Halfway into a New School

It’s crazy to say I’m halfway through my first semester of college. It feels as if I was unpacking my bags just yesterday to set up my dorm. I can finally say I’ve become in tune with college life. It no longer feels weird to wake up in a dorm or walk 3 miles to get my mail. If anything, I’ve learned to enjoy it. I have met new people and feel as though I have made a good group of friends. Having everyone so close takes me back to being a kid and waking up to play with the neighborhood kids. When I first arrived at Geneseo, it felt so liberating to be alone. Although I still love my life here, I have become more homesick as time goes on. Beyond everything, Geneseo has become a home to me.

Classes themselves aren’t terribly different from high school. However, the coursework is different. On top of the work being more complex and a more significant workload, classes have a more efficient feel. By that, I mean having “lectures like classes” is a much easier way for me to learn. In my mind taking notes on information and absorbing it in my own way helps me tremendously. I did poorly in high school in math, not because I wasn’t good at it but because I wouldn’t follow the same formula as the teacher. Now in college, I feel like professors can appreciate and encourage abstract thinking. That being said, classes such as this one make me learn differently. Doing things like group discussions actively puts me into the topic where I have to think outside the box. I can also communicate with my peers and change to refine my ideas. 

This class has been heavy for me. Even though the work isn’t extensive, it still feels like a lot. Per usual, writing and literature not being my strong suit, I tend to take much longer to complete the work. Although it is difficult, I still feel I am doing well in the class. Throughout the books we have read in class, I have made a connection with the Theater of War. The book tells stories of Greek soldiers and their traumatic events. These stories affected our modern day, such as how the story of Heracles has changed how some doctors manage end-of-life care. This book, as a whole, helps not just soldiers with PTSD but also their loved ones better understand their trauma. When I read this, it reminded me of being a kid. Even though it’s nothing like going to war, growing up is difficult. Being in a new generation, I feel every kid thinks their parents don’t understand their feelings, making communication difficult. Going back, these soldiers feel the same way; they are struggling with something in their minds that their loved ones can’t fully grasp. As someone who doesn’t deal with PTSD, I feel reading these stories allowed me to take a few steps in their shoes.

By the end of this year, I hope to be in a place where I have a life plan. Now I’m not saying I have my life and job picked out. I want to learn what areas of study I enjoy and prosper in so I can start to build a path for myself. I also hope to be more open to new things by the end of the semester. In my little time at college, I already feel more open and confident, and I hope to grow from that even more.

Wrapping up my First Year

I can’t believe I’m almost done with my first semester of college. Graduating high school feels like yesterday. With the excitement of the year ending also comes plenty of stress. The worries of finals and grades closing are lurking closer and closer. Beyond the stress of finals, my grades have been better since midterms. After midterms, I felt I had a better grasp of college life. I had finally developed a consistent routine and was more organized with my schoolwork. As the semester ends, I become more excited for the next semester. Next semester I will have declared a psychology major, and my schedule will start to have more structure. This semester has been filled with new experiences. This class has been a new experience for me. Compared to high school, I have never taken a class set up like this one. The collaboration in this class makes it a whole new way of learning. Seeing how my peers dealt with an assignment gives me a new perspective. It helps you open your eyes to the topic in ways you would have never thought of alone.

Along with this, I also developed a new level of listening skills. Now when someone talks to me, I try to absorb the information to the point I can repeat it back to them. Also, reading the book The Theatre of war was something I learned from. The book shows how these Greek war stories go in-depth about what the warrior is experiencing inside and out. This helps family members of a veteran with PTSD better understand and empathize with what the soldier is going through. I saw this in the book, and I instantly applied it to my own life. I’ve many people close to me that I got mad at for the way they were acting without understanding their situation. I never understood why my dad was so strict until I learned about his childhood struggles. This book does a great job of helping the reader step into the shoes of Military personnel and veterans with PTSD. Overall, this course has opened my eyes to how strong these veterans are with PTSD.

As this semester ends, I have a lot to ensure is in place. In the little time I have left, I want to do everything possible to get my grades up or keep them up in all my classes. Besides my standard grades, I also have final exams creeping closer and closer. This is a stressful time of year, and as the time to study everything, I hope to do well on my finals. College finals sound intimidating just because they are new to me, but I know if I apply myself, I will do well. I hope to put myself in a good position for next semester so I don’t have to make up for bad grades in the first semester. Overall I want to end this semester feeling that I have achieved my best, and if I don’t, I’ll have to work much harder in the spring.

A New Chapter

My name is Conlan Shirley, and yes, that is the correct order. Some may look at my name as Shirley Conlan and assume I’m an Irish woman. As a tall, dark hair, dark-eyed Polish man, I couldn’t be any farther from that. Beyond people switching my name around, some have never heard the name Conlan. You may know the Buffalo Bills player Shane Conlan, but that’s not my name’s origin. My Mom struggled with pregnancy, and when she finally got pregnant with me, she said it was like a savior that I came. Conlan, meaning Hero, was a clear choice to my parents when they found it.

Walking into SUNY Geneseo, I had no real expectations. All I knew was I would finally be on my own and make my own decisions. I grew up as an only child, so helicopter parents are understated. Beyond that, I had older college friends who had told me school stories. Most of them would say they hated it at first and that it took a while for them to settle in. I held this in my mind as I entered college, but not to my surprise, I was fine. It felt weird sleeping in a new bed, but from the second I walked into my dorm, I was hit with a wave of excitement and liberty. Honestly, I had chosen to have a random roommate for the fun of meeting a stranger, but we were very similar. We both like the same music and enjoy the same hobbies. I’m good at making friends, but it was nice to have someone to see the campus along with me initially. I had mixed feelings about classes. I knew they would be more strenuous than high school, but I hated how it was formatted. High school is chugging useless information and see if you can spit it out in a week while simultaneously learning nothing. Even after only being a college student for about two weeks, I already feel the difference. Classes feel more engaging, and I have to use critical thinking compared to memorization.

Taking this class is slightly unusual for me. Writing is not something that I particularly enjoy. Not because I don’t know what to say but because I don’t know how to put my words to paper. If you asked me to stand up and give a presentation on lions, I could do it perfectly, just off the top of my head. If you asked me to write a paper on lions, I would feel like the episode of Spongebob where he just wrote: “The” after an hour. I took this class because I want to improve my writing, more specifically, grammar and word formatting. Writing is a crucial life skill and will be something that I’ll use throughout my life. Beyond that, I want to learn to be a strong writer. I have a lot to say, and my lack of ability holds me back. Sometimes in my writing, I might leave out a good point I had just because I didn’t know how to word it.

In the book “They say, I say,” I recognized myself in the chapter talking about underquoting and overquoting. I had an avid problem with filling my writing with just quotes. I sometimes would do the opposite too. I would write an entire paper in my own words, then slap in one quote to hit a requirement. Beyond all, I’ve loved my time at Geneseo and this class so far. I’m very excited to see what the future holds.