I felt so American today. Seriously, it was a scene straight out of Remember The Titans. The screaming fans, the faces painted in red, yellow, and blue. The chants, the school song sung heartily with arms slung around one's neighbour when a touchdown was scored, the active school mascot, the Queen's student gear worn on every inch of people's bodies (Queen's scarves, Queen's toques, Queen's knee socks, Queen's hoodies, Queen's cardigans, the list goes on and on). The concept of school spirit was absolutely, completely foreign to me before I came to Kingston. It wasn't until today that I realized the extent of school spirit at Queen's, eerily parallel to the scenes of football glory and emotional pandemonium illustrated at a number of American universities (and movies!). A new experience that I would never have found as a student in Toronto.
As you can probably tell from the above description, I attended my first Queen's football game today. And as much as I loved (no, adored) attending the University of Toronto, its lack of school spirit was notorious. I attended a total of one football game in my four years at UofT, and student apathy towards team games, team losses, and even team successes was well-known. Team successes were often met with apathetic, dismissive smiles. While academic school spirit was certainly alive at UofT, mass gatherings to wholeheartedly cheer on your school was limited, particular in the area of football.
Queen's is a completely different story. I will forever love and remember my time at UofT as some of the best years of my life. However, the environment here at Queen's is just as memorable and endearing. Despite the frigid temperatures and heavy, pouring rain, a large number of alumni and students braved the terrible weather to attend the Queen's vs. Windsor football game this afternoon. And despite the the chilly weather, each chant and song was sung with large bursts of enthusiasm, bagpipes blaring, students cheering, flags and pom-poms waving, the mascot running. Seriously, it was a scene straight out of a Hollywood movie (American Dreams? Friday Night Lights? Johnny Be Good? You know what I'm talking about).
I've officially been in Kingston for one week, and I have to admit that I'm really starting to love this school and the overall environment. School spirit is a wonderful aspect of a more intimate university environment, and it's something I never encountered as an undergraduate student. In retrospect, I'm glad I chose to attend Queen's. It is incredibly worthwhile to experience various cities and environments that you've never encountered before, and I think my year here in Kingston will provide me with experiences I wouldn't have necessarily found elsewhere.
For more on the Queen's Golden Gaels, click here.
"It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure on the world."
- John Steinbeck