In the last week of August, the historic streets of Boston were flooded with students from all corners of the world, ready to tell their own stories. Since then, life has taken them on many new twists and turns. Memories were made and lessons were learned. Eager eyes were met with reality, and dreams were made and broken.
It's safe to say that freshman year of college is an eye opening experience. I turned to other Emerson College freshmen, and asked them all the same two questions: What did you learn about yourself during your first semester, and what did you learn about the world?
Here are their stories.
"The biggest lesson I've learned this semester is to not second guess that I'm capable. Capable in terms of my school work, living on my own, being a valuable member of a production team, and maintaining my mental health. Going into this year I was nervous about how I would react to so much change and was questioning if I'd be able to do all that I needed to do as well as I wanted. After this first semester though, my confidence has grown exponentially because I've seen myself grow and succeed and fail, but learn from it so much that I can't wait to see all that I'm able accomplish in the rest of my time here. I discovered that the world is a lot kinder than it seems. Most people want to do good. I'm someone who can look at things in the news and get really sad about the state of the world and big things like that, but since coming here I've seen so many people fighting to treat everyone with kindness and spread the compassion that they feel can be present in the world. There is still a lot of scariness out there, but having such a strong community here that inspires me to look for the kindness in the world has made my life more enjoyable, since searching for the good in the world makes it more fun to live in."
Ansley Moore is a theater and performance major from Franklin, Tennessee. She describes her first semester of college as refreshing.
"There was a lot I learned about myself since moving to Boston, since moving across the country, since becoming an Emersonian. I learned to see the value of a higher education and the many doors opened by attending university, as well as the value of the support, love, and guidance of friends, family, and parents most of all. I learned, too, that writing is not easy, and that becoming a writer requires longer walks through the city and shorter lectures in the classroom. I learned to assert myself more strongly, to speak my mind more freely, and to let myself feel more openly, to not be so afraid of others' thoughts and opinions. I learned that I am not so blunt as many of the native New Englanders, and that I oftentimes doubt myself when, in reality, I have most of what it takes to pursue my passion. I learned, above all, that I am more confident, that I have more guts, and that I believe in myself more than I had ever previously thought possible.When it comes to the world, the great, big, round-wide world, I learned that it is not so friendly, and that you are the only person you can ever truly rely on. I learned too, however, that the world is also a very beautiful place, and that so much life exists beyond my hometown, beyond the one place you've ever known. The world is vast and scary, and I can't help but feel intimidated by all that there is, but in a sense it's a good thing to know that you're finally thrown into reality. Your parents will always be there, your friends will hopefully always be there, but it's up to you — and to you only — to ensure that you're happy, wise, compassionate, and successful."
Thomas Akiona is a Writing, Literature, and Publishing major from Orange County, California. He describes his college experience thus far as beautiful.
"I learned that I'm a lot more confident in myself than I thought I was. I really learned to love myself. It's good that I put myself out there professionally, especially with the Emerson Fashion Society and Index Magazine. I was scared to go for it, because I had just arrived at Emerson, but ultimately decided to give it a try. Even though I'm doing film, I'm sticking to photography outside of that, because that's what I started with. The world is so much bigger than you think it is. I'm so glad I left home for school. It's just a change of perspective, and I think that's really healthy. It's great for you to get out into the world and see all the opportunities there are to do great things. I've also just learned that people are really nice--I've met so many great people here."
Letao Chen is a Visual Media Arts major from Minneapolis, MN. She describes her time at Emerson so far as inspiring.
"I've learned that, although it is just as difficult as I always feared, putting myself out there to meet friends is something that I am, and anyone else with an open heart is, totally capable of. It takes a small leap of faith, sometimes a few in a row, to make a connection, and many will fail. But those that succeed make the rest worth the struggle. Maintaining friendships will feel frustrating at times, as if you're the only one who cares, but that selflessness is part of showing other people that you care in order for them to feel comfort in eventually sharing the same sentiment. Also, I've learned that friendships are far too shapeless to truly understand in the moment--I'm always on the cusp of a breakthrough or a breakdown, and others' status to me change each day. To define the closeness of my friendships, the essence of our mutual and contrasting feelings for one another, is as useless and risky as chasing the wind on a steep hillside. 2. I've somehow learned that I know close to nothing of the world. Maybe a sign you've matured is admitting how weak your grasp on the world is, or maybe that's a sign of my persistent foolishness. The fact of the matter is that I hardly feel qualified to come to terms with my growing knowledge of life and the people within it because most of my "learning" is undoing that which I thought was true or merely casting doubts on the truths I had at one point held so tightly. Is it considered growth to realize no amount of data or wisdom can satisfy the curiosities of and yet fulfill the need for shameful hesitation in this global network of whiplashed minds?"
Tom Garback is a Writing, Literature, and Publishing Major from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He describes his first semester of college as validating.