It's quite a funny story how I ended up at St. Lawrence. While I always knew about SLU, because I am from just outside of D.C. in Virginia and many alums move to my area to work for the government, not many people from the D.C. area travel so far up north. One of my best friends in high school committed to St. Lawrence our junior year to play hockey. She begged me to apply to St. Lawrence, and while my two requirements for colleges were they had to be in a city and they had to be somewhere sunny, I agreed to apply.
After I got into St. Lawrence, it did not really cross my mind as an option (simply because I had no interest in being anywhere but a city), but after I toured all my accepted colleges, I could not see myself at any of them. I was not sure if I should take a gap year or try to make one of these schools work. Fortunately, 10 days before May 1, I had one more accepted students' day… in Canton, New York at St. Lawrence University.
Whether it was the tight-knit community or how pretty the campus looked on a spring day, I left accepted students’ day knowing SLU was going to be my home for the next four years.
While I was excited for a long time, over the summer, when it felt like my childhood was coming to an end, I realized I decided to go to SLU based on a feeling. I really did not know much about the social aspect of the school. Did SLU students have parties? Do they stay in every weekend and study? What do college students even do on the weekends? Every anxious thought ran through my mind. Of course, my big intellectual question to my tour guide when visiting was, “Where is the closest place I can get my nails done?” So yes, I definitely should have been more inquisitive, but I decided not to panic. If I really had nothing to do, at least I knew where to walk to get a manicure. If I needed to transfer, I’d transfer, but I knew I needed to give it my best effort.
Now, while I did spend my first week at St. Lawrence either hiding in my room crying or holding back tears at orientation activities, that is also how I spent my first two weeks at boarding school in ninth grade. I never told my parents I was feeling this way and I pretended I was having the time of my life. The hardest part was the fact that I did not have friends yet (mind you I had only been at college for three days), and even when I did meet people, it takes time to become close. I had confidence I would make friends eventually, and there was no reason to make my parents worry about me.
While one might say this way of thinking is very mature, it did take a lot of mortifying experiences to learn you cannot force a friendship.
My high school experience was very unique; I attended an all-girls boarding school. Where I am from, single-sex education is very prevalent. Because it is so normalized, I never truly knew the benefits of single-sex education. While I could go on and on about the educational benefits, that is a blog post for another day. However, there are also so many emotional benefits. To start, I’m grateful no boys had the privilege of seeing me in ninth grade. Another benefit is you become extremely close to the people in your grade.
When I got to high school, I loved the idea of being at a place where everyone was new, because that way I couldn’t feel left out, or at least that is what I thought. Older girls and parents told me my friend groups would change from freshman to senior year but assured me I would make friends for life. Well, as a 14-year-old girl in the age of social media, it was hard to believe that the cliques that formed during my first year wouldn’t last forever. Eventually, as everyone said, I did not become close with my true best friends until my junior year. While I can genuinely say the girls I was friends with in high school will be the bridesmaids at my wedding, when I got to college, I kept having to remind myself of the time it took for my lasting friendships to form.
One thing about St. Lawrence that I’m really thankful for is the First-Year Program. On visit day, everyone kept talking about how amazing the First-Year Program is and how students really bond with the people in their hall because of the class they all take together. Of course, I thought it was sappy and bologna or just something they tell prospective students to make the transition easier. And of course, I am now on the FYP bandwagon and preach about it any moment I have.
Not only did I love my class, "Rural Dreams: The Plight and Promise of Small Town America," the people in my FYP became my closest friends. Like all the people in my life have told me, friends change, but my FYP friends are different types of friends. Some of us stayed closer than others, and most found their group of people on other floors or in different dorms. However, at the end of Friday and Saturday nights during our first year, we always relied on convening in Pat and Will’s room where EDM remixes played ridiculously loud, Entourage previewed on the TV, rainbow lights flashed, and some bizarre scent that we couldn't identify hung in the air.
Still, a year later, we all rely on that same room. Even though we have moved from Lee West to Dean Eaton and my friends are no longer my next-door neighbors. Their room still blasts EDM music, previews Entourage, displays annoyingly colored flashing lights, and (for the life of me, I don’t know how) carries the same scent. You can rely on finding us all there at the end of the night.