What I Learned In My First Semester at Smith
Claudia Olson ’22 | Assistant Features Editor
The first article I ever wrote for The Sophian was titled: “Five things I learned in my first week at Smith.” While I admit it’s a bit ironic to publish an article giving advice about college life after only a week of experiencing it, in that moment in time, I felt as though I had grown up so much so quickly. To be fair, I experienced more in that week than I could have imagined. But that week was just the beginning of the wild rollercoaster ride that was this semester: filled with twists and turns that were slightly terrifying in the moment but thrilling in hindsight.
Though I did learn a lot of information from the classes I took this semester, most of what I learned over the last three and a half months has gone beyond the classroom. Most notably, I learned what it’s like to be away from home for the first time. I know this isn’t a grand revelation and that everyone must adjust to college life, but the transition did not come as easily to me as I expected. I felt like I was not adapting as quickly as those around me. I desperately missed my family in the first few weeks before I had made friends or gotten involved on campus. I wasn’t surprised that I was homesick in the beginning, but I assumed homesickness was something that goes away. I thought that once I was busy with schoolwork, clubs and a social life, I wouldn’t feel the desire to go home. So I kept myself busy, registering for 18 credits worth of classes, joining several clubs and doing a work-study job. But of course, I never forgot about home. There was never a moment where I wouldn’t take the opportunity to see my family and go back to my hometown for a while.
Though the desire to go back to my old life never disappeared, I have learned to live with it. I learned that it’s okay to have that desire, and it’s normal to feel it so strongly some days that I just have to get off-campus and take some time to process my new life. When schoolwork, social events and all of my other obligations become too much to deal with, I find it best to take a breath and a walk. There’s nothing I love more than taking a walk through Northampton, finding a new cafe to check out and spending my afternoon there reading a good book.
College is a messy, imperfect experience, and it’s especially difficult because we are all in the same place, encountering similar obstacles but looking through different lenses. We all have different perspectives on the difficulties of living in a new place filled with new people, so we must each find a way of dealing with all of the changes we face currently and the ones looming on the horizon. I hope that, by writing this article, I can share what I have truly learned this semester: Life is about finding your own way to deal with challenges and, instead of pretending that everything is fine, being honest with yourself about how you feel. Here’s to another semester of new experiences ahead!