As a quick disclaimer, I love this university with my whole heart. Colgate is an incredibly special place that has truly become my home. But I haven’t always loved Colgate. Thoughts about transferring fluttered in and out of my mind during my entire first year. There are still some days when the thoughts come back. I should have…I could have…but I didn’t. And I’ll tell you why.
We all remember the first time we walked on this campus. We all saw the picturesque beauty of Willow Path, the spectacular stone buildings and thought to ourselves “I’m home.” It’s something we all have in common. We all walked on this campus for the first time once and felt a sort of peace and belonging.
Colgate was the 11th school I visited. I toured on a rainy Saturday in April. From the moment I arrived, I loved it here. I loved the sticky and humid countryside air, I loved the cloudy blue skies and the hills that stretched for miles. I loved the frat houses lined up on Broad street, the boys in jerseys blasting rap music and dancing around their porches.
When I passed through the COOP with my tour group, the radio station was playing one of my favorite songs. It was the “You’ve Got the Love” remix by the XX. It was a song I didn’t think anyone else had ever heard before, let alone one that a radio station would play. For some reason, that was what sold me. That was the moment I thought I had found somewhere special, somewhere that understood me. It sounds horribly cliché and honestly it was. I was naive. I thought I had found a flawless utopia in the hills of Upstate New York.
And although Colgate was great, it wasn’t perfect. As time went on, I began to forget the things that made me fall in love with the school. I became distracted and disenchanted. I stopped noticing the beautiful view from the top of Persson steps. I complained about there being “nothing to do” here. I started looking down at the pavement when I walked down Willow Path because it was just too cold. The “Colgate bubble” had sucked me up and swallowed me whole.
But when I came back from my semester abroad, I found myself looking at Colgate differently. Sure, the cold was painful and crippling, and the snow was overabundant and inconvenient, but I also saw the school the way I saw it for the first time, and it was really, really beautiful.
So I thought back. I thought about what it was that made me fall in love with Colgate, to pick it as my new home, to chose it over all the rest.
High-school me had pictured myself joining the club swim team, writing for the school newspaper, meeting all sorts of people and becoming someone great. I pictured myself going to office hours, taking color-coded notes in lecture halls and spending long nights in the library. I had done all of those things, but I had forgotten why.
So why was I here? I posed this question to myself a few weeks ago, without judgement or criticism. After all, high-school me is by no means the same as 21-year-old me. We change and grow and so do our tastes and our preferences. But I realized that Colgate is what has helped me do this changing and growing. Without it, I would be much worse off.
So no, you don’t have to love Colgate all the time. You can get sick of it, you can get bored of it, you can hate it for days or weeks at a time. But you do have to ask yourself why you’re here and why you chose to be here. Because we all stepped on this campus for the first time and we will all step on it for a last time. What happens in between is up to you.
Contact Kara Schindler at [email protected]