I have often joked that my freshman year of college at BYU was the greatest year of my life, and that it has been all downhill since then. While that’s not quite accurate, I think it’s fair to say that freshman year was the funnest year of my life.
I grew up in Illinois, where there weren’t a lot of Mormons, and I absolutely loved Youth Conferences. Back then it was always held on a college campus and you would stay in a dorm. They would hold classes, there would be time for sports, and then there would be a big dance. And all of these kids were actually LDS–it was enough to boggle the mind! So I went to BYU with the attitude that it was basically going to be a nine-month long Youth Conference. And that’s exactly what it was for me.
First, there was living in Deseret Towers. My sister brought me there and then left, and I was completely alone; I didn’t know a soul. But that didn’t last at all. I was on the second floor of S Hall, and our floor very quickly became a brotherhood, including all the silliness of freshmen (late night games of frisbee tag, pranks, you name it). I quickly had dozens of friends and a core group of really good friends. And I got along fine with my roommates.
[The one dispute I can recall was over whether to get a phone or not. I was poor and didn’t want the extra expense, but my rommie had a girlfriend back in California, and a phone was a necessity for him. The phone actually sat in a wooden box in the wall so that two adjacent rooms could share a single phone. Hard to imagine in these days of everyone having his own cell.]
Then there was the ward. An entire ward of Mormons my age! Wow. To a kid from Illinois, that was pure heaven. We had two buildings of Heritage Halls (which is to say, girls) in our ward, and the girls were terrific, all beautiful and fun while still being, you know, Mormon.
Another great thing was the dances. I loved to dance back then, but I hardly ever got the chance back in Illinois. At BYU there were dances all the time, and crashing someone else’s dance was easy. And if you really couldn’t find a dance on campus, you could always head downtwon to Uncle Mario’s (the disco prior to the Salt Palace).
There was always something to do for cheap. Sports, activities, movies, plays, concerts and other musical performances, or you could just go hiking up in the mountains nearby.
At age 18 I was really ready to be away from home and try out my own wings, and to do so at BYU felt so incredibly liberating to me.
I even enjoyed the classes…
What were your experiences?