Beginning your college journey is daunting, if not terrifying. A new place, new people, a new you. When I arrived at Tufts, I had no idea what to expect. I loved Tufts, but I didn’t know if I would love myself at Tufts. Move-in day was a whirlwind of Target bags, introductions galore, and final goodbyes. Emotions were running high: excitement mixed with a bit of sadness.
After I said goodbye to my parents and shed a tear or two (more like 1,000), I stood in my dorm room, unsure of what to do next. Should I go to the dining hall? Should I walk around the campus and try to make some friends? Should I just collapse on my twin XL bed and cry? I wasn’t sure what was the right thing to do. I ended up going to Dewick dining hall with my roommate and a girl from my dorm; little did I know those two people would become my first friends at Tufts.
Later that evening was the Illumination Ceremony, a Tufts rite of passage. I hadn’t heard of the Illumination Ceremony until a few hours before it was supposed to occur. When I arrived at President’s Lawn for the ceremony, it was teeming with liveliness. Students stood in clusters, holding candles, smiling, and laughing. My newfound friends and I got candles and found a spot on the grass. Shortly after the ceremony began, people began to light their candles. The lawn began to glow. Hundreds of tiny flames came together to form one huge tapestry of light. It was beyond beautiful. As I sat on that hill, I felt something I wasn’t expecting to feel: contentment.
In the following weeks, I started my classes, made more friends, and settled into my new home. College is an adjustment, and some days are definitely harder than others. Although it can be difficult sometimes, I will never forget how I felt sitting there, surrounded by candlelight, on Prez Lawn. I felt at home, I felt connected to my peers and my school, but most of all, I felt that I belonged.