Realizations of a Sophomore: The Difference One Year Makes

As I make my way around campus, I notice large groups walking together donning new DePauw gear with lanyards draped around their necks. I can’t help but think back to the bundle of nerves I was when I was in their place last year. So many expectations and so much uncertainty comes with these first few weeks of college. I found myself wondering all the time, “Who will last as my best friends? Will I ever finish all this homework? Will I be “black-listed” from a sorority? And, just WHEN can I go to the fraternities?!”

I know I wasn’t alone in that confusion. The newly gained independence of freshman year was exhilarating, yet intimidating at the same time. With that new sense of power, I probably spent too much time worrying about what I was missing out on or what I should do that weekend, to recognize all of the great memories that were being made at that moment. I’ve realized that as I try to put myself back in that mindset, I wish I could go back and tell myself what I know now, just one short year later.

I know I still have plenty to experience, but the confidence I’ve gained as a sophomore is a beautiful thing. The drive back to Greencastle in mid-August could not have been any longer as I anticipated reuniting with friends I hadn’t seen in three months. Move-in day was painless in comparison to the madness of South Quad on Opening Day, considering I didn’t feel the need to pack my entire room from home this time. The mystery of what’s behind the doors of a sorority house is gone, as I now call one home. I felt relaxed as my parents drove away, knowing I have so many exciting things to come, instead of the minor panic attack I had last year. Most importantly, I had a much better sense of what I was getting myself into once I arrived on campus, and DePauw really felt like a second home.

First-years are easy to spot as they figure out the ins-and-outs of campus, and I feel so much more self-assured with what I now know. I wouldn’t have known this time last year to avoid Lilly at 4 PM, or that I better keep quiet when I study on the third floor of Roy O; the Greencastle Wal-Mart is always a source of entertainment, and Dairy Castle or Marvin’s makes any stressful day a little bit brighter. We may all complain about the all-nighters, crazy professors, and the “long” walk to the other side of campus, but I know DePauw is the most inspiring and joyous place to be.

It may have taken some awkward and difficult times to get here, but that’s normal. I now accept that I had to run into exactly who I didn’t want to see after a night out, study until the wee hours of the night for finals, slip down the stairs in The Hub or even worse, at a fraternity, to truly appreciate DePauw’s life lessons. It happens to the best of us, right? Simply laugh these moments off, because it makes for a great story later on!

To the new first-year Her Campus readers, take after us upperclassmen, and embrace every moment here like we’ve learned to do. Take a deep breathe in of the fresh, welcoming DePauw air. Go through the tough time of homesickness and uncertainty to get here, because I promise you, it’s worth it. It never ceases to amaze me how many people I continue to meet on such a small campus, and the new things I learn here everyday. I envy you, first-years, as you have so many good things ahead of you this year. I know I still do too, with three more years ahead. Don’t forget to appreciate those little life lessons every step of the way. Great friendships, infinite opportunities, and plenty of unique DePauw moments are just around the corner. Let yourself fall into the college love affair!