I have thoroughly enjoyed my first semester at Bates College. I am most impressed by the
quality of my professors; I am continually amazed by the knowledge they bring to the table and
the real investment they have in their students. I am also grateful for the passionate drive I witness in my peers. The small classes are conducive to lively discussions and students are forced to challenge and refine their points of view. It is stimulating to be surrounded by intellectually and socially engaged people, and refreshing to know everyone is working incredibly hard. I am perhaps most overwhelmed by the breadth of opportunity available to me. This past fall I was enrolled in an entry level psychology course; an introductory neuroscience course; an English and environmental studies course that focused on rivers in literature and poetry; and a first year seminar devoted to the reading of The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I was thrilled to have great professors and explore a wide range of fields.
I have found my way onto the varsity track team, and am definitely enjoying (and
struggling with) this new challenge. The routine of practice every day at 4 builds structure into
my day; however, I am continually reminded of the difficulty of the sport. It is also comforting to
come to practice and be with a team. I am an active member of the badminton club, which I hope
will attract a myriad of new members in the coming semester. I am also enrolled in a yearlong
internship course in which I volunteer at Lewiston High School for five hours a week, through the program The Aspirations Lab. I work with the very diverse senior class of 433 students on common applications, financial aid difficulties, and college essays. Most of the students are first generation, and many are from Somalia and Kenya, and thus English is their second language. It is rewarding to work through essays and watch as their writing gradually improves. Next semester I plan to focus on essay writing and help students learn to build an argument, find appropriate evidence and incorporate it well, and write clear, crisp sentences. There are serious disparities in the writing levels of the senior class, and most would benefit from improving the fundamentals.
It is easy to be involved at Bates, and I never find myself with excess time. The Outing
Club is always ready to ski or surf or camp somewhere, and there are so many amazing ways to
meet people and be involved in things you care about. I am grateful for how rigorous the
academics are and how grounding the extracurriculars are. I feel incredibly lucky to receive a
Bates education, and I am excited for the years to come.
I’ll be the first to tell you that I love Nantucket so much. Just existing on Nantucket brings me endless joy. Maybe this feeling is shared by my peers, or maybe not, but I certainly anticipated that I would miss the environment of this island when I left for school. Yes, the idea of moving to Los Angeles was enticing, but I was so deeply comfortable and happy in my quotidian Nantucket life that I was really in no hurry to leave it all behind. Except for the fact that I couldn’t wait to decorate my apartment, I had numerous dreams (and nightmares) about what my room would look like. Well, now as I lie in my new bed in my new room in my new apartment on my new campus in my new city in my new state in my new time zone, facing this foreign ocean, I feel utterly peaceful, and at home. Throughout our childhood and adolescence we are rarely blessed with spaces that are purely our own. Although our bedrooms and cars are sentimentally ours, they are ultimately in our parent’s houses in their garages. College is my own space. Yes, my parents make it fiscally possible for me to live here, but they have yet to step foot in this building. My room is entirely organized and arranged by me. It is wholly my own in a way that my room at home never was.
Maybe I’m just really good at falling in love with places, because every time I ride the metro, looking out the window fills me with explosive joy. USC is located just north of south central LA, in a stereotypically shady neighborhood. I love it. Most of the storefronts’ signage is faded and in Spanish and English, and dollar stores and nail salons with lots of … character dot every avenue. Los Angeles is the land of dreams - I truly believe this. I have never seen so much live music in my entire life, I attend at least a concert a week, and most of the acts are local, inexpensive to attend, and really, really good. That’s what’s so great about living here, endless opportunities of every sort. No matter what kind of music, art, clothing, food, blah blah blah you are into, LA has it, and it is of quality. Furthermore, quality is extraordinarily accessible, not just when it comes to music and food, but people as well. Yeah, I’m gonna get shallow here, seeing famous people is so cool and they’re everywhere and it turns out they’re actually people too and do embarrassing things and go to the movies and listen to Death Grips (well maybe that’s just Robert Pattinson).
Ok, yes, I love LA more than words can express and not to hurt anybody’s feelings (mom and dad I hope you aren’t reading this) but I really don’t want to ever leave. I’m not even looking forward to coming home for Christmas, there is still so much I want to do here! It is so unbelievably stimulating and incredible all the time. I’m really not kidding. Granted, I do like my bed on Nantucket better, and having a blender is nice.
A little more about my school then: I am learning to love it. It is easy to get caught up in the gross generalizations about schools and allow them to infect the way you view and interact with your community. USC, aka U$C, aka the University of Spoiled Children, for instance, actually has one of the most economically diverse student bodies in the nation because they are so generous with awarding merit scholarships. It would be easy to dismiss USC as just a snooty private school full of jocks and sorority girls with rich daddies, because that’s the stereotype. I have friends here that are seriously considering transferring, in part, I believe, because they bought too readily into this narrative. There are jocks, and there are girls in sororities and these are not inherently negative things to be. Also, there are a lot of people who are neither of these things; in fact, most people are neither. While I do find school spirit borderline obnoxious, and I have yet to attend a football game, I do love this school, if only for providing me with great teachers and really good dining hall food.
This letter was basically flow of consciousness, I hope you all studiously took notes and are savoring all of the kernels of knowledge that I have imparted. If I could offer/force down your throats any last words of advice, I would. So I will. To those who want to go to college, figure out where you want to be geographically first, then try to find schools in that area. I mean, you don’t have to, but that’s what I did and I am absolutely thrilled every morning when I wake up. Where you will live for these four years of your life can be as educational and formative as the school you attend, therefore it can be as significant, if you take full advantage of it.
P.S.: A brief message to my past self: YES. College is far less stressful than high school. You will get more sleep. Also, finals (knock on wood) aren’t the end of the world by any stretch of the imagination. Savor every day of high school because it is nothing less than completely terrific, but know that it only gets better from here. <3 <3 <3 V$