By Daniel Milyavsky
Oh, it hurts to write that headline. I’m graduating in less than a month, and so now it’s time to put my reflections to pen and paper, or rather to keyboard and screen. I don’t have anything particularly groundbreaking or life-changing to say – I don’t think true wisdom really works that well – and my three and a half years at Binghamton have been filled with way too many experiences and emotions to neatly summarize in an article. But I’ll do what I can.
Those who of you know me that I’m relentlessly honest and cynical, so this statement should be all the more meaningful coming from my lips: Transferring here was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. In the long run, I’m sure that my decision to switch from accounting to pre-med will prove more consequential, and I do think that Dr. Milyavsky has a nice ring to it. But in terms of decisions I’ve made that have actually affected my life thus far, this is the bee’s knees (I’m from New York City. I have no idea why I think its okay to use that expression.)
The thing I’ll miss most about college is the incredible friendships I’ve made here. In alphabetical order, I’ve give Jack, Luke, and Samson all a special mention. I’ll save my emotional farewells and recollections of wild times for real life, but if I make friendships in medical school that are even half as fun, honest, loyal, and insightful, I’ll be pretty happy. We’re in college, so the vast majority of us haven’t started families yet, and most of us are also, the vagaries of the hook up culture notwithstanding, more or less single, so friends are really what makes life worth living. Thanks to friendship, many experiences that are mundane are otherwise rendered amusing and tolerable.
Humans in general, and those of us in the first half of our lives in particular, are a moody bunch, and like everyone else I have happy days and sad days, exciting experiences and lethargic ones. Like basically any other student, sometimes I’ve enjoyed being here, and sometimes it seemed like a drag. I’m tired of speaking in generalities though, and since I’m a page in and most of you have probably stopped reading anyway, I might as well get down to the specifics of what I liked and disliked here.
I’m incredibly grateful for the existence of the College Libertarians and the Binghamton Review. Although the debates aren’t as intellectual or angry as they were when I first got here (I use those two words in an equally positive sense), it still beats the hell out of the stale and tepid meetings of the other political groups on campus (no offense College Republicans. I like you guys and stuff, but you’re just not as good!). I got probably more than half of my closest friends through that club, and it’s just a great vehicle for entertaining and rowdy political discussion, even if its actual influence on the overall campus is just a rounding error away from zero.
As for the Review, writing about politics and the world, and shitting on other people in a hilarious way, is one of my greatest pleasures, and it’s awesome that there’s a publication here that let me do that. Thanks to how stupid liberals are, I never really lacked for Press Watch material. I’m super proud of the Halloween 2013 issue I put out. Getting to go to Texas three times for the Collegiate Network conferences was swell. I will admit that it was disheartening when it dawned on me that the average Binghamton student either doesn’t quite know what the Review is, or is too intellectually shallow and vapid to care about politics or journalism, but I can’t control that, and the decline in intellectual curiosity is probably a nationwide phenomenon. The complimentary emails I received for my work were nice, for at least 30 seconds. Oh, and getting to have our own office is ill. We’re the funniest publication on campus, and the only one to offer an alternative to mainstream campus liberalism, and I’m happy I got to lead it officially for a year and a half, and in a broader sense for three years. If I never went to Bing, I don’t know what kind of a shape the Review would be in, but it would be a worse one. We’re always pretty lightly staffed, but thankfully we’ve been lucky enough to have the right people present at the right time. We’re the only SUNY with a conservative or libertarian publication, so there’s another reason I’m happy to have gone, and you should be happy you’re going to, Bing. Sean, Jordan, and Billy: you guys have been doing a great job since I’ve stepped down as Editor-in-Chief, and I hope you continue the good work for years to come.
And now for the fun part: some shit I didn’t like here. First off, State Street sucks. If you personally like the bars, hurray for you, but in my entire time here, they have sucked, currently do suck, and give every indication of continuing to suck. I hate the moronic music they play, so that’s definitely a part of it (I remember how excited I was the one time Tom and Marty’s played a Red Hot Chili Peppers song), but I also think that an overly crowded and loud bar is just a horrible way to meet people, and I’ve probably spent a majority of my bars night in some crevice with three or four of my friends. Alright fine, on the off chance that you manage to hook up with someone you’re actually attracted to (it has been known to happen occasionally), then the night is okay, but even then it’s just okay, since I think if most people (not everyone, though) were honest with themselves, they’d admit that they’d prefer something at least a little bit more affectionate and romantic than bringing someone home from a bar. Invariably, the most enjoyable part of almost every weekend night is the pregame with my actual friends. Sexual escapades do make for entertaining stories, but I think for most people it serves as more of a thirst quencher and less as something that delivers actual happiness. I don’t want to paint all skirt chasing experiences with too broad of a brush, and they are often fun at the time, but my verdict stands.
I initially wrote in the first paragraph of this article how in recent years I’ve been the preeminent conservative/libertarian voice here at Binghamton. I’m not sure if this makes me sound more like an arrogant shithead or less of one, but I only even started thinking of myself that way after my friends told me as much. It’s a little ironic, because just last semester I wrote an article about how I’ve mellowed out over the years, but with the whole Students for Change thing and my unexpectedly spectacularly popular Pipe Dream article in response to it, my political profile here is higher than it’s ever been. It’s cool and all, but I do of course recognize that this is all a tempest in a teapot. It’s not even that people outside of Bing don’t care about the political controversies here – it’s that most people who go here don’t even care! But still, it’s nice that I’ve been able to make my views here known without really suffering any social repercussions. That wasn’t really the case back in high school and back in Hunter College, and that’s definitely not the case at many other college campuses across America.
So, how do I actually feel about graduating? Well, I suppose with the typical ambivalence that many people feel. I’ve had a nice time here, and I will miss it. But I am ready to leave on the other hand, ready to become an adult, because let’s face it, we’re still children, and I’m saying this at the ripe old age of 23, which is older than almost all of the undergrads here. I’m on the high priority waiting list at one medical school, and on the regular waiting list at another, so that’s probably what I’ll be doing for the next four years of my life. It’s going to be a transition –not just in terms of the fact that I’ll have to study harder than I’ve ever had to study in undergrad, but also in the sense that I’ll have to shift my objectives in life from basically just enjoying myself and satisfying my own intellectual curiosity to a more single minded purpose – becoming a physician. It’s one of the most honorable professions out there, and it’ll be nice to actually be able to heal people rather than just argue about political stuff that I’m powerless to change, so it’s certainly a goal worth pursuing. And hey, it’s better than law school, right?
As for my advice to those of you still here: Appreciate it. It may feel sometimes like you’ll be here for the rest of your life, but you really won’t be. Try to leave your comfort zone sometimes, and develop meaningful relationships. Oh, and this is important: Take the time to think in a serious way about your plans for your career after college. Talk to adults about it, since most of the time, your peers are delusional and don’t know what they’re talking about. I know it can be very difficult, as I myself have flipped many times between varying career paths, but don’t just graduate with a poli sci major and hope that it’ll all work out somehow.
I’ll leave off with a quotation (from myself, of course). The second article I ever wrote for the Binghamton Review was a recap of my first semester here, as a transfer student. It was much funner to write than this article, which just judging from the word count, is a bit on the self-indulgent side. It’s from the May 2012 issue, and if you ever want to read it, it’s in our online archives. Anyway, here’s the quote: “My entire life, I have always thought school spirit was moronic and had a visceral reaction in opposition to it, but here at Bing, I’ve somehow dropped that attitude, and I’m actually developed a bit of school spirit myself. This is really the first time in my life that I’m proud to be a student at the school I’m in. The education that I have received so far is absolutely first-rate, with the professors being knowledgeable and competent. Most of the students I encounter are friendly, intelligent, and intellectually curious. Back at my old college, I felt like I was going to night school; or going to school part time. I would just go in, go to class, and leave. It’s much difference here. I have something new to do every day. There are so many opportunities here for students to make something of themselves, and of their mind.”
I’m ready to leave you, Bing, but I’ll sure miss you.
Added Note: Since I’ve written this article, I’ve been accepted to the Stony Brook School of Medicine, so it looks like that’s where I’ll be heading in August.