Opinions, Column

A Love Letter to Freshman Year

Although I can hardly believe it, I—like nearly 2,500 other Boston College students—am nearing the end of my freshman year. It feels like just yesterday that I was anxiously awaiting an acceptance letter, unsure of what the future held for me. I was still wrapped in the security of my hometown where familiarity embraced me around every corner. Firm in my little bubble of uncertainties and aspirations, college was still an idealized concept and not an actuality. 

My first expectation of college snapped the day I opened my housing assignment. The two words I thought would make or break my BC experience flashed across my screen: “Newton Campus.” But as uncertain as I was then, I can’t even imagine what my experience this year would have been had I not landed on Newton Campus. 

Despite its somewhat discouraging reputation, I’ve grown to absolutely adore Newton. Leaving behind the comforting familiarity of home for a place where everyone is a stranger is no small feat. But I soon came to recognize more and more people on campus, and I found comfort in knowing that I would see a familiar face every time I stepped into Stuart Dining Hall or crammed onto the Newton bus. 

On that note, I would like to propose that no freshman year at BC is complete without getting the full Newton bus experience. If you live on Upper Campus, you probably haven’t been faced with the ultimate choice between dignity and punctuality—is it worth the awkward, embarrassing run to the bus to avoid missing class? Sure, waiting under the ineffective bus stop heater in the middle of a snowstorm has made me question my decision to stay in Massachusetts one too many times, but meeting some of my best friends in that very spot definitely outweighs each con of the Newton bus. 

Jokes about the bus aside, having a change of scenery throughout my day and physically separating my academic and social lives is comforting. The ability to leave Main Campus and go to Newton Campus at the end of the day has made the adjustment to college seem a bit less abrupt.

And what an adjustment it has been!

Over the past few months, I’ve learned what it means to truly love learning. While I expected to have the freedom to fully explore my passions in college, before I arrived in Chestnut Hill I never considered how much of a role the classes I have taken at BC would play in my self-discovery. It definitely pains the obsessive planner in me to not know exactly what my future holds, but I’m starting to recognize the beauty in exploration and uncertainty. I mean, I certainly never thought I would enjoy an accounting course as much as I do! 

My freshman year classes have allowed me to start giving myself the freedom to stray from the path I always expected—just because you thought you had your career planned out at age 10 doesn’t mean you need to stick to it. We are constantly growing, and so are our aspirations. And making choices that don’t revolve around the expectations of others is the key to truly understanding who we are. I might still have my moments of indecision, but I can at least say that college is propelling my decision-making skills forward. 

So much of my freshman year centered around the newfound independence I felt the second I moved into my dorm. Not only do I have full freedom over which classes I take or whether I want to subject myself to yet another dinner of chicken and two sides, but I also have to take full responsibility for seemingly insignificant tasks like doing laundry and vacuuming my dorm. But I have also learned that sometimes these mundane tasks are a welcome distraction after a long week spent studying in O’Neill or a failed attempt to find weekend plans. 

Freshman year has been a jumble of Saturday nights spent aimlessly wandering the city and Monday morning bus rides to campus. I’ve experienced my first college tailgate, navigated the T more times than I can count, and undergone the dreaded sophomore housing process in the span of just seven short months. These whirlwind months taught me that friendships can blossom in the most unexpected places and that the best memories often stem from the little moments spent going on Trader Joe’s trips or laughing uncontrollably in the stairwell. And, even though I’m constantly surrounded by people, college has shown me the importance of spending time alone every once in a while. 

Freshman year has been a learning curve—and far from linear. But after all of the laughter and tears, the late nights and early classes, I can finally say that BC feels like a second home. So thank you, freshman year. You haven’t been perfect, but you’re more than I ever could have asked for.

April 2, 2023