Second Time Around: These Moments

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“She doesn’t even go here!” Join me as I transition to life at Brown, and learn more about our fantastic campus through the ramblings of a recent transfer student. I’m Veronica Fletcher, a junior concentrating in Psychology & Hispanic Studies, and this is my Second Time Around.

I still have these moments – they hit me unexpectedly as I’m rushing to class or stepping out onto the Main Green. Suddenly, the whole world seems to exist in slow motion. Laughter echoes off the quad, a feeling of warmth radiates beneath my feet, the fall foliage glows a brighter shade of gold. “Wow, I’m a Brown student now,” murmurs a voice in the back of my mind.

If this sounds like something straight out of a cheesy coming-of-age movie, you’d be correct. Except the cheesy coming-of-age movie is my life. (**I’m still working on the part where the nerdy girl takes off her glasses and transforms into a total babe overnight.)

I should probably start from the beginning. I left California in the summer of 2013, eager to begin my exciting college career as a George Washington Colonial. I was leaving home to go live in the heart of DC! I had a merit scholarship! My dorm was four blocks away from the White House! I was going to meet lifelong friends and snag an internship at some powerful non-profit and graduate on the National Mall!

I think that everybody goes into college somewhat naïve. We arrive on move-in day, fully optimistic that these next four years will indeed be the happiest of our lives. We cling to these unattainable, media-generated expectations of what our freshman year will look like – for as long as possible, that is. Eventually, we are all subject to some degree of disappointment. And for a while, I tried to convince myself that this was why I felt so unhappy in my situation. Maybe this isn’t exactly what you expected, but you can make it work. Just give it time.

Needless to say, things didn’t improve with time. While the rest of my classmates quickly found their calling and became active contributing members of the community, I never truly felt that I fit in anywhere on GW’s large urban campus. I had no friends to speak of, nobody with whom I could even hold a meaningful conversation. I didn’t understand the cutthroat social politics, the fast-paced East Coast lifestyle, or the student body’s largely homogeneous upbringing. I started thinking about transferring after my first month in DC.

Transferring is terrifying and frustrating and inherently difficult. It sounds kind of self-serving, but honestly, I applaud anybody who has the guts to pack everything up, leave behind an entire year (or two) of memories, and begin their college life anew on an unfamiliar campus. I know of very few people who would be willing to re-live those first few weeks of freshman year again as a sophomore or junior. As transfer students, we force ourselves to do just that.

It’s a seemingly impossible task – being the late arrival into this complex ecosystem, one that’s been functioning without you for upwards of a year. How do you find your niche in an environment where everybody else has already claimed theirs? How do you carve out a space for yourself within the structure your classmates have created? Trust me, if I ever figure it out myself, I’ll let you know.

I arrived in Providence last semester with a new pair of snow boots and a whole lot of self-doubt. What if my entire acceptance was a mistake? What if I’m not ready for this change? What if this is the wrong decision? Will I ever truly belong here, on this campus? With these people?

The self-doubt still comes and goes, but one thing I can say for certain: coming to Brown is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The campus, the people, the curriculum; they all exude an openness that makes Brown an ideal environment for transfer students. Although I’m still searching for my niche, I do feel a very strong, very genuine sense of belonging. I wake up every morning, humbled and excited to be a part of this incredible community. I’m a Brown student now. And I still have these moments.

Thanks for reading! If you have thoughts or questions about this blog post, or any other aspect of the transfer experience, please feel free to email me at veronica_fletcher@brown.edu, or leave a comment in the box below!

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