“Okay, let’s do ‘high-low-highs,’” my good friend suggested. Without thinking, the rest of my friend group and I eagerly arranged ourselves into a circle. We are creatures of habit, accustomed to this semi-regular weeknight ritual. After a moment of thoughtful silence, I responded, “I’ll go first.” As I described one high point of my day, followed by the lowest point before ending on another high point, my friends listened intently, and a calm came over me. They remained silent and nodded along as I spoke. No one interrupted; no one offered advice. Instead they just listened, validating my personal experiences. One by one, we all offered one other genuine insight into our days and allowed ourselves space to reflect on our own feelings. As a generally introverted individual, I find it difficult to open up to people. However, once I establish trust, I find myself embracing difficult conversations. It amazes me how comfortable I feel sharing my most personal thoughts when people make the effort to listen and establish an emotional connection with me.
As a first semester junior, I have been emotionally and academically challenged throughout my Colgate experience. In a few months, I will depart to Germany for a spring semester abroad, and will temporarily say goodbye to campus life. While I often feel suffocated by the Colgate bubble, I have managed to create a comfortable niche for myself that I am reluctant to leave. Over the two and a half years I have lived in Hamilton, I have found a network of dependable friends whom I trust and love deeply. I have discovered two majors I am passionate about that continuously push me to question the world around me and how I fit into it. I have read and edited countless news articles, alongside my co-editor Sarah, whom I could not function without. In addition to learning the inner-workings of Adobe InDesign, we have also created a platform to share as many narratives as possible and bring individual passions to a wider network. And finally, through my 10-week internship in Poolville, NY at the non-profit organization, the Fiver Children’s Foundation, I developed an enthusiasm for social change while finding an inviting environment where I truly felt comfortable. While I am terrified to leave behind my Colgate home, I am thrilled to engage with a new community in Germany and experience all it has to offer.
As my exposure to different pockets of campus life and academia increases, I find myself continuously reevaluating where I find meaning in my life and how I can positively impact those around me. My Colgate experiences have taught me to embrace flexibility and truly listen with an open heart, skills that will prepare me for my future career, whatever that may be. Whenever I feel overwhelmed with campus life, I know that I have a strong network of friends that care for me. In preparation for my trip to Germany, reflecting with my friends on my current experiences has forced me to engage critically with my surroundings. These emotional connections that I cherish will travel abroad with me and shape the way I interact with and process the world around me. I am looking forward to seeing how my experience abroad will reorient my Colgate experience and help fine tune what I want to get out of my final year on campus.
Contact Gaby Bianchi at [email protected]