Loading my car up on the morning of August 23rd was filled with so many emotions. I was very excited to go away to college, to make new friends, and feel in control of my education. I lived in a fantasy world where Athens, Ohio would be the best place in the world and I would rarely meet bumps in the road. Although I still love my home away from home, it hasn't always been sunshine and rainbows. Over the past three months, I have grown in so many ways and learned different things about myself and those around me every day.

I always knew I wanted to go away for college, and going to a small Catholic school my whole life made me want to pursue a much larger university. A university three and a half hours away from home. Growing up I was super close to my mom and my brother and I fought like typical siblings. I thought to leave was going to be easy and they were only a call away. Although, this is true with the three of us having all different schedules we sometimes found it difficult to keep up and often those phone calls could only be a few minutes. Up until this week, I denied that I was homesick, but I couldn't be happier than I am right now. Sitting next to my sweet mother on the couch.

Being away from home for the first time was difficult, but the year started with so many new friendships. I became close with many of the people on my floor and made friends in my Learning Community. The friendships were very new, but it was nice to be surrounded by other people my age being away from home for the first time as well. It was sort of a distraction to all the changes happening at once. Growing close with Hailey, Cara, and Autumn made my bad days better and my good day amazing. They bring so much laughter and entertainment to my life and I'm so excited this new journey brought them to me!

School has always been a passion of mine, I love filling my planner with assignments and checking them off. During high school, I didn't feel particularly challenged with my classes and bio was something I couldn't be less interested in. Being a Biological Sciences major I thought to myself, "If I don't even like biology, how in the world am I going to take it for the next four years." My professor this semester has been nothing but amazing and has made me love the subject more than I ever thought was possible. (THANK YOU, Karen Mammone). I'm beyond thankful to be learning about topics I'm interested in and not what I had to take in order to graduate high school. Being able to choose my classes and finally work towards my career brings so much joy to my life, it pushes me to work harder as well.

I was foolish to think every single day here in Athens would be perfect, but I have adjusted to the different schedules between my family and me and made many new friends who keep my spirits up. Athens has been a positive place for me this first semester and I cannot wait to see what the next few years bring me.

Thank you, Athens