some ramblings about college

The other night Brent and I sat up way too late reminiscing about our college experiences. As new college freshman everywhere start their journeys, we were reminded of our own.

It was the fall of 2004, I had just said goodbye to Brent, which felt like walking over broken glass barefoot, and my Escort was packed full. When I arrived at my dorm, I found my packet of info and then went to meet Bethany. We had emailed each other [because this was before Facebook] and I knew she was bringing a TV and a fridge, so I already knew she was going to be a great roommate.

August 2004 with Bethany on move in day. We had just met. And my hair was super curly. What happened?  At this point I didn't know that she would literally quote F.R.I.E.N.D.S. in her sleep or bring me left over Pizza Ranch :) 
Minus Brandon in the black, Brent was fortunate to take two of his best friends with him to college and avoid the whole sleeping-next-to-a-stranger bit of the college experience. He missed out. But that hair?

Looking back though, I realized how strange this all is. You meet someone for the first time, you unload your stuff and politely ask if it's okay to have the bottom bunk or this drawer, and then your parents leave and there you are, with a complete stranger for all practical purposes. Sure, she can't be too harmless if she applied and was accepted at this college, but seriously, how weird is it to say hello and then sleep in the dark next to someone you just met?! I say it is pretty weird.

Staking out our brother wing our freshman year. I didn't know we'd become best friends, or I would have probably told Renae her hair cut was a wee bit short. ;) 
They kept us so busy during freshman orientation that you have no choice but to fall, exhausted into your tiny bunk bed and sleep soundly and not worry too much about the fact that your new roommate talks in her sleep sometimes. I met more people in those first few days than I thought I could ever fit into my memory… but I was wrong. Those people that I met on the green, drinking rootbeer from our "freshman mugging", those people's faces and names are still a part of me.

My college is so awesome, that everyone in the world probably should go there…but this is how we keep the numbers manageable: This particular blizzard occurred in March, leaving all of us stranded for a few days of our spring break. 
So we learned how to recruit friends to dig out cars and use jumper cables on frozen batteries. 

That first year Brent and I stayed up way too late and cried way too much talking to each other on our room phones. I didn't know if I could go four years, 8 hours away from him. I was sad because even though my sister went to the same school, she was busy and had her own friends and there was no one else with whom I could walk in a room and sit down and just be known. College was supposed to be this wonderful thing, but I wasn't so sure.

You don't even realize how small the living space is when you're actually there. 
Then sophomore year rolled around and I knew people and I loved people and I got involved and it was awesome. There were so many females on campus that year that we actually had two girls living in the the study room on our floor! The study room! It was like a constant party, full of late nights, showers that never quite seemed clean, and lots of laughing…oh and a lot of writing of papers too. I happened to get mono that fall, but I also happened to develop one of the closest female relationships I know I'll ever have with anyone in Renae. We were inseparable in the best ways possible, and I knew in her I had found that one college friend that would remain a friend for the rest of my life.

I lived with all of these ladies for two years. 
Lest I have under-emphasized the rigor of the school work…here I am trying to study. I don't remember who snuck this picture, but well done. 
Little did I know that my next year, my Junior year, more solid friendships would develop with people who had just been on the peripheral of my college life. I became an resident assistant, and the other ladies on my staff were like a strange family that year. Strange because, well, you couldn't get more different than us. I was responsible for nervous freshman and roommate disagreements, that just two years earlier were my life. Renae left me for a semester in Chicago, but I got engaged, made new lasting friendships, and raised money by selling underwear [ever heard that story?!] for a road trip with three girls I didn't know very well to Glacier Park, Montana.

The girls I was on-staff with. 
These are a few of the girls that were on my wing when I was an RA 
Enter a long series of pictures I'll title "you dress up for a lot of events when you're in college" 
What? Never seen the solar system on roller skates? #plutoisnotaplanet
As the cast of "Saved By the Bell"…sort of. I think we just kind of look creepy. 
This is one of my favorite pictures… Becker and I are doing "rounds" together. This is how we spend many, many, many nights our Junior year. As you can tell by our posture, we took it dang seriously. 
More dressing up for a little thing called Air Band. 
With the girls on our road trip! 
And then it happened. Just like that, in the blink of an eye, I was a Senior. I was RA again in the apartments on campus, I had three awesome roommates, and would start my student teaching in the spring. My freshman year, college had seemed so daunting-- so impossible to actually accomplish everything that needed to be accomplished and meet all the people that needed to be met. But here I was, on the other side: hundreds of relationships richer, thousands and thousands of dollars poorer, a bachelor's degree more educated, and four years worth of living in a Christian environment more rooted in my faith.
Air Band VICTORS our senior year :) 
Getting pumped up for the slime fight! 
When your friend is an art major, occasionally you end up being her canvas. 
Student teaching
My roomies were the national champs that year in basketball! We were there support group. 
My senior year roommates: Amy, Deb, and Renae [with long hair ;)]. Notice all the cum laude tassels that are happening here. 

And this is why I can honestly say, even to Dave Ramsey, that my college debt is SO worth every single penny. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. 

Those of you that are in college or just starting out, here would be my top pieces of advice:

- GET INVOLVED. In a lot of different activities and groups.
- BE FRIENDLY.  Look for opportunities to sit with people you don't know and get to know them. 
- TAKE YOUR CLASSES SERIOUSLY. Get to know your professors and glean as much wisdom from them as you can.
- LOOK FOR LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES. And then be a leader and a lead well. 
- DON'T SPEND TOO MUCH TIME WITH YOUR BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND or TRYING TO FIND A BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND. A lot of time this limits you from some really great experiences and friendships. 
- SERVE. Find a way to serve others, whether it is on campus, in the city, or in another country. This will teach you far more than you could learn serving yourself
- GET TO KNOW UPPER CLASSMAN. They may seem scary at first, but they have a wealth of information on how things operate and what professors and classes are the best. 
- TRY TO BE ON CAMPUS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Live in the dorms. Attend campus events. 
- FIND WAYS TO GROW YOUR FAITH. The "real world" is looming. Get to know Jesus.

Any good advice you would add to this list? 

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Ellen said...

Oh!! This makes me nostalgic!

Linda Vander Zwaag said...

Cool post, Kels. I felt like I was going through those years again too! Love you!

Sara said...

I love it! One of my recent former-RAs who just graduated wrote a similar post on her blog. So fun!

*carrie* said...

Fun pix! Especially since I know several of the people pictured. And by the way, I really like the white house that's shown in the digging out the car photo.

I didn't remember you were behind (ha--no pun intended!) the underwear sales. I bought a pair and only wore them for a few minutes! Not one of my more frugal choices. =)