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Opinion: Ohio State tradition, winter blues balance each other out in overall review of Columbus

April 21, 2014

lum.13@osu.edu
Shelby Lum (left) and Kaily Cunningham photograph OSU's football game against Wisconsin Sept. 28 at Ohio Stadium for The Lantern. Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editor

Eric Seger (left), Shelby Lum and Kaily Cunningham photograph OSU’s football game against Wisconsin Sept. 28 at Ohio Stadium for The Lantern.
Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editor

“Zooming In” is a weekly series in which Photo editor Shelby Lum provides her insight.

It’s been a good go Columbus, really. But I think I owe you a bit of honesty.

Monday is my last day of undergraduate classes at THE Ohio State, and it has been quite a run to get here. But four years in a city (and state for that matter) that I had never thought about until I received my acceptance letter has had both ups and downs. So as my classes come to a close and my (hopefully) passing grades are posted for one last time on Carmen, I can’t help but wonder how well Ohio did over the years.

When my thin-skinned, sun-loving Georgia self plopped down in Columbus four years ago, I didn’t know what I was in for. Rumors of the cold northern winters had circulated in my town for years, but please, winters that could reach well below negative 10 degrees (or well below negative 20 for that matter)? That’s just silly, who would choose to live there?

Oh right, me.

I happened to pick a lovely day in late March to tour campus as a starry-eyed high school senior and also happened to see the school at an optimal time: with the least amount of construction. William Oxley Thompson Library had been gutted and then beautified, the Ohio Union was celebrating its finish and the orange construction cone population was at an all-time low around campus.

But alas, Columbus, you aren’t always that great.

What my energetic, red-headed tour guide didn’t mention as he skipped backwards over campus sidewalks was that the return of the traffic cones was the next episode, gray skies were all the fad and the fact that I was wearing a jacket on a day in the high 60s meant I was doomed from the beginning.

My first day of classes, I asked my roommate what a “Sloopy” was — and she laughed at me. Four years later, she still does.

I didn’t know that winter blues were a real thing until I contracted it my freshman year, that E. Gordon Gee was basically a celebrity and it wasn’t weird for him to show up at random parties, that CABS buses will not slow down when you cross the street or that it’s totally in the realm of sanity to jump into a nearly frozen lake with half the student body one night. (My dad mocked me when I ran the idea of the Mirror Lake Jump by him my first go round).

There were a lot of things missing from my first tour. Because really, what tour guide can convey how homesick you will get the first time you get the flu in the dorms?

Ohio wasn’t always easy and it wasn’t always the most consistent friend.

But while I gripe about the weather and the odd traditions, these things are what made every day as an undergrad here so very OSU-esque. Few schools can claim such a constant persona. Watching TBDBITL come down the ramp is impossible to describe to an outsider, because you have to be there. You can only understand the OSU Marching Band when in tandem with the roar of thousands of your best friends, bundled up to watch the scarlet and gray jerseys down below.

Camaraderie reaches a zenith when a stranger’s arm comes around yours for “Carmen Ohio,” and I have never appreciated spring quite as much as I have here, because Ohio really makes you work for that warm weather.

Four years ago I didn’t know what a buckeye was apart from the peanut butter chocolate treats.

So what has Columbus shown me? That guess what, life isn’t always sunshine and moms can’t always be around when you want them to be, and dining hall food isn’t all that glamorous.

As a total though, it is pretty glamorous. It’s home. It’s what I have learned to love, because love isn’t always that easy — and loving Columbus at times is far from it.

Grade: B+ (because I just can’t bring myself to give you an “A” when it snows in April)


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  1. Capt. Hal Snyder, USMC (Ret.) says:

    Thanks for the trip back to campus when Sloopy first began hanging on, and there is but one sound that sound like TBDBITL’s single thump of the big drum just prior to their entrance, which thunders beneath and throughout the stadium. If you liked your first 4 years in Columbus, you’re going to love the next several years.

    Another transplanted Buckeye, classes of ’70 & ’79.

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