I remember so clearly dreading going back to high school after any break. It wasn’t because I disliked my classes or fellow sleepy classmates, or my teachers for that matter. No, I simply dreaded going back to school because… it was “school”. There was something in the phrase, “I go back to school on Monday”, that warranted a physical and emotional cringe. Looking back now, I can’t exactly remember why it seemed like such a traumatic experience.
After my first semester here at Juniata, I went home for Christmas break completely relieved that I’d made it through one of the hardest transitions that I’d experienced. It was a good semester, but all I could think of was how fabulous it would be to have nothing to do and all of the time in the world to relax. It was great at first- seeing my best high school friends, driving around familiar places, and unlimited amounts of Grey’s Anatomy and Law & Order SVU. But slowly, after about a week or two, I started to feel something else. My house suddenly seemed much too quiet and my college friends suddenly felt so far away. Did I actually miss being at school?!
Indeed, I did. It was during that break that I realized how happy I was that I had made the choice to come to Juniata. There is no feeling that can compete with the joy I experience every time I come back to this place that I now call home. The people, the mountains, the professors, and even my campus job fit perfectly into the spaces of my heart, and I can confidently say that they will remain there for the rest of my life.
I think that there’s a part inside each of us that changes when we make any sort of big step in our lives. Even though I am only a 3-hour drive from the places in Maryland where I became the somewhat-sane version of me, living on a campus like this has changed me much more than I ever would have expected. As I write this, looking out the window at a surprise snowfall, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I am so lucky.