It seems like yesterday when I first stepped onto the campus of Calvin College—five months ago. My first semester at Calvin has gone by in the blink of an eye, and it has been a roller coaster ride filled with its own share of ups, downs, twists and loops.
During the first week, I felt uncertain about my decision to come to Calvin. Although the orientation of International Passport had been great initially, when classes started, I found myself in the midst of a vast sea of unfamiliar faces. Looking back, it was only natural to feel out of place and out of sync in such a new environment after leaving the comfort of home, family and a familiar environment.
As days passed and as professors dived into the material, I began to feel the difference between the academic level of high school and college. Attending class and paying attention was something that was expected, in addition to large amounts of reading and writing. Calvin has pushed me academically more than I have ever been in my life.
Academics is not the only aspect of life that has changed for me. Being in a new environment means new people, and I have met a slew of people. Many I have only had short conversations with, some I meet every once in stretch to catch up and a few I spend time with every day. Just to think—had I not come to Calvin, I would have probably never crossed paths with most of the people here. It amazes me how intertwined lives become, and how I am so involved in the lives of people I had not known merely a few months ago.
The first semester of college was not without its fair share of difficulties and challenges. Adjusting to a completely new surrounding and starting again from scratch has hit me hard in some ways. I did not imagine that I would miss the food back home when I left for Calvin. I have a newfound appreciation for my mother and her savory cuisine. There have been challenging relationships to say the least. I have met people so dissimilar to me that it has shocked me and, at times, caused misunderstanding or conflict. Finally, I have found myself inadequately prepared for life in particular areas, and have learned to improvise and become flexible.
There are plenty of small pieces of advice or life tips that I could give to the next incoming batch of students. However, there is not one big important hunk of wisdom that I can impart, except for this: to live, fully. This can mean different things to different people, and it is supposed to be that way. If there is anything I have learned so far in college, it is that people are different. So take it as you will, but make sure that you let yourself truly experience what it means to be a Calvin student, and not only that—to be yourself.