In a recent nostalgia-filled email to my high school music teacher, I outlined my recent feelings regarding my first few weeks of college in a sentence. I said, “I miss Mount and the certainty I had going to school every day, whereas here it is constant uncertainty.”
I graduated in June from a Catholic, independent, private school in New Jersey populated by 370 high school girls. I am “one of those”, as many people I have met on Villanova University’s campus have stereotyped me. Four years in an all-girls school had me accustomed to certain things: my uniform, the layout of campus, what to do in my free time, my favorite professors, and most obviously, my friends.
So, as I start all over again, I don’t even know where to begin. I cannot remember how I got to where I was in high school. I only see the drastic contrast between senior year and now. I knew where I stood with practically everyone in the school. I knew the best angle for an Instagram-worthy bell tower picture. I knew what to expect from my teachers, almost all of whom I had been taught by before. I knew which songs I would likely sing during our first school liturgy in September, and, most importantly, I knew the Alma Mater by heart.
I had a lot of certainty. Of course I acquired that over the span of my four years, and not in the first two weeks. But the uncertainty of being in a brand new space with an undergraduate population that’s more than 15 times the population of my high school is slightly overwhelming.
There’s the uncertainty of landscape: I don’t feel lost, but I am definitely more disoriented than 75% of the people here. I’ve been up and down the wrong stairwells looking for meeting rooms and my Latin class. I don’t know where the best place for me to study is. I haven’t quite adjusted myself to the constant changing flow of people around me and I still haven’t mapped out the quickest way to get from class to class.
There’s the uncertainty of people. I can text friends from home and say, “Hey, what’s up? Where are you?” or “What’s going on?” and get a normal response. No one thinks I’m being overbearing or clingy or aggressive. But can I do that with brand new friends? And even more, can I even put the label of “friend” on someone yet? To me there are so many unanswered questions like this. I don’t know where I stand in people’s lives this early on, which is drastically different than knowing my exact place with everyone around me just last month.
There’s the uncertainty of future. This is something I figure will never go away. How do I progress from here? Where am I going? What am I going to be like looking ahead? I know where I am headed in an academic sense, but I have no direction when it comes to things that could change at any point in time. I don’t know what I can commit my time to, and what is going to be too overwhelming. I have yet to figure out a routine for this semester, and it’s likely that as soon as I figure that out, a new semester will be beginning and I will head straight back to square one.
And finally, I find myself being uncertain of my current situation, as well. I don’t know when or where to draw the line between “Everyone feels like this at the beginning of college” and “I’ve made the wrong decision and I am very uncomfortable.”
I am learning, I guess.
I can’t imagine being a freshman and not feeling this uncertainty; this weighing down of feeling out of place. I think the best advice that I can give myself is to power through until I find a place where I feel at home.