A Dream Come True: Drinking and Partying in the Building of the University

Photo by Shamil Mustafayev; freshmen queuing in front of Registrars

For some experiences you are waiting for so long and when they come true, you explode in happiness. To me, it was the party and drinking in the building of my university which could take place because of the crappy system for registration of the first-year students. Remember the old saying that everything bad happens for a good reason?

I entered the American University in Bulgaria in 2010 and ever since I have strongly desired to be present on a party in its Main Building (MB), where most of the classes are held. On one hand, I thought it would be a new, unconventional place to throw a party at, on the other hand, I wanted to do it as a rebel against the system. You know, to drink where you’re supposed to study and behave is, at least to say, not acceptable.

Not that I haven’t drunk in MB before. I used to do it every single time when we were rehearsing for theater plays. But it certainly wasn’t a party; after all, we were kind of working, although it was fun, and my colleagues rarely agreed to be my fellow drinkers during the rehearsals.

A problem was the presence of guards 24/7. A party means noise, and the security will certainly try to mute every sign of a party in an academic building. That also made other students not really enthusiastic about exploding in the academic premise. Moreover, once the guard didn’t let me in with a bottle of beer, but later she compensated this when she bought me some lager at a university event.

So it’s been two years since I started dreaming about such thing. But it seemed like it would never happen, because no appropriate circumstances were present for that. Just when I was beginning to lose any hope about a party in the MB, the new electronic system for registration of classes came out.

The old one was fine, only it was limited to the computers on campus and inside the academic buildings for security purposes. That meant you couldn’t register if you were not in town. When the Office of Communications and Computing introduced the new web site for registering, I immediately realized it sucks. It was really confusing and all students from the same academic year had to enroll at the same time. Crashes will occur, I thought.

And I was right. Last-year students were the first to register, all of them on Monday, Nov. 19, 8 a.m. I didn’t hear in detail what happened at that time. As a junior, I had to wait till the next morning, when picking five courses I already had in mind took me an hour. The system crashed over and over again, so some people decided to go to the MB and to register in the old school way – by submitting a manually written form in Registrars Office.

Following the same order, sophomores had to register the next day at 8 a.m. and many of them chose to do it on paper to avoid the crappy system. It was Wednesday and only first-year students, a.k.a. freshmen, were left to enroll the following morning, again at 8, when the Registrars Office opens.

Usually freshmen are pretty paranoid and anxious when it comes to their academic way, and our newest colleagues didn’t make an exception. Wednesday evening I found out some people had ALREADY GONE to the University and planned to spend all night there in order to be first in the queue and get their registration done faster on paper. They put their names on a list and were supposed to enter Registrars Office by the order of their names on that list. However, they couldn’t go home since hourly checks were taking place and whoever missed them, lost their position on the signup sheet.

Many people at one indoor place who will stay awake overnight…that’s right! A party is coming! I was only worried about whether the security will let me in with alcohol. But just a few minutes after that I heard the magic words: “My friends are already there and they are drinking wine.” Perfect!

So I went to the MB with several friends and bought some beer. I never thought I would see such thing in my dear university. People were everywhere. In front of offices, in the computer labs, in the corridors, some were even camping with blankets and sitting on the floor, some had even taken their PlayStations and attached them to their laptops. In total, there were about 200 people waiting for the academic dawn.

Photo by Nikita Zvyagintsev; freshmen camping and signing up for the upcoming registration

And some had decided to spend the night in the best possible way – drinking. Watching the tortured freshmen who struggle not to fall asleep and are seriously worried if they’ll make it to their desired courses was even funnier with some beverages by my side. Of course, besides mocking freshmen we could also have a talk with them and socialize.

Some of my friends got very excrement-faced and started hitting on the young first-year female colleagues who were in shock. Poor them! Not only had they have to stay awake for the messed up registration, but some drunk freaks were also bothering them! Imagine how down the reputation of the university went in the perception of first-year students!

By the time of registration I was already drunk and my sense of spectacle sharpened even more. I was sincerely hoping to be a witness of a violent fight in the queue of disoriented freshmen, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. Another drawback was that some professors saw me wasted and I even talked to them.

“It reminds me when Apple was going to start selling IPhone5,” wrote on Facebook my colleague Shamil Mustafayev, to whom I owe the title image. I think it shows how bugs in electronic systems and the craziness of first-year students can result in one of the most exciting experiences in the life of a student.

The long night didn’t end in a conventional way. I needed my sleep, so I took it…in the student radio located in the same building.

Nikolay Nikolov

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