Unfiltered Commentary: Freshman move-in flashback

Alexandra Strausman


Dear Freshman,

You are not alone. It seems like there are a million places you would rather be. A million comfort zones you have, but this isn’t one. And a million strangers you seem to be walking past.

Just wait. Just listen. Just understand that a dorm room can become a home if you let it. That there isn’t a feeling you have that someone who came before hasn’t already had. That you crying yourself to sleep this month, homesick, is something your roommate is doing too when she thinks you are the first one asleep.

Four years go over your head so quickly, you may wish so badly to go back—to start over, to feel alone like you do now, but once more.

I sit passenger for my fourth and final drive over the Delaware Memorial Bridge. It is senior year, and I can’t stop asking myself: how did we get here, and how has time slipped so easily through my fingers?

I think back to freshman year move-in day—to the moment I walked into my building. I think back to those narrow hallways that, at first glance, didn’t look like much. But at some point between September and May, they became everything—forts, pizza gatherings, AeroBed stations for sleepless nights and post paint-party canvases.

I think back to the first time I walked into that boiler room they shoved beds in and assigned as my dorm. Little did I know, I would come to love the heat on my feet in the winter.

I think back to my first step in that moldy, rusty communal shower, and the strangers I nodded toward and quickly shuffled past those first two weeks.

Little did I know that with time, we’d all schedule to shower at the same time and bring speakers into the bathroom, singing “Breaking Free” so loud that the water forming puddles on the floor was silent.

I think back to the first time I gave out my number and the first friend I made. I think back to my first genuine hug with my roommate and the first secrets we shared. I think back to trying so hard to find my first class, but trying even harder to find my dorm building after my first party.

How could I have known that my next-door neighbor would be the friend I couldn’t live without, and my roommate would become one of the people who understood me for me? How could I ever have known that Central Perk would know my smoothie order when I walked in, making it feel like home? Or that it would take too long to walk down Main Street because of all of the hellos I wanted to give?

My dad pulls onto Main Street. Everything looks the same, but I am different. Three years have gone by, and I am so painstakingly reminded by my dad to make the last one count.

The last one. It rings in my head with anger that time has stolen my nights and my days from me.

We turn onto South Chapel Street and park the car. I look up at the apartment I call home, and I begin to unload my car on my last move-in day.

This bittersweet excitement stands in front of me, and I wonder how these years have passed me by.

I am spotted from the window. Muffled hugs, I mentally screenshot this image from above.

Coming into college, you feel no difference between feeling alone and being alone. Coming into senior year, you realize the difference.

Being alone is O.K. You will figure yourself out here. It will feel like someone pressed fast forward on these years because when you finally find yourself here, you will feel like you wish you could start over as the person you are now.

But be grateful for this realization. Don’t forget to look up. Don’t forget to indulge in this aloneness and self-discovery that you are yet to make.

Be the person who introduces themselves in a class to the stranger next to you. Be the person that walks down Main Street with a smile. Be the person who grows up while enjoying their youth because beer showers and post day-drink pizzas are not around the next corner.

I think back to freshman year not as a new start, but as a new beginning. I didn’t change, I grew. And that’s the best damn advice I can give you.

The sad senior outside Grottos on a Tuesday afternoon

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    Brandon 4 years

    You truly have an amazing way with words. This is my favorite piece you’ve written in this column.

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