Nerves gather in the bottom of my stomach, even if I don’t let it show. I’ve got my poker face on, Lady Gaga pulsing through my brain while I move into the dorm, say hi to new neighbors, and watch my parents walking to their car with their credit cards and without me.
It’s the first day of college, and it’s a lot different than my first day of high school. There, I was run over by a varsity football player and tried to look for my sister to protect me and help me open my locker. As an almighty senior, she was way too cool to be next to me and I just focused on going home. It was miserable, I kept going back until my high school became a second home of sorts.
Now, we actually live in our new school. It’s our home away from home, where you can hang posters that would make your mother clutch at her heart a little up on the walls. Where you don’t have to worry about coming home too late to your father waiting at home on the couch, pretending to watch TV and really watching the clock.
Now, not quite two months later, it seems like everyone is hitting that slump. That why-am-I-taking-this-class, what-am-I-doing-with-my-life slump that I’m hearing hits people midway through the first semester.
It’s hard to remember my optimism when I first came here. I was so nervous on my first day, but I was still shiny and new. I had power music on my iPod and empty notebooks to fill with information learned from my college classes. Now, I’m trying to remember how much I love my classes to keep up the momentum, but the truth is I’m wondering what I’m doing here.
Meanwhile, life at home goes on without me. Life goes on at home without all of us; now, we’re detached spectators. We return home, sit on our old beds and wonder why our parents haven’t just broken down and cried every day without us.
As a freshman, it’s hard to get used to this new life, without parents and with cafeteria food three times a day. Instead of walking down to the end of the driveway for the mailbox, I have to go to the KC after class. I live with someone who, two months ago, I barely knew her name.
Life is different, but it’s still going on. When I first arrived, it was easy to pretend that it didn’t bother me, because it really didn’t. I was happy to settle in and be a college student. I, like so many of my peers, spent my entire senior year of high school wishing I were at Albion and finally in college. Now that I’m here, it’s so much more than I thought it would be, but at the same time it’s less because it’s not where I grew up.
While I look around and ask myself how I got here, I realize it’s because I had all this hope and optimism that I transferred into shiny new binders and shiny new classes and fancy institutes to join. I wanted to make something of myself and be something bigger and better than I was back at home.
That’s why we leave, to be something more than we were back at home. It’s different and weird and kind of lonely at first, but it’s also fresh and shiny and wrapped in the new comforter from Bed Bath & Beyond. And that’s why we come here, so we can be wrapped in something warm and new in order to be new people, ready to take on the world.