DI Voices | Do not dread a rough start

By Nathaniel Langley, Opinions Editor

The dawn of college exceeds all expectations. The rush of attending university classes and the exhilaration of mingling with other fresh campus faces are unmatched sensations.

With all these great expectations, nonetheless, there exists an assumption that if the first semester is inadequate, all else is futile. Yet, the first day of any semester is not conclusive. Whether it be from a gawky transfer or an adverse beginning, there are enough semesters to allow for rectifications: The first semester is not your final semester.

College does not begin the first semester. Rather, higher education is a process which, unknowingly, one acclimates themself to over several semesters. Some will immediately adjust, yet for those who may fumble this first semester, do not fret.

Having been a freshman transfer who arrived weeks before COVID-19, only now is university life re-emerging in my junior year. Likewise, whether one is new to campus, or approaching college’s conclusion, there is plenty of time and opportunities to launch yourself into university ventures.

My introduction to the University was awkward — to say the least. 

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As a transfer from the “quaint” Concordia University Chicago — featuring a campus population of about a 1,000 students —, the University’s immense size compared to my previous liberal arts, Lutheran institution was formidable. 

Similarly, after attending various transfer activities — including the highly recommended transfer orientation —, I soon realized that my genre was slender: a transfer following their first semester of freshman year.

Still, doors were opened to assist my acclimation. Ranging from us Spring 2020 transfers regularly gathering or my involvement in an accommodating club such as Model United Nations, campus life between January and March 2020 was exhilarating. It was not long, however, until COVID-19 cruelly entered the frame.

Plucked hundreds of miles away from campus, my campus self froze in anticipation of a thaw that would not arrive until fall of sophomore year. 

At the beginning of sophomore year, additionally, I felt as though I exited a freezing induced by COVID-19 and, once more, could finally commence college. Correspondingly, the campus atmosphere reflected this phenomenon. 

Witnessing students return this fall appeared akin to disaster movie survivors reaching the light after decades of darkness. Doors — literally and figuratively — reopening for the fall marked profound possibilities for those fortunate enough to inhabit campus.

My inauguration into sophomore year provided exceptional prospects freshman year lacked. Accordingly, despite my choppy establishment into college, a previously concealed trust prevailed. 

An assurance aiming for a better life through higher education endures throughout any university enlightenments and/or woes. Although undergraduates aim to obtain a degree and step forth toward a brighter tomorrow, many wrongly contend that this success depends upon an exceptional start. This is not true.

Instead, this trust in higher education must be in the fact that life at the University — whether entering by way of transferring like myself or the more typical freshman arrival — is a roller coaster: You may begin either shooting up or tumbling down, yet no matter what, you will end at the same place following countless climbs and descents.

The premier aspect of university life is the approach to a new semester. In addition, a semester’s origin is only as significant as you envision. 

If you put all your weight into the school year’s opening, success is unattainable. Nevertheless, if you institute the mindset that a semester’s outset is influential in the short term, yet anticipate that subsequent semesters yield long-term opportunities, true campus happiness awaits.

I did not feel like a college student until the last week of sophomore year. Assuredly, my i-Card and existence on campus signified I was an undergraduate, yet the genuine perception toward university life was delayed. 

The car ride away from a completed semester is far less appealing than the buoyant voyage to campus beginning once again. 

My recent expedition home, furthermore, was the first time I experienced a bittersweet sorrow in departing campus. After four semesters of clumsy beginnings, I felt both the responsibility and liberation of being a college student when meeting outstanding friends and confronting invigorating challenges.

College is not a cakewalk, nor will university life be a swift cruise. You will find yourself — for better or worse — thoroughly involved in college when the moment manifests. Therefore, with the latest semester awaiting, trust that a mishap this semester will lead to next semester’s bliss, and so forth.

Nathaniel is a junior in LAS.

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