To commemorate my final month at Boston University, I’ve come up with a list of 31 of my favorite college memories (up til now) and will post one each day for the entire month of May. They aren’t in any particular order– it would be impossible to “rank” them and putting them in chronological order seems boring.
But for today, I’ll start with what’s most logical: FYSOP, my first memory of BU and definitely one of the most important.
FYSOP (the First Year Student Outreach Program) is a Boston University Community Service Center Program that gives incoming Freshman the opportunity to move into their dorms a week early and participate in community service projects around Boston. Not only do you get to stake out the best bed in your cramped Warren Towers dorm room, you also make a ton of friends before school even starts (which is a huge plus at such a large university), get to work on fun community service projects, become familiar with campus and get to know Boston a little better.
FYSOP was probably the most important week of my college experience, not because I had a great time, but because there I met the three people who would continue to be my best friends at Boston University to this very day: Nicole, my awesome, sassy roommate whom I’ve lived with all 4 years, Rebecca, my spunky, vegetarian, feminist, current roommate and Angelo, the fabulous gay man who I’m “married to” on Facebook. Nico, Reb, Ang and I have been through thick and thin and have had a great time together– all thanks to FYSOP!
A picture of Angelo, Nico and Rebecca from Freshman year (so young!)
Okay, so here’s what FYSOP is all about: The Monday before school starts, all FYSOP participants are allowed to move into their dorm rooms, and once the parents say their goodbyes, you break up into your community service groups, led and organized by upperclassman. When you apply to FYSOP, you write some essays and rank your top choices for community service. At the time, there were 9 areas of focus– Children, Disabilities, Elders, Environment, Gender Focus (GF), HIV/AIDS Awareness, Homelessness and Housing (H&H), Human Rights and Hunger. Recently they’ve added another group called Urban Renewal. My top choice was Gender Focus and that’s what I got! GF is definitely the best group (sorry, everyone else– you’re just not as cool as GF) because it covers a wide range of current gender-related topics: Domestic abuse, GBLT (gay bi transgendered lesbian) rights, women’s rights, eating disorders, etc.
The first official day of FYSOP (the day after you move in and meet everyone) is “Education Day” — a day packed with guest speakers and activities that teach you more about your topic. We had a wide range of speakers for GF but one of the most memorable was a gay domestic abuse survivor. As we learned, the huge problem with domestic abuse specifically between gay couples is that there isn’t very much support for the victims. Domestic abuse between heterosexual couples is widely recognized as a legitimate problem and there are lots of support centers for affected women and families across America, but in a country where the majority of voters don’t support gay rights or gay marriage, getting support for gay domestic abuse is definitely a no-go.
Fun fact about education day– Want to know how Rebecca and I became friends? We were in the same GF group (so was Angelo) and she vomited on me on education day. True story. We were sitting on the floor in BU’s SAC gym eating breakfast and *BAM!* Rebecca vomits an inch away from my leg (she took some medicine that had to be taken with food, but hadn’t eaten anything yet– silly Rebecca). But anyway, apparently if you want to become best friends with someone, all you have to do is puke on them. The rest is history.
The first two days of service were at Waltham House, a group home for GBLTQ youth who cannot live at home for whatever reason (most were kicked out because of their sexual orientation)– it is one of only three of its kind in the entire nation! On Wednesday and Thursday, we spent the day cleaning the house, the yard, and hanging out with the kids (age 14-18). They were all super nice, outgoing and excited to talk with us.
Our last day of service was at Planned Parenthood in Brookline. No, we weren’t performing abortions (or so the majority of uninformed conservative voters are saying about PP in the media these days). Planned Parenthood actually offers a huge range of medical services to women and men alike– everything from routine health care to STD testing to birth control. At Planned Parenthood, we actually spent the day on the streets trying to get signatures for a bill to create better health education and PE standards for school children in Massachusetts. My favorite part of volunteering that day was a particularly memorable French PP supporter named Jean Jean Phillipe. That is not a typo. Best name ever.
Finally, the other great thing about FYSOP is that they have awesome activities planned every night. One night we had a concert, free ice cream and trips around Boston, another night we had an AMAZING slam poet named Taylor Mali (check him out– he’s THE BEST), and the last night we had a FYSOP dance.
If you happened to come across this blog via google search for FYSOP and you’re an incoming freshman who’s considering applying, DO IT. I have never met a single person who didn’t love FYSOP. There was one kid in my group who was pissy about it on the first day (because his parents or someone made him do it and he didn’t think it would be fun), and by day two he was just as into it as everyone else.
So yeah, that’s my first and one of the most important memories I have from college. Having close friends already on Day 1 of classes was something that makes your life 100 times easier as a scared new freshman. And that’s why FYSOP is #1 in my book.