As a returning student to Knox, the experiences that one reflects on are oftentimes filled with mixed feelings. Your first day was full of orientation jitters, or you were nervous to meet your new teammates. Some people really take to their new atmosphere and others take time to adjust to homesickness. There may be feelings of uncertainty and fear about your new surroundings. The reality is that these things are a part of the college experience.
Through these awkward encounters and conversations you will find people you really connect with. You’ll find someone to play soccer with on the quad or video games in your dorm room. Some of these people will become some of your best friends. Maybe you feel like the caf is a daunting place, but this will soon become where you meet people for dinner and will have great conversations about art, or your preceptorial or book club. And your classes will become a place where you can be a part of the dialogue and see how much you learn from your classmates every day.
This past year I studied abroad in Spain and I loved it. I highly recommend taking advantage of the opportunity because it is a time to explore your perception of the world. What are the potential preconceived notions you may have or what intrigues and maybe surprises you about a different culture? What is it like to step out of what is “safe?” For me, being able to speak Spanish with natives was a gratifying experience because I felt that I was engaging in the social atmosphere of Barcelona.
Not to mention the dinners I would have with Knox students. We would find ourselves discussing the beautiful Moorish palace, La Alhambra, with its rich history and majestic courtyards or a beautiful basilica we saw the day before. Those memories are not only things that shifted my perspective, but also gave me a sense of the impact of this cultural exchange.
Now being back at Knox, I am eager to get back into the groove. I am excited to see some of the best people I know, and be able to read material that challenges my point of view every day. I am ready to take a studio art class and step out of my comfort zone. I am excited to see professors who encourage students to have an opinion during discussions.
And so I leave you with this, don’t be afraid to mess up or say the “wrong” thing, because at the end of the day you will gain something from it. Maybe one night you hang out with a group of people you don’t know so well and surprisingly have a good time. If you are engaged, your experience will only be for the better. As the motto stands, “Freedom to Flourish” expresses the chance to grow. Any labels that you had in high school can now dissipate and you can explore whatever it is you want. It is your college experience. Revel in it as much as you can.