Guest Writer Riley Stacy walks you through the most humbling experience of her life.

August may actually be the worst month of the year. We go back to school against our will, we sweat profusely, and we are again faced with the looming fear of having one less year until entering true adulthood. I, as a brand new first-year, was less jaded and more excited for August to fly by so I could finally move to the city that would be the start of a new chapter in my life. I mean, moving to New York seems glamorous to most people. 

I already knew that 75% of the housing I might be assigned to wouldn’t have air conditioning, so I thought I could take the entire month of August to truly prepare, both mentally and physically. I thought I could become friends with the heat—surely the sauna-like climate of Hewitt, Brooks, and Reid would force us residents to mingle in air conditioned areas. Maybe I’d meet my best friend in an attempt to cool off. In my mind, I was going to be so excited about living my dream that I wouldn’t even have time to think about the fact that I lived in a brick oven. So, when I woke up on that first morning in Brooks absolutely soaked in sweat and fighting heat exhaustion, I knew I’d made a grave mistake.

There is something so deeply humbling about paying $86k per year to attend a school that gives you no choice but to lose approximately 10 gallons of sweat during orientation alone. When people told me that making friends would make my college experience more fulfilling, I didn’t realize it would be because they would let me sleep on the floors of their air conditioned dorms. Want to learn more about the people you’re living with? Head to a Sulz lounge during a heat wave. There will be at least four people camping out in each trying to get a taste of cool air. 

Some argue that this is a canon first-year event. You have to be humbled to appreciate the little things more deeply later in life and, generally, I agree with this sentiment. However, seeing my high school peers (who pay half of what we do in tuition) move into literal apartments with floor to ceiling windows, kitchens, and air conditioning really had me questioning every single choice I made up until that moment. 

I attribute at least 75% of my mental breakdowns during NSOP to my 98 degree, 7th floor, single-turned-double. By the first weekend my spirit was already broken, so when we received a heat advisory email from the College, I very nearly combusted. No shit, Sherlock. And when their recommendations were to utilize the lounges and drink water, I just gave up. A message to the Barnard admin: I’d use the lounges if they weren’t packed wall to wall with desperate residents trying to get their body temp below 99 degrees, and I’d drink water if the water fountains in our buildings worked.

So, I guess my conclusion here is that living in Brooks is a true litmus test for success in college. If you can survive NSOP while on the brink of heat exhaustion, constantly in a puddle of your own sweat, you can pull all nighters and read 500 pages in one night. Somehow, that lack of AC made me look forward to the frozen fingers and nasty slush of January in New York City—something I didn’t think was possible. Brooks is a weed-out course for college life, and I survived. I genuinely believe that because I survived my first two weeks in that godforsaken building, I can do anything. A message to the class of 2028: if you get assigned a room in Brooks, bring a fan, an ice pack, and your strongest will to survive. 

Brooks via Bwog Staff