Letter from the editor

Challenge who you think you are upon entering college

I was standing in a sea of 8,000 naked people.

I’m not into anything freaky. It was just my first weekend in Portland, Oregon. Have you ever watched an episode of IFC’s Portlandia? It’s a lot like that, but weirder.

And I absolutely loved it.

I should probably explain more. It was a naked bike ride, a protest that happens annually in Portland that opposes society’s dependence on pollution-producing vehicles. Thousands of people gather to ride as bare as they choose to be. People line the streets the whole way of the seven-mile route, cheering on riders. And though I know other places do it around the world – I’m pretty sure Portland does it best.

I certainly wasn’t in my Buffalo suburb anymore – the place I need a car to get to school, the grocery store, a friend’s house – a place that would never sanction a naked protest. The West Coast feels like a different world. I suppose it kind of is. It’s like I was Dorothy and in the World of Oz, except instead of munchkins and the yellow brick road, there were naked cyclists covered in body glitter.

I was bike-less, having only been in the city a few days and couldn’t participate, but I still can’t imagine a grander and more Portland welcome to my home for the summer.

It was absolutely ridiculous and you may think I’m totally crazy for telling you how awesome being there was. I was simply seizing a new life in a new place.

And I think you should do the same thing, especially if you’re an incoming freshman at the University at Buffalo.

There probably won’t be any naked bike rides (let me know if you’re thinking of creating one) but there are going to be opportunities for you to challenge who you think you are.

That’s what college is. I’m experiencing my last summer as an undergraduate forcing myself to do things that aren’t the easy choice. What’s easy isn’t going to help you grow.

So when I was applying to internships at newspapers, I applied to places as far as Boston, Chicago, D.C. and two papers on the West Coast. And that’s where I wound up, more than 2,500 miles from Buffalo, where I’ve lived my whole life. Before this summer, the greater Buffalo area was the only place I’ve ever reported in.

I’ve never dormed. I saved my money and lived at home. I thought I’d never have the “college experience.” It felt safe, but it made sense. So I had to create my own challenges.

Here I am in Portland. I’m living in a college apartment and I even have an RA, which as a 21-year-old working full time at a daily newspaper, I find pretty comical.

It’s all part of my college experience. There’s no right way to do it, but there’s a wrong way.

Don’t think you know who you are yet, because you’re just figuring it out. That’s what this Orientation Issue is focusing on. Each section front photo messes with your expectations. Let’s move past “the jock” and the “arts kid.” Let’s forget about stereotypes because they’re not who any of us actually are.

Let college be the time you question and discover, enjoy and learn, and figure out what kind of young adult you want to be.

Let’s be more. Let’s expect more from ourselves. Find your challenges.

Don’t get so bogged down with schoolwork that you don’t live. Don’t party so hard that you forget what the end goal of college is.

Join something. Join lots of things. Find your version of my summer in Portland. Do something out of character – like going to a naked bike ride.

I can tell you how amazing The Spectrum is – the people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had, the opportunities it has led me to.

That was my journey.

What’s yours?

email: sara.dinatale@ubspectrum.com