Oh, to be a college freshman! When I converse with upperclassmen at Fordham, they will always remember to tell me just how amazing their freshman year was. I listen in awe at their stories as they recount their first football game, their funny classroom moments, and their amazing on-campus activities. While these aspects embody what it means to be a freshman at any school, I have yet to experience them. Being a freshman in college amid a pandemic has been interesting. As I approach the final few weeks as a freshman here at Fordham, I’ve been able to look back on this year and laugh at some mistakes I’ve made. You learn more than just Finite Math and Theology 1000 your first year of college–you learn who you’re meant to be and where you’re meant to go.
I would be lying if I made my experience out to be perfect, and quite honestly, it has been the most imperfect year of my life. I knew starting college wasn’t going to be painless, but I never imagined I’d go to school during a pandemic. If you’re like me and so many other people, you’ve struggled this past year. A lot. My mental health has not been up to par, I lacked all sorts of motivation, and I was apprehensive about that move-in date last August. After getting the latter half of my senior year of high school stolen by a pandemic, I was absolutely and utterly heartbroken. With the uncertainty and severity of COVID-19 at that time, I celebrated my eighteenth birthday in a lockdown while some friends of mine drove by my house to wish me a happy birthday. I spent way too much time on TikTok and watching Tiger King, but what else was there to do, right? Even though we all have social media to connect with one another by a few keyboard taps, I had never felt so alone. I longed for hugs from my best friends, not invitations to Zoom meetings.
Then, in just a few short months, I was plopped into New York City, and I consequently began my journey here at Fordham. And really, the most daunting thing about starting college for me was sharing a bathroom with twelve girls, to be quite honest. Shower shoes? Seriously? That anxiety fled pretty quickly, and the good began to outweigh the bad. I’m confident, though, that many others can also attest to those anxiety-riddled feelings that come along with making friends or even just “fitting in” on campus. Thankfully, Instagram and Facebook have made it easy to “meet” people who will be attending your college, but those wary feelings will undoubtedly remain upon arrival to campus. Before even committing to Fordham, I was in contact with so many girls in what seems like hundreds of different group chats across all social media platforms. Truthfully, I cannot thank those girls for acclimating me as I took my first few steps into the realm of independence that is college.
My first few weeks were tough, and despite being in the city that never sleeps, I had never felt so alone and so out-of-touch. It seemed that everyone had met their people, so why hadn’t I? I knew of a lot of people via social media, but I still felt disconnected. Truth is, I learned how hard it is to love those around you when you don’t truly adore yourself first. That notion is still a work in progress, but once I began to grasp that, I truly started living here at Fordham rather than just existing. I found my people through finding myself, and I’ve never been more grateful.
In this past year of being a freshman at Fordham, I’ve seen–and felt–a lot. Along the journey of finding myself, I’ve discovered a few things. First, Simon’s Deli has phenomenal iced coffee, which is a Saturday morning staple. I’ve also learned that, yes, I really missed my dogs. Hopping on a FaceTime call with them every now and then put a smile on my face. Also, I’ve learned that addressing a professor in an email can be a bit intimidating. There’s Professor, Prof., Professor + last name, or perhaps the daunting first name, yet quite honestly, I’m still unsure sometimes. Fourth, I discovered that my advisor is my biggest cheerleader and best academic friend. I run to her with a laundry list of problems and she always extends herself. A fifth element I’ve learned is that it’s impossible to write an easy the night before in college. I’ve seen far too many sunrises from my desk. The final, and maybe most essential, notion I’ve learned freshman year is to use an umbrella when it rains. No matter how ridiculous you think you look, I assure you that you do not want a waterlogged, pathetic, and completely broken phone just in time for Halloweekend. You will forever find me carrying an umbrella on rainy days around campus.
All jokes aside, this year has not been easy nor has it been stress-free; however, through tears and loneliness, I learned some of the most valuable lessons, and by the time the second semester rolled around, I could confidently say that Fordham will forever be home and that my heart will always be in the 718. I love this campus and I love the people I surround myself with. My professors thus far have made everlasting impacts on me that I will hold for the rest of my life and will continue to serve as a reminder of my zeal and drive. I cannot be saddened by the fact that this year is ending, but rather, I thoroughly praise these past nine months for teaching me far beyond the core curriculum. Now, my journey lies ahead of me in these succeeding three years. I’ll be sure to make them ones I’ll never forget. I hope you do the same.