As my third week in Aggieland comes to a close, I can honestly say I have experienced so many new things. It has been a lot of hard work and there is still more to come but in this post, the work load is going to take a back seat. Over the last three weeks I have met new people and managed to get my head around some of the traditions they love so much here. From the day-to-day superstitions to the sobering memorial service, here are a few things that you will experience at Texas A&M.
As classes go on, there are a few things that you will become aware of on the main campus.
Never walk on the university seal, you WILL fail your degree. Or so you will be told if upperclassmen see you.
Putting money on “Sullys” statue will help you pass your test. The more you put there, the better you will do. There is already quite a bit on there.
If you walk under the Century tree alone, you will be forever alone. Walk under it with someone and you will be married forever. Cue nervous freshmen who walked down the wrong path stopping dead in their tracks near the tree and then walking all the way around it.
American football is at the centre of all activity here. Home games bring thousands of people swarming to the campus to fill the 102,000 seater stadium. Even though I have not been lucky enough to go to a game yet, I have experienced the traditions that come with it.
Midnight yell is an important part of proceedings here. Students fill the student section of the stadium at midnight before the game and practice the chants that will be used during the match. My first experience was overwhelming. Everyone was shouting the same thing in time, a loud roar as each of the chants were practised in turn until we got to the War Hymn which required everyone to join together and sway violently to the tune. All the while the yell leader spurred everyone on. At the end of the night was the strangest tradition where the lights went out and single people waved a lighter (or phone) in the air so they could kiss someone completely random.
Tailgating is a massive part of gameday here. Former students, fans and societies all join together to host their own little party in the fields on campus. There is music, food and excitement everywhere.
On gameday, you wear maroon or white, nothing else. Walking around during the day of the match means you have to show support for one side or the other. The chanting of the yells can be heard echoing around campus. I watched the nail-bitingly close game against UCLA on one of the many projectors set up around campus. There was a massive explosion when the Aggies beat the Bruins in overtime. Across campus there were plenty of celebrations and the yell leaders lead a yell practice whilst standing in Fish Pond as tradition dictates.
Lastly, the first Tuesday of every month brings with it Silver Taps; a remembrance ceremony for students who have lost their lives over the past month. An hours silence begins and the lights on campus are turned off. After the bell towers have played hymns across campus, there is a three-volley salute followed by buglers playing “Silver Taps” in all directions except East as the sun will never rise for those being remembered again. It is amazing to think that everyone as a student body, regardless of whether they knew the people of not, come together as one to honour those who are no longer with them.
I am yet to experience some of the other traditions that put College Station on the map. I will keep you posted…