My Home Away From Home | St. Lawrence University

My Home Away From Home

Jack Riordan

Coming from Baltimore, Maryland, I can always look forward to a 10-hour drive back to St. Lawrence after the winter and summer breaks. Although I am not from as far away as several of the students on our campus, including Sri Lanka, Hawaii, Zimbabwe and Ukraine to name a few, I am still far away from my family.  But I have found that during this semi-annual exodus, regardless of which direction I am heading, I always manage to find my way home.

When I first came to visit St. Lawrence as a junior in high school, I had been on numerous college tours. Like many students drawn to SLU, I was interested in going to a small liberal arts school in the Northeast; I liked the idea that my professors would know my name, strengths, weaknesses and interests. Prior to visiting St. Lawrence, nothing had really clicked with the other schools. I had yet to feel the clichéd tickle of love at first sight. Now don’t get me wrong, their tour guides were fantastic and their campuses were pleasant to be on. The students didn’t seem overtly upset to be there and most of the qualms I overheard were in regards to the pizza in their dining halls.  Despite this, they left something to be desired because everything I experienced thus far was frankly bland.

My first experience at St. Lawrence was on a beautiful North Country day- it was pouring rain and just warm enough to make the whole ordeal dismally uncomfortable. I also managed to visit during Peak Weekend so our entire campus was busy adventuring through the Adirondacks, fundamentally making our school a ghost town. But none of this mattered to me, I loved the school from the second my foot hit the pavement outside of Payson Hall.  The campus was beautiful, the facilities were spectacular, the majors were comprehensive and I could tell that the school had so much to offer its students.

As the time to make a college decision came around, I came back for a second tour that reconfirmed my already deep-seated affection for this place. It was a perfect fall day with the satisfying bite of the cool air perfectly complimenting the tree’s brilliantly colored foliage. As an added bonus, the students were all actually present this time around, transforming our community into one that was more vibrant than any other campus I had been on. This place is anything but plain due to our eclectic student body and their equally diverse hobbies, academic interests and athletic abilities.  I applied early decision to St. Lawrence and the rest is history.

I came to SLU hoping to play squash as I was (relatively) good in high school, but my first year here also happened to coincide with the men’s squash team acquiring some really phenomenal players; I didn’t stand much of a chance. So, as a sophomore, I turned my tall and lanky attention to the crew team.  Ever since joining, I have made friends that I know I will have for the rest of my life. I have managed to continually find my place within a community that I already felt so comfortable in. With the support of my boat mates I have pushed myself, in every aspect of my life, to levels that I never before thought possible and have grown immensely as an individual.

Over the past three years, the role that this school has played in my life has changed dramatically. What was once simply a place to get an education has become a home away from home where, what I now consider to be my extended family, resides.  St. Lawrence is a tremendously warm campus in a very cold place and a community that I am so proud to be a part of.  So, when I set off out of my driveway and honk my horn as I wave goodbye to Baltimore, I know that although I am leaving my parents, siblings and pups, that I am leaving one home to return back to another.