Well, it's back to Brown, although admittedly when I returned to campus I made the lame joke about not remembering I went to White University, since the entire place was blanketed in snow.

Back to needing a key to get into the bathroom. Back to sleeping on a bed raised so high I need a step stool to get on it - yes, short people of the world, I claim that it is socially acceptable to use a step stool to get on your bed in college.

Essentially, back to what I consider normality now.

I was truly excited to come back to Brown, but the second I entered my dark and for once scrupulously clean dorm room the jolt of homesickness that rattled through me was one of the worst I've had since starting college. I missed the weak winter sunlight, dusty smell of my dogs' fur and possibility of In-N-Out at 1 in the morning - all things that had started to bore me just recently. Alas, the much lauded grass does promise to be greener on the other side, a cliche that has propelled me and my friends through this semester's shopping period.

As a neophyte class shopper, I'm only just beginning to realize how lucky I was last semester. I got into all my small classes without any difficulties, and I had a solid four classes in mind that I wanted to take. Admittedly, I'm not as lost this semester as some of the poor souls who have wandered about in the snow these past few days, shopping five, six, even seven classes a day.


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By the second day of trundling about in a ridiculously puffy coat, I had three of the four sorted out for sure - my introductory biology class, my psychology class and my Spanish class.

But an English class turned out to be harder to find than I thought.

Brown has a fantastic English program; it's one of the most popular concentrations at the school. But many of our English courses are just too darn good for students - concentrators and non-concentrators alike - to pass up. So the English Department just recently instituted a program whereby any student without a declared English concentration must get an instructor override to take a course. Great for English concentrators. Not so great for little freshmen or English aficionados trying to get their creative writing or literature analysis fix.

Despite being unable to register for the creative nonfiction writing course that I desperately wanted to take - and which, evidently, everyone else wanted to take, too - I managed to obtain an override into another English course called Fiction and American Mass Culture. And just when I had made up my mind to take that English course and finalize my schedule, I got told to "just wait it out a while" in my nonfiction class. Sigh. I'm not good with waiting.

Luckily, I have lots to keep me occupied while I wait to see if I get off the wait list for Introduction to Creative Nonfiction Writing. Like homework for the four other classes I'm in.

As I sit impatiently waiting to know whether I've gotten off the wait list for this nonfiction class, I'm always wondering if it's even the best class. If my other English class might be better. If I'm making a mistake dropping this first class just because everyone else says it's so great. Some other cliche about all my friends jumping off a bridge always comes to mind when I ruminate on this though, so I've been making an effort not to worry about it and instead set myself up for a great spring semester.

That plan includes some easy changes to my schedule - work more hours at the library, keep up my staff writer duties for the Brown Daily Herald, think up a fun trip for the long weekend coming up. One of the most exciting parts of that plan was to start taking a yoga class that Brown offers a couple times a week. They don't start until the second week in February, but in the interest of time management I timed how long the walk from my dorm to the fitness center was, to see if I could fit it in between classes.

I never actually found out how long it took, though. All I found out was that you're either stupid or from California if you think you can make it more than five minutes in 15-degree weather wearing only yoga pants as bottoms. And there goes life on the East Coast, teaching me something yet again - never leave the dorm during winter wearing less than three layers.

Riley Davis, a graduate of Vistamar School in El Segundo, is writing about her freshman year at Brown University in Providence, R.I. She can be reached at radriley@earthlink.net.