One year ago, a student from the class of 2019 sits in the back seat of a rented van as her parents timidly drive onto campus. Yesterday, her home was a small town in Connecticut, with small houses and small dreams.

Today, this campus embedded in a foreign city was home. The campus is big, but the city is bigger. Maybe it was a mistake to stray away from the small town that was home for the last 18 years. Maybe it was a mistake that she thought she could take on this adventure. Maybe it was a mistake that she thought she could do this.

The car approaches the curb to the ten story, brick building. Frazzled and frantic, her parents rapidly gather her belongings because they are just afraid as she is. Once new comforter, the posters, the plastic bins, and her toothbrush are all put in place, her parents must leave. She says for them to go because she can handle this. She says for them to go because she can handle all of this, but her weary smile, her nervous heart, and her tense hands say otherwise.

“She seemed like such a small girl, in a big city,” her dad said as he and his wife drove away.

Now, a year later, she is back. She is on campus, unable to imagine a life without everything this campus, this place, this community, and these people have given her. This year has been the most challenging, the most rewarding, the most frightening, and the most beautiful year of her life.

At this time of year, when it’s time to pick your life back up as a college student, reflecting on all the lessons you’ve learned, the challenges you’ve faced, and the struggles you’ve overcome.

Although it is known for the perpetually small dorm room and the several awkward icebreakers, freshman year is unforgettable. Freshman year of college is different than any other year of high school.

The social politics of the cafeteria and beyond are eradicated, and college is the perfect opportunity to be exactly who you are. The wear whatever you want when you walk to class, talk to whoever brings positive energy in your life, and be more comfortable in your own skin.

Furthermore, freshman year teaches you about your power. Instead of taking your classes in the basic subjects, such as English Literature of trigonometry you can take classes in international politics, or film, or architecture.

Not only that, but these classes are one step closer to becoming who you are. You are coming closer to your dream. And along with this, you learn that you have the power to do anything. You have the power to change the world because you are at college, and willing to work hard.

As you come to campus for this semester, reflect on freshman year. Although freshman year was filled with awkwardness, heartache, and struggles, freshman year was an integral part of who you are today. And the best part is that you have this year at college to do it all again.