Whether you were home last weekend, seeing family members this Family Weekend, or traveling for Thanksgiving soon, chances are — and especially if you’re a first year — you’re going to be hearing the age old question: “How’s college?!” Somehow, a simple two-word phrase can be laced with so much meaning. It goes hand in hand with the dreaded “How are you?!” How IS college, really? And how AM I, really? These aren’t questions you can just answer right off the bat! I mean, okay, that’s not entirely true. You can answer them right off the bat: “College is great/good/okay/terrible! I’m doing great/good/okay/terrible!” But that wouldn’t be the whole story, really. It’s a lot easier to just say “good” when someone asks you how you’re doing.
For first years, it’s hard to properly assess how school is going when we’ve only been here for a month-and-a-half, when most of us at least are probably still settling in and trying to find our way. I’ll be honest, I still have to use Google Maps to find a few of the buildings here. Actually, most of the buildings here. I don’t really know how to answer how I’m doing when I barely know what I’m doing! The transition from high school to college can be quite jarring. For a lot of people, it’s the first time being away from home for an extended period of time; pretty much everything here is new. There’s bound to be some growing pains. And the thing is, I’ve found that no one really mentions that when they talk about their college experience — or at least not at first.
I was a little freaked out at first coming here and having to fend for myself in the great wilderness of Providence. Obviously, I’m not really on my own, but going from living in the same familiar place my whole life to somewhere completely new without anyone to explicitly tell me what to do was a bit daunting to say the least. How long would it take to feel like I actually go here? Fortunately, this initial settling in took less time than I expected, and I’ve really seen that Brown is an amazing fit for me. Now I’m in a new phase of adjustment, trying to find my true place here.
I’m still finding my way. Yes, the hardest part for me — just getting here and getting comfortable with all the new changes — has definitely passed. I’m joining clubs and finding good study-spots and going to office hours and going out and attending speaker events and attempting to eat as well as I can at the Ratty. But sometimes, of course, I do still feel like I’m still a fish out of water, an obviously confused first-year (it probably doesn’t help that my water bottle says “Brown 2022” in big block letters). But that’s only natural. I think when I was younger I kind of assumed that once you hit 18 and/or went off to college, you’d suddenly be an adult. Like somehow a flip would be switched and suddenly you’d have all the answers, and you’d know what to do all the time. What I’m learning, though, is that this idea couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s the big secret that I’ve uncovered, and that everyone hides: no one completely knows what they’re doing. We’re all stumbling along, making mistakes and living on our own and doing “adult” things while still feeling a little like kids. Or maybe that’s just me — but it’s probably not.
And what I’m also figuring out is that it’s not a bad thing at all to sometimes feel less-than-prepared for the so-called “real world” — that’s what these four years are for afterall. So look, if you ask me how I’m doing, or how college is, I might still give you a one word answer, because that’s just how teenagers are. But of course that one word isn’t all I feel. Chances are I’m always going to be feeling a lot of different ways all the time, and it’s always going to be changing. I don’t feel nearly as nervous as I did a month ago, and I’m sure in another month I’ll have gotten even more comfortable. College is basically just one never-ending, confusing, exciting transition. Everyone is bound to get lost at some point as we all try to find our way, but I’m very glad that Brown is where I get to do that.