Once upon a time, a Her Campus TAMU writer was going to her staff meeting when she walked by a group of people with blaring music and inflatable structures next to Kyle Field. When she arrived, staff members were wondering what the celebration was for. One person said it was called Fish Fest, but nobody knew what “Fish Fest” meant. This writer couldn’t think of a topic for her article assignment (oops), so she panicked and said she would write about Fish Fest.
I’ll be honest: when I first Google searched “Fish Fest TAMU” to find out what it is and start writing this article, I was extremely disappointed. For one, Fish Fest is the official freshmen class tradition. It was created in 2005 by Cassy Garcia and Greg Fink, and it celebrates the freshmen class’ first year of college with free food and entertainment. As a junior, I am no longer the tradition’s targeted demographic.
But the underlying reason behind my disappointment was that the tradition itself made for an anti-climatic reveal. I apologize to whoever that statement offends — but you have to admit that at a university with enough interesting and honorable traditions to fill up a Wikipedia page, free food for freshmen feels forgettable.
I almost requested a different article topic, but after reflecting on my freshman year, I realized that completing it was more than worthy of celebration. As a freshman, I experienced many lows. Examples include:
Walking into a classroom with less than 20 students and sitting there for roughly 30 seconds before realizing it was an upper-level Economics class and not a Biology 111 SI and walking out.
Slipping while climbing down my bunk bed and leaving a hand-sized bruise on my leg that someone later ran into with their bike.
Riding Bus 8 from MSC to Beutel because I didn’t realize how close they were (context for non-TAMU students: walking from MSC to Beutel takes a maximum of 3-4 minutes.)
Eating at Chick ‘N Grill (context for non-TAMU students: this store’s fake Chipotle bowls are PURE SAUCE.)
Setting alarms for 6:00 am, 6:15 am, and 6:30 am and snoozing all of them over and over again until they were literally going off every two minutes or so (Helen, if you’re reading this, I am so so sorry.)
After all, freshman year made me balance my social and academic lives in a world where work doesn’t end, and plenty of people can attest to how much I struggled with that. It was the first time my mom wasn’t there to cook me healthy meals. The first night I spent in College Station, my grumbling stomach kept me up for almost an hour before I realized I had forgotten to eat dinner.
Freshmen year forced me to face my future after years of simply imagining it. I thought about what I wanted to do, who I wanted to become, and who I wanted to spend my time with in ways I was never required to before. I had worked hard in high school toward checklist standards for what makes a successful student. As I started college and moved on to becoming a successful person, I realized it involved standards I would have to create for myself.
The Christmas after my first semester at Texas A&M, I got a text from my DG mom from Fish Camp (aka female mentor for my small group at an optional, extended orientation camp) that congratulated me for all I had already accomplished as a college student. I remember thinking, “this is sweet, but I haven’t accomplished much.” However, looking back, I had accomplished so much just by starting the continual process of finding my place in this world.
Although Fish Fest isn’t the most famous Aggie tradition, it deserves to be a big deal. It gives the freshmen class a chance to unite and celebrate a year of new experiences and personal growth. I give Fish Fest five out of five stars.