This one is for those of you feeling nostalgic about the days you spent at your Alma Mater, those of you who are interested in how the first semester of my freshman year of college is playing out thus far, and for myself, to look back on in the years to come when these days are no longer fresh in my mind…
What college is like so far:
(the following summaries are in no order of importance)
Sunsets in Johnson City
Exploring an unfamiliar place
This is a new, exciting experience. About a week into living in Johnson City I realized this is the very first time in my life I have ever gotten to explore a place on my own. Prior to moving in I had only been in Johnson City once, I had no knowledge of the layout of the town. No other circumstance had granted me autonomy to discover a town without the assistance of a group or my family. Learning which exits take you where, which red lights to turn on in order to go to Target, what local eateries are the best, and which is more convenient: Kroger, Walgreens, Target, or Walmart (it’s Kroger every time). These are simple things but have been surprisingly fun and give a small, satisfying sense of independence and ability when gradually learning how to live as a new student in a college town.
Where lots of eating and lots of exercising meet, beautifully
As of now, this combination of lots of food and lots of exercise is where its at! I never feel guilty about cookie(s) at the end of each meal when I know that I have extensive walks everywhere, four flights of stairs to my dorm room, a full fifteen minute walk to the gym, and at least thirty minutes of cardio every day. I feel great. Life should always be like this. Cookies and cardio, a match made in heaven.
Like the cookie/cardio duo, college campuses and concerts just go together. At the end of this year’s Welcome Week, ETSU’s Student Government Association booked Billy Currington to be the finale of the week. It was more fun than I can justify with words. Billy seemed to be genuinely having a blast and so was the crowd of students.
The strange phenomena of living (maybe even under the same roof) with everyone you go to school with
Asking someone/being asked by someone you meet on campus, in class, or at church where they/you live and hearing the response: “the fourth floor of Governors” and you reply in amazement “no way, me too!”. It is quite fun and strange.
Trying new things
Due to my participation in an American Roots Music course I have been exposed to loads of bluegrass/folk music. The majority of the students enrolled in the class play multiple instruments as does the instructor. An opportunity arose to go to the Faculty Show in a local venue, so I accompanied a classmate. Not that bluegrass music is my thing, at all, but what a neat experience. Watching the professors and directors of the music department preform was a pleasure.
Zumba, Spin, and Ballroom Dancing
Group fitness classes have been a highlight so far in my on-campus experience. Zumba: way too much fun to be exercise. Spin: terribly difficult as far as endurance goes. Ballroom Dancing: something I have always wanted to be formally taught how to do, I have enjoyed it so much.
Seeking and finding a local church of believers to come alongside
Luckily this came ridiculously fast. My roommate, Ashton, had friends who were a part of a local, downtown church called Redeemer Community Church. The Sunday we moved in we made a point to go to their Sunday gathering. It felt so genuinely welcoming and exactly the kind of place I wanted to be. It has certainly shed a beautiful light on the opportunities for life within Johnson City. I look forward with sweet expectancy for the times to come being a part of Redeemer’s Sunday gatherings and college ministry. The most clear and important thing I can say in summary about Redeemer, as I have experienced it so far: Jesus is honored in that place.
Cat meet-and-greets at the local animal shelter
Because sometimes I just miss my cats so much and the animal shelter has a great opportunity to funnel that emotion into helping other cats that need affection.
Old friends + new friends
Fire alarms and laundry (oh the bliss)
Nothing says dorm life like the inconveniences of fire alarms in the middle of the night and the lengths of which it takes to do laundry. The second night of living in the dorm the fire alarm went off at 2am. There are few things more disorienting than being awoken by the incredibly loud and disturbing fire alarm. The sounding means: you must try to gather yourself, make it safely off of your lofted twin bed, find shoes in the dark, hope that you have all articles of clothing on, and trek down four flights of stairs to the courtyard. If that doesn’t sound like a good time, you are truly missing out. (It happened several other times as well). As for laundry my most extensive experiences: the time I carried my laundry completely across campus to the parking garage in order to take it home (fifteen minute walk, and I used to think carrying it downstairs was a pain); taking my laundry to the dorm laundry facility and realizing I had neither the coins or the ID Bucs to pay for the machines therefore I took my laundry down the four flights of stairs, out to the parking lot, into my car, drove it to my friends off-campus apartment, up three more flights of stairs and to her laundry. Yeehaw, college life.
Coming home rocks, once I am readjusted. Coming home means so many things: sitting on the porch at mamaw and papaw’s, having mom to hug, watching the cats play or snuggling with them, listening to sis’s records, riding with her in the 65′ mustang, hugs from everyone at church that you miss, family-friends cooking dinner and having a living room full of students, standing on GranGran’s office table and having her pin for a dress for alterations as we talk, having a beloved game night with your favorite people. It’s the best.
The transition is difficult every time I have come home and returned to campus. When I get home it is an adjustment back to life how I lived it for eighteen years, by the time Sunday comes around and it is time to head back I am adjusted to “regular life”, the emotions are still high, I still cry when I hug Woodson, my cat, bye. I hate saying bye to mom, dad, and sis- each time. It feels more bitter than sweet each time I have reloaded my car and pulled out of the driveway.
What college has taught me so far:
A good dose of freedom
Freedom to make my own choices has been the most notable change that college life has offered me. For those family members reading this, do not worry the freedom has taught me only good things. For me and my experience, the freedom has taught me how priceless my raising was, is, and will always be. Due to my mother’s awesome mom skills and my faith, freedom only means making decisions with my discernment and not asking permission as frequently.
Makes childhood/teenage friends into family
This became clear the weekend prior to this post. I had the opportunity to spend an evening with several friends that I have had since middle school. As we sat in a family friend’s living room and recounted our funniest stories from college so far and later sat in my drive way and discussed future hopes I realized these “friends” are family. We know each other’s stories/we can tell each other’s stories, families, most embarrassing moments, and achievements. It was the sweetest revelation.
Looking up to others who have gone before
I will conclude on this note. The importance of older role models has become poignant in this new chapter of life: in social, academic, and faith spectrums. I am thankful from the bottom of my heart for the placing of several individuals to look up to and have invest in my life. In Ben Carson’s book Think Big he spends two chapters explaining his gratitude to mentors, characterizing them specifically, and expressing his belief that there is no such thing as a self-made man. I see this being a true claim, through and through. I know specifically those who are praying for me and are constantly sending encouragement my way. I have received countless doses of wisdom from writings done by people that I know personally and those I do not. It is vital to have good examples. Thank you God the Father for those.
GOD SPEED AND GO BUCS!!