This is my third fall semester at New Paltz, and time is moving faster than ever. It feels like I blinked and now I’m almost old enough to buy beer. Instead of my usual dorm, I now live off campus in a house with people I met my first week here. I have a demanding job as a waitress to help pay for my groceries, while balancing strenuous coursework and filling in spaces of free time to spend with friends or call my family.
As much as I’d like to be rid of all thoughts of COVID, it’s had a drastic impact on every aspect of our lives. In that time of uncertainty and despair, we were left to lounge in our homes and develop lazy habits. The last few semesters living on campus, I’ve felt drained by simple activities, and one task in my day would have to be followed by an equal amount of time spent in my bed to recharge. I’d been exhausted turning in assignments, never felt like going out and always found myself watching Gilmore Girls on a Friday night.
Part of this newfound adaptation to being busy is due to the fact that the freshmen class of 2020 didn’t exactly have a normal first semester. I feel as though I’m drowning in the urgency to be involved in school activities before I have to graduate next May. As junior year began, reality struck that I’ve reached the halfway mark of my college career, and it’s truly now or never to do everything I’d hoped to accomplish. I’m trying to catch up on experiences with limited time.
Living off campus has helped my journey of growing up, but it’s also made me feel disconnected from the campus sense of community. Although dorm life is not for me, I miss running into my friends in the hallways, or seeing new faces on my walk to class. Although the dining hall wasn’t top tier, I miss the feeling of sitting in a booth with my friends for hours and enjoying unlimited food at our fingertips. I feel detached from the school, like I just go to campus for class and then go home to my little bubble of my full sized bed and my housemates. This contributes to my guilt if I miss a class, like I’m missing my little moment of campus normalcy for the week.
Hand in hand with wanting to be involved outside of the classroom, I’ve also found myself wanting to be more involved inside the classroom. It’s so easy to get into the habit of wanting to skip classes, especially when that activity would make me feel the need to lay in my bed for hours on end afterwards to recoup. But I’ve felt differently about that this semester. In the last few weeks I’ve found myself excited to learn new things in my classes. I enjoy getting ready to go to class and be a student for the allotted time — I only have a few more semesters of doing so until I’m a real adult. As silly as it sounds, I get fulfillment out of wearing a cute outfit and taking notes in my astronomy lecture on a crisp fall day. It doesn’t matter the reason I’m doing it, at least I’m making more of an effort than I previously had and that’s maturing if I’ve ever seen it.
Growing up, everyone has a vision of themselves as a college student and I often wonder if I’ve fulfilled my younger expectations as to who I would turn into in college. Through watching movies and reading books, I’ve put a lot of thought into the college version of myself. I’ve definitely done a lot of maturing since my parents first dropped me off in this quirky little town, but I know there’s so much more growing I have to do before I throw my cap into the air on graduation day.
I’m fortunate enough to have connections to many of the things I’d hoped to accomplish, and I’m still finding new things that this creative school has to offer. A friend of mine had asked me to be a co-host on their radio show, which I’ve been sticking to on Tuesday nights. If I find free time in my nights I’ll try to go to yoga at the Athletic Wellness Center, which is not only relaxing but such a unique experience to share with peers. It’s something I won’t be able to do after I graduate.
In this haze of reflection, I wonder if I’ve made the right decision as to where to attend school; when I was in the process of deciding where to attend, the world was in shambles and my choice was influenced by the want to be close to my family. I wonder how different my life would’ve been if I had decided to attend a school in a different state or with a different major.
I think I’ve made the right decision as to where to attend school. I’m excited to continue to enjoy this little town for the time I have left here. There are so many hiking trails, restaurants, clubs, plays and shops that I can’t wait to explore. I’ve been drained by the fact that these are my last months of being carefree before being an adult is a full-time job, so I’m just trying to make the most of it.
It is nice to see that you are appreciating your school,, schoolwork, and all that the New Paltz area has to offer!
I have many fond memories of my college days in upstate Ny (too many years ago to mention) and you will too. Enjoy every day! Take it all in!
The days do go by quickly. Keep writing!
Your Aunt Patti