core business plans approaches, we are driven to dementia and insanity.
Pulling all-nighters is not a new thing on the international college scene. What’s new is the way Americans do it.
It’s not uncommon practice for college students to take stimulating drugs to help them stay awake for days in a row and to hyperconcentrate before exams and projects. The most popular “medication drugs” are Ritalin and Adderall. Their main ingredients are methylphenidate and amphetamine.
Under the influence of these stimulants, students get a rush of energy and become extremely focused for several hours. They become so efficient they can cram a semester worth of material into a 12-hour all-night study session. After the effect has passed, they crash.
These stimulants are in fact prescription medicine for children and teenagers with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)*. Those who have access to the prescription drug turn it into a profitable business. One pill costs about $5 and can keep you going for 5 or 10 hours (it comes in long and short acting forms).
*(You have not heard of ADHD? Probably that’s because you don’t live in the States. In my opinion, ADHD is a medical hoax rather than a medical condition. I believe it is like the connection between Sadaam Hussein and the attack on 9/11, or like the claim that French women don’t shave their armpits: it’s a purely American myth. Some of the ADHD symptoms include: inability to stay still and quiet, difficult concentration, and hyper-energetic behavior. However, for the sake of objectivity, I have to say that there is significant scientific proof supporting the claim that ADHD is a legitimate disease. I leave it to you to decide whether it’s overdiagnosed and whether it could or should be cured. )
While the existence of the ADHD disorder is questionable, Adderral and Ritalin’s effects are very real. College students don’t seem to mind the fact that they are taking powerful pills for symptoms that they even don’t have.
While some stimulating medications are sold with prescription in drugstores and resold by “studious” college students, other stimulants are widely available in convenience stores. 5-Hour Energy is an energy drink that comes in a small bottle the size of a shot. It supposedly contains herbal stimulants, caffeine, amino acids and vitamins, which give you a strong energy kick.
Four Loko, which was recently banned in Massachusetts, is another strange energy-enhancer in a can. It is a 12% alcohol drink mixed with an energy drink. Consumers become very awake from the caffeine boost without realizing that they are getting drunk as well… until the caffeine effect wears off and they black out.
After all I learned from my American peers about the (ab)use of energy enhancers during Hell Week, I have only one question: Whatever happened to getting a healthy good night’s sleep?