As I got ready to leave for college, I was so ecstatic. I was so ready to bust out of my small hometown on Long Island and make my way upstate an incredible school with one of the best Music Education programs in the country. I had nothing but feelings of joy when I thought about the time I would spend with my new voice teacher, the friends I would make once I got there, the classes I was taking, and the things I was going to join. There was nothing I was unsure of while going to school — until I got there.
I made it through my first couple of days at school with a few friends but it didn't feel right to me yet. Then I made it through my first couple of weeks at school and the hours spent working on Music Theory and Introduction to Musical Styles trumped the hours that I was doing what I came to school for, singing. Soon enough, I had broken. Within a month of getting to school, I called my mom on the phone, telling her I was so embarrassed, but college didn't feel right to me yet. I was doing well in my voice lessons but I didn't feel like I was that good of a singer yet. I had tried talking to kids in my classes, but I didn't feel like I had any friends yet; just acquaintances. I was doing well in my classes but I felt like I wasn't studying enough, working hard enough and making college what I wanted to be.
I bugged out every day, wondering when everything was going to come together. All my friends from high school were happy and loving life at their schools, why couldn't it be that way for me? I did my homework depressed, practiced piano and singing depressed, and ate my meals depressed. I didn't understand what was going on and when it was going to change. I felt stuck. I didn't know what to do. Slowly but surely, I had a realization. It seems almost silly that it took me this long to realize it, but somehow it did. If I needed the change to be made, if I wanted to enjoy myself, if I wanted to enjoy college, I needed to be the one to flip things around.
One of the many things I did was tried to be more social in my club sport. I had retaken up field hockey, a hobby I enjoyed a lot when I was in middle school. I felt that I was struggling to fit in with a lot of the girls there but that’s because I hadn’t really tried to. As I begun to make my own changes, I started to become more talkative with these girls. Now I find going to field hockey so much more fun, and it’s something I can really enjoy. I love spending three nights a week playing with these girls and getting to know them so much more. I couldn’t be happier with my extended field hockey fam, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Another area I struggled with was with the kids in my program. As a music major, there’s a lot that goes into my program. There are kids on my instrument and kids just in my major. I had a lot of trouble making friends with the kids in my instrument. A lot of the singers intimidated me, but then a few special people came into my life; Simon, Julia, Emily, and Olivia. Simon is someone that came into my life really fast and I know for a fact isn’t leaving.
We met in the five classes we have together and his natural social ability has brought me out of my own shell so much. He’s so kind and has just provided me with so many laughs, and motivation to get out of bed for our mutual 8 a.m. Emily is kind of the opposite of Simon. Our mutual social awkwardness has brought us together in a way I didn’t think was humanly possible. Julia has provided me with literally everything I need, everything.
Advil, batteries, laughs, funny stories, assistance on homework. She is literally my mom friend who unlike my mom will sit there and talk about singing and rep and chorus with me. And then, of course, I could never forget about Olivia, the sophomore in my voice studio who continues to put a smile on my face every day. Olivia and I met through a mutual friend of ours, Daniel, and although it took a while for us to click, I’m glad to say that once we did the good times just kept rolling.
Meeting Olivia taught me something important, it’s not so much about having friends your own age, it’s about having friends who support you and really make you feel loved. I can honestly say I know Olivia is going to be in my life for a while, and I don’t think I’d want it any other way.
I’ve also grown closer with my clarinerd roommate Skylar, my amazing accompanist Megan, and my friend Daniel, who I had known for a year before getting to school. These three people helped me get through every day before college felt like home, and still continue to push me as the tests get harder, the days get longer, and this program continues to kick my ass.
Overall I’d say growing and getting adjusted to college was really scary for me. It wasn’t something I was able to do right away, and I wouldn’t say that even after all of this change, I’m 100% adjusted. However, I can say I’ve found my home at school. Home is in the practice rooms late at night, when I’m banging on the piano trying to piece together different French words and complicated melodies.
Home is Thursday night dinner with my friends after rep class, as we all complain about what happened this week and someone is mad about whatever food the dining hall is serving. Home is Olivia sitting in my room late at night doing homework with me and complaining about everything that’s bothering her and then apologizing for it right away.
It’s Simon dragging me to meals when I think I’d rather be studying, it’s me and Emily drowning in aural skills work, it’s me and Julia laughing about funny things about singing. Home is Daniel critiquing my performance of my songs, it’s hanging out with Skylar and Megan for hours on end, and it’s playing field hockey late at night and losing a game on the weekend but then sharing a meal with my teammates anyway like we had won.
Home is Ithaca College.