Posts Tagged memories

Memory Lane

seanna-85In honor of finishing up my first year, and being back home, working and relaxing…I’d like to just do a re-cap of seven top memories.  Five is too few, and ten might be too many…but seven…now THAT’S a perfect number!

1. Walking into my dorm room on the first day with all of my boxes…looking around the room, taking in the white walls and twin-sized bed, and realizing that THIS WAS IT!  College had begun.

2. Bus ride during Orientation Adventure (for freshmen)…I met two of my closest friends on that trip…unbeknownst to me that they’d be so influential in my first year…(close relationships can happen where you least expect them and with people that you might not notice at first)

3. First OBSA social lunch (OBSA = Office of Black Student Affairs)…it was great to see fellow African Americans on campus and get to know more of them as a part of my new community—the mac n’ cheese was amazing, too…be sure to reach out to mentor and support systems on campus!

4. Receiving my first “A” on a written assignment in my freshman critical inquiry class; although I may have been an excellent writer in high school…that DID NOT automatically carry over in college…be ready for constructive criticism and a willingness to put in a lot of hard work…this is an entirely new ballpark!

5. This will be a double memory, but represent the same thing…

- Spending the night with my second half, Ale…watching movies and drinking hot cocoa…laughing, talking…

- Staying up until 3 AM with my best friend, Martin…talking about anything, everything, and nothing

- Receiving a Sponsor Position for next year…meaning that I’ll be helping incoming freshmen acclimate to the environment, serving as a resource and living in the hall with them to serve as a mentor and friend…I’m so excited for next year!

- On my birthday, there was an end-of-the-year freshman pool party…a group of the students there surprised me by singing me happy birthday, while I stood blushing in the pool…it reminded me that although I was 2,000 miles away from home…I was still among family

My first year can’t be summed up in words…filled with ups and downs, good times and bad…but I can say that freshman year is unlike anything you’ll have experienced before.  Keep your eyes and mind open, try to stay positive, and keep your goals in mind.  Oh, and have fun along the way…time will fly by…guaranteed!

Thriving First Semester

lysa-85You’re probably wondering why the title of my blog is “thriving” first semester rather than “surviving” first semester. Well, that’s because a dean at my college once told me, that college is not merely about doing what you have to do just to get by or in other words, just surviving, it’s about thriving in a place that you can truly call your own.

Upon the end of my first semester of college, I’ve realized that with greater freedom, comes much more responsibility. In college, there’s no one there to hold your hand or tell you what to do or what not to do. While this may seem appealing, at times it can be difficult. Being so far away from home I’ve grown much more independent and learned just how essential time management is! Think about it: everyday, we each have the same amount of time handed to us. However, how we each utilize our time varies significantly. While some people spend their day “thinking,” others spend it by “doing.” Learning to balance everything you must do is the key. Yet, this is not always easy. So my advice to you is to always place all of your attention into whatever you are doing at the moment. There will always be distractions to get you off track in life, but one of the most important lessons college has taught me is that if you work hard when it’s time to work, and relax when you have the time to indulge in other activities, you can successfully survive the temptations of a college surrounding. It’s so easy to walk out of your dorm room and become engrossed in some kind of conversation in a nearby common room, or to want to take “breaks” in between assignments. With this method, one thing leads to another, and eventually NOTHING seems to get accomplished.

This semester has also taught me that not everything in life will just be handed to you. Specifically, college is a melting pot, and everyone is nervous when they first arrive. Therefore, not everyone may seem approachable at first or as friendly as you may like. It may be up to you to introduce yourself to your dormmates or classmates. Don’t be afraid to get to know the people you will be sitting in classes and living with for a whole year! Afterall, NO ONE can make it through college alone! Everyone needs someone, it’s just that the “someone” you may need may not be the first person to approach you on move in day. So, take a chance, and make it a point to get to know people as soon as possible: it will make your college experience that much easier and more enjoyable.

Furthermore, I’ve learned that it’s okay to miss home. Everyone starts to feel a bit homesick their first semester of college, even if it doesn’t seem like it on the surface. No one can tell you how hard it will be to so far from home, and no one can truly prepare you  for the emotions you may feel your first few months of college. It can be a roller coaster. I even questioned if Williams was just too far from home for me, and maybe what I thought may be just  be what I needed, wasn’t. I really missed home, my friends, family, and my boyfriend. It’s not easy to maintain friendships or a relationship living more than 1300 miles away from home.  But, I know now  that it’s normal to feel out  of place at first, or like you’re missing something back home. It took me a long time to realize that I truly could make Williams my home if I just allowed myself to open up to people and to college life in general. So, I promise you…. YOU WILL SURVIVE FIRST SEMESTER….even though, at times it truly seems like there’s NO WAY POSSIBLE that you will make it out of finals week alive.

Most people will tell you, college is exhausting. THAT IS VERY TRUE. But finishing first semester was one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences of my life. Yes, you will probably  pull at least one all nighter your first semester of college, but that’s what makes college memorable. It’s the staying up late, the bonds made with your roommates, the stressful weeks that make each weekend worthwhile, the trips to breakfast and dinner where we all gather around to swap stories, the weekly laundry run, where no washers or dryers are left empty for you to actually do laundry, late night snacks, caffeine rushes, “crunch time”, and the most important lesson of all: YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Whatever you’re feeling, someone else their first year, has felt that very same thing. Each of you will survive your first semester of college differently, but once you complete it, you will find yourself gradually growing up,and realizing your place in the world. And that itself, is the true meaning of an education, to find your place within society; looking back one day on all the memories you made along the way.

BEST OF LUCK to all of you who are finishing up your college applications! I will posting again soon, about a unique program Williams offers its students during the month of January, as I head back to campus January 3rd. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Homesickness 101

seanna-85A niggling of homesickness and sadness washed over me as I glanced back at my friend Alejandra.  Just like most of the campus, she was heading to the airport…excited about going home for the Thanksgiving break.  And unlike most of the campus, I was walking to my Latin class for a mid-term…and afterwards, I planned to return back to an empty room.  I’d spent previous holidays away from family, but up until this year, I had at least always been surrounded by friends.  While I knew that there were many people going through far worse situations, I still wasn’t feeling very optimistic about the next four days.  School work and silent hallways did not seem like good company.

I was wrong…

Okay…actually, the school work was not fun.  And the hallways were silent to the point of creepiness, but my break was still great, all because I chose to get involved around campus with other remaining students.  For Thanksgiving, I helped cook with our campus’s SOCA organization (Student of Color Alliance); I was personally responsible for the green beans and a strawberry cheesecake.  Before that evening, I was once again apprehensive about sharing this meal with basic strangers, but the awkwardness seemed to bring us together.

The food was amazing—together, we compiled ham, turkey, chicken, green beans, greens, mac n’ cheese, potatoes, corn, lasagna, cheesecake, pumpkin pecan pie, brownies, cornbread…the list went on and on.  Some of the leaders set out tablecloths and played music.  Afterwards, we sat around the table and played games.  Some of the guys watched football, sprawled across the couches in the room.  At some point, I looked around at the group of people and realized that I should count my blessings.  Even thousands of miles away from Arkansas, I was able to find a place to call “home”—a community of students who had most likely felt the same misgivings about the holiday, but still managed to find a silver lining.  We may not have gone home, but we were together.

And so…let me end this hunky-dory post with the lesson that I learned, one that I keep learning over and over.  College is all about new experiences.  Keeping an open mind and finding ways to reach out can help lessen feelings of homesickness or loneliness.  In applying for college and choosing a four-year (or two-year) abode, don’t allow physical distance to deter you from a great community.  You find great people in unexpected places…which can always lead to memories that you never imagined having.