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Horror Story: Losing My Keycard On The First Day of NSOP

On her very first day at Columbia, Bwog baby and new writer, Victoria, makes a very terrible, no-good mistake. Things, however, eventually turn for the better in this classic Columbia bildungsroman. Read on for a tale of love, despair, and coming of age.

First impressions are everything, especially when you move onto a floor of freshmen from all over the world, where no one knows each other at all. I remember every emotional rollercoaster I went through the first day of NSOP (mainly because it was two weeks ago). I would constantly ask myself, “What if I don’t talk to anyone on my floor? What will become my new nickname? What will be my brand, the one event that everyone remembers me by?”

To be quite frank, we have all gone through the last question at least a dozen times, and we all tried really hard to make sure our brand was something epic. I, in particular, desperately wanted to become known as the cool, left-handed, bilingual girl from Philadelphia, giving free advertisement to Wawa and giving every new “friend” a room tour. Unfortunately, my brand did not become “Philly Girl” or “Coolest dorm.” Instead, I became “the girl who got locked out of her room literally three hours after getting her keycard.” To be fair, I was too worried about making friends and going in and out of rooms to remember a small piece of plastic. And the phone pocket didn’t match my phone case, which is completely unacceptable.
Floor meetings are not supposed to be terrifying – well, besides thinking of a “fun fact” to wow the crowd. No matter what, your fun fact will always sound cooler in your head than out loud, no matter how many times you rehearsed the delivery of saying, “I’m left-handed.” However, when you live on the same floor as the RHD, and your keycard is currently on your bed in your locked room, mere eye contact could send you to the darkest depths of your soul.

After the awkward ice breakers with fellow first years, my timid hand slithered up into the air. “Theoretically,” I cracked (I’m amazing at being inconspicuous), “what happens if you get locked out of your room?” I will never forget the response: in a complete smile, the RHD said, “So you WON’T ever forget your key in your room, but if you DO, which would NOT be SMART because your door has a SIGN, go to Hartley Hospitality for a skeleton key.” So, the first day of NSOP, the first day of a whole year on this floor with this group of people, I was written off as “the dumb girl who can’t read large signs and forgot her only form of survival on top of a pile of clothes she had yet to organize.” Great.

However, something good always appears in the strangest of places. I got to see the indoor tunnel from my dorm to Hartley, which was pretty nice. I got a free pen from the Hospitality Desk, which definitely came in handy due to my lack of school supplies. I learned that my dorm is the worst offender of getting locked out of their dorms, getting a glimpse of an impressive stack of forms lying on the desk in front of me. And, most importantly, I wasn’t alone! Another person on my floor, who is now my closest friend on campus, pulled the same dumb trick, accompanying me on our walk of shame to the friendly workers at the desk two dorms down. And in our moment of solidarity, we bonded over our free pens, our master key rental forms that now decorate our walls, and our new brand as “the two girls who share one brain cell.”

If I had learned anything from this moment of panic, I have learned three things. First, just use the phone pocket. It genuinely does not matter if it doesn’t match your phone case. Second, read signs. Always double-check to see you have your keycard in your possession. And lastly, you will never be alone in doing something stupid. People who are stupid together will always find each other, and maybe they’ll get coffee together the next day!


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