A real live Ivy League-endorsed major sounded so glamorous.

I woke up with a rare jolt of energy a few Wednesday mornings ago and blow-dried my hair for the first time in a while. As I shut the door of my off-campus abode and trod briskly down Locust, I felt decidedly serious. After all, I was on my way, en route, to declaring my major. I glided through the entrance to the McNeil building in what I thought was an appropriately serious outfit; I don't wear glasses but they would certainly have complemented the ensemble. Eventually, I found the way to my chosen department's office and proudly announced my 11 a.m. meeting with the program director.

I endured the short wait, passing the time gladly flipping through course booklets and brochures for graduate programs I didn't even know existed. Now I'm not one to be titillated by Ph.D. degrees and the like, but I nonetheless anticipated that rush of higher education adrenaline akin to stepping into the Fisher Fine Arts Library for the first time. Finally, they were ready for me. I made use of my finest firm handshake and sauntered gracefully into the back office. I filled out a one page form with my contact information and wrote down the courses I had taken in the discipline. My name was added to the departmental listserv, and two days later, when I searched my name on Penn Directories, my major was listed. And that was about it.

I'm not exactly sure what more I really expected — in fact, I quite liked the pragmatic, straightforwardness of it all. The department head answered all my questions and was as helpful as I could have asked. And better yet, I was now allowed to answer that "Whaddya major in at college?" question with some real authority. So as registration for the spring semester rolled around last week, with a major in my back pocket, I felt totally cool and confident. That is, until I realized: I'm not sure what a cross-cultural analysis course is, I have to file a petition to study abroad next year and I haven't the faintest notion of how I might go about fulfilling the physical world sector.

And then it dawned on me… despite my newfound academic legitimacy, I'm still so totally sophomoric.


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