And We’re Back Pt.1: Day One
Illustration by Nick Cloney
The start of the school year followed move-in and a week of orientation for the new first-years on campus. The start of the next big chapter brings nervousness, anxiousness, and excitement. To cover this wide assortment of emotions, Senior Multimedia Editor junior Jared Adelman went outside BD to talk to some first-year students about Bear Beginnings and the start of their new college lives. This is the first of two parts of a podcast series centered around the experiences of first-year students as they adapt to WashU.
This transcript has been edited slightly for clarity.
RA (0:00-0:09): Hello! If you can check in at that table first, and then come here. I’ll be your RA, I’m Pat.
STUDENT (0:09-0:10): I’m Nathan, nice to meet you.
RA (0:10-0:11): Nice to meet you.
JARED ADELMAN (0:17-1:15): If there’s one thing most people remember about their college experience, it’s move-in day and orientation. It’s usually someone’s first major lifestyle change, and it’s hyped up all throughout our lives. In the media, by friends and family and so on. It’s a time where we’re forced to live in a completely different environment, eat most meals in a cafeteria, and make new social connections, which of course need to last a lifetime. All these changes make the first week of college a chaotic blur. Each day can feel like a week.
So, to chronicle this time of change, I went outside to find some first-year students just starting their Bear Beginnings week.
I’m Jared Adelman, and you’re listening to a special series from Student Life.
Anna Fonda is from outside of Detroit. She swam in high school and is on the team here. When I met her outside her first WUSA meeting, she seemed excited, almost eager to talk to me. This eagerness to talk seemed to stem from an excitement, and maybe even nervousness, to make new friends.
ANNA FONDA (1:16-1:32): Honestly, I see a lot of big groups of people. And I’m like, I don’t really have that yet. But I feel like I’m also just kind of excited for classes to start. And then I just have to keep reminding myself that we literally haven’t even been through a full day of Bear Beginnings. So I just have to keep trying to meet people.
JA (1:32-1:40): This desire to meet new people, as Anna explains, comes in part from the expectations of what the first week of college life is like.
AF (1:41-1:52): I guess you just kind of see all the movies and like the TV shows where they go off to college, a lot of like corny stuff. I mean, also, my sister just went off to college, and she found a lot of good friends. So I feel like I’m just really excited to hopefully find my people.
JA (1:53-1:57): Anna also noted how the pressure to make friends in college has affected the seemingly smaller aspects of life.
AF (1:58-2:18): I’m usually a pretty outgoing person. But in this setting, it’s been a little hard. So I’ve just tried to not pressure myself to always talk to new people. I’ve let myself not be afraid to walk alone. I see everyone walking with people, but I’m like, if you don’t have somebody at every single moment, it’s okay. So I’m just kind of like, letting myself like, go with the flow, basically.
JA (2:19-2:25): Combine this social pressure with other commitments and life, for just a week, can be nearly impossible to figure out.
AF (2:26-2:58): I’m definitely excited just to get acclimated into college. I don’t know what it’s gonna be. So I’m finally gonna see what college is, and I’m excited to take the classes and I’m really excited just to see what college swimming’s like. I feel like probably the biggest thing is just my balance, because I’ve always had a lot of trouble with balancing swim, a sport, your social life and sleep. So I feel like that’s just kind of on a bigger level now. I’m kind of excited also just to see, figure out a routine, you know, and what works for me.
JA (2:59-3:03): If you could describe the past like 48 hours in one word, what would it be?
AF (3:03-3:05): Overwhelming.
JA (3:05-3:17): Madison McCormick, another first-year I talked to, had a slightly different experience during move-in. Madison’s drive to campus from her hometown of Kansas City, Missouri was filled with mixed emotions. As she put it, the past few days have been a complete…
MADISON MCCORMICK (3:18-3:28): Rollercoaster… of emotions. Some highs, some lows. I haven’t cried yet today. I cried four times yesterday. But then I also have had a lot of laughs and I’ve had a lot of fun.
JA (3:29-3:35): Madison added that one major source of these emotions was the fact that, like so many others, this was the first time she has lived away from home and family.
MM (3:36-3:44): I’ve always lived at home and I haven’t really ever been independent like this. So I’m excited to grow as a person. And I’m excited to learn more about myself and my learning habits.
JA (3:45-3:47): So how was kind of adjusting to living on your own these past few days?
MM (3:48-3:58): Really hard. It’s really hard. I’m having a really horrible time at some points. I miss my family a lot. Like it’s, I’m like, really homesick. So I say that’s like the biggest challenge.
JA (3:59-4:04): The ups to Madison’s emotional rollercoaster have come in the form of making friends with people in her building.
MM (4:05-4:17): My roommate’s really social. So I’ll follow her around. And then, like, introduce myself. And it’s easier to introduce myself to people in my building. So I feel like most of the people I talked to were, they’re like in my suite or like in my building.
JA (4:18-4:23): Are there any other kinds of thoughts or takeaways you’d say from the past little bit so far?
MM (4:24-4:29): I think just to look on the bright side, I guess is what I’m struggling with. But I think that’s something that I need to work on.
JA (4:30-4:31): Do you think it’ll come with time?
MM (4:32-4:33): I think it will come with time. I’m hoping so.
JA (4:34-4:46): Right as I was planning on leaving the South 40, I ran into Auriel Prepejschal and Macey Slightom, roommates who are both from southern Illinois and on the pre-med track. Both Auriel and Macey were excited to explore aspects of their life at WashU.
AURIEL PREPEJSCHAL (4:47-5:07): I’m most excited to explore my interests. Because right now, I am biology and pre-med, but I think I will find other passions through some of the other classes I’m taking and meeting all these new people. And you know, just kind of like finding myself, like exploring my interest. And you know, like Macy said earlier, like having a challenge.
JA (5:08-5:09): That was Auriel. Here is Macey
MACEY SLIGHTOM (5:10-5:15): Just knowing that I have the control to choose what I’m going to do. So if I don’t stay pre-med, so be it, I still have that control.
JA (5:16-5:18): What are you most nervous for?
MS (5:19-5:38): I think just the rigor of everything. Because like in my high school, I was top of my class, but once you get here, that’s like, everybody; like everybody was top of their class. So I think it’s good in the aspect that we’re all going to push each other but just that change and knowing the rigor, is kind of nerve racking.
JA (5:39-5:43): Are you afraid of or have you started feeling the imposter syndrome that comes with that?
AP (5:44-5:45): Yes, yes, 100 percent!
MS (5:48-5:55): Once I got accepted, I was like, sweet, and then immediately I was kind of like, what if they made a mistake, and I just got lucky. That’s kind of where I was at for a little bit.
JA (5:56-6:01): So, through meeting people here thus far, has it been more anxiety inducing?
AP (6:02-6:27): Ever since I started talking to people, I’m just becoming like, it’s less imposter syndrome. Because a lot of the people that I’ve talked to and interacted with feel the same way that I do. And I feel like it’s kind of a connecting thing, and we’re more of talking to each other on a friendly basis, rather than like, oh, we’re competing against each other, basis. I’ve noticed that people here really want to help each other out and it’s kind of like helping me be less stressed and like worried about the rigor
MS (6:28-6:37): I definitely feel less fear and anxiety after talking to people because I just remember that everybody else around me is going through the same thing and feeling the same emotions that I am.
JA (6:38-6:42): If you could describe the past 48 hours in one word, what would it be?
AP (6:43-6:48): (pause) Chaotic.
JA (6:48-6:49): How so?
AP (6:50-7:17): So, I’ve been going through so many different emotions I’m excited. But I’m also anxious and I’m nervous, but I’m ready for the future. But I’m also not ready for the future. Like, I don’t know 100% what I want to do in the future. I don’t know if I’m still going to be pre med at the end of the semester, like who even knows. So, I’m dealing with a lot of emotions. I miss my family, but I’m also so excited to finally be independent.
MS (7:18-7:37): Yeah, a whirlwind. Because the first feelings of moving in, but then you’re meeting people. When I’m meeting people, I’m like, oh, like this place is chill, but then sometimes we get back in my dorm, and I’m like, I want to go home, like I want my bed. So kind of like excitement but also a little bit of homesickness which is also weird because I’m literally 40 minutes from my house.
JA (7:44-7:54): Stay tuned next week as I catch up with Anna, Madison, Auriel, and Macey again at the start of the first week of classes. For Student Life, I’m Jared Adelman.