The deep end

A chill settles over the valley. Trees rustle in the wind. Leaves shed their green coats, making way for vibrant colors that paint a bright blue backdrop accented by dollops of fluffy white clouds. As the changes to nature become more prominent, there is a significant shift across campus. Attitudes are easy going as the summer air transitions into slowly mounting stress. Assignments begin to pile up, deadlines coming in at a breakneck pace. Once clear minds are cluttered, and noses can no longer breathe in the crisp mountain air. Autumn has arrived, and with it, the school year has officially begun.

This introduction may sound like an exaggeration, but trust that it is not. Although I do not perceive my workload as insurmountable, there are some weeks when I wake up and just know that I’m going to have my work cut out for me. I stare, blank faced at my agenda, pen at the ready, scribbling down the game plan for the week ; in my opinion, the best way to stay on task is to be organized. While I am not too enthused about the stress clawing at my insides, it does signal that school has finally gotten into the swing of things. I am no longer a clueless freshman trying to navigate her way across campus; I am your average, run-of-the-mill college student. In a way, the stress is comforting, as it is something I have felt all through middle and high school. I am a person who has always strived to do their best in the classroom. If there is anything I know how to do, it is how to be a good student. That means that when I get to class, my notebook is my best friend. I take notes, staying engaged from start to end even if the class is not one I am particularly interested in. To my relief, my dedication to school paid off, as evidenced by my grades, which I am sufficiently proud of, as it is always a nice feeling to know that your hard work has been rewarded. As luck would have it, I found friends with similar philosophies regarding school. Even though classes have gotten harder as the semester commenced, having friends who possess similar drives to me make each day a little easier. That means oftentimes we can be found grabbing a bite to eat before settling into a quiet spot to study. Even though that may not sound like an ideal college experience, school is one of my top priorities and I want to do well. Besides, this makes the moments when I can push aside my notes and relax that much sweeter.

Speaking of sweet moments, I visited home for the first time since I’ve been at school. For my first visit, I took the Amtrak. Because I live on Long Island, that meant 7 hours of anticipation and surviving the frenzy of Penn Station at rush hour, capped by yet another 40 minutes sitting on a train. My weariness from travel didn’t do anything to dampen my giddiness, as there is no place like home. Despite being back in my element, I felt slightly out of place. Everything seemed so much smaller, and it’s not just because I didn’t need to use a stepstool to get on my bed. My time was temporary. No matter how comfortable I was, I knew it wasn’t going to last. Even with this cloudy thought looming in the back of my mind, nothing compared to the joy I felt when I hugged my mom and my sister. I am not ashamed to say that I am one of those people whose family also doubles as some of their best friends. The weekend passed in a blur of eating good food (nothing beats a Long Island bagel), running mundane errands, and catching up from the time the sun touched the sky to when it dipped below the horizon. Before I knew it, I was on a plane and thrust back into the swing of things. I’m grateful for the momentary reprieve, but it feels good to be on campus. As much as I love my home and my family, that’s not my life anymore; living on campus, juggling school work with spending time with my friends- that is.

By the end of the semester, I am not sure where I will be. I imagine I will be continuing to maintain the delicate balance between studying for classes and hanging out with my friends. At some point in the near future, I will be meeting with my advisor to begin forming my schedule for next semester. I will have visited home once more, placing me in a limbo where I long for the comforts of home while craving the life I have carved for myself out here. These are all things I anticipate; [JA5] however life is unpredictable. I can’t say that I will be better or worse than I was at the start of the semester. I don’t even know what I’m going to be doing this weekend. Looking beyond the torrent of emotions brewing inside me, I can say most days have been happy. I’ve had experiences that I never thought I would get to have, that I thought would stay in my dreams as I went through life passively. I continue to set goals for myself, in and out of class, that I plan on accomplishing without changing the core of who I am. Above it all, I recognize that I’m growing up. College has been good to me thus far, and in my quest to assert myself, I can confidently say that as of now, there is no place I’d rather be.

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