As I write this sentence there are 15 days, 10 hours, and 33 minutes until graduation. Not that anyone is counting. Yesterday one of the first-year bloggers wrote about the experiences that she’s had over her first year and today I’ll reflect on my last four years at Juniata.
When I was gearing up to graduate from high school I was nostalgic, scared to leave the place that I had called home for four years, unsure of what was ahead of me. That same nostalgic feeling is absent now. I know what I am doing with my future, at least the next six years of it and I feel academically and socially prepared for the world. Juniata did a good job.
Of course, I’ll miss the quad and seeing the volleyball players frolic in the sun on their portable court. I’ll long for the lazy days where my friends and I would hammock in the trees outside of Founders, talking, and laughing, and dreaming about the future.
I’ll miss my classes and the professors that taught them. I began to enjoy learning for learning’s sake because the professors here don’t just teach you the material, they challenge you to think about what you’re learning and understand not only how it applies to your field of study, but also about how it might help you to better understand the rest of the world. That’s the joy of a liberal arts education, it helps you develop a larger world view that allows you to better understand your place in it and how you can make it a better place.
I’ve received some of the best grades of my life that have led me to four semesters on the dean’s list. And I’ve received some of the worst grades of my life that have given me the worst GPAs I’ve ever had. One of the reasons I feel so prepared for graduate school and the rest of life is that Juniata and the courses I have taken here have taught me how to fail, and how to do it with grace. If I can offer one piece of advice to take with you into your first year it is: learn how to learn from your mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get an A on your first test in biology, or if College Writing Seminar (CWS) has revealed to you that you might not be the author of the next great American novel. That doesn’t mean you’re going to fail in biology or that you’ll never be a good writer. Take the advice that is given to you and follow through on it. Over time you’ll see that your bio grade will go up and your essays will begin to receive glowing insightful comments from your CWS professor.
You are all coming to Juniata next year for a myriad of reasons, but you all have one thing in common: a glowing work ethic and perseverance in the face of adversity. There are too many memories, both good and bad, to share with you in one blog post. That’s OK, because you’re going to be making plenty of amazing memories on your own.
I have eight days left of my freshman year at Juniata. It’s the perfect time to start reflecting on my first two semesters of college. My Google Photos app has been trying to convince me to look through the slideshow of my freshman year for like a month and there isn’t a better time than the present.
It was definitely a year of firsts.
There was my first college paper. It took four trips to the Writing Center and lots of caffeine but I managed a solid A-. Now, I can write a paper on my own with minimal caffeine intake and still earn myself an A.
I was dragged on my first trip to Sheetz and was pleasantly surprised. I was convinced that it wouldn’t live up to my beloved Wawa but I was proved wrong. An estimated 300 Mac & Cheese bites later and I still don’t regret it.
I skipped class for the first time and got caught skipping class for the first time. Completely unrelated, but still good advice: don’t tweet about skipping class to go see Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day and use your class hashtag.
I ate my first microwave cup of ramen noodles. It’s an interesting taste, definitely a meal to save for after you’ve eaten all your other food and you’re desperate to eat something because it’s 2am on a Saturday and you have a paper to work on.
I fell asleep on a public bench for the first time. It was just such a nice day and I was going to read my book for class out on the quad but the grass was still wet from the rain the day before. I dozed off and was awoken by the feeling of a stray volleyball hitting the back of the bench.
I went electrofishing for the first time. I never pictured myself wearing waders and a large yellow backpack while trying not to slip on the rocky bottom of the river while sending tiny electric shocks through the water to stun fish. It was a new experience that I didn’t think I would ever want to do – much less get the chance to do. Turns out fish are pretty cool.
My first year at college has been quite the roller coaster. I have learned many things that will be helpful in the future. Career services helped me create a resume to send out when I’m applying for internships this summer. I took a history class about Australia and New Zealand on a whim and now I’m applying to study abroad in New Zealand. I also learned how to Photoshop photos of my dog so she’s wearing rain boots in my Intro to Information Technology class.
Advice that I wish I was given before starting my freshman year at Juniata? Participate in Campus Events – Res Life has events all the time. I met one of my best friends at a cookie baking and coloring book night in the dorm lounge. Take Calculated Risks – explore your interests. Go rock climbing, join a research team, study abroad, or participate in an outreach project. Have an Open Mind – you might find out that Sheetz is better than Wawa or that Ramen noodles are the new instant mac & cheese. Get a Sheetz Rewards Card – you will earn tons of points which equals free food. TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY! I can now say that I’ve been electrofishing, learned to salsa, read an extensive amount of Ernest Hemingway’s writing and attended a live reading done by the award-winning author, Jennifer Steil.
I would like to think that my first year at Juniata was a success. I will be heading into next semester more academically and mentally prepared and ready for whatever the world throws at me next.