The end of the beginning

The warm August day when my family had packed the car up and had taken an hour’s drive to SUNY Geneseo suddenly feels lightyears away as I approach the end of my first semester. As the seasons have begun to change, it is clear through the student’s energy that they are starting their own metamorphosis as well. While I observe those around me and how they are coping with the complexities of collegiate life, as well as live through it myself, it is fascinating to compare the experiences.

The emotional status of myself and my fellow students can be comparable to that of a teacup constantly on the edge of a table, almost falling off the edge. The combination of spring semester registration stress and a sense of comfort in the normalcy of the current semester seems to have sent many, like me, down a spiraling path. There is an overwhelming sensation that occurs whilst an individual feels hyper-emotions of both peace and anxiety simultaneously. Personally, I have been able to find small pieces of tranquility through my own coping mechanisms, friends, and organization. A small affirmation I have been attempting to remind myself of while in states of panic is that not everything can be handled at once, and things will get done in their own time. It can be extremely easy to get caught up in the static of schoolwork, classes, and studying instead of living life in the moment and appreciating the experiences around you.

Perhaps it is naïve to have such high hopes for the second semester of my freshman year however I feel as though the knowledge that has accumulated in my mind over these past few months will be beneficial towards my future experiences. The spring semester sits in my subconscious as I mentally prepare myself for the classes, exams, new classmates, and more. It almost feels as though we are set back to step one with this new semester, but depending on your outlook, this could be either good or bad. The disruption of the previous semester’s flow might be a struggle initially, but that is a feat that can easily be overcome in due time. It truly can come down to how each person’s opinion on change and starting new. Despite only having three months of understanding for my newfound lifestyle, my optimism in my abilities to do well in classes, maintain relationships, and take care of myself is vital.

However, the importance of working through this first semester and tackling the issues at hand lies in front of my face. At this point, finals are not close enough to where they are dangling over my head like an anvil waiting to drop down as they still seem like a far distance fantasy. The unfortunate truth is that finals are an increasing reality that will strike my consciousness when I least expect it. For now, I am keeping a clear focus on the assignments at hand that are beginning to pile with Thanksgiving break approaching.

Since August 30, 2021, I have spent time learning and expanding in the new environment around me as I grow accustomed to being a college student. It feels as though I have gained knowledge that I could not have known anywhere else. I have strong beliefs that as my opportunities to grow into myself will only broaden as time goes on. Through my experiences such as participating in lecture conversations, going out of my comfort zone to be involved in clubs like Badminton, or even attending the Campus’ screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show. I have proven to myself that I am capable of flourishing in my newfound college life.

Reflecting and looking forward

As the first month of my freshman year in college comes to a close and I reflect on the courses, tests, professors, and assigned work, it is hard to feel anything except a complicated mixture of relief and stress. The general newness of school has been washed away, and now a feeling of normalcy has begun to set in. My daily routine no longer resembles that of a robot fulfilling its duties and schedule but more so exhibits how I wish to spend my days as a young adult with newfound freedom.

For being a first-semester freshman, I am quite content with the schedule provided for me by my advisor. My weekly schedule is balanced where there are heavily loaded back-to-back class days, but there are also days free for me to get extra assignments done, rest time, and studying. I enjoy planning out my weeks, designating certain days for specific assignments, and having a clear idea of what needs to be done and when. Now that the school year has been set into motion for about six weeks now, I can confidently say that I am comfortable in my courses and work altogether. It does not mean that there are no moments where anxiety does not overwhelm me entirely in terms of grades and school, but luckily, I can say that my friends and family are the most exceptional support system in the world. Through open arms and kind words, they are there to lift me up and ensure that I am headed in the right direction. These moments make me extremely grateful to have these magnificent humans in my life.

As the semester continues to roll on my goal to further continue improving my abilities in balancing study skills, workload, and mental health care. I understand that there is always room for refinement, and balancing these issues is a concept that would benefit my future immensely. Maintaining six courses is no easy task, and I hope to look back on my first semester in college with pride for making it through. The personal pride that comes from completing a difficult task is an emotion that is quite difficult to explain. For as long as I can remember, change has been a big obstacle for me. I do not deal well with substantial changes or differences in my normal daily routine. As anyone can assume, starting college in a new place where I am unfamiliar with the people, town, courses, etc., is an immense feat to attempt to overcome. Luckily there is a multitude of resources available to me to help cope with this adjustment period. Geneseo is more than generous in terms of providing sources of aid to students in various situations. There are student tutors, quiet study spaces, on-campus counseling options, RA’s who are more than willing to lend a helpful hand, and professors who give up their time and patience to commit fully to their students. Before the semester is over, my hopes are to push myself out of my comfort zone and take advantage of these resources that I might not have typically used.

It genuinely amazes me that the school year has been moving along for over a little more than a month now. In some twisted way, it feels as though the weeks are completely endless, but each individual day has blurred together once they pass. In my opinion, it is beneficial to have small events to look forward to throughout the semester. This way, you can have something to look forward to that will help you get through the slump of multiple classes, assignments, and tests. Even though the time here at college can feel long and overwhelming, having good coping skills and little motivators are key to getting past the stagnation of classes.

A fresh start

My name is Natalie Kershner, and I am an Elementary/Special Education first-year student at Geneseo. I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, with my four older siblings by my wonderful mother. Since I am the youngest, I witnessed my siblings packing up and leaving for college year after year. I knew the time would eventually come for it to be my turn to start the brand-new exciting chapter of my life.

Personally, I have never been one in favor of change. The thought of leaving my home for Geneseo weighed on my chest heavily, and there was no ease coming to terms with this transitional period. It dawned on me the moment I hugged my mother goodbye in the Onondaga Hall parking lot that now my college experience was beginning and no longer just an idea that existed in the far future. The number of unanswered questions and concerns running through my mind only added to the ongoing list of “what-if’s” and worst-case scenarios.

However, most of my worries and anxiety dissipated the moment I met my roommate, Kylie. I have never met someone who I so easily feel comfortable with, and myself around. I spent far too much time worried that there would be an extremely awkward phase between the two of us as we navigated, sharing a living space. Luckily, we have a wonderful dynamic where we can sit in comfortable silence in one moment, and have a giant dance party to our conjoined Spotify playlist in the next. One of my all-time favorite memories together from the past three weeks was the night that my favorite musician, Mr. Harry Styles, had the first concert of his United States tour lineup. Together Kylie and I got snacks, found a live stream of his concert, and had an extraordinary time singing along to his songs and dancing our hearts out. The privilege of having such a wonderful roommate after obsessing with anxiety for weeks helped give me the confidence to approach other scenarios and situations with a more open mind. It was not long before I found myself surrounded by uplifting, joyful, and kind friends. My days were overtaken by running around in a thunderstorm, watching movie marathons late into the night, singing along to comedy specials, and random trips to Walmart. I am so thankful that suddenly my mindset switched from dreading the unknown of each day to looking forward to the spontaneity ahead.

In terms of classes, I had no idea what to expect walking in other than a heavy workload and the reminder that studying would become my best friend. In my writing seminar, Theatre Therapy for Veterans, I had absolutely no preconceived notion of what to anticipate. After sitting through the first lecture and meeting my teacher, Professor Arena, I was blown away by how interesting and deep this class will be. When you learn about things that are genuinely interesting, it only helps boost the dedication to the class and topic. I am looking forward to reading the texts and participating in class discussions because I know I will be interested in the content personally. This writing seminar is one of the classes I genuinely look forward to each week, and the outside-of-class coursework does not overwhelm me to the extent that some of my other courses tend to. I hope that I can make it through this first semester with a positive mindset towards myself, my grades and mental health. It is important to remember that even though coursework and exams are crucial, so is taking care of yourself and your mind. I am looking forward to where this semester and class bring me in the upcoming weeks.