The Guy Next to Me Smells Kind of Funny.

I could sit here all day long and tell you why I think it’s cool to get involved in school activities. I could tell you about how there are lots of unexpected perks, like meeting hot boys or networking with distinguished administrators or going to shows or getting free food. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that the very best way to convey how friggin sick school activities are is to tell you that right now, I am on an airplane to San Francisco, California with 12 of my best friends and the only money I’ll be fronting all weekend will be the dollar postcard I send to my mom.

Here’s the deal- the University newspaper that I work for, The Outlook, makes money through advertising within the paper, so as long as our advisor approves it, we all get to go to the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) conference each year. Lucky for us, they always pick pretty sweet cities to go to; we have gone to Phoenix, Arizona; Los Angeles, California; Seattle, Washington; and today, we are going to San Fran. Hell. Yes.

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Family travel goes kind of like this: Mom and Dad buy the kids tickets. Mom bothers you to pack enough underwear and she makes you soggy sandwiches because airport food is pricey and then you have to share the room with these three other people whom you don’t really like very much and you usually end up having to pose for a lot of unflattering pictures, one of which will, undoubtedly, end up on your Christmas card.

However, student travel goes a little more along these lines: I sit in Business Law class till 12:45, wondering why the hell I haven’t packed yet when I have to be back at school to roll out at 3:30. I excitedly tell the girl next to me who I don’t really know very well that in a few hours, I’ll be in the City by the Bay. When I get home, I throw my stuff in a bag and I don’t have to listen to my mom telling me I really don’t need that many clothes (um, shut up mom) and then I run rampant with these 12 other nutjobs until we finally get on the plane, where my friend Nick comes up to my row and says, “Dude, the guy next to me… he smells sort of funny.”

One of the coolest parts of student travel is this—you’re not with a bunch of washed-out adults who jadedly see every super-cool city as been-there, done-that. Instead, you’re with a bunch of other kids, just like you, who seriously cannot believe they got so lucky to be here right now and with as excited as you all are, you could be going to damn Narnia. This is the joy of being young- to see everything as an adventure, because everything is.

I’ll only be here for four-and-a-half days, including travel time. But when you’re a kid with a backpack, equipped with plenty of underwear and lots of other people who are just as interested in finding the dollar oysters, taking a picture in front of the old Victorian in Full House, riding a cable car, and getting scared silly at Alcatraz (or is it Azkaban?) these 108 hours seem like the perfect amount of time to stay away for.

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