College not quite as expected

I open my eyes, groggy from a night of restless sleep, waking up to an unfamiliar scene, and for a moment wonder, “where am I?” My usual view of photos on the walls, a windowsill full of plants, a closet bursting at the seams and the usual smells of homey candles are nowhere to be found; instead a half-decorated cinder block dorm room meets my gaze. “Oh yes, I’m in college now.”

The morning I left, a sunrise picnic with my best friends consisting of muffins, fruit, sunny-D and hugs started the day off. A car full of boxes and suitcases containing my life made its way to Manhattan, arriving at Kansas State University. Unpacking and more goodbyes followed.

The beginning of my college career has had some typical things that everyone experiences, but also some aspects unique to this year’s freshmen. The coronavirus pandemic has taken us all for a rollercoaster ride and has certainly disrupted my first semester. I had always pictured going to classes, trying to make a good impression with the professors by sitting in the front row, going to events and clubs, attending meetings for the newspaper and magazine where I could meet new people, having my friends and my sister come visit me for a sleepover in my dorm, going to football games and having something new and fun to do every night have all been diminished.

To try and stop the spread of coronavirus, many classes have been moved to Zoom, and unfortunately all of mine are online. All of my meetings are also on Zoom, and no visitors are allowed in the dorms. The first couple of weeks seemed quite lonely. On top of homesickness, making friends was looking daunting.

Luckily, my RA tried to get people together by having “floor dinner” every night so people on my floor could get to know each other, and that was really helpful. I have been very fortunate to find a few girls on my floor who I have become friends with, and they are so sweet and fun. Having movie nights by putting our mattresses onto the floor of our dorm rooms and propping our laptops up, eating snacks and watching scary movies has been a regular occurrence. Sonic has also been seeing a lot of us, and the employees are probably tired of seeing our faces. There is also a food truck in Aggieville behind Varsity Donuts that is a fun spot to go at night, where donut holes and the iconic grilled cheese mac n’ cheese are served. These might seem lame or boring, but I’m pleased with what I’ve made of the dire situation. I’ve never really had to make friends before, I’ve either been friends with someone since elementary school or they fell into my lap in high school, so putting myself out there has been hard but rewarding.

One of the reasons I chose to go to KSU was because I would be able to jump right into working for the student-run publications. So far, I’ve written a couple of stories for the newspaper and am currently working on one for the magazine. My story for the magazine will be in the print issue, which I am so very excited for. There are so many roles involved in creating the magazine that I’ve never been exposed to, like styling models or leading a photoshoot that I would love to dive into as my time in college progresses on.

A very positive thing to come of this semester is joining Christian Challenge, a Christian club on campus that has still been able to meet in person and hold sessions once a week with everyone there together, which has been so enjoyable. Getting to go there every week with my friends and worship among so many people my age and being in a community who loves Jesus in the frightening times we are in has been so reassuring and uplifting. Even when I’m disappointed about how this year is going or having a hard time settling into something new, God provides.