When they mail you those shiny college brochures, they never paint the true reality of college life. Maybe these brochures suggested I would be productive 24/7 and have my life together as a college student. Maybe they presented Ithaca College as a perfect and pristine institution — which is far from the truth when we look at the recent faculty cuts, for example. The brochures promised an exhilarating in-person experience as a first-year student. It’s safe to say the brochures lied, and while it’s still disappointing that I missed out on four months of being in my favorite town here in Ithaca, I can’t say I’m disappointed with how things turned out.
The remote semester was a time when I really got a chance to learn about myself. I was able to reflect on my life, and I’ve become a more confident person. I also got a little longer to be with family. Since academics were my only focus, I had the time for journaling, which helped me to work through present and past stresses I was feeling during that time. I made it my goal to be productive and was surprisingly focused for how much I disliked virtual learning.
I came to campus this spring without a clue of what it would all truly be like. My experience at the Ithaca Young Writers Institute a couple of summers ago gave me a little heads up about the trek to the Towers and where a lot of the buildings are, but pandemic or not, it turned out those two weeks couldn’t have predicted life on campus. I had to set aside the expectations that lingered in the back of my mind. This included making friends on the first day, which was a bit too ambitious. I discovered that the scenarios our expectations fail to meet are sometimes much better.
I think this is what I needed — time away from home so I could have the freedom to become the person I knew I could become. That’s not to say I wasn’t myself at home — I was — but coming here has offered me new opportunities and experiences that did not exist two hours away. Here, I have become friends with amazing people that I share a collection of exhilarating and sentimental memories with. I have gotten to explore the gorgeous nature and town that surround campus (that definitely includes multiple visits to the cat café), and I’ve had time to simply be. Sometimes going for a walk and listening to music can do more than we give it credit for.
I will admit that I was more productive during the days of remote learning. There were no distractions. Even with that being true, I don’t think remote learning was the way college, or if I’m being honest, life, was intended. I love being in Ithaca. I don’t think I’d change how things have turned out — it appears that this challenging year has ended with a happy ending. While the upcoming break and return home is definitely needed, I’m happy to be returning next fall and am ready for whatever else writes itself into the narrative of my life going forward.