It wasn’t the professors, or even the course I was taking, that made my First-Year Program (FYP) experience so memorable. The group of unfamiliar people that I would soon come to associate with laughter, comfort and never-ending conversation enriched my first year at St. Lawrence in ways I never could have expected. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by 30 other individuals, from staggeringly different backgrounds, excited to start their college journey.
FYP was a unique experience for me from the start due to the classroom component. My course was co-taught by two professors that upheld vastly different teaching styles and expectations. This disconnect between the professors and the class bonded my FYP together in a way that no other circumstance could have.
Initially, our living community was not a cohesive unit. There were friendships within based on roommates and other commonalities, but as the semester progressed, our frustrations in the classroom improved our relationships outside of it. Group collaboration in the common room was nothing unusual for the members of Brown College in Rebert North. We soon came to realize that the living component balanced out, and improved, our academic experience.
But why as a senior does the FYP still hold such an important place in my heart? It comes down to one thing, and that’s how the living and learning environment simplified the transition to college - a process that can be one of the hardest things to embrace and control.
I went to a small public school my entire life. I graduated with around 50 students most of which I had known since kindergarten. I knew I was looking for a similar experience in college, and I found that here. SLU could almost be considered a large-scale version of my tight-knit high school, and I knew that leaving my family and friends and entering an unfamiliar community was a change that I would have to embrace, but I was ready for it.
My FYP created an environment conducive to positive change and learning. It exposed me to both a variety of people, and also an array of activities on campus. There were athletes, musicians, outdoor enthusiasts and video game fanatics dispersed throughout. I learned that positive experiences often times come out of personal struggles. I became comfortable around people different than me, including the 6’11" basketball player, and intimidating defensive lineman on the football team who would turn out to be the best neighbors imaginable.
My advice to incoming first-year students: always keep your door open, as well as your mind when meeting those in your FYP. They will be there at the best and the worst times of your college transition period. To the members of Brown College back in 2014, I hope for our personal health and academic sake everyone has taken a break from ordering pizza from Sergi's, watching NFL football and The Office on Sundays and setting up mini golf courses in the dorm hallways.
Most of the members of my FYP took different turns after freshman year, but there are still pockets of friendships on campus, including mine, that have members of Brown College as best friends. We came to respect and learn from each other in a very dynamic way and bonded as a group over the challenges faced in the classroom. When the temperature dropped below freezing, it was comforting to know that I had friends in Rebert North who made staying together inside completely worth it.