Thursday, August 29, 2013

The "Freshman" Times of Life

My freshman year of college I sat next to a sophomore named Molly in sociology class. I'd never met her before, but Molly still knew I was a freshman. I, of course, asked her how she knew. Instead of stating the obvious (that I looked like a 16-year-old), she pointed out a more universal phenomenon: I had the freshman glaze. I regarded my surroundings as if they were an alien world, as if I had no idea what I was doing there, as if a man-eating monster might at any moment emerge from the floorboards. Of course, I set to work at erasing my freshman glaze. I wanted to look like I belonged.

Eventually, I succeeded. People asked ME for directions. Now I was the one snickering about the expressions of terror freshmen wore on the first day of school. But my whole perspective on the freshman state of mind changed when I went to London.

That was my first time flying alone, my first time out of the North American continent, and my first time living completely on my own. I had to figure out the transportation system, budget my own money, keep track of my possessions, look out for myself, live alone, and start a new job. As an added bonus, I really had no idea what I'd be doing for said job other than that I'd be working at the Olympics. I worked 12-14 hour days for 29 days straight with one day off. For at least the first week of the month that I was in London, I felt like I was making it up as I went along. During the first week, I began to recognize the feeling: I was a freshman again. Not in the sense that I was starting college over again—I was starting something NEW. In that case, it was a new job at a new Olympics, in a new country.

Yes, eventually I got the hang of my job, and since then, I've had to get used to various other things life threw my way. However, I haven't felt this much like a freshman since I actually was a freshman in college. And that's because now I'm in grad school.

Grad school is a funny thing. You're new, but you're not new to college or education. At this point, I'm 22. I've been through 17 years of education. So I'm supposed to know what I'm doing now, right? This is Melissa we're talking about here. To explain my profound lack of a sense of direction, I usually tell people that I have trouble "finding my mailbox at the end of my driveway." My undergrad University could probably fit into one of the libraries here. As my graduate school friends have told me, grad classes are different. For me, they're only once per week. I imagine I'll read and write more, which is fine with me, but it will be different. This semester, I have two new jobs and three new classes. I'm looking forward to it.

Molly was right. I did look like a freshman. And since I still look too young to be in graduate school, people here often mistake me for a freshman. I probably still look a bit confused like one. But that's okay. I'm so glad to be here. And I like adventures. And, as always, God is good.

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