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Of "Passing In" and Marionberries

October 14, 2008 at 2:56 pm
By Claire Weinberg

One of the most interesting things about Carleton so far has been getting to know people from all over the country (and outside it). At first I didn't notice any differences between myself and my friends based on where we grew up, but recently there have been a few incidents that took me off guard.

Incident #1: "Passing In" a Paper

One afternoon, I told two of my friends (one from California, one from Oregon) that I'd passed in my first college paper that day. "Wow," said my friend from Oregon (very supportively), "we were sure you were going to fail." After the initial moment of offense at his lack of faith in me, I was confused. I told them I hadn't gotten a grade yet; I had only passed it in. They were equally confused. Apparently, they'd never heard the phrase "to pass in a paper" before, and thought I meant I'd gotten a passing grade. They had only ever heard "turn in" or "hand in". I use "pass in" all the time, almost to the exclusion of the other two, so I couldn't believe it and went around the floor asking people if they'd ever heard of "passing in". Only the other girl from Massachusetts ever used it herself -- some people had heard it, but thought it was British, or only for when you physically passed the paper to the front of the class.

As someone who loves language and regional variations of English, I was fascinated. In an odd little way I would never have expected, I'd learned how deeply my background affected me. I had to come to Minnesota to remember that I come from Boston.

Incident #2: Marionberry Pie

This one was simpler. At dinner, we were discussing pie, and whether we liked pie, and what kinds of pie were our favorites. My friend from Oregon announced that nothing was better than marionberry pie. "What's a marionberry?" I said. It was his turn to be shocked, and then he and the girl from Seattle burst into uproarious laughter, as those of us not from the Pacific Northwest looked at each other, bewildered. They found it just hilarious that we had never heard of marionberries. "That's so sad!" they howled, once they managed to catch their breath. They described marionberries to us as "like blackberries on steroids." Color me enlightened.

Those are the only two incidents I can remember so far, but I hope things like that keep happening, because I think they're really interesting.

On a random note, my floor has not one but two prospies this weekend, so naturally everyone is excited, trying to decide what to do with them. Everyone gets really into meeting prospies and showing them a good time, which I wouldn't have expected (I never stayed overnight at Carleton, but now I wish I had). So if any of you prospective students reading this are considering visiting and staying in the dorms, I highly recommend it (and suggest you come to First Goodhue, which is of course the best floor on campus).


  • October 15 2008 at 11:10 am

    I was surprised when a student told me she'd never jumped in a pile of autumn leaves. To me, that was a universal childhood experience--but not for her, growing up in south Texas. It's funny how we get our regional (national) blinders on.

    Also, to some people the squirrels on campus are cute and exotic, while to me they're just tree rats. Only the fabled WHITE squirrel is exotic, and I have yet to see him/her. 

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