A Fresh Freshman Perspective

Deena Mueller

In college, the boundary between first years and upperclassmen is blurred much more than it was in high school, where freshmen would wander around wide-eyed taking in their new setting and trying to fit in. The class of 2010 has only been here a month (though it feels like so much longer), but they are not experiencing anything like that stereotypical freshman isolation and intimidation.

Part of this I attribute to the structure of college in general. We eat, take classes, and live near or with members of other grades, and there less of a label of what class we belong to. Colgate’s friendly, laid-back atmosphere makes it seem like we’ve already been accepted into the current Colgate community.

Of course there are several differences between first years and the rest of the classes here. We call 15 people crammed into one room in West Stillman a party. We think we can get by in our classes without doing the readings, and we complain about having to walk so much (little do we know!). But for the most part, we are adjusting well to life on the hill.

As a first-year, I can personally attest to this. Within the first few days of classes, I already felt as though I knew my way around everywhere and had a grasp of what life was like here. Soon I began to settle myself in a comfortable routine and ponder how else I would make myself a part of this place. I guess finding where you belong is not necessarily a first year challenge. Since our environment is always changing, everyone here is constantly looking to find his or her place in both the academic and social sense.

Right now first years are undergoing may changes to their environment. With these come many challenging emotions – anxiety, homesickness, fear. Whether it shows or not, we all (even upperclassmen) have those moments where we feel overwhelmed, either by our social circumstances or workloads for classes. But the changes do bring us something good as well: the completely new surrounding allows for us to have a fresh start, become the person we’ve always wanted to be, and to ultimately find where we belong.

Before arriving at Colgate, I had a lot visions of what I wanted to be or do here. Now, I have to opportunity to make those visions happen. In order to do so, however, I need to put myself out there into some new situations. (I won’t find where I belong if I don’t try anything.) So far I’ve joined teams and clubs, and gone to events and parties. Looking back, some of those were total mistakes and I so did not belong there, but I did have valuable experiences and learned a little more about myself.

Everyone knows that college is supposed to be a major period of self-exploration, but I feel like there are so many people that don’t take the time or the risk involved in order to do so. One of the biggest criticisms I’ve heard about first years is that we clump together. No one wants to step outside their comfort zone, so we end up not only missing out on meeting many people and doing things, but we also surround ourselves in a group we don’t totally feel right in. I guess this is to be expected for a while because it will take time for us to identify who we are and what we want to be associated with.

Our lives on the hill consist of various new occurrences, like figuring out when the cruiser runs, enjoying all you can eat with our unlimited meal plans and establishing ourselves as partiers. Each day we get the hang of things a little more, and gain the courage to step out and establish ourselves at things other than parties. No matter what year you are, it really is a rewarding feeling when you realize that you’ve found your niche at something. It isn’t just about having a proactive college experience; it’s about developing yourself into the person you want to be. Admittedly, college doesn’t have everything but, if you look for it, you’ll find that there is a place for you here.