Leaving My Sleepy Hometown Behind

swingsSeptember marks the first month of college for many people and it also marks the first time living independently. Years ago I, like many others, had finally moved out of my sleepy hometown and moved into a house full of strangers, who later became my friends.

From that time, I can recall my first month of college, enrolled in the Business Administration program at Mohawk. I was overly excited, spent way too much money on textbooks, met new friends and had an agenda that became full of project dates (and parties!). Not only was I excited, but I often felt anxious and clueless. I was experiencing something brand new and faced the beginning of a new chapter in my life.

I struggled with a lot of things within the first month. I had motivation to study, but at the same I wanted to go to The Arnie with classmates after a lecture. I dreaded grocery shopping and cooking, but knew I had a tight budget to pay for my living expenses. I wanted to go home every weekend to see my old friends, but also wanted to stay in Hamilton so I could meet and hang out with new friends.

I realize now, eight years later, that college is about the entire experience. My academics certainly did play a huge part in my experience, but my campus involvement, social life, extracurricular activities and my new community were just as important. These things completed my experience and I carry them with me now, and will forever.

As I was building my routine in that first month, and figuring things out, I had the rug pulled out from under me. Things came to a halt. At the end of September, a dear friend of mine passed away in a tragic accident. I was heartbroken and decided to put things on pause for a bit. I returned home to be with my friends and family to mourn. I ended up withdrawing from the majority of my courses because I was mentally and emotionally drained. I needed time to feel like myself again, and with time I did. Taking that time off was something I needed.

In January, I returned back to college full time and into a new program.  My mind was clear and I knew what to expect for my first month back. I got to try it all over again and not many people do. I was fortunate in that sense.  I knew what to expect and did my best to balance everything. I became involved with on campus activities, I volunteered for special events and started working in the Alumni Association office. College finally felt like my new home. I found professors I could look up to, had colleagues that I could count on and found friends who have now become my lifelong friends.

The first month of college can be overwhelming, but this is where we begin to mature and figure out who we really are. Like any other experience, college is what you make of it, you must learn from your falls and successes and move on. Remember to carry those experiences with you. They will help, I guarantee it.

These are the best years of your life!

Felicia CaggianoFelicia Caggiano
– Tourism & Travel, 2010

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