Colgate, I Think We Need a Break

Colgate, I Think We Need a Break

Studying abroad during college is some­thing I have always wanted to do. Both my sisters spent semesters abroad and had amazing experiences.

Although over the years the places I thought about going to have changed, my reasoning had not. I knew that I wanted to have an experience where I was forced out of my comfort zone and had a chance to completely immerse myself in a differ­ent language and culture. However, as I get ready to leave for Russia I find myself much more focused on another, less talked about reason for going abroad: the need for a break from Colgate.

As a tour guide and the child of parents who pay a lot of money to send me here, I feel extremely guilty for saying this. After all, Colgate has given me incredible oppor­tunities, both academically and socially. As I conclude the fall semester of my junior year, it is clear that, so far, college has ex­ceeded all my expectations. Everything I was so excited about during my first few months at Colgate has turned out even better that I thought. When friends and family ask me about Colgate, I tell them exactly that.

But in the back of my mind there was always the question of what happens when all the excitement wears off.

What happens when the things we used to love about Colgate suddenly seems un­interesting? What happens when the peo­ple we shared all these adventures with are no longer around?

As a junior, these are the questions my peers and I now have to face. In our Greek Life supplement, one of our editors wrote about how part of our college experience involves watching our friends change and coming to the realization that some of our closest friends from our early Colgate years will find different friend groups by the time we graduate. While that article fo­cused on the role of Greek organizations in that difficult process, I also believe that it is something that happens across the board, regardless of Greek affiliation. As I think back to my first two years here, I knew it was silly to believe that by the end I would come out with the same friends and same excitement for all things Colgate, from Coop grilled cheeses to the Jug. But I still believed it.

I probably do not represent the norm. After all, it is hard enough for me to part with a breakfast cereal, let alone my gen­erally excited and optimistic attitude. But, my own eccentricities aside, I do feel that junior year tends to be the time where we all must figure out how we fit in to the Col­gate we all have to come to know and all the realities (both pleasant and unpleasant) that go with it.

What does this have to do with studying abroad?

Personally, I feel the best way to figure out my place here is not by pouring over course catalogues, analyzing my Facebook friend­ship pages or even spending more time at the Jug (although that is often advocated as asolution for all of our problems).

I think I need to take a step back, or better yet go a whole ocean away, to do something completely different, speak a different language, eat a different breakfast and find my place in a different culture to finally figure out my place at Colgate. Ex­periencing something different can serve to highlight what I miss about Colgate and also what I love about being away.

Being forced to confront these re­alities also can show me how I can serve the role I want in shaping our own Colgate experience.

I don’t feel alone in coming to this con­clusion; I think it is probably part of the reason so many Colgate students do choose to study abroad.

What happens when we come back? I can’t speak for everyone, but I hope to re­turn with that knowledge and the same ex­cited attitude I used to feel every time I saw Colgate’s campus emerge on route 12B. But in reality, I know this is a lofty goal. When it comes down to it, all I can ask for is that my break from Colgate goes better than the break between Ross and Rachel.