Really, though. Did it? I’m half convinced that it didn’t, and I’m not alone-- ask any freshman at Tufts and they’ll probably tell you something about first semester being “a blur”, or about how it “just flew by.” When I got back to campus last week, I had this weird sensation that I can’t quite describe. It was almost like very strong deja vu, the kind that you swear isn’t deja vu at all, but you’re entirely and wholeheartedly convinced that whatever you’re seeing has happened to you before.
My residence hall was almost entirely empty, my roommate wasn’t back yet, and I had this feeling of nervous yet excited anticipation in my gut. It was very reminiscent of when I moved in to Houston Hall last September, which was weird, because I spent an entire semester here-- an entire semester of new friends, new classes, afternoons in Carm, adventures throughout the Greater Boston Area, comedy shows, engineering triumphs and troubles, trying new food, an embarrassing amount of netflix, pulling all-nighters, being very happy, and sometimes, a little scared (but mostly happy). It was kind of like none of that had even happened, and here I was, moving into my little double on the top of the hill for the first time. What was going on? Why did I feel like nothing from last semester was real, that it passed so quickly it didn’t even happen? Why did I feel like I was back at square one?
I discovered that I was not alone in this feeling when my neighbor and fellow blogger, Kelly (check out her profile at https://admissions.tufts.edu/blogs/jumbo-talk/author/kelly-kollias/), said to me “I’m pretty sure first semester was a dream.”
There it was. First semester felt like a TV show I watched a long time ago. It felt like story that my mother told me as a child. It felt like an incredibly vivid dream that I remembered bits and pieces of as I walked around my room and saw things that I had left behind over break. It didn’t feel real.
Why though? First semester wasn’t that long ago, and as I mentioned, it was packed with important and memorable stuff. The obvious answer, you might say, is that time flies when you’re having fun, or some cliche like that. To some degree, that’s true; first semester was very fun, and my weekends and days off flew by. But the actual school part of school was really, really hard. Work heavy weeks crawled by. I thought I would never survive Physics 11. The majority of the semester was tough, not all fun and games that slipped through my fingers while I wasn’t paying attention.
I’m pretty sure the reason that first semester feels like a distant reality is because of the way college students are forced to view their time at school. In high school, I generally took things day by day. I would do the assignments that were due the next day the night before, and for the most part, everything worked out okay. That’s not how college works. This is no secret, but there’s much less structure to college classes and assignments, which leads to much more responsibility falling on students. You have to plan ahead, know when long term assignments are due, and make sure you put in the time to get them done by the due date. I’ve started viewing my time at Tufts in weeks at a time rather than days at a time. It’s kind of like expanding the window on your graphing calculator so that you can see more of the function, and not just the small portion of the curve that you’re currently looking at-- there could be anything outside of that window: asymptotes, inflexion points, discontinuities. Without changing the window, you won’t be able to prepare for what’s ahead. If you don’t see farther ahead into your life than the next day, you’ll get tripped up.
I am very sorry for dropping that terrible calculus analogy on you (really, I’m sorry).
Anyway, I think that when we see life in weeks rather than days, and even months rather than weeks, it seems to go much faster. In this case, it ended up kind of weirdly, in that I was unsure if I had dreamt everything that had happened or if it had been real. I’ve arrived at the conclusion that first semester did, in fact, happen (which is good-- I wouldn’t trade it for the world), and the process of looking back on it has showed me the value of adjusting my perspective, but stopping to appreciate the little things all the same.