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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The first-year experience: a sense of belonging (the baby)

Published: November 12, 2010
Section: Features

GRAPHIC BY Leah Lefkowitz/The Hoot

Being a first-year in college is certainly a different experience than being in high school, yet somehow it still feels natural. Instead of walking through crowded narrow hallways to get to class, I’m climbing the Rabb steps and hearing leaves crunch under my feet. It takes 10 minutes to walk to class instead of three, and there are twice as many undergraduates as there were students in my entire high school, but I still see people I actually know no matter what time of day I’m walking around campus. I’ve gone from being at the top of the class-ladder to being at the bottom, but so has every other first-year. It’s easy to forget the long six-hour class days and fall into the rhythm of three classes a day with hours in between.

We’ve only been in college for two-and-a-half months, but it already feels like home. After an exhausting week of orientation, struggling to remember how to study after a bout of high school senioritis and a carefree summer, we’ve finally finished (multiple) midterms and are already looking forward to winter break. College has only begun, but we’re already getting leadership positions in clubs, working 10 hours a week, driving the BranVan, writing 10-page papers and going into Boston on the weekends. We’ve discovered the best places to study that aren’t in the library, a close group of friends and which laundry machines actually work.

Even though most of us are thoroughly enjoying our college experience, there are always things that could be better. Chemistry is difficult in a class of more than 200, the food at Sherman is beginning to get unbearable and friends are far away. While some of my hallmates go home every weekend, I haven’t talked to some of my high school friends, whom I used to see just about every day, in months. I miss eating real food and I miss giving my younger brother a hug goodnight. We’re lucky to have so much technology to make communication easier—Skype, texting, Facebook, e-mail—but sometimes you can’t replace real human contact with the people you love.

It has certainly taken some adjusting, but Brandeis is now where we belong. Just a year ago, we were stressing about college applications, wondering where we’d finally end up. Now, it hardly matters. We’re at Brandeis, and regardless of whether or not it was our first choice or our last choice, we are part of the university for the rest of our lives.