As the first week of classes at Western Kentucky University slips into the annals of collegiate history, I can’t help but remember my first week as a college student.
Almost 19 years old, high school valedictorian, newly outgoing, single, armed with a seven-year-old TV and a few cute new outfits, and bubbling with excitement and nervousness. That was Monica in August 2009. I had arrived on campus a week and a half before classes for an Honors College camping trip and week-long freshmen orientation, of sorts, and I was proud of myself for having cried only three times: once when my mom drove away from campus and I was alone, once the first night of the camping trip and once the second night of the camping trip.
Even though I felt like I was handling the college student thing pretty well, I still had some bungles in my first week of classes. Not to mention how roughly 75 percent of the student population looked to be at least 35 years old to my wide eyes. They passed through campus with ease. Meanwhile, this was me…
- Monday: After my required math class (and the last one I plan on taking in my lifetime) that was held in a building on the farthest side of campus from my residence hall (we were asked repeatedly not to refer to our housing as “dorms”), I tried to find my way back to where I lived. For some reason, I thought looking up at the sky would help, but that just made the buildings look taller and more imposing, even in happy sunlight. A 15-minute trip took me close to 30 minutes with the extended and confusing route I took.
- Monday evening: I was late to my once-a-week night class because I couldn’t find the only first-floor hallway with classrooms in a building that lent itself more to architectural impressiveness than directional function. When I arrived, the only seat left was the dreaded front seat right in front of the instructor’s podium. *Bonus, though. The girl who sat behind me became one of my best friends and roommate of two years.*
- Tuesday: I attended my required foreign language class, Spanish. I’d set myself up for this bungle, because I had registered for Honors Spanish. The professor was not only a native speaker, but she absolutely would not speak any English, mumbled and – I suspect, due to seeming facial paralysis – had suffered a stroke at some point or had a medical condition that caused one side of her mouth to droop. Although I had excelled in high school Spanish classes, when it came my turn to relay to the class, in Spanish, what I did over the summer, I replied “playa” (beach). Not because I had actually gone to the beach, but simply because that was the only Spanish word I could recall that had anything to do with summer activities. I dropped that class.
- Wednesday: I think this was the day I attended a Baptist Campus Ministry cook-out and outdoor worship service. A guy I didn’t want to hit on me started hitting on me, and my only solution was slinking away sideways like a crab.
- Thursday: As far as I know, this day was without incident. Or maybe I’ve blocked it from my memory. I signed up for a regular Spanish class that would meet the next day.
- Friday: I was 30 minutes late to my new 55-minute Spanish class. I had spent weeks memorizing my Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule, and I threw myself a curve ball by adding a new class. I hoofed it up the Hill and three flights of stairs with aching calves and short breath. I apologized repeatedly to my professor, but her apathy – albeit polite apathy – communicated to me that professors aren’t going to beg you to come to class.
Well, there you have it. To the best of my memory, those are the highlights from my first week as a college student. Any college freshmen reading this: I survived, and you will too. If you’ve got some memorable freshmen stories, past or present, leave ’em in the comments section!