Where Logic Meets Love

Surviving Your 5-Year College Reunion in 23 Easy Steps

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

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Surviving Your 5-Year College Reunion in 23 Easy Steps | Faith Permeating Life

Step 1: Get a single giant stress pimple on your face three days beforehand. Think how that hasn't happened since college. Think at least people will recognize you now.

Step 2: Fly from the West Coast to the East Coast to the Midwest, because apparently that's the most efficient route.

Step 3: Reunite with your husband, who's been traveling for the past two weeks.

Step 4: Arrive on campus and immediately see someone from your freshman year dorm floor. Suddenly get excited about the whole reunion thing.

Step 5: Check into your on-campus housing. Discover that the (two twin) beds appear to each be covered with one rough sheet and a tablecloth.

Step 6: Head over to the party tent for your class, where the music is approximately 1,000 times louder than it needs to be, so every conversation will consist of yelling directly into people's ears.

Step 7: Have the same conversation twenty times in a row, quickly perfecting your responses to, "So where are you living now?" and "What do you do?"

Step 8: Find that no one seems to care that you are unemployed, and that every single person has heard good things about the place you live. Invite approximately a dozen people to come visit you.

Step 9: Have the thought "Living well is the best revenge" on discovering that life has not been kind to certain people who were not kind to you. Then feel bad for thinking that.

Step 10: Never quite master the art of gracefully exiting a conversation after the two topics of conversation (where you live now and what you do) have been exhausted. Have a lot of awkward smiles/staring and saying it was so nice to see them and that you need to go find your husband.

Step 11: Say hello and hug people you were never really friends with because what the hell.

Step 12: Go in a desperate search for water because you're sure you're about to lose your voice from all the yelling. Find more people you know over by the bar.

Step 13: Head back to the dorm after midnight. Decide between sleeping in separate twin beds, sleeping on the uneven crack between the two pushed-together beds, or sleeping in the same twin bed. Opt for the latter because it's freezing in the room and you need all the body warmth you can get.

Step 14: Wake up at 2 in the morning to a drunk alum yelling and throwing things in the hallway. Be glad you don't live in a dorm anymore. Then remember that you do live in a dorm, and thank God that your students are way better behaved than this.

Step 15: Spend the day seeing the changes around campus. Realize how old you are when you think, "These kids don't know how good they have it! Back in my day..."

Step 16: Take a 4-hour nap.

Step 17: Go to another giant tent party, this one for all classes. Do the math and realize that because reunions are for every five years, you won't know a single person except those from your class, so the only benefit to throwing everyone together is that there's more oldies music.

Step 18: Figure out that wearing a skirt was a good decision after seeing every single other woman in a sundress or skirt.

Step 19: See a dozen more people you know who weren't there the night before. Yell your standard questions over the music and have some more awkward conversational exits.

Step 20: Hug a bunch of people goodbye.

Step 21: Stay up past midnight reminiscing with two friends who are staying across the hall from you.

Step 22: Spend another cold night in the tiny, tablecloth-covered twin bed.

Step 23: Bid farewell to campus for another five years.

Have you attended a high school or college reunion? How was it?


  1. My five-year reunion, two years ago, was possibly the best weekend of my life. I still live near the college I went to, so it didn't involve travel, but it was so nice to have all my friends in one place again. It was like all the best parts of college crammed into one weekend.

    I'm laughing at the part about the twin beds. Did they let non-married couples share dorm rooms? At my reunion, it turned out they don't care if girls and guys share rooms anymore since now we can donate money. Of course.

    1. I don't know about unmarried couples sharing rooms, as I only know of groups of women who stayed together on campus. But I don't think they'd forbid it, even though it's a Catholic school and all that. Like you say, they want to cater to alumni :) I was surprised when we were allowed to park anyone on campus (Parking Services is notorious for ticketing people like crazy there), but realized they probably didn't want to risk charging anyone who could be a big donor!

  2. I'm missing my five-year college reunion to go to a friend's wedding this summer (ironically, one of my closest college friends). I'm super glad, actually! Surely I can't be the only one who's underemployed with frustrated graduate school hopes, but no doubt answering, "What do you do?" over and over would be quite painful for me at the moment.

    1. It's funny, I didn't even think about it until I was there talking to people that I was going to have to tell a bajillion people that I was unemployed, but it ended up not feeling as bad as I would have expected. A surprising number of people are in jobs they love (a testament to our college, I think), but there were a number of other people who were either unemployed or actively seeking a better job. It seemed like everyone kind of understood that that's just the reality of today. I still would have preferred to be able to tell people about a job, but it wasn't as bad as I might have imagined it to be.

  3. Reunions are not a big thing at my alma mater, and since there were 1,100 people in my class it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense. Living locally, I do go every year to the Spring Carnival, the time of year when younger alumni are most likely to visit. (The older ones, who remember the era when the football team was noticeable, tend to come to Homecoming.) When I see people I know at Carnival, there's always an extra topic of conversation: "What do you think of the booths this year? Have you been in that one? What about THAT one; was it cool?"

    The reunion I really enjoyed was the Big 20th Anniversary Celebration of the founding of KGB, attended by people who were in college in 1988 all the way down to people who were in college in 2008, some of whom were not even born in 1988. It was really fun seeing so many of the same kind of people gathered together, perpetuating our weird traditions on through the years. :-)

    1. That sounds like fun. At the college I worked for in Chicago, there was a big festival at the end of the school year, and I think that was the main event for alumni to come back. Having something else going on would make conversation a bit easier, I'd think.

      It seems like class size has to be about right to make reunions worth it. My mom went to a big state school and has never been back for a reunion because there would just be too many people there she didn't know. We had probably 2,000 people in our class, and it's a tight-knit school, so I knew several dozen of 200-300 people who showed up for the reunion from our year.

  4. Ugh. I don't think I ever want to attend a reunion - ever.

    1. Because I've made it sound terrible? Or because of your experience at college? Or something else?

      It really was very enjoyable, I just wish they'd turned down the music. It seemed ridiculous to hold an event for people to catch up and then play music too loud to be able to converse easily. But it was great to see many people I hadn't seen in five years.

  5. I was not able to attend as my husband and I just moved to UIUC, so it was bad timing anyway, but even if I had been able to go, I'm not sure I would have. The people that I have tried so desperately to stay in contact with- the ones that meant so much to me- have completely fallen out of touch. I mean every single one. So I am not exactly sure why that is, but since it is, I probably would have spent the whole weekend being secretly pissed off at everyone. Anyway, it kind of sounds like what I had imagined it would be- awkward conversations over and over again.

    1. Sorry to hear things haven't worked out as you hoped. There were some awkward moments at the reunion, but overall I enjoyed getting to see the people I hadn't talked to since graduation.

  6. Seeing you was a very bright spot in the reunion despite the loud music we had to talk over :) Blessings!

    1. You too! I'm so glad we got a chance to talk!

  7. Sounds quite a bit like our experience, though we didn't have to travel. I also had several conversations that lasted no more than two minutes:

    "Oh my gosh, how are you?"
    "Good, how are you doing? What are you up to now?"
    "Oh, I'm a (insert occupation) in (insert city/state)."
    "What are you up to?"
    "I work at (insert company) in (insert city/state)."

    *Awkward silence-that's-not-really-silence-since-the-speakers-are-way-too-close-no-matter-where-you-go*

    "Well, my husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/someone is waiting for me. I'll see you around."

    It was hard to have a real conversation with people, even when I made an effort. Then again, I was never good at small talk. At any rate, it was good seeing you, even if we ended up mostly shouting extended answers to "So where are you living now?" I wish we'd had the chance to talk a little more!

    1. That pretty much sums up many of the conversations I had. I do think the music volume contributed greatly to the conversational awkwardness -- I couldn't easily walk up and casually join someone else's conversation because everything required shouting directly at people, and the usual polite murmurs that accompany ending a conversation would have been unheard, so it was necessary to be very explicit: "IT WAS NICE TALKING WITH YOU. BYE." I was disappointed that the end-of-reunion survey had nothing to do with the reunion at all; I've been thinking I should write an e-mail directly to Alumni Relations telling them about the music.

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