The Tour You Never Had

Suzanne Monsivais

It’s a gorgeous mid-April day in the District. So gorgeous, in part, because the Office of Admissions at American University has chosen today to be AU Preview Day.  Incoming freshmen from all over the Eastern Seaboard flock with their parents to this beacon of higher education in our nation’s capital. The booming voice of a student Ambassador emanates from the distance and through blossoming trees.

Come join this Ambassador for the tour you never had, and relish in all the details you wish you never had the misfortune of discovering.

Ambassador to a cranky tour group:

“So this is a fairly typical dorm room, barring the fact that it was decorated exclusively with items from the Container Store, and features an appropriate amount of furniture. When you move in, you may find that there is actually 150 percent more furniture than you expected, because you have 200 percent more roommates than you expected. Most importantly, you’ll find that Housing and Dining Programs has truly mastered the art of efficiency, creating spaces for three out of what some wasteful fool thought appropriate for two.

“Anyway, you should expect your roommates and floormates to be far more diverse than any other student body you’ve likely encountered. AU is diverse and embraces diversity… it’s… international… multi-cultural…multi-ethnic… international… multi-cultural…international! At AU, we’re global, baby.  My freshman year, I had a roommate from Panama and a roommate from Kentucky. It was super-crazy to have roommates and friends from outside the mid-Atlantic. They even want to go to college, and they even like Whole Foods.

“However, you should also expect to conform to a few norms. Our dress code is relatively strict for young women. First and foremost, you’ll need to purchase a North Face fleece jacket. You might object  that you’d rather spend $100 on a heavier coat, one that might be appropriate for sub-60 degree days, but that’s really missing the point. Purchase it first; ask questions later. You also won’t want to be caught without a pair of sheer black tights. In a budget-saving turn of events, you’ll wear them as pants and forgo the normally requisite skirt or dress over them. Worn this way, they will also accentuate the curves of your lady-parts quite nicely.

“As for men, the code is more lax, although there are a few don’ts you certainly would like to observe. ‘Virginia is for lovers,’ for example, is not a particularly chic phrase to wear on a t-shirt. You may want to stick with the more conventional choice of Greek letters, although make sure to steer clear of such fumbles as ‘Campus beautification: don’t feed the sorority girls’ scrawled across the back of a fraternity shirt. It’s generally a good idea to not do things which make you immediately identifiable as a total asshole.

“Now, please turn around so that you’re facing outside the dorm room (and away from the young woman who is changing with her blinds open in the dorm hall directly across from us). Take a moment to notice this lovely hallway space! While it may surprise you, this actually doubles as study space when you come to realize that there is no ‘conventional study space’ on campus (Eagles are not much for staying within conventions, anyway). You can sit down directly on the industrial-grade carpeting and place your spine comfortably against the Art Deco cinderblock walls. Now you’re ready to get some As while your roommate gets some Zs!

“So we’re out of the dorms, and ready to explore a few of the amenities on our campus’s gorgeous south side. Here you’ll find the flagship of our fabulous study abroad program. AU generously invests a large portion of its budget each year to ensuring that you know what you’re missing if you choose not to study abroad or cannot afford to study abroad. We offer programs for both the academically motivated, serious students — such as our language immersion programs in Chile and St. Petersburg, Russia —and some for those who just can’t seem to get shit-faced enough while in the States — such as the Madrid and Mediterranean programs.

“Turn to your right, folks, and you’ll see the bastion of security on our campus: AU Public Safety. These officers spend tens of hours each academic year responding to incidents all over campus, ranging from the mundane to the pressing. For incidents in the latter category, our officers are equipped with the latest technology in transportation, the T3 People turbo-charged transporter. These vehicles can cut the officers’ cross-campus commute times by up to 45 seconds (depending on wind velocity).

“Well, that pretty much sums it all up for now. I’m glad I could give you just a small preview of things to come if you choose AU; all the rest, of course, you’ll have to discover for yourself.  Now, if you don’t mind, I’m gonna go tan topless on our sand-less, water-less, scene-less ‘beach’. Toodles!”