The first-years are moving in today and it makes me feel old and wise and not wise at all.
I remember so clearly my mom driving away that first day. She gave me a big hug and got in the rental car. I leaned through the window to give her a kiss on the cheek. It was one of the clearest moments of change in my life, and I felt it in my chest the way you do when you're about to cry. I stood in the street and waved until she was gone. And then it was just me.
I lost my room key almost immediately and dropped my phone in the toilet the next day. I swear I was sweaty throughout the entire orientation process. But I made it. It was the beginning of magic, of warm, rainy nights and burrito runs and falling in love and learning how to love the world while criticizing it at the same time. It's only now that I'm beginning to realize how much college has changed me. I am more empathetic, independent, and curious than I've ever been. I have my professors and friends to thank for that. I love this wild, creative school. I'll always know it as the place where I really met myself and looked inside and said, "Hey! You're AWESOME!"
Today I start my job as a first-year mentor through the new PAL program. I'll be acting as an academic advisor and a kind ear for my first-year cohort of fifteen students - I couldn't be more excited! I'm sure I'll be writing an in-depth blog post on my PAL experience here in the next few months, but you can check out a piece I wrote for the program's website. I know how much I appreciated the older students who smiled at me and recognized me throughout my first semester, and I'm happy I can play that role for the new students.
Though I still look like a high-school junior, I am a college junior!! And I still feel dizzy and overwhelmed and elated at the beginning of a new school year. I don't think that feeling ever stops. So I'll be smiling at every scared new face I pass today.