When I look back on my college days in a few years, I believe the first memory that will always come to mind is that embarrassing moment when–in the wake of pulling my phone out of my backpack–a tampon that had somehow come out of it’s wrapper had also burst amiably forth.
When I saw it rolling on the ground, I took a second to observe the people who may very well have seen the event, and then, as swiftly as I could, I ran over, whispering to it in a disgusted panic, “fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck!”
Then I put it back in my backpack to throw away later and tried to forget about the whole ordeal.
I feel like this is just the sort of thing that always happens when I’m nervous and everything is new. I tried my best, however, to put up a good “wow, I’m so confident, look at me, walking straight into a dead-end over here, guys” persona anyway. Waiting outside of my beginners jazz dance class at least an hour early, I observed a few people who looked like they were more or less involved in The Arts. One of them, James, was waiting outside of the class soon after me.
“Are you in this class?” I asked, trying to make a friend.
“Yeah!” James was really enthusiastic about this, which was reassuring. “This is my second time taking it. It’s really awesome!”
Ignoring the obvious question of why he was taking the class again and not taking something more advanced instead, I wondered, “…I read in the syllabus that for every minute that a student is late you have to do a push-up in front of the class. Is that really true?”
James smiled wryly…yet fondly, somehow. “Yeahhh it is. But it’s alright. It’s not an intimidating class. I really like Janel.” Janel, I found out eventually, was our instructor, who–during her introduction–let the cat out of the bag that she had been invited to be a Rockette back in her day.
There are 13 other students in my jazz class, and we were all prepared to dance that day, but our class ended up getting out early after a long-winded introduction from all of us. I found myself to be a novelty as a “former homeschooler on my first day of school!” It doesn’t annoy me too much, though. I think I kind of like being a novelty in this case. It makes people more interested in being friends with me, if for perhaps selfish reasons. Everyone wants the juicy 101 on what it’s REALLY like to be homeschooled. And they’re not disillusioned about whether it’s really as fascinating as it sounds. Homeschooling is full of nasty little secrets, most of which I’m willing to relinquish in a rash flurry of unforgiving revenge.
After jazz, I went to the cafeteria to study; James found me and we sat together. The large yellow tables of huge school cafeterias are strange and bare and unwelcoming to sit at all alone, in a prison-y sort of way. Actually, they reminded me of Orange is the New Black. I got formally introduced to Ivan, who was also in my jazz class, and who for whatever reason I’d been under the random impression was actually named Steve. I’ve started calling him that just because. He’s super talkative and loves 5 Seconds of Summer and Panic! At the Disco, and he likes singing and dancing, so I think we’re going to get along really well.
Steve and James are both openly gay, which is awesome and fascinating for me, because I’ve never had any gay friends. I feel like that girl in the movies who hangs out with all of these guys, and they’re all just friends because they’re gay and she’s taken anyway. There’s less drama and a comfortable comradery amongst us. I may not necessarily morally agree with their decisions, but I don’t disagree with them anymore than I disagree with a friend who might shoplift or bully his siblings. Just because they do those things–especially if they never bring it up with me–by no means gives me a reason not to be friends with them. Besides, they’re hilarious, extremely friendly and easy to talk to, and they’ll be like girlfriends without the PMS. That’s a win-win if ever I knew of one.
American Sign Language class was intense. It’s a 2 hour and 45 minute long class! I was very surprised to find out my professor is really deaf. We had a translator for that day, and the following Wednesday class, but as of now, the translator is gone for good and we’re left to watch our professor mime her instruction or write it out on the whiteboard until we ourselves know enough sign language to communicate with her. The barrier of sound is one you don’t normally think about, especially as a hearing person…
Tuesday was my math class. I’d been preparing for that class for nearly as long as it takes for a baby to be conceived and then born. In many ways, math is my baby. I’ve invested such a huge amount of time and thought and effort into it that–should I fail or give up now–I’d certainly feel robbed of a large chunk of my life. My teacher is so cool, and so weird. Her name is Irene, but she likes to be called Sam (yeah, no idea why). Her voice is complex and squeaky in a way that takes getting used to hearing without being distracted, but eventually I got used to it. I like her, especially because she came right out and said that she understood that math is hard and that she therefore doesn’t have unreasonable expectations toward performance on our parts. So far I’m on top of my homework, which–besides my ideal career and a beautiful wedding–is a dream come true.
There’s a nearly six-hour gap between math and English on Tuesdays. I stayed on campus all day and enjoyed studying in the library–which is called the “Cranium Cafe”, a pun which makes me happy and gives me a headache at the same time. (Ha.) I find that if I do my math homework right after class I retain more of what I learn, especially because my mind is already warmed up for it.
I went to English class with a classmate named Ryan who I’d met during an orientation, which was a real comfort…just being with someone somewhat familiar. (Guys! I’m actually making friends!) Our professor was hysterical. He swore, which was a little shocking, not because I’m unused to hearing swearwords, but because I’m not used to hearing them come from the sincere mouth of an adult. He talked about nearly everything, including that we definitely shouldn’t commit suicide, but–if we were going to anyway–that we above all costs must not do it in a way that required our mother to clean up our dead selves. Believe it or not, he also found the time to teach us a bit of English.
So far, I’ve spent all of my free-time either talking to or visiting Jake, sleeping, eating, or blogging. I haven’t even opened Netflix, and the only reason I’ve gone on Facebook is to contact my professor. It’s taken me over a week already just to compose this. I don’t know how much extra time I’ll have in the following weeks considering that the first weeks of school are supposed to be the easiest! I enjoy the feeling of knowing that what happens in my life is going to end up getting written out like a story, though, so I won’t throw in the towel blogging just yet.
I will say that I love college. I love having teachers to ask questions of, and homework that actually gets looked at and graded. I’m so motivated to complete my work in a timely and professional way now, and I’m already noticing how much my work-ethic and determination is growing. It’s like I’m finally awake. I know that if this keeps up, I will continue to develop as a person in ways that I will be proud of.
All of my professors have heard from me either in person or over email; I’m trying to develop relationships with them so that I’m not just a name on an essay for them to grade. I sit in the front of my classes and ask questions and try to participate as much as possible. So far, I’m not behind or confused with my classes or homework at all, which is a little bit shocking, but so, so encouraging. I think I might actually survive here. Homeschooling didn’t do me much good, but I’m doing well at making up for it so far. I’m realizing that if I had been put in a school setting as a child, I probably would’ve born many of the characteristics of the ideal student.
Another good thing is that my parents recognize that it would be kind of them to financially contribute for me while I’m going to college. Does this mean paying for classes and textbooks? No. But they’ve made it clear to me that if there are any school supplies (such as the attachable disc drive I needed to get last week) or food that I need, they want to pay for it rather than telling me to do so myself, like they used to. Their logic is that now that I’m not working full time, I can’t afford to pay for such things. (I rolled my eyes a little when they told me that, since almost all of the money I made while working full-time had gone toward college savings, and any extra expenses were painful necessities I’d forced myself to purchase, and none of it had been something I’d considered comfortably “affordable”. Whatever.) I appreciate my parents help in any case, and I’m glad they’re supporting me in that way.
Right now, life is busy, but it’s so, so good. I love the fast-paced, academically-inclined atmosphere of school, and I love how much is expected of me. Already I know that I belong here.