The clock ticked as semester finals drew nearer. Im pulling a strong 4.0 and really didnt have anything to worry about, but I studied, like always.
I can hardly believe the semester is over. It has been 18 weeks since I loaded up my stuff and left the home of my adolescence to come to North Georgia College and State University.
At the beginning of the semester, I wasnt sure what to expect. Would my college courses be too difficult to pass with As? Would time constraints and social activities damper my academic performance?
As it turned out, classes were not more difficult than in high school AP classes, but the workload was much more demanding of my time. As much as psychology and physics fascinate me, the great out-my-door calls very loudly after about 7 (it sounds just like a ton of girls screaming and laughing and turning up the volume while watching a movie).
Besides all the people to hang out with, the campus is full of school-related activities galore. Baptist Student Union, Cognition Couch, Honors Program, the Voice, intramural sports, formals, parties, hiking, white water rafting, rushing for sororities, and the list goes on. Add studying, sleeping, and eating to this extensive list of extracurricular activities and free time quickly dwindles to zero.
Oh, and I forgot bathing. Bathing and washing clothes is of utmost importance, but can be very hazardous. Someone whose name I wont mention bent over in the shower to retrieve her fallen washcloth; as she stood up with superhuman force, she rammed the back of her head on the shower handle and had to be driven to the emergency room by her RA at 10:30 at night to get staples in her scalp, and that without pain-reducing medication!
Such has been my first semester of college life. It has almost passed too quickly for me to notice how drastically my life has changed between last summer and this winter. Not only do I drive myself to the doctor, but Ive also learned to eat Pop-Tarts for supper when I need extra time to study.
Before I came to college, I thought I knew what I wanted to major in. However, after about three weeks of classes, I was sure that I did not know. (I thought I knew a lot of other things, too, only to find out I was deceived.) I have to balance what I like, what Im good at, and what will prove a viable means of existence. Im still working on this logic puzzle.
The absolute biggest change, though, has been leaving Grovetown. Being away from my family and church friends was at first disorienting, especially since a lot of what I was learning in school challenged my beliefs. Welcome to college! Here was this huge institution, and, oh my word, if you could just walk through the periodical section in our library and see (and smell, eww) the collection of recent, scholarly articles, studies, experiments, and opinions. I have never known people as smart and well-educated as my professors (at least not so many people at once), and they are still learning and researching. If I had to leave home, this was the proper destination! What better place to reshape my beliefs and opinions than here, where I can douse my mind in the pool of the most current knowledge and thought? Id like to sit and marinate in this environment forever.
So, the intellectual climate has been more than stimulating. Being thrown into a dorm with hundreds of other girls has also contributed an exciting flare to college life. We have been family to each other. Weve worked out together, eaten together (to make up for the time spent working out), gone to church together, and watched movies every other night or so. No one has been excluded for possessing original interests; the school encompasses enough people for everyone to find friends. People can still be exclusionary, but the fishing hole is much larger. On the flip side, we have kept each other up past 1:30 a.m. most mornings. For this reason, I wish that I were not living in the dorms. Six hours of sleep a night is simply insufficient.
As much as I have enjoyed being surrounded with people my age, I have suffered for want of adults to converse freely with. Its no wonder many college kids develop disregard for the wisdom of their elders. If I were not at a small school (compared to UGA, its small), I would never talk to adults at all except when I call my parents on the phone. Even here at North Georgia, the most personal interaction I get with adults is a brief half-hour with a professor every few days. Who am I supposed to model and impress?
I would like to thank all you parents who pay for your kids to go to college. It is an enriching, tempering, and stabilizing experience, and its loads of fun. I only wish more students took advantage of all that we have access to (unlimited food, people, weight machines - feel the burn - and knowledge). For any high schoolers pondering by which venue to pursue their higher education, Id like to stress the importance of the going off part of college. ASU is a great school from what Ive heard, but learning is an easier pill to swallow with fresh surroundings. I would also like to reassure any high school seniors who may be anxious about going off to college. Ive survived my first semester, so youll do just fine.
What can I do after this semester but thank God for life and my family, take a deep breath, and be fully convinced the future holds great things for the human race?
(Ali Leonard is a 2003 graduate of Greenbrier High School.)
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