Losing your GCB virginity: Expectations vs. Reality

A few weeks ago I turned 21 and, being a (relatively) normal human being, I naturally waited until the clock struck midnight; then, as soon as it was legal, I rushed over to Grad Center Bar to see what was behind the door to Narnia. Well no; I didn’t do that–it was a Sunday night and I was on work overload [Ed. – and they wouldn’t have let you in until the next day because #GCB!]– but I did make it over to GCB within the next week or so to see what all the fuss was about.

I feel like, as soon as you meet any upperclassmen at Brown, you start hearing rumors about GCB. Dude, were you at GCB last night? People talk about it like it’s some big secret. If you haven’t been there, you don’t know what to believe and what not to believe. You might have some obscure representation of the GCB experience in your mind. Having recently traversed the bridge between the pre-and-post-GCB life, I thought I’d share some seemingly common scenarios in the thought bytes that surround this mysterious locale. Take this, if you will, as a kind of FAQ guide to our on-campus hotspot.

GCB entrance

The entrance to Narnia, aka GCB (above).

  1. Where IS the GCB, anyway? It’s gotta be in some hidden spot on campus, in some unbelievably rad building. 

It’s all in the name. You know Grad Center? Campus’s most attractive building? Yeah, well if you walk up the ramp off of Charlesfield, as if you’re heading towards Bear’s Lair, you’ll get to an incredibly scenic patio-type space: ominous towers, cheerful concrete, decorative dumpsters, and several overly-aggressive squirrels will greet you. On your right sits a strange block of a building that looks like someone put it there haphazardly, perhaps in a poor attempt to cover up a bit of the sea of concrete. At best, it looks like it could be home to Brown’s biggest trash room. But if you walk up to it, there is a sign by the door that says “Hours,” which looks like it was printed off of someone’s home computer in an unexciting font. You walk in, go down a set of stairs (so that you’re no longer in the block building, but in the space underneath it), and you find a dim, surprisingly chill space called “GCB.”

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BlogDH Panel: Why Brown?

whybrown

With decision day (May 1st) rapidly approaching and the reality of college setting in for high school seniors, BlogDailyHerald presents its latest panel. Staff members were asked one simple question: Why Brown? Here are some of their responses. 

“Brown has the coolest people of any university in America.” – Liam Trotzuk

“Brown makes you into an actively self-motivated person by providing you with LOTS of freedom…But, there’s still obviously a safety net both literally and in the community vibe, so you feel comfortable taking those risks… [The] open curriculum really is a huge deal! No requirements is so awesome!” – Jacob Koffler

“We have a great sense of humor (professors, administrators, and blogs included).” – Caitlin Dorman

“Impressive, motivated, and [very] smart peers, but also nice, chill, and supportive. The open curriculum is really so key — I can’t imagine actually being forced to think of gen distribution requirements when picking classes. Providence is really artsy and fun — great restaurants, museums, music… all the hills work out your gams. The grading system (ABC NC, S/NC, and just not having NCs show up anywhere outside of Brown) sounds ridiculous when I explain it to my friends at other schools but I think it really supports the idea that Brown provides us with a safety net. It allows students to challenge themselves and try difficult [and] new things without worrying about the grade as much.” – Kenji Endo

“We’re in an artsy, fun city but still have the feeling of a campus and community.” – Julia Elia

“Close to Boston/Newport/NYC; super strong arts community and [very] talented [people] here; connections [you] meet and network of alumni [you] can’t get at a lot of other places; [being a Brown student] makes [you] a better/more open/more informed person.” – Danielle Perelman

“Proximity to RISD is key!!!!! Our campuses overlap!!!! Providence is home to the ‘principal art museum for the city, state, and southeastern New England,’ so proximity to Rothkos, de Koonings and Matisses is also a bonus. And out of all the Ivies, Brown has the best Henry Moore.” – Edith Young (she’s technically a RISD student, but whatever…)

“I love how people at Brown are always down to chat about really important issues. Despite Brown’s reputation of being politically homogenous, it never ceases to amaze me how many interesting and nuanced perspectives you’ll hear as soon as you start talking with your peers around you.” – Charlotte Bilski

My own thoughts? There’s simply no other undergraduate institution in the world where you will grow more as an academic and as a person. The community, the student body, the courses, the open curriculum, the campus, the location, the constant open dialogue, the professors, the connections, the diversity, the opportunities, the academic integrity, the social life — they’re all geared towards making sure that you gain as much as you possibly can out of your college experience. Essentially, in my humble (and obviously unbiased) opinion, Brown’s the best school in the world. (Also worth noting: the food’s good.)

Image via Jason Hu ’16.