web analytics
September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Part III: First Day Of College

Shapiro-012712

Within the span of just a few weeks, everything I knew about myself and all of my plans were destroyed. I was out of yeshiva, living at home and enrolled in classes at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU).  I did check to see if NEIU had a football team, but much to my chagrin, I was told they had to eliminate it when they moved up to Division 1 (strike one against Division 1!).

NEIU does not have a good academic reputation.  It’s often derogatorily referred to as “North-easy.”  Much of the focus of those around me who were trying to convince me that I would do fine, was that it was such an easy school.  That really didn’t build my confidence, nor made attending any more enticing, especially because performing academically was the least of my concerns, although in retrospect, that would become much more of a problem than I had anticipated.

There wasn’t much in terms of preparation for school.  I was so sure I wouldn’t go through with it that I didn’t take the shopping very seriously.  I do remember buying a pack of pens (the cheap bic pens wouldn’t do, I needed fancier pens for some reason) and a back pack (which somehow I knew was supposed to be slung over one arm, as opposed to worn normally).

My overall strategy had not changed.  My father made it clear to me that he was going to drive me to my first day of school (I didn’t drive at the time, and he wanted to make sure I didn’t get “lost” on the bus).  He could force me to go to school, but he could not force me to go into my class.  I knew what I had to do.  I would go, spend a few hours wandering about, come home and declare that I couldn’t do it.

For some reason (and to this day I don’t know why) I asked my dad to drop me off 2 hours before class time.  I found the “science” building on campus, walked in and wandered around for a few minutes.  Other classes were in session.  Many of those classes had their doors open, so I was able to peer inside.  Doing so only made me more nervous.  The students in those classes all looked like they belonged, when I clearly did not.  I was sure that this was not going to work.

I walked up the ramp in the rather curiously designed “science” building, and after wandering the halls for a few minutes, located the classroom that would host my first class.  This was 2 class sessions before my scheduled time.  I sat down on the floor opposite the classroom, and waited.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had inadvertently stumbled on a typical piece of NEIU culture.  Budget cuts made the availability of required courses scarce, and students often sat for long periods of time outside of classrooms waiting for their next class.  This made me seem like much more of an insider than I actually was.

I sat there for almost 90 minutes, watching one class exit, and the next enter.  The more I saw, the more convinced I was that this was not for me.  I’d wait for the class to begin, I would refuse to go inside, and this little experiment in college education would end.

And then the unexpected happened.  NEIU had a very small Orthodox population.  Over the course of my studies at NEIU, I would have 5-6 Orthodox students in all of my classes combined.  While I was staring at the ground, I heard a voice to my left.  It was an Orthodox girl I knew from the neighborhood.  She said, “Hi Chaim, you are in this class? That’s great, because I like knowing people in my classes.”  Those words would change me forever, for as frightened as I was about entering that classroom and encountering whatever I would encounter, I was more embarrassed to be seen by her as a coward who was too scared to go into class.

In retrospect, I could have told her I was in a different class (although she’d probably ask me why I was sitting outside of that one in particular), but I made the decision that I had no choice but to walk into that classroom.

I walked in and took a desk in the front row (which would become a location of choice throughout my college career), next to her.   I really wanted to disappear into the floorboards, but that wasn’t possible. I just sat there and watched the clock tick down until the class started.

I don’t remember much from that first class.  I know I raised my hand (hoping no one would notice it) when the professor asked if there were any history majors in the class.  I also remember taking the Syllabus, too afraid to ask what a Syllabus was.

About the Author: Chaim Shapiro, M.Ed is a freelance writer, public speaker and social media consultant. He is currently working on a book about his collegiate experience. He welcomes comments and feedback at chaimshapiro@aol.com or on his website: http://chaimshapiro.com/


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Part III: First Day Of College”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The Iron Dome was called on for the first time in 2013 to intercept a missile fired by terrorists in Sinai at Eilat.
National Lawyers Guild seeks to indict Obama for helping Israel build Iron Dome
Latest Sections Stories
Ganz-091214-Fifty

Today, fifty years and six million (!) people later, Israel is truly a different world.

Goldberg-091214

There will always be items that don’t freeze well – salads and some rice- or potato-based dishes – so you need to leave time to prepare or cook them closer to Yom Tov and ensure there is enough room in the refrigerator to store them.

Women's under-trousers, Uzbekistan, early 20th century

In Uzbekistan, in the early twentieth century, it was the women who wore the pants.

This is an important one in raising a mentsch (and maybe even in marrying off a mentsch! listening skills are on the top of the list when I do shidduch coaching).

While multitasking is not ideal, it is often necessary and unavoidable.

Maybe now that your kids are back in school, you should start cleaning for Pesach.

The interpreter was expected to be a talmid chacham himself and be able to also offer explanations and clarifications to the students.

“When Frank does something he does it well and you don’t have to worry about dotting the i’s or crossing the t’s.”

“On Sunday I was at the Kotel with the battalion and we said a prayer of thanks. In Gaza there were so many moments of death that I had to thank God that I’m alive. Only then did I realize how frightening it had been there.”

Neglect, indifference or criticism can break a person’s neshama.

It’s fair to say that we all know or have someone in our family who is divorced.

The assumption of a shared kinship is based on being part of the human race. Life is so much easier to figure out when everyone thinks the same way.

Various other learning opportunities will be offered to the community throughout the year.

More Articles from Chaim Shapiro
Careers-logo

Just a few months ago, I was having a difficult time getting a refund for a missing product processed via the customer service call center at a major retailer. After spending hours on hold and having my request denied, I sent a Tweet to the company’s Twitter account.

I have a background in counseling, and I can say that the biggest mistake that I ever made was refusing psychological help after we lost the twins. I was trying to keep my tough-guy facade going, and convinced myself that I could deal with the pain.

We had suffered through an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. My wife had to go through labor and deliver our children to their deaths, and I was unable to save them or even give them a little warmth while they died.

Special Note: It is an unusual phenomenon that many bereaved parents share. We can almost see our age-adjusted children in our sukkah or running up to us during a family simcha. As quickly as they come, those visions seem to disappear as we go through the life cycle. They are hard moments made harder by the thoughts of not only what could have been, but what should have been.

I had to believe that things were going to be ok. They just had to be ok. We had gone through so much, had sacrificed so much and were doing everything the doctors told us to do. I remember speaking to a hesitant professor in my Ph.D. program about getting an incomplete in her class. The conversation stands out in my mind because, looking back, I can see how odd it must have seemed as I matter-of-factly told her I was too busy for coursework because my twins’ amniotic sack was bulging through my wife’s cervix.

On our first day in the antepartum unit, one of the nurses mentioned how critical every moment of pregnancy really was. “One minute in is worth two minutes out (in an incubator).” We weren’t really expecting a premature birth, but her comment put a fine point on the importance of the care my wife was receiving.

The best way to describe our emotions the morning of our major ultrasound was nervous excitement. We had survived a serious scare with a threatened miscarriage a few weeks prior. My wife was on bed rest at home, but we had no real reason to assume there would be any new problems.

It was only after we celebrated the great news that we were expecting twins that we saw the first sign of problems. First of all, my wife was losing, not gaining weight, even as the babies continued to grow normally. Soon after, routine blood work revealed that my wife was suffering from gestational diabetes.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/part-iii-first-day-of-college/2012/01/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: