When I was a senior in high school, I'd get questions constantly about where I was planning on going to college, and what I was going to college for. Now that I'm a senior in college, I'm bound to get similar questions about "what I'm going to do with my life." Even scarier. I felt like an alien every time I had to explain to a random person why I was leaving California, or picking an impractical major like Musical Theatre. The answer was that, at the time, I couldn't see myself doing anything else, and UND had the program to match!

The first year of college was one of the weirdest times of my life. I started to realize how much in high school I'd just gone through the motions and not gotten anything done. I remember when a vocal hearing that I was largely unprepared for got cancelled. It was a big sigh of relief, but also, alarm bells went off in my mind. It was the first time in my life that I realized how much you can like the idea of something, not the reality. It's as if I went to an art gallery and appreciated everything I saw, but didn't feel able to create my own as much.

I think most people's perception of a college musical theatre program is that it's like Glee. People rehearse their music, dream of going to New York, and have to work hard to make their goals happen without dropping the ball or stepping on anyone else's toes. These things are true sometimes, but not always—there was a lot more to it than that.

Being a musical theatre major was always having a group of people around you who'd make you laugh with their unique quirks. Sometimes these quirks would transfer onto the stage and sometimes they wouldn't. Sometimes actors would have to work to learn new quirks. Sometimes their real-life quirks would show through in their character and audience members who knew them would be like, "that's my girl." And I applaud that.

Being a musical theatre major was debating whether to just eat an oatmeal cup for lunch, or to actually take the time to go to the dining hall. Free time was hard to come by, and when it came up it always made you feel guilty for taking the time to watch Netflix instead. Perfecting your craft takes a lot of work. As in, practicing your music every day in any open practice room (or singing softly in your dorm room if there weren't any open ones). And I applaud that.

Being a musical theatre major was standing in front of an audition panel, in front of a classroom, and in front of a music studio room, while being expected to sing a song that you'd prepared. You could rehearse for hours in front of the mirror, but that doesn't change the fact that nerves sometimes get the best of you. You just had to try to relax and do your best. And I applaud that.

Words don't do justice to my feelings about my freshman year—maybe that's why I'm hesitant to talk about it sometimes. All I know is that I'll never stop admiring theatre people—even after dropping the major. They made the coldest city in America my home!