I’ve been told many times that my freshman year of college would be one of the most exciting singular years of my life.
Even with my expectations as high as they were after a year’s worth of anticipation, my freshman year at the University of Mississippi has been an incredible whirlwind of an experience.
Thinking back over my journey since last summer’s orientation, I have reflections about my introductory year.
During each college visit, I always felt like a tourist who was out of his element. However, when I came to Oxford, I could tell there was something about this place that made it seem more of a home while retaining all of the qualities of a premier institution of higher learning.
When I arrived for my summer orientation, I immediately felt like a member of this community. Accordingly, I spent those few days in training to become a full member of the university.
By the time I had finished registering for fall classes and was on the way home, I was daydreaming about all of the possibilities for my freshman year. I was hooked.
Despite already feeling so at home on this campus, on move in day, embarrassingly, I did ask one of the staffers whether the tower on the left or right was Stockard Hall, my home for the upcoming school year. I was fortunate that so many of my friends from high school ended up going to the same school and living in the same dorm as me.
I think it would take a finely-tuned stop watch to calculate just how much time eclipsed between me initially dropping my bags on the floor and me heading to see my friends living on the floor below me. That set the tone for the duration of my freshman year, and I would, in fact, spend decent pieces of time socializing in dorms with friends old and new.
With classes beginning the following week, I found the library and quickly remembered the academic component of going off to college. After having a later orientation date, I was left with 8 a.m. classes five days a week.
I was determined to not let this negatively affect my freshman experience. I used these early classes to better develop my time management skills, and I learned to enjoy the cooler air on my morning walks to class.
I realized pretty soon that I had an abundance of free time. I felt like it was being under-utilized, and so I sought ways to get involved with my new school.
I remember my orientation leader sharing with our group how Freshman Council was a great service-based leadership group. I had friends who were applying, and I decided to go out for it.
I don’t think my freshman year would have been near the same without meeting and becoming friends with so many of my new classmates. Freshman Council also put it into perspective for me that I only have four years on this campus as a student—it’s better spent getting to know the people and places with which I surround myself.
One thing I was most excited for was the renowned game day experience offered in the Grove. I had never attended a football game here, and so I had never been here for a day in the Grove.
I found the tented chaos like nothing else in the world. Thousands crowded into the shady acres of rolling earth to catch up with friends, tell relatives what this school was like when they were around, or to mentally prepare for the upcoming game.
Even though we didn’t have the best football season, I had my rookie season in the Grove, and can’t remember a loss spent there with my friends and theirs.
I recognize that even though Greek rush isn’t for everyone, it was a particularly important part of my freshman year. Rush was a topic on which I was quite ignorant, and I was educated swiftly.
Pledging a fraternity gave me the chance to meet men from all over the nation who came offering friendship and brotherhood. Upon initiation, it opened up a new realm of possibilities for my time in college and beyond.
Throughout all of this, I’ve still been focusing on my coursework to earn a degree. As unstructured as a week in college might be for all students, there is a week of exception. As last semester drew to a close, I turned my attention to final exams. The library became crowded, and I became more determined to do well.
The end of my freshman year is quickly approaching, and I certainly am in shock. I do believe it was only a short time ago that I stepped on this campus. My three remaining years as a student here don’t seem so long anymore.
I’ve been so welcome here on campus in this year. I’ve been a part of groups that have had an impact on the type of person I am. I’ve met so many great individuals who I consider my closest friends, and it’s all drawing to a close. I can only hope that the upcoming freshman are blessed with an irreplaceable year like I’ve had here.