Whenever I thought about college as a highschool student, I had many preconceived ideas thanks to movies, social media, and even my parent’s college stories. In my mind, college was this amazing place where I could finally be free of my rigorous schedule, instantly make friends, and have a degree that would ensure job security in the future. I wanted more than anything to have that traditional college experience. And then I decided to start as a spring student.
This choice did not come lightly, and going in I knew that it would be different, especially as a student at a liberal arts school. Ultimately, I chose to start in the spring because I wanted a small gap between high school and college to fulfill some of the experiences my previous schedule (and the pandemic) prevented. I got a job, got my driver’s license, and took some online courses to prepare myself for life as a college student. It was time that I personally needed to take, and by the end of the fall semester I felt confident and ready to start my college career.
Unfortunately, the omicron variant had other plans. The first week I arrived at school, my time was fully spent in my dorm. Our orientation was on zoom, and while I am absolutely grateful to the students and staff who put that experience together for the spring students, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. Did I miss my window of opportunity?
My friends who had started college in the fall had come home over winter break and told me stories of orientation week, roommate drama, social clubs, and frat parties. However, when I finally arrived, I was surprised by how isolated I felt.
I think one thing lots of people leave out of their college stories is the initial feelings of loneliness that set in when you move away from home for the first time. I questioned if I had made the right decision, and worried that moving across the country was too ambitious. It is really difficult to put yourself out there when you are in a new environment, especially when that environment is on lockdown due to a pandemic.
The first two weeks I hardly saw anyone except for my roommates and the occasional person on my floor. I navigated zoom classes and attempted to connect with others amidst unstable internet connections and lagging videos.
However, after a month, I am beginning to settle into my new environment. In-person classes have started up, the dining center is allowing students to sit at the tables, and clubs are having interest meetings for new members.
My favorite part about going to a liberal arts school in the city is the abundance of opportunities to explore. I have gone to museums, tried out new restaurants, and even gotten lost on the subway. I think that becoming familiar with your surroundings is the best way to feel comfortable in a new place.
As a spring student on the east coast, there’s an extra challenge I have gotten to endure: the weather. I’ve lived my entire life in sunny California, so moving in January has given me a new perspective on snow, wind, and layering. I even managed to survive my first nor’easter.
To anyone considering transferring or starting college in the spring, I will not deny that it is difficult. At a close knit school like Emerson, it feels like breaking into an established friend group. However, after exploring the city and finding places around campus I enjoy, it is beginning to feel comfortable. I have joined clubs, talked with people in my hallway, and made friends with people in my classes.
It takes a little bit of time to get settled, but being a spring student comes with opportunities to bring something new to the pre-existing table. At the end of the day we’re all here to learn, grow, and share experiences with like minded people.Though you may experience some rejection while putting yourself out there, you’ll also find your niche. It is intimidating, but I am ultimately glad I chose the non-traditional path of starting in the spring since it has taken me out of my comfort zone, made me challenge myself, and shown me that resilience is always rewarded.